Friday, October 29, 2010

A Little Upgrading

You might have noticed that I added a few features to the blog.

1. The slideshow in the top right corner of the page will feature a collection of all my previous dishes ever made! (Not all of which I'm proud of) I think it adds a nice bit of history to patrons and newcomers alike!

2. The 'food-word-index' is what I'm most excited about. I spent a few hours on the weekend 'labeling' all my previous posts with things like "eggs" "beets" "soup" "dessert" "berries" "chicken" etc... to help you find an idea for dinner... really whatever you want! The point is that the site is now better organized and there is a search index. You can find this feature on the bottom right of the side-bar, under "blogs I follow." As a person who likes organization (hope mom isn't reading this, for she will disagree profusely) it's about time the blog got a good scrubby-dub clean.

Enjoy the new features :) Remember to vote in this week's poll - "What's your favourite fall ingredient?"

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What's for Dinner? Pumpkin Roasted Chicken atop Root Vegetables and Squash, Broccoli

(Not literally roasted IN THE PUMPKIN, but with the flavours... you know...)

* Minus the chicken (from the market) everything was from our last CSA of the season. Thanks to everyone who worked on the farm this year! We will miss all of the delicious produce that you harvested over so many months. You were all outstanding. I cannot wait until next year.

Sorry for the lack of descriptions/recipes to accompany the pictures.
I've been crazy-busy with school and I figured just pictures is better than nothing at all.
Proper blog-posts to come on the weekend.
Happy Friday everyone!

Monday, October 25, 2010

What's for Dinner? Savory Tart of Autumn Vegetables

I thought I'd do something a bit different for this post. You have read the past 150 or so blog posts, so why not watch one for a change? Enjoy!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What's for Dessert? Quince and Apple Sauce

Local quince fruit and apples made into a creamy, strained, silky sauce.

What's for Dinner? Rack of Lamb with Parsley Crust, Perfect Mashed Potatoes, Oily Sauteed Rapini, Glazed Carrot Coins

Ala Cuisine! My experience with IRON CHEF Waterloo

Jonathan Gushue, Executive Chef at Langdon Hall, recently nabbed a spot (#77) on the prestigious S. Pellegrino 100 Worlds Best Restaurant list. He put his kitchen skills to the test in an Iron Chef Competition that happened on October 20th, 9:30pm at Nick and Nat's Uptown 21.
He and challenger Nick (owner of the local restaurant) were presented with a mystery box (actually, a turkey roaster) with a secret ingredient. With only a few minutes to plan a menu with their respective assistants, the teams duked it out, preparing a 3-course meal in just an hour.
The teams were: Nick & Claire Matlock vs. Andrew Coppolino & Jonathan Gushue.
Andrew - the face of "Waterloo Region Eats,"& radio-show host
Claire (myself) - 16 year old aspiring "foodie" with an uncharacteristically teenage love for sustainable agriculture, organic food and cooking.
In the past, these Iron Chef battles have been a huge draw, producing great hilarity, entertainment, and very impressive creations, which are judged by a panel of celebrity guests. For foodies, it was a rare opportunity to peer into the kitchen and watch the experts at work. And for the winner, of course the reward was bragging rights!
So how did Iron Chef Waterloo play out this week? Well, battle-Emu (that's right!) sparked some creative dishes like emu-tartar over a creamy salad of its own soft-boiled eggs, emu loin with veggie sides and a white wine foam and possible most creative, an ice cream from scratch whipped together in the limited time allowance.
Judges would taste and critic every nibble and bite. Extra food was passed out to the crowd of spectators. Bribes from the chefs were not uncommon. Nick and I passed out a heaping bowl of the ice cream to the audience and Gushu and Andrew fed the crowd some pomme puree, which hinted delightfully to the amount of butter it contained.
After a one-hour battle of stressful, yet nevertheless fun and exciting cooking, plating and garnishing, the verdict was in. .....Drumroll..... the winners? Nick and Claire!!! By a mere two points, and most likely a cause of our supper creamy dessert. Our prize? (Besides the bragging rights,) we were awarded authentic Mennonite farming hats from the same area that supplied the secret ingredient.
Minus the prizes and cameras and music, if this was just a taste of what takes place in a professional kitchen every meal service.... I think I liked it a little too much.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What's for Dinner? Root Veg/Squash with a Maple/Balsamic Vinaigrette, Lightly Fried Cod

Pumpkin, Acorn Squash, Parsnips, Rutabega, Mystery Squash all roasted and tossed with a vinaigrette made of shallots, Evoo, balsamic vinegar, pure maple syrup, brown sugar and 2 tsp of bacon fat. I returned the vegetables to the oven for about 10 minutes after I had tossed them. This allowed them to caramelize even more.
The cod was done as simply as can be: salt, pepper and cooked in a little oil and butter till done, and NOT overcooked.
Served over some thinly sliced, purple cabbage and dotted with parsley oil.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What's for Dessert? The Most Local Apple Tart You Ever Did See!

I found an apple tree near the Grand River today.
Long story short, I used a stick to prod 35 apples off the bugger and now I'm eating a deelish Apple/Pastry Cream French Tart with pulverized pralines. That tree didn't know what hit him!

*A note about the apples: I put them in that container because it was the only one I could find in the trunk of the car at the time. I swear I actually took the stick to the tree! **The sweetest apples had already fallen though...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What's for Dinner? Bavarian Rouladen

Yum Yum!
Round steak sliced thin and pounded out, stuffed, rolled then braised all afternoon.
Recipe was from the newest cookbook added to the shelf: Falling off the Bone
Served with its savory pureed gravy.

*Charles Quality Meats from St. Agatha

Friday, October 15, 2010

What's for Dinner? Thanksgiving Soup??

Turkey Stock made from the leftover bird's carcass.
Cubed Rutabaga.
Carrots, peas and corn.
Wilted Chinese Broccoli (only because it was picked the same day...)
Lardons to Garnish.
Toast on the side with all the flavourings of a really good 'stuffing'.
Quite unusual, but still delicious!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What's for Dinner? Cauliflower au Gratin, Grainy Mustard White-Fish & Melt-in-Your-Mouth Glazed Turnips

Just another quick meal to use up the farm produce from our CSA.
I just ordered some carrots/beets/potatoes/squash in bulk from the farm (less than $1/pound!!! How's that for organic?) and will hopefully do some preserving of the beets, and storing of the rest. Stay tuned for some featured dishes.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What's for Dinner? Butter Chicken with Naan (See previous post)

You Voted...

This week you voted that I make butter chicken from the chicken I have in the deep-freeze. I think this is a wonderful way to rejuvenate the flavours after having been in storage.
When I find a good source of organic/farm meat from the market, I'll stock up and throw it in the freezer for later use.
In doing this, there is no excuse to complain about the expense of organic products. Stock up on what's cheap and plentiful instead of buying every week and out of season...

So. The Butter Chicken.
I hate to reduce an entire food culture to one dish, but this particular style of chicken seems to resonate with us North Americans the most. Indian food, like any other country is divided by regions: Andhra, Bengali, Goan, Gujarati, Hyderabadi, Punjabi, etc, and particular spice-blends are key. The difference between the North and South, East and West flavours varies greatly, as much as say risotto in the North of Italy to swordfish and tomatoes in Sicily. I could finesse over the variants in ingredients, serving techniques, vegetarian vs. non-vegetarian, etc, but I'll just refer you to my favourite source of Indian Cuisine Wisdom -->

Butter Chicken, I believe is Punjabi, but you might want to correct me on that one.

Tonight I'll cook up a little Indian feast.
Pictures are soon to come!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thanksgiving Special

This year, the familys' schedules worked out so that Thanksgiving would be held on Saturday.
I made sure to snap photos of everything we ate because thanksgiving is such a wonderful celebration of fall flavours, and this blog is all about showing-off local and fresh ingredients. I utilized this week's harvest from the farm CSA and made the traditional dishes associated with the October holiday to please the family. The result was a satisfying combination of flavours over good conversation, both shared with relatives.

Friday, October 8, 2010

You Voted....

According to Cooking with Claire readers, the best use for chocolate would be an authentic Hot Cocoa.
You turned down brownies, white hermit cookies and other chocolaty delights in flavour of a perfect cup of velvet chocolate. I make mine with a mix of 5% cream and 2% milk as well as a dry blend of pure Dutch Cocoa, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cayenne pepper. The heat of the cayenne is a nice pairing with rich chocolate because when drinking, your mouth will first be coated with hot liquid chocolate then after an underlying heat. I toast the dry ingredients, pour in the milk, simmer, pour then froth cream on the side for a topping.

Hot Cocoa is definitely the perfect treat for when the weather gets crummy!

Using Up the Broccoli...

I had horrendous amounts of broccoli in storage, and was sick of steaming it for dinner. One of our family friends, Rose Murray has a wonderful book of inventive vegetable dishes and I spotted one I thought I'd try - Broccoli Mousse. Basically you make a thick hollandaise sauce then stir in pureed broccoli and whip it to perfection. I very much enjoyed it in our dinner tonight.

Monday, October 4, 2010

What's for Dinner? Lentil Pilaf with Swiss Chard Bundles of Vegetables topped with Caramelized Fennel

Lentils, white beans and sun-dried tomatoes in a little pile on the bottom of the bowl.
Swiss chard leaves were blanched, then rolled with sweet potato, onion, chopped pecans and blue cheese along with fall spices (think chili, coriander, nutmeg, etc) . Cooked once more, then sliced in half to serve.
Caramelized fennel scattered over with its greens and a little garlic toast for fun.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

What's for Dinner? Autumn Soup

A creamy puree of: celeriac, butternut squash, carrot, potato, pear and apple, flavoured with the warm notes of allspice, curry and a lil' turmeric.