Because of the diverse nature of the many different restaurants and chefs Brian Henry has worked under he is highly proficient at a wide range of cuisines.

Brian’s cooking is seasonal, inventive and smart, but in no way unapproachable or fussy. When he is coaxed out of the kitchen and starts talking about food, his passion and knowledge are instantly recognizable.

"Chef Brian Henry cooked a series of delicious appetizers for us as we sat around a table in the kitchen". Thanks

Tony Aspler, Wine writer

“Chef Brian Henry puts one hundred percent of his energy into going all the way.”

Birgit Moenke, Editor Stir Media Read More Reviews

Archive for the ‘Catering’ Category

Gastronomically yours,

July 15th, 2013

 

Light and Easy Spinach Salad

 

 

 

Food historians believe that Spinach was first cultivated in southwestern Asia, in the region of Persia. Around 650CE documentation shows spinach being referred to as the “herb of Persia” in Chinese text.

 

By the 1200’s spinach had been introduced to Spain by the Moors. Within short time spinach made its way into European monasteries’ gardens and kitchens. It made its way to North America via settlers and immigrants.

 

Spinach is now grown all over the world wherever temperate climates prevail. The plant is most prolific during the cooler seasons as higher temperatures can cause the spinach to go to seed too early. A spinach grower has to plant over 600 000 seeds for every acre of land to be cultivated. That same one acre of land will yield over 10 000 pounds of spinach when harvested.

 

Spinach is an excellent source of Vitamin A, fiber, potassium and Vitamin C. It also has high amounts of calcium and all most twice the iron of red meats. It was long touted as the secret behind Popeye’s strength. Oddly, spinach contains the same toxin as rhubarb known as Oxalic acid which can inhibit the body’s ability to absorb calcium and iron. Regardless even when spinach is boiled it retains its exceptionally high nutrient content even though its volume is decreased by three quarters when cooked.

 

Locally produced spinach is making appearances at markets and grocery stores alike. Spring raised spinach is very light and fresh compared to the heavier and sweet fall harvested leaves and is perfect for making salads with.

 

This week I’m featuring a main-course spinach salad with grilled chicken and strawberries. If the ingredients aren’t all available locally just wait a couple of weeks because just like local products this recipe will be worth the wait.

 

 

 

Spinach Salad

 

Ingredients:

 

Two tbsp. Toasted sesame seeds

 

One tbsp.  Poppy seeds

 

One third cup white sugar

 

One quarter cup canola oil

 

One quarter cup cider vinegar

 

One quarter tsp. Worcestershire sauce

 

One tbsp. minced green onion

 

One pound of fresh spinach; rinsed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces

 

Two cups of strawberries; rinsed, hulled and sliced

 

One quarter cup of sliced almonds, toasted

 

Three Mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented

 

Four cooked chicken breasts sliced thin

 

Method:

 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, canola oil, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and onion. Cover, and chill for one hour.

 

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries, almonds and orange segments. Pour dressing over salad, and toss. Refrigerate 10 minutes before serving. Serve salad with cooked chicken on top. Serves four people.

Just say NO

Just say NO

 

Kale Chips

 

 

 

Kale is a member of the mustard family whose roots can be traced back to the Mediterranean and southern regions of Asia where it was considered to be a wild cabbage.  This nutrient dense green is related to cabbage and Brussels sprouts, but only produces leaves and does not form a proper head as other members in this family do. Kale looks like a cross between torn feathers, romaine lettuce and cabbage.

 

For centuries Kale was relegated as peasant food as its coarse texture and often bitter taste was as unappealing as it was misunderstood. By the time Kale made its way to North America, chefs and cooks for the most part did not know what to do with this vegetable and it appeared that it was destined to live a life outside the salad bowl as it was primarily used as an impractical vegetative garnish on buffets and dinner plates.

 

Kale having reached the lowest of lows is now one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat, and we know how to make it taste good too. Our Kale learning curve has much to do with its success. First we learned that if we let Kale grow long enough in cold temperatures, its exposure to frost reduces its bitterness and it will actually become notably sweet. Secondly when Kale was put under the microscope it was learned that kale was loaded with iron, calcium, antioxidants, Vitamins A, C and K and has cancer fighting compounds.

 

Kale is currently believed to be one of the most nutrient dense greens on the planet. It grows incredibly well in Ontario and is a vegetable that grows where and when most others do not.

 

Although many varieties of Kale exist most Ontario Kale producers raise the following varieties. Curly Kale which has a lush green colour with curly leaves is the most commonly available Kale. Redbor Kale–looks identical to curly kale, but it’s purple in colour, Red Russian Kale is quite striking with its crimson to purple stalks yielding to green leaves and finally Lacinato Kale often called Dino Kale, is purple to black in colour with long, wrinkled leaves.  Once purchased kale will store wrapped in paper towel inside a plastic bag for 5 -7 days.

 

Kale can be used like any leafy green from raw in salads or steamed or sautéed. I think the best way to eat this super food is to prepare it as a junk food just for a bit of irony in the Kale story which allows it to be a very healthy snack food in the following recipe that is simple and easy to make Kale chips. A word of caution as these chips can be habit forming.

 

 

 

Kale Chips

 

 

 

Ingredients:

 

1 bunch kale

 

2 tbsp. olive oil

 

Kosher or sea salt

 

 

 

Method:

 

Remove the core, and wash the kale leaves and allow them to dry.  Tear the leaves into bite-size pieces and place them into a medium sized mixing bowl. Drizzle the kale with the olive oil and gently massage the oil into the the leaves.

 

Spread the leaves over a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer without them over lapping each other.

 

Sprinkle the soon to be chips with a pinch of salt. You may choose to use a bit of curry powder or Cajun seasoning as well just to shake it up a bit.

 

In a preheated oven bake the kale at 350°F until crispy and dark green. Do not let the kale brown at all, not even the edges. This takes about 12 to 15 minutes. Once cooked allow the kale chips to cool down before serving.

 

 

 

 

Eat real food

Gastronomically yours,

June 12th, 2013

Marshmallows

The first marshmallows were made as a medical confectionary for treating sore throats in ancient Egypt.

They were produced from the mucilaginous sap and roots of the common Musk Mallow plant which were boiled with honey and dried. The result was something akin to a honey flavoured sponge. Recipes evolved to include spices, herbs and colours from natural sources.

 French confectioner’s discovered that the Musk Mallow sap could be whipped into a lighter texture as air bubbles became trapped within the sticky mass and further enhanced this by incorporating meringue into the recipe. Modern industrialization saw the recipe for of marshmallows change into a simple blend of sugar, gelatin and cornstarch. Today the Musk Mallow plant is considered to be an invasive weed while its ornamental cousin, the Hollyhock enjoys its ornamental limelight.

 If you’re stuck for ideas for what to do for Valentine’s Day why not make up a batch of marshmallows and serve them for dessert. You can serve them with chocolate, graham crackers and candles to produce tableside S’mores. The following recipe is easy to use and can include Canadian sugar extracted from sugar beets.

 Be aware that this recipe can make a sticky mess out of your kitchen if not approached with care. Keep plenty of warm water on hand to clean up any spills as you go. Make sure that you dust everything with icing sugar that you don’t want coated with marshmallow.

 

 

 

 

Marshmallows

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. powdered gelatin

½ cup cold water, divided

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup icing sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Food colouring optional

 

 

 

 

Method:

In a small bowl, whisk together the gelatin and half of the water. In a medium sized, stainless steel sauce pan, combine the granulated sugar and the remaining ¼ cup of water. Whisk this over medium –low heat until all of the sugar is dissolved.

 Whisk the dissolved gelatin into the sugar water and quickly bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and allow it to boil for 2-3 minutes. Do not leave the pot unattended as its contents will double in size and easily boil over.

Remove the pot from the stove and transfer its contents into the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk the contents at a low speed setting for 2-3 minutes. Add the vanilla, salt and a couple of drops of food colouring if you choose. Increase the speed on your mixer to maximum and let it run for 8-10 minutes. At which time you should have a large sticky white mass of something that looks like shiny icing and smells like marshmallows.

Liberally dust your work space with icing sugar and pour the marshmallow mixture onto the sugar coated area. Let the mixture rest for about five minutes before completely dusting its surface with more icing sugar. Gently push the dough out until it reaches a thickness of about 1 inch. You can now cut out the marshmallows with a knife or cookie cutters and transfer them to a parchment lined cookie sheet. Let the marshmallows sit out for 45-minutes before serving. Marshmallows will store in a sealed air-tight container for 3-5 days. Yeilds: 30-40 marshmallows.

 

I’ve got to find me some of these sugar cubes! If you come across them please email me and let me know where they are at….

 

 

 

Gastronomically yours,

June 9th, 2013

Lilac Love

 

The heady scent of lilacs wafting through the air after a spring rain shower can be quite intoxicating especially if the sun comes out after the rain to increase the humidity making the scent of the lilacs almost seem to stick to us.

Lilacs and their beauty pass quickly, never staying open more than a week, being able to preserve their scent to be enjoyed at other times of the year can easily with a bit of time and sugar. The time that it will take to harvest, clean, and process the blossoms of the flowers will vary depending on the size of the blossoms. Large plump groupings of lilac flowers will hang like clumps of grapes allowing for an efficient harvest. Be sure to clip just the flower clusters as you do not want any of the leaves or branches to add any bitter flavours to your lilac concoctions.

Lilac sugar is easily made by sealing some lilac flowers and granulated sugar in a mason jar for a week and tastes great with black tea. Candied lilacs are made by brushing the petals with sugar and egg whites. Other culinary preparations to preserve your lilacs include vinegar, wine and jelly.

Lilac flowers will retain their colour if used fresh but if you heat them at all the flower petals will turn brown while cooking. If used in muffins, bread, or cake the end product will have a faded yellow appearance.

When harvesting any wild edible foods I advise to avoid those growing along busy roadsides as these flowers are exposed to heavier amounts of pollutants from exhaust and vehicular fluids.

Fill your kitchen and home with the wonderful smells of spring by trying the following recipe is for lilac flowers but can be used for any flowers depending on which you prefer. It works well with apple, rose and nasturtium flowers. Flower petal jellies will preserve the aroma and taste of flowers but not their colour. Most flower jellies are tinged with yellow and brown hues. To give your flower jelly a naturally intensified colour that represents the flower you may want to add some natural fruit juices to your recipes. For lilacs, blueberry and pomegranate can produce a rich violet colour to accent its appearance.

 

 

Lilac Jelly

 

4 cups lilac blossoms

2 cups water

2 cups white wine

Juice of one lemon

2 packages powdered pectin

6 cups sugar

¼ cup additional lilac flowers

 

Method:

In a non-reactive pan bring the water and wine to a gentle boil. Remove the pot from the heat, add the petals, cover and let steep until cool. Strain off the flower petals.

Combine the cooled flower infused tea with the sugar and lemon juice. Return the pot to the stove and bring to a boil over high heat.  Once the sugar has dissolved, stir in the pectin and let the mixture return to a rolling boil for one minute while constantly stirring.  Remove the jelly from the heat and skim off any foam. Let the jelly cool slightly and add the remaining flower petals.  Pour the mixture into sterilized jars. Process the jars in a hot water bath or seal with paraffin like you would any other jelly.

 

 

 

Gastronomically yours,

May 26th, 2013

Indigenous trumps local food

 

Without question our unstable weather patterns from winter have carried over into spring and this is challenging for those who like to harvest their own food. .

Switching our attention from the garden to the forest might help feed our instinctive hunter-gatherer needs by allowing us to harvest the many foods that are available in nature such as ramps, morels, fiddle heads, elm seeds, nettles and dandelions to name a few of the many .

These wild and free foods are ahead of schedule and ready to harvest throughout the region. I don’t know of any other way to eat more locally than by eating indigenously.

I strongly encourage you to know how to correctly identify any foods that you are harvesting from the wild. Always inspect the foods you harvest and discard any diseased or insect infested pieces.

For long term preservation of your forest foraging bounty you can dry the morels, pickle the ramps and blanch/freeze down the extra fiddleheads; there is never a shortage of dandelions so only harvest what you need.

If you are not comfortable with the thought of harvesting these foods on your own then I recommend heading down to your Local Farmers Market and forage around the many vendors who are selling these wild ingredients safely in a tame manner.

 

Where the Wild Things Are Chicken

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
3 tbsp. canola oil
½ cup morel mushrooms cleaned, trimmed and coarsely chopped

1-2 ramps cleaned and coarsely chopped
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 tsp. marjoram
1 tsp. thyme

¼ cup fiddleheads

¼ cup chopped dandelion greens
1 cup light cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Flour for dredging
Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

 

 

Pre-heat a large sized Dutch oven over med-high heat. Dredge the chicken in flour and shake off excess. Add the canola oil to the Dutch oven and add the chicken to the pan. Do not overcrowd the pan. Allow chicken to lightly brown on each side. Now add the morels and ramps to the pot and continue cooking for few minutes. Stir in the wine, chicken stock and herbs. Secure the lid on your Dutch oven and place it on a lower rack in the oven. Cook or braise chicken mixture for 90 minutes. While waiting for the chicken to cook prepare a few cups of egg noodles.

Once cooked remove chicken from the Dutch oven, and place the thighs over the egg noodles. Skim off any fat from the braising liquid with a large spoon. Stir in the fiddleheads, dandelion greens and the cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the braising liquid over the chicken and serve immediately.

 

Having morels like the one below growing in our yard makes for quick easy harvest without the fear of others coming and raiding our patch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gastronomically yours,

May 24th, 2013

Ted Reader, King of the Q originally posted this image

 

 

Getting all fired up!!

 

There is something inexplicably tantalizing to one’s taste buds when the gentle wafting aromas of a neighbours BBQ ride find their way into our olfactory senses. It’s almost instinctive the way we react to the smell of flesh cooking over an open flame. This is quite understandable seeing as this is one of the oldest documented cooking methods.

The word barbeque is a derivative of a Cariban word barbaquoa.  The Carib’s at one time inhabited the southern Caribbean. The Arawak’s inhabited the northern islands.  It was common to find barbaquoa Ararwak on a Cariban’s dinner menu. This influence came from the Caribbean to the Gulf and made its way through Texas into North American cuisine.

With the arrival of spring many people will be firing up the BBQ for another season of grilling. Regardless of the size and price that you paid for your BBQ a spring tune up is in order before you get all fired up.

First you should give your BBQ a good cleaning and inspect all of the components within it. The main cause of flare-ups and those nerve wracking explosive starts to your system can usually be traced to a blockage in the venturi tubes on your BBQ. Warning signs of a gas blockage include any of the following; the burner doesn’t light, the burner flames are yellow or you’ve lost an eyebrow during ignition.

Insects are attracted to the smell of gas and often will take up residence in the tubes used to carry gas from the tank to the burners. Using a venturi brush you can clean the bugs out of the venturi tubes. Similar to a bottlebrush, proceed with the venturi brush an inch at a time using it to pull the cobwebs out of the line. Otherwise you will compact any debris into the line.

Do a soapy water test on the gas line and its connectors to ensure there are no gas leaks. Repair or replace any defected parts that you may find. Any of the metal parts within the firebox can be cleaned with a metal brush this will ensure that all of the burner ports are free of debris. Do not make any modifications to your system.

Now fire it up, preheat your BBQ gently, as you do not need to re-temper any of the metal causing it to warp or bend. Use a damp cloth and set of long handled tongs to wipe the grilling surface. This will help remove excess dirt and metal bristles from your grilling surface.  Now it’s time to get grilling!

 

 Maple Bourbon Grilling Sauce

In a heatproof bowl combine

½ cup of real Maple Syrup

¼ cup of bourbon

1 tbsp.  Vanilla extract

A pinch of thyme

A pinch of ground pepper

Generously brush the sauce over, beef, chicken, pork, salmon or veggies while your cooking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Straightforward Grilling Notes…

 

First and foremost you need to recognize two important things. First do not leave your BBq when cooking. Secondly your BBq has variable temperature control dials, therefore you should not always have your BBq cranked on high.

 

Prior to grilling assemble all of the items that you will need to get the job done. Including a squirt bottle of water to put out any small flare-ups as well as a fire extinguisher for large flare-ups!

 

Cuts of beef to utilize are NY striploin, Ribeye, Tenderloin, or Sirloin. About 5-10 minutes prior to cooking the steaks lightly drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Cook steaks on a hot BBq. Do not keep flipping them or turning them. You will only need to touch your steaks five times when cooking them 1. Place steaks on hot BBq. 2. After the flesh has been seared and marked, give the steak a quarter turn. This ensures the lovely criss-crossed grill marks you get in restaurants.

3. Flip the steak over. 4. Repeat step 2. 5. Remove the steaks from the BBq.

 

This process is the same for chicken, lightly oil the chicken prior to BBqing it as this will ensure that the chicken will not stick to the grill.

 

For grilling fish, choose firm fleshed fish such as salmon,  sea bass or tuna. For fish you will give everything a bit of oil, your flipper, tongs the BBq and the fish. This will allow you to cook the fish just like a steak. You also can cook the fish with the skin on it. Lightly oil the skin and cook it skin side down on the BBq. This technique will allow you to cook your fish without it breaking or flaking apart on the BBq.

 

For grilling veggies such as zucchini, eggplant and portabello’s lightly marinate the veg in olive oil with balsamic vinegar in a ratio of two-part vinegar to one-part oil. The veg do not need to be soaked in this mixture just a light drizzled will do.

 

For cedar planking… Make sure that when you purchase your planks that they are untreated. Also you must soak the planks for at least two-three hours prior to cooking with them.

 

When using skewers in grilling, make sure you soak them for an hour prior to using them, as this will prevent them from catching fire. Use your imagination here, try soaking your skewers in brandy, apple juice, or soy sauce. As your food cooks the skewers will impart flavors into the food.

You can also utilize rosemary sprigs as skewers, or grape vines as your skewer and these will also impart flavors into your food.

 

Cedar Planked Pickerel with Goats Cheese Crust

 

The mild flavor of pickerel works best for this recipe, however it will work with snapper or wild pacific salmon. Other cheeses to try would be Brie or Feta.

 

3-4well soaked cedar planks

2-4kg fresh pickerel fillets, with the skin on

Lemon pepper

1-cup goats cheese

6 green onions minced

1-2 tbsp. fresh thyme chopped

Juice of one lemon

1 tbsp. course ground pepper

Sea salt

Olive oil for brushing

 

Preheat your BBQ on High, rub lemon pepper into flesh of fish. Combine cheese onions, thyme and pepper in a mixing bowl and mix well. Season with salt to taste. Use mixture to form a crust on the flesh side of the pickerel fillets.

Place cedar planks onto the BBQ grill and close the lid. In about 3-5 minute the planks will start to smoke and make a cracking noise. Carefully open the BBQ lid as there will be a fair bit of smoke. Brush some olive oil onto the planks, using an oiled metal spatula, transfer the pickerel; fillets to the cedar planks, skin-side down. Bake for 5-7 minutes and your crust is golden. Remove pickerel from BBQ and serve immediately with lemon wedges.

 

 

 

 

 

Basic BBQ Secrets

 

There is something inexplicably tantalizing to one’s taste buds when the gentle wafting aromas of a neighbours BBQ find their way into our olfactory senses. It’s almost instinctive the way we react to the smell of flesh cooking over an open flame. This is quite understandable seeing as this is one of the oldest documented cooking methods.

The word barbeque is a derivative of the Cariban word barbaquoa.  The Carib’s at one time inhabited the southern Caribbean. The Arawak’s inhabited the northern islands.  It was common to find barbaquoa Arawak on a Cariban’s dinner menu. This influence came from the Caribbean to the Gulf and made its way through Texas into North American cuisine.

Now I’m assuming that everyone has completed a spring tune-up on their BBQ’s prior to the start of the grilling season, as I recommended in my article “Getting All Fired Up!!”  So now it’s time to get down to the business of grilling.

To become a BBQ pro the rules are as follows. Pre-heat your Q to around 400-500 °f

Do not leave your BBQ until the cooking is done. This means that you must gather everything that you will need and have it in arms reach. This includes any of those frosty beverages you may need to get the job done right.  Prior to grilling assemble all of the items that you will. Include a squirt bottle of water to put out any small flare-ups as well as a fire extinguisher for large flare-ups.

Secondly your BBQ has variable temperature control dials; therefore you should not always have your BBQ cranked up so high that you run the risk of re-tempering it’s steel construction and charring your own flesh let alone your dinner.

Lastly for basic grilling techniques, leave the lid of your BBQ open so you can see what’s going on. Keep the lid closed when preheating your Q. The lid assists in protecting the BBQ’s fire bowl when not in use or for advanced grilling techniques such as smoking and roasting.

For grilling fish, choose firm fleshed fish such as salmon, sea bass or tuna. For fish you will need to give everything a light coating of oil, your flipper, tongs the BBQ and the fish. This will allow you to cook the fish just like a steak without it sticking to the grill. You can cook the fish with the skin on it, simply cook it skin side down on the grill. These techniques will allow you to cook your fish without it breaking or flaking apart on the BBQ.

Keep in mind that you can BBQ anything. With proper use of techniques bread, pizzas, cheese, desserts and shellfish can all be barbequed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gastronomically yours,

May 12th, 2013

 

May is “Love your Lentils Month”Gotta Pulse?

 

Legumes are any plant that produces fruits that are enclosed in a pod. Common examples of legumes would be fresh peas or peanuts. Pulses are any member of the legume family whose seeds have been harvested and dried. Chickpeas and lentils are the most common selections of pulses.

Although lentils come in a variety of sizes we generally find the large green lentil and red lentil in the grocery store. When lentils are labelled as split this tells us that the tough seed coat around the lentil has been removed and the embryo or inner part of the lentil has been split in half.  Split lentils cook twice as fast as a whole lentil and are preferred in soup based recipes as they can be pureed where we prefer to use whole lentils in salads or rice dishes as they hold their shape well and have a firmer berry like texture.

Canada exports lentils to over 100 countries making Canada the world’s largest exporter of lentils. Most of Canada’s lentils are grown in Saskatchewan with most production being focused on the large green and red lentil varieties.  Lesser produced varieties include smaller sized French green lentils and Spanish brown lentils.

Lentils do not need to be soaked prior to cooking them but should always be rinsed off. Canned lentils are available in a precooked state and will reduce all recipe cooking times however the flavour of them is somewhat bland in comparison to cooking them yourself.

Some people are predicting that pulses like the lentil will become our planet`s super food as they are high in fibre, protein, iron and B vitamins and are easily grown without the use of fertilizers. Lentils in their dry form have a one year shelf life when stored in a dry, cool and dark environment.

Canadian grown lentils are available on most grocery store shelves throughout our area. I suggest that you use a smaller green lentil in the following lentil soup recipe as they have a slightly firmer texture than other lentils; especially in comparison to the brown lentil which soaks up a lot of liquid and is quite soggy in texture.

 

 

Lentil Soup

Ingredients:

 

3 tbsp. canola oil or butter

2 cups peeled and diced yellow onions

1 cup diced celery

1 cup peeled and diced carrots

1 tbsp. minced garlic

1 liter chicken, beef or vegetable stock

1 1/4 cups dry split green lentils, rinsed

4-5 medium sized Ontario Hothouse tomatoes

Salt and Pepper

 

Method:

Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy bottomed soup pot. Stir in the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic. Stirring frequently, gently cook them in the oil until the onions start to brown up. Stir in the stock, lentils, and tomatoes. Increase heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to medium-low setting allowing the soup to simmer for about 30-40 minutes or until the lentils are tender.

For a thick soup pulse it with an immersion blender until you reach your preferred consistency. If you make it to thick, simply thin it out with more stock or water. Season to your tastes with salt and pepper. Serves 4-6.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Your Lentils

 

 

Love Your Lentils Canada competition launches today

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Canadian Chef Michael Smith challenges Home Chefs and Food Bloggers to get creative with lentils

Vote for your favourites, Canada

Saskatoon, SK, May 2, 2013 – Canadian Lentils in partnership with Chef Michael Smith announced today the Love Your Lentils Canada competition, which challenges home chefs and food bloggers to develop and adapt recipes that could become a new favourite for family mealtime. All Canadians are invited to test them out and vote for their favourites.

“I love lentils and I’m thrilled that we grow the best in the world right here in Canada!” said Chef Michael Smith, who will be judging the finalists. “I can’t wait to taste what Canada’s home chefs and food bloggers come up with!”

The competition will be split into two divisions: Food Bloggers and Home Chefs.

 

Home chefs will be asked to take one of Chef Michael Smith’s existing lentil recipes and add their own twist to it, while bloggers will be asked to submit completely unique lentil recipes. Visit www.loveyourlentils.ca to submit adapted (Home Chefs) or original (Bloggers) lentil recipes. Then, invite family, friends, fans, and followers to cast a ballot for your recipe – there is a chance they could win, too!

 

Love Your Lentils Canada challenge details:

  • The top ten (10) recipes in each segment as voted on by the general public will then be reviewed by Chef Michael and his team, who will select the top three (3) recipes in each category.
  • The winning Blogger and Home Chef will be flown to Saskatchewan and hosted at the Delta Bessborough where they will spend a day with Chef Michael Smith touring the city and taking in some lentil highlights. Joining them will also be one (1) randomly selected voter from the campaign.
  • The six (6) finalists with their recipe and pictures will be featured and promoted on www.loveyourlentils.ca and www.lentils.ca. The top three winners will also be featured on Chef Michael’s website, http://chefmichaelsmith.com.

Check out www.loveyourlentils.ca for all the details.

JOIN THE TWITTER PARTY:

Tweet with @chefmichaelsmth and @cdnlentils at the #lovelentils Twitter party on Tuesday, May 14th at 8 p.m. EDT.

Canadian Lentils is an Official Mark of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, a farmers’ organization that works to advance the lentil industry in Saskatchewan, the heart of the lentil growing region in Canada. For more in formation about Canadian Lentils and to see more great ways to cook with lentils, visit us at www.lentils.caClick here to like us on Facebook.

For more information about the Love Your Lentils Canada campaign, recipes or to book an interview, please contact:

Saskia Brussaard, Crave Public Relations

saskia@cravepr.com / 416-850-3519 / @cravepr

*If you’d prefer not to receive press releases about lentils or your interests have changed, just email me so I can update our contact information for you: saskia@cravepr.com

Love Your Lentils

 

 

Copyright © [2013]
Crave Public Relations
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Gastronomically yours,

May 12th, 2013

Sticks and Stones

 

Who cannot resist the aromas of a BBQ? We cannot deny that when we smell foods licked by fire and smoke that our appetite is whetted and we start to salivate. This ancient method of cooking dates back to the days of cave dwellers cooking chunks of meat over a fire. Through its evolution we can come to understand the basics of BBQ and harness the elements used for creating memorable back-yard feasts.

 

The word barbecue originated from the Spanish word barbacoa and made its way to Central America. The Arawak people traveled from Central America to the Caribbean taking their style of barbacoa with them. The Caribbean was also inhabited with the Carib Indians who were a fierce society of warriors who led to the demise of the Arawak’s 1000-year existence in the Islands. It is believed that the Carib’s dinned on barbacoa Arawak at their victory feasts.

From Central America the barbecue traveled north to Texas and the barbecue scene has never rested since as it gave birth to a sub-culture of BBQ rib and sauce competitions that are as hot and fiery as the foods served at these annual national events. We must also acknowledge Australia for the “Barbie” and the Japanese for the “Hibachi” and the influences made on our way of backyard grilling. As well as tailgate party goers and the various flavors found in such societal delicacies as Beer Can Chicken.

Roll tape

 

Here in Canada we can trace our cooking styles back to the Pacific Northwest native peoples with the art of plank-grilling where one splits open a freshly caught salmon, binds it to a piece of cedar driftwood and cooks it over a fire. From the Pacific Northwest also comes hot-rock cooking. Here we use heated slabs of granite for cooking fish and seafood on the surface of heated stones. These methods of cooking allow us to infuse or impart natural aromatic flavors into our food.

Plank-grilling and hot-rock applications are fun and easy to do however there are a few precautions and rules to be observed. When choosing a plank use an aromatic wood like untreated alder or cedar. I do not recommend Eastern cedar, pine or birch. It is necessary to soak the planks in water for a few hours before the grilling begins as this allows the wood to slowly release smoke and flavor, as with dry planks you will have a fire and no dinner.

If you choose to cook with stones do not use porous rocks as they sometimes retain water and explode with extreme heat. Use slabs of granite, marble or even terra cotta. By incorporating stone slabs into your BBQ you can try doing mussels and oysters or BBQ pizzas and cheeses to make unique appetizers. Dessert is a necessary course needed to finish any great repast and this too can be done on the Q by cedar planking apples and peaches served with ice-cream.

This May long weekend is the perfect excuse for taking the time and trying something new on your Bbq. Our local grocers, farmer’s markets and farm gate purveyors are sure to have something for you to experiment with.

 

Getting fired up

 

Below is this years BBQ Class Schedule from Friendly Fires for more details check them on line

Friendly Fires 2013 BBQ Class Schedule
Below you will find the schedule for our BBQ classes in 2013. We are very excited to be welcoming two new headliners this year – Chef John from Bohemian BBQ and Master Butcher George from Primal Cuts. Returning by popular demand is Chef Brian Henry.
Once again, the majority of our BBQ classes take place on Saturday morning at our Peterborough store location – and usually rain or shine so come dressed for the weather (tents are erected in the case of rain).
Saturday May 25th – 10am
John from Bohemian BBQ – John is an grill master who specializes in southern BBQ as well as that of countries like Peru, Argentina and Portugal. Today John will be demonstrating the unique flavours of Portuguese Piri Piri with chicken. John promises you’ve never tasted chicken like this. [warning – you may experience withdrawal symptoms the next day] (cost is $15 per person)
Saturday June 1st – 10am
Chef Brian Henry will be taking our taste buds on an adventure to Korea with BBQ techniques and flavours found only on the Korean peninsula. (cost is $15 per person)
Saturday June 8th – 10am
Master Butcher George from Primal Cuts in Peterborough will be exploring the world of beef, more precisely lesser known cuts of steak. We are betting you may never buy a striploin again! Primal Cuts is known for using ethically raised local animals and being the only shop in town that dry ages beef up to 90 days! (cost is $15 per person)
Thursday June 13th – 4pm
Friendly Fires’ own Hayley Doyle and Valerie Adams will be hosting an afternoon of fun and food where women can feel free to discuss all things BBQ. Experience is not necessary. Come for the experience, come for the food, come for the techniques but leave happy, full and eager to get home to turn on your own BBQ! (cost is $30 per person and class is approx 2-3 hours long)
Saturday June 22nd – 11am
With Friendly Fires 2nd Annual BBQ Competition only one month away we thought we’d fire up the grills to have our own mini “Rib cookoff”. Come taste the difference that technique, fuel and flavouring can make to a “simple” rack of ribs.
Saturday July 6th – 10am
Chef Brian Henry is back and this time he is taking our taste buds on a trip to Australia. From the country that brought you “Shrimp on the Barbie” come see what else Australia has added to the world of BBQ through the talents of Chef Brian Henry. (cost is $15 per person)
Tuesday July 9th – 4pm
Friendly Fires’ own Hayley Doyle and Valerie Adams will be hosting an afternoon of fun and food where women can feel free to discuss all things BBQ. Experience is not necessary. Come for the experience, come for the food, come for the techniques but leave happy, full and eager to get home to turn on your own BBQ! (cost is $30 per person and class is approx 2-3 hours long)
Saturday July 13th – 10am
For his final class Chef Brian Henry will be taking our taste buds down to the docks to see what the local fishing boats have brought in today. Seafood or maybe more precisely local “lakefood”. Taste how good it can be right here in the Kawarthas!
Saturday July 20th – 10am
Master Butcher George from Primal Cuts in Peterborough will be exploring the world of beef, more precisely lesser known cuts of steak. We are betting you may never buy a striploin again!  Primal Cuts is known for using ethically raised local animals and being the only shop in town that dry ages beef up to 90 days!(cost is $15 per person)
To sign up for any of our classes, please call our Peterborough location (705-741-1900) or drop in (981 Highway 7 East, Peterborough). Due to the popularity of these classes and the need to know numbers for estimating food, please note that prepayment is required to hold your spot.
Chef Brian Henry
Primal Cuts
Bohemian BBQ

Gastronomically yours,

April 26th, 2013


The smell of Spring

 

I love the aromas produced by foods being prepared in a kitchen. One of these favorite culinary induced aromas I can only smell in the bathroom. It is the smell of metabolized compounds found in asparagus. These sulphur based compounds give our urine a distinct perfume within 20 minutes of ingesting this member of the daffodil family.

The effect of eating asparagus on our urine has been of curiosity and study since the 1700’s. Most recently a study published in 2010 found that while almost everyone who eats asparagus produces the aromatic asparagus-urine only 22% of the population has the autosomal genes required to smell them. This trait is unique to asparagus as these compounds originate in asparagusic. The aromatic producing elements of asparagus are more concentrated in young asparagus are more present in young asparagus, with the observation that the smell is more pronounced after eating young asparagus.

Another food study in the 1700’s saw the cross breeding of Fragaria virginiana and Fragaria chiloensis which lead to the creation of the cultivar more commonly known as the common garden strawberry.

These naturally sweet aromatic orbs are related to the rose family and have been used for centuries in the kitchen but also in cosmetic applications and of course the perfume industry. The strawberry is the first fruit to ripen and be harvested in the Kawartha’s. Their flavor can be influenced by weather and this year’s hot dry spring should produce exceptionally sweeter fruits than usual.

Asparagus and strawberries have a number of similar traits. They are both related to flowers; make great companion plants, they require human hands to harvest them, and are only available locally in season for a short period of time. Pick up both of these ingredients at farmers markets and grocery stores throughout our region while still in season and try them together in this week’s recipe that will welcome the delicious aromas of summer into our homes. The many textures and flavors of this salad are best served with barbecued chicken to making it a satisfying meal.

Asparagus and Strawberry Salad

Ingredients:

2 cups asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite size pieces

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

2 tbsp. lemon juice

4 cups arugula

1 tbsp.  Honey

3 tbsp.  Balsamic vinegar

 

Method:

In a medium sized bowl combine the asparagus and half of the olive oil together and toss it until the asparagus is evenly coated with the oil. Cook the asparagus for 2-3 minutes in either a preheated oven or barbeque at around 400 °f. Once cooked remove asparagus from heat and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl.

Place about a cup of arugula onto four dinner plates. Top the arugula with the strawberries and asparagus.  Lightly drizzle each salad with the vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

 

Gastronomically yours,

April 25th, 2013

You be the Judge

 

Geographical regions are often defined by their terroir or their sense of place which is personified through its geography, environment, culture and cuisine. This weekend our region will display all of its characteristic qualities that define our somewhereness here throughout the Kawartha and Northumberland counties at the Flavour Festival being held this Sunday at The Morrow Building.

My childhood summer memories are filled full of drives with my father throughout Central Ontario. Our regular road trips through the countryside were serenaded by baseball games on am radio while squeaking our way through lightly salted bags of curd, softened on the dashboard in the sun. Often these road trips were interrupted by stopping to try butter tarts from corner stores and church bake sales.

To me curd and butter tarts define our region like nothing else when it comes to food. Personally, I have never met a curd I haven’t enjoyed and our region is full of brilliant cheese makers. Finding a great butter tart is more redolent of spending a lifetime in pursuit of a fish that got away and faded memories of summers past.

What makes the best butter tart? Is the most personal question one can be asked and can include other questions like “Do you like a runny or firm filling?” or “Do you prefer raisins in or out of your tarts?” These questions as well as who makes “The Best Crust”, who makes “the Best Filling”, who makes the “Best Overall” butter tart and who makes “The Most Creative Filling” will be asked and answered at the Flavour Festivals Kawarthas Butter Tart Taste-Off.

A panel of judges including myself have been tasked with the difficult job of answering these questions while finding our local area’s best butter tart. This will be no easy task but I will fulfill my public service duties to our community to the fullest.

There is another category that will be awarded at this competition as well and it’s the most prestigious of all “The People’s Choice Award”.  I personally invite you to come out and discover the flavours of the Kawarthas and Northumberland County at this year’s Flavour Festival and I further challenge you to come and help us decide who makes the best butter tart in the region.

For those of you who enjoy butter tarts and their pastry I suggest you try the following recipe for Vodka Pie Crust using Kawartha Dairy Butter.

Vodka Pie Crust

 

Ingredients:

13 oz unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. sugar
6oz cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cold vodka that has been infused with vanilla bean
1/4 cup cold water

Method:
Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined. Add the butter and shortening and pulse the mixture until it reaches a uniform consistency. It will appear clumpy and curd-like.

Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula and add the remaining flour. Again pulse the mixture until evenly incorporated. Turn the flour mixture out into a medium sized mixing bowl.
Sprinkle the vodka and water over mixture. Use the rubber spatula, to fold the dough over on itself while pressing down on the mixture to combine it into a slightly sticky dough mass. Divide dough in half and form it into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

Gastronomically yours,

April 4th, 2013

Tofu or not Tofu that is the question

Tofu is a highly concentrated form of protein that resembles whose form is similar to cheese. Its origins are disputed as to whether the Mongol’s or Chinese discovered the tofu making process but it is believed that this food staple entered the culinary world somewhere between the 2nd to 10th centuries. It was originally known in Chinese as dou-fu or tou-fu but today we refer to it by its Japanese name tofu or simply bean curd.

The process of making tofu is quite similar to making cheese as it is made from the pressed curds of coagulated soy milk. The coagulation of soy milk proteins happens with the adding of salt, acids and / or enzymes, just like cheese.

From these curds we see four basic categories of tofu. Soft or silken tofu has a high moisture content which makes it ideal to be used in smoothies and sauces as its texture is similar to pudding or custard.

Firm tofu crumbles nicely like feta cheese and works well in casseroles and pasta dishes. Extra firm tofu quite dry and holds its shape well and can be barbequed or pan fried. Dried tofu is also available and needs to be rehydrated for consumption and is often added to soups.

Regardless of what texture of tofu you use its flavour or should I say lack of flavour for the most part is always the same; none existent.  This lack of flavour is what makes tofu such an incredibly versatile ingredient to work with as it readily absorbs whatever flavours you add to it.

Once you have chosen what texture of tofu you want to useit should be stored in the refrigerator with respect to its expiration date. One you open your tofu you will need to drain the water that it is packaged in and change it daily to preserve freshness. Unopened packages of tofu can be stored in the freezer.

Ontario produces about 3 million tonnes of soybeans annually on over 2 million acres of farm land. Most of these protein packed legumes are destined for livestock feed with a small portion of this annual harvest destined for human consumption. Sol Cuisine is an Ontario vegetarian based food producer, who has been using organic, GMO free Ontario grown soybeans since its inception in 1997, to produce its line of soy based products. Sol Cuisine tofu is available at Joanne’s Place in Peterborough.

Regular readers of this column know my appreciation of all animal based sources of protein with a fondness for butter, bacon and all forms of beef. What you may not be aware of is that I have in past lives been vegetarian, owned vegetarian restaurants and to this day offer an extensive list of vegetarian courses and meals for my clients. As such I have learned that introducing tofu into anyone’s menu or diet can be a challenge for a number of reasons. This week’s recipe is one that I have used for over 20 years to assist people in trying tofu for the first time, or for those wishing to have some fun with tofu. I like to call this recipe KFT or Kentucky Fried Tofu as its flavour is reminiscent to the Colonel’s secret recipe. It can be served with hominy grits, corn on the cob, okra and some slaw just to give it a down home kind of feeling.

Be sure to pick up the nutritional yeast needed for this recipe while at Joanne’s too.

 

Kentucky Fried Tofu

 

Ingredients:

1 lb. extra firm tofu

2tbsp. soy sauce

1/4 cup sliced almonds

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

3 tbsp. de-bittered nutritional yeast

1/8 tsp. ground sage

1 tsp. thyme leaves, dried

1 tsp. oregano leaves, dried

1 tsp. marjoram leaves, dried

1 tsp. sweet paprika

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

1/8 tsp. onion powder

¾ cup whole wheat bread crumbs

Oil for frying

 

Method:

Drain all of the water from the tofu and slice the block into four equal sized rectangles. Squeeze the rectangles between your palms to remove any water absorbed within it. Slice the tofu rectangles corner to corner to make triangles. Place the tofu triangles on a plate and drizzle them with the soy sauce and set aside.

Combine all of the remaining dry ingredients in a food processor and grind them together using the pulse setting until you have evenly incorporated them into what resembles a flour like mixture. Transfer this dry mixture into a mixing bowl.

Preheat a frying pan over medium heat with just enough oil to cover its bottom. Dredge the tofu triangles in the almond flour mixture, making sure that the tofu is fully coated on all sides and gently place them in the fry pan. Turn the pieces frequently while frying them until they reach a nice golden brown. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

 

 

 

reservation
Chef Brian for Hire
The Spice Co.