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 ‘Ice Sculptures’ Category

Gastronomically yours,

February 6th, 2017

Ice Cube

For most Canadians ice is something to skate on, fish through, serve with your favorite beverage or needs to be heavily salted and sanded after a storm. Nowadays ice seems to either be a luxury or a nuisance to us.

The earliest record of harvesting ice was written around 600 BC in northwest China. It was harvested in the winter months and stored for use in the summer months for refrigeration purposes. Over the next 1000 years not too much changed with ice and the harvesting of it.

Michael Tuinstra, of Cambridge, works on an ice sculpture during the Ice Sculpture Competition in Lakefield. The event was held as part of Polar Fest in Selwyn Township.

In the 1600’s Chinese peoples in the Heilongjiang province, began making lanterns out of ice to illuminate the long winter nights it wasn’t long before people started hanging these lanterns outside of their homes as decorative pieces. Before long these decorative pieces grew in size and began appearing as large decorative show pieces.

There seems to be some dispute as to whether China or Russia should be credited with starting the first ice based festivals. Seeing as the region where these traditions started were in the same general area with a border running through them I think it would be safe to reason that these carnivals grew to be a part of regional traditions. The trend spread, and people started hanging decorated lanterns from homes and parading them in carnivals.

The first large scale ice sculpture was of a palace created entirely out of ice in Russia in 1740. Highlights of this monumental piece included cannons that fired cannon balls of ice, and an icy elephant that sprayed water out of its trunk. Ever since the creation of this palace communities throughout China and Russia have been constructing entire towns out of ice.

Ice has been incorporated into many cuisines for its decorative accents. Most famously Chef Auguste Escoffier first presented the traditional Peach Melba dessert nestled in a dish that looked like a swan which was completely carved out of ice. Since this time chefs have plied their craft at making ice sculptures to decorate their buffet tables. This is exceptionally present on cruise ship buffets.

As a chef I enjoy sculpting ice as it allows one to create temporary works of art that are very pleasing to the eye.  I truly enjoy the fact that no matter how beautiful or big the sculpture we know that it will ultimately end up as a puddle of water. An ephemeral expression of art.

The ice blocks that I choose to carve are specially made, they come in 300 lbs. blocks and take three days to form. The water is continuously agitated during the freezing process producing crystal clear ice, without any pressure cracks or bubbles forming in the blocks. As well the water used is food friendly and can be ingested safely. Some carvers use lake water which works equally as well as the factory formed blocks, the downside being that bits of debris can be trapped in the ice, as well it is advisable not to ingest untreated water from our lakes.

Once I’ve decided on a design I draw a one dimensional paper template of what I intend to carve. I then etch the template into the ice. From here I use a chainsaw to remove all of the large pieces of ice that will not be needed in for the sculpture. Then using any of the following tools chisels, irons, grinders, drills and blow torches I begin to transform what began as a one dimensional drawing into a 3 dimensional sculpture.

We celebrated the 13th Annual Polar Fest Ice Sculpting Competition in Lakefield Ontario this past weekend. There were a dozen professional carvers on hand competing for the People Choice Award and the Carver`s Choice Award. This annual event has been sponsored since its inception by the Lakefield Village Merchants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gastronomically yours,

December 13th, 2014

The Lakefield Village Merchants

Proudly Celebrating the 11th Annual Ice Sculpting Competition!

Proudly Celebrating the 11th Annual Ice Sculpting Competition!

Present the 11th Annual Polar Fest Ice Sculpting Competition

Come visit the Village of Lakefield

Come visit the Village of Lakefield

Greetings from the Kawarthas!

The Lakefield Village Merchants are currently planning the

11th Annual Polar Fest Ice Sculpting Competition

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

2015 theme

Frozen”

As we are celebrating our 11th year of this fabulous event we have decided to go with the Disney Movie Frozen as our family oriented theme

 

This years theme will be inspired by Disneys Frozen

This years theme will be inspired by Disneys Frozen

Each sculptor(s) or team will have 2-3 blocks of ice to work with. You can have a fourth block to carve with, but it will need a logo of one of our sponsors carved into it.

In addition to prizes/awards for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners, all carvers will be given $100.00 to help offset incurred personal costs. The People’s Choice Award will be given at 5:00 pm, with an Ice Carvers’ Reception from 4:30 pm –5:30 pm immediately following the competition Saturday evening at The Thirsty Loon Pub.

Please keep in mind that entrant space is limited and it fills quickly. Please respond by, January 25th, 2015. If you are interested please reply to me ASAP, and I will forward more information to you.

 Don’t hesitate to contact me if you require any additional information.

I look forward to another successful year.

Sincere regards,  Brian Henry

Ice Sculpting Competition Founding Facilitator

on behalf of Lakefield Village Merchants

705.875.0428

thechef@chefbrianhenry.com

www.chefbrianhenry.com

 

Ice Sculpture Competition Guidelines

 

The following guidelines will assist you with your plans to participate in the upcoming Polar Fest Ice Sculpture Competition on Saturday, January 31st, 2015.

PLEASE READ THESE CAREFULLY.

 

  • A minimum of two blocks of ice per entry will be supplied by The Lakefield Village Merchants (40”x 20” x 9.5” – approx.270 lbs per ice block).

 

  • Ice carving will take place on Saturday, January 31st, 2015 from 9 am to 4 pm. Please arrive at Cenotaph Park in Lakefield at 8 am for instructions for the day. The Awards Presentation will take place on Saturday at 4:00 pm with a reception from 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm immediately following the competition.

 

  • Participants are responsible for supplying their own tools and materials – electricity will be provided. Neither ladders nor chairs are provided and it is the sculptor’s responsibility to provide these if necessary for their carvings. Please remember to bring extension cord(s) if you will be using chainsaws or other tools that require power. A limited number of generators will be on hand. You may choose to bring your own generators.

 

  • The sculptures will remain on display for the whole weekend and as long the weather allows them to last. Once completed, all sculptures become the property of The Lakefield Village Merchants. The Lakefield Village Merchants retain exclusive rights to the sculptures and the use of any photographs, videos or reproductions thereof for future promotional, commercial or other applications. Parties interested in the use of photographs, videos or reproductions of the sculptures for commercial, promotional or other use application means must receive written approval of that use from Brian Henry, Competition Facilitator and from the Lakefield Village Merchants. Carvers shall be entitled to use photographs of the sculptures they themselves created for their personal portfolios and such use shall be excluded from this restriction.

 

  • Safety is very important. In order to ensure the safety of all participants, we strongly recommend that personal protective equipment be used in order to avoid injuries due to the use of electrical or manual equipment. This includes safety boots, hearing protection, protective eyewear and other relevant safety equipment. Each participant is responsible for their own safety, as well as the safety of other competitors and the general public. The Township of Selwyn, the owners of property on which sculptures will be situated and The Lakefield Village Merchants will in no way be held responsible for injuries and/or damages incurred to the carvers/sculptors and their support team. The carvers are responsible for their tools and equipment. No rewards will be paid out due to loss, theft or damage to tools, equipment and personal effects.

 

  • Other than the annually set theme there are no set parameters as to design to the sculptures, a general sense of taste must apply, with a liberal approach to keeping the sculptures in the realms of political correctness. As well this approach applies to the sculptor’s behavior and actions while partaking in this event.

 

Deadline for entry is January 25th, 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015 Theme

FROZEN”

 

2015 Ice Sculpture Competition Entry Form

 

Name:                                                                                                                                    

 

Number of blocks requested: One              Two                 Three                    .

 

Telephone:                                                    Occupation:                                                  

 

Address:                                                                                                                               

 

City:                                                                            Postal Code:                         

 

E-mail:                                                                                                                                   

 

 

Please be sure to include (checklist below):

  • Completed form
  • Sculpture Design Plans
  • Short 100 word bio about yourself and or your team for press release.

 

 

Please forward your completed entry forms to:

 

Brian Henry

Private Chef Services

Ice Sculpting Competition Founding Facilitator

On behalf of the

Lakefield Village Merchants

  1. 875.0428

thechef@chefbrianhenry.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gastronomically yours,

September 4th, 2013

 

Cider House Rules

Apples grown in Ontario are mostly harvested in early fall. While the varieties characteristics are at their peak at this time Ontario apple growers place most of their 1 100 000 000 lbs. harvest into cold storage. These apples are stored just above the freezing mark allowing us to enjoy them year round.

Within a month of being harvested sugars stored within starch molecules in the apples begin to breakdown making the apple’s taste sweeter and lowering their acidity. The longer apples are stored, the sweeter they become. This natural process led to the discovery that as the apples aged they would begin to ferment with their increased sugars which resulted in the production of hard cider.

Although apple cultivation originated along the Nile River, cider making is believed to have originated in England but it was of common practice throughout European monasteries.  Julius Caesar and his armies enjoyed the hard cider they discovered in England upon their arrival in 55 BC and embraced the practise of making hard apple cider. Farm laborers in this era were given a regular cider allowance as part of their wages. In times of harvest and planting the cider allowance was increased to assist with the pains suffered during peak demand endured by the labourers.

The popularity of hard cider grew and eventually made its way to North America. The hard cider industry collapsed during prohibition and has been slowly making a comeback ever since.

Soft cider and mulled cider are commonly enjoyed during the winter months as they can be served hot and they are filled with spices that warm our senses and our bones after playing outside. Try this recipe using Ontario grown apples to make your own cider. Children can assist in not only drinking this wintery beverage but can easily assist in the kitchen with making it.

 

 

Cookin 101

Cookin 101

Home made cider

Ingredients:

20 apples of your choice depending on personal taste

6 cinnamon sticks

4 tbsp. allspice

10 whole cloves

1 tsp. nutmeg

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup maple syrup

 

Method:

Wash the apples in warm running water. Cut the apples into quarters with their skins intact. Take the time to remove the seeds as they contain trace amounts of arsenic.

Place the quartered apples in a large stainless steel stock pot. Add enough water to barely cover the apples. Tie your spices in bundle of cheesecloth and add this to the pot.

Bring the apples to a gentle boil over medium-high heat and let them continue to boil for about an hour uncovered.

Reduce the heat enough to let the apple mixture simmer and stir in the sugar and maple syrup with a wooden spoon. Let the soon to be cider simmer for two hours. After this remove the cider and allow it to cool for an hour.  Remove the spice sachet and discard it.

Next mash the apples with a potato masher or puree them with an immersion blender until smooth and quite pulpy in texture.

Strain the apples through a sieve and extract all of the liquid from the pulp by gently pressing down on it with a spoon. The pulp can now be either discarded or saved for future use as apple sauce or in muffin recipes.

Once the cider has cooled down to room temperature, taste it and adjust the seasoning if you choose. I like to add fresh ginger and lemon juice to mine. As well you may want to add more water if you find the cider to be too thick.

Cider will store in the refrigerator for 3-5 days or it can be frozen to enjoy later for up to 3 months. Reheat the cider as needed in the microwave or on the stove and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 liters

Gastronomically yours,

August 29th, 2013

CNE and fried scream

 

The Canadian National Exhibition was founded in 1879 to encourage the development of agriculture, manufacturing, industry, commerce and the arts. It has evolved into a celebration of the arts, midway attractions, shopping and food.

The food attractions have evolved into a cultural smorgasbord with foods from around the world. At the core of the CNE’s food pavilion there also seems to be a group of budding gastronomes who work feverishly to come up with the most original must have food products. This year’s menu includes Nutella sweet potato fries, Cronut Burger, Bacon And Peanut Butter Milkshakes and all manner of bacon laced indulgences. Most of the other menu headliners include anything deep-fried, including butter, chocolate bars, whole onions and pizza.

Humans have been frying foods in oil since the discovery of rotary motion as this was the only way to process nuts and grains to extract their oils which happened sometime during the first century in the Mediterranean region. By the 10th century Arab cookbooks had detailed instructions on how to toast the grains for oil extraction as well as how to clarify, scent, color, and store the extracted oils. It was also during this period that olive oil production came into practice.

We often think of deep fried foods as unhealthy and greasy, but if executed properly fried foods should not be greasy as the moisture contained in the food to be fried will actually repel the oil as the heated oil will cause the food item to produce steam. This water vapour is expelled as steam creating bubbles which pushes the oil away from the food.  By keeping the oil temperature at a constant 350°f – 375°f and minimizing the time the food is fried for the oil will only be present in a very thin layer on the outer portion of the fried food.

If you can’t make it to this year’s CNE food pavilion but want to try some deep-fried food, try making some deep-fried ice cream at home. The following recipe uses Kawartha Dairy Company’s vanilla ice cream, but you can substitute your favourite flavour if you want to. Personally my preferred fried ice cream is Moose Track’s which isn’t bad when you consider that it’s deep-fried chocolate and peanut butter.

 

 


physziquehealthy

Deep Fried Ice Cream

Ingredients

1 liter of Kawartha Dairies vanilla ice cream

1 cup frosted cornflakes, crushed fine

1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut

2 eggs

2 tbsp.  sugar

Your choice of oil, for frying

Method:

Scoop out 4 medium sized scoops (3-4 oz.) of ice cream and pack them tight like a snow ball. Place the ice cream balls onto a parchment line baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and place them in the freezer for a couple of hours to set hard.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the cornflake crumbs with the shredded coconut.

Roll the ice cream balls in the cornflake mixture and immediately return them to the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

In another medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs and sugar. Dip the crumb-coated ice cream balls into the egg wash and then roll the balls in the crumb mixture for a second time making sure that they are coated completely. Return the ice cream balls to the freezer and let them set for 1-2 hours.

Heat your counter top deep-fryer to 375°f. Deep fry the ice cream balls one at a time, using the basket to gently lower them into the oil. Fry the balls until they are golden brown which will take about a minute. Remove the cooked ice cream from the fryer basket and serve it in a bowl. Serve it immediately with some chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Yields 4 portions.

 

Food poisoning at Canadian events on the risehttp://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2013/08/27/toronto-past-canadian-food-illness-investigations.html

 

 

food and religion

Gastronomically yours,

August 21st, 2013

Paileontology: The history of the lunch pail!

Awesome Eeb's having a nosh on the go!

Awesome Eeb’s having a nosh on the go!

As long as humans have been on the move so has been the food we eat. Originally we would carry food and water about inside the well-oiled bladders and hides of different animals. We eventually evolved and started to carry our food wrapped in pieces of cloth in woven baskets or wooden boxes.

During the 1800’s working class men who had to leave their homes to work and not return until dinner time would convert their metal biscuit and tobacco tins into sturdy containers that would keep their lunches safe in factories, mines and building sites. These same containers were used for kids too when heading off to school. The mid 1800’s saw the first patents being registered for lunch boxes.

At the turn of the 20th century the increased industrialization of our society saw more and more people working outside the home in a variety of environments often making it impractical to go home for lunch. The lunch pail became a symbol of one’s economic status as it showed that you could not afford to purchase a hot lunch time meal. These societal demands and views lead to the invention of a sealed glass tube flask in 1904. This flask allowed everyone the opportunity to enjoy a hot lunch or beverage while at work as the Thermos quickly became a household word.

These turn of the century innovations saw the lunch pail transform into a sturdy virtually indestructible metal box that housed a thermos, had a convenient carrying handle and would last a lifetime. The postwar marketplace was a desperate period which had fashioned a demand for all styles of consumer goods. As such many companies began generating products with a planned obsolescence which ultimately crafted our present day economy in which consumers replace perfectly good products for the sake of passing style. This changed the lunch box into what became a 40 year trend.

The lunch box as most of us know it appeared on the market, shaped like a miniature television set and decorated with our favourite TV stars and shows which often had a lifespan of a couple of years if you were lucky or poor.  During this period, the working man’s lunch box was redesigned into the miner’s lunch box when a Sudbury mine worker named Leo May sat on his lunch box and it crushed beneath him. May designed and made the shiny, barn-shaped metal lunch box that was reinforced with heavy rivets.

For decades that followed the lunch box scene remained unchanged until in the mid-1980’s when metal lunch boxes were deemed dangerous and could potentially be used as weapons by students. Ironically the last character featured on these lunch boxes was Rambo. All metal boxes produced today that remotely resemble the old-school lunch boxes, are no longer called lunch boxes.

Things have only become more complicated since as I discovered while shopping for my daughter’s upcoming first day of school. She will not have a lunch box she will have a food transportation system. These “systems,” are simply a set of small containers that fit together and pack easily into an insulated bag. As well she may even carry the latest lunch transportation wave of compartmentalized containers in what is known as Laptop Lunches, which are modeled after the Japanese Bento Lunch Box. .There also is the Indian inspired tiffin lunch systems which are a stackable version of the old lunch pail.

If you too are shopping for a new lunch transportation system for your child I have some suggestions. Look for products made from insulated stainless steel or recycled BPA-free, lead-free, phthalate-free, PVC-free plastic and avoid products that are not dishwasher safe as it says a lot about the quality of the product’s durability and it’s potential health and safety concerns.

The soft-sided insulated cooler bags are an affordable alternative to paper bag lunches as they are durable and easy to clean. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes with segregated pockets that protect fruits and keep cold and hot items away from each other.

I recommend getting twice as much of everything for your child’s lunch transportation system as it will be appreciated on those busy mornings when you discover that everyone has slept in and that that you didn’t get to clean up everything from the day before.

When it comes to packing a healthy lunch that you know your kids will actually eat I suggest using leftovers from dinners that your kids enjoy. If you set some lasagna, soups and stews aside now in small portions in the freezer you will be more than set to start the school year with a little less stress.

 

Don't let your kids be guinea pigs

Don’t let your kids be guinea pigs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 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 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

reservation
Chef Brian for Hire
The Spice Co.