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

Gastronomically yours,

Bloody Valentine

This annual tradition of sending messages to our loved ones dates back to 269 AD.  It was around this time that Roman Emperor Claudius needed to recruit soldiers for his armies. Enlistment was down, and Claudius; a warring ruler blamed the declining recruitment on the men wanting to stay at home with their wives and families instead of going to war. Claudius’s solution to his dilemma was to ban weddings, hoping that this would cause boredom within in the male population and inspire men to want to go to war thus causing enlistment to go up.

Father Valentine was a member of the clergy who enjoyed performing marriage ceremonies. When Claudius banned marriages Father Valentine continued to conduct them in secrecy. Claudius classified weddings as “pagan rituals” and when he heard that Father Valentine was illegally performing wedding ceremonies Claudius imprisoned Father Valentine lest he denounce his Catholic faith.

Nothing says love like meat and go cook my dinner!

Nothing says love like meat and go cook my dinner!

While imprisoned Father Valentine befriended Claudius’s daughter and would spend long hours talking to her from his cell. Roman Emperor Claudius also known as Claudius the Cruel had had enough and ordered Father Valentine to be beaten and beheaded. One of Valentine’s final actions was to write a note to his jailer’s daughter. The note was signed “from your Valentine”. Shortly thereafter on February 14, 269 AD Father Valentine was executed. It wasn’t until 496 AD that Pope Gelasius marked February 14 the day to remember St. Valentine the patron saint of lovers and over time the day was marked with sending simple gifts, poems or messages.

During the height of prohibition, it is believed that on February 14, 1929 Chicago gangster Al Capone chose to send a Valentine’s message to George “Bugs” Moran. Capone had given orders for his men to take down the rival gangster by starting at the bottom and working their way up through the ranks until they got to Bugs himself. It is believed that these orders from Capone led to the “Valentine’s Day Massacre”.

Capone went into hiding for a while but when he returned home to Chicago; Capone was welcomed home by his family and friends. In his honor they held a feast. One of the dishes served at this feast was Chilled Pasta in Walnut Sauce, Al “Scarface” Capone’s favorite dish.

 

Al "Scarface" Capone got his scars as a young bartender after complimenting a lady on having a "nice ass". Her brother took a knife to Capone's face

Al “Scarface” Capone got his scars as a young bartender after complimenting a lady on having a “nice ass”. Her brother took a knife to Capone’s face

For the more adventuresome I recommend making your own pasta from scratch. Pasta dough does not traditionally contain eggs, unless you are making egg noodles. The following recipes are simple and produce pasta dough’s that can be rolled by hand or machine. The challenge will be cutting the noodle of your choice!

Chilled Rigatoni with Walnut Sauce

Ingredients

500 gr. Chopped walnuts

15 gr. Fresh oregano

10gr. Minced garlic

2 gr. Crushed chillies

150gr. Sultanas

1 bunch parsley

5gr. Salt

5gr. Pepper

250 gr. Grated Romano cheese

250 ml extra virgin olive oil

Method: In a 350f oven toast the walnut for 5-10 minutes. Allow the walnuts to cool down while gathering the remaining ingredients. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse sand-like texture.  Cover and refrigerate the Walnut Sauce for a day or two to let the flavors mellow. Cook 1kg of pasta, rigatoni is best. Drain the pasta and allow it to cool. Toss the pasta with the Walnut Sauce and allow it to sit in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours before serving.

 

Traditional Semolina Pasta Dough

One pound semolina flour

Six ounces water

One ounce olive oil

One half teaspoon salt

Egg Pasta Dough

1 egg, beaten

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons water

 

Method:

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour and salt. Make a well in the flour, and add your wet ingredients. Stir your mixture until it is combined into a stiff dough. If needed, stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons water.

On a lightly floured surface, knead dough for about 3 minutes. Cover the dough and let it rest for ten minutes. Using a pasta machine or by hand; roll the dough out to desired thinness. Use your pasta machine or a knife to cut into strips of desired width.


 

 Here Comes the Bride 

The exchanging of nuptials throughout society carries many traditions. From the ring to the veil and the colour of the brides dress all of these traditions have a story behind them which evolved over time depending on many historical influences.

Wheat and grains are considered to be symbols of fertility. Wheat sheaths would commonly be used in wedding ceremonies and their grains were tossed in the air over the newly wedded couples heads to promote fertility.  As the world evolved we discovered how to use wheat to bake wedding cakes. Some cultures then began to take pieces of the cake and drop crumbs over the bride and groom.

When the price of grains began to rise, people switched to throwing confetti and rice at the newlyweds.  The novelty of confetti quickly faded as it is impossible to clean up the mess it leaves behind.

Controversially I have heard many people on many occasions claim that you should not to throw rice at your wedding because the birds will eat it and explode. If this urban myth were true we would be able to watch wild life shows on migrating birds stopping off for a nosh in patches of wild rice fields and then the poor unsuspecting birds would explode on film. There would be large groups of angry people trying to stop the senseless cruelty of the systematic self-inflicted genocide committed by birds of the world. We would be hanging bird sized rice cookers from trees in an attempt to reverse the damage caused by years of rice emissions around the world. People have stopped throwing rice at weddings because it hurts and rice on the church steps is the equivalent of marbles on the church steps.

Photo Credit www.quericavida.com

Photo Credit www.quericavida.com

Rice is the seeds harvested from aquatic plants that are members of the grass family. Globally this grain provides the human race with almost 20% of our daily caloric intake.

Manomin is the Ojibway word for wild rice that can be found growing in small lakes and slow-flowing streams of central North America. Wild rice and corn are the only cereal crops native to North America.

Almost always sold as a dried whole grain, Manomin is easily digestible, high in fibre and has double the protein of brown rice and like other rice varieties contains no gluten.

James Whetung owner of Black Duck Wild Rice harvests manomin in and around Curve Lake using canoes or an air boat to lightly glide into the rice stands for harvesting as they do not harm the rice plants or their sensitive surrounding soil.  Black Duck Wild Rice is wind winnowed and gently roasted, giving it a delicate nutty aroma. It tastes even better after meeting James and listening to his stories and the legacy of manomin and his Anishinabek heritage.

This truly local and regionally defined grain is available year round and can be found at The Whetung Center in Curve Lake. I recommend trying it in the following recipe.

 

Black Duck Wild Rice

1 tbsp. butter

1/2 cup diced onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup each of diced carrot and celery

1 cup wild rice

1 2/3 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup dried cranberries

½ cup slivered almonds toasted

2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives

 

Preparation:

In saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and sauté the onion, garlic, carrot and celery together until softened. Add rice and cook for about two minutes while continuing to stir the mixture.

Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until most of the rice has split open, about 40 minutes. Stir in the cranberries and almonds and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the chives and season with salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe can be served hot or cold.  Refrigerated it will last for up to three days.


 

 

You calling me a Wise Guy?

Father Valentine was martyred after being beaten and beheaded by order of Roman Emperor Claudius on February 14, 269 AD. The story kinda goes like this… Claudius the Cruel was a warring ruler who was recruiting soldiers for his armies. Enlistment  was down, and Claudius blamed this on the men wanting to stay at home with their wives and families. So in a moment of Emperor enlightenment Claudius banned weddings, hoping that the men would over time

become bored and want to go to war thus causing enlistment to go up.

Father Valentine enjoyed performing the marriage ceremonies so much that even when Claudius banned marriages Father Valentine conducted them in secrecy. Claudius got word of the newly classified “pagan rituals” taking place, and had the Father imprisoned lest he denounce his Catholic faith.

One of his final acts was to write a note to his jailer’s daughter, who had befriended him. The note was signed “from your Valentine”. It wasn’t until 496 AD that Pope Gelasius marked February 14 the day to remember St. Valentine the patron saint of lovers and over time the day was marked with sending simple gifts, poems or messages.

During the height of prohibition, it is believed that on February 14,1929 Chicago gangster Al Capone sent a Valentine message to George “Bugs” Moran. Capone had given orders for his men to take down the rival gangster by starting at the bottom and working their way up through the ranks until they got to Bugs himself.

It is believed that these orders from Capone led to the “Valentine’s Day Massacre”..  It is also believed that Al Capone was relaxing in his Palm Beach, Florida home at the time of this murder mystery.

So what has all of this got to do with food? Well when Al Capone returned home to Chicago he was welcomed home by his family and friends. In his honor they held a feast. One of the dishes served at this feast was Chilled Pasta in Walnut Sauce, Al “Scarface” Capone’s favorite dish.

No one was ever convicted in the “Valentine’s Day Massacre” however Capone was finally charged with tax evasion and other petty crimes leading to his conviction and serving a seven year sentence on “the Rock”. I wonder what prison food was like back in the dirty thirties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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