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,

 

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

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