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.”

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Posts Tagged ‘Angle Iron Kitchen’

Gastronomically yours,

October 4th, 2017

Stuffed Acorns

In the coming days many or our refrigerators will become a stockpile of ingredients and provisions that are necessary to prepare Thanksgiving dinner and sustain family and friends over a long weekend that is centered around being thankful and consuming food. With all of the flurry of activity, visiting and eating Looking in your refrigerator the days after the weekend may be akin to an archaeological dig as you unearth all of the remnants of the previous day’s or week’s meals. It’s like an adult version of waking up after a college party and trying to chronologically piece together the recent events of your life. We tend to go a bit overboard with holidays dedicated to feasting which rules with sovereignty like no other.

Acorn Squash Harvest

Presence of mind and the simple understanding that eating is a bodily function, not an Olympic event may assist us in transitioning ourselves and warding off symptoms of withdrawal. Cold turkey is archetypical as a Thanksgiving leftover, which ends up being reincarnated in sandwiches, soups, stews and the ever foreboding casserole for a few days after its sole intended feast. These culinary creations often become littered with bits of ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, or cranberry sauce found sitting in the refrigerator, next to the turkey covered with torn bits of foil and plastic wrap.

Sometime next week you may be forced to make sense out of the leftovers piled precariously in your fridge, garage or out of desperation for food salvation on the back deck. The fate of your leftovers depends on when the food was prepared, how it was served, how long it sat out on the kitchen counter without being refrigerated and how you reheat them. Ultimately it is best not to produce so much food that you have leftovers. If your left-overs were left out on the counter for more than four hours, they are no longer leftovers, they are garbage. If your leftovers were properly stored in the refrigerator and cooled down to an internal temperature of 4°C or colder within 4 hours then you can reheat and serve them but only once. So do not pull out all of the food for leftovers and reheat them, just use what you need. When reheating your leftovers make sure that they reach an internal temperature of 74°C and discard the food if it does not reach that temperature within 2 hours and most importantly never add reheated food to fresh food.

If you haven’t already I suggest you need to purchase a reliable kitchen thermometer and learn how to store, use and calibrate it properly. Use it for more accurate cooking results and as a tool in assisting you to serve safe and healthy foods to your family and friends.
If you are cooking for a small gathering maybe rethink Thanksgiving Dinner and try something like the following recipe.

Turkey Stuffed Acorns
Ingredients:
2 acorn squash, small ones
6 oz. ground turkey
1 yellow onion, minced
½ cup minced red bell pepper

1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp Mexican Kitchen Cartel
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Method:
Cut the squash in half, lengthways, discard the seeds and bake the squash cut side down on a parchment lined baking sheet at 375°F until tender, about 30 minutes.
Separately cook the ground turkey in a large, preheated fry pan or skillet, over medium heat until lightly browned. Stir in the onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder and cumin. Continue stirring and cooking the mixture until it becomes very aromatic. Finally stir in the tomatoes and beans. Reduce heat to low and let the mixture simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes. Season mixture to taste with salt, pepper and some hot sauce.
Once the squash are cooked, turn them over and fill them with the ground turkey mixture and top with cheese. Return filled squash to the oven and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Mexican Kitchen Cartel from The Spice co. naturally

 

Gastronomically yours,

September 28th, 2017

Hearty Bud the Spud Soup

The average Canadian consumes 60 kg or 130 lbs of potatoes annually mostly as fries or chips. Potatoes are indigenous to Peru and since their discovery they have been distributed throughout the world and have become a staple in many cultures diets. The International Potato Center in Peru has over 7 500 known varieties of potatoes 63 of which were developed in Canada. One of the most famous Canadian bred potato varieties is the Yukon Gold. This potato was created at the University of Guelph in conjunction with Agriculture Canada in 1980.

A single medium sized, skin on potato contains more potassium than a banana, 45% of your daily needed vitamin C and 20% of your daily vitamin B6 needs. Spuds are also praised for being cholesterol, fat and sodium free. The unhealthy reputation of potatoes has nothing to do with the potato but everything to do with the amounts of butter, sour cream and salt that we slather our potatoes in before eating them.

Currently last year’s potato harvest has been resting in cold storage deprived of light for a few weeks now. This method of storage promotes a change in the potato’s enzymes creating the perfect balance between the naturally occurring sugars and starches in the potato. This metabolic shift creates a fuller and somewhat fruity flavoured potato.

By spring the extended storage of these potatoes will cause a further metabolic shift in which the starch will further break down and turn to sugar. As these sugars become more concentrated, we will find that these older potatoes will take on a overcooked or burnt appearance especially when we fry them, as the sugars will quickly caramelize and burn on the outside of the potato, resulting in a bitter-tasting exterior and an undercooked interior.

To avoid this situation, one should store potatoes in the dark at temperatures from 7 and 10°c for up to three months.

Potatoes fall into one of two categories — mealy or waxy. Mealy potatoes (russets, purple) have thick skin and high starch content, but they’re low in moisture and sugar. Waxy potatoes (red, new) are just the opposite. They’re low in starch with a thin skin. They’re high in both moisture and sugar. Choosing the right type of potato to cook with can make or break a recipe.

Mealy potatoes are best for deep-frying. Because they’re low in sugar, they can be fried long enough to cook them fully in the center without burning the outside. They’re also the best choice for mashed potatoes because they fall apart easily when they’re boiled which makes them the perfect choice for making the following hearty potato soup recipe.

 

Chunky Potato Soup

Ingredients:

6 slices smoked thick sliced bacon, cut in bite size pieces

1 cup of diced cooking onion

1 ½ cups diced carrot

1 cup diced celery

5 cups peeled and diced Russet Potatoes

2 litres chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tsp. minced parsley

1 cup aged cheddar cheese

 

Method:

In a large soup pot over medium heat cook the bacon until cooked to desired doneness, Remove some of the bacon fat but leave some in the pot and add the onions, carrots, and celery. While occasionally stirring the vegetables let them cook until the onions begin to become transparent about 3-5 minutes. Add the potatoes and continue cooking in the bacon fat for 5 more minutes

Stir in the stock and increase heat to medium-high, letting it come to a gentle boil. Cook the potatoes until they start to get tender and reduce heat to low. Using an immersion blender pulse the soup until it is pureed but not smooth as you still want it to have some chunky bits in it. Stir in milk, cream, and parsley and then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately topped with the grated cheese.

Gastronomically yours,

July 11th, 2017

Counter Culture

I remember my dad used to take me to a restaurant as a kid. It was unlike those you see today as you would sit at what was called a lunch counter, decorated with stainless steel backsplashes and vinyl covered stools that spun round and round. We would sit elbow to elbow with people we may or may not have known, but by the end of our meal we often came to know the stranger beside us as all walks of life would gather at the lunch counter.

My favourite memories of the lunch counter were spinning and twisting back and forth while I waited for my soda or malted shake. The soda tasted fresh and vibrant while the shakes had a velvety texture that I have not enjoyed since. Having the option to flavour your soda with a shot of syrup made for some serious flavour experiments which all ended the day I ordered a cherry soda and discovered what my life had been missing. It was sad day indeed when they tore out the lunch counter and replaced it with booth style seating because my cherry soda was tossed aside at the same time.

Thankfully the summer that the lunch counter disappeared a neighborhood gas bar started selling The Pop Shoppe line of gourmet sodas and I could sit curbside enjoying my Cherry Soda once again while listening to the “ding-ding” as cars pulled up for gas. Nothing like the sweet taste of nostalgia.

There are two basic categories that cherries fall into, sour or sweet. Sour cherries are typically cooked and served in pies, tarts or preserves while sweet cherries are consumed raw, juiced or dried. Ontario sweet cherry varieties include Hedelfingen , Vista, Viva, Vega, Vogue, Viscount, Van, Vandelay, Tehranivee and the Bing variety. Other than the Van cherry, all other cherry varieties that begin with the letter V or end with “vee” were developed for Ontario growing conditions at what is now the University of Guelph Research Station in Vineland, Ontario. The Rainier Cherry was developed at Washington State University and are named after Mount Rainier are often referred to as White Cherries as their flesh is creamy yellow which does not stain your fingers and the skin is yellowish-red blush once they’re ripe. Rainier cherries are a cross of the Bing and Van cultivars.

The Ontario cherry season begins in June when we see the arrival of sweet red and black cherries. In July we welcome in the Rainier cherry which will be followed by the smaller sour cherries.

Once picked cherries will not ripen any further, so choose cherries that are plump and firm with flexible green stems. Store them in the refrigerator uncovered in a shallow paper towel–lined container. Keep them dry and discard any crushed cherries as their juice can spoil the fruit around them.

The following recipe for Cherry Cola Cobbler can be made without the cola which can be replaced with milk or water.

 

Cherry Cola Cobbler

Ingredients:

3 tbsp. butter melted

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 cup milk

¼ cup cola

3/4 cup white sugar

3 1/2 cups fresh cherries, pitted

1 tbsp. cornstarch

1 cup boiling water

1 cup white sugar

 

Method:

Mix the 3/4 cup sugar, butter, flour, salt, baking powder, milk and cola together to form a dough. Place the cherries in the bottom of a 9 inch square pan. Evenly spread the dough over the cherries.

In a small bowl, combine 1 cup sugar and cornstarch. Stir in boiling water and pour the mixture over the dough and place in a pre-heated oven and bake at 350° F for 45 minutes. Serve warm.

Gastronomically yours,

July 11th, 2017

Choosing a wild or tame Strawberry

With summer solstice only a few days away it’s hard not to be excited for the change of season but it will also usher in the local strawberry season and what better way to celebrate the taste of summer than to delve into our local bounty of strawberries.

The wild Woodland Strawberry is native to North America. Its fruits are considerably dwarfed by Ontario cultivated strawberries which are a hybrid of the Woodland strawberry and the European strawberry. Wild strawberries are dainty almost elfin with their conical shape which grow in tight little clusters and have an intense flavor that is fueled by a comparatively higher sugar content with less acidity than cultivated varieties. The wild variety can be seen growing almost everywhere from fields, forests, along streams and even our yards.

Foraging for enough wild strawberries to prepare a modest amount of jam will take about 3-4 hours and another hour or two to hull which will see your harvest shrink by 20% due to the berry to hull size ratio. This is if you do not pop any of these juicy prized morsels in your mouth during this tedious process.

 

Cultivated Ontario strawberries are picked fresh every morning and delivered within a few hours to markets and grocers. These berries are picked only when ripe as they will no longer ripen once harvested which means they are as fresh as you can get and will need to be consumed within a day or two as their thin skin and fragile structure makes them susceptible to quick deterioration.

Comparatively imported berries are usually picked while still green. They are then sprayed with a chemical cocktail that forces their ripening process to occur. This ripening process occurs while the berries are in transport over a couple of days while they cover a distance of often exceeding 4500 kms.  The result is an oversized blood red berry with minimal flavour, a woody texture and often hollow centers.

Farmer’s markets and grocers will soon be gushing with locally grown strawberries as will our forests and field with the wild variety. Whichever berry variety you choose you will be able to preserve their flavor to enjoy year round using the following recipe for

 

Kawartha Strawberry Jam

Ingredients:

3 cups wild strawberries, hulled

1 ¾ cups sugar

1 large lemon, zested and juiced

 

Method:

In a stainless steel or Pyrex saucepan, combine the sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice and simmer gently over low heat until the sugar is dissolved or about 7-10 minutes.  Add the strawberries and continue cooking the mixture over very low heat. After about 20-30 minutes the mixture will gently begin to boil. Stir the jam mixture every so often with a wooden spoon. After about 30-35 minutes of cooking, perform a gel test by spooning a very small amount of the jam mixture onto a well-chilled plate and letting it sit or better yet set for a while to see if it sets up firm in a jam like consistency.

Once it reaches the desired consistency you may choose to pour the jam off into sterilized mason jars and place them in the refrigerator for immediate use or follow proper canning guidelines for long term storage of our seasonal local food harvest.

Gastronomically yours,

July 11th, 2017

When the Road gets Rocky

The month of June can be a rocky road to navigate as we have spent the last 9 months preoccupied with our daily routines and busy family schedules. Now all of a sudden it appears that all hell is breaking loose with graduations, proms, school events weddings and lots of last minute planning with what to do with ourselves, families and children for the next couple of months. It is no wonder that June 2nd is National Rocky Road Ice Cream Day.

Pinpointing the origins of Rocky Road Ice Cream is indeed a rocky road as the stories are all conflicting with a number of people laying claim to be the creator of this classic flavour of ice cream. One such story claims that the ice cream recipe was created by Dreyer Ice Cream after the Wall Street stock market crash in 1929 in hopes that the new flavour would help put a smile on people’s faces while enduring tough economic times.

Rocky road ice cream is typically known as a chocolate flavored ice cream composed of chocolate ice cream, nuts, and marshmallows. The type of nut used in the recipe also appears to cause more bumps in the road but not as much if we ask the question “What is the difference between Rocky Road and Heavenly Has Ice cream?”, as they appear to be identical in their ingredients other than Heavenly Hash is said to be evocative of the holy trinity of confectionary items chocolate, nuts and marshmallow.

Near the end of the Great Depression, in 1937 Jack and Ila Crowe started Kawartha Dairy which is celebrating its 80 anniversary this year.  Kawartha Dairy is still operated by the same family that started it and is a Canadian company using local ingredients.

 

Maybe we all need to simply relax a bit more and stop for some ice cream once in a while. My wife and children are regulars at Lockside Trading in Young’s Point where they scoop up Kawatha Dairy ice cream which we savour as we wander about Lock 27 on the Trent-Severn Waterway. If you insist on making things more complicated than they need to be, you may want to try making your own Rocky Road – Heavenly Hash ice cream using the following recipe using Kawartha Dairy ingredients the following recipe.

 

 

Heavenly Road Ice Cream

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups 35% cream

1 cup 5% cream

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup roasted pecans, coarsely chopped

¼ cup roasted almonds, coarsely chopped

¼ cup broken pieces of milk chocolate

1 cup miniature marshmallows

Method:

In a medium saucepan over low heat, stir together the condensed milk and cocoa until smooth and slightly thickened. Remove from heat, and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the creams and vanilla. Place mixture in the refrigerator until cold. Separately combine all the remaining ingredients in a bowl and place them into the freezer for up to 1 hour.

Pour the cream mixture into the cylinder of an ice cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. Once the ice cream begins to set and take shape add the chilled nuts, chocolate and marshmallows.

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