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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Gastronomically yours,

March 28th, 2013

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.

Gastronomically yours,

March 22nd, 2013

Kelp Caviar

 

I want you to visualize swimming in a lake on a hot summer day. You’re floating freely, looking at the sky completely relaxed when you feel some aquatic plant brush against your leg causing you to thrash about screaming seaweed. I can only imagine how you may react if I served up some seaweed on a plate to you.

Most people aren’t aware but they consume seaweed numerous times a day. More specifically we consume aquatic brown algae known as kelp which has mucilaginous ergo slimy properties which are extracted and used as emulsifiers.  These emulsifiers are used in food stuffs like salad dressings or ice creams to stop them from separating. Kelp is also used in toothpaste, soap and body lotions.

Kelp is harvested from the cold North Atlantic waters with the North Pacific waters producing wakame. Like kelp, wakame is used in a number of culinary preparations but is most famed for being served as seaweed tea known as kombucha in Japan. When kelp is dried and ground into a powder the slimy bits become concentrated and are used as a food thickening agent or emulsifier known as alginate. It is praised by vegetarians as it can be substituted in recipes that normally are thickened with eggs.

Chefs have been playing with gastronomy or the science of food in their kitchens turned laboratories and have created a number of novel new ways of preparing and serving food. One of these concepts is to take two main components from dried ground kelp and separate them. The first being alginate which is rehydrated with a variety of natural ingredients causing it to turn into a firm gelatinous liquid. This liquid is then dropped with a spoon, eyedropper or pumped by a machine through something similar to a shower head producing into a coagulation solution of calcium extracted from the kelp which causes only the surface of the flavoured alginate drops to coagulate into uniformly shaped pearls. The firm surface of these pearls encapsulates the inner free flowing liquid. Simply put the pearls are like a biting into a soft jelly filled candy.

Unless you are Chef Nye the science guy the aforementioned procedure may have sounded exceptionally complex or merely put you to sleep.  Either way I want you to know that kelp pearls are now easy to enjoy at home without any fuss or lab experiments. Kelp Caviar is a Canadian company harvesting Canadian kelp to produce an entire line of flavoured kelp pearls.

I recently discovered this product line at The Firehouse Gourmet in East City where I sampled a few varieties of Kelp Caviar which included wasabi and sturgeon flavours. It was profoundly refreshing in my opinion compared to fish egg caviars. The little pearls popped just like fish egg and tasted mildly of the ocean.

This fat free, all natural gourmet condiment, is loaded with minerals with it being notably high in iodine, iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.  It is further packed full with the following vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D, E, and amino acids, which all contribute to a healthy diet and are easily assimilated in the body.

These tasty little beads would accompany cheese, meats, crackers, potato skins, sandwiches and an endless list of other possible food items. This incredibly shelf stable product will hold for three months in the refrigerator after opening is a must try condiment.

Sometimes it`s hard to find locally sourced foods in the dead of winter, but sometimes if you adventure outside of the normal realms of your culinary universe you might find yourself in East City, eating vegan kelp pearls.

 

@KelpCaviar or www.facebook.com/kelpcaviar

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