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

Posts Tagged ‘Chef Algonquin Park’

Gastronomically yours,

March 7th, 2017

The Humble Onion

One of the most frequently asked questions that I get is “ How do you chop onions without crying?” The answer is simple… don’t chop onions.

Cutting onions can be one of the most miserable of kitchen chores.  With our sniffly noses and tears streaming down our cheeks we can easily see why onions sulphurous characteristics were originally designed to repel animals from eating them.

The reason that our bodies react in this way is that when you cut through an onion, you release the chemical contents of the onion’s cells. These chemicals combine and create a sulphur-based gas known as lachrymator, which is also an ingredient, found in Tear Gas. When this gas comes in contact with your nose and eyes it turns into sulphuric acid causing a burning sensation and naturally we begin to cry.

To minimize the tearful effects of chopping onions and keeping snot out of your food I recommend that you place your onions in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, as this will slow down the movement of the tear inducing sulphur elements. Another effective yet somewhat awkward method is to try cutting the ends off of your onions under cold running water. Then allow them to soak in cold water for half an hour before chopping them. If your going to be cooking your onions right away, you can try placing them in the microwave for 2-3 minutes on high as this helps release the gasses prior to chopping. Ultimately if you do not want to cry over onions you will need to wear a pair of goggles and a nose plug in your kitchen. Be sure to remove your protective clothing before your dinner guests arrive.

Onions appear in almost every cuisine found on the planet. There are over 500 varieties of onions of which only twenty are used for culinary purposes. They are most often used as a sub-ingredient to help build the foundation for great tasting soups and sauces. On occasion we see onions being used as the primary ingredient in recipes like French Onion soup, Onion bread or onion rings. In these recipes we get to enjoy the true sweet flavour that onions have to offer.

You can use any variety of onion to make the recipe below but I prefer to use red Italian onions as it has a striking purplish red color that is preserved well by the red wine vinegar.

Red Onion Marmalade

3 cups of diced red onions

One cup red wine vinegar

One tbsp. Humble Pie , from The Spice Co. naturally…

2  cups granulated sugar

 

 

In a large sized sauce pot combine the diced onions, apple cider, vinegar and sage. Over high heat, bring mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar and return to a boil for two to three minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and allow the mixture to simmer for five more minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow the onion s to cool. Store the onion marmalade in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to four weeks.

You can serve the Red Onion marmalade as a condiment to enhance the flavor of a number of dishes. It makes for a light alternative to horseradish in beef dishes and is delicate enough to be served with poached or smoked salmon. I like to pair it with triple creamed Brie some grapes and a baguette.

Humble Pie, from The Spice Co. naturally

Gastronomically yours,

March 4th, 2017

Do you want learn how to make a great sandwich?

Alright so the following bits of culinary information and recipes are easy to prepare and perfect for the novice cook, which I assure you will make you look like a master.  First and foremost it is important to go easy with the rubs and start off using them lightly as you can always add more, but it is hard to remove them once they are added to your food. If need be go lightly at first… sprinkle them like salt and then add more if your palate says to do so.

We will cover off 3 recipes using a total of 4 products from our retail line of spice rubs under the guise of “The Spice Co.” if you don’t have the products you can order them online at https://www.chefbrianhenry.com/shop  If you choose to  not use our products in the following recipes I cannot attest to what the flavors in these recipes will work out like for you so good luck with that… you’re on your own.

There will be three recipes in total that when combined together create a balance of flavours and textures that will please most any palate. I recently prepared this dish at a fundraising event and it was bestowed with a people’s choice award. The recipe is for a Slow Fire Roasted Kick Ass Cajun Rubbed New York Striploin with One Stinky Onion Marmalade and Mexican Kitchen Cartel Mayo. Although the recipe calls for beef you can use a pork loin or whole chicken. The recipe will yield enough food for 4-6 dinner guests with a bit left over for a sandwich or two the next day.

To make this award winning meal you will need to start a day before you want to eat. It is also important to read the recipes all the way through before making them. This will ensure you have all the necessary ingredients and tools as well as an overview of the tasks that will be required of you to execute.  We first need to start preparing the meal by concocting the accompanying condiments.

First we will prepare the One Stinky Onion Marmalade…

One of the top 10 questions I get is, “how do you chop onions without crying?”

The answer is simple. Don’t chop onions.

Slicing or chopping onions can be among the most miserable of kitchen chores.

Our snotty, running noses and tears streaming down our cheeks make it easy to understand the purpose of onions¹ sulphurous characteristics: to discourage animals from eating them.

Our bodies react to onions as they do because cutting an onion releases chemicals that combine to create lachrymator, a sulphur-based gas, which is also one of the ingredients in tear gas.

This gas reacts to the water in your eyes and nose, producing sulphuric acid, which causes that familiar burning sensation and produces tears and sneezes.

There are plenty of suggestions on-line as to how one may reduce the tearful effects of onions, I suggest that you just suck it up, chop the onions, have a good cry and get over it.

Onions are most often used as a sub-ingredient to help build foundations for great dishes. On occasion, though, they get top billing as the primary ingredient in recipes such as French onion soup, onion bread or onion rings. In these recipes we get to enjoy the true sweet flavour that onions have to offer.

You can use any variety of onion to make the following recipe for One Stinky Onion Marmalade, but I prefer to use Red Italian onions aka: Bermuda Onions, with their striking colour preserved by the red-wine vinegar.

Serve One Stinky Onion Marmalade as a condiment. It makes for a light alternative to horseradish in beef dishes, and is delicate enough to be served with poached or smoked salmon.

One Stinky Onion Marmalade

Ingredients:

2 cups of diced red onions

1-cup red wine vinegar

2-3 cups granulated white sugar

1 tsp. “Humble Pie” Spice Blend, from The Spice Co. (optional)

Method:

In a large saucepot, combine diced onions, apple cider, vinegar and sage. Over high heat, bring mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar and return to a boil for two to three minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium and allow the mixture to simmer for 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow the onion s to cool. Store the onion marmalade in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to four weeks.

Alright so the next recipe is a bit easier to pull off….

Mexican kitchen Cartel Mayo

Ingredients:

1-2 cups of mayo, the full fat kind

1 – 2 tbsp. “Mexican Kitchen Cartel” Spice Blend, from “The Spice Co.”

Season with to taste with” Chef Salt”, from “The Spice Co.”

Method:

Stir ingredients together until evenly incorporated. Cover and let it rest overnight in the refrigerator so that the flavours have time to develop. Give it a taste the next day and up the amount of “Mexican Kitchen Cartel” Spice Blend if you want to give it more kick.

The final stage of this recipe takes about 15 minutes to prepare and about 3 hours to cook so think about it and plan on when dinner will be.

Slow Fire Roasted Kick Ass Cajun Rubbed New York Striploin

Ingredients:

5lb beef roast like Ny Strip, Prime rib, or pork loin roast, or whole chicken

3 tbsp. “Kick Ass Cajun” Spice Blend, from”The Spice Co.”

3 tbsp. brown sugar

¼ cup apple juice

Method:

Stir together the “Kick Ass Cajun”, brown sugar and apple juice in a non-reactive bowl. Thoroughly rub the spice and sugar mixture all over the roast or birds. For best results cook the roast on a charcoal or wood-fired barbeque at 275 °f for 2 ½ – 3 ½ hours. If you do not have access to a barbeque roast the meat in a roasting pan with a wire roasting rack. Use a meat thermometer / probe to check the internal temperature of the meat. For beef or pork you will want to reach an internal temperature of 135 °f – 140 °f for med-rare. Chicken will need to go a bit higher to 170 °f internal temperature.

To serve slice your steak, pork or chicken in thin slices, like a 1/8th of an inch thick. Pile the slices up on a tossed salad, rice or your favourite sandwich bread. Top the meat with a generous dollop of the One Stinky Onion Marmalade and drizzle a tablespoon or so of the “Mexican Kitchen Cartel” Mayo on top of everything and get to eating.

You can like both The Spice Co. and Chef Brian Henry Private Chef Services on Facebook, write a review or follow us on Twitter, Instagram, G+ and bunch of other ones too

 

 

 

 

 

Gastronomically yours,

February 19th, 2017

A DIY approach to Maple Syrup

When the nights are below freezing and the days are mild you can be sure of some things, like the coming of spring, the deadline for filing your tax returns and a new season of local harvesting. This seasonal change in the weather makes the sap flow and represents the region’s premier crop harvest of Maple Syrup.

Tapped Sugar Maple producing sap for maple syrup

It usually takes about forty years before a Sugar Maple will reach the recommended tappable size of being 10 inches in diameter. The tap hole is usually placed about waist high on the tree, and 3 to 4” from any previous taps. It is bored 3″ into the sapwood. Larger trees may take numerous taps. For every additional 8″ in diameter another tap hole may be added. A tree 26″ in diameter could have up to three taps. I’ve been told that trees with lots of branches are better producers than those trees with smaller tops. During the 4-6 week syrup season, a single tap hole can yield up to ten gallons of sap or about one quart of maple syrup.

After tapping the tree a metal spout called a spile is tapped snugly into the hole, and a bucket is hung from a hook on the spout. A cover is put on the bucket to keep out rain, snow, and debris. If a plastic tubing system is used to collect the sap, a plastic spout is tapped into the hole and is then connected to a network of tubes that creates a pipeline system.

When all of the trees have been tapped, the syrup producer is ready for the “first run,” this is when the sap first starts to flow. Sap flow requires freezing nights and warm days. These must alternate and be in a long enough series to allow the sap to move through the trees. Prolonged periods of either below freezing temperatures or days without freezing nights will stop the sap flow.

Maple sap comes from the tree as a clear, slightly sweet liquid that is approximately 98% water and 2% sugar. When the syrup is finished these ratios change to 33% water and 67% sugar.

When the bucket collection method is used, a sap-gathering tank is mounted on a sled or a wagon that is moved through the sugar bush as the sap is gathered. Tractors are most regularly used, but sometimes teams of horses pull the sleds or wagons. Workers using large gathering pails collect the sap from each tree. These pails are dumped into the gathering tank, which is then taken to a large sap storage tank at the sugarhouse, where it will be boiled down into maple syrup. If the tubing system is being used, the sap drips from the tap hole into a section of tubing. This tubing eventually connects into a larger pipeline called a “mainline.” The mainline carries the sap downhill to a sap storage tank either at the sugarhouse, or at a low spot where it can be collected easily and transported to the sugarhouse.

Maple syrup is traditionally made in a building called a sugarhouse or sugar shack. This name comes from the time when most sap was actually turned into sugar. It wasn’t until the late 1800’s when the drastic price reduction of cane sugar caused maple sugar sales to drop resulting in the production of the more profitable maple syrup.

Each sugarhouse contains an evaporator that is used to boil down the sap into syrup. Evaporators are made up of one or more flat pans, which sit on a type of firebox. Wood or oil, and sometimes gas is burned at the front end, and the flames are drawn along the underside of the pan, heating and boiling the sap as it travels towards the back of the pan. It takes about one cord of wood or sixty gallons of oil to boil down 800 gallons of sap into syrup. Sugarhouses have a vent on their roofs, a cupola, which is opened to allow the steam of the boiling syrup to escape the building. Steam rising from the cupola is a signal that maple syrup season is under way.

An evaporator pan is divided into partitions, so that the sap is continuously flowing through the pan. Fresh sap enters at the back of the pan, where a float valve keeps the sap about an inch deep. As the sap boils the liquid becomes sweeter, and begins to move towards the front of the pan, traveling through the partitions and more fresh sap is allowed into the rear of the pan.

The syrup maker concentrates their attention to the front of the evaporator where the boiling sap is turning a golden colour as it approaches being maple syrup. The temperature of this boiling liquid must be checked regularly for when it reaches 7.5 °f above the boiling point of water, it has reached the proper density and has become maple syrup.

At this stage a valve on the front of the pan is opened and some of the finished boiling syrup is drawn off the pan and is filtered. After filtering, the syrup is bottled and is ready for a fresh pile of warm pancakes.

Last year I spent $200 on equipment and $60 on propane and was able to produce over 4-gallons of my own maple syrup. Considering that a gallon of syrup costs around $60 this is a very economical approach to enjoying maple syrup. The amount of work involved in making these 4-gallons was rather shocking and makes purchasing locally produced syrup seem like a bargain at $60 a gallon.

 

Homemade Maple Syrup

If you have a few sugar maple trees, you can make your own maple syrup. I strongly recommend not boiling sap inside your house.

You will need the following

Cordless drill with a 7/16” bit

Spigots and metal or plastic pails with lids. Felt syrup filter. Available at TSC stores

Large plastic pails for storing freshly gathered sap

Outdoor cooker with pot available at hardware stores

Full propane tank and a back up tank

Candy thermometer.

Clean glass jars that will seal for storing your syrup

 

How to make your own syrup

Be sure your trees are sugar maples

Drill a 7/16″ hole 3″ deep at waist height into unblemished bark. Drive the spigot in so that it is tight and cannot be pulled out by hand, but don’t over do it and split the tree. Hang your bucket on the hook of the spout. Be sure to cover the bucket with a lid.

Once the sap has started to run and you have enough in your buckets to fill your boiling pot two-thirds full, you are ready to fire up the burner. Do not overfill your pot, as it will boil over. As the water evaporates, add more sap to the pot. Do not have less than an inch of liquid in the pot as it may burn. You can add cold sap right into the boiling sap. It will take a lot of boiling to get it to become syrup. Remember that 40 gallons of sap make one gallon of maple syrup. Do not leave an accumulation of sap in the collecting buckets especially in warm weather, as the sap will sour. Keep the sap as cold as possible and boil it as soon as you can. Finished maple syrup will be 7.5 °f. above the temperature of boiling water at your elevation, check this with your candy thermometer. I like to use a hydrometer to tell me when my syrup is done. Proper syrup will weigh at least 11 pounds per gallon. Do not go beyond 11 1/4 pounds per gallon or it may form crystals in the bottom of the storage container.

Pour finished hot syrup through a felt syrup filter or strainer. Sediment will settle to the bottom of the jars and clearer syrup may be carefully poured off the top. I leave the sediment in my syrup, as it is a concentration of calcium and other minerals.

Pour the hot syrup into the clean, sterile canning jars and seal. Fill them full so that very little air will be in the jar. If laid on their side while cooling a better seal will result. Store syrup in a cool place. The freezer is ideal and properly prepared syrup will not freeze and a poor seal will not be as important when stored in a freezer.

If proper taping procedures are followed, tapping will not endanger the health and vitality of your trees as a healthy sugar maple can provide sap every year for a hundred years or more.

 

 

 

 

Gastronomically yours,

February 18th, 2017

Kibbeling Walleye

This weekend is perfect for embracing winter and celebrating all it has to offer and what better way to do it than to enjoy an Ontario Family Fishing Event like the one hosted by Ontario Anglers and Hunters Association on Chemong Lake as the provincial government offers a province-wide opportunity to go fish without the mandatory licence outdoors card.

I have been ice fishing only a few times in my life and that was more than enough for me. Family and friends of mine habitually go ice fishing. Me? I’m happy to stay at home with my fillet knife ready to prepare dinner.

My favorite fresh water fish to prepare is walleye. Yes I said walleye. It is at this point that people take it upon themselves to correct me with “You mean Pickerel!” with which I reply “No, I mean walleye.”  My response is typically followed by an awkward silence, and then I usually get accused of being an American; which I defend proudly as being a Canadian.

Generations have handed down this tradition of calling walleye wrongly pickerel. Walleye are related to the perch family and pickerel are related to pike. The difference in identification can be seen in the dorsal fins. Walleye and perch have two dorsal fins and members of the pike-pickerel family have one.

The name walleye comes from the way the fish’s eyes reflect light like those of a cats. This is the result of a light catching layer of tissue in the eyes. This genetic adaptation allows the fish to see well in the low-light conditions found in deeper waters where walleye escape from the warm waters of summer. Walleye are also nocturnal feeders so their eyes are designed to assist with their night vision.

Genetically, walleyes vary greatly depending on their watershed due to the fact that the species has been artificially propagated for over a century. The resulting farmed fish has been introduced to existing populations or simply introduced into ecosystems that never held walleye before.

Walleye tastes great compared to other North American fishes as I find some of them to be overly swampy in flavor. Locally we have an abundant supply of walleye swimming in many of our lakes and can easily be harvested through the ice now or wait until summer.

As mentioned I’m not much into ice fishing which is why the following recipe comes to you from the Dutch Virgin Islands and has been adapted for use with Kawartha Walleye instead of Caribbean white fish. This tasty snack food is available at local food stalls and food trucks throughout the islands.

 

Kibbeling: Deep Fried Battered Fish Pieces

Ingredients:

2 lbs walleye cleaned and cut into bite size pieces

1 cup flour

1 cup milk

¼ cup beer

2 eggs

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

Lime and lemon wedges

Oil for deep frying

Method:

In a medium size mixing bowl whisk together the flour milk, beer, eggs, salt and pepper. Preheat your deep fryer to 170-180C. Pat the pieces of dry with paper towel. Using a fork dip the fish in the batter and coat it on both sides. , stir around gently. Carefully transfer the fish pieces one by one into the hot oil. Do not use a fryer basket as it is better to free float the fish. Don’t overcrowd the fryer; this will drop the temperature of the oil too much, causing the batter to be soggy instead of crisp.

Turn the pieces of fish while they are frying to allow them to cook evenly. When the pieces are golden brown, scoop them out with a slotted spoon and let them rest on a paper towel lined plate to remove excess oil.

Serve immediately with the lemons and limes, fried chips, mayonnaise and some hot pepper sauce.

 

Gastronomically yours,

February 11th, 2017

 

Seth McGinn and his CanCooker

As a boy in the 1970s, CanCooker inventor Seth McGinn helped brand and vaccinate cattle on his grandparent’s Nebraska ranch. A roundup is hard work; you start at dawn, and by lunchtime, you’ve built up quite an appetite.

In eastern Nebraska, area ranchers would gather together to pitch in with each rancher’s roundups to vaccinate and brand cows and calves. At the start of the day, each family would drop portions of vegetables and meat into an old steel cream can that was placed on a fire to cook while they worked.

At lunchtime, stomachs were grumbling. The ranchers and their children would come back to a hot, hearty, homemade meal—cooked to perfection—that easily fed the entire group.

Decades later, McGinn tried to reproduce this cooking method for a family gathering, but the cream can that he used fell apart in the fire, ruining 50 pounds of food. McGinn realized that modern cream cans are primarily decorative, as compared to the durable cans of the ’60s and ’70s. After trying numerous alternatives, McGinn decided to create an improved design that was safe, durable, easy to use and easy to clean. The result was the CanCooker.

Introduced in 2009, the CanCooker is a unique cooking device that quickly and easily steam-cooks a complete high-quality meal for a large group of diners. Constructed of thick-walled, food-grade anodized aluminum, the CanCooker efficiently converts heat into steam that circulates inside to tenderize and cook the ingredients without boiling away the nutrients. In as little as an hour on just about any heat source—from a stovetop to a campfire—you can create an amazingly delicious dinner for family and friends

The CanCooker will cook just about any meal you can think of from cakes to ribs to omelets.

 

CanCooker on the Fire!

 

 

The US Midwest is a region that saw a great influx of immigration from Germany, Italy Hungary, and Scandinavia during the 1700’s. With them came beer, sausages, potatoes, pasta, sauerkraut and goulash. This combination of foods and cooking styles quickly led the way to Milk Can Suppers.

CanCooker making a steaming hot dinner

Cooking in a milk can is perfect for use in outdoor kitchens and for feeding large groups of people. They can be used like a slow cooker or a steamer. I have tried Italian dishes and Cajun Jambalaya but the following recipe is a bit more traditional with respect to its roots and can be prepared using all local ingredients.

Before you go digging an old milk can out of your garage there are a few things to consider about your milk can cooker. Often antique milk cans were not made from galvanized metals which means that they will have an adverse effect on your food and your health if you use one of these. CanCooker is the modern version of milk can cooking and are available for through their Facebook page. They come in a variety of sizes, are made with stainless steel and are easy to use.

They are perfect for tailgating, camping and any outdoor adventure

CanCooker Jambalaya

CanCooker Supper

Ingredients:

1 – 6-pack of beer, something light

12 ears of sweet corn, shucked

12 medium red potatoes, washed and quartered

2-3 pounds of carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped

3-4 large cooking onions, peeled and coarsely chopped

6 red peppers, seeded, coarsely chopped

1 head green cabbage, cored, quartered

2 heads of celery, coarsely chopped

4 small zucchini squash, coarsely chopped

12-18 chorizo sausages

3-4 sprigs of Rosemary

3-4 sprigs thyme

 

Method:

Place all ingredients in the milk can in the order as they are listed starting from the top, so pour in the beer, place corn in beer, topped with the potatoes and so on down the list, with the sausages on top with the lid.

Prepare a hot fire between two cinder blocks or something similar that will hold can above and close to the fire. If the wind is blowing, prepare something to protect the fire. Set the can on the blocks and tend the fire for approximately 1 1/2 hours.

Have two people armed in insulated gloves remove the can from the fire and set it on the ground for 20 minutes to cool. Carefully remove the lid while being mindful that the escaping steam can cause serious burns. Either serve supper strait from the can with ladles or pour out the contents into large serving bowls.

Remove the can from the fire and carefully remove the lid. Two individuals, wearing insulated gloves, should then pour the can’s contents into waiting large bowls. Add serving spoons and have guests serve themselves.

 

 

 

Gastronomically yours,

February 11th, 2017

Valentine’s Day, Food and Sex

As Valentine’s Day approaches many people are ordering flowers, buying chocolates and making dinner reservations in pursuit of romance. For some romance means sex and what we eat on Valentine’s Day can ruin the mood. Eroticism and foods have long been paired together, even before pairing food with wine.

Numerous foods are considered to be aphrodisiacs, something that increases sexual desires which historically people believed foods that resemble genitalia were the best catalyst for arousing desires. This saw people consuming clams, oysters, bananas, asparagus, eggs, avocados and caviar in pursuit of increased sexual drives. Others choose foods based upon texture, for which I will forgo discussing and leave this to your imagination.

Kick Ass Cajun, from The Spice Co. naturally

Sharing a meal is like a slow seduction, anticipation builds upon seeing a particularly inviting meal. It can cause us to salivate, our eyes widen, and our pulse quickens, just like a sexual response.

Modern day science has been able to determine that it isn’t so much the food but what is in the food that gets us going. Oysters contain zinc and amino acids that trigger production of sex hormones, chili peppers stimulate endorphins which quicken your heart rate and make you sweaty, chocolate increases our dopamine levels, bananas contain bromelain triggering testosterone production, strawberries are loaded with Vitamin C which improves blood flow to all body parts, Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium which helps raise testosterone levels, watermelon contains similar ingredients as  Viagra increasing  blood flow and your libido and vanilla for its sensual scent and exotic taste.

Humble Pie, from The Spice Co. naturally

Trying to combine all of these foods into a meal could see you leaving the table and heading to the bedroom for the nap and nothing else. So I developed the following recipe to include as many sensual ingredient in a manner that is mutually satisfying and falls under the hashtag food porn.

 

Aphrodite Ganache Tart

Ingredients:

For the crust

3/4 cup chocolate cookie crumbs

¾ cup raw pumpkin seeds, chopped fine

1/4 cup butter at room temperature

2 tbsp. Humble Pie, from The Spice Co. naturally

Method:

Combine crumbs, chopped seeds, butter, and sugar in a medium sized bowl and mix until evenly incorporated. Press the crust mixture firmly and evenly into a 9 inch pie or tart pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 °f for 10 minutes. Cool on a rack before filling.

For the filling

12 oz. bittersweet dark chocolate chopped

1 tbsp. butter

1 ¾ cups light whipping cream

2 tbsp. ginger peeled and coarsely chopped

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. Kick Ass Cajun, from The Spice Co. naturally

Method:

Place the chocolate and butter into a medium sized bowl.  Separately in a medium sized sauce pan heat the cream, ginger and cayenne pepper over low-medium heat, do not let it boil! Immediately pour the cream mixture through a fine meshed sieve into the bowl of chocolate. Discard the remnants. Allow the cream and chocolate to stand for about 2-3 minutes, and then stir with a wooden spoon until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and shiny. Pour the chocolate mixture into the cooled crust. Refrigerate for at least four hours before serving. Serve with fresh strawberries, water melon pieces and whipped cream.

 

 

Gastronomically yours,

February 8th, 2017

Getting married? Think twice about throwing rice…

Here Comes the Bride

The ritualistic trading 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. All evolved over time depending on many historical influences.
Wheat and grains are considered by some to be symbols of fertility. Often wheat sheaths would find their way into the wedding ceremony or grains were tossed in the air over the newly wedded couple’s heads to promote fertility. Over time 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. As well as tossing grains sometimes well-wishers tossed flower petals.
When the price of grains and flowers began to rise, people switched to throwing confetti and rice at the newlyweds. The novelty of confetti quickly wore off, as it is impossible to clean up the mess. Oh yeah and that guy who got the paper cut on his eye and sued the confetti company for millions is urban legend, but it had an effect on confetti sales.
A handful of rice thrown at point blank range by an overzealous newly met in-law is enough to make one never eat rice again let alone meet the rest of the family. Rice on church steps is the equivalent of marbles on the church steps.
Now here is the all-time urban legend that has affected the wedding rice trade… Don’t throw rice at your wedding because birds will eat it and explode.
I’ve heard this numerous times from all demographics and each time I laugh harder than before. If this were true you 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 the noble Chickadee. 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.
No wonder we can’t figure out which came first, you know the chicken or the egg problem that has plagued the brilliant minds of time we’ve been trying to feed Alka-Seltzer to seagulls which from my childhood experience I can say is urban legend as well.
Here is an idea of what I like to do with rice

Creole Dirty Rice
Ingredients:
1 lb. chicken livers, chopped fine
4 tbs. vegetable oil
1 cup onion diced
1/2 cup celery, chopped fine
1/2 cup red bell pepper diced
1 tsp. garlic, chopped fine
1/2 tsp. Kick Ass Cajun seasoning, from The Spice Co. naturally
6 cups-cooked long grain or Jasmine rice, HOT
1/4 cup green onions, chopped fine
1/4 cup parsley, chopped fine
Method: Sauté chicken livers, onions, celery, red peppers, and garlic with vegetable oil until lightly browned and add our Kick Ass Cajun. In a large bowl combine liver mixture with the cooked rice. Stir in the chopped green onions and parsley. Serve immediately.

Gastronomically yours,

February 7th, 2017

Chocolate Duck

Mexico is full of many secrets but none are as great as the seven secret sauces known as Mole (moh-lay) that I learned about while travelling in Mexico.

I like to use a brown Mole with duck as it quite rich and combining duck and chocolate into the same recipe is guaranteed to delight the palate and is perfect to serve on Valentines Day.
Pekin duck is a breed of duck bred from the Mallard duck in China. Its domestication was primarily for egg and meat production. In 1873 nine Pekins were exported to Long Island, New York which explains why some refer to this breed as Long Island duck. Since this time the Pekin duck has become the most consumed commercially available source of duck meat.
Peking Duck is a method of cooking duck which similar to the Pekin breed has its origins in China. This Imperial era dish originated during the Yuan Dynasty and was further developed and refined during the Ming Dynasty. The preparation of this dish focuses its attention on the crisp air injected skin preparation of the duck that is coated with seasoned honey and Hoisin sauce.

Enough about that… lets head to the kitchen and get to work on this recipe for Southwest Mole Marinated Duck with chocolate drizzle

Mexican Kitchen Cartel from The Spice co. naturally

Southwest Mole Marinated Duck

Two tomatillos husks removed and roasted (optional)
One half cup toasted sesame seeds
One half cup vegetable oil
Twelve dried Ancho chillies, stemmed, seeded and chopped
Four cloves garlic
Two thirds cup pine nuts
Two thirds cup chopped dried apricots
Three cups chicken stock
One half tsp. cinnamon
One quarter tsp. ground pepper
One eighth tsp. ground cloves
Two oz bitter sweet chocolate chopped
One tsp bread crumbs
One eighth tsp. cardamom
One half cup sugar
Six boneless duck breast
Use a spoon to scoop the pulp and juice from the tomatillos into a medium sized stock pot. Discard the skins. Add the sesame seeds to the tomatillos. In a separate pot over medium heat, heat the oil. Using a slotted spoon cook the Ancho’s in the oil until lightened in color. Transfer the Ancho’s to the tomatillo mixture. Cook the garlic and pine nuts in the oil until golden brown and add to the tomatillo pot. Remove the oil from the heat and let it cool for safe disposal. Add all remaining ingredients to the tomatillo sauce mixture excluding the duck. Cook the sauce over medium heat for half an hour.

Using an immersion blender puree the sauce until sooth and continue cooking it over low heat for another one to two hours until reduce to a thick paste. Remove sauce from heat and allow it to cool to room temperature.


Once cooled marinate the duck breasts in the mole for twelve hours covered in the refrigerator.

Remove the duck from the marinade and place fat side up onto a baking sheet.

Roast the duck at 350°f for seven minutes for medium doneness.

Remove duck from oven and cut into slices for serving fanned out onto plates.

Drizzle the duck with chocolate sauce. Serve with a medley of julienne vegetable.

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,

February 5th, 2017

 

Super Bowl LI

This Sunday more than 18 million Canadians will be watching the New England Patriots confront the   Atlanta Falcons in the 51st Super Bowl Sunday. It is billed as the second highest eating event after Thanksgiving and will see Canadians spend more than $1 billion on snack foods.

Dining etiquette for Super Bowl Sunday is relatively relaxed as is the menu. Traditional Super Bowl food includes chicken wings, pizza, chili, and potato chips. To put this into perspective consumption facts state that Canadians will consume over 100 000 kg of snack food in the form an estimated 6-7 million pizzas, nearly 1/2 billion chicken wings which we will wash down with some 1.3 million liters of beer. This one day feeding frenzy will see the average Canadian consume in excess of 2000 calories over the four hour game.

My gut hurts as I digest these numbers so to better manage your game day caloric intake you may want to consider making your own half-time show spread instead of ordering in take-out. Wings have become the most sport synonymous food, surpassing pizza and can be prepared without deep frying. Baking them in the oven and dusting them with herbs and seasonings will knock a couple hundred calories off of every serving.

Potato chips are the ultimate game day snack food, which will see us nosh down in excess of 3 million pounds of while dipping them into some 1 million pounds of dip like guacamole. A party’s just not a party without chips but if we reach for baked versions instead of fried chips we can still enjoy their crunchy texture without breaking the calorie bank.

 

 

The following recipes for our Reggae Rub Chicken Wings and our Kick Ass Cajun Southern Fried Chicken are both bone in comfort food s that are easy to prepare and enjoyed by many. It is best served with corn, mashed potatoes, slaw, gravy and of course some fresh baked rolls to ensure that your plate is clean when you’re done.

Reggae Rub Wings are best when grilled over charcoal!

Reggae Rub Chicken Wings

Ingredients:

3 lbs bone-in chicken wings and drums

½ package Reggae Rub

3 green onions, minced

1 tbsp. cooking oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

 

Method:

Take the chicken out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking.  Combine all of the remaining ingredients together in an mixing bowl and mix until evenly incorporated. Add the wings to the Reggae Rub mixture and toss them about to make sure they are liberally coated.

 

For best the best possible flavour cook the wings on a pre-heated charcoal barbeque. If you don’t have charcoal you can use a gas grill, or if necessary you can roast them in the oven. Use a medium-high heat. On the barbecue they will take about 20-30 minutes in the oven at 425 °f you will need about f 45 minutes. More importantly you will need to ensure the chicken is cooked to a proper internal temperature of 74 °c / 165°f. This is best checked with a food thermometer. Serve immediately. Serves 4-6 people depending on what else you set out on the table.

Kick Ass Cajun Fried Chicken

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken 2 -3 pounds

3 eggs

½ cup butter milk

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1-2 tsp. Kick Ass Cajun spice blend

A pinch of both salt and pepper

Vegetable oil or peanut oil, for frying

 

Method:

Using a knife break the chicken down into smaller cuts and pat the pieces dry with paper towel to remove any moisture.

Preheat your deep fryer to 350 °f and your oven to 200 °f.

In a medium size bowl, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk and set aside. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, garlic and ginger powders with salt and pepper.

Dip the chicken pieces one at a time into the egg mixture, then evenly coat them in the flour mixture and gently submerge them into your preheated fryer. Make sure each piece of chicken has plenty of space to cook in the fryer without touching anything. If necessary fry the chicken in small batches and transfer the cooked pieces using tongs or a slotted spoon onto a baking tray line with a roasting rack in your preheated oven.

Fry the chicken until brown and crisp, about 10-12 minutes depending on the size of the pieces. More importantly you will need to ensure the chicken is cooked to a proper internal temperature of 74 °c / 165°f. This is best checked with a food thermometer.

Numerous readers of last week’s column which discussed growing your own micro-greens responded wanting know where they could purchase micro-greens and forgo the tasks of indoor gardening so in the theme of keeping our food choices “Close to Home” I suggest that you visit the Peterborough Saturday Farmers’ Market where you will find Tiny Greens, a local sustainable microgreens grower who operates year round and pick up some pea shoot micro-greens to use in the following recipe for Pico de Gallo.

In Mexican cuisine Pico de Gallo is a freshly made style of salsa. The name Pico de Gallo translates to beak of rooster which symbolizes the way we eat by taking foods between our forefinger and thumb and them dipping it into a sauce. By sacking all of those creamy, fat-filled dips and making your own you can feel better and your waistline won’t run a foul on game day.

 

Pico de Gallo

Ingredients:

1 cup minced red onion

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

2 limes, juiced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 1/2 cups Ontario hothouse tomatoes, seeded and chopped

¼ cup loosely chopped pea shoot microgreens

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

¼ cup chopped Italian parsley

1 tsp. Mexican Kitchen Cartel seasoning (optional)

 

Method:

In a medium sized bowl combine the minced red onion, jalapeno pepper, lime juice and garlic. Toss mixture and let it rest for 15 minutes. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and let it marinate for another 15-minutes before serving. Do not refrigerate as this will diminish the quality of the texture and flavours of the tomatoes, use immediately.

Mexican Kitchen Cartel from The Spice co. naturally

reservation
Chef Brian for Hire
The Spice Co.