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 ‘food blogger’

Gastronomically yours,

June 9th, 2013

Lilac Love

 

The heady scent of lilacs wafting through the air after a spring rain shower can be quite intoxicating especially if the sun comes out after the rain to increase the humidity making the scent of the lilacs almost seem to stick to us.

Lilacs and their beauty pass quickly, never staying open more than a week, being able to preserve their scent to be enjoyed at other times of the year can easily with a bit of time and sugar. The time that it will take to harvest, clean, and process the blossoms of the flowers will vary depending on the size of the blossoms. Large plump groupings of lilac flowers will hang like clumps of grapes allowing for an efficient harvest. Be sure to clip just the flower clusters as you do not want any of the leaves or branches to add any bitter flavours to your lilac concoctions.

Lilac sugar is easily made by sealing some lilac flowers and granulated sugar in a mason jar for a week and tastes great with black tea. Candied lilacs are made by brushing the petals with sugar and egg whites. Other culinary preparations to preserve your lilacs include vinegar, wine and jelly.

Lilac flowers will retain their colour if used fresh but if you heat them at all the flower petals will turn brown while cooking. If used in muffins, bread, or cake the end product will have a faded yellow appearance.

When harvesting any wild edible foods I advise to avoid those growing along busy roadsides as these flowers are exposed to heavier amounts of pollutants from exhaust and vehicular fluids.

Fill your kitchen and home with the wonderful smells of spring by trying the following recipe is for lilac flowers but can be used for any flowers depending on which you prefer. It works well with apple, rose and nasturtium flowers. Flower petal jellies will preserve the aroma and taste of flowers but not their colour. Most flower jellies are tinged with yellow and brown hues. To give your flower jelly a naturally intensified colour that represents the flower you may want to add some natural fruit juices to your recipes. For lilacs, blueberry and pomegranate can produce a rich violet colour to accent its appearance.

 

 

Lilac Jelly

 

4 cups lilac blossoms

2 cups water

2 cups white wine

Juice of one lemon

2 packages powdered pectin

6 cups sugar

¼ cup additional lilac flowers

 

Method:

In a non-reactive pan bring the water and wine to a gentle boil. Remove the pot from the heat, add the petals, cover and let steep until cool. Strain off the flower petals.

Combine the cooled flower infused tea with the sugar and lemon juice. Return the pot to the stove and bring to a boil over high heat.  Once the sugar has dissolved, stir in the pectin and let the mixture return to a rolling boil for one minute while constantly stirring.  Remove the jelly from the heat and skim off any foam. Let the jelly cool slightly and add the remaining flower petals.  Pour the mixture into sterilized jars. Process the jars in a hot water bath or seal with paraffin like you would any other jelly.

 

 

 

Gastronomically yours,

June 9th, 2013

When size matters

 

The wet weather has been welcomed by my gardens this spring as it has greatly increased the amount of seeds that have successfully germinated. This has resulted in my vegetable garden looking like a miniature forest albeit only a couple of inches high. As a result I need to thin out the excess plants to make way for a select few to grow through to maturity.

Instead of discarding or composting these miniature plants I will harvest them with siccors and toss them up in a micro-green salad.

Micro-greens began popping up in higher end restaurants in the American southwest during the 90’s when chefs began re-inventing plating styles,  incorporating a variety of shapes, colours and stacking their menu items into delicate little mounds. Atop of these artfully prepared props of food the chef would often place a small bundle of freshly trimmed micro-greens to enhance the beauty and freshness with their distinct flavours and fresh, delicate textures.

It is important to understand that micro-greens are not the same as sprouts. A sprout is a seed that has been germinated in a seed dense, wet environment that results in a thick tangled mass comprising of the entire plant being the seed, its roots, a stem and the first set of pale, underdeveloped leaves. Sprouts are often harvested within a couple of days. The excessive moisture in producing sprouts has been the source of numerous food borne illnesses around the world most commonly caused by salmonella. Comparably micro-greens are planted in a low density manner in soil. They are exposed to high levels of light and air circulation and may require two to six weeks to produce a harvest. These micro-plants are on average about 3-6 cm in height and consist of three components, the stem, two embryonic leaves, and the first pair of very young true leaves. The first true leaves are fully opened and expanded. Micro-greens are sold often still in its soil filled trays and are harvested by cutting them with scissors just above the soil and are meant to be instantly consumed.

You can purchase ready to eat micro-greens at natural food stores and farmers’ markets, throughout our area but you may want to try growing and harvesting your own If you’ve got a windowsill, you’ve got the space and light necessary to grow a variety of nutrient-rich micro greens. It is easy to do and guarantees you a quick successful harvest making it a suitable project for children and may help in getting kids to eat their veggies. Almost any vegetable can be consumed as a micro-green which allows for an endless variety of flavours and colours to be added to your kitchen.

For those who are serious about growing micro-greens I suggest you visit Mumm’s Sprouting located in Parkside Saskatchewan. Their on-line store ships direct around the globe and their website is full of instructional resources for those wanting to explore the world of micro-greens.

Having the ability to harvest micro-greens immediately before eating them reduces nutrient loss that occurs when mature vegetables are transported often great distances once harvested. Recent studies have shown that an ounce of micro-greens contains more vitamins and minerals than an ounce of the fully matured plant itself and are rich in anti-oxidants.

Iceberg Lettuce Micro-greens

 

Gastronomically yours,

May 26th, 2013

Indigenous trumps local food

 

Without question our unstable weather patterns from winter have carried over into spring and this is challenging for those who like to harvest their own food. .

Switching our attention from the garden to the forest might help feed our instinctive hunter-gatherer needs by allowing us to harvest the many foods that are available in nature such as ramps, morels, fiddle heads, elm seeds, nettles and dandelions to name a few of the many .

These wild and free foods are ahead of schedule and ready to harvest throughout the region. I don’t know of any other way to eat more locally than by eating indigenously.

I strongly encourage you to know how to correctly identify any foods that you are harvesting from the wild. Always inspect the foods you harvest and discard any diseased or insect infested pieces.

For long term preservation of your forest foraging bounty you can dry the morels, pickle the ramps and blanch/freeze down the extra fiddleheads; there is never a shortage of dandelions so only harvest what you need.

If you are not comfortable with the thought of harvesting these foods on your own then I recommend heading down to your Local Farmers Market and forage around the many vendors who are selling these wild ingredients safely in a tame manner.

 

Where the Wild Things Are Chicken

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
3 tbsp. canola oil
½ cup morel mushrooms cleaned, trimmed and coarsely chopped

1-2 ramps cleaned and coarsely chopped
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 tsp. marjoram
1 tsp. thyme

¼ cup fiddleheads

¼ cup chopped dandelion greens
1 cup light cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Flour for dredging
Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

 

 

Pre-heat a large sized Dutch oven over med-high heat. Dredge the chicken in flour and shake off excess. Add the canola oil to the Dutch oven and add the chicken to the pan. Do not overcrowd the pan. Allow chicken to lightly brown on each side. Now add the morels and ramps to the pot and continue cooking for few minutes. Stir in the wine, chicken stock and herbs. Secure the lid on your Dutch oven and place it on a lower rack in the oven. Cook or braise chicken mixture for 90 minutes. While waiting for the chicken to cook prepare a few cups of egg noodles.

Once cooked remove chicken from the Dutch oven, and place the thighs over the egg noodles. Skim off any fat from the braising liquid with a large spoon. Stir in the fiddleheads, dandelion greens and the cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the braising liquid over the chicken and serve immediately.

 

Having morels like the one below growing in our yard makes for quick easy harvest without the fear of others coming and raiding our patch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gastronomically yours,

May 24th, 2013

Ted Reader, King of the Q originally posted this image

 

 

Getting all fired up!!

 

There is something inexplicably tantalizing to one’s taste buds when the gentle wafting aromas of a neighbours BBQ ride find their way into our olfactory senses. It’s almost instinctive the way we react to the smell of flesh cooking over an open flame. This is quite understandable seeing as this is one of the oldest documented cooking methods.

The word barbeque is a derivative of a Cariban word barbaquoa.  The Carib’s at one time inhabited the southern Caribbean. The Arawak’s inhabited the northern islands.  It was common to find barbaquoa Ararwak on a Cariban’s dinner menu. This influence came from the Caribbean to the Gulf and made its way through Texas into North American cuisine.

With the arrival of spring many people will be firing up the BBQ for another season of grilling. Regardless of the size and price that you paid for your BBQ a spring tune up is in order before you get all fired up.

First you should give your BBQ a good cleaning and inspect all of the components within it. The main cause of flare-ups and those nerve wracking explosive starts to your system can usually be traced to a blockage in the venturi tubes on your BBQ. Warning signs of a gas blockage include any of the following; the burner doesn’t light, the burner flames are yellow or you’ve lost an eyebrow during ignition.

Insects are attracted to the smell of gas and often will take up residence in the tubes used to carry gas from the tank to the burners. Using a venturi brush you can clean the bugs out of the venturi tubes. Similar to a bottlebrush, proceed with the venturi brush an inch at a time using it to pull the cobwebs out of the line. Otherwise you will compact any debris into the line.

Do a soapy water test on the gas line and its connectors to ensure there are no gas leaks. Repair or replace any defected parts that you may find. Any of the metal parts within the firebox can be cleaned with a metal brush this will ensure that all of the burner ports are free of debris. Do not make any modifications to your system.

Now fire it up, preheat your BBQ gently, as you do not need to re-temper any of the metal causing it to warp or bend. Use a damp cloth and set of long handled tongs to wipe the grilling surface. This will help remove excess dirt and metal bristles from your grilling surface.  Now it’s time to get grilling!

 

 Maple Bourbon Grilling Sauce

In a heatproof bowl combine

½ cup of real Maple Syrup

¼ cup of bourbon

1 tbsp.  Vanilla extract

A pinch of thyme

A pinch of ground pepper

Generously brush the sauce over, beef, chicken, pork, salmon or veggies while your cooking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Straightforward Grilling Notes…

 

First and foremost you need to recognize two important things. First do not leave your BBq when cooking. Secondly your BBq has variable temperature control dials, therefore you should not always have your BBq cranked on high.

 

Prior to grilling assemble all of the items that you will need to get the job done. Including a squirt bottle of water to put out any small flare-ups as well as a fire extinguisher for large flare-ups!

 

Cuts of beef to utilize are NY striploin, Ribeye, Tenderloin, or Sirloin. About 5-10 minutes prior to cooking the steaks lightly drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Cook steaks on a hot BBq. Do not keep flipping them or turning them. You will only need to touch your steaks five times when cooking them 1. Place steaks on hot BBq. 2. After the flesh has been seared and marked, give the steak a quarter turn. This ensures the lovely criss-crossed grill marks you get in restaurants.

3. Flip the steak over. 4. Repeat step 2. 5. Remove the steaks from the BBq.

 

This process is the same for chicken, lightly oil the chicken prior to BBqing it as this will ensure that the chicken will not stick to the grill.

 

For grilling fish, choose firm fleshed fish such as salmon,  sea bass or tuna. For fish you will give everything a bit of oil, your flipper, tongs the BBq and the fish. This will allow you to cook the fish just like a steak. You also can cook the fish with the skin on it. Lightly oil the skin and cook it skin side down on the BBq. This technique will allow you to cook your fish without it breaking or flaking apart on the BBq.

 

For grilling veggies such as zucchini, eggplant and portabello’s lightly marinate the veg in olive oil with balsamic vinegar in a ratio of two-part vinegar to one-part oil. The veg do not need to be soaked in this mixture just a light drizzled will do.

 

For cedar planking… Make sure that when you purchase your planks that they are untreated. Also you must soak the planks for at least two-three hours prior to cooking with them.

 

When using skewers in grilling, make sure you soak them for an hour prior to using them, as this will prevent them from catching fire. Use your imagination here, try soaking your skewers in brandy, apple juice, or soy sauce. As your food cooks the skewers will impart flavors into the food.

You can also utilize rosemary sprigs as skewers, or grape vines as your skewer and these will also impart flavors into your food.

 

Cedar Planked Pickerel with Goats Cheese Crust

 

The mild flavor of pickerel works best for this recipe, however it will work with snapper or wild pacific salmon. Other cheeses to try would be Brie or Feta.

 

3-4well soaked cedar planks

2-4kg fresh pickerel fillets, with the skin on

Lemon pepper

1-cup goats cheese

6 green onions minced

1-2 tbsp. fresh thyme chopped

Juice of one lemon

1 tbsp. course ground pepper

Sea salt

Olive oil for brushing

 

Preheat your BBQ on High, rub lemon pepper into flesh of fish. Combine cheese onions, thyme and pepper in a mixing bowl and mix well. Season with salt to taste. Use mixture to form a crust on the flesh side of the pickerel fillets.

Place cedar planks onto the BBQ grill and close the lid. In about 3-5 minute the planks will start to smoke and make a cracking noise. Carefully open the BBQ lid as there will be a fair bit of smoke. Brush some olive oil onto the planks, using an oiled metal spatula, transfer the pickerel; fillets to the cedar planks, skin-side down. Bake for 5-7 minutes and your crust is golden. Remove pickerel from BBQ and serve immediately with lemon wedges.

 

 

 

 

 

Basic BBQ Secrets

 

There is something inexplicably tantalizing to one’s taste buds when the gentle wafting aromas of a neighbours BBQ find their way into our olfactory senses. It’s almost instinctive the way we react to the smell of flesh cooking over an open flame. This is quite understandable seeing as this is one of the oldest documented cooking methods.

The word barbeque is a derivative of the Cariban word barbaquoa.  The Carib’s at one time inhabited the southern Caribbean. The Arawak’s inhabited the northern islands.  It was common to find barbaquoa Arawak on a Cariban’s dinner menu. This influence came from the Caribbean to the Gulf and made its way through Texas into North American cuisine.

Now I’m assuming that everyone has completed a spring tune-up on their BBQ’s prior to the start of the grilling season, as I recommended in my article “Getting All Fired Up!!”  So now it’s time to get down to the business of grilling.

To become a BBQ pro the rules are as follows. Pre-heat your Q to around 400-500 °f

Do not leave your BBQ until the cooking is done. This means that you must gather everything that you will need and have it in arms reach. This includes any of those frosty beverages you may need to get the job done right.  Prior to grilling assemble all of the items that you will. Include a squirt bottle of water to put out any small flare-ups as well as a fire extinguisher for large flare-ups.

Secondly your BBQ has variable temperature control dials; therefore you should not always have your BBQ cranked up so high that you run the risk of re-tempering it’s steel construction and charring your own flesh let alone your dinner.

Lastly for basic grilling techniques, leave the lid of your BBQ open so you can see what’s going on. Keep the lid closed when preheating your Q. The lid assists in protecting the BBQ’s fire bowl when not in use or for advanced grilling techniques such as smoking and roasting.

For grilling fish, choose firm fleshed fish such as salmon, sea bass or tuna. For fish you will need to give everything a light coating of oil, your flipper, tongs the BBQ and the fish. This will allow you to cook the fish just like a steak without it sticking to the grill. You can cook the fish with the skin on it, simply cook it skin side down on the grill. These techniques will allow you to cook your fish without it breaking or flaking apart on the BBQ.

Keep in mind that you can BBQ anything. With proper use of techniques bread, pizzas, cheese, desserts and shellfish can all be barbequed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gastronomically yours,

May 16th, 2013

Fiddleheads

 

Fiddleheads are the young wild fern shoots that are harvested from the forest floor before they uncurl and grow into long leafed ferns. Their shape is comparable to a scroll or the head of a violin, after which they are named. Fiddleheads have been a seasonal mainstay in diets for centuries throughout Asia, Europe and North America for centuries. They taste like a mix of asparagus and broccoli with mild earthy mushroom accents.
This wild vegetable is harvested in the spring by cutting the fiddleheads close to the ground while they are 10-15 cm in height. They are in season for about two weeks per region but are often available longer as they are shipped between regions.

The long awaited spring rains that arrived this week gave us the well needed dousing to kick the greening of the forests into high gear. The forest floor is sprouting to life with fiddleheads popping up everywhere. These can be gathered by you in the wild or will be available for purchase in grocery stores and farmers markets for the next couple of weeks.

Once harvested or purchased your fiddleheads need to be washed, trimmed and refrigerated as soon as possible as they are highly perishable and should be prevented from further ripening or uncurling. They can be stored for 2-3 days in a refrigerator sealed in a plastic bag.  Fiddleheads can be stored longer by freezing them. To do this you will need to clean and trim the fiddleheads and then blanch them for a couple of minutes in salted boiling water and then quickly cool them down by plunging them into cold water. Drain and dry the blanched fiddleheads and seal them plastic freezer bags and freeze them. They will keep for up to 6 months in the freezer.
To cook your fiddleheads you will need to first remove the yellow/brown skin, and remove any browned tips. Blanch them for a couple of minutes in salted boiling water and then quickly cool them down by plunging them into cold water.  Now you can prepare your fiddleheads by steaming, boiling or sautéing them.  It is recommended that fiddleheads be cooked for at least 10-15 minutes.
Fresh fiddleheads like asparagus are best when served with a bit of  butter, salt, pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice as their mild flavour can be easily overpowered. This week’s recipe highlights the fresh flavor of fiddlehead ferns with sliced browned garlic which will not over power the fiddleheads.

 

Sauté Fiddleheads

Ingredients:

1 pound fiddlehead ferns

2 tbsp. vegetable oil or butter

1 – 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced not chopped

2 lemons cut in wedges and seeded

Method: Trim and rinse fiddleheads, removing any brown tips or mushy parts. Blanch the fiddleheads as outlined in the article.

Preheat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil or butter and the fiddleheads to the pan. Stir the fiddleheads constantly and cook them until they start to brown, about 7-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and continue cooking until the garlic becomes fragrant and lightly browned. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste and serve immediately Serves 4

 

 

Foraging in the Forest

 

Spring is here and the warmer temperatures combined with this week’s much needed rain will have ramps, morels and fiddleheads poking out from the forest floor any day now in no particular order. I do enjoy ramps and morels; the fiddleheads as far as I’m concerned can stay in the forest. Although I harvest morels I do not give advice on harvesting any wild fungi as mistakes can be fatal.

Ramps or wild leeks are a member of the Lily family and typically is one of the very first plants to sprout out of the ground after the snow melts. This species is native to North America and usually first appears in late April and can be harvested throughout the month of May. This smaller and more pungent leek grows in moist sandy soil often near streams. I usually stumble upon ramps when foraging for morel mushrooms or vice versa so try hunting for both and see what you find.

It is of little known fact that the USDA and the province of Quebec have both declared that wild leeks are an endangered species resulting from its commercial exploitation and have enacted strict laws in respect to harvesting them. Although Ontario does not yet have these same laws I do recommend that you only harvest ramps when they are abundant, and even then only collect scattered patches or individual plants.

Wild leeks are easily recognized with its pale green, smooth, broad leaves that reach a height of eight inches which are often tinted with burgundy or purple highlights.  First time ramp hunters need not worry so much about their botanical identification skills for when one pulls the strongly rooted scallion like bulbs from the ground your nose will confirm your find;  by tearing the plants stem and taking a sniff.  If the strongly distinctive scent of an onion sears your nostrils then you have hit pay dirt; which reminds me… be sure to wash your leek harvest by soaking them in several changes of cold water as they are quite sandy.

Ramps are adaptable to almost any food style and can also be sautéed or used in soups and stir fries. Substitute them in any recipe that calls for onions or garlic. I enjoy eating freshly harvested ramps raw. Be forewarned that their pungent garlicky odor can linger for a couple of days on your breath and ingesting large quantities of ramps can have an ill effect on ones constitution so as with all great things exercise moderation.

Later in the season the ramps produce a yellow flower which only develops after its leaves have died and fallen from the plant. Although they are still edible at this time the bulbs become rather swollen with a tough woody texture.

I like to pickle my ramps as it mellows their strong flavour and it allows me to store the ramps and enjoy them year round. They make for a brilliant accompaniment to our locally raised beef grilled up on the bbq or served raw as a tartar.

 

Pickled Ramps

1 pound ramps

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup cider vinegar

3/4 cup water

1 tbsp kosher salt

1 tbsp Pickling spice

1 tsp black peppercorns

Pickled ramps:

If the ramps are young and tender, you can leave the green tops on otherwise cut them off about 1/4 inch above where the stem turns white. Trim away the roots. Discard any dried out or dirty leaves and rinse several times to remove dirt and debris. Place ramps in a large heatproof, non reactive bowl.

To make the pickling brine: combine all the remaining ingredients in a saucepan.  Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the brine from the heat and immediately pour it the over ramps. At first it may appear that there’s not enough brine, but once the ramps wilt there will be more than enough. Let the ramps cool to room temperature. Transfer them into smaller non reactive containers, cover tightly, and place in the refrigerator to allow the flavours to develop. After 24 hours has passed it is time to enjoy your harvest. Keep the ramps stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator for 8-12 weeks.

 

 

Gastronomically yours,

May 12th, 2013

 

May is “Love your Lentils Month”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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Your Lentils

 

 

Love Your Lentils Canada competition launches today

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Canadian Chef Michael Smith challenges Home Chefs and Food Bloggers to get creative with lentils

Vote for your favourites, Canada

Saskatoon, SK, May 2, 2013 – Canadian Lentils in partnership with Chef Michael Smith announced today the Love Your Lentils Canada competition, which challenges home chefs and food bloggers to develop and adapt recipes that could become a new favourite for family mealtime. All Canadians are invited to test them out and vote for their favourites.

“I love lentils and I’m thrilled that we grow the best in the world right here in Canada!” said Chef Michael Smith, who will be judging the finalists. “I can’t wait to taste what Canada’s home chefs and food bloggers come up with!”

The competition will be split into two divisions: Food Bloggers and Home Chefs.

 

Home chefs will be asked to take one of Chef Michael Smith’s existing lentil recipes and add their own twist to it, while bloggers will be asked to submit completely unique lentil recipes. Visit www.loveyourlentils.ca to submit adapted (Home Chefs) or original (Bloggers) lentil recipes. Then, invite family, friends, fans, and followers to cast a ballot for your recipe – there is a chance they could win, too!

 

Love Your Lentils Canada challenge details:

  • The top ten (10) recipes in each segment as voted on by the general public will then be reviewed by Chef Michael and his team, who will select the top three (3) recipes in each category.
  • The winning Blogger and Home Chef will be flown to Saskatchewan and hosted at the Delta Bessborough where they will spend a day with Chef Michael Smith touring the city and taking in some lentil highlights. Joining them will also be one (1) randomly selected voter from the campaign.
  • The six (6) finalists with their recipe and pictures will be featured and promoted on www.loveyourlentils.ca and www.lentils.ca. The top three winners will also be featured on Chef Michael’s website, http://chefmichaelsmith.com.

Check out www.loveyourlentils.ca for all the details.

JOIN THE TWITTER PARTY:

Tweet with @chefmichaelsmth and @cdnlentils at the #lovelentils Twitter party on Tuesday, May 14th at 8 p.m. EDT.

Canadian Lentils is an Official Mark of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, a farmers’ organization that works to advance the lentil industry in Saskatchewan, the heart of the lentil growing region in Canada. For more in formation about Canadian Lentils and to see more great ways to cook with lentils, visit us at www.lentils.caClick here to like us on Facebook.

For more information about the Love Your Lentils Canada campaign, recipes or to book an interview, please contact:

Saskia Brussaard, Crave Public Relations

saskia@cravepr.com / 416-850-3519 / @cravepr

*If you’d prefer not to receive press releases about lentils or your interests have changed, just email me so I can update our contact information for you: saskia@cravepr.com

Love Your Lentils

 

 

Copyright © [2013]
Crave Public Relations
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Gastronomically yours,

May 12th, 2013

Sticks and Stones

 

Who cannot resist the aromas of a BBQ? We cannot deny that when we smell foods licked by fire and smoke that our appetite is whetted and we start to salivate. This ancient method of cooking dates back to the days of cave dwellers cooking chunks of meat over a fire. Through its evolution we can come to understand the basics of BBQ and harness the elements used for creating memorable back-yard feasts.

 

The word barbecue originated from the Spanish word barbacoa and made its way to Central America. The Arawak people traveled from Central America to the Caribbean taking their style of barbacoa with them. The Caribbean was also inhabited with the Carib Indians who were a fierce society of warriors who led to the demise of the Arawak’s 1000-year existence in the Islands. It is believed that the Carib’s dinned on barbacoa Arawak at their victory feasts.

From Central America the barbecue traveled north to Texas and the barbecue scene has never rested since as it gave birth to a sub-culture of BBQ rib and sauce competitions that are as hot and fiery as the foods served at these annual national events. We must also acknowledge Australia for the “Barbie” and the Japanese for the “Hibachi” and the influences made on our way of backyard grilling. As well as tailgate party goers and the various flavors found in such societal delicacies as Beer Can Chicken.

Roll tape

 

Here in Canada we can trace our cooking styles back to the Pacific Northwest native peoples with the art of plank-grilling where one splits open a freshly caught salmon, binds it to a piece of cedar driftwood and cooks it over a fire. From the Pacific Northwest also comes hot-rock cooking. Here we use heated slabs of granite for cooking fish and seafood on the surface of heated stones. These methods of cooking allow us to infuse or impart natural aromatic flavors into our food.

Plank-grilling and hot-rock applications are fun and easy to do however there are a few precautions and rules to be observed. When choosing a plank use an aromatic wood like untreated alder or cedar. I do not recommend Eastern cedar, pine or birch. It is necessary to soak the planks in water for a few hours before the grilling begins as this allows the wood to slowly release smoke and flavor, as with dry planks you will have a fire and no dinner.

If you choose to cook with stones do not use porous rocks as they sometimes retain water and explode with extreme heat. Use slabs of granite, marble or even terra cotta. By incorporating stone slabs into your BBQ you can try doing mussels and oysters or BBQ pizzas and cheeses to make unique appetizers. Dessert is a necessary course needed to finish any great repast and this too can be done on the Q by cedar planking apples and peaches served with ice-cream.

This May long weekend is the perfect excuse for taking the time and trying something new on your Bbq. Our local grocers, farmer’s markets and farm gate purveyors are sure to have something for you to experiment with.

 

Getting fired up

 

Below is this years BBQ Class Schedule from Friendly Fires for more details check them on line

Friendly Fires 2013 BBQ Class Schedule
Below you will find the schedule for our BBQ classes in 2013. We are very excited to be welcoming two new headliners this year – Chef John from Bohemian BBQ and Master Butcher George from Primal Cuts. Returning by popular demand is Chef Brian Henry.
Once again, the majority of our BBQ classes take place on Saturday morning at our Peterborough store location – and usually rain or shine so come dressed for the weather (tents are erected in the case of rain).
Saturday May 25th – 10am
John from Bohemian BBQ – John is an grill master who specializes in southern BBQ as well as that of countries like Peru, Argentina and Portugal. Today John will be demonstrating the unique flavours of Portuguese Piri Piri with chicken. John promises you’ve never tasted chicken like this. [warning – you may experience withdrawal symptoms the next day] (cost is $15 per person)
Saturday June 1st – 10am
Chef Brian Henry will be taking our taste buds on an adventure to Korea with BBQ techniques and flavours found only on the Korean peninsula. (cost is $15 per person)
Saturday June 8th – 10am
Master Butcher George from Primal Cuts in Peterborough will be exploring the world of beef, more precisely lesser known cuts of steak. We are betting you may never buy a striploin again! Primal Cuts is known for using ethically raised local animals and being the only shop in town that dry ages beef up to 90 days! (cost is $15 per person)
Thursday June 13th – 4pm
Friendly Fires’ own Hayley Doyle and Valerie Adams will be hosting an afternoon of fun and food where women can feel free to discuss all things BBQ. Experience is not necessary. Come for the experience, come for the food, come for the techniques but leave happy, full and eager to get home to turn on your own BBQ! (cost is $30 per person and class is approx 2-3 hours long)
Saturday June 22nd – 11am
With Friendly Fires 2nd Annual BBQ Competition only one month away we thought we’d fire up the grills to have our own mini “Rib cookoff”. Come taste the difference that technique, fuel and flavouring can make to a “simple” rack of ribs.
Saturday July 6th – 10am
Chef Brian Henry is back and this time he is taking our taste buds on a trip to Australia. From the country that brought you “Shrimp on the Barbie” come see what else Australia has added to the world of BBQ through the talents of Chef Brian Henry. (cost is $15 per person)
Tuesday July 9th – 4pm
Friendly Fires’ own Hayley Doyle and Valerie Adams will be hosting an afternoon of fun and food where women can feel free to discuss all things BBQ. Experience is not necessary. Come for the experience, come for the food, come for the techniques but leave happy, full and eager to get home to turn on your own BBQ! (cost is $30 per person and class is approx 2-3 hours long)
Saturday July 13th – 10am
For his final class Chef Brian Henry will be taking our taste buds down to the docks to see what the local fishing boats have brought in today. Seafood or maybe more precisely local “lakefood”. Taste how good it can be right here in the Kawarthas!
Saturday July 20th – 10am
Master Butcher George from Primal Cuts in Peterborough will be exploring the world of beef, more precisely lesser known cuts of steak. We are betting you may never buy a striploin again!  Primal Cuts is known for using ethically raised local animals and being the only shop in town that dry ages beef up to 90 days!(cost is $15 per person)
To sign up for any of our classes, please call our Peterborough location (705-741-1900) or drop in (981 Highway 7 East, Peterborough). Due to the popularity of these classes and the need to know numbers for estimating food, please note that prepayment is required to hold your spot.
Chef Brian Henry
Primal Cuts
Bohemian BBQ

Gastronomically yours,

April 29th, 2013

I’ve had the pleasure of judging many food related competitions over the year’s but none of them compares to judging yesterday’s Butter Tart Taste-Off at the Flavour Festival held in Peterborough, Ontario.

Searching for the best crust, best filling, most creative and best overall was a daunting task.  Ontario.choose the best crust, best filling, the most creative butter tart, and the overall best Butter Tart.

 

Round one had 11 butter tarts

The judging panel was

photo_dan-and-linda_360

Dan Duran and Linda Kash of Magic 967 FM

1297121905299_AUTHOR_PHOTORita DeMontis

Carol Ann 2Carol-Ann Eason

stuStu Harrison

Jay Thuler Magic 96.7

 

and yours truly .

The winners were…

Best Crust: Argyle Country Mart

Best Filling: Doo Doo’s

Best Creative Tart: Doo Doo’s

Overall Best Tart: Betty’s Pies & Tarts

People’s Choice: Cravings Bakery

Full details can be seen at http://ptbocanada.com/journal/2013/4/29/ptbopics-coverage-winners-of-2013-butter-tart-taste-off-at-f.html

Curried Goat

Pemeal Beef Bacon from Traynor Farms

 

 

Can I tweet this cheese?

Here are some suggested recipes for making your own Butter Tarts

remember to fill unused muffin cups halfway with water to prevent them from drawing too much heat.

Butter Tart

Version 1

Pastry

5 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp salt

1 egg

1 tbsp vinegar

water

Mix flour and salt in a large bowl.

In a measuring cup, beat the egg and the vinegar, then add enough cold water to make one cup.

Add one pound of Tenderflake or shortening (whichever you like) to flour/salt mixture. Mix just until the flour looks moist, not too much. Add the liquid and use your fingers to toss it together — do not mix or knead.

Chill the pastry while you make the filling

Butter Tart Filling

1/2 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

2 cups corn syrup

2 tsp vanilla

2 tsp lemon juice

6 eggs

Beat together the butter and sugar.

Add the next three ingredients and beat again. Beat the eggs, and add to the mix.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Roll and cut the pastry, and place in tart pans. In the bottom of each shell, put a few raisins or pecans or walnuts — whatever your taste buds like.

Pour in liquid filling to within half an inch of the top.

Bake for 18 minutes. Take the pan out, turn it around and return it to the oven for a few minutes longer — until golden brown and not really runny.

Let tarts cool before removing from pan. Makes two dozen.

 

 

 

Version 2

PASTRY:

2 cups cake & pastry flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut in pieces

3 tbsp cold shortening, cut in pieces

2 tsp lemon juice

4 to 6 tbsp ice water

FILLING:

1/2 cup sultana raisins

1/2 cup corn syrup

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 tsp salt

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

For pastry, stir together flour and salt in medium bowl. Using pastry blender or large fork, cut in butter and shortening until pieces are about the size of peas.

In measuring cup, stir lemon juice into 4 tablespoons ice water. Stir into flour mixture with fork. Add remaining ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed, to just moisten dry ingredients. Using hands, press mixture into ball. Flatten into disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Roll out dough about 1/8-inch thick. Using 4-inch diameter cookie cutter or top of drinking glass, cut out 12 circles. Place circles in lightly greased cups of 12-cup muffin tin, ruffling edges to fit. Refrigerate while you prepare filling.

For filling, in small bowl or measuring cup, cover raisins with hot water. Set aside.

In medium bowl, using back of wooden spoon, blend corn syrup, sugar, butter and salt, until smooth, with no butter streaks. Blend in egg and vanilla.

Drain raisins well. Divide among tart shells. Top with equal amounts of sugar mixture.

Bake about 18 minutes in preheated 400F oven, until pastry is golden and filling is puffy and brown.

Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes. Remove tarts to rack to cool completely. Store in covered container. Makes 12.

 

 

Who cut the cheese?

 

 

Gastronomically yours,

April 26th, 2013


The smell of Spring

 

I love the aromas produced by foods being prepared in a kitchen. One of these favorite culinary induced aromas I can only smell in the bathroom. It is the smell of metabolized compounds found in asparagus. These sulphur based compounds give our urine a distinct perfume within 20 minutes of ingesting this member of the daffodil family.

The effect of eating asparagus on our urine has been of curiosity and study since the 1700’s. Most recently a study published in 2010 found that while almost everyone who eats asparagus produces the aromatic asparagus-urine only 22% of the population has the autosomal genes required to smell them. This trait is unique to asparagus as these compounds originate in asparagusic. The aromatic producing elements of asparagus are more concentrated in young asparagus are more present in young asparagus, with the observation that the smell is more pronounced after eating young asparagus.

Another food study in the 1700’s saw the cross breeding of Fragaria virginiana and Fragaria chiloensis which lead to the creation of the cultivar more commonly known as the common garden strawberry.

These naturally sweet aromatic orbs are related to the rose family and have been used for centuries in the kitchen but also in cosmetic applications and of course the perfume industry. The strawberry is the first fruit to ripen and be harvested in the Kawartha’s. Their flavor can be influenced by weather and this year’s hot dry spring should produce exceptionally sweeter fruits than usual.

Asparagus and strawberries have a number of similar traits. They are both related to flowers; make great companion plants, they require human hands to harvest them, and are only available locally in season for a short period of time. Pick up both of these ingredients at farmers markets and grocery stores throughout our region while still in season and try them together in this week’s recipe that will welcome the delicious aromas of summer into our homes. The many textures and flavors of this salad are best served with barbecued chicken to making it a satisfying meal.

Asparagus and Strawberry Salad

Ingredients:

2 cups asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite size pieces

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

2 tbsp. lemon juice

4 cups arugula

1 tbsp.  Honey

3 tbsp.  Balsamic vinegar

 

Method:

In a medium sized bowl combine the asparagus and half of the olive oil together and toss it until the asparagus is evenly coated with the oil. Cook the asparagus for 2-3 minutes in either a preheated oven or barbeque at around 400 °f. Once cooked remove asparagus from heat and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl.

Place about a cup of arugula onto four dinner plates. Top the arugula with the strawberries and asparagus.  Lightly drizzle each salad with the vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

 

Gastronomically yours,

April 25th, 2013

You be the Judge

 

Geographical regions are often defined by their terroir or their sense of place which is personified through its geography, environment, culture and cuisine. This weekend our region will display all of its characteristic qualities that define our somewhereness here throughout the Kawartha and Northumberland counties at the Flavour Festival being held this Sunday at The Morrow Building.

My childhood summer memories are filled full of drives with my father throughout Central Ontario. Our regular road trips through the countryside were serenaded by baseball games on am radio while squeaking our way through lightly salted bags of curd, softened on the dashboard in the sun. Often these road trips were interrupted by stopping to try butter tarts from corner stores and church bake sales.

To me curd and butter tarts define our region like nothing else when it comes to food. Personally, I have never met a curd I haven’t enjoyed and our region is full of brilliant cheese makers. Finding a great butter tart is more redolent of spending a lifetime in pursuit of a fish that got away and faded memories of summers past.

What makes the best butter tart? Is the most personal question one can be asked and can include other questions like “Do you like a runny or firm filling?” or “Do you prefer raisins in or out of your tarts?” These questions as well as who makes “The Best Crust”, who makes “the Best Filling”, who makes the “Best Overall” butter tart and who makes “The Most Creative Filling” will be asked and answered at the Flavour Festivals Kawarthas Butter Tart Taste-Off.

A panel of judges including myself have been tasked with the difficult job of answering these questions while finding our local area’s best butter tart. This will be no easy task but I will fulfill my public service duties to our community to the fullest.

There is another category that will be awarded at this competition as well and it’s the most prestigious of all “The People’s Choice Award”.  I personally invite you to come out and discover the flavours of the Kawarthas and Northumberland County at this year’s Flavour Festival and I further challenge you to come and help us decide who makes the best butter tart in the region.

For those of you who enjoy butter tarts and their pastry I suggest you try the following recipe for Vodka Pie Crust using Kawartha Dairy Butter.

Vodka Pie Crust

 

Ingredients:

13 oz unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. sugar
6oz cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cold vodka that has been infused with vanilla bean
1/4 cup cold water

Method:
Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined. Add the butter and shortening and pulse the mixture until it reaches a uniform consistency. It will appear clumpy and curd-like.

Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula and add the remaining flour. Again pulse the mixture until evenly incorporated. Turn the flour mixture out into a medium sized mixing bowl.
Sprinkle the vodka and water over mixture. Use the rubber spatula, to fold the dough over on itself while pressing down on the mixture to combine it into a slightly sticky dough mass. Divide dough in half and form it into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

reservation
Chef Brian for Hire
The Spice Co.