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 ‘same sex catering’

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

Gastronomically yours,

December 17th, 2016

Ramsey started off with a furious expletive Which is why I believe he is a distant blood relative

T’was a Night in the Kitchen

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through’ the kitchen

Not a chef was stirring, nor washing the dishes

The pots were all cleaned and put back on the shelf

Knowing tomorrow it would be back to work for this elf

Our company had long ago gone to sleep,

While a pot of turkey bones silently did steep.

Removing my tunic and old chef’s hat

I had decided to partake in a stiff nightcap

When out in the kitchen the smoke alarm rang

I ran back to the galley and spouted some slang

I had rendered our festive dinner to ash,

And proceeded to quietly take it out to the trash

While back in the house I poured some Chablis

And ended up on the couch to watch some TV.

When, what to my bloodshot eyes should appear,

But some bloke on the network cooking with cheer

He was straining a sauce with a ladle and colander

Later it mentioned that his name was something Oliver

Soon my eyes were drooping and I began to nod,

As my mind was dreaming now immersed in egg nog.

Back in the kitchen I found myself looking

As this chap named Oliver was standing there cooking

He was calling out names of chefs, who arrived,

Through my exhaust fan looking rather surprised

Now Ramsey! Now Batali!, Now Lagasse! and Flay

“On De Laurentiis!, On Pepin!, On Puck! and Ray

They were dressed in chef whites and ready to cook

I interrupted them and asked them to sign their latest cook book

The pots and pans they began to rattle

As these chefs ironically prepared to do battle

Ramsey started off with a furious expletive

Which is why I believe he is a distant blood relative

 

Batali somewhat sweaty with red hair and round belly

Shook when he laughed, like a slab of pork belly

Lagasse was shucking a pail full of clams

His eyes how they twinkled! When he shouted out BAM!

Flay with a free-range turkey flung over his back,

Looked like a cook from not just any barbecue shack. 

De Laurentiis pulled out her knives which she honed

While this everyday personality looked already at home

Pepin the French chef worked rather free and wild

And that’s okay with me because I too lament for Julia Child

Puck and Ray the ever famed culinary tycoons

Were smiling and working on a curried crab Rangoon

mupchef

It was obvious now that our Christmas dinner would not be traditional

As it seemed this merry feast would border on being biblical.

With a wink of their eyes and a twist of the pepper mill

I knew that Christmas dinner would not see us dining on krill

With a dash of caraway and a dash of dill, I sliced up the fillet

And fired up the chaffing dishes, Christmas dinner this year would be served up buffet.

What to do next I was no longer sure

I was just thankful that we would not dine on manure

All chefs on hand were given thanks and gingerbread

As they returned where they came from I went straight to bed

With the bread in the bread maker using fresh baker’s yeast

I wish Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good feast!

Merry Christmas from all of us in the kitchen!

 

 

 

Gastronomically yours,

December 13th, 2016

According to the National Restaurant Association here is what’s HOT and what’s NOT in 2017

 

What's Hot  in 2017!

What’s Hot in 2017!

What's Hot 2017

What’s Hot 2017

What's Hot 2017

What’s Hot 2017

What"s Hot in 2017

What”s Hot in 2017

What's Hot 2017

What’s Hot 2017

What's Hot 2017

What’s Hot 2017

What's Hot 2017

What’s Hot 2017

What's Hot in 2017

What’s Hot in 2017

What's Hot in 2017

What’s Hot in 2017

2017 Hot Trends and New Flavours

2017 Hot Trends and New Flavours

what-s-hot-2017-jpeg_page_12

Gastronomically yours,

November 24th, 2016

Snow Cream is a scream

It was nice to wake up to a winter like scene this past week. The fresh fallen snow was a delight to see after our typically dreary November days. It was fun to get out and play in the snow, make snowmen and see all of our holiday decorations enhanced by snow. Whenever there is a fresh snowfall I can’t help but think about a recipe that I learned to make when I was about six years old… Snow Cream.  As a child, I was amazed how easy and fun it was to make dessert out of snow. I even began to believe that I could end world hunger with all of the snow that fell in my small Ontario home town.

I remember vividly as friends of the family came to visit us from Alabama late one fall to visit during hunting season. As luck would have it we had an early snowstorm which dumped several inches of fresh fluffy snow. Seizing the moment; one of our guests ventured outside with some bowls and collected as much snow as possible and quickly went to work stirring together some milk, sugar and vanilla. Then handful after handful I gradually added the snow while we took turns stirring the mixture. With short work we had created a couple of litres of Snow Cream that we drizzled with maple syrup.

snow-storm

Most people who have regular snowfalls and accumulations are the ones who have never heard of snow cream. This simple dessert seems to be more widely celebrated in the deep south of the United States a place not known for snow. It was not long ago that electricity was not a household item, making chest freezers rarer than the snow needed to make this recipe. So when it did snow in the south, this was an easy way to celebrate in Southern fashion by making do with what you have on hand.

The great thing about making snow cream is that it doesn’t require too many ingredients and those that it does can be found here locally. Naturally my milk and cream came from The Kawartha Dairy Company and my maple syrup came from my own trees leftover from early spring.  Alternately one could use crushed up candy canes instead of maple syrup to make a Christmas style snow cream.

snow-scream

The only advice that I give for the following recipe is to make sure the snow is clean. This goes beyond all the yellow snow jokes as you should only use fresh fallen snow, and be aware that it takes at least one to two hours for a fresh snowfall to clean the pollutants from the air, so use only snow that has fallen after that first cleansing snow.

How to go from Snow Storm to Snow Cream!

images

Snow Cream

1/2 cup 35% heavy cream

½ cup 2% milk

1-tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup locally produced Maple Syrup

6-8 litres of fresh fallen snow

Prepare an ice bath by filling an extra large mixing bowl with ice or snow half way. Set a slightly smaller bowl into the ice bath. Better yet, take your mixing bowl outside and set it in the snow. Combine the cream, milk, sugar, and in bowl and whisk together. Continue stirring while adding snow to the cream based mixture 1-2 cups at a time. The amount of snow needed will vary depending on the size of the snow crystals and the temperature of the snow. Stir in enough snow to make the cream mixture start to resemble ice cream in consistency.  Garnish with crushed candy canes. Serve and eat immediately as Snow Cream is not to be stored for any period of time.

Gastronomically yours,

November 24th, 2016

 

The Cookie Exchange

As the holiday season bears down on us like the coming polar vortex we once knew as winter, adults and kids alike are getting into the holiday spirit. This time of year is often spent with family, friends and the kitchen. No matter how you choose to celebrate the holiday season most of it will somehow see us in the kitchen.

The coming holiday season is a great distraction for us as we enter the darkest days of the year as our annual sojourn about the sun which is often filled with excess, expectations, and exchange. cookie

This is a great time to get your children involved in the kitchen and by getting them to help in preparing some holiday baking and take a lesson from the Grinch who “puzzled and puzzed till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!”

My 2 youngest children and I have baked the following recipe a few dozen times with great success which she named after us while the second recipe is a classic standby often enjoyed by many.

The following cookie recipes contain nuts, eggs, dairy, and gluten so be cautious not to send these cookies off to school or to those around you with comparable dietary concerns.

Daddy-Rasi Cookies

Ingredients:

8oz unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1tbsp. Vanilla

1 ¾ cup rolled oats

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. Cinnamon

¼ tsp. salt

¼ cup crystalized ginger, chopped fine

½ cup toasted almonds coarsely chopped

½ cup dried cranberries coarsely chopped

½ cup raisins coarsely chopped

½ cup chocolate chips

 

Method: In a stand mixer or in a large bowl using an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla to the butter mixture and beat again until smooth. In a separate bowl combine all of the dry ingredients together and mix until evenly incorporated. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and gently combine the two at low speed until they are evenly mixed together but do not over mix.  Form the dough into 1 inch balls and place them evenly spaced onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake the soon to be cookies in a preheated oven at 350f for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown around edges, but still soft in middle. Store in an air-tight container for up to five days or sealed in sealable freezer bags for up to 3 weeks.

Individual S'mores for 200 guests!

Individual S’mores for 200 guests!

Kawartha Chestnuts

Ingredients:

3/4 cup peanut butter, salted, creamy

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup dark chocolate, broken into pieces

Method:

In a stand mixer or in a large bowl using an electric mixer beat together, peanut butter, butter, vanilla extract and powdered sugar until it pulls away from the side of the bowl and becomes crumbly.

Using your hands take about a teaspoon size amount of dough and roll into a ball, place the ball onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Repeat this process until no dough remains. Place a toothpick into each ball and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Melt the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Using the toothpick to pick up the dough balls, dip the balls 3/4’s of the way, one at a time, in the melted chocolate. You want to leave a little bit of the peanut butter showing on top so that they resemble a chestnut. Remove excess chocolate. Place back onto parchment lined cookie sheet. Remove the toothpick and refrigerate until firm. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days or sealed in the freezer for up to 3 weeks.


Cookie Monsters

Many people simplify their holiday baking by taking part in a cookie exchange. To the uninitiated the cookie exchange concept is a relatively simple gathering of friends and family who have each baked one kind of cookie in a large enough quantity to divide out a dozen of their cookies to each person in attendance allowing everyone to leave with several dozen different cookies.

Rasi says you know they are good when they are sticky!

Rasi says you know they are good when they are sticky!

These curious social engagements show how cookie baking has evolved from something of a sweetened biscuit to an artisanal craft. This evolution has impacted the culture of the cookie bakers as we can witness those who bake in collaborative groups sharing ideas, cookies and recipes to those who bake in private having all of their Holiday baking done before anyone arrives sharing cookies and time with guests, and there are those who bake a variety of cookies and share only specific cookies with certain guests, in a spendthrift way. Regardless the baking of great cookies has been symbolic of ones prowess as in the domestic kitchen.

Generations of immigrants from all over Europe have contributed to the Canadian tradition of baking and eating cookies. The holiday season sees the popularity of this tradition rise up like a soufflé with many people baking cookies, and a far greater number of people eating them. The challenges of baking cookies and holiday treats to accommodate everyone’s needs, preferences, allergies and intolerances can either make one rise to the challenge or simply walk away from the kitchen altogether. One of my favourite holiday treats is the Buckeye which can be prepared to accommodate most dietary restrictions. Traditionally the Buckeye is made using peanut butter which can readily be substituted with soy based WOWBUTTER produced here in Ontario. WOWBUTTER is made in a dedicated 100% Peanut Free, Tree Nut Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free and Egg Free Facility and is Vegan, NON-GMO, Safe-for-School, and Kosher/Halal approved.

 

Buckeyes

Ingredients:

3/4 cup peanut butter, salted, creamy Or ¾ cup WOWBUTTER

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup dark chocolate, broken into pieces

Method:

In a large bowl, beat together, peanut butter, butter, vanilla extract and powdered sugar until it pulls away from the side of the bowl and becomes crumbly and set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Take a teaspoon size amount of dough and between your hands roll it into a ball, place the ball onto the parchment lined cookie sheet. Repeat this process until you have rolled all of the dough into balls.

Insert a toothpick about half way into each ball and place the tray in the freezer for 40 minutes.

While the dough balls set in the freezer melt the chocolate in a stainless steel or tempered glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove the chocolate from heat and stir it until smooth. Using the toothpick dip the balls 3/4’s of the way, one at a time, in the melted chocolate. You want to leave a little bit of the peanut butter showing on top to make the buckeye look. Remove any excess chocolate and place the buckeye back onto parchment lined cookie sheet. Remove the toothpicks and smooth over the holes. Store the Buckeyes in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


cookies

Holiday Baking

Shortbread, Thumbprint, Buckeyes, Bark.  Gingerbread, Snickerdoodles, and Lebkuchen where does one start? This past week’s sudden arrival of wintery weather combined with the month of December being only a week away has suddenly thrusted us into the holiday season and all associated festivities.

As our annual sojourn about the sun sees us enter the darkest days of the year we will distract ourselves with excess, expectations, and exchange.  No matter how you choose to celebrate the holiday season most of it will see us spending much of it in the kitchen. As we count down the days, many of us are trying to get ahead on our holiday baking which is a monumental achievement unto itself. Some choose to simplify their holiday baking by signing up for cookie exchanges which sometimes can compound stress as these occasions  can have  an underlying passive-aggressive competitiveness to them and are further compounded by accommodating the numerous dietary concerns of gluten, nuts, sugars, fats and vegetarians which can easily eliminate many people from your Christmas list.

Finding recipes that are able to accommodate everyone that still have flavour and a desirable texture is not easy to do. We are not only accustomed to but we are somewhat hardwired to consuming fats, sugars, salts and gluten as these ingredients not only create desired flavours but also anticipated mouth feel which are often difficult to replicate in a manner that has an appreciatively palatable.

My oldest daughter has a collection of recipes, mostly desserts as she has a fondness for sweets. She recently took one of the recipes out to bake. I glanced at it the paper which had the boldly written title “Black Bean Brownies”. I immediately had thoughts that were something like “oh barf” but I kept my mouth shut until they were baked and she proudly handed me one of her Black Bean Brownies, which as a father I was obliged to try, and as a chef was having a culinary conniption.

Well as the story goes I was pleasantly surprised and have included the recipe in this week’s column as it is share worthy. I have made a couple of minor adjustments to it like using maple syrup instead of honey so that it is vegan friendly as well as scaled back on some of the ingredients to suit my own palate. It is also notable that other than the chocolate and vanilla all of the ingredients can be sourced from Ontario producers.

gf

 

Black Bean Brownies

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups cooked or canned black beans drained and rinsed

2 tbsp. cocoa powder

2/3 cup quick oats

¼ tsp. salt

½ cup real maple syrup

¼ cup canola, vegetable or coconut oil

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

½ tsp. baking powder

½ cup chocolate chips

Method:

Combine all of the ingredients except for the chocolate chips in a food processor. Process the ingredients by pulsing them until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl every so often.

Using a spoon, stir the chocolate chips into the mixture. Grease an 8×8 pan and pour the bean-brownie mixture into it. Bake the brownies in a pre-heated oven at 350°f for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let the brownies cool for at least an hour before cutting into squares. If the brownie still seems too soft to cut, let it sit in the refrigerator for an hour or 2 and let them firm up. Cut into squares and serve.

 

 

Gastronomically yours,

November 19th, 2016

How to Stuff your Turban

The first time I saw a turban squash was over 25 years ago on the cover of an old Harrowsmith Magazine. I was immediately taken by its unique shape which loosely resembled an Oriental turban after which it is named. Its exterior colour and texture reminded me of those old Italian wine bottles that we used to use as candle holders covered in overlapping blobs of white, green, orange and red wax. Their peculiar appearance sees them used more commonly for decorative purposes than culinary.

Turban Squash

Turban Squash

When I was finally able to track one down and cut it open to see what it looked like inside, it revealed a bright yellow flesh with a slightly nutty aroma. It cooked like other vegetables and responded well to being roasted, steamed or boiled. It wasn’t until much later that I learned that the turban squash like all squash are classified as fruits and are members of the pumpkin family which are actually berries. Like most fruits in this category we can trace their origins to Central America where we see them used in many traditional recipes. In North America we tend to consume only the squash fruits but every part of the squash plant can be eaten, including the leaves and their tendrils.

 

When selecting turban squash keep in mind that the smaller squash are much sweeter than the larger ones, on the down side of this the smaller squash have a mealy textured flesh. I recommend using  medium sized turbans in the kitchen. A medium sized turban squash will weigh in around three pounds and have a diameter of about 8-10 inches. The large knob that protrudes from the squash is the flower end, making the opposite end the stem end.

 

Traynor Farms has a great selection of squash available at their Farm Store located at

Address: 2193 County Rd 2, Peterborough, ON K9J 6X7
Phone: (705) 931-0696
Traynor Farms

Traynor Farms

Forage your way to through the selection of squash and find a turban squash to use in the following recipe,  the hard shell of the turban makes it the perfect soup terrine.
Chorizo Stuffed Turban

 

Ingredients:

1 medium sized turban squash

Canola oil as needed

2 tbsp. butter

1 cup Spanish onion, diced

½ cup celery, diced

½ cup carrot, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 lb. chorizo sausage, if you wish to forgo meat and make this vegetarian,

add 1-2 tbsp. of our Kick-Ass Cajun Seasoning from The Spice Co. naturally…

1/4 cup soft breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 375°F with only a single rack on the middle shelf of your oven so that the turban will have adequate clearance.

Make sure that the turban is flat and level on its stem end, as this will be the bottom of your soup bowl. Take a thin slice or two off of the bottom if necessary to level it out. Next cut off the bulbous flower end, as you would when making a jack-o-lantern, as this piece can be used as a lid for your terrine.

Scoop out all of the seeds and pulp from the inside of the turban, discarding the pulp but reserving the seeds as they can be roasted and eaten too.

With a paper towel lightly coat all cut and exposed squash flesh surfaces to protect it while roasting in the oven.

Place the squash, cut sides down, on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about an hour or until the flesh is tender.

While the turban is roasting in the oven, combine the carrots onion and celery and butter in a medium sized sauté pan and cook until the onions begin to brown. Add the garlic and chorizo sausage and continue cooking for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Set mixture aside to cool.

Once the squash is cooked, scoop out its tender pulp. In a large bowl combine the squash with the sausage mixture. Next stir in the brown sugar and bread crumbs.

Return stuffed squash to the oven and bake for 30 minutes at 300°F. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Kick Ass Cajun delivers a great tasting Cajun seasoning that is balanced with an east to swallow heat!

Kick Ass Cajun delivers a great tasting Cajun seasoning that is balanced with an east to swallow heat!

 

 

The Spice  Co. naturally...

The Spice Co. naturally…

Gastronomically yours,

August 9th, 2013

Be a Corn Star

Maize known as corn in some countries is botanically classified as a caryopsis or dry fruit more popularly known as grain. Maize is indigenous to the Americas with some archaeological findings of corn and its associated ground meal has been carbon dated back about 7,000 years.

The Sweet corn that most of us look for at this time of year for corn on the cob is a variety of maize with high sugar content. Unlike field corn, which is harvested when the kernels are dry and fully mature, sweet corn is picked when immature and eaten as a vegetable, rather than a grain. Since the process of maturation involves converting sugar into starch, sweet corn stores poorly and must be eaten, canned, or frozen before the kernels convert the sugar into starch making them tough and overly starchy to our palates.

When I see a field of corn I think of corn on the cob, frozen nibblets, corn starch and popcorn.  I often forget to consider that the average grocery store carries almost 10 000 products of which one third consist of corn or a corn by-product. Most of the 300 million metric tonnes of corn harvested in North America this year will be converted into high fructose corn syrup which will be used in the production of pop, candy and processed foods.  Additionally to its applications for food production corn will be used in the production of antibiotics, aspirin, fuel, windshield washer fluid, spark plugs, tires, batteries, cosmetics, latex paint, disposable diapers, chalk, carpeting, fibreglass insulation and shaving cream to name  a few as well as the cardboard boxes used to ship all of these product in. Rather amazing that an ear of corn that always has an even number of rows of kernels on every cob and contain 200 to 400 kernels on average can be used in so many products.

Fresh local corn is something that most of us wait eagerly for and is easy to serve in so many ways. By adding corn kernels to any meal will add to its hardiness and increase its nutritional profile. Adding corn kernels and diced tomatoes to your guacamole will increase its flavour and enhance its texture Add a handful of corn to soups, sauces, chilli or chowders as well. You can also try a chilled salad with an Incan influence by combining cooked corn kernels, quinoa, tomatoes, sweet peppers and red kidney beans.

Traditionally we enjoy corn on the cob with a side order of butter and excessive serving of salt. For other simple yet healthy alternatives for seasoning your corn I recommend you try brushing your corn with olive or flaxseed oils and top it with any seasonings you enjoy.

The following is a list of some personal favourite flavour combinations to stir into your butter or oil to be applied to corn.

Mediterranean- Mince together oil packed sundried tomatoes, basil and garlic.

New Orleans- stir in some Cajun seasoning or a little Tabasco sauce.

Asian Style- Combine some wasabi with thinly sliced scallions.

Italian- Stir together some chopped capers, roasted red peppers, minced garlic and basil.

Pesto- A blend of basil, garlic and grated parmesan cheese.

Curried- curry paste and cilantro

Savoury- rosemary, thyme or poultry seasoning

 

 

Well Fork Me!

Well Fork Me!

Gastronomically yours,

July 23rd, 2013
The 2012 Judging Panel

The 2012 Judging Panel

Here is the criteria I received for this weekends 2nd Annual Friendly Fire Rib Competition followed with a post on Barbecuing back or side ribs

 

from the classes at Friendly Fires

from the classes at Friendly Fires

 

This is how it's gonna role out on Satureday

This is how it’s gonna role out on Satureday

 

How to Judge Ribs

After turn in, the table Captain will put six trays onto a large tray and will tell the judges the numbers on the boxes (from lowest # to highest). Then the Captain will open the first tray for the judges to grade/analyze for appearance scoring. The judges will look to see that there is a minimum # of individual pieces (6); there is no sauce pooling; there is not any illegal items (radishes, red tipped lettuce, etc) in the tray. They will also look at the meat for uniformity in color (smoke ring is not a factor!), attractiveness and how it is being displayed. Although garnishment is now optional, I like to see it…although points are not suppose to be deducted if there is no garnishment.
After all trays have been scored for appearance, each judge selects any piece in the tray that they want to sample. The rib will be first subjected to the smell test, and then the judge will look at it to decide what portion he wants to eat first. The judge will take a bite from a side of the rib, which should come off at that point with just a little bit of resistance. If all the meat comes off the side of the bone, the judges know it is overcooked. If the meat is resistant to come off, then the judge knows it is not cooked properly. In either case, your entry will lose points. When the judge bites off the section of meat on the bone, he will then look at the bone for a few seconds while he tastes the sample. A well cooked rib will have a white bone at the site the meat was removed from. Within a few seconds, the bone will start to sweat with moisture and start turning slightly gray in color….this is the tell tail sign of a well cooked rib!!!The judge will score the entry and clear his pallet with crackers and water before moving onto the next rib.
If you use baby back or 3 lb St. Louis style, I would highly recommend you consider using the Hollywood style pieces…they are cut so that they have the bone in the middle and rib meat on both sides of it. Judges want to taste the meat when they bit into it, so give them what they want to get all 9’s across the board!!

 

 

Cutting Ribs

On ribs, I dont want the meat to look “torn” on the edge of the pieces, so I use a very sharp stainless steel 9 inch Santoku knife…and I cut the ribs after they have “rested” for about 12-15 minutes (while the rack is on edge–standing it up on the bones). Do not use a serrated edged knife, or you will tear the meat up…and stay away from cutting your ribs immediately after they have been removed from the pit as this will tear alot of the top portion of meat away from adjoining ribs. Hope this helps.

 

St. Louis Style vs. Hollywood Style

St. Louis style is where the butcher trims the rib skirt and squares the ends of the rack. Hollywood style is where the rib is smoked and the meat cut exactly between the ribs, so there is meat on both sides of the rib. In other words, the bone is resting in the middle of the rib with the same amount of meat on both sides of it. Not only does it look better, but the Judge’s prefer this appearance over one that has the bare bone on one side and alot of meat on the other. It is the recommended turn-in style in KCBS contests…providing your judges are KCBS trained. Take your time while slicing the ribs and follow the contour of the bones and you will score additional points in your next contest

grill

Back and side to side

 

When it comes to barbequing pork ribs people are commonly confused with the choice between back ribs and side ribs. Both rib cuts are delicious but contain higher concentrations of connective tissue which can be broken down by using marinades, rubs and extended slow cooking over low heat to create the desired fall off the bone consistency of ribs. Knowing the differences between back and side ribs will help in understanding how to successfully prepare them.

Back ribs also known as baby back ribs are cut from the loin closest to the shoulder. They are the bones that remain when the loin meat is removed. Back rib bones are much narrower and rounder than side ribs with meat between and on top of the bones. A rack of back ribs narrows from 6 to 3 inches due to the natural tapering of a pig’s rib cage.

Back ribs are celebrated for their higher meat to bone ratio, lower fat content and overall tenderness compared to the side ribs. These more desired qualities are the reason that back ribs are more expensive than side ribs.

Side ribs also known as spare ribs extend down the sides of the animal over the belly and have had the breast bone removed. They are in close proximity to where we get bacon from, and which makes side ribs fattier. Side ribs are heavy, flat, wide bones that are generally 8 to 10 inches in length. Spare ribs contain more bone and fat than meat which is why side ribs are cheaper to purchase than back ribs.

Once you have chosen which cut of ribs you want to cook up you will need to purchase about a pound of ribs per person. Fresh pork products offered by our local grocery stores and butcher shops are Ontario raised if not at least Canadian. I recently purchased a whole pig locally from Smokey Joe’s which was delicious from tail to snout.

Both back and side ribs will require you to remove its pleura, the thin, translucent membrane that lines the inside of the rib cage. This membrane will prevent flavouring from rubs or marinades from penetrating the meat and will be tough and chewy if not removed prior to cooking. This membrane is easily removed by using a blunt knife like a dinner knife to detach a flap of it from one of the rack of ribs. Grab onto the flap and gently but firmly pull the flap while holding down the rack to rip the pleura away from the ribs in one pull.

Rib recipes sometimes recommend steaming or boiling your ribs before finishing them in the oven or on the barbeque. These techniques will provide you with a tender rib so long as you do not cook them too quickly as it will toughen the meat. I prefer not to boil my ribs as most of the flavour ends up in the cooking water. If you insist on wet cooking your ribs I suggest using side ribs and cooking them in a slow cooker then serving them with their cooking liquid over rice or potatoes.

Easy BBQ Ribs

Ingredients:

Four pounds of back ribs, pleura removed

Two cups of your favourite grilling sauce

Method: Preheat your barbecue to between 225°F- 250°F. Shut down one half of your barbeque and place ribs on the side you shut down so that the ribs are cooked by indirect heat. Close the barbeque lid and keep it closed to maintain a constant temperature between 225°F- 250°F. Turn your ribs every 20 minutes. After an hour baste your ribs every 20 minutes when you flip your ribs over for one more hour for a total cooking time of 2 hours. This process will turn your racks into beautiful mahogany coloured slabs of goodness that will feed four. If you are using a sweet grilling sauce you should only baste the ribs during the last half hour of cooking as the sugar in the sauce will burn.

 

 

Gastronomically yours,

July 15th, 2013

 

Light and Easy Spinach Salad

 

 

 

Food historians believe that Spinach was first cultivated in southwestern Asia, in the region of Persia. Around 650CE documentation shows spinach being referred to as the “herb of Persia” in Chinese text.

 

By the 1200’s spinach had been introduced to Spain by the Moors. Within short time spinach made its way into European monasteries’ gardens and kitchens. It made its way to North America via settlers and immigrants.

 

Spinach is now grown all over the world wherever temperate climates prevail. The plant is most prolific during the cooler seasons as higher temperatures can cause the spinach to go to seed too early. A spinach grower has to plant over 600 000 seeds for every acre of land to be cultivated. That same one acre of land will yield over 10 000 pounds of spinach when harvested.

 

Spinach is an excellent source of Vitamin A, fiber, potassium and Vitamin C. It also has high amounts of calcium and all most twice the iron of red meats. It was long touted as the secret behind Popeye’s strength. Oddly, spinach contains the same toxin as rhubarb known as Oxalic acid which can inhibit the body’s ability to absorb calcium and iron. Regardless even when spinach is boiled it retains its exceptionally high nutrient content even though its volume is decreased by three quarters when cooked.

 

Locally produced spinach is making appearances at markets and grocery stores alike. Spring raised spinach is very light and fresh compared to the heavier and sweet fall harvested leaves and is perfect for making salads with.

 

This week I’m featuring a main-course spinach salad with grilled chicken and strawberries. If the ingredients aren’t all available locally just wait a couple of weeks because just like local products this recipe will be worth the wait.

 

 

 

Spinach Salad

 

Ingredients:

 

Two tbsp. Toasted sesame seeds

 

One tbsp.  Poppy seeds

 

One third cup white sugar

 

One quarter cup canola oil

 

One quarter cup cider vinegar

 

One quarter tsp. Worcestershire sauce

 

One tbsp. minced green onion

 

One pound of fresh spinach; rinsed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces

 

Two cups of strawberries; rinsed, hulled and sliced

 

One quarter cup of sliced almonds, toasted

 

Three Mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented

 

Four cooked chicken breasts sliced thin

 

Method:

 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, canola oil, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and onion. Cover, and chill for one hour.

 

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries, almonds and orange segments. Pour dressing over salad, and toss. Refrigerate 10 minutes before serving. Serve salad with cooked chicken on top. Serves four people.

Just say NO

Just say NO

 

Kale Chips

 

 

 

Kale is a member of the mustard family whose roots can be traced back to the Mediterranean and southern regions of Asia where it was considered to be a wild cabbage.  This nutrient dense green is related to cabbage and Brussels sprouts, but only produces leaves and does not form a proper head as other members in this family do. Kale looks like a cross between torn feathers, romaine lettuce and cabbage.

 

For centuries Kale was relegated as peasant food as its coarse texture and often bitter taste was as unappealing as it was misunderstood. By the time Kale made its way to North America, chefs and cooks for the most part did not know what to do with this vegetable and it appeared that it was destined to live a life outside the salad bowl as it was primarily used as an impractical vegetative garnish on buffets and dinner plates.

 

Kale having reached the lowest of lows is now one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat, and we know how to make it taste good too. Our Kale learning curve has much to do with its success. First we learned that if we let Kale grow long enough in cold temperatures, its exposure to frost reduces its bitterness and it will actually become notably sweet. Secondly when Kale was put under the microscope it was learned that kale was loaded with iron, calcium, antioxidants, Vitamins A, C and K and has cancer fighting compounds.

 

Kale is currently believed to be one of the most nutrient dense greens on the planet. It grows incredibly well in Ontario and is a vegetable that grows where and when most others do not.

 

Although many varieties of Kale exist most Ontario Kale producers raise the following varieties. Curly Kale which has a lush green colour with curly leaves is the most commonly available Kale. Redbor Kale–looks identical to curly kale, but it’s purple in colour, Red Russian Kale is quite striking with its crimson to purple stalks yielding to green leaves and finally Lacinato Kale often called Dino Kale, is purple to black in colour with long, wrinkled leaves.  Once purchased kale will store wrapped in paper towel inside a plastic bag for 5 -7 days.

 

Kale can be used like any leafy green from raw in salads or steamed or sautéed. I think the best way to eat this super food is to prepare it as a junk food just for a bit of irony in the Kale story which allows it to be a very healthy snack food in the following recipe that is simple and easy to make Kale chips. A word of caution as these chips can be habit forming.

 

 

 

Kale Chips

 

 

 

Ingredients:

 

1 bunch kale

 

2 tbsp. olive oil

 

Kosher or sea salt

 

 

 

Method:

 

Remove the core, and wash the kale leaves and allow them to dry.  Tear the leaves into bite-size pieces and place them into a medium sized mixing bowl. Drizzle the kale with the olive oil and gently massage the oil into the the leaves.

 

Spread the leaves over a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer without them over lapping each other.

 

Sprinkle the soon to be chips with a pinch of salt. You may choose to use a bit of curry powder or Cajun seasoning as well just to shake it up a bit.

 

In a preheated oven bake the kale at 350°F until crispy and dark green. Do not let the kale brown at all, not even the edges. This takes about 12 to 15 minutes. Once cooked allow the kale chips to cool down before serving.

 

 

 

 

Eat real food

Gastronomically yours,

July 6th, 2013
Sorry but is that "Not Intended?"

Sorry but is that “Not Intended?”

GMO

The Poutine Manifesto

 

Poutine is a French-Canadian food. The origins of poutine are disputed but restaurateur Fernand Lachance from WarwickQuebec is believed to have created and named this dish in 1957. Poutine is Acadian slang for mushy mess.

I have to mention that there is a proper way to pronounce poutine, which phonetically is ‘peu-tsin’, not ‘pooh-teen’. As well as its proper pronunciation, one must also respect how to properly prepare poutine.

Although most would describe poutine as French fries with cheese and gravy, these three components must be truthfully prepared. To explain this accurately we must first consider the potatoes. They should be fresh, washed and then cut by hand into a medium sized fry. These are to be fried so that the insides are still soft, with an outer crust.  Fast-food fries do not cut it. To cook the cut fries you need to fry the potatoes in pure lard. Canola oil or other politically-correct oils will take away from the flavours that are to be enjoyed in this artery clogging indulgence. Remember its poutine we’re talking about here.

Next we must consider the sauce. Yes the sauce not gravy. Its best prepared with a light chicken or veal velouté that is slightly acidic and mildly spiced with pepper.

Now let’s consider the most important component of poutine; the pillar to successful poutine is the cheese. The only acceptable cheese to use is fresh white, cheddar cheese curds. These curds have a taste and texture very different than actual cheddar cheese. The cheese curds will actually squeak in your teeth as you bite them.

When the curds are placed on the fries and the hot gravy is poured on top, the three flavours combine to produce what can only be described as the best all Canadian junk food taste sensation on earth.

I recently tried this recipe with some garlic flavoured cheese curds from Empire cheese factory in Campbellford. Oh my, was it good!!

 

Poutine Sauce

One litre of chicken or veal stock

Two ounces of flour

Two ounces of butter

One half tsp of tomato paste

Bring the stock to a gentle boil in a saucepan. Melt the butter in a small fry pan over medium –high heat. Whisk in the flour. Continuously stir the mixture until you have a pale roux or 2-3 minutes. Whisk the roux into the stock. Reduce heat to low-medium and allow sauce to gently simmer for 1-2 hours depending on desired consistency. Strain the sauce and add the tomato sauce then season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

Poutine

Two cups of poutine sauce

One litre of lard for frying

Five medium potatoes cut into fries

Two cups of fresh cheese curds

First prepare the sauce and hold hot over medium heat. Heat lard in a deep fryer to 365 F.

Place the fries into the hot oil, and cook until a light golden brown. Make the fries in small batches to allow them room to move a little in the oil. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Place the fries on a serving platter, and sprinkle generously with curds. Finish by ladling hot poutine sauce over the fries and cheese. Serve immediately

 

 

 

 

 

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Chef Brian for Hire
The Spice Co.