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

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Posts Tagged ‘Valentine’s Day’

Gastronomically yours,

February 11th, 2017

Valentine’s Day, Food and Sex

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

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

Kick Ass Cajun, from The Spice Co. naturally

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

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

Humble Pie, from The Spice Co. naturally

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

 

Aphrodite Ganache Tart

Ingredients:

For the crust

3/4 cup chocolate cookie crumbs

¾ cup raw pumpkin seeds, chopped fine

1/4 cup butter at room temperature

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

Method:

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

For the filling

12 oz. bittersweet dark chocolate chopped

1 tbsp. butter

1 ¾ cups light whipping cream

2 tbsp. ginger peeled and coarsely chopped

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

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

Method:

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

 

 

Gastronomically yours,

February 7th, 2017

Chocolate Duck

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

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

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

Mexican Kitchen Cartel from The Spice co. naturally

Southwest Mole Marinated Duck

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Gastronomically yours,

February 14th, 2015

Bloody Valentine

This annual tradition of sending messages to our loved ones dates back to 269 AD.  It was around this time that Roman Emperor Claudius needed to recruit soldiers for his armies. Enlistment was down, and Claudius; a warring ruler blamed the declining recruitment on the men wanting to stay at home with their wives and families instead of going to war. Claudius’s solution to his dilemma was to ban weddings, hoping that this would cause boredom within in the male population and inspire men to want to go to war thus causing enlistment to go up.

Father Valentine was a member of the clergy who enjoyed performing marriage ceremonies. When Claudius banned marriages Father Valentine continued to conduct them in secrecy. Claudius classified weddings as “pagan rituals” and when he heard that Father Valentine was illegally performing wedding ceremonies Claudius imprisoned Father Valentine lest he denounce his Catholic faith.

Nothing says love like meat and go cook my dinner!

Nothing says love like meat and go cook my dinner!

While imprisoned Father Valentine befriended Claudius’s daughter and would spend long hours talking to her from his cell. Roman Emperor Claudius also known as Claudius the Cruel had had enough and ordered Father Valentine to be beaten and beheaded. One of Valentine’s final actions was to write a note to his jailer’s daughter. The note was signed “from your Valentine”. Shortly thereafter on February 14, 269 AD Father Valentine was executed. It wasn’t until 496 AD that Pope Gelasius marked February 14 the day to remember St. Valentine the patron saint of lovers and over time the day was marked with sending simple gifts, poems or messages.

During the height of prohibition, it is believed that on February 14, 1929 Chicago gangster Al Capone chose to send a Valentine’s message to George “Bugs” Moran. Capone had given orders for his men to take down the rival gangster by starting at the bottom and working their way up through the ranks until they got to Bugs himself. It is believed that these orders from Capone led to the “Valentine’s Day Massacre”.

Capone went into hiding for a while but when he returned home to Chicago; Capone was welcomed home by his family and friends. In his honor they held a feast. One of the dishes served at this feast was Chilled Pasta in Walnut Sauce, Al “Scarface” Capone’s favorite dish.

 

Al "Scarface" Capone got his scars as a young bartender after complimenting a lady on having a "nice ass". Her brother took a knife to Capone's face

Al “Scarface” Capone got his scars as a young bartender after complimenting a lady on having a “nice ass”. Her brother took a knife to Capone’s face

For the more adventuresome I recommend making your own pasta from scratch. Pasta dough does not traditionally contain eggs, unless you are making egg noodles. The following recipes are simple and produce pasta dough’s that can be rolled by hand or machine. The challenge will be cutting the noodle of your choice!

Chilled Rigatoni with Walnut Sauce

Ingredients

500 gr. Chopped walnuts

15 gr. Fresh oregano

10gr. Minced garlic

2 gr. Crushed chillies

150gr. Sultanas

1 bunch parsley

5gr. Salt

5gr. Pepper

250 gr. Grated Romano cheese

250 ml extra virgin olive oil

Method: In a 350f oven toast the walnut for 5-10 minutes. Allow the walnuts to cool down while gathering the remaining ingredients. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse sand-like texture.  Cover and refrigerate the Walnut Sauce for a day or two to let the flavors mellow. Cook 1kg of pasta, rigatoni is best. Drain the pasta and allow it to cool. Toss the pasta with the Walnut Sauce and allow it to sit in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours before serving.

 

Traditional Semolina Pasta Dough

One pound semolina flour

Six ounces water

One ounce olive oil

One half teaspoon salt

Egg Pasta Dough

1 egg, beaten

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons water

 

Method:

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour and salt. Make a well in the flour, and add your wet ingredients. Stir your mixture until it is combined into a stiff dough. If needed, stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons water.

On a lightly floured surface, knead dough for about 3 minutes. Cover the dough and let it rest for ten minutes. Using a pasta machine or by hand; roll the dough out to desired thinness. Use your pasta machine or a knife to cut into strips of desired width.


 

 Here Comes the Bride 

The exchanging of nuptials throughout society carries many traditions. From the ring to the veil and the colour of the brides dress all of these traditions have a story behind them which evolved over time depending on many historical influences.

Wheat and grains are considered to be symbols of fertility. Wheat sheaths would commonly be used in wedding ceremonies and their grains were tossed in the air over the newly wedded couples heads to promote fertility.  As the world evolved we discovered how to use wheat to bake wedding cakes. Some cultures then began to take pieces of the cake and drop crumbs over the bride and groom.

When the price of grains began to rise, people switched to throwing confetti and rice at the newlyweds.  The novelty of confetti quickly faded as it is impossible to clean up the mess it leaves behind.

Controversially I have heard many people on many occasions claim that you should not to throw rice at your wedding because the birds will eat it and explode. If this urban myth were true we would be able to watch wild life shows on migrating birds stopping off for a nosh in patches of wild rice fields and then the poor unsuspecting birds would explode on film. There would be large groups of angry people trying to stop the senseless cruelty of the systematic self-inflicted genocide committed by birds of the world. We would be hanging bird sized rice cookers from trees in an attempt to reverse the damage caused by years of rice emissions around the world. People have stopped throwing rice at weddings because it hurts and rice on the church steps is the equivalent of marbles on the church steps.

Photo Credit www.quericavida.com

Photo Credit www.quericavida.com

Rice is the seeds harvested from aquatic plants that are members of the grass family. Globally this grain provides the human race with almost 20% of our daily caloric intake.

Manomin is the Ojibway word for wild rice that can be found growing in small lakes and slow-flowing streams of central North America. Wild rice and corn are the only cereal crops native to North America.

Almost always sold as a dried whole grain, Manomin is easily digestible, high in fibre and has double the protein of brown rice and like other rice varieties contains no gluten.

James Whetung owner of Black Duck Wild Rice harvests manomin in and around Curve Lake using canoes or an air boat to lightly glide into the rice stands for harvesting as they do not harm the rice plants or their sensitive surrounding soil.  Black Duck Wild Rice is wind winnowed and gently roasted, giving it a delicate nutty aroma. It tastes even better after meeting James and listening to his stories and the legacy of manomin and his Anishinabek heritage.

This truly local and regionally defined grain is available year round and can be found at The Whetung Center in Curve Lake. I recommend trying it in the following recipe.

 

Black Duck Wild Rice

1 tbsp. butter

1/2 cup diced onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup each of diced carrot and celery

1 cup wild rice

1 2/3 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup dried cranberries

½ cup slivered almonds toasted

2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives

 

Preparation:

In saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and sauté the onion, garlic, carrot and celery together until softened. Add rice and cook for about two minutes while continuing to stir the mixture.

Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until most of the rice has split open, about 40 minutes. Stir in the cranberries and almonds and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the chives and season with salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe can be served hot or cold.  Refrigerated it will last for up to three days.


 

 

You calling me a Wise Guy?

Father Valentine was martyred after being beaten and beheaded by order of Roman Emperor Claudius on February 14, 269 AD. The story kinda goes like this… Claudius the Cruel was a warring ruler who was recruiting soldiers for his armies. Enlistment  was down, and Claudius blamed this on the men wanting to stay at home with their wives and families. So in a moment of Emperor enlightenment Claudius banned weddings, hoping that the men would over time

become bored and want to go to war thus causing enlistment to go up.

Father Valentine enjoyed performing the marriage ceremonies so much that even when Claudius banned marriages Father Valentine conducted them in secrecy. Claudius got word of the newly classified “pagan rituals” taking place, and had the Father imprisoned lest he denounce his Catholic faith.

One of his final acts was to write a note to his jailer’s daughter, who had befriended him. The note was signed “from your Valentine”. It wasn’t until 496 AD that Pope Gelasius marked February 14 the day to remember St. Valentine the patron saint of lovers and over time the day was marked with sending simple gifts, poems or messages.

During the height of prohibition, it is believed that on February 14,1929 Chicago gangster Al Capone sent a Valentine message to George “Bugs” Moran. Capone had given orders for his men to take down the rival gangster by starting at the bottom and working their way up through the ranks until they got to Bugs himself.

It is believed that these orders from Capone led to the “Valentine’s Day Massacre”..  It is also believed that Al Capone was relaxing in his Palm Beach, Florida home at the time of this murder mystery.

So what has all of this got to do with food? Well when Al Capone returned home to Chicago he was welcomed home by his family and friends. In his honor they held a feast. One of the dishes served at this feast was Chilled Pasta in Walnut Sauce, Al “Scarface” Capone’s favorite dish.

No one was ever convicted in the “Valentine’s Day Massacre” however Capone was finally charged with tax evasion and other petty crimes leading to his conviction and serving a seven year sentence on “the Rock”. I wonder what prison food was like back in the dirty thirties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gastronomically yours,

February 8th, 2014

My Bloody Valentine

February has long been celebrated as the month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, or  Feast of Saint Valentine as we know it today, contains leftovers of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition infused with modern day spending habits.

The history of St. Valentine’s Day and its patron saint are shrouded in mystery. The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different patron saints named Valentine or Valentinus. From these three we have adopted the story of Father Valentine who was martyred on February 14, 269 who in his final hours started the tradition of exchanging Valentine messages with our loved ones.

For a few years before St. Valentines death the Roman Emperor Claudius was recruiting soldiers for his armies. Enlistment was down, and Claudius; a warring ruler blamed the declining recruitment on the men wanting to stay at home with their wives and families instead of going to war. Claudius’s solution to his dilemma was to ban weddings, hoping that this would cause boredom within in the male population and inspire men to want to go to war thus causing enlistment to go up.fruit rose

Father Valentine may have almost neurotically enjoyed performing marriage ceremonies. When Claudius banned marriages Father Valentine continued to conduct them in secrecy, which instigated Claudius to classify weddings as “pagan rituals” and when he heard that Father Valentine was illegally performing wedding ceremonies Claudius imprisoned Father Valentine until he denounce his Catholic faith, which would leave him defrocked and without his churchly powers.

While imprisoned Father Valentine befriended Claudius’s daughter and would spend long hours talking to her from his cell. Roman Emperor Claudius also known as Claudius the Cruel had had enough and ordered Father Valentine to be beaten and beheaded. One of Valentine’s final actions was to write a note to his jailer’s daughter. The note was signed “from your Valentine”. Shortly thereafter on February 14, 269 AD Father Valentine was executed. It wasn’t until 496 AD that Pope Gelasius marked February 14 the day to remember St. Valentine the patron saint of lovers and over time the day was marked with sending simple gifts, poems or messages.

During the height of prohibition, it is believed that on February 14, 1929 Chicago gangster Al Capone chose to send a Valentine’s message to George “Bugs” Moran. Capone had given orders for his men to take down the rival gangster by starting at the bottom and working their way up through the ranks until they got to Bugs himself. It is believed that these orders from Capone led to the “Valentine’s Day Massacre”.

After the Valentine’s Day Massacre, Capone went into hiding for a while but when he returned home to Chicago; Capone was welcomed by his family and friends with a celebratory feast. One of the dishes served at this feast was Chilled Pasta in Walnut Sauce, Capone’s favorite dish, as revenge is a dish best served cold.

The following Scarface Capone Pasta recipe is easy to make and can be enjoyed any day of the year, served hot or cold and made with locally sourced ingredients.

 

Scarface Capone Pasta

Ingredients:

½ lb. walnut pieces, toasted

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tbsp. butter, softened

¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese

2/3 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

2/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 lb. pappardelle or fettuccini pasta

 

Method:

In a food processor place the walnuts garlic, butter, parmesan and 1/3 cup of the parsley. Process the ingredients until they form a coarse paste. With the motor running, slowly pour the oil into the paste and continue to process until relatively smooth. Transfer the paste into a bowl and stir in the cream, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let the sauce rest for a couple of hours in the refrigerator.

Cook your pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water. Drain the noodles and decide whether you want to serve your Scarface Capone Pasta served cold or hot. If cold simply toss the noodles in the sauce, let it stand for 30-45 minutes tossing it regularly and then refrigerate covered for 2 hours. To enjoy it hot simply return the drained pasta to the pot which it was cooked in and add the walnut sauce. Toss noodles over low heat until well combined. Top with remaining parsley and serve with extra grated parmesan cheese. Serves 4-6 depending on sides served with.Zombie-Donuts

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