Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back to School Wraps

Tuna Salad Filling for Wraps
2 cans flaked light tuna, drained
2 tbs finely chopped red onion
1/2 roasted red pepper, chopped
1 tbs capers
1/2 cup stuffed green Manzanilla olives, sliced
3 banana pepper rings, chopped
3 tbs chopped sun dried tomatoes (reconstituted or in oil, drained)
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
butter lettuce
Toss together tuna with red onion, red pepper, capers, olives, hot peppers, sun dried tomatoes and parmesan. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Line wraps with butter lettuce. Spread a generous amount of filling into the centre and roll up, folding the ends inside. Wrap wraps in parchment paper and pack in totes with freezer packs to keep cold until lunchtime.

Roasted Vegetable Filling for Wraps
1 large stalk broccoli
3 or 4 florets cauliflower
1/2 red pepper
1/4 red onion
3 medium carrots
3 portabella mushrooms
olive oil for drizzling
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 cup light mayo
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
Boursin cheese for spreading
butter lettuce
Roughly chop vegetables. Drizzle with olive oil to coat. Place on a baking sheet and roast at 400F for about ten minutes, until vegetables are softened. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and additional olive oil. Season. Cool completely. Chop vegetables more finely. Fold in mayo.
Spread each wrap with 2 tsp Boursin cheese. Follow directions as above.

BBQ’d Chipotle and Lime Chicken

1 whole “9 cut butchered” chicken
(or equivalent breasts and thighs)
juice from 1/2 lime
2 shallots, coarsely chopped
1 tbs coarsely chopped fresh herbs, such as rosemary, tarragon and sage
2 oz tequila
2 chipotle peppers (canned in adobo sauce), coarsely chopped
2 tbs vegetable oil
fresh ground pepper
Toss chicken in marinade ingredients to coat. Place chicken, along with lime husk, in an airtight container, or deep-sided baking dish, covering tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight to allow flavours to develop.
When ready to cook, preheat grill. Discard lime husk, chipotles and shallot pieces. Place chicken on cooking surface, sprinkle with kosher salt, and grill until done.

Herbed French Beans with Pea Shoots & Pancetta

1 lb French beans
1 oz (2 tbs) butter
2 tbs flour
1 cup vegetable stock
1 1/2 oz dry white wine
3 tbs cream
1 tbs chopped mixed herbs
1/2 cup pea shoots, leaves and fine stems only
1 oz pancetta, crumbled
1 tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice
zest of 1/2 lemon
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
Cook beans in boiling, salted water until just tender. Drain. Meanwhile, place a medium pot over medium heat and melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in vegetable stock and white wine. Return to heat and simmer for 2 minutes, whisking, until mixture is a little thicker than the consistency of heavy cream. Remove from heat once again, then add cream, mixed herbs, pea shoots, pancetta, lemon juice and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently toss beans together with sauce, garnish with more pea shoots and pancetta. Serve immediately with a favourite fish entrée.

Hot & Sour Soup

1/2 oz dried mixed wild mushrooms
7 oz roasted chicken breast, shredded
2 tsp cornstarch
9 cups home made chicken stock
3 large slices ginger
1 package (350g) firm tofu, 1 cm dice
1 cup julienned carrots
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs chilli sauce
1/4 cup cornstarch, mixed into a small amount of water
2 egg whites
pea shoots and scallions to garnish
Soak mushrooms in water for 15-20 minutes, until softened. Slice thinly. Toss shredded chicken with cornstarch. Set aside. Meanwhile, bring chicken stock to boil. Add mushrooms and ginger. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove ginger.
Add chicken, tofu and carrots. Simmer for 2 minutes, then add rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and chilli sauce. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Stir cornstarch into soup to thicken. Turn off heat and add egg whites, stirring gently.
Place pea shoots and scallions in serving bowls and ladle hot soup over top.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Tarts

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
8 oz cream cheese, softened
5 tbs sugar
1 tbs fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
12 oz fresh, ripe raspberries
Butter tart pans. Preheat oven to 350F. With an electric mixer, cream together butter and icing sugar. Add flour and mix until just combined. Press into, and up the sides of, two 6-inch fluted tart pans (or equivalent other pans). Prick all over with a fork. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to prevent crust from shrinking in the oven. Bake 15-20 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool completely.
For the filling, cream together cream cheese and sugar. Beat in lemon juice and zest. Spread into cooled pastry using an offset spatula. Top with spirals of fresh raspberries. Dust tops with more icing sugar and garnish with mint sprigs. Serves 8.

Peach Ice Cream

4 large, locally sourced, ripe peaches, peeled and pitted
2 tbs fresh squeezed lime juice
6 farm fresh egg yolks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups table (18%) cream, from local dairy
1 cup milk, from local dairy
1 tbs pure vanilla extract
In a food processor, puree three of the peaches together with the lime juice. When smooth, push through a sieve to remove any remaining peach skin. Coarsely chop remaining peach. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks together with sugar until pale yellow and thickened.
In a medium pot over medium-low heat, bring cream and milk to a simmer. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in egg yolk mixture. Return to low heat and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Strain and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Stir peach puree, chopped peaches and vanilla into ice cream mixture. Cover and chill until cold. Transfer mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's directions.

Casarecce Pasta Salad with Turkey and Dijon

1 lb dry pasta such as casarecce or fusilli
2 small zucchini
1/2 medium red onion
1/2 medium red pepper
oil for coating veg
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
5 oz cooked, seasoned turkey breast
4 slices smoked, cooked bacon
1 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 cup whole grainy Dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey
2 tbs white vinegar
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
Cook pasta to al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside. Meanwhile, coat zucchini, onion and pepper with vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a preheated outdoor grill and cook until soft. Chop into small pieces.
In a small bowl, combine light mayonnaise, Dijon, honey and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss pasta with dressing. Toss in roasted vegetables, turkey and bacon, followed by grape tomatoes. Adjust seasoning. Refrigerate for an hour before serving to allow flavours to develop. Serve with slices of crusty bread and wedges of smoked gouda.

Crispy Falafel

(makes one dozen falafel balls)
2 1/2 cups canned, rinsed & drained chickpeas
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup peeled & grated zucchini
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tbs water
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh herbs
(equal amounts parsley, mint & basil)
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper to taste
In the bowl of a food processor, combine half the chickpeas, onion, zucchini, garlic, lemon juice, water, spices and baking soda. Puree. Transfer to a large bowl. Pulse remaining chickpeas just until still chunky. Stir into first mixture, also adding herbs, salt and pepper.
With your hands, form into 12 two-inch patties. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
To cook, add a small amount of vegetable oil to a well-seasoned skillet over medium heat. Add falafels, a few at a time, and cook until golden, 3 or more minutes on each side.
Serve in split pitas stuffed with butter lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, feta and hummus, tzatziki and/or baba ganouj.
Note: Falafels also make excellent filling for lettuce wraps.

Apricot Jam

(makes about 4 cups)
3 pounds apricots
3 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
zest and juice from one lemon
Halve apricots and remove pits, discarding all but 5. Place pits inside a folded kitchen towel and break open with a flat meat tenderizer or hammer. Save inner seeds and discard shells.
Coarsely chop apricots. In a large, heavy bottomed pot, combine apricots, seeds, sugar, lemon zest and water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened. Skim off foam as it rises to the surface. Stir in lemon juice. Discard seeds. If preserving for storage, ladle jam into sterilized jars. Close with snap lids and rings and process filled jars according to jar manufacturer's directions. When finished, let stand until cooled. Jars are sealed when sealer lids snap down.
Jam can also be left unprocessed and stored in the refrigerator for up to a month. Simply ladle hot jam into jars and let cool completely before closing with lids.

Note: Apricot seeds add a subtle almond flavour to the jam, but are toxic when uncooked. Be sure to cook jam thoroughly. Alternatively, add five whole almonds to the cooking process.

Everyday White Loaves

3 tsp active dry yeast
12 fl. oz warm water
4 fl. oz whole milk or half & half at room temperature
1 tbs unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp sea salt
3 3/4 to 4 cups unbleached bread flour
Proof yeast in water until frothy, about 10 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, salt and bread flour. Add yeast mixture, milk and melted butter. Bring together with a fork. Turn out onto a lightly-floured surface. Knead 10 minutes, incorporating a little extra flour only if necessary, to form a soft, elastic dough.
Place in a lightly-oiled bowl. Cover with a lint-free tea towel and set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour, or until nearly doubled. Turn out onto work surface, divide and form into two loaves and place into two lightly buttered 1 lb bread pans. Cover and allow to rise until nearly doubled. Place in a 425F oven. Mist inside of oven with water just before closing. Bakes loaves for 20-25 minutes, until crust is golden. Remove loaves from pans and let cool.

Plum Streusel Cupcakes

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 pound frozen plums
2 tbs brown sugar
In a small pot, stew plums with brown sugar until softened. Remove fruit with a slotted spoon and continue simmering liquid to a syrupy consistency. Add back to fruit.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour and sugar. Thoroughly cut in butter using a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside 2/3 cup of crumbs. Into the remaining crumbs, combine baking powder and soda. Make a well in the centre.
In a small bowl, whisk egg and vanilla into buttermilk. Add to dry mixture and bring together with a fork until just moistened (muffin consistency).
Prepare or line a 12 muffin tray. Fill each cup half way with batter. Divide fruit evenly between cups, then top with remaining batter. Mound with streusel. Bake in a 350F oven for 25 minutes, until a tester inserted in the centre of the cupcakes comes out clean. Place tray on a rack to cool at least 5 minutes before un-cupping to serve warm. If not serving warm, remove cupcakes from tin and cool completely.

Lunch Salad with Stuffed, Grilled Chicken Breast

(serves 4 for lunch, 2 for dinner)
1-boneless double chicken breast, skin on
1 slice bacon, cut in half
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 sprig rosemary, stripped, chopped
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
Loosen skin. Mix together garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. Stuff each side of chicken breast with bacon and herb mixture. Season outside with salt and pepper. Grill. Slice and serve with:
4 servings herb salad mix
1/2 medium, ripe avocado, sliced
1/2 medium mango, diced
1 on-the-vine tomato, wedged
1 yellow bell pepper, rubbed with olive oil, seasoned & grilled
24 sugar pea pods, rubbed with olive oil, seasoned & grilled
8 slender stalks broccolini, blanched in salted water
1 large radish, very thinly sliced
Serve drizzled with favourite vinaigrette (such as caramelized onion and chevre) and sprinkled with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper.

Tabbouleh with Feta (serves 10)

1 cups bulgur (cracked wheat)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
zest and juice of 1 large lemon
1 cups finely chopped green onions (green parts only)
2 cups chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
3 medium tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
1 English cucumbers, seeded and finely diced
3/4 cup finely crumbled feta
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
In a large bowl, cover bulgur with warm water. Set aside for at least one hour. Drain thoroughly. Whisk together olive oil and lemon juice. Toss together bulgur, onions and herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta and lemon zest. Add dressing and toss. Adjust seasoning to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour to allow flavours to develop. Tabbouleh may be served on its own as a salad or side dish, or stuffed in pita pockets for fresh and easy picnic fare.

Gingered Carrot Cake

2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tbs ground cinnamon
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup grape seed oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup unsalted pistachios, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
2 cups (packed) finely-grated carrots
1-14 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup flaked coconut
Butter the inside of a bundt pan and preheat oven to 350F.
Whisk together first 5 ingredients. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together sugars, grape seed oil and buttermilk. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Beat in flour mixture, followed by nuts, ginger, carrots, pineapple and coconut.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted in centre comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool on a rack for 1 hour. Gently loosen cake from pan and turn out onto rack to cool completely.
8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut
1/2 tsp vanilla
pistachios and chopped ginger to decorate
Beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar, then cream of coconut and vanilla. Chill 30 minutes.
Place cake on platter. Spread a thin coating of frosting over entire cake. Chill cake and remaining frosting 30 minutes before spreading second coating. Decorate and chill for 1 hour before serving.

Kahr Saiko Kroeung (Cambodian Sweet Beef)

2 pounds top sirloin, cubed
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
2 (or more) large dried chillies
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup water
5 tbs olive oil
3 tbs sugar
1 tbs soy sauce
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
1 cup homemade chicken stock
1 cup coconut milk
2 tbs tamarind concentrate
brown basmati rice
Combine beef with ginger and marinate for an hour or more. Discard ginger.
Puree chillies, garlic and onion together with water. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add chilli puree and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in beef, sugar, soy sauce, salt (or, if you prefer, fish sauce) & pepper and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Add coconut milk and tamarind concentrate and simmer a further 20 minutes, until sauce is thickened. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve over brown basmati rice and garnish with cilantro.

Beef Vindaloo

4 lbs lean beef, cubed
6 or more small fresh red chillies (remove seeds to diminish heat)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, minced
3/4 cup vinegar
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
1/2 tsp whole cardamom seeds
1 tsp whole fenugreek seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbs brown sugar
1 1/2 tbs ghee (clarified butter)
Place beef in a large glass bowl. In a food processor, process chillies, garlic, ginger, vinegar, spices and brown sugar into a paste. Pour over beef and toss to coat. Chill for several hours, or overnight, occasionally tossing mixture.
Heat ghee in an over-sized skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef, reserving marinating liquid. Cook until beef is browned, then add reserved marinade and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes, or until beef is tender and cooked. Serve over basmati rice.

(traditionally served for its cooling effect on the palate)
1 large English cucumber
kosher salt
1 tsp ground cumin
2 shallots, very finely chopped
1 1/2 cups plain, whole milk yogurt
1 tsp lemon juice
Peel cucumbers. Cut in half lengthwise and remove seeds with a spoon. Finely slice, then place in a strainer and sprinkle with salt and let stand for 15 minutes. Rinse under cold, running water and drain well. Combine with remaining ingredients. Serve chilled.

Orange & Fennel Biscotti

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tbs Triple Sec
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbs fennel seeds, lightly toasted
fine zest from one large orange
2 tbs "coffee sugar" (large granule, unrefined sugar)
Sift together flour and baking powder into a bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add three eggs, one at a time. Add Triple Sec and vanilla. Gradually mix in flour mixture until combined. Mix in fennel seeds and orange zest.
Turn out onto a lightly-floured surface. Divide in half. Roll halves into 12-inch logs. Flatten slightly and transfer to a Silpat-lined baking sheet. Beat remaining egg and brush over surface of dough. Sprinkle with coffee sugar. Bake 35 minutes at 325F. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 300F.
Slice logs on the diagonal into about 16 pieces each. Transfer to baking sheets and bake for 8 minutes. Turn over and bake another 8 minutes. Cool completely.

apple butters

Rosemary Apple Butter
(makes 1 cup)
2 1/2 lbs organic Gala apples, cored, peeled, sliced
2 cups unsweetened apple juice
3 whole rosemary sprigs
2 whole cinnamon sticks
8 whole cloves
In a large pot over medium heat, cook apples together with apple juice, rosemary, cinnamon and cloves for 30 minutes, until thoroughly soft. Drain juice and discard spices. Purée apples, then pass through a fine sieve using the back of a ladle, until nothing remains but a somewhat dry pulp. (This step takes a bit of effort, but is worth the results). Discard pulp. Transfer apple butter to a smaller pot and place back over heat until thickened to the consistency of baby food.
An ideal accompaniment for meats such as duck, pork loin or roast chicken. Also makes an ideal preserve (follow standard guidelines for preserving). Double or triple recipe and use the smallest size jelly jars to save for special occasions or give as gifts.

Cinnamon Apple Butter
(makes 1 cup)
21/2 lbs apples, cored, peeled, sliced
2 cups unsweetened apple juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Follow above method.
Spread on toasted brioche or homemade pancakes

Playoff Nachos

1 325g package Fresh Is Best nachos
6 oz Colby Jack cheese
6 oz jalapeno mozzarella
1/4 small red onion, small dice
1 large, ripe tomato, small dice
1/4 red pepper, small dice
1/4 orange pepper, small dice
1/4 yellow pepper, small dice
1 or more fresh jalapenos, thinly sliced
For the meat toppings:
1/2 lb extra-lean ground beef
2 chorizo sausages, cut out of casings and crumbled
1/4 white onion, small dice
1 small red pepper, small dice
(or an equal amount of red, yellow and orange)
1 tbs vegetable oil
2 tbs Cajun spice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
In a medium skillet, heat oil. Add onion and red pepper and sauté until softened. Add ground beef and sauté until cooked. Season with Cajun spice, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook chorizo in a separate, small skillet.
On a large platter, layer nachos with the various toppings, finishing with cheeses. Bake at 425F until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with salsa, guacamole and sour cream.

Not Your Bottled Ketchup

(shown served with 1 oz "Sliders")
2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes
1 small white onion
6 peppercorns
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs white vinegar
1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
Coarsely chop tomatoes and onion. In a medium pot over low heat, cook tomatoes and onion together with peppercorns and thyme. Stew until thoroughly softened. Using the back of a soup ladle, push mixture through a sturdy sieve. Discard solid matter. Return liquid to pot and place over medium-low heat. Add brown sugar and vinegar. Simmer for 45 minutes or longer, until mixture thickens to desired consistency (will be somewhat thinner than bottled brands). Add olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Double Chocolate Pecan Cookies

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup shredded coconut
4 oz white chocolate chunks
4 oz dark chocolate chunks
6 oz pecans, coarsely chopped

In the bowl of a large electric mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder. Add to butter mixture in thirds, until incorporated. Mix in oats, coconut, chocolate chunks and chopped pecans. These final additions may have to be done by hand, using a stiff wooden spoon, if your mixer isn't powerful enough to cope with the dense mixture.
Drop cookie dough by heaping tablespoons onto Silpat-lined cookie sheets and bake at 350F for about 12 minutes, until just beginning to turn golden. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Repeat with remaining dough. Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.