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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Grilled Leg of Lamb

My father is a great man.   Father of six children and the hardest working man I have ever known.  Now any of my 2 brothers or 3 sisters will tell you the same thing about him.  In his life he has sacrificed blood, sweat and tears to provide for us and never complained about it.  Obviously he deserves more than a meal to celebrate him on father's day but I figured this one way I could show him my love. One of the things he loves to eat is lamb so to honour him on father's day this year I prepared a beautiful butterflied, grilled leg of lamb.
I would suggest going to your favorite butcher to get a nice lamb leg.  Ask him to de-bone and butterfly it.  I also ask my butcher to reserve the leg bone and cut it into pieces for me.  This will be used to make a stock which will help flavor the salsa that tops this recipe.
Lamb has a stronger taste than beef or pork so when seasoning,  it should be dealt with accordingly. That is to say it can stand up to some pretty bold seasoning.  This recipe requires overnight marinating so if you are in a rush the results will not be the same.

Ingredients for marinade

1 butterflied boneless leg of lamb ( approx 4+ lbs)
10 cloves of garlic chopped
2 anchovy fillets
 4 Tbsp rosemary
Grated rind of 1 lemon
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp sea salt
1 Tbsp ground black pepper
3 Tbsp fennel seeds
1/4 cup white wine.

Add lamb leg to a resealable bag and add marinade. Refrigerate overnight.

Ingredients for salsa

Lamb bones cut into pieces
1 carrot chopped
1 celery stalk chopped
1 onion cut in quarters
2 bay leaves
3 cups vegetable stock
3/4 cup of Port wine
Salt and pepper
1 pint Cherry tomatoes chopped
6 fresh basil leaves chopped
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 cup olive oil

Add lamb bones, carrot, celery,onion to a baking tray drizzle with olive oil and place in a 400*f oven for 30 minutes.  Remove fro tray an place in a large pot on stove top.
Now add vegetable stock, bay leaves, salt and pepper in a pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  
Remove bones and all veggies from pot leaving on the broth, then add port wine and reduce liquid until thick a syrup like consistency (approx 30 minutes) once done allow to cool.
In a bowl add chopped tomatoes, basil, fennel seeds,  1/2 cup olive oil and the port wine/stock reduction.
Refrigerate until lamb is ready.


Place hot coals on 1 side of grill making sure to leave one side for indirect heat.
Place lamb on hot side of grill searing it on both sides for about 4 minutes each.
Once lamb is seared move to other side of grill with no coals.  Cover with foil and allow to cook for approximately 3 hours or until medium rare inside.
The lamb can be turned once or twice but be sure to re cover with foil.  Once lamb is cooked, remove fro grill and rest meat covered for about 15 minutes.

After lamb has rested,  place on a board and carve thin slices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                         The lamb can be eaten on its own topped with the salsa or on a fresh Italian panino as we did here.

Cooked to a perfect medium rare and thinly sliced the lamb pairs well with the salsa which has complimenting flavors.
Happy Father's Day dad, I love you!

It turned out to be a great sunny day filled with fun, excitement and great food.  We topped it with a few drinks and some games followed by a great night by the fire.

( Note the "Sicilian" poker table)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Citrus Couscous Salad

You can find reference to couscous as far back as the 13th century.  Although many people think it is a grain, it is actually a pasta.  Semolina wheat is moistened then rolled into tiny balls and coated with wheat flour and dried.
For centuries this extremely textured pasta has been made and adapted by several people and cultures.  In most cases it is served under meats and stews with various spices but it can be enjoyed on it's own.  In this recipe I visit my Sicilian roots for inspiration on flavoring this wonderful dish.  Sweet and textured, this light citrus flavored salad is served at room temperature or chilled as a great accompaniment to grilled meat and fish.  In other words, it's perfect for BBQ season!

1 1/2 cups regular or whole wheat couscous
2 ears of corn buttered and grilled for 5 minutes
1 3/4 cups orange juice
1 mango peeled and diced
1 red onion diced
1 cup diced peppers ( red, yellow, green or orange. I mix colours for presentation)
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
fresh basil leaves
1 orange or blood orange

Remove husks, butter corn and place on a hot grill for 5 minutes, cut off kernels and set aside.
On stove top bring orange juice to a boil then add couscous.
Remove from heat, fluff with a fork then put a lid on it for 5-10 minutes.  All the liquid will be absorbed by the couscous.
Allow couscous to cool slightly then add all ingredients (except orange) and mix well.
Cut orange or blood orange in half and squeeze over salad.  Some orange wedges can also be added to the salad.
Place in fridge for a minimum of 1 hour before serving.
Can be made the day before you serve it, it actually gets better with time.

 Prep Time 20 minutes.
Chill a minimum of 1 hour before serving.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bacon, Apple and Herb Stuffed Pork Roast

Fresh herbs are now in season!  If you haven't planted any fresh herbs in your garden they are readily available in your supermarket.  Basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary and chives are some of the great herbs I like to grow in my garden.  I find that almost any combination of these work well with grilled meats.
In this recipe I used many of them to season a beautifully tender boneless pork rib roast.
Usually, pork roast is cooked whole and uncut. I have taken a few minutes to butterfly cut the roast so that it could hold a larger amount of stuffing which also creates a great presentation when cut.
  Pork also loves apples which were combined with bacon and garlic to create this wonderful stuffed and rolled roast .
Simple, fresh ingredients are the star in this recipe which can be grilled or roasted in the oven for spectacular mouthwatering results.


1  3-4 lb boneless pork rib roast butterfly cut and pounded flat(see photos)
1 apple, peeled and finely diced
4 slices of bacon, diced
1  Tbsp. each of  Basil, rosemary, thyme and oregano finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, diced
Extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper
1 tsp of paprika
Butcher's twine

Place pork on a cutting board and make a cut in the center, lengthwise  leaving about 1 inch uncut.
Now cut as if filleting one half of roast, slowly spreading meat open.

Repeat this step to other half of roast.

Now that roast is butterflied, cover with plastic wrap and pound with a mallet until completely flat and even.

Remove plastic wrap then cover entire roast with chopped herbs and garlic.

Now place diced bacon and apples on roast making sure to cover the whole surface.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and begin tightly rolling roast.
Once roast is rolled , truss with butcher's twine or mesh, rub with olive oil and cover with more herbs, salt, pepper and paprika.
Wrap roast in foil or covered roasting pan and place in 300f oven or grill, roasting  for 1 1/2 hours
At this point remove cover or foil and roast/grill for 15 minutes.
Remove from heat, cover and rest meat for 15-20 minutes.
Place roast on cutting board and slice 1/2 inch thick and serve.
Serve with salad, rice or vegetables.

Feel free to use any ingredients you like to fill this beautifully presentable roast.

Prep time 1/2 hour
Cooking time 1 hr and 45 minutes

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chick Pea and Green Bean Salad with Italian Tuna

Fiber rich and cholesterol lowering chick peas(garbanzo beans) are obviously good for you but can be a little bland.  With a little help and some good ingredients they can be transformed into something incredible.  This salad does exactly that.  Fresh tasting  with crunchy red peppers, green beans,toasted almonds all topped with  tasty Italian tuna packed in olive oil it will leave you dreaming of the mediterranean after just one bite.


1 can chick peas drained and rinsed
1 hand full of green beans steamed for 10 minutes
1 small red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper cut in 1 inch slivers
1 can Italian tuna drained of oil
1/2 cup toasted almonds (in oven for 10 minutes)
1/2 cup fresh basil coarsely chopped
Sea salt and pepper
5 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
juice of 1/2 a lemon

Once green beans are steamed, cut them into 1 inch pieces and add to a large bowl .
Add chick peas, chopped onion, red pepper, toasted almonds, basil, salt, pepper and lemon juice.
Finally, add tuna along with olive oil and vinegar and toss well.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour then serve.  This salad can be made the day before and stored in the fridge.

This crunchy, healthy, tasty salad is super easy to assemble and can be eaten as a side dish or a light meal on it's own.

Prep. time 20 minutes plus 1 hour chilling.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Family and Friends

There is nothing better than getting together with family and friends for a picnic.  A beautiful sunny day, tonnes of  food and drinks, sharing, laughing, crying, playing....a great recipe for wonderful memories.
My cousin's yard sets the scene for this great day sitting adjacent to a farm and a beautiful B&B with expansive grass fields and beautiful horses about 1 hour north of Toronto.
A great big thank you to our parents, uncles and aunts for creating such a big and wonderful family to share all this fun with.
Brothers, sisters, cousins, friends and all the children complete the family ......
Gulyas(goulash), started cooking early morning over the hot coals...we wait patiently for this to cook several hours.
The sun beating down on us and the anticipation of all the great food makes us a little thirsty...
 Hipnotizing smoke begins to fill the air........
Shadow just can't wait much longer to eat.......
Those who are not working a grill are busy preparing from the kitchen......
Grill'n and chill'n.....until...
The feast begins!  Everybody digs in ......
Truly a recipe for laughter and good times.....

A great time had by everyone....
As night falls everyone gathers around the fire.... what a great day!

No matter where or when you do it, getting together with family and friends is sure to create great memories of  fun, great food and happiness.
To my family and friends... I love all of you and thanks for the great memories. I look forward to many more!

I wish to dedicate this post to my late uncle Angelo who we cherished dearly....thank you zio! we miss you.
There are no recipes in this post except for one.

1 large family
A bunch of friends
Great food and drinks
1 beautiful sunny day

Mix all together and serve immediately...Enjoy!

Heirloom Tomato and White tuna Salad

Heirloom tomatoes are a wonderful alternative to regular store bought tomatoes.  They vary in size , shape, colour and texture.  They have a wonderful thin skin and are super tasty. These fantastic tomatoes can be easily grown in your garden from a good seed source.  This year we are growing 12 varieties and look forward to a wonderful harvest.  Many supermarkets are now selling these wonderful tomatoes  just in case your thumb isn't very green.  I think you will agree, once you try them you will not want to eat regular tomatoes again.
This salad is very light and fresh tasting and the white tuna brings great flavor and texture to balance it all out.

1 lb. assorted heirloom tomatoes
1 can white tuna, water removed
1/2 of a small red onion cut in strips
1Tbsp. fresh oregano or 1 tsp. dried oregano
3 tbsp. feta cheese crumbled
1 tsp. coarse sea salt
1 tbsp. aged balsamic vinegar
3-4 tbsp. good quality extra virgin olive oil
fresh cracked black pepper
3-4 fresh basil leaves finely chopped

Cut tomatoes into 1 inch pieces ( cherry tomatoes can be halved) and add to a bowl
Drain tuna well and add to bowl
Add all other ingredients and mix well. Allow to sit for 10 minutes then serve.

Its simple and quick to make, great for a light lunch or a great salad to acompany  almost anything you enjoy from the grill.


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