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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Risotto with Roasted chestnuts, Melon and Gorgonzola cheese

Risotto is one of those dishes that with a little creativity can have  endless  flavor combinations and textures.  Not unlike pizza, the rice is just the vessel to carry ingredients of your choice or preference to create something wonderful.  There are the classics like mushroom and butternut squash which we have all had many times.  This recipe goes a little astray from the norm and has an intense and bold flavor but still has that creamy texture we all love in a risotto.
Risotto with Roasted chestnuts, Melon and Gorgonzola cheese

Ingredients:

1 cup Carnaroli rice
4 cups chicken broth ( simmering on stove top)
1 cup white wine added to broth
flesh of 1/2 a cantaloupe or canary melon -diced
10 soft roasted chestnuts ( I use Aurora brand)
1/4 lb. gorgonzola cheese
1 onion diced
3 cloves garlic gently crushed
olive oil
salt and pepper

In a frying pan on stove top (hi heat) add 2Tbsp olive oil, garlic, onion, sliced chestnuts, melon and saute for 5 minutes then set aside.
In a large pot on stove top set to med-hi heat add 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil and the rice . Stir for approx 5 minutes until rice is coated and warm to the touch.
Now add 2 cups hot broth to rice, stir gently and cover reducing heat to medium. Allow to cook for 15 minutes(reduce heat if sticking to pot)
Now add remaining broth along with chestnuts, melon and gorgonzola and cook an additional 10 minutes or until rice is creamy but al dente.
If rice is absorbing too much liquid you can add a little more during cooking process.

No need to stand over a hot stove and constantly stir Risotto, just keep lid on and check once or twice making sure there is enough liquid. This technique  will result in a firm, yet very creamy risotto.

Prep time  10 minutes
Cooking time 35 minutes

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pan Seared Steak with Mushroom Brandy Cream Sauce



So you have been staring out your backyard window looking at the snow and wondering when it is going to warm up.  Your BBQ is sitting there under 15cm of snow and you think to your self , I wish I could have a nice steak tonight.  The thought of shivering in the cold for that steak changes your mind and you settle for some indoor cooking instead.

Cooking indoors doesn't mean you can't have it.  Investing in different types of cookware allows you to do this any time of the year. A good, solid grill pan can help you achieve fantastic results all the while staying in the comfort of your own kitchen.  Speaking of comfort, I decided to dress this steak up with a creamy sauce worthy of a winter comfort food label.

Ingredients

4 fairly thick cut New York striploin steaks
1 cup sliced cremini or brown mushrooms
1 onion diced
1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 cup Mascarpone cheese or 35% cream
1 ounce good quality brandy
Salt and pepper

In a hot Frying pan saute Mushrooms and onion until soft approx. 5 minutes, then add brandy









Add beef broth to pan bringing to a boil then lower heat to a simmer, then add Mascarpone or cream.









Pre heat grill pan until extremely hot, add salt and pepper to steak then grill  for only 2 minutes on each side.









Remove steak from grill pan and place in pan with sauce, cover and cook for an additional 4 minutes.
This will produce a wonderful charred exterior with a medium center infused with the creamy flavor of the brandy and mushrooms.

This sauce can be used for other cuts of meat and poultry .

Prep time 10 miutes
Total cooking time 20 minutes

Friday, February 12, 2010

Surf and Turf Extravaganza

How much do I LOVE thee? 
Love bigger than the universe, unconditional, and well.........enough to go outside in - 20*c blistery Canadian winter weather to create something that goes beyond the heart. Yes, you guessed it.... I go straight to the stomach.
Forget chocolate, forget candy and flowers....I'm talkin' surf and turf!  A wonderful extravaganza of steak and seafood to  warm the depths of my woman's entire inner being and well, mine too!
After all, Valentine's day is about the love we have for each other and sharing the things we love.
 
 
Our menu for this great evening goes as follows:
10oz. bacon wrapped fillet mignon, seared to a medium rare perfection

Grilled calamari
Seared Jumbo scallops
Garlic and butter drenched grilled shrimp
Tender charred octopus

Salad of fresh greens in a citrus vinaigrette
and .............
well we skipped the desert to cap off the evening with each others' company.

In preparing this meal I start with the octopus. If not cooked correctly, octopus can be tough and chewy and quite undesirable.
Place a large pot on stove top on high heat, then drop octopus in and cover. Almost instantly the octopus will begin to release its liquids. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Once cooked remove from pot and discard liquid.Cut into pieces and set aside for grilling. This process ensures  the octopus is tender.

Make sure calamari are clean and make several cuts 1 inch long  across entire body.
Shrimp should be deveined and clean before grilling.
Scallops need no preperation.

Basting liquid for grilling seafood:
In a bowl melt 1/2 cup of butter and add 4 Tbsp. olive oil, some salt and pepper
Chop 4 cloves of garlic and some fresh basil and add to bowl.

Pre heat grill to super high heat.
Grill steak 4 minutes per side. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Place all the seafood on the grill and baste immediately.
Shrimp are to be cooked 2 minutes per side.
Calamari, 2 minutes per side
Scallops 4 minutes per side
Octopus,  5 minutes per side
Seafood can be basted 2-3 times while cooking.

Sounds complicated? Well it just takes a little concentration and good timing and for the love of your life and a little hard work in front of a scorching hot grill on one of the coldest days of winter is all worth it!

Baby I love you! Enjoy and Happy Valentines Day.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fresh Green Salad with Bosc pear, Fior Di Latte and Raspberries

People tend to eat heavier foods in the winter time because it feels comforting. Eventually, all this hearty food can take a toll on your body and make you feel sluggish and contribute to the winter blues that usually kick in this time of year.
I believe it doesn't have to be summer time to enjoy a light and fresh salad to cleanse the body and replenish the vibrant feelings we get when it is warm and sunny outside. This salad is indeed light and bursting with flavors and texture.
Super simple ingredients and quick to assemble, this salad will have you feeling like its summer time in no time!
To make this salad you will need...

4 cups fresh mixed greens
1 Fior di latte mozzarella ( fresh cow's milk mozzarella ) sliced into 8 pieces
1 Bosc pear peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 pint fresh Raspberries
Pinch of sea salt

Dressing:

1/4cup Extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. Aged balsamic vinegar
Juice from 1 orange.

Mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar and orange juice together until well blended and set aside.
Assemble salad in layers with pear and mozzarella then top with greens and sprinkle with raspberries and a pinch of salt.
Pour dressing over salad and enjoy!

Prep time 10 minutes.
Makes four generous servings.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hummus

With historical origins dating back to antiquity, this middle eastern dip is a favorite around the world.
Chickpeas are the base for this treat which by the way is a healthy alternative to high fat dips and sauces available today. There are also several variations to hummus but I find this simple recipe tasty and satisfying.
Hummus can be eaten as a dip with crackers, flatbreads, pita or even served with a nice crudite tray of fresh veggies. It also makes a great alternative to mayonnaise on sandwiches bringing them to a whole new level of flavor.

This recipe can be made in a few minutes and will become a favorite at your parties and special events.

Ingredients:

1 can of chick peas ( reserve half of the liquid from the can )
2 cloves of garlic or 1/2 Tbsp. of roasted garlic
Juice from 1 lemon
1 1/2 Tbsp. Tahini ( sesame seed paste, available at your supermarket )
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. of vinegar
 2 Tbsp. olive oil

Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until creamy. Its that simple!

Can be refrigerated for up to 5 days in a sealed container.

Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings

SUPER BOWL seems to be synonymous with finger foods. Its the event that gets people together to watch the big game whether at home or at the bar,  to eat and drink. Chicken wings just happens to be one of the most popular foods consumed during the big game. Rather than the gut wrenching hot wings most people eat i like to serve this recipe. I find this wing sauce to be more savoury than BBQ sauces or those butt burning hot sauces than the macho men love to down in conjunction with several beers.
This is an easy sauce to make and the entire recipe can be completed in less time than it takes to have a pizza delivered.
 
Ingredients:
1/2 tbsp roasted garlic
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. sugar
salt and pepper

This will easily coat up to 4 lbs of wings.

Cut top off of a whole garlic bulb exposing tips of garlic cloves.
Wrap in foil paper and roast in a 500* oven for 30 minutes until golden brown and soft. Let cool then squeeze garlic out and set aside
At the same time garlic goes in the oven, place chicken wings on a tray with parchment paper into oven a cook for 30 minutes turning twice.
Place 1/2 Tbsp. of garlic in a bowl and combine yogurt, parmesan, garlic powder, sugar, salt and pepper.
Mix well.
Add cooked wings to sauce , toss until evenly coated then serve immediately.
This sauce packs a sweet, cheesy, garlic punch to wings .
***The wings can also be grilled on a BBQ then added to sauce, perfect for an outdoor summer party!

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