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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Canadian Food Blog Awards


Voting for the People’s Choice Award, as well as judging for all other categories, will begin January 1st, 2011 and run until January 15th, 2011. Winners in all categories will be announced January 31st.
All this would not be possible with out the efforts of those at Beer and Buttertarts .
Stay tuned for any updates and be sure to return and vote in January
Canadian Food Blog Awards are brought to you by ....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pizza with Grilled artichokes, Spinach, Oyster mushrooms and Truffle studded Pecorino cheese

   I love discovering new cheeses when I am out shopping.  With great anticipation I get home, crack open the packaging and give it a taste test.  If I like the way it tastes, the next test is to see how well it melts.  What better way to do this than on a pizza. 
   In sampling it I try to figure out  which ingredients would pair nicely with my new found cheese.  The taste , texture are swirled around in my mouth as I make virtual combinations in my mind to make a final decision.
Based on the partnership between a small farming community in Northern Italy and Canada, Ramelli has produced this incredible Pecorino al Tartufo (sheep's milk cheese with truffles). Quite frankly, I love this cheese!
Soft, yet slightly firm this pecorino infused with chunks of some of northern Italy's finest truffles  has a creamy texture, mild earthy taste with small explosions of decadent truffle. On to the pizza.
I wanted to create a pizza that would compliment the cheese so I figured it also had to be mild with some bold flavor punches.  Earthy oyster mushrooms paired extremely well with the truffle.  The sauted spinach and onion added another layer of flavor and the grilled artichokes rounded it all out for a fantastic finish.  The pecorino paired with some fresh mozzarella added the perfect amount of moisture and melted goodness to grab on to the crust and all the ingredients for a great big group hug.
This will definitely be added to my list of favorites.

Ingredients

1 Pizza dough
1/2 of a  Fresh Mozzarella
1/4 cup diced Pecorino al Tartufo cheese
1 cup fresh Baby spinach
4 oyster mushrooms cut in strips
1/2 of a small red onion
5 small grilled artichokes (available in jars at your supermarket)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper
Saute mushrooms and onion in a little olive oil for 4 minutes on high heat.  Remove from heat and add spinach, salt, pepper and mix well then let cool. The heat from the onion and mushroom will cook the baby spinach.
On a floured surface roll out pizza dough, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with oregano and place chunks of fresh mozzarella evenly on dough surface.
Add sauteed mushrooms, onions and spinach then add artichokes cut in quarters and sprinkle with the diced pecorino al tartufo cheese.
 Place pizza in a 500f oven and bake for 10 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbling.
Remove pizza from oven and cool slightly before cutting.
When an ingredient gives you inspiration to cook, the results can be incredible.  A truly decadent combination of ingredients that work really well together for a truly memorable pizza.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dark Chocolate, Pistachio and Sea Salt Shortbread Cookies

   Do you have a favorite cookie?  Impossible to choose? Not any more. Decadent, soft, crunchy, sweet, salty, flaky, lemony, crumbly, this cookie has it all.
Light and airy citrus infused shortbread covered with luscious dark chocolate, sprinkled with sea salt and pistachios is truly a feast for the senses. I'm not one to bake often but this cookie is my all time favorite and its absolutely addictive.
Once you bite into one of these cookies the sea salt opens your taste buds up to experience a combination of flavors and textures unmatched by any other cookie.

Ingredients

2 cups sifted all purpose flour
2 sticks (8 ounces) frozen unsalted butter  ( ** freeze for 15 minutes**)
1/2 cup sugar
juice and zest from 1 lemon
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt + more for sprinkling on cookies
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
6 ounces dark chocolate (75%)
1/3 cup whipping cream (35%)

Add flour, sugar, sea salt and lemon zest to a bowl.  Using a large hole cheese grater, shred the frozen butter into the bowl. Begin mixing (stand mixer can be used )then add lemon juice, mix slowly until dough comes together.
 Knead dough on a floured surface about 30 seconds then flatten and wrap in plastic wrap, refrigerate for 1 hour.
On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into squares or rectangles.  Using a fork poke a few holes into each cookie.
Place cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 275f for 45 minutes or until lightly golden.  Allow cookies to cool.
Combine chocolate and cream and melt in microwave or on stove top.  Pour some of the melted chocolate over each cookie, sprinkle with sea salt and add chopped pistachios.  Allow to cool before serving.
This decadent cookie is not to sweet but is full of flavor.  For those of you who think salt doesn't belong on a cookie...this will change your mind.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pulled Pork Sandwich with Beer Gravy

   BBQ lovers around the world will tell you that they love pulled pork.  Made from the pork shoulder(sometimes called Boston Butt)is usually slow cooked in outdoor smokers for hours at low heat.  This method infuses smokey flavor and makes the pork tender, succulent and stringy.  It is then pulled apart and smothered in a BBQ sauce of some sort.  For those of us who want similar results but don't have a smoker or can't be bothered to baby sit a smoldering fire all day and night there is an alternative.
   Achieving the tender, stringy texture does take time but can be cooked in your oven indoors.  With a fairly simple preparation and some patience you can enjoy championship BBQ in your very own kitchen.
   Although my recipe is topped with a gravy made from the pork's own juices, beef stock and some beer this can simply be replaced with your favorite BBQ sauce.

Ingredients

1  5-6LB. pork shoulder
1 cup beef stock
1 beer (your choice)
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp Paprika
2 Tbsp dry rosemary
2 Tbsp dry oregano
1-2 Tbsp all purpose flour
Salt and pepper
Fresh bread
Aged Canadian white cheddar (optional)
Rub pork shoulder with garlic powder, paprika, rosemary and oregano .  Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
In an oven proof pot heat 3 Tbsp oil on stove top and begin browning pork on all sides( 2 minutes per side)
At this point sprinkle with salt and pepper then add beef stock and beer.  Cover and place in a pre heated 375f oven for 3 1/2 -4 hours.  (No need to check on it for the first 3 hours.)
Remove pork from pot and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.  Using 2 forks, begin pulling pork apart until it is completely shredded. Set aside.
Place pot back on stove top, add about 2 Tbsp flour and wisk vigorously until it begins to boil and thicken.
Slice your favorite bread or bun ( I used a homemade crusty loaf) and toast in the oven for a few minutes.
Add some sliced or shredded aged white Canadian cheddar to your bread, top with a heaping amount of pulled pork and smother with gravy.
Succulent, stringy pork shreds, wonderful beer infused gravy and melted cheese on a nice crusty bread makes the ultimate hot sandwich which can accompany almost any soup or salad.

For those of you who enjoy BBQ sauce instead of gravy just add your sauce to the pork once it is pulled and toss until well mixed.

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