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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Decadent Organic Treats ( A review, by INDANNYSKITCHEN.COM)

    These days when you purchase baked goods or sweet treats it usually contains preservatives, chemicals and horrible things like high fructose corn syrup and glucose.  Color dyes and acids linked to life altering illnesses are also not uncommon.  When I was approached to try some 100% organic baked goods and chocolate treats by Nisreen Diab Hawley from GreenCuisineList.com I was ecstatic.
  Within a few days I received my sweet little box of treats at my door.  I carefully yet quickly opened the box and began to unravel the packaging and was immediately hit with intoxicating smells of chocolate, cinnamon, honey and pastry,  it was like walking into a bakery. 
I separated each of the items on a tray and stared at each individual treat, contemplating which one I would try first.
BAKLAVA

The first bite I had of the baklava nearly knocked me off my feet.  The crispy and flaky pastry crackled in my mouth and the filling was sweet and moist unlike any other baklava I have ever tasted.
Most baklava tends to be soggy and gummy after a few days but this was the total opposite. The secret in this 3 generation old recipe was in the layering of the phyllo pastry and that not every layer contained butter.  This allowed it to retain some of the crunch that I love so much.  The filling was so moist yet firm enough to hold together well and keep its shape.  A generous amount of homemade syrup and nuts added flavor and texture and really set this treat over the top.
The baklava is made with 100% Organic phyllo dough, Organic butter ( to ensure it's RBGH free ), Blend of Organic nuts, Organic sugar and cinnamon, and homemade syrup using filtered water,  Organic sugar and organic lemon juice.
The attention to detail in constructing this treat and it's careful selection of top notch ingredients is evident in the taste and it was truly the best I ever tasted.
COCOA BROWN BUTTER BROWNIES WITH CINNAMON AND CAYENNE

   After tasting the phenomenal baklava I expected nothing less from these incredible smelling brownies.  The deep, rich, chocolate and cinnamon smell quickly reeled me in for the first bite. Soft and moist, chewy and chocolatey, gently laced with cinnamon, these brownies did not disappoint. The real kick comes in the end by way of the very light dusting of cayenne pepper.  I know right now many of you are thinking, what is cayenne pepper doing in a brownie ?. In actuality there is very little cayenne pepper so its not an amount that will make it overly spicy.  The truth is, it works.
   The brownies are made from Organic butter, Organic fair trade cocoa powder, Organic vanilla, Organic eggs, Organic sugar, Organic flour, Himalayan crystal salt, Organic cinnamon and Organic Cayenne pepper.
  The sweetness of the chocolate and the fat of the browned butter are cut extremely well by the cayenne and the combination is actually incredible.  The overall effect is a wonderful sweet treat with a hint of spice. It is definitely a new taste combination for me and I enjoyed it immensely.

Keeping in mind that 100% organic food items may not have as long a shelf life as their chemically enhanced, preservative pumped versions these treats traveled 2500 miles and took 5 days and were in incredible condition. Knowing that they were made with love and 100% Organic ingredients makes indulging worthwhile. Not having to worry about ingesting something that will alter your health down the road is a bonus.
 
Other products available are :
                                     Chewy White Chocolate.Chip Macadamia Nut cookies
                                                   Ginger Snap cookie chocolate cup
                                                Peanut Butter and Blackberry Jelly cup

                            **** Look for more great 100% Organic treats to come !!!!****
Orders can shipped just about anywhere in The USA and Canada and can be placed by contacting Nisreen Diab Hawley from GreenCuisineList.com on Facebook.  Nisreen is a true ambassador to all foods organic and continues to search the globe for 100% Organic ingredients and restaurants that will ensure the well being of anyone interested in having a healthier lifestyle.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Nutella Semifreddo - Happy Valentine's Day


   My love, mio amore, mon amour, mi amor, habibe, moja ljubav, mijn liefde.... whatever language you speak, we all adore hearing someone call this out to us. With Valentine's day quickly approaching we start to think of ways to show our love to that certain special someone in our life.  I have always said in the past that giving material items is not my way of showing the love.  Instead, I choose to create something with my own hands to really show how much I care.  I  also believe that a way to a person's heart is through their stomach.  
   There is no better way to do this than create something with chocolate and strawberries which is the perfect combination for a rich, sensual dessert.  This recipe is fairly simple to assemble and is best made a day in advance, giving it time to set and develop the deep rich flavor.  Given the rich flavor , this dessert is surprisingly light and airy.  It is a great dessert to end a nice Valentine's Day meal and if you decide to make this for the one you love it will definitely show them how you feel.  
   This year, take the time to make something memorable and delicious, made with your hands and sent from your heart.
 This recipe uses Nutella which is available around the world.  I chose to make my own version and the recipe can be seen at the end of this blog.


Ingredients


1 1/2 cups Nutella , or ( see homemade recipe below)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
4 egg whites
1 1/2 cups Mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup whipping cream ( 35%)
12 savoiardi cookies (can be substituted with cookie of your choice)
Dark chocolate for drizzling
Strawberries for garnish
 Combine the sugar and water in a sauce pot and bring to a boil.  Once the sugar has melted , remove from heat and set aside.
 Beat the egg whites until stiff and fluffy.
 Slowly drizzle the water and sugar mixture into the egg whites and beat until shiny (approx. 1 minute)

 Warm the Nutella until pourable ( do not over heat) and slowly pour it into the egg white mixture. Mix on low speed for 1 minute.
Add the mascarpone cheese and mix until blended with Nutella mixture and no lumps remain.

 In a separate bowl beat the cream until thick and stiff. 

Now gently fold the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream .  Mix until nicely marbled but do not over mix.

Crush the cookies making sure to leave some chunks intact.  Place them in a mold or baking tray lined with parchment paper.  Fill the bottom of the mold or tray until just covered with cookie.
 The semifreddo is similar to icecream but has a texture that resembles a chilled mousse.
 Cover the cookie with the semmifreddo mixture, wrap with plastic wrap and freeze overnight. 
Once frozen, remove from mold or cut desired shape out of tray and plate.
Drizzle with melted dark chocolate and strained puree of fresh strawberries.

Garnish with fresh strawberry and serve immediately.


Without a spoken word this dish says... I LOVE YOU!

Homemade Nutella Recipe

Ingredients

2 cups roasted hazelnuts, skins removed (roast in oven at 350F for 10 mins.)
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder ( good quality )
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 Tbsp skim milk
1/4 tsp scraped vanilla bean
 Place roasted hazelnuts in a towel and rub until the skins separate. Do not worry if some skins remain.

 Place hazelnuts in a food processor and blend until all the natural oils start to come out and it almost liquifies.


 
Add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla bean and blend. Once it becomes very thick and stiff add the milk and slowly pour in the oil while mixing.

Pour mixture into a sealable container and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wild Venison Stew with Blueberries and Roasted Chestnuts

     The great Canadian wilderness is home to many wonderful creatures.  The mountains, plains and  forests alike are all bountiful with plants and animals.  Venison is one wonderful animal that thrives here.  Here in Ontario Canada the government allows one week open to sportsmen to hunt venison.
   When my friend Gino told me he was going hunting for venison I actually got  excited because I knew I would be in store for a real treat.  Although venison is available to buy here, its not found in your everyday supermarket. As I expected, Gino came home with some phenomenal venison meat.

   I wanted to create a recipe that embraced the venison in terms of flavor and character.  The forests are also home to wild blueberries and chestnut trees which the deer love to nibble on so like the old saying goes.....if it grows together, it goes together.  The venison stew combines fantastic venison loin, chestnuts, blueberries,  root vegetables, fresh aromatic herbs and a rich sauce to braise it to perfection.
Ingredients

2 lbs venison meat cut in cubes
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
1 onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup of red wine
1 cup roasted chestnuts
1 cup wild blueberries
1 cup dry porcini mushrooms
1 Tbsp butter
Fresh thyme, small bunch
Fresh sage, small bunch
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil
Add oil and garlic cloves to a hot pan and saute venison until nicely browned on all sides.
Remove from pan and set aside.

Saute carrot, parsnip and onion in the pan for 5 minutes then add venison meat back to the pan.
 Add the porcini mushrooms to the pan and season with salt and pepper.
Add the herbs to the pan , toss gently then add red wine and bring to a boil. 
Reduce heat to a simmer.
 Add the chicken stock to the pan
Cover pan tightly with a lid and simmer for 1.5 hours.
Strain the sauce, place only the meat back in the pan and place sauce in a small sauce pot.
 Place chestnuts and blueberries in the sauce pot with 1 Tbsp of butter and bring to a boil then simmer until reduced to a thick consistency approximately 10 minutes.  Season sauce with salt and pepper.

 Plate stew over polenta, pasta or rice, pour sauce on top and serve.
 If you have never tried venison or any game meat for that matter , I highly suggest you do.  Flavorful and tender, venison is absolutely fantastic and this stew can be adapted to any flavors you enjoy in a stew.  
 Photo courtesy of Gino Savaglio, Bolton Ontario Canada

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mushroom and White Wine Braised Rabbit


   The rustic style of Italian home cooking with pure, good seasonal ingredients has always been my favorite.  Combing ingredients that grow together in harmony meld together seamlessly always resulting in magical creations that link the land, people and traditions.  Simplicity of ingredients, freshness, centuries old combinations typical to la cucina Italiana have won people over creating perhaps the most well known cuisine in the world.
   In implementing the Italian way of thinking in the kitchen to create a recipe one finds comfort in knowing there is really no wrong way of creating a wonderful dish.  Combing simple technique, building flavors, patience and the love of great food will lend to creating something you will enjoy and be proud of.
   Rabbit is not typically found on menus in the western world.  People tend to gravitate more towards familiar ingredients like chicken.  The fact is rabbit is absolutely incredible to cook and eat.  Preparations are virtually identical to beef, poultry or otherwise.  Not unlike chicken for example, rabbit can be grilled, fried, baked or braised all with amazing results.
This simple recipe preparation results in a decadent, rich, tender rabbit meat with a sublime complex finish... truly out of this world.
Ingredients

1  fresh rabbit, cut in pieces
2 carrots peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs cleaned and chopped
4 shallots or 1 onion finely diced
10-12 cremini mushrooms, cut in half
1 red bell pepper coarsely chopped
1 small bunch each of thyme, sage and rosemary
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 cup of white wine
4 cups quick rabbit stock ( rabbit bones with 1 celery stalk, 1 carrot, 1 bay leave and 1 small onion...bring to a boil and simmer for 40 minutes)
All purpose flour for dredging
Salt and pepper , to taste
Olive oil for frying
2 Boiled and roasted chestnuts
2 Tbsp heavy cream
Truffle oil to finish

This recipe can be served over pasta, rice or in this case, creamy polenta.
Once the rabbit has been cut into pieces, add the rabbit head, bones, celery, carrot, onion and bay leave to 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil then simmer for 40 minutes.
Add salt and pepper to the rabbit pieces and dredge in flour. 
Place in a hot frying pan with olive oil. Saute until golden brown on both sides( 1 to 2 minutes per side)
Remove rabbit and place in a roasting pan.
To the hot frying pan add the celery, carrots, shallots, red pepper, garlic, mushrooms and herbs. 
Saute on medium high heat for 3 minutes making sure to toss well.  
Add the white wine to the pan to deglaze then pour over rabbit in roasting pan. 
Pour the 4 cups of rabbit stock in the roasting pan and cover tightly with lid or aluminum foil.
Place roasting pan in a pre heated 350 F oven and bake for 1.5 hours.
Once cooked, remove rabbit pieces and set aside.  Strain the sauce into a pot, add cream and bring to a boil.  Reduce sauce by half.

Plate the rabbit with the creamy polenta, garnish with some of the braised carrot, mushrooms and red pepper and pour some of the reduced sauce on top.
To finish, drizzle dish with some truffle oil and sprinkle with shaved or thinly sliced chestnuts and serve.

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