Thursday, July 29, 2010

Picnic at the Brick Works '10

I am very excited because I have purchased my tickets for this year's Picnic at the Brick Works. I have gone to this event for the past two years and it is always a fantastic time. The Picnic is a joint venture by Slow Food Toronto and The Evergreen Brickworks. Every year the best chefs in Toronto pair with local farmers, cheese makers, chocolatiers, bakers and butchers, to create a slow food extravaganza!!

Here is a link to more information about the event: Brick Works Picnic Site. You can also purchase tickets online. Get your tickets early as they sell out fast.

Here are some pics from last years event:

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fig and Prosciutto Pizza

This recipe is based on a recipe by Todd English, that I found years ago. It is a family favourite. The flavours are fantastic together. Figs and Prosciutto is one of my favourite couplings, if you can find fresh figs, use them for this recipe as they are glorious, if impossible to find (especially in my neck of the woods!)
With respect to the cheese, I love chevre or gorgonzola equally, so go with what you like.

Fig and Prosciutto Pizza
Fig Jam
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 springs Rosemary, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
250 g chevre or gorgonzola
handful of walnuts, chopped
salt and pepper

Heat pizza stone in bottom of oven, to 500 degrees.
Combine fig jam, vinegar, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper in a small saucepan over medium heat.
Cook until jam is melted.
Roll out dough. Place dough on a pizza paddle which has been sprinkled liberally with cornmeal.
Cover the bottom of the crust with the fig mixture.
Follow with a sprinkling of walnuts.
Rip apart two pieces of prosciutto and place them over the walnuts.
Dot pizza with as much cheese as you wish.
Place pizza on pizza stone and cook until well browned (about 5-10 minutes).

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Ultimate Burger & Ceasar Salad

I have been on a search this summer, to find the ultimate burger recipe. I think this one is pretty close! I think it is always better to grind your own meat. We used top sirloin. Whatever cut you choose, you must ensure that there is enough fat included, otherwise the burger will be dry and mealy. Most of the research that I have found suggests a 15-20% ratio of fat to meat. If you are using a leaner cut of meat (like turkey), I would suggest adding some bacon to the mix, in order to up the fat ratio, so as to ensure a juicy burger!

I think a good burger needs no other accompaniment than an equally fantastic salad. Growing up in my house, salad almost always meant Caesar salad. This version (my mother's) is very garlicy, so I wouldn't suggest it prior to a first date or even if you have a job interview in the next week. But if you are happily in love (or happily single) and well employed, this salad is well worth the day or two of keeping your distance.

Ultimate Burger
~ makes 6 well sized burgers ~

2 lbs top sirloin beef, ground
1 egg
1/4 cup dry or fresh bread crumbs
1 T Dijon mustard
3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
4 drops liquid smoke
1/4 cup fresh Greek oregano (or rosemary), chopped fine
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
salt and ground pepper
fresh kaiser rolls

Combine all ingredients and form into six equal burgers.
Grill to medium.
Serve on kaiser rolls with sauce (recipe below)

1/2 cup mayo
large handful basil leaves, chopped fine
1 T lemon juice
1 T Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, chopped fine

Combine and serve!

Colleen's Caesar Salad
2 egg yolks
1 T lemon juice
8 shakes worcestershire sauce
2 t anchovy paste
2 T red wine vinegar
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 T Dijon mustard or 2 t dried mustard
salt and pepper
1/2 - 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large head romaine lettuce
1/4 red onion, chopped into rings
1 cup croutons
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated

Combine first eight ingredients with a hand blender.
Slowly add olive oil, while blending, until desired consistency is reached (should be very creamy).
Toss dressing with lettuce, onions croutons and cheese.

Orecchiette with Sausage, Kale and Feta

This dish is a classic combination, pasta with a minimal sauce of sausage and bitter greens. The most common combination is orecchiette with sausage and rapini but any bitter green will do. In this version, the the bitterness of the kale is softened by the fat of the pork and Feta. Orecchiette means "little ears" in Italian, they are definitely worth finding, but if you cannot, farfalle or even small shells will deliver a similar result.

I was vising the River's Edge Goat Dairy this past weekend, and they had ground pork from pigs that they had feed on the leftover whey from their cheese making. I was excited to try it so I used it in this recipe. It was fantastic, very mild with a definite sweetness to the meat.

Orecchiette with Sausage, Kale and Feta
1 lb dried orecchiette
2 T extra virgin olive oil
large pinch of chili flakes
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1.5 lbs ground pork
4 cups kale, chopped
1 cup white wine
salt and pepper
250 g Mediterranean style goat feta cheese

Bring to a boil well salted water, boil pasta according to directions.
Meanwhile, heat 2 T olive oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and chili flakes and continue to cook until the garlic is fragrant.
Place pork into pan in small, even pieces, season well. Let brown well on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside.
Add kale to pan, season well and stir-fry until wilted.
Add white wine and reduce by half.
Add pork back into pan and check and adjust seasonings.
Drain pasta, but reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and set aside.
Add pasta to sausage/kale mixture. If sauce is dry, add pasta water and cook until you reach the desired consistency.
Serve sprinkled with feta and more chili flakes.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Pappardelle with Mixed Mushrooms and Mozzarella

This recipe is from my favourite new iPhone app "Jamie Oliver 20 Minute Meals". It is a fantastic app for those who want a quick and brainless weeknight dinner idea, that does not include frozen processed "food". Every recipe I have made has been flawless.

Pappardelle with Mixed Mushrooms and Mozzarella
1 recipe fresh pasta, cut into pappardelle (or 1 lb dried)
1 lb mixed mushrooms
1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped, stems chopped fine
1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 oz Parmesan, freshly grated
1 5oz ball fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into pieces
4 T creme fraiche
2 T butter
olive oil
sea salt and black pepper

Bring salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions.
Clean mushrooms with a dry brush to remove any dirt (DO NOT wash mushrooms, they are little sponges that will absorb all the water you let them and then they will taste like dirty dishwater when you cook them!)
Heat butter and a bit of oil over high heat in a large skillet. Add garlic, parsley stems mushrooms, salt and pepper to skillet. Fry until mushrooms are well browned (5-6 minutes).
When the pasta is cooked, scoop out about a cup of water and set aside. Drain pasta. Add the zest of the lemon, the creme fraiche, half of the Parmesan, the mozzarella, juice of half of the lemon and half of the remaining parsley to the mushroom mixture. Toss to combine. Add the pasta and about half of the reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce. If needed, add remaining pasta water.
Adjust seasonings.
Serve sprinkled with remaining Parmesan, parsley and a bit of extra virgin olive oil.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Calves Liver with Bacon, Onion, Sage and Balsamic

I know .... you lost me at ...

I have to admit, I'm not the world's biggest liver fan, however, if done correctly, and not cooked within an inch of it's life, liver can be a tasty alternative to your "normal" week-night dinner. Give this offal another shot, you might just find that your tastebuds have grown-up with you!

This recipe will serve 4-6 depending on your appetites. For us, it served four, but I have a huge German in my crowd!

Calves Liver with Bacon, Onion, Sage and Balsamic
1.5 lbs calves liver
2 cups all purpose flour
2 large vidalia onions, cut into rings
15 rashers bacon
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
20 fresh sage leaves, chopped fine
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

Combine the flour with a large pinch of salt and pepper. Dredge the liver in the flour until it has a good coating. Set aside.
Cook bacon in a large skillet until cooked but not crisp. Remove from pan and set aside.
Pour all but 2 T of the bacon fat out of the skillet, set removed fat aside. Place onions, garlic, sage, salt and pepper in skillet and fry, over medium heat, until onions are brown, sticky and caramelized.
Deglaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar.
Chop the bacon into large pieces and add back into skillet.
Meanwhile, heat the removed bacon fat in a separate pan (should be 2-3 T of fat). Fry liver for 2 minutes per side, or until done to your liking.
Serve liver covered with the onion mixture, sprinkled with fresh parsley.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Slow Roasted Baby Back Ribs

Is there anything more indicative of summer than barbecued ribs? But when I awoke this morning it was raining and so I thought to myself: this is an opportunity to use my oven to make Slow Roasted Ribs, instead. This recipe is fail-safe. It always results in ribs so tender that they are difficult to remove from the roasting pan because the meat is falling off the bone. This is my kind of medicine to cure rainy day blues!

Slow Roasted Baby Back Ribs
2 sides baby back pork ribs
1 T smoked or hot paprika
1 T sweet paprika
1 T chili powder
1 T roasted garlic powder
1 T onion powder
1 T brown sugar
1 T sea salt
1 T black pepper
1 bottle beer (your choice)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Remove the silver skin from the bone side of the ribs.
Make a dry rub by combining all of the spices. Rub generously to liberally cover the ribs with a coating of the rub.
(At this point you can let the ribs marinate for a few hours, up to 24 hours)
Place the ribs in a large roasting pan, bone side down.
Pour beer over ribs.
Cover tightly with tinfoil.
Roast for 4 hours.

Remove ribs from pan and place on a rack to let them dry a bit.
Coat ribs liberally with your favourite bbq sauce.
Drain beer from pan.
Turn on oven broiler to 500 degrees.
Place well lubricated ribs back in roasting pan.
Broil until ribs are caramelized.

Fall off the bone goodness!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Strawberry Rhubarb Panna Cotta

On a recent trip to the St. Jacobs Market, I was delighted to find some beautiful Ontario strawberries. They were the first local strawberries I had found this season. I had a craving for panna cotta so I thought, what better way to celebrate my find.

Panna cotta (cooked cream) is an Italian desert, which is found on almost every trattoria menu, similar to creme brulee in France. The desert is shamelessly simple and fail-free.

Strawberry Rhubarb Panna Cotta

panna cotta:

2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
2 cups half and half cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 t vanilla or 1 one vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 packets gelatin
6 T cold water

2 cups rhubarb, chopped
2 cups strawberries, hulled and chopped in half
1/2 cup sugar
2 T Chambord liqueur

Dissolve gelatin by sprinkling over cold water and letting the mixture stand for about 5 minutes.
Heat cream, half and half and sugar over medium high heat until sugar is dissolved.
If using vanilla: turn off heat and whisk in vanilla.
If using vanilla bean: split pod in half, lengthwise, scrape all off the seeds out of the pod and place pod and seeds in with cream mixture while still over heat. Cook cream until it almost comes to a boil. Remove from heat cover and let stand for 20 minutes. Remove pod from cream, re-heat cream until very hot but not boiling.
Pour hot cream over gelatin mixture and whisk well so that the gelatin is fully dissolved in the hot cream.
Pour into eight, well-oiled ramekins or teacups
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or overnight) so that panna cotta has time to set-up
To unmold: run a knife around the edge of the panna cotta, turn upside down, pat the bottom of the ramekin and it should pop out!

To make sauce: add all ingredients to a large sauce pan over medium high heat. Cook until fruit is very soft. Pure half of the liquid in a food processor until very smooth and add back into pan to combine with the remaining fruit. Cool well and serve with panna cotta (also fantastic with pancakes, french toast and waffles!)

Based upon Secrets From My Tuscan Kitchen by Judy Witts

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Paprika Fried Tomatoes

These tomatoes are the easiest side dish in the universe. They are so simple, in fact, that I am almost hesitant to put them on this blog. However, they are so good and everyone that I serve them to asks for the recipe, so I thought I would share. Originally the recipe is from my sister-in-law's father. He lives in the Czech Republic and makes these tomatoes for breakfast almost daily. I tried them one morning and was immediately hooked. They are fantastic with steak or fish and equally as good with eggs for brunch.

Paprika Fried Tomatoes
1 or 2 pints fresh grape tomatoes
large spoonful sweet paprika
sprinkling of white sugar
large glug olive oil
large pinch salt
freshly ground black pepper

Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add tomatoes, sprinkled with sugar, paprika, salt and pepper. Heat for about 2-3 minutes, tossing a few times, to ensure that tomatoes are equally scorched on all sides.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Grilled Lamb Kofta Kebabs

I first tried Kofta Kebabs while visiting my friend Jen in London, UK. She took us to this amazing little shop that sold hand minced lamb kebabs that were cooked in the restaurant, in-front of the patrons, over a roaring fire of coals and mixed wood. The make-shift campfire filled the restaurant (and half the neighbourhood) with an alluring perfume of smoke and grilled meat. Their plan was successful as the patrons were lined down the block. I immediately fell in love with the tender, full-flavoured, smokey kebabs.

I made homemade flat-breads, they turned out very well, and were very easy to make. Here is the recipe link.

Grilled Lamb Kofta Kebabs

~Makes 8 wraps ~

1 kilo ground or minced lamb (I used a boneless shoulder)
2 hand-fulls shelled pistachio nuts
zest of two lemons
1/4 cup fresh thyme, chopped fine
1 large red Thai bird chili, chopped fine
1 T chili powder
2 T ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients, other than the lamb, in a food processor and grind into a very fine crumb. Pour into a bowl, with minced lamb, and combine well. Skewer onto 4 large metal skewers or 8 smaller metal skewers. Cook on BBQ grill (charcoal is best), until cooked through, and nicely browned on all sides.

Sauce: 1 cup plain yogurt mixed with juice of 1 lemon, 2 cloves crushed garlic and 1/4 cup parsley, chopped fine.
Lettuce: mix of salad leaves, torn, picked whole leaves of parsley and mint, dress with good olive oil, lemon juice, 1 T white wine vinegar and salt and pepper.
Pickled Onion: combine 1 medium sized red onion, very finely sliced into rings, with the juice of one lemon, let rest for 1/2 hour before serving.

Adapted from Jamie Oliver's "Jamie at Home" cookbook, which is one of my favourites.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Spaghetti with Clams (Spaghetti alle Vongole)

This pasta dish (which is also commonly made with Linguine) brings me back to Italy, in an instant. Originally developed in Naples, the dish is common throughout the southern parts of the country, including the Amalfi coast. It's simple, clean flavours and ingredients all work together to show off the sweet clam meat. As such, it is not common to put any Parmesan on the dish as the argument is, that it is too strong a flavour for the delicate seafood. However I say, to each his own, if you want to add cheese, carpe diem!

Spaghetti with Clams
(Spaghetti alle Vongole)
1 pound dry spaghetti
large glug olive oil
2 T butter
large pinch red chili pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 kilo pasta clams (little neck or smaller)
1 pint tomatoes, halved
1 cup white wine
large bunch Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped fine

Cook pasta, in well salted water, according to directions on package.
Meanwhile, in a large pan, heat olive oil and butter until butter is melted. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add chili flakes, clams and wine. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until clam shells just open.
When pasta is quite al dente (it will continue to cook in the sauce), drain pasta, reserving a little of the pasta water aside, and toss pasta into pot with clams. Add tomatoes and half of the parsley and toss well to combine.
Cook pasta until sauce thickens and pasta is cooked according to your liking. If pasta is dry add reserved pasta water.
Serve sprinkled with remaining parsley.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Grilled Vegetable Panzanella

This late spring / early summer salad demands the freshest ingredients. The salad is so simple yet it is bursting with flavours. On a warm night when I don't want to cook in the house, I will grill up some fish or meat and accompany it with this salad. If you toast the bread on the grill outside, you can cook the entire meal without using your oven!

Grilled Vegetable Panzanella

1/4 loaf crusty day old bread, cubed
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 sweet pepper, cut into thirds, seeds removed
3 large leeks, white parts only
1 large bunch asparagus, tough ends removed
1 large bunch basil, chopped
zest and juice of one lemon
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Toss bread with olive oil and toast until dry.
Combine tomatoes and bread in a large bowl.
Cut leeks in half, lengthwise.
Combine leeks, pepper and asparagus and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper.
Grill leeks, pepper and asparagus until vegetables are soft. Remove blackened skin from peppers. Chop all vegetables roughly, and toss with bread, tomatoes and basil.
Combine lemon juice, zest, vinegar and olive oil in a separate bowl. Pour half of dressing over salad and toss to combine. Add more dressing, as needed, until salad is dressed to your liking. Adjust seasonings.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Salmon and Avocado Cold Rolls

This recipe is a great way to use up leftover salmon. I used leftover miso-glazed salmon, which was a fantastic match to the other ingredients in the recipe. You could also use cooked shrimp, crab, lobster or chicken. This recipe is loosely based on Dinah Koo's of Toronto's "Tiger Lily's Noodle House".

Salmon and Avocado Cold Rolls

~ 8 rolls ~

5 oz brown rice vermicelli noodles
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
1 cup cucumber, de-seeded and shredded
bunch mint leaves, chopped fine
bunch basil leaves, chopped fine
bunch chives, chopped fine
6 oz salmon
1 avocado
1 T toasted sesame seeds
16 rice papers, two per roll

1 T dark honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 T hoisin sauce
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 T sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 thumb fresh ginger, minced
juice and zest of two limes
pinch red chili flakes

Prepare vermicelli noodles by soaking in hot water until noodles are soft. Rinse with cold water and drain well. Add to large bowel. Drain excess water from shredded carrots and cucumber and add vegetables to noodles. Add fresh herbs (mint, basil and chives) to noodle mixture.
Prepare sauce by mixing all ingredients in a bowl.
Add half of the sauce to the noodle mixture.
Prepare a water dish by filling a large pie plate or large bowl with very hot water.
Soak 2 rice paper rounds, per roll, in the hot water for 1 minute.
Lay softened papers, one on top of the other, on a clean board.
Place a large mound of noodle mixture onto center of round.
Top with a couple of slices each, of avocado and salmon.
Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.
Fold the bottom of the paper above and over the mixture, tucking in the sides. Roll another quarter turn, re-tuck in the sides and then continue to roll until mixture is completely wrapped. The rice paper will naturally stick to itself, creating a seal.
Tip: soak two more papers while rolling each roll, in order to make the process quicker.
Serve rolls, cut down the middle, with remaining sauce.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Sour Cream Rhubarb Pie

This is one of my all time favourite deserts! In reality though, I love any desert that has to do with rhubarb. Rhubarb pie, raspberry rhubarb crisp, strawberry rhubarb pie, rhubarb custard pie, rhubarb creme brulee, rhubarb coffee cake, rhubarb shortbread squares, rhubarb souffle ... you get the idea! This recipe comes from an Old Order Mennonite cookbook called "More Good Food That Really Schmecks". The cookbook, and the pie, have been favourites in our house for decades!

Sour Cream Rhubarb Pie
1 9" pie crust (recipe follows)
4 or 5 cups cubed fresh rhubarb
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/3 + 1/2 cup flour (separated)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soft butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Arrange rhubarb on bottom of pie crust. Mix sugar, 1/3 cup flour and sour cream; pour mixture evenly over rhubarb. Blend the remaining flour, butter and brown sugar until a crumbly mixture forms; sprinkle the mixture over the rhubarb.
Bake at 450 for 15 minutes, then at 350 for an additional 30 minutes, or until the fruit is tender, the filling is set and the crumbs are golden.

Double Pie Crust
2 cups flour
1 t sugar
1 t salt
1/2 cup Crisco vegetable shortening
1/2 cup Tenderflake lard
1 egg
2 T ice-cold water
1 T white vinegar

Mix flour, sugar and salt.
Cut fats into flour mixture with a pastry blender, until crumbly.
Whisk egg, water and vinegar until well mixed; pour over flour mixture and combine gently with a fork and then with your hands until mixture just comes together and pastry is formed into a ball; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
When ready to use, roll out on well floured surface.
yield: one double pie crust or two 9" bottom pie crusts

Thursday, May 27, 2010


One of my favourite treats when visiting Mexico are Pork Carnitas on warm fresh tortillas. The melt-in-your-mouth morsels of meat are such a treat for the senses.

Traditionally, Carnitas are made by slow cooking pork, orange slices and spices, in a bath of melted lard. The fat ensures rich and flavourful results. I would recommend doing it the traditional way, for a treat. However, this healthier version is becoming very popular, even within Mexico. It is also full of flavour with a little less guilt!

Pork Carnitas
4 lb pork shoulder roast, cut into one inch cubes
zest and juice of one large naval orange
2 T ground cumin
1 T ground coriander seed
2 T sea salt
1 T freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup beef stock

Combine all ingredients in a slow-cooker:

Cook on low setting for 10 hours until meat is very tender and shreds easily. Remove from liquid and serve. If you like the meat to be caramelized on the outside, then place drained meat on a well oiled baking sheet and bake at 500 degrees for 5 minutes to crisp outside of meat. Serve on fresh homemade tortillas with the toppings of your choice.

avocado, sliced thin
tomatillo salsa
jalapeno peppers, diced
queso fresco or feta cheesesour cream
radishes, sliced very thin
cucumber, sliced very thin
fresh cilantro

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Shrimp and Scallop Pasta with Lemon, Rapini and Basil

This is a very common week-day dinner in my house. It is simple and fast yet it's clean flavours are familiar and comforting.  

 Shrimp and Scallop Pasta, with Lemon, Rapini and Basil
good lug of olive oil
large pad of butter
1/2 large Spanish onion, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
large pinch chili-flakes 
1 lb tiger shrimp, cleaned and shelled
1 lb large sea scallops, quartered
1 cup chicken stock 
1/2 cup dry white wine
bunch rapini, chopped
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 pound dry pasta, we used spaghetti
zest and juice of one lemon
250 g fresh goat's milk feta, crumbled
large bunch fresh basil, chopped fine
salt and pepper 

Bring well salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions on box.
Heat olive oil and butter over medium high heat until butter is melted. Add half of the garlic and chili-flakes and cook until fragrant. Dry seafood well with a paper towel and season well with salt and pepper. Place seafood in pan, in an even layer, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. If there is not enough room, fry seafood in separate batches to ensure that you are getting some colour on the seafood, rather than boiling it! 
When when seafood is done (about 1-2 minutes total), remove, cut shrimp in half (width wise) and set aside. Add a bit more olive oil and onion to pan. Saute until onion is golden. Add the remaining garlic and the rapini to pan and saute until the rapini begins to soften.
Add wine and deglaze pan by scraping up all the browned bits. Add stock and cook over medium high heat until the liquid has reduced by half. Add tomatoes at the end of the cooking process. Check for seasonings.
When the pasta is cooked to your liking, drain pasta making sure to reserve at least one cup of the pasta water before you draining.
Toss pasta in sauce, add seafood, lemon juice, lemon zest and adjust seasonings.  If pasta seems dry, add in pasta water until desired consistency is reached.
Serve in a large bowl, sprinkled with feta, fresh basil and a good drizzle of great olive oil.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fiddlehead and Lemon Risotto

Who doesn't adore fiddleheads? When they are in season for their brief Spring moment, I try to eat them as often as possible because I know they are a rare treat to devour quickly, before they disappear, as quickly as they came, from the market tables. This recipe can be replicated using asparagus or any similar green vegetable that you have on hand, but do try to get fiddleheads as there really is no substitution for their bittter, earthy flavours.

Fiddlehead and Lemon Risotto
2 cups fresh fiddleheads, cleaned
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 T olive oil
2 shallots, chopped fine
2 or 3 large handfulls arborio or Carnaroli rice
1 cup dry white wine
1-2 quarts chicken stock
3 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated finely
1 handfull of chives
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 T thyme, chopped fine
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a very large pan, heat 1 T olive oil over high heat. Add garlic, fiddleheads, salt and pepper and saute until soft. Remove fiddleheads from pan. Heat 1 T olive oil and add shallots season with salt and pepper. Saute over medium heat until golden. Add rice and cook until translucent. Add wine and stir until absorbed.
Heat chicken stock to boil. Add by the ladle to the rice mixture, stirring after each addition until liquid is absorbed. Continue until rice is cooked al dente (with a slight bite to it). The mixture should be quite loose as it will stiffen up over time and with the addition of the cheese.
In a small food processor, combine half of the fiddleheads, chives, 1 T olive oil and large splash of chicken stock. Process until a paste forms similar in texture to a pesto.
Add zest, pesto mixture, parmesan and fiddleheads to rice mixture, stir well, adjust for seasonings and serve.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Roasted Bone Marrow

This is one of my favourite treats, it is absolutely full fat and bad for you, but aren't all things in life that are worth having?? This recipe is based on Jennifer McLagan's cookbook/encyclopedia "Bones". It is supremely easy and equally delicious.

Roasted Marrow Bones
Marrow bones (1 or 2 per person)
Ice Water
Sea Salt
Fresh Thyme
Toast points

Prepare the bones 12-24 hours in advance by soaking them in ice-water and 2 T salt, to remove any blood. Change the salt water every 4-6 hours. When blood has been extracted from bones, dry them well.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
On a well oiled baking sheet place bones, vertically on sheet.
Roast for 15-25 minutes, until center marrow is puffed and a little marrow has started to leak from the bones.
Remove bones from oven and sprinkle with sea salt and fresh thyme.
Serve 1-2 bones per person. To enjoy: scoop out the delectable marrow and serve warm on toast sprinkled with more salt.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Gorgonzola, Fontina and Truffle Macaroni & Cheese

Whilst wandering through St. Lawrence market, Sarah K and I came across one of our favourite cheese shops and after tasting some of the most beautiful Italian cheeses that either of us had found outside of Italy, it was decided that we would make a "grown-up" version of mac & cheese.

Gourmet comfort food has been a food trend that has been on the rise for quite a while now. I am all for it! I love the combination of soul satisfying familiar foods, heightened to food-for-the-gods by using the world's most beautiful ingredients.

Gorgonzola, Fontina and Truffle Macaroni & Cheese
1 lb fresh pasta (your choice, we used Gemelli)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bunch fresh thyme, chopped roughly
2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 T Dijon mustard
1 t fresh nutmeg
3 T truffle paste (we used black truffle paste)
350 g Fontina Val d'Aosta cheese, shredded
300 g gorgonzola cheese
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs, toasted in olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Melt butter in saucepan over medium high head. Add flour and stir until combined. Continue to stir over heat until roux is slightly browned.
Whisk in wine to combine. Whisk in thyme, milk and cream and continue whisking until mixture is very smooth. Cook over medium heat until mixture almost comes to a boil. Sauce should thicken as it cooks.
Remove from heat and whisk in nutmeg, Dijon, truffle paste and fontina cheese. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Meanwhile, cook pasta for 2 minutes in salted boiling water. It should still have a bite to it. Drain well.
Combine pasta with sauce.
Crumble gorgonzola cheese into the mixture and stir to combine.
Pour mixture into well buttered baking dish and top with bread crumbs. Drizzle with olive oil.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until top is browned and pasta is bubbly.

Serve with a well-chilled Chablis!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rhubarb Souffle

As promised, here is the recipe for Rhubarb Souffle, from my Toronto weekend with Sarah K. I had bright pink spring rhubarb growing in my garden so I brought some with me to the city. We had a brainstorm session to determine what wonderful concoctions we could make for desert. I give Sarah full credit for the souffle idea. It turned out beautifully!

Rhubarb Souffle
~ serves 4 ~
3 egg whites
3 yolks
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar divided
2/3 cup rhubarb compote (recipe follows)
3 T butter, melted
3 T heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375.
Butter ramekins and sprinkle sides and bottom with sugar. Place 1 T of rhubarb compote in bottom of each ramekin.
Beat egg whites to stiff peaks, adding 3 T of sugar towards end
Combine yolks, vanilla, flour, 1/4 cup sugar, remaining rhubarb, butter and cream.
Fold egg yolk mixture carefully into egg white mixture.
Pour evenly into ramekins.
Bake in a water bath for 15 minutes.

Rhubarb Compote:
8 cups rhubarb
zest and juice of one orange
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup sugar

Combine all ingredients over medium heat in large saucepan.
Stir until rhubarb is very soft.
Puree in blender or food processor until smooth.

Friday, May 14, 2010

St. Lawrence Market - Toronto

On a recent weekend visit with my friend Sarah we let loose in one of my favourite places, the St. Lawrence Market. We had no plans, just visions of beautiful fresh spring produce. As Sarah was one of my partner's in crime when I lived in Italy for the summer semester in 2006, I had a feeling the meal that night would be have an Italian slant. We wandered around the market for a couple of hours, tasting cheese, adoring fresh meat, seafood and produce. We found marrow bones and decided to roast them as a fatty start to our dinner. We made a grown-up mac & cheese for our main and a rhubarb souffle for desert. I will include the recipes for all of these in later posts.

Although I realize St. Lawrence market is likely not as popular of an attraction for the average Toronto visitor as say, the Sky Dome (I know, to me it will always be the Sky Dome!), the CN Tower, the Distillery District or the Theatre, however, when I return to the city there is no place I would rather wander on a Saturday morning. St. Lawrence is over 120 years old, the oldest market in Canada. If you can't find it at the market, it is likely you won't be able to find it anywhere.