Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Food Inc. at the Goderich theatre ...

I am very excited, as I just discovered that the Academy Award nominated documentary "Food Inc." is going to be shown at the Park Theatre in Goderich (on the square), on April 15, 2010 at 7:30 PM.

Here is a link with more info on the event:
Sustain Ontario Event Food Inc. Goderich

and a link to the film's website:
Official Food, Inc. Movie Site - Hungry For Change?

Join me there, if you're going to be in the neighbourhood!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tarragon Lobster Pappardelle with Fior de Latte

On cold spring days, like today, I like to treat myself to something rich yet comforting. Usually pasta. I have made this recipe using homemade pasta, when I've had either the time, or the company! However, it's (almost) as good when I use fresh pasta sheets, cut into pappardelle strands.

Here is the recipe:

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 lobster tails
1/4 pound fior de latte (fresh mozzarella), diced
1 pound fresh lasagna sheets cut into pappardelle strands (or homemade fresh pappardelle)
1 20 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
1 glass dry white wine
1/4 cup shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pinch chili flakes
1/4 cup tarragon, chopped fine
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. remove lobster meat from tail shells, chop coarsely, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
2. add olive oil to pan over med-high heat and saute shallots, chili flakes and garlic until soft.
3. add chili flakes and saute for one minute longer.
4. add white wine and deglaze pan. cook until reduced by half.
5. add tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook until flavours meld to your liking.
7. add lobster and cook until lobster is pink (about 2 minutes)
8. add tarragon to sauce and stir to combine.
9. meanwhile, repare pasta in salted water, according to package directions.
10. when pasta is cooked, add pasta to sauce, add fior de latte and toss to combine.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Irish-ish Stew and Soda Bread

Happy St. Paddy's Day!! I am half Irish, my mother being a descendant of the Donahoe/Griffin clans. I grew up on my grandfather's lap, being lulled to sleep by the sound of Irish folk songs and lullabies. I have a special place in my heart for this holiday, for that reason. Every St. Patrick's day, since being on my own, I have cooked this recipe. At times I put beef in the stew, but usually I use lamb.

This is a tribute to all of you Irish-Americans (and Canadians!) who kept the traditions alive in the new country, to the best of their ability. This stew and soda bread recipe is more likely a melding of the American and Irish traditions. It's warm, flavourful and celebratory, if not truly authentic!


2T olive oil (divided)
2 lbs stewing Lamb (or beef) cut into 1 inch cubes
3T flour
3 cups mushrooms, quartered
4 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
8 white or red new potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups carrots, chopped
2 cups parsnips, chopped
2T caraway seeds
1 t fresh thyme
1 t nutmeg, freshly grated
1 large can Guinness beer
6-8 cups beef broth
fresh salt and pepper
1/2 cup parsley

  1. Dredge lamb with seasoned flour

  2. Using a large dutch oven, heat 1 T of oil on medium-high heat and fry lamb in batches making sure to brown it well on all sides.

  3. Remove lamb to plate, set aside

  4. Add onions, mushrooms and garlic and fry until soft. Add caraway seeds, nutmeg and salt and pepper.

  5. Add lamb back into pot, add beer and scrape all crispy bits off the bottom.

  6. Add stalk and bring to boil

  7. Turn heat to low cover and simmer until meat is tender about 1.5 hours

  8. Add remaining vegetables and continue to simmer for 35 min until soft

  9. When meat has tenderized and stew is of the desired thickness, stir in parsley.

  10. Serve with soda bread.

Irish Soda Bread

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, plus more for brushing
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350° and butter a large baking sheet.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, caraway seeds, baking soda, salt and baking powder.
In a separate bowl, whisk buttermilk and eggs.
Cut 2 tablespoons of butter into the dry ingredients, until mixture resembles coarse sand.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, to form a dough.
Turn dough out onto floured surface and lightly kneed into a 9 inch round. Place on prepared baking sheet. Brush loaf with buttermilk and using a sharp knife, score an "X" onto the top of the loaf.
Bake until skewer inserted in centre comes out clean (35-35 minutes).
Cool on wire rack for a few minutes before serving.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pho obsession ...

Those of you who know me, know I have a great love for many types of Asian food: Thai, Japanese, Sichuan, Cantonese, Shandong, Malaysian, Laotian and Vietnamese (so far!). However, I have recently returned to my rural roots, and as such, it has been very difficult for me to find decent Asian ingredients (forget about restaurants!). On a recent trip to Toronto, I gathered some of the ingredients to make homemade pho.

The thing about pho is that it is so simple: noodles, beef, broth and a few garnishes (or not). Regardless, it feels like a warm hug from the inside. Fragrant full bodied broth, lovingly ladled over chewy rice noodles and tender threads of shredded beef. There is simply no dish like it!

I researched a number of websites and blogs, in order to find a fairly authentic version of pho. I would credit most of my attempt to the following sites and cookbooks: “” “” and “” and Into the Vietnamese Kitchen by Andrea Nguyen.

Here is the recipe I used:
2 onions, quartered
large nub of ginger, halved lengthwise and widthwise
5-6 lbs of beef soup bones, leg, knuckle or oxtail
1 lb of beef meat – chuck or brisket
6 quarts of water
1 cinnamon stick - cracked
1 T coriander seeds
1 T fennel seeds
5 star anise
1 black cardamom pod - opened
8 whole cloves
2 T salt
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 inch chunk of yellow rock sugar
2 lbs rice noodles (dried or fresh)
1/2 lb flank, sirloin or fillet, sliced paper thin
fresh mint (large bunch)
Thai basil (large bunch)
2 limes, cut into 6 wedges
2-3 Thai bird chili, sliced (remove seeds and membrane if you want it milder)
Hoisin sauce
Sriracha chili sauce


Toast your spices: Add all spices to dry pan until fragrant. Place toasted spices in cheesecloth and tie all corners tightly to create a bouquet garni (spice bundle).

Char your aromatics: Turn on the broiler of your oven, and place the top rack about 5 inches from the broiler. Place ginger and onions on a large backing sheet and brush with oil on both sides. Broil until ginger and onions begin to char. Flip and continue to char other side. Process should take 10-15 minutes.

Parboil the bones: Fill a stockpot with cold water. Add your bones to the pot and bring to a boil. Boil your bones on high heat for approximately 10 minutes. Drain and rinse your bones. Rinse out your stockpot.

Refill your stockpot the parboiled bones along with about 6 quarts (24 cups) of cold water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Simmer bones for 2 hours. Periodically, skim any scum, fat or other particles from the broth using a fine mesh strainer.

After the bones have boiled for two hours, add the ginger, onion, bouquet garni, chuck, rock sugar, fish sauce and salt to your pot. Continue to simmer the broth, over medium low heat for 6 hours.

Remove the chuck meat and shred, set aside.

Strain broth over a large bowl, saddled with a colander, lined with cheesecloth. Let the broth drain for at least ten minutes, to allow for all of the goodness to drain into the bowl. Return the broth to the pot. Taste your broth and adjust the seasonings (you might wish to add more fish sauce, salt or rock sugar).
Prepare bowls: Slice your flank steak as thin as possible (if you freeze the steak for 15 minutes prior to slicing it will make it easier to get thin slices).
Prepare your noodles according to the directions on the package.

Place a large handful of noodles in the bottom of each bowl. Place a small handful of the shredded cooked beef over the noodles. Place a few slices of the raw steak slices atop of the noodles and cooked beef.

To Serve: Place your strained broth into the stockpot and bring to a rolling boil. Ladle broth over the steak, the boiling broth will cook the raw steak slices. Place plates with garnishes (herbs, limes, chili and sauces) on the table so that your fellow indulgers may garnish their own bowls.