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.