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.