Friday, August 30, 2013

Asian-Style Flank Steak

Flank steak is a lean, flavourful, boneless, low-fat cut of meat popular in Asian cuisine. One of the less expensive cuts of beef, flank steak benefits from the tenderizing effects of a marinade, and is wonderfully tender and juicy when cooked and sliced properly. Also known as London broil, flank steak lies on the belly close to the hind legs of the cow, on the well-exercised flank of the animal, so it's inherently sinewy and tough. Unlike the more fatty skirt steak, the flank is super lean on its own without too much trimming, but needs a little work to make it tender. Like skirt steak, flank steak takes to marinades like a duck to water, but also lends itself to simple grilling. The secret is to grill the marinated flank steak medium to medium-rare and slice it super thin. Voila!

A wonderfully fragrant marinade of soy, rice wine vinegar, honey, garlic, 
ginger, sesame oil and red pepper flakes

The flank steak is submerged in the marinade then poured into a large resealable 
plastic bag, and chilled for 3-6 hours. allowing all the flavours to marry

Plump green onions fresh from our garden were used as a garnish for the final presentation

Asian-Style Flank Steak
Serves 4

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp water
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp minced ginger
2 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 lb flat iron steak

sesame seeds
sliced green onions
lemon wedges

Whisk all of the marinade ingredients together in a bowl then pour into a large resealable plastic bag along with the steak, and refrigerate for 3 to 6 hours. Before grilling the steak, remove the meat from the marinade and pour the remaining liquid into a saucepan and set aside. The marinade will need to be brought to a boil, then simmered for 5-10 minutes before being drizzled over the steak prior to serving.

Preheat the grill to high heat and cook the steak for 4-5 minutes on each side for medium rare, depending on the size of the steaks: medium-rare is 125°F and the steak will have a pink centre; medium should read 130°F. Allow the steaks to rest for 5 minutes before carving the steak in thin, angled slices cut across the grain. To serve, arrange the slices on a serving platter, drizzle with the remaining marinade and garnish with sesame seeds, sliced green onions and slices of fresh lemon.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Guyanaese Beef Short Rib Curry

Inspired by some fabulous curried beef short ribs that we had at the Keating Channel Pub & Grill earlier this summer, I have been looking forward to try and reproduce this dish, so exquisitely prepared by Chef Balan Balavijith. I started my investigation by exploring Guyanese curry recipes, and came across a number which featured either goat or chicken, but no short ribs. Not one to give up easily, I simply adapted those recipes and used beef short ribs instead. And I'm so glad I did because the Beef Short Rib Curry was absolutely delicious. The short ribs were enormously tender, and the sauce was delicately flavoured, velvety smooth and richly aromatic. Serving the dish with warm naan, rotis or rice ensures that it can be enjoyed to the very last drop.

2 lbs of short ribs

The short ribs are first seasoned in a marinade of puréed onion, garlic, thyme, 
chili pepper and water

The purée is then poured into a bowl large enough to hold the short ribs

The short ribs, which are cut into 3-inch pieces, are tossed with the seasoning 
and allowed to marinate for half an hour

Meanwhile, a curry masala is prepared with garam masala, cumin, turmeric, allspice 
and curry powder blended with a little water to make a thick paste

The paste is then added to a large saucepan and sautéed with a little oil and cooked 
for a few minutes until the mixture becomes wonderfully fragrant

The seasoned meat is added to the paste and tossed so the beef ribs are well coated

Water is then added and brought to a boil, 
then the pot is covered and the curry is allowed to simmer for 2 1/2 hours

Naan is a great addition to any curried dish, and this store-bought brand is particularly good 

Brushed with a little oil or ghee and sprinkled with sesame seeds, 
the Naan is then baked at 400°F for 5 minutes until it's golden brown

Guyanaese Beef Short Rib Curry 
Serves 4-6

1 medium onion, chopped
1 head of garlic cloves, peeled
leaves of a few sprigs of fresh thyme
desired amount of sambal oeelk chili sauce
1/4 cup water

4 lbs beef short ribs
2 tbsp seasoning (for short ribs)
4 tbsp seasoning (for curry-masala paste)
4 tbsp garam masala
3 tbsp curry powder (I like Bolst's)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp turmeric
1/3 cup boiling water 
6 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
2 tsp salt, or to taste
3 cups boiling water
1 tbsp tomato paste

In a blender, combine the onion, garlic, thyme leaves, pepper, and 1/4 cup water and process until smooth and thick, almost like a smoothie. Cut the beef short ribs into 3-inch pieces and pat dry with paper towel then set aside in a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the seasoning to the short ribs and massage it into the meat. Let rest for 1/2 hour.

In a small bowl, mix the remaining seasoning, garam masala, curry powder, cumin, allspice, turmeric, tomato paste and 1/3 cup water into a thick paste. Heat a medium sized pot with the vegetable oil over medium-high and when the oil starts to shimmer, add the paste and fry for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly until the mixture looks darker and not watery. Add the beef short ribs and stir to coat with the paste. Cook the meat for a minute or so in the fragrant mixture. Season with salt, to taste.

Add 3 cups of water, or enough to cover the meat, and bring to a boil; then lower the heat to simmer, cover and cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is tender. Towards the end, defat the broth if necessary by skimming the surface with a broad spoon. For a thicker gravy, remove the short ribs from the pot, set aside and keep warm, and set the sauce over medium-high and cook until it has reduced and thickened to your taste. Serve with rice or some warm naan.

The original Keating Channel Curried Beef Short Ribs, 
which I was inspired to try and recreate, because they were so delicious

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cold Noodles with Spicy Red Curry & Peanut Sauce

A simple dish with complex flavours, this Thai-inspired Cold Noodles with Spicy Red Curry & Peanut Sauce is the perfect thing for a hot summer evening. Cold noodles are unique to Asian cooking, and the mouth watering combination of peanut butter, red curry paste, rice vinegar, lime juice, cilantro and chopped scallions come together to create a thick and velvety spicy sauce. Topped with sesame seeds and chopped cilantro, these noodles are a flexible dish that can be eaten either warm or cold, and can also be adapted to your favourite noodle, from Japanese buckwheat soba noodles, Thai rice noodles or Chinese egg noodles to even fettuccine, linguine or spaghettini. The sauce is so delicious, it could even be used as a marinade or dipping sauce for grilled chicken, pork, fish or seafood.

A thick and velvety sauce made with peanut butter, red curry paste, rice vinegar, 
lime juice, scallions and chopped cilantro

Cold Peanut Sesame Noodles with Spicy Red Curry Sauce
Serves 4-6

12 oz fettuccine, Chinese egg noodles, or rice or soba noodles
2/3 cup peanut butter
1 tbsp red curry paste
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 lime, juiced 
1/3 cup of fresh cilantro, plus more for sprinkling
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup water
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp sesame seeds, for garnish

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the noodles until al dente. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water until chilled. Shake out the excess water and blot dry. Meanwhile, purée the peanut butter, curry paste, vinegar, lime juice, cilantro, salt and red pepper flakes and water in a food processor or blender until smooth. In a large bowl, toss the noodles with the peanut sauce and sliced green onions and mix well, until the noodles are well coated. Season to taste with salt and stir in some of the reserved cooking liquid from the pasta to loosen the sauce, if necessary. Serve the noodles in a decorative bowl or platter, and garnish with sesame seeds and more cilantro.

MAKE AHEAD: The peanut-sesame sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Chilled Sesame Spinach

Inspired by a delicious Chilled Sesame Spinach that I used to enjoy at Izakaya on Front Street, before it closed five years ago, this was one of the popular dishes that kept regulars coming back time after time. A quick and easy recipe that brings together the tangy flavours of soy sauce and rice vinegar along with nutty sesame seeds and vibrant steamed spinach, this chilled dish is highly nutritious, low-fat and extremely rich in antioxidant. At only 150 calories per serving, this elegant chilled salad makes a healthy, tasty and refreshing addition to any Asian-inspired summer menu.

Chilled Sesame Spinach
Serves 4

Coarse salt
2 lb spinach stems trimmed, washed
1 1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp mirin rice wine
3 tbsp sesame seeds

Prepare an ice-water bath and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with salt. Add the spinach and cook just until wilted, about 30 seconds. Drain immediately in a colander and then plunge into the prepared ice bath. Let the spinach cool completely, about 30 seconds and drain again. Using your hands, squeeze the excess water out of the spinach, and transfer to a work surface. Coarsely chop the spinach, and place in a medium bowl then set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar and mirin. Add the dressing and sesame seeds to the spinach and mix to combine. The spinach may be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Raspberry, Plum & Blueberry Streusel Tart

This gorgeous Raspberry, Plum & Blueberry Streusel Tart is a cross between a tart and a clafoutis, and is absolutely delicious. The sweet butter crust is made with ground almonds, flour, white and brown sugar, cinnamon, a little salt and 3/4 cups of butter, which are all blended together in a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. The resulting crumble is pressed into the base and up the sides of a greased springform pan, then baked for about 20-25 minutes. 

Ground almonds are added to the flour, sugars, cinnamon and salt in a standing mixer 
and blended until combined

Chilled cubes of butter are then added and processed until the mixture becomes crumbly

The mixture is pressed into the base and sides of a greased spingform pan 
and baked for 2-25 minutes until set 

Once the crust has cooled, chopped pitted plums, raspberries and blueberries are scattered along the bottom, although any combination of stone fruit and berries such as blackberries, strawberries, nectarines, cherries or peaches would be great too! 

Chopped plums, raspberries and blueberries are scattered onto the cooled crust

A simple custard of eggs, cream, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg is then whisked together in a mixer and poured over the fruit. The remaining streusel crumble is sprinkled over the fruit and the whole tart is then baked at 350°F for 45-50 minutes, until the custard is set and the crust is golden brown.

A simple custard is prepared by whisking together flour, sugar, cream, cinnamon, 
nutmeg, salt and 2 whole eggs and an egg yolk

The custard is poured over the fruit...

...and the l leftover crumble is sprinkled overtop and the tart is baked for 45-50 minutes

Courageously, I made this dessert for the first time for good friends this past weekend and was thrilled with how impressive and professional the tart looked and tasted when it came out from the oven. The crisp buttery almond crust was extraordinary, crunchy like a cookie or sweet shortbread, which complimented the tart fruit and creamy clafoutis-style custard beautifully. A fabulous dessert, this Raspberry, Plum & Blueberry Streusel Tart is a sure-fire winner — guaranteed to earn you a standing ovation each time it's served.

Raspberry, Plum & Blueberry Tart with Streusel Topping
Serves 6-8

3/4 cup unsalted butter - 1 1/2 sticks - chilled and cut into small pieces
1/3 cup blanched almonds
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided plus 1 tbsp
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
4 medium ripe but firm plums
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blueberries
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 large egg yolk
2/3 cup light cream
1 tsp grated nutmeg

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with room temperature butter or olivina and set aside. Place the ground almonds in a food processor and pulse until medium fine.

Transfer the nuts to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup light brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; mix until just combined. Add butter, and mix on low speed until the crumble begins to stick together, about 2 to 3 minutes. Press 3 to 3 1/2 cups of the crumble into the bottom of the prepared pan and to about 1 1/2 inches up the sides of the pan to form the crust. Set the remaining crumb mixture aside.

Transfer the crust to the oven and bake until it appears to be set, about 20 to 25 minutes, then set aside. Watch to ensure the crust doesn't burn.

Slice the plums in half, remove pits and slice into eighths. Scatter the raspberries, blueberries and sliced plums onto the cooled crust and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup flour + 1 tablespoon flour, plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Whisk in the 2 eggs, egg yolk, cream, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon salt and nutmeg, and mix until blended. Pour the custard over the fruit and sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture. Transfer the tart to the oven and bake until the custard has set and is slightly golden, 45 to 50 minutes. Let rest at least 25 minutes before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature with a bowl of whipped cream, Greek yogurt or vanilla ice cream to be completely decadent. Yum-yum.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Pommes Anna: A Classic French Dish

Pommes Anna is a grand name for what is essentially a dish of sliced potatoes baked in a very large amount of melted butter. Four ingredients are all that is required — potatoes, butter, salt and pepper. This very simple classic French recipe is all in the preparation and presentation, and the use of very, very thinly sliced potatoes. And since the dish is inverted, it's important that the first layer of potatoes be attractively arranged.

A simple, elegant, decadent and outrageously delicious side dish, Pommes Anna was created in 19th-century Paris when Adolphe Dugléré, chef of the Café Anglais, created it for his favorite customer, the celebrated courtesan Anna Deslions. The legendary allure of Pommes Anna is a buttery, soft potato cake on the inside, and a crisp, golden buttery crust on the exterior. I find that two simple tricks help achieve the perfect Pommes Anna — a nonstick ovenproof skillet ensures easy release every time, and a mandoline saves an a lot of time. This classic French dish is sinfully delicious, quite addictive, and never fails to impress as the buttery golden potato cake literally melts in your mouth. Magnifique!

Pommes Anna
Serves 8

6 medium russet potatoes, peeled - about 2 3/4 lb
6 tbsp butter, melted (I use ghee, which is a clarified butter)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
fresh thyme 

Preheat oven to 450°F. Using a sharp knife or mandoline, slice potatoes as thinly as possible. Don't place the sliced potatoes in water, as the starch is needed to bind the layers. 

Brush the bottom of an 8-inch cast-iron, or non-stick oven-proof skillet, with 1 1/2 tablespoons of melted butter. Starting in the centre of the pan, arrange the potato slices in a circular pattern, overlapping the edges and leaving no spaces. Evenly brush with another 1 1/2 tablespoons of melted butter and season well with salt, pepper and fresh thyme if you wish. Repeat the layering process until all the potato slices have been used, then drizzle the remaining butter overtop. Be sure to press down firmly after each layer to pack the layers together.

Place the skillet over medium-high heat until the edges of the potatoes begin to brown, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to the oven, cover and bake for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake an additional 35-45 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender, and the top is crispy and golden brown. Remove from the oven, pour off any excess butter, and let stand for 5 minutes. Using a small spatula, separate the potato edges from sides of pan. Then shake the pan and slide a spatula along the bottom to loosen the potatoes. Carefully invert the Pommes Anna onto a warm flat serving platter, garnish with fresh thyme or chopped parsley, and using a sharp knife, serve sliced into wedges. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Chilled Cucumber & Buttermilk Soup

Light, cool and refreshing, this Chilled Cucumber & Buttermilk Soup gets its lovely creaminess from Greek yogurt and big, summery flavours from lots of fresh dill and green onions. Delicious and easy to prepare, this sensational recipe requires no cooking at all, so it's the perfect summertime soup to keep you cool on a hot summer's day. 

Chilled Cucumber & Buttermilk Soup
Serves 4

2 English or common cucumbers,
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt or crème fraîche, plus more for garnish
1 1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp fresh dill
1 lemon, juiced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
4 sprigs of parsley or fresh dill for garnish

Cut the cucumbers in half, scrape out the seeds then chop them into a large dice. Place the cucumbers, garlic and green onions in a blender or food processor. Pulse until the mixture is just combined but still slightly chunky, then transfer to a large bowl and whisk in the remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover the bowl and chill at least 3 hours, stirring occasionally. To serve, ladle the soup into chilled bowls and garnish with chopped dill or sprig of parsley and a small dollop of yogurt or crème fraîche.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Quinoa with Ginger, Cucumber & Dried Cranberries

High in protein, low in fat and full of vitamins and minerals, Quinoa is easy to cook and tastes great, especially when combined with a colourful and crunchy selection of diced cucumber, dried cranberries, slivered almonds, fresh mint and some surprising Japanese-inspired flavours: pickled ginger and Wafu Light Sesame Vinaigrette. A smooth and creamy sesame dressing, Wafu Light has 43% less fat than Wafu's Original Sesame dressing, at just 40 calories per tablespoon, contains no colours or artificial flavours, is cholesterol-free, is low in sodium and is also peanut-free. More importantly — it's delicious!

Wafu Light Sesame Viniagrette and Pickled Ginger

Enhanced with bright notes of tangy neon-pink sweet pickled ginger, which is usually served with sushi, and a generous glug of pickled ginger juice, the flavour of this Royal Quinoa pilaf becomes sweet, fragrant and deliciously refreshing — not to mention, it's healthy too! 

Royal Quinoa with Pickled Ginger, Cucumber & Dried Cranberries
Serves 6

1 cup red and white quinoa
1/2 english cucumber, finely diced
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup pickled ginger, diced
1/8 cup pickled ginger juice
1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
1/2 cup Wafu Sesame Japanese vinaigrette

Add the quinoa and 2 1/2 cups of water to a pot. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. The water will evaporate, much like rice. Let the quinoa cool for 10-15 minutes before scooping into a large bowl. Add the pickled ginger and juice and toss well. Then add the cucumber, almonds, dried cranberries and fresh mint, stirring until well combined. Finally, mix in the Wafu sesame vinaigrette and toss until combined. Adjust seasoning to taste and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Miso Ginger Grilled Salmon with Gai Lan & Mushrooms

Salmon is a chameleon: it's character changes so much depending on the style of marinade being used. Inspired by a fabulous Miso and Ginger Marinade that's perfect with Black Cod, I decided to try the fragrant Asian-style marinade with some fresh pink filets of Atlantic salmon that we grilled outdoors along with foil-wrapped pouches of enoki and oyster mushrooms and bright green Gai Lan, also known as Chinese broccoli, stir-fried with ginger and garlic. Marinated in an aromatic combination of miso paste, mirin, rice vinegar, soy sauce, chopped green onions, minced ginger and sesame oil, the salmon is covered and chilled for at least 30 minutes before grilling on the barbecue.

Six cloves of smashed garlic added to a tablespoon of vegetable oil 
and cooked until just golden 

Delicious served with bright glossy green stalks of Gai Lan stir-fried with six cloves of smashed garlic, fresh ginger and a tablespoon of vegetable oil, the Gai Lan is finished with a sweet and savoury mixture of oyster sauce and sesame oil, then garnished with a flurry of sesame seeds.

Gai Lan (Chinese Broccoli) and 2 slices of ginger are added and stir fried 
until the stems are al dente

Some oyster sauce and sesame oil are added to the cooking liquid and poured 
over the Gai Lan, just before serving and garnished with sesame seeds

Another lovely side dish which is gorgeous with grilled fish, is foil-wrapped pouches of mixed enoki, oyster and shiitake mushrooms, steamed with butter and sake. Inspired by a dish made at Nami, one of my favourite Japanese restaurants in Toronto, Peter, who oversees the robata grill, expertly prepares these mixed mushrooms to the delight of his many satisfied customers. An easy, delicious and healthy meal, each of the dishes can be prepared in less than half an hour, and enjoyed with chopsticks and a glass of cold sake on ice.

Grilled Miso & Ginger Marinated Salmon
Serves 4

1/4 cup red or white miso paste
1/4 cup mirin rice wine
2 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp minced green onions
2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
4 salmon fillets, about 8-ounces each
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Whisk together the miso, mirin, vinegar, soy sauce, green onions, ginger, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Place the salmon in a baking dish, pour the marinade overtop and and turn to coat. Cover and marinate for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Heat grill to high. Remove the fish from the marinade and season with salt and pepper. Grill the salmon, skin side down, with the cover closed, until golden brown and a crust has formed, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the salmon over and continue grilling for 3 to 4 minutes for medium doneness. 

Gai Lan with Garlic & Ginger
Serves 4

1 lb Gai Lan (chinese broccoli)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
1/2 cup water 
1 tbsp rice wine
1/4 tsp white sugar
2 slices of fresh ginger, smashed lightly with knife handle
3 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp black and white sesame seeds, for garnish

Mix water, wine and sugar in a bowl and set aside. Wash the Gai Lan, and trim 1-inch off the stems and discard. Then cut the Gai Lan into 2-inch pieces.

Heat oil in wok or large saucepan until the oil is hot and starts to shimmer. Add the smashed garlic and toss until golden brown, being careful that it doesn't burn. Once the garlic has become golden brown, add the ginger and toss for 30 seconds. Add the Gai Lan to the pot, tossing the stems in first and then the leaves. Ensure the Gai Lan is coated evenly with infused oil.

Add wine-water-sugar mixture to the pot, toss quickly and cover. Turn the heat down to medium-high and let steam/cook 3-4 minutes.

When the Gai Lan looks cooked through, pick out the ginger and discard. Plate the Gai Lan and garlic on a serving plate. With the remaining stock in the pot, add the oyster sauce and sesame oil and cook until it bubbles. Pour the sauce over the plated Gai Lan and serve.

Steamed Enoki, Oyster & Shiitake Mushrooms with Sake
Serves 4

10 oz enoki mushrooms, trimmed
10 oz oyster mushrooms, trimmed
10 oz shiitake mushrooms, trimmed
1/2 cup Sake rice wine
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 knob butter

Lay a large sheet of foil, about 18-20" long on a flat surface, and crimp up the corners to create a boat-like shape. Pour some oil in the centre and gently brush it over the foil to prevent the mushrooms from sticking. Divide the enoki mushrooms into 2 parcels and place at either end of the 'boat', then scatter the oyster and shiitake mushrooms in the middle. Pour the sake over top with a knob of butter and seal the foil packet, using another sheet of foil for the top if necessary. To steam, place the foil packet on the grill with the salmon and cook at the same time over similar heat. To serve, place the foil packet on a serving platter and enjoy with the Gai Lan and Miso & Ginger Salmon.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Cucumber Cups with Smoked Salmon & Dill Mousse

This delicious Smoked Salmon & Dill Mousse is incredibly easy to make, and can be prepared well ahead of time and simply piped onto some trimmed cucumber rounds. Smoked salmon, cream cheese, sour cream and dill are placed in a food processor and whizzed into a smooth paste. The mousse is then spooned into a piping bag with an #8 startip nozzle, and chilled until ready to be used. Once you're ready, all you do is carefully pipe the mousse onto the cucumber rounds and garnish with a small sprig of dill. It looks great and tastes fabulous, fresh and positively chocked full of smoked salmony goodness.

Cucumber Cups with Smoked Salmon & Dill Mousse 
Makes 30-40 hors d'oeuvres

8 oz. smoked salmon
8 oz creamed cheese
4 oz sour cream
2 tbsp fresh chopped dill
2 english cucumbers
salt and white pepper to taste

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a #8 startip, or even a plastic bag with the corner cropped off, and chill until you're ready to proceed.

Using a vegetable peeler, create long stripes along the length of each cucumber, them slice into 1/2" rounds. Then using a melon baller, scoop out a small bowl in each round and place on a decorative plate. Remove the mousse from the fridge and pipe a small mound into the centre of each cucumber. 

Garnish with a small sprig of dill and serve.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Crab, Jalapeño & Goat Cheese Hushpuppies

Hushpuppies are savoury round dumplings made with cornmeal batter that are deep-fried and traditionally served as a side dish with fried catfish, fried shrimp, seafood or barbecued dishes. Also know as Corn Dodgers, they're especially popular throughout the southern United States. The oldest story is that hushpuppies were created by a group of Ursuline nuns who had come to New Orleans from France around 1727. The nuns converted cornmeal into a delicious food that they named Croquettes de Maise. Other legends attribute the etymology of the term "hushpuppies" to the American Civil War, in which soldiers are claimed to have tossed fried cornbread to quell the barks of Confederate dogs, essentially to hush the puppies so they could eat in peace.

Cornbread was popular during the Civil War because it was very cheap and could be made in many different sizes and forms and could be fashioned into high-rising, fluffy loaves or simply fried for a fast meal. These delicious little Crab, Jalapeño & Goat Cheese Hushpuppies are definitely not low calorie, but every now and then, it's fun to splurge on something so divinely decadent!

Crab, Jalapeño & Goat Cheese Hushpuppies
Makes 24-30

3/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp finely minced white onion
1 tbsp finely minced scallion
1 tbsp finely chopped & seeded jalapeño, from a jar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp melted butter
1 large egg
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup lump crabmeat, finely shredded
vegetable oil for frying

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir until well combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, melted butter, onion and scallions until well mixed. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until most of the flour mixture is moistened and forms a lumpy dough. Then add the crab, goat cheese and jalapeno, and mix together thoroughly, until it resembles a stiff batter. Using a deep pot, preheat oil for frying to about 350°F.

Cook in small batches of 4 or 5 to maintain the oil temperature, and dip the spoon in a glass of water after each hushpuppy is dropped into the oil. Scoop the mixture by rounded tablespoons into the hot oil. After about 10 seconds, the hushpuppies will float to the top and begin to brown. Cook until golden, turning occasionally, about 4 minutes, then using slotted spoon, transfer them to paper towels. They can be held in a 200°F oven until serving time, or can be made up to 2 hours ahead, and simply rewarmed in a 375°F oven for 12 to 14 minutes until they become crisp. Serve hot with a spicy chipotle mayonnaise, and enjoy!

Chipotle Mayonnaise
Makes about 1 cup

1 cup mayonnaise
3 canned chipotles in adobo sauce
1 tbsp adobo sauce
1/2 lime, juiced

Add all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend. Cover and keep refrigerated until ready to use.