Friday, July 29, 2016

Ina's Tarragon Potato Salad: How Easy is That?

A welcome addition to any barbecue, lunch, or picnic, Potato Salad is a classic summer time favourite and considered by many to be one of the ultimate comfort foods. However Ina Garten's sensational Tarragon Potato Salad takes this humble side dish to another level. Fresh dill, tarragon, scallions, red onion, white wine vinegar, fresh squeezed lemon juice and homemade mayonnaise seasoned with fresh ground white pepper provide the creamy catalyst for cool firm Yukon Gold potatoes. Developed in Canada, Yukon Golds are a cross between a North American white potato and a wild South American yellow-fleshed one. Their golden flesh is richly flavoured and fairly firm and moist, with medium starch content. A perfect compromise between dry, fluffy russet potatoes and moist, waxy varieties, Yukon Golds are incredibly versatile and perfect in Potato Salads.

Par-boiled Yukon Gold potatoes

Tarragon Potato Salad

Serves 12
Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten

4 lb medium Yukon Gold potatoes

Maldon salt
2 cups good store-bought or homemade mayonnaise
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup tarragon white wine vinegar
2 tsp freshly ground white pepper
6 tbsp chopped scallions, white and green parts
6 tbsp minced red onion
1/4 cup minced tarragon
1/4 cup minced fresh dill

Place the potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover them. Add 1 tablespoon of salt, bring to a boil and simmer for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes, just until tender when pierced with a small knife or skewer. Drain in a colander. Put a kitchen towel over the colander and allow the potatoes to steam for 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes or leave the skins on if you prefer. Slice into 1/2-inch thick coins and place in a mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, white wine vinegar and two teaspoons of Maldon salt and white pepper. While the potatoes are still warm, pour the dressing over the potatoes and toss well. Add the scallions, red onion, tarragon and dill, and toss gently. Allow the salad to sit for at least 30 minutes for the flavours to develop. Sprinkle with salt and serve at room temperature. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Dry-Rubbed Flank Steak with Grilled Corn Salsa

This sweet and spicy seasoning blend adds layers of fragrant flavour onto grilled flank steak which is crowned with a colourful medley of grilled corn, red onion, cherry tomatoes, fresh cilantro, finely chopped jalapeño and fresh squeezed lime juice, for a sensational summer lunch. Making the most of the local fresh corn and plump red tomatoes so readily available in farmer's markets during the hot humid summer months, this Dry-Rubbed Flank Steak with Grilled Corn Salsa is a light, healthy and delicious savoury salute to carefree al fresco dining.

Dry-Rubbed Flank Steak with Grilled Corn Salsa
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Bon Appétit Magazine

Dry Rub:
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp ancho chile powder
1 tbsp paprika
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 tsp English mustard powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin

Steak And Salsa:
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for grill
3 ears of corn, shucked
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeño, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds flank steak

Create the dry rub by combining the brown sugar, chile powder, paprika, salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic, mustard powder, coriander, and cumin in a small bowl, and set aside.

Prepare a grill for medium-high heat and oil the grate. Grill the corn, turning occasionally, until lightly browned all over, about 8–10 minutes, then let cool. Cut the kernels from cobs and place in a medium bowl. Add the onion, jalapeño, tomatoes, cilantro, and lime juice to the 
corn and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper then set the salsa aside.

Meanwhile, coat the steak with all of dry rub, adding more if needed, and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil to help the rub adhere. Grill the steak, turning occasionally and moving to a cooler spot on grill as needed to control flare-ups, until nicely browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 130°F, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes. 
Return the steak to the grill just to re-crisp exterior, about 1 minute per side. Transfer back to a cutting board and slice against the grain into 1/4-inch thick pieces. Arrange the steak on a decorative platter and top with the salsa.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Roquefort Dressing

Celebrating simple and flavourful ingredients is what summer is all about. Red, purple, yellow or green, our abundant sweet and succulent local tomatoes and popular Heirloom varieties are among the most sought after throughout southern Ontario. There are over a hundred kinds of Heirloom tomatoes growing on vines these days, with names as unique as their looks: Sun Golds, German Stripe, Green Zebras and Black Krims. So named because the seeds have been handed down over generations, Heirloom tomatoes can be classified into four categories: family heirlooms, commercial heirlooms, mystery heirlooms, and created heirlooms. Whichever variety catches your eye, celebrate summer with this sensational fresh-off-the-vine Heirloom and Mixed Tomato Salad recipe in honour of the year's juiciest season. Topped with a rich creamy Roquefort Blue Cheese Dressing and garnished with extra tangy crumbled blue cheese, this recipe is the epitome of summer dining.

Suzanne's Heirloom Tomatoes with Blue Cheese Dressing

Serves 6-8
Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten

3 lb heirloom tomatoes, mixed colours and sizes 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
1/2 pound Roquefort cheese, divided 
1 cup good mayonnaise 
1/3 cup heavy cream 
2 tsp tarragon wine vinegar 
2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, optional

Core the tomatoes and cut the larger ones into thick slices; halve or quarter the small ones. Arrange artfully on a platter and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. For the dressing, place half the Roquefort cheese, the mayonnaise, heavy cream, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until combined but still chunky. Drizzle the dressing over the tomatoes and crumble the remaining blue cheese overtop. Sprinkle with parsley if using, and serve at room temperature. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Suzanne's Grilled Potato Salad with Arugula & Chèvre

One of the wonderful treats of being invited to spend a weekend up north with good friends is the great company, gorgeous lakefront surroundings and the outstanding meals that everyone contributes to make the time together a joyous as well as culinary event. This tangy full-flavoured Grilled Potato Salad with Arugula, Goat Cheese and Lemon Mustard Tarragon Vinaigrette was yet another fabulous dish made by my friend Suzanne, who always seems to surprise us with healthy and delicious recipes, that we all want to copy once we get home. 

Suzanne's Grilled Potato Salad with Arugula, Goat Cheese & Lemon Mustard Tarragon Vinaigrette
Serves 4-6
Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay

Potato Salad:
2 lb baby red potatoes
Canola oil, for tossing
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 oz baby arugula
4 oz soft goat cheese, pulled into small pieces

Lemon-Mustard-Tarragon Vinaigrette:
Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
1 tsp clover honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil or canola oil

In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon zest and juice, mustard, tarragon, honey, and a little salt and pepper for the vinaigrette. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified, then cover and set aside until needed.

Put the potatoes in a pot of generously salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until the potatoes are just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and cool slightly, then cut the potatoes into quarters. Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high. Toss the potatoes with a little canola oil and season with salt and pepper. Put the potatoes in a grill basket and grill, covered, tossing and turning occasionally, until lightly charred in spots, about 5 minutes. 

Transfer the potatoes to a decorative bowl or platter and immediately add half of the vinaigrette. Place the arugula on top and scatter the goat cheese over top. Season with salt and pepper, then gently fold the mixture once or twice to combine, adding additional vinaigrette if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Summer Pudding: The Ultimate Summer Dessert

One of the quintessential English desserts, Summer Pudding is a triumphal end to many summer lunches and dinners that I've hosted over the years. Packed with fresh summer strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, the fruit is simply simmered with brown sugar and framboise, until the fruit softens and releases its juice, then is poured into a bread lined bowl and chilled overnight. The pectin in the berries react with the sugar in the bread, and as the pudding chills, it firms up into a fabulous crimson coloured berry laden pudding. Served with a dollop of creme fraiche, 'Summer Pud' is my absolute favourite dessert to make during the hit days of summer, and when berries are at their best.

Summer Pudding
Serves 10

1 lb strawberries
1 lb raspberries
1 lb blueberries
1 lb blackberries
1 package frozen mixed berries
1 cup light brown sugar
1 loaf white bread
1/2 cup framboise
2 cups crème fraîche and fresh mint, for garnish

Remove the crusts from the bread. Wash and trim all the fresh berries, and add them to a large saucepan with the frozen berries, framboise, brown sugar and 1/2 cup of water, and cook over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and the berries have released their juices, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool slightly, then remove 1 cup of the juice and set aside.

Lightly grease a medium sized bowl with some vegetable oil, then line the bowl with the slices of bread, covering the bottom and the sides. Using a large spoon, ladle the berry mixture into the bread lined bowl, then top with the remaining slices of bread. Lay a flat plate on top with a heavy weight to squash the fruit down, and chill 12-24 hours.

When ready to serve, place a large serving plate on top of the bowl and gently invert. Shake gently to release the pudding onto the plate and spoon the reserved juice over the top, garnishing with some sprigs of fresh mint. Serve with a big spoon and a bowl of thick crème fraîche on the table. Heaven!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Grilled Coriander & Fennel Seed Crusted Salmon

An aromatic mixture of toasted coriander and fennel seeds become the fragrant foundation for a wonderfully flavourful dry rub for salmon. Coarsely ground with white peppercorns and seasoned with a little kosher salt, the mixture is pressed into the fish, and grilled over medium-high heat for a delicious light and crispy coating, with scents redolent of Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. A great source of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, this Coriander & Fennel Seed Crusted Salmon is sensational served on a bed of grilled asparagus and garnished simply with a slice or orange and drizzle of balsamic fig glaze. 

Coriander & Fennel Seed Crusted Salmon with Grilled Asparagus 
Serves 2

2 tbsp coriander seed
2 tsp fennel seed
1/2 tsp white peppercorns
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 salmon filets, about 6-8 oz each
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
Olive oil, for brushing
Fresh thyme, mint and sliced orange, for garnish
Balsamic and fig glaze, for drizzling 

Place the coriander seeds, fennel seeds and white peppercorns in a small pan over medium high heat. Toast the mixture, shaking the pan frequently, until they become fragrant and begin to brown, about 2 minutes. Let the mixture cool a few minutes and then transfer to a spice grinder or small food processor, and coarsley grind. Spread on a small plate with the salt and mix well.

Brush the salmon filets with some olive oil then dip the top side of each filet into the spices, pressing well to adhere. Transfer the fish to a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until required. Place the asparagus in a small dish and drizzle with a little olive oil and toss to coat. Season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate along with the salmon.

Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high. Place the salmon, coriander side down for 3-4 minutes, until a nice brown crust forms. Flip the filets and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes, until the fish flakes easily and the center is almost opaque. Just before the salmon is done, add the asparagus and grill, turning frequently until the asparagus is well grill-marked and cooked to your preference. To serve, divide the asparagus between two plates and top with the salmon filets and some sprigs of fresh thyme. Drizzle with the balsamic and fig glaze, and garnish with a slice of orange, mint and chive blossom.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Leith's Stilton & Celery Soup: Simply The Best

When we lived in England in the 1970s, my favourite restaurant in London was Leith's in Notting Hill Gate, considered to be one of the top restaurants in the city at the time and a Michelin star to prove it. My favourite dish was Leith's Stilton Soup, an unbelievably silky smooth and creamy celery-based soup simmered with a big lump of Stilton cheese, puréed until smooth then pushed through a sieve for good measure. Prue Leith started out in 1960 as an event and party caterer with Leith's Good Food, followed by Leith's School of Food and Wine in 1975. In addition to being an accomplished food writer, television cook and columnist in her spare time! She also wrote a series of cookbooks that came out in 1980, an offshoot of her articles which appeared every weekend in the Sunday Express. Not only did I religiously collect those recipes, I am also the proud owner of her original three-volume set, Leith's Cookery Course: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. Apart from Graham Kerr - The Galloping Gourmet - Prue Leith was one of my early role models, and her cookbooks a culinary inspiration as I was growing up. Even to this day her writing continues to inspire me. Passionate about food, Prue Leith believed that food should be fresh and uncomplicated, prepared with only the finest ingredients to the highest of standards — and quite reflective of her motto, 'Simply Better' — just like her.

The always and forever fabulous Prue Leith

"I have always been addicted to cookbooks, tending to read them in bed in preference to novels or poetry. A lot of the books I accumulated when I was a food writer for, variously, the Daily Mail, Guardian, Sunday Express and Mirror, and subsequently I could not bare to part with them. I used the books in my collection as all writers do, for inspiration! I sometimes think there are no new recipes, only new versions of old ones. I once thought I had invented a Stilton Soup, because I went to Denmark, ate a Samsoe soup, thought 'This would be even better with Stilton', came home and made a celery soup heavily enriched with Stilton Cheese. It became famous in my restaurant, Leith's, and was copied by chefs all over London. And then one day, flipping through a 19th Century English cookbook I had just bought in Hay on Wye, I found a near-identical 'Derbyshire Cheese Soup' — So much for originality!"

Leith's Stilton Soup
Serves 4

1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
2 oz butter
1 1/2 oz flour
1/3 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup light cream
1/2 lb stilton cheese, crumbled
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 tbsp chopped chives, for garnish

Soften the onion and celery in butter over low heat, about 8-10 minutes. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the wine and stock. Return to the heat and bring slowly to the boil, stirring continuously until the soup thickens. Simmer uncovered for 25 minutes. Add the milk and simmer 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the stilton until it has melted. Using a hand blender, liquidize the soup, then push it through a sieve, discarding all solids. Add the cream, and season with salt and white pepper. Gently reheat the soup, taking care not to let it boil or else it will curdle. Stilton Soup can also be served chilled, garnished with chopped chives.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Linguine all'Amatriciana with Guanciale & Pecorino

One of the most celebrated dishes in Italian cuisine, Pasta all'Amatriciana is named for the Abruzzese town of Amatrice, a tiny town in the Sabine Hills bordering Abruzzo about 100 miles from Rome, and considered by many Italians to be birthplace of the best cooks on the peninsula. Ever since Abbruzzese shepherds began the tradition of eating this spicy pasta after a day in the chilly mountain air, the cooking process has always begun with the rich smell of a fatty piece of pork bubbling in the pan that gives the simple pasta a luxurious depth. Tomatoes, sautéed garlic, olive oil and dried red chilli flakes complete the sauce, which is usually served over bucatini, a thick strand pasta with a hole in the centre, but other pastas such as spaghetti, rigatoni or linguine work just as well. The beauty of this culinary classic is that it's quick and easy to make, is enormously full flavoured and utterly gob-smackingly delicious.

Linguine all'Amatriciana
Serves 2 

2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz tomato passata (tomato purée)
4 oz finely chopped Guanciale, Pancetta or unsmoked bacon
1 tsp dried chilli flakes, to taste 
8 oz bucatini or fettuccine 
1/2 cup shaved Pecorino

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente, then drain. Heat the olive oil and cook garlic until softened, adding the finely chopped guanicale at the end. Then add the passata and dried chilli flakes and simmer over low heat to thicken the sauce slightly. Add the sauce to the cooked pasta and serve with grated Pecorino cheese.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Vine Ripened Caprese with Bocconcini & Basil

A colourful combination of red and yellow vine ripened tomatoes and fragrant homegrown basil tossed with olive oil and seasoned with Maldon salt and fresh ground white and black pepper have all of the signs of a classic Caprese, but tossed with a handful of bite size bocconcini, this simple summer salad becomes an easy dish to serve with a larger gathering.  

Vine Ripened Caprese with Bocconcini & Basil
Serves 4

1 1/2 cups mini Bocconcini
12-16 mixed vine ripened red and yellow tomatoes
Fresh basil, julienned for garnish
Olive Oil
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Toss the bocconcini, tomatoes and some julienned basil in a large bowl and season with olive oil, sea salt and some fresh cracked black and white pepper. Serve in a decorative bowl and garnish with basil tops.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Chilled Poached Salmon with Homemade Mayonnaise

One of the most perfect summer dishes and in my mind the most elegant, is a succulent Poached Salmon garnished with sliced lemon, cucumber, fresh dill and served with a heaping bowl of homemade mayonnaise. Ideal for the hot days of summer, the salmon can be poached and decorated first thing in the morning and served later in the day with buttery new potatoes, steamed french green beans and a colourful tomato and basil salad with mini bocconcini. Whether you're entertaining a crowd or making a simple Sunday lunch, there’s nothing more easy, healthy, and delicious than a moist and flaky coral pink Poached Salmon, and enjoyed with a chilled Rosé or Côtes de Provence, this recipe is a gem.

Poached Salmon with Homemade Mayonnaise
Serves 4

2-3 lb organic Salmon filet
1/2 onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 lemon, quartered
sea salt and cracked black pepper

1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 Lebanese or English cucumber, thinly sliced
4-6 sprigs of fresh dill

Homemade Mayonnaise:
3 egg yolks, at room temperature
200 ml vegetable oil
100 ml light olive oil
1 tsp store-bought Mayonnaise
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
Salt and fresh cracked black or white pepper 
Chopped chives, for garnish 

Whisk the mayonnaise and egg yolks in a small mixing bowl until combined. Pour both of the oils together in a cup and very slowly trickle them in a very slow thin stream over the egg yolks, whisking them constantly. Once the mayonnaise begins to thicken, the remaining oils can be added gradually until the mixture thickens and emulsifies. Then add the lemon juice and white wine wine vinegar, and season to taste with salt and fresh pepper. Cover and chill until ready to use. 

Place the salmon in a fish poacher or large roasting pan. Add enough cold water to cover the fish then add the onion, bay leaves, vinegar, lemon and a good pinch of salt and a little black pepper. Bring the pan to the boil on the stove and once it's boiling, turn off the heat and allow the fish to stand in the water until cool. Carefully remove the salmon and place onto a board. Carefully scrape off the skin and the white fatty albumin layer that often coagulates on the surface, and place on a large flat serving dish. Decorate with sliced lemon, cucumber and dill and serve with a bowl of hollandaise.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Grilled Tandoori-Style Salmon: La Porte des Indes

A robust spice rub of cumin, paprika, garam masala, turmeric and red chilli powder teams with fresh ginger, garlic and lime juice, emulsified with five tablespoons of vegetable oil, to create a wonderfully fragrant and aromatic marinade, inspired by a recipe from Chef Mehermosh Mody's 'La Porte des Indes' cookbook. While the tandoor clay oven, which originated in the old northwest frontier of India, is the traditional method for cooking tandoori dishes, these delicious Grilled Salmon Steaks are perfectly suited to grilling on an outdoor barbecue also. Marinated for a few hours, the salmon is grilled on the barbecue for 10 to 15 minutes, until the fish is cooked through and has become the most glorious deep fiery red colour. Gorgeous on salmon, this fabulous marinade is delicious on other firm fish, chicken and lamb as well. Served with some lime pickle or coriander mint chutney, this recipe has become one of my favourite marinades, created by one of my favourite Indian chefs. 

La Porte des Indes cookbook

Grilled Tandoori-Style Salmon Steak
Serves 2

3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 thumb of ginger, peeled and chopped
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp paprika powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
Juice of 1/2 lime
5 tbsp vegetable oil

2 salmon steaks, at least 1-inch thick
Lime wedges for garnish

Use a food processor to blend together the ginger, garlic and a little water, then add the remaining marinade ingredients, mixing well to make a paste. Marinate the salmon in the mixture for 1-2 hours. When ready, heat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat and cook the salmon steaks about 10-15 minutes, turning them over half way during the cooking time. Garnish with lime wedges and serve with a little lime pickle.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Terroni: Cucina Italiana in the Heart of Rosedale

Rooted in traditional Southern Italian cuisine, wine, and culture, Terroni began as a tiny panini store in 1992 when Cosimo Mammoliti and good friend Paolo Scoppio returned from a summer in Puglia with an idea to open a place in Toronto. Paolo’s family already imported southern Italian staples and Cosimo had experience bartending and working front of house, but neither of them had much of a plan, but they had a family connection to a storefront on Queen West and they took it. Though now a thriving, hip neighbourhood, Queen West of 1992 was in rough shape. Better known for drugs and illicit sex than for Italian food, the prospects for the store didn’t appear promising. Across the street, a local personality named Bernie owned an antique shop. When Cosimo and Paolo raised a sign with the name, “I Due Terroni,” Bernie walked over and recommended they shorten it. “It needs to be memorable,” he said. And with advice from that unlikeliest of sources, Terroni was born. 

Today the ever-expanding Terroni family now boasts five locations in Toronto and two in Los Angeles. Meeting up with family on a hot sultry weeknight, we landed a gorgeous table on the bustling and enormously popular rooftop terrace of Terroni's upscale Rosedale location at Price and Yonge. Having waiting over an hour for our table, we were hungry to explore Terroni's infamous Southern Italian menu of classic Sicilian and Pugliese dishes such as Insalata Caprese, Funghi Assoluti, luscious Gnocchi alla Simi with tomato sauce, fresh ricotta, basil and parmigiana and fragrant Rigatoni Arcobaleno with mozzarella di bufala, zucchini, light cherry tomato sauce and fresh basil. With a selection of 30 pizzas from which to choose, we decided on Pizza Quattro Stagioni with tomato, mozzarella, prosciutto di parma, mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini and olives, and a perfectly grilled Branzino served with a mixed bean and baby kale salad. For those with a sweet tooth, a short menu of decadent dolce make an irresistible end to a wonderful evening under the stars.  

The enormously popular outdoor rooftop terrace of Terroni's Yonge & Price Rosedale location

The summer menu of Southern Italian-style dishes

Glass of Italian Rosé from the Veneto

Caprese Salad with seasonal tomatoes, mozzarella di buffalo and fresh basil on a bed of wild arugula

Fungi Assoluti - baked oyster mushrooms with parmigiana and bread crumbs, on a bed of arugula dressed with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Gnocchi alla Simi with tomato sauce, fresh ricotta, basil and parmigiana

Rigatoni Arcobaleno with mozzarella di bufala, zucchini, light cherry tomato sauce and fresh basil

Grilled Bronzino with mixed bean and baby kale salad

Quattro Stagioni with tomato, mozzarella, prosciutto di parma, mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini and olives with pits

Homemade Gnocchi with Smoked Mozzarella
Serves 8
Recipe courtesy of Enza Aloi, Executive Chef, Terroni

3 medium russet potatoes, about 1 3/4-pounds
1 large egg yolk
2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, or more as needed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

2 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 roasted red peppers, peel, seeded and cut into julienne
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
4 1/4-inch thick slices smoked mozzarella, cubed
2 tbsp shredded fresh basil
2 cup fresh or canned tomato sauce
Coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Grated Parmesan, to taste
2 1/4-inch thick slices smoked mozzarella, cubed
2 tbsp shredded fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pierce the potatoes a few times with a sharp paring knife and place them in the oven. Bake them until tender and cooked through, about 40 minutes. When cool enough to handle — the hotter the potatoes, the lighter the gnocchi — peel the potatoes and pass them through a ricer, then spread on a baking sheet and let cool completely.

Once potatoes are cooled, gather them into a mound on a cutting board and form a well in the centre. Put the egg yolk into the well and begin kneading the potato and egg together with both hands, gradually adding the grated Parmesan and enough of the flour to form a smooth but slightly sticky dough. (Keep in mind that the longer the dough is kneaded, the more flour it will require and the heavier it will become.)

Roll the dough into finger thick strips and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Sprinkle the pieces lightly with flour. Using the tines of a fork and the tip of your thumb take one segment and roll it downward toward the tips of the tines. This action will give your dumpling a deep indentation on one side and a ridged surface on the other. Place the dumplings on a baking sheet lined with a floured kitchen towel, and cook immediately or freeze.

To freeze the gnocchi, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread a single layer of gnocchi on the parchment. Cover the layer of gnocchi with another sheet of parchment. Spread another layer of gnocchi on the parchment. Repeat with remaining gnocchi, finishing with a layer of parchment paper. Then wrap tightly with plastic wrap and freeze.

For the sauce, start by heating the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the roasted red peppers and the parsley, then add the cubed smoked mozzarella and the basil. Finally, add the tomato sauce and simmer. Season to taste.

Bring 6 quarts salted water to a rigorous boil. Add the gnocchi, stirring gently and continuously with a wooden spoon, cooking the gnocchi until they rise to the surface, about 1 minute. After they rise to the surface continue cooking them for an additional minute.

Remove the gnocchi from the water with a slotted spoon or a skimmer, and transfer to the saucepan with the sauce. Stir until the gnocchi are covered with the sauce. Plate and garnish with freshly grated Parmesan, cubed smoked mozzarella and the shredded basil.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Grilled Quail with BBQ Sauce & Sambal Oelek

These tiny little birds have a lot of flavour for their diminutive size. Marinated in a robust Smokey BBQ Sauce spiked with generous spoonfuls of Sambal Oelek, a hot chili-based sauce which is popular throughout the Indonesia, this recipe for Grilled Quail is an ideal appetizer for a summer cocktail party, Javanese-inspired Tiki party or satisfying al fresco dinner. Served spatchcocked or butterflied, by removing the backbone so the quail can be opened up and grilled flat, they can also be split in half for smaller appetizer-friendly portions. 

Grilled Quail with Smokey BBQ Sauce & Sambal Oelek
Serves 2-3 as entrée/8-10 as appetizer

6 quail
1/2 cup Diana Gourmet Western Smokehouse BBQ Sauce
2 tbsp Sambal Oelek
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

Using poultry scissors or a sharp knife, butterfly the quail by cutting down the backbone so that the birds open up like a book. Rinse the quail under cold water to remove any impurities, then dry with paper towel. Place the whole quail in a glass flat bottomed dish, or cut them in half for appetizer portions,  and coat with the BBQ sauce and Sambal Oelek, using your hands to massage the marinade all over. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then cover with cling film and chill until needed. The quail can be prepared up to a day in advance, but an hour at the very least. 

When ready to cook them, preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high then place the quail skin side down and cook about 15-20 minutes, turning once, until the quail is cooked through and has become golden brown and lightly charred. Arrange on a large platter and serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Quinoa with Pickled Ginger & Sesame Vinaigrette

High in protein, low in fat and full of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, Quinoa is an easy, gluten-free alternative to other grain-like seeds. It's also 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 absolutely delicious!

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.