Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Grilled Jumbo Black Tiger Prawns: Seafood Heaven

More like small lobster tails, these sweet succulent 'super colossal' black tiger prawns are so large they're sold 4-6 to the pound, although 'colossal' which are 8-12 count do an admirable job too — the key is to buy the largest prawns you can. In this case, size does matter. Served as a special treat on their own or as part of a 'surf-and-turf' feast, these gorgeous creatures are substantial enough to withstand a marinade with a little zing — a splash of sambal oelek or Lebanese hot pepper paste should do the trick. Whisked with minced garlic, fresh squeezed lemon juice, grated ginger, fresh mint and cilantro, teaspoon of Dijon mustard, dash of soy sauce and a glug of olive oil, and left to marinate for an hour or so, they're simply divine grilled on the barbecue for about 3-5 minutes per side and served with a bowl of cold creamy tzatziki, for a sensational seafood treat.

4 spectacular colossal black tiger prawns, so large they're 4-6 to the pound

Blended marinade of garlic, ginger, mint, cilantro, Sambal Oelek, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, 
soy sauce and olive oil

The marinade is rubbed into the shelled and deveined prawns, 
then covered and refrigerated until ready to grill

Prawns grilled on the "Barby"

Grilled Spicy Super Colossal Black Tiger Prawns
Serves 1

4 Colossal prawns (4-6 to the pound), peeled and deveined with tail left on
1/2 tbsp Sambal Oelek or 1/8 tsp Lebanese hot pepper paste
1 tbsp each fresh mint and cilantro, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1-inch piece ginger, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp olive oil

In a small food processor, whizz the garlic and ginger to a fine mince, then add the sambal oelek, lemon juice, mint, cilantro, mustard, soy sauce and oil, and purée to a loose paste. Mix the shrimp with the marinade and allow to marinate for 30-60 minutes. Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat, and grill the shrimp for 3-5 minutes per side, depending on the size of the prawns. Serve with tzatziki and a sprig mint.

Rainbow from our terrace overlooking Lake Ontario, as the succulent prawns grill to pink perfection

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Teriyaki Salmon with Grilled Zucchini

Teriyaki is a lovely cooking technique used in Japanese cuisine in which foods are broiled or grilled with a glaze of soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar. The word 'teriyaki' comes from the word 'teri', which refers to a shine or lustre given by the sugar content in the 'tare', which is boiled and reduced to the desired thickness, then used to marinate the meat. Yaki refers to the cooking method of grilling or broiling, where the meat is dipped in or brushed with sauce several times during cooking, which allows the sugars in the sauce to caramelize, for a deep, rich full-bodied flavour. Many kinds of teriyaki sauce are sold in grocery stores, but the basic sauce is so easy to make from scratch, and can be used to baste on salmon, chicken, vegetables and other fish all year round. This recipe for Salmon Teriyaki is delicious served with grilled zucchini for an easy low carb summer dinner.

Teriyaki Salmon with Grilled Zucchini
Serves 2

3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup sake
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 portions salmon
1 large zucchini, sliced diagonally 1/4-inch thick
Sesame seeds, for garnish 
Sliced green onions, for garnish 

Combine the soy, mirin, honey, sake, ginger, garlic and sesame oil in a flat dish and mix well to combine. Add the salmon and coat well with the sauce, then cover and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

To cook indoors, set a nonstick frying pan on medium high and sear the salmon skin side up for 3-4 minutes, reserving the remaining marinade. Turn the salmon skin side down, cover, and turn the heat to low, then cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until fish is cooked to your desired consistency. Set the salmon aside, then sauté the zucchini in the same pan for 2-3 minutes per side and serve along with the salmon.

To grill outdoors, preheat the barbecue and once hot, set the zucchini plus salmon skin side down and grill for 4-5 minutes, then turn them over and cook another 3-4 minutes, until the zucchini are softer and have nice grill marks, and the salmon is cooked to your desired doneness.

To serve, drizzle the the salmon with the reserved teriyaki sauce, garnish with sesame seeds and green onions, and serve with the grilled zucchini.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Grilled Zucchini with Feta and Mint

Botanically speaking zucchini are actually a fruit, being the swollen ovary of the female zucchini flower. This remarkable 'fruit' can be steamed, boiled, grilled, stuffed, baked, barbequed, fried, baked into a bread, incorporated in a soufflé, shredded for delicious fritters or battered as tempura. In short, zucchini are amazingly versatile little things, plus they're also low in calories. Let's not forget the zucchini's delectable golden blossoms, prized by many as a culinary delicacy. The word zucchini comes from the Italian 'zucchino' which means small squash, and come in many shapes and sizes, but the small green zucchini is the best known and most popular of the summer squashes. With a natural sweetness when cooked, Grilled Zucchini with Feta and Mint is one of the mist delicious summer recipes, fabulous served with grilled fish or chicken.

Grilled Zucchini with Feta and Mint
Serves 4-6

2 medium green zucchini
Olive oil
Maldon salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
1/2 cup fresh mint

Using a sharp knife, slice zucchini on a diagonal into 3/8" thick slices, discarding the ends. Brush the slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill on a pre-heated BBQ or ridged cast iron frying pan, about 3-4 minutes per side, until each of the slices are tender and lightly grill marked. Remove zucchini from the grill and onto a decorative serving platter and let cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with crumbled feta and mint leaves.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Tanimura & Antle Lettuce with Blueberries & Radish

Fresh, colourful, and healthy, this vibrant salad with sweet wild blueberries, crunchy cucumber, peppery radishes and medley of Tanimura & Antle Artisan lettuce, makes a lovely heart-smart mixed salad to accompany an lean entrée of grilled fish, chicken or seafood. Tossed with a luscious lemony vinaigrette, the flavours come alive for a beautiful and satisfying summer mélange.

Tanimura & Antle Artisan Lettuce with Blueberries, Cucumber & Radish
Serves 2

Tanimura & Antle Artisan Lettuces: Gem and Tango lettuce blend
1/4 English cucumber, sliced and quartered
1/3 cup blueberries
6 baby radishes, trimmed and halved

Lemon Vinaigrette: 
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
Maldon salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Prepare the vinaigrette by combining all of the ingredients into a food processor or small bow, and blend until emulsified, then set aside. Wash and dry each all of the lettuce and tear into smaller bite-size pieces. Top with the quartered cucumber, chopped radishes and blueberries, then drizzle and toss with the vinaigrette. Sprinkle with a pinch of Maldon salt to finish. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

El Pueblito: A Taste of México in Bracebridge

Formerly One Fifty Five, a popular fine dining restaurant that opened in Bracebridge in 2009, El Pueblito was created from a desire by owners Chef Michael and Marlenne Rickard to bring the taste and warm welcoming atmosphere of Marlenne’s native country to her new pueblito, which means “small town.” Sunny green walls highlighted with the bright paintings of local artist Wendy Moses, as well as Mexican details such as sombreros, sarape shawls and handmade pottery provide a whimsical backdrop for the couple's outstanding Mexican cuisine. Not to be missed are their outstanding Margaritas which reign supreme, infused with fresh squeezed lime juice, Tequila, and agave nectar served over ice with a lip smacking rim of Kosher salt and slice of lime — ideal with El Peublito's vegan Guacamole and Pico de Gallo with warm homemade corn tortilla chips. Popular dishes include rich, dark and delicious Mole Poblano, fresh marinated Ceviche del Dia, Empanadas, Tacos, Quesadillas and Burritos, all freshly prepared using the finest ingredients from authentic recipes courtesy of Marlenne’s grandmother. “Every time we go back to Mexico, my grandmother always grabs Mike in the mornings and says, ‘Today we are doing tamales or enchiladas or empanadas.’ So, she’s the one who teaches him when we go back home,” says Marlenne. There are also many vegetarian and vegan dishes on the menu and almost everything is gluten-free.

Chef Michael and Marlenne Rickard

Interior of El Pueblito with Mexican mementos including mariachi sombreros, sarapes and pottery

Mexican tilework

Painting by celebrated Muskoka artist Wendy Moses 

El Pueblito's menu of delicious authentic Mexican dishes

Drinks menu features Margaritas, Mojitos, Cervezas and more

El Pueblito Margaritas and Mojito for our table

El Pueblito Margarita

Blue Demon Margarita

Guacamole con Totopos: Vegan Guacamole made with avocado, tomato, onion, garlic, cilantro, lime, serrano chili and house-made chips

Pico de Gallo made with chopped onion, cilantro, tomato, garlic and salsa roja

Pescado del Dia: Red Snapper and Prawns with chochoyón, which are corn masa dumplings

Fish Tacos served on warm corn tortillas with Mexican rice, refried black beans and salsa verde

Rich, dark and delicious Molé Poblano is a signature recipe of Mexican cuisine 
uses over 30 ingredients including chocolate 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Riverwalk in Muskoka: Farm to Table Cuisine

Located in an historic mill overlooking the picturesque Muskoka River Falls in the heart of Bracebridge, Riverwalk Restaurant sources its ingredients locally, infusing the beauty of seasonal flavours in every dish they serve — from field to fork. Born and raised in Vancouver, Chef David Friesen is also a proud supporter of Savour Muskoka, which promotes the use of ingredients grown or produced in the area. We have a wonderful farming community up here,” he says. “There are a lot of smaller farms that do most of the growing in the region, whether it’s agriculture or livestock. But the farmers play to Mother Nature, so you never know what’s going to happen or what produce you’ll get.” Opened in 2001, Riverwalk's Mediterranean inspired dining room, animated with the bright, bold and beautiful paintings of renowned Muskoka artist Wendy Moses, also features a stunning outdoor terrace with breathtaking views of the cascading falls. The restaurant's open kitchen allows diners a full view of dishes as they are being prepared while they peruse chef Friesen's seasonally changing menu of gourmet dishes, such as house marinated salmon and free-range Muskoka chicken to hand-rolled gnocchi and Riverwalk's sensational house-made wild mushroom paté, in addition to a selection of creative vegetarian and vegan options. Locally sourced and proudly Muskoka grown, there’s always a delicious reason to visit Riverwalk.

The bright charming interior of Riverwalk, whose history dates back to the late 1880's when it was originally a working mill named Bird's Woolen Mill Company

Selection of Wendy Moses paintings brighten the walls at Riverwalk

Riverwalk's menu features locally sourced ingredients for fresh farm to table cuisine

Stylish hammered Knot cutlery

Pinot Grigio, Tiefenbrunner, Italy, 2012

2019 Merlot, Christian Moueix, Bordeaux, France

Vegetarian Carrot Soup with spiced oil and fresh herb garnish

Onion Confit and Goat Cheese Frittata served with mixed greens, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette

Chef David Friesen

Outdoor dining on Riverwalk's deck which overlook's the Muskoka Falls in Bracebridge

View of the brace bridge from Riverwalk's outdoor deck 

Muskoka-Grown Summer Berry Shortcakes
Serves 6
Recipe courtesy of Chef David Friesen

6 cups fresh berries, cleaned and sliced: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp Grand Marnier

2 cups all purpose flour 3 tbsp sugar
1⁄2 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1⁄4 lb butter, cut into small cubes
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1⁄2 cup + 1 tbsp half-and-half cream
1 egg white
2 tbsp sugar

Whipped Cream:
2 cups whipping cream
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract

In a nonreactive bowl mash 2 cups of the berries with sugar and Grand Marner. Add the remaining berries and allow to marinate for 30 minutes.

In a food processor, mix together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add the butter cubes and with quick 1-second pulses, process until a coarse meal texture is achieved. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Add the egg and cream into the flour mixture and combine with a rubber spatula until large clumps form. Place the entire mixture onto a work surface and lightly knead until it comes together, being careful not to overwork the dough. Pat the dough into a 9x6 inch rectangle. Flour a 3-inch biscuit cutter and cut out 6 rounds then place onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

Brush tops with egg whites and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden brown then allow to cool for 10 minutes. Whip the  cream to soft peaks then add sugar and vanilla, and continue whipping until firm peaks form.

To serve, split each biscuit in half horizontally. Place the bottom of biscuit on a plate and divide the berries among the plates. Place a dollop of whipped cream on the berries and top with biscuit top.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tuna Salad with Avocado, Sprouts & Hard Boiled Eggs

Low calorie, low carb and a great source of Omega-3, this simple, light and delicious Tuna Salad recipe makes an easy weekday dinner paired with sliced avocado, hard boiled eggs and some fresh tomatoes. Topped with a mound of flavourful onion sprouts and dressed with a tangy vinaigrette, summertime dining doesn't get any easier, healthier or more satisfying.

Tuna Salad with Avocado, Sprouts & Hard Boiled Eggs
Serves 2

10 oz (2 small cans) canned tuna, drained and flaked
1/2 cup diced English cucumber
3 green onions, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 lemon, zested
2 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise or Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
6 oz mixed greens
2 large eggs, hard boiled, peeled and halved
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
6 grape tomatoes, halved
1 package onion sprouts, for garnish
Maldon salt and fresh cracked black pepper

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar or lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 large garlic clove, minced
Fresh cracked black pepper and salt, to taste

Add the olive oil, vinegar, Dijon and minced garlic together in a small bowl and whisk until well combined. Season with fresh cracked black pepper and salt to taste. Combine tuna, diced cucumber, green onions, lemon juice, zest, dill, mayonnaise, salt and pepper in a large bowl and stir well. Toss the mixed greens with some vinaigrette to taste, then arrange on 2 plates and top with a generous scoop of the tuna mixture. Top with a handful of onion sprouts and garnish with sliced avocado, tomatoes and hard boiled eggs. Season with Maldon salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste and drizzle with more vinaigrette if needed. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Radish, Cucumber & Celery Salad with Arugula & Feta

Crunchy, colourful and low cal, this refreshing Radish, Cucumber & Celery Salad with peppery arugula and tangy Greek feta is a light and healthy summer dish that can be put together in a matter of minutes. Add some fresh herbs such as dill, basil, mint or tarragon and a handful of walnuts, and you also have a dish similar to Sabzi Khordan or Kanachia common side dish in Iranian and Armenian cuisines, which may be served with any meal often taking the place of a salad. Drizzled with a little olive oil, a dash of Maldon salt and served with some hot, crispy, flat Persian flatbreads, this is a healthy, light and delicious starter with absolutely no cooking involved — what could be better on a hot summer day.

Radish, Cucumber & Celery Salad with Arugula & Feta
Serves 2

1/4 English cucumber, cut into 4 lengthwise then chopped
8 radishes, washed and chastely chopped
2 stalks of celery, finely sliced on a diagonal
1 handful wild arugula
1 handful chopped fresh dill
2 oz fresh Greek feat, crumbled
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp Maldon salt
1/4 cup walnuts, optional

Arrange all the chopped vegetables and fresh herbs in a decorative bowl or platter then top with crumbled feta and a drizzle of olive oil. Garnish with a sprinkle of Maldon salt and serve with on it's own or with a flatbread of your choice.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Luma: Seasonally Inspired Canadian Artisanal Cuisine

Located on the second floor of the TIFF Bell Lightbox in the heart of Toronto’s Entertainment District with its floor-to-ceiling windows and outstanding views of King Street West, Luma pays homage to Toronto’s rich, cultural landscape with a menu featuring Canadian artisanal cuisine made with the finest local and regional ingredients. Chef Michael Wilson’s seasonal menu showcases fresh, artfully prepared dishes, which feature the finest ingredients and reflect our nation’s diversity, with dishes such as Quebec Lau Lau Pork Chop with mustard greens, wild rice, edamame and pineapple; Newmarket Smoked King Cole Duck Breast, with rhubarb, shallots, spinach and sesame scallion pancake; and East Coast Scallops with bacon polenta, tomato, fennel, sorrel and foraged vegetable pesto. For theatre-goers, Luma also offers a Curtain Call prix-fixe and Small Bites menu for guests on the go. Warm and inviting, the dining room and bar, designed with rich woods, leather and stone, and friendly professional staff, make Luma a delicious dining option before heading out for a concert at Roy Thomson Hall or latest theatre production at The Princess of Wales.

The long marble bar at Luma

French 75 made with Champagne, lemon juice, splash of gin, and dash of simple syrup
garnished with a curl of lemon rind

Our bartender stirring my husband's Martini before pouring it into the ice-chilled glass

Warm and inviting, the dining room is designed with rich woods, leather and stone

The Curtain Call menu for those catching a show

House baked bread and whipped butter with a drizzle of truffle honey

Beet Salad with mustard seeds, watercress, shaved mountain oak gold cheese 
and caraway dressing

Vegetarian Asparagus and Pea Soup with toasted almonds

Hamachi Crudo with coconut, citrus, ginger, cilantro, red chilies and taro

Seared Trout with lyonnaise potatoes, rapini, fennel and salsa verde

Seared Ahi Tuna with red rice, fiddleheads, oyster mushroom, mustard greens and pea shoots

Ontario Rack of Lamb with roasted carrots, lentils, carrot top pesto, 
grilled scallions and black garlic

Pumpkin & Fire-Roasted Chestnut Rigatoni 
Serves 4-6
Recipe courtesy of Chef Michael Wilson

1 lb rigatoni 
2 1/2 cups of chestnuts, scored 
1 pumpkin
2 cups unsalted butter, browned
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 shallot, minced
6 garlic cloves, roasted
1 bunch of sage, chopped
2 cups grated Manchego cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta for 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and reserve. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Score the chestnuts with a sharp knife and roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes. While the chestnuts are still hot, peel, chop and set aside. 

Peel the pumpkin, cut in half and scoop out the seeds, then dice into quarter-inch cubes. Place the butter into a pot and turn on high heat. The butter will melt and begin to foam. As the bubbles lessen, remove from the heat and add one tablespoon of sherry vinegar, then cool and reserve. 

In a saucepan on medium heat, add oil and roasted diced pumpkin. Once it starts to get colour, reduce heat. Add the shallot, garlic and sage. Return the pasta to water to reheat. Add the pasta and a splash of pasta water to the saucepan. Add chestnuts, one tablespoon of sherry vinegar, brown butter and season to taste. Plate and garnish with shaved Manchego cheese and chopped sage.