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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Desperate For Poutine

























No recipe here. This is a delicious snack I made for myself one day before I moved. I was desperately craving poutine, but couldn't afford the calories. I had a few potatoes left in my pantry some local mushooms, shallots, beef stalk, rosemary, mozzarella and a splash of wine. I baked the fries, and used 
a low fat mozzarella to make this gluttonous delight a little less guilty. I actually have no right calling this poutine but it sure satisfied the craving. Chow for now

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Challenge #2: The Classics - Ode to Arthur Wellesley The 1st Duke of Wellington

What an exciting day. I'm so thrilled to have moved into round 2 of this amazing food blogging challenge. I had a lot of trouble deciding what would be the perfect follow up post for todays challenge. THE SPECS: My own representation of a classic dish, not Italian and not French - keeping in mind I have to be cooking outside of my comfort zone. Hmmmmm what to do, what to do. After racking my brains out for two days, and driving my sister and friends all crazy. I decided that I was going to attempt an elegant British dish I have heard so much about, but have never tasted. Beef Wellington is totally blog worthy, and is definitely out of my comfort zone. I've never used prosciutto, or puff pastry, and i've certainly never wapped a filet of beef in this combination of delight, smothered in spicy mustardy goodness and then baked. Sounds sinful right? This popular dish is said to be named for Arthur Wellesley the first Duke of Wellington know as the Iron Duke. It's a timeless dish in Gordon Ramsey's repertoire - an ace in the hole when executed perfectly. I've also been watching a ton of Masterchef Australia and America, beef wellington is always a challenge for the contestants and the judges are always excited to see how they do. Today my beef wellington recipe is based on two different recipes one by Gordon Ramsey and the other by Tyler Florence. The main difference in these two dishes is the addition of shallots, and the type of mustard used. To keep things as authentic as possible I will be using English mustard which is bright yellow and hot. The wellington will be served with baby veg of golden beets, purple carrots golden pearl onions and roasted fingerling potatoes. I will also make a red wine pan gravy with a touch of cream. The dish is broken down into steps and begins with a mushroom duxelle. Right now there are two hours left on my clock to cook, and thats the only step I've completed. Still have to sear off my beef, wait for my puff pastry to de-frost, photograph and finish blogging... holy &^$^%#%$#@. Now it's really starting to feel like a competition. Hope I make it to the finish line...
Beef Wellington: 
INGREDIENTS: 
For the Duxelles: 
2 cups white button mushrooms - rough chop
2 cups oyster mushrooms - rough chop
4 cloves garlic - rough chop
2 shallots - rough chop
thyme - about 10 sprigs 
2 tbs butter - for sutee
2tbs olive oil - for sutee
s & p - for sutee
PREP/COOK: In a food pro combine thyme shallots garlic and mushrooms blend until smoothish. Remove from food pro, and sautee for 8 - 10 mins in butter and olive oil. Leave to cool in a fine mesh sive  so that excess liquid drains out. 
For the beef: 
center cut beef tenderloin (filet mignon), trimmed 4 oz per serving
thin slices parma prosciutto
thyme - 3 sprigs leaves only
English mustard - 2 tbs
flour - sprinkle for rolling out puff
1 pound puff pastry - thawed room temp
eggs - 2 beaten lightly
olive oil - for searing beef
s & p 
PREP/COOK: Depending on the size of the beef - I'm only making 2 portions (each 4-6 oz per) tie the tenderloin in a few places so it holds its cylindrical shape while cooking. Season beef lightly with salt and pepper, and heat a few tbs of olive oil in a heavy pan. You just want to sear the beaf on the outside - for better flavor. Prep your wrapping station by setting out your prosciutto on a long sheet of plastic wrap (approx. foot and a half). Overlap the prosciutto so it forms a large rectangle big enough to wrap around the entire filet of beef. Then cover evenly with a thin layer of duxelles finish with more s&p. After beef is seared, remove from heat, cut off twine and smear lightly all over with English mustard. Allow to cool slightly, then roll up in the duxelles covered prosciutto using the plastic wrap to tie it up nice and tight being sure to tuck the ends of the prosciutto as you roll to completely cover the beef. Roll it up tightly in plastic wrap and twist the ends to seal it completely and hold it in a nice log shape. Set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to ensure a lovely round log shape. Pre Heat Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly flour your surface to roll the puff pastry out (1/4-inch thickness). You may have to overlap 2 sheets and press them together depending on size of tenderloin. Remove beef from refrigerator and remove plastic. Set the beef in the center of the pastry and fold over the longer sides use egg wash to seal. Trim ends if necessary then brush with egg wash and fold over to completely seal the beef - you can save those ends to use as a decoration for the top for shmancy presentation. Place the beef seam side down on a baking sheet and brush the top of the pastry with egg for  beautiful shiny golden crust. Make a couple of slits in the top of the pastry using the tip of a paring knife - to allow steam to escape when cooking. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until pastry is golden brown and beef registers 125 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from oven and rest before cutting into thick slices. Serve with simple roasted fingerling potatoes baby veg and pan gravy - or enjoy the beauty that is the beef wellington as it stands alone. 
The verdict: Beef perfectly pink...puff pastry gorgeously golden... taste...damn good! Next time use less mushroom, and make sure duxelle doesn't go all the way to the end - leave a bit of prosciutto peaking off the edge. I think I wrapped the beef in the wrong direction, maybe should have placed it horizontal instead. It's okay to have minor setbacks in cooking. Learning is part of the game. 
Ps. I didn't realize I had until 3:00 pm PST, in all of my panicking my fiancee pointed out that I actually had a few more hours to have everything ready. I've never been happier to be on the east coast. 
All in all everything went pretty well. I think I deserve an A ! 
Chow for now - happy voting :)














Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Low fat idea of the day - Indian Saag Paneer with tofu

Saag paneer is one of my all time favorite Indian dishes. It's rich and creamy and a little bit spicy and totally satisfying. Saag which means spinach and paneer which means cheese is best enjoyed over perfectly fluffy basmati rice or scooped up with fresh garlic naan. It's not fat people kinda food, purely a gluttonous delight to be eaten once in a while definitely a treat. I had been trying to stay away from Indian food for a while. It's deadly very high in fat and oh so delicious, when I eat it I crave it for days, and smell of it for the next 24 hours at least. It's kind of funny how it seeps out of my pores during spin class. I had a brick of lonely tofu in my I'm so busy I have no time to grocery shop fridge. Along with a package of fresh spinach, half an onion some minced garlic and ginger cube I had left in the freezer. This was one of those survivor kind of meals I've told you about in the past. See how long you can hold off until buying groceries, living off pantry items and canned goods. It's kinda fun, you should all try it sometime. Test your skills in the kitchen for sure. Anyways I thought this lonely brick of tofu would be a great substitute for paneer in this low fat version of my saag dish. I don't remember what my recipe was, but I substituted low fat coconut milk instead of cream, and I used a great spice blend I got at the Indian Bazar on Gerrard St. E. I served the dish with a homemade vegetarian biryani. Pretty good for my first attempt at Indian food. Next time I'll be sure to write a recipe. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dear Loblaws, shame on you!

I came upon this article on my cousins fb page today. It's the very reason why i've pretty much given up shopping at large grocery stores and favor smaller ethnic grocers or farmers markets. There is nothing I hate more then going to your local grocer and seeing fruit and veg from the USA or Mexico when that very item is in season right here in Canada. I'm always excited to see baskets of stunning produce with the little white and green Ontario logo peeking around the sides. I've said it before, and I'll say it again Go local whenever you can! If you're not sure where something comes from check the label or ask one of the people in the produce section. Nine times out of ten they can tell you if it's local or not. I hate having to buy garlic from China - it totally weirds me out! Although I must admit I can't resist Mangosteen and Rambutan season in China Town. Once in a while I have to splurge, but all in the name of fine fooding. For more information on sustainability and going green go to http://www.treehugger.com.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ready Set Blog: Challenge 1 - Who is the Tomato Snob?


This is a story i've wanted to tell you all for quite some time. Those of you that know me well have heard it before, the tale of how I became the Tomato Snob. Five years ago I lived in Miami. It was fabulous the food, the flavor the weather.  The building I used to live in is now the very posh Mondrian hotel but when I was living there it was just 1100 West Ave. A studio apartment with a double bed and a broken futon. I shared the flat with my dear friend Elliot. Although I do love him dearly, he has an amazing ability to drive me completely mad - enraged in seconds. Learning how to live with a roomate is one thing, but learning how to live with your gay best friend that your share 440 square feet, a sink, a fridge and a bed with was nearly impossible. But we did it, and most of the time we had a blast. We had opposite schedules and worked crazy hours but we always had breakfast together every Saturday. I would usually insist on cooking because it was really the only time I ever got the chance to make anything. The rest of the time I lived off frozen chicken cutlets, Pasha's Healthy Mediterranean breakfast burritos and Pizza Rustica salads, not to mention my twice a day habit of Cortadito's at David's Cafe. I couldn't wait to make a home cooked meal once a week. I was probably pretty bossy about getting to be the cook, but I thought Elliots cooking was pretty dodgy back in those days. I was also obsessed with frittatas, in fact I think I made one every week - my culinary arsenal was not as developed back then. The day The Tomato Snob was born I wanted to make a lovely tomato and basil frittata. I had just bought the most beautiful vine ripe tomatoes at Wild Oats the day before and I couldn't wait to use them with creamy goats cheese in fluffy egg custard baked to perfection. Everything was going great. My sister was visiting us from Toronto and I was so excited about the delicious meal we would enjoy together. I went to chop up my tomatoes and I couldn't find them anywhere. I look on top of the fridge, in the pantry and every cupboard, I even checked under the sink. I screamed to Elliot who was in the bathroom using the shower "hey boogar where are my tomatoes" a muffled noise came from the steaming hallway. I looked at my sister, and she shrugged - obviously she had no clue what he had said. I yelled at him again this time moving closer towards the bathroom door so he could hear me more clearly "where are my freaking tomatoes booo-gar - I just bought them yesterday!" I was getting angry at this point, thinking he better not have eaten my beautiful ripe tomatoes. About a minute later the door opened with a cloud of thick moisture. Elliot appeared in front of us in a towel with toothpaste foaming around his mouth "they're in the f----" "The WHAT" I said "the fridge...the fridge" he shouted while the tooth paste was frothing down his chin. This just sent me over the edge. Once I realized he said the tomatoes where in the fridge I lost it. I have no idea what I said from there. All I remember was a lot of shouting and yelling "they're ruined! You ruined my tomatoes!" I said furiously. I may have even thrown a tomato out of the window in my fit of rage. At this point his toothbrush was gone, and he was screaming at me to relax " they're just tomatoes" he screamed at me "who do you think you are throwing tomatoes out, they are still perfectly good, what are you a tomato snob" At this point everyone went silent, it was intense, there was nothing for like five seconds, and then my sister broke out laughing. The laughter was contagious we were all in sitches seconds later. And so from then on I became the Tomato Snob. I took my love of tomatoes very seriously, you better not F%#&@ with my tomatoes!


So what defines The Tomato Snob as a foodbloger? I'm passionate about cooking, eating and story telling not to mention my fascination with aesthetics. I have a great love for food, and a deep respect for beautiful ingredients and tradition. I should be the next food blog star because I'm entertaining, creative and I make fooding (eating, cooking, enjoying food) accessible for anyone and everyone. I want to inspire my readers, and teach them to be fearless in the kitchen. I would love to be the winner of this food blog challenge.
It's an honour to be part of this amazing contest.
Please vote for me! 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

End of summer roasted corn soup - heaven

I love corn, who doesn't right? Fresh from the farm summer corn pure bliss. Well I decided that yesterday was the day I made soup from my lovely yellow kernels of sweetness. It was fantastic!
Sweet Summer Corn Soup: INGREDIENTS:
3 years of corn - roasted
honey
1/2 onion - sweet onion chopped
1 clove garlic - fine chop
celery salt - pinch
red chili flakes - optional 
2 bay leaf
s&p
1tbs butter
2 cups water or veg stock
1 cup butter milk 
PREP: roast corn on cob glazed with 1 tsp honey, canola oil and red pepper flakes for 30 mins until bright yellow or starting to golden. Let cool then cut corn off cob - put to side. Chop onion and garlic. 

COOK: Add 1tsp oil and butter to pot add in onion and garlic cook a minute or two. Add celery salt pepper and chili flakes cook another few minutes until onions are translucent. Add corn - then water/stock and bay leaf. Bring to a boil then drop the heat and let simmer about 10 mins. Remove bay leaf from the pot before blending the soup. Blend until semi smooth. Then add the buttermilk to the mixture after (off the heat of will separate). You can put the bay leaf back in and leave the soup to stay warm on a very low heat.

GARNISH: to be fancy chop parsley or cilantro on top with drizzle of chili oil & few corn nibblets. Or to be totally gluttonous some cheese shavings pecorino/spicy calabrese/even blue would be nice.  Serve with zucchini muffins for a really delicious lunch.