Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ravishing Red Risotto

Mistura is one of my absolute favorite restaurants in Toronto. I was introduced to this fine Italian supper club years ago by a Sommelier I knew. Mistura quickly separated it's self from the rest of the fancy-shmancy restaurants for their excellent service and impeccably executed seasonal Italian menu.  Chef Massimo Capra from Restaurant Makeover on the Food Network is the head chef and owner of this delicious and romantic establishment. This recipe is inspired by his signature Risotto Rosso a delicious red beet risotto. I thought since I had half a bottle of red wine and a bunch of beets left I would give it a try. Risotto INGREDIENTS: Serves 2
serves 4
arborio rice - 1 cup
4 cups stock or water. 
4 beets - roasted then finely chopped
2 shallots - finely chopped
1/2 cooking onion - finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic - finely chopped
4 sprigs of thyme - remove leaves discard stems & finely chop
drop of olive oil
1 1/2 cups parmesan or grana padano
s & p
1-2 tbs butter - you can use more if you're not concerned with calories - more makes risotto creamier
good red Italian wine something dry - 1 cup
truffles or truffle oil - optional
PREP: For the beets you can roasted them at 400 for 45 minutes, then place them in a bowl with plastic wrap until the are room temp - to loosen and remove the skin (* wear gloves). You can also boil the beets (peeled) then use the water instead of the stock.  Finely chop all aromatics (onion, shallots and garlic).
Place stock or water in a sauce pan on a medium heat - you will need to slowly incorporate into risotto during the cooking and it won't work unless the broth is warm. 
COOK: Sautee onion, shallot and garlic in a medium hot pan until tender, make sure to season w/ s&p then add rice and thyme - parsley can be substituted but do not add it until the very end of the cooking process as it can not stand up to the heat and will turn brown. Make sure every grain is pretty much glistening before adding the red wine. Then start to slowly incorporate the warm stock 1 ladle at a time - add more stock when the liquid  has incorporated. Continue this process for about 15-20 mins adding the beets with about 5 minutes left to cook  until the rice is al dente then add  extra butter if desired and parmesan cheese which is mandatory. 
SERVE: Drizzle of truffle oil or shaved truffles a squirt of lemon is also nice and obviously extra cheese!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Iron chef Canada - Chuck defeats my boy Bobby

Yes I know this post is coming a few days too late, but damn it i've been busy this week! This doesn't mean I'm not so freaking proud of my fellow Canadian Chuck Hughes. I must admit I was shocked to hear the judges all agreed that he should conquer over heavy hitter Bobby Flay. I must admit this battle was bitter sweet for me since I'm such a Flay fan. I also must say "what the *&^&^% Bobby you lost on a lobster battle?" Either way a HUGE congratulations to Chuck, who started off his lobster menu with one of my favorite snack/coctails the bloody ceasar. Rimmed with the famous Montreal Steak spice and garnished with a juicy lobster claw this classic Canadian beverage did not disappoint.  The following dishes included a lobster roll, risotto, Jerk lobster and Chuck's famous lobster poutine which didn't bode well with the judges. What humored me was knowing this is a  regular dish on the menu at his popular Montreal resto Garde Manger. I remember ordering it a few summers ago thinking it was a pretty darn delicious take on the dish. Chuck attributes the disappointment with his dish to be the wrong type of cheese curds. Anyone who knows proper poutine knows that the cheese curds really do need to be those squeaky rubbery ones you can buy anywhere in Quebec - the aged white cheddar just didn't do the trick. The Montreal chef received very positive feedback on his risotto and Jerk lobster which I'm dying to have the recipe for. My one question is where was the dessert? Lobster is such a delicate sweet crustacean I figured at least one of the chefs would attempt a sweet parting gift for the judges. Maybe next time boys. Félicitations bien mérités Chuck!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Raw beet and sunchoke salad with black walnuts

I stumbled upon this delicious colour and flavor combination. Shopping at local farmers markets and eating local ingredients really forces you to be creative with what's available in what season. I was turned on to black walnuts about a year ago, and I can easily say they are one of the most healthy and deliciously unique tree fruits around. They have this really vibrant aroma - almost like the inside of a kiwi fruit with lovely citrus notes. This salad is best enjoyed raw use a mandolin to shave the beets and sunchokes into super thin slivers.
Raw beet and sunchoke salad with black walnuts INGREDIENTS:
large red beet - peeled & shaved
sunchokes - scrubbed & shaved (leave skin on - its delicious
black walnuts - chopped (you can use regular walnuts as well but it's just not as good - hazelnut would also work)
Lemon - zested and juiced
white truffle oil - or truffles if you've got em
parsley or mint - to garnish (optional)
PREP: wash and shave beets, zest and juice lemon and chop walnuts. Arrange everything on the plate, sprinkle with lemon zest, flake sea salt and black pepper drizzle with truffle oil and squeeze some lemon juice as well. Sprinkle with parsley or mint... enjoy

Friday, March 18, 2011

A+ easy and super healthy Pizza Crust

The Sha Sha bread co. makes a wonderful line up of products that are organic, rich in protein and made from whole sprouted grains. Today I want to tell you about their AMAZING ready made pizza crust. I always keep a few of these in my freezer for last minute dinner parties. They are great for an easy appetizer or a pizza party. Last month my it was my finacee's birthday who told me for months he didn't want to do anything special, then of course he wakes up the morning of and decides he want to have a bunch of friends over for dinner. GRRREAT - I start to scramble making phone calls inviting people over to celebrate his birthday, thinking what the hell am I going to make thats quick and inexpensive (we are trying to cut back on our spending after a slew of friends birthdays and weddings). I figure a pizza party would be great. I had one of these Spelt crusts in the freezer, and my friend Jenn said she also had some frozen crust and a huge package of mozzarella and goats cheese in her fridge and would love to come and help me.  YAY. I peek in the fridge to see what else we can whip together. I had a mix of wild mushrooms some left over thyme my brain is going into cooking mode and I know they will be great with the goats cheese. I have a few bricks of butter, eggs, sour creme, cocoa, icing sugar and milk plus a can of ducle de leche I made a few weeks back. Light bulb goes off cocoa sour creme cake with dulce de leche icing. Things are really starting to come together quickly. I have a bunch of onions I can caramelize and put with the mushroom and goats cheese pizza. I have ingredients to make a big salad with calipo tuna, now I only need to throw together a tomato sauce. I figure it's ok if I cheat a little this time.  I wanted to pick up some buffalo mozzarella, basil and I decided to just grab a can of Italian pizza sauce - which I obviously doctored up a bit to add extra flavor. I'm not going to get in to the rest of the details or recipes i'll save them for another post. Geeze I really can't stop myself from rolling into a drawn out story. The point is that Jenn's defrosted white flour pizza dough was completely blown out of the water by The Sha Sha crust. It was a huge hit with everyone - there was no competition and nobody couldn't believe it was heathy to boot. It crisped up perfectly much better then the real pizza dough which just ended up chewy and weird (perhaps because it was frozen). So say fair well to your white flour crust and hello to healthy ;) give Sha Sha bread co. a try and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Red Shrimp salad with red rice, red leaf lettuce and heart of palm

Hi snobs and snobettes sorry i've been MIA the last week I've been completely wiped out by a terrible cold.  It was my first of the season so I consider myself lucky to have made it all the way to March without the sniffles, chills,  and disgusting flew like symptoms.  Well i'm back now with a delicious simple lunch or dinner you can whip up in under 10 minutes (that is if you've already made the rice). 
Red shrimp salad with citrus vinaigrette   
INGREDIENTS: 2 servings

Colusari red rice - 1 cup cooked ahead
6 raw large shrimps - cleaned but left in shell
1/2 can hearts of palm - 1/2 inch sliced 
1 head red leaf lettuce - washed and torn into bite size pieces
1 tomato - chopped 
SPICE BLEND for the shrimps: 
1 tsp smoked paprika 
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tbs minced garlic
1/2 lemon zested
pinch s&p
1 lemon juiced ( you can use lime or orange instead)
1 1/2tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp honey
3 tbs evoo (olive oil or grape seed oil) 
FOR RICE: boil 3 cups of water to 1 cup of rice with a tbs of butter or drizzle of olive oil on simmer covered for 30-40 mins. 
PREP:  let shrimps sit in marinate for 30 mins.
COOK: heat oil or butter in pan and sautee shrimps on med high heat until pink and tender about 2-3 mins, perfectly cooked shrimps should be succulent and slightly transparent in the middle, not rubbery and chewy! Cooking them in the shell adds flavor, so second guess yourself before pulling em off. 
SERVE: Toss salad with dressing, place rice on the bottom then salad on top and finally your beautifully cooked shrimps on top. You may want to chop up some parsley or mint to sprinkle over dish for extra freshness. I didn't have any at the time. This was one of those fast and furious i'm starving dinners ;) Enjoy. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Thanks Bobby - Turkey kofte with pomegranate rita and cous cous

Soooooo delicious... The following recipe is based on Bobby Flays turkey kofte.
1 pound ground lean turkey
1 cooking onion - fine chop
2 shallots - fine chop
2 garlic cloves - fine chop
fresh thyme - 5-6 sprigs (mint or parsley can be substituted)
1 lemon - zested
2 tsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayanne pepper
1 pomegranate - seeded
1stp lemon juice
1 cup yogurt - greek is best or strain regular yogurt through cheese cloth or paper towel to remove moisture
pinch - all spice, cumin,  cinnamon & salt
1/4 cup cous cous
few table spoons boiling water or stock - just enough to moisten
spritz of lemon juice
1/4 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp sumac
1/4 tsp tumeric
drizzle olive oil
PREP: Fine chop onion, shallots garlic, then sautee until golden. Remove mixture from heat and let cool slightly. In a bowl combine all spices turkey and onion mixture once  cooled. Mix everything together with lemon zest tomato paste and a small drizzle of olive oil in mixture as well rub your hands to help form into long patties.
For rita break down pomegranate disposing of the bitter skins. Add yogurt lemon and spices and mix, breaking through some of the pomegranates to release their juices. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Place cous cous and spices in a bowl, add hot water or stock and cover for 5 mins. Fluff with a fork add a drizzle of olive oil and splash of lemon juice.
COOK: In a hot pan place kofte in rows cook on 1-2 minutes on each side. Cook for about 5-7 minutes or until firm. If your not sure cut into one, but remember turkey appears more pink then chicken. Done and done.... enjoy!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Alien Greens - Roman cauliflower

Romanesco Broccoli also known as Roman cauliflower is definitely a sight to see, and a delight to eat. I had never heard of it until a few months ago when I stumbled upon this strange looking brocoflower at my Italian grocery store. Obviously I just had to buy it when it said grown in Ontario. It was really funny to see people looking at it picking it up like it was some strange alien vegetable. I figured it had to be similar to a broccoli or cauliflower and I was right. It's very close to cauliflower however it has these amazing pointed edges and a vibrant florescent green colour. It's also a bit sweeter then cauliflower which has a very pungent smell when cooked - my dad thinks it smells like feet and can't stand the stuff. I just love it but for those cauliflower haters Romanesco broccoli would be a great alternative.  I enjoyed this beautiful bouquet of veg roasted with olive oil s&p and it was amazing. There are so many vegetables that need very little preparation to taste delicious and this is one of them. 
PREP: Pre heat oven 350. Wash and cut veg into bite size florets. Coat every piece with a drizzle of olive oil sea salt and pepper. 
COOK: roast until golden or slightly charred peaks 20 mins or so - i like mine with a bit of bite and lots of char so I roast them under the broiler for about 10 mins. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mexican Fritatta with smokey black beans

You know I loooove fritattas. They are just the best way to start off a lazy Sunday. Plus they're super simple and satisfying. I created this yummy dish using left over black beans and some tomatoes that were on their last life a scallion and blend of cheddar and mozzarella cheese. INGREDIENTS: 
1 can black beans
1 clove of garlic - minced
pinch cumin
pinch smoked paprika
5 eggs - whisked 
handful of chopped tomatoes
1/2 onion chopped
parsley - chopped (small bunch)
1 scallion - chopped
handful or two of shredded cheese
avocado (optional)
PREP: Chop veg and whisk eggs with a touch or water or milk add chopped parsley. Pre heat over to 350. 
COOK: For the beans - In a small pot heat the beans with 1/2 garlic, cumin, paprika s&p, and simmer until they thicken, then remove from heat (can be made in advance up to two days ahead). Then in a medium frying pan sautee the onions with olive oil s&p and the rest of the garlic. Cook until translucent add chopped tomatoes and continue to cook for 1 min and remove from heat, then add to egg mixture with 1/2 a cup or more of the beans - quickly whisk everything together.  Add a little butter or oil to the pan so the eggs don't stick, on a med high heat add egg and mixture. Let cook for 3-5 mins, and wiggle the pan to see if the bottom is cooked, add shredded cheese and transfer to the oven for about 10 mins or until eggs are firm. You may want to put the broiler on for the last minute or so to get the cheese really gooey or crispy like the top of a pizza. Once removed from the oven sprinkle with scallions. 
SERVE: with slices of avocado and multigrain toast.