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Monday, March 31, 2014

Tandoori Chicken

The recent discovery of lactose free Greek yogurt has opened up a whole new world in our household.  Thank you Liberté!  This Tandoori Chicken is so delicious on the smoker, and it is very good the next day too. It would be wonderful to pack up for a picnic lunch this summer!

Tandoori Chicken

6 pieces bone-in, skin-on chicken
for the marinade:
1/2 cup plain Greek (lactose free) yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger root, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon hot smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish

Combine all marinade ingredients in a small bowl.  Arrange the chicken pieces in a shallow glass dish, and spoon the marinade over top.  Turn the chicken and coat the other side as well.  Cover and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight. 

Light the smoker, and set to 2 and 2 for a constant temperature of 275°F.  Fill the diffuser pan with hot water.  Replace the grids, and place the chicken on the grids.  Smoke for 2-3 hours.  Remove the water pan, and smoke for another hour, or until the skin is crispy.

Chandani Style Potatoes, Green Peas, Spinach and Tomatoes

My cousin Janacca’s friend Kristin Jarden wrote the original Vegetarian version of this recipe. We used chicken stock and added a few handfuls of baby spinach, but to keep it vegetarian, simply substitute water or vegetable stock.

4 medium potatoes
3 medium tomatoes
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons ginger, minced
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups baby green peas (frozen)
3 cups baby spinach
2 tablespoons fresh coriander, minced

Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1 inch cubes.  Peel and coarsely chop the tomatoes.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and drop in the cumin seeds.  When they sizzle, add the ginger and sauté for 20 seconds.  Stir in the coriander, turmeric and jalapeno.  Add the tomatoes and salt, and sauté until the sauce is quite smooth, about 5 minutes.  Add the potatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Loosely cover the pan, reduce heat, and keep at a lively simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.  Add the peas, and cook for 3 minutes, or until heated through.  Add the spinach and turn with tongs in the sauce until wilted.  Remove from heat and garnish with cilantro. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Smoked Lamb Shanks with Middle Eastern Flavours

We were both fortunate to have had a change of scenery during this endless winter:  Kris visited her son Andy in Montreal where they visited lots of art galleries and enjoyed some great new restaurants, and Andrea hit the slopes with Reid, Samantha and Eric.   Coming home again we were ready for some comfort food.  As an experiment we smoked lamb shanks and a chunky vegetable sauce separately and then combined them for a fall-off-the-bone hearty dish.  The warm spices do double duty as a rub and in the sauce. 

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 meaty lamb shanks
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon Harissa
1 cup dry red wine
One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth 
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Combine the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg in a small bowl.  Season the lamb shanks with salt, pepper, and ½ of the spice mixture. 

In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the onion, carrots and garlic and cook over MEDIUM heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining spice mixture and cook, stirring until lightly toasted, about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and harissa and cook over MEDIUM HIGH heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the wine, the tomatoes and the chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil, then remove from the heat. 

Meanwhile, light the smoker and set to 2 and 2 for a consistent temperature of about 275°F.  Place the prepared vegetable mixture in the diffuser pan on the smoker, then position the grids above and arrange the lamb shanks on the grids.  Let smoke for 3 hours. 

Remove the lamb and sauce from the smoker.  Skim the fat from the surface of the sauce, nestle the meat in the sauce and cover tightly with foil.  Replace the pan on the smoker and continue to cook for 1 hour. 

Garnish with chopped fresh mint and cilantro.  We served this with toasted naan bread and steamed asparagus.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Celebrating March Break with Whole Roast Chicken and Grilled Eggplant Parmesan

The Smith/Horne girls visit Grandma!
 MARCH BREAK!! Over the years, this week has been a much anticipated time for our families. It brings back so many wonderful memories of family ski trips, a house filled with kids, cousins and friends, and many happy meal times. Luckily, we still have one in the family who we can celebrate the joys of March Break with, and we were happy to host Maddy during a quick visit to grandmas this week!

Our favorite simple family meal has to be a whole roast chicken prepared on our barbecue. It is comforting, can be eaten hot or cold, provides delicious options for leftovers, and of course, the prospect of chicken soup later in the week is so tantalizing!  As you know, the barbecue is extremelty versatile, you can roast the chicken over a drip-pan, on the rotisserie, or as we did this week, using the beer can method. I love the beer can method of roasting the chicken in my barbecue; and here is why! The clean up is virtually non-existent. I use a fresh, light, citrusy marinade. This along with the contents of the  beer can bastes the chicken while it roasts, making it juicy, tender and flavourful. The juices and the fat run back down the chicken, into the can and the reserve tray that the chicken is sitting in. There is a whole lot of flavour in these juices, so do not waste them! Once the chicken is finished, I remove the roasted chicken from its resting spot over the can and the reserve tray and set these aside in the refrigerator. When the contents have cooled, I scrape off the layer of solidified fat that has risen to the top  and pour the remaining juices into my stock-pot with the bones to make chicken stock.
We have a vegetarian in the family too, and it was super simple to prepare an eggplant parmesan while the chicken was roasting. We finished the meal off with some steamed spinach.

Whole Roast Chicken with Citrus Marinade

1 roasting chicken, 6 lbs
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup canola oil
juice of 1 orange
juice of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup chopped herbs, whatever you have available
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp orange bitters
 1 tsp red chili pepper flakes
 1/2  can of beer

Preheat the barbecue on HIGH for 10 minutes. Turn off the centre burner, but leave the outside burners on.  Reduce heat to MEDIUM, so that the thermometer registers 425 F.

Season chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Gently massage the skin on the breast and legs, so that it loosens from the meat. Be careful not to tear the skin. This will create a pouch, so that you can pour the marinade into the space between the skin and the meat.
Prepare the marinade by combining all of the ingredients together in a measuring cup. Place the chicken in a baking dish, as indicated, so that you can capture and save the marinade that runs out of the chicken.

Prepare the chicken roaster and beer can by emptying half of the contents of the can. Pour any reserved marinade into the can, then carefully place the chicken, legs pointing down, onto the beer can/chicken roaster.

Place the chicken in the barbecue, above the unlit burner. With the lid closed, cook the chicken at 425°F for 50-60 minutes.
The convection heat from the lit burners will surround the chicken from all sides and roast it evenly.

It is finished when the internal temperature of the breast reaches 160°F. Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Pepper is always hopeful.
  Grilled Eggplant Parmesan

2 large eggplants
1/4 cup canola oil

Tomato Sauce:
 1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cooking onion, diced
1/2 tsp red chili pepper flakes
1 bottle Passata, Italian strained tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
2 sprigs fresh basil, chopped

3/4 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated

To grill the eggplant:
 Preheat barbecue on HIGH for 5 minutes, reduce to MEDIUM. Cut eggplant into 1/3 inch thick discs. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for 15 minutes. Pat the water that leaches out of the eggplant with paper towels.  Brush both sides of the eggplant lightly with olive oil. Place the eggplant slices on the grids and cook 4 minutes per side. Set aside.

To prepare the tomato sauce: Saute garlic and onion in a saute pan, until translucent. Add oregano and red chili pepper flakes and cook for another minute. Pour in the bottle of tomato passata and reduce heat. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add chopped fresh basil and season to taste.

To assemble: Cover the bottom of a 9 x 12 inch pan with tomato sauce. Arrange one layer of eggplant on top. Spread with 1/3 of the tomato sauce and sprinkle 1/4 cup of parmigiano reggiano cheese on top. Next, arrange the remaining eggplant on top, pour the remaining tomato sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake in an oven the has been preheated to 350°F for 25 minutes, or as we do, in the barbecue while the roasted chicken is resting.
Grandma wanted to commemorate the day with her first selfie!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Grilled Salads

 Despite the fact that the snow continues to fall, and we are still enjoying skiing and snowshoeing , this weekend, our thoughts turned slightly towards spring. Not to get too excited, we noticed a difference in the way the light filtered through the trees on our morning dog walks. We also started to hear the sounds of the cardinals and chick-a-dees and even sighted a red- headed woodpecker(piliated perhaps, or maybe a flicker?)  Grilling outside even felt balmy this weekend! 
We decided that this would be a good time to think about lightening our diets a bit and start focussing less on meat heavy meals and more towards eating lots of vegetables.  So this week, we give you 2 grilled salad recipes to try. Use whatever you have in the refrigerator, but we do recommend adding some fruit to your salads. The sweet, fresh flavour of fruit really compliments any grilled meat or cheese that you choose to include in your salad.  Here is what we came up with!
Salad of Grilled Beef Tenderloin Strips, orange segments, avocado and micro-greens

We saw a beautiful beef tenderloin at the butcher and decided that we could cook once and eat twice, using it as the main course each meal! The whole grilled tenderloin was perfect for a Friday night birthday party, but even better, it was delicious when it was featured the next night in a refreshing main course salad of spring greens, orange segments, green onions, avocado and grilled beef tenderloin strips-topped with micro-greens, from The Working Centre.
 The dressing for this salad is simple:

2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Combine white wine vinegar, maple syrup, fresh lime juice, dijon mustard, salt and pepper in a large salad bowl. Slowly whisk in the extra virgin olive oil.

We thought that this would also be a good time  to give a bit of a refresher on how to grill the perfect beef tenderloin(see below).

The Perfect Grilled Beef Tenderloin:

  1         whole  beef tenderloin , at room temperature(6 lb)
  1         tablespoon  olive oil
             coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat barbecue and set temperature to MEDIUM.
Pat tenderloin dry with paper towels, and brush with olive oil.  Season
with salt and pepper.
Place the tenderloin on oiled barbecue grids at a 30 degree angle for 20
minutes, rotating the meat by 1/3 every 6 1/2 minutes, to get grill marks
on all sides.
Remove the tenderloin from the barbecue to a glass dish and tent with
foil, leaving it stand for 20 minutes.
Return the tenderloin to the grids, placing it on the opposite 30 degree
angle and grill for the final 20 minutes.  Rotate the meat by 1/3 every 6 1/2 minutes, basting it with juices
from the dish.
Remove the tenderloin to a carving board and cover with foil and a kitchen towel
to insulate.  Let stand 10-20 minutes to reabsorb the juices, before carving.

We also prepared this wonderful grilled salad with pears, zucchini, red peppers and stilton cheese. Try it the next time you invite friends or family over for lunch.

Grilled Salad with Stilton and Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette

2 firm-ripe pears, cored and sliced into 1/8ths.
2 red bell peppers, cut into large chunks
2 zucchini, sliced lengthwise
Vegetable oil to brush on the vegetables and pears
spring mix lettuces, washed and spun dry
crumbled Stilton or Gorgonzola cheese
¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds

for the vinaigrette
2 oil-packed sundried tomatoes, finely minced
1 small clove garlic, finely minced or pressed
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, combine the sundried tomatoes, garlic, honey and vinegar.  Whisk in the olive oil in a steady stream.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

Preheat barbecue on MEDIUM HIGH for 10 minutes.  Clean the grids with a steel brush to remove any residue, and lubricate them with some vegetable oil.  Reduce the heat to MEDIUM, and lay the prepared pears and vegetables on the grill, brushing the pears and zucchini with a little oil to prevent sticking.  Grill them until just tender, for a total of about 8 minutes, turning 3 times for perfect grill marks. 

Pile the lettuce on individual plates and arrange the vegetables over top.  Spoon the dressing evenly over the salads, then sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds and Stilton cheese.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Smoked Sticky Short Ribs

We recreated a Canadian summer menu for Konstantinos and George who were visiting from Greece

Early in the week our friends came to visit from Athens, and Ted couldn’t wait to give Konstantinos a steak grilling tutorial.  He did a spectacular job, and will be able to take his skills back to Greece and impress all his friends and family.   

During this enduring cold spell the smoker is a great way to prepare hands-off meals that mean you can stay warm inside.  Once the Broil King Keg is lit and the food is on, you can pretty much forget about this dish until the glazing stage.  And to make it even easier, we used the Broil King Spicy Thai Rub for the initial flavouring. 

Sticky Short Ribs

2 tablespoons Broil King Perfect Spicy Thai Rub
4 thick cut beef short ribs

for the sauce:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon finely minced ginger root
1 clove garlic, finely minced
¼ cup hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sambal olek

for the garnish:
toasted sesame seeds
chopped green onions

Light the Broil King Keg and set the vents to 2 and 2.  Rub the short ribs all over with the spice rub, and wrap them tightly in heavy aluminum foil.  Place them on the smoker for 3-4 hours.

In a small pot, heat the oil over MEDIUM LOW heat and add the ginger and garlic.  Stir for one minute, or until very fragrant.  Add the remaining sauce ingredients, stir to combine and simmer until slightly reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes.   Twenty minutes to half an hour before serving, carefully unwrap the ribs and place them on a parchment lined sheet.  (At this point you can also sprinkle some soaked and drained wood chips over the coals for a smokier flavor).  Baste the ribs all over with the sauce, and place on the smoker to glaze them.  To serve, sprinkle with chopped green onions and toasted sesame seeds.

We wanted to make something special for Reid’s birthday that he had never had before, so we put together a gluten free version of Hugh Carpenter’s pot stickers.  The dough was easier to handle than expected, although it couldn’t be rolled quite as thinly as traditional dough without breaking.   The result was rustic and tasty. 

Gluten Free Pot Stickers with Chipotle Ketchup

For the dumpling dough:
¾ cup tapioca starch
¾ cup sweet rice flour, plus more for handling
¾ cup millet flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
¾ cup just-boiled water
a few tablespoons cold water

In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.  Pour in the hot water and stir until crumbly and mostly combined.  Dust the counter with sweet rice flour, and begin to knead the dough by hand, adding cold water by the tablespoon until it is soft and smooth, but not too sticky.  Place the dough in a small ziplock bag and let it rest for at least an hour. 

For the filling:
1 small package dried morels
3 green onions, minced
½ pound raw shrimp
1 egg white
½ pound ground veal
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sherry
1 teaspoon sambal olek
½ teaspoon sugar

¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup sour cream
½ cup Chipotle Ketchup, recipe follows

Pour 2 cups hot water over the mushrooms to soften for 20 minutes.  Drain well and mince.  Combine the shrimp and egg white in a food processor and pulse until minced.  In a medium bowl, combine the mushrooms, green onions, shrimp, veal, oyster sauce, sherry, sambal olek and sugar.  Mix lightly with your fingers until combined. 

Working with ¼ of the dumpling dough at a time (keeping the remaining dough sealed in the ziplock), roll the dough into a cylinder, then cut into 1” segments.  Cover the exposed dough with a dish towel until rolling to prevent it from drying out.  Dust the counter top and rolling pin with sweet rice flour.  Flatten the 1” segment, then roll it out to a rough 3 ½ “ circle.  Gently lift it and place it in your palm,  and scoop a scant tablespoonful of filling into the centre of the dough.  With a pastry brush, brush the outside edges with cold water.  Fold in half, pressing the edges together, then pinch the edges together decoratively.  Place the dumpling on a parchment lined baking sheet that has been dusted with sweet rice flour or corn starch.  Repeat until all the dough is used.  Any leftover filling can be shaped into small meatballs and fried or frozen.

We froze the dumplings on the baking sheet, then stored them in an airtight container until ready to use, but they could also be cooked fresh within 4 hours.  To cook, heat the vegetable oil in a large non-stick frying pan on MEDIUM HIGH.  Add the dumplings, spacing them apart so that they do not touch since they will expand slightly during the cooking process.  Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until beginning to brown on the bottom.  Pour in one cup of water and cover loosely with foil, or with a lid kept slightly ajar.  Continue to steam the dumplings, shaking the pan occasionally, until all the water has evaporated and the dumplings just begin to stick to the bottom of the pan.

To serve, spoon the warm ketchup onto heated plates and place the dumplings on top.  Dot with sour cream and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. 

Chipotle Ketchup

¼ cup chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
4 ripe tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch salt
pinch ground allspice

Puree the chipotle chiles, then force the pulp through a sieve, discarding the seeds.  Place a large sauté pan over MEDIUM HIGH heat and add the oil.  Briefly sauté the prepared garlic and shallots, then add the chipotles, tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, salt and allspice.  Bring to a boil, dial back the temperature and simmer until thick, and until about 1 cup remains.  Can be stored in a tightly sealed jar for up to 1 month.

A round of Cranium was the perfect way to cap off Reid's birthday!