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Monday, February 23, 2015

Chinese New Year

Kris and Baldur were both speeding down this hill on the cross country trail.
Chinese New Year was celebrated all over the world last week. We decided to mark the occasion of the beginning of the year of the Ram with a weekend long Chinese feast. Our other weekend plans involved taking advantage of the deep snow surrounding Ellicottville, NY., and spending as much time as we could on our cross-country skis in the magical forest behind Holimont.  In order to accomplish both, Andrea pulled out a beautiful cookbook,  Beyond the Great Wall, 2008.Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid,  which inspired us to adapt a number of their simpler recipes for our grilling menu. The ingredients were easy to find, the recipes  simple and the flavours were outstanding. Here are some of the recipes that we enjoyed this weekend (between ski outings!).
These golden trout were sweet and tender.

Dai Grilled Fish

Ted was very patient about filleting these fish more or less according to the directions.  We put them on soaked maple planks to stabilize them on the grill. 

2 small whole freshwater fish, about 1 pound each, filleted, but leaving the heads and tails intact
For the filling:
¼ cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
1 cup finely chopped scallions, white and tender green parts
1 small hot red chili pepper, finely minced
 2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
4 wedges of lime

Soak 4 pairs of long chopsticks or bamboo skewers and some kitchen string in water for 10 minutes, and 2 maple planks for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, clean and gut fish if they haven’t already been prepared to this point.  The instructions for filleting the fish are as follows:

One at a time, lay each fish down on a cutting board with the head end toward you, the tail pointing away, the spine of the fish to the right, and the open belly to the left.  With a very sharp knife, starting at the base of the tail, on the belly side, cut across the base of the tail, slicing into the fish just down to the bone.  Slice almost all the way over to the spine.  Now cut toward you along the length of the backbone, again cutting through the flesh just down to the bone.  Stop before you reach the gills and then slice toward the belly side, stopping before you reach the edge, so the rectangle you have cut stays attached.  Lay your knife almost horizontally into the backbone cut and slice along the ribs to detach the flesh from them, as if filleting the fish, but do not cut all the way through to the belly edge. 

Tie one end of two chopsticks together. Open the flap of one of the fish, and pull it back to keep it open.  Place the fish diagonally into the moth of the chopstick holder so the flap is held open, and secure the other end of the chopsticks.  Repeat at the other end with the second set of chopsticks. 

Combine all the filling ingredients, cutting in the coconut oil with 2 knives or a pastry blend to incorporate evenly.  Spread the filling over the surface of both fish, and set the fish on top of the soaked planks.  Place them on a preheated barbecue set to LOW and cook for 20 minutes before testing for doneness.  Serve with wedges of lime. 

If cooking directly over the flame instead of on a plank, cook for 10 minutes only on MEDIUM LOW.

Silk Road Tomato-Bell Pepper Salad

1 medium-large orange bell pepper,
2 medium ripe tomatoes
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup chopped coriander and mint, combined

Remove the core, seeds and ribs from the pepper, and cut it into ¼” x 1” strips.  Place in a medium shallow bowl.  Cut the tomatoes into small chunks and add to the bowl.  Toss with the salt and chopped herbs, and serve at room temperature. 

Pea Tendril Salad

½  pound pea tendrils or pea shoots
½ pound mixed sprouts, such as radish and broccoli
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
¾ tsp salt
1 small red cayenne chili pepper
2 tbsp peanut oil
½ cup thinly sliced shallots

Combine the rice vinegar, sesame oil and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Strip and discard the seeds from the red cayenne chili pepper and thinly slice it. Set aside.
Place the pea tendrils/shoots and mixed sprouts in a large shallow serving bowl. Stir the dressing and pour it over the pea tendril/sprouts mixture and toss gently.
Meanwhile, place a wok or heavy skillet over high heat. Add the peanut oil, then the sliced shallots. Using long chop sticks or a spatula, keep the shallots moving so that they do not burn. Fry for approximately 2 minutes, until they are golden-brown. Spread the shallots and oil over the pea tendrils, sprinkle on the sliced red cayenne chili pepper and serve.

Uighur Lamb Kebabs
These succulent,  marinated lamb kebabs have a tart, garlicky flavour, thanks to the pomegranate juice.
1 pound boneless lamb leg or shoulder, cut into 1” square pieces
For the marinade:
1 medium onion, quartered
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup pomegranate juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Place the onion chunks into a food processor and whir into a paste. Transfer onion paste to a medium size bowl and combine with the other marinade ingredients.  Add lamb pieces and coat thoroughly with the marinade. Cover and let rest for 2 hours.
Preheat the barbecue on HIGH for 10 minutes, then reduce to MEDIUM. Thread the lamb onto metal skewers(or bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water for 30 minutes).
Place the skewers on the grids and grill 2 minutes on the first side, then turn and cook for 2 additional minutes on each of the other 3 sides, for a total of 8 minutes. They should still be pink in the middle!

Yuanyang Grilled Potatoes

4 large Yukon Gold Potatoes, scrubbed, skin-on
2 tablespoons canola oil
Sea salt and freshly ground Ground Sichuan Pepper

Place the potatoes in a large pot of salted boiling water. Boil for approximately 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely cooked through. Drain and let cool.
Preheat barbecue on HIGH for 5 minutes, the reduce to MEDIUM. Meanwhile, cut the potatoes into 1 ½- inch chunks. Toss them lightly in the canola oil and place them on the grill, turning occasionally until all sides are golden and crispy. Serve plain, accompanied by the sea salt and freshly ground Sichuan Pepper.

Serve with Soy-Vinegar Dipping Sauce
 Soy-Vinegar Dipping Sauce
We also served this sauce pork and leek dumplings.
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fine fresh ginger threads.

Combine in a small bowl and stir.

Leek and Pork Dumplings

1 large leek, white part only
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ pound ground pork
½  small red chili pepper finely minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems
1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon roasted sesame oil
1 package wonton wrappers
corn starch

Trim the leek of roots and dark green leaves. Slice it in half lengthwise, and soak it in water to remove any debris.  Drain well, then cut it into ¼” slices. Heat the vegetable oil in a small pan and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Combine the cooled leeks, pork, chili pepper, soy sauce and sesame oil in a medium bowl.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle it with corn starch.  Have a small bowl of water on hand.

Place a teaspoon of the prepared filling in the middle of one wonton wrapper.   Dip your finger in water and trace the outside of the wonton to just moisten it.  Gather up the edges of the wrapper and pinch it just above the filling while twisting slightly to secure.  Set it on the baking sheet and repeat.  The dumplings can be frozen at this point, then stored in the freezer in an airtight container, or cooked immediately.

To cook, heat a small amount of oil in a nonstick pan fitted with a lid.  Lay some dumplings spaced 1 inch apart in the bottom of the pan.  Let cook for a few minutes without disturbing to allow the bottoms to brown slightly.  Pour in about ½ cup water, then cover with the lid to allow the dumplings to steam.  Cook for about 5 minutes until the meat is cooked (slightly longer if cooked from frozen).  Serve hot with Soy-Vinegar Dipping Sauce, or any other sauce of your choice. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Valentine's Treats

With temperatures in our area dipping below the -30°C mark we were happy to spend much of the weekend cozied up to the fire, but we did still manage to use the grill for dinner!  Our Valentine's dish was inspired by a column in the Washington Post, but instead of using prepared duck confit, we slow-roasted the duck legs in the Broil King Rib Roaster, and added some stir-fried vegetables for crunch and colour.  Samantha was in charged with cutting the red peppers into heart shapes for the occasion!

Tender Duck over Coconut Rice Noodles

Serves 4

4 duck legs
¼ cup sherry or vermouth
1-2 tablespoons yellow mustard
for the rub:
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon 5-spice powder
½ teaspoon ground ginger
for the broth:
1 1/2-inch piece ginger root
1 bunch (3 ounces) cilantro
1 can coconut milk
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
3 whole star anise
1/2 teaspoon Sambel Olek
2 limes

8 ounces flat rice noodles

for the sautéed vegetables:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup sugar snap peas
1 cup red bell peppers (cut into heart shapes, optional)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
for the garnish:
1/4 cup flaked or shredded coconut
1/2 cup roasted, unsalted cashews

Prepare the duck legs the night before cooking by CAREFULLY piercing the skin in several areas with a fork or sharp paring knife.  Lay them in a flat glass dish and pour the sherry or vermouth over the duck, leaving them uncovered in the refrigerator overnight.  By the end of the roasting time, the fat will have dripped away, leaving moist succulent meat, with a crispy skin.  DO NOT PIERCE THE FLESH, as you do not want the juices to escape during cooking.

Coat the duck legs in a thin layer of yellow mustard. This will allow the rub to adhere to the duck and will help develop a zingy, crispy skin. Coat them with a layer of the rub and lay in a large flat glass dish.  At this point you can either cook the duck legs in a smoker set at 200°F, or in side a rib roaster or other heavy cast iron vessel in a barbecue with the outside burners set on LOW and the middle burners off.   Cooking time will be 3-4 hours at these very low temperatures.  Continue cooking until the internal temperature of the duck legs is 165-170°F.  Shred the duck meat and crispy skin and keep warm.

Meanwhile, peel the ginger, then cut it lengthwise into very thin slices. Coarsely chop the cilantro leaves and some of the tender stems. Arrange the coconut in a single layer on one side of a small baking sheet; spread the cashews on the other side. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Let the coconut cool on the baking sheet. Transfer the nuts to a cutting board and coarsely chop.

Combine the coconut milk, broth, fish sauce, star anise, crushed red pepper flakes, the ginger and half of the cilantro in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once the mixture starts to bubble at the edges, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Cut the limes in half, then squeeze their juice into the saucepan, stirring to incorporate. Discard the star anise.

While the sauce is simmering, stir-fry the sugar snap peas, mushrooms and red peppers in a wok set on MEDIUM-HIGH, until just tender-crisp.

Meanwhile, add the rice noodles to the boiling water; reduce the heat to medium-high and cook for about 3 minutes or according to the package directions. Drain, and divide evenly among individual wide, shallow bowls, piling the noodles in the center of each bowl.

Scatter equal amounts of the duck meat over each portion, then pour equal amounts of the broth around the noodles in each bowl. Arrange the vegetables over top, then sprinkle with the toasted coconut, the cashews and the remaining chopped cilantro.
Serve right away.

Wicked Chocolate Brownies

Jane Peirce from Toronto shared this amazing recipe with us.  The mini marshmallows make them both moist and chewy, and our gluten free version turned out beautifully.

1 cup butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup milk chocolate chips
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour (either gluten free or regular)
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups mini marshmallows

Line a 9 x 11 baking pan with parchment paper, and lightly grease the paper.  Preheat the oven to 350°F

In a medium bowl set over gently simmering water, melt the butter, unsweetened chocolate and chocolate chips stirring often.  Set aside to let cool slightly.

Beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla until thick and pale, about 3 minutes.  Fold in the cooled chocolate mixture. 

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Fold this into the chocolate and eggs.  Stir in the marshmallows, and scrape the mixture into the prepared baking pan. 

Bake for 35 – 37 minutes.

Cool completely before cutting, because they are very gooey.  Serve with ice cream and raspberries.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Back To Basics

We love making ribs for all occasions:  casual neighbourhood get-togethers, weekday dinners, and birthday celebrations.  Who doesn’t love a tender rack of ribs?!  For some time, Ted has been tinkering with a design for a “rib roaster” to make barbecuing ribs even easier.  We’ve tested out several prototypes, and now the final Broil King rib roaster is in production.  Because of the tight seal on this cast iron vessel, all the moisture is locked in and the ribs get more and more tender.  On Saturday we coated a few racks of pork ribs with a homemade rub, arranged them in the rib roaster, set them on the barbecue on LOW and went skiing for 3 hours. When we came back all that was left to do was to lay them on the grill, coat them with some barbecue sauce, and let the sauce glaze the ribs.

Savoury and Sweet Rib Rub

1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch chipotle chili powder
3-4  tablespoons brown sugar

Place the coriander, cumin and fennel seeds in a small pan and toast over medium heat until very fragrant.  Transfer to a mortar and crush with pestle until finely ground.  Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.  Rub all over the ribs.  

While we were preparing the rub, Sam and Eric pulled together a delicious batch of macaroni and cheese, the perfect accompaniment. 

Macaroni and Cheese
Kosher salt
1 pound macaroni
¾ cup unsalted butter
6 tablespoons flour
2 shallots, minced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
4-1/2 cups milk , heated
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
6 cups (1 lb.) finely shredded sharp Cheddar

For the topping:
1-1/4 cups coarse breadcrumbs
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted 

Heat the oven to 375°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the macaroni; cook until just al dente and drain well.  Rinse with cold water to stop cooking.  
 Melt the butter in a large heavy dutch oven over medium heat. Add the flour, shallot, bay leaf and thyme.  Cook over medium-low heat for 2 to 3 min., stirring constantly.  Slowly whisk the heated milk into the roux until thoroughly combined. Raise the heat to medium high; whisk constantly until the mixture boils. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened. Lower the heat and continue simmering for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Add 2 tsp. salt, the pepper, nutmeg, and shredded cheese, stirring until the cheese is just melted.
Add the pasta to the cheese sauce and stir well.  To save dishes you may bake it in this vessel, or butter a casserole dish and transfer the mixture.  Toss the breadcrumbs with the melted butter and spread them over the casserole. Bake until sizzling and lightly browned on top (cover with foil if the top browns too quickly), about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, back in the city, Kris was preparing a rib dinner for Mark’s birthday.  Her side dishes included coleslaw and a delicious grilled vegetable salad.

Grilled Vegetable Salad with Parmesan cheese and Toasted Hazelnuts
The greens in this salad, a mixture of spring greens, water-cress , fresh basil and broccoli and radish sprouts,  pack a powerful punch of flavour. Topped with the winning combination of caramelized grilled vegetables, top quality Parmesan cheese (we use Parmigiano- Reggiano) and toasted hazelnuts, this salad could be a meal in itself.

2 zucchinis, trimmed and cut into ½ inch slices
1 yellow pepper, cored, seeded and cut into quarters
1 orange pepper, cored, seeded and cut into quarters
1 red pepper, cored, seeded and cut into quarters
1 fennel bulb, trim top and cut into 4 slices
1 spanish onion, cut into 4-5 thick slices
1 head radicchio, quartered
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Sadly, the birthday boy was put to work on his birthday
4 cups mixed greens
1 cup watercress
1 cup basil leaves
½ cup broccoli and radish sprouts
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp hazelnut oil

100 gram piece of Parmesan cheese, shaved
1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat barbecue on HIGH for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to MEDIUM. Meanwhile clean and cut vegetables into desired size. Brush vegetable pieces on all sides with oil, using a silicone brush. Place on grids and grill for about 2 -3 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Combine mixed greens, watercress, basil leaves and sprouts in a large salad bowl. Toss with balsamic vinegar and hazelnut oil. Arrange greens on a large platter and place grilled vegetables on top of the greens.  Garnish with toasted hazelnuts, shaved Parmesan cheese and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.



Monday, February 2, 2015

Bringing Back Vegetables!

Baldur is not convinced about this vegetable heavy menu
 We are finally getting over our holiday slump and are thinking about putting  more vegetables back into our diet. This meant that we had to come up with a couple of truly delicious menus for both Tim's birthday celebration and our Super Bowl celebration. We think that we came up with a few winners! First, try this delicious appetizer.

 Crostini with Smoked Vegetable Ragout and Basil Goat Cheese Spread
You will note that this recipe calls for ½ of an eggplant, ½ of a pepper, and so forth.  Of course, we smoked double the amount of vegetables needed for the ragout, and reserved half to be used the next day in a pasta sauce.  We always cook more than we need so that we are a step ahead for the next meal!!

For the marinade:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Place in an extra large bowl and combine together with a whisk.

Grilled vegetables:
1 eggplant
8 mushrooms
1 each yellow, orange and red pepper, cored and seeded
1 yellow onion
1 jalapeno pepper, cored and seeded
1 large whole tomato
2 zucchinis
1 whole garlic, cut off top ½  
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp high quality balsamic vinegar
1 tsp herbes de provence
¾ tsp salt
Prepare vegetables by washing and drying them and tossing them in a large bowl with the prepared marinade.
Marinate vegetables for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare smoker to cook at 200-225°F. Place the vegetables on the lower rack and close lid. Smoke for 2 hours, turning once. Vegetables should be starting to turn golden brown.  Remove from smoker and let cool for 30 minutes.  
Using a sharp knife, dice the eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, onion, tomato and zucchini into small pieces.  Set ½ aside to use in another dish some other time, and put the rest into a large sauté pan.  Remove 3 cloves of garlic from the garlic bud, and mash them into a paste, add to vegetable mixture with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and herbes de provence.  Heat gently over low heat for 12-15 minutes, until the flavours have blended. Set aside to cool, until ready to use.

For the Basil Goat Cheese spread:
250 g. Soft goat cheese(we used Chevre)
½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Place goat cheese in a mixing bowl and allow it to soften for 30 minutes. Add chopped basil, shallots and black pepper. Stir to combine.

Terry and Mark looking forward to Tim's grilled lamb chops
1 baguette
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

 Slice baguette on the diagonal into 1/3 inch slices. Brush slices lightly on both sides with this and place on grids. Grill for 3 minutes per side. Remove from grids.  At this point, you can set everything aside to assemble later, or assemble and eat them right away! Spread with basil goat cheese mixture, top with 1 tablespoon of smoked vegetable ragout and place back in a 350°F oven or barbecue for 5 minutes.
Drizzle lightly with balsamic vinegar and serve. 

Happy Birthday Tim

Luke and Georgina prepare for a food heavy Super Bowl Sunday
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Walnuts and Apple-Chili Powder Butter Sauce

These roasted Brussels Sprouts were a savoury compliment to the strip loin steaks that we prepared  for our Super Bowl Party this weekend.  

By roasting the Brussels sprouts on the barbecue in advance, we were able to toss them into the Apple-chili powder Butter Sauce at the last minute.   It was a nice change for the classic steak and baked potato dinner that we prepare on the grill at least once a week. We modified this recipe from Modern Sauces, 2012, by Martha Holmberg.

1 pound Brussels sprouts, washed, trimmed and halved
3 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup walnuts, chopped
Preheat the barbecue on HIGH for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to MEDIUM.  Toss the prepared Brussels sprouts in a bowl with olive oil, rosemary, salt and black pepper. Spread out on a grill pan and place on grids. Roast at 350°, with the lid closed, for 20 minutes. Add walnuts, close lid and roast another 5 minutes. The Brussels sprouts should be tender, but not mushy. Set aside until ready to add to sauce.

Apple-Chili Powder Butter Sauce
1 cup apple juice
1 minced shallot
½ tsp chili powder
2 tbsp chunk of cold butter
In a small saucepan, combine the apple juice, shallot and chili powder and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring and scrapping the sides of the pan occasionally until the liquid is reduce to 2 tbsp. This will take 15-20 minutes.
Add the cold butter in one piece, and stir with a wooden spoon, until the butter is incorporated. Do not let the mixture over heat. When the butter has almost finished melting, remove pan from heat. Continue stirring while you add the salt.  Add the Brussels sprouts and toss gently, return to burner and cook for 2 more minutes over low heat. Serve immediately.
The game was good, but so was the half-time show!