Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Savory Roasted Pumpkin Pie with Toasted Hazlenuts

    Today we had the first snow storm of the year here in Montreal and Thanksgiving seems like a distant memory. However, for American readers, the big feast is tomorrow. To help celebrate the occasion, I'm revisiting a recipe I did for Canadian Thanksgiving in this video. This hearty pie eats like a main course and is perfect for pleasing any vegetarians at the big family meal. Fresh pumpkin can be hard to find as soon as thanksgiving is over, so if you want to try the recipe anytime this winter you can substitute the pumpkin with butternut or acorn squash.    

You can find the whole recipe for the featured dish here

Monday, November 21, 2011

Poached salmon with lentil salad

I've been making an effort to eat healthier lately and this recipe has been my go to dish for when I'm craving something luxurious and guilt free. The mix of the meaty salmon and creamy avocado is rich and comforting. These two ingredients are high in fat, but it's the "good fat" that can help lower cholesterol levels. Salmon and avocado go so well together that I already used the pairing for my salmon tartare recipe. If you try this recipe out I recommend you get a little extra salmon & avocado to make the tartare too.
        For the salad I use sprouted lentils and chickpeas. Sprouted lentils & chickpeas have even more nutritional value that their dried counterparts. They also have a great texture. They are already soft, so I simply boil them for 2 minutes until they are warm but still have their crunch. Look for sprouted legumes at health food stores. If you can't find any, use lentils that have been boiled until soft (about 15 minutes) and canned chickpeas.

Start to finish 30 minutes. Serves 2.


2 200g (7oz)    salmon fillets
100g (3/4 cup) sprouted lentils
100g (3/4 cup) sprouted chickpeas
75g (2 1/2 oz) green curry paste
2 lemons
1 lime
1 avocado
250ml (1 cup) coconut milk
2 cups watercress

1. Cut each salmon filet lengthwise down the middle, stopping before the end, leaving the 2 halves attached. Unfold each filet, season with salt & pepper and then roll into a spiral. Use a toothpick to hold the filets together.
3. Combine the lentils and chickpeas in a small sauce pot and cover with water. Boil for 2 minutes and then strain most of the water out, leaving about 50ml (1 1/2 oz) in the pot. Add 50g green curry past, the zest and juice of half a lemon and half a lime. Simmer for 2 more minutes.

4. In a blender, combine the avocado, 25g green curry paste, coconut milk & the juice of half a lemon and half and lime. Blend until smooth.
5. Brings 2L of salter water to a boil in a pot, 1 lemon cut in half and reduce to a gentle simmer. Add the salmon and poach for 8 minutes.
6. Spoon the avocado puree into the center of 2 plates and then place a pile of the lentils & chickpeas over the avocado. Place the salmon on top and garnish with a small handful of watercress.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Boeuf Bourguignon

As Eddard Stark would say, winter is coming. Here in Montreal  I can already feel a winter chill in the air and it's always around this time of year that I start to crave warm, hearty dishes like this one. This dish is inspired by a version of the French classic Boeuf Bourguignon that we used to do when I worked at Globe. We braised beef cheeks in red wine and served them over fingerling potatoes with sauteed mushrooms and bacon.
   Beef cheeks are absolutely amazing when braised until they are fork tender, but they can be pretty hard to find, even at a good butcher shop. For that reason, I use a different cut in this recipe: flat iron steak. This cut can also be a bit hard to find, but it's gaining popularity. It's inexpensive and is perfect for braising. Ask your butcher to trim off the white membrane and then cut it into 1" steaks. If you can't find beef cheeks or flat iron steak, go with short ribs. They are a bit more expensive, but are a very flavorful cut.
   To call this recipe boeuf bourguinon is a real stretch because the only thing it actually has in common with the classic French stew is that the beef is braised in red wine. Really, I just love the texture of  braised beef, but I find it so much more satisfying to have one hulking piece of meat on my plate. You'll find that the melting texture of the beef goes perfectly with the creamy roasted garlic mashed potatoes from my previous post. The beef takes 3 hours to cook, so I suggest you try putting it together on a Saturday night while making that night's dinner and then warm it up the following day in the braising liquid for a lazy Sunday dinner. A braise like this also works well for a dinner party. You can prepare it early in the day and then when your guests arrive all you will have to do is reheat everything and serve.

Serves 5, prep time 30 minutes, cooking time 3 1/2 hours

1 kg flat iron steak, cut into 5 steaks
3 white onions
2 cloves garlic
450g (1lbs) carrots, peeled
1 bottle red wine, cabernet sauvignon
3 tablespoons tomato paste
225g (1/2lbs) extra fine green beans
900g mashed potatoes
vegetable oil, salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 450F
1. Cut the onions and garlic in half. Roughly chop half the carrots and reserve the rest for garnish. Put the vegetables on a baking tray and drizzle with oil. Roast in the oven until golden brown. About 15 minutes. When the vegetables are done, lower the oven to 350F.
2. While the vegetables are roasting, start searing the steaks. Season the steaks with salt & pepper. Heat a small amount of oil in a large frying pan on high heat. Add the steaks and lower the heat to medium high. Sear the steaks until nice and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Don't overcrowd the pan or the steam coming off the steaks will keep you from achieving a good sear. You will probably have to fry the steaks in 2 batches.
3. Combine the vegetable and the beef in a large pot and add the red wine, tomato paste, black peppercorns & bay leaves. Add enough water to cover everything and cover the pot with a lid or aluminium foil. Place in the oven at 350F. Check the meat after 3 hours. It should be easy to pull apart with a fork. If the meat is not tender enough after 3 hours, return the pot to the oven and then let cook for another 30 to 60 minutes. Braising beef is a patients person's game. For extra succulent results you can try braising the beef overnight, for 12 hours at 250F.
4. When the meat is cooked, strain the liquid and remove the vegetables discard them. Return the beef to the pot and let simmer on the stove until the braising liquid is thick enough to coat the meat. About 10 minutes. Season with salt & fresh ground pepper.
5. While the sauce is reducing, cook the remaining carrots and the beans in salted boiling water. Heat the mash potatoes, put a mound of potatoes on each plate and top with the beans and carrots, followed by the beef. Drizzle the remaining sauce over each plate.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Good ol' mashed potatoes. Everyone knows how to make them, so why am I bothering to post the recipe? Because I want to show you how to make restaurant style mashed potatoes at home. There are a few things that separate the mash potatoes that most people make for themselves at home from what you would be served at a French bistro or steakhouse. First there is the ingredients. Restaurants tend to load their mashed potatoes with what most people would consider an inordinate amount of butter. The reason they do this is because a large amount of butter will both make the mash potatoes really flavorful and also give it a luxurious, melting texture. I use a small amount of bay leaf and nutmeg too. Not so much that you can taste that they are there, just enough to make the potatoes taste, well, more potatoey. Adding roasted garlic will take your mash to the next level.
   The other difference is technique. There are a few little tricks to making killer mash potatoes that might not seem that important on their own, but added up will make all the difference in the finished product. For example, temperature is an important factor. While the potatoes are still warm, add milk & cream hot, but the butter should be cold. This will keep the purée smooth. Also, I add salt at three different occasions along the way - to the water the potatoes are boiled in, to the cream and milk as I heat them and once more to the purée as I am mixing all the ingredients together. That way the mash will have a consistent seasoning and a richer depth of flavor than had I simply added salt only at the end.

Prep time 10 minutes. Cooking time 20 minutes. Serves 6

   2 lbs  (900g )  Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 cup (120ml)  35% cream
1/3 cup (80ml)    milk
1/2 cup (110g) cold unsalted butter, cubed
3 bay leaves, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
1 head garlic
1/2 bunch chives, finely chopped
olive oil, salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350F
1. Peel the potatoes and cut them into large even sized pieces. Place in a saucepan and cover with water and add one tablespoon of salt & 3 bay leaves. Bring to a boil and let simmer until the potatoes can be easily crushed with a spoon, about 20 minutes.
2. Cut the top off the head of garlic, just enough to expose the cloves inside. Place on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt & pepper. Wrap the garlic in the foil and roast in the oven until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Squeeze the soft garlic out of the skin and then mash with the side of a knife.
3. In a saucepan, bring the milk & cream to a boil. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and a pinch of salt, then remove from the heat.
4. Strain the boiled potatoes and then pass through a potato ricer or purée with a potato masher. Add the cold butter and slowly add the hot milk & cream, stirring with a wooden spoon. Stir in the roasted garlic. Garnish with fresh chives.