Archive | June, 2008

Book Review – Terrine

28 Jun

By Chris Garbutt

Terrines, to me, were always a little mysterious. I kinda imagined that they were like jellied salads, only with more ingredients, usually including meat.

Reading through Stéphane Reynaud’s Terrine, I realized there was a lot more to it than that. Though to be sure, there are a few dishes that resemble meat in jellied salad.

A terrine, of course, is not really a recipe as much as it is a container. The definition from the book, if you can find it, goes like this:

An earthenware cooking dish with vertical sides and a tightly fitting lid. By extension, the term also refers to food cooked in a terrine – traditionally a rich dish from layered meat. Contemporary recipes now include a much wider variety of ingredients such as fish, cheese, vegetables and desserts.

Indeed. Terrine has chapters on each of the ingredients mentioned above. And from what I can gather from the book, a terrine essentially is a dish that is layered and contained somehow. My favourite chapter is about cheese, and recipes worth highlighting include Tomato Confit and Mozzarella, or the Brouse de Brebis, which is comprised of a thinly sliced zucchini layered with a soft sheep cheese.

What is missing from this book is an introduction, perhaps something a little more about where the humble terrine came from, and why you might want to add it to your repertoire. In fact, the notion of the terrine isn’t even explained until you get to the glossary entry on page 167.

But since the terrine is at the heart of French cooking, it’s a book worth leafing through for some new ideas on an old classic.

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Friday 5 – Top 5 Fun Food Words to Say

27 Jun

By Stephanie Dickison

Muffaletta – A fantastic sandwich that everyone should have at least once… a week.

Andouille – An incredible sausage that can be used in many different ways. My favourite? The stuffing that goes with turducken, of course.

Étouffée –Definition: A spicy and delicious Cajun stew traditionally made with crawfish, vegetables and a dark roux. Étouffée is usually served over rice. The word comes from the French étouffer, which means to smother. Pronunciation: ay-too-FAY. Result: Dee-li-cious!

Jamabalaya – It turns out that there’s many different versions. I like the shrimp and sausage combos the best.

Smorgasbord – so much fun to say and also a tall bookcase at IKEA. Just kidding about the bookcase!

The Sweeter Side

23 Jun

By Rachel Santos

I remember a a day out with my friends when we started a conversation about the commonly known traditional Filipino entrees: pancit, adobo, and lumpia. “Pancit is soooooo good!” “I can’t get enough of that lumpia!” “Adobo and rice, that’s what I’m talkin’ about!” Everyone seemed to know what each dish was and how great it all tasted.

However, when I mentioned the desserts, only one person knew what I was talking about and that got me worried.

There are a variety of Filipino desserts out there. We’ve got leche flan, halo-halo, turon, and so much more. I’m thinking everyone has to try these at least once in their lives, or else I’ll feel like I’ve kept one of the best secrets of Filipino cuisine to myself. Living in National City, aka “little Manila” California, I have a variety of Filipino dishes at my finger tips. I realize that not everyone has the access that I have, so I must provide that access through my descriptions of these desserts.

Leche Flan is a dessert from history. The Spaniards colonized the Philippines for a long period of time, leaving many Spanish influences on the Filipino culture. Flan is a Spanish dessert, but Filipinos had a different take on it. When comparing Spanish flan to Filipino leche flan, leche flan is thicker in density and a bit sweeter. The first time I had leche flan, I thought it was pudding, but it was so much thicker.Over time, I learned to love it for what it was: flan; shaped like tofu, but appears like a cream filled jello substance. Now it’s one of my favorite desserts.

As a little girl, I remember asking my mom for cheese ice cream on top of my halo-halo. Halo-Halo literally translates to “mix-mix”. I’d like to think that the name comes from someone who was bored one day and just put every sweet thing they could think of in one dessert. It consists of jello, coconut jelly, sweet beans, and jackfruit all layered in a cup. When it’s prepared, shaved ice and milk are added into the cup and it is topped off with any flavour ice cream and sometimes a bit of leche flan. Halo-halo is a mix of things and when you eat it, you mix it, hence the name “mix-mix.” It’s kind of like going to a party and getting a loot bag. The bags are all the same, but each has different contents. Halo-halo is like that party bag: every scoop is something different but it always tastes good and sweet.

Whenever it was cold out, I would never want leche flan or halo-halo, so I turned to my good friend turon. There are three simple ingredients: spring roll wrappers, bananas, and brown sugar. Bananas are cut in half, covered in brown sugar, and rolled in the spring roll wrapper like a mini taquito, and then fried. My mom always cooked it perfect! If it was too brown, it was extra crunchy. If it was too light, it had extra bits of brown sugar inside. She could never go wrong. What’s great about this dessert is that it’s easy when you’re on the go. Since they were all individual rolls, there was no need for a fork, knife, or spoon; just our “handy” friends.

When desserts come to mind, there’s usually a place where you can get them. For ice cream, go to the ice cream parlour. For cannoli or tiramisu, go to your local Italian restaurant. For Cheesecake, there’s a variety of drive-thrus and even a supply at the grocery store. So what about Filipino desserts? Maybe one day someone will open a place called Halo-Halo and it will have all the Filipino desserts you can think of. Many people may even come to realize that Filipino cuisine has more than just memorable entrees. Maybe that place could even go international and contain a variety of desserts from all over the world. I hope it will happen someday, but for now, we’ll have to satisfy ourselves by making it at home.

Turon

(12 servings)

6 plantain bananas

Brown Sugar

1 can of Jackfruit (optional)

Package of Spring Roll/Lumpia Wrappers

Cooking oil

Peel and cut the bananas in half, lengthwise. Roll the banana in brown sugar and coat generously. Place the sugarcoated banana (and a strip of jackfruit) on the spring roll wrapper, and wrap as you would a burrito. Fry in hot oil until golden-brown and crispy.

Rachel Anne Santos is a 20-year-old Junior currently attending San Diego State University.  She has lived in National City, California her whole life.

Friday 5 – Top 5 Fun Things to Make – or Eat/Drink – This Week!

20 Jun

Friday 5

Every Friday, we’ll post our 5 favourite food things – everything from ice cream flavours to things we read about. Subscribe to Pan via email or RSS so you don’t miss out!

Top 5 Fun Dishes to Make – or Eat – This Week!

By Stephanie Dickison

1. Crab Cakes – A great summer dish that is both full of flavour and colour.

2. Peppered Beef with Balsamic Strawberry Salsa – It’s not only seasonal (and from Ontario), but it contains 2 of Chris Garbutt’s favourite things.

3. Avocado Stuffed Yams – So they’re not exactly summery, but boy do they look good!

4. Ceviche – Here’s a video on how to make ceviche – a fantastic way to enjoy seafood in the summer without having to turn on the stove!

5. Ginger Rogers Cocktail – Easy to make and easily one of the best cocktail names around!

Eat local, save the environment a little

17 Jun

Farmer's Market photo by Chas Redmond

Photo by Chas Redmond

By Chris Garbutt

I’m a bit inconsistent on the whole locavore thing. As I mentioned before, I won’t eat strawberries unless they’re in season and from nearby. Same with asparagus. (All of which means I’m sorry I missed this event.) But, and this is just one example, I love bananas, and eat them pretty much everyday. So I’m not exactly a diehard locavore.

For those who are, you’ll be disappointed that the environmental benefits of eating local are not as great as you thought. A study out of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh has found that transporting food only accounts for 11 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions – most of comes from the actual growing of food.

What the study did find, to no one’s surprise, was that the impact of red meat is much higher than other foods. So the authors conclude that diet change will have a bigger impact on reducing greenhouse gases than eating local:

Replacing red meat and dairy with chicken, fish, or eggs for one day per week reduces emissions equal to 760 miles per year of driving.

Of course eating less red meat and more local food is going to pile up the environmental savings. What I can’t figure out, though, is whether the study took into account different farming practices. What’s the footprint of industrial vs organic farming? (See here for the federal government’s take on the subject of organic farming and the environment.)

My other question is this: when we live in a city the size of Toronto, is there really enough land to eat local? Can we possibly feed every single person in the region based on a 100-mile diet?

More takes on this study here and here.

Magic Gnocchi Night

16 Jun

By Katherine Hauswirth

Cecilia, my Argentine-American friend, had me over last month for Magic Gnocchi Night. She seemed excited about it, and I was intrigued. What would be magical about it?

On the 29th of every month, Argentines eat ñoquis (gnocchis, as we would say). For the uninitiated, gnocchi is a potato-based pasta. It is pronounced nyoki, with the n and y run together. Like a lot of Argentine dishes, this flavorful dish has Italian roots. Many Italians worked on coffee plantations in Argentina during the 19th century, and they left a permanent impression on the culture’s cuisine.

It was just the two of us for the celebration, and I was honored to share in this tradition from Cecilia’s childhood. She lit candles, and we spooned the savory meat sauce, Tuco (an Argentine derivative of the Italian word for juice: suco ), over our steaming bowls. Careful instructions followed: put money under your plate. Donate that money (it has to be that money, now warmed by the plate) to charity after the meal, and it will bring you good fortune. We toasted our friendship and chatted eagerly over our modest feast.

Why gnocchi? Why the 29 th? Gnocchi is cheaply made and belly filling, a combination appreciated by the working poor on the night before payday. The story goes that a poor family welcomed a hungry man into their home and shared their gnocchi supper. To reward the family’s generous spirit, the man, who was a saint in disguise, left a gold coin under his plate. Hard financial times in Argentina after World War II may have helped the tradition to grow, and now Gnocchi Night is practically sacred. My friend’s family has collected many tales of dire financial straits that reversed after the monthly ritual.

What a refreshing spin, to celebrate the cheap meal, to make the best of running low on grocery money. I love the tradition of sharing what little you have and, with that sharing, nurturing hope for good fortune. Clearly the Argentine populace is infused with good spirits and good humor: government workers that are scarce except for when paychecks arrive at month’s end have been nicknamed ñoquis , too.

I carried my twenty dollar bill around for more than a week after that first Gnocchi Night until, on impulse, I pulled up at the local food pantry with cash in hand. I dashed in (they were closing for the day) and was immediately impressed by the happy looking children around the place. No hint of embarrassment or hesitation here, just a wide-smiling joy at the anticipation of a filling meal. I thought back to my warm feast with a close friend and was glad to pass on my blessings.

Gnocchi can be made from scratch, of course, and any decent Italian or Argentine cookbook would contain a recipe. But it can also be purchased from the supermarket pasta shelf or freezer section, a modern twist I have put on this delightful tradition. Here is the sauce recipe, also modernized (with canned tomatoes).

Tuco

1 lb of 3⁄4 inch thick stew or roast meat, cubed

1 onion, finely chopped

3-4 garlic cloves, sliced

2 tbsp olive oil

2 bay leaves

1⁄2 cup red wine

Salt and pepper (to taste)

Pinch of oregano

Pinch of basil

Pinch of ground thyme

Large can diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning

1 can tomato paste with Italian seasoning

Warm oil in large stock pot. Brown meat on medium high. Add onion and sauté on medium until soft. Add garlic and red wine. Add spices. Add diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Simmer on low from 20 to 30 minutes, adding broth as needed if mixture appears too thick. Spoon over warm gnocchi.

Katherine Hauswirth has been published in many print and online venues, including The Writer, The Writer’s Handbook 2003, Byline, Pregnancy, Pilgrimage, Writers Weekly, and the book Things My Mother Told Me: Reflections on Parenthood (available at amazon.com). Her blog, Inching Toward Simplicity, and more on her work, can be accessed at http://inchingsimplicity.blogspot.com/.

A Capital Berry

15 Jun

By Chris Garbutt
It was a hot summer day June. My then-fianceé and I were in Pusateri’s on Avenue Road in Toronto, picking out what I think is overpriced produce. The selection of strawberries was terrific. As Mary reached for a plastic package of organic berries, I reacted perhaps a little excessively.

“No,” I said, “You will not eat California strawberries when they’re in season here.”

“But…”

“But nothing. Those aren’t even real strawberries. Those are strawberries on steroids!”

“They’re organic.”

Okay, well, maybe they weren’t on steroids, but I just cannot think of the strawberries that travel thousands of miles to our city as real. They’re too big, they’re tasteless, and they’re mostly white in the middle. For me strawberries don’t exist for ten months of the year.

My hometown of Stouffville celebrates the Strawberry Festival every year on the Canada Day weekend. For a while, our town called itself the Strawberry Capital of Ontario. It never seemed like much of a distinction, really, and somewhere along the line the moniker was dropped. I found out recently that Clarkson (now a part of Mississauga) has held the title since the late 19th century. The whole capital thing is a bit out of control anyway: several U.S. towns (at least one in Florida, one in Tennessee and two in California) refer to themselves as the strawberry capital of the entire world!

The festival began when I was a little kid, and has endured since then. The strawberry has a much longer history in Canada. The wild version – that tiny, heavenly, sweet red berry – has been growing in this part of the world for all of recorded history. The wild strawberry sets the standard for the flavour, but collecting them requires a walk in the woods, a great deal of crouching, and a search that could prove, well, fruitless.

So the next best thing is the farmed version, especially when it’s still freshly picked and warm. A visit to a pick-your-own farm is definitely the way to go if you’re hardcore, but I’m perfectly happy to forgo the sore knees and back, and buy a pint from a farmer’s market. Sometimes I’ll take them home with big ideas for recipes, but usually, they end up as and snack that only ends when the bottom of the carton is reached. Better than chocolate. Way better than chocolate.

I have two vivid memories. The first is when, at a very young age, I decided I hated strawberries. My father had salvaged some fresh ones from his garden (the birds loved to poach them and no amount of plastic sheeting or netting was deterring them). He handed me a berry, so red it was almost black. I bit, taking half of it in my mouth. It was tart and sweet at the same time, so intense I recoiled. I couldn’t handle it.

My second memory is from a few days later, when I learned to love strawberries again. The smell of shortcake baking filled my mother’s kitchen. The flavours of the crisp yet fluffy shortcake (none of that spongy angel food stuff), combined with the sweet strawberries and the whipped cream brought me back to the humble berry. It’s not complicated, but the recipe has been handed down for four generations from my maternal great grandmother. It’s my turn now – maybe if I make this recipe for Mary, she’ll forgive me my supermarket rantings.

Great Grandmother Marshall’s Strawberry Shortcake

2 cups flour

3/4 cup milk

1/3 cup butter

4 tsp baking powder

3 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

Fresh strawberries (about 3/4 of a quart, but as many as you want to eat), hulled and cut in half. You might want to sprinkle a teaspoon or two of sugar to make it sweeter and draw out the juices.

250 ml whipping cream, whipped

Mix dry ingredients together. Cut in butter until the mixture has the look of small peas. Using a rubber spatula, gradually add milk until it is just mixed in. Don’t over mix, or the dough will become tough.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drop spoonfuls of the dough onto a cookie sheet in the size you desire. Bake for 12 minutes. Tops should be just golden or slightly brown. Allow the shortcakes to cool slightly.

Place shortcakes on individual plates or shallow bowls. Cut tops off shortcakes. Spoon strawberries onto bottom halves of shortcakes, and replace tops. Garnish tops of shortcakes with one or two strawberry pieces and whipped cream to taste.

Makes about 6 large or 12 small shortcakes.

PS. I’m not the only one who feels so passionately about the strawberries-on-steroids problem. Check out Taste.To’s take on the subject.

UPDATE: Great posting about wild strawberries (with jam recipe) here.


Mom’s Salad Dressing

13 Jun

By Tony Evans

Back in the 1940’s there was no “government health fairy” telling you the necessity of eating six or eight helpings of fruits and vegetables each day. A lot of us kids who lived in a small town like Wenatchee, Washington ate our share just by accident with only one or two decent salad dressings from which to choose. Salads were hard enough to eat alone, without topping it off with some sweet tasting dressing.

In 2006, let me share some of what’s being offered the public, then compare with my mom’s home-made dressing.

Open the refrigerator and check the labels. Yikes!! You can’t even pronounce most of the words on the bottle. Monosodium Glutamate, Disodium Phosphate and, how about this beauty: Xanthan Gum. Is that some kind of foreign gum a worker accidentally dropped in the mix during the processing?

If you try my mom’s special from the 1940’s you will trash your bottles full of stuff you wouldn’t feed your worst enemy (maybe) and try this out on your family. It’s healthy and will save you a lot of money.

LEMON/PARSLEY/GARLIC DRESSING

Step #1: Get a 12 ounce salad dressing bottle.

Step #2: In a large mixing bowl, combine the following ingredients. These are minimums. My mother made batches so if you want to get a larger bottle and double or triple it, fine with me. I suggest, however, you make a 9 or 12 ounce “test batch” to see if you like it first. It doesn’t matter how much you make, it stores in the refrigerator for months if the lid/cap is on tight.

Combine:

2/3 cup of vegetable oil. (I love olive and canola oil, but not in this recipe)

½ teaspoon – dry mustard (mom used Colman’s in the yellow can and it’s still available)

½ teaspoon of salt and ground pepper

1 teaspoon of fresh, minced parsley

The juice of two or three lemons (mom did something clever with lemons). She sliced them in half – then into a hot oven for 30 seconds to double the amount of juice. Today, you have a microwave, so do the same thing for 30 seconds.

Next, add 3 cloves of diced or minced garlic.

Mix in the bowl and pour everything into the glass bottle using a small funnel to avoid spilling, then put the cap on tight and shake for about 5 seconds. Let the ingredients settle then take the cap off and dip a clean finger inside to get a taste. If you like it, leave it. If you want more lemon or garlic, add more. Just try to avoid the vegetable oil overpowering everything else. I prefer mine to be more lemon and garlic tangy.

Once you pour this over a nice green salad of tomato, celery, cucumber, avocado and red onion the salad mix will stand up and applaud now that you have poured something over them that’s good and healthy (and cheap to fix)

Mom used to make many batches of this mix and give to friends. The demand became so great that she started selling it at the restaurant for .50 cents a bottle. Back in the forties, that was pretty good money, but it was about the size of a Mason jar.

Tony Evans is a published author of two books and many magazine and newspaper articles. Currently, I am working on a family cookbook using recipes from the 1940/50’s that my parents used in their popular restaurant.

Great Books That Have Crossed My Desk

12 Jun

By Stephanie Dickison

One of the fabulous parts about being a food writer is the reading involved – hours spent pouring over cookbooks, food memoirs and histories and books on entertaining and the like.

These are some of the books that have crossed my desk lately that I’m excited about:

ARAB COOKING ON A SASKATCHEWAN HOMESTEAD: RECIPES AND RECOLLECTIONS

Habeeb Salloum

Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina

2005

Part memoir, part cookbook, this moving tale includes chapters entitled, “Who Are the Arab Prisoners?” “Burghul: The Cornerstone of Our Diet in the Depression Years,” “Broad Beans: Delicious When Cooked by My Mother,” and “Stuffed Vegetables: The Food of the Sultans.”

The recipes include comfort foods like Stuffed Tomatoes with Chickpeas, Chicken with Lemons and Olives, Okra Stew, and Fish Patties.Though this book might seem like a mighty specialized book, Habeeb’s stories are not only educational but enveloping and the recipes are easy to follow and a nice break from the standard fare issued in a lot of mainstream cookbooks today.

BROWNIES TO DIE FOR

Bev Shaffer

Pelican Publishing

2006

If you enjoy baking or know someone who does, this is a great book to add to your cookbook collection.

Bev Shaffer is an author, food writer and culinary instructor, so the book, while very easy to page through and follow the recipes, is also extremely thorough and well-written. There is even a chapter on dipping, dunking and layering your brownies.

If you thought you knew brownies before this book, you’ll never believe what Bev has created –Raspberry Mascarpone Cream Filled Brownies, Kahlua Brownies and Macadamia Nut White Brownies. Is your mouth watering too?

THE DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES COOKBOOK: Juicy Dishes and Saucy Bits

Recipes by Christopher Styler, Text by Scott S. Tobis

Hyperion

2006

Okay, so this one’s not so great in terms of a being an inventive cookbook, but it is a lot of fun to flip through.

You can glance at Bree’s Shopping List (fresh broccoli, shotgun sling, Roquefort cheese), make Susan’s Chipotle-Glazed Chicken Wings, Gabrielle’s Guilty Pleasure (Boiled Peanuts), Lynette’s Marngo Martinis and Edie’s Camembert Baked in Its Box (Who Knew?). And there are offerings from the Wisteria Lane neighbours too, but it is in the text from the food stylist on set that is intriguing. Did you know that to bring out the shine in vegetables, they sometimes coat them in Vaseline? And due to continuity, “thirty to forty edible versions of the food that appears in the scene must be made”?

Even if you’re not a fan of the show, you are bound to find a couple of recipes and/or hints that please you.

ENDANGERED RECIPES: TOO GOOD TO BE FORGOTTEN

Lari Robling

Stewart, Tabori & Chang

2003

One of the greatest ideas for a cookbook ever: with sections on “Sunday Suppers,” “Every Culture’s Got One,” “Back Porch Pleasures” and “Passing Down the Plate,” you are bound to find something from your childhood, like brisket or the ultimate cinnamon buns or something that you love, but has been forgotten by today’s cuisines like French onion dip and Georgia Pecan pie.

Lari researched and tracked down recipes and also updated some classics so that they fit into today’s appliance-friendly kitchens, so you are not just getting old favourites, but new-and-improved recipes of your most memorable dishes.

The stories are as delightful as the recipes and after just a few pages, you will no doubt be calling your mother/aunt/grandmother and be pulling out your marked up cookbooks that you haven’t looked at since the Seventies.

I’m off to make Pueblo Salsa and Quince and Apple Pie. Although these are not a part of my own food history, I want to make someone else’s. This is the ultimate comfort food book and a great gift for someone that really loves classic food.

JAMIE’S ITALY

Jamie Oliver

Hyperion

2006

When Jamie Oliver first came on the scene, I was mesmerized. Not by his boyish charm or cute English accent or funky David Beckham-ish haircut. It was the simple way he prepared food – and it tasted great. It was so not what people were doing at the time and I loved to watch him work.

Then, like Oprah, Tom Cruise and Lindsay Lohan, he was everywhere and I couldn’t take it anymore. So I bid him goodbye for a while and went on to other chefs who didn’t have their own shows and lines of frying pans.

But I have come back to Jamie because he is wise beyond his years and now that we’ve been apart for awhile, I can appreciate him again.

In this beautifully designed book, Jamie gives us the stories of the people he met in Italy along with recipes. Like a very light memoir, you get the best of both worlds, and some cool food to make for friends and family, like Spaghetti Fritters (p. 36), Salt Cod Soup (p. 75), Silk Handkerchiefs with Pesto Sauce (p. 110), The Best Tuna Meatballs (p. 203), Leg of Lamb Stuffed with Olives, Bread, Pinenuts, and Herbs (p. 243) and Ice Cream with Olive Oil and Sea Salt (p.293), to name just a few.

To see more of books that are rockin’ my world, click Books.

Salmon-chanted evening…

8 Jun

Marx foods is having a recipe contest and the winner gets 15 lbs of salmon!