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Curried Caesar Salad with Mandarin Oranges and Cilantro Chickpea Croutons

Curried Caesar Salad with Mandarin Oranges and Cilantro Chickpea Croutons

The warm wonder of curry adds a delicious flavour twist to this tangy salad.

Salad

1 head romaine lettuce, washed and dried 2 mandarin oranges, peeled and separated 1/3 cup (80 mL) grated Parmesan cheese

Curry Caesar Dressing

3/4 cup (175 mL) mayonnaise 2 Tbsp (30 mL) minced garlic 2 Tbsp (30 mL) capers 4 anchovy fillets, drained 1 tsp (5 mL) prepared mustard 2 Tbsp (30 mL) grated Parmesan cheese 2 Tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice Pinch of salt 1/2 tsp (2 mL) black pepper 1 Tbsp (30 mL) curry powder 1/2 tsp (2 mL) Tabasco sauce

Croutons

2 Tbsp (30 mL) olive oil 2 Tbsp (30 mL) butter 1 tsp (5 mL) minced garlic 1 tsp (30 mL) minced ginger 1 cup (250 mL) canned chickpeas 1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped cilantro 1/2 tsp (2 mL) cumin Salt and pepper, to taste To prepare dressing, combine mayonnaise, garlic, capers, and anchovies in food processor and blend until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. To prepare croutons, heat oil and butter in frying pan, add garlic and ginger, and fry until light brown, about 4 minutes. Discard ginger and garlic and shallow-fry chickpeas until golden. Remove from heat and add cilantro, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cool to room temperature. Pour Curry Caesar Dressing into bottom of large salad bowl. Add romaine and toss until lettuce is coated. Add oranges and croutons and toss lightly to mix. Sprinkle with cheese and serve. Serves 4. source: "Spring Dinner Party", alive #282, April 2006
Poached Smoked Sable Fish with Bacon, Clams, and Cabbage

Poached Smoked Sable Fish with Bacon, Clams, and Cabbage

Filling and sable: simple, sumptuous, and satisfying. This is a bowl to warm the soul, and the sablefish, also known as black cod, is rich with natural oils.

Poached Smoked Sablefish

4 cups (1 L) milk
4 5-oz (150-g) pieces wild
sablefish (black cod)
2 Tbsp (30 mL) parsley, finely chopped

Fish Velouté Sauce

16 Savoy cabbage leaves
1 large carrot, cut into sticks
1 1/2 oz (45 g) butter
1 Tbsp (15 mL) flour
1 cup (250 mL) fish stock
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp (15 mL) grainy mustard
20 clams
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
Juice of 1 lemon

Bacon Garnish

12 thin strips of bacon

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Place bacon between 2 sheets of parchment paper on baking sheet. Top with a second baking sheet and bake in oven until bacon is crisp, about 7 to 10 minutes. Set aside.

For fish velouté sauce, fill large saucepan with water, add salt to taste, and bring to boil. Add cabbage and carrot and boil until just cooked, about 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside.

Melt butter, stir in flour, and cook over low heat until mixture browns slightly. Gradually add fish stock and blend until smooth. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens. Simmer 10 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place cabbage and carrots in medium saucepan with fish velout sauce and mustard. Add clams, thyme, and bay leaf and cook over low heat, simmering until clams open. Remove clams and vegetables and set them aside. Continue to cook sauce until reduced by half and it coats back of spoon. Season with lemon juice.

To poach sablefish, in a separate saucepan, bring milk to simmer over medium-high heat. Add sablefish and cook until fish flakes with a fork, about 7 minutes.

Arrange vegetables on a plate and top with sablefish. Drizzle with sauce and garnish with parsley and crisp bacon. Serves 4.

source: "This February, Go West", alive #380, 2006

Crab-Stuffed Free-Range Chicken Breast

Crab-Stuffed Free-Range Chicken Breast

While this free-range meets fruits-du-mer dish has plenty of elements, it can be prepared in the 15 minutes the chicken spends in the oven. Storebought basil oil can be substituted, but those with access to fresh basil and a blender will love the results.

Crab-Stuffed Free-Range Chicken Breast

6 oz (170 g) Dungeness crabmeat (fresh or canned)
1 red pepper, diced
2 green onions, diced
4 oz (115 g) goat cheese
Salt and pepper
3 Tbsp (45 mL) butter or extra virgin olive oil
4 free range chicken breasts (skin on or off)

Mix crab, red pepper, green onion, and goat cheese in medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Using sharp knife, make lengthwise incisions into each chicken breast. Place one quarter of crab mixture into each breast pocket. Seal with toothpick.

Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Heat ovenproof frying pan and add butter or oil. Ease chicken breasts skin side down into pan so butter or oil does not splatter and brown for 2 minutes. Turn breasts over in pan and place frying pan in oven. Cook 15 minutes.

Root Vegetable Hash

1 1/2 cups (375 mL) diced small red potatoes
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) diced carrots
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) diced butternut squash
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) diced white onion
2 Tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp (30 mL) brown sugar
Salt and pepper

Cut all vegetables into 1/2-in (1-cm) cubes. Boil potatoes in water until fork pierces through easily, about 4 minutes. Heat olive oil in frying pan over high heat, and saut?nions until translucent, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add carrots, squash, and potatoes. Cook until fork pierces them easily, about 6 minutes. Add brown sugar, salt, and pepper to taste.

Basil Oil

1/2 cup (125 mL) basil leaves
1/2 cup (125 mL) grapeseed oil
Salt and pepper to taste

While bringing a saucepan of water to boil, fill medium bowl with water and ice cubes. Blanch basil for 5 seconds in boiling water, remove, and immediately place in ice water. Drain. Place basil and oil in blender and blend on high for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; then strain through fine mesh sieve.

To serve, spoon equal amounts of the Root Vegetable Hash on the centre of each of 4 plates, top with Crab-stuffed Chicken Breast and dress with Basil Oil for extra colour and flavour. Serves 4.

source: "The Gramercy Guide to Better Cooking", alive #279, January 2006

Brie and Wild Mushroom Phyllo

Brie and Wild Mushroom Phyllo

Think of this as the phyllo-siphers scone: baked brie, wild mushrooms, and winter thyme wrapped in crisp bundles.

1 cup wild mushrooms (any variety, fresh is best)
2 tsp (10 mL) extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp (10 mL) fresh chopped thyme or 1 tsp (5 mL) dried
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup (60 mL) red wine vinegar
4 sheets of phyllo pastry
1/4 cup (60 mL) melted butter
7 oz (200 g) brie

Sauté mushrooms in olive oil over medium heat until tender, about 4 minutes. Season with thyme, salt, and pepper. Deglaze by pouring vinegar into pan and stirring well. Reduce heat to low for 1 minute. Remove mushrooms from pan and refrigerate to cool.

Brush 2 sheets of phyllo with melted butter. Extend the length of each sheet by placing a second sheet of phyllo along top edges; press flat to join. Cut phyllo in half lengthwise to create four long sheets. Divide brie into 4 portions and place at bottom of each sheet, leaving room around edges. Spoon mushroom mixture over brie, leaving room around edges.

Brush lengths of phyllo with melted butter. Tuck side edges of phyllo over brie and mushroom mixture to prevent any from spilling out and then roll up phyllo, starting at brie. Brush outsides of phyllo bundles with remaining melted butter and place on baking sheet, being careful not to let bundles touch. Refrigerate until ready to bake.

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C) and bake 7 minutes. Turn bundles and bake another 7 minutes or until golden brown. Serves 4.

source: "The Gramercy Guide to Better Cooking", alive #279, January 2006

Thyme-Roasted Rack of Pork with Maple Yams and Pear Compote

Thyme-Roasted Rack of Pork with Maple Yams and Pear Compote

The fresh burst of the pear compote perfectly complements both the savoury and the sweet in this dish.

2 whole pork racks (frenched bones*)
2 Tbsp (30 mL) canola oil
6 sprigs thyme
4 Tbsp (60 mL) butter, unsalted
2 tsp (10 mL) ground cinnamon
2 tsp (10 mL) black pepper ground
2 stalks celery
2 carrots

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Season pork racks with salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Split carrots in half lengthwise. Place on bottom of a roasting pan with celery to form a rack for the pork. Place pork on the vegetables, bones pointing upwards.

In a small pot, place butter. Cook until it separates and the milk solids become brown. Add thyme, let sit.

Place pork in oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 130 F (55 C). Baste with thyme butter every 5 to 10 minutes until the pork is cooked.

* Frenched bones have all the meat and fat scraped away from about 2 inches to the ends.

Maple-Roasted Yams

Yams can be prepared before the pork and reheated for service.

6 medium-sized yams, peeled and diced into 1-in (2.5-cm) cubes
1 sprig fresh rosemary, minced
Sea salt, to taste
1 tsp (5 mL) black pepper, ground
2 Tbsp (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp (30 mL) fresh parsley, chopped
3 Tbsp (45 mL) maple syrup

Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C). Using a large bowl, toss yams with rosemary, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Spread out onto baking sheet. Bake in oven for 40 minutes or until tender. Return to bowl. Finish with parsley and maple syrup.

Slow-Baked Pear Compote

1 white onion, diced
2 Tbsp (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups (500 mL) white wine
6 Anjou pears peeled, cored and diced
2 sprigs thyme
1 Tbsp (15 mL) grainy mustard

Using a thick-bottom pot, sweat onions with olive oil and cinnamon stick for about 5 minutes. Pour in the white wine and deglaze the mixture by scraping the pan with a wooden spatula until alcohol is absorbed. Reduce by one-half. Add pears, thyme, and mustard. Cook 5 minutes until pears are tender but not breaking down.

Serves 6.

source: "Make This Holiday Feast a Rare One," alive #290, December 2006

Honey Glazed Quail with Fennel Salad and Cranberry/Chestnut Marmalade

Honey Glazed Quail with Fennel Salad and Cranberry/Chestnut Marmalade

Creative flair and familiar flavours combine to create an accessible and delicious alternative to more traditionally festive fowl.

Quail

6 semi-boneless quails
2 lemons, zested
1 Tbsp (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp (5 mL) black peppercorns, ground
2 Tbsp (30 mL) butter
2 Tbsp (30 mL) blackberry honey
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt, to taste

Lay quails flat onto cutting board, skin side down. Drizzle with olive oil, then rub in lemon zest and pepper. In a thick-bottom pan at medium to low heat, add a small amount of oil, then place the quails skin side down. Sauté until skin becomes crispy (about 7 minutes).

Once crisped, add butter, honey, and thyme. Flip quails over and baste for 45 seconds. Serve.

Fennel Salad

2 bulbs fennel, shaved finely on mandoline slicer
2 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, mashed
1 tsp (5 mL) fennel seed, toasted and ground
1 tsp (5 mL) sea salt
2 lemons, juiced
1 Tbsp (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp (5 mL) chili flakes

Combine all ingredients in a salad bowl. Toss together until well mixed. Wait 5 minutes before you serve to allow fennel to wilt slightly.

Cranberry and Chestnut Marmalade

1 cup (250 mL) fresh cranberries
2 cups (500 mL) cranberry cocktail
1 orange, zest and juice separated
1 cup (250 mL) white wine vinegar
1 cup (250 mL) sugar
1 cup (250 mL) canned unsweetened chestnuts, roughly chopped
2 cups (500 mL) dried cranberries

In a large-mouth pot add fresh cranberries, cranberry cocktail, orange juice, vinegar, and sugar. Reduce by two-thirds or until thin syrup consistency. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together. Serve warm or cold.

­­­Serves 6.

source: "Make This Holiday Feast a Rare One," alive #290, December 2006

Double Chocolate Stout Brownies

Double Chocolate Stout Brownies

Sneaking stout beer into these brownies helps make them the epitome of chocolate intensity. If possible, select a chocolate-flavoured stout beer. The naturally sweet orange spud produces fudgy, moist brownies with the need for much less sugar and fat such as butter or oil.

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced (about 1/2 lb/225 g)
6 oz (170 g) bittersweet baking chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp (30 mL) unsalted butter
2 large free-range eggs, preferably at room temperature
3/4 cup (180 mL) whole wheat pastry flour
2/3 cup (160 mL) coconut palm sugar or natural cane sugar
1/3 cup (80 mL) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (250 mL) stout beer at room temperature
1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) pecans or walnuts, chopped

Steam or boil sweet potato until very tender. Place sweet potato in bowl and mash with potato masher or fork until smooth; set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Lightly grease an 8 x 8 x 2 in (20 x 20 x 5 cm) baking pan.

Place chocolate and butter in metal bowl over pot of barely simmering water and stir until melted.

Remove from heat and mix in eggs, one at a time. Gently stir in potato purée, flour, sugar, cocoa powder, beer, cinnamon, vanilla, baking powder, and salt. Fold in nuts.

Place mixture into pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool several minutes before slicing. 

Makes 16 brownies.

Each serving contains:  178 calories; 3 g protein; 9 g total fat (4 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 21 g carbohydrates; 3 g fibre; 56 mg sodium

source: "Think Outside the Mug", alive #353, March 2012

Black Bean Beer Chili

Black Bean Beer Chili

Beer and chili are a classic flavour combination that is hard to beat. Smoky chipotle chilis in adobo sauce are available in the Latin section of better grocers. Because a little goes a long way, consider freezing leftover chipotles for future use.

1 1/2 cups (350 mL) dried black beans
4 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp (15 mL) apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp (15 mL) minced chipotle chili pepper in adobo sauce or 1 tsp (5 mL) ancho chili powder
1 tsp (5 mL) cumin
1 tsp (5 mL) dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp (15 mL) grapeseed or extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup (250 mL) frozen corn
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 cup (250 mL) porter or stout beer
2 Tbsp (30 mL) tomato paste
1 ripe avocado, diced
1/3 cup (80 mL) fresh cilantro, chopped

Place beans in large bowl, cover with water, and let soak for several hours. Drain beans, place in saucepan, and add enough water to cover by 2 in (5 cm). Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer covered for 40 minutes, or until slightly tender. They will soften further in the chili.

Add tomatoes, cider vinegar, chipotle chili in adobo sauce, cumin, thyme, and salt and pepper to blender or food processor container and blend until smooth.

In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and carrot; cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic, red bell pepper, corn, and celery; cook 2 minutes. Add black beans, beer, tomato paste, and tomato mixture. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Serve garnished with avocado and cilantro.

Serves 6.

Each serving contains: 329 calories; 14 g protein; 8 g total fat (1 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 51 g carbohydrates;
13 g fibre; 41 mg sodium

source: "Think Outside the Mug", alive #353, March 2012