RECIPE: WAFU Tomato Orzo Soup


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Post holiday season “cleanse” at home with lots of soup and vegetables….I have used this tomato soup base for different dishes (seafood pot, hot-pot base, just to name a couple); today I add orzo and kale, it turns into a healthy wholesome meal… Enjoy (OO)!

Serves 2-4

Ingredients: 8 medium tomatoes (vine tomatoes for this recipe), 1 clove of garlic (peeled and finely minced), 1 large onion (thinly sliced), 2 Tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil, 4 cups of katsuobushi dashi, 1/2 cup of orzo (or pasta of your choice), 1-2 Tablespoon white miso, 2 Tablespoons of kaeshi (see recipe under “Vegetable Curry Udon), kosher salt (to season tomatoes for roasting), kale (handful, stalks removed and  finely chopped), savoury seaweed flakes (for garnish).

Preparation:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Prepare the tomatoes: wash, core and cut them into halves, toss in 1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, lightly seasoned with kosher salt, lay them evenly on baking tray, roast them for 25 to 35 minutes, or until caramelized.  Remove from oven, set aside and let them cool.
  • Prepare the onions (thinly sliced) and garlic (peeled and finely minced).
  • Prepare katsuobushi dashi broth (can be done 1 to 2 days ahead, reheat refrigerated broth and keep it warm for later use, use kombu broth only to make it entirely vegetarian).
  • In large pot, using medium high heat, heat remaining Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, saute onions, stirring constantly, until onions become soft and turn translucent. Add the 1 Tablespoon of miso to the onions, continue to cook, stirring constantly and mix well, do not burn the miso.
  • Add the roasted tomatoes to mixture, stir and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add warm dashi broth and 2 Tablespoons of kaeshi to the pot, scrape the bottom, cook for 2 to 3 minutes and bring to a boil.  Skim off any fat or scum from the mixture, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 25 – 30 minutes.
  • Prepare the kale for garnish.
  • When soup is almost ready, boil water in a different pot to cook the pasta (usually 100 grams of pasta to 1 litre of water), add kosher salt to boiling water,  then add the orzo and cook according to instructions.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning of the soup (if necessary), put orzo pasta into bowl, ladle the soup, garnish with chopped kale and seaweed flakes, now ready to serve and enjoy!

Note:

I have used the Rustichella d’Abruzzo’s orzo pasta for my recipe (available at Gourmet Warehouse on East Hastings, Vancouver, BC), the savory seaweed flakes is from Cornish Sea Salt Co (also available at Gourmet Warehouse).

See “Vegetable curry udon” for kaeshi recipe – I have used the kaeshi (instead of just soy sauce and mirin) which I made for the curry udon as seasoning; you can even add a dash of sake when cooking the onions and tomatoes, add red chili pepper flakes to make it spicy, be creative!

Katsuobushi dashi broth – made with kelp and dried bonito flakes

I added leftover cauliflower to the soup and use less orzo, it is always a great idea to have more vegetables.

http://www.gourmetwarehouse.ca

http://www.rustichella.it

 

 

 

RECIPE: Vegetable Curry Udon

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A bowl of savory and mouth-watering curry noodle soup on a cold Vancouver winter day!

My recipe is loosely based and adapted from Japanese Soul Cooking (By Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat), one of my great recent cookbook finds!  They use soba broth (it’s called kake soba broth) to enhance the flavor of curry;  I added turmeric (when sautéed the onions and vegetables), diced apple and fukujinzuke, commonly used to serve with Japanese curry rice, are used as garnish (in addition to green onion) to a hint of sweetness and add “crunch” to the dish, the end result is much more flavorful.  Leftover curry taste even better the next day, add more vegetables or meat then serve with rice as a donburi (you can always add crispy fried pork cutlet (tonkatsu),  or simply freeze it ready for use anytime for quick ready-to-go weeknight dinner; Enjoy (OO).

Serves 2-4:

Ingredients:  4 bricks of fresh-frozen sanuki udon, 1 large onion (thinly sliced), 1 small head of cauliflower (florets roughly chopped), 1 medium zucchini (diced), 4 small bunched carrots (peeled and chopped), 3 Tablespoons of ground turmeric, 1 Tablespoon of mirin, 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1 package (110g) Japanese curry roux (I used Glico Medium Premium),  6 cups of katsuobushi dashi, green scallions (white part only, thinly sliced on an angle), kosher salt (light seasoning when cooking vegetables).

Note:

To make the dish completely vegetarian, simply substitute the katsuobushi dashi with kombu dashi broth

For Meat Lovers: Thinly sliced pork or minced pork goes very well with the curry,  I used the a bit of ground ginger and apple, turmeric powder and kaeshi to marinade the pork (minced or thinly sliced) night before if I am adding protein to the curry.

You can use curry powder and potato starch instead of the instant curry roux.

Check out Ms. Namiko Chen’s  Just One Cookbook, she has a great pork curry udon recipe.

Here’s a picture of the fukujinzuke!

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*Recipe for kaeshi (makes 2 1/2 cups) – from Japanese Soul Cooking

Prepare 2 to 3 days in advance this recipe : Add 2 cups Japanese soy sauce (I used only 1 1/2 cups + 1/2 cup katsuobushi dashi to make it less salty), 1/2 cup mirin, 3 Tablespoons sugar (I used coconut nectar instead, adjust the sweetness accordingly) – Add all ingredients into saucepan and bring to boil over high heat.  Turn off the heat and allow mixture to cool off to room temperature.  Refrigerate for 2-3 days to allow the flavors time to mingle, store in glass bottle and refrigerate up to a month.

**In Japanese Soul Cooking – they prepare the kake soba broth (combining the kaeshi and dashi and a lot of mirin) ahead of time, I did not combine the katsuobushi dashi broth and kaeshi, I add them separately into the curry and use a lot less mirin.  Check out their book, it’s filled with wonderful recipes, thank you very much for your inspiration.

Preparation:

  • 2 to 3 days before – prepare kaeshi (see recipe above, refrigerate in glass container ready for use)
  • Prepare dashi broth (can be done 1 to 2 days ahead, refrigerate in glass container ready for use)
  • Prep all the vegetables
  • In a large saucepan, reheat the dashi broth (if you did not make from scratch the same day) and keep it warm
  • In a different large heavy pot, heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil using medium high heat, add cauliflower and cook for 2 minutes, then add carrot (cook for another 2 minutes) and zucchini, lightly seasoned with kosher salt and 1 Tablespoon ground turmeric, saute in total 5 to 6 minutes then remove from pot, set aside.
  • In the same pot, heat another 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil (medium high heat), add sliced onion and 1 Tablespoon of mirin and saute, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes, until onion becomes soft and turn translucent (I let it caramelize a little).  Add the remaining 2 Tablespoons ground turmeric and cook, stirring constantly and mix well, be careful not to burn the turmeric!
  • Add the warm dashi broth and 1/2 cup of kaeshi to the pot , scrape the bottom of the pot,  cook for 2-3 minutes and bring to a boil.  Skim off any scum and fat from the broth.  Reduce heat then let the flavors mix and cook for another 10 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, add the curry roux, using a strainer or chopsticks, melt the roux and blend nicely with broth mixture.
  • Turn on the heat to medium high, heat the curry, stir occasionally, making sure it will not stick and burnt on the bottom.  Using small fine mesh strainer, remove any scum.
  • Add cauliflower, carrot and zucchini mixture to curry, using medium low heat, let it simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes, gently stir occasionally to prevent sticking and don’t break the vegetables.  Keep it warm using low heat (and it will not burn), taste the curry and add seasoning (using kaeshi) if necessary.
  • Prepare garnish – diced apples (squeeze a bit of lemon juice to prevent it from turning “brown”) and scallions
  • Meanwhile using a separate pot, boil water to cook the sanuki udon (according to instructions approximately 1 to 2 minutes) – I prepare each serving individually
  • Turn off the heat, put udon into bowl, ladle the curry over noodles, garnish with diced apples, scallions and fukujinzuke, now ready to serve and enjoy!
  • If you are adding ground or sliced pork to this dish, lightly saute the pork in the beginning and set it aside, add the meat last when vegetables are cooked, bring curry to boil and turn off heat immediately, the meat will cook through and remain juicy!

Where to shop for ingredients in Vancouver: Fujiya (Japanese groceries, fukujinzuke is available – 912 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC), Nikuya (11220 Voyageur Way, Richmond, BC – for sliced pork), T and T Supermarket (Various locations – for Sakura Farms ground pork), Japanese Soul Cooking (Available at Indigo, Amazon, I purchased mine from Crate and Barrel at Oakridge Centre).

RECIPE: (Japanese flavor) Fresh Tomato and Caramelized Onion Jam – “Jam-chup”

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I really do spend much of my free time watching cooking shows, reading and researching about food and recipes; collecting a lot of information and “tuck them away” (as my hub Andy would put it) into my little “memory drawers”. Besides my IPHONE and IPAD, I always carry an old fashion notebook with me. Hey you just never know whenever an idea hits and what you need to find in order “connect” the missing “food links”…

This was one of those times when an idea hit so quickly!

As I was “conceptualizing” my faux “omurice” dish, I was looking for a “ketchup” replacement – Besides the fact we rarely use ketchup at our household, I knew ketchup will not work as a seasoning to the “cauliflower rice”, it will make it mushy.  I needed something more “adult” and sophisticated to “elevate” the dish! Through my weekend experiment, my “jam-chup” (Andy came up with this name) complimented the final dish beautifully, it was my own “Top Chef” moment (LOL)

The recipe is adapted from a great posting by Joshua Bousel (the caramelized onion method by J.Kenji Lopez-Alt), published on Serious Eatsone of my favourite online food communities.  The difference is I’ve used Japanese dashi stock instead of water to “deglaze” and also add another subtle layer of flavor; I made the “switch” specifically to make it “Japanese” in order to go with my faux-“omurice” (Omelet Rice) dish.  If this doesn’t work for you, please feel free to switch back and stay true to the original recipe.

I have used an organic coconut palm sugar (an absolute personal preference, I don’t use any refined white sugar), reduced the quantity and it worked just as well.  I just love using fresh ingredients and watch all the flavours blend together harmoniously.  It is through experimentation you will improve your kills, understand your tastes and put your own signature on any dishes.

My “jam-chup” is long-term keeper ..now what else can I use it for? (OO)

Ingredients: (yields approximately 1 cup)

1 pound yellow onions (finely sliced), 1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil, 2 pounds organic roma tomatoes (peeled, cored, seeded and finely chopped), 1/2 cup organic coconut palm sugar, juice from 1 lemon, 2 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 6 to 8 Tablespoon Japanese dashi (homemade, or you can use packaged stock powder), 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon red chilli pepper flakes

Remember, always adjust your seasoning according to your liking and dietary needs.

Preparation:

– Peel, core, seed and finely chop the tomatoes (see picture with below for peeling method).  Set aside.

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Use a sharp knife and slice a shallow “X” into the bottom of the tomato (opposite to stem side); place them in boiling water, you will see the “X” split open, it’s very quick (only 20-25 seconds). Remove them from hot water and place them in “ice” bath to cool off.

 

– Add grapeseed oil to large heavy bottomed stainless steel saucepan over high heat.  Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until bottom of the saucepan is glazed in a pale brown fond (takes approximately 5 minutes – you will see it).

– Add 2 Tablespoons of dashi stock and scrape up fond with wooden spoon or spatula.  Continue to cook, and keep stirring frequently, until fond has built up again (that’s another 2 minutes). Add another 2 Tablespoons of stock and scrape up the browned bits.  Repeat cooking, add stock, and scraping until the onions are completely softened and caramelized (a deep dark brown colour), approximately 15 minutes in total.

– Add tomatoes, coconut palm sugar, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, salt and chilli red pepper flakes to the sauce pan, stir to combine with the onions.

– Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to low heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes have broken down and “jam” has thickened and developed a “jam” like consistency, this takes 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

– Remove from heat, transfer to an airtight container, let it cool completely and refrigerate (according to original recipe, this can store in refrigerator up to two weeks, for an extended period, ladle into sterilized jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes to seal for self storage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RECIPE: Coquilles St-Jacques (Gratinéed Scallops)

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This past weekend my friends hosted a “French Feast New Year’s Party”; I was invited to join my friend Jo in her kitchen as her “sous chef’ to prepare dinner for 18 people!  She found the recipe for this wonderful Jacques Pepin’s classic French recipe from Saveur online; we prepared this dish as an appetizer, with help from others for plating and serving. It was excellent team work; for a while it felt as if we were working in a restaurant kitchen…enjoy (OO).

Ingredients: (Serves 6)

8 oz button mushrooms (minced), 3 small shallots (minced), 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 Tablespoons parsley (minced), 1 Tablespoon minced tarragon (plus 6 whole leaves to garnish), kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste; 3/4 cup dry vermouth, 1 bay leaf, 6 large sea scallops, 2 Tablespoons flour, 1/2 cup heavy cream, 2/3 cup grated Gruyere, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Preparation:

To prepare the duxelles:

Heat mushrooms, 4 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, and 2/3 of the shallots in a saucepan over medium heat, cook until mixture forms a loose paste, approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Stir parsley and minced tarragon into mixture, season with kosher salt and pepper; set aside.

Bring remaining shallots, vermouth, bay leaf, salt and 3/4 cup of water to boil in a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add scallops and lightly poach until barely tender, less than 2 minutes.  Remove scallops from cooking liquid and set aside.

– To prepare the sauce:

Continue to boil cooking liquid until reduced to 1/2 cup (it takes approximately 10 minutes), strain the liquid.

Heat remaining butter in a different sauce pan over medium heat; add flour, cook until smooth (approximately 2 minutes).

Whisk in reduced cooking liquid and cream; cook until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.

Add cheese, juice, salt and pepper.

– To assemble the dish:

Heat broiler to high, place rack at the top.

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Dividing the mushroom mixture among the dishes.

Place 6 shallow gratin dishes on baking sheet, divide mushroom mixture evenly.

Place scallop over mushroom mixture; divide sauce over scallops.

Broil until browned on top, about 3 minutes, garnish each with tarragon leaf.

Notes:

– We used 2 scallops per serving, we were unable to find sea scallops and luckily found these wonderful frozen ones from Hokkaido (**They are sashimi grade, purchased from Golden Summit Frozen Seafood in Richmond, BC).

– The mushroom duxelle can be prepared one day ahead (we did and store in tightly sealed container).

– I’ve broken down the steps according to how we prepared the dish; we have used a lighter cream instead of heavy cream.

Here’s the original link:

http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Classic-Gratineed-Scallops

If you follow the link, you’ll be able to find 150 classic recipes from around the world, featured in Saveur’s special 150th issue.

RECIPE: Zucchini Ribbons

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A simple and easy way to prepare zucchini; instead of pasta, I recently served this with Tomato glazed meatloaves (see other recipe posting).  

Ingredients (Serves 4)

4 medium size zucchini, kosher salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

– Using a vegetable peeler, from top to bottom of each zucchini, slice the zucchini into ribbons.

– Place ribbons in a covered microwave safe dish

– Nuked them high for two minutes

– Drained the excess liquid (if any), and toss with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Notes: An old fashion vegetable peeler or mandoline works.  To turn zucchini into “spaghetti” style noodles, you will need a spiral slicer.  Enjoy the zucchini ribbons raw as a salad!  Enjoy (OO).

RECIPE: Tomato glazed “meatloaves” with zucchini “noodles” and garlic mashed potatoes

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The recipe is adapted from Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen’s “Tomato glazed meatloaves with brown butter mashed potatoes“; I’ve changed things up a bit by mixing different meats for the meatballs, and served them with zucchini “noodles”; I’ve also doubled the quantity of the glaze.  The results? A wholesome and hearty meal…a bit nostalgic..a perfect Sunday evening dinner.

Ingredients:

Glaze: 6 teaspoons olive oil, 1/2 cup tomato paste, 4 Tablespoons cider vinegar, 3 teaspoons honey, 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard, kosher salt to taste (**I’ve doubled most of the ingredients from the original recipe, we love sauce!)

Meatballs:

2 slices sandwich bread (I’ve used approximately 2 ounces of organic bread crumbs), 2 garlic cloves (minced), 1 medium onion (finely chopped), 1 medium stalk celery (finely chopped), 1 medium carrot (peeled and finely chopped), olive oil (for cooking), 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for vegetables, freshly ground black pepper, 1 pound extra lean ground beef, 1/2 pound ground pork, 1/2 pound ground veal, 1 to 2 tablespoon tomato paste, 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 cup milk (I’ve used almond milk), 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, 2 large eggs

Preparation:

To make the glaze: Combine glaze ingredients in a small saucepan, let it simmer and whisk constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes, set aside.

To make the meatballs:

 – Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

– Tear the bread into chunks then blend it, in a food processor, into breadcrumbs.  Place breadcrumbs into large bowl.

– Add onion, garlic, celery and carrot to the food processor, pulse it until they are finely chopped.

– Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Once skillet is hot, coat the bottom with olive oil, heat for a minute then add the finely chopped vegetables.  Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring frequently until they begin to brown (not burn), about 10 to 15 minutes.

– Add the cooked vegetables to large bowl with bread crumbs, then add the remaining ingredients.  Hand mix the ingredients together, then form the mixture into twelve 3-inch meatballs, each will weigh about 4 ounces.

– Space the meatballs in a baking dish so they are not touching.  Drizzle or brush each meatball with a teaspoon or so of the tomato glaze.

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– Bake the meatballs until cooked through, for approximately 20 to 25 minutes.  By using an instant thermometer inserted into the centre of the meatball, a cooked meatball will register 160 to 165 degrees.

– Adjust the oven temperature to 400 degrees and let the meatballs “brown” for approximately 5 minutes

– To serve: Serve with remaining glaze on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes and zucchini “noodles” on the side.

***Ms. Deb Perelman served the meatballs with her brown butter mashed potatoes; I’ve made my own version with way less butter, almond milk (instead of buttermilk) and added garlic. Recipe for the simple zucchini noodles posted separately.

Notes: Always remember to cook ground meats thoroughly!  I opted to “brown” the meatballs for an extra 5 minutes and it was a perfect finish. Adjust the breadcrumbs and quantity of milk according to need, the meatloaf mixture should feel “moist”, not runny;  adjust the seasoning according to your taste and dietary needs.  Enjoy!

RECIPE: Wild Salmon with Red Pepper and Hazelnut Salsa

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I made this dish for our Christmas Eve Dinner gathering; I adapted the recipe from one of my recent cookbook purchases, Ottolenghi The Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.  I have modified the original recipe slightly according to my own taste and dietary needs (see notes).  I love this recipe, the flavours worked wonderfully together!

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 spring (wild/organic) salmon fillets (200 g each), 2 Tablespoon olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  For the red pepper and hazelnut salsa: 2 red bell peppers, 6 Tablespoon (90 ml) olive oil, 2 Tablespoon (15g) hazelnuts, 1/2 ounce (15g) chopped chives, 1 clove of garlic (crushed), grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, 2 Tablespoon cider vinegar, agave syrup*, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  (*syrup not part of original recipe).

Preparation:

– To make the salsa: Pre-heat the oven to 400 F (200 C).  Quarter the peppers and remove the seeds.  Toss with 2 Tablespoon of olive oil and a generous pinch of salt.  Put them on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven for about 20 minutes, until they are cooked through and slightly charred.  Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to cool.  Keep any of the roasting juices.

– Roast the hazelnuts on a separate baking sheet for 10 minutes, until lightly colored (you can do this while the peppers are in the oven).  Allow them to cool down, rub with your hands to remove the skins.  Chop the coarsely. (Note: Hazelnuts can be toasted on frying pan; if you can find roasted hazelnuts, skip roasting step).

– When the peppers are cool, peel them and cut into 1/4 inch (5 mm) dice.  Mix with the hazelnuts, combine with 4 Tablespoon olive oil, and the rest of the salsa ingredients.  Add kosher salt, ground pepper and agave syrup (just a little if you find the flavours to be too “tart”) to taste.

– Have a baking sheet lined with parchment paper ready.  Brush salmon fillets with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.

– Heat grill pan (one with ridges to get the grill marks; must be pretty hot), put salmon fillets (two at a time, no overcrowding and easier to handle) skin side up on the hot grill and cook for approximately 2 to 3 minutes, then carefully flip over and cook the skin side for approximately 2 minutes.   Using a fish slicer (tongs work also), carefully but briskly remove the fillets from the pan and place them, skin side down, on the lined baking sheet.  Be careful not to break the fish or scrape off the nice char marks!

– Finish cooking the salmon in the oven, slow bake at 250 F for 10 minutes, or until the fish are just done and very light pink inside.  Serve warm, with a generous spoonful of salsa on top.

Notes:

– Salmon fillets: stay with wild salmon!  I used wild spring salmon for this recipe. Ask your fish monger to portion them for even cooking (for the adventurous and skilled home chefs, you can prepare yourself!), check fillets and remove bones.

– I used Meyer lemon (a cross between lemon and either mandarin/orange); it has a very tangy flavour and worked just as well.  I found the roasted hazelnuts at the Vancouver Farmer’s Market (certified organic from Poplar Grove Arbour, Agassiz). Agave syrup is not one of the ingredients in the original recipe, I used very little to sweeten the salsa; as for the olive oil, I’ve used less oil to cook the peppers and fish.

– If you are serving this for a dinner party, the grilling of salmon fillets can be done an hour ahead (which I did); complete the final step when you are about to serve dinner.

RECIPE: Roasted Cauliflower and Cremini Mushrooms with garlic and rosemary

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This is an idea and recipe which I’ve adapted loosely from the December 2013 issue of Fine Cooking; instead of cooking the vegetables in a skillet, I opted to roast everything together and served as a side dish with our roast prime rib dinner; I will try the slow saute method next time.

Ingredients: (serves 4 to 6)

1 Tablespoon of Red Wine Vinegar, 1 Tablespoon Pure Maple syrup, 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (more to taste), kosher, salt, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 Head of cauliflower (medium), 1/2 pound of Cremini mushrooms (trimmed, halved if small, quartered if large – approximately 3 cups), 8 large cloves of garlic (peeled and halved lengthwise), 3 rosemary sprigs, 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter (optional).

Preparation:

– Pre-heat oven to 350 F, lined roasting pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

– Prepare the cauliflower and mushrooms; for the cauliflower, cut off the stems and leaves (discard); Cut the cauliflower into half, then slice florets and stalks into bite size, cut the florets so they have a flat side.

– Combine red wine vinegar, maple syrup and lemon juice in a small bowl, set aside.

– Toss cauliflower, mushrooms and garlic in olive oil, season with kosher salt and pepper.  Spread evenly on baking dish.

– Bake uncovered 40 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and golden brown.

– Remove from oven and gently stir in vinegar mixture and butter (optional). Discard the rosemary sprigs and season to taste with more lemon juice and salt (if necessary).  Serve immediately.

RECIPE: Prawn Cocktail with Endive

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Prawn Cocktail with Endive; I used a store bought sauce and adjust the flavours accordingly.

This recipe is simple and easy to prepare, it makes a great appetizer for a sit down dinner or buffet. Measurements for sauce are approximate; as always, adjust according to your taste and dietary needs.

Ingredients:

For the prawns: 2 pounds of tiger prawns (deveined), 1 Large lemon (sliced – 1/4 inch), black peppercorns (10 cracked), 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, 3 Tablespoons (approximately) kosher salt, small bunch of dill, 2 small endive (for serving)

For the sauce: 1 cup of store-bought cocktail sauce, 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots, 1 to 2 Tablespoon horseradish (bottled), 1 teaspoon lemon juice (or more to taste), 1/2 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce, freshly ground pepper and kosher salt (if necessary) to taste 

Preparation for Prawns:

– In large pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil over high heat.

– Tie the peppercorns, bay leaves, pepper flakes, and herbs in a piece of cheesecloth to make a bundle. Add the bundle to the pot, adjust the heat to maintain a steady simmer, and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the lemon slices and salt (the broth should be as salty as seawater).

– Add the prawns and cook, stirring occasionally, until just opaque throughout and colour turns red, approximately 3-4 minutes, depending on the size of the prawns. To check for doneness, cut through the shell and into the middle of one shrimp with a paring knife.

– Have an “ice” bath ready; when prawns are cooked, pour the prawns into strainer and “shock” in ice bath immediately to stop the cooking process.  Strained and transfer to large baking sheet, spread them in a single layer and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Refrigerate and let cool completely, approximately 1 hour.

– Peel the prawns and leave the tails intact. Using a paring knife, make a shallow slit down the middle of the back of each prawn to expose the black vein. Lift out each vein with the tip of the knife and wipe it off with a paper towel.

To prepare the cocktail sauce: In a bowl whisk all ingredients together; cover and chill in the refrigerator.

To serve: Arrange the prawns on the bed of endive in serving platter; for individual servings, use cocktail glasses and serve the sauce on the side.  Be creative!

Notes:

Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking.

When cooking prawns, keep an eye on them at all times as they can be overcooked easily.  An easy way to tell when it’s done the shell colour turns red and prawn meat turns opaque.

If you wish to make the cocktail sauce from scratch, use a combination of ketchup and chili sauce.  For original recipes, go to http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/jumbo-shrimp-cocktail.aspx

RECIPE: Braised Pacific Wild Cod with Leeks and Shimeji Mushrooms

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This was a recent weekend experiment based on an older #Fine Cooking’s recipe (http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/braised-pacific-halibut-leeks-mushrooms-clams.aspx); pacific wild cod was used instead of halibut, clams were omitted and shimeji mushrooms were used.  The cod is very delicate, be sure not to overcook and handle with the fish with extra care while serving.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

4 oz (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, 4 packages of shimeji mushrooms (can be found in Asian supermarkets), 3 large leeks (white and light green parts only, thinly sliced, about 4 cups), kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, 3 cups low sodium organic chicken broth (or homemade , 4 pieces Pacific wild cod (medium size, 6 ounces), 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (for garnish, parsley infused oil will be a good option), black truffle salt**optional 

Preparation:

Melt the butter over medium heat in Dutch Oven.

Add leeks to pan, cook for 2 minutes, then add mushrooms; season lightly with kosher salt and pepper. Cook gently, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned,  approximately 7 to 8 minutes.

Add broth, raise the heat to medium high, and bring to a boil.

Pat dry the cod with paper towel; portion the fish (same size to cook evenly) then season both sides with salt and pepper. Gently place (nestle) the fish among the vegetables in the Dutch Oven.

Bring the broth back to a boil, cover tightly, and reduce the heat to low. Cook gently until the fish is just cooked through (approximately 8 minutes, I used a knife to “peek” and check for doneness, colour changes from translucent to opaque).

Serve the fish in shallow soup bowls (preferably warmed), topped with leeks and mushrooms, ladle the broth. For finishing touches, sprinkle a hint of black truffle salt (optional, do not overuse as it’s overpowering) and garnish with chopped parsley*.

*Additional notes:

The black truffle salt is optional – My friend Haruko brought me a jar from Italy as a present (Thank you so much!). We used very little to finish the dish and it was stunning!  Since we didn’t use the clams, the truffle salt added more depth and flavour to the broth. Perhaps a few drops of parsley infused oil will round off the dish nicely than the chopped parsley.  If you have time and the ingredients (do not throw away the roast chicken caucus), it is worthwhile to make your own chicken stock and have it ready for use in the freezer anytime.  We had a salad as a first course and I will post the recipe later (OO).

You can use olive oil instead of butter (1/2 cup butter = 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons olive oil), or combine together to enhance the flavour.

#Fine Cooking offers many excellent basic cooking tips, other than Rouxbe, I use the website and cookbooks/magazines as reference all the time.