Blog Archive

Friday, October 10, 2014

Recipe Formula: Collaboration of taste and time

A recipe is only one piece of the puzzle.

I begin this post with humble apologies for the lengthy gap since my last offering. Many of my regulars at my station had tried the following recipes as samples and have asked when will they be posted. Sadly technology had some fun with me as my new Samsung Smartphone died with all my photographs of dishes prepared, equally unreachable as 911. Life has been brought back with some expert surgery so Samsung and I are reunited in collaboration.

Before presenting the growing list of recipes I wanted to recount a conversation I had with Lead Cheese Ambassador, Nancy Bogar some weeks ago. As a chef who has cooked and loved cheese for many years I wanted to understand the role of a Cheese Ambassador and having worked with Nancy Bogar for several months there was no other person that I wanted to talk to.

Cheese itself can be traced back to 5500 BCE in Kujawy, Poland. Homer's Odyssey (late 8th century BCE) describes the Cyclops making and storing sheep's and goat's milk cheese. Production of cheese continued on an individual basis whether a mythical one eye or that of two carefully churned out the pungent treasure. Many of the familiar cheeses today were first recorded in the late Middle Ages or after-cheeses like Cheddar around 1500 CE, Parmesan in 1597, Gouda in 1697, and Camembert in 1791.

In 1815 the first factory producing cheese on an industrial theory of mass production opened in Switzerland. Eventually factory made cheese overtook traditional cheese making. Today Americans buy more processed cheese than 'real' and the Kraft cheese slice has never crumbled.

Whether one is a lover of cheese, familiar with its individuality and sensual allure, or a novice virginal, open to experience, in time developing preferences and choosing favourites, a tour guide with knowledge is a blessing. Cheese Ambassadors like Nancy Bogar are there to open the doors to each individual's senses.

The cheese island at Sobeys Scott Street, St. Catharines.

Nancy describes her role in the journey of discovery as, “My job is much more than the business end of cheese, controlling the variety, quality and quantity as the 'manager' title would suggest. To me, Lead Cheese Ambassador, has more of a personal ring to it. The best part of my job is to interact with my customers. Understanding what their needs are (party, BBQ, a tantalizing dish, a small get together with friends or just a quiet evening with a loved one) helps me serve them better. Whether I'm finding the customer a specific item they've been searching for, giving them a taste of something new, setting up a cheese display at a wedding or just exchanging cheese knowledge. If they don't walk away smiling, I have not done my job.”

The interaction Cheese Ambassador Nancy spoke of inspired her to bring the first three recipes in this roll call as a collaboration with me. Each has a starring role for cheese as the centre ingredient, bringing a new aspect and flair to everyday staples. Other recipes follow with cheese as the pivotal flavour blending taste and texture to satisfy not only hunger but also provide an adventure into a new realm.

As a chef I have enjoyed playing with smell, texture and taste, yet since technology decided to play with my senses this posting stretches past cheese and collaboration. Unleash Your Taste proves once again that conversation about food is as exciting as flying trapeze naked, or speaking about more than one topic at the same time.

Come and visit Cheese Ambassador Nancy Bogar at her island at Sobeys, Scott Street in St. Catharines and prepare to unleash your senses.

The Trendy Trinity – Layered Flats
Flat bread but not flat taste.

1 1/2 tbsp ranch dressing
1/2 cup baby arugula
2 cups shredded asiago cheese
250 g prosciutto, sliced thin
2 pears, thinly sliced
1/4 cup bbq sauce, dark
1/4 cup maple syrup
6 naan bread flats

Spread 1 1/2 tbsp of ranch dressing over the naan bread.
Place a generous cover of baby arugula, then the shredded asiago cheese, (placing the cheese over the top of the arugula prevents the gentle leaves from burning under the broiler).
Final step is to layer the thin slices of pear and place it into the oven, which is set on broil till the cheese melts and the naan bread gets a little crisp on the edge.
Whilst the cheese is melting over a medium heat, blend together in a small pot the bbq sauce and maple syrup, stirring so as not to let it burn.
Let it cool ready to drizzle over the top of the naan flat bread.

(Serves 4 - 6)

The Trendy Trinity - Arugula Salad

2 pears, chopped
4 cups baby arugula
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 1/2 cups parmigiano reggiano cheese, shredded

for the drizzle:
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup raspberry wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp basil olive oil

Combine the baby arugula, cranberries, pumpkin seeds,
chopped pear and parmigiano reggiano in a bowl.
The drizzle is the sublime unifying nectar here.
Over a medium heat combine all the ingredients into a small pot, keep stirring and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer for one to two minutes then remove from heat and let cool.

Place portions of the Arugula Salad as an accompaniment to fish as I had, or to anything else. As a lunch the salad stands on its own with a slice or two of good bread and a light glass of wine.

(Serves 4-8)

The Trendy Trinity – A Baguette with Italian Flair

1 baguette cut into 1 inch rounds
1/2 cup each orange & red cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp Italian dressing
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup shredded asiago cheese

Cut the baguette into one inch thick rounds,
cutting the baguette on an angle will give longer pieces.
Cut cherry tomatoes into halves and place into a bowl.
Chop fresh basil and mix with the tomatoes.
Drizzle Italian dressing over the tomatoes with basil.
Place baguette slices on baking sheet, spread a generous handful of shredded asiago cheese over the baguette and then place two or three pieces of tomato.
Put the tray under the broiler and allow cheese to melt.

Serve with a glassful of conversation or close your eyes and dream of the blue waters of the Mediterranean.

Feta Pork Balls

2 lb sausage meat
1 cup Greek yoghurt plain
275 g feta cheese
1 1/2 tsp Greek seasoning
2 cups chopped baby spinach
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
1 egg
1 tbsp bread crumbs
salt & pepper to taste

In a bowl combine sausage meat, egg, bread crumbs, yoghurt, feta cheese,
Greek seasoning and a pinch of salt.
Mix all ingredients well and form medium to small meatballs.
Cook meatballs till well browned and finish in the oven at 375° F for approximately 15 minutes.
Gently wilt the baby spinach over medium heat, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve meatballs over the baby spinach with a garnish of fresh dill.

(Serves 4-6)

Mac & Cheese with Crab

1 pack of elbow pasta
400 g jarlsberg cheese
300 g medium cheddar
680 g crab meat cooked
8 shallots
3/4 cup half and half cream (10% cream)
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/3 cup Spreadables (butter substitute)

Boil pasta drain and set aside.
Saute shallots till translucent. Turn off heat, drop chopped crab meat into pan
and mix through with shallots.
Shred and mix both the jarlesberg and cheddar cheese.
In a roasting pan or dish place some of the pasta on the bottom, then one third of the spreadable butter spread, 1/3 of the crab mixture evenly spread and cover with 1/3 of the cheese.
Mix everything well and repeat till all ingredients used and mixed well through.
Pour the 10% cream evenly, let settle and then mix the bread crumbs & parmesan cheese, spreading evenly to cover.
Place into oven under broiler for 10 minutes.

(Serves 4-6)

Scallops under a blanket

1/2 cup bread crumbs
5 tbsp butter
12 oz shredded gruyere cheese
1 cup mayo
1/2 dry white wine
1/2 cup chopped parsley
434 g scallops quartered
230 g button mushrooms
1/2 cup onion, chopped

Mix bread crumbs with 1/2 gruyere cheese then melt 1 tbsp butter,
toss with bread crumbs and set aside.
In a separate bowl combine balance of cheese, mayo, wine and parsley mix and set aside.
Saute scallops in 1 tbsp butter and set aside.
Cook mushrooms and onions, once cooked add back cooked and quartered scallops
and cheese mixture, mix through well.
Remove mixture into a baking dish or individual ramekins.
Crumble bread crumbs over top and place under broiler for 4-5 minutes till bread crumbs brown.

(Serves 4-6)

Avocado Spread/Dip

This is a variation on a Avocado dip that I have used as a spread for wraps,
on hamburgers and simply as a dip.

4 avocados
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup dill mustard
1 tbsp dill paste
2 tbsp srirachia sauce
1 tbsp white truffle oil or olive oil

Peel & blend avocado with ingredients by hand leaving small chunks of avocado for taste.

Pork Chops on Poyam Mash

6 boneless pork chops
350 g shallots
10 cremini mushrooms
1/2 cup fresh sage, chopped
1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped
2 tbsp dill mustard
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar or apple cider
1/2 cup sherry
1/2 cup 35% whipping cream
2 large sweet potatoes
6 medium white potatoes

Peel and cube both sweet potato and white potato.
Boil till very soft, drain and set aside.
Saute pork chops, set aside and cover to keep warm.
Saute mushrooms and shallots about 4-5 minutes till mushrooms are soft.
Add sage, dill, apple cider, sherry and stir well, then add cream.
Mash the potatoes together, add a little butter and dill mustard to the mash.
Place the chop on top of mash and then add the mushroom mix
and garnish with fresh chopped dill.

(Serves 6)

Sweet & Warm Thai Chicken

4 chicken breasts
2 bunch broccoli
1 pack ANOKI mushroom
1 large sweet onion
1 pack of stir fry noodles
1-200ml bottle of Thai kitchen sweet red chili sauce
3 tbsp Thai kitchen roasted red chili paste
1 tbsp kikkoman sweet soy glaze

Cook chicken breasts till done, (you can substitute the breasts with other chicken if you wish).
Set aside and cool.
Cut broccoli into small heads, chop mushrooms and onion.
Saute all three with a little seasoning. Do not over cook the broccoli.
Whilst broccoli, mushrooms and onion are cooking boil water and drop the noodles in.
Cut chicken into bite size pieces and add to vegetables.
Bring heat up to medium then add sweet red chili sauce, roasted red chili paste and sweet soy glace mixing well with vegetables and chicken.
Place with noodles as a base.

(Serves 4-6)

Pad Thai Chicken

4 chicken breasts
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 bunch green onion
8 button mushrooms
4 cups basmati rice
2 jars-236 ml Thai Kitchen Original Pad Thai
3 tbsp Thai Kitchen Roasted Red Chili paste

Cook chicken breasts and set aside.
Clean and chop bell peppers, green onion and mushrooms.
Saute vegetables with 1 1/2 tbsp oil and light seasoning.
Boil rice.
Cut up chicken and add to cooked vegetables.
Empty two jars of Original Pad Thai and Roasted Red Chili Paste, blend the sauce well with chicken and vegetables over medium heat.
Plate over a bed of rice.

(Serves 4-6)

Apple with Asian Pear & Blackberry Crisp

2 honeycrisp apples
2 Asian pears, yellow
10 blackberries

2 cups rolled oats
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter

Seasoning Sugar:
2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
3 tsp white sugar

Peel, core and slice apples & pear into wedges that are not too thick.
Mix and blend all the ingredients for the crumble till it has a loose but crumbly consistency.
Combine the seasoning mix and set aside.
Grease an oven safe dish that is not too big.
Put about 1/2 of the crumble on the bottom, then put apple and pear slices on top with blackberries, (if the blackberries are large cut them in half).
Sprinkle evenly with seasoning sugar and spread the balance of crumble mixture.
Place into preheated oven at 375° F for 40-45 minutes until crumble is golden brown.

(Serves 4)

Peach in a cup

2 cups mascarpone cheese
3 cup fresh whipped cream
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup shaved white chocolate
8 pastry cups – tart shells
3 peaches
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp brandy or dark rum (optional)

Cut peaches into thin wedges, place into a pot and add one cup of water,
vanilla essence and brandy.
Boil for no more than 5 minutes, put aside and cool off.
Mix mascarpone cheese, whipped cream & vanilla essence.
If you are using frozen tart shells, preheat oven at 375° F
then bake the tart till just a little golden in colour.
Fill the tart to half full with mascarpone mixture, place several pieces of peach over the top.
Garnish with white chocolate then bake approximately 10 minutes or till done.

(Serves 6-8)

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