Cooking Classes

18.6.16

Played with my food tonight and this is what I made ...


Today was opening day for our farmers' market season. There were a few changes and I have new helpers so it was with a touch of anxiety that I awoke this morning to do it all over again.

I wish I had taken a few pictures. The market was flooded with happy people anxious to buy our offerings. I love market day. After a week of kitchen work it is time to meet your buyers face to face and enjoy a bit of camaraderie.

Tonight I played with food that arrived in my foraged food box from northern Saskatchewan. What a grand meal.

The burn morels were prime. Large, dry and not wormy. They made a flavourful risotto. Dandelion greens are heavy in the dietary fibre so no need to make a lot. Their bitter flavour complimented the risotto. And I have about 6 dozen quail eggs. It was fun to poach a couple. But seriously, they only take a minute. Quail eggs taste like chicken eggs but they proportionately have a large yolk.

Satisfying simple dinner.

9.6.16

Phyllo Balkan Feta Torte with Spring Herbs

I recently visited a new business in Moose Jaw, SK  -  Coteau Hills Creamery. There are precious few cheese makers in this province so the opening was an event to be celebrated. I came home with their Balkan style feta. It is softer and saltier than the Greek style but just as versatile.



Here is a bit about Kirby and Crystal, the owners:


The British Columbia wine industry was good to Kirby and Crystal Froese but after almost two decades it was time to return home to Saskatchewan. “We really wanted to come back to our hometown of Moose Jaw to be with our families. Our nieces and nephew were growing up fast, our parents were getting older, too,” shares Kirby.
It didn’t take long for their entrepreneurial spirit to resurface and after researching various opportunities cheese making seemed like a natural transition from wine making. “Time, temperature, pH, hygiene and patience are elements of both businesses.” They are a dynamite combination to have their own small business. Kirby was the winemaker and Crystal worked in communications and marketing.
They opened the Coteau Hills Creamery with a 750 litre (200 gal) batch pasteurizer/cheese vat. Local milk is delivered every second day from Caroncrest Farms at Caronport, SK and two other local dairies. Milk is pumped directly into the vat and is held at 63 C (145 F) for 30 minutes before it is processed into cheese. As production increases milk will be delivered daily.
Kirby and Crystal are setting their sights on distributing their cheese throughout the country. In order to be federally registered to sell outside of the province, a “Certificate of Analysis” must accompany all the ingredients and come from a Canadian Food Inspection Agency registered facility.
Their first cheese is a Balkan style feta and will be available soon. It is softer and creamier than a Greek feta and saltier.
Next they plan to experiment with other small batch handmade cheeses without using additives to increase yield or add colour. A hamburger cheddar and a brie style are in the works. They are also working on a saskatoon berry rubbed tomme style cheese, which has a lower butterfat content, firmer and with a rind, for release in August.

Phyllo Balkan Feta Torte With Spring Herbs
This is much ligher than a dip and can be heaped with microgreens for a dramatic effect. Serve with crostini or crackers, if you wish.
1 c. fresh whole-milk ricotta 250 mL
3/4 c. Coteau Hills Creamery Balkan style feta 175 mL
2 large eggs
1/3 c. chopped soft spring herbs or baby greens (any combination of dill, mint, sorrel, chives, dandelion, parsley, arugula) or pesto 75 mL
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper 2 mL
1/3 c. unsalted butter, melted 75 mL
1 box phyllo dough, thawed overnight in refrigerator
Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).
In a large bowl, combine ricotta, feta, egg, herbs and pepper.
Brush 6 1/2 inch (16.5 cm) spring form pan with some of the melted butter. Drape 2 sheets of phyllo on top of Bundt pan. Do this with 2 more sheets placed perpendicular to the first 2 sheets. Continue adding phyllo sheets in this crisscross manner until all sheets are used. Edges of phyllo should hang over edges of pan.
Scrape half of the ricotta filling into pan. Spread pesto over the cheese. Spoon the rest of the ricotta mixture on top. Fold edges of phyllo over filling. Using a sharp knife, poke at least 10 holes in dough that reach all the way to bottom of pan. Slowly pour melted butter over torte. Some butter will seep through holes and some will remain on top of dough.
Place pan on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour, or until torte is puffy and golden brown. Allow torte to cool in pan for 1 hour before removing from the spring form pan and serving on a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

2.6.16

Spring is Rhubarb Time


I grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan. Rhubarb in the spring was a staple but we never had any on our farm. I pined for rhubarb pie and did not learn how to make one until years later. This is another version that I thought I would try. 

The crust is a butter crust rather than a lard crust. It has a meringue. A nice variation from the standard.


Rhubarb Meringue Pie
Eggs should be at room temperature when making meringue. It usually takes about 30 minutes for eggs from the refrigerator to warm up to room temperature. Older eggs give better volume than fresh eggs. Be sure the bowl and utensils are fat-free because the tiniest bit of fat will ruin the meringue. Add the sugar when the egg whites have reached the soft peak stage. The peaks will fall over gently when they have reached the soft peak stage. Gradually add sugar until stiff peaks are formed.

Put the meringue on a piping hot pie and cover the top completely and touching the crust all around to prevent it from shrinking. The heat will partially cook the bottom of the meringue and prevent shrinking and weeping. Cut a with a knife dipped in cold water.

1 recipe of Buttery Pastry
4-5 c. rhubarb, raw 1-1.25 L
1 tsp. orange zest 5 mL
2 eggs, separated
2/3 c. + 1/4 c. sugar 150 mL + 60 mL
2 tbsp. all purpose flour 30 mL
2 tbsp. butter, melted 30 mL
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar 1 mL

Roll out pastry and line a deep pie plate. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 375 F. Chop the rhubarb it into roughly 1cm slices. If the stalks are very wide and chunky then cut in half lengthways, also. Scatter on a baking sheet and bake until tender. Remove from baking and drain, reserving the liquid.

Separate eggs, putting the whites aside for the meringue. Beat egg yolks in a medium sized bowl with a fork. Add 2/3 cup sugar, flour and the melted butter. Continue to beat until blended. Then add the eggs and 1/3 cup of the rhubarb liquid to make a smooth and runny paste. Add rhubarb and mix to blend. Pour into pastry shell. Bake until set, about 30-40 minutes.

Beat egg whites until they form soft peaks, add cream of tartar, 1/4 cup of remaining sugar and continue to beat until glossy and stiff peaks form. Spoon this over the hot cooked rhubarb pie, making sure it is completely covered and there is no gap where rhubarb can bubble through the meringue. Use the spoon to bring some of the meringue into peaks. Put back in the oven for about 15 minutes until the peaks are toasted.

Cool for 10 minutes and serve. 

Buttery Pastry
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour 310 mL
1/2 tsp. sugar 2 mL
1/4 tsp. kosher salt 1 mL
1/2 c. chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces 125 mL, 12 mm
1/2 c. ice water 125 mL

Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter. Pulse until the texture of very coarse meal. Add ice water slowly until dough comes together in clumps. Form into a disc and wrap in plastic. Chill until firm, about 1 hour. Makes 1 single crust.



Rhubarb Eton Mess
4 c. rhubarb 1 L
2 tsp. maple sugar 10 mL
2 c. whipping cream 500 mL
1 packet individual meringue nests

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Chop the rhubarb into 1/2 inch (12 mm) pieces. Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Roast until the rhubarb is tender and beginning to caramelize. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Whip the cream in a large bowl until thick but still soft. Roughly crumble in 4 meringue nests.
Take out about half a cupful of the rhubarb, and fold the meringue cream and rest of the fruit mixture together.

Arrange in 4 dessert bowls and top each with remaining rhubarb. Serve immediately.

Rhubarb Iced Tea
8 c. rhubarb, chopped into small pieces 2 L
1 c. sugar 250 mL
1 Earl Grey teabag

Roast chopped rhubarb in a 350 F (180 C) oven until tender. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Strain the juice from the fruit in a colander. Use the fruit for a pie or crisp. 

Boil 2 cups (500 mL) of rhubarb juice with 1 cup (250 mL) sugar. Cool. 

Put teabag in a pot and add 3 cups of boiling water. Steep for 5-7 minutes or until it is a strong tea. Remove teabag. Chill tea.

Mix tea with an equal amount of rhubarb syrup and pour over a glass full of ice. Serve.

26.5.16

Now This is a Yorkshire Pudding



The prime cuts of beef are the prime rib roast, short loin and sirloin and make up only 25% of the carcass. Cooking with the prime cuts is often seen as a no brainer. But skill is required to make the most of them.

Standing Rib Roast
Dry a 3-rib roast, about 7 pounds (3.5 kg), thoroughly with a paper towel and place it on a plate in the refrigerator to further dry for 1 to 3 days.
Bring the meat to room temperature before roasting by allowing it to sit on the countertop for 30 minutes. Season generously all over with sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper.
Preheat the oven to 450 F (230 C). Place the meat in a roasting pan, bone side down and roast for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 325 F (160 C) until done. Additional cooking time for rare is 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Half an hour before the expected done time, insert a meat thermometer into a thick portion away from bone and fat. When the internal temperature reads within 5 degrees of desired doneness remove it from the oven, cover with foil and let sit up to 45 minutes. The temperature will rise during this rest period. Rare is an internal temperature of 120 F (50 C). Medium meat reaches 140-145 F (60-63 C), medium well is 150-155 F (65-68 C) and well done is about 160 F (71 C). Save all the juices from the pan and serve in a small gravy boat with the roast. Serves 4.
Yorkshire Pudding
Make one large Yorkshire Pudding and serve it with the roast on top. It will soak up all the juices.
1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
1 c. flour 250 mL
2 eggs
1 c. milk 250 mL
1/4 c. oil 60 mL
Mix all ingredients, except the oil, together.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 450 F (230 C).
Take an 8-inch round pan and pour the 4 tablespoons of oil into it.
Heat the pan for 2 minutes before pouring in the cold batter.
Cook for 20 to 30 minutes.
Do not open the oven door during cooking.
Serve immediately and enjoy the crispy outer edges and the custard-like inside. Serves 4.
Smashed Potatoes with Truffle Oil
Cook 4 medium sized whole potatoes in boiling water until just fork tender. Drain. Generously oil a baking sheet and place potatoes on the sheet with space around each for spreading.
With a potato masher gently crush each one and then crush again at a 90-degree angle to the first crush. Brush will oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and drizzle with truffle oil.
Bake on the top shelf of a 450 F preheated oven until golden with crispy edges, 20 to 25 minutes. Serves 4.



14.5.16

Poached Steelhead Trout with Lemon Risotto


During the World Women's Curling Championships here in Swift Current I was sourcing a lot of local food for the opening banquet.

One of the items we picked up for the banquet was steelhead trout from Lucky Lake. Wild West Steelhead has a wonderful farm on Lake Diefenbaker. Their fish is very good. Not only is it delicious and fresh they know how to farm fish and be kind to the environment. The fish food is government approved. The eggs are neutered so the fish cannot reproduce, if by chance any escape.

I was immediately impressed by the texture of the fish. It is firm and cooks to flake easily. I think I'll be making that two and a half hour trip over bad country roads at least once a year from now on.

For the banquet the fish was cured and made into gravlax, sliced thinly and added to the starter salad.

Poaching fish is highly under-rated. Poaching is especially convenient in the summer. The fish can be cooked ahead of time and chilled to be served cold or at room temperature. Serve with a homemade mayonnaise or aioli.

I have also included a very easy slow cooker poached version.


Poached Steelhead Fillets with Pimient d’Espelette Mayonnaise
Serve this with a simple green salad dressed in a tarragon vinaigrette, and lemon risotto. Pimient d’espelette is a spice from the Basque region of France and Spain in the Pyrenees near the village of Espelette. It is more delicate than cayenne.
1/3 c. water 75 mL
1/3 c. dry white wine 75 mL
1 shallot, thinly sliced
4 fresh parsley sprigs
1 fresh thyme sprig
2 full fillets of steelhead trout, skin on
Combine 1/3 cup (75 mL) water, wine, shallot, parsley and thyme in large skillet. Place steelhead fillets skin side down in a large pan like a small roaster. Season with salt and pepper. Cover tightly and heat to just under a simmer over medium-low heat until fish is barely opaque in center, about 10 minutes. The liquid should not break into a boil. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer steelhead to a platter. Discard liquid or reserve it to use as fish stock. Cover fish with plastic wrap and chill until cold, at least 4 hours.
Serve steelhead on a platter. Garnish with slices of lemon and serve with pimiento d’espelette mayonnaise. 

Pimient d’Espelette Mayonnaise
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature 30 minutes
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard 2 mL
1 c. olive or vegetable oil (or a combination), divided
2 tsp. sherry wine vinegar 10 mL
1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice 7 mL
1 tsp. pimient d’espelette 5 mL
2 tbsp. shallots, finely chopped 30 mL
coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Whisk together yolk, mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) salt until combined well. Add about 1/4 cup (60 mL) oil drop by drop, whisking constantly until mixture begins to thicken. Whisk in vinegar and lemon juice, then add remaining 1/2 cup (125 mL) oil in a very slow, thin stream, whisking constantly until well blended. If at any time it appears that oil is not being incorporated, stop adding oil and whisk mixture vigorously until smooth, then continue adding oil. Whisk in salt, black pepper and pimient d’esplette. Chill, covered, until ready to use. This can also be made in a blender and stream the oil in slowly.
The egg yolk in this recipe is not cooked, which may be of concern if salmonella is a problem in your area. Mayonnaise keeps, covered and chilled, up to 7 days.

Simple Poached Steelhead Trout
This method of poaching fish is foolproof. However, it only works for single serving portions rather than a whole side of fish.
1 c. water 250 mL
1/2 c. dry white wine 125 mL
1 yellow onion slice
1 lemon slice
1 sprig dill
1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
slice 2 steelhead fillets into 6 - single serving portions, without using the thinner tail portions
Combine the water and wine in the slow cooker and heat on high for 20 to 30 minutes. Add the onion, lemon, dill, salt and salmon. Cover and cook on high for about 20 minutes, until the salmon is opaque and cooked through according to taste. Serve hot or cold.  (Adapted from The Gourmet Slow Cooker by Lynn Alley)

Lemon Risotto
2 tbsp. shallots, finely chopped 30 mL
2 tbsp. olive oil 30 mL
1 c. Arborio rice 250 mL
1/3 c. dry white wine 75 mL
2 c. chicken stock, approx. 500 mL
1 tsp. lemon zest 5 mL
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 c. parmesan cheese, grated 60 mL
Saute shallots in olive oil until clear. Add rice and toss until coated in oil. Add wine and cook until reduced by half. Add warm chicken stock a ladle at a time until the rice is cooked to al dente. Stir often. The rice should be cooked but still firm. Remove from heat and add parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

13.5.16

A Sandwich Buffet or How to use up all those bits and pieces of food



It’s that time again. Seeding is in full swing and farm work becomes more active so is the busy-ness in the kitchen. Sometimes it is okay just to throw something together for lunch. This sandwich buffet uses bits and pieces of food that alone are not enough to feed a crew. It is an excellent way to use a single pork tenderloin, a couple of chicken breasts or a partial package of bacon. Then present a decadent dessert as the finale.

The components of a sandwich buffet include the protein, the crunch, the breads, butters and mayonnaise.  

Proteins are essential for muscle growth and repair. It takes the body longer to digest protein so a person feels full longer. Offer several choices of pre-sliced meats, poached fish, pates, cheeses and eggs.

Generously rub pork tenderloin or skin-on chicken breast with a seasoning mix like Creole or lemon pepper. Preheat a cast iron pan with a little canola oil and add the meat. Brown on all sides then slip it into a 350 F (180 C) oven to complete cooking, about 15 minutes. Cool and slice thinly.

Crispy comes from sliced raw vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes and crisp, torn lettuces. Torn lettuce can be prepared in advance because it browns more slowly than cut lettuce. Wash and shake lettuce dry and tear into serving size pieces. Then wrap it in a clean tea towel and refrigerate until serving time. Pickles, sauerkraut and a simple shredded coleslaw add flavour and crunch. 

Offer a selection of breads and buns. Baguettes make a nice chewy sandwich. Slice them horizontally for a hearty serving. Whip up some biscuits. Focaccia is simple to make in large batches. It is a flatbread and is sliced horizontally to make sandwiches.

Moisten the sandwich and also prevent juices from soaking the bread with mayonnaise, butter and mustards. Dig through the fridge for condiments like cranberry sauce, salsas and chutneys and put them on the table.
Focaccia
1 medium baking potato, peeled and quartered
1 1/2 tsp. instant yeast 7 mL
3 1/2 c. unbleached all purpose flour 875 mL
1 c. warm water 250 mL
1/4 c. olive oil, plus more for the pan 60 mL
1 1/2 tsp. salt 7 mL
Boil potato until tender. Drain and cool. Put it through a ricer and use about 1 cup (250 mL) lightly packed potato.
In the large bowl of a stand mixer combine yeast, flour and 1 cup (250 mL) warm water until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until bubbly, about 20 minutes.
Add remaining dough ingredients, including reserved potato. Mix with paddle attachment on low speed until the dough comes together. Switch to dough hook attachment and increase speed to medium. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
Transfer dough to lightly oiled bowl, turn the dough to coat with oil and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm, draft-free place until dough is doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Cut dough in half and flatten each piece into an 8-inch disk on a large, generously oiled baking sheet. Cover dough with clean tea towel and rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C). With 2 or 3 fingers, dimple the dough at regular intervals. Make about 2 dozen dimples. They should almost poke through the bottom of the bread. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake about 25 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. Serve warm. This recipe can easily be doubled. (Cooks Illustrated)
Poblano Salsa
1 large poblano pepper, halved and seeds removed 
1 bunch scallions 
2 tbsp. canola oil 30 mL
2 tbsp. fresh mint, roughly chopped 30 mL
1 tsp. lemon juice 5 mL
1/2 tsp. cane sugar 2 mL
1/2 tsp. chili flakes 2 mL
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).
Place poblano halves and scallions on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil and roast until softened, about 15-18 minutes.
Remove from oven, cool slightly, then chop coarsely.
Add to a bowl with remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Season generously with salt and pepper.  (Bon Appetit)
Caramel Brownies in a Jar
There is no brownie better than a cocoa brownie. Serve these in a 1 cup (250 mL) wide-mouth canning jar or other dessert dish. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a generous drizzle of caramel sauce.
10 tbsp. unsalted butter 155 mL
1 1/4 c. sugar 315 mL
3/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder 175 mL + 30 mL
1/4 tsp. salt 1 mL
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla 2 mL
2 cold large eggs
1/2 c. all purpose flour 125 mL
2/3 c. walnut or pecan pieces (optional) 150 mL
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 F (160 C). Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
Combine butter, sugar, cocoa and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove bowl from skillet and set aside until mixture is only warm, not hot.
Stir in vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When batter looks thick, shiny and well blended, add flour and stir until fully mixed in, then beat vigorously for 2 or 3 minutes the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
Bake until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.
Lift up the ends of the parchment and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares. (Bon Appetit)