Cooking Classes


Roast Loin of Boar with Juniper Berries

Wild boar is my meat of choice at the moment.  The only times I have eaten it is in a restaurant and in Italy.  Cinghiale, as the Italians call it.  The robust flavour of this meat stands up well to aromatic spices and herbs.  This was absolutely delicious.   I served it with an orzo, toasted pinenut and grated parmesan side dish.  Add a lightly dressed mesculun greens salad and the main course is complete.  I scraped up bits of the sauce left in the bottom of the pan to lightly dress the meat.

This is local Saskatchewan wild hog and can be found at the Regina Farmer's Market from The Green Ranch.

Roast Loin of Boar with Juniper Berries

3 lbs loin of wild boar, bone in

2/3 cup red wine
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 diced carrots
1/2 cup diced onion
2 crushed cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 sprig fresh tarragon
5 whole juniper berries, crushed
2 teaspoons salt

Bring all the marinade ingredients to the boil, and simmer for 3 minutes. Leave to cool. Score the fat on the loin lightly across the top, and place the meat in a deep dish, covering with the marinade. Leave for 2 or 3 days, turning the meat twice a day. Remove the meat and wipe it dry. Place it in an oven-proof braising pan or heavy casserole dish over heat, and add the oil or lard. Brown the meat well.   Bring the marinade to the boil in a second pan and add to the meat.
Cover the pan and cook in a low oven (330F) for 2 1/2 hours. Add stock as necessary so the pan does not go dry.  Place meat in a serving dish. Transfer the sauce into a pan, skim off the fat and bring to the boil.


Wild Boar Ribs with Basmati Rice

I feel like I might be getting my mojo back.  I have been developing my cooking classes and focusing on my own personal food scene that I have felt a little remiss in my blogging.

But I just had to share this one dish.  I was in Regina, Saskatchewan (Canada) on the weekend and was fortunate enough to find the Farmer's Market.  The jewel of the day was wild boar from The Green Ranch.

I purchased a package of ribs and also a loin roast.  The ribs was my first foray into cooking with wild boar.  They were absolutely divine.  The flavour was something between pork and beef.  They were very lean.  Being ribs, I assumed a long cooking time and a marinade.  It worked.  Actually I used a rub and let them sit over night and roasted them, covered, for about 2 hours the next day.  And, those micro-greens are from my very own garden.

I can hardly wait to cook with my loin roast.

Wild Boar Ribs 

1 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons dried oregano

Mix all ingredients together and rub the ribs with the mixture.  Let sit overnight or at least 1 hour.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Place the ribs in a covered pan or seal with aluminum foil.  Roast for about 2 hours or until tender.  Serve with basmati rice and a lightly dressed mesculun salad.


Chicken and Sausage Gumbo from the Daring Cooks

When I was in Tennessee last year, I bought a whole pantry full of southern ingredients.  I have hardly used them!  This is a great challenge.  I can finally use my gumbo filé.  I also used Tony Cacheres Creole seasoning mix rather than make my own.  I also cut the entire recipe in half!  It is a huge recipe and could easily feed a crowd for a party.

This is so delicious.  I know you will take one look at this recipe and say, "Nope. Too much work."

It is worth every hour.  If you keep homemade chicken stock and rendered duck fat in your freezer, there, it is half done!  I used what I had at hand.  There is no andouille sausage in my town so I used chorizo.  Smoked spicy sausage was substituted with double smoked pepperoni.  For the rice, I used basmati.  But you must remember that basmati is so delicate and cooks quickly.  Take the lid off after 12 minutes and let the moisture escape.

I used a large cast iron pan but you could easily use a cast iron casserole. 

The most fun was to make the roux.  I remember when I was a child that my mother would make gravy and start with a roux of fat and flour that she would cook until it was a nice colour.  This just takes that browning a little farther.

Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.

Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo

Minimally adapted from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh
Serves 6

1/2 cup rendered duck fat
1/2 cup flour
1/2 large onions, diced
1 chicken (3 ½ to 4 lbs.), cut into 10 pieces
1 tablespoon Basic Creole Spices (recipe follows), or store-bought Creole spice blend
1/2 pound spicy smoked sausage, sliced ½ inch thick
2 stalks celery, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 tablespoons of homemade tomato sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 quart homemade duck stock
1 bay leaf
6 ounces andouille sausage, chopped
1 cup sliced okra, ½ -inch thick slices (or frozen, if fresh is not available)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Filé powder, to taste
Tabasco, to taste
4-6 cups  cooked Basic Louisiana White Rice (recipe follows)

Season the chicken pieces with about 2 tablespoons of the Creole Spices while you prepare the vegetables.

Make sure all of your vegetables are cut, diced, chopped, minced and ready to go before beginning the roux. You must stand at the stove and stir the roux continuously to prevent it from burning.

In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan, heat the duck fat over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil – it will start to sizzle. Reduce the heat to moderate, and continue whisking until the roux becomes deep brown in color, about 15 minutes.

Add the onions. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir the onions into the roux. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue stirring until the roux becomes a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes.

Add the chicken to the pot; raise the heat to moderate, and cook, turning the pieces until slightly browned, about 10 minutes.

Add the sliced smoked sausage and stir for about a minute.

Add the celery, bell peppers, tomato, and garlic, and continue stirring for about 3 minutes.

Add the thyme, chicken stock, and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, skimming off the fat from the surface of the gumbo every so often.

Add the chopped andouille, okra, and Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper, several dashes of filé powder, and Tabasco, all to taste.

Simmer for another 45 minutes, continuing to skim the fat from the surface of the gumbo. Remove the bay leaves and serve in bowls over rice. Pass more filé powder at the table if desired.

Basic Louisiana White Rice

Adapted from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh
Servings: About 4 cups

1 tablespoon chicken fat, extra-virgin olive oil, or butter
1 small onion, minced
1½ cups  Louisiana (or another long-grain white rice)
3 cups  Basic Chicken Stock
1 bay leaf
1-2 pinches salt

1. Put the fat, oil, or butter and the onions into a medium saucepan and sweat the onions over moderate heat until they are translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Pour the rice into the pan and stir for 2 minutes.
3. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
4. Add the bay leaf and salt.
5. Cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 18 minutes.
6. Remove the pan from the heat, fluff the rice with a fork, and serve.

Basic Creole Spices

From My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh
Makes ½ cup

2 tablespoons celery salt
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground allspice

Mix together all spices in a bowl. Transfer the spices to a clean container with a tight-fitting lid. Store up to six months.


Adding Flavour to your Food with Spices and Herbs

Blogging can be so frustating.  I published this on Wednesday and soon thereafter Blogger went down.  Hence, all the comments I received have been lost.  Oh well, let's try again.

Cooking is my passion.  And if you have not thought about it, we do not choose our passions.   My dream is to spend my life cooking and exploring foods and food preparation.  I talk about food ad nauseum.  To channel this energy, I am creating a little cooking school out of my home kitchen.  Either this plan will be a relief to my friends because I have another venue to discuss cooking or, heaven help them, it will fuel my passion to the point I talk about nothing else.  Time will bring the answer.

I have been nervous and at the same time anxiously awaiting to present my first class.  My cooking class career could potentially begin and end in one evening.  In a small city where the status quo is the most comfortable place, you often have only one chance to prove yourself as a newcomer.  "The Secrets of Adding Flavour to Your Food with Spices, Herbs and Other Ingredients" has been deemed a success!  Phew!

My approach to this subject was to create flavour families.  The easiest way to cook without a recipe is to understand which flavours form pleasing combinations.  You can achieve this by using traditional pairings but if you want to spice it up, excuse the pun, then you need to know which spices and herbs will complement each other.

The program began with a Blind Spice Test.  I did not actually blindfold everyone.  But if you had a group of seasoned (there I go again!) cooks or chefs, I would definitely increase the challenge by blindfolding the participants.  I put a teaspoon of a spice or herb in a little tin and they could see and smell, but not taste, the product to guess its identity.

I discussed the qualities of spices and herbs and how to use them.  We also talked about how to make our own spice mixtures.  We learned how to toast them, how to grind them and how to store them.

No discussion on flavouring food is complete until you also learn about salt.  This could be a class unto itself. 

Finding good quality spices and herbs is not always easy if you live in a smaller centre.  This is where the Internet is an invaluable resource and I provided information on some of my favourite online sources.

The remainder of the evening was spent tasting a variety of foods made with spices and herbs that were new to the participants.  They took notes and completed the exercise on flavour families.  All in all, I learned a lot and very much enjoyed preparing for this class.  The group was absolutely fantastic.  They opened their minds to trying some new flavours and had a lot of fun, too.