Saturday, 28 July 2018

Watermelon, tomato and basil soup-salad


I've been thinking about making this dish for years now. While in Spain four of us lunched in Bilbao along the canal close to the Guggenheim Museum. Always wanting to try something different and interesting sounding I ordered a watermelon-tomato-basil salad. Much to my surprise there where squares of tomato and watermelon in a green liquid. I didn't know what the heck was going on. It took a moment  to realize it was what I ordered. Just not what was my preconceived idea of what I ordered! This is a soup-salad! Stretch the bounds of your imagination, lol.

My version is different slightly from the original that I had in Spain, well, because it was years ago and I didn't take notes. Plus the lunchtime wine makes it a little foggy in the memory banks.

Ingredients:


Watermelon
2-3 Tomatoes
2 cups fresh Basil
1/2 peeled English long Cucumber
Goat or feta cheese
Balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup (approx.) Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lemon juiced
Mint leaves


Directions:


1. Blend basil, cucumber and lemon juice in olive oil with a dash salt. Chill in refrigerator.















2. Cut tomatoes so you don't have any skin and watermelon into cubes (smallish). Alternatively, you can blanch and peel the tomatoes and make larger pieces. Wait to put tomato and watermelon onto plate until you pour in the basil because it will look cleaner.


3. Place in shallow bowl and pour a small amount of basil in bottom of bowl



4. Crumble cheese around and on cubes

5. Sprinkle mint leaves





6. Drizzle balsamic over top


7. Serve immediately while basil "soup" is cold


This is a great summertime dish that is fun and refreshing. Serve it with some Prosecco Frissante - Villa Teresa Organic to make a fancy dinner party or with soda water made from a Sodastream for lunches and for the kids.



Alternative options:

Instead of cheese, mint and balsamic use curly lettuce, a few bean sprouts and small slices of kalamata olives on top of the watermelon and tomato pieces.






Friday, 24 November 2017

HOLIDAY time

Well we are entering the busy time of year where time is at a premium. I am taking a breather from the blog until the new year. Enjoy yourselves! I look forward to more post in 2018.

Smiling,
Robert

Friday, 10 November 2017

Shallot Tart



Finger food, perfect for entertaining. Look great with minimal effort. Add chilled champagne, white or red wine and someone to share conversation with and you are set!

Ingredients:


6-7 shallots peeled and sliced
Puff pastry 6"x10" approximately
1 Egg or you can use olive oil
Olive oil
salt
parchment paper


Directions:


1. Peel and slice shallots

2. Place in frying pan with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1-2 teaspoons of salt

3. Sauté on medium-low heat until caramelized, approximately 30-40 minutes. You can get other things ready and check on them every few minutes if the stove isn't too hot. When they are ready you can put it on low and then start the puff pastry

4. Preheat the grill (or oven) to 450

5. Take puff pasty out of freezer and place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet

6. Skore a line about 1/4" from the edge all the way around the edge of the puff pastry

7. Crack egg into a bowl and mix the yolk and white together.

8. Brush the around the edge of the puff pastry with the raw egg. If you are out of eggs you can use olive oil

9. Place the puff pastry on the cookie sheet on the grill and close the lid. Cook for 4-5 minutes until it is "puffed up" and slightly browned



10. Remove the puff pastry from the grill

11. Press down the centre of the pastry leaving the edge taller


12. Fill the centre of the puff pastry with your shallot mixture and spread around evenly






13. Cut the pastry into bit sized pieces and serve on a beautiful plater like you can find on PotteryLove.com



Be sure to that there is at least one piece left for the chef to eat!






Friday, 29 September 2017

Perfect Paella



This could be my favourite dish. You know that question: "What would you like for your last meal?" Well, this might be the one. There's such a collection of seafood on the top you almost can't believe it. It takes about 2 hours to make and will cost a small fortune but it WILL be the best paella you've ever had- EVER!

I will give quantities for 2 sizes- piggy or EXTRA piggy (or 8 vs 12 people)


Ingredients for 8 people 

(in a 13 inch paella pan)

  • 1 1/4 pounds ripe tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion chopped (or a little less)
  • 1 1/2 bell peppers (red, yellow and orange; seeded and chopped)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 4 Tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 heaping Tsp salt (Maldon)
  • 3 cups Arborio rice (or Spanish Valenciano rice)
  • 14 muscles (scrubbed and beards pulled off
  • 14 clams
  • 14 medium shrimp or prawns (deveined and tails removed, 3-4 with shell on for extra flavour)
  • 2 full chorizo (about 1 pound) cut diagonally thinly
  • 1/2 Tsp saffron
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cups dry white wine
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil divided 


Let's do it!

1.  Cut tomatoes in half and coarsely grate tomatoes into a bowl and discard the skins. Grating gives a nice texture to the meat of the tomatoes.

Or, you can blanch the tomatoes to remove the skins and do a quick blender chop up. First score the skins only with a sharp knife making 4 cuts making an "X". This makes removing the skins easier. Place tomatoes in boiling water for 10 seconds and then remove placing in an ice water filled bowl- not long. Remove after they have cooled and remove the skins. Blend a little as we don't want total mush.

2. Put chopped onion and chopped bell peppers in a bowl.

3. In a small bowl measure paprika, salt and garlic.

4. Put rice in another bowl.

5. Seafood in a bowl.

6. Chorizo in a bowl.



7. . Heat the grill to medium hot (350- 450 degrees). Make sure your grill is level- if not make it so.

8. Toast saffron in a large sauce pan on the stove at medium heat. Stirring about 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the 6 cups chicken broth and the white wine, cover and bring to a boil over high heat.

(Bring the remaining 3 cups of chicken broth to a boil in a small covered pan.)

9. At the grill: a slotted wooden spoon, long handled wooden spoon, your paella pan, oven mitts and all the bowls of ingredients. Keep the grill closed on your gas barbecue.

10. Heat the paella pan on the grill. Add 3 tbsp of olive oil, then the chorizo. Brown the chorizo, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Using the slotted spoon remove the sausage an place it back in it's bowl.


11. Saute the onion and bell peppers in the pan until the onion softens. About 5 -6 minutes.




12. Stir in the tomatoes and cook. Stir often until the liquid evaporates and the tomato paste turns a darker shade. About 12-15 minutes.


13. Stir in remaining 3 tbsp olive oil, and the garlic, paprika and salt mixture. Stir and cook 30 seconds.

14. Add rice and stir until evenly coated. Smooth out level.




15. Being careful, pour hot saffron liquid over rice and arrange chorizo on top. Cook at a steady simmer for 12 minutes.


16. Pour remainder of saffron liquid over paella so rice is just covered.

(for EXTRA piggy size- Pour enough hot plain chicken broth over paella so rice is just covered in liquid. You may not use it all.)

17. Place muscles around near the edge of the pan pushing them into the fluid. Scatter the remaining muscles, clams and shrimp over the paella.


18. Close the lid on the grill and cook until the clams and muscle open (throw away any that don't open) and the rice is al dente. About 6 - 10 minutes.


19. Remove from grill carefully and place on a trivet. Cover with paper towels for about 5 minutes. This is important to let it stand.



20. Dig in!








I love making this paella when we have company over. It is especially wonderful when we have out-of-towners come in that don't have the same access to fresh seafood that we have access to. We even made the large recipe and gave the small pan to neighbours when they had a baby- every new parent welcomes food they don't have to prepare or think about!





Ingredients for 12 people 

(17-18 inch paella pan or two 12 inch cast-iron frying pans)
  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 bell peppers (red, yellow or orange; seeded and chopped)
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 5 Tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 2 Tsp salt (Maldon)
  • 4 cups Arborio rice (or Spanish Valenciano rice)
  • 24 muscles (scrubbed and beards pulled off
  • 24 clams
  • 24 medium shrimp or prawns (deveined and tails removed, 3-4 with shell on for extra flavour)
  • 3 full chorizo (about 1 1/4 pound) cut diagonally thinly
  • 1 Tsp saffron
  • 9 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 7 Tbsp olive oil divided 

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Fennel and Orange Salad



Often people (especially men) believe that you "don't win friends with salad." This salad is friendly to all. If you haven't tried fennel it is a like bit liquorice flavoured. Then when you grill it you get that slight caramelization that brings in a bit of sweetness too.

I'm drawn to things that are the exception. Like grilling something that seems unlikely to grill. Like oranges!


Ingredients:

1/2 cup (fresh) Orange juice
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp (150 ml) Olive oil
Splash of hot sauce (about 1 Tsp) such as Tabasco
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
3 Fennel bulbs, sliced thinly about 1/4" with core intact
3 Oranges
1 bunch of watercress, remove the tough stems
1/2 cup honey roasted macadamia nuts
Salt and pepper to taste




Directions:

Prepare honey roasted macadamia nuts first if you can't buy them. This can be done earlier in the day or days before. See below for directions.

1. Mix Orange juice, olive oil, garlic, hot sauce, parsley and salt and pepper in glass bowl or ziplock bag.

2. Remove 1/3 of the dressing for later

3. Cut the green stalks off the white bulb of the fennel.  Slice fennel bulbs in an up and down direction keeping the bottom of the bulb intact so the slices hold together.

4. Gently place the fennel slices into the ziplock bag or dish with 2/3 of the dressing. Make sure all pieces are covered and refrigerate for at least 5 hours. You can even prepare this the day before and let it soak over night.


5. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat

6. Cut the skin off the oranges with a knife. Cut the orange into thin 1/3" slices and place them in a bag or bowl in the fridge until you grill them.


7. Season the grill with oil and place the fennel on the grill. Cook with the lid up for 5-7 minutes a side depending on the power of your grill. You will want grill marks and the fennel with soften but still have a firmness to them.



















8. Add the orange slices to the grill for the last 1-2 minutes. You want a grill mark on them if you can achieve it without them drying out. You need to keep a sharp eye on things at this point.

9. Remove the fennel and orange slices and arrange them on a serving plate or large bowl with the watercress and roasted macadamia nuts. Dribble the salad with the reserved dressing and serve warm. Although it is still tasty cold a day later.




Honey roasted macadamia nuts

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp Butter
1-3 Tbsp Honey
1 Tsp Salt (for every pound of unsalted nuts)
1/2 - 1 Cup Macadamia nuts

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F (I use my toaster oven)

2. In a small sauce pan over medium-low heat place butter and honey. Stir occasionally until butter is melted and mixed with the honey. This will take just a few minutes.

3. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet (for easier clean up) and arrange the macadamia nuts in a single layer. Drizzle with the butter/honey mixture. Place in oven.

4. Stir the nuts every 5-10 minutes until golden brown in colour. It usually takes about 20-30 minutes.

5. Remove when golden and sprinkle with salt. Let cool.

6. Try not to eat them all before you make the salad!


I saw this salad made on "licence to grill" and it is a winner! You can serve it to a large group or use it as a large part of your meal and combine it with tequila lime chicken skewers. It is a fresh fun meal to serve in the summer.


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Grilled Cauliflower Skewers


I like food sticks! Let's have more foods on sticks please. They look great as a side dish on a plate or to serve to party guests.

Ingredients:


1 Cauliflower
3 Tbsp Olive oil
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Oregano, fresh, chopped
1/4 Tsp salt
1/8 Tsp hot-red-chili flakes
4 8" wooden skewers


Directions:


1. Soak the wooden skewers 30 - 60 minutes in water

2. Preheat the grill to medium

3. Cut the cauliflower into large florets. Thread about 3 florets onto each skewer.





4. Whisk the lemon juice with the oregano, salt and hot-red-peper flakes.




5. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until mixed thoroughly.




6. Using only 1/2 of mixture, brush cauliflower.





7. Place folded tinfoil over one side of the grill (and turn that side off), season grill with oil

8. Place cauliflower on the grill with the wooden skewers on the tinfoil to protect the wood. Cook with lid closed until tender and crisp with nice grill marks. About 6 minutes per side.





9. Serve on a platter and brush with remaining mixture.


This will become one of my favourite grilled vegetable recipes. It's just that good. Period.


This goes wonderful with Tarragon-dill trout. I also found this recipe at Chatelaine.com.



Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Grilled Artisan Pizza!



I love pizza. Well who doesn't? I mean really. Getting a good recipe and making one at home has been on my bucket list for a long time. I think you'll agree this one is a keeper. Unfortunately it still takes more than a phone call to make.

This recipe makes 2 pizzas. You can always freeze the extra dough if you only want one pie. If you freeze it then take it out of the freezer in the morning and put it in the fridge to thaw. It will be ready to make for dinner. It's actually a fast mid-week dinner.

You can put any type of toppings on that you wish. I'm making an arugula, parmesan salami, caramelized shallots and mushrooms with mozzarella. I added some green olives as well on the second one.

Ingredients (enough for 2 pizzas):

Dough:

1 Cup warm water
1 Tsp dried yeast
1 Tsp honey
2 1/4 Cups all purpose flour
olive oil

Toppings:

100g Sliced very thin Parmesan salami
4 Roma tomatoes sliced thin
5-6 Shallots sliced
6 Medium mushrooms sliced
2 Cups arugula
8 Large green olives sliced
Mozzarella cheese



Directions (Dough):


1.  Add 1 tsp dried yeast to 1 cup warm water in a measuring cup, the warm water helps to activate the yeast

2. Add 1 tsp honey, helps make it sweet and activate yeast even faster

3. Give a quick stir to break up the honey



4. Then set aside for 10 minutes (I used the traditional yeast not quick rising)

5. On the counter top put 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour (I used organic - oh la la). Level off the flour because it's important you use the right amount (much like measuring hot curry).











6. Make a "little well" in the center of the flour to add the yeast to let it slowly absorb.

7. With one hand slowly add the yeast (you will probably need to stir it before you pour it in) from the measuring cup and with the other hand gently mix it in to allow the flour to absorb it



8. Continue until the right constancy. You may have extra yeast left over and that's ok

9. Start to work the dough with the palms of your hands to activate the gluten. Then make a ball with it. The dough shouldn't be sticky anymore at this point.











10. In a large mixing bowl pour some olive oil in to coat the bowl so the dough won't stick












11. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and place in a warm draft free place like the oven without any heat (turned off)

12. Wait 1 hour

13. The dough will rise. take it out and remove the towel.

14. Punch it. This will remove all the air from the dough













15. Take the dough out of the bowl and place it on the counter and cut it in half with a knife. This will make 2 pizzas.




16. Make 2 balls from it and place them back in the bowl. You will know where to separate them because there will be a crease there


17. Put them back in the oven covered.  Like a blanket covering you up in a cozy bed

18. Wait another hour. You can start making your toppings now if you want e.g. sautéed sausage

19. After the second hour take out one of the balls and sprinkle with semolina, cornstarch or flour to prevent it from sticking in your pizza peel or cookie sheet. I just used flour




20. Spread out the ball and then add a little more flour/semolina right on top

21. Now start rolling it out with a rolling-pin starting from the center working out until its the right size. You can also just stretch it out with your hands. Do not make a raised edge around the outside because it will make it more difficult on the grill. This is the "Artisan" part!











22. Roll it onto the rolling-pin to transfer it to your pizza peel or flat cookie sheet (this makes it easier to transfer; however, I just stretched the dough with my hands and picked it up- but be careful!


NOW THE GRILL PART


1. Get your grill hot: to 450. About 2 seconds holding your hand over the grill

2. Season the hot grill with oil

3. Put the dough on a floured cookie sheet and slide it onto the grill. Close the lid and cook 2 minutes.

4. Open the lid and check to see if it is browning on the underside. The top should be bubbling slightly. If not wait another minute. Rotate it 90 degrees for 1 more minute.




5. Use a spatula to remove it onto the cookie sheet and flip it so the grill side is up. Keep the grill lid closed to keep heat in.

6. Drizzle some olive oil on the grilled side and brush it out the the edges



7. Put toppings on! See below.

8. Return to grill and cook for 2-3 minutes. Until the bottom is charred slightly and the cheese is melted

9. Remove from grill and let stand a couple of minutes. Cut and eat!!


Toppings (for 2 pizzas):

100g sliced very thin Parmesan salami
4 Roma tomatoes sliced thin
5-6 Shallots sliced
6 Medium mushrooms sliced
2 Cups arugula
8 Large green olives sliced
Mozzarella cheese

Directions (toppings):

1. Slice the shallots and sauté them in a Tbsp of olive oil. After they have gone translucent (about 5 minutes) add the sliced mushrooms. Continue on medium-low heat to caramelize the shallots.






2. After you have grilled the one side of the pizza dough and brushed it with olive oil its time to build your pizza: I don't use a tomato sauce--Just tomatoes! Place a layer of thinly sliced tomatoes on the dough



3. Make a layer of parmesan salami, then use half of the caramelized shallots and mushrooms. Add a few olive slices, then top generously with arugula. Now tear pieces of mozzarella and place generously on top of the lettuce.












Now grill for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted and bottom is slightly charred





I love this way to cook pizza. It keeps your house cool and gives more flavour than in your regular oven. You get to decide how thin you make your crust so it's very customizable for those that want different thicknesses. Oh and yes, it DOES taste good the next day. If you have left overs.