Monday, November 26, 2012

Barley Risotto with Asparagus and Peas

The health experts say that we need to have lots of fiber in our diets while keeping the calories down. How can we accomplish this without sacrificing flavour? With a beautiful barley risotto! Barley is a fantastic grain that has a low Glycemic Index, and because of its density and starchiness makes a wonderfully rich and creamy risotto. We paired it with spring peas and asparagus to lighten it up and keep it fresh.

Barley takes longer to cook than arborio rice, but doesn't need to be monitored quite as carefully, just don't let the amount of liquid in the pot get too low.

Note: Use pearl barley, not pot barley or the dish will take over an hour to cook and need much more liquid.

Serves 4.

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 shallots, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 cup pearl barley
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh english peas (you can also use frozen peas)
12 spears of asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces. (the thinner asparagus is best)
2 tablespoons italian parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons goat cheese (like Chevre)
Salt and pepper

1. In a saucepan, bring the chicken stock to simmer, reduce heat to low and keep warm
2. In a large fry pan, saute shallot and garlic in olive oil until softened, do not brown.
3. Add barley, a pinch of salt and pepper and stir, coating the barley well, this will take about 2-3 minutes.
4. Add 1 cup of the warm stock to the barley, cook on medium heat, stirring often until nearly absorbed.
5. Continue adding the stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently.
6. Barley is done once it is al dente, and surrounded with a thick creamy sauce. 
7. With the last addition of stock add the peas, asparagus and season to taste.
8. Stir in goat cheese and parsley to add some tanginess.
9. Serve immediately.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Lemon Ice Cream with a Twist

Who doesn't love ice cream? The really good stuff, but who wants to pay a fortune for a little tub?  Most people would be willing to try making ice cream at home if they had an ice cream machine, well we don't have one, but still managed to make the most amazing desert without one. It does take a little time and supervision, but the results are well worth the effort.

This ice cream is rich and creamy, the lemon flavour is pronounced but not overwhelming and cuts the richness of the ice cream.  But the secret to this recipe is the fresh grated ginger that infuses the custard base with a wonderful warmth and zip.

Serves 8.


3 cups half-and-half cream
1 cup white sugar
5 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons grated lemon zest
    • 2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger (fine)
    • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1.  Combine half-and-half, sugar, ginger and lemon zest in a saucepan, bring to simmer over low heat. Continue stirring frequently until sugar is dissolved.
2. Remove from heat and steep for 10 minutes.
3. Put egg yolks into a large bowl and beat with a wisk till fluffy.
4. Very, very slowly pour cream mixture into the eggs whisking briskly so as not to cook the eggs.
5. Put the mixture back into the saucepan, cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture can coat the back of the spoon. This may take a while, but do not rush the process or you will break the base and make scramble the eggs.
6. Transfer to a large bowl; cover. Refrigerate till cold.
7. Stir the lemon juice into the cold ice cream mixture until well blended.
8. Transfer base into a 9 x 13" cake pan. Place in freezer.
9. Stir well every hour with a whisk, breaking up all the frozen bits on the edge of the pan. 
10. When well set,  transfer ice cream to a lidded freezer container, and freeze for 4 hours to ripen flavors before serving.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sweet 'n Spicy Roast Squash - Butternut miss it!

Roasted squash is fantastic vegetable, but if you want to add a little kick to recipe and add some flavour, this recipe is for you. Subtle sweetness from the brown sugar and cayenne pepper for a little heat makes a really satisfying addition to this great gourd.  You could also use acorn squash as an alternative.

Serves 4-6 (depending on the size of the squash)

1 whole butternut squash
1/8 cup of vegetable oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
1. Peel the butternut squash using a vegetable peeler or paring knife, trim the top and bottom, cut in half and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into 1 1/2" cubes. Put in a bowl, and toss with vegetable oil.
2. In a second bowl, mix together sugar and all the spices. Toss the squash into the spice mixture coating evenly.
3. Put the squash on a cookie sheet and roast for approximately 30 minutes, until the squash is fork tender.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Savory Stroganoff

I don't know about where you live, but here in Vancouver, it has been raining non-stop for weeks. It is grey and dark and miserable. And when the weather turns like this each year it's time to pull out recipes that are warm and comforting and make your soul happy. 

A beautiful beef stroganoff is one of our favorite fall dishes of all time. Tender strips of beef and mushrooms cooked with onions and sour cream and served over noodles make up this classic recipe. The best thing about this dish is that because the meat is braised in the oven over time, you can use less expensive cuts of meat which have more flavour, and just need time for them to become tender. We used Top Sirloin, but stew beef would work just as well. 

What is your favorite comfort food? Let us know in our comments section below. 

Serves 6.

3 pounds of beef (Top Sirloin, Round Steak)
1 large onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup Vegetable oil for sauteing, approx
4 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste (you can use catchup in a pinch)
2/3 cups sour cream
1/2 cup flour
Salt and pepper
Broad egg noodles, cooked

1. Slice the steak into thin strips across the grain. Strips should be 1/4" thick.
2. In a shallow dish or plate, put flour and add a pinch of both salt and pepper.  Dredge the meat in the flour mixture, shake meat to remove any excess.
3. In a frying pan, add 2 tablespoons of vegetable, add a single layer of meat, and brown both sides. Do not cook the meat through.
4. Put the browned meat into a large oven proof pot. Continue browning until all meat is done, add more oil as needed.
5. Saute onion, celery, and mushrooms in the same pan until translucent, and lightly browned. Add veggies to the meat.
6. Deglaze the pan by adding 1 cup of the beef broth and bring to the boil. Scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add liquid to the pot.
7. Add the rest of the broth, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato paste to the pot. Put pot in oven with lid and bake for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, until meat is tender.
8. Put pot on the stove and bring stroganoff to a boil. Sauce may need to be reduced through boiling until it is the consistency of thick gravy.
9. Take stroganoff off the heat and add sour cream. Stir to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
10. Serve on broad egg noodles.   

Quick Tip: To make the meat easier to slice, firm it up by putting it in the freezer for 30 mins - 1 hour.