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Dinner Party Menu: October

Warm Camembert with Cranberry Compote
Shaved Fennel, Celery and Pear Salad
Wild Mushroom Ragout with Ricotta Gnocchi
Tarte Tatin

This October menu celebrates the Fall season, with locally grown ingredients: fresh cranberries, pears, wild mushrooms and apples. For me, this month marks the beginning of the cooler season, when we welcome warm and comforting dishes. Most recipes can be made ahead of time.

To begin, there is a very simple appetizer, served warm and using fresh cranberry compote left over from Thanksgiving. The salad features complementary flavours and textures, salty and sweet, crunchy and smooth. The main course is a celebration of mushroom season, with wild mushrooms providing an earthy and rich dish that needs no added protein. Dessert is a comforting warm apple tarte tatin.

Warm Camembert with Cranberry Compote

Cranberry Compote
½ cup sugar
½ cup orange juice (no sugar added or freshly squeezed)
½ cup water
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch Kosher salt
One 12-ounce bag cranberries

Combine the sugar, juice, water, cinnamon, salt and cranberries in a medium saucepan. Bring up to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 15 minutes. Let cool completely.  Mixture will thicken as it cools. Compote keeps in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Remove the lid and wrapping of a 4-5” round of Camembert and place the cheese in the bottom part of the container on an oven-proof baking sheet. Place in oven and bake until the cheese starts to warm and soften. Remove it from the oven and spoon some cranberry sauce over the top. Put back in the oven and cook until hot. Transfer cheese to a serving tray and serve with bread or crackers.

camembert

Shaved Fennel, Celery and Pear Salad with Pecorino and Walnuts
This recipe is from Franny’s Simple, Seasonal, Italian by Andrew Feinberg, Francine Stephens and Melissa Clark. Franny’s is a pizza restaurant in Brooklyn.

¾ cup walnuts
2 small or 1 large fennel bulbs, trimmed, quartered and thinly sliced
2-3 stalks celery, thinly sliced on the bias
1 large pear, quartered, cored and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons celery leaves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 oz. shaved Pecorino cheese

Toast the walnuts in a 350ºF oven for about 8 minutes. Cool and roughly chop. Toss fennel, celery, pear, walnuts and celery leaves together in a large bowl. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper and olive oil and toss lightly together. Plate salad and top with shaved Pecorino. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and ground pepper.
Serves 6

In advance: Walnuts can be toasted early in the day or even the day before serving. The rest of the ingredients are best prepared and assembled just before plating.

Wild Mushroom Ragout with Ricotta Gnocchi

wild-mushroomsPhoto shows types of mushrooms I used: shitake, pine and chanterelle.

1 oz. dried wild mushrooms (chanterelle or porcini)
½ cup boiling water
2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
¾ pound fresh wild mushrooms (chanterelle, pine, shitake, crimini mixture)
1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon thyme leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
¼ cup white wine
liquid from soaking dried mushrooms, strained
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste
salt and pepper
finely grated Parmesan, chives, parsley or thyme, to garnish

Cover dried wild mushrooms with the boiling water in a small bowl and let sit for 30 minutes. Drain, strain and reserve the soaking liquid and chop the mushrooms.

In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil over high heat. Add the fresh mushrooms in batches, cooking and stirring until the mushrooms are brown, removing to a plate as they cook.

Heat remaining butter and oil in the same pan over moderate heat and then add the shallot, garlic, thyme, parsley and reserved reconstituted dried mushrooms and sauté for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the white wine and cook until it is almost all reduced. Add the reserved soaking liquid and return the mushrooms to the pan. Bring mixture to a light boil and add whipping cream, reducing slightly to thicken the sauce. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the gnocchi as instructed below. Spoon onto warm dinner plates, top with the mushroom ragout and garnish with Parmesan and fresh herbs.
Serves 6

In advance: Mushroom ragout can be made one day in advance, but add the cream when reheating.

gnocchi-with-mushrooms

Ricotta Gnocchi
1 lb. fresh whole milk ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups all purpose flour, sifted

Mix ricotta, egg and olive oil in a large bowl. Add cheese and nutmeg and mix well. Gradually add sifted flour, stirring until the dough starts to come together. Place on a floured surface and knead gently just until the dough is no longer sticky. Cut slices of the dough with a sharp knife, then roll each slice into a long rope, about ¾″ thick. Cut into 1″ pieces, place on a lightly floured baking sheet and put them in the freezer until ready to cook.

If you are making them ahead of time, put them into a plastic freezer bag as soon as they have frozen. To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and drop in the gnocchi. When they rise to the top, scoop them out with a slotted spoon or strainer, shake off excess water, and place in a serving bowl or directly onto warmed dinner plates.
Serves 6

In advance: Gnocchi can be made a few days in advance and kept frozen until ready to cook.

Tarte Tatin
This dessert is an all time favourite of mine and I am inserting the link to a 2011 posting with the recipe here. I have found that it works well to cook the apples, cool them, top with the pastry and refrigerate up to one day in advance. Bake it later in the day that you plan to serve it, as it is best served warm.

apple-tarte-tatin

 

August Recipes

It’s now September and August flew by without a menu posting.  Instead, I offer some of my favourite August recipes that can still make use of the freshest produce available now: corn, tomatoes and raspberries.

Corn and Tomato Salad
Chicken Gyros
Pita Bread
Raspberry Cake

Corn and Tomato SaladCorn and Tomato Salad

Recipe from Entertaining: Inspired Menus for Cooking with Family and Friends by Williams-Sonoma and adapted by Julie and Diane.

Juice of 3 limes
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for brushing on the corn when grilling
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
6 ears of corn, shucked
3 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
6 green onions, thinly sliced
½ cup basil, leaves thinly sliced
¼ lb (125 g) feta cheese, crumbled
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and lightly crushed using a mortar and pestle

In a bowl whisk together the lime juice, Dijon, cumin, chilli powder and salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil whisking constantly to make the vinaigrette. Check and adjust seasonings.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over medium high heat. You can use a stovetop grill pan or even just boil the corn if no BBQ is available. Brush the corn with a bit of the olive oil and grill, turning the ears frequently, until they are lightly charred on all sides. This will take 10 to 15 minutes.

Cut each ear of corn in half. Place cut side down on a cutting board and, using a sharp knife, cut down along the cob to slice off the kernels. Place all of the kernels in a large bowl and add the tomatoes, green onions, basil and feta. Add the vinaigrette and toss to coat evenly. Taste for salt and pepper.

Transfer the salad to a serving bowl or platter and sprinkle on the cumin seeds. Serve.
Serves 8.

Chicken Gyros
Chicken Gyros

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, with the addition of my recipe for homemade pita bread. Of course, you can buy the pita, but you will be surprised how easy they are to make and how much softer and flavourful they are.

Chicken
1 tablespoon olive oil
zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 cloves garlic, finely grated
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon hot smoked paprika, plus more to taste
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
freshly ground black pepper
10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)

Tzatziki Dressing
1 English cucumber, unpeeled (about 1 pound) or 4 Persian cucumbers
2 cups plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced
2 cloves garlic, finely grated
½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Salad Ingredients
1 head romaine or butter lettuce, shredded
1 lb. tomatoes, chopped
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 English cucumber, cut into long wedges
4-6 large pitas (½ per person) or more as needed

For the chicken: Combine all ingredients in a large freezer bag, massaging the bag to make sure the chicken is coated in the marinade. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or up to 24 hours.

For the tzatziki: Coarsely grate the cucumber directly into a sieve, sprinkle with one teaspoon salt and let drain for about 20 minutes. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible and then add it to the yogurt in a medium sized bowl. Add the lemon juice, vinegar, dill, garlic, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings. Chill until ready to serve.

Prepare salad: Arrange lettuce, onion, tomatoes and cucumbers on a platter. To tame the pungency of the onion, you can slice it and soak it in cold water for about 30 minutes, then drain it.

Cook chicken: Heat the barbecue or a grill pan to medium-high. Remove chicken from marinade and grill on first side until dark lines appear, about 5 minutes, then flip and grill for 3 minutes more on the other side. Cooking times will depend on how thick the chicken pieces are. Transfer cooked chicken to a cutting board, let rest for a couple of minutes, then slice into strips.

Cut pitas in half or into wedges. Serve with the platter of gyro ingredients and everyone helps themselves. You can also add dishes of hummus and olives.
Serves 6


Pita Bread

PitaPhoto of pita formed on baking sheets before rising

1 ¼ cups warm water
1  tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon yeast
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour

Mix water, oil, salt, sugar and yeast in a bowl (food processor works, or mixer with dough hook). Add flour one cup at a time, kneading or mixing until you have a smooth dough. Divide into 12 pieces, roll into 5″ rounds, and let rise on floured baking sheets for ½ an hour per side. While dough is on second rise, heat oven to 500ºF. Bake pitas for 3 minutes, then turn and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from the oven and cover with a clean cloth so that they stay soft until ready to serve. You can serve them like this or brush them lightly with olive oil and grill them quickly, just until they have grill marks. They freeze well.
Makes 1 dozen, or 16 smaller pitas.

Raspberry Cake
Raspberry Cake
Recipe is on this site here. It is a quick cake to put together and you can substitute the raspberries with other fruit: plums, apricots or strawberries.

 

 

For Art and Apple Afficionados

Our friend, the well-known artist Jamie Evrard, is having an exhibition of her recent work at the Bau-Xi Gallery, starting this Saturday and running until December 1st. Please see the invitation below.

Jamie is also selling her famous just-picked-last-week apples from Naramata, on Saturday and Sunday, December 10th and 11th from her home in the Douglas Park area. There will be 20 lb. boxes of mixed organic Fujis and Galas for just $25.00/box. She says that the apples will stay fresh for months in a cold place, but in my past experience, they don’t last that long!  You can place your order via email to Jamie at: jevrard@shaw.ca

I’ll post some apple recipes when I’m cooking mine!

Welcome to nourishingvancouver.com!

Nourishingvancouver.com is where I’ll write about food. I’ve spent a great deal of time over the years thinking about food, preparing it, teaching it, talking about it, and now I intend to write about it. Here you will find what I’m cooking right now to nourish my family and friends, some favourite family recipes that I keep going back to, and profiles of people engaged in food-related projects and causes here in Vancouver.

In my roles as daughter, wife, mother, friend, chef, caterer and teacher, the joy in cooking for me lies in the ability to connect people through food. My hope is that this site will entice you to engage in discussions around all things delicious, here in Vancouver and by extension to friends and family all over the world. I invite you to participate by sharing your recipes and food stories, experiences and traditions, asking questions, and helping to take this forum in new directions.

Chickpea Eggplant Dip

For this occasion I followed Marcus Samuelsson’s  recipe in “The Soul of a New Cuisine” but I divided it in half.  I found the result to be flavourful, but the texture was pasty.  Below is my revised recipe.

1 c. dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water for 8 hours or overnight
1 carrot, peeled and cut in half
1 small onion, cut in half
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 eggplant, cut lengthwise in half
2 T. olive oil
1 Thai red chili, cut in half, seeds and ribs removed
1 t. ground cumin
1/2 c. plain yogurt, or to taste
salt, pepper and lemon juice, to taste
1-2 t. harissa, optional (recipe below)

Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups

Combine soaked chickpeas, carrot and onion in a medium saucepan, add 2 cups water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until the chickpeas or very tender, about 1 1/2 hours.  Drain, reserving ½ cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300ºF.  Toss the garlic and eggplant with 2 T. oil and arrange on a roasting pan, eggplant cut side down, and roast for 40 minutes.  Add the chili to the roasting pan, cut side down, and roast for another 10 minutes.  Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Scoop the flesh from the eggplant and transfer to a blender.  Add the roasted garlic and chili, chickpeas, cumin, 1 T. olive oil and about 2 T. of cooking liquid.  Purée, adding enough yogurt and more of the cooking liquid, if needed, to reach a light, creamy consistency.  Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, lemon juice and harissa.  The dip will keep several days in the refrigerator, but is best served at room temperature.

Harissa
3/4 c. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. caraway seeds
1 c. mild chili powder
1 T. ground coriander
1 t. salt
2 T. chopped mint

Heat the oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the garlic and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the caraway seeds, chili powder, salt and mint and stir to combine. Let cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Harissa can also be used as an accompaniment to couscous or as a flavouring for soups and stews.

Salade Nicoise

When green beans, tomatoes and new potatoes are at their sweet best, this is my favourite main course summer salad. Read more