Friday, 31 August 2012

Easy Peasy Ham Salad for the End of Summer

Did you know that tomorrow is September? I know, right? What the heck happened?

To a Canadian like me it is a mixed blessing. I can certainly say I have participated more in this summer than I generally do, and for that I am happy. And autumn is my favourite season, I love the crunchy leaves and the slight chill in the air. But autumn invariably leads to winter in Canada, we've yet to avoid it entirely.

I'm grateful for these last few days in which Mother Nature has turned the heat back up. A little reminder to enjoy summer while it lasts.

And since summer food is easy food, and nothing is easier than this ham salad - it seemed the perfect dish for the last day of August.

Lanie Bayless likens it to an Italian sub without the bun and I have to agree. Tangy and crunchy and delicious. Perfect for the end of a long sun-filled day.

And speaking of the end, we are coming to our last month of cooking with Rick Bayless over at I♥CC. It has been wonderful and all too short, but it is always exciting to see who we will be spending the next six months with. Looks like Madhur Jaffrey has won the vote by a landslide - so come October we will be spicing things up Indian style. I can't wait!

Ham Salad
adapted from Rick Bayless, Rick and Lanie's Excellent Kitchen Adventures
for I♥CC Out of Mexico

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp ground black pepper
Kosher salt

½ lb cooked ham, ¼ inch thick, cut into batons
½ sweet onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, raw or roasted, cut into about 1½ inch strips
Half 3-inch long dill pickle, chopped
Small handful chopped parsley for garnish
Baby greens, for serving

In a salad bowl, combine all dressing ingredients well. Add in ham, onion, pickle, and red pepper. Toss well and pile up on a platter lined with baby greens. Serve.

Rick Bayless @IHCC button rounded IHCC

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Cooking with David Rocco!

David Rocco and one of the P&G crew.

Last week I was invited to the Calphalon Culinary Centre to enjoy a cooking class with Canada's cutest celebrity chef - David Rocco!

David, who is famous for his hearty and informal approach to cooking, "Hey, I'm not a chef, I'm Italian!", has paired up with Dawn and Cascade to show that clean-up can be just as simple as the cooking. Dawn and Cascade use enzymes to power away tough, sticky messes - learn more about them here.

The setting was intimate, and we made the Risotto con Radicchio e Funghi (Radicchio and Mushroom Risotto). David praised my knife skills!

There was plenty of wine for the recipe, but not for the chefs. Hmmm, what's with that? Mama likes to tipple when she cooks.

Afterwords we all sat down at the front and tried each other's risotto. We did pretty darned good!

All in all a pretty fabulous day and, as my husband likes to take his time taking photos, I got to hang onto David for quite some time while he snapped away. That totally made up for the lack of wine. Now, how to get him to take me to Italy?

David and all his happy cooks!

Check out the teaser for Season 4 of David Rocco's Dolce Vita! You can find the show on Food Network Canada, Cooking Channel, and some local stations.

David Rocco recipes on Food Network Canada, Cooking Channel, Cascade and Dawn, his website.

David has a new show coming out in which he explores the Amalfi Coast (without me!)
Explore the Amalfi Coast with David Rocco
In David Rocco's Amalfi Getaway, David returns to Italy — this time to the Amalfi coast. Here, his journey takes viewers into the home kitchens, restaurants and farms of Amalfi to cook with the mammas, nonnas and chefs who make simple, honest, rustic Italian dishes — most in the 'cucina povera' tradition. These are the dishes that have defined the region for centuries and are sure to inspire cooks today

And check out his new cookbook  
Made in Italy

Here is where you will find the risotto recipe I got to cook with David!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Rick's Chile-Glazed Country Ribs with Simple Guacamole

The nights have been getting cooler here, and although the days have heated up again this week - fall is smelling closer with those evening breezes.

This means we have to get in as much grilling as possible before the snow flies. Not that we can't grill in the winter... but it seems very necessary to make the most of the good weather now - before I become attached to my oven again.

So let's grill up some ribs, shall we? Sticky savoury sweet ribs with a refreshing guac to go with. Don't forget the cervezas!

Simple Guacamole
Guacamole Sencillo
Serves 8 to 12 as a snack
Recipe adapted from Season 3 of Mexico - One Plate at a Time, Rick Bayless


2 to 3 garlic cloves, peeled
Hot fresh green chiles to taste, stems removed
3 ripe avocados, preferably the black-skinned Hass
A couple of tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
1 small white onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Sour cream to taste

Finely chop the garlic and green chiles, and scoop them into a bowl.

One at a time, run a knife down through each avocado, starting at the top, until you reach the pit; continue cutting around the pit until you reach the point you started.

Twist the two halves of the avocado apart. Remove the pit and discard. Scoop the flesh into the bowl with the chiles. Mash coarsely with the back of a spoon or an old-fashioned potato masher.

Add the tomato and onion, stir to combine, then taste. Stir in sour cream and season with salt (usually about a teaspoon) and lime juice.

Chile-Glazed Country Ribs
(Costillas Adobadas)
adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen

1 garlic bulb, broken into individual cloves, unpeeled
3 (about 1 1/2 ounces total) dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
6 (about 1 1/2 ounces total) dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, preferably freshly ground Mexican canela
1 teaspoon black pepper, preferably freshly ground
A pinch of cloves, preferably freshly ground
1 tsp of cumin, preferably freshly ground
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 cup beer, plus a little more if needed
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3 pounds pork country ribs
2 tablespoons honey

1. Making the chile marinade. Set an ungreased griddle or heavy skillet over medium heat, lay in the unpeeled garlic and roast, turning occasionally, until blackened in spots and soft, about 15 minutes; cool, then peel. Toast the chiles a few at a time: open them flat on the hot surface, press flat for a few seconds with a metal spatula (until they start to crackle, even send up a faint wisp of smoke), then flip and press down to toast the other side. In a small bowl, cover the chiles with hot water and let rehydrate 30 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure even soaking. Drain and discard the water.
Place the chiles and garlic in a food processor or blender along with the oregano, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, cumin and vinegar. Measure in the broth or water, then blend to a smooth puree, scraping and stirring every few seconds. (If the mixture won't move through the blender blades, add a little more broth to get things going.) Press the puree through a medium-mesh strainer into a bowl and stir in the salt and vinegar.

2. Marinating the ribs. Place the ribs in a large bowl, smear half of the chile marinade over them, cover and refrigerate for several hours (preferably overnight). Combine the remaining chile marinade with the honey, cover and refrigerate.

3. Cooking the ribs. Turn on the oven to 290 degrees. Transfer the ribs and all their marinade to a baking dish large enough to hold them in a single layer (a sheet pan with sides works perfectly). In a foil package, bake low and slow for 90 minutes. Let cool slightly while you prepare your BBQ.

4. Glazing and serving the ribs. Salt ribs and give them gentle grilling on medium heat- Brush the ribs heavily with the marinade-honey mixture. Grill gently until the ribs are burnished cranberry color, about 4 minutes per side. Serve with guacamole and either beans and rice or potato salad.

ADVANCE PREPARATION -- The chile marinade can be made a couple of weeks in advance; marinate the ribs (step 2) overnight or as long as 2 days. The ribs may be cooked a day in advance, but save the final glazing for serving time.

Rick Bayless @IHCC button rounded IHCC

Saturday, 25 August 2012

The PCOS Health and Nutrition Guide: 125 Recipes for Managing Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

The PCOS Health and Nutrition Guide
Includes 125 Recipes for 
Managing Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
by Dr. Jillian Stansbury, ND, and Dr. Sheila Mitchell, MD

Paperback, 288 pages

PCOS is a hormonal condition that affects 2-18% of all North American women. It can have a devastating effect on a woman's ability to conceive, and lead to chronic obesity, thyroid dysfunction and heart disease.

It is considered a "silent" condition as the symptoms are not always obvious and many are never reported.

The PCOS Health and Nutrition Guide gives an easy to understand, comprehensive explanation of what PCOS is, how to recognize it, what other risks are involved, and how to take positive steps with your diet to help restore hormonal balance.

The PCOS Health and Nutrition Guide is divided into three important parts:

Part 1: Understanding PCOS
What is PCOS? - a comprehensive chapter on how PCOS is defined, the symptoms and how it is diagnosed.
What Conditions are Associated with PCOS? - preventative measures as well as other conditions that tend to accompany the diagnoses of PCOS, including heart disease, infertility, and thyroid dysfunction.

Part 2: Managing PCOS

Dietary Therapy for PCOS
Nutritional Supplements for PCOS
Herbal Medicines for Managing PCOS

Part 3: Recipes 

Meal plans, boosts, medicinal beverages and recipes from breakfast through dessert that will get you on track to being the healthiest possible you.

Click for larger image

Sample recipes from The PCOS Health and Nutrition Guide:

Bulgur and Vegetable Lettuce Wraps
Here’s another great sandwich alternative to help you break the bread habit. The bulgur helps fulfill the craving for starch, and the chickpeas and spices support healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Makes 10 servings

People often confuse cracked wheat with bulgur. Cracked wheat is simply whole wheat grains that are crushed or cracked into smaller bits, while bulgur is wheat kernels that have been parched, steamed and dried. Bulgur is often used in Middle Eastern cooking, in dishes such as tabbouleh.

3⁄4 cup    bulgur    175 mL
3⁄4 cup    warm water    175 mL
1 cup    diced tomatoes    250 mL
1⁄2 cup    cooked or canned chickpeas,     125 mL
    drained and rinsed
1⁄4 cup    chopped fresh parsley    60 mL
2 tbsp    chopped green onion    30 mL
2 tbsp    chopped red onion    30 mL
1 tbsp    chopped fresh mint    15 mL
2 tbsp    canola oil    30 mL
1 tbsp    freshly squeezed lemon juice    15 mL
1⁄4 tsp    salt    1 mL
1⁄2 tsp    freshly ground black pepper    2 mL
1    head butter lettuce, leaves separated    1

1.    In a large bowl, combine bulgur and warm water. Let stand for 30 minutes, until bulgur is softened and liquid is absorbed.
2.    Add tomatoes, chickpeas, parsley, green onion, red onion, mint, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.
3.    Top each lettuce leaf with 2 tbsp (30 mL) bulgur mixture. Wrap lettuce to enclose filling.

Excerpted from The PCOS Health & Nutrition Guide by Jillian Stansbury © Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Grilled Salmon, Mango and Raspberry Spinach Salad
Featuring grilled salmon and tossed in a raspberry vinaigrette, this salad is a meal in and of itself, and is pleasing to the eye and the palate. Salmon is high in healthy fats and is a good source of protein.
Makes 4 servings

To avoid cross-contamination, use separate brushes to baste the onions and salmon.

•    Preheat barbecue grill to medium
•    Blender or food processor
•    Two 12-inch (30 cm) bamboo skewers, soaked

Raspberry Vinaigrette

2⁄3 cup    fresh or frozen raspberries     150 mL
    (thawed and drained if frozen)
3 tbsp    balsamic vinegar    45 mL
1 tbsp    liquid honey    15 mL
2 tbsp    water    30 mL
1⁄2 tsp    Dijon mustard    2 mL
1⁄4 tsp    freshly ground black pepper    1 mL
2 tbsp    canola or olive oil    30 mL
1 tbsp    finely chopped shallots    15 mL

1    red onion, cut into 8 wedges    1
4    salmon steaks (about 1 lb/500 g total)    4
6 cups    lightly packed baby spinach    1.5 L
1    ripe mango, thinly sliced    1
1 cup    fresh raspberries    250 mL

1.    Vinaigrette: Purée raspberries in blender. Press through a sieve to remove seeds.
2.    In a small bowl, whisk together puréed raspberries, vinegar, honey, 2 tbsp (30 mL) water, mustard and pepper. Gradually whisk in oil until blended. Stir in shallots. Divide vinaigrette in half. Set half aside for end and use half for grilling.
3.    Salad: Thread 4 onion wedges onto each skewer and brush with some of the vinaigrette for grilling. Brush salmon on both sides with vinaigrette. Place skewers and salmon on preheated grill, close lid and grill, basting frequently with vinaigrette and turning once, for 10 minutes or until fish is opaque and flakes easily when tested with a fork.
4.    Remove onions from skewers and place in a salad bowl. Add spinach, mango, raspberries and reserved vinaigrette; toss to coat. Divide salad among four plates and top each with grilled salmon.

Excerpted from The PCOS Health & Nutrition Guide by Jillian Stansbury © Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Icy Banana Cashew Smoothie

Makes 2 servings
•    Blender

1    ripe banana, cut into chunks    1
1⁄4 cup    raw cashews    60 mL
2 tbsp    whey powder    30 mL
2 tbsp    maca powder    30 mL
1 tsp    inositol powder    5 mL
3 cups    plain rice milk    750 mL
1⁄4 cup    prickly pear juice    60 mL
2 tsp    flaxseed oil    10 mL
1 cup    ice cubes    250 mL

1.    In blender, combine banana, cashews, whey powder, maca powder, inositol powder, rice milk, prickly pear juice and flaxseed oil; purée until smooth. Add ice cubes and blend slightly.
2.    Pour into glasses and serve cold (within the hour).

This smoothie makes a great summer breakfast or ice cream substitute. Loaded with medicinal ingredients, it’s satisfying and filling enough to be meal in and of itself.

Excerpted from The PCOS Health & Nutrition Guide by Jillian Stansbury © Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Click for larger image

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Tracey's Jalapeño Cheddar Rolls

I have to say, of all the fabulous food bloggers I have come to know these last several years - Tracey of Tracey's Culinary Adventures is one of my top influencers. Seriously, she makes some really good food.

My mouth watered at the sound of Jalapeño Cheddar Rolls and I knew that if Tracey was posting them - they were going to be good. Very good.

Then my friend Elizabeth made them too, and declared that indeed they were mouth-watering - just as I suspected.

Clearly I needed to make these rolls. After all, I already had the ingredients. And hamburgers. It was kismet.

The dough goes together easily, I didn't even need the extra flour in the recipe. And, in my excitement, I accidentally doubled the jalapeño. That too was good - very good.

The buns smell wonderful when they are baking up, are a snap to put together and make the best burger rolls ever. Make them!

(Thanks Tracey!)

Jalapeño Cheddar Rolls
recipe from Tracey's Culinary Adventures
barely adapted from Foodie Bride (originally adapted from The Pastry Queen)

1 3/4 teaspoons instant yeast
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3 large jalapeños (seeds and ribs removed), finely chopped
1 cup water water (100-110 F)
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature (divided)

Add the yeast, flour, sugar, salt, cheese and jalapenos to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Beat briefly on low speed to combine. In a measuring cup, whisk the water, oil and 1 of the eggs together until combined. With the mixer on low, slowly add the wet ingredients and continue mixing until the dough comes together (you may need to scrape down the bowl once or twice). The dough should clear the sides of the bowl and cling to the bottom - you may need to add a little flour or water to achieve the right consistency (every time I've made this recipe I've needed to add 2-4 tablespoons of flour). Knead the dough on low speed for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.

Spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Shape the dough into a ball and place in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 75-90 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Transfer the dough to your work surface and divide in half. Divide each of the two pieces into 4 or 5 equal pieces, depending on whether you want oversized or more traditional rolls. Shape each piece of dough into a ball and place on the prepared baking sheet, then flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Space the rolls about 1/2 to 1-inch apart - you want the edges to bake together in the oven.

Cover the pan with a damp towel, and allow the rolls to rise for 35 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon of water to make egg wash. Brush the rolls with the egg wash. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the tops of the rolls are deep golden brown.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the rolls cool for at least 15 minutes. Store in a resealable plastic bag at room temperature, or wrap tightly and freeze.

These buns have been YeastSpotted!

BYOB 125 x 125

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination by Margaret Atwood

In Other Worlds
SF and the Human Imagination
by Margaret Atwood

Trade Paperback, 272 pages
Also available as an unabridged audiobook download, eBook and a hardcover

When I was in my twenties and well into my thirties I read books I thought I needed to read in order to learn. You know, important books: classics, nonfiction.... serious stuff. Thank goodness I grew out of that.

But is SF any less "important" than "serious" works? What is SF anyway?

"Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Sword and Sorcerer Fantasy, and Slipstream Fiction: all of them might be placed under the same large "wonder tale" umbrella."
Margaret Atwood, In Other Worlds

In Other Worlds, SF and the Human Imagination is a series of essays and explorations of Margaret Atwood's personal relationship with SF.

In Other Worlds is not a catalogue of science fiction, a grand theory about it, or a literary history of it. It is not a treatise, it is not definitive, it is not exhaustive, it is not canonical. It is not the work of a practising academic or an official guardian of a body of knowledge. Rather it is an exploration of my own lifelong relationship with a literary form, or forms, or subforms, both as reader and as writer. Margaret Atwood

And this is why I love the book.

It is indeed Margaret's own personal relationship with SF, and what a relationship that is! She looks at all sorts of SF works, from the it could happen to us to the truly fantastic and everything in between. Central themes are contrasted and compared in all sorts of styles, from Jungian archetypes to theology, both modern and ancient, history to present and right into the future.

Not only will you come away with a broader understanding of Margaret herself, but you will end up with a fabulous new reading list and a whole new way of looking at fiction, especially SF.

MARGARET ATWOOD is the internationally acclaimed author of more than forty books. Her novels include The Edible Woman, Surfacing,Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin, Oryx and Crake, and The Year of the Flood. Among the awards and honours she has received are the Booker Prize, the Giller Prize, the Governor General's Award, the Premio Mondello (Italy), the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature (Spain), the Dan David Prize (Israel), and the World Economic Forum's Crystal Award. Margaret Atwood lives in Toronto.

News from Random House of Canada
Toronto – April 24, 2012 – Canadian Booksellers Association (CBA) today announced that the industry’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award will be awarded to Canadian author Margaret Atwood Canadian Author. CBA’s Lifetime Achievement Award is given in recognition of Ms. Atwood’s outstanding and longstanding contribution to the book industry. This award, which is bestowed at the discretion of CBA Board of Directors, allows booksellers and other industry stakeholders to explicitly recognize an author’s cultural impact on Canadian literary culture. Past recipients include Timothy Findley, Carol Shields, Pierre Berton, Charles Burchell and Stephen King.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Rick Bayless' Spicy Jicama, Cucumber and Fruit Skewers

We Canadians are not necessarily well versed in the ways of jicama - but I am always interested in working with new or less than familiar ingredients.

With these crunchy and refreshing skewers, Rick Bayless pairs jicama up with cucumber and sweet fruits, sprinkles them with chile powder and salt and serves them up on bamboo sticks for the perfect summer treat. The contrast of the sweet and spicy, salt and veggie is brilliant - no wonder they are such a popular street food in Mexico. As an added bonus - they are easy to make! 

From WiseGeek
photo from What's Cooking, Mexico?
Jicama is a crispy, sweet, edible root that resembles a turnip in physical appearance, although the plants are not related. Jicama has been cultivated in South America for centuries, and the vegetable is quite popular in Mexican cuisine. Jicama has a unique flavor that lends itself well to salads, salsas, and vegetable platters. The roots can sometimes grow to be quite large, although when they exceed the size of two fists, they begin to convert the sugars that give jicama its sweet flavor into starches, making the root somewhat woody to the taste.

Jicama is actually a legume, and it grows on vines that may reach 20 feet (six meters) in length. The vines tend to hug the ground, terminating in tubers that may grow up to 50 pounds (22 kilograms) in size, although the majority of jicama roots sent to market are approximately three to four pounds (1.3-2 kilograms) in weight. Before eating, the coarse brown outer layer of the jicama should be peeled to reveal the white inside.

When choosing jicama at the store, look for medium sized, firm tubers with dry roots. Do not purchase jicama that has wet or soft spots, which may indicate rot, and don't be drawn to overlarge examples of the tuber, because they may not be as flavorful. Jicama will keep under refrigeration for up to two weeks.
Rick Bayless' Spicy Jicama, Cucumber and Fruit Skewers
A Slightly Dressy Version of a Popular Street Food

online recipe from ABC Good Morning America
Catching up with chef Rick Bayless, master of Mexican cuisine.
From the kitchen of Rick Bayless

Difficulty: Easy

Here's a slightly dressy way to serve that beloved street food snack of fruit or jicama or cucumber (or, in this preparation, all of them) jazzed up with lime, chile and salt -- the seasoning pillars of Mexican street food.

While I always want to include the fresh crunch of jicama on these skewers, the other elements are easily substituted. Try cantaloupe (or other melon), orange segments, peaches, raw quince or apple or pear. And, while pure powdered guajillo chile gives a distinctively Mexican character with its wonderfully rich flavor and bright (but not overpowering) heat, there are other options: Guajillo can be replaced by powdered ancho chile, New Mexico or California chile, or paprika with a little super-spicy cayenne, arbol or chipotle chile powder mixed in.

Cutting the fruits and vegetables in circles creates a very beautiful presentation -- and a fair amount of waste. Feel free to choose any shape you like. But, make sure to peel the jicama with a knife, not a vegetable peeler, so that you can go deeply enough to remove all the fibrous exterior.

The skewers can be put together a day ahead; cover and refrigerate. Sprinkle with the spicy salt when you're ready to serve.

1 small (about 3/4 pound) jícama, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch slices
1 English (long, thin-skin, hot-house) cucumber, cut into 3/4-inch slices
1/2 small pineapple, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch slices
2 large (about 2 pounds total) mangos, peeled, flesh cut from the pit in large slices
8 bamboo skewers
1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
2 tablespoons powdered guajillo chile
2 teaspoons fine-ground table salt

Cooking Directions

Using a 1-inch round cutter, cut circles out of the jicama, cucumber, pineapple and mango slices. Thread the circles on the skewers and arrange them on a serving platter. Surround the skewers with lime wedges.

In a small shaker (a salt shaker works fine here), thoroughly mix together the powdered chile and salt. Secure the top and lightly sprinkle the skewers. Serve the remaining chile-salt mixture on the side, for guests to add al gusto.

*Recipe courtesy of Ricky Bayless from "Fiesta at Rick's: Fabulous Food for Great Times with Friends"; W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.; 2010

Rick Bayless @IHCC button rounded IHCC