Sunday, March 29, 2009

Poached pears with ginger and port

Poached pears with ginger and port on Flickr by beFOODled.

Squeaky and Calimochi brought an Epicurious recipe, poached pears with ginger and port, to our pairing night. It was a harmonious ending to an unplanned fruity evening of appley appetizers and pear-perfect desserts. The booze they used was Harvey's Orange Apertif from the makers of Harvey's Bristol Cream.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Apple soup

Apple soup on Flickr by beFOODled.

Peanut Butter grew up on this soup. His mom used to make it all the time. He loved it, but his Dad hated it. It's the kind of recipe that you love or you don't. It tastes like applesauce, but the lemon gives it a tangy zing. This soup would be great during the apple season or any time of the year as a nice, light first course before anything hearty or heavy.

PB and J paired it with Oyster Bay's chardonnay. This is a full-bodied white wine and I thought it contrasted well with the refreshing nature of the soup.

By the way, that's Mochi passing by in the background.

Apple soup
Makes six servings, about 380 calories each.

6 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
4 cups water
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup granulated sugar grated
rind of 1 lemon or orange
1 1/2 to 2 cups light cream
1/4 cup Calvados (this is an apple brandy, but Peanut Butter and Jelly substituted cider)
salt to taste
ground cinnamon to garnish

In a saucepan, simmer apples in water, wine, sugar and rind until soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Blend the apples and liquid to a puree in a blender or food processor or use a course sieve. Return to heat and add cream, Calvados and salt. Serve in heated bowls with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.

This soup may also be served at room temperature.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Venison and apple chutney croûtes with Czech beer

Venison and apple chutney croûtes with Czech beer on Flickr by beFOODled.

Here's a recipe for venison and apple chutney croûtes, one of the appetizers Peanut Butter and Jelly served at the Gastronati's food and drink pairing night. At first, they considered topping it with a sauce, but then Jelly decided on a chutney instead. It was my favourite taste of the evening, all dressed up with a peppery arugula leaf on top and served with a Czech beer.

Venison with Apple Chutney
Serves six

Peanut Butter and Jelly bought the venison at Sasloves, a specialty butcher shop in Ottawa.

Apple Chutney

2-3 tart apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1/8 yellow onion, quartered
1-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled
2 Tbsp and 1.25 tsp white wine vinegar

1 Tbsp and 1/2 tsp white sugar
1 Tbsp and 1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp white pepper
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

In a saucepan, mix the apples, onion, ginger, vinegar, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, white pepper, cardamom and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until the apples are tender. Mix in some water if necessary to keep the ingredients moist. Remove the onion and ginger and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Season the venison with salt and pepper and sear the sides in a frying pan. Remove from the pan, set aside and let the meat rest. Cut the venison into medallions after five to 10 minutes. Serve with the chutney and a piece of arugula on a slice of toasted French baguette.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Food and drink pairings with the Gastronati

Food and drink pairings on Flickr by beFOODled.

The Gastronati, my group of foodie friends, is taking a break from the country-and-its-cuisine theme to experiment with some more creative dinner ideas. This month we did food and drink pairings. Each couple brought a mystery course with a mystery drink pairing. Peanut Butter and Jelly hosted and were responsible for the appetizers. They made a really light and refreshing apple soup and some amazing venison croutes with apple chutney. S and brought the main course, salmon spinach pastry, a great party dish that's only five ingredients and looks way more complicated that it actually is. We paired it with a chardonnay. Calimocho and Squeaky brought dessert, some delicious pears poached in and paired with a fortified wine. Stay tuned for some of the recipes and more deets on the drink pairings in the next few posts.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Open-faced vegetable melt sandwich

Open-faced vegetable melt sandwich on Flickr by beFOODled.

This sandwich pretty much got me through life as a student. Now I make it on weekend mornings when it's my turn to do breakfast.

You can switch different toppings in and out, but the mainstay is lots and lots of grated cheese. I like to use cheeses that are good melters, like cheddar, fontina or mozzarella. Mozzarella is a bit bland in the flavour department, so I always mix it with a sharper cheese like cheddar.

And when I buy baguettes, I cut them into four sections, wrap each section in plastic wrap and freeze the whole lot together in a big freezer bag. Whenever I take one out to make this sandwich, the bread still tastes fresh.

Open-faced vegetable melt sandwich
Serves two

two quarters of a baguette or four slices of brown bread
cherry tomatoes (or any tomato)
two spring onions
cheese like cheddar, fontina or mozzarella
olive oil
balsamic vinegar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and take some bread out of the freezer.

Halve the cherry tomatoes or slice regular tomatoes. Slice the spring onions into thin rounds, including the green parts. Grate the cheese.

Slice open the baguette and add the toppings — tomato, onions and then cheese on top. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, if using.

Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes or until the cheese has melted.

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