Friday, July 21, 2017

Tarragon Potato Salad: A Barefoot Contessa Classic





A welcome addition to any barbecue, lunch, or picnic, Potato Salad is a classic summer time favourite and considered by many to be one of the ultimate comfort foods. However Ina Garten's sensational Tarragon Potato Salad takes this humble side dish to another level. Fresh dill, tarragon, scallions, red onion, white wine vinegar, fresh squeezed lemon juice and homemade mayonnaise seasoned with fresh ground white pepper provide the creamy catalyst for cool firm Yukon Gold potatoes. Developed in Canada, Yukon Golds are a cross between a North American white potato and a wild South American yellow-fleshed one. Their golden flesh is richly flavoured and fairly firm and moist, with medium starch content. A perfect compromise between dry, fluffy russet potatoes and moist, waxy varieties, Yukon Golds are incredibly versatile and perfect in Potato Salad, especially this luscious version by the one and only Ina Garten.



Tarragon Potato Salad
Serves 12
Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten

4 lb medium Yukon Gold potatoes
Maldon salt
2 cups good store-bought or homemade mayonnaise
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup tarragon white wine vinegar
2 tsp freshly ground white pepper
6 tbsp chopped scallions, white and green parts
6 tbsp minced red onion
1/4 cup minced tarragon
1/4 cup minced fresh dill


Place the potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover them. Add 1 tablespoon of salt, bring to a boil and simmer for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes, just until tender when pierced with a small knife or skewer. Drain in a colander. Put a kitchen towel over the colander and allow the potatoes to steam for 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes or leave the skins on if you prefer. Slice into 1/2-inch thick coins and place in a mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, white wine vinegar and two teaspoons of Maldon salt and white pepper. While the potatoes are still warm, pour the dressing over the potatoes and toss well. Add the scallions, red onion, tarragon and dill, and toss gently. Allow the salad to sit for at least 30 minutes for the flavours to develop. Garnish with a little extra dill before serving at room temperature.













Thursday, July 20, 2017

Whole Grilled Branzino with Sliced Zucchini





Branzino is a Mediterranean sea bass, indigenous to the shores of Greece, and is considered a prized fish throughout Europe. In France, they are called Loup or Bar, the Spanish call them Robalo, and in Italy they are known as Spigola or, more commonly as Bronzino. In Greece, they are also known as Lavraki, and are a near mythical fish. In fact, when Greek journalists stumble upon a great story — snag that rare exclusive scoop — they call it a Lavraki. Stuffed with fresh herbs, lemon and sliced ginger this recipe for Whole Grilled Branzino is easy to prepare and makes a gorgeous main dish, especially on a hot summer evening under the stars.   



Whole Grilled Branzino
Serves 2

2 medium Branzino, at room temperature - cleaned and scaled by your fishmonger
1/4 cup olive oil, for brushing and drizzling
Maldon salt and freshly ground pepper
1 handful fresh lemon thyme
1/2-inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced
2 lemons, one finely sliced and the other cut in half for grilling
1 zucchini, thickly sliced on a diagonal and brushed with oil


Pat the fish dry with paper towels. Light an outdoor grill or barbecue to high heat. Season the inside of the Branzino with salt and a few grindings of black pepper, and rub the outside with the olive oil and season well with kosher salt which will help ensure a wonderful crispy skin. Stuff with lemon slices, sliced ginger and sprigs of fresh lemon thyme. Place the fish, lemon halves and sliced zucchini on a foil lined baking sheet for easy transport to the barbecue.

Grill the fish over high heat, turning once, until browned and crisp and just cooked through, about 7 minutes per side, adding the lemon halves cut side down plus the zucchini for the last 3-4 minutes. Serve the grilled Bronzino and zucchini straight away, and garnish with the grilled lemon wedges for squeezing overtop of the fish.














Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Grilled Quail with Smokey BBQ Sauce & Sambal Oelek





These tiny little birds have a lot of flavour for their diminutive size. Marinated in a robust smokey BBQ sauce spiked with generous spoonfuls of Sambal Oelek, a hot chili-based sauce which is popular throughout the Indonesia, these Grilled Quail are an ideal appetizer for a summer cocktail party, Javanese-inspired Tiki party or delicious outdoor dinner. Served spatchcocked or butterflied, by removing the backbone so the quail can be opened up and grilled flat, they can also be split in half for smaller appetizer-friendly portions. Barbecuing the quail brings out the sweetness of the marinade, infusing the meat with bold robust flavour, and becomes lightly charred and deliciously moist and golden brown. Be sure to provide guests with lots of cocktail napkins or finger bowls of warm water and sliced lemon, and watch these succulent little birds disappear!



Grilled Quail 
Serves 2-3 as entrée or 8-10 as appetizer

6 quail
1/2 cup Diana Gourmet Western Smokehouse BBQ Sauce
2 tbsp Sambal Oelek
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste


Using poultry scissors or a sharp knife, butterfly the quail by cutting down the backbone so that the birds open up like a book. Rinse the quail under cold water to remove any impurities, then dry with paper towel. Place the whole quail in a glass flat bottomed dish, or cut them in half for appetizer portions,  and coat with the BBQ sauce and Sambal Oelek, using your hands to massage the marinade all over. 

Season with salt and pepper to taste, then cover with cling film and chill until needed. The quail can be prepared up to a day in advance, but an hour at the very least. Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high then place the quail skin side down and cook about 15-20 minutes, turning once, until the quail is cooked through and has become golden brown and lightly charred. Arrange on a large platter and serve warm or at room temperature.










Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Grilled Tuscan-Style Veal Chops





Moist, tender and enormously flavourful, this simple and delicious recipe is at its best when made with the freshest and thickest veal chops you can find. Marinated for a few hours in a classic combination of aromatic herbs, bold garlic, fruity olive oil and freshly grated lemon zest, these tender milk-fed Tuscan-Style Veal Chops are best grilled on medium-high heat, until the veal is well-marked, about six minutes per side for medium-rare. Succulent and juicy, simple fresh ingredients transform these gorgeous grilled veal chops into sumptuous works of art. 




Veal Chops with Tuscan-Style Marinade
Serves 2

2  8-ounce veal chops, cut 1-inch thick 
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lemon, zested
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme 
2 tbsp chopped fresh sage 
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon, thickly sliced for garnish


Combine garlic, lemon zest, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, sage, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until well blended. Place the veal chops in a baking dish and drizzle half of the marinade over the chops, pressing the mixture into the meat with your fingers, making sure they coat the meat. Turn the chops over and repeat with remaining oil and herb mixture. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 6 hours or even overnight. 

Half an hour before cooking, remove the veal from the refrigerator and allow it come to room temperature. Preheat an outdoor grill to medium high then grill the chops for 5-6 minutes per side for medium doneness, turning with tongs halfway through. For nice crosshatch marks, rotate the chops 90 degrees after 3 minutes of cooking on each side. While chops are resting, brush the lemon slices with olive oil and grill until slightly charred and warmed through. Transfer the chops to a platter and let rest for 3 minutes before serving, for veal, like beef, must rest before it is cut or the juices will run out.

Serve the veal chops with the lemon slices and your favourite side dishes, such as grilled fennel and simple Arugula Salad.










Monday, July 17, 2017

Grilled Asian-Inspired Chicken Breasts





A sensational marinade for poultry, this fragrant Asian-inspired recipe is perfect for satays, cornish hen, chicken breasts or plump juicy thighs. With a sweet delicate flavour, the marinated chicken caramelizes beautifully on the grill, allowing the intoxicating character of the marinade to shine through. Basting the chicken while on the grill ensures that the chicken stays moist and flavourful, as well as producing attractive grill marks for a lovely presentation, especially when garnished with fresh lemon, parsley and flowering thyme.



Grilled Asian Chicken 
Serves 2

Marinade:
2 chicken breasts, bone-in and skinless
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp soy 
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp fish sauce

Garnish:
1 lemon, sliced
3 sprigs of fresh parsley
4-5 sprigs of fresh flowering thyme


Slice the chicken breasts in half and place into a bowl with all the marinade ingredients then toss well to coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Preheat the BBQ on high then grill the chicken breasts for about 6-8 minutes per side, or until golden brown and they each have nice grill marks. 











Friday, July 14, 2017

Nami: Superb Japanese Cuisine & Robata Grill





For over three decades, Nami has been a quiet escape in the heart of downtown Toronto, for the finest sushi, sashimi, made-to-order grilled meat, fish and seafood at the Robata Grill, and Sukiyaki — Japanese hot pot. Considered to be one of the city's finest authentic Japanese restaurants, Nami is a hidden gem. One of my favourite sushi restaurants for many years, Kimono-clad servers attend to guests in the main dining area, as well as private rice paper screened Tatami rooms which can be reserved for groups of eight people or more — a real treat. Peter oversees the Robata Grill and patiently and expertly prepares the most sublime grilled fish, seafood and succulent steamed mixed mushrooms bathed with butter, soy sauce and sake marinade. With an assortment of fish, many of which is brought in from Japan, it’s no surprise that 'nami' means 'wave' in Japanese. When it comes to uni, diners either love it or hate it,  but Nami’s general manager and executive chef Tadashi Takinami absolutely loves it, with good reason, this “caviar” of the sea is imported direct from Hokkaido. The Sushi Bar is also a fabulous place to sit and watch the nigiri sushi and sashimi being hand prepared by a trio of expert sushi chefs — just remember to say "Gochisosama Deshita!", as you leave.



The fabulous Robata Grill with robata maestro Peter Chen

Sampler set of best sashimi of the day chosen by the chef, and served with Tosa soy sauce and Hon-wasabi, freshly ground real wasabi

Nami is one of very few places in Toronto that makes authentic Honwasabi 
which is freshly ground wasabi from wasabi root

Spider Roll made with a whole soft shell crab

Spicy Scallop Sushi

Ikura Sushi - salmon roe

Hamachi (yellowtail) and Salmon (sake) Sushi

Ebi Sushi - tiger shrimp

Unagi Sushi - freshwater eel

Succulent Black Cod grilled on the Robata Grill by chef Peter Chen

Executive chef Tadashi Takinami 


















Thursday, July 13, 2017

Traditional Greek Pork Souvlaki with Tzatziki





Well known for its delicious cuisine and healthy Mediterranean diet, Greece has a long rich culinary history that dates back over 4,000 years. From grilled fish and dolmades to skordalia and spanakopita, Greek cuisine is a divine marriage of bold flavours, simple ingredients and time-honoured traditions. Many dishes can be traced back to ancient Greece and Byzantium, whereas others were influenced by Ottoman cuisine with names that reveal their Arabic, Persian or Turkish roots: moussaka, tzatziki, yuvarlakia, keftethes and boureki. However, among the icons of modern Greek food culture, one of the most popular must be souvlaki. Infused with the intoxicating flavours of oregano, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil, these Pork Souvlaki owe their tenderness to a tangy marinade that helps break down even the toughest cuts of meat. Traditionally served wrapped in pita bread and topped with a variety of condiments such as lettuce, tomato, onion, and tzatziki, Souvlaki are also entirely delicious all on their own, ideal for enjoying as part of a Greek-inspired menu on a warm summer evening.




Pork Souvlaki

Serves 4

1 1/2 lb pork shoulder or loin, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tbsp dried Greek oregano
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Fresh parsley and flowering lemon thyme, for garnish
2 cups Tzatziki


In large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Add the pork and toss to coat. Marinate for 15 minutes. Evenly thread the marinated pork onto 4 skewers and grill on a preheated barbecue, turning halfway through, until just a hint of pink remains inside, about 8 minutes per side. Garnish with sliced lemon and fresh oregano, and bowl of tzatziki.