Monday, March 29, 2010

Six Chefs in One Evening for a Great Cause

On Monday, April 26, The Cookbook Co. Cooks hosts our Annual Fundraising Dinner for Cancer Research.

Glen Manzer from Bonterra will be joined by friends Paul Rogalski from Rouge, Adam O’Brien from O, Andy Buyack from Boxwood, Erin Vrba from Bonterra and Gail Norton from The Cookbook Co. Cooks.

There aren't too many spots left for this inspiring event, so secure your seat soon. The minimum donation is $150 and all of the proceeds will be donated to the Alberta Cancer Foundation.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Popcorn, a classic in most people's eyes, doused in either real butter (if you're making it at home) or butter "flavoured" topping at the cinema, I don't think I know anybody who doesn't enjoy chowing down on a big ol' bucket. On a recent trip to a food show in San Francisco I noticed a huge trend - Gourmet popcorn. I lost count of all the stalls trying to push what they claimed to be the best popcorn in the world, but I'm always a sucker for good packaging and unusual flavour combinations, just like the ones they had at 479° popcorn. Based out of San Francisco, these guys know how to make the best out of the otherwise ordinary fluffy little snack. With flavours like "Black Truffle and White Cheddar", "Madras Curry Coconut" and my personal favourite "Pimenton de La Vera" made with smoked paprika. We've just received our first shipment, there's lots of every flavour and you should definitely come down and pick some up. The best thing is, the boxes are just small enough to sneak into the movie theatre, not that I would know.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Market Salad

I absolutely love going to the farmer's market - finding the best produce available, coming home and making up new recipes with all of my wonderful finds. Most of the time the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and sometimes you really luck out and score a winner! Last week I picked up some beautiful local spinach, a head of cauliflower and a bunch of baby carrots. I preheated the oven to 450F, drizzled the whole head of cauliflower and cleaned carrots with a healthy glug of olive oil, roasted them until they were golden brown and just starting to crisp around the edges. Let the cauliflower cool slightly before breaking into bite sized florets. I made a very simply vinaigrette with Sparrow Lane Champagne vinegar, a bit of honey, and my best olive oil - Fill a big serving platter with spinach, toss the warm vegetables with the vinaigrette and pour the mixture over the spinach. The spinach wilts ever so slightly and brings the whole dish together. I served the salad alongside lasagna, but I'm sure it would pair with lots of things quite nicely. Of course, you can substitute almost any roast-able vegetable, parsnips, peppers, whatever you like - feel free to make substitutions wherever you see it, it's all about cooking by the seat of your pants.

I used Sparrow Lane Champagne vinegar (available at The Cookbook Co. for $15.95)

Friday, March 19, 2010

I love pepper!

Most chef's swear by buying spices whole, toasting them to bring out the natural flavours, and then grinding them fresh for better results -- If you ask me, its a good way to live your life. You know when you have those lightbulb moments every now and then? When you realize something so epic, yet so obvious? The other day as I was refilling my pepper grinder, I had an idea, why don't I toast the peppercorns to bring out their flavour? I popped them in my baby All-Clad roasting dish and threw them in a hot oven for about 15 minutes, you can tell they're ready when you can hear them starting to pop or when they start to release their aromas (think big juicy pepper crusted steak). Let them cool, put them in the pepper grinder, and presto, delicious, toasty, fresh tasting peppercorns!

I like to use "Uniquely Ours" whole black peppercorns -- hand picked in Costa Rica and sold at The Cookbook Co. They're super fresh and tasty, and only $10.95 for a bag.

Monday, March 8, 2010

No Preservations...

I have never cooked with preserved lemon before – not ever. I have often thought about it, but in the way you think about something when you’re lying awake at 3 am and can’t really do much about it, especially if you don’t have any preserved lemons at home. Thus, I was easily coaxed into making a tagine with preserved lemon which was so delicious, it became my gateway to finding, making and devouring a recipe for cracked green olives with preserved lemon. Yum! The flavour is bright and refreshing and provides a nice balance of texture and taste.

We currently have some Preserved Lemons (made by our very own Catering Chef Matthew Altizer), so feel free to stop by, pick some up and try one of these recipes - or another you might find. But hurry, there are only a few jars left...

Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon & Olives
Serves 4

1/2 preserved lemon
3 T. olive oil
1lb chicken, breast, thighs, or a whole chicken
1 white onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 1/2 c. chicken stock
1/2 t. ground ginger
1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1 pinch saffron
1/2 c. green olives, pitted
2 bay leaves
1 small handful cilantro, roughly chopped

Remove the flesh from the preserved lemon, cut into thin strips and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Heat 2 T. olive oil in a large sauté pan, add the chicken and brown well. Place in a deep baking dish. Heat the remaining oil in the pan, add the onion and sauté for 15 minutes over medium until very soft and slightly browned. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 more minute. Add the chicken stock, ginger, cinnamon, saffron, olives, bay leaves and preserved lemon strips.

Stir well and pour the sauce over the chicken. Bake for 1-1 1/2 hours or until cooked through, adding a little more water if the sauce gets too dry. Remove the chicken from the dish and set aside, keeping the chicken warm. Pour the rest of the mixture into a saucepan and reduce the sauce until it has thickened slightly. Add the cilantro and chicken.

Cracked Green Olives with Herbs and Preserved Lemon
From Gourmet Magazine August 1994

1 lb. small to medium brine-cured green olives (preferably cracked)
1/4 c. chopped fresh coriander
3 T. chopped fresh mint leaves
Peel of 1/2 preserved lemon cut into julienne strips, plus 3 T. preserved lemon juice to taste
2 T. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 t. ground coriander
A pinch dried red hot pepper flakes

*available at Middle Eastern and Mediterranean markets

If using uncracked whole olives, crush lightly with flat side of large knife on a cutting board. In a large bowl cover olives with cold water and soak 4 hours to remove excess salt. Drain olives well. In a bowl stir together olives and remaining ingredients and marinate, covered and chilled, at least 6 hours or overnight. Olives may be prepared 1 week ahead and kept chilled, covered. Serve olives at room temperature.

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