Friday, September 30, 2011

Turkey Meatball Soup

This soup is fab! It's my take on Italian wedding soup. There are big juicy meatballs, loads of silky smooth spinach leaves that embrace your tongue with a velvety hug, carrots, cannellini beans and rice!
This is a great alternative to rich, cream infused soups that fill you up and weigh you down with fatty goodness. My turkey meatball extravaganza will leave you just as full while imparting way more nutrition! I made a massive batch of it and froze them in portion sized ziplock bags. That way, when I'm pressed for time all I do is reach into my freezer and defrost one of these delicious bundles!

Meatball Ingredients:
1 lb ground turkey
1 large clove of garlic, grated in a microplane
1/2 cup grated parm
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon dried oregano, parsley and basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
a handful of fresh Italian parsley
1 egg

Broth Ingredients:
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 quart chicken stock
1 rind of parmesan
2 carrots
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 5oz bag of fresh spinach..or more.. they wilt
2 celery stalks
1 can cannellini beans
1/2 cup rice (any variety..wild is nice)

Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs except the turkey and breadcrumbs until well incorporated. Add the turkey and mix well with your hands. Add the breadcrumbs until combined. Using two spoons, scoop out even sized amounts (it's OKAY if their not perfect:) and roll into balls. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment. When completed, place in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile saute the onions in olive oil on low heat. You want them to really wilt and melt. After ten minutes add the garlic and cook on low for another 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and add your carrots and celery. Saute for 2 minutes. Add the rice and cook for three minutes. Add more olive oil if necessary. Add the broth, 1/2 quart water, bay leaf and parm rind. Cook for 40 minutes on low heat. Add the cannellini beans, meatballs and fresh parsley. Cook for 10 minutes. Finish with spinach and cook until it wilts into the soup. Serve with freshly cracked pepper and grated parm.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mom's Pinoy Chicken

If you've not heard of the term Pinoy, it's an informal way of referring to Philippino's. In a way this recipe is very typical of the Philippines as its marinade is a typical "sawsawan" which is a sauce or dip that we eat alongside fried fish. You may find it strange to marinate chicken in fish sauce and lemon juice, but I promise you it's delicious. There's a sour tang to it that's brought to life by the depth of the fish sauce. Plus, it's just a faint hint of the intense flavours as the chicken is either dredged with flour and fried or breaded in panko and baked. Mom fries her's and it's hard to beat, but for a cleaner/healthier version I bake them with's just as crispy which is nice.. But on days where I'm feeling naughty, I'll fry!

1 whole chicken cut into eighths (you can remove the skin if you're baking but why?! Crispy skin is SO DELICIOUS!)
2 lemons juiced
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
1 cup panko bread crumbs or flour
1 tablespoon melted butter (if baking) or enough canola oil to shallow fry

Mix the fish sauce and lemon juice together and coat chicken. Cover with plastic wrap overnight or at least 6 hours. Dredge in flour and fry OR mix melted butter with panko and dredge the chicken. Place on a baking rack on top of a sheet tray (so everything crisps up) and bake in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Dreamy Feast on an Argentine Ranch

I just returned from a trip to Argentina and Brazil. There were many delicious eats but this was by far my most treasured. My husband and I went to an Argentinian ranch that had been passed down along generations. The experience commenced on horseback as we rode along the vast flatlands, happily following the scent of burning wood and smoking meat.

As we approached there was the most enchanting setup of red plaid tablecloths under an enormous tree. We sat and feasted for what seemed like hours as wooden planks spilling with meat were served to us- one cut and variety after the next. It was one of the most memorable culinary experiences I've ever had.

Argentinian meat is arguably the very best in the world. This has to do with the fact that the cattle eats freely and easily on high quality grass and are raised without antibiotics. They are very proud of their beef. It's almost a religion and the sacred meat is treated purely- just salt...that's it. They don't marinate it with any garlic, wine, spices or herbs. The meat is so good, so fresh, so wonderful that it's not disrespected with flavourings to camouflage the taste. The salt simply works to enhance what comes naturally.

I visited the cook and was in awe of the traditional cooking method he employed. Big pieces of wood are heated in a large oven. When they start to break down, he shovels heaping amounts under a grill. I watched salivating as the beautiful embers cooked the meat to such heavenly perfection. Once ready, they were brought to our table and we ate them with a selection of salads and chimichurri! I've never had a meal so close to its source. The beef was fresh from the ranch and the vegetables in the salads were plucked from their gardens.

We concluded the meal with a stunning dessert of homemade ice cream that sat keenly on a bed dulce de leche, drizzled with a perfectly tart berry coulis. The somewhat sour fruit, cold cream and sweet dulce de leche was a brilliant combination.

I will never forget this day. It was magic.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mexican Bean and Corn Salad

I'm writing as I dig into this salad and my thoughts are:

I love the way the creamy/earthy flavour of the black bean contrasts with the burst in your mouth bite of sweet summer corn. Oh, then the juicy tomato, crunchy cucumber..all of these beautiful ingredients brightened by the delicate heat of red onion, fresh cilantro and sour lime...YUM!

I'm serving this salad with panko crusted chicken and baked sweet potatoes cut into thin circles so they brown all over. To be honest, I'm most excited about having more salad! This is great on its own or served with skewered seafood or any type of meat. It will be the star of your meal!

1 ear of corn (add an extra one as you'll probably be tempted to eat it freshly boiled)
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 juicy lime
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 can low sodium black beans
1 handful of washed cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 cucumber, finely diced
1 teaspoon sriracha
1 green onion finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt...or a bit more!
freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Remove layers from corn and bring a pot of boiling water to a boil. Add the corn and boil for about 5 minutes or until a knife pierces a kernel with ease. Drain and reserve.

When cooled, cut the kernels off the corn by slicing downwards. You can lay it flat, hold it steady and cut down along the sides. Place free kernels into bowl. Add the remaining ingredients (lime,salt, pepper and olive oil last). Toss well and serve or refrigerate until ready!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Linguine and Clams

Clams and pasta are a great pairing. When you cook these shelled beauties in butter, garlic and white wine they release a taste of the salty waters from which they were caught. All these ingredients combined make a lovely rich sauce that's balanced by the heat of red chili flakes and the briny goodness of the sea.

The other great thing about this dish is that it takes minutes to make. You're literally done in the time it takes to boil your pasta...Magically delicious!

1 pound littleneck clams
enough dry pasta for four people
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (depends on how hot you like it)
1 tablespoon roughly chopped parsley

Clean your clams by rinsing them several times and reserve.

Bring a large pot of SALTED water to a boil and cook pasta. In the meantime, saute the on med-low heat garlic in butter and olive oil. When they soften add the chili flakes, clams and white wine. Close the lid and cook on low for 5 minutes or until clams all open. Add the pasta to the clams when it is cooked to you liking as well as 1/2 cup of pasta water. Let the sauce reduce lightly as you toss everything together for about 1-2 minutes. Top with fresh parsley and serve!