Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Bouillabaisse

Imagine a warm summer evening in Marseille... A light salty breeze coming from the Mediterranean Sea, careless laughter of tired fishermen, coming home after a long day in the sun and a cozy little restaurant where you can have a glass of wine, watch the sea and interact with locals. You get a menu with dozens of exquisite Proven├žal dishes but your choice is clear. If you are in Marseille, you must try its famous Bouillabaisse. Abundance of freshly caught seafood stewed in a savoury broth, flavoured with exotic saffron, fennel and an invigorating citrusy touch of an orange peel. In Marseille, every family has their own version of the famous seafood stew. Some of them are very complex and some of them are simplified. This version of the Bouillabaisse is simple yet very satisfying. I like serving it with some toasted baguette and a little piece of butter at the bottom of each soup plate. It will give the Bouillabaisse another layer of richness and aroma...  
Ingredients:
 
2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed, 1 large onion, peeled and sliced, 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced, 1 large pinch saffron, soaked in 2 tablespoons orange juice for 10 minutes, 1 strip orange zest, 1 (14-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, in juice, 6 cups seafood stock or clam juice. All of the following seafood: halibut, cod, tilapia, or snapper (in large chunks); shell-on large shrimp or lump crabmeat; clams or mussels, 1 bunch of parsley, chopped.

Directions:
 
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onion, and fennel and saut until just brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the saffron, orange zest, tomatoes, and stock or clam juice. Bring to a boil and cook until the vegetables are tender and the liquid is reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add the fish (not shellfish). Cook for about 2 minutes. Add any clams, mussels, and shrimp. Simmer until the shells just begin to open, about 4 minutes more.  Add crabmeat. Cook until all shells have opened, the shrimp is pink and curled, and the fish flakes easily, about 2 minutes.
 

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Brie with Caramelized Onions and Cranberries

Brie cheese is easy to love. It is soft, flavourful but does not require too much of an acquired taste. I fell in love with Brie cheese years ago but it was never this popular at my dinner parties until I bought a brie baker. When the cheese is baked, it softens and spreads easily. Its heavenly rind creates a lovely contrast for melted cheesy goodness that you can spread on a slice of baguette or a cracker. I like to add a little je ne sais quoi to my baked brie with different toppings that elevate my brie to the next level. It can be as simple as a decadent French fig jam or a touch of honey and nuts. I like serving my hot brie in my brie baker with toasted slices of baguette. The presentation is simple, rustic and very Provencal.

Ingredients: 

1 tbsp vegetable oil, 1-3/4 cups finely chopped sweet onions, 1 pinch salt and pepper, 2 tbsp packed brown sugar, 2 tbsp wine vinegar, 1 pinch dried Herbes de Provence, 1 tbsp chopped dried cranberries, 1 round Brie cheese, 2 tsp minced fresh parsley.

Directions:

In skillet, heat oil over medium heat; fry onion, salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, until light golden, about 12 minutes.

Sprinkle with sugar; cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Stir in vinegar and Herbes de Provence, scraping up brown bits on bottom of pan; cook for 2 minutes. Scrape into bowl; let cool. Stir in cranberries. Spread onion mixture over cheese. Place on small baking sheet; bake in 350°F (180°C) oven until cheese is softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to serving plate; sprinkle with parsley.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Prosciutto, fig and blue cheese rolls with balsamic glaze

French term amuse-bouche literally means mouth amuser. It is a bite-sized treat to prepare guests for the first course. It is usually served with aperitifs and is not ordered from the menu. Chefs serve amuse-bouches as a preview of the upcoming three course meal.
Prosciutto, fig and blue cheese rolls are my favourite.  These decadent bites of flavour will tingle your guests’ mouths with surprisingly distinctive balance.  Saltiness of prosciutto, fruitiness of figs aromatized with rose water and bitterness of blue cheese.  They all come together in a heavenly harmony, drizzled with tangy but sweet balsamic reduction that gives your amuse-bouche that glorious glaze. It is a perfect way to start any dinner party. I like serving my amuse-bouches on a heavy wooden cutting board with few types of hard cheeses.
Ingredients:
6 strips of prosciutto, 2 fresh figs, few drops of rose water, a drizzle of honey, ¼ cup of crumbled blue cheese, 4 mint leaves, ½ cup of balsamic vinegar
Directions:

Cut figs into wedges and place them in a small bowl. Add few drops of rose water and a touch of honey and let them rest for 10 minutes.  Lay out 6 strips of prosciutto horizontally on a plastic wrap so they create a sheet for your rolls. Lay figs in one horizontal line at the bottom of your prosciutto sheet. Crumble blue cheese and let it rest near figs. Chiffonade some mint leaves and spread them over figs and cheese. With the help of plastic wrap, roll the prosciutto into a long roll. Refrigerate it for 15 minutes. Using a sharp knife cut the roll through the plastic wrap into small bite size pieces. Remove the plastic wrap. 
Balsamic glaze:
Pour half a cup of balsamic vinegar into a small sauce pan and bring it to a boil. Let it reduce by half so the liquid becomes syrup like. Let the balsamic reduction cool and then drizzle it over the rolls.


Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Fig and Olive Tapenade

This recipe was developed by one of my Home Cookin’ guests, Amanda Garbutt. Amanda and I share passion for elegant recipes that bring family and friends together. This fabulous tapenade caresses your mouth with perfectly balanced flavours. Saltiness of olives rounded out by sweet chewy bite of dried figs. Balsamic vinegar adds some delicate acidity and the liquid gold (olive oil) gives the tapenade that beautiful velvety texture. Amanda spreads goats’ cheese on crostinis and then tops it with the tapenade. I like to crumble some cheese over the tapenade. I serve this hors d'oeuvre with aperitifs. Garnishing it with a shrimp or a basil leaf takes this appetizer to the next level.

Ingredients:

Extra-virgin olive oil , 10 Green olives, pitted, 12 dried figs, 6 basil leaves, 2 tsp balsamic vinegar, 1 garlic clove, 12 slices baguette, ½ cup packed goat cheese or blue cheese, salt and pepper.

Directions: 

In a food processor combine the olives, figs, basil, balsamic and garlic and pulse until the ingredients are roughly chopped. Season with salt and pepper. With the motor running drizzle in olive oil until the tapenade has a smooth, spreadable consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning. Preheat the oven to 350F. Brush the slices of baguette lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until crisp, about 15 minutes. Assemble: Spread a layer of tapenade on the crostinis. Top with crumbled goat’s cheese or blue cheese and an extra sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper.