Monthly Archives: October 2012

Delicious Roasted Pumpking Seeds (that I was too lazy to make myself)

All these years I passed up on this???

Every year we carve multiple pumpkins and every year I think, “I should really roast the seeds”.  But that is a fleeting thought as I look at the goo-covered, stringy harvest.  And into the green bin it goes.  But not this year!  This year there was Donna.

Pumpkin Carving Contest chez nous

We held a pumpkin carving contest for Felix’s 4th birthday and had a few friends over.  And we also had the innards of 10 pumpkins.  Donna suggested we roast them and give them away as loot bags.  She even offered to come over early to scoop them out and do all the dirty work.  An offer even a lazy scooper like me could not refuse.

See what you’re pulling the seeds out of?  Though I admit that in a strange way once you sink your hands into the goop it feels kind of nice.

The harvest

Once Donna had pulled them out of the pumpkin she rinsed them and cleaned them in a strainer and got off all the stringy bits.  This is the hard work part.

Boiling the pumpkin seeds

Once clean the seeds were boiled in a large pot for 10-15 minutes in well-salted water.  This helps ensure a crunchier seed once roasted.

We then spread the seeds onto a couple baking trays and dried them with some paper towels.  Not bone-dry but you want them dry enough that olive oil will stick to them.

We then put the seeds back into a bowl and tossed them with 1 teaspoon olive oil for 1 cups seeds ( approx.) Since we had so many seeds we flavoured them.

Donna came with some Kernel shakers and we did various batches; a Kosher salt batch, dill, cheddar cheese and all-dressed.   We sprinkled on the topping generously (you can also use paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper or curry powder plus salt).

We  then we lay them on clean parchment and roasted them at 375°F for about 30-40 minutes (less if you have fewer seeds, you want them golden and crispy).  We tossed every 10 minutes or so.  Be vigilant as they can burn easily.  You can turn the over to °350 if you feel you may be distracted (aka Donna is not doing your work).

While we waited there were some antics like this:

Dancing Dollar Store Monster

And of course, this:

Classic Halloween Alien

The seeds came out in batches and we let them cool…

Pumpkin Seeds sorted for loot bags

And I am now munching away on the wonderful bounty of crunchy, flavourful snacks and  I swear to Never, Ever, Ever (on Taylor Swift’s life) throw out Pumpkin Seeds again!

Yes, I always have fall foliage on my cutting board.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!!!

PS  If you have any opinions of boiling vs not boiling and the difference it does or does not make please let me know!  And see the comments for a non-boiling recipe from Lisa that she used and it worked great.

 

8 Comments

Filed under All Recipes, Blogs with cooking tips, Uncategorized

Curds and Eh: Exploring the scary depths of blue cheese and Frankenstein

Blue Frankenteins only get better-and stronger–with age.

Welcome to Curds and Eh, where cheese brain Kelsie Parsons shares his scarily cheesy thoughts for Halloween….SR

If I had to pick a cheese to hand out for Halloween it would be a blue. Imagine the look on the kids’ faces! I think it would qualify both as a trick and a treat. Blue cheese has the unique ability to scare and totally gross people out while tantalizing others with its distinct aroma and look. Despite my hypothetical Halloween prank I’d never force blue cheese on anyone.

“C’mon, how was I supposed to know the  Roquefort was for the guests?”

As a cheesemonger I often get asked, “why do you eat it?” and “do they actually let the mold grow in the cheese on purpose?” followed up by, “when the cheese in my fridge turns that colour I just toss it out!” I totally understand where they’re coming from and I know blue cheese isn’t for everyone. The blue cheese family is very much like the misunderstood Frankenstein‘s monster. They both posses a depth of character beyond what meets the eye and a desire to be loved though they are often rejected. Personally I love blue cheese. It’s powerful and delicious.

Tame a blue cheese’s roar with honey

For people that are just getting acquainted with blue cheese or want to try something new, here are a few tips:

  • Try something different. You’re probably thinking, “sure but it’s still a blue cheese!” Some of the most common blues such as Danish blue or Roquefort are common at dinner parties however they’re both incredibly strong. These two cheeses have their qualities but I don’t recommend them for someone trying blue cheese for the first time.
  • Ask your cheesemonger to guide you to a mild blue. Quite often the milder blue cheeses are creamy and lack the intensity of their more potent relatives.
  • Pair blue cheese with something sweet. A sweet accompaniment takes the edge off and balances the saltiness typical in blues. Drizzle a bit of honey on blue crumbled on toast, serve with pears, or enjoy with a sweet beverage such as port, late harvest riesling or ice wine.

Cabrales–for the less faint of heart

Now let’s get to know Frankenstein’s monster A.K.A. blue cheese a bit better. Blue cheeses actually aren’t always blue. Depending on the strain of Peniciullium roqueforti added to the milk the cheese could have blue, yellow, grey or even green spots on it. With the various colours come different levels of intensity and flavours ranging from sweet to savoury to spicy. In fact, after a wheel of blue is cut into the colours intensify over the next 15 minutes because blue cheese needs oxygen to thrive. If you examine a wedge of blue you’ll often see blue lines. This is where the cheese has been pierced to allow oxygen to enter the cheese so the blue can flourish.

Blue Haze-see the line where the needle pierced the cheese?

One of my favourite Canadian blues is called Blue Haze. It begins its life as a Ermite, a mild blue cheese made at the monastery of l’Abbaye St.-Benoit-du-Lac in Quebec, the same place where Bleu Benedictin is made. Once it has matured and developed its blue veining it’s brought to Cayuga in Southern Ontario and smoked over a harvest blend of wood. A smoked blue cheese! This is one memorable cheese! The smoke gives the cheese a brown rind and meaty flavours reminiscent of bacon and bbqs. Blue Haze is awesome crumbled on burgers or steak, or simply served with a cold dark beer. This is one cheese I just can’t get enough of.

Kelsie sailing this summer

If you come visit me on Oct. 31st at Sobeys Ira Needles (Kitchener) we can share a wedge of Blue Haze. I’ll be the one standing at the cheese counter with a green painted face and bolts in my neck.

2 Comments

Filed under Cheese/Cheese Related, Curds and Eh, Uncategorized

A cocktail at Tundra may lead to….dinner at Tundra.

Tundra Launch Party (I danced my heart out… ok, its not really me just my body double)

In mid-September I was invited to drop by the re-launch of Tundra restaurant located at University and Richmond–a hop skip and jump from anywhere you might want to be downtown.  Which is what I was thinking about when I needed to pick a spot to meet some friends on Saturday night.  Afterall, why wait on a windy street corner when you could order a Manhattan at the beautiful horseshoe-shaped bar (with built in electrical plugs for workaholics!) sit back and not care how late anyone is.

The Tundra Manhattan

The Manhattan I strategically wove into my intro is pictured above– and I have been able to secure us all the recipe.  I will pause while you go make one and then we can continue together.  If you are reading this at the office at 9am I hope to God you mixed it in your styrofoam coffee cup–this isn’t Mad Men.

Tundra Manhattan

2oz Knob Creek Bourbon

1oz Taylor Fladgate Late Bottle Vintage Port

Dash Orange Bitters

Dash premium maple syrup

Shake or Stir with fresh ice and strain into chilled martini glass.  Garnish with 2 maraschino cherries

Seared scallops with celery and cilantro emulsion

While you’re sipping your drink, look around and check out the newly revamped room which was designed by Montreal firm Lemaymichaud.  What I like is that there’s space to be social in the bar/restaurant area and but there’s also space for quiet conversation  (“Great doing business with you”  or “Why does it always take you so long to order?”)

The wooden sphere by west coast artist Brent Comber (apologies for shoddy iPhone photo….)

Tundra’s warm cozy feeling comes from the wood used throughout the design and the entrance features a very cool sphere carved from one giant piece of Vancouver Island Redwood.

And then there’s the menu which you may casually pick up while you sip your drink.   May I make a few suggestions from the new Fall dinner menu; firstly the the scallops (in the Small Plates section) which featured seared scallops, celery and cilantro emulsion, chorizo, coconut curls, and crisped salsify.

House cured gravalax

Also on the Small Plate men is the house cured gravalax with rye bagel crisp, preserved ramps, mustard cream cheese, dill and radish.  It was the mustard cream cheese that called my name, but the preserved ramps were also a nice refreshing touch.

Roasted Heirloom Carrots

My main was Roasted Heirloom carrots, radish, cauliflower steak, watercress, oven dried ricotta and fig vinaigrette.  (Is there a vegetarian-steak revolution in Toronto- I just had grilled and smoked carrot “steak” at Yours Truly a few weeks previous.)  Anyway, this plate is quite lovely, no?

Northern Ontario Rabbit Confit

And then I sampled some of my friend’s Northern Ontario Rabbit Confit, which was as good as comfort food (fancy comfort food!) gets. Soft, tender and juicy.

Dessert and Cheese Sampler at Tundra

We rounded off the meal with a sample of dessert–that is the addictive pine nut brittle in the front, there were soft, chewy macaroons and a deconstructed creme brulee, mini-meringues and some lovely cheese.   And could the cheese/dessert board itself be more rustic?   I feel like that was ripped right up from an old barn and polished up.  A floor I’ll eat off of anytime.

And if you really want to hit the town and then not have to make your own bed, there are the trendy and luxurious Hilton suites.   We got a sneak peek at the launch.

Executive Chef at Tundra is Kevin Prendergast and the kitchen team sources local foods, wild ingredients come from a Quebec-based organic forager and other herbs come from the hotel’s garden.  Cheese is from that wonderful place, Cheese Boutique, in the west end.

Most importantly you can get jerk wings off the “nibbles” menu until midnight.

4 Comments

Filed under Restaurants and Products, Uncategorized

Curds and Eh: Kelsie Parsons video blogs from Fromagerie Pied de Vent

Hello everyone–both Kelsie and I are excited to post the first video from his cheese adventures this summer.   I am sure you’ll love (and learn) from it as much as I did.  I’ll let Kelsie take it from here.

Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent recently switched from making their cheese from raw milk to thermized milk. Thermization, also known as heat treating, is the process that inactivates psychrotrophic bacteria by heating milk to about 65°C for 15 seconds and then cooling it off. This is below the temperature used for pasteurization so the cheese is still technically considered a unpasteurized cheese. The change in milk processing has altered the flavour of Pied-de-Vent. It’s not quite as strong as it was previously but still has a wonderful depth of flavour.

I should mention that the video was recorded and arranged by Ian Langohr, my co-pilot for this crazy cross-Canada adventure. I’m super happy with how our first video turned out. We’re currently working on putting together more videos and will release them here. I think the Pied-de-Vent video does a good job showing how cheese is made but here are a few highlights of our visit to Îles-de-la-Madeleine that I didn’t get to show in it.

Red Sand Beaches of Îles-de-la-Madeleine

Ian and I arrived in Souris, PEI at the ferry terminal at 10pm to buy our tickets for the 8am departure. I must’ve been confused because there was no ferry scheduled for that time but they decided to do a 2am crossing. We left the car in Souris and I spent the 5 hour trip to Îles-de-la-Madeleine sleeping on a seat in the dining room. We arrived at 7am and started our hike to Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent. Along the way we passed a student protest (Charest was in town), a carnival and many colourful homes.

Dominique Arseneau and a vache Canadienne

After visiting Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent to see how their cheese is made, we met up with Dominique Arseneau who is the son of the owners and the farmer who looks after the vache Canadienne.  The three of us got along well so he took the rest of the day off to show us around the islands. We spent the afternoon taking in the sights and enjoying the red sand beaches where I enjoyed a quick dip in the water (and avoided all the jellyfish). It felt as if we were in the tropics! I kept my eyes open for palm trees and margaritas but couldn’t find either.

Brews at À l’abri de la Tempête

We did however find some amazing brews at À l’abri de la Tempête, a microbrewery whose name means ‘shelter from the storm’. I find it fascinating how the names of both the fromagerie and the brewery refer to a sense of optimism despite invoking images of harsh weather. It really demonstrates the attitude of the locals towards the climate. Anyways, Ian and I stopped at a lot of breweries this summer and the beer at À l’abri de la Tempête is by far my favourite of everything we tried. I really enjoyed their ginger wheat beer.

The Sea Platter

To accompany our beer we ordered a ‘land platter’ and a ‘sea platter’. Both were delicious but I devoured the land platter before I could snap a photo. The sea platter featured a smoked oyster, jackknife clam jerkey, smoked mackerel and herring, a skewer of salmon and seal, and sweet pickled herring. After a few beers, Dominique asked us if we want sushi. Ian and I were actually roommates back in the day in Toronto’s chinatown so we’ve had some good sushi and I foolishly thought to myself: we’re on an island in the gulf of the St. Lawrence, there must be some good local food here besides sushi.

I should never have doubted our wonderful host. We walked into the fishmonger shop I immediately understood why Dominique was so excited about sushi! There were rows of beautiful rolls made with freshly caught fish, lobster, crab, shellfish and even smoked fish. The sushi was as delicious as it was unique.

At 7pm Ian and I caught the ferry to return to PEI. We were only on the island for 12 hours exactly but if you ask me what my favourite experience was this summer…this was it. I totally recommend a trip to Îles-de-la-Madeleine and if you’re not in a rush, stay for longer than I did. There’s so much good food and culture to take in.

This post is part of a guest blog series by Kelsie Parsons.   See the Globe and Mail piece about his travels.

4 Comments

Filed under Cheese/Cheese Related, Curds and Eh, Travel and Food, Uncategorized

Other People’s Shopping Lists

I found this in the cart I was using when shopping tonight.  I love the varied hand writing. There is something kind of voyeuristic about seeing other people’s grocery needs.  And kind of touching.

I like this sequence:

dishwasher soap  (who’s not running out of that?)

bubble bath  (the dish soap reminded them about the bubble bath)

frozen raspberries  (I’m thinking smoothies for the kids)

white shager  (to go with smoothies)

white flower (to go with bubble bath)

diaper cream-jojoba oil  (ouch, that sounds like painful situation)

red wine (to go after diaper rash treatment, during bubble bath and nowhere near a smoothie )

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups: Bring ‘em to yoga and feel virtuous (but also humble)

How awesome are these blueberry fruit rolls? Made by ME–at home!

There are some foods (?) like gummi bears and M&Ms that one cannot imagine as “home-made”.  The Fruit Roll Ups of my youth were one such item.  Weren’t they meant to come in a colourful cardboard box and in crazy colours like bright blue?   Sure, there were the natural “fruit leathers” out there but we never had those in my house.

I realize there are a million recipes for fruit rolls on the internet but I never paid attention until I watched one of the recent Dessert Basic videos on the Globe and Mail site.  It looked so easy.  I had to attempt it.  I will tell you upfront that I failed and I succeeded, there were highs and there were lows….so perhaps the lessons in my fruit roll journey will help you in yours.

In the video, Pastry chef Yasmin Johaadien uses raspberries but says that you can use almost any fruit (there are exceptions which she mentions at the end of her instructions). I decided to do a blue berry batch as well.

blueberries

The first step is to start with three cups raspberries (and I assumed 3 cups of any fruit you are using, I used three cups blueberries as well).

Once you’ve liquified the berries you strain them through a sieve.

Easy peasy so far, right?  I did the same thing with the blueberries.

The raspberry puree, once strained, came to 1 cup final product and the blueberries yielded 1 1/2 cups.  Seems that this can vary per batch, Yasmin was working with a 1 1/2 cup yield for her raspberries.

I put both purees in pots on the stove, added 1 tablespoon lemon juice to each and then reduced them by half.  Now I’ve never been very good at assessing when something has reduced by half so I actually measured the raspberry puree at one point and still had to reduce further.  The blueberry thickened up faster even though there was more puree.

Once reduced you add a 1/2 cup sugar to the puree and stir until just dissolved.

Then I poured both purees onto (individual) parchment-lined sheets and spread them with my off-set.   The raspberry was less viscous than the blueberry.

Then I put them into the oven at 225°F for 3 hours (Yasmin says to you’ll need about 2.5-3 hours in the video).  When I took them out they were (as instructed) sticky to the touch but did not seem to cling to the back of a spoon.  The point being that you need some moisture in them or they will dry and crack (not roll).  I allowed them to cool.  And then instead of using a knife or pizza cuter to portion them, I just cut them with scissors.

And then PRESTO I peeled away the parchment!

Laying them on new parchment, I rolled them individually.

And I had a whole batch of my very own roll ups!

And now for the sad finale of the raspberry misadventure….

The above crsipy bacon-like rolls were a result of me putting the raspberry strips back in the oven because they would not peel off the parchment, and they were still too sticky and tearing, even after cooling.  I think I should have reduced the puree more at the beginning and I also think that putting them back in the oven might have worked but I left them too long.  And they dried up.  DO NOT OVER DRY THEM.

But no one needs to know about those.  I’ll just give them another whirl (and report back).  Or stick with the blueberry.  Everyone needs a signature “roll up”.

Has anyone made these before?  Any tips are welcome!  I think I might blend the berries next time.  And we really did take them to Felix’s yoga for kids class.  I rocked the hippie mom vibe.

6 Comments

Filed under All Recipes, Cookbooks, Magazines (+recipes from), Uncategorized