Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Debra's Fantastic Chicken Burgers

My dear friend Debra told me about her burgers that are a huge hit with the boys in her house and I had to try them. Debra is a fantastic cook and uses great ingredients which she lovingly prepares for the people she loves. She is a damn fine gardener too (my kind of gal!). Debra grinds her organic chicken but, of course you can use a good quality store bought ground chicken. She uses mostly thighs and a bit of white meat. These are truly fantastic and your family will absolutely want you to make them again and again. If you partially freeze the burgers before grilling it helps to keep their shape until the cooking firms them up for easy flipping.

You will need:

  • 1lb ground chicken thighs or ground dark meat -  if grinding chop thighs into 4 - partially frozen
  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast or 1 cup ground breast if grinding cut into small cubes - partially frozen for easy grinding
  • 1/2 small red onion minced - I used white because I didnt have a red
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper - finely minced
  • 1/8 -1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs (depending on how wet your chicken is)
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce of your choice
  • 1 tbsp dry rub seasoning of your choice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: start with great quality ground or whole chicken pieces. Gather and chop chicken, onion, garlic jalapeno.

Step 2: grind chicken. I also ran the jalapeno and bread through the machine to clean it. If you want the jalapeno in larger chunks then just add it chopped. I added 1 slice of bread to machine but you can just sprinkle breadcrumbs in the mix. Add all other ingredients to bowl and mix.

Step 3: form into patties and place on oiled parchment paper (brush a bit of oil on paper and tops- look at the beautiful coloured olive oil!)
Freeze 20 minutes.

Step 4: grill over medium-high direct heat and brush with additional sauce to finish. Be careful not to flip too soon as they are delicate until they set and firm up.

Serve on a fresh squishy bun or not! and top with your favorite things.

Bon Appetit!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Halibut Salsa

This is a perfect appetizer for a hot summer evening. Serve it with rice crackers or tortilla chips. The fresh tastes of a salsa and the fresh halibut served like a poke or ceviche. Fresh and delicious they will devour this one!
You will need:
  • 1/2 cup of small diced fresh halibut 
  • 1 tomato - chopped into small dice
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped jalapeno
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 ripe avocado - chopped into small dice
  • 1 clove garlic - chopped fine
  • 4 tbsp mild extra virgin olive oil -I used Domaine Oltremonti
  • 1 lime zested and juiced
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: chop halibut and place on paper towel to absorb any additional water while chopping all other ingredients.

Step 2: chop all other ingredients.

Step 3: place fish in a small dish. Zest 1//2 lime and juice entire lime over fish. Drizzle 2 tbsp olive oil and mix. Cover and let stand in fridge for 1 hour to almost cook tender fish in the acid. You can also add some salt here if you want a firmer fish.

Step 4: mix all ingredients together, add extra olive oil and salt and pepper. Adjust as necessary. Serve with chips/crackers and a tequila cocktail.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Walnut, Apple Phyllo Rolls with Lemon and Honey

Sticky and sweet like baklava. This dessert has the addition of a grated apple and cinnamon added to the nuts and drizzled with lemon and honey. The lemon syrup is poured immediately once it comes out of the oven and then absorbs while it cools. You can make this as straight logs (more like a nut strudel) or a circle. I have made it into a zigzag so it fits into my glass pan. I prefer to use glass for this kind of dessert because you can cut directly in the pan without damaging it. I also use a mild buttery olive oil instead of butter to brush the sheets of phyllo. The lemon goes so nicely with the apple and walnut.

You will need:
  • 2 cups ground walnuts (I always store whole nuts in the freezer and grind in the food processor rather than buy ground nuts- they go rancid quickly and fresh is important.
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 apple - peeled and grated (add the liquid and pulp)
  • 6 sheets of thawed phyllo dough
  • approximately 1/4-1/3 cup mild fruity olive oil for brushing - I used Domaine Oltremonti-Corsica
  • 1/2 cup honey (any kind you like)
  • 1/2 a lemon zested finely & then juiced
  • 1/4 cup water

Step 1: I store nuts in the freezer to keep them fresh. Nuts go rancid very quickly so taste the ones you are using to make sure they are not bad. I grind nuts in the food processor to get a fine/medium course consistency. Gather all your other ingredients. Make sure your phyllo is thawed according to directions on the box. I do mine in the fridge.

Step 2: peel an apple and grate it right to the core. Take the apple and any juices and add to a bowl. Add nuts, cinnamon, sugar and salt. Mix to combine.

Step 3: brush each of 3 sheets of phyllo dough with a thin layer of mild extra virgin olive oil or butter. I love that olive oil is delicious and so much healthier. Stack and brush each sheet with oil. 3 sheets makes 1 log.

Step 4: take half of the mixture and add along the longer side of the dough. Roll up. Repeat.

Step 5: brush oil or butter on bottom of a pan or baking dish. Leave logs straight or coil or form into a circle. Brush with more olive oil and you could sprinkle a bit more of the nut mixture if you like. I like the dessert to almost fill the baking dish so when you add the syrup it is contained near the roll and will absorb into it. So, whatever dish you use should not be much larger than the dessert.

Bake 25-30 minutes in a 350 degree oven until browned.

Step 6: in a small pan heat honey until just warmed almost to the boil. Turn off heat and zest 1/2 lemon and add fresh lemon juice and water. Stir. As soon as the dessert is out of the over carefully pour over the entire dessert. It will bubble and sizzle and you will think there is too much syrup but, it will absorb as it cools. Once cooled slice and serve with hot tea!! YUM. 

Lasts on the counter for a day or two.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Olive Oil Crepes with Lemon and Honey

You make the batter in your blender and it can be left in the fridge overnight. Next time you want crepes for breakfast make the batter the night before and then you just cook them when you get up. You can serve them simply with a drizzle of honey and a squeeze of lemon or spread on some of your favorite jam, a smear of Nutella or fill with berries and cream. I love these even more because instead of using butter I use a mild, buttery, gorgeous extra virgin olive oil from my friend Emilie in Corsica.

I dare you to use a beautiful quality mild olive oil and see if they don't taste just as delicious as butter and they are also much better for you!

You will need: 
* recipe makes 9-10 crepes

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp mild extra virgin olive oil - I used Domaine Oltremonti from Cosica, France
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (any kind you prefer)
  • 1 cup flour
  • more olive oil for cooking
fillings can be:
  •  honey or sugar and lemon juice
  • Nutella or grated chocolate -your favorite kind
  • jam or marmalade
  • fresh berries and whipped cream

Step 1: gather and measure all your ingredients

Step 2: toss everything in a blender and blend for 20 seconds until smooth. Leave the batter for 15 minutes at room temperature if you are making them right away or cover and leave in the fridge for the next morning. I like to leave the batter in the blender because it is easy to pour in the pan.

Step 3: heat up a crepe pan (I think this is a great investment and makes easy cooking but, you can use a non-stick pan as well. Add a tsp of olive oil.

Step 4: pour in approx 3/4 - 1 cup of batter in your pan (depending on the size you want) and immediately swirl the batter all around the pan to spread the batter evenly. You need some olive oil or butter to brown the crepe properly and also so when/if you stack them they do not stick to each other. Hey! it's olive oil don't be afraid! Once there is some browning around the edges run a spatula around  to loosen and then flip. I like this tool for flipping but, you can use a wider spatula if you prefer. The first one is always a test to see how hot your pan is and to test your skills. 
Continue on to use all the batter. 

A drizzle of lemon and honey, then roll up or fold in quarters and serve. I have to admit this one is my favorite!

I had some tiny packs of Nutella so I had to!! Hey, Nutella is 50 years old this year and they gave out free packages in my mail!! This reminds me of childhood!

Saskatoon berry Jam (a local thing!) Tart and sweet.

Enjoy with a nice cup of coffee!!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Goat Cheese and Tomato Tarts or Salad

When I open up the fridge and look at my ingredients I often see a couple of ideas at the same time. This is a good example of using almost the same ingredients two different ways. I have made some vegetable and goat cheese tarts on puff pastry and also a potato salad which could also be served with puff pastry that is cut into strips and twisted like a bread stick. I have used a beautiful extra virgin olive oil from Corsica as a perfect compliment. This organic oil is produced by my new friend Emilie. It is a mild, fruity oil with the faintest bit of pungency at the end. Beautiful!

 These are the olive blooms and trees from Domaine Oltremonti Olive Groves in Corsica, France.

You will need:

  • 1 sheet puff pastry - thawed to room temp per box instructions
  • 2 onions - sliced in quarter moon slices
  • 2 tbsp mild and fruity oil - Like Domaine Olremonti from Corsica in France (more to serve)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a few boiled waxy new potatoes - sliced 
  •  young soft goat cheese/ chevre - as much as you like crumbled
  • thick slices of ripe tomatoes
  • fresh basil leaves
  • fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic 

Step 1: slice and cook onions in some exceptional extra virgin olive oil like a mild and fruity Domaine Oltremonti.....

and a splash of good quality apple cider vinegar. I cook on medium heat, stirring often for approx 20-25 minutes to get nice lightly carmelized onions. Set aside.

Step 2: boil some new potatoes until cooked and tender. A waxy potato works best here.

Step 3: gather all your ingredients, slice potatoes, garlic and slice tomatoes.

Step 4: slice the store bought puff pastry into 4 pieces or cut out circles if you prefer. Layer your ingredients in any way you like. If you like lots of goat cheese, smear on a layer directly on pastry, layer potatoes, tomatoes, a sprinkle of thyme, a few garlic slices, top with salt and pepper and bake in a 375 oven until puffed and browned. Layer them all the same or completely different. Once they come out add another drizzle of beautiful olive oil and perhaps a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

serve with a green salad and you have a nice appetizer or lunch.

Take the same ingredients and create a delicate potato salad with oil and apple cider vinegar dressing.

If you have a beautiful bottle of extra virgin olive oil USE IT!!! It is best used when fresh don't save it and have it go rancid....use it lavishly and enjoy it everyday. 

You are worth it!