entertaining – The Culinary Chase http://theculinarychase.com support local Thu, 10 Aug 2017 14:47:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.1 hummus (with a surprising ingredient) http://theculinarychase.com/2017/03/hummus-with-a-surprising-ingredient/ Thu, 30 Mar 2017 20:15:22 +0000 http://theculinarychase.com/?p=13521 Most of us have, at some point, enjoyed hummus either as a dip with pita bread and veggies or as a condiment slathered over a falafel.  The recipe is simple;  grab a can of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), garlic, tahini, lemon or lime juice, coriander and process in a blender.  Hummus is a healthy substitute […]

The post hummus (with a surprising ingredient) appeared first on The Culinary Chase.

]]>

hummus - with a suprising ingredientMost of us have, at some point, enjoyed hummus either as a dip with pita bread and veggies or as a condiment slathered over a falafel.  The recipe is simple;  grab a can of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), garlic, tahini, lemon or lime juice, coriander and process in a blender.  Hummus is a healthy substitute for mayonnaise or butter.  That said, I went off it for a period of time as I found it boring until I decided to add anchovies…blame it on the anchovy butter I made a couple of weeks ago.  Sure, you can jazz it up by adding sumac or cumin but nothing quite took hold of my taste buds the way anchovies did.

I have been using anchovy fillets since December 2001 when I took an Italian cooking class (7 sauces for your pasta).  We were living in Singapore and I met Francesca.  Her charm, culinary experience (an instructor at The Culinary Institute of America) and natural love for her country was infectious.  I wanted to learn more.  She showed how to make a proper puttanesca sauce using anchovy fillets.  Before then I would have turned my nose up as I wasn’t a big fan of fish.  The anchovies dissolve when added to the tomato sauce with no hint of any ‘fishy’ scent, just an amazing savoury flavour.  Next time you make a beef stew, add these little guys.

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 to 2 cloves garlic, chopped
handful of cilantro, chopped (stems included)
2 teaspoons tahini (add more if needed)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
8 to 10 anchovy fillets (packed in oil), roughly chopped
extra-virgin olive oil

Add all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor and pulse until combined. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and pulse. If too dry, add more olive oil. Serve on toasted bread slices or use as a dip.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Save some of the anchovy oil and add to the dip. Enjoy!

The post hummus (with a surprising ingredient) appeared first on The Culinary Chase.

]]>
avocado and shrimp wonton baskets http://theculinarychase.com/2017/03/avocado-shrimp-wonton-baskets/ Mon, 13 Mar 2017 19:53:20 +0000 http://theculinarychase.com/?p=13400 When entertaining, I like to make appetisers that err on the side of healthy.  I also make sure there’s a mix of food while being cognizant of the dietary restrictions our guests might have.  Last month I made wonton noodle soup but only used half the wonton wrappers; the rest I froze.  There’s always a […]

The post avocado and shrimp wonton baskets appeared first on The Culinary Chase.

]]>

When entertaining, I like to make appetisers that err on the side of healthy.  I also make sure there’s a mix of food while being cognizant of the dietary restrictions our guests might have.  Last month I made wonton noodle soup but only used half the wonton wrappers; the rest I froze.  There’s always a bag or two of shrimp in the freezer and I usually have an avocado on hand.  This recipe is easy to make and in roughly 10 minutes you can have the filling completed by the time the wonton baskets are cooked and cooled.   These baskets are packed with flavour and vitamins.  As always, the ingredient list can be modified to suit your own palate.

Makes 18 baskets
1 avocado, cut into small chunks
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
2 medium sized tomatoes, seeds removed and finely chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked shrimp, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh coriander, coarsely chopped
1/2 large lime
1 garlic clove, minced
olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste
splash of fish sauce (optional but so tasty!)
18 wonton wrappers

Preheat oven to 350f (180c). Place wrappers in a muffin tin and gently push down. Spray each with olive oil. Bake in oven for 5-7 minutes until golden crisp. Remove from oven and let cool. In a bowl combine onion, tomatoes, shrimp, garlic and coriander. Season with sea salt and pepper. Squeeze lime over the tomato and shrimp mixture,  add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, splash of fish sauce and combine.  Add avocado and lightly toss.

Fill each wonton basket with about 1 heaping tablespoonful of the tomato and shrimp mixture.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Substitute wonton wrappers with Belgium endive leaves.  Enjoy!

The post avocado and shrimp wonton baskets appeared first on The Culinary Chase.

]]>
holiday party food – part 2 http://theculinarychase.com/2016/12/holiday-party-food-part-2/ Mon, 19 Dec 2016 16:13:05 +0000 http://theculinarychase.com/?p=13301 At this point, the rush of the holiday season is in full swing.  On my previous post, I suggested three, easy-to-make party food treats and the three I have chosen today are just as easy.  Chocolate is a crowd-pleaser and lovely to have on hand when your friends and family pop over.  Making your own […]

The post holiday party food – part 2 appeared first on The Culinary Chase.

]]>

At this point, the rush of the holiday season is in full swing.  On my previous post, I suggested three, easy-to-make party food treats and the three I have chosen today are just as easy.  Chocolate is a crowd-pleaser and lovely to have on hand when your friends and family pop over.  Making your own is easier than you may think.  Include your kids to help out when making Christmas bark and when your guest asks who made it they can gleefully say they helped.  The onion dip is a cinch to whip up and any leftover can be used as a spread in a sandwich, slathered on a hamburger, thinned out with milk to make a dressing, tossed with pasta.  Savoury palmiers are delicate bites and need little ingredients to enjoy.  This recipe uses my homemade spice rub but you can omit the rub and add fresh herbs such as thyme, sage or oregano and top with cheese.

Christmas bark – make and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks (if it lasts that long!).  Make a big batch and give to those who enjoy homemade gifts.

Onion dip – sure you can buy the commercial version but making your own allows you to control the ingredients and omit any additives commonly found in the dips you buy at the grocery store.

Savoury palmiers – flaky and light.  Make these ahead and pop into the oven before your friends arrive.

Well, folks, 2016 is almost over and I leave you with this little message:  the blessing of peace, the beauty of hope, the spirit of love, the comfort of faith.  May these be your gifts this holiday season.

The post holiday party food – part 2 appeared first on The Culinary Chase.

]]>
holiday party food http://theculinarychase.com/2016/12/holiday-party-food/ Tue, 13 Dec 2016 19:51:26 +0000 http://theculinarychase.com/?p=13282 Twelve days to Christmas! Yikes! Why is it with the best-laid plans things slip? I finally got around to making my first ever Christmas cracker snaps even though I had the materials 2-weeks ago.  They were a cinch to make and took half an hour to assemble.  I think the same goes with party food.  […]

The post holiday party food appeared first on The Culinary Chase.

]]>

holiday-party-food-collageTwelve days to Christmas! Yikes! Why is it with the best-laid plans things slip? I finally got around to making my first ever Christmas cracker snaps even though I had the materials 2-weeks ago.  They were a cinch to make and took half an hour to assemble.  I think the same goes with party food.  We create lists of what we plan to make and yet as the date draws closer, it’s as if we never had a plan and we’re scrambling to pull it off.  Easy and simple to make, that’s my motto.  In the next few days, I’ll share some of my favourite party food with you.  Today’s post highlights the fun stuff – nibbles.

Polenta Treats – making your own polenta is easy but if you are pressed for time, buy commercial.  Assemble ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator before baking in the oven.  These treats take 10 minutes to cook!

Pork Belly Bites – this is one dish you can’t mess up.  Pork belly is where bacon comes from (bacon is the cured/smoked part) and is usually found in the meat section of your grocery store.  If not, ask your butcher.  These bites take all of 10 minutes to cook and dress up with honey and soy sauce.  Make this as your guests arrive, give them a toothpick and dig in!

Turkey Meatballs – an Asian-inspired finger food guaranteed to make your guests salivate.  Another party food to make ahead of the arrival of your guests.  Allow a few minutes for the meatballs to cool slightly before serving in lettuce cups – you don’t want your guests to burn their mouths.

greetings

The post holiday party food appeared first on The Culinary Chase.

]]>
bruschetta with white anchovies http://theculinarychase.com/2016/10/bruschetta-with-white-anchovies/ Mon, 24 Oct 2016 20:03:05 +0000 http://theculinarychase.com/?p=13172 Bruschetta (pronounced bru-sketta) is a classic Italian appetizer consisting of toasted bread slices topped with fresh ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, and extra-virgin olive oil.  There are oodles of variations and I’ve named a few here for you to consider: smashed avocado with chopped tomatoes; zucchini goat cheese bruschetta; smoked salmon with mascarpone cheese. Last week […]

The post bruschetta with white anchovies appeared first on The Culinary Chase.

]]>

bruschetta with white anchoviesBruschetta (pronounced bru-sketta) is a classic Italian appetizer consisting of toasted bread slices topped with fresh ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, and extra-virgin olive oil.  There are oodles of variations and I’ve named a few here for you to consider: smashed avocado with chopped tomatoes; zucchini goat cheese bruschetta; smoked salmon with mascarpone cheese.

Last week I bought a package of white anchovies from Hooked Halifax.  I had been searching for these for a long time and was so happy to finally get my hands on them.  White anchovies (also known as boquerones) are deboned and marinated in a vinegar and olive oil solution.  Slightly sweet with a delicate vinegar edge to them, they’re silky smooth, ultra tender and are white due to the oil and vinegar pickling process.  These little guys are delicious on their own and perfect in a salad, on toast, deep-fried with garlic, and even on potato chips!  In Spain, they’re served in bars as tapas.

Serves 2 to 4
white anchovies
4 or 6 cherry tomatoes
1 clove of garlic, cut in half
1 to 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
3 to 4 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh bread, sliced

Cut tomatoes into quarters and remove seeds (use your fingers or knife). Chop quartered tomatoes and place in a small bowl. Add sun-dried tomatoes, olives and a splash of olive oil. Stir to combine and season.  Grill or toast bread slices.  Rub garlic halves over warm bread.  Spoon tomato mixture over slices and top with anchovy fillets.

white-anchoviesThe Culinary Chase’s Note:  Rubbing the bread with garlic helps perfume the slices without a heavy garlic presence.  That said, if you like garlic, chop up and add to tomato mixture.  Enjoy!

The post bruschetta with white anchovies appeared first on The Culinary Chase.

]]>
grilled radicchio with bagna càuda http://theculinarychase.com/2016/08/grilled-radicchio-with-bagna-cauda/ Mon, 08 Aug 2016 18:48:09 +0000 http://theculinarychase.com/?p=12894 Sometimes less is more and in cooking terms it’s spot on.  Simple ingredients can make any dish shine. Bagna càuda is an Italian sauce made with butter, olive oil, garlic and anchovies.  The Italians eat it with fennel, peppers, carrots, cauliflower.  Fresh bread dipped in this sauce is simply scrumptious!  Or, give your taste buds […]

The post grilled radicchio with bagna càuda appeared first on The Culinary Chase.

]]>

grilled radicchio with bagna caudo sauceSometimes less is more and in cooking terms it’s spot on.  Simple ingredients can make any dish shine. Bagna càuda is an Italian sauce made with butter, olive oil, garlic and anchovies.  The Italians eat it with fennel, peppers, carrots, cauliflower.  Fresh bread dipped in this sauce is simply scrumptious!  Or, give your taste buds a real treat by grilling radicchio wedges and slather with bagna càuda.  I’ve grilled radicchio before as well as romaine but never served it with bagna càuda.  The oil and butter help to round out the garlic while softening the salty flavour of anchovies.  It’s a sauce that is super easy to make, has minimal ingredients and loaded with flavour.

Some cooks prefer more butter than olive oil and some will say only salt-cured anchovies.  The thing is, it’s a sauce you can alter the ingredients to suit your palate and therefore cannot mess it up.  If you have any leftover sauce, toss it with vegetables or drizzled over a meat sandwich.

Serves 4 
1 radicchio (about the size of a grapefruit)
sea salt and black pepper
olive oil

Bagna Càuda sauce:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup butter
8 to 10 anchovy fillets packed in olive oil, chopped or smashed
4 to 6 cloves of garlic, minced or made into a paste

radicchio 1To make the sauce, in a small frying pan over medium heat add olive oil and butter. Allow butter to melt then add anchovies and garlic. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until anchovies have dissolved.  Be mindful of the heat as you don’t want to burn the butter.

radicchioPreheat barbeque. Cut radicchio into quarters and drizzle with olive oil. Season with sea salt and pepper. Grill over medium heat until slightly wilted. Remove and divide between plates.  Spoon over bagna càuda sauce and serve.

bagna caudo sauceThe Culinary Chase’s Note:  For added mouthfeel, top radicchio with a few shavings of Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!

The post grilled radicchio with bagna càuda appeared first on The Culinary Chase.

]]>
grilled zucchini roll-ups – a summer snack http://theculinarychase.com/2016/07/zucchini-roll-ups-easy-snack-to-make/ Tue, 26 Jul 2016 20:16:45 +0000 http://theculinarychase.com/?p=12859 The farmers’ markets these days are showing off the bounty of the harvest.  It’s a favourite time of the year for me and for all who enjoy eating locally produced food.  The market is a perfect way to re-engage with the farmers, to ask questions about their produce, meat or fish and leave with a […]

The post grilled zucchini roll-ups – a summer snack appeared first on The Culinary Chase.

]]>

grilled zucchini roll-upsThe farmers’ markets these days are showing off the bounty of the harvest.  It’s a favourite time of the year for me and for all who enjoy eating locally produced food.  The market is a perfect way to re-engage with the farmers, to ask questions about their produce, meat or fish and leave with a sense of being part of the community.  These farmers love to talk about the food they help put on your table.   When you ask a question, there’s an immediate sense of connection between how your food is grown, where your food has come from and the social ties of linking rural with urban communities.

Zucchini (courgette) is abundant in the farmers’ markets and one delectable way to serve is by rolling the zucchini up with cheese.  Grilled zucchini roll-ups are easy to make and a delight to pop into your mouth.  One zucchini should give you 10 to 12 slices.

Serves 2 to 4
1 to 2 zucchini
goat cheese
1 clove of garlic, minced
fresh dill, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)

Use a mandoline to slice zucchini lengthways. Make sure the slice is roughly 1/4-inch thick; anything thinner and the zucchini slice will break apart when grilled.  Lightly spray olive oil over slices and season with sea salt and black pepper.  Over moderate heat, grill slices and place on a plate.

zucchini sliceTo make the filling, use about 1/2 cup of goat cheese and mix well with garlic and dill.  Take a grilled zucchini slice and use a butter knife to spread the cheese mixture over the length of the zucchini – not too thick.  Then roll up zucchini slice.  Repeat process with other slices and place on a serving dish.  Serve immediately or chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  To make the goat cheese a bit softer and spreadable, add a teaspoon of milk and mix.  Add more milk if needed.  You can also use ricotta cheese if you are not of fan of goat cheese.  Enjoy!

The post grilled zucchini roll-ups – a summer snack appeared first on The Culinary Chase.

]]>
garlic scapes hummus http://theculinarychase.com/2016/07/garlic-scapes-hummus/ Mon, 11 Jul 2016 21:00:29 +0000 http://theculinarychase.com/?p=12818 Garlic scapes are the flower bud of the garlic plant and are cut to force the garlic bulbs to grow bigger. Some gardeners throw these away! The flavour is less pungent than a garlic clove and has a subtle scallion flavour. How to use? Think of how you would cook a green vegetable (stir-fry, sauté, […]

The post garlic scapes hummus appeared first on The Culinary Chase.

]]>

garlic scapes hummusGarlic scapes are the flower bud of the garlic plant and are cut to force the garlic bulbs to grow bigger. Some gardeners throw these away! The flavour is less pungent than a garlic clove and has a subtle scallion flavour. How to use? Think of how you would cook a green vegetable (stir-fry, sauté, steam, grill) and go from there.  Hummus is a favourite go-to dip when I want something in a pinch. I usually have canned chickpeas (garbanzo) in the pantry ready for when I make a salad, curry, falafel or hummus.  You can easily whip this up in about 10 or so minutes.

Serves 4 as a dip
1 1/2 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
handful garlic scapes roughly cut into 1/2-inch pieces
olive oil
1/2 lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons tahini paste (homemade or purchased)

garlic scapesSauté scapes in a splash of olive oil over medium heat until slightly soft. Add to a food processor. Toss in chickpeas and a splash of olive oil. Pulse until combined. Add tahini paste, squeeze a bit of the lemon juice, salt and pepper, and more oil if needed. Pulse then taste and adjust according to your liking.

Serve in a bowl and add a splash of olive oil.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:
  As the ingredients serve as a guideline, change the amounts to suit your own taste.  Serve the hummus with toasted pita bread, crudités or favourite cracker.  Enjoy!

The post garlic scapes hummus appeared first on The Culinary Chase.

]]>
roasted peppers and gorgonzola crostini http://theculinarychase.com/2016/05/roasted-peppers-gorgonzola-crostini/ Wed, 25 May 2016 18:10:46 +0000 http://theculinarychase.com/?p=12622 Crostini (little crusts in Italian) are the easiest appetizers one can make.  There are oodles and oodles of variations and limited only by one’s imagination.  Creative ones such as smashed avocado topped with thinly sliced cucumber seasoned with chili flakes and a splash of extra-virgin olive oil or mashed fresh peas with sea salt, extra-virgin […]

The post roasted peppers and gorgonzola crostini appeared first on The Culinary Chase.

]]>

crostini with roasted peppers & gorgonzolaCrostini (little crusts in Italian) are the easiest appetizers one can make.  There are oodles and oodles of variations and limited only by one’s imagination.  Creative ones such as smashed avocado topped with thinly sliced cucumber seasoned with chili flakes and a splash of extra-virgin olive oil or mashed fresh peas with sea salt, extra-virgin olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Consider white bean hummus slathered on a toasted slice that’s been perfumed with garlic – doesn’t that sound delish?  Even the simplest of ingredients can make toasted bread slices shine; rub toasted slices of bread with a cut clove of garlic, drizzle with olive oil and top with grated Parmesan cheese.  The heat from the bread will be just enough to slightly melt the cheese or pop under the broiler until golden brown.

When making crostini, choose fresh ingredients as you’ll need less but will pack a punch in the flavor department.  I purchased the bread from our local baker, Jessica Best, who grinds her own flour.  Jessica’s seeded sourdough worked perfectly for this crostini but you can choose your own favorite bread.  Gorgonzola is the Italian blue cheese (soft and delicate) but other blue cheese substitutes such as Roquefort (French version) or Stilton (English version) work just as well.  Grill or roast bell peppers to highlight the cheese or if that isn’t an option, purchase from a reputable deli but I highly recommend the former.

grilled bread slices (use oven, griddle pan, bbq or toaster)
2 red bell peppers
2 yellow or orange bell peppers
Gorgonzola cheese, room temperature
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half
balsamic vinegar
extra-virgin olive oil
Italian parsley, chopped

There are two methods to prepare the bell peppers. You can either grill on a barbecue or under the broiler in your oven. Either way, cook the peppers until the skin has blistered and charred all over. Place peppers in a large bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to steam and cool for 10 minutes or cool enough to handle. Peel peppers, remove the cores and seeds and cut into thin strips.

seeded sourdough breadArrange hot grilled bread slices on a board and give it a quick rub with a peeled garlic clove. The amount you rub onto the bread is up to you. Spread cheese over the bread and top with roasted peppers.  Carefully add a splash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve.  Simple and fresh.  Buon appetito!

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  The heat from the bread helps to release the flavor from the garlic.  When using the garlic, remember to do the edges as well.  Enjoy!

The post roasted peppers and gorgonzola crostini appeared first on The Culinary Chase.

]]>
orange jelly slices http://theculinarychase.com/2016/05/orange-jelly-slices/ Fri, 06 May 2016 20:00:19 +0000 http://theculinarychase.com/?p=12552 According to What’s Cooking America, gelatin was once considered a sign of wealth, before the commercial version appeared, only members of the elite classes could afford it. It took hours to render gelatin, clarify it, and turn it into fancy aspics, molded salads, desserts. etc. The use of gelatin was a sign that the host […]

The post orange jelly slices appeared first on The Culinary Chase.

]]>

orange jelly slicesAccording to What’s Cooking America, gelatin was once considered a sign of wealth, before the commercial version appeared, only members of the elite classes could afford it. It took hours to render gelatin, clarify it, and turn it into fancy aspics, molded salads, desserts. etc. The use of gelatin was a sign that the host or hostess had the means to support a kitchen staff with the skill and time to create such a dish. When gelatin became available commercially it still was a symbol of culinary sophistication. 

I have fond memories of jello desserts and my mom made many jellied salads and aspics – some I liked, some I did not.  As a kid, I was always fascinated with the ‘jiggly dessert’.  My siblings and I would break it down by whipping it around our bowls or to see who could try to pass it between our teeth without spilling it…I know, gross, but we were kids.  Fast forward to 2016, and like the kid in me, I find myself marvelling at orange jelly slices.

As I was making these, my mind drifted back to when our daughter was graduating from high school and a group of her friends had the task of making 300 jello shots!  My version does not include any alcohol but if you were so inclined, you could add vodka, peach schnapps, cointreau or other flavored alcohol.  Once you’ve made a batch of jelly slices, get creative and add a half layer of juice, allow to set, and top with a different flavored juice.

Serves 6
3 to 4 navel oranges
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Wash oranges then cut in half crosswise. Juice oranges and strain. You will need 1 3/4 cups of juice. Carefully scrape out and discard pulp from oranges to form six-half shells.

navel orangesIn a small saucepan combine 1/4 cup of the juice with the gelatin and set aside for 5 minutes. Heat mixture over low heat, stirring occasionally until the gelatin is clear (about 3 to 4 minutes). Whisk in remaining juice and lemon juice. Transfer juice to a measuring jug for easy pouring.

orange jelly cupsArrange orange shells in muffin tins or ramekins (keeps shells upright) and pour mixture over evenly. Place in fridge and chill until set, about 4 hours. When set, remove from fridge and cut each half into wedges.  If needed, trim away any excess orange skin before serving.

jelly slicesThe Culinary Chase’s Note: Choose navel oranges that are small enough to fit in a juicer.  The added lemon juice helps to enhance the orange flavor. Enjoy!

The post orange jelly slices appeared first on The Culinary Chase.

]]>