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Citrus Salad with Pork Tenderloin

citrus salad with pork tenderloinOn wintery, cold days a citrus salad is an easy way to bring a bit of sunshine to your dinner table.  Add roast pork tenderloin (aka fillet) and you have a meal that’s light, scrumptious, and can be easily made any night of the week.  Pork tenderloin, a very tender cut of meat, is a good source of protein, low in fat, and more B vitamins than many other types of meat…check! for all who are into the New Year with weight loss goals.  Continue Reading →

Fennel, Grapefruit and Feta Salad

fennel saladLast weekend we entertained our friends from New Brunswick.  It was a weekend getaway for Ralph and Michelle.  They arrived Thursday afternoon and for the next 48 hours it was full-on chatting, catching up, laughing, eating and drinking.  Because Michelle and I are both foodies and write our own food blogs, my goal was to make the first evening together memorable, fun, casual, and taking as much time as was needed to fully enjoy each dish I brought out.   Michelle took photos (you may see them on her blog) as I prepped the food…I felt like celebrity chef! 🙂 Continue Reading →

Asparagus Fennel Salad

Asparagus and Fennel Salad by The Culinary ChaseEven though asparagus is available year-round, Springtime is the best time to enjoy them.  Asparagus and fennel salad may seem like an unassuming dish but don’t be fooled by its looks.  The pine nut dressing deliciously coats the veggies and it’s love at first bite!  And, because this dish does not require a stove top or oven to make it, it’s perfect for a hot day.

Serves 4 as a starter

1/4 cup pine nuts
1 clove of garlic
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan
asparagus bunch, ends trimmed
1 fennel bulb, cut in half
125g fresh mozzarella, torn into chunks

To make the dressing, in a mortar add a pinch of sea salt and garlic and use the pestle to muddle until a paste develops. Add pine nuts and bash to a thick paste. Add lemon juice, oil and parmesan.  Muddle  until well combined.  Adjust according to taste by adding more oil, lemon juice or Parmesan.

For the salad, thinly slice asparagus using a vegetable peeler and for the fennel use a mandoline. Place in a bowl and add the dressing.  Toss to combine making sure the vegetables are well coated.  Arrange on serving plates or platter and add mozzarella chunks. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, garnish with fennel fronds and season with freshly ground black pepper.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  Try avoid ‘snapping off’ the ends of the asparagus as I find this sometimes wastes too much of the vegetable.  Instead, cut the bottoms off about an inch – white ends definitely need a chop.  Choose firm asparagus that are bright green (dark could mean older stalks), and the tips are tightly closed. Asparagus, also known as the stinky vegetable, has strong cleansing effects on the kidneys and bladder. It flushes out acid wastes so quickly you can smell the ammonia in your urine shortly after eating it.

Fennel and Blood Orange Salad

blood orange & fennel salad by The Culinary ChaseThere’s something alluring and mysterious when you spot a sign in your grocery store for blood oranges.  Will it bleed when cut?  Will it taste vastly different from an ordinary orange?  Yes, the juices are more defined because of the visual red pigment, and yes, it’ll taste slightly bitter but not as acid.  But look at that color!  The days are getting longer and putting me in the mood for summertime food. Fennel and blood orange salad is so light and airy I am easily reminded of warmer weather and sun-drenched days. Blood oranges originally came from Sicily and Spain although some are now grown in California.  They’re lovely in salads, cocktails, sorbet, tarts, marmalades and salsas.  This salad is super easy to make, amazing in flavors and texture and let’s not forget nutritionally good.

Serves 4

2 blood oranges, peeled and segmented
large fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced (use a mandoline)
feta cheese, crumbled
extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
fennel fronds (wispy little leaves at the tips of a fennel bulb)

blood orange by The Culinary Chase1. In a bowl toss fennel slices with a splash of olive oil and about a tablespoon of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Arrange fennel on plates followed by blood orange segments. Top with feta cheese and drizzle with olive oil.  If you have any fennel fronds, scatter over the salad.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:
Use fresh dill if the fennel fronds don’t look great or have been chopped off.  Enjoy!

Fennel-Parmesan Shortbread

fennel-parmesan shortbread byThe Culinary ChaseWhen we lived in New York, I would come into the city once or twice a week and began my outing by meeting Mr. S. for a cappuccino at Blue Bottle coffee in Rockefeller Center.  We always shared a cookie as part of our java ritual.  Fennel-Parmesan shortbread, a savory twist, quickly became a favorite of ours.  I know, everyone has their favorite shortbread recipe but you really should give this one a try.  Slightly sweet with a teensy bit of savory crunch from the fennel-salt topping.  For me, it was the pleasant discovery of Parmesan quietly hitting my taste buds with every chew and dare I say, perfect with a cappuccino.

Makes about 21 cookies
adapted from The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoons sea salt
2 cups all-purpose flour plus more
1 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt or other coarse salt
extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing

1. Beat butter in a medium bowl on low speed until smooth, 1–2 minutes. Add powdered sugar, pepper, and salt. Reduce speed to medium and beat, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until light and fluffy, 4–5 minutes. Add flour and cheese. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat mixture just until dough comes together. Wrap dough in plastic and flatten into a 7×10-inch rectangle about 1/2-inch thick. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours.
shortbread by The Culinary Chase2. Coarsely crush fennel seeds with mortar and pestle or grind in a clean spice grinder. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in sea salt.
3. Preheat oven to 350f and arrange rack in center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
4. Remove plastic wrap from dough and cut into small rectangles.  Place cookies on prepared baking sheet, spacing 1 inch apart. Brush cookies generously with oil, then sprinkle with fennel salt.

fennel shortbread5. Bake 18 minutes until cookies are golden brown (flecks of cheese will be slightly darker), rotating sheet halfway through. Let cool on sheets for at least 10 minutes. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container. The cookies will keep for 3 days.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: The dough can be refrigerated, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days. These savory-sweet shortbread cookies are addictive! Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Enjoy!

Barley Salad with Roasted Squash and Fennel

Barley Salad with Roasted Squash and Fennel by The Culinary ChaseIt can be a challenge keeping your kids healthy when they live at home but when they leave the nest for university or boarding schools this can be a bigger challenge. We’re happy to be back in Nova Scotia for many reasons and one of those is that Laura is able to hop on a bus and within a couple of hours she’s home.

Such was the case last weekend…she wanted to come home and get well so she could celebrate the much awaited X-Ring ceremony.  The X-Ring is a coveted ring from St. Francis Xavier University.  And it’s not just any school ring.  It was created in 1942 by Willie MacDougall but before that, each graduating class appointed a committee to design a pin for their class with its own motto.  The first ring ceremony took place in 1958.  The ceremony, which is a formal event, is held every year on the 3rd of December and is regarded by the StFX students as the highlight of their university life.  In order to qualify for the ring, students must have at least 103 credits.  The ring is noted for being the third most recognized in the world behind the Pope ring and the super bowl ring.  Laura, like most other students at St.FX, had a digital countdown to the ceremony at least a year in advance!  She was so excited to get her ring she didn’t know if she could sleep the night before… it was as if she was 5 again anxiously waiting for Santa Claus.

X-Ring ceremony

Serves 4
adapted from River Cottage VEG

small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
olive oil
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed (view video)
1 garlic clove, chopped
3/4 cup pearl barley, rinsed
juice of half a lemon
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (more if you like)
handful parsley, roughly chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

barley by The Culinary Chase1. Preheat the oven to 375f.  Arrange squash in a large roasting pan. Add a splash of olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Toss and place in the oven to roast. Meanwhile, cut the fennel lengthways into 6 or 8 wedges.

2. After 15 minutes, add the fennel and garlic to the roasting pan with the squash and another tablespoon of olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and starting to caramelize around the edges.

3. While the veggies are roasting, cook the barley in plenty of salted boiling water until tender, but still with just a bit of nutty bite; around 25 minutes. Drain well and leave to cool a little (or completely for a cold salad). Toss with the roasted veg, and any oil from the roasting pan, lemon juice, cheese, parsley and any fennel fronds. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Shave over some more cheese and serve warm or cold.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: This salad tastes great hot, warm or cold! Serve it as a side or as a main meal. Enjoy!

The X-Ring is proudly being displayed!

The X-Ring is proudly being displayed!

Tuscan Braised Beef Short Ribs

Tuscan Braised Beef Short Ribs by The Culinary Chase

It’s hard to believe we’ve been back in Canada now three weeks…a slightly hectic time to say the least.  Settling into a routine has been hit and miss for me and is one of the reasons for not posting regularly.  It can be a challenge balancing the time I used to spend on my own while John was at work, to him now being home all the time.  We’re starting to find a rhythm that works for us incorporating fitness time together, focusing on the job hunt, social activities and me doing what I love to do best – cooking and networking.

We had a dinner party Saturday night with Wayne and Jenn…friends who we met four years ago.  They came to visit us in May while we were still in NY and yet our Saturday get together felt as though we hadn’t been away at all.  We’re so comfortable being around them and feel so lucky to have them in our lives.  An evening filled with laughter and thought-provoking conversation.  A good time was had by all.

Serves 4 to 6
adapted from Fine Cooking

4-1/2 lb. beef short ribs
3 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup diced carrots
2/3 cup diced onions
2/3 cup diced fennel
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 or 3 anchovy filets
1-1/2 cups dry red wine
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup beef broth (sodium reduced)
chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 325f. In an 8-quart Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Season the ribs well with salt and pepper. Add half of the ribs to the pot (or as many as will fit without overlapping), and cook, turning with tongs, until nicely browned on all sides (do the ends as well), 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the ribs to a plate and repeat with the remaining ribs.

beef ribs by The Culinary ChaseAdd the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, carrots, onions, and fennel to the pan. Season with salt. Cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, until the vegetables are soft and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the thyme, garlic, paprika, coriander, and anchovies, and cook, stirring, until well distributed and fragrant, about 1 minute.

Pour the red wine into the pot and cook, stirring to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Transfer all the ribs (and any juices that have accumulated) back into the pot. Pour 1-1/2 cups water, tomatoes, and beef broth over the ribs, arrange the ribs as evenly as possible.

Bring the liquid to a simmer, cover, and place the pot in the oven. Cook, turning the ribs with tongs about every 40 minutes, until they are fork tender, about 2-3/4 hours. (The meat may fall off most of the bones about midway through cooking; this does not mean that the ribs are fully tender).

braised beef ribs by The Culinary Chase

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Fork tender and flipping delicious! I served this with a creamy polenta.  Make this ahead of time and serve it the next day for an enhanced flavor.  Enjoy!