Friday, October 24, 2014

Another Friday In the Kitchen

Fridays have become somewhat of a ritual in the kitchen for me. My roommates are out, the sun is bright, and I'm usually hungover, which gives me the perfect excuse to cook in my robe all day. This Friday, a fraction of my day was used to make this Chinese/Italian inspired pasta dish that requires lots of shrimp! All of the unconventional ingredients can be found in chinatown, if you can find them!

 Luckily I had some leftover pasta from my last post! See the recipe here
 Slightly different flavour profile from traditional tomato sauce: shallots, garlic, brined ginger, thai basil.
 Picked up this brined ginger at the supermarket. It's slightly more acidic and salty than fresh ginger. Reminds me of the stuff used in congee.
 I sliced the shrimp in half lengthwise and sauteed them in coconut oil until just cooked through.
 These dried/cured shrimp are flavourful but very chewy. I blanched them in water for two minutes to rehydrate them. Reserve the water for cooking the pasta.
 The sauce:
Oil for sweating (I used coconut oil but any bland oil will work)
1 large can of whole tomatoes
Half of a shallot, chopped
2 small garlic cloves, chopped
1/8 cup brined ginger
Leaves of 1 large thai basil stem
2 large spoonfuls of shrimp paste
Sriracha to taste
S&P to taste

Sweat the shallots, garlic, ginger and thai basil on low heat in a pot until translucent, then add the canned tomatoes . When it begins to simmer add the shrimp paste and let it cook on medium to low heat for about 3 hours. Let it cool slightly before pureeing in a food processor. Add the salt, pepper and Sriracha to taste as your pureeing, until everything tastes good and is smooth. Return to the pot and keep on low heat until ready to use.
 Thin, fresh pasta like this only needs to be cooked for about 2 minutes. Cook it in the leftover water from blanching the shrimp, strain then throw in the fresh shrimp, sauce and some extra thai basil into the bowl. TOSS.

 I sprinkled the dried shrimp, sliced scallion and bonito flakes on top.

Friday, October 10, 2014

How to make my duck confit ravioli

I haven't made a post like this in awhile - where I document a recipe step-by-step - but I've been feeling very inspired lately, since I started buying farm fresh dairy from Echo Valley Ranch, who hold weekly drop offs in the north side of Toronto. I thought, "what am I going to do with all this milk?!" If I can't drink it I'll cook with it, hence my sage bechamel that follows. Then I remembered I had this duck breast in my freezer, so I naturally made duck confit. Anyways, here's a relatively detailed view of how I made it, some of the recipes are vague, but that's what makes it more fun, enjoy!

Very generic homemade pasta:
300 grams "tipo 00" flour
3 large egg yolks 
water to loosen
(reserve egg white to glue ravioli)

This is the only worthy shot for the bechamel sauce. Here's the ingredients:

Sage Bechamel:
3/4 L unpasteurized milk
3 garlic cloves crushed
1 stem + leaves of fresh sage
2 tbsp mustard of your choice (I used a homemade one from awhile back)
1 tsp peppercorns
2 bay leaves
salt & pepper
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour

Put the sage, garlic, peppercorns and bay leaf in a cheese cloth sachet and let that infuse in the milk on very low heat for about an hour, then remove. Make a paste with the butter and flour, add that in with the mustard and turn the heat on high until it comes to a boil. Once it thickens keep the heat low until ready to use.

The cranberry relish was adapted from my grandmothers mustard pickle recipe titled, "Lady Ross Pickle". In spirit, I am calling this "Lady Camille Pickle".

Lady Camille Pickle
3 cups fresh cranberries
3 granny smith apples, chopped
2 large sweet red peppers, small dice
1 package of white pearl onion, halved
1.5 cups water
1.5 cups cider vinegar
3 cups white sugar
1 cup raw honey
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
2 tbsp turmeric
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup mustard of your choice
3/4 cup salt

Brine all of the veggies and cranberries overnight in a solution of 1/2 cup salt to 1 quart water, divide it up if you have to. Drain and rinse then add everything into a large pot, except for the turmeric, four and mustard. Make a paste with those three then add it in. Bring everything to a boil, then let simmer for about an hour. 

The duck confit needs to be started at least two days before. Cure it overnight by sprinkling the skin side with some salt and sugar, rub it in and keep it in the fridge.

Duck confit
 1 duck breast
2 mason jars of duck fat (I think that's about 1 litre)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 bay leaves

Put everything in a pot or casserole dish. Use something small in diameter and tall in height so that the entire breast is covered in fat. I did mine on the stove top but the oven works too. It's easier to maintain the temperature on the stove top (190 F) using a thermometer. Cook it at that temp for the first hour, then cover it and maintain the temp between 190 and 210 F for 2-3 more hours. The longer the better! Let it cool at room temp, then keep it in the fridge for the to fat harden. Again, the longer this goes on for the better. When your ready to use this tasty meat, heat it up to melt the fat, then remove the meat. Oh, and save that fat!
I mixed the duck with some of the remaining fat, a little of the bechamel, chopped sage, cranberry relish and a tiny bit of salt.

I also pan fried the ravioli in duck fat, added in the sage for flavour, but removed it for the final plate. The result was sort of like a ravioli pot sticker - nice and crispy!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Favourite Summer Meals '14

This summer I was lucky to have the space to grow a bountiful garden on my balcony. I took my first try at growing lettuce, kale, tomatoes, beets and lots of herbs, and they turned out quite nice! Below is a selection of my favourite meals I cooked on my dinky tabletop barbecue (except for the dessert), each containing an ingredient grown on the balcony.

Grilled tomatoes stuffed with lamb bacon and smoked quinoa, tzatziki and chocolate mint.

Cured and grilled zucchini salad with pecorino, olives, fresh basil and lemon juice.

Grilled scallops with lemon garlic infused butter, roasted cashew and lemon thyme crumble.

Warm tuna nicoise devilled eggs with tuna, kalamata olives, cherry tomato, green beans and thai basil.

Charred potatoes, radish and onion with tomato juice reduction, and basil.

Coconut ice cream "affogato" made with coffee syrup, topped with roasted cashew lemon thyme crumble.

About Me

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Humble Pie has coincidentally captured my journey from an amateur home cook to professional cook/caterer. What was once somewhat of a food journal is now a place where interesting food things are discussed, discovered and drooled over. I am an aspiring food writer, freelance cook and co-founder of Phat N' Phull Catering. I also have a Bachelor of Journalism from Ryerson University.