Experimenting with flavors – Blueberry, corn and cinnamon candied pecan Gelato

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In my never-ending quest to challenge my taste buds, I am trying new combinations for gelato’s. As blueberries and corn are in season, I thought, well, why not? Pecans work well with blueberries, let’s add some! Low and behold, it was delicious! I also tried something new, adding 1/4 cup alcohol to have a softer serve on the ice cream and it really works! The only mistake I made was using rum, too pungent for delicate berries and sweet corn. I’m thinking something like a dessert wine might work really well. You don’t have to add the alcohol, you will then need to remove ice cream from freezer 10 minutes before serving. Happy experimenting!

Recipe

2 cups blueberries, well rinsed

2 ears corn, steamed and grains cut from stalk

1/2 cup pecans

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon maple syrup

3/4 cups cream

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Dash salt

Instructions

Make simple syrup: bring to a boil sugar & water and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes. Place in the fridge to chill. Cook ears of corn in boiling water for 10-15 minutes, allow to cool before cutting corn off the cob. Place corn nibblets in fridge to cool completely. Heat a small cast iron pan on medium heat, add butter and when sizzling, add pecans and cinnamon, stir to combine and allow pecans to caramelize. Add maple syrup, stirring occasionally until sticky. Remove from heat and scoop onto parchment paper and allow to cool completely before roughly chopping, set aside. Place blueberries and corn in blender with simple syrup, pulse to combine but not too much, you want small bits of fruit throughout. Add cream and blend to combine. If mixture is cold, continue to freezing in ice cream machine or place in fridge to chill thoroughly before adding to ice cream machine. When ice cream is almost completely solid, add candied pecans and alcohol if using. Remove ice cream and store in container in the freezer. Makes 6-8 portions. Keeps in the freezer up to a month. Enjoy!

 

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A colourful, mouth-watering Minestrone

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I love weekends filled with cooking. The house smells fantastic, the fridge and freezer fill up with beautiful meals that I’ll be enjoying in the following weeks. A spiced peach jam, lentil and eggplant sheperds pie, spanish lentil soup, clam and corn chowder, vichyssoise and this delicious minestrone. If I had more time, I’d document all I’ve done but sometimes you just want to get on with it!!! I’ll be running full steam ahead over the next weeks, I will start canning and pickling on top of cooking comfort food we all crave once the wearher cools. I can’t wait!

Minestrone has a flexible ingredient list according to what you have on hand and what’s seasonal. It checks all the boxes for me at the end of summer. Fresh ingredients, warmth and a hit of flavour with all those fragrant herbs from the garden. So any ingredient you see in this list can be switched to what suits your tastes and what you’ve picked up at the market 🙂

Ingredients

2-3 chipolata sausage, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 cup fresh roma beans

1 of each green and yellow zuchini, quartered

1 onion, diced

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1 bunch kale, shredded

1 large tomato, diced

200-300 gr. fusilli or similar pasta

Sprigs of each fresh oregano and thyme

1 teaspoon each chili flakes and fennel seeds, crushed

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil for cooking

1 litre chicken stock

Parmesan shavings and basil to garnish

Instructions

Heat a little olive oil in a large casserole over medium heat, add onions and sweat for a few minutes then add garlic until fragrant. Add sausage pieces then zucchini, stirring frm time to time. Whe sausage starts to colour add tomatoes and beans. Stir to combine and continue to cook until tomatoes start blistering, add stock, herbs, spices and season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to come to a slow simmer, then add kale and pasta and cook for 20-30 minutes or until pasta is cooked al dente. Serve in large soup bowl topped with parmesan and granish with basil. Makes 4-6 portions, freezes for up to a month and keeps n the refrigerator for up to a week. Enjoy!

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Enjoying the last days of summer & my roasted tomato Gazpacho

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The nights have got quite cool, but we’ve a had a few warm days, so a barbecue called for roasting vegetables while grilling my supper in preparation for what could be possibly be the only Gazpacho I will make this season. Gazpacho is what you make when tomatoes are in full season and the days are still hot and you really don’t want to spend time in the kitchen making it any hotter than it already is. I can’t say we had one of those famous heat waves this summer… Oh well, I still want my gaspacho! I like to roast the tomatoes and peppers (in a dish) on the top shelf of my barbecue, closing the lid when I’m done, leaving the tomatoes inside and allowing the smokiness to really sink into their flesh. You don’t have to make the gaspacho that same day, the tomatoes and peppers will keep for a couple of days and you want to soak the bread in all that glorious cook juice, so if you have some tomatoes handy and you’re firing up the barbecue, place them in a dish (that can withstand the flames) and roast them while you grill your meal. You can also easily make this gaspacho without roasting the tomatoes, I just like the smokiness you get when roasting your tomatoes. So, go out there and enjoy the last of the summer!

Recipe

3-4 medium size tomatoes, roasted

1 red pepper, roasted

1 cucumber, seeds removed and cubed

1-2 garlic cloves

1 large slice of country bread, crust removed and cubed

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 cup fruity olive oil

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

Soak bread in bottom of bowl topped with roasted tomatoes and pepper overnight (you can also soak bread in water for 10-15 minutes, drain without squeezing) place in bowl of food processor. Peel and remove stem and seeds from pepper and add with remaining ingredients in the bowl with bread. Process until smooth, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and parsley, serve with a slice of fried country bread. Makes 2-3 portions, keeps in the fridge for 1 week and can be frozen up to a month. Enjoy!

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I scream, you scream, we all scream for Strawberry-Vanilla Gelato!

SCN_0001We are close to the end of strawberry season, and I’m eating them every chance I get! A true Montreal summer has hit us, heat and humidity and best of all sunshine 🙂 And who doesn’t associate ice cream as of th best hot summer enjoyments? Maybe because we all  associate this cold desert with our childhood memories of excitement and anticipation. My favourite ice cream flavours generally tend toward chocolate and nut flavours, but as everything food related, I like to challenge myself and make things I wouldn’t necessarily order at a restaurant or café. At first I wasn’t thinking of making ice cream, as I bought this big basket of strawberries , I was going over the dessert options using strawberries in my mind, eliminating all those that would be too heavy. I also am not very enthusiastic about turning the oven on in the summer heat. And being in surgery recovery, I don’t want to deal with weight issues because I’m eating all these rich foods and not really moving about much. Then, looking over different recipe books, i started to compare classic ice cream recipes versus gelato. The gelato is kind of a cross between a sorbet and ice cream, that kind of sold it! If you have an ice cream maker, it makes it very simple, it’s a matter of making a light syrup, blending ingredients, cooling them and then putting them in the machine. I must say, I am very pleased with the results. Now I’m imagining all the different gelato flavours I can make with the fruit coming into season soon… Stay tuned!!!!IMG_0885IMG_0887IMG_0888

INGREDIENTS

4 cups strawberries, rinsed and hulled

3/4 cup sugar

2/3 cup water

3/4 cup cream

1 vanilla bean, scraped

Juice of 1 lemon

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INSTRUCTIONS

Place sugar and water in small saucepan over medium high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. When syrup comes to a boil, remove from heat, add vanilla pod and let cool to room temperature. Place strawberries with lemon juice and vanilla seeds in bowl of a food processor, pulse to blend then add syrup (careful to remove vanilla pod) and pulse until blended with small pieces of fruit remaining. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours. Place in ice cream maker as per manufacturers instructions. Makes 1 quart. Enjoy without reserve!

 

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Lemon & Pea Risotto and impatient to be back on my own two feet!

IMG_0875Half way through my six week post-surgery recovery. For someone like me, hyperactive (!), it can be difficult remembering to take it slow, especially when you feel fine. When fever strikes, your body just takes over and stops you in your tracks! I’m missing the market so much, I try to console myself by remembering that when my recovery is over, it will be the best time for all the beautiful fruits and veggies. Cucumbers, tomatoes, peaches, plums, apricots and did I mention, Peaches? Can’t wait 🙂 In the meantime, my mom has graciously offered to go for me, although I’m happy for fresh fare, it’s not the same as seeing it all. To me, the market is like a candy store for a kid! It’s also a struggle creatively, the market is inspirational, it’s totally different making a list for someone else to go with the hopes of finding what you want, sometimes you see something you hadn’t thought of or something you wanted just doesn’t look quite ready yet… Plus the weather has been quite strange, mostly grey, some sun, lots of rain. I am happy that evenings are cool though, as it’s easier to sleep in the cool than in the heat 🙂

Risotto is not something I make frequently, I like mine with just one or two star ingredients, like the fresh peas for this one. Some lemon zest adds a lot of brightness and keeps the dish light. You could certainly make this with frozen peas, the peas won’t be quite as firm under tooth. The most important thing to remember is that you just can not make risotto with another type of rice such as Arborio. It absorbs a lot of liquid and has a decent amount of starch to create that creaminess that risotto is famous for. I use my spanish Bomba rice with success, it has the same basic qualities, but in an ideal world, Arborio should be used. Here’s to enjoying summer, whatever shape it may take!

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1/3 cup Arborio rice

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup peas

1 medium shallot, diced

1 tablespoon tarragon, minced

1 cup stock of your preference

1 tablespoon lemon zest

Salt & pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat pan over medium-high heat, add butter and when sizzling, add shallots. Stir until glassy and add peas, mix well then add rice and stir to coat rice. Slowly add stock ( 50 ml at a time) and stir often, add tarragon and reduce heat to medium-low. When rice absorbs most of the liquid, add more stock. Continue this way, stirring and adding  small amounts of liquid until creamy and rice is cooked, maybe 20-30 minutes. Add lemon zest and parmesan, rectify seasoning if needed. Serve in bowl or dish. Serves 2. Enjoy!

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