Halifax food styling

Quinoa : It's not just for vegans

Quinoa is something I've been wanting to try for a while now. I mean, I love rice, nuts and cereal and I make my own granola for heaven's sake!! (shhhh - don't tell anybody)

Here's a little recipe I made up on the fly today because a) I finally bought some quinoa and b) I was hungry.

Quinoa with Green Peas and Lardons 

1/2 C Quinoa - well rinsed

6 Lardons (a Lardon is a small strip or cube of pork fat used in a wide variety of cuisines to flavour savory foods and salads - I cut mine into matchsticks - also, I'm partial to Oulton Farm's super-smoky bacon)

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 garlic clove, minced

1 C chicken stock

1/2 C green peas

  • cook lardons until crispy - transfer to paper towel to drain - discard fat except leave 1 Tbsp in pan
  • add onion and garlic to lardons fat - sautée until onion is translucent
  • add quinoa - toast in pan for two minutes, stirring occasionally - a few quinoa seeds will probably start to jump around like popcorn popping in the pan
  • add stock - bring to boil then reduce heat to low - cover and simmer for 15 minutes
  • remove from heat, fluff with fork and add chopped lardons and peas - serve hot or cool

Serves one as a main or two as a side. I had mine with a nice crisp glass of Ronchi di Manzano Friulano. The perfect lunch! 

Lemon Polenta Cake with Lemon Ice Cream

Pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin. It's Thanksgiving weekend and pumpkin is EVERYWHERE

Well, I'm bucking the trend.

This weekend it's going to be lemon all the way at our house.

You see, when Sean takes a bite of something, looks me square in the eye and says, 'This is my favourite thing yet - EVER', I know it's a keeper (mostly because he's never said that to me, not once in five years, until today).

I used Nigella Lawson's recipe for Lemon Polenta Cake and followed it exactly. I used the recipe for Lemon Ice Cream from Epicurious and also followed it exactly. I don't know what's gotten into me - following recipes without making modifications really isn't my style.

If you love lemon as much as I do, just try even ONE of the recipes - your lemon lust will be sated I promise. Nigella refers to her recipe as 'what lemon curd would taste like in cake form'. Personally, I'm partial to the ice cream but Sean loved both.

I find recipes in magazines, books and online use too many filler words - why can't they just get to the point? It's amazing how, when you remove all of the useless lingo, a recipe can be whittled down into the most simple sounding instructions. Below, I've done just that to make your life easier.

Lemon Ice Cream

Zest of half a lemon

1/2 C lemon juice (about 1.5 lemons)

1 C sugar

3 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 C 35% heavy cream

1 C milk

  • In a pot, over medium heat, whisk lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, eggs, vanilla and heavy cream.
  • When it starts to simmer, strain twice into a bowl, cover and chill (I always strain twice to catch all the little bits of cooked egg).
  • Whisk in milk then process in your ice cream maker.

Lemon Polenta Cake

200g butter, soft

200g sugar

200g ground almonds

100g polenta

1.5 tsp baking powder

3 eggs

2 medium lemons, zested (for cake) and juiced (for syrup)

125g icing sugar (for syrup - also called confectioner's sugar or powdered sugar)

  • Preheat 350 - butter an 8-inch cake tin and line with parchment
  • Beat butter and sugar until whipped and fluffy
  • In a separate bowl, mix ground almonds, polenta and baking powder
  • Add 1/3 of polenta mix to butter - mix thoroughly - add an egg - mix thoroughly - do this two more times - add zest
  • bake 35-40 min - leave in pan on rack to cool

Lemon Syrup for Cake

  • Boil juice from your two lemons with icing sugar until suagr dissolves
  • Poke holes over top of cake (I used a long needle because cake is quite moist and delicate), pour syrup over cake, cool in pan then turn out onto plate

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tidal Bay Wine Jelly with Homemade Raincoast Crisps

There are many reasons I was eager to try Domaine de Grand Pre's Tidal Bay. First, I've had the pleasure of meeting Beatrice Stutz and Jason Lynch, the Restaurant Manager and Executive Chef of Le Caveau (the world-class renowned restaurant at Domaine de Grand Pre), at a number of different RANS events over the last few years (Le Caveau was recently heralded as one of the world's 20 best winery restaurants by Wine Access magazine). Second, Tidal Bay is Nova Scotia's newest wine appellation, launched only a few short weeks ago on June 11, 2012. The appellation is only granted to Nova Scotia wines that follow strict guidelines regarding varietals, growing conditions and production standards, much like the more familiar European names of Burgundy, Bordeaux and Chianti Classico. Third, Domaine de Grand Pre's Tidal Bay took home the Gold Medal for White Hybrid Blends at the 2012 All Canadian Wine Championships this past May. And lastly, I have a lifelong love affair with the Annapolis Valley. Domaine de Grand Pre's blend of L'Acadie, Vidal, Ortega, Muscat and Seyval grapes seemed like a perfect way to showcase my love of what I consider to be one of the most stunning places on earth.

Of course, anyone that knows me, or reads my blog will know that I couldn't just open the cool chilled bottle, pour myself a glass and write about it. No no. I like to play - to experiment - and so at 8am on Canada Day morning, I found myself cooking Domaine de Grand Pre's Tidal Bay down into a shimmering golden jelly. Upon first taste, straight from the pot, I was surprised by the remarkable depth of flavour. At first, it was sweetly reminiscent of white grape jelly but then - THEN - the fresh bright notes of the wine BURST through leaving me momentarily taken aback. It was absolutely terrific.

Jars cooling from the boiling water bath, slowly jelling into sparkling, spreadable gold.

Grand Pre Tidal Bay Wine Jelly

2 Cups Domaine de Grand Pre Tiday Bay White Wine

3 Cups Sugar

1 pouch Certo Liquid Pectin

  • preheat oven to 325 degrees - wash and dry Mason Jars - keep lids and rings simmering in a pot of boiling water until ready to use - put dried jars in oven at 325 degrees for 10 minutes minimum (keep in oven until ready to use)
  • in a large pot, bring wine and pectin to a boil - add sugar and stir until dissolved - once liquid is at a ROLLING boil, boil one more minute stirring constantly
  • remove from heat - skim foam from top - ladle into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch space at top - place lids on top and tighten rings - place on rack to cool - after about 10 minutes, your jars should start to 'pop'
  • once all jars have popped, place a rack in the bottom of a large pot - place jars on rack and fill pot with hot water about 2 inches above jars - boil for five minutes then cool - your jelly should keep up to one year in your pantry

Tidal Bay Jelly ready for storage or gifting.

Now some friends of mine know that I've also developed a recipe for Raincoast Crisps - you know, those delightful little crackers that cost $6.99 for one small sleeve? I thought the Tidal Bay Jelly would be fantastic on one of those crisps so I made those too. Man oh man - it's a perfect match!!

Raincoast Crisps before the second bake.

Homemade Raincoast Crisps (makes six mini loaves)

In a large bowl stir together 2 Cups Flour + 2 tsp Baking Soda + 1/2 tsp Salt

Add 2 Cups Buttermilk + 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar + 1/4 Cup Honey - stir in with a few strokes

Add 1 Cup Dried Fruit + 1/2 Cup Chopped Nuts + 1 Cup Seeds + 1 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Herbs (I used Dried Cranberries, Pecans, Sunflower, Sesame and Flax Seeds and Fresh Thyme) - stir until just blended

Pour batter into six small greased loaf pans. Bake 30-35 minutes until golden and springy. Cool, then refrigerate or freeze.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Slice loaves as thin as you can - I like to slice mine from frozen with a serrated knife (push down, don't saw). Bake in a single layer for 10 minutes then flip over and bake 10 - 15 minutes more until evenly browned.

Tidal Bay Jelly with Willy Krauch's Smoked Salmon and a Homemade Raincoast Crisp - a perfect Canada Day snack!

NSLC Occasions Magazine Summer 2012

WOOHOO!!! Only my second issue and my bucket of lobster made the cover!!!

I was incorrectly given credit for photography in this issue - the photos in the lobster article that I worked on were actually taken by Halifax photographer Perry Jackson. I didn't take any of the photos. I did however, make all of the food and was the food stylist for the entire lobster article (except for one photo of a lone lobster on a turquoise platter that I have ommitted).