Archive for April, 2018

Now that it looks like spring may make an appearance this year after all, it’s time to tuck into the season’s best vegetable, asparagus. This recipe from Lynn Crawford’s Farm to Chef: Cooking Through the Seasons is simple, but it is colourful, tasty and lets the flavour of the asparagus shine through. Chef’s note: If you don’t want to grill the spring spears, roast them in a 425 F (218 C) oven for 10-15 minutes.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Everything in this recipe is additive-free.

Toss asparagus with oil, salt and pepper

Mix topping ingredients together

Grill or roast asparagus until tender and starting to brown

Grilled asparagus with cherry tomato topping

Ingredients:

Asparagus

1 ½ lbs (675 g) asparagus, trimmed

2 tbsp (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Topping

1 ½ cups (375 ml) tri-coloured cherry tomatoes

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

3 large basil leaves, torn

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Preparation:

Toss asparagus with oil, season lightly with salt and pepper and grill until fork-tender and nicely charred.

Toss together tomatoes, oil, basil and red pepper flakes until well mixed.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes to allow flavours to meld.

Top asparagus with cherry tomato mixture and serve. Serves 6.

From Farm to Chef: Cooking Through the Seasons

We love fajitas and this great recipe from the New York Times produces warm tortillas filled with seasoned steak, onion, peppers, salsa fresca and salty cheese. Marinate the steak early in the day and make the salsa fresca before you start to cook so the flavours have a chance to blend. Quickly sear the steak in a pan or on the grill, let it rest, then slice it. Sauté onion and peppers until soft and caramelized. Pile everything into a warm tortilla and add lettuce (I used arugula), the salsa and a salty cheese (I used feta).

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I use Eden Organic red wine vinegar, which has no added sulfites. Use fresh lime juice and check your spices for colour or anti-caking agents. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce is additive free. I used Tre Stelle feta and Lawash Bakery flatbread instead of tortillas.

Let salsa fresca stand for 30 minutes so flavours can blend

Marinate steak before grilling

Cook onions and peppers with spices until tender

Let grilled steak rest before slicing

Place steak and vegetables in tortilla and top with salsa, greens and cheese

Ingredients:

Salsa Fresca

¼ small white or red onion, minced

1 teaspoon (5 ml) red wine vinegar

1 pound (454 g) fresh, ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

1 to 3 jalapeño or serrano chiles, to taste, minced (and seeded, if you would like a milder salsa)

4 tablespoons (60 ml) chopped fresh cilantro, more to taste

1 to 3 teaspoons (5 to 15 ml) fresh lime juice (optional)

Salt to taste

Fajitas

1 tablespoon (15 ml) cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground

1 teaspoon (5 ml) chipotle or ancho chile powder

1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt, more to taste

1 ¼ pounds (567 g) flank or skirt steak

Zest of 1 lime (2 teaspoons/10 ml)

¼ cup (60 ml) fresh lime juice

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (60 ml plus 30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon (15 ml) Worcestershire sauce

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1 large red or yellow onion, halved and sliced

2 red bell peppers (or 1 red and 1 orange or yellow), seeded and sliced ¼ inch (0.64 cm) thick

1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced ¼ inch (0.64 cm) thick

1 jalapeño or 2 serrano chiles, minced

¼ cup (60 ml) chopped cilantro

4 large flour or 8 corn tortillas

1 teaspoon (5 ml) grapeseed or canola oil

1 romaine heart, cut crosswise into 1-inch (2.54-cm) wide pieces

Salsa fresca, for serving (see recipe)

Queso fresco, for sprinkling

Preparation:

Salsa Fresca

Place minced onion in a bowl and cover with cold water. Add vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes or longer. Drain and rinse with cold water.

In a medium bowl, combine remaining ingredients and stir in onions. (If your tomatoes are full of flavor, you won’t need lime juice.) Ideally, let stand at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes before eating so that flavors will blend and ripen. Makes 2 cups.

Fajitas

Combine 2 teaspoons (10 ml) ground cumin, the chile powder and 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt. With a sharp knife, cut shallow crosshatched incisions across top and bottom surfaces of steak. Rub spice mix all over surface of steak. (It’s best to wear gloves as the chile powder is hot.) Place steak in a resealable freezer bag.

In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice and zest, ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil, the Worcestershire sauce and half the garlic. Reserve 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the marinade and pour the rest into the bag with steak. Seal and move steak around in bag to coat thoroughly. Place on a sheet pan and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. Massage bag periodically to redistribute marinade. Refrigerate reserved marinade if cooking the next day.

Heat 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until they soften and begin to color, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in bell peppers and chile. Cook, stirring, until peppers begin to soften, about 3 minutes.

Lower heat to medium, add remaining garlic and cumin, and salt to taste. Cook, stirring often, until peppers are nicely seared, softened and beginning to caramelize, 5 to 8 minutes.

Pour in reserved 2 tablespoons (30 ml) marinade and scrape bottom of pan with a wooden spoon to deglaze. Stir in half the cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning. Remove from heat but keep warm.

Wrap tortillas in foil and warm in a low oven or wrap in a towel and warm in a steamer or in the microwave.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat or prepare a medium-hot grill. Remove meat from marinade and discard marinade. Pat meat dry with paper towels. If using a skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon (15 ml) oil in skillet. (If your skillet is not large enough for the steak, cut it in half and cook in batches.) Cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side. Meat should be medium rare. Remove to a cutting board, cover with foil and let sit for 10 minutes. Cut across the grain into ½ to ¾ inch (1.27 to 1.9 cm) wide strips.

Arrange lettuce on a platter, then place steak next to lettuce. Tip juices from cutting board over meat and sprinkle with remaining cilantro. Serve vegetables on the same platter or separately, along with warm tortillas, salsa and crumbled queso fresco. Serves 4.

From the New York Times

This one-pot chicken dish from the New York Times is simple, quick and very, very tasty. Brown the chicken and then add mushrooms, onions and seasoning. Cook for five minutes and then add wine, tomatoes, stock and parsley. Cover and simmer until cooked through.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Make sure the butter you use does not contain colour. I used white wine from Frogpond Farm winery, which has a sulfite content of less than 10 parts per million. I used Imagine organic chicken stock.

Brown chicken and then cook with mushrooms, onion and seasoning

Add wine and tomatoes and simmer

Chicken Marengo

Ingredients:

1 3-pound (1.5 kg) chicken cut into serving pieces

Salt to taste, if desired

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons (30 ml) butter

2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil

1 ½ cups (375 ml) thinly sliced mushrooms (about ½ pound/250 g)

½ cup (125 ml) finely chopped onion

½ teaspoon (2 ml) finely minced garlic

1 bay leaf

2 sprigs fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon (2 ml) dried

½ cup (125 ml) dry white wine

2 cups (500 ml) cored and cubed red ripe tomatoes, or use canned tomatoes

¼ cup (60 ml) tomato paste

½ cup (125 ml) chicken broth

2 sprigs fresh parsley

Preparation:

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper to taste.

Heat the butter and oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces skin-side down. Cook until golden brown on one side, about five minutes. Turn the pieces and cook on the other side about two minutes. Pour off the fat from the skillet.

Scatter the mushrooms over the chicken. Stir to distribute. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaf and thyme and cook about 5 minutes.

Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon to dissolve the brown particles that cling to the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken broth and parsley.

Bring to the boil. Cover and cook 10 minutes. Serve with rice and a tossed green salad. Serves 4.

From the New York Times