Monday, December 25, 2006

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I crawled out of bed at 4:30am; one more day, a mere 8 hrs, and I will finally rest! I have to get to work and start the mashing of the potatoes (all 260 lb) as well as the roasting of the gigantic prime rib roasts (full size they are!). It has been a crazy couple of weeks, but I can say that I have enjoyed almost every minute of it, although, if I hadn't promised chocolates for the Menu for Hope, I probably wouldn't have bothered with those this year ~ just that little bit too much work.
Thank you for being patient with my non-blog posting. I promise I will be back with a vengeance as soon as I get some sleep.
Merry Christmas to everyone!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Last Chance

Last Chance to buy a ticket! Thank you to everyone who gave so generously! And remember, those handmade chocolates are CA11

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Menu for Hope III ~ Canadian Content

Well, we are in the final days of this menu for hope and looking at 30.000$ raised! You have until Dec 22 to buy raffle tickets, so don't forget about the rest of our lovely Canadian prizes.

CA10 ~ the fabulous people behind one of my favourite blogs, an endless banquet, bring you an abundance of goodies and preserves; the Pear, Vanilla, BOurbon butter sounds wonderful!

CA 11 ~ found right here on this blog, I am offering up a collection of handmade chocolates and truffles. I test marketed them at a party on the weekend and the response was very positive. The flavours are Port, Dulce De Leche, Frangelico, Kahlua, Chai, Peanut Butter and Rosewater and Cardamom. 2 dozen of these little gems will come in a handpainted box (painted in the colours of the winner's choice). Like most of the Canadian prizes, I will ship anywhere.


CA12
~ Susur Lee is one of the most exciting chefs in Canada right now and you can own an exclusive signed copy of his biography/memoir/cookbook Susur: a Culinary Life courtesy of Rob and Rachel of Hungry in Hogtown

CA13~ I am not sure I want to tell you about CA13. I want this priz; A chocolate lovers dream. Clement of a la cuisine is offering a sampling of the finest chocolates from around the world.

That is all I have time for today. Come on, buy a ticket or two; it could be your lucky day!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Canadian Menu for Hope part 2

Did you see how well we are doing? Thank you to everyone who has bought a raffle ticket so far, although I would love to see a little more Canadian Content. So, without further ado, here are the next few Canadian prizes.

CA06 ~ Nico's delicious Chilean Bread. This works best for someone in the Vancouver area. Nico will bake some Chilean Bread, freeze it and deliver it with cooking instructions to your desired location. How could you go wrong with homemade bread?

CA07
~ More cookbooks, courtesy of Jen from THe Canadian Baker. The cupcake book looks stunning and way too tempting. But don't take my word for it; follow the link to her site to read all about it, then buy a ticket!

CA08 and CA09~ Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home To Yours, autographed no less! Some of you may remember that I made delicious apple spice bars from that cookbook, but she also has a killer recipe for chocolate marshmallow madelines that I never got around to posting. All the more reason to enter the draw for the cookbook (CA08). CA09, also from Sara, is Culianry Calgary to go. This package includes a cookbook AND some chocolate along with a few other goodies.

That is all I have time for today. Off to work in the culinary salt mines.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Canadian Menu for Hope

Sick of hearing about Menu for Hope yet?? I hope not, because I want to point out the wonderful Canadian prize packages.

CA01 ~ from my wonderful swap partner, Kelli Ann of avoir une famille n'est pas comme un teleroman.
She has knitted an adorable teacozy, before for keeping your teapot warm on those dreary February days. The fun doesn't stop there; she has also thrown in a local tisane blend AND a set of vintage styled set of postcards from a couple of Canadian artists.

CA02 ~ Tara, of seven spoons (I can't believe I have never read this blog before!) has donated some cookbooks. The first, one I have long had my eye on, is Michelle Cranston and Petrina Tinslay's Food and Drink at Home. I love all of Michelle Cranston's books and I may have to add this one to my collection. Also included in the cookbook prize package are Bob Blumer's cookbook AND the Playboy Bartender's Guide. Sounds like a well rounded party planning package!

CA03 ~ a makeover for your blog! Want to spice up your blog page, make it look a little more polished? Meena of Hooked on Heat is offering her talent to design a blog header all your own.

CA04 ~ worth a trip to Ontario, without a doubt. Jasmine is offering up a huge prize package that I am seriously coveting ; "Work up an appetite at a guided hike through the Waterloo moraine (a beautiful natural aquifer, protected from development). Afterwards, I’ll prepare a simple supper for us at tranquil Sunfish Lake (pictured), hosted by Edna Staebler’s dear friend and neighbour. Thanks to the very kind people at Wilfrid Laurier Press, you will also receive a copy of the just-off-the-press re-release of Edna’s first cookbook, Food That Really Schmecks. An optional morning at the St. Jacob’s Farmer’s Market can also be included on this day-trip. "

CA05~ Paige of chef-girl.net has donated a Michael Smith cookbook, A Chef’s Day at The Inn at Bay Fortune. Those of you who watch his shows knwo that Michael Smith is an interesting and talented chef. I would be very curious to see what kind of recipes are in that book ~ nly way to find out is to buy a raffle ticket!
That's all I have time for today. Tomorrow, I will look at the next five Canadian prizes.
Please, dig into your virtual pockets and donate to this wonderful cause!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Menu for Hope III ~ a few of my favourite things

This is a canned post; I sat down on my day off and wrote a few to post on my really insane days!
I want to talk about Menu for Hope again and more specifically, the prizes I have my eye on (because I can have my own prize any time I like).
I was surfing through the lists on Chez Pim and the first thing my eyes fell on was prize UW25. I think a good excuse to check out Chicago PLUS what an interesting conference!

Next, I spotted UC09
I have been in love with the sheer creativity of Ideas in Food for quite a while now, and to be able to own a hardcover copy of their book!?

Also in the middle US, UC07 and UC06. Some cool geek gadgets; an iPod nano and a photo lightbox! What a score that would be for a mere ten dollar ticket!

Perhaps the most coveted prize, UW08, a pass for Taste3.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Update

Menu for Hope

Well, some of you may have been wondering where I got too; last week seriously kicked my @##. Christmas is coming and in catering land, that means working 15 hrs a day, at least 5 days a week. Today, I am off, but I don't have recovery time; I have truffles to make, cards to write, parties to plan and gift boxes to paint. I haven't posted any food lately, because I don't even know what the food looks like; I just put it in my mouth and hope it keeps me going for a few more hours. Look for more regular posting to start in January. I will try to post as much as possible through December, but I don't see a lot of that happening.

The next blog on my Blogreader spotlight really needs no introduction. If you don't read her by now, please start. Head on over to bakingsheet, produced by the talented Nic.

Menu For Hope III ~CA11



Menu for Hope is a fund raising campaign started two years ago. The first year, the money raised went to help tsunami victims. The next, people hit by the earthquake in Pakistan. This year, funds raised will go to the United Nations World Food Program. Food bloggers around the world put together prize packages to be submitted to one giant raffle. Tickets are 10$ US and you can specify the prize that you wish to enter the draw for, one prize code per 10$ donation.

This year, Jasmine talked me into participating and I am offering up a chocolate lover's dream prize; Twenty four assorted hand crafted chocolates and truffles in a handpainted wooden box. The box is semi customised, as the winner of the prize will be able to choose what colours they want to go on it! The flavours I have chosen to include are; chai, port, frangelico, dulce de leche, gingerbread, cardamom and rosewater, and Kahlua. I use 70% or 86% dark chocolate for most of the truffles, with a little bit of Callebaut white thrown in for colour contrast (cardamom and rosewater, gingerbread). Prize Code is CA11

I hope that everyone who reads this blog will get in on the Menu for Hope campaign. There are so many other wonderful prizes available as well; Jasmine has the Canadian round up here and the international listing can be found at Chez Pim, the original organiser!

To buy raffle tickets or to make a donation towards the campaign:
1. Go to the donation page at (http://www.firstgiving.com/menuforhopeIII) to make a contribution.
2. Each US$10 donation will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. Please specify which prize or prizes you'd like by entering the prize code in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your contribution. E.G: A US$50 donation may be two tickets for UW99 and three tickets for CA20.*
3. Some companies will match personal charitable donations made by staff. If your company has such a program, please remember to mark the appropriate box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.
4. Please also check the box to allow us to see your email address. We need this so we can contact you in case you win a prize. If you do not do this, we will be unable to contact you. Please be assured that we will not share your email address with anyone.
5. Raffle results will be announced on 15 January on Chez Pim. Draws will be conducted electronically, thanks to Derrick at Obsession with Food for creating computer application used to magically select names.

* N.B: Canadian tax laws prohibit charitable donation receipts to be issued by registered Canadian charities for raffle or lottery tickets. The UNWFP is a U.S.-based charity; should any donation receipts issued, you will need to seek professional advice regarding applying them to your Canadian income tax return.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Zuni Cafe Brasato


Finally broke in the Zuni Cafe Cookbook I bought at least six months ago! I rarely cook from cookbooks these days...
The recipe is beautifully written, almost a story instead of a recipe. And it yields the best pot roast I have ever made or eaten.

Brasato

1 4lb beef shoulder chuck, trimmed
salt
750 ml red wine (reccomends Cabernety Sauvignon, Syrah or other hearty red)
4 cups beef stock ( I am going to skip the chicken stock option to save typing energy)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped into two inch chunks
1 small celery root, peeled and cut into two inch chunks
I medium onion, cut into two inch wedges
Garlic cloves (Judy Rogers says a handful, I say go with what you are comfortable with)
1 or 2 bay leaves
12 black peppercorns, barely cracked
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
(there is also the option to add a pinch of sugar. I don't think that is necessary at all.)

Judy Rogers suggests seasoning the meat 3 days in advance. I didn't plan that far ahead, so I seasoned day of. She stresses the importance of seasoning very thoroughly and I have to agree with her. If there is one thing I have learned from catering, proper seasoning makes a huge difference!
My roast came pre tied, but if yours isn't, now is the time to strap it down nice and tight.
The braising liquid can be prepared well in advance. The cookbook says to reduce beef stock by half and red wine down to 1/2 cup. I combined the beef stock and the red wine and reduced it all by half, then added a shot of balsamic. Here is where the importance of using GOOD beef stock comes in. If you use a commercial beef stock, you will end up with an overly salty mess.
Brown the meat well on all sides. I use the stovetop method, but the cookbook also suggest using the broiler if you don't want to do it stovetop.
Preheat oven to 325F.
Use whatever pan you have on hand that will accomodate this. I used my Dutch Oven. Place the meat in, add the vegetables and spices and pour the braising liquid over that, making sure to not completely cover the meat (Judy Rogers says one inch, I went with more like four inches coverage). Bring the braise to a simmer, cover and pop it in the oven. After about two hours, remove cover and turn meat. Cover and return to oven for another hour or until roast is fork tender. You can uncover for the last 30 minutes.
When the braising is finished, transfer meat out of the pot, remove the vegetables and puree them. I poured the braising liquid into a fat separator, before some of the vegetable puree to make a sauce. Slice meat against the grain and serve.
Serves six (or two with lots of leftovers for use in other dishes)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The return of Blogreader Spotlight

Between being sick, working my butt off and trying to get ready for Christmas, Blogreader Spotlight fell by the way. But I am bringing it back, with a new to me blog that just happens top fall alphabetically in the next slot; Baking and Books. I have only just started exploring this blog and I am looking forward to reading more.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Peperoni Ripieni (Stuffed Peppers)


Rob made dinner last night, as I have beeen working a lot and am starting to feel the effects. And what a dinner it was; beautiful halibut with a dill sauce, roasted asparagus and the highlight, the stuffed peppers. The recipe is from Mario Batali and was made totally untweaked. Perhaps a little heavy on the garlic ~ cut back to one clove for those days that you have to be in close proximity to the general public. Also, we discussed cutting the oil back and subbing stock instead.

Peperoni Ripieni (Stuffed Peppers)
Recipe copyright 2000, Mario Batali. All rights reserved.
2 fresh dinner rolls, outside grated off, inside shredded by hand
3 tablespoons plus 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/4 cup
4 canned anchovy fillets, rinsed, drained and finely chopped
2 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino romano
2 tablespoons pickled capers
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 yellow bell peppers, tops cut off and reserved, seeds and pith removed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, place the shredded bread and drizzle with 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Add the parsley, anchovies, 2 tablespoons cheese, capers and garlic and mix well to combine. Season aggressively with pepper and timidly with salt, then slowly mix in the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil to form a fairly soft paste. Divide the mixture evenly among the 4 hollowed peppers (do not pack the mixture in too tightly) and top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of cheese. Replace the top of each pepper and place each pepper in a baking dish that has been brushed with extra virgin olive oil. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Serve hot or cold.


Episode#: MB2C05
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