Long Leek Pie

P1040972

This is a really great appetizer, with a picture that doesn’t do it justice. But trust me, it’s yummy and it’s easy.  A winning combination.

It’s puff pastry topped with leeks that have been simmered in white wine and herbs, then topped with goat’s cheese or crème fraîche. Did you know that some people don’t like goat’s cheese? It’s true, and crème fraîche isn’t a bad substitute for those people.

The recipe is from Yvette van Boven’s cookbook, Home Made. It serves 4-6 people. Mine was smaller, but a lot for two people.

What you need:

  • 4 sheets all-butter puff pastry
  • 3 leeks 
  • ¾ cup white wine
  • butter
  • a few thyme sprigs 
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup aged goat cheese, grated or crumbled, or 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 egg white, loosely beaten  

What you do:

  1. Cut the leeks into three sections, removing the bottom and the dark green leaves. Wash the leeks, then simmer in the white wine, butter, thyme, salt, and pepper for about 20 minutes. Remove the leeks from the simmering liquid and pat them dry.

  2. While the leeks are simmering, stack the puff pastry and roll it out lengthwise. Use the back of the knife to score a rectangle just a few centimetres inside the edge; this will form a border. Place the leeks next to each other inside the border of the puff pastry.

  3. Top the leeks with goat cheese or crème fraîche, and brush the outer edges with lightly beaten egg white. (I put a little bit of freshly grated parmesan on top of the crème fraîche)

  4. Bake for about 25 minutes at 400°F. The edge will rise and become browned.

Enjoy it while it’s hot!

Seared Sea Scallops on Greens

seared scallops on greens - trust in kim

This

is

my

favourite

food

in the world.

Awesome! So delicious. I can die happy now. Hopefully I will live to eat these again, though.

Yes, I love papaya, blueberries, duck confit, lemon tarts and chocolate croissants. But this, the sea scallop, is my all-time favourite. And because of that I never cook them. They are so precious that I fear I will ruin them, and a ruined, over-cooked scallop is an atrocity.

So when I set out to cook this I did my research, found the very best scallops I could lay my hands on, and carefully crafted this dish. I got some beautiful fresh large sea scallops at Seafood City on Granville Island, for those of you in Vancouver. Fresh, not frozen scallops are a must here. If you want an awesome meal, that is.

Simple is the key – the scallops speak for themselves, so you have to do very little with them, except season and cook them carefully.

What you need:

  • the freshest sea scallops you can find, 2-3 per person depending on their size
  • good quality olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • salad greens
  • 1 lemon

What you do:

  1. Make the salad dressing before cooking the scallops. Grate a little lemon zest, then combine some lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the amounts of the ingredients to your liking.
  2. Salt and pepper one side of the scallops, using a little more salt than you think you should, as some will come off in the cooking process.
  3. Get your salad greens ready on the plates. You want to be able to plate the scallops and eat them immediately.
  4. Heat a frying pan on high, but not a non-stick one. Add some olive oil to the pan and wait until it gets very hot – if the pan isn’t hot enough the scallops will stick to it. Add the scallops with the seasoned side facing down. You should hear quite a sizzle; if not the pan isn’t hot enough. Season the top side of the scallops. Let them sear for about 1 & 1/2 minutes (less time if they are smaller) ; it’s better to undercook them than overcook them. Turn the scallops over and sear the other side; the cooked side should be nicely browned. You will see they are no longer translucent, meaning they are now cooked.
  5. Place the cooked scallops on top of the salad greens and serve as soon as possible. You could add a little squirt of lemon to the scallops if you want, but I didn’t because the dressing was lemony enough.

Enjoy the best food ever. Hope you love it!

 

Healthy Air-popped Popcorn with Olive Oil and Nutritional Yeast

healthy popcorn - trust in kim

This is one of my absolute favourite snacks. I know, butter on popcorn is delicious. But so is this! And olive oil has so many health benefits. One that I just found about is that it can help prevent osteoporosis because it aids in calcium absorption. As well, nutritional yeast has many nutrients, including B vitamins. You can adjust the amount of salt in this homemade popcorn, if that is a health issue for you.

Many a savoury craving have been done away with by this bowl of goodness. Right now I’m using a Tuscan herb infused olive oil to drizzle on it, but I’ve typically used a nice extra-virgin olive oil. There are a lot of infused olive oils out there these days, so you could experiment with them.

I used to make popcorn in the microwave – throw the kernels into a paper bag, fold the top over a little and nuke it, turning the microwave off as soon as the popping stops. This was an excellent method until one day when the bag caught on fire and melted the inside of my microwave. Now I use the stove top method.

What you need:

  • popcorn kernels, a few tablespoonfuls per person
  • olive oil – good quality extra-virgin, or an infused one
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • nutritional yeast

What you do:

  1. Place the popcorn kernels in a large pot that isn’t too heavy (unless you have super strong wrists) and put the lid on it. Have a large bowl standing by.
  2. Turn the stove on high heat and place the pot on it, giving it regular shakes. As soon as you hear the first pop you have to keep shaking, so the popcorn doesn’t burn, and each kernel has a chance to pop. As soon as you don’t hear any popping take the pot off the stove.
  3. Lift the lid carefully (some of those unpopped guys like to jump out at this point) and pour the popcorn into the bowl.
  4. Drizzle a little olive oil onto the popcorn. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Add a tablespoon or two of nutritional yeast. Mix it all up so the popcorn is evenly coated. Taste and add more of whatever you think it needs. Eat it while it’s still warm.

Enjoy! And know that it is as good for you as it tastes.

Mushroom and Duck Risotto

mushroom and duck risotto - trust in kimAfter roasting a duck that came from this farm, I saved some meat and made a broth with the bones. The final product even tastier than the roast duck dinner. I used the duck broth, some of the meat, white wine, lots of wild mushrooms and some parmesan to give it loads of flavour. This would also be great without the duck, maybe using some chicken, or a vegetarian dish using vegetable broth instead.

Risotto isn’t difficult to make; it just takes some attention, as you need to stir it frequently and add the liquids slowly so it ends up with a nice creamy texture.

I found this recipe on the blog ‘Bossy Italian Wife.’ I changed the recipe a little by mixing some Parmesan into the risotto instead of just using it as a garnish. I also used wild mushrooms rather than button, but feel free to use what you can find or like. Also I didn’t have gravy to add to the risotto, but it was really good without it.

This makes two generous portions, or can be used as an appetizer for four people.

What you need:

  • a few teaspoons of duck fat
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups duck stock (kept warm on the stove)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • some leftover duck meat, pulled apart with a fork or your hands
  • 150 grams or more (5 ounces) mixed wild mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus a little to garnish

What you do:

  1. Heat the duck fat at medium-high heat in a medium-sized pot.
  2. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook until they begin to brown.
  3. Add the rice to the pot and stir it for about a minute, allowing it to brown. Turn the heat down to medium.
  4. Add the wine to the pot and stir until it is absorbed into the rice. Don’t rush this process. Some good music will allow you to enjoy the stirring, and you’ll end up with the best risotto.
  5. Add a ladle-full of stock to the rice, stirring until it is absorbed. Keep adding, stirring, allowing each portion of stock to be absorbed before adding more. It should take about 20-30 minutes to cook the rice completely. Towards the end of the cooking time, begin testing the rice by biting into a piece to see if it is done. If it is still crunchy, keep cooking.
  6. When the rice is done add the duck meat and Parmesan. Let the duck heat through, then serve immediately, topped with a little more Parmesan cheese.

 

 

Duck Broth (or Chicken)

P1040954

 

This the duck that keeps on giving. It began as a roast duck, then was turned into this broth which was used to make a delicious mushroom and duck risotto, as well as a tomato soup. You could substitute chicken to make this if you don’t happen to have duck.

This recipe is as simple as putting everything in a pot to simmer for a number of hours, then giving it time to cool before refrigerating it.

Thanks again Tony, the Accidental Agrarian, for the duck!

What you need:

  • 1 duck or chicken carcass
  • 1 onion, cut in half
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 or 2 carrots
  • 1 knob of ginger, sliced
  • a few cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 2 pieces of star anise
  • a bunch of parsley stems, if you have them

What you do:

  1. Put everything in a stock pot and cover with cold water. Bring it to a slow simmer and skim of any foam.
  2. Keep on a low simmer – just barely bubbling – for 3 to 4 hours, or more if you have the time.
  3. Strain off the liquid from the bones and vegetables and discard the solids. I use a fine sieve to do this, and line it with some cheesecloth if I want to keep all the fine bits out.
  4. Allow to cool to room temperature. I put the broth into canning jars and place them in a sink of cold water, changing the water when it gets warm. If it is cold enough outside I just put it out for the night.
  5. You can use it up or keep it for a few months in the freezer.

Roast Duck

roast duck - trust in kim

First of all, I must apologize to the friends I roasted a duck for in the past, and to the poor duck whose life was wasted because of my ignorance about how to properly cook it. Duck should be served medium-rare, not well done. I thought that since it is a bird I needed to cook it to well done, but duck is red meat and must not be overdone. Well done duck is tough and doesn’t taste very good, no matter how good your sauce is.

So recently I was fortunate enough to be given a beautiful duck to roast by Tony Funk. And a chance to redeem myself by cooking this duck properly. Thank you Tony!

After an aperitif of Lillet and sparkling water, I served slices of breast meat with roasted brussels sprouts and tomatoes, potatoes sarladaise, and a baguette and butter. Red wine accompanied.

The dinner was good, but the mushroom and duck risotto I made with the leftover duck and broth from the carcass was awesome!

The recipe for the roasted duck is from this site.

roast duck dinner - trust in kim

What you need:

  • 1 duck – this one was a beautiful organic free-range Rouen, about 4 & 1/2 kg
  • 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • 2-3 celery stalks
  • flour
  • red wine (optional)

What you do:

  1. Bring the duck to room temperature before cooking. Preheat the oven to 450F.
  2. Use a needle or very sharp knife to pierce the fat all over the bird, without piercing the skin. This will allow the fat to be released, and leave a nice crispy skin.
  3. Cut the lemon into wedges and rub it all over the bird. Place the used wedges inside the cavity of the duck. Sprinkle salt all over the duck.
  4. Place the celery stalks in the bottom of a roasting pan and place the duck breast side up on top of them; this forms a raft for the duck so it does not sit in its own juices, and allows the skin to stay crisp.
  5. When the oven is completely heated, roast the duck for 25-45 minutes, until the breast meat reaches no more than 140-145F.
  6. Remove the duck from the oven and  place on a cutting board. Tent it with foil and let it rest for at least 15 minutes before carving to keep the juices from running out when you cut it.
  7. If you want to make a sauce you can remove the celery and skim off most of the fat from the pan, then heat the pan drippings on the stove. Add about a tablespoon of flour and mix thoroughly, stirring on medium heat for a few minutes. You can add a little wine or stock if you wish. Season with salt and pepper.

Save the duck fat to fry or roast potatoes.

Roasted Butternut Soup with Apples and Bacon

Roasted Butternut Soup - trust in kim

Roasting the squash with apples and just one slice of bacon brings so much flavour to this soup. Mark Bittman wrote this recipe as a chowder, in which you leave everything whole, but I was really in the mood for a puréed soup. And it was lovely and velvety this way. I plan to try it again one day using different vegetables.

The cookbook this one came from is called The Food Matters Cookbook. I changed the recipe by using only one slice of bacon for flavour instead of four, omitting the oil because the bacon gave it some fat, and then I puréed it instead of leaving pieces whole.

To make this a vegan recipe you can easily omit the bacon and just drizzle the vegetables with a little olive oil before roasting.

It makes about 4 servings.

What you need:

  • 1 butternut squash, about 1 & 1/2 pounds
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large apples, peeled and cored
  • 1 slice bacon, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 cup white wine or water
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Peel it with a vegetable peeler and cut it into cubes. Place the cubes on a deep roasting pan along with the onion, apples and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and put the bacon pieces over top of the vegetables. Roast, stirring a few times throughout the process, for about 45 minutes. At this time the apples should be tender and the bacon should be crisp.
  3. Take the roasting pan out of the oven and stir in the sage and wine, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Transfer everything to a large pot, unless your roasting pan can be put on the stove top. If so, continue the next step in the roasting pan over medium heat.
  4. Add the stock and cook until the squash begins to break up a little, about 25 minutes.
  5. Let the soup cool slightly before putting it into a blender in batches. Purée until it is very smooth, then return to the pot to reheat. Taste and adjust seasonings before servings.

This one is really good for leftovers too, but you might need to thin it out by adding a little stock, wine or water when reheating.

 

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