Chicken Piccata

Chicken Picatta

Last on our tour of schnitzel around the world is the Italian inspired chicken piccata. Even though the exact origin of chicken piccata is unclear, it definitely comes from the Italian culture, but it has been hard for Italians and Americans to narrow down exactly what the word “piccata” means. When translating it from Italian to English, it has several different meanings and originates from several Italian words, the result being a mixture of possibilities.  It is unsure whether chicken piccata was made by Italians in Italy or by Italian immigrants after they came over to the United States around the early 1930s. The name for a lemon and butter sauce differs in the various regions of Italy as well, making it hard to track down the exact location it originated from.

One of the main reasons piccata is so popular though is because it is known as a fairly fast and economical dish. The piccata sauce is said to be the perfect blend of salty, acidic and buttery flavors, then broth or wine is added to complete it. There are many different variations of piccata. The classic Italian sauce usually consists of lemon, broth/wine, butter, salt and pepper and other ingredients are sometimes added to the lemon sauce like capers, parsley or even garlic to spice things up a bit and usually finished off by adding salt and pepper so it’s not too bland. Traditionally, the chicken may only be dusted in flour before being lightly fried, but you can also lightly bread it as I have in the recipe here. It will give the chicken a little more substance, and by flavouring the breadcrumbs, give another layer of seasoning, I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded very thin (about ¼” thick)
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 ½ cups breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 eggs, lightly whisked
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, or as needed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup white wine
1 lemon, thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
¼ cup margarine
3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, minced*

* Click here to learn how to clean parsley.

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 200°F. Place a serving platter into the oven to warm. Place the breadcrumbs on a large plate, and season them with the garlic powder and lemon zest. Place the flour on a separate plate, and season it with the salt and pepper. Place the whisked eggs in a bowl. Dip the chicken in the flour and shake off any excess. Then dip the chicken in the eggs, then in the breadcrumbs, pressing firmly to coat. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet and pan-fry the chicken until it is golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Work in batches and do not over crowd the skillet, adding more oil as needed. Place the chicken onto the warmed platter in the oven.

When you are finished with all of the chicken, drain most of the oil from the skillet, leaving a thin coating on the surface of the pan. Cook and stir the minced garlic and shallot in the skillet until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the white wine, and scrape up and dissolve any brown bits that may have become stuck on the bottom of the skillet. Add the chicken broth and lemon slices, and bring the mixture to a boil. Let the sauce cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reduces by about a third, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the lemon juice and capers, and simmer again until the sauce is reduced and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes more. Drop the margarine into the skillet and swirl it into the sauce by tilting the skillet until the margarine is melted and incorporated. Add the parsley, and remove the sauce from heat and set aside. Arrange the chicken on a serving plate and spoon the sauce over to serve.

Chuleta de Pollo (Colombian-Style Breaded Chicken Breast)

Chuleta de Pollo

So how about a stop on our tour in the southern hemisphere? How does Columbia sound? From the 1860s to the 1920s there was a mass emigration from Italy to the Southern Cone of South American by Italian immigrants, called the Italian diaspora. One of the many things these new citizen brought with them was their love of food. In particular, an Italian dish called “cotoletta alla milanese”, which translates to breaded cutlet, named after the city of Milano. This dish quickly became popular throughout the Latin American countries where generic types of breaded meat filet preparations are known as “milanesa”.

In Colombia, the cutlet gets a flavour infusion by being first marinated overnight in a delicious sauce, so that the meat itself is seasoned, even before lightly seasoning the breadcrumbs the frying it until golden.

Cutlet “Valluna” is a typical dish of the Valle del Cauca region of Colombia and the Afro-Colombian culture of the area near the Pacific Ocean. It includes a milanesa, with sides of rice, sliced tomatoes, onions, chopped fried plantains or fries and a drink called “Lulada” made with lulo fruit, water and sugar.

Ingredients:
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded very thin (about ¼” thick.)
1 batch aliños sauce (see recipe below)
⅓ cup of non-dairy milk (soy, rice, almond, etc.)
4 large eggs, beaten
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3 cups bread crumbs
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
salt and ground black pepper

Directions:
Place the chicken in a large plastic bag with the aliños sauce, turning the bag to be sure the chicken is covered. Let it marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

In a shallow dish, place the non-dairy milk, beaten eggs, cumin and salt. Set aside. In another shallow dish, season the flour with salt and pepper. In a third shallow dish, season the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Coat the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess, and then dip it in the egg mixture. Dredge the chicken in breadcrumbs, turning twice and patting to adhere.

Working in batches, add the chicken to the skillet and cook until chicken is browned, about 4 minutes. Turn it once with tongs, cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes more. Between batches, remove excess crumbs from the oil with a slotted spoon. Drain chicken on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


Aliños sauceAliños sauce

Ingredients:
½ medium green bell pepper, chopped
½ medium red bell pepper, chopped
½ medium onion, chopped
4 scallions/green onions, chopped*
½ teaspoon cumin
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup water
½ tablespoon Sazon powder with Azafran (or see the recipe below)

* Click here to learn how to clean scallions/green onions.

Directions:
Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process to make a paste. Transfer to a glass jar with a lid and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


Copycat Sazon Goya with AzafranSazon Powder

This seasoning mix used to be widely available kosher, but I haven’t seen it around for quite some time. For that reason, and because the original contains MSG, here’s a quick copycat version that you can make and keep on hand. It is a great seasoning to add to just about anything! If you can’t find annatto powder, you can substitute with turmeric or paprika, but it won’t be quite the same. If you are using a recipe that calls for a packet of seasoning, then you’re going to want to use about 1 ½ teaspoons of powder. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
1 tablespoon annatto/turmeric/paprika
1 pinch saffron

Directions:
Combine all of the spices together and store in an airtight container for up to six months. The fresher your spices are, the better your end result will be, so if you wish to toast your coriander and cumin seeds yourself, and then grind them, go for it!

Chicken Katsu with Tonkatsu Sauce

Chicken Katsu

So in our schnitzel tour around the world, how about a stop in the Far East? Katsu is one of Japan’s favourite Western-style foods. So, what is it? Simply, it’s a bread crumbed cut of meat, usually served with shredded cabbage and a thick, salty and sweet sauce called tonkatsu sauce.

Now for a little bit of history… Pork katsuretsu (cutlet) was invented in Japan in 1899 at a Tokyo restaurant called Rengatei. Originally considered a type of yōshoku (a Japanese version of European cuisine) the dish was called katsuretsu or simply katsu. The term “tonkatsu” (pork katsu) was adopted in the 1930s.

Before tonkatsu, katsu was traditionally made from beef. During the Meiji era (1868-1912), Emperor Meiji – in his bid for Japan to become a more modern country and lead the way in terms of development – encouraged Western influence. It was this Western Influence that introduced pork and deep frying into the mix, and since then the dish has gone on to evolve into many variations that include chicken (torikatsu), fish and vegetables.

Ingredients:
For the chicken:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
6 chicken breast fillets
3 cups panko breadcrumbs
¾ cup plain flour
3 eggs, lightly whisked
olive oil spray
½ – ¾ cup Chinese cabbage, shredded to serve*
½ – ¾ cup red cabbage, shredded to serve*
¼ cup mayonnaise, to serve
lemon wedges, to serve

For the tonkatsu sauce:
¾ cup tomato sauce
⅓ cup water
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce**
1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 ½ tablespoons grated fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, crushed
⅓ teaspoon ground allspice

* Click here to learn how to clean different types of cabbage.
** Click here to learn about using Worcestershire sauce with meat dishes.

Directions:
To make the tonkatsu sauce:
Combine the tomato sauce, water, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, ginger, garlic and allspice in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Set aside to cool. Transfer to a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge.

To make the chicken:
Combine the soy sauce, vinegar and ginger in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover and place in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight to marinate.

Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Place the breadcrumbs on a large plate. Place the flour on a separate plate, and season it with the salt and pepper. Place the whisked eggs in a bowl. Dip the chicken in the flour and shake off any excess. Then dip the chicken in the eggs, then in the breadcrumbs, pressing firmly to coat. Transfer the breaded chicken to the lined tray. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

Preheat the oven to 390°F. Spray the top of the chicken with oil. Cook for the chicken for 6 minutes. Carefully flip the chicken and spray with oil. Cook the chicken for a further 6 minutes or until cooked through.

Thickly slice the chicken diagonally. Arrange the Chinese cabbage and red cabbage on a serving platter and top with the chicken. Drizzle the mayonnaise and tonkatsu sauce over the chicken. Serve with lemon wedges.

Classic Beef Burger

Classic Beef Burger

I’m actually out of the office today, but I couldn’t leave my readers hanging on such an important theme week! Okay, maybe it’s only important in my head, but my head is a cool place to hang out, y’all should come over some time! Anywho…. Today’s burger! I thought I’d end the week off with a classic “All Canadian” burger (yes, I said Canadian). This is your straight up, nothing fancy, plain, honest, but delicious burger. You can rely on it to hit the spot, and please all that try it. The only sort of spin that I do is that I add onion to the patty itself, but I hate biting into chunks of hard onion in my burger meat, so I nuke the onion (with some garlic, ‘cause, why not?) first for a minute or so, so that it gets a head start on cooking before hitting the grill. This way, the onion is nice and soft in the burger, and is not sharp in taste or texture. For those that aren’t fans of onions, feel free to skip this step. I would suggest going for the bonus round though, and grilling up some verscht (salami). It is SOOOO good and makes a nice pre-burger nibble or hipster topping to your burger! Either way, it’s a win!

Ingredients:
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely diced
3 pounds ground beef (mix of lean and medium)
3 eggs
1 – 1 ¼ cups matzo meal
2-3 tablespoons onion soup mix
3 tablespoons ketchup
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
6 buns
Optional: 1 log beef salami
tomatoes, pickles, onions, condiments, etc.

Directions:
In a small microwave safe bowl, heat the diced onion and minced garlic for 1-2 minutes, so that they are almost cooked through. Once done, set the garlic and onions aside to cool down so that they can be easily handled. Preheat your grill to medium-high and oil your grill so that your burgers don’t stick!

In a large bowl mix together the beef, eggs, onion soup mix, ketchup, salt and pepper. Add the cooled semi-cooked garlic and onions. Mix together to combine. Slowly add the matzo meal, just enough to bring the mixture together without making it overly “crumby”, you want your burgers to be mainly meat, not filler! Divide the meat mixture into 6 balls, and form into patties slightly larger than your bun.  Make a slight indentation in the centre of the burger to prevent it from doming up in the centre. The indentation will rise as your burger cooks.

Grill your burgers until they are golden brown and slightly charred, about 3-5 minutes on the first side, and then turning once, cook for 3 minutes on the other side for medium. Try not to press down on your burger with a spatula. It will cause the juices to escape and will create a dry burger!

Bonus Ingredient: If you like, after removing the plastic wrapper, slice up a log of beef salami into ¼ inch slices, and make a slit half way into the slice (so your slice looks like Pac-Man). Grill these alongside your burgers; they are delicious on their own, but will make a yummy “topping” to your burger as well!

Serve your burgers on some fresh buns, along with your favourite toppings and condiments, and enjoy!

Fresh Herb Burgers

Herb Burger

So I was wondering what to blog about this week, when I realized that I haven’t done a week on the almighty burger! This is definitely an error on my part. So seeing as we have a long weekend coming up, and people will definitely have their barbeques out, I thought, why not hit you up with a few yummy meat treats? One thing that I love to use when making burgers is a hamburger patty press. Yes, I know you can make a burger without a gadget. However, and hear me out on this one, the press is just awesome! We have an old, plain one that you can get at your local hardware/home supply store, but they make a million different kinds these days (as witnessed by late night TV infomercials). What I personally like about the press is that it allows a couple of things to happen:

  1. Uniform circumference on my burgers. You’re not going to get one that over takes the bun, while another looks like a slider.
  2. Uniform thickness. You won’t have one thin leathery burger, and one super thick meatloaf one.
  3. It allows the burgers to set up and chill. Once you’ve formed the patties, sometimes they just need to relax and bit and mellow out. Stick them in the fridge, and let the flavours get to know one another while you get the grill heated up and the toppings ready.
  4. Easy grilling! It makes it really easy to pop the patties out of the tube (the maker we have is tube shaped) and plop them on the grill. I’m not trying to delicately peel a patty off a plate, have it break, or lose its shape, or any other culinary disaster. It goes from maker to grill, in one step. It’s a thing of beauty.

So that’s my personal take on the hamburger patty maker, without an official sponsor! Hint, hint! You should see me when I’m actually being paid to endorse something! Starfrit? T-fal? Ron Popeil, I’m talking to you!


Fresh Herb Burgers

Ingredients:
2 ½ pounds ground beef (mix of lean and medium)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs
¾ -1 cup matzo meal
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, minced*
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced*
3-4 sprigs fresh oregano, minced*
3-4 sprigs fresh basil, minced*
3-4 sprigs fresh parsley, minced*
Salt
Pepper

* Click here to learn how to clean these fresh herbs.

Directions:
Lightly oil your grill and set the heat on the BBQ to medium. In a large mixing bowl lightly whisk the eggs with the garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Crumble in the ground meat, mixing it with your fingers to combine it with the eggs and herbs. Add the matzo meal as needed to bind the meat mixture. Try not to overwork the meat, you want it to just come together, but not be overmixed.

Using your hamburger press or your hands, shape the mixture into about 8 patties, about ¾ of an inch thick. Using your thumb, make a shallow depression in the centre of each burger to prevent puffing up during cooking.

Place the burgers on the grill, close the lid, and cook the burgers until they are no longer pink inside, turning once, about 6 – 8 minutes per side. An instant read thermometer should read 160°F.

Don’t abuse your burgers by pressing with a spatula, pricking with a fork or turning frequently as precious juices will be lost! Tuck into a warm crusty bun and add your favourite toppings!

Copycat Recipes – Famous Soups!

So some of these soups I’ve only heard about, whispered, as if part of a fabled legend, the epic tastiness, the supreme awesomeness, the warmth, the… well, you get the idea. Unfortunately, I don’t see The Cheesecake Factory opening up a kosher establishment anytime soon, so the chances of me getting my hands on a bowl of their famous Chicken Tortilla Soup is pretty much slim to none.

So, my fellow kosher foodies, I have tracked down a few of the greats here below for you, from Panera, Applebee’s, Olive Garden, and yes, Cheesecake Factory. You will notice the use of items like non-dairy creamer or shredded cheese, or pareve chicken stock (made from bouillon). You can always switch items up, use real chicken stock, and then use creamer instead of heavy cream, margarine instead of butter, etc. If you have any requests, leave a comment, and I’ll try and track down the recipe for you! Enjoy!


Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup“Panera” Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon butter
½ onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups pareve chicken stock
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)*
1 cup matchstick-cut carrots
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
2 ½ cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, plus more for serving
salt and ground black pepper to taste
* Click here to learn about cleaning broccoli.

Directions:
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion and garlic in the hot butter until translucent, about 5 minutes, and then set it aside. Whisk the ¼ cup melted butter and flour together in a large saucepan over medium-low heat; cook until flour loses its granular texture, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk if necessary to keep the flour from burning, 3 to 4 minutes. Gradually pour the remaining milk into flour mixture while whisking constantly. Stir chicken stock into milk mixture. Bring to a simmer; cook until flour taste is gone and mixture is thickened, about 20 minutes. Add broccoli, carrots, celery, and sautéed onion and garlic. Simmer everything until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir the cheddar cheese into the soup until the cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with extra cheese on top.


“Applebee’s” Tomato Basil SoupApplebee Tomato Basil Soup

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
½ cup minced white onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 (796ml) cans crushed tomatoes
3 cups pareve chicken broth
¾ cup heavy cream
⅓ cup minced fresh basil*
⅓ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley*
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
seasoned croutons, for serving
parmesan cheese, for serving
* Click here to learn how to clean basil and parsley.

Directions:
Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and then add onion and garlic. Sauté for about 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes and chicken broth and bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let mixture cool, uncovered, for 30 minutes or so. You can let it sit for as long as an hour, if you like.

Pour approximately half of the tomato mixture into a blender. Put the lid on the blender and hold it down with a dish towel. Mixture may still be hot and you don’t want the lid of the blender to pop off. Blend on high speed for about a minute, pour the mixture into a large bowl or pitcher, then add the rest of the mixture to the blender and blend on high speed for a minute.

Pour all of the pureed tomato mixture back into the saucepan and then add the remaining ingredients. Bring the soup back up to a bubble then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve approximately one cup of soup with a garnish of 3 or 4 croutons on top and a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan cheese.


Olive Garden Pasta e Fagoili Soup“Olive Garden” Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Ingredients:
1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 large carrot, sliced
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (796ml) cans diced tomatoes
1 (540ml) can red kidney beans (with liquid)
1 (540ml) can navy beans (with liquid)
1 (680ml) can tomato sauce
1 ½ cups vegetable cocktail juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ pound (½ pkg.) ditalini pasta (or other small pasta)

Directions:
In a large pot over medium heat, brown the ground beef, until it is cooked through. Drain off most of the fat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except pasta, and simmer for 1 hour.

Once the soup has been cooking for about 50 minutes into the simmering, cook the pasta in 1 ½ to 2 quarts of boiling water over high heat. Cook for 10 minutes or just until pasta is just slightly undercooked. Drain the pasta, and add it to the large pot of soup. Simmer the soup for an additional 5 to 10 minutes and serve hot.


“Cheesecake Factory” Chicken Tortilla SoupCheesecake Factory Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken
1 gallon water
6 carrots (3 roughly chopped, and 3 sliced)
6 celery ribs (3 roughly chopped, and 3 sliced)
1 onion (chopped)
4 tablespoons garlic (minced)
4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ cup cilantro (chopped)*
½ (796ml) can diced tomatoes
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
1 cup non-dairy creamer
1 (341ml) can corn
20 corn tortillas, fresh
oil for frying
1 ½ cups non-dairy shredded cheese
* Click here to learn how to clean cilantro.

Directions:
Simmer chicken in water, with the 3 roughly chopped carrots and celery, ½ the chopped onion, 2 tablespoons of the garlic, the salt and the white and black peppers for 2 hours. Remove the chicken and allow it to cool. Meanwhile, remove all the excess fat and the vegetables used to simmer the chicken in and discard.

Add the remaining carrots, celery, onion and garlic to the soup pot, along with the cayenne, cumin, cilantro, tomatoes, jalapeno and corn. Stir well. Remove the chicken meat from the carcass and add it to the soup in large chunks. Add the non-dairy creamer to the soup for colour and thickness.

Cut tortillas in strips and fry in oil. Put tortillas in bottom of bowl, sprinkle with non-dairy cheese and pour soup on top. Top with more non-dairy cheese and serve hot.


Panera Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup“Panera” Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Ingredients:
½ cup orzo pasta
¾ teaspoon olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
½ onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
8 cups chicken broth
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
½ lemon, zested
5 ounces cooked chicken breast, chopped
½ (8 ounce) package baby spinach leaves*
½ lemon, sliced for garnish (optional)
* Click here to learn how to clean baby spinach.

Directions:
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook the orzo in the boiling water until partially cooked through but not yet soft, about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta, and rinse it with cold water until cooled completely.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté and stir carrots, celery, and onion in hot oil until the vegetables begin to soften and the onion becomes translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Season the mixture with thyme, oregano, salt, black pepper, and the bay leaf. Let everything cook for another minute before pouring chicken broth into the pot. Bring the broth to a boil, and then partially cover the pot, reducing the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir the orzo, lemon juice, and lemon zest into the broth and add the chicken. Cook the soup until the chicken and orzo are heated through, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the baby spinach, stirring until the spinach wilts into the broth and the orzo is tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with lemon slices.

Colcannon

Colcannon

When looking back in history, you don’t often hear about great famines or blights being brought about by a single type of vegetation, but the potato did just that. In Ireland between 1845 and 1852, the potato crop was devastated by a fungus known as “potato blight” or Phytophthora infestans. At the time, the peasantry of Ireland was very dependent upon the potato. The “Great Potato Famine,” caused a million deaths and another million emigrations (many to the U.S.). This caused the population of Ireland to drop by 20 to 25% during this period.

The potato remained Ireland’s staple crop after the famine and by the end of the 19th century, the Irish per capita consumption of four pounds a day was the highest in the world.  Because of their history and their first-hand experience Ireland has been at the forefront of international famine relief. In 1985 Bob Geldof, Irish rock star and founder of Live Aid, revealed that the people of Ireland had given more to his fundraising efforts per head of population than any other nation in the world. In 2000, Bono, lead singer with Irish band U2, played a central role in campaigning for debt relief for African nations in the Jubilee 2000 campaign. The Irish famine experience continues to influence many Irish people in their attitudes towards the developing world and famine victims everywhere. It is good to see that tragedy can turn into triumph, and bring about positive change in the world.

Ingredients:

6 medium/large yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
2-3 tablespoons butter/margarine, divided
2 leeks, sliced (white and light green parts only)*
4 green onions/scallions, sliced*
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 head savoy cabbage, shredded*
2 ½ cups water, divided
3-4 cups green kale, washed, stalks removed and shredded*
salt & pepper

* Click here to learn how to clean cabbage, kale and green onions/scallions, and leeks.

Directions:

Boil the potatoes until tender. Drain the potatoes, saving about a cup of the cooking liquid. Mash the potatoes, adding salt, pepper, a little butter/margarine to taste, and as much of the cooking liquid as needed to make the potatoes fluffy.

While the potatoes are cooking put 1 tablespoon of butter/margarine in a deep skillet and sauté the leeks, green onions/scallions and garlic until everything is translucent, about 7-10 minutes, over medium heat. Add the savoy cabbage and ½ cup of water, then cover the pan and cook until the cabbage is tender.

In another skillet add the remaining water and cook the kale until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Drain the kale well, and then mix everything together, and taste to adjust your seasonings. Serve and enjoy!

Gnocchi in a Brown Butter Sage Sauce

Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sage Sauce

If potatoes had a hero, it would be Antoine-Augustin Parmentier. Born in France in 1737, he is most remembered for being a vocal promoter of the potato as a food source for humans in France and throughout Europe.

While serving as a French Army pharmacist during the Seven Years’ War, he was captured by the Prussians and imprisoned. Forced to eat potatoes, known to him at that point only has hog feed, he began to experiment and see the value to this small stubby root.

As a way to get the public interested in the vegetable, he conducted a series of publicity stunts, including hosting dinners at which potato dishes featured prominently and guests included luminaries such as Benjamin Franklin and Antoine Lavoisier, giving bouquets of potato blossoms to the King and Queen, and surrounding his potato patch at Sablons with armed guards to suggest valuable goods — then instructing them to accept any and all bribes from civilians and withdrawing them at night so the greedy crowd could “steal” the potatoes.

I guess you could say his techniques worked, as potatoes are not only acceptable, and as more than just hog feed, but are a staple in kitchens around the world. Today’s recipe will show you how Italians make quick work out of a bag of spuds!

Ingredients:

Gnocchi:
6 large baking potatoes (about 3 ½ pounds), scrubbed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons salt + salt for boiling water
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed

Brown Butter Sage Sauce:
¼ cup butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
8-10 sage leaves*
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

* Click here to learn how to clean sage.

Directions:

Gnocchi:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15-20 minutes. Drain, cool slightly, and peel. Season the potatoes with salt, pepper and nutmeg, then mash the potatoes with a fork, masher, or in a ricer. Place the mashed potatoes in a large mixing bowl, and stir in the eggs and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Knead in enough flour to make a soft dough. If the dough is too dry, add some more oil, too moist, add some more flour.

On a floured surface, roll dough into a long rope. Cut the rope into ½ inch pieces. Take each piece and roll it against the back of fork, along the tines. This will give you’re the classic ribbed shape of the gnocchi dumpling.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop in gnocchi, one by one, and cook until they float to the top, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Sauce:
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. With a slotted spoon, remove any foam that rises off of the butter. Let the butter start to get a little colour to it. Remove it from the heat, and add the olive oi. Return the pan to the heat and stir in the garlic, and cook until the garlic has softened and is beginning to turn golden brown, about 4 minutes.

Stir in the sage and salt for a few seconds, and then add the cooked gnocchi. Toss gently with ¼ cup of parmesan cheese and the pepper. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese to serve.

Papas Arrugadas with Red & Green Mojo Sauce

Canarian Potatoes

The humble potato. Where would be without it? As a Jew just coming off of Passover, I can tell you I’d be lost without it! So in honour of our starchy, tuberous friend from the nightshade family, I dedicate this week to the ever versatile potato!

We’re going to be starting our international dedication with a recipe from the Canary Islands, which are Spanish territory just off the southern coast of Morocco. It is fitting to choose a recipe with Spanish roots, since the English word potato comes from the Spanish patata (the name used in Spain).  The Spanish say that patata is derived from the Taíno (native language of the people of the Caribbean) batata and the Quechua (native language of the people of the Andes) papa. So as you can see, even the name is international!

This recipe makes a great little appetizer if you’re serving a tapas style meal or hors d’oeuvres and wine, as something savoury to nibble on! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

For the green mojo sauce:
½ green bell pepper, cut into large pieces
½ cup cilantro or parsley leaves*
2 garlic cloves, or to taste, crushed to a paste
¼ to ½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 ½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
pinch of fine sea salt, or to taste
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

For the red mojo sauce:
4 garlic cloves, or to taste, crushed to a paste
¾ teaspoon pimentón picante, chile pepper, or cayenne
2 teaspoons pimentón dulce or sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar
pinch of fine sea salt, or to taste

For the potatoes:
2 pounds small new potatoes (in their skins), washed
4 tablespoons coarse sea salt

* Click here to learn how to clean cliantro and parsely.

Directions:

To make the green mojo sauce:
Blend all the ingredients except the oil to a paste in the food processor. Gradually add the oil and blend to a light creamy consistency.

To make the red mojo sauce:
Mix the garlic with the pimentón, and cumin in a bowl, then beat in the olive oil and vinegar. Add salt to taste.

To cook the potatoes:
Put the potatoes in a large saucepan that holds them in one layer, and add just enough water to cover and the salt. If you have to boil the potatoes in two pans, do so, this way they each get the salty coating.

Bring the salty water to a boil and cook, uncovered, over medium heat, letting the water bubble for 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender and the water has evaporated. Leave them over very low heat for a few minutes, moving them and turning them over in the dry pan, until they are wrinkled and covered with a fine powder of salt. Serve hot or warm, with one or both of the sauces.

Marinated Chicken in a Wine and Mushroom Cream Sauce with Kalamata Olives

Marinated Chicken in Wine Mushroom Cream Sauce

So we’re coming into the home stretch, sort of, of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Dinner, as we are now on the relevés course. This came after the mains, but before the roasts and the sweets, not to mention the side table that was out, y’know just in case you got hungry between courses. Can you imagine? I’m sorry your Majesty, but the 9 dishes you had presented up until now haven’t quite hit the mark, I’m going to go make myself a cold roast beef sandwich? I definitely would have gone all Queen of Hearts on the subject and shouted “Off with their head!” to the ungrateful lout!

Speaking of off with their head, a chicken definitely lost theirs in the preparation of today’s recipe. “Les Poulets à la Financière” or “Chicken Garnished with Cocks’ Combs, Cocks’ Kidneys, Dumplings, Sweetbreads, Mushrooms, Olives and Truffles” was a pretty complex dish as you can tell by a partial recipe that I was able to find from the era:

Poulets à la Financière

I think the modern recipe below for chicken with mushrooms and olives might not only be easier, but will also be slightly more palatable! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

6 chicken leg quarters or 6 breasts (or whatever cuts your family likes)
olive oil (to brown chicken)

Marinade:
6 sprigs of fresh sage*
6 garlic cloves roughly chopped
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 ½ cups dry white wine
¾ cup pitted kalamata olives (roughly chopped)
Salt and pepper to taste

Mushroom Cream Sauce:
6 sage leaves roughly chopped*
4 garlic cloves (minced)
1 ½ cup dry white wine or chicken broth
3 cups of non-dairy creamer
3 pounds of crimini mushrooms (sliced)
¾ cup pitted kalamata olives
Salt and pepper to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean sage.

Directions:

Season the chicken with dried sage, salt, and pepper. Place the chicken in a covered container or large freezer bag with the wine, garlic, fresh sage and chopped olives. Marinate the chicken overnight, or longer, but no longer than 48 hours.

When you are ready to cook chicken, take the chicken out and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Bringing the chicken to room temperature will help the chicken to cook evenly. While you are waiting, preheat the oven to 375°F.

After the chicken has sat out for 15 minutes, put a little olive oil in a cast iron pan or other any oven safe pan you have. On your stove top heat the pan up on a medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces, and evenly brown the chicken on both sides. Once you have browned the chicken, remove the chicken from the pan.

Now add the wine to the pan, deglazing it (removing all the delicious pieces of marinade from the bottom of the pan). Immediately after you add the wine, add the non-dairy creamer, mushrooms, sage, and garlic. Cook the sauce for a few minutes, giving the mushrooms a chance to absorb the sauce.

Then, add your chicken back in to the pan, along with the olives and taste for to see if salt or pepper is needed. Cover the pan and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked through.