Gluten-Free Fat-Reduced Quiche Lorraine by Bill Wilkat Oct. 17, 2018

Gluten-Free Fat-Reduced Quiche Lorraine

Makes 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

  • 100 g (3.5 oz) single slice of cooked ham, 6 to 7 mm (1/4”) thick cubed
  • 60 ml (2 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 large mushrooms about 45 g (1.5 oz)
  • 45 g (1.5oz) finely chopped green pepper
  • 1 small carrot about 25 to 30 g (1 oz) finely shredded 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 315 ml (1 1/4 cups) 1% milk
  • 2 g (1/2 tsp) dried thyme
  • 1 g (1/4 tsp) salt
  • 0.5 g (1/8 tsp) pepper
  • 250 g (1 cup) grated Jarlsberg Cheese
  • 1 pre-baked gluten-free 9” pie shell see recipe for pie dough below

Recipe for Pie Dough: We followed a recipe for Gluten-Free pie dough that utilizes America’s Test Kitchen’s Gluten-Free flour recipe at this link: Oh Lardy 

Note: We pre-made the dough and froze it for later use.  It was thawed overnight and rolled out between two layers of clear plastic wrap. To install it into the pie plate we simply inverted the pie plate, placed it on top of the dough, and then flipped the dough adhering to the bottom plastic wrap together with the pie plate to right it again.  At this point, the plastic wrap can be gently and easily peeled off, and then the dough can be formed into the pie plate shell.  This is by far the easiest method that we’ve used as attempts to peel the dough off of the wrap will usually fail otherwise. Refrigerate pie shell for 20 minutes prior to baking.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Pre-bake the pie shell using the blind baking method:

  • Prick the pie shell with a fork; line the pie with aluminum foil or parchment paper, fill with pie weights or dried chick peas; bake for 10 minutes at 180 C (350 F), carefully remove foil and pie weights; bake pie shell for another 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown; remove and set on cooling rack.
  • Add olive oil to a medium-sized non-stick skillet and fry the onions, green pepper, until softened; about 10 minutes. 
  • Add the shredded carrot and mushroom and cook for about 5 more minutes stirring occasionally.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  • Pre-heat oven to 180 C (350 F).
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg whites, add the milk and whisk in the thyme, salt ,and pepper.
  • Stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese and the chopped ham.
  • Spoon the cooled onion & vegetable mixture  into the pre-baked pie shell.
  • Pour in the egg mixture and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over top.

  • Using aluminum foil folded into quarters, cut and remove the centre section to create a reflective barrier to protect the pie crust edge from burning.
  • Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 50 to 55 minutes on lower rack until top is golden brown and a knife inserted into the filling comes out clean.
  • Remove from oven and place on cooling rack for 10 minutes before slicing.
  • Serve with a small garden salad and enjoy!

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Gluten-Free Fat-Reduced Quiche Lorraine by Bill Wilkat Oct. 17, 2018

Delicious Gluten-Free, Fat-Reduced Quiche Lorraine

  • Author: Bill Wilkat

Ingredients

  • 100 g (3.5 oz) single slice of cooked ham, 6 to 7 mm (1/4”) thick cubed
  • 60 ml (2 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium to large onion finely chopped
  • 2 large mushrooms about 45 g (1.5 oz)
  • 45 g (1.5oz) finely chopped green pepper
  • 1 small carrot about 25 to 30 g (1 oz) finely shredded
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 315 ml (1 1/4 cups) 1% milk
  • 2 g (1/2 tsp) dried thyme
  • 1 g (1/4 tsp) salt
  • 0.5 g (1/8 tsp) pepper
  • 250 g (1 cup) grated Jarlsberg Cheese
  • 1 pre-baked gluten-free 9” pie shell see recipe for pie dough below

Instructions

Pre-bake the pie shell using the blind baking method:

  • Prick the pie shell with a fork; line the pie with aluminum foil or parchment paper, fill with pie weights or dried chick peas; bake for 10 minutes at 180 C (350 F), carefully remove foil and pie weights; bake pie shell for another 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown; remove and set on cooling rack.
  • Add olive oil to a medium sized non-stick skillet and fry the onions, green pepper, until softened; about 10 minutes.
  • Add the shredded carrot and mushroom and cook for about 5 more minutes stirring occasionally.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  • Pre-heat oven to 180 C (350 F).
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg whites, add the milk and whisk in the thyme, salt ,and pepper.
  • Stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese and the chopped ham.
  • Spoon the cooled onion & vegetable mixture  into the pre-baked pie shell.
  • Pour in the egg mixture and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over top.
  • Using aluminum foil folded into quarters, cut and remove the centre section to create a reflective barrier to protect the pie crust edge from burning.
  • Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 50 to 55 minutes on lower rack until top is golden brown and a knife inserted into the filling comes out clean.
  • Remove from oven and place on cooling rack for 5 to 7 minutes before slicing.
  • Serve with a small garden salad and enjoy!

Notes

Recipe for Pie Dough: We followed a recipe for Gluten-Free pie dough that utilizes America’s Test Kitchen’s Gluten-Free flour recipe at this link: Oh Lardy

Note: We pre-made the dough and froze it for later use.  It was thawed overnight and rolled out between two layers of clear plastic wrap. To install it into the pie plate we simply inverted the pie plate, placed it on top of the dough, and then flipped the dough adhering to the bottom plastic wrap together with the pie plate to right it again.  At this point, the plastic wrap can be gently and easily peeled off, and then the dough can be formed into the pie plate shell.  This is by far the easiest method that we’ve used as attempts to peel the dough off of the wrap will usually fail otherwise. Refrigerate pie shell for 20 minutes prior to baking.

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Let’s Talk a Little Bit About Wine by Bill Wilkat Oct. 17, 2018

Let’s Talk About Wine

The Lovely Town Of Niagara On The Lake

Do you love wine? I do, and my favourite wines are red, followed by whites and then rosés.  It used to be the other way around and that’s indicative of how our tastes can change over the years.  I once read that our tastes change every 7 years  but I think that’s more likely the case as we age from the time we’re children into adulthood.  Despite that, I do feel that our taste buds do mature even later in life and I found that to be the case with wine.  It may be that our palates become more refined and educated, or simply due to the loss of taste sensitivity that we supposedly experience as we get older.  Frankly, I’ve grown to prefer wines that are bold but still fruity and if they are too dry, I shy away from them as the “pleasure factor” as I like to think of it, vanishes rapidly for me.  I experience a similar thing with beer if it is too hoppy or has too high an alcohol content.

I enjoy reading the wine columns written by Carolyn Evans-Hammond in the Toronto Star, and by Chuck Byers in our local Durham newspaper called This Week.  I like that they recognize that you should buy what you like and enjoy, and that deciding based upon price, (or the recommendations of others), should not be driving your decision-making.

Interestingly for me, I reside in between two very popular wine-producing locations in the province of Ontario: The Niagara Region, and Prince Edward County.  While the Niagara region is probably Canada’s best known wine region, Prince Edward county is fast becoming a favourite and I must confess that other than the Sandbanks Winery (makers of one of my favoured Baco Noir selections), I have yet to make any serious wine-tasting visits there.  The Niagara region is one of my favourite locations in Ontario and best known for the famous Niagara Falls.  I have visited many times and enjoyed wine-tastings there on multiple occasions and can highly recommend it as a tourist destination for that pastime alone; despite its primary attraction.

Canada has developed considerable respect as a wine-making nation now and you can find excellent wines produced most notably in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia. There are now more than 800 licensed wineries operating in Canada, and likely more to come as the industry continues to grow. Ontario is still Canada’s largest wine-producing province with 17,000 acres of vines located in the world’s fine wine zone: 41-44 North, the same latitude shared by Burgundy and other cool climate wine regions of Europe. Visit this link to learn more: Wines Of Canada

Maybe then you’ve been wondering why I promote The California Wine Club in my blog?

Well one of the first reasons is that I personally have a preference for wine from California, but I also love wines from other places like Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, (and Canada of course) etc., and as a member of this club, you can buy international wines as well.   Another very important reason is that they’ve been around a very long time and offer wines that come from carefully selected vineyards that may not be as well-known as others, yet they produce exceptional wines for discerning palettes that can appreciate the quality difference that smaller batch production produces.  Given that every wine offered is 100% satisfaction guaranteed or it will be replaced, there’s really no risk.

I don’t currently promote any Canadian wine clubs because there’s a very annoying situation in Canada, and that’s the interprovincial laws we have governing shipment of alcohol between provinces.  While there have been amendments to the laws, the truth is that as of this writing, it appears that we still do not have free trade in our own country!  Deplorable if you ask me. Here’s a link to info.on this subject: Shipping laws between provinces

So if you live in the USA, (as far as know), you’ll have no concerns about buying wine between different states, however I didn’t know what tariffs (if any) applied with respect to wine imports from other countries so I did some research and found this:  Wine Institute

If you reside in the USA, and you’re buying from The California Wine Club, you won’t have to worry about import tariffs as they’ll take care of that so it’s hassle-free shipped to our door.  Importing into Canada will be another story and it varies between provinces and can really add up: Calculate Canadian Duty on alcohol

Bottom line: Living in the USA you can purchase imported wines at considerably lower prices than Canadians can; so enjoy!

About The California Wine Club

The California Wine Club has been delivering quality wines from small family wineries for more than 25 years. Each artisan wine is hand-selected and backed by a 100% guarantee. The California Wine Club delivers to thousands of members across the country every month, none of whom pay a membership fee. Members have access to personal wine consultants and have the opportunity to learn the rich stories of the wineries, located in the Pacific Northwest and internationally. With five Wine of the Month club levels from which to choose, members enjoy delicious discoveries. Most members have been with The California Wine Club for more than seven years.

Take Advantage of these Great Deals:

If you’re looking for a special gift, or have a craving for something new or different from what you’ve currently been buying, now’s the time to get on board and take advantage of some of the great deals being offered at The California Wine Club:

10% off Wine Club Membership Gifts at The California Wine Club, code TREAT10, exp 10/31

50% off first delivery on any club at The California Wine Club, code HALFOFF, exp 10/31

Buy a bottle of Rose from The California Wine Club and they will donate $2 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation

Shipping on us on upper-level wine club membership gifts of 3 months or more, use landing page, exp 1/2/19

 

Hearty Beef Stew (Gluten-Free) by Bill Wilkat Oct. 15, 2018

Hearty Beef Stew (Gluten-Free)

Serve with GF Bread

Makes 6-8 Servings

What’s better than hot stew on a cold winter night?  It’s super satisfying, pairs beautifully with a glass of red wine, and can be made with many different cuts of meat.  However, for my money, a hearty beef stew is the way to go although the Irish might disagree since they’ll likely argue that lamb’s the way to go (and it is a great choice for stew as well).

Beef stews date back a very long time and according to Wikepedia the world’s oldest evidence of stew was found in Japan.  Given that Chinese and Japan cuisine are among the world’s oldest, that seems to make a lot of sense.  Of course the modern stews we now consume have changed over the centuries and the French will no doubt take credit for creating the perfect “Ragoût de boeuf aux légumes”, and many of us won’t disagree with fine offering such as Beef Bourguignon (beef braised in red wine).  While this recipe does not use as much wine as that recipe calls for, (I’d rather drink it LOL!), it does include red wine and tomato paste that bring out the deep flavours so well.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 905 g (2 lb) stewing beef, cut into  30 mm (1¼”) cubes
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) vegetable oil
  • 4 ml (1 tsp) Worcestershire Sauce
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) red wine
  • 500 ml (2 cups) water
  • 1 large clove garlic sliced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) tomato paste
  • 4 g (1 tsp) salt
  • 4 g (1 tsp) sugar
  • 2 g (1/2 tsp) paprika
  • 1 g (1/4 tsp) pepper
  • Dash of ground allspice or ground cloves
  • 2 celery stalks cut on the bias into 25 mm (1″) pieces
  • 4 carrots, peeled & cut in 25 mm (1″) pieces
  • 4 potatoes, peeled & cut in 25 to 45 mm (1 to 1½”) size cubes
  • 115 g (4 oz) green beans – about a handful
  • 145 g (5 oz) Mushrooms sliced
  • 60 g (2 tbsp) slightly mounded corn starch

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  • In Dutch Oven, heat 2 tablespoons of oil & brown the beef, turning often.
  • Add 2 cups hot water, onions, garlic, tomato paste, bay leaves, wine, salt, pepper, paprika, and allspice.
  • Cover and simmer for 1½ hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  • Add carrots & celery; continue cooking for 10 minutes, add potatoes, cook for 10 minutes, then add beans & mushrooms.

  • Cover & cook about 15 minutes more, or until vegetables are tender.
  • To thicken stew: Mix 65 ml (¼ cup) of water & 60 g (2 tbsp) corn starch & stir until smooth. Slowly stir mixture into the hot bubbling stew & cook until thickened.
  • Adjust seasoning to taste.
  • Serve stew in bowls with your favourite Gluten-Free bread (or crusty baguette and butter if you’re not Gluten and/or Lactose intolerant).


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Hearty Beef Stew (Gluten-Free) by Bill Wilkat Oct. 15, 2018

Hearty Beef Stew that’s Gluten-Free, & warms the soul on cold winter nights.  It’s rich-tasting, lucious and simply satisfying on all levels.

  • Author: Bill Wilkat

Ingredients

  • 905 g (2 lb) stewing beef, cut into  30 mm (1¼”) cubes
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) vegetable oil
  • 4 ml (1 tsp) Worcestershire Sauce
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) red wine
  • 500 ml (2 cups) water
  • 1 large clove garlic thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) tomato paste
  • 4 g (1 tsp) salt
  • 4 g (1 tsp) sugar
  • 2 g (1/2 tsp) paprika
  • 1 g (1/4 tsp) pepper
  • Dash of ground allspice or ground cloves
  • 2 celery stalks cut on the bias into 25 mm (1″) pieces
  • 4 carrots, peeled & cut in 25 mm (1″) pieces
  • 4 potatoes, peeled & cut in 25 to 45 mm (1 to 1½”) size cubes
  • 115 g (4 oz) green beans – about a handful
  • 145 g (5 oz) Mushrooms sliced
  • 60 g (2 tbsp) slightly mounded corn starch

Instructions

  • In Dutch Oven, heat 2 tablespoons of oil & brown the beef, turning often.
  • Add 2 cups hot water, onions, garlic, tomato paste, bay leaves, wine, salt, pepper, paprika, and allspice.
  • Cover and simmer for 1½ hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  • Add carrots & celery; continue cooking for 10 minutes, add potatoes, cook for 10 minutes, then add beans & mushrooms.
  • Cover & cook about 15 minutes more, or until vegetables are tender.
  • To thicken stew: Mix 65 ml (¼ cup) of water & 60 g (2 tbsp) corn starch & stir until smooth. Slowly stir mixture into the hot bubbling stew & cook until thickened.
  • Serve stew in bowls with your favourite Gluten-Free bread (or crusty baguette and butter if you’re not Gluten and/or Lactose intolerant).

Notes

The great thing about stews is that you can add other root vegetables like parsnips, or turnips if you like and add additional herbs to suit your pallet.

Keywords: Beef stew

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Review of Bowmanville’s Annual Applefest 2018 Part 2 by Bill Wilkat Oct. 14, 2018

Review of Bowmanville’s Annual Applefest 2018 Part 2 by Bill Wilkat Oct. 14, 2018

In Part one I told you about some of the things you can expect to see and enjoy when attending Bowmanville’s Annual Applefest, and there always seems to be something new each year so it’s a good excuse to visit year after year!

Among the goodies being sold this year: Sprucewood Handmade Cookies from the town of Cobourg, artisanal flavoured honey from Royal Meadows (I purchased some from both of these outfits as they were so tasty), high quality summer sausage and salami from Speziale Fine Foods where they will, (like most of the vendors present), give you a sample to try before you buy, freshly made barbecued skewers featuring Liko’s Hawaiian BBQ Sauce that you could have for lunch and then buy some bottles of the sauce to make it at home.

In addition, the usual fare of hotdogs, hamburger’s, snow cones, popcorn, poutine and of course you could buy Ontario maple syrup and maple products like maple butter, or spun maple fluff which like cotton candy melts in your mouth.  Spices, homemade jams, pickles, pies, turnovers, cakes–something for everyone.

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www.lobsteranywhere.com

Then there are the vendors selling hand-crafted items which include knitted and quilted goods as well as leather products from Hide & Seek Custom Leather Belts and Finishings.  I bought a high quality leather belt that was custom-fitted for me in a matter of minutes by Lana Danielson and I was lucky enough to get it a bargain “clearance price” (being in the right place at the right time is always a good thing!).  She also sells some premium handmade leather guitar straps which I’ll keep in mind for the future as these, like her handmade leather belts, are made to last a lifetime, and often the ones I have on my guitars don’t cut it.  It was fun chatting with her too as I soon discovered that like me she’s also a musician; a drummer—how cool is that?  If there’s something you’re looking for send her an e-mail at: hideandseek@rogers.com, or give her a call at: (416)998-3051.

Hide & Seek Custom Leather Belts & Finishings

Now if none of these things appeal you, your little ones will still love the rides in the small amusement park that was set up with a Ferris wheel, Dragon train, spinning table ride (these always make me turn green LOL!), etc.

Failing that, try your hand at axe throwing in the safe confines of fenced in trailer where you can’t cause any injuries but still embarrass yourself if you can’t hit the targets LOL!  There was also a brave young man allowing himself to get dunked into a cold water bath in an effort to raise money for the Clarington Swim Club—I admired his dedication because it was darn chilly and the sun kept disappearing behind the clouds—we had on warm jackets and this poor lad was persevering in his swim trucks; dripping wet.

My apologies to all the other Bowmanville shops and vendors that I did not mention in this post as there are too many to list–but for visitors that’s just another bonus to discover when the come!

Even if you don’t end up buying anything, although it’s impossible to resist locally grown apples, or treats like apple fritters or candied apples, the kids really enjoy the outing, and the Fire Dept. is always on hand to let children and adults climb into a fire engine and examine the gear they use to fight fires and rescue people.  They also handed out the ever-popular plastic fire helmets that even I can remember owning when I was a tot, and now they even have them in pink for the little ladies! 

So put it on your calendar for next year—you’ll not only be helping to support your local economy but having a great time as well.  Local shops and restaurants in the downtown core are also open to serve you as well. And, as always, parking is free, just like admission; so there’s no surprises when you get here. See you next year!

Bonus:  This year the Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue organization featured exhibition at the Bowmanville Heritage Centre on Temperance street just a short block north of King street, where they had a number of rescued animals that you could see and in some cases even pet, which children (and my wife Vicki LOL!) always enjoy—coming into contact with a skunk or a ground-hog is not a routine occurrence in our day-to-day lives—but no need to worry you won’t get sprayed or bitten LOL!  They had a beautiful Bobcat there when we dropped in but this is one of the animals that are “hands-off”, so you need to respect that.  The exhibit will be on from October 2018 until May 2019 so don’t miss it!

Donations always needed and greatly appreciated–thank-you!

Please consider a donation to the Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue Organization

 

 

Review of Bowmanville’s Annual Applefest 2018 Part 1 by Bill Wilkat Oct. 13, 2018

Review of Bowmanville’s Annual Applefest 2018 Part 1

Bowmanville is a great town and whether you live in the GTA, are just passing through, or out in the Durham – Clarington region while vacationing you’ll want to try to include a visit to one of their many festivals.   They are always wonderful family outings featuring locally grown and locally produced products, live music, and special treats to eat!  We can’t forget about that! LOL!

Located an hour’s drive east of downtown Toronto, it’s a perfect outing for couples, families and individuals looking to relax, do a little shopping and grab a bite to eat. Bowmanville’s King Street (highway #2) is closed to traffic during the festival creating an easy and safe outdoor pedestrian mall.

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We arrived early this year and made our first stops at the ATM and at the Algoma Orchards Apple stand to say hello to some of our favourite people like Martha and Donna who were among the people handling their booth this year.  Algoma grows a lot of apples in Clarington and has their Algoma Market store in the neighbouring town of Newcastle where we first met Martha asking for directions and we’ve been friends ever since.  It’s just one of the many stands where you can purchase local apples, fresh apple cider, and sundry other products that they offer in their wonderful shop.

You’ll see many more smiling faces than frowns and as the crowd thickens it gets difficult to navigate quickly, so get there early next year; take your time and mosey along like most visitors do, and take in some of the aromas from the numerous food stand and food trucks serving the festival.  You’ll find everything from the usual fat of poutine & hotdogs, to delicious fried apple fritters from Knox Christian School, homemade cakes, cookies from Sprucewood Handmade Cookies, donuts from Tyrone Mills, sausages from Albion Hills Farm or Speziale Fine Foods, artisanal honey from Royal Meadows, and much more.

We also made sure to stop and purchase some excellent hard-neck garlic from G & G Garlic of Cambellcroft ON. (tel: 905-342-5690), who grow a variety of different types of garlic at their farm at very good prices.  We’ll use these to plant our crop of garlic now for next year.

Come back tomorrow to find out more about Bowmanville’s Annual Applefest, as well as some interesting information about Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue; based in Bowmanville, and doing a terrific job of caring for animals in need.   Kids and adults alike will find it fascinating and highly entertaining.

 

Food–are you a “Foodie”, a Vegan, Vegetarian, or a Carnivore? by Bill Wilkat

Food–are you a “Foodie”, a Vegan, Vegetarian, or a Carnivore?

Today we see all sorts of issues with food and people’s tastes, health issues, allergies and individual’s principles.  Additionally we are concerned about genetically modified organisms (GMO), hormones, pesticides, artificial ingredients, sodium, fat, sugar–you name it!

So how do you deal with it? Obviously if you’re affected by Celiac Disease or are Lactose Intolerant, you’ve made numerous changes to your diet already and have had to look for new recipes and make careful choices at restaurants just like people with food allergies.  We, (my wife Vicki and I) hope that some of the recipes we post in my blog are truly helpful, and encourage our readers to write to us and ask if we’ve every done anything special that they might be looking for, and if we haven’t, we might just see what we can do to address specific needs.

On a personal level, we’ve already made changes during seasonal family and/or guest dinners when we know in advance about issues that affect our guests.  It is tricky and means extra effort, but we’d rather not have anyone feel excluded or unable to enjoy their meal.

This has meant shopping in a different manner and stocking our pantry with items that we never used to store. It does not have a huge impact on our grocery bill but we have had difficulty finding some ingredients now and again.  But our biggest challenge has been adapting ingredients like gluten-free flour to our tried and true recipes as it means “trial and error” and let’s face it: nobody wants to eat a failure afterward LOL!   To date we’ve had a fair bit of success using America’s Test Kitchen’s Gluten-Free flour blend (click link above for recipe), but we foresee a lot more experimenting to follow with store brands as well.

Brand Name GF Flour
Gluten-Free Apple & Cinnamon Muffins

Now, if you are a happy-go-lucky Foodie who doesn’t have any problem eating anything, you are fortunate and hopefully enjoying every moment of your dining experiences.  We’d like to hear from you too.  Did you try one or more or more recipes?  Did you like them?  See a way to improve them?  Have a suggestion?  In a nutshell, we look forward to getting feedback from readers that we can hopefully use to improve this blog.

And, if you’re an individual who gets annoyed at terms like “Foodie” because you say it’s not in the dictionary, that’s fine too–just be reminded that language is always evolving and new words are added to our dictionaries on a regular basis now–after all, what use would terms like “Flash Drive” have had in the 16th century?

In closing, whatever your food needs or concerns are, we hope you’ll find some recipes here that can satisfy them, and encourage to click on “Recipes” in the side bar and explore them.

 

Bill’s Take on Italian Minestrone Soup Oct. 12, 2018

Bill’s Take on Italian Minestrone Soup

Makes 3 to 4 servings

I really enjoy soups and particularly when the weather turns chilly, the leaves are rapidly falling from the trees, and the inevitable coming of winter is on our doorstep.  There are so many delicious types of soups we can choose from but honestly the classic ones still seem to taste the best to me and I never tire of them.  Italian Minestrone soup is one of those popular recipes that has always found its way into cookbooks and if there’s any challenge to making it, it’s to make it taste as good as all the Italian grandmothers have been doing for centuries.

My favourite recollection of Minestrone soup actually comes not from a wonderful Nonna but from a defunct restaurant in Montreal where they served up such an amazing version of it, that I actually had 3 bowls of it before my main course! That restaurant was the Altitude 737, that used to be located atop the Place Ville Marie building in Montreal with a terrific view of the island and the downtown core of the city but it closed in 2013 and I had been there many years before that; so I’ll never know if it changed for the better or the worst.  So, as a result, I’m continuously trying to replicate that recipe and have made many variations of it ever since.  I’m not sure how close I’ve come, nor that it even matters anymore, since I realized that the real pleasure of eating Minestrone is in the making of it.

It’s a great time to experiment in the kitchen and to use up some of the extra ingredients stored in the produce drawer of your refrigerator like carrots, onions, celery, leeks, fennel etc. before they turn and get tossed out. In that respect it reminded me of a terrific soup that my niece Sonia made for us years ago comically called Garbage Soup—the concept being to clean out all the leftovers and toss them into a pot and make the soup—that turned out to be one of the best soups ever; but impossible to replicate LOL!

Nonetheless, I hope you give this one a try and enjoy Minestrone soup as much as I do, and that you will also find the pleasure of making it as rewarding as eating it. Happy cooking, et bon appétit!

Ingredients:

  • 75 g (2.6 oz) Pancetta cubed
  • 110 g (3.9 oz) Fennel chopped
  • 110 g (3.9 oz) small yellow onion chopped
  • 85 g (3 oz) leeks chopped (about 1/4 stalk)
  • 98 g (3.5 oz) zucchini chopped
  • 145 g (5 oz) canned navy beans rinsed and drained
  • 145 g (5 oz) canned black beans rinsed and drained
  • 500 ml (2 cups) unsalted or low sodium chicken broth
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) tomato paste
  • 4 g (1 tsp) finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large clove garlic minced
  • 1 medium tomato chopped
  • 1 large carrot chopped
  • 1 celery stalk chopped
  • 1 handful spinach leaves chopped
  • 1 small bunch basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 small parmesan cheese rind
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Using a medium size pot on medium high heat, add the oil and the chopped pancetta; fry for a few minutes until the fat is rendered and the edges crisp up.

  • Add the onions, celery, leeks, fennel, and zucchini; fry until softened, then add the garlic, carrots, and continue frying for 5 to 7 more minutes, stirring and turning the vegetables occasionally.
  • Add the chicken stock, bay leaf, tomato paste, chopped tomato, spinach and basil, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cover the pot and heat the soup until boiling; reduce heat, add the parmesan rind and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Add the navy and black beans, stir and simmer for 30 more minutes.
  • Adjust seasoning to taste and serve.
  • Decorate with fennel fronds and/or basil leaves or both.

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Bill’s Take on Italian Minestrone Soup Oct. 12, 2018

Minestrone soup, one of the most popular and classic Italian soups–hearty, healthy, sumptuous, always delicious, and ideal for lunch or supper.

  • Author: Bill Wilkat

Ingredients

  • 75 g (2.6 oz) Pancetta cubed
  • 110 g (3.9 oz) Fennel chopped
  • 110 g (3.9 oz) small yellow onion chopped
  • 85 g (3 oz) leeks chopped (about 1/4 stalk)
  • 98 g (3.5 oz) zucchini chopped
  • 145 g (5 oz) canned navy beans rinsed and drained
  • 145 g (5 oz) canned black beans rinsed and drained
  • 500 ml (2 cups) unsalted or low sodium chicken broth
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) tomato paste
  • 4 g (1 tsp) finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large clove garlic minced
  • 1 medium tomato chopped
  • 1 large carrot chopped
  • 1 celery stalk chopped
  • 1 handful spinach leaves chopped
  • 1 small bunch basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 small parmesan cheese rind
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Using a medium size pot on medium high heat, add the oil and the chopped pancetta; fry for a few minutes until the fat is rendered and the edges crisp up.
  • Add the onions, celery, leeks, fennel, and zucchini; fry until softened, then add the garlic, carrots, and continue frying for 5 to 7 more minutes, stirring and turning the vegetables occasionally.
  • Add the chicken stock, bay leaf, tomato paste, chopped tomato, spinach and basil, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cover the pot and heat the soup until boiling; reduce heat, add the parmesan rind and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Add the navy and black beans, and simmer for 30 more minutes.
  • Adjust seasoning to taste and serve.
  • Decorate with fennel fronds, and/or basil leaves or both

Notes

This soup tastes even better when re-heated so it’s an ideal make ahead meal for lunch or a light healthy supper.

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Braised Pork Roast, Fennel & Carrots by Bill Wilkat Oct.10, 2018

Braised Pork Roast, Fennel & Carrots

Makes 6 servings

This is an ideal fall-time dish that will take the chill out of your bones and the taste is fabulous.  Slowly braised to coax out all the flavour of the pork and the goodness from the fennel and carrots steeped in the juices of the wine and chicken stock–as I said, simply fabulous!  Many people have yet to appreciate the wonderful delicate sweet onion flavour of fennel when it’s cooked this way and the addition of the anchovy fillets that provide a unique definition to the light sauce that the French would describe as that “Je ne sais quoi” element.  Lately we hear a lot of people use the term “umami” borrowed from the Japanese to describe these tastes but I can assure you that there’s no MSG added LOL!  In simple terms, umami can best be translated as “pleasant savory taste”.

Serve with a carefully selected wine for a perfect meal!

When making this lovely roast, be sure that your braising pot / Dutch oven is large enough to allow the lid to close, or alternatively use a large roasting pan with a tight-fitting lid.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 kg (4 lb) pork rib roast
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 6 carrots, cut into 8 cm (3”) lengths
  • 10 sage leaves or about 5 g (1 tsp) dried sage
  • 6 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 250 ml (1 cup) white wine
  • 500 ml (2 cups) low sodium chicken stock
  • 60 ml (4 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  • Lightly season pork with salt and pepper.
  • In large Dutch Oven, heat 30 ml (2 tbsp) of oil on medium-high heat.
  • Add pork, brown all over, and transfer to a plate.

  • Pour off excess fat and oil and discard all but 30 ml (2 tbsp) of the fat/oil.
  • Add onion and fry onion until softened.
  • Add sage leaves, anchovies and garlic & fry for about 1 to 2 minutes. 
  • Add wine, stir, and boil until reduced by half. 
  • Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  • Return roast to the Dutch Oven, and spoon stock over the pork.
  • Cover and braise in a 350°F/180°C oven for one hour, turning pork halfway through.
  • Trim stalks from fennel bulbs, (save for future stock/soup making), and save the wispy fronds for garnishing.
  • Cut fennel bulbs into quarters. 
  • In a large skillet heat 30 ml (2 tbsp) of oil on medium-high heat and brown fennel and carrots.

  • Uncover pork and thoroughly baste with pan juices; surround with the fennel and carrots and lightly sprinkle with salt to taste.
  • Continue cooking (uncovered) until pork and vegetables are tender; for 50-60 minutes longer, or until internal temperature of the roast reaches 160 to 165 F.
  • Transfer pork to a cutting board & let rest for 5 minutes.
  • Reserve pan juices in a gravy boat to serve over meat.
  • Carve pork and transfer to a serving platter & surround with all the vegetables.
  • Section ribs into individual servings and add to platter.
  • Garnish pork with the reserved fennel fronds.
Plated with a couple of the ribs trimmed off during carving

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Braised Pork Roast, Fennel & Carrots by Bill Wilkat Oct.10, 2018

A Fabulous Braised Pork Rib Roast made with Fennel and Carrots–simply fantastic and rich in flavours that meld together to warm your chilly bones during autumn weather.

  • Author: admin

Ingredients

  • 2 kg (4 lb) pork rib roast
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 6 carrots, cut into 8 cm (3”) lengths
  • 10 sage leaves or about 5 g (1 tsp) dried sage
  • 6 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 250 ml (1 cup) white wine
  • 500 ml (2 cups) low sodium chicken stock
  • 60 ml (4 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Lightly season pork with salt and pepper.
  • In large Dutch Oven, heat 30 ml (2 tbsp) of oil on medium-high heat.
  • Add pork, brown all over, and transfer to a plate.
  • Pour off excess fat and oil and discard all but 30 ml (2 tbsp) of the fat/oil.
  • Add onion and fry onion until softened.
  • Add sage leaves, anchovies and garlic & fry for about 1 to 2 minutes. 
  • Add wine, stir, and boil until reduced by half. 
  • Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  • Return roast to the Dutch Oven, and spoon stock over the pork.
  • Cover and braise in a 350°F/180°C oven for one hour, turning pork halfway through.
  • Trim stalks from fennel bulbs, (save for future stock/soup making), and save the wispy fronds for garnishing.
  • Cut fennel bulbs into quarters. 
  • In a large skillet heat 30 ml (2 tbsp) of oil on medium-high heat and brown fennel and carrots.
  • Uncover pork and thoroughly baste with pan juices; surround with the fennel and carrots and lightly sprinkle with salt to taste.
  • Continue cooking (uncovered) until pork and vegetables are tender; for 50-60 minutes longer, or until internal temperature of the roast reaches 160 to 165 F.
  • Transfer pork to a cutting board & let rest for 5 minutes.
  • Reserve pan juices in a gravy boat to serve over meat.
  • Carve pork and transfer to a serving platter & surround with all the vegetables.
  • Section ribs into individual servings and add to platter.
  • Garnish pork with the reserved fennel fronds.

Notes

When making this lovely roast, be sure that your braising pot / Dutch oven is large enough to allow the lid to close, or alternatively use a large roasting pan with a tight-fitting lid.

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Salmon Teriyaki by Bill Wilkat Oct. 9, 2018

Salmon Teriyaki

Makes 4 servings

Pacific Salmon; supplied to us by our lovely niece Sonia after she and her family caught it fresh while vacationing in BC; had it prepped and frozen, and shipped from British Columbia to Quebec; where we later carried it home to Ontario and turned it into this classic Japanese dish.  In my humble opinion, Pacific Salmon is the best and beats Atlantic any day, and this one did not disappoint us.  Cooked to perfection on the BBQ, moist, tender and purely amazing–a gift from the ocean that we don’t receive every day!

For your convenience, I’ve included cooking instructions for frying, broiling and barbecuing whenever the weather permits, we prefer cooking salmon on indirect heat on the BBQ.  You can even enhance the magnificent flavour further by adding wood chips in a tin foil pouch placed inside your gas BBQ, or make it on a charcoal style BBQ using real wood charcoal.  We’ve used apple wood chips this year which imparts some delicious sweetness to the salmon.  Of course, if you prefer, you can also employ a cedar plank for grilling since this is a popular method for barbecuing salmon as well–enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb (450 g) salmon steaks or fillets
  • 3 tbsp. (45 ml) soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. (22 ml) Mirin
  • 3 tsp (15 ml) Sake
  • 1/2 tsp (3 ml) finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp (6 g) sugar
  • 1 tbsp. (15 ml) vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS:

  • Gently feel the salmon with your fingertips and remove any fish bones that you feel at the surface using fish bone tweezers.
  • Cut salmon into 4 equal pieces (check again for fish bones) & place into a suitable container for marinating.
  • Mix soy sauce, Mirin, Sake, sugar & ginger in a small bowl & stir to dissolve the sugar. 
  • Pour the marinade over the salmon, refrigerate for 30 minutes flipping the fish after 15 minutes. 
  • Remove the salmon and reserve the marinade.

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Frying: 

  • Heat oil in a 20-25 cm (10”) skillet over medium heat. 
  • Add salmon (skin side down) & cook for about 3 minutes. 
  • Gently turn salmon over & cook for about 2 more minutes, just until salmon is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork.
  • Reduce heat to low, add the marinade spooning it over the salmon & cook until pieces are well-coated and sauce is hot; about 1 to 2 minutes.

Broiling: 

  • Heat broiler & brush broiler pan with oil.
  • Add salmon (skin side down) to broiler pan & brush lightly with marinade. 
  • Broil about 10 cm (4”) from heat source for 5 to 6 minutes. 
  • Turn salmon & brush lightly with marinade. 
  • Broil just until salmon is cooked through and flakes easily with fork; about 5 to 6 minutes.

Grill on BBQ: 

  • Make a tray out of heavy aluminum foil, and brush or spray lightly with oil.
  • Pre-Heat BBQ on high, then turn off burners on one side and reduce heat level on the hot side to medium.
  • Place the aluminum foil tray on the cooler side of the BBQ & add the salmon (skin side down) with the thicker portions of the fish towards the hot side.
  • Brush the salmon with the marinade, close lid and BBQ for about 10 minutes—check periodically to prevent over-cooking a drying out the salmon.

  • Serve immediately.
  • Traditionally Salmon Teriyaki is served with finely grated Daikon (called Daikon Oroshi).
  • If you need an alternative, horse-radish makes a good substitute.

Guide for Serving Size: A recommend serving of salmon is about 85 g (3 oz).  Salmon steaks are usually between 115 to 170 grams (4 to 6 oz), or about two servings.

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Salmon Teriyaki by Bill Wilkat Oct. 9, 2018

Delicious Salmon Teriyaki, a Japanese Favourite Everyone Loves!

  • Author: Bill Wilkat

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (450 g) salmon steaks or fillets
  • 3 tbsp. (45 ml) soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. (22 ml) Mirin
  • 3 tsp (15 ml) Sake
  • 1/2 tsp (3 ml) finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp (6 g) sugar
  • 1 tbsp. (15 ml) vegetable oil

Instructions

  • Gently feel the salmon with your fingertips and remove any fish bones that you feel at the surface using fish bone tweezers (or needlenose pliars)
  • Cut salmon into 4 equal pieces (check again for fish bones) & place into a suitable container for marinating.
  • Mix soy sauce, Mirin, Sake, sugar & ginger in a small bowl & stir to dissolve the sugar.
  • Pour the marinade over the salmon, refrigerate for 30 minutes flipping the fish after 15 minutes.
  • Remove the salmon and reserve the marinade.

Frying:

  • Heat oil in a 20-25 cm (10”) skillet over medium heat.
  • Add salmon (skin side down) & cook for about 3 minutes.
  • Gently turn salmon over & cook for about 2 more minutes, just until salmon is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork.
  • Reduce heat to low, add the marinade spooning it over the salmon & cook until pieces are well-coated and sauce is hot; about 1 to 2 minutes.

Broiling:

  • Heat broiler & brush broiler pan with oil.
  • Add salmon (skin side down) to broiler pan & brush lightly with marinade.
  • Broil about 10 cm (4”) from heat source for 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Turn salmon & brush lightly with marinade.
  • Broil just until salmon is cooked through and flakes easily with fork; about 5 to 6 minutes.

Grill on BBQ:

  • Make a tray out of heavy aluminum foil, and brush or spray lightly with oil.
  • Pre-Heat BBQ on high, then turn off burners on one side and reduce heat level on the hot side to medium.
  • Place the aluminum foil tray on the cooler side of the BBQ & add the salmon (skin side down) with the thicker portions of the fish towards the hot side.
  • Brush the salmon with the marinade, close lid and BBQ for about 10 minutes—check periodically to prevent over-cooking a drying out the salmon.
  • Serve immediately.
  • Traditionally Salmon Teriyaki is served with finely grated Daikon (called Daikon Oroshi).
  • If you need an alternative, horse-radish makes a good substitute.
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Bill’s Best Guacamole by Bill Wilkat Oct. 8, 2018

Bill’s Best Guacamole

I love avocados prepared in all sorts of ways—they go great in a salad, with a fried egg, in a taco or my favourite: fajitas!  Avocados are also a super healthy fruit and one of the few foods we eat (like bananas and grapefruit), that contain selenium (a powerful antioxidant that helps defend the body against illness, such as heart disease and cancer).  And it contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fat—the good stuff.  Free of sugar, bad cholesterol and sodium—one of natures many perfect foods—how wonderful is that?

But of course, one of the best ways to eat them is prepared as Guacamole. Many versions of this famed Mexican specialty are out there and often the simplest ones are the best, and while I like them all, I also love certain flavours that marry beautifully with avocados including onions, cumin and cilantro.  So over the years I’ve made a lot of Guacamole and nowadays I normally make it without a recipe but today I thought I’d write it up and share it.

Guacamole is fantastic and often served as an appetizer with tortilla corn chips which is also a super snack on a lazy afternoon, or while watching a sports event and enjoying a cold beer.  I often have it on toast or rye crisps with a slice of cheese (or cream cheese) and a few drops of Sriracha—I also do this with fresh slices of avocado, (see pic below), which is equally delicious.

Avocado slices on Rye Crisps with Cream Cheese

Cilantro: If you really don’t like cilantro, leave it out. But I’d like to point out that the first time I tasted cilantro, I did not like it at all!  However, I gradually came to appreciate its’ flavour by using small amounts of it and I soon learned that that is the key to using it–and discovering the wonderful flavour it imparts in certain recipes (like Guacamole).  So I encourage you to do likewise and you may soon discover the subtle benefits of it on your palate. 😀

Ingredients:

  • 2 small avocados; each weighing about 130 g (4.5 ounces)
  • 15 g (1 tbsp) minced onion
  • 15 g (1 tbsp) of lime juice
  • 4 g (1 tsp heaped) fresh chopped cilantro
  • 2 g (1/2 tsp heaped) cumin powder
  • Sriracha to taste
  • Pinch of salt to taste

Directions:

  • Slice avocados into halves lengthwise, remove pit from each one, and scoop out the flesh using a tablespoon.  Or, you can opt to cut the flesh into cubes while, still in the skins, and then scoop it out.
  • Chop and dice the avocados and add to a serving bowl together with the other ingredients.
  • Mash with a fork to desired consistency and serve.

Note: For a smoother creamier Guacamole, you can add a tablespoon of mayonnaise, or use a small food processor to blend it.  However, I find it more enjoyable when it’s roughly mashed and left a little bit on the chunky side.

Guacamole also freezes really well if you’d like to keep some handy. Simple scoop it into small freezer bags, lay it flat to freeze, and then later you can easily vacuüm seal it as well to reduce the chance of freezer burn.  I’ve done this up to 2 weeks without vacuüm sealing and it was just like freshly made when I thawed it.  Thaw in the refrigerator overnight when desired.

We generally get Mexican avocados in our local supermarkets, and they are an excellent bargain when you buy a bag of them.  I find they keep quite long in the produce drawer of our refrigerator and when I know I’m going to use some, I’ll pull them out and leave them on the counter for 2 to 3 days to ripen.  I’ve tried so-called tricks to ripen them faster and none of them have yielded satisfactory results so if you want to speed up the process, I suggest you forget about it and just be patient and let time do it for you LOL!

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Bill’s Best Guacamole by Bill Wilkat Oct. 8, 2018

Bill’s Best Guacomole–Lucious, fresh and not too spicy!

  • Author: Bill Wilkat

Ingredients

  • 2 small avocados; each weighing about 130 g (4.5 ounces)
  • 15 g (1 tbsp) minced onion
  • 15 g (1 tbsp) of lime juice
  • 4 g (1 tsp heaped) fresh chopped cilantro
  • 2 g (1/2 tsp heaped) cumin powder
  • Sriracha to taste
  • Pinch of salt to taste

Instructions

  • Slice avocados into halves lengthwise, remove pit from each one, and scoop out the flesh using a tablespoon.  Or, you can opt to cut the flesh into cubes while, still in the skins, and then scoop it out.
  • Chop and dice the avocados and add to a serving bowl together with the other ingredients.
  • Mash with a fork to desired consistency and serve.

Notes

  • For a smoother creamier Guacamole, you can add a tablespoon of mayonnaise, or use a small food processor to blend it.  However, I find it more enjoyable when it’s roughly mashed and left a little bit on the chunky side.
  • Guacamole also freezes really well if you’d like to keep some handy. Simple scoop it into small freezer bags, lay it flat to freeze, and then later you can easily vacuüm seal it as well to reduce the chance of freezer burn.  I’ve done this up to 2 weeks without vacuüm sealing and it was just like freshly made when I thawed it.  Thaw in the refrigerator overnight when desired.
  • We generally get Mexican avocados in our local supermarkets, and they are an excellent bargain when you buy a bag of them.  I find they keep quite long in the produce drawer of our refrigerator and when I know I’m going to use some, I’ll pull them out and leave them on the counter for 2 to 3 days to ripen.  I’ve tried so-called tricks to ripen them faster and none of them have yielded satisfactory results so if you want to speed up the process, I suggest you forget about it and just be patient and let time do it for you LOL!

Keywords: Guacamole

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