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Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Gatherings

Whoops! The combination of the facts that it was a beautiful day in Kitchener-Waterloo, and that it felt like a holiday, resulted in this weeks blog being posted late today. Sorry!! 
We were both enjoying a much deserved rest from celebrating Easter with our families. We started he festivities on Thursday night, when a group of us gathered to enjoy some ribs from the Witzels barbecue. We did a little brain-storming and decided that we would create a salad that featured grilled figs to go with the ribs - trying to keep things fairly light!  After all, there was to be chocolate cake for dessert.

Grilled Fig and Arugula Salad with Toasted Pistachios, Feta and Honey Vinaigrette

10 fresh figs, halved
Olive oil for brushing the figs
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp grainy mustard
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 cups baby arugula
½ cup greek feta cheese, crumbled
½ cup toasted pistachios, chopped

Who knew that salad could be such a huge production!
Preheat barbecue on HIGH for 5 minutes and reduce heat to MEDIUM. Carefully cut figs in half length-wise and brush lightly with oil so they will not stick to the grids. Place on grids cut side down and grill for 3-4 minutes until slightly caramelized. Remove carefully and set aside.
Prepare vinaigrette by whisking together the balsamic vinegar, honey, grainy mustard, orange juice, salt and pepper. Whisk in extra virgin olive oil until slightly thickened and set aside.
To assemble the salad, gently toss the arugula in a large bowl with half of the honey vinaigrette, then spread the arugula on a large platter. Arrange grilled figs, crumbled feta cheese and toasted pistachios on top. Drizzle with a bit more of the honey vinaigrette.

Andrea had a wonderful weekend visiting with Reid in Montreal, and managed to fit in a leisurely visit with some long-time friends.
Spring is finally here!
Back in K-W, several generations gathered to celebrate at the Schumachers.  As usual, you never know who is going to show up for family gatherings with this gang, so a Prime Rib Roast was just the thing to prepare. As it turned out, there were a lot of leftovers to send home.

Grilled Prime Rib - Indirect method

Serves 10

The simplest things are always the best. Prime rib roast takes about 2 hours to prepare by grilling indirectly over a drip pan on the barbecue. Some mushrooms, small potatoes and asparagus on the grill completed the meal. We rounded it out with zippy flavours of a mango salsa and smoked chipotle sauce.

10 lb prime rib roast
3 cloves garlic, sliced into slivers
3 tbsp grainy mustard
2 tbsp herbes de provence
Remove the roast from the refrigerator at least one hour before grilling, to allow the meat to come to room temperature.  Insert slivers of garlic under the fat cover of the roast. Rub with grainy mustard and pat the herbes de provence into the mustard.

Prepare the barbecue for indirect grilling by placing a large drip pan beneath the grids of the middle burner(s).  Fill it with water.  Preheat the barbecue on HIGH for 10 minutes, then reduce to MEDIUM/LOW, so that the temperature of the barbecue is evenly maintained at 350°F.
Place the prime rib bone side down over the drip pan, close lid and grill until cooked to desired doneness. This should take approximately 1 ½ -2 hours for rare to medium-rare. (130-140° F) Do not let the drip pan dry out during this period.  Use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the meat. Remember that the temperature will continue to rise while you let the meat rest for 20-30 minutes under a foil tent, so remove the roast from the heat a little early.

Jordan and Charu are eating for 4!
 After a weekend of rich food and chocolate easter eggs, we decided that we should at least make an effort to lighten up the menu. So, here is the recipe for our fabulous Smoked Chipotle Sauce, made with 0% fat greek yoghurt. It was very refreshing with the prime rib and tastes terrific dolloped on top of baked potatoes. Try it some time!

Smoked Chipotle Sauce -Light!

1 cup 0% fat greek yoghurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 tsp smoked chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp cilantro, chopped

Combine all ingredients, cover well and store in the refrigerator. Use within 3 days.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Grilling Steaks in London

Last week I had a sneak peak of spring while visiting Charlie in London UK.  What a treat to see green grass, budding trees and flowering daffodils and tulips!  The good news is that it will be here too in the blink of an eye.  

We immediately set to work planning a little dinner party, starting with a visit to Charlie’s favourite butcher, The Ginger Pig.  Charlie had been rubbing his hands together at the thought of some good thick steaks on his barbecue, and we found some beauties  at this shop in Hackney.   Next we stopped at a wonderful model of community building and good health:  The Stepney City Farm.  Set against the backdrop of 1000 year-old St. Dunstan’s Church, this quirky property operates a working farm with livestock, and has a number of raised garden beds or allotments that were being lovingly tended when we dropped by.  These plots are adopted by families, organizations and even classrooms.  Also on site are a café and facilities for crafts and education.  Every Saturday there is a farmer’s market, and it was there we picked up some first-of-the-season rhubarb, some sprouting purple broccoli, and some potatoes, carrots and parsnips  from the fall harvest.  We also couldn’t resist picking up an assortment of desserts from a pair of French bakers, thinking they could benefit from a little pool of homemade rhubarb sauce.   

Dauphinoise Potatoes

1 kg russet potatoes, very thinly sliced
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 small bunch fresh thyme, tied with twine
butter for greasing the gratin dish and for dotting on top, about ¼ cup in total

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Scrub the potatoes well, and place the thin slices into a large bowl filled with cold water. 

In a small saucepan, whisk together the cream, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper.  Dangle the thyme in the cream and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened and well infused with the flavours, about 5 minutes. 

Coat the bottom and sides of a gratin dish with butter.  Drain the potatoes and arrange the slices on the diagonal in rows, alternating the direction.  Pour the cream evenly overtop, and dot with butter.  Lay the thyme sprig on top, loosely cover with foil and bake for one hour.  Remove cover and bake for a further 30 minutes.  Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. 

John’s Bacon and Broccoli Salad

Broccoli, cut to size and blanched
Tomatoes, deseeded, sliced finely;
Bacon, sliced and fried until crisp;
Chives, chopped roughly.

For the dressing:

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Mix the dressing in a bowl, add to salad ingredients and mix well!

Perfect Steak… A Refresher

4 1”-thick rib eye steaks

For the marinade:
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a shallow glass dish, whisk together all the marinade ingredients.  Add the steaks and coat well on both sides.  Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.   Let the steaks to come to room temperature for ½ hour before cooking.

Meanwhile, preheat the barbecue on MEDIUM HIGH for 10 minutes.  Reduce the temperature to MEDIUM, brush the grids with vegetable oil, and lay the steaks on a 45° angle on the hot grill.  Let cook for 2 minutes before flipping over on the same 45°.  Cook another 2 minutes before flipping over to the opposite 45° angle.  Cook for 2 minutes before flipping over to the same 45°.  Cook for a final 2 minutes.  This should produce a perfect medium rare steak.   

Rhubarb Sauce

2 cups fresh rhubarb, chopped ½” thick
Juice and zest of 1 orange
¼  cup maple syrup
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until the rhubarb is tender and the sauce is beginning to thicken.  Let cool.  Spoon over ice cream or other desserts.  

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Lesson in Tasting Olive Oil!

We had an invitation last week to spend the morning  tasting olive oils and balsamic vinegars. The idea intrigued us, so we happily accepted and headed up the 401 to Toronto, and found ourselves at the olive oil tasting bar, OLIVE THAT, on Bloor St. W.  It was a super experience, learning how to appreciate the smells and flavours of the various premium oils and vinegars carried by Val and her team.
We picked out some favorites to bring home and try out. A favourite was this Hojiblanca Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Spain. It was robust  with a rich, grassy, slightly floral note, creamy and fruity on the palate, with a slight peppery finish. You can see that we did learn a lot! We also purchased some flavoured olive oils and balsamic vinegars, to try out on  simple grilled dishes. It was a lot of fun and we had some very successful results, pairing the various oils and vinegars with meats and vegetables.
Rich, grassy, slightly floral & complex nose -creamy & fruity on the palate with a slight peppery finish & no bitterness - See more at:
The first meal, we paired Mushroom and Sage Oil with Roasted Parsnips and Sweet Potaoes.  We simply cut them into wedges and tossed them in the flavoured olive oil. We placed them on the barbecue, which had been preheated on HIGH, then reduced to MEDIUM. We grilled them for 20 minutes, turning once. To ramp up the flavour, we sprinkled the finished parsnips and sweet potatoes with Olive That Truffle Salt -truly delicious! We also had some fennel in the refrigerator, so decided to grill it as well. This time, we brushed them with Olive Oil, grilled for 8-10 minutes, turning once. We drizzled the fennel with Cranberry and Pear White Balsamic vinegar to finish.

 We have been using  this wonderful aromatic Egyptian seed and spice mix on our grilled meats all winter long. The flavour is subtle, yet makes simple grilled meats and fish special.  We used it this week on Grilled Pork Chops, but have also used it on grilled salmon fillets and grilled chicked thighs.

1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp dried green or white peppercorns
3 tbsp coriander seeds
1 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp sweet paprika

Toast the hazelnuts on a baking sheet, in an oven preheated to 325° F, for 20 minutes. When cool, wrap the hazelnuts in a clean tea towel, and gently shake, to loosen the skins. Unwrap and discard the skins. Meanwhile, toast the sunflower seeds in the oven for 10 minutes.  In a heavy cast iron skillet, toast the fennel seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, coriander seeds and sesame seeds, for about 30 seconds.
Place all of the of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse 3-4 times, to create a coarse mixture.  To used when grilling meats, as we did with the pork chops, brush the meat with olive oil and spread a thin coating of Dukkah on top. Grill the meat as directed in our Grilling Guides.


Leslie was home with a friend this week, with a desire to cook dinner for us. We never say no to a request like that! She picked up on our plan to use the olive oils and balsamic vinegars in simple grilling recipes. They paired Garlic Infused Olive Oil with salmon cooked on the smoker, and Organic Butter Infused Olive Oil with the grilled asparagus. A little fresh lemon juice to finish both of these dishes off was almost all that was needed to create a perfect healthy spring-time dinner. We say almost, because to finish off that wonderful meal, they drizzled some Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar over vanilla ice cream and fresh strawberries. Simply fantastic!!!!

Thanks a million for coming home!!!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Tandoori Chicken

The recent discovery of lactose free Greek yogurt has opened up a whole new world in our household.  Thank you Liberté!  This Tandoori Chicken is so delicious on the smoker, and it is very good the next day too. It would be wonderful to pack up for a picnic lunch this summer!

Tandoori Chicken

6 pieces bone-in, skin-on chicken
for the marinade:
1/2 cup plain Greek (lactose free) yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger root, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon hot smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish

Combine all marinade ingredients in a small bowl.  Arrange the chicken pieces in a shallow glass dish, and spoon the marinade over top.  Turn the chicken and coat the other side as well.  Cover and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight. 

Light the smoker, and set to 2 and 2 for a constant temperature of 275°F.  Fill the diffuser pan with hot water.  Replace the grids, and place the chicken on the grids.  Smoke for 2-3 hours.  Remove the water pan, and smoke for another hour, or until the skin is crispy.

Chandani Style Potatoes, Green Peas, Spinach and Tomatoes

My cousin Janacca’s friend Kristin Jarden wrote the original Vegetarian version of this recipe. We used chicken stock and added a few handfuls of baby spinach, but to keep it vegetarian, simply substitute water or vegetable stock.

4 medium potatoes
3 medium tomatoes
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons ginger, minced
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups baby green peas (frozen)
3 cups baby spinach
2 tablespoons fresh coriander, minced

Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1 inch cubes.  Peel and coarsely chop the tomatoes.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and drop in the cumin seeds.  When they sizzle, add the ginger and sauté for 20 seconds.  Stir in the coriander, turmeric and jalapeno.  Add the tomatoes and salt, and sauté until the sauce is quite smooth, about 5 minutes.  Add the potatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Loosely cover the pan, reduce heat, and keep at a lively simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.  Add the peas, and cook for 3 minutes, or until heated through.  Add the spinach and turn with tongs in the sauce until wilted.  Remove from heat and garnish with cilantro.