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Monday, January 26, 2015

Venison Tenderloin with Smoked Duck Bacon

 Once in a while we stumble upon some special ingredients in the store and we just have to see what we can do with them on the grill.  Such was the case last week at Buffalo's Wegman's.  Having a well-stocked pantry made it easy to throw a marinade together, and Kris found a clever way to secure the duck bacon onto the venison by weaving bamboo skewers along the edges.  After a long morning snowshoe with our dogs we were ready to tuck into this high protein lunch!

Venison Tenderloin with Smoked Duck Bacon
2 venison tenderloins

For the marinade:
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger root
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons vermouth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

10 strips duck bacon, or regular bacon

Combine the marinade ingredients in a flat glass dish and add the tenderloins, turning to coat well on all sides.   Let stand at room temperature for 1/2 hour. Lay 5 strips of bacon side by side on a cutting board. Place the tenderloin on top, sideways and centred on the bacon. Wrap each slice of bacon around the meat, then thread a long wooden skewer weaving the ends of the bacon to secure it in place. 

Preheat the barbecue and set to MEDIUM LOW.  Grill the tenderloins for 20 minutes turning every 5 minutes to brown evenly. Let rest for five minutes before carving into thick slices. 

We served the meat with just a touch of leftover red current and wine sauce that works well with both lamb and venison.

Red Current Jelly and Red Wine Sauce

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 shallot, finely minced
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup red current jelly
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 additional tablespoon butter

In a small saucepan heat the butter or olive oil.  Add the minced shallot and sauté until translucent.  Add the beef broth and wine and simmer briskly until reduced to 1/2 cup and add the red current jelly and thyme.  Heat until melted, then turn off the burner and whisk in the remaining butter. 


Monday, January 19, 2015

Swordfish Steaks with Grilled Pineapple and Grapefruit Salsa


 We had a lot of fun this weekend in Ellicottville.  On Saturday, Ted led us on an amazing cross-country ski trek, through the beautiful hills and forests behind Holimont. It was an incredible workout, for both the humans and the dogs! Happily, a great meal is always the reward at the end of these adventures! Andrea had stocked the refrigerator with some wonderful foods, so we were able to quickly prepare a delicious meal. It was an early night, then back out on Sunday morning, this time on snow shoes!!  After exploring the forest for 3 hours, even the puppy was tired out!!    

 Swordfish Steaks with Grilled Pineapple and Grapefruit Salsa

For the salsa:
1/2 pineapple, cored and cut into long spears
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 ruby grapefruit, peeled and cut into sections, then chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
 1 red bell pepper
1 red cherry pepper or other hot pepper, minced
1 teaspoon each chopped fresh cilantro, mint, tarragon and chives
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon honey 
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root

Preheat barbecue on MEDIUM HIGH and place the red bell pepper on the grids.  Cook until charred on all sides and move to a cutting board to let cool. Reduce the grill temperature to MEDIUM LOW.
Brush the pineapple spears with vegetable oil and grill them until slightly caramelized and tender, about 8 minutes, turning 3 times for perfect grill marks.  Transfer to a cutting board and chop into 1/2 inch cubes. Toss the pineapple into a medium bowl with the remaining ingredients and let stand to combine flavours. 

For the Swordfish:
4 swordfish steaks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the marinade:

Juice of 1/2 lime
Juice 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons grapefruit infused white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon infused olive oil
1 teaspoon grate fresh ginger root 
1 teaspoon each chopped fresh tarragon, cilantro, chives and mint
 Pat the fish dry with paper towels, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  In a flat glass dish just large enough to hold the fish, combine all the marinade ingredients. Add the swordfish steaks, coating well on all sides and let stand 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the barbecue on MEDIUM-

Reduce the heat setting to MEDIUM LOW and brush the grids well with vegetable oil. Cook the fish for a total of 8 minutes, turning every 2 minutes for perfect grill marks. 

Grilled Baby Bok Choy

6 baby bok choy, halved
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large clove garlic
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sambal olek
1 teaspoon honey

Brush or spray the bok choy with olive oil and grill lightly on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.  Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet. Add the garlic and ginger, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for a few minutes. Add the grilled bok choy and toss to coat. Serve hot.

Wally and Baldur are true snow dogs!!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Roasted Cauliflower and Sauce Vierge

Baby Baldur knows that the secret to making friends with Briar is by sharing his toys!
Things are starting to settle down after the great upheaval of Christmas and New Years. We had so much fun with family and friends flowing through the house in an endless stream. Not, to mention the fluffy new addition to our family. This week, I decided to set some time aside to try a few recipes from a new cookbook that I received from Luke and Georgina for Christmas. The book  is Modern Sauces, 2012, by Martha Holmberg. Perfect for grilling, since we like to keep it simple on the grill, and then dress things up with a sauce. This is right up my alley!! I tried the Sauce Vierge with Roasted Cauliflower and Veal Chops last week. It was so delcicious, that I have already made it again, and used the leftover Sauce Vierge on pasta.  Then, I thought that I should try to develop a new recipe for this week, so stuck with the roasted cauliflower theme, since it is so simple and delcious when roasted on the grill. The flavours really come out when the cauliflower caramelizes as it roasts, so soup seemed the perfect dish with which to highlight it.

Roasted Cauliflower with Sauce Vierge

2 large heads cauliflower, cored and cut into florets
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Sauce Vierge

Preheat barbecue on HIGH for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to MEDIUM.
In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower florets in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a grilling tray and place on the grids. Roast for 20 minutes, until the cauliflower is golden brown and tender.

Reserve half, in order to make soup the next day. Place the rest in a warmed serving bowl and drizzle generously with the Sauce Vierge.

Sauce Vierge

1/3 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1/4 cup pitted green olives, finely chopped
2 tbsp gherkins, finely chopped
1 tbsp shallots, mince
1 tbsp capers, drained, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1 tsp jalapeno pepper, minced
2 tsp preserved lemon, chopped
4 oil-packed anchovy fillets, chopped
1 small clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon or lime juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a bowl, toss together the parsley, basil, olives, gherkins, shallots, capers, jalapeno pepper, preserved lemon, anchovies and garlic. Stir in the olive oil, then stir in the lime juice.  Season with salt and pepper. This highly savoury sauce should rest for 30 minutes, to allow the flavours to develop. It is best used within the hour. Store leftover sauce in the refirgerator in an air-tight container and use the next day on pasta or grilled meats, such as Grilled Veal Chops, as we did, or on roasted chicken.

Grilled Veal Chops

4 thick veal chops, approx. 400 grams each
2 tbsp your favourite rub
extra virgin olive oil

Preheat barbecue on HIGH heat for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to MEDIUM. Prepare veal chops for grilling by basting them lightly with extra virgin olive oil, and rubbing both sides with your rub. Allow to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes prior to grilling.
Place on grids and cook for 12-16 minutes, depending on the thickness, turning every 4 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes and serve with Sauce Vierge.

 Roasted Cauliflower Soup

2 tbsp olive oil
1 carrot, diced
1 rib celery, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 sweet potato, cubed
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp red curry paste
1/2 cup white wine
8 cups chicken stock
1 head roasted cauliflower

 Heat the oilive oil in a large heavy bottomed stock pot. Add the diced carrot, celery onion and sweet potato and saute gently for 15 minutes. Add minced ginger, garlic and red curry paste and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Carefully add the white wine and deglaze the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken stock and roasted cauliflower and simmer for 20 minutes, to allow flavours to develop. Using and immersion blender, puree the soup. Serve with a nice light salad for a satisfying lunch or light dinner.

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year's Eve Fun

Over the course of the holidays the hills around Ellicottville changed from green to white, then back to green under driving rain, and now we’re back to 6” of snow! While the weather roller coaster made winter sports a bit more challenging, it couldn’t stop the fun over New Year’s Eve at our cabin.  We had a great gang who were up for anything:  hiking, snowboarding, and a whole array of board games:  Anomia, Boggle, Cranium and Settlers of Catan among the favourites.

Samantha and I were here ahead of the masses and prepared a platter of smoked salmon and Grilled Shrimp Summer Rolls.   With help from Reid and Jannell we had a very simple dinner including Lemon Rosemary Grilled Crown Roast of Lamb.  We continue to enjoy the shortcut of using flavoured oils and vinegars in our preparation.  This week lemon infused olive oil was the secret ingredient in both dishes.  

Grilled Shrimp Summer Rolls

Ordinarily we would also include some rice vermicelli in these rolls, but since we couldn’t find any at the small nearby grocery store we just used more lettuce, and the results were light and tasty. 

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons lemon infused olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
1 cucumber, cut into thin strips
1 mango, cut into thin strips
1 small bunch green onions, cut into thin strips
mixed baby greens
¼ cup finely chopped cashews
3 tablespoons each chopped cilantro and mint
½ cup hoisin sauce

rice papers

for the dipping sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon sambel olek
Preheat the barbecue on MEDIUM HIGH for 10 minutes.  Rinse and pat dry the shrimp.  Toss them in a medium bowl with the lemon oil, salt and pepper.  Reduce the heat and set the shrimp on the grids.  Cook for 1 ½- 2 minutes per side.  When cool enough to handle, cut the shrimp in half lengthwise.

Fill a large pie plate with very hot water.  Soak 1 rice paper at a time until soft and pliable, then transfer it to a cutting board.  Arrange 3 shrimp halves in the centre, then cover with a small handful of lettuce.  Spoon some hosin sauce over the lettuce, then layer with a small bundle of pepper, cucumber, mango, and green onion.  Sprinkle with cashews and herbs, then roll them up as follows:  fold in the sides, then fold up the bottom, pressing down to condense the fillings and continue rolling up into a cylinder.  Place the rolls on a platter lined with a damp kitchen towel and repeat until all the ingredients are used up.  Then cut each roll on the diagonal, arrange on a platter and serve with the dipping sauce. 

Lemon Rosemary Grilled Crown Roast of Lamb

Cooking the lamb over indirect heat means less tending, and less chance of flare-ups. 

4 racks of lamb, frenched
3 tablespoons lemon infused olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, combine the oil, herbs and spices.  Rub the mixture on all sides of the lamb racks.  With the help of an extra set of hands, bend 2 racks together to form a crown, and tie them with butchers twine toward the base of the meat.  Repeat with the other 2 racks.  Let stand at room temperature for ½ hour.

Preheat the barbecue on MEDIUM HIGH for 10 minutes.  Turn off the centre burner, and reduce the setting on the outside burners to MEDIUM LOW.  Set the lamb over the unlit burners and grill for 45 minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes before carving.  

Monday, December 29, 2014


The Schumacher household grew this Christmas, with our new puppy, Baldur arriving just before midnight.
 What a busy time of year! Not much time to cook or blog right now!! Take it easy on yourself this week! It is time to relax and regroup in the next couple of days before the New Year. If you are like us, you probably still have a few parties ahead of you.  Whether you are staying in, or going to someones home for New Years Eve, you very likely still have some food preparation to do!  We have a recommendation that worked really well this festive season in our house - cook in bulk!
 Knowing that we had a new puppy arriving Christmas Day, we decided to simplify our food preparation for our family gatherings. During the day of Christmas Eve, we smoked 3 large sides of salmon and used that in multiple menus over the next few days. First, we included it on the buffet table for our large Christmas Eve family gathering. The next day, we used one to make a traditional smoked salmon appetizer of smoked salmon, red onion, capers and dill on pumpernickel for Christmas Day. Finally, we used the third piece to prepare this Smoked Salmon Dip, to bring as a hostess gift to a Boxing Day party that we were invited to. We simply cut up some tart red apples to serve with it.
Smoked Salmon Dip with Apple Slices

1 lb   boneless smoked salmon ( approx 1 1/2 cups of smoked salmon)
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 tbsp prepared horseradish
1 tbsp minced red onion
1 tbsp minced celery
1 tbsp minced parsley
1 tbsp mince dill
1/2 tsp tabasco sauce
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 red empire apples
1 pkg pumpernickel squares

Combine smoked salmon, cream cheese, greek yogurt, horseradish, minced red onion, celery, dill, parsley and tabasco sauce in a large bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon, until smooth, but there should still be chunks of smoked salmon in the mixture. Add lemon juice and salt & pepper to taste.

Kris got what she wanted for Christmas!!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

Fresh and Healthy

We had been planning a little retreat to work on some recipes, knitting and Christmas projects, and on Thursday we packed up the car to head to Ellicottville. Toward the end of a blizzardy six-hour drive , we stopped at the grocery store with absolutely nothing planned. We just grabbed a few things that looked fresh and healthy.  When it came time to make dinner we started grouping ingredients into piles and this is menu that came together:

Grouper with Citrus Tarragon Glaze
Kale Salad with Dried Cherries and Cashews
Kasha with Hen of the Woods mushrooms

Grouper with Citrus Tarragon Glaze

Grouper filets, about 1” thick
For the Marinade/Glaze
Juice of ½ pink grapefruit
Juice and zest of 2 clementines
Juice and zest of ½ lime
Zest of one orange
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 ½ teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon tarragon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon infused olive oil

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a shallow glass dish and marinate the fish for 15 minutes at room temperature.  Meanwhile, preheat the barbecue on MEDIUM-HIGH for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to MEDIUM-LOW and brush the grids thoroughly with vegetable oil to prevent sticking.  Place the fish on the grill, and pour the marinade into a shallow saucepan.   Cook the fish for a total of 10 minutes, turning every 2 ½ minutes for perfect grill marks.  Meanwhile, bring the reserved marinade to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until very syrupy, about 10 minutes.  Whisk in a tablespoon of butter.  Spoon the sauce over the fish and serve immediately.

Kasha with Hen of the Woods Mushrooms

We just had to try this unusual mushroom variety that was described as “dense with intense mushroom flavour”.

1 cup toasted kasha
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1 cup chopped Hen of the Woods mushrooms
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
I clove garlic, minced
2 cups chicken stock

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan set over MEDIUM-LOW heat.   Sauté the peppers, onions, and mushrooms until very soft.  Stir in the thyme and garlic, and then the kasha.  Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to LOW, cover tightly and simmer for 10 minutes.  Turn off heat and let stand 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.  

Kale Salad with Cashews and Dried Cherries
5 cups kale, finely chopped
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 orange, zest for the salad and juice for the dressing
½ cup cashews, chopped
½ cup dried cherries, chopped
For the dressing:
¼ cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
¼ cup lemon flavoured olive oil
1 tsp srirachi or sweet chile sauce
½ tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Prepare the kale by washing and drying it in a salad spinner. Cut off the tough spines, and chop the kale very finely. Toss into a large salad bowl. Chop the green onions and zest the orange. Add to the kale in the salad bowl. Toss with dressing half an hour before serving. Garnish with cashews and dried cherries.
To prepare the dressing, combine orange juice, lemon-flavoured olive oil, srirachi sauce, salt and ground pepper in a mason jar and shake.

Thanks to Mother Nature, we were able to use up a lot of energy snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the deep snow. Once we recovered from the activity, we decided that we deserved to satisfy our sweet-tooths.  We got a little got carried away with experimenting with some white and bittersweet chocolate, but the results were fantastic. We came up with 3 awesome snacks: Gingerbread Popcorn with Cashews and White Chocolate, Peppermint Bark and Bittersweet Chocolate Bark with Dried Cherries and Toasted Almonds.  No surprise that we are smiling!!!

Festive Peppermint Bark
500 grams good quality white chocolate(we use Callebault)
200 grams bittersweet chocolate(60-70% cocoa solids)
6 tbsp heavy cream(35%)
¾ tsp peppermint extract
1 large red and white candy cane, crushed

Set 2 double boilers or saucepans with metal bowls sitting upon them on the stove top, each containing 1 ½ cups of water in the lower unit. There are a few tips that you need to know when melting chocolate. First, just bring the water in the lower saucepan to a gentle simmer, so that the chocolate melts slowly. You do not want it to get too hot. Secondly, be sure that the top unit sits closely on the lower unit, so that steam does not escape. You do not want any water to get mixed into the chocolate, as this could cause it to seize, or turn grainy.
Using a large knife, cut the bittersweet and white chocolate chunks into smaller pieces for easy melting. Place the chocolate pieces into the top of the separate double boilers until the chocolates are melted and smooth. Turn off the heat under the water boilers, and let the chocolate sit until you are ready for them.
The peppermint bark is made of 3 layers of chocolate, and each layer must chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before proceeding to the next layer.  Prepare 2 flat baking sheets by turning them upside down and covering them with foil. Pour 2/3 of the slightly cooled, but still runny white chocolate onto the foil lined baking sheet, and spread it by tilting the baking sheet back and forth until the white chocolate covers a rectangular  area of approximately 12” x 8”. Chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, remove the bittersweet chocolate from the double boiler and stir in the heavy cream and peppermint extract until smooth and silky. Allow it to cool for 5 -8 minutes. Working very quickly, spread this chocolate mixture over the chilled layers of white chocolate, using an icing spatula. Sprinkle with crushed peppermint candy and return to the refrigerator for another 20 minutes.
For the final layer, slowly drizzle the remaining melted white chocolate over the chilled chocolate, using a tablespoon or rubber spatula. Return to the refrigerator and chill for another 20-25 minutes. Cut or break the peppermint bark into bite size pieces and enjoy. We store it in the refrigerator in paper lined tins. A tin of these makes a great hostess gift.