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Monday, August 18, 2014

Indian Chutneys to Accompany Grilled Dishes

Mandel's secret spice blend
For the past few weeks we have been returning to traditional Sunday dinners of rotisserie chickens.  It is so easy, and comforting, and yields great leftovers to set you up for a week of healthy soups and salads.  One of our weekend guests, Mandel,  brought the most wonderful gift of his own special Chinese spice mix….so far we know it contains Sichuan pepper, aged tangerine zest, cinnamon, ground coriander and cloves, but we have yet to wrestle the complete recipe from him….and we have been using it as a rub for our chicken.  

My cousin Jannaca also came for a little visit, and spent an afternoon teaching me how to make some Indian chutneys that compliment any grilled meats, vegetables, or pappadums.  Having lived and cooked in India for 25 years, she has honed her skills with these fragrant spices and wonderful flavours.

South Indian Coconut and Cilantro Chutney

½ cup shredded coconut
4 teaspoons split chana dal (split chickpea dal), dry roasted
2” piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 thai green chilies, minced or ½ teaspoon crushed red chilies
coconut milk
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
2 teaspoons split urad dal ( Indian split black dal that is actually white!)
2 tablespoons curry leaves
pinch of asafetida powder
3 tablespoons coconut oil
lemon juice and salt, to taste

Dry roast the chana dal in a small pan until it starts to turn brown, then remove from heat.  Let cool slightly, then finely grind in a spice grinder.  Set aside.
Chana Dal

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the coconut, chilies, cilantro and ginger, adding a little coconut milk until it comes together in a smooth paste. Add the ground chana dal and pulse together once more.

Heat the coconut oil in the same small pan until it is hot.  Add the mustard seeds and urad dal.  Cook until they splutter and the dal begins to turn brown.  Then add the asafetida powder and curry leaves and fry for a few seconds.  If you are using red chili flakes, add at the same
Urad Dal
time as the asafetida powder and curry leaves.

Pour these fried spices into the coconut-cilantro mixture and combine.

Add salt and the juice of half a lemon and mix.

Serve at room temperature as the coconut oil congeals in the refrigerator.  This chutney may be frozen and eaten later.  

South Indian Tomato Chutney

1 medium red onion, diced
1 “ piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
a pinch of asafetida
1 or 2 Thai green cilies, minced, or ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
1-2 tablespoons coconut oil
5 ripe tomatoes, or 5 canned tomatoes
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon split urad dal (Indian split black dal that is actually white)
1 tablespoon curry leaves, crushed
salt, to taste

Peel and chop the tomatoes into pieces.  Prepare the onion, ginger and chilies.  Measure the spices and have them ready.

Heat half the oil in a small frying pan.  Add the asafetida first and fry for a few seconds.  Add the onions and fry until golden, adding the ginger and chilies shortly before the onions are brown.  Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool, then grind this mixture in a blender or food processor.

In a separate small frying pan heat the remainder of the oil and heat.  Add the mustard seeds and dal and cook until the seeds start spluttering and the dal turns brown.  Then add the curry leaves and fry for a few seconds.  Remove from the heat and add to the tomato mixture.  Add salt to taste.

Peach Chutney

6 peaches, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable or coconut oil
1 small red onion, diced
1” piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
3-4 cloves, ground 
1 black cardamom, ground
2" piece cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup brown sugar

Prepare the peaches and set aside.  Heat the coconut oil in a medium saucepan and add the onion.  Sauté until the onion is soft and translucent, then add the ginger and mustard seeds and cook until mustard seeds begin to pop.  Add the cinnamon stick, chili flackes, cloves and cardamom and stir for 30 seconds, or until very fragrant.  Add and stir in the prepared peaches, vinegar and salt.   Bring to a boil, stirring, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes, until slightly thickened.   Add the brown sugar, and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Let cool before serving.  Can also be put into sterilized jars and stored as jam.  

Monday, August 11, 2014

Pulled Pork Poutine

 August has been a  crazy, wonderful month so far, with family gatherings rolling from one into the next. The Wolfe Island Family Ball Tournament drew  the full range of family to our cottage, from Grandma, to brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews........ Too many to count. This meant that meals flew in and out of the cottage at break-neck speed as well.
Champions heading into the finals!
  With the Wolfe Island Music Festival happening this weekend, our kids and their friends were given orders to do some grocery shopping and come prepared to make their meals outside, using our extra Broil Kings. It was a popular idea, with everyone pitching in to make their favorite dishes- to serve 20 people!  In true collaborative spirit, we came up with a fabulous feast on Saturday night. We had no idea what we were going to make, until everyone put their food and ideas together. As I always say, when in doubt, make pulled pork.  As it turned out, one of the highlights  of the meal was the Pulled Pork Poutine –the recipe follows! It was an innovative way to combine 2 of our basic barbecue go- to dishes, pulled pork and roasted potatoes, to feed a crowd!  


This is one of those dishes that works  best when you draw from your arsenal of easy, everyday recipes.
What you need is: pulled pork, roasted potato wedges, cheese curds and gravy. We had to resort to using cheddar cheese curds, although Andy and Dylan, who live in Montreal tell us that poutine aficionados would never use orange curds! But, as previously stated, this was a “make a meal out of what you have” night, so since orange cheese curds were available, that is what we used!  (This is a style of cooking that you quickly master when you live on an island!)
Follow the link to our previously published recipes for Pulled Pork.

   Grilled French Fries

  3        pounds  potatoes
  4        tablespoons  olive oil
            salt and pepper

Preheat barbecue on HIGH for 5 minutes, adjust temperature to MEDIUM
 Scrub potatoes and pat dry. Slice into wedges, keeping skin intact.  If preparing ahead, soak in a large bowl of water.  Drain well, pat dry and proceed with the recipe.               
 Toss in a large glass bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper.
 Spread evenly over an oiled and salted Grill Topper, or baking sheet, and place directly on top of grids. Grill for 30 minutes, turning once or twice until golden and crispy.

For the gravy : we used the drippings from the diffuser pan.  It is essential to start with a very clean pan. Monitor the water level, making sure that it doesn’t dry out. Towards the end of the cooking time, let some of the water cook down.  Upon removing the pork from the smoker, we pulled out the diffuser pan and let it cool, while the pulled pork rested, wrapped, for a few hours(as directed in the recipe). We had about 2 cups of liquid left, after skimming off the fat from the drippings.
Pour the drippings into a medium sauce pan, and bring it to a boil. Mix a slurry of ½ cup of cold water and  1 ½ tbsp of flour in a glass jar, shaking well to mix. Slowly combine the flour slurry with the pan drippings, whisking well and continue to stir until the gravy thickens. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Let cool slightly.
Assemble the poutine by placing a layer of roasted potato wedges on a LARGE platter. Top with a layer of pulled pork, then a layer of cheese curds. Over top of the cheese curds,   ladle the gravy until the  platter is covered with a shallow layer of gravy- DIG IN!!!

Ben prefers Pulled Pork Poutine to birthday cake!

The girls enjoy the beers while the guys(and mom) make the dinner!
Masters at setting the table!

Grandmas favorite hiding spot-on the screened porch with her puzzle.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Geoff's Grilled or Smoked Oysters

This beautiful Civic Holiday weekend was a fun and busy one for both of us.  On Wolfe Island, Kris and her family were involved in a base-ball tournament and a 50th wedding anniversary celebration.  Kris was cooking for a crowd while dodging thunder and lightening storms.  At Oak Island, Andrea was celebrating her birthday with family and friends.  Her children prepared the most gorgeous dinner of deep fried stuffed zucchini flowers, smoked wild salmon with a lemon beurre blanc sauce, Island potatoes, a stir-fry of all the delicious veggies from the garden, a roasted vegetable and quinoa salad, and a kale salad with dates and hazelnuts.  But you’ll just have to take our word for it, because despite all intentions to photograph every beautiful dish, Andrea’s memory card was not in the camera!!  Rats! 

Thankfully, Geoff and Christina were also whipping up some delicious dishes, and have generously shared their recipe for oysters.  In fact they have made these several times this summer on the Broil King Keg and the gas grill, and they find the results are equally delicious.

Geoff's Grilled or Smoked Oysters 

6  tablespoons unsalted butter
1 bunch of green onions, very thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon Tabasco
2 dozen oysters on the half shell

In a skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the green onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened and lightly browned, 8 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, transfer to a bowl and let cool. Stir in the garlic, lemon juice and Tabasco. Soften the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and combine thoroughly with the onion mixture. Season with salt. 

Heat grill to medium heat or heat the Keg to around 350. Shuck oysters immediately before grilling or smoking. Place a dollop of scallion butter on each oyster. Grill or smoke the oysters over medium heat until just cooked through and the butter is melted, about 5 minutes. Serve right away on a bed of kosher salt to prevent from spilling. 

MAKE AHEAD The Tabasco-onion butter can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Let soften before using.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fresh Grilled Fish

Jesse and Sam enjoy some refreshments after a big day on the water

Each summer, we look forward to a visit from our friends from Sackville, N.B.  When Owen, Sam and Jesse came to Wolfe Island this year, they brought perfect fishing weather.  So, armed with a box of dew worms and a lot of enthusiasm, we set out for a day on the water.  We hit a lot of the Schumacher boys "secret spots", but had the most luck just off the cottage point, drifting past the lighthouse. By the end of the day, Jesse had hooked the most fish, but it was Sam’s smallmouth bass that became dinner that night!
Sam and Owen worked hard to land this beauty!

Grilled Bass
We filleted the bass and rubbed it with a paste of olive oil, orange zest and fresh herbs.  We placed the bass in the refrigerator for half an hour, then grilled it for 5 minutes per side, with the closed barbecue set at MEDIUM. Using a grilling basket made especially for fish helps preserve the shape and makes turning the finely fleshed fish a lot easier. You do not want to lose a single morsel of this hard-earned feast!!

Maddy raids the garden
The only way that we could make this feast any better was by raiding the garden. The garden is bursting with everything “green” these days. We are eating peas and beans everyday, and the lettuce, kale and herbs are so plentiful that we dream of recipes that include them.  This is a very hardy salad that has a lovely fresh, piquant flavour, thanks to the apple and fresh herbs. It travels very well and stands up for 2-3 days in the refrigerator, so would be a good choice to take to a pot luck, on a picnic, or if you are invited to a friends cottage for the weekend.  It was perfect to bring along on our fishing trip!!

Quinoa and Kale Salad with Green Apple and Herb Vinaigrette

I cup quinoa
1 cup kale, remove tough spine and finely chop the leaves, pack into the cup
1 granny smith apple, diced
2 green onions, chopped
¼ cup toasted pumpkinseeds
1 lemon, zest for salad and juice for vinaigrette

Lemon and Herb  Vinaigrette:
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh Lemon juice
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp salt
½ tsp red chili pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Prepare quinoa:  Bring 2 cups of salted water to a boil in a large, covered saucepan. Add quinoa, cover, stir and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, remove lid and fluff quinoa with a fork. Set aside to cool.
Vinaigrette:  Combine olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, basil, Dijon mustard, red chili pepper flakes,  salt and pepper in a blender and blend for 15 seconds.
Combine the cooled quinoa, finely chopped kale, green apple, green onions and lemon zest in a large bowl. Toss with Lemon and Herb Vinaigrette and garnish with toasted pumpkinseeds.
 Salad:  Combine quinoa, kale, green apple, green onions and lemon zest  in a large bowl. Toss with vinaigrette and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.
We stopped to visit our friend, Mike, the boat-builder, on Horseshoe Island

Monday, July 21, 2014


Happy Birthday, Nancy!

We’ve been experimenting this summer with grilling all kinds of fish and meat on a stick.  It is a practice that is found in cultures all over the world and has some great advantages:  they are easy to serve and quick to cook, can be seasoned and prepared ahead, and a little goes a long way.   They make excellent appetizers and can also star as the main dish.  They are extremely versatile as there are many flavour profiles that fit for the meat and the sauces.  These recipes come directly from this month’s issue of Fine Cooking. 

Turkish Lamb Köfte

For the Spice Mix
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoons dried mint
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Pomegranate Yogurt Sauce
½ cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice

For the Köfte
1 pound ground lamb
1 medium plum tomato, seeded and minced
¼ cup finely grated red onion
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
1 medium clove garlic, minced
pinch kosher salt

wooden skewers, cut in half
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds

Combine all ingredients for the spice mix in a small bowl.

In another small bowl, mix together the yogurt sauce ingredients and set aside.

Place the lamb, tomato, onion, pomegranate molasses, garlic and 1 tablespoon of the spice mix and salt in a large bowl.  Mix thoroughly with clean hands.  Shape the lamb portions into small sausage shapes, and insert two skewers side by side.  This prevents the meat from spinning around as it would with a single skewer.  Transfer the skewers to a parchment lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1-24 hours. 

Preheat the grill on MEDIUM HIGH for 10 minutes.  Generously coat the grids with vegetable oil to prevent sticking, and reduce the heat to MEDIUM.  Grill the lamb until no longer pink in the center, about  6 minutes, turning for perfect grill marks. 

Arrange the cooked skewers on a platter, drizzle with the yogurt sauce and garnish with pomegranate seeds.  Serve with more sauce.

Japanese Chicken Kebabs

For the marinade:
1/3 cup tamari
¼ cup sake
3 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger

1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 ½” pieces
12 medium green onions, but into 1 ½” pieces
36 small shiitake mushrooms, stemmed
For the garnish:
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
chopped green stems of scallions

Combine the marinade ingredients in a glass dish and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the prepared chicken thighs and let stand ½ hour.  Thread the chicken, mushrooms and green onion pieces on skewers in alternating patterns. 

Preheat the grill on MEDIUM HIGH.  Brush the grids generously with vegetable oil to prevent sticking.  Reduce the heat to MEDIUM.  Place the skewers on the barbecue and cook for a total of about 8 minutes, turning and basting with a small amount of the marinade. 

Meanwhile, bring the remaining marinade to a boil in a small saucepan, and cook for 5 or 6 minutes, until slightly thickened. 

To serve, sprinkle with chopped scallions and sesame seeds and drizzle with thickened sauce.

Happy Birthday, Geoff!