Spring Lamb Risotto

I wrote this post a loooong time ago but have been way too busy with work and the beautiful weather to really do anything with my blog or youtube.  I’ve been down with the flu for around a week now, so I thought I might as well update something =).  Here’s a risotto post that I had written a while back.

Lamb Risotto

Spring Lamb Risotto

Over the Easter weekend, I made several things, but what I’d like to share is my lamb risotto. Risotto is one of my favorite dishes and serving lamb with the risotto is a simple and flavorful way to combine the two. It’s actually a shame that many restaurants here don’t seem to do a great job with risotto. When I travelled to Italy and tasted the risottos there, it truly tasted as if they were prepared entirely from scratch. You could taste every grain of rice and every bite was so flavorful and perfectly al dente. I find that the risottos in North America are typically over cooked, prepared from pre-cooked risotto batches, and made with WAY too much butter and cheese. I swear that some restaurants even use cream in their risottos. Now, I’m not the type of person who cringes when a traditional dish is prepared in a different, unique way, but I do hold a negative opinion when the final product does not taste as good.

Anyway, one of the things I like about making risotto is that if you have the right ingredients, and a good home made broth, the result will always turn out great. Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, risotto is actually not all that labour intensive. Sure it takes a long time to cook, especially when you’re preparing several servings at once, but there seems to be a whole misconception of stirring the risotto. People seem to think that you really need to stand in front of the pot and stir every second from start to finish, but I’ll let you in on a secret (which isn’t really a secret if you’ve made risotto several times before). You basically only need to stir risotto near the end of the cooking process. This is when most of the starches have come out of the rice and this is when the risotto can burn and stick very easily if left unattended. During the first half of the process though, you can really just come in and stir every once in a while. So I actually find cooking risotto great, because I can do the dishes while starting the cooking process.

Today I prepared a lamb risotto with zucchinis, and served it with some fried shallots and garlic chips for some crispy texture. I had some left over rack of lamb pieces and I marinated them overnight in olive oil, smoked sea salt, coarse pepper, garlic powder, and some smoked paprika, rosemary and thyme. I took the pieces out the next day, deboned them, and threw the bones into some home made chicken broth to add some more lambiness into the dish. Once I fried the shallots & garlic, I set them aside on a paper towel to drain. I then started the risotto in the typical way (saute onions, add rice, deglaze with white wine, add stock, etc.). While the risotto was cooking, I washed the dishes and also seared the lamb pieces rare and then let them rest on my cutting board. I proceeded to chop the lamb into small cubes which would be reheated briefly in a pan just before the risotto was complete. Once the risotto was al dente and seasoned, I removed it off the heat and added freshly grated parmigiano reggianno. To plate, simply spoon the risotto onto the bottom of a dish, top with a generous portion of the cubed, heated lamb, and sprinkle the crispy shallots & garlic chips over top. This was a perfect dish to go with a perfect start to Spring.

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May the 4th be with you!

Sorry, I had to make a Star Wars pun. Perhaps it’s my nerdy engineering side coming out (although I’m not particularly a big fan of Star Wars). Anyhow, unfortunately I’ve been so busy with my new job and various other things that I haven’t been able to keep up with my original goal of producing recipes/videos often. Hopefully I can still get a couple in here and there, but I thought I could at least update the blog once in a while whenever I do food related things.

Anyway, May 4th was my parents’ anniversary. Thirty something years now. So I spent the entire Saturday cooking them a delicious meal (which included filleting and breaking down the fish).  I was planning on making a dessert as well, but my Father had already beat me to it and brought home some small cakes.  Below are some pictures.  I recently also made some lamb risotto which was spectacular, so look forward to that in a future post!

Seared Duck Breast, Garlicky Broccolini and Fondant Potatoes

Seared Duck Breast, Garlicky Broccolini and Fondant Potatoes

Cioppino

Cioppino

Beer Battered Rainbow Trout, Sunchoke & Beet Chips

Beer Battered Rainbow Trout, Sunchoke & Beet Chips

Beef Carpaccio with Pickled Shallots Recipe

Beef Carpaccio with Pickled Shallots

I love beef carpaccio.  What I love even more, is the reaction from people when they hear that I know how to make beef carpaccio.  I always thought that carpaccio was one of those dishes best left to the professionals in a restaurant.  However, now that I know better, I’m here to show everyone that you can make beef carpaccio that is just as good, if not better, than a restaurants’.  My version uses pickled shallots (which I fell in love with after eating them at Trevor Bird’s Fable Kitchen, one of my favourite restaurants ever) and a lemon pepper mayo.  To be honest, I usually make a truffle aioli when I serve this at home, but I understand that not everyone owns a bottle of truffle oil.  Also, cutting the beef thinly is a bit of a challenge if all you have is a knife.  I personally do not mind thicker slices of beef, as it gives a more rustic feel, but a mandolin or meat slicer will get you perfectly thin slices.  Alternatively, some restaurants will slice their meat and pound it out into thin pieces.  You can then cut those pieces into perfect circles to get a fantastic looking dish.

INGREDIENTS:

1 beef tenderloin
Coarse black pepper & coarse sea salt
Handful of arugula
Handful of shaved Parmigiano Reggiano

Pickled Shallots:
1 shallot
2 tbsp good quality sherry or red wine vinegar
½ tsp sugar

Lemon Pepper Mayo:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
½ tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

STEPS:

  1. Season meat generously with salt & pepper
  2. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan on high heat, careful not to let oil smoke
  3. Sear tenderloin on every side of the meat
  4. Rest tenderloin on a rack and let cool until room temperature
  5. Prepare lemon pepper mayo by combining mayo, lemon juice and pepper, mix well and store in fridge
  6. Prepare pickled shallots by slicing shallot very thinly and combining with vinegar and sugar, set aside and let marinate
  7. Once tenderloin has cooled, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in freezer for 3-4 hours
  8. After 3-4 hours, remove tenderloin and slice as thinly as possible with a sharp knife, or using a meat slicer or mandolin (alternatively, you can slice thicker pieces, which is easier, and then pound them out thinly)
  9. Serve with lemon pepper mayo, pickled shallots, arugula, and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano

No cake? Let them eat bread!

I do a lot of cooking and food related things and most of the time I don’t go through the effort of writing recipes and/or taking videos.  I’m trying to change that, as you might be able to tell from my previous recipes & videos posted.  Anyways, I decided I should post anything food related on this blog, even if don’t have a recipe or video for it.  Today, I’m writing about bread.

Bread is one of those foods we typically take for granted, or forget about.  It’s always sitting on the sidelines, especially in North American cultures where “bread” constitutes as bleached loafs of “vitamin-enhanced” Wonder Bread.  But a real good bread is something quite exquisite, especially if the baking occurs in your oven (it floods your house with a delicious aroma of fresh bread).  Flour, yeast, water and salt.  Only four ingredients are required to make the perfect piece of bread (plus some heat from your oven and labour).

I’ve only recently perfected the technique for making baguettes, which is a simple white bread.  The wonderful thing about making your own breads is that you can par-bake them and freeze.  You can then bake them from a frozen state to have fresh bread whenever you want!  I hope to start playing with different flavourings and herbs to make more interesting white breads.  Further down the road, I’ll tackle some of the other different types of breads.

Baguettes ready to be baked in the oven!

The perfectly crisp and airy baguette!

The perfectly crisp and airy baguette!

Chocolate Truffles Valentine’s Day Recipe

Chocolate Truffles

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Valentine’s Day is known for flowers and chocolates, so what better than to make your own chocolates for the ones you love.  Chocolate truffles are a great treat and are perfect for your significant other, family, friends, or even just yourself.  Homemade truffles are leaps and bounds better than store bought ones.  Although they do not last as long, one taste will convert you to homemade truffles forever!  Once you get familiar with the recipe, feel free to add different flavourings into the ganache mixture in order to create different flavours of truffles.  You can even dip the truffles into molten chocolate in order to give it a crunchy chocolate crust.  You can find my Youtube video for making chocolate truffles below:

INGREDIENTS:

8 ounces Bittersweet Chocolate
3/4 cup Whipping Cream
Chocolate shavings
Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
Cocoa Powder

STEPS:

  1. Chop chocolate into small pieces and place into a bowl
  2. Heat cream in a small sauce pan to just simmering
  3. Pour hot cream over chocolate and whisk together until smooth and glossy to make the chocolate ganache, set in fridge overnight
  4. Once the ganache has set overnight, set up 3 bowls with the toppings for the rolled truffles
  5. Using a small spoon, scoop up some ganache and roll into a ball using your hands
  6. Toss truffle around in toppings until evenly coated and set onto a pan or in a container, repeat for remaining ganache
  7. Return rolled truffles to fridge in order to firm up again
  8. Store truffles in the low-humidity section of your fridge and bring out to room temperature 1-2 minutes before consuming

MAKES ~20 TRUFFLES

Crispy Pan Fried Gnocchi Recipe

Crispy Pan Fried Gnocchi

Pan fried gnocchi is one of my absolute favourite dishes/snacks.  I typically make my own gnocchi from scratch, but I wanted to be able to share a recipe with everyone and it’s a little impractical to tell everyone to roll out their own gnocchi.  Perhaps in the future, I’ll put out my recipe for homemade gnocchi.  I’ve used shelf-stable, packaged gnocchi in this recipe (which can be found in the dried pasta isle of your supermarket).  You can also watch my youtube video if you want to follow along with the cooking and preparation:

INGREDIENTS:

1 package of gnocchi
3 cloves of garlic chopped
2 cloves of garlic smashed
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Pinch of red pepper flakes

STEPS:

  1. Pour olive oil into a small saucepan on low heat, throw the smashed garlic and red pepper flakes in and let flavours infuse for 5 minutes
  2. Strain the oil mixture into an empty pan and set aside
  3. Cook gnocchi in a pot of salted, boiling water until they start to float, drain gnocchi
  4. Heat the oil mixture in your pan on medium heat and wait until hot or shimmering, then add the gnocchi into the pan
  5. Pan fry until bottom is golden brown and then flip gnocchi
  6. Once both sides are crispy and golden, season with salt and pepper
  7. Add the chopped garlic and cheese, toss several times until cheese has melted and garlic cooked

MAKES TWO SERVINGS

I love food, and you should too!

Loving food is not just about loving to eat.  It’s about loving the time and smiles spent with friends and family at the dinner table.  It’s being concious of what you are putting in your stomach.  It’s about caring where your food comes from and knowing how it is prepared.  It’s being open to all cultures and all types of cuisines and people.

I’m looking forward to sharing recipes, pictures, and videos of some of the things I love to cook and I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do.