Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sockeye Salmon Rice Cakes with Wild Mushroom Pan Sauce

Hi everyone and Happy Friday!

Remember that contest I entered a few weeks ago to become Jamie Oliver's Next Food Tube Star? Well I decided to submit a second entry because it dawned on me that with all the talk of living on Vancouver Island, it might have been a good idea to cook something inspired by local foods and ingredients.

And today's recipe does just that!




















Crispy oven baked sockeye salmon rice cakes drizzled with a luscious wild mushroom pan sauce.

Serve with a side of roasted baby beets and sauteed greens and you've got an end of the summer meal everyone is going to love!




















Visit the printable recipe here: Sockeye Salmon Rice Cakes with Wild Mushroom Pan Sauce

Please enjoy my easy to follow step by step video: 




Ingredients Salmon Cakes
  • 1 sockeye salmon filet
  • juice from 1/4 of a fresh lemon
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tsp lemon herb salt divided (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion
  •  1 cup Uncle Ben's 7 Grain Medley Rice
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped baby dill
  • additional fresh lemon juice to taste
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
 Ingredients Wild Mushroom Sauce
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 pkg dry mixed wild mushrooms (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 sprig fresh baby dill
  • 1/2 cup full fat sour cream
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
    Directions Salmon Cakes
    1. Lay the salmon skin side down and squeeze lemon juice all over. Sprinkle with the olive oil, and the lemon herb salt. Brush some olive oil onto the skin.
    2. Place onto a medium grill (350 degrees) skin side down and grill app three minutes a side. 
    3. Remove from heat. 
    4. Saute the diced onion in butter in a sauce pan over medium high heat. When the onions grow translucent and soft, add the 7 grain rice and coat well in the butter. Add 2 1/3 cups of water, bring to the boil, cover, turn to medium low, and let cook 25-30 minutes until the water has absorbed the rice.
    5. Measure out two cups of the cooked rice and put in a large bowl. Reserve the leftover rice for another use.
    6. Remove the skin from the salmon and flake it using a fork into the rice. Add the fresh dill, stir well, and then taste. Adjust seasoning with a squeeze of fresh lemon, and salt and pepper if needed.
    7. Using clean hands, form the salmon and rice mixture into small patties (as per the video)
    8. Set up a breading station with flour in one small shallow dish, an egg in the next, and Panko Breadcrumbs in the final dish. Add a half tsp each of lemon herb salt and black pepper to the bread crumbs and then mix in the tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.
    9. Dredge each salmon cake in the flour, next dip in the egg, and finally coat all over in the breadcrumbs. Place on an oiled baking sheet one at a time. 
    10. Bake in a 475 oven 7-10 minutes per side until golden. 
    11. Serve drizzled with Wild Mushroom Pan Sauce
Directions Wild Mushroom Sauce
    1. In a medium saucepan over high heat bring the chicken stock to the boil.
    2. Place the dried mushrooms into a bowl and pour the hot stock over top. Cover and let steep for 30 minutes.
    3. Remove the mushrooms and reserve the broth, chop them, and add them to a saute pan with a teaspoon of butter, salt and pepper. Saute over medium high for about two minutes. 
    4. Reserve 2 tbsp of the mushroom chicken broth.
    5. Pour the rest of the chicken and mushroom broth back into the pan. Add the fresh dill. Bring to the boil and let simmer about 2 minutes. . 
    6. Add the sour cream, and stir until you have a smooth velvety sauce. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. 
    7. Mix the reserved broth with the cornstarch and stir well to make a slurry. Add to the cream sauce and whisk until thickened. 

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Slow Cooker Roast Beef Chili over Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

A big part of the fun food blogging isn't just creating recipes myself, but coming up with inspiration and ideas alongside my husband who is the best possible partner in this endeavour.

And it should also be mentioned that although he is, for the most part, a silent partner in this blogging adventure, The Man I Married is an award winning recipe developer and chef in his own right. He just lets me take all the limelight because he's that kind of a guy.

But he has so many incredible dishes that I finally talked him into sharing a few - starting today with one of my favourite Sunday comfort meals of all time, Slow cooker Roast Beef Chili over Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread.


 Visit the printable recipe here: Pulled Roast Beef Chili over Cornbread

Or enjoy the easy to follow step by step video featuring The Man I Married.





Chili Ingredients
  • 1 14 oz (398 ml) tin mixed beans, drained
  • 1 14 oz (398 ml) tin kidney beans, drained
  • 1 19 oz (540 ml) tin Aylmer's Accent diced tomatoes in the chili flavour, or a tin of stewed tomatoes
  • 2 14 oz (398 ml) cans of chili beans 
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1 bottle of beer
Directions

Mix all of the ingredients listed above in a large bowl and let sit in the refrigerator over night.

Roast Rub Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp espresso powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp thyme 
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 cup Kentucky bourbon
Mix all of the rub ingredients together with the bourbon and using your hands, coat a 5 lb sirloin or top round roast in the rub. Reserve additional spice ingredients for other uses.

Wrap the roast tightly in plastic and refrigerate overnight.

Chili Directions

Place the roast into a slow cooker that has been treated with olive oil. Pour the bean mixture over top and cook on the low setting for 8-10 hours.

Shred the roast. Add salt to taste, and serve over slabs of jalapeno cheddar cornbread.

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
Ingredients
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal 
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 2 tsp. baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 1 cup 1 % milk 
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil 
  • 1 eggs beaten
  • 1 tbsp diced jalapeno pepper
  • 1 cup grated old cheddar cheese
Combine dry ingredients. Stir in milk, oil, egg and 1 cup cheese until moistened.Pour into a well greased square baking pan and bake in a pre-heated 400 oven fro 20-25 minutes until cooked through and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serve the chili in ladles over the cornbread


Friday, August 23, 2013

Eggs Benny Breakfast Muffins

Another make ahead for quick breakfasts on the go that freeze wonderfully. Better still, the texture and flavour of the muffins will remind you of eggs benedict.




















Learn how to make this wonderful breakfast with my easy to follow step by step video.



Or visit the printable recipe here: Eggs Benny Breakfast Muffins

Ingredients

Muffins
  • 1/2 cup light cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp warm chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp lemon herb salt, divided
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper 
  • 4 lightly beaten eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup Canadian bacon, diced and cooked crispy
Cheesy Egg Filling
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 medium eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 chopped green onion
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
Directions:
  1. Mix the cream cheese, lemon juice, and chicken stock, together in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the sour cream, salt and cayenne pepper. Add the eggs, flour, and baking powder, and cooked back bacon and stir to mix.
  2. Bake in a greased muffin tin in a preheated 400 oven until they are golden brown on top and a toothpick poked into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
  3. Let cool on counter, remove from muffin tin and cut each in half. 
  4. Add the onion to the eggs and scramble the eggs over medium in a large non stick skillet in the tsp of olive oil. 
  5. When the eggs are just about cooked, add the cheese, let it melt in, and then remove the eggs from the heat just before they are completely done. They will continue to cook in the pan away from the heat but won't overcook. Scrambled eggs become runny when they're over cooked. 
  6. Place a heaping tbsp of the egg mixture onto one half of each muffin and top with the other half. Serve immediately or individually wrap and freeze. These re-heat well in the microwave for a quick on the go breakfast.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Turkey Meatball Soup with Mixed Greens

Now that I'm back to work after a wonderful 5 week vacation, it's back to packing my lunch. I do this not just because it saves me a lot of money, but also because I prefer the taste of my own homemade soups, salads, wraps, and sandwiches to anything I could purchase - and today's soup is no different. 


Today's offering might just be one of my top soup recipes of all time. Make this on a Sunday and then freeze or refrigerate to take for lunch throughout the week!

Visit the printable here: Turkey Meatball Soup with Mixed Greens

Please enjoy my easy to follow step by step video.



Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Serves: 4

Turkey Meatball Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 tsp lemon herb salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 heaping tbsp grated white onion
  • 1 tbsp finely minced celery
  • 1 tsp minced garlic

Soup Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp each extra virgin olive oil and butter
  • 1 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/2 cup finely diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots 
  •  6 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups chopped mixed greens like Swiss chard, spinach, and kale
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Directions
  1. Mix all of the meatball ingredients together and form into cocktail sized balls. Set aside.
  2. Saute the celery, carrots, and onion in the butter and olive oil over medium high heat in a large soup pot. 
  3. When the vegetables just begin to turn soft, add the meatballs a few at a time and let them saute a little to get well coated in the olive oil and butter. 
  4. Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil. Once boiling, cover, turn to medium low, and continue to simmer for 30 minutes. 
  5. After the soup has simmered 30 minutes, add the greens, stir well until wilted, and then add the black pepper and lemon juice.



***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube

Saturday, August 17, 2013

AUDITION VIDEO: Curried Coconut Chicken with Mandarin Almond Rice Jamie Oliver Food Tube Star

Hi everyone,

Well, I'm back in the world of contests again - this time with an audition to become a part of Jamie Oliver's FoodTube family on YouTube!

The contest is called Jamie and Uncle Ben's Search for the Next FoodTube Star and I'm super excited to be part of it.

To do so, I chose one of my favourite easy Kitchen Witch recipes because it's a super easy dish any cook can accomplish - and impress with!

Tender boneless skinless chicken breasts are baked until tender in a coconut curry sauce and then placed atop Uncle Ben's Basmati rice with toasted almonds and mandarin slices. This easy, no fuss meal is great for weeknight dinners but is also impressive enough to serve when entertaining!
























If you get a chance, please take a look at my audition video - and if you're on YouTube, give it a like and maybe share it with others:-)

xoxoxoxo and thank you in advance - here's the audition...



Visit the printable recipe for the chicken here: Curried Coconut Chicken with Mandarin Almond Rice





 







Ingredients
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tsp each: salt, pepper, garlic, and onion powder - mix together
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 3 Tbsp green curry paste
  • 1/2 tsp Asian Chili Garlic Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  •   1Tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 Tbsp water to form a slurry
Rice Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 1 cup or one small tin canned mandarin oranges, drained
  • 2 sliced green onions
  • 1 cup basmati rice
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Grease a shallow casserole dish with oil. Sprinkle chicken breasts on both sides with the salt, pepper, garlic, onion  powder mixture and place in casserole.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the coconut milk, curry paste, chili garlic sauce, brown sugar, salt, lemon juice, and curry powder. Pour over chicken, cover, and bake for 55 minutes. 
  4. When chicken has baked for 1 hour, remove from oven, lift the chicken out onto a plate, cover with tinfoil and set aside. Add the cornstarch slurry to the sauce, stir well and return to the oven for an additional 3-5 minutes. This will perfectly thicken the sauce.
  5. Cook the rice according to package directions. 
  6. In a non stick pan, toast the sliced almonds and coconut over medium heat, stirring constantly until the almonds are golden brown and the coconut is brown and crispy. Set aside until ready to serve. 
  7. When the rice is cooked, add the green onions, mandarin oranges, and 1/2 the toasted almond and coconut mixture. Stir and place a dollop of the rice onto a plate. 
  8. Place a chicken breast over the rice, and spoon a generous amount of sauce over all. 
  9. When each chicken breast is plated, top each with an equal amount of the reserved toasted almond and coconut mixture.


***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube

Friday, August 16, 2013

Polenta with Savoury Beef and Cherry Tomatoes

 Do you ever get a craving for polenta? Or, you just don't feel like having the same old pasta or rice? Well today's quick and easy dish is going to give the perfect alternative! Better still, it features a pantry ingredient that's wonderful to keep on hand for creating fresh, summery tasting meals year round.




Cheesy polenta is cut into slices and topped with savoury ground beef and cherry tomatoes. Better still, this incredible dish can be put together, start to finish, in about 30 minutes!


 Visit the printable recipe here: Polenta with Savoury Beef and Cherry Tomatoes

Please enjoy my easy to follow step by step video!




Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup quick polenta
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion
  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 400 gram (14 ounce) tin canned Italian cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Directions 
  1. Pour milk and broth into a medium saucepan and add butter. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and then add the polenta 
  2. Stir with a whisk for about 3 minutes or until polenta thickens up.  Add the cheese and whisk another minute. 
  3. Place into a small cake pan or casserole dish that has been treated with extra virgin olive oil (as per the video), cover and let the polenta set on the counter while you make the beef and tomatoes.
  4. Saute a half cup of onion in extra virgin olive over medium high heat until soft. Add the ground beef and saute until almost cooked through. Add the salt, black pepper, minced garlic and continue to saute until the ground beef is completely cooked through.
  5. Stir in the canned tomatoes and use the spatula to burst the tomatoes. Let that simmer 10 minutes.
  6.  While that simmers, cut the polenta into slices like cake. Serve with large spoonfuls of the meat sauce and then sprinkle with fresh basil. 


***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What Happened on Next Food Network Star and MasterChef this Week

I know I'm a little late with my final thoughts on Next Food Network Star, but it's just that by the time we get to the end I always feel a little disappointed it's all over. I will say, however, I was happy that, despite the ghastly red kitchen Food Network stuck Damaris in for her pilot, the public got it half right and voted her the winner - I say half right because I would have been much happier to have seen Damaris and Russell in the top two spots.

Oh well, I've said my piece and in the spirit of good sportsmanship, I'm going on record by wishing Rodney well - plus I'm sure we'll be seeing his show on Food Network soon.What I'm going to be most curious about, though, is to see what happens with Damaris. If last season is any indicator, the promise of a show doesn't necessarily translate into reality; all we got from last year's winner Justin Warner was a one hour special.

What I would love to see from Damaris would be her cooking in a large, old, southern home with a big wraparound porch and an antique style kitchen with modern appliances - the old south meets the new right in the kitchen with lots of amazing recipes, techniques, and cocktails.

*Sigh*

I'm not going to hold my breath waiting.

In other news, Jordan went home on Master Chef this week and Krissi, despite her new makeover, continues to be, well, Krissi. She won the mystery box challenge by cooking an amazing t-bone steak in a cast iron pan and siding it with lemon and blue cheese infused butter and a crispy potato galette.

As the challenge winner, she was faced with a plethora of poultry and got to choose a different variety of bird for each finalist to cook. Thinking she might finally knock Natasha out by giving her pheasant, our resident wicked bitch thwarted Krissi and rose to the occasion by doing an amazing pheasant breast with mushroom risotto cooked in pheasant broth - and I agree with Jordan; as he left he said Natasha is the one to watch for.

But I also think Krissi is an amazing cook - despite all the flack I've taken this season for supporting her. I keep thinking, though, that if past seasons are any indicator, poor Krissie is on borrowed time. In looking over my tough talking single mom stats, Christine Corley was sent home at #8 and Monty at #5 - so we'll have to see if Krissie can survive next week to make into the final four.

Stay tuned next week for a more detailed recap, and if Master Chef got you hankering a t-bone steak, check out: The Basics, How to Perfectly Broil a Steak



***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lemon Butter Spaghetti with Mushrooms

I'm a day early for Weekday Wednesday but I've been meaning to share this recipe for awhile - and since I made it for dinner last night today seemed like the perfect day.

This is one of my all time favourite, easy, comforting weeknight dinners!




















Visit the printable recipe here: Lemon Butter Spaghetti with Mushrooms

Or follow along with my step by step video.

Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 cups sliced mushrooms any variety
  • 1/2 tsp each salt, pepper, minced garlic
  • 5 slices of lemon
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 450 grams spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley (optional)
  • fresh grated parmesan cheese
Directions
  1. Saute the mushrooms over medium high heat in the olive oil and 1 tbsp of butter just until the mushrooms begin to release their water. At this point add the salt, pepper, and garlic and continue to stir and saute until the mushroom water is almost evaporated.
  2. Add the lemon slices, thyme, and rosemary and stir in the pan.
  3. Cover with the chicken stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat slightly and continue to simmer until the sauce has reduced by about half.
  4. When the sauce has reduced, turn off the heat and add the second tbsp of butter stirring as it melts. 
  5. Cook the spaghetti in boiling, salted water just until al dente and drain.
  6. Bring the sauce back up to the boil and add the cooked spaghetti. Toss until the sauce is almost completely incorporated into the spaghetti. Add the parsley at this time if using. 
  7. Serve sprinkled with parmesan cheese.


***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube











Monday, August 12, 2013

Amanda Meets her Protector - Cherry Hill, Episode 26

Welcome back to Cherry Hill dear readers! When last we left, Jack, Amanda, and her two children were on the run from an organization known as "The Association" and just as they set out for their final destination, they were ambushed by the leader of the team Walt Fischer.

We return now to Cherry Hill...

Missed an episode? Click here to get caught up: Cherry Hill Index

***

"Don't move," came a voice from behind a boulder, and then as if from out of the shadows, Walt Fischer stepped out and he was carrying a gun.

In the distance came the cry of a lone wolf.

Jack cocked his head to the horizon and for the briefest moment looked into Amanda's eyes. That was all it took to tell her they were not in danger. Jack would keep her safe at all costs. Walt Fischer may have thought he had the upper hand, but he was a relative newcomer to the Association and had no idea the power of the ancient magic or the Zanzibar.

The children, eyes as big as saucers, stood frozen and Amanda gathered them one under each arm hugging them close. Using every ounce of energy she had, she willed them to be unafraid and to trust in Jack. As her thoughts flowed, she could feel the children slowly begin to relax and she marveled once again at her new found powers.

"Fischer," said Jack, dark steely eyes looking straight ahead, unafraid, "I'm going to give you a chance right now to put down the gun, gather your team and get out of here. You have no idea what you're dealing with."

The two men stared at each other in silence and for the briefest moment Walt Fischer was tempted to back down. Something about Jack's attitude and the look in his eyes gave him pause. But as a long time military operative, now for hire, his contract with the Association was to bring Amanda and the children back unharmed - and by damn, when he had a job to do, he did it.

There was no specification, however, about Jack and in a split second between choices, Walt Fischer decided to finish him off.

It was subtle, the feather like movement of a finger and a change in Fischer's eyes - but Jack had been well trained, and before Walt Fischer could pull the trigger Jack sprung on him with the agility of a wild cat and with one swift movement completely disarmed him.

"Get back in the cave Amanda, and take the children," said Jack, "don't come back out until I come and get you.

Without questioning him, Amanda and the children turned and ran back into the cave. Jack held the gun to Fischer's head, and looking into his eyes said, "I warned you. Where is the rest of your team."

"They'll be here any second," said Walt, "And when they get here you'll be no match for them. Let me go now, I'll take Amanda and the children and no one needs to get hurt. "

Jack sighed. "I might not be a match for your team, but we're not alone."

Gesturing with his eyes to a large cliff just above them, Walt took in a sharp intake of breath. Sitting there, staring down, calm and prepared was a giant silver wolf with sharp blue eyes.

 "That," said Jack with reverence, "is The Protector." 

Just then Walt Fischer's team arrived and all at the same time, they followed his eyes up the cliff to the large wolf gazing down. "What the holy hell is that?" asked one of his operatives, but before he could answer, the wolf threw back his head and let out a howl that literally shook the ground.

Jack looked at the group. "This is your last warning, leave now and don't look back. The wolf is a Protector and will stop at nothing to assure the safety of Amanda and her children - you can't win and I would like to spare everyone a blood bath this afternoon."

The team looked from one to the other and feeling defeated, Walt said, "You haven't seen the last of us."

The group ducked back behind the boulder and Jack shouted "You have exactly five minutes to get as far away from here as possible. Don't turn around, don't look back and leave Amanda alone. The next time we see you, we will NOT show the same mercy."

To punctuate the sentiment, the blue eyed wolf howled one last time as Walt Fischer and company ran through the woods.

Amanda and the children could feel the ground shake from inside the cave as the wolf with blue eyes howled but they did as Jack had asked and stayed put. Although their world seemed as if it were crumbling around them most days, Amanda felt a strange sense of calm; somehow understanding there was a much bigger picture to this story. As she hugged the children tighter, she vowed to make amends with Jack, realizing now the emptiness she would feel without him.

Jack. Her stalwart friend and loyal supporter. Amanda silently chastised herself once again for growing so cross with him. After all, he had only ever wanted what was best for her, and as she continued to think about him and about all the times he was there to listen, to laugh with, or to lend a helping hand a growing realization began to dawn on her; she truly cared about this man. Perhaps more than she had ever realized, perhaps so much that...

A small grey haired man with brilliant blue eyes walked into the cave, and Amanda startled. Was this one of Walt Fischer's men?

Before she had a chance to say anything the blue eyed man walked toward her, "Precious child Amanda, do not be afraid. I am your Protector, hear to take you and the children on the next leg of your journey."

"But where is Jack?" asked Amanda, her eyes threatening to fill with tears.

"Jack is gone," said the Protector kindly, "He has fulfilled his obligation to keep you and the children safe. But  there is much work to be done still and only little time. Come everyone, I have somewhere to take you.

Without having be told further Amanda knew she could trust the Protector - in much the same way she had always known she could trust Jack. But as she walked with the children out of the cave her heart filled with a loneliness and a longing more intense than she had ever experienced in her life and as the first rays of sunlight hit them, Amanda realized she loved Jack. Deeply and without reservation and as the thought flooded her mind and her heart she choked back a tiny sob.

As if reading her mind the Protector turned around. "He was your Watcher child. Of course you feel bonded to him - but he was never meant to be have a permanent place in your life. It is bigger than that. There are other plans."

And with that he picked up a large wooden stick lying in the dirt. Turning it to the left three times and chanting "Ilysium Zanzibar" the stick turned into a golden staff with a large white ball on the end. Suddenly the forest to their right parted and a long path formed. "Follow me child, the journey continues...

***

Heading backward from the direction they had come, Jack fought to hold back his tears. Men weren't supposed to cry and Watchers weren't supposed to fall in love. But both were happening. Though he knew she would be safe with her Protector, Jack felt sick with loss. As decreed, he and Amanda could never see each other again.

Wiping the tears from his eyes, Jack continued the climb back up and out of the forest when he heard an usual rustling just to his right. 

"Hold it right there Wilson,"  Art Fischer stepped out of the trees along with his eight henchmen, all armed and pointing their guns at him. "We may be leaving the forest without Amanda, but we're not leaving without you. You're coming back with us. The Association wants to talk with you."

At that exact moment Amanda stopped on the path. Her face went white and she let out a startled cry. Her Protector turned around and asked "What is it child?"

"It's Jack," she said, He's in danger, we have to go back."

"We can't go back child," said her Protector feeling confused. The bond had been broken, Jack had left, it was unheard of that Amanda would still be sensing thought patterns from him - he, as her Protector, had severed the link himself, ensuring the two would be able to let each go more easily - so how then was she sensing the danger Jack was in?

"I'm not leaving him," said Amanda, "Not now and not ever. Jack is in danger and I won't let him go."

Raising her hands, some kind of ancient knowledge flooded her brain, "Fly and freeze," she shouted to the winds and in a whirl she was picked up and flown up and out of the pathway. With another turn of her hand, the entryway closed leaving her Protector and the children on the other side.

"Protect my children," she cried, "I'm going to find Jack..."

***

Stay tuned for the next exciting installment of Cherry Hill!


***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube







Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Canadian Food Hero - Chef Mara Jernigan Inspires Homemade Pierogies with Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce - The Canadian Food Experience Project

I met chef and local food activist, Mara Jernigan, almost 10 years ago when the two of us appeared on a local morning television show. At the time, I had no idea  this random coming together of two people would result in a life changing passion for cooking; if anything, I just hoped I would get through the interview without stumbling on my words.

I was there to talk about crisis lines and the importance of finding safe places to reach out; which was about as far removed from the world of food and cooking as you could get - and certainly, if someone had told me then that ten year's later I would be writing about the experience as a turning point in my life, I never would have believed it.

I smile now as I remember being interviewed amidst the clatter of peeping baby ducks - brought to the show compliments of Chef Jernigan - who was there to introduce a place called Fairburn Farm in the Cowichan Valley.

After living in Europe and discovering local artisan fare and organic agriculture Chef Jernigan became so passionate about the provenance of food in the kitchen  that she could no longer work with mass produced industrial ingredients. This brought her to Fairburn Farm where she began producing her own food and educating others.

***

The Canadian Food Experience Project began on June 7, 2013. Participants have shared their collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice and we hope that other Canadian cooks and bloggers will join us.

The theme for the Canadian Food Experience Project this month is: A Canadian Food Hero, which is why I am honoured to write about Chef Mara Jernigan.

***

While the smells of sizzling duck breast and sausage filled the air in the studio that morning, I remember feeling a little queasy as I made the connection between those peeping little baby ducks and the delicious homemade sausage our host, Bruce Williams, handed me to try.

Until then my meat had come from the supermarket, nicely packaged, often de-boned, stacked in my cart just so in double wrapped sanitary plastic bags - and now, here I was, eating something that had recently been alive amidst a dervish of ducks reminding me with every little peep, the reverence and gratitude I should be having for the things I was eating.

I'd like to tell you that this was the moment my life changed. That I became a conscientious convert to the local food movement then and there, but if I told you that I'd be a liar. The pivotal moment for me - as most pivotal moments happen - came as more of a whisper so that while it was occurring, I had no idea.

It happened when Bruce Williams offered me a piece of duck breast that had just come out of Mara Jernigan's saute pan. To be honest, with all that peeping going on, the last thing I wanted at 7 in the morning was more duck - but I am Canadian, after all, and was taught to always accept what is offered, so I politely took that duck breast, cut off a little piece, and gave it a try.

If I had a sound effect function on this blog right now, you would be hearing the heavens open up while a multitude of angels sang hallelujah.

Why?

Because the duck breast was that good. 

It was velvety, and juicy, and quite the revelation. Not only had I never eaten farm raised duck before, this was my first experience with food prepared by a world class chef and my hedonistic Taurean soul was lit on fire.

I remember going back to the office that day raving about the duck, committed to learning how to create that kind of magic in my own kitchen - but as life always seems to want to happen, it did, and in no time I was back to cooking my trade mark casseroles with boneless chicken breast meat, ground beef, and varying flavours of Campbell's Cream Soups until the duck was nothing but a distant memory.

And then about five years later a friend of mine asked if I'd be interested in taking a cooking class. There was this place called Fairburn Farm in the Cowichan Valley and the chef there was offering "Field to Table" classes. She couldn't remember the name of the chef, but something about Fairburn Farm was twigging my memory - could that be the same woman who cooked the duck?

On the off chance that it was, I signed up for the class and found myself on a Saturday morning in July in the garden at Fairburn Farm with Mara Jernigan.

 Everything was an inspiration - from the way she kept all of her baking ingredients easily accessible in a rustic pie safe, to the outdoor wood burning oven where we cooked fresh pizzas for lunch made with buffalo mozzarella from a local farm, basil, and tomatoes from the garden. We sat outdoors sipping cold crisp local cider, munching on pizza the way it was meant to be: simple, crispy, and made with the freshest ingredients.

In the afternoon, we were back in the kitchen making pie dough for the most remarkable quiches, fresh pasta, salsa cruda, and strawberry crostada.


























Although I got the lattice crust a little messed up, this was my first effort at re-creating some of the magic I experienced at Fairburn Farm that day.

In the years since, I have put in my own back yard garden, fashioned a pie safe/baking cupboard for myself, learned how to can and preserve food, and somehow, inexplicably, have become a small part of the Canadian food landscape through recipe development, teaching, and blogging - all the while aspiring to the greatness I experienced that morning with one perfect bite of duck.

Mara Jernigan is currently living in Punta Gorda Belize where she is the culinary director and chef  at Belcampo Lodge. She returns to Canada a few times a year to teach, runs a cooking tour of Italy that is on my bucket list, and continues to teach and inspire wherever she goes. In 2010 she was voted the top food educator in Eat magazine's awards.

As a person who's life has been changed for the better because of the passionate beliefs, talent, and generosity of another person, I am proud to introduce Chef Mara Jernigan as my Canadian Food Hero and a dish I created as my offering this month:

Homemade Pierogies with Wild Mushroom Sauce




















Our menu that day at Fairburn Farm featured vegetarian fare wrapped up in the most beautiful hand made doughs and pastas. Prior to meeting Mara, I never would have conceived of making my own pierogies and always just purchased them frozen from the grocery store.

But once you've had them hand made, with fluffy, onion and cheese infused potatoes stuffed inside, you will never go back.

Topped with my original recipe for velvety wild mushroom sauce, this is a dish you will come to again and again either as a starter, a side, or a main course with a beautiful tossed salad. 

Visit the printable recipe here: Pierogies with Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce

Please enjoy my easy to follow step by step video to learn how to make perogies yourself. 





Pierogie Ingredients
(pierogi dough and filling recipe adapted from original "Nana's Pierogies" at Just a Pinch)

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
Potato Filling
  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3 tsp butter
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small diced yellow onion
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp each kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese (change the cheese depending on taste - I like Gruyere, or a 4 cheese Italian blend with this recipe)
Wild Mushroom Sauce Ingredients
  • 1 pkg dried wild mushrooms (about a half cup)
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup full fat sour cream
Directions - Dough
  1. Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl.
  2. Make a well in the center and then add the egg, vegetable oil and warm water and stir until it all comes together. 
  3. Remove to a floured board and knead for about a minute - just until the dough is smooth. Divide it into two equal pieces, wrap each in plastic, and let rest for 30 minutes.
Directions - Filling
  1. Boil the potatoes until tender. While they're boiling saute the finely diced white onion in the butter and extra virgin olive oil. Add the garlic powder, salt and pepper stirring well and continue to saute until the onions begin to look soft and golden. 
  2. Drain the potatoes.
  3. Add the onion mixture along with a half cup of shredded cheese to the drained potatoes and mash everything together until its nice and smooth and fluffy.
Directions - Assembly
  1. Now its time to roll out the dough. Place one of the halves onto a floured surface and roll to a thickness of about a quarter of an inch. Cut out round disks using a tumbler and then roll out each individual disc before stuffing. 
  2. Place 1 tbsp of the potato mixture onto the disc and then roll over and fold. Seal the edges further by pressing down with the tines of a fork. These can be made ahead at this point and then refrigerated or frozen until ready to use.
Directions - Wild Mushroom Sauce
  1. In a medium saucepan over high heat bring the beef broth to the boil.
  2. Place the dried mushrooms into a bowl and pour the hot stock over top. Cover and let steep for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove the mushrooms and reserve the broth, chop them, and add them to a saute pan with a teaspoon of butter. Saute over medium high for about two minutes. 
  4. Add fresh thyme and pour the reserved beef and mushroom broth back into the pan. Bring to the boil and let reduce by about a quarter. 
  5. Remove the thyme, add the sour cream, and stir until you have a smooth velvety sauce. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until ready to serve.
Cooking the Pierogies
  1. Pull out a large non-stick saute pan and prepare it with 1 Tbsp vegetable oil.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, immerse the pierogies in batches of six in a large pot of rapidly boiling water. Let boil until they begin to come to the top. 
  3. Heat the saute pan over medium high and then turn to medium.
  4. Transfer the pierogies using the slotted spoon one by one into the large non stick pan heated to medium. The water from the pierogies will make the pan sputter quite a bit. Just remove the pan from the heat momentarily when that happens and keep going. 
  5. Turn them every minute or so and continue to saute until both sides are golden. Remove the pierogies to a paper towel lined sheet pan and keep them warm in a 200 oven while you cook the next six. 
  6. Serve drizzled with the wild mushrooms and sauce.



***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Is Rodney a Shoe In to WIn? - Next Food Network Star Season 9

Just a quick disclaimer - my blog contains the ramblings and conjecture of a food network junkie. Nothing I've written has been substantiated in any way. This is merely the sad result of having far too much time on my hands. Everything should, therefore, be taken with more than a little grain of salt.

***

This week's episode began with a brain storming session with the mentors to help the finalists create a pitch for their pilots. They were asked to come up with two ideas that they would then bring to Alton, Bobby, and Giada who would help them decide on a final concept. From there, they would each present their concept at a pitch meeting with Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson. Only three of the final four would be moving on to make a pilot so everything would be riding on that pitch.

The Brain Storm Sessions

Stacey was up first, and still feeling uncertain after learning she had her guard up last week, came into the brainstorm session looking worried. However, she presented her two ideas clearly to the mentors - and as an at home viewer, I truly don't know what they're talking about with the whole guard up thing. Stacey is clear, articulate, knows her stuff, and even though the whole vintage/modern thing isn't as appealing to me, I think she would do an amazing job.

The mentors helped her craft an idea for a show that would feature some kind of recipe repair, either at a restaurant or at somebody's home, where she would update a dish that had become tired.

Next up was Russell and I have to tell you I LOVED his initial idea to feature sinful dinner parties. I could just picture him giving us all kinds of cool insider glimpses into the food party scene, designing edgy menus featuring a culinary sin (or two), and keeping us on top of what's new, and edgy, and "to die for" in food right now.

Not surprisingly, the mentors didn't seem as jazzed.

In fact, there was one uncomfortable point where Bobby stared at Russell stone face as a statue and I wondered, what do you do in that situation? Do you say something? Do you stare back?

And memo to Bobby: From a strictly aesthetic point of view, get thee to the sunless tanner. Stat.

In the end Russell was steered away from the dinner party idea and instead came up with a concept that would see him going to varying restaurants bringing his culinary sins with him. There he would create a sinful dish and see if he could get it on the  menu.

Are you starting to see a theme here? Each pilot, so far, has involved the finalists going on site somewhere and I'm going to go on a limb and tell you what I think...

I believe the Food Network had their winner chosen before Next Food Network Star even began. 

I think they're looking to make a show with the same kind of vibe and appeal as Diner's, Drive Ins, and Dives and they're looking for another Guy Fieri - that is, someone with an offbeat, likeable, over the top personality to host it - which would explain a lot about why Rodney is still on the show.

I'm not saying it's a done deal because the viewing public has the final say, but there are subtle ways a pilot, for example, can be made to stand out over the rest in order to nudge the public to vote a certain way - I'll get to that later.

That being said, Rodney was given a great idea for his pilot from the mentors: to go into a restaurant and issue a pie style challenge (much like Throwdown) where he would take an item off the menu, make a pie out of it and the diners would vote on what they liked best: pie style, or the original dish.

Finally, Damaris. I've made no secret that she and Russell are my two favorites, and that at this point I wish they'd all get their own shows, but when she started talking about her idea to teach men how to cook their way into women's hearts, I got nervous because it sounded a lot like the point of view Andres came onto the show with (remember him - the guy who didn't want to exploit over weight people by using his 150 pound weight loss as his point of view?)

He went home because the mentors claimed he alienated the males in his focus group by inferring they couldn't cook. So to my mind, even if you dress it southern, I think Damaris was given a bad piece of advice to go ahead with her idea.

The Pitches

Stacey came up with the idea of selling "Modern Magic" where she would take people's vintage dishes and update them - but her downfall came when, at the 11th hour when she decided to add emotion to the pitch in order to bring her walls down. While she was talking, Susie Fogelson looked like she was in physical pain and made the observation: "it sounds a little sad to me," while Bob tried to explain why using words like "broken down" aren't a good idea when pitching a show.

However, Giada's comment to Susie Fogelson, "I think it's her attempt to convey some kind of human emotion," gets the award for being the most ironic hilarious comment of the season.

Moving on.

Susie and Giada looked like a couple of she lions ready to pounce as Russell described his show "Guilty Pleasures."

Everyone was on board with Damaris and her show "Eat Pray Love," and Bob Tuschman felt that "pie style somehow suggested good times."

(there is so much more I could say about that...) 

At the end of the day Damaris, Russell, and Rodney were selected to make pilots and Stacey was sent home. As she said, "It's been an amazing ride" and she has every reason to feel proud of herself.

The Pilots

Before I talk about the three pilots, I would like to go on record by acknowledging Guy Fieri for giving the tip of the year: How to take a bite out something and then talk about it with your mouth full of food. The trick; move the food to the side of your mouth - and I'm here to say  it works. I tried it out yesterday doing a cooking video.

So there. Now I've said something positive about Guy Fieri. There's a first time for everything.

But let's talk pilots. Remember how I said there might be ways to nudge the viewing public to vote one way or another? Well let's start with Rodney. Right off the bat his pilot came across as compelling just by virtue of the fact that he was in Chef Eric Greenspan's beautiful Hollywood restaurant. Eric Greenspan is not only one of the best chefs in the United States, he has also done a lot of TV and is highly engaging to watch.

Rodney was challenged to turn Eric Greenspan's famous grilled cheese sandwich into a pie and it would stand to reason that we, the viewing audience, would be mighty impressed if Rodney's pie won.

Which it did because 8 out of 10 people chose pie style. 

People, this is the same chef who deep fried a chicken cacciatore pie last week and I'm supposed to believe he came up with a recipe by himself that would beat Eric Greenspan?

But then, what do I know?

Russell's pilot was as good as it could possibly be considering he was at an ice cream stand and not out chewing the fat with a well known celebrity chef. Where Eric Greenspan was an engaging and interesting counterpoint to Rodney, the owner of Bennett's ice cream almost looked hostile at points and even though Russell's bourbon and bacon ice cream has me up at night with uncontrollable lusty cravings, Bennett didn't give him a "win" per se because he didn't confirm whether or not the new flavour would be added to his menu. Instead he said "it might make it."

I mean, what was that? 

But if you thought Russell had it bad, the dingy looking kitchen with red painted walls they stuck Damaris in took the three layer cake. The place looked more like someone's basement suite apartment than the set of a professional cooking show. And though I love and adore Damaris, it was difficult to get past the fire extinguisher hanging on the wall behind her guest or all the clutter stacked onto the fridges and shelves.

Seriously?

How is any of this fair?

Let's not even get started on the guy she was teaching. I mean, he was cute enough I guess, in a revenge of the nerds sort of way - but if they had her in a nice kitchen and teamed her with a hunky, sweet, engaging guy, as opposed to a man of wood - dollars to sweet potato biscuits her show would have knocked it out of the park.

Let's not even talk about the lime green dishes they plated her food on. The entire pilot was like a "what not to do" and I am absolutely flabbergasted on Damaris's behalf.

To both her credit and Russell's they each did an amazing job working with what they got and I HOPE all of us who have been big fans since the beginning are looking at the entire season, the skill set each finalist brings to the table, and is voting - not on the pilots - but on the entire package.

So VOTE HERE  people - you get a maximum of 10. VOTE. VOTE. VOTE. And let's see if we can even the odds.

In any case, guess we'll all know next Sunday.

And that's the blog.


***

If you enjoy reading food related fiction, pop by and check out my hilarious new web series "Starring Samantha."

Samantha Wentworth's catering business goes belly up along with her marriage to cut throat divorce attorney Alan Wentworth. To recoup her losses she applies to be on a reality TV show, falls in love with the married producer, just about kills the pompous chef host, and gets herself into all kinds of other interesting predicaments. 

Stay tuned Saturdays for this brand new serial on The Kitchen Witch! I'll be basing the characters off of well known food world celebs to keep you guessing! Each installment will come with a signature cocktail, recipes, and a fun question and answer to include you in the plot twists - so be sure to bookmark The Kitchen Witch and come along for a fun, food related, romantic romp through the world of reality TV!

Click here to read Episode 1: Samantha Drowns her Sorrows in a Vodka Gimlet 



***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube





Friday, August 2, 2013

Linguini with Salsa Cruda and Pan Seared Halibut

For today's Foodie Friday I decided to share an easy and incredibly healthy recipe that celebrates the best of what summer has to offer.

Linguini with Salsa Cruda and Pan Seared Halibut

Salsa Cruda is a wonderful recipe to have in your back pocket during the summer - especially when the tomatoes start to ripen. It can be used in a variety of ways, but I like it best as a sauce for pasta or a topper for fish or chicken.

Visit the printable recipe here: Linguini with Salsa Cruda and Pan Seared Halibut

Please enjoy my easy to follow step by step video.




Ingredients
  • 4 halibut filets (or other firm flesh fish)
  • 1 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 300 grams uncooked linguini pasta
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
For the Salsa Cruda
  • 4 cups coarsley chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste (be generous enough with the salt to really bring out the flavor of the tomatoes- start with about a half tsp and then taste as you go increasing as needed
  • 1 tsp dried chilies
For the Basil Oil:
  • 1/2 clove finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
Directions
  1. Mix the Salsa Cruda ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Pulse the basil oil ingredients in a blender until smooth.
  3. Add the basil oil to the Salsa Cruda. Cover and let sit at room temperature for an hour or two.
  4.  Add extra virgin olive to a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper and it add to a large non-stick pan over medium high heat. Sear the fish for 3 to 4 minutes on each side and then add the juice of 1/2 a lemon and baste the fish with the sauce. Remove the halibut from the pan to a serving platter and cover lightly with tin foil until ready to serve.
  5. In the meantime, cook packaged linguini noodles in well salted boiling water just until al dente, this should take about 8 minutes. Drain, and then add one cup of the salsa cruda to the pasta, and stir well. Serve on a plate topped with the halibut, more salsa cruda, and nice glass of your favourite red wine.



***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube











It's Family Reunion Night! MasterChef Season 4 Episode 16

This week's MasterChef recap is going to be a quickie because I've been having way too much fun on my holidays - however, I had to check in with something because the episode was so good!

We began today with another Mystery Box Challenge and this time the box itself was so huge you could almost fit a family under it and... oh wait! There was a family under it, or rather, several families - and as the cooks were tearfully reunited with their loved ones, I began to grow alarmed because it didn't look like anyone from Krissi's family was there.

As it turned out, her son had standardized testing that week and was unable to attend. The show made up for it by letting Krissi watch a personalized message from him; and I have to say, what a cutie - proving once again there is much more to her than the one dimensional villainess the editing team has created this season.

It was also nice to see "the tin man" back.














Joe Bastianich - our man of tin with the secret heart of gold - shed a couple of tears as he watched Krissi. Despite their run in a few episodes back, I think there's something about Krissi that strikes a chord with him; and he's compared her cooking to his mother's on more than one occasion. This is yet another reason why I wish Krissi would win this. Why I wish the producers would decide on the underdog this year and surprise us with an upset.

*Sigh*

You know that ain't happening. Yet, every year I get sucked in rooting for the tough talking single mom. And every year my hopes get as dashed as the uni shell Jordan demolished later in the episode.

The Mystery Box Challenge

With their loved ones in the gallery, the cooks were charged with creating dishes inspired by them - and I have to say, listening to Jessi's parents as they questioned and critiqued everything she did got on my last nerve. The one dimensional glimpse the show has so far given us of Jessie has been "beautiful girl, great cook, great leader" - in other words, a contestant the TV viewing public can get on board with should she *ahem* happen to win.

But listening to her parents (providing that was real and not put on for the show), made me wonder if perfection is the expectation in her life. Maybe that's why I  root for contestants like Monty, Christine Corely, or Krissi - because they are perfect too. Perfectly flawed. Perfectly fallible. And perfectly human.

The top three dishes went to Luca, Jessie and Natasha. Luca prepared white asparagus risotto topped with halibut for his wife. Natasha put together a Thai green curry with shrimp paste, and coconut rice. And Jessie cooked a duck breast in a red wine reduction.

Love Conquers Over All 

In the end, the nod went to Luca and he became the mystery box challenge winner giving him a advantage in the elimination round which tonight was a tag tam battle featuring sushi. As the winner, Luca was automatically exempt from elimination and also got to pair the cooks off. His target was Natasha, so guess who he paired her up with?

If you chose Krissi, then you get the golden California Roll!

Krissi was paired with Natasha, Jordan with James, and Jessie with Eddie.

They were told to make shrimp and vegetable tempura, nigiri, and an Alaskan king crab roll - and from the get go, Krissi had the right attitude. She let Natasha, who has far more experience with sushi, steer the ship. Over on team James and Jordan, though - not so much. Anytime these two are put together it becomes the battle of the egos which resulted - among other things - in the demolished uni I mentioned earlier.

I say this with tongue in cheek, though, because, truly, I am in awe. I don't know what goes on behind the scenes of if they're given tutorials prior to filming, but whatever the case, the high pressure atmosphere they're all under coupled with being away from home and completely out of their element - and then to have to prepare tag team sushi on top of that - people, that would be a one way ticket to the psychiatric ward for me.

So even though Jessie and Eddie also seemed quite lost, I give them kudos for getting through the challenge without needing some kind of intervention.

But there are two things I would like to point out:
  1. Krissi's rice was perfectly seasoned.
  2. Krissi's salmon was perfectly cut.
In the end, Jessie and Eddie came out on the bottom and, shockingly, the one other person I thought might  win it all - Eddie - was sent home.

 And then there were six.

 Stay tuned next week for another recap!

***

If you enjoy reading food related fiction, pop by and check out my hilarious new web series "Starring Samantha."

Samantha Wentworth's catering business goes belly up along with her marriage to cut throat divorce attorney Alan Wentworth. To recoup her losses she applies to be on a reality TV show, falls in love with the married producer, just about kills the pompous chef host, and gets herself into all kinds of other interesting predicaments. 

Stay tuned Saturdays for this brand new serial on The Kitchen Witch! I'll be basing the characters off of well known food world celebs to keep you guessing! Each installment will come with a signature cocktail, recipes, and a fun question and answer to include you in the plot twists - so be sure to bookmark The Kitchen Witch and come along for a fun, food related, romantic romp through the world of reality TV!

Click here to read Episode 1: Samantha Drowns her Sorrows in a Vodka Gimlet 



***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube