Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Prosciutto: The Cure For The Common Home

My wife and I are trying to cut down on eating out for lunch for numerous reasons. I imagine many people can relate with the desire to save money, control the types of food we eat and use up any leftovers throughout the kitchen. I feel ashamed by the amount of waste that comes out of my home kitchen. The professional kitchen is different and far more complicated.

I am not going to discuss the impact of food waste in our current society. I would think the investigation of the statistics would be far too alarming and shocking. I choose to keep myself in the dark on the topic. For the moment. Trust me, if you were a Chef, wilful blindness would be a very tempting option when it comes to the politics of food. I constantly battle with the idea of donating food versus discarding food. And believe me, it ain't no picnic. But I do know that food waste in Canada is extremely high and the majority of it comes out of homes and not professional kitchens.

And so now we are going to have lunch at home more often. Kind of ironic since I make a living off people going out to eat.

Today's recipe is a simple sandwich that takes 5 minutes of preparation time and another 5 minutes to make. It should take more than 5 minutes to eat it but that depends on how much time you get for lunch and how much an aversion you have towards chewing.

I used a pretzel bun for this sandwich but that is at your own discretion. Pretzel is a different type of bread than what most people usually have (actually, I think it adds a nice twist) and since the sandwich is such a popular and common type of food, a simple thing like changing the bread goes a long way.

I like using prosciutto (dry cured ham) in sandwiches to compliment other meats. Here I used plain leftover chicken breast. Many of you may be familiar with some appetizers that use prosciutto to compliment sweet fruit. Melon Wrapped with Prosciutto and Goat's Cheese and Figs with Mascarpone and Prosciutto are two classic examples of this. Having said that, I used peach preserve in the sandwich but you can use any number of preserves for this recipe. Apple jelly being one of them.

Prosciutto is a little expensive but very versatile and flavourful. It keeps for a good amount of time (if it lasts that long in your household) and is easy to use in cooking, salads and sandwiches.

Prosciutto and Chicken on a Pretzel Bun

2 Pretzel Buns, sliced
4 Thin Slices of Prosciutto
100 g of Chicken Breast, sliced lengthwise, as thin as you can make it
50 g Havarti, sliced
1/2 Apple, sliced thinly (I used an Empire apple)
Handful of Arugula
2 Tbs. Peach Preserve
2 Dabs of Butter

Make sandwich.

Serves 2.

Just kidding (but not really, it's just a sandwich people!).

Preheat skillet on medium heat. Melt half of butter and cook apple slices in butter for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Warm chicken breasts in butter. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Lightly butter the outside (top and bottom) of pretzel bun and lay buttered side down on skillet. Spread peach preserve on the inside of each bottom half (facing up in skillet). Lay down chicken on top of peach preserve. Top with prosciutto and apples. Add cheese (I like placing cheese on skillet briefly first, to cut the coolness of the cheese) and arugula.

Close sandwich until desired crispiness of the bun (I'd say 3 minutes really).

Serve with soup or salad or some nice chips.

Serves 2.

A Humble Chef's tip: since this essentially a fancy grilled cheese sandwich, use the same level of heat on your stove that you would for a grilled cheese sandwich.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

A Turkey Stew? Ewww, Grouse!

Well hello again. It has been several years since I lasted posted a recipe on this blog. I apologize to all who have waited for me to post something new and I look forward to catching up with some of my recipes. Rest assured, I am still a Chef and I am still at a golf course doing what I do and I still get to experiment on new recipes and new flavour combinations.

Thanksgiving has passed and maybe you have leftovers in your freezer. Even if you do not, here is a lovely stew recipe that is very appropriate for a lovely Sunday afternoon that will fill your lovely home with a lovely aroma that will warm the heart of even the most un-loveliest of people. And then will certainly put you to sleep after a hefty portion.

For this recipe, I recommend a blend of root vegetables of your preference, the freshest stock you can get your hands on and light coloured beans. The idea is to keep the stew a blonde stew so you may want to use your black turtle beans for a different recipe. I like to add chick peas (if you want to cook em yourself and have the time to do so, be my guest) and white navy beans but it is your recipe and I insist that you work within your beans.

Following the Turkey Stew is a basic Corn Bread recipe that I took from an old George Brown Textbook. Works well and easy to change. Since it has been 2 years since my last post, I may repeat some techniques from old posts. But I can't imagine anyone going over old posts of mine so I may be worrying over nothing. It's great to be back and I look forward to writing more posts and I anxiously await any feedback that any of you have to offer.

A Fair Coloured Turkey Stew

1 Large Vidalia Onion, diced
1 Stalk of Celery, diced
1 Stalk of Leek, white only diced
1 Parsnip, diced
1 Carrot, peeled and diced
1 Turnip, diced
3 Cloves of Garlic, crushed
Pinch of Cumin and Chili Powder
2 Cans of White Beans, (i.e. Navy), drained and washed
1 Can of Chick Peas
1.5 l (12 Cups) Chicken or Turkey Stock Approx.
750 g (about 3 cups) Cooked Turkey, or whatever you have leftover from Thanksgiving
Small bunch of Basil, chiffonade
2 Baking Potatoes, cut into small cubes
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Dab or Two of Butter

In a large pot, heat butter until frothy. Cook onion, carrot, celery and leek for five minutes. Add garlic and spices. Sweat for another few minutes.

Add turkey, beans and stock. Bring to a boil. Add potatoes and basil. Cover and cook for about 25 minutes at minimum, an hour would be better.

Serve with sour cream and corn bread. Serves 6 – 8.

Basic Corn Bread

350 g A.P. Flour, (1 ½ cups flour)
350 g Cornmeal, (1 ½ cups cornmeal)
2 Tbs. Sugar
1 Tbs. Baking Powder
1 Tsp. Salt
250 ml Milk
250 ml Sour Cream
125 ml Corn Oil
1 Egg

Preheat oven 375. Grease 9 inch pan. Whisk dry ingredients together. In separate bowl, combine wet ingredients. Fold wet into dry. Pour into 9 inch pan.

Bake for 35 minutes and let rest for 10. Cut into desired squares.

Serves 6 – 8.

 A Humble Chef's Tip: everything in the stew is cooked except the potatoes. Don't dice them to small or they'll disintegrate. Just big enough to fit on a spoon.