Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Camplazens Pairing

Not only did Pierre from Liberty Wines recommend a delightful  Syrah to go with the aromatic Chambar dish I concocted, but he shared a historical legend to  go along with it. The legend goes "In 59 BC to 51 BC, Julius Caesar set up his headquarters at Narbonne in Lanquedoc, Southwest France, from where he launched his invasion of Gaul. During his tenure there he granted land to the retiring commanders of his legendary 10th legion on the nearby mountain of La Clape. With perfect winegrowing conditions the Romans planted the rich, full-bodied noble grape varieties of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan and, applying their winemaking skills, they produced the sumptuous red wines that, legend has it, became Caesar’s favourites. Today Chateau Camplazens (Latin for ‘Camp of Pleasure’) uses these same ancient grape varieties to craft today’s prestigious award-winning wines in the sub appellation of La Clape" (empwines). 
Pierre also mentioned that this Southwestern Camp in france favored Ceasar with an affluence of risqué pleasures as well. The metallic silver horse-drawn carriage is meant to represent the Road called Camplazens which was well traveled by the noblemen from one side of france to the other. 
They don't call Pierre a "Bon Vivant" for nothing!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Chambar Moroccan Lamb Shank & Couscous

What a pleasant surprise to open up the 24hour on my morning commute to find three-star-Michelin-trained chef Nico Schuermans Moroccan Lamb recipe! His restaurant Chambar is one of my favorite spots to dine in the city and I frequent this spot any chance I have an excuse to have an excellent night out. Menu items to live for include the sumptuous Spiced Foie gras terrine with Port reduction, Kriek granita & truffled brioche french toast; the mussels congolaise served in a steaming pot of tomato coconut cream sauces topped with chilies, lime and fresh cilantro, served with an elegant little side of fries to go along with the Belgian tradition; and the aromatic Morroccan braised lamb shank with honey, figs, cinnamon & cilantro, served with cous cous and zalouk.
My junket to replicate this dish began by picking up some tender lamb shanks from the acclaimed Armandos finest quality meats on Granville Island, then by garnering some fresh herbs from the market and obtaining all the dried ingriedents in bulk from Price Mart since they are more reasonably priced than anything you will get on island. I was especially excited to make this since there are so many healthy ingredients in the recipe including Turmeric particularly, which supports healthy joint function, promotes radiant skin and improves digestion.
The metric measurements published in the article were unfamiliar to me in the kitchen, so hollering over to my partner to keep looking up conversions for me as I went along was quite helpful. I was feeling pressed, since I didn't notice this dish had just over 2 hours of preparation and cooking time with my guests to arrive in an hour and a half. As the clock ticked and the preheat buzzer entreated Moroccan lamb aromas in the oven I ended up just throwing in whatever amounts I desired, which turned out to maintain a palate pleasing balance. 
This was my first time making cous cous and after making it I was wondering what had taken me so long, since it was so much easier to make than rice and added such a charming ethnic twist to the dish. 
Thinking it would be nice to have both a glass of wine with some sort of sparking beverage I grabbed some grapes and sparkling elderberry water from the regular grocery store and placed them in the freezer as I cooked. When dinner was served I simply poured the sparking elderberry water  into some lovely 80's cobalt blue goblets from grandma, then tossed in some frozen grapes and ripped mint leaves to tie it in with the meal.
This epicurean dish was surprisingly easier to make than I anticipated and the result was sensational! 

Chambar’s Moroccan

Lamb Shank

2 lbs 1 1/2-inch Lamb Shank

1 tbsp Vegetable Oil

2 tsp Coriander Seed, crushed

50g Red Onion, diced (1/2 cup)

40g Fresh Ginger, minced (1/3 cup)

30g Turmeric (1/4 cup)

2 Garlic Cloves, minced

100 ml Honey (just over 1/3 cup)

1 Cinnamon Stick

4 cups Water, use more if needed

Pinch Crushed Chilies

Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Heat vegetable oil in a two-quart saucepan over

medium-high heat.

Season the shanks with salt and pepper and then

place them in the saucepan, searing the

meat until they are evenly browned on all sides.

Reduce the heat to medium-low.

Add the onions, garlic, ginger, water, honey, and

the remaining spices.

Partially cover the lamb shanks and bring to a


Cover saucepan with a lid and place in the preheated

oven and cook until the lamb is very tender, about 2 hours.

Serve with couscous.

Making use of a tagine

adds an authentic

Moroccan touch to your


Moroccan Couscous

100g Couscous (1 cup)

160 ml Water (2/3 cup)

1 tbsp Sliced Almonds, toasted

2 tbsp Dried Apricot, cut into strips

2 tbsp Raisins

2 tsp Sunflower Seeds, toasted

2 tsp Turmeric

2 tsp Green Onion, sliced

2 tsp Mint, chopped

2 tsp Olive Oil

1 tsp Salt

Place the couscous, salt,olive oil, and turmeric into a bowl. 

Bring water to a boil and add the water to the couscous and tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Allow the mixture to rest for 5-10 minutes then stir

in the remaining ingredients.

Serve warm

Monday, January 18, 2010

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup with Crispy Tortillas

Inspired again by the fabulous Michael Smith off the food networks Chef at Home, this dish turned out to be delicious and was surprisingly easy to make. 
As usual I didn't follow the exact recipe and had to make a few modifications as I went along. 
There are 3 parts to this, the soup, the garnish and the tortilla topping. 

The Soup...
In a large soup pot saute 3 large yellow onions in 1/2 cup of olive oil.
Next add 4 cups of chicken stock (I was out so I used miso paste and water).
Add 1 yam & 1 sweet potato grated with the skin, many of the most beneficial nutrients are right under the skin. 
Add 1 chipotle pepper (you can find this in a can in your local grocery store in the isle near taco shells, salsa etc. They should be next to diced jalapenos).
A few dashes of cinnamon. 
Once the potatoes are soft and the soup is hot you can start to blend it up and it will be ready to serve, make sure and only fill your blender half way full at a time to get a nice consistency and avoid a hot mess all over your kitchen. 

The Garnish...
Simply chop up some delicious fresh cilantro and mix it with sour cream and put a dollop on the soup.

The Tortilla Topping... 
Preheat your oven to 350. Roll up a soft tortilla and cut into slices, slightly unravel and put on a baking sheet and fire in the oven for 15 mins, have fun with colour! 

Make sure and add some fresh ground pepper to the final product!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Easy & Healthy Mexicana Soup

This dish is inspired from a fitness magazine I picked up in the airport over the holidays. First I sautéed a large onion in organic chicken stock with just a dash of olive oil and unloaded them into my crock pot. I put a couple chicken breasts in the same cast iron pan i used for the onions and cooked them up while I chopped all the veggies. I threw 5 tomatoes into my  food processor (non-electric that my grandma got me off the shopping channel) and emptied into the crock pot, then added 4 cloves of chopped garlic, 1 jalapeno, 2 carrots, a couple cups of corn, a teaspoon of cumin, a teaspoon of coriander and a couple teaspoons of chili powder and filled the rest up with organic chicken stock. Lastly I shredded the cooked chicken breasts in my hand processor and added them to the crock pot and let it sit for a few hours. 
When dinner time rolled around and I finished getting my messy apartment in order I just scooped the delicious hearty soup into a bowl, garnished with purple tortillas, an avocado, mexican pre-shredded cheese and cilantro. This was a really tasty recipe and I will most definitely make this on a more regular basis!