Monday, April 30, 2012

Masterchef Australia starts May 6th

Sheila and I are very much looking forward to the start of season 4 of Masterchef Australia.

The season will start in Melbourne before moving back to the Masterchef kitchen in Eveleigh at Doody St 13.

Being in Canada, it is not easy to access the videos so that I can watch the show.

Changes that are coming this season:
The first episode of the week will be the Mystery Box/Invention Test.   I like that change because it was one of the biggest complaints I had about Season 3 was the loss of this.   It is a very good format, the only change I would make would be to give the winner of the Mystery Box a bit more of an advantage in the Invention Test.

There will also be a change to the Immunity Challenge, each cheftestant will have two others helping them in a competition against the professional chef who will have two assistants as well.   I am not sure I like this change.

Finally, they say there will be fewer surprise twists.  Once again, I am not sure this is a benefit.

I am looking forward to seeing the first episodes in just over a week's time.
The Mastechef Australia Kitchen

Sunday, April 29, 2012

SunRype 3.78 litre pure apple juice

Fairway Market has been running a case lot sale and as part of it has been offering a very good deal on the 3.78 litre pure apple juice from SunRype.  I was happy to see the size because we go through more than litre of juice a dinner without any problem.   The price for the juice is roughly the same per litre, which is nice to see.

I had not really paid enough attention till we started to talk about how nice it was to have a larger juice container.   It was then that I thought about it, this is a 3.78 litre container, that is a mini-gallon from the US.   Why is SunRype using these heavier and smaller containers when I know there is a very cost effective source of 4 litre containers in Canada.   Why a US sized container?

SunRype was created in 1946 by the Fruit Growers Association as a way to make use of the apples that could not be sold - juice apples do not need to look good.   Like most people in BC, I grew up with the blue label 2 quart juice tins and then in 1979 the 1 litre tetra-pak.   Apple juice has meant SunRype to me for as far back as I can remember.

For 50 years it was an Okanagan based grower owned cooperative based out of Kelowna.   In 1996 it became a publicly traded company.   It is not quite majority owned by Jim Pattison now.  The company is still based in Kelowna but is has plants elsewhere now.

In recent years the company expanded across Canada and 2008 has been in the US, I think that was through the acquisition of Washington based companies like Naumes Concentrates in 2011 and Yakama Juice in 2010.

Now back to the juice being in a US container, I looked at the back of the container and you can see in bold letters at the bottom - Product of USA.  Seriously?   Even SunRype now gets their juice from the US? Even then it is strange they use US container sizes, SunRype does not sell any juice in the US.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spaghetti Ice Cream

When I was nine and in Germany in 1975 I had something called spaghetti ice cream.   I am amazed no one seems to have brought it over here as it is fun desert for kids.  

What it is vanilla ice cream made to look like a plate of spaghetti topped with a tomato sauce and parmesan.   It is made by extruding the ice cream into long noodle like strands then topped with a red sauce such as strawberry or raspberry and then either white chocolate or coconut flakes.  

On Monday I decided we should try to make it here at home.   Making the sauce and the white chocolate shavings were easy.   I would have had pictures to show you, but it took three of use to handle making the extruded noodles. We put the ice cream through the meat grinder on our stand mixer, this is what caused the most trouble.  Getting the ice cream into and through the meat grinder was a problem.   It turned out OK other than the ice cream was softer than we wanted it to be.

Looking online at some recipes, they all seem to use potato ricers to make the ice cream noodles.   When we try this again, we will get a potato ricer.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

2 Recipes for Nettles

This comes from an email I got today from the Victoria Downtown Public Market Society.   It is inspiring me to find some nettles this weekend, either wild or from the market tomorrow.

Stinging nettles are in season right now and a chefs favorite in the kitchen! These plants are best harvested on Vancouver Island in March and early April before they begin to flower.

There are many benefits of eating nettles. According to Small Foot Print Family, people have been using nettles for food, medicine, fiber, and dyes since the Bronze Age. Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) has a flavor similar to spinach, and is rich in vitamins A, C, D, K, and many minerals including iron, potassium, manganese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, silica, iodine, silicon, sodium, and sulfur. They are ten percent protein—more than any other vegetable. Eating nettles or drinking nettle tea makes your hair brighter, thicker and shinier, and makes your skin clearer and healthier—they are good for eczema and other skin conditions.

Thanks to chefs and market shoppers who are more adventurous, foragers have a strong market for these obscure plants. Eric Whitehead owner of Untamed Feast will be at our first Summer Victoria Downtown Farmers Market in Market Square Wednesday April 4th from 12-5. Whitehead will be selling bags of fresh foraged nettles to the public, and a few chefs from around Victoria will be picking up their first of the season orders. “The fresh season is short, so the nettles will be harvested the same day as the market” Whitehead states. “There are many ways you can use nettles. I like to harvest nettles in large quantities so I can blanch and freeze them for later use in smoothies, pesto, hummus, or put them in soups and other dishes”. Whitehead also dries nettles for tea and uses dried nettle as an ingredient in some of his wild mushroom products.

Make sure to stop by our first summer market in Market Square and stock up on these deliciously good for you greens!

For tips on how to harvest, identify and cook nettles click on this youtube video.

Nettle-Topped Linguine
1/2 pound linguine, cooked during nettle prep
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 bunch green garlic, or 4 cloves garlic
1 shallot or small onion
Salt and Pepper
3/4 pound of fresh Nettles
fresh Parmesan or Pecorino cheese to grate
Nettle Preparation: Soak in cold water for at least 5 minutes while you put together the other ingredients. Completely submerge the nettles in cold water. Take care not to touch them yet. With a glove, remove the leaves from the largest stems. Some folks eat the stems too; it’s up to you. Cook shallot and garlic in the oil and butter over medium heat. Spin dry nettles in a salad spinner. Toss the dried-off nettles into the garlic/oil pan when the shallot is softening and toss with tongs until the nettles are wilted. At 1/4 cup or so water, turn to low heat, then cover, simmer until soft. Add cooked noodles, season to taste, and serve with grated cheese.

Nettle Frittata
1/4 pound Cleaned Nettle Tops
4 Tbls Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove, Chopped
6 lg Organic Eggs
1/4 cup Heavy Cream
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Preheat oven to 300ยบ Cook 1/3rd of the nettles in one tablespoon of the olive oil in a non-stick pan. Cook until tender adding a small amount of water if needed. Repeat this 2 more times adding the garlic on the third batch. Place all of the cooked nettles on a cutting board and chop finely. Place the nettles in a bowl of a food processor with the eggs, salt, pepper and process until the nettles are incorporated into the eggs. Add the cream and process for 10 seconds. Heat the non-stick pan on medium with the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the nettle mixture and with a rubber spatula move the eggs around to get the entire mixture warm. Place into the oven and cook for about 12 minutes. Let cool for 3 minutes then turn the frittata out onto a plate and cut.