Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Suppers

Ok, so I’ve decided that since the tradition of having Sunday suppers with my family was such a huge part of my upbringing and since it was said upbringing that shaped me into the super fantastic individual (pipe down little brother, no one asked you) that I turned out to be and since I’m making Sunday supper every week anyway…well, I said to myself “self, me thinks we need to do a weekly ‘Sunday Supper’ post”.  Sunday suppers bring together family, friends and good food and those things combined are pretty much the holy trinity in my books. So here it is, my first Sunday Supper post.  Enjoy!

Herb & Garlic Grilled Lamb Chops with Roasted Fingerlings, Carrots & Green Beans and for dessert Rhubarb Cupcakes with Whipped Cream

The weather has been pretty spectacular here these days and although we grill all year round, come this time of year we really start looking for grilled meals more often than not. One, because there’s nothing quite like a BBQ and two because quite frankly it’s nice not to have to crank the oven on when it’s blazing hot outside.

So for dinner this week we enjoyed some incredible garlic herbed lamb chops and some roasted (on the grill) veg. We finished the evening off with an outstanding recipe from Martha Stewart’s Cupcake book, rhubarb and whipped cream cupcakes. * swoon*

I prepared the lamb first thing in the morning so it had lots of time to sit in the marinade. I roasted the veg on the grill and during the last 10 minutes I added the green beans and slid the tray off to the side when it was time to put the chops on. If your grill doesn’t have enough space to hold the veg and the chops at the same time just do the veg in your oven and save the grill for the chops.

Roasted Fingerlings, Carrots & Green Beans

1 ½ lb fingerling potatoes, halved (I used both red and white)
1 bunch young carrots, peeled but with tops left on
½ pound French green beans, trimmed
⅛ cup good quality olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
4 cloves of garlic, minced
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the grill to high or 400ºF.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Line a baking sheet with foil

Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and place in a bowl with the olive oil, carrots, salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary and thyme; toss until everything is well coated. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Place baking sheet on the grill and close the lid and roast, stirring and turning occasionally. After 35 minutes add the green beans* and toss to ensure they are coated with the oil. Roast for 10 minutes more or until green beans are cooked but firm.

Note, this recipe makes quite a bit of veg but I wanted extra so that I could make a Roasted Veggie Salad this week.  Stay tuned for that recipe.

* At this point, move your baking sheet off to the side and add your lamb chops to the grill.

Herb & Garlic Grilled Lamb Chops

4 lamb chops, preferably grass fed organic and/or free range
¼ cup good quality olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons dry white wine
liberally season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


Season lamb chops with salt & pepper. Combine olive oil, wine, thyme, rosemary, and garlic and coat the chops in the marinade. Place the chops in a tight fitting dish and pour remaining marinade on the chops. Cover and refrigerate for at minimum of 30 minutes (several hours or overnight preferred). Preheat grill. Place lamb chops on grill over a medium high heat. Grill about 5 minutes per side for medium chops.

Rhubarb Cupcakes with Whipped Cream

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon coarse salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup sour cream, room temperature
¾ pound rhubarb, stalks trimmed and cut into ¼ - inch dice (3 cups)
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
1 cup water


Preheat over to 350ºF. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla extract. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream and beating until combined after each. Stir in 2 cups diced rhubarb.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature in airtight containers; remove liners before topping.

To make rhubarb topping, use the tip of a pairing knife to scrape vanilla bean seeds into a saucepan, reserving pod for another use (such as vanilla sugar). Add the water and remaining 1 cup sugar and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and stir in remaining 1 cup rhubarb. Let cool completely. Remove rhubarb with a slotted spoon and reserve. Return liquid to a simmer and cook until reduced by half, 5 to 8 minutes. Let cool slightly, then return rhubarb to syrup. Once cool, rhubarb can be refrigerated in syrup up to 1 week in an airtight container; bring to room temperature before using.

To finish, dollop a generous amount of whipped cream onto each cupcake and top with rhubarb and some syrup. Serve immediately.

Makes 16

Whipped Cream

2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted


Whisk heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add confectioners’ sugar and whisk until combined. If not using immediately, whipped cream can be refrigerated, covered tightly, up to 3 hours in an airtight container.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Here’s to new beginnings!

Well I finally did it, I started a blog! After years of loitering around everyone else’s food blogs I decided it was time I became an active participant in this electronic food world. The fact that my name (April) represents spring and the fact that spring by definition represents new life and new beginnings and the fact that spring is in fact upon us…well it just seemed like the perfect time to launch myself into this new adventure. It has nice symmetry and I’m just not one to argue with symmetry.

Did I mention it was spring? Well it is and we all know what that means..the air is warmer, the sun is with us longer and we can smell the farm fields all coming back to life. Our farmers market isn’t open yet but our local farms are certainly well on their way to their growing season. This past weekend we decided to venture out to Andrew’s Scenic Acres, a local ‘pick your own’ farm. I’d like to tell you that our first farm visit of the year was picture perfect with bright blue skies and the smell of the earth being warmed by the sun but I’d be lying. We were there to pick asparagus and rhubarb but I had pumpkin pie on the brain and Bridget thought we should be picking out a Christmas tree. Although the air was cool (ok fine, freezing) we were still thrilled to head out into the fields and catch the first signs of what’s to come. Asparagus standing tall like little soldiers in their beautiful green and purple uniforms and rhubarb with its gorgeous ruby colored stems and leaves the size of pillows. As a result of the rather chilly weather we decided to make quick work of our harvesting and head for home to see what treats we could conjure up with our little treasures.

I think asparagus is in it’s glory when it’s really prepared in the most simple ways. A little olive oil, a little sea salt and some freshly ground pepper and on the grill, that’s my absolute favourite way to enjoy them. That’s what I had in mind on the way home from the farm but I think the cooler weather got the better of me and I was really looking for something a little more ‘cozy’ than something from the grill. Risotto…oh yeah. Traditionally I go to my stand-by lemon and asparagus risotto but again, today I was looking for something a little more cozy, a little more savoury. This recipe is virtually the same as my lemon one but instead of adding fresh lemon zest near the end, I just added some fresh thyme at the beginning when I was sweating the shallots. The end result was outstanding and it has now moved to the top of my list as my new favourite risotto recipe!

Grilled Asparagus and Thyme Risotto

3 tablespoons good quality olive oil
4 good sized shallots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
4 ¼ cups chicken broth, warmed (preferably organic and/or homemade)
1 ½ lb. asparagus, tough ends trimmed
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter


Coat the asparagus with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Grill the asparagus, turning occasionally, until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. When they start to look bright green they are probably done. Do not overcook. Cut the asparagus on the bias into 2-inch lengths.

In a saucepan bring your broth to a simmer.

In a large pan over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and salt and cook for 1 minute. Add the rice, stirring constantly, until lightly toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. Keep things moving, you don’t want anything sticking to the bottom. Add the wine and cook for 1 minute. Add the stock a ladle full at a time, stirring constantly and waiting until it has been fully. Continue adding stock as needed, until the rice is tender but firm, 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in the butter and cheese until combined. Stir in asparagus. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Don’t forget to bring the block of cheese and the grater to the table for those who enjoy a little extra!

Makes 4 good size servings