Friday, April 10, 2009

Cookbook Friday: Weekend Cooking

Whether you like Ricardo or not, it's hard to argue with success in the kitchen and I've had good luck with the few recipes I've tried from the ebullient Quebecois chef.

I like that on his Food Network program, Ricardo often visits local farms and businesses both to educate and promote local purveyors. He's not the first chef-TV host to do it, but I always appreciate that extra effort to show that his dishes rely not only on his skills in the kitchen but quality ingredients to start with.

One of the first Ricardo recipes I tried was a pearl barley risotto with fresh spring asparagus. I like making risotto with barley from time to time, as it's creamy without being gummy (as arborio rice can sometimes be).

That recipe was from his self-titled magazine, but I've since bought his cookbook, Weekend Cooking, and it's filled with inspirational ideas for mains, desserts, brunch fare, and veggie sides. I purchased a chunk of sashimi-grade tuna just so I could make his Semi-Cooked Tuna Steak with almonds and mashed ginger butternut squash and it was to die for. The tuna was coated in egg and a mixture of ground almonds and ground ginger, then seared just to cook the outside, with the inside left bright pink. Between that and the vibrant gold of the mashed butternut squash it was one of the prettiest dishes I've ever made.

Also, his maple-glazed bok choy is one of my veggie staples. When I feel like a dinner of healthy greens, but don't feel like salad, I'll cook this up. It takes no time at all and though it's probably meant as a side dish I cook enough to make it my main course, with some rice.

Maple-Glazed Bok Choy

1 large bok choy, or 4 small ones, 6 oz each
1 tbsp non-toasted sesame oil*
1 garlic clove, chopped
salt and pepper
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 green onions, chopped

Cut bok choy into 1 inch slices, diagonally.

In wok or large skillet, heat oil. Stir-fry bok choy with garlic for about five minutes over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper.

Add soy sauce, maple syrup, and green onions. Continue cooking over high heat for about three minutes. Season to taste.

Serves 4 (or one if it's your main course!)

*Toasted sesame oil has more flavour than non-toasted. If you don't have non-toasted sesame oil, you can replace it by one-third toasted sesame oil and two-thirds peanut or canola oil. To get 1 tbsp non-toasted sesame oil, use 1 tsp toasted sesame oil mixed with 2 tsp peanut or canola oil.



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