Whenever I travel, especially out of Canada, I pack some of our country’s best known ingredients as gifts for friends and for chefs and cooks who appreciate a taste of our northern bounty.
That would be wild rice, maple syrup, dried mushrooms, even ice wine or a good bottle of rye. I’m not forgetting smoked salmon, Prairie lentils, creamed honey, excellent cheeses, dried cranberries and blueberries ... and I could go on. But why reserve these all-Canuck food and drink products for the folks abroad? Tempt and please friends and family here at home with a gift they won’t be able to resist, especially when it comes with a recipe to take your gift right out of the box and onto the table.
Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Maple Syrup
Medium or amber maple syrup gives a full maple experience, and is an artfully simple sauce for creamy desserts. Buttermilk makes this panna cotta a bit tangy, inviting your taste buds to balance the taste with the sweet syrup in every spoonful.
- 1 sachet unflavoured gelatine, 2 3/4 tsp. (14 ml)
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) cold water
- 1 cup (250 ml) whipping cream
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) granulated sugar
- 2 strips lemon peel
- 2 cups (500 ml) buttermilk
- 2 tsp. (10 ml) vanilla
- 3/4 cup (175 ml) maple syrup, approximate
- 1 cup (250 ml) blueberries, optional
In a 4-cup (1 L) measuring cup or bowl of about same capacity, combine gelatine and cold water.
Let stand for about 5 minutes for gelatine to soften.In a small saucepan, combine cream, sugar and lemon peel.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to help dissolve sugar.
Pour over gelatine, whisking gently until gelatine smoothes and dissolves into cream mixture; let cool. Remove lemon peel. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla. Divide among eight ramekins or stemmed glasses, each about 1/2 cup (125 ml).
Set ramekins on a small tray, cover and refrigerate until gelled, about 4 hours. (Make-ahead: refrigerate for up to 3 days.)
To serve, drizzle each ramekin with maple syrup and sprinkle with blueberries, if using.
Makes 8 servings.
TIP: Most recipes call for the cook to unmould the panna cottas. A lot of work when you have eight to unmould. So make it easy, choose ramekins with rims high enough above the cream mixture to include a nice slick of syrup and complimentary fruit. No unmoulding needed.
Risotto with Wild Mushrooms
The Granville Island Market in Vancouver, BC is surely one of the finest markets anywhere. When visiting the market I always look for locally picked and dried wild mushrooms, especially morels. I have never been disappointed. This recipe comes from The New Granville Island Market Cookbook (Judie Glick and Carol Jensson, Arsenal Pulp Press, $24.95)
- 1/2 oz. (15 g) dried porcini or morel mushrooms
- 3/4 cup (175 ml) white wine
- 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) butter
- 2 cups (500 ml) sliced fresh mushrooms (any kind)
- 5 cups (1.25 L) chicken broth
- 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) butter
- 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup (250 ml) Arborio rice&
Cut dried mushrooms into small pieces; soak in white wine and set aside. In a small saucepan on medium heat, melt 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) butter.
Add fresh mushrooms and saute until just soft and set aside.In a large saucepan, heat broth to a simmer. In a large Dutch oven on medium heat, heat oil and remaining butter until butter is melted.
Add onion and saute until translucent (about 2 to 3 minutes). Add rice to onions and stir gently on low heat until coated with oil and butter and slightly translucent.Add a ladle (about 1/2 cup/125 ml) of hot broth and stir constantly until rice has absorbed most of the liquid.
Repeat process until rice is tender on outside and slightly firm in middle. Keep broth hot and risotto at a lively simmer.
Before serving, add morel mushrooms and wine, and sauteed mushrooms to risotto. Heat through and serve.
Makes 6 servings.
TIP: Grate Parmesan cheese over risotto when serving.