Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Recipe: Bombay Chicken Wontons

Last week I was invited to participate in a fundraiser put on by Gowlings (the law firm) for Saint Monica House.  The theme of the event was “Sensational Summer Entertaining.” At the event, a handful of female chefs were asked to demonstrate and provide a recipe for an easy-yet-sensational hors d’oeuvre.

The hard part for me was choosing just one hors d’oeuvre to feature.  Initially, I had decided that an asparagus, caramelized onion and fontina tarte tartin would be perfect, given the timing (yeah! asparagus season is finally here!).  But I changed my mind, mainly because I was worried that this recipe would be too time-consuming for many of the guests to bother to replicate at home.

In the end, I decided on our Bombay chicken salad on wontons.  This recipe is one of my favourites from our catering menu.  It’s easy to prepare and it’s quite versatile.  In addition to serving the salad on the wonton crisps, you can stuff a little bit of the salad onto the base of an endive leaf, for an attractive, low-carb appetizer.  Of course, the salad makes a great sandwich filling – try it on multigrain bread or raisin walnut.  You can also use it to make gourmet quesadillas (just add your favourite cheese).  Lastly, try the chicken salad on mixed greens for a hearty lunch or light dinner.  

This recipe yields enough for 72 bite-sized appetizers, or about 2½ (two-and-a-half) cups of chicken salad filling.

ingredients for Bombay chicken salad
§         1 (one) pound (16 oz.) chicken breast, cooked and finely chopped or diced into very small pieces
§         1 1/3 (one-and-one-third) cups small diced sweet red bell peppers
§         ½ (one-half) cup green onions, minced
§         2/3 (two-thirds) cup dried currants (or substitute raisins and/or dried cranberries, if desired)
§         1/2 - 2/3 (one-half to two-thirds) cup mayonnaise
§         1 (one) tablespoon Patak curry paste, or more to taste
§         2 (two) teaspoons curry powder, or more to taste
§         ¼ (one-quarter) cup chopped cilantro
§         salt and pepper, to taste
§         additional sprigs of cilantro to garnish wontons, if desired

ingredients for wonton crisps
§         18 (eighteen) wonton wrappers, cut into 4 squares
(note: you can find wonton wrappers in the produce department of any grocery store)
§         vegetable oil, for shallow frying
§         salt, to taste

method for bombay chicken salad:
§         In a medium size bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, curry powder and curry paste. Stir until smooth and combined.
§         Add in the cooked chicken, bell peppers, green onions, currants and cilantro.
§         Season to taste with salt and pepper, if desired.
§         Set aside in the fridge.

method for wonton crisps:
§         Cut each wonton wrapper in half to make 2 rectangles, then cut each rectangle in half to make 4 squares (in total).
§         Heat 1½ (one-and-one-half) inches vegetable oil in a 4-5 () quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until your thermometer registers 360° F.
§         Using tongs, gently lay 8 (eight) squares on oil (do not drop in, or they will lose their shape) and fry, turning over once, until just golden, 15 to 30 seconds in total.
§         Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain and season with salt.
§         Fry remaining squares in the same manner.

to assemble:
§         Place about 1½ (one-and-one-half) teaspoons of Bombay chicken salad on top of each wonton crisp.
§         Top with a sprig of fresh cilantro to garnish (or, use chicken salad in other suggested recipe ideas listed above).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Recipe: Robert Hudyma's Wild Rice, Sundried Blueberry & Cranberry Scones

Over the Easter weekend I was pleased to receive an unexpected visit from Chef Robert Hudyma.  He happened to be in KW and made a point of stopping in to say hello and see the shop.  

Rob and his wife Colleen are the owners of Catered Affare Fine Foods in Toronto.  They gave me my first job (aside from waitressing) in the food industry.  I had recently graduated from the University of Guelph and was seriously contemplating chef school.  Accordingly, I was eager to find out what life was like in an industrial kitchen and so I met with as many chefs and food professionals as possible in order to gain some insight.  Everyone I spoke to told me to work in a commercial kitchen first, before I committed to chef school.  I remember one chef telling me that “baking a pan or two of brownies on the weekend is a VERY different experience than baking 20 or 30 trays for a large function – over and over again throughout your career!”  He was right.

I had heard great things about Catered Affare and arrived unannounced one November afternoon, resume in hand.  After a brief chat, I was offered the job – and an apron – on the spot!  (I think I came back the following morning for my first shift).  My timing was perfect, as November/December are by far the busiest months for most caterers – and no matter how many people you hire, there are never enough hands on deck.

I was relieved to discover that I loved working in a “real” kitchen.  Despite the long hours, I felt energized and was excited to be learning so much every day.  Thanks, Chef Rob, for taking a chance on me!

Rob Hudyma’s Wild Rice, Sundried Blueberry & Cranberry Scones

Rob says “This is one of our all-time favourite recipes.  For sweet versions omit the wild rice, salt and pepper and chives”


§         6 (six) cups all purpose flour
§         3 (three) tablespoons baking powder
§         ½ (one-half) cup dried blueberries
§         ½ (one-half) cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
§         ½ (one-half) cup cooked wild rice
§         2 (two) tablespoons chopped chives
§         salt and pepper to taste
§         1 (one) quart of 35% cream (less 6 tablespoons)
§         egg white, as needed
§         superfine fruit sugar, as needed (you can find this at Ayres Nut & Baking Store on Regina St, OR, blitz granulated sugar in a food processor until fine).


1.       Mix dry ingredients making a well in the middle of a stainless mixing bowl.
2.       Add the cream and combine as quickly as possible, not overworking the dough.  Turn out onto a floured surface and roll to one-inch thickness.
3.       Using a two-inch cutter, punch out scones.  Left over dough can be reused.
4.       Glaze with egg white and superfine fruit sugar.
5.       Bake at 350 F for 18 minutes until golden brown and slightly puffed.  Cool on rack.
6.       Serve on their own or make mini scone “sandwiches” with sliced cheddar and smoked bacon or Swiss Emmenthaler and black forest ham.

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