Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Flautas De Pollo con Guacamole – “Chicken Flutes with Guacamole”

I love this recipe.  I don’t often make it because it’s (by no means) the healthiest of entrees.  In my next life, I pray that shallow frying is the caloric equivalent to spraying with PAM…  
Anyway, this is a great dish that always gets my husband pacing back and forth with anticipation in the kitchen – I love him dearly, but this habit of his drives me bonkers.  I first learned to make chicken flutes with Magdalena Cortes, a talented Mexican-born chef who taught cooking classes at “Upstairs at Loblaws” in Toronto, where I worked to help support myself through chef school.  In a nutshell, it’s a dish that consists of a small rolled up tortilla and some type of filling (usually beef or chicken) which is fried until crisp.  Flautas are also referred to as Taquitos, but the main difference is that flautas are most often prepared with flour tortillas while Taquitos are prepared with corn tortillas.
I love the contrast of the juicy chicken, hot crispy tortilla and creamy avocado against the cool sour cream.  I’ve also made flautas with breaded (fried) fish, vinaigrette-based coleslaw and guacamole, and they were delicious too.
If you’re like me and you can’t get away down south this winter, try your hand at making these instead!

Makes 40 small flautas which serves about 10 people – recipe halves well.
ingredients for flautas

·         3 (three) tablespoons olive oil
·         1 (one) large sweet onion, minced
·         4 (four) large cloves garlic, minced
·         4 (four) large boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped into very small pieces
·         3 (three) round ripened hot house tomatoes, chopped (use 5 if using plum tomatoes)
·         1 (one) cup salsa (I used our spicy pineapple-chipotle salsa from the shop)
·         40 (forty) flour tortillas (medium size, 6-7 inches approx).
·         salt and pepper to taste
·         vegetable oil, for shallow frying
·         toothpicks
·         sour cream, for serving
·         additional salsa, for serving
·         guacamole (see below recipe), for serving

method for flautas
1.       In a skillet, heat the olive oil.  Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat until translucent, add garlic and tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes or so.
2.       Stir in the cooked, chopped chicken and salsa. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
3.       Fill each tortilla with approx. ¼ (one-quarter) cup of the filling and then roll each one “burrito style”, securing each end with a toothpick (so that the filling doesn’t fall out). Tip – the tortilla’s are even easier to roll up if they are slightly warm (nuke a batch of 10 for about 30 seconds in the microwave).
4.       In a large skillet, heat about one cup of vegetable oil over medium-high heat.  Once hot, fry the flautas in batches (about 8 at a time if using a 10-12” skillet) until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes, turning once.  
(Note: the oil needs to be at the right temperature – around 350 F.  If the oil is too cool, the flautas will be greasy. If the oil is too hot, the flatuas will burn).

5.       Drain on paper towels, discard toothpicks.
6.       Serve immediately, topping the flutes with sour cream, guacamole and additional salsa.

ingredients for guacamole
·         2 (two) ripened avocados
·         Zest and juice of one lime
·         1 (one) tablespoon white onion, minced
·         1/3 (one-third) cup fresh cilantro, chopped (feel free to omit if you don’t care for cilantro)
·         1 (one) teaspoon jalapeno pepper, minced
·         ½ clove garlic, minced
·         1-2 (one to two) tablespoons sour cream
·         salt and pepper to taste

method for guacamole
1.       Cut avocados in half and take the pit out with the edge of a knife.
2.       Spoon the avocado flesh out and place it in a bowl.  Mash well with a fork.
3.       Add lime zest and juice, onion, cilantro, jalapeno pepper, garlic and mix well.  Stir in sour cream to achieve a creamy consistency (I use about 2 tablespoons). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Summerhill Market Chicken Pot Pie

Baby it’s cold outside!  After a cool day of skiing, shoveling or skating, I can think of nothing better than warming up with a dish of comforting chicken pot pie.  OK, so I don’t ski, shovel or skate much, or perhaps at all these days (but I have an excuse - I’m 7 months pregnant).

Toronto’s “Summerhill Market” chicken pot pies are legendary.  My father grew up next door to the McMullen family, who started the business in 1954.  They’ve been making their famous chicken pot pies for over fifty years and were willing to share the recipe (originally published in the Toronto Star).  They say that the secret is gently poaching the whole chicken, although you can “cheat” and use a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the supermarket if you’re short on time.  I season with a bit more salt (& pepper) than the recipe calls for.

We used to sell their pot pies in my shop, up until last summer when Summerhill decided to discontinue their wholesaling.  If you don’t have the time or energy to make this recipe, perhaps you’ll take comfort in reading that we now sell an equally delicious, puff pastry-topped chicken pot pie from a new supplier.   

I suggest that you serve the pie with a tossed green salad (preferably with a sharp vinaigrette dressing, to cut the richness of the pie).

Summerhill Market’s Famous Chicken Pot Pie


·         3 (three) pounds (1.5 kg) chicken
·         6 (six) cups (1.5L) water
·         1 (one) yellow onion, peeled, quartered
·         5 (five) fresh sage leaves
·         3 (three) fresh bay leaves
·         1 (one) teaspoon (5 mL) coarse kosher salt
·         1½ (one-and-a-half) cups (375 mL) each: thinly sliced celery, frozen peas
·         2 (two) cups (500 mL) peeled, thinly sliced carrots
·         2 (two) tablespoons (25 mL) butter
·         ½ (one-half) cup (125 mL) all-purpose flour
·         ¼ (one-quarter) teaspoon (1 mL) black pepper
·         397 gram package frozen puff pastry, thawed overnight in refrigerator
·         1 (one) egg
·         2 (two) tablespoons (25 mL) milk


1.       In large pot, combine chicken (breast side down) and water.  Add onion, sage, bay leaves and salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low; cover.  Simmer until falling-off-the-bone tender, about 1 hour.  With tongs, transfer chicken to plate until cool enough to handle, reserving cooking liquid.  Discard chicken skin and bones.  Dice meat into half-inch (1 cm) pieces.  (You should have about 4 cups/1L.)
2.       Divide celery and peas between two shallow casserole dishes that will hold about 6 cups (1.5L.) (I used 9.5-inch (24.5-cm) deep-dish pie plates.  Add equal portions chicken to each.
3.       Meanwhile, add carrots to pot with reserved cooking liquid; cover.  Bring to boil over medium-high heat.  Cook 3 minutes.  With slotted spoon, remove carrots.  Divide between 2 dishes with chicken mixture.
4.       Strain cooking liquid and skim off fat; reserve liquid and discard solids. (You should have about 6 cups/1.5L)
5.       In medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add flour and pepper.  Cook, whisking, 1 minute.  Gradually whisk in 5 cups (1.25L) reserved cooking liquid, discarding remainder.  Bring to boil.  Cook, stirring often, until smooth and thickened, about 5 minutes.  Pour over two dishes with chicken mixture; let stand 30 minutes. Stir well.
6.       (Make-ahead:  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 2 days, or overwrap with heavy-duty foil and freeze up to 2 weeks.  Thaw in refrigerator; add 10 minutes to baking time.)
7.       To cook, on lightly floured surface, roll out each half of puff pastry about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than top of dishes. Place over each dish; trim to leave a half-inch (1 cm) overhang, reserving excess pastry. Press overhang onto and over edge; crimp.
8.       In small bowl, whisk egg and milk; brush over pastry. Cut 4 to 6 steam vents.
9.       Bake pot pies in 400 F (200 C) oven until filling is bubbly and pastry is golden, about 25 minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
10.   Makes 2 pot pies (6 servings each).

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

recipe: Tina Robert's Frozen Chocolate Mousse Cake

Many of you will recognize the name Tina Roberts because over the years, she's contributed so many wonderful recipes; such as her famous "blueberry drizzle salad" and her award-winning "marinated brie", to this column and to my monthly newsletters.  Well, I am thrilled to announce that she has finished her cookbook and it is now available for sale at my shop, Relish Cooking Studio, Vincenzo’s and the U of W Bookstore.

Her book is titled "The Two Sisters Cookbook". Tina originally planned on printing just three copies – one for herself, one for her sister Audrey, and one for her mom.  However, the cookbook was such a huge hit with friends and family that she ended up giving away over 100 of them!  Long story short, Tina decided to adapt the original version and create 20 new menus, each inspired by a family memory.

This recipe is from Tina’s “golden anniversary” menu.  She explains that “Mom and Dad’s wedding had to be postponed three times because Dad was not well – was he really sick or was it just nerves?  Finally, on January 30, 1954, the special event took place with a small family ceremony at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on McCaul Street in Toronto.  Fifty years later, we celebrated the anniversary of their vows with this memorable meal.  Mom and Dad both love chocolate, so this was the perfect dessert to end their celebration.”

Frozen Chocolate Mousse Cake

A wonderful dessert for entertaining on Valentine’s Day because you can make it ahead of time.  Expect to receive rave reviews!

ingredients - crust
·         ¾ (three-quarters) cup raw hazelnuts
·         ½ (one-half) cup graham cracker crumbs
·         3 (three) tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
·         unsalted butter to grease pie plate

ingredients - mousse
·         2 (two) cups coffee or vanilla ice cream, softened
·         6 (six) ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
·         3 (three) large eggs, separated
·         4 (four) tablespoons hazelnut or coffee liqueur
·         1 (one) cup chilled fresh whipping cream (35 or 36% MF)
·         2 (two) tablespoons hazelnut or coffee liqueur

ingredients – add the love
·         remaining whipped cream
·         2 (two) tablespoons remaining chopped hazelnuts

1.        Preheat oven to 300°F. Toast hazelnuts on a baking sheet for 15 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and wrap nuts in a clean tea towel. Let rest for 5 minutes and then vigorously rub hazelnuts in towel to remove skins.
2.        Finely chop hazelnuts in a food processor (it’s best to do this when the nuts are still warm).
3.        Combine 1/3 cup hazelnuts, graham cracker crumbs, and melted butter in a medium bowl. Grease an 8-inch pie plate or spring form pan with butter. Press crumb mixture in the bottom and up sides of pie plate.
4.        Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake crust for 10 minutes. Cool crust and freeze for at least 15 minutes. Spoon softened ice cream over frozen crust and return to freezer.
5.        Melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.
6.        Beat yolks in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light, about 3 minutes. Slowly beat in melted chocolate and 4 tablespoons hazelnut liqueur. Set aside.
7.        Beat egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Set aside.
8.        Beat whipping cream and 2 tablespoons hazelnut liqueur in a chilled bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
9.        Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture. Fold half of whipped cream into chocolate mixture. Reserve remaining whipped cream to decorate top of cake.
10.     Reserve 2 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts to decorate top of cake. Fold remaining nuts into chocolate mixture. Pour mousse over ice cream.
11.     Add the love: Place remaining whipped cream in pastry tube and decorate the top of the cake with rosettes (I like to make a ring on the outer circle). Sprinkle rosettes with remaining nuts. Cover cake with plastic wrap and place in freezer for at least 3 hours before serving. Remove from freezer 10 minutes before serving.
12.     Tip: You can substitute almonds for the hazelnuts and almond liqueur for the hazelnut liqueur.

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