Blog - Curry Twist

Lamb Pot Pie In Gaspé, Canada

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The best way to see Quebec's breathtaking Gaspé peninsula is to drive along the highway that runs along the coast. Every bend gives you another stunning vista of the ocean or of rolling green hills. You  meander through little bays in which villages nestle with fishing boats pulled up on the shore and wooden racks laid out on which salt cod is spread to dry in the sun. Quaint covered bridges straddle sparkling streams and on the horizon there is always a lighthouse to mark the way.

The Gaspé region is famous for its seafood, both fresh and smoked. I have never seen such variety of smoked seafood anywhere else and local restaurants serve it in many creative ways. We came upon Atkins, the famous regional business that specializes in frozen and smoked seafood, in the tiny village of Mont St-Louis. There were smoked seafood varieties of every kind in the coolers and I stocked up on enough to last me for a very long time! Every time I use their smoked scallops, shrimp or smoked fish in one of my recipes, I am reminded of our fabulous Gaspé trip. What better way to relive our memorable food experiences?!

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While seafood is understandably one of the highlights of eating out in the Gaspé region, you also find some amazing lamb dishes. After all it is not far from the Charlevoix region, famous for its locally grown lamb. After days of eating seafood, lamb can come as a welcome change! We had the most tender, flavourful lamb shanks in Auberge Maison William Wakefield in historic Gaspé Town, where they were intriguingly served with delicious little lamb samosas! In the town of Carleton Sur Mer, our culinary highlight was at restaurant Le Marin d'Eau Douce where the French trained Moroccan chef served us an unforgettable lamb tagine.

I love to prepare lamb in hearty, warming stews and curries. Here, I have taken it a step further by turning my lamb stew into a simple, delicious pot pie that is perfect for a weekday dinner because the lamb stew can be made ahead of time. All you have to do is throw on the crust and bake it. If you have any leftover lamb curry in your refrigerator, use that to make a fantastic curried pot pie! If you wish to make this vegetarian, try a paneer pot pie. It's different and delicious! You can make individual sized small pot pies or a larger one in a pie plate. Pies can also be made ahead of time and kept frozen until baked. 

The Parmesan cheese in this recipe helps thicken the stew as well as add flavour to it, while the whole spices add their own subtle aroma. A fresh salad is the perfect accompaniment!

Lamb Pot Pie

1 lb (450g) boneless leg of lamb, fat trimmed off, cubed into bite sized pieces

2 tbsp each: all purpose flour, oil

4 each, whole: cardamom, cloves  

1/2 inch stick cinnamon

1 star anise, optional

1 large cooking onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

3-4 sprigs fresh thyme

1/2 cup red wine

1 cup each: chicken or beef broth, crushed or diced tomatoes

Salt to taste

1/2 tsp each: ground black pepper, smoked paprika

2 sticks celery, sliced

1 carrot, diced

4 small potatoes, peeled and quartered

1 cup frozen peas

1/4 cup chopped parsley

2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

1 pkg (450g) puff pastry sheets

1 egg, beaten

Wash and pat dry lamb pieces with paper towels. Dredge lightly in flour, shaking off excess. Reserve.

Warm oil in deep non stick skillet set over medium high heat. Add whole cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and star anise. Sizzle spices for 30 sec., then add onions, garlic and thyme. 

Saute for about 5 min. until onions are lightly browned. Add lamb and brown for 5 min. Add wine and mix well. Add broth, tomatoes, salt, pepper and paprika. Mix well, cover skillet and bring contents to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 1 hour.

Add celery, carrots, potatoes, peas and parsley to skillet. Bring back to boil, reduce heat to medium low and cook for another hour or longer until lamb and vegetables are very tender, stirring occasionally.

Fold in the Parmesan cheese and cool lamb stew mixture to room temperature.

Heat oven to 400F. Spoon lamb stew mixture into four small individual oven safe bowls. Cut puff pastry to size, letting it overlap edges slightly. Cut a vent on top of each pastry to let steam escape. Brush tops with beaten egg.

Place bowls on baking tray, bake for about 18 - 20 min or until tops are golden and pastry is crisp. 

Serves four

 

 

Fall Tomato Jam In Ontario, Canada

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Fall is my absolute favourite time of year! The trees create a gorgeous kaleidoscope of reds, oranges and golds as their leaves change colour. The days are cool, crisp and filled with glorious sunshine. And best of all, the abundance of fall produce inspires me to get creative in the kitchen!

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Living in southern Ontario, I like to best experience this season by taking long scenic drives through the countryside, along winding roads where we can admire the stunning fall colours. Stopping at farmers' markets along the way to pick up local specialties such as smoked meats, preserves, fruits and vegetables, and savouring them by the side of a serene lake is my idea of a perfect weekend!

Traveling through small Ontario towns  lets you discover hidden gems of restaurants, where chefs use locally grown produce in wonderfully creative ways. The best recipes are those that let the flavour and freshness of the ingredients shine through. It is amazing how a few fresh ingredients, simply cooked can taste so fantastic.

Fall fruits and vegetables, sun ripened and picked at the peak of their freshness have an unforgettable flavour all their own. Although there is a huge variety of fresh produce available this time of year, sun kissed, vine ripened tomatoes top my list of favourites! Bursting with flavour and sweetness, i just can't get enough of them. I end up buying so many that i can't possibly cook with all of them and have to act quickly to preserve them. One of the ways i do that is by making jams and chutneys which let me enjoy their delicious flavour throughout the year.  

This tomato jam doubles as a chutney and is perfect with Indian food. It is also great with toast, crackers, burgers, grilled meats, poultry and seafood! Quite often, I'll just spread it on a thick slice of olive bread and make that my breakfast. Ah, what a way to start my day!

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If you wish to have a milder flavoured jam, pick out the whole garam masala spices at the end of cooking. I usually leave them in and the jam gets more and more aromatic and full flavoured as time goes on! 

Tomato Jam With Whole Garam Masala

10 large ripe plum tomatoes

2 tbsp oil

10 each, whole: cloves, cardamom

1/2 inch stick cinnamon

1/4 piece of nutmeg, optional

1 star anise

1/2 tsp whole black peppercorn

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup each: sugar, apple cider vinegar

Salt to taste

1/4 tsp chilli pepper flakes 

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add tomatoes, bring to a boil again. Remove from heat, drain tomatoes and transfer to a bowl. Cool to room temperature, then peel and chop them roughly.

Warm oil in deep non stick skillet set over medium heat. Add cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg (if using), star anise, black pepper and bay leaf. Saute for a minute, until spices are fragrant and darken in colour. Add tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, salt and chilli pepper flakes.

Mix well, cover skillet partially and bring contents to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until jam is thickened, about 30 min., stirring occasionally. Tomatoes should be well cooked into a jam like consistency at the end of cooking time. If that hasn't happened, uncover skillet, turn up heat to medium and cook off excess liquid, stirring all the while.

Taste for seasonings, adding more if necessary. Transfer to a sterilized jar and keep refrigerated.

Note: the whole spices in this jam are not meant to be eaten.