Monday, June 28, 2010

3-Star Michelin Event + Recipe for Ceviche = Exceptional

Tires and food. Sunflower oil and Michelin tires. The two don't seem to be a pairing you would normally consider, but the history of Michelin starts with tires and takes a detour with food and restaurants. Few people realize that the Michelin that makes tires is also the Michelin whose restaurant ratings are among the most coveted in the world.

Click here to read part one of two posts about my recent trip to South Carolina to taste Michelin-starred food and kick tires.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tortilla Soup

You likely won’t find a recipe for Tortilla Soup in your hand-me-down cookbooks. Tortilla Soup is a fairly recent newcomer to the culinary scene. Popularized in the American Southwest and northern Mexico, this soup is now sought after in far flung locales – even as far north as Canada. And why not? This soup is easy to make, flavourful, and satisfying either on a hot, hot day in July or on a cold, blizzardy day in January.

Tortilla Soup had its origins as a simple homemade chicken soup, until innovative chefs tried mixing it up a bit by topping the soup with fried tortilla strips, avocado chunks, chili salsa, lime juice and sometimes a sharp, grated cheese. The combination became so popular that what had been known as plain old chicken soup was renamed “Tortilla Soup” and has become a popular menu choice in many restaurants.

While Tortilla Soup may have entered the culinary world as recently as the late 70s, tortillas themselves have been around since 10,000 BC where, according to Mayan legend, tortillas were made of native corn with dried kernel.

For this recipe you can use tortillas that are somewhat old and dried out. However, if you choose to use fresh tortillas, bake them on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes in a 200 degree F oven to get the moisture out of them. Then, cut the tortillas into ¼ inch strips and fry over medium heat until brown and crisp. Pat the fat off with a paper towel and set aside until ready for use.

(If you’re interested in a lower fat content, instead of frying the strips, you can lay them on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes in a 300 – 325 degree F oven. Sprinkle lightly with salt before baking).

If you are someone who likes a bit of heat in your food, this soup is for you. If you have a more moderate palate, you might want to add a dollop of sour cream before serving to modify the heat. The beauty of this recipe is that it invites innovation. After all, that’s how it came into being!


Serves 4-6

2 chilies
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion
1 pound tomatoes (2 large)
1 can 28-ounce tomatoes
¼ cup vegetable oil
6 stale corn tortillas
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup whipping cream
salt, to taste
thyme, to taste

Garnish: sour cream, guacamole, cheddar, lemon or lime wedges

Blend chilies, garlic, onion, and tomatoes. Fry tortillas. Heat chili mixture in a bit of oil for about 8 to 10 minutes. Add stock and boil. Add seasoning. Cook 3 to 4 minutes longer. Taste and adjust.

Variation: Add 1½ tablespoons chili powder and 1 teaspoon dried oregano.

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    Monday, June 7, 2010

    Ottawa Byward Market Food Tour

    A few weeks ago I attended the launch of a new food tour of the Byward Market in Ottawa hosted by Paola St. George and Andrée Riffou of C'est Bon Cooking. I wrote about Chef Andrée Riffou in my post about Ravioli who is the mastermind behind this new food tour in Ottawa, and Paola is the amazing tour guide.

    Click here to read more about it.

    Our Hosts (Paola St. George on the left and Andrée Riffou) / Our Group