Recipes for a Tasty Long Weekend
The long weekend is finally here. Winter wasn’t too bad — minimal shovelling, no frostbite — still, I’m glad to see its back. I’m looking forward to enjoying meals outdoors, long sunny days and prepping the garden for basil, tomatoes, beets and anything else that takes my fancy. Despite the April showers that can sometimes feel a little icy, this is a season of renewal.
The recipes below are challenging, but not in the sense that they’re difficult to make. They’re not at all, actually. But, many people have preconceived ideas about some of them. For instance, for many people, the thought of eating rabbit is a tad distressing. But, rabbit is actually one of the healthiest meats around. Nutritious and delicious — how’s that for perfection? Like any other type of food, look for rabbit that has been raised ethically. Soufflé, anyone? Mention of this dish, alone, leaves people quaking in their shoes. But, soufflés are really easy to make and taste great. So what if your soufflé deflates seconds before it makes it to the table? If you really want your guests eyes to widen in wonder as you carry in that puffy, airy masterpiece, the trick is to time it just right. Bake for the requisite time, pull from oven, place on table. But, remember, the soufflé will be super hot and will deflate as soon as you spoon some out. Otherwise, you can always just enjoy its creamy and delicate flavour regardless.
Look at this long spring weekend as an opportunity to try something new, like these recipes.
This recipe results in moist and tender meat. It’s quick and easy to make, and should be removed from the oven pan as soon as it’s fork tender (or 160°F). If you can’t find rabbit, feel free to substitute any type of meat you’d like. Rabbit is a bit gamier in flavour than chicken, but that taste gives this dish a refreshing and special undertone.
1 rabbit, cut into serving-size pieces
Fresh rosemary sprigs
4 garlic cloves
Wash rabbit pieces well; pat dry. Place pieces into a roasting pan. Rub olive oil over each piece. Season with salt, and place rosemary sprigs overtop. Place garlic cloves into the pan with the rabbit. Roast in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes per 1/2 kilogram (1 lb).
Enjoy with a glass of Dolcetto.
This is a recipe I’ve had kicking around for years. It’s one of those trusted, stand-by recipes that falls in and out of use over the years, but is always there when one is looking for a trusted and tasty recipe.
3 Tbsp each butter and flour
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup shredded cheese (Any hard cheese will work. But the stronger the flavour, the better the soufflé.)
4 eggs, separated
In a saucepan, melt butter and stir in flour. Stir over low heat, 5 minutes. Blend in milk and salt; cook, stirring, until thickened. Add cheese and stir until melted. Remove from heat and beat in egg yolks, one at a time.
Whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold half the whites into the sauce; fold in the rest.
Pour the mixture into a buttered soufflé dish. Draw a circle on the surface an inch or so in from the rim with the tip of a knife. Bake in a 375°F oven for 35 minutes. The centre of the soufflé will still be soft and slightly gooey.
Try it with Sauvignon Blanc.
Creole Crab Cupcakes
Makes about 20
Recipe courtesy of Sips and Apps by Kathy Casey (Chronicle Books).
2 Tbsp salted butter
1/3 cup onion, diced
1/3 cup celery, diced
1/3 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup cornmeal
6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1-1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/4 cup homogenized milk
1/4 cup sour cream
8 oz fresh Dungeness or lump crabmeat, drained well and picked through for shell fragments
1 (3-oz) package cream cheese, room temperature
1 Tbsp milk
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp chives, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease muffin tins; set aside.
In a large pan set over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté onion, celery and bell pepper for about 4 minutes; let cool.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powered and Old Bay. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and sour cream. When the vegetables are cool, add the cornmeal mixture to the egg mixture, and mix lightly. Stir in the vegetables and all the melted butter from the pan. Do not over mix. Fold in crabmeat just until evenly distributed.
Place a heaping spoonful of batter into each muffin cup. Bake the cupcakes for 12 to 14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Rotate the pans after the first 7 minutes of baking. Let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then carefully remove them to a wire rack.
In a small bowl, mash the cream cheese with a fork, then whisk in the milk and lemon juice until smooth and creamy. Top each cupcake with about 1 tsp of frosting. Sprinkle the top with a few sliced chives for garnish. Refrigerate cupcakes until needed.
You can go either way with this one. Try either Syrah or Viognier.