Elyx Chef Series ~ Absolut Darby

In 1995, Absolut collaborated with some of Canada’s most influential, up-and-coming chefs to create a series of unique Absolut-inspired dishes. Featuring the likes of Michael Bonacini, Paul Boehmer, Brad Long, Mark McEwan, Rob Feenie, Susur Lee, Christopher McDonald, Arpi Magyar and others, Absolut hand-selected culinary visionaries who have continued to shape the country’s food scene.

Twenty years later, they’re recreating the series by bringing their “alumni” chefs to select the next generation of up-and-comers who they believe will lead the country’s restaurant landscape in the years and decades to come.

Our very own Darby Piquette, Chef de Cuisine at One Restaurant in The Hazelton Hotel in Toronto was nominated for the Absolut Elyx Chef Series by his boss and mentor, Chef Mark McEwan. Absolut sat down with Darby to ask a few questions.

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Absolut: Tell us about the dish and cocktail pairing you created for the Absolut Elyx Chef Series. What was your inspiration?

Darby: I used a dish currently on the menu at One Restaurant, and switched it up a bit for the shoot. For the original Chef Series 20 years ago, Chef McEwan made an Ahi Tuna dish and I wanted to follow in his footsteps.

My dish is seared yellowfin tuna belly with sweet pea falafel, Israeli couscous salad, mint, pomegranate yogurt, cumin vinaigrette and citrus butter sauce. It eats very light and healthy, and is a great summer option for our busy patio.

Absolut: How would you describe a successful approach to food and cocktail pairing?

Darby: I had ideas in mind about the cocktail pairing, and the direction in which I wanted to go, but I won’t lie, my knowledge of cocktails (other than opening a can of cider for myself) is limited. I focus on what’s happening in the kitchen and rely on our bar team to create cocktail pairings for the dishes.

For this shoot, I left the creation of the cocktail accompaniment in the hands of our talented bartender, Reuben Barkow of One Restaurant. Reuben knows the dish well, and came up with the Absolut Elyx Pom Fizz as a complement. The mixture of pomegranate, mint and lime with both the cocktail and tuna are a great mix and the acidity of lime juice and fizz of prosecco match very well with the fatty yellowfin ‘Toro’. Balance is important.

Absolut: How would you describe your overall cooking style or philosophy?

Darby: My overall cooking style is Continental. I love researching different cuisines, and learning how to incorporate their preparation methods and ingredients into my own dishes. My philosophy toward food is quite simple: Always have fun. Make food that makes people happy and let the ingredients shine. The simpler the better; it’s just food and drink, baby!

Absolut: What’s next for you? Do you have specific goals set for five, 10, or 20 years from now?

Darby: I’m not totally sure what’s next for me. I have always lived life second by second, never really planning too much into the future. I am too busy at the restaurant to carve out a fantasy life in front of me to work towards. I plan on working at the hotel and learning for as long as I can, and meeting as many people as I can before carrying out the thought of running away to the Caribbean to open a fried chicken and doughnut shop with my girlfriend!

Absolut: Chef Mark McEwan tells us why he nominated Darby for the Elyx Chef Series:

There is no harder working young man who loves food and his customers the way he does. ~ Chef Mark McEwan

ABSOLUT ELYX POM FIZZ 

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1 ½ oz. Absolut Elyx
2 oz. Prosecco
1 oz. Lime juice
1 oz. Simple syrup
2 oz. Pomegranate juice
Fresh Mint leaves for muddle and garnish
Fresh Pomegranate seeds

Muddle fresh mint, Absolut Elyx, lime and simple syrup. Add ice and pomegranate juice. Top with prosecco, fresh mint leaves and pomegranate juice. Serve in Collins glass.

ABSOLUT DARBY 

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Inspired by his mentor, Chef Mark McEwan’s original dish, Chef de Cuisine Darby Piquette opted to work with this seared yellowfin tuna belly. Absolut Darby features the tuna as the star, with sweet pea falafel, Israeli couscous salad, mint, pomegranate yogurt, cumin vinaigrette and citrus butter sauce. The lime juice and prosecco in an Absolut Elyx Pom Fizz cocktail provide a nice balance to the fatty yellowfin in Chef’s dish.

Read more about the Absolut Elyx Chef Series here.

Image credits: Absolut

Fresh & Flavourful ~ Truffled Steak Salad

Embrace the warm weather with this fresh and flavourful Truffled Steak Salad. Sharp little bites of marinated and seasoned steak are nestled among fresh, crisp greens, sweet tomatoes, and crunchy, mild walnuts. Topped with a crumble of tangy chèvre, then drizzled with McEwan’s Own Truffle Vinaigrette, this is a very quick and simple salad designed to impress.

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1 (6oz) steak, cut into bite size strips
1 jar McEwan’s Own Truffle Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
1 cup breadcrumbs
Olive oil, for cooking
1 container McEwan’s Own Arugula Salad Mix
4 tbsp chevre, crumbled
Salt to taste
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Cut the steak into small, bite size pieces. Season with salt and pepper, then toss with 2 tablespoons of the McEwan’s Own Truffle Vinaigrette Salad Dressing, making sure all the meat is coated.

Toss the meat in the breadcrumbs, making sure they’re evenly coated. Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a large frying pan, and quickly fry the meat for two minutes. Flip to ensure both sides are browned and crisp for a medium/medium-rare steak.

Add the steak bites to the McEwan’s Own Arugula Salad Mix, then toss. Add dressing and toss again. Top with the crumbled chevre and some freshly cracked black pepper.

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Katrina Kajganic, Kitchen Trials
Blogger, Designer, Photographer, Recipe Developer
Twitter: @kitchen_trials
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The Perfect Bottle Contest

There’s nothing better than savouring the warm sunny days outdoors! On his weekends off, Mark McEwan loves to spend time at the cottage entertaining his family and close friends. To start off the evening, he recommends having a bottle of crisp white Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc on hand for you and your guests to enjoy with appetizers.

Stoneleigh Vineyards The Perfect Bottle Contest


This summer, our friends at Stoneleigh Vineyards want you to treat yourself and your guests to the best glass of wine, every time. Enter Stoneleigh Vineyards’ The Perfect Bottle contest for your chance to win one of three Jenn-Air Under Counter Wine Cellars valued at $2,300 each: bit.ly/1JXm3MW Don’t miss your chance! The contest closes on May 31.

 

Reimagined Eggplant Parmesan Rolls

Impress your guests with this delicious yet beautiful twist on an Italian classic, Eggplant Parmesan. Crispy eggplant slices rolled around creamy parsley goat cheese stuffed manicotti and served over a bed of flavourful McEwan’s Own Roxy’s Tomato Sauce.

1 garlic bulb
olive oil, to drizzle
4 manicotti shells
1 large eggplant
2 cups bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
300gr goat cheese
1 cup chopped parsley
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 jar McEwan’s Own Roxy’s Tomato Sauce
1 cup micro arugula
8 Parmesan crisps

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Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut a garlic bulb 1/4-1/2 inch from the top of the cloves. Place the bulb on a small sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap the foil around the garlic. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the garlic is soft.

Follow the cooking instructions on the manicotti’s package. Set them aside to cool. Once cool, cut each manicotti in half

Slice off the top and bottom of the eggplant. Using a mandolin slicer or a knife, slice the eggplant from top to bottom to create thin rectangular sheets. If the sheets are too wide and you can’t roll them, try trimming the width of the slice until they become rollable.

Mix the breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together both eggs. Place the flour in a third bowl. Take each eggplant slice, dip in the flour and shake, dip in the eggs, and finally dip in the breadcrumbs mixture. Roll and place in a muffin tin.

Take the roasted garlic out of the oven. Mix the goat cheese, parsley, olive oil, roasted garlic, and parsley. Pipe the mixture into the manicottis and center inside the eggplant rolls. Bake for 20 minutes at 400°F.

Heat McEwan’s Own Roxy’s Tomato Sauce and serve some in a bowl using a ladle. Place the baked eggplant Parmesan rolls in the center of the bowl over the bed of tomato sauce. Garnish the top of the rolls with micro arugula and Parmesan crisps.

Fouad Y. Makadsi, Zero to Gourmet
Cancer Research Data Analyst, Cook, Recipe Developer, Blogger
Twitter @iphouad
Instagram @iphouad

Cooking Up Something Juicy, Jiggly, and Jammy at McEwan

When I was growing up, jam was just a sweet condiment to otherwise boring toast, and a great pal to nut butter for lunch. But chefs and savvy home cooks know that fruit preserves, jellies and jams can shine in a wide range of dishes ~ From savoury to sweet, to everything in between. And standing in with all your sweet sticky needs, McEwan offers an extensive line. From locally produced family-run offerings, to trusted gourmet brands and every imaginable fruit you can dream up ~ McEwan’s make sure your toast, cheese, desserts, and meat are always accompanied by a quality fruit spread.

So what is the difference between a jelly, jam and preserve?

Beginning with the most indulgent, a jelly is a wobbly clear fruit spread made from fruit juice, sugar and sometimes pectin with no solid bits or fibre intact. Jam has the addition of actual fruit pulp and is looser and less giggly then jelly. Finally, preserves have the most actual fruit in them, meaning they tend to be a bit higher in fibre and lower in sugar then the other two spreads. While there is nothing more satisfying then a breakfast bread with a smear of jelly or jam, they still contain a lot of sugar so I like to use them in recipes where even small amounts can lend a huge flavour kick.

Desserts with jams, jellies and preserves are easy to free-style ~ Any flavour you like will work beautifully in a sweet bar, cookie, crepe, or cheesecake. But their success in savoury recipes typically depends on the other ingredients. Chicken is lovely with citrus marmalade, duck is delicious with cherry, beef and lamb can handle richer fruit like plums or currants, while pork- well, you can take your pick with pork. The possibilities are endless.

My go to preserve is Bonne Maman’s Fig Preserves because I love the luscious sweet flavour and the satisfying crackle of the seeds. Here I use it in a super simple Fig Balsamic Chili glaze to top a low fat, high protein pork tenderloin. Serve with some roasted heirloom carrots and steamed asparagus, and you have a colourful well-balanced meal that serves up to four people.

SWEET AND HEAT BALSAMIC FIG PORK TENDERLOIN

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2 tsp olive oil
1 lb pork tenderloin Salt and pepper
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
5 tbsp Bonne Maman fig preserves
½ tsp Sambal Oelek (or more, if you like it spicy)
8 figs, quartered and stemmed

1. Preheat oven to 375 F.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add in the olive oil.

3. Season the pork tenderloin generously with salt and pepper on all sides, then place in skillet and sear all over until is golden brown. Remove from the heat.

4. Meanwhile, combine the balsamic, Bonne Mamam Fig preserves, and sriracha in a small saucepot over medium low heat until it bubbles and melts down.

5. Liberally brush the tenderloin and the quartered figs with the glaze and store any extra glaze. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the pork reaches 145 F ~ About half way through the cooking process, brush again with the remaining glaze.

6. Allow the pork to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing. Serve with the caramelized figs.

DELICIOUSLY YOURS,

ABBEY SHARP, RD

OWNER, ABBEY’S KITCHEN

Tap into the Mouthwatering World of Maple at McEwan

Harvested right here in our backyard, Maple Syrup is an international delicacy that Canadians can call their own. It’s aromatic, sweet and completely natural, making it a popular choice for flavour-junkies and health-enthusiasts, alike. With an eye for quality and great taste, McEwans offers a wide variety of maple syrups for all of your baking, cooking, dipping, drowning and drinking (we don’t judge) needs.

Pure maple syrup tends to fall into two major categories ~ Grade A and Grade B. While Grade B is great for adding complexity to cocktails, Grade A (specifically Medium Grade A) is ideal for everyday use. From Shady Maple Farms’ Organic to McEwan’s OwnKemble Ontario, to Noble’s handcrafted artisanal Vanilla Bean Matured Maple, to fruit-infused options like Haskapa Maple Syrup, Can Natur’s Blueberry or Voisin Maple’s Apple Cinnamon ~ the choices at McEwans are literally endless.

“While I believe all sweeteners should be used in moderation, I like maple syrup because it’s sustainably produced, offers a more aromatic flavour compared to white sugar and offers a bonus dose of manganese, riboflavin, and zinc.”

MAPLE ALMOND CRUSTED SALMON WITH KALE, ORANGE AND MAPLE SALAD

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This nutrient-rich recipe is high in Omega 3s, fibre, protein and vitamin C and makes for a satisfying dinner or lunch that serves up to 4 people.

Dressing:

¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3 tbsp Smokey Kettle Grade A Medium Maple Syrup
2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
3 tbsp. olive oil Salt and pepper, to taste

Salad:

8 cups kale leaves, finely chopped and washed
2 oranges, segmented
1 oz sliced almonds, toasted

Almond Crust:

¼ cup almonds
¼ cup panko bread crumbs
Pinch each of salt and pepper

Glaze and Salmon:

2 tbsp grainy Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. Smokey Kettle Grade A Medium Maple Syrup
2 tsp orange zest
Salt and pepper
4x 3-4 oz filets of salmon
4 tsp olive oil

mcewan_mcewanfoods_maplesalmon_AbbeySharp_recipe_shopsatdonmillsMix together freshly squeezed orange juice, maple syrup, sherry vinegar, dijon mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper together, and set aside.

Dress the kale leaves in a few tablespoons of the dressing and begin to massage. Rub the leaves between your hands for a good 5 minutes to soften, then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Once salad has finished marinating, Preheat the oven to 425 F.

For the salmon glaze, mix together dijon mustard, maple syrup, orange zest and a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside.

Combine almonds, panko and a pinch of salt and pepper into a small food processor and process until it reaches the consistency of breadcrumbs.

Lightly season the salmon filets with salt and pepper and brush with the glaze.

Sprinkle generously with the almond crust and drizzle each with a teaspoon of olive oil.

Bake in the oven for about 10-12 minutes, or until cooked through.

Once cooked, carefully lift the fish from the skin and discard the skin.

Assembly:

Toss the salad with a few more tablespoons of dressing to taste, and arrange on plates with the segmented oranges and toasted almonds.

Top with the cooked salmon filets. Enjoy!

DELICIOUSLY YOURS,

ABBEY SHARP, RD

OWNER, ABBEY’S KITCHEN

What’s (NEW) on Fabbrica’s Menu?

As seasons change, so do menus, especially when you source local produce like we do. For Spring 2015, we’ve added 9 fresh items to Fabbrica’s already-acclaimed lunch and dinner line-up. It’s not an easy process because when one’s added, often times another has to be ‘retired’.

“Spring is such a short season. I wanted a menu that was clean and flexible” says Chef de Cuisine Missy Hui. “It’s very important that the menu gives us the opportunity to manage specials and really feature what is freshest and available, week to week”

Her favourite dish? It’s a tie for the Beef Carpaccio with Cured Egg Yolk, Truffle, Piave, and Pickled Shallot and the Burrata with Pickled Figs, Roasted Muscat Grapes and Walnut Pesto. Two Italian classics with refined details.

Caramelized Onion and Date Chutney Grilled Cheese

Embrace the rainy days with this simple and comforting caramelized onion and date chutney grilled cheese sandwich. Cheesy and flavourful, it is fancy enough for a weekend dinner or cut into smaller squares for a party appetizer!

3 tbsp Olive Oil
2-3 Cooking Onions, cut into half moons
1/2 tsp Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1 tbsp Unsalted butter
4 slices Light Rye or Sourdough Bread
2 heaping tsp McEwan’s Own Date and Raisin Chutney
3/4 cup Aged White Cheddar, grated
Fresh Black Pepper to Taste

grilled cheese

Heat olive oil on medium low heat in a heavy bottom skillet. Sauté onions slowly for 25 minutes stirring occasionally.

After about 10 minutes add the black pepper.

Once you have reached the 25 minute mark, stir in the small amount of brown sugar and remove from heat. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Butter the outside of the bread. Top each slice of bread with a heaping teaspoon of McEwan’s Own Date and Raisin Chutney, aged white cheddar and the caramelized onions.

Press together both pieces and cook in a heavy cast iron or heavy bottom pan for 5 minutes a side or until golden brown.

Rachel Barbaro, Friendly Food Snobs
Food blogger and friendly food snob
Twitter @Rachel_Barbaro
Instagram @rachelbarbaro

 

Spring Forward ~ Easter Entertaining

Spring has finally sprung, the birds are chirping and the sun is shining. With Easter long weekend fast approaching, your days may start to become hectic. At McEwan we’re here to help you with the details so that you can spend your time socializing at family gatherings, egg hunting with the children, or simply relaxing at home.

From egg baskets and chocolate treats, to lively decor and bright centrepieces, our team will have you catching spring fever in no time!

Here are some of our Easter must-haves. The hardest part will be keeping these gourmet treats hidden.

TOP 5 Snack Foods at McEwan

Being Mark McEwan’s assistant has me running around most days like a chicken with my head cut off!

I am a huge “snacker” and although I would like to say that I always make the healthiest choice, That would be a flat out lie! There are so many delicious offerings that I just go with my gut, literally. Here’s my 5 favourites that you MUST pick up the next time you are in - 

1. MAD MEXICAN’S FRESH SALSA

Photo Courtesy of Blog TO

Photo Courtesy of Blog TO

Anything from Mad Mexican ~ As I am writing this I am actually crunching away on their nacho chips and mild salsa (I can’t handle heat). Every single product is made with the utmost care. It is so fresh and I like to think it is pretty healthy. There is a full line up of different salsas, each one is very unique and completely addicting.

2. MCEWAN’S OWN GOURMET CHIPS

Photo 2-27-2015, 10 51 07 AMI think you can see the trend already, I am really into salty snacks. Whether it is Kool Ketchup, Dill Pickle or my personal favourite, Blue Cheese Chicken Wings, I just cannot get enough of these chips. They are a hit with my friends, ever since the first time I brought them out at a girl’s night, they have been specifically requested every time we are altogether.

3. REFUEL’S COLD-PRESSED JUICE 

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Refuel Kale Kraze ~ Sometimes you just need to get your vitamins on the run and the Kale Craze by Refuel is my go to. My day can change direction at the drop of the hat and being able to drink a meal really keeps me going.

4. MCEWAN’S OWN DESSERT JARS

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90% of the time I am reaching for chips of some sort, but when I am craving something a little bit sweet I dig in to the Dessert Jars at the pastry counter. Key lime pie…in a jar!? Yes please! Plus, having these small jars as the serving vessel is a great portion control method, unless of course you eat numerous jars…I have never done that…wink wink.

5. MCEWAN’S YOGURT PARFAIT BAR

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Mmmmmm morning snack! The “Build Your Own Yogurt Parfait Bar” at McEwan gives me the opportunity to make a new creation every day. Ever felt as though you needed more granola in your parfait or you want ALL strawberries with a little bit of honey? There are so many options and they all make me feel as though I am adding a little goodness into my body!

WRITTEN BY,
JORDIE MCTAVISH, EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT TO MARK MCEWAN