Chef’s Blog

What’s Cooking…

Movie Night Treat

Posted By admin / May, 12, 2016 / 0 comments

What’s better than Saturday movie or game night at home with gluten free salted caramel corn, red wine and Cape Fear (1962) on Turner Classic Movies.

Pop half cup of popcorn kernels (makes 3 quarts of popcorn) in a hot air popper and pour into a very large metal bowl or pot, discarding any un-popped kernels and place in preheated 250F oven to keep warm. Alternatively, use microwave popcorn if that’s what you have to hand.

Melt half cup unsalted butter in medium saucepan. Stir in 1 cup dark brown sugar, quarter cup maple syrup and 1 tsp salt and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in quarter tsp baking soda and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Mixture will boil rapidly then subside.

Spray 2 rubber spatulas with cooking spray. Remove popcorn from oven and immediately pour hot caramel over warm popcorn, lightly stirring until evenly coated. Turn out popcorn into a large roasting tin lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Bake at 250F for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a metal rack to room temperature. Break apart, eat or store in an air tight container. I even sneak it into the cinema! For a spicy-savoury note, add half tsp cayenne or chilli powder to the caramel in place of salt and stir in chopped bacon after removing from the oven. Now… turn down the lights, draw the drapes, cuddle up in your favourite spot by the telly and… hold on, who forgot the drinks?! Serves 6

ⓒ 2016 All Rights Reserved. Madison Cowan, LLC

Early One Sunday Mornin’…

Posted By admin / October, 7, 2012 / 0 comments

For me, nothing says Sunday morning quite like buttermilk biscuits. Light, fluffy pillows of buttery goodness, scratch made and pipin’ hot from the oven. Biscuits are extremely easy to make and are perfect as a meal by themselves. Traditionally served with syrup, molasses, gravy or jam, today it’s Nutella for my girls and a thin slice of butter and honey for me. Quick Tip: If you don’t have buttermilk to hand, just add 1 tbsp of white vinegar to 1 cup of whole milk and refrigerate a few minutes.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Unbleached flour 2 cups plus extra for dusting
Baking powder 1 tbsp
Salt 1 generous pinch
Unsalted butter 4 tbsp, cold from the fridge
Shortening 4 tbsp, cold from the freezer
Buttermilk 1/2 cup plus extra for brushing
Black pepper alternatively use cinnamon sugar

Preheat your oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Using your fingertips, rub the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients until you have a coarse texture. Make a well in the center of the flour, add the buttermilk and mix by hand until the dough just comes together in a ball and the sides of the bowl are clean.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured a work surface, pat into a 10 inch circle, about 3/4 inch thick and cut with a lightly floured 3 inch pastry ring (we used heart-shaped as well). Place the biscuits on the baking sheet, just touching one another, then quickly reshape and repeat with the leftover dough. Brush the tops with buttermilk and lightly season with black pepper. Bake until the tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes and serve hot. Makes about a dozen biscuits.

ⓒ 2012 All Rights Reserved. Madison Cowan, LLC

Savoury Matinee Snack

Posted By admin / September, 29, 2012 / 0 comments

Enjoying an old black & white film on a cool, overcast Saturday afternoon is very much welcomed following a long week. And right on cue, my wife, daughter & dog leap to their feet as I motion toward the kitchen for a bit of something. A quick survey of the cupboards & refrigerator shelves: buttermilk, a single sweet onion, an abundance of dry goods… ONION RINGS! Extra crispy on the outside, soft, tangy & sweet inside, a hint of spice… chat w/ you later!

Crunchy Buttermilk Onion Rings

Vidalia onion 1 medium, peeled & sliced into 1/2 inch slices
Unbleached flour 2 cups
Onion powder 1 tbsp
Sweet paprika 2 tsp
Sea salt 2 tsp
White pepper 1 tsp
Buttermilk 2 cups
Tabasco 2 tsp
Peanut oil 2 cups, alternatively use grapeseed oil

Separate the onion slices into individual rings and remove the papery skin inside each ring. Line a baking sheet with kitchen paper and heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.

Combine the flour and the next 4 ingredients in a large bowl and divide evenly into 2 large paper sandwich bags. Stir the buttermilk and tabasco in a large mixing bowl or baking dish. Working in batches, shake the rings in the first bag of seasoned flour, shake off the excess and drench in the buttermilk, coating evenly. Lightly tap off the excess buttermilk then shake the rings in the second bag of flour. Shake off the excess and transfer to the hot oil.

Fry the rings, turning once using tongs, until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per batch. Remove from the oil and drain in a single layer on the lined baking sheet. Season with extra salt, if needed and repeat until all the rings are fried. Serve straightaway with your favourite dip. I’m using tomato ketchup with chopped chipotles in adobo and a splash of worcester sauce. Serves 4

ⓒ 2012 All Rights Reserved. Madison Cowan, LLC

Easy As…Ichi, Ni, San!

Posted By admin / September, 22, 2012 / 0 comments

Everyone loves a bit of guacamole, served on a crostini, with nachos or fresh cut vegetables. I’ve added a funky Japanese twist by replacing avocado with edamame and using a hint of wasabi. Knock it up in minutes as part of your game time menu or pair with your favourite beer.

Edamole Dip

Frozen edamame 10 oz. (about ½ bag), shelled
Garlic 1 large clove, smashed & minced
Ground cumin ½ tsp
Wasabi 2 tsp
Lime juice 2 tbsp
Tomato 1 medium, seeded & chopped
Fresh coriander 2 tbsp, roughly chopped
Chives 2 tbsp, roughly chopped
Olive oil 2 tsp
Salt & pepper to taste
Smoked paprika dusting

Bring 2 cups of water to boil, add the edamame and cook for about 3 minutes. Drain in a colander, rinse under cold running water and shake off the excess. Place the edamame in a large bowl and roughly mash with a potato masher or fork. Then fold in the garlic, cumin, wasabi, lime juice, tomato, herbs, olive oil and seasoning. Cover with cling film and refrigerate until ready to serve. Before serving, check the seasoning and lightly dust with smoked paprika. Serves 6

Photo courtesy of

ⓒ 2012 All Rights Reserved. Madison Cowan, LLC