Apple Pork Meatballs

>> Tuesday, February 26, 2013


When things start to get stressful in life I find that I always turn to food, not in a bad way, but in a healing and comforting way. Cooking has always been a way for me to relieve stress and let my mind wander for a couple hours before having to return back to reality. I enjoy taking ingredients that I know and inventing new uses for them, especially turning savoury to sweet and vice versa.

Seeing as it was apple month I figured what better way to let my imagination soar and play around with a couple ideas I had been throwing around up there. Apples are great for both savoury and sweet dishes ranging from small one bite appetizers to decadent desserts. This time around, I decided to attempt a meatball made with pork and apples, which is a natural marriage. They just seem to enhance the flavours of one another, the perfect foundation to showcase a savoury sweet dish.

The apples in this recipe provide not only the sweetness, but also helps to keep the meatballs moist and tender. By adding a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg that can be found in a typical apple dessert, it really plays on those particular notes. However, not to take it too far in to dessert territory, there’s also a balance of flavours with yogurt and sage giving the recipe an almost Mediterranean flare. I could almost envision wrapping them up in a pita along with tzatziki and hummus.

I used gala apples for this recipe, but if you want more acid in the dish, granny smith’s would be an interesting choice as well. I would also be tempted to try other sweeter apples such as ambrosia to contrast the difference between each.


Nutritional Tidbit: There are so many different varieties of apples, but they all provide similar benefits. Apples are a great source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which are required in our diets to help lower heart disease, cholesterol and aid in digestion. Also because it’s natural, the sugars in apples (and other fruits) don’t cause your body’s insulin levels to spike. Maybe eating an apple a day really does keep the doctor away.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, it definitely helped me unwind when I was pulling all the ingredients together, especially when I had to use some elbow grease to combine everything. What better way than to take your mind off of things, plus the eating part helps too!

Ingredients:
1 lb lean ground pork
1 medium gala apple, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced (I prefer more garlic)
1/3 cup plain or greek yogurt
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tsp ground sage
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper


Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 375ºC

Place a medium skillet over medium heat, add in a bit of canola or olive oil. Stir in the onions and garlic. Cook for 5 mins or until they start to become translucent.

Add in the sage, cinnamon, nutmeg, parsley, salt and pepper. It’s ok if it’s a bit salty at this point because it will need to be added to the pork. Remove from stove and let cool.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, break apart the ground pork, mix in the chopped apple, greek yogurt, dijon mustard until combined.

Stir in the onion mixture and panko bread crumbs to the mixing bowl. Don’t over mix or else the meatballs will become tough.

At this point I like to heat up a bit of the pork in the microwave just to do a quick taste test. Add more salt and pepper if required.

Portion out the mixture in to roughly 1 inch balls and place on a baking sheet, leaving a bit of space between each ball to ensure evening cooking in the oven.

Once ready, place the baking sheet in the oven and let cook for roughly 20-25 mins. Cooking time will depend on the size of the meatballs.

Should make around 2 dozen meatballs (depending on size). Delicious served with a bit of tzaziki!

Enjoy!

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Winefest Tickets Giveaway

>> Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Its Winefest time again in Calgary, held at the Stampede Park Big Four Building this weekend February 22 & 23. I have a set of tickets to give away for the Saturday February 23rd Afternoon session from 2-5 p.m! So respond to this post and I’ll do a random draw on Wednesday for the winner.

For all of you that are interested, here’s a bit more information. Plus there are still additional tickets available for purchase during the Saturday afternoon session.

Calgary’s highly-anticipated all-inclusive wine event returns to the Stampede Park Big Four

WHAT: Alberta’s favourite all-inclusive wine event is back celebrating its 21st year. With a selection of red, white, sparkling and dessert wines to choose from, guests will have the opportunity to sample hundreds of local and international wine varieties from 14 of the world's most renowned wine regions. Wine experts will be available to share their knowledge and suggest tasting notes as attendees sample their way from booth to booth. One ticket includes unlimited wine tasting, a complimentary Riedel wine glass and a keepsake Tasting Notebook. An onsite Liquor Depot store will allow guests to purchase their favourite finds of the night. Attendees can also nibble on a delicious selection of hors d’oeuvres from Stampede Catering, Springbank Cheese Co., COBS Bread, Oh! Naturals, Cococo Chocolatiers, Nefiss Lezizz and Terra International Food Inc.

WHO: Wine novices and seasoned vino lovers alike will enjoy a decadent evening or afternoon of all-inclusive wine tasting alongside delicious hors d’oeuvres. Winefest is a chance to enjoy a fun outing with friends, family or loved ones, while discovering new favourite wines and increasing wine knowledge. WHY: Celebrate and sample from 247 wines from the world’s most renowned wine regions! Winefest is the perfect opportunity for guests to ‘try before you buy’ and discover new favourites in a casually refined atmosphere.

WHEN:
February 22, 2013 7-10 p.m. Friday Evening Session Sold Out!
February 23, 2013 2-5 p.m. Saturday Afternoon Session
February 23, 2013 7-10 p.m. Saturday Evening Session Sold Out!

WHERE:
Stampede Park Big Four - Hall A 1410 Olympic Way SE,
Calgary, Alberta
T2P 2K8

For ticket information visit:

http://www.celebratewinefest.com/calgary.html

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Market Sneak Peek

>> Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Recently I was watching a TED talk about how the population adopts new ideas or more scientifically, the diffusion of innovations. Essentially we’re all grouped in to 5 categories, the innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. It really made me think about how the world is starting to view food. No longer do we want to eat what’s processed and easily accessible. People are starting to question more and more about their food, where it’s come from and whether it’s been treated ethically. We as a population are becoming more aware of what we’re eating. This can only be a good thing, people need to be educated about their food and I’m glad that in this case, we’re more in the early adoption or early majority categories.


So I was extremely excited to hear that there was a new restaurant in Calgary who is also focusing on farm to table cuisine. Yes, it seems like there are more and more of these restaurants, but could we ever have too many? Well I was lucky enough to be amongst the group of people that was invited to their sneak peek night, where we got to sample various items off their menu.

Everybody was greeted warmly at the door with a lovely glass of the Argyle Brut Sparkling Wine and introduced to the set up that night. Different food stations were located around the restaurant with each showcasing a special dish and drink pairing. Everyone was encouraged to mix and mingle throughout the space. Before I started however, I was drawn to the décor of the dining area. Very farm house contemporary. Contrasts of colors between black with white and the lighting fixtures throughout were whimsical with an antique flare. I especially liked the design of the lights above the bar.


I couldn’t stay distracted too long though because right next to the entrance was the oyster station meant to pair with the sparkling wine. I enjoy many things and oysters are definitely one of them, naturally briny it’s a perfect match with the acidic mignonette and tart sparkling wine. It was hard not to want to linger by this station all evening, but I knew there were other surprises around the corner.


Just when I thought that, a server approached with a platter of macarons. Not just your typical sweet dessert macarons, but a savoury Foie Gras Macaron. It was my favourite item of the night. The meringue exterior was crunchy but literally melted in your mouth unleashing the amazing creaminess of the foie. It was served with the Ratified cocktail, which is a combination of St Remy Brandy, white cranberries and bitters. Each sip accentuated the taste of the foie ending with a lovely lingering finish.

The next station featured the Scotch Quail Eggs paired with what they coined as the Johnny Winter Love Affair cocktail made with Johnny walker black, cinnamon syrup, bitters and sparkling wine. The eggs were coated in a crunchy exterior providing extra texture contrasting it with the soft boiled interior. I really enjoyed the cocktail which was reminiscent of sipping apple cider. It’d be perfect by a warm fireplace.


At the back of the dining room, where the kitchen was located they were serving a Charcuterie and artisanal cheese platter showcasing all their house made goodies including head cheese, air dry bison, mortadella and duck rillette. Even the crackers, bread and preserves served along side the platter were made fresh in house. My favourite combo was the mortadella (with pistachios strewn throughout) and their house made mustard. It went nicely with the Blasted Church Merlot, exhibiting cherry flavours with a hint of spice and a long finish.


Other delights we were introduced to included a 12 min Sous Vide Egg topped with a light Chive Chantilly Whip, which was a favourite among several guests. I enjoyed the Bison Tartar, served over top house made crackers and topped with springs of chives (also grown in their own herb garden, look for it in the open kitchen). There were also freshly baked Chocolate Chip Cookies that were straight from the oven and still warm! They were chewy with a lovely crispy edge and weren’t overly too sweet. I’d have to say I was guilty of having more than just one but lucky for me I had partners in crime.


I’m looking forward to going back and trying other items off of their menu. Lucky for me, my friends have already booked us a table! There’s definitely nothing wrong with being an early adopter, especially if it means I get to taste delicious food before word gets out and people book up all the space!

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