Thursday, July 30, 2009

Summer Sangria

I know, it doesn't seem like it, but summer is sangria time. Next week it is going to get real hot, and you are going to love these cold fruity sippers. All summer I keep a jug of sangria in the fridge. Any ends of bottles you have just get tossed in, any fruit you have can get tossed in, and whatever juices you find. Sangria is a great way to use up those fresh local berrries that are to smooshy to serve to the kids. Sangria is great made fresh, but gets even better the next day. Serve your sangria with lots of ice and a spritz of soda water.

Red Sangria

1 L red wine

1 L cranberry juice

1/2 cup brown sugar

4 oz brandy

1 orange, quartered and sliced

2 cups assorted berries (raspberries, strawberries etc.)

White Sangria

1 L white wine

1 L white cranberry or green grape juice

4 oz triple sec

1 cup green grapes

1 cup diced honeydew melon

1 cup diced mango

1 lemon, quartered and sliced

Pink Sangria

1 L dry rose wine

1 L strawberry watermelon juice (or white cranberry with peach)

4 oz creme de cassis or chanmord

1 cup diced watermelon

1 cup sliced strawberries

Blue Sangria

1 L dark red wine (like a baco noir or aussie shiraz)

1 L blueberry or blueberry pomegranate juice

4 oz creme de cassis

4 oz blue curacao

4 oz amaretto

2 cups blueberries

Chocolate Cherry Sangria

1 L cabernet sauvignon

2 jars european sour cherries with juice

4 oz creme de cacao

2 oz espresso vodka or kahlua

dark chocolate for shaving on top

Monday, July 20, 2009

What I did for my summer holdays...

At the bistro, we go hard.  Lots of meals, long days, late nights.  Sometimes we need to take a break. This year, for our summer holiday, we decided to run the backstage kitchen at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. I guess, as they say, a change is as good as a rest.

At the folk festival we feed the performers, volunteers, staff and guests of the folk festival. Conservative calculations say we feed 4500 people, three meals a day for 5 days.  That's a lot of granola. 

500 kg bison short ribs
750 Litres milk
10775 ml garlic
216 Litres canola oil
1600 lbs peppers
and a palette full of kidney beans

We fill 3 fifty foot reefers with food. We have 220 volunteers cooking like mad. we serve lamb tagine with couscous, green curry tofu, chicken and salsa verde tacos.  3 meals a day for 5 days, with a continuous flow of snacks.  All of this is done under a tent in a field in a park.  we cook on rented griddles, 17 BBQ's, and in giant, Hutterite built ovens we call out "hot-hot-hots" and our "uber-hots". (If anyone knows a good patent agent, give me a call cause I designed these ovens). All day, from 9 am til 1 am, there is a line up in the kitchen, people looking for food.

this is what we normally do, and you would think that was enough. But no, I need to heap more onto the pile. This year, we added on drink pairings with each meal, fresh popped popcorn, and a guerilla kitchen that would pop up unexpectedly serving hot snacks such as huevos rancheros and caesar mussels to hungry volunteers.

To top it off, I got to go on mainstage. I did a cooking demo between the Punch Brothers and King Sunny Ade.  I taught 16000 people how to make a campfire pizza.  We had a pizza crust tossed back through the audience. Apparently some kid got pizza dough slapped in his face. (if you are out there, sorry.)

One of my highlights was having Vance Gilbert in my kitchen. He is a big folk fest favourite, a performer from Boston. He scrambled eggs and griddled potatoes for hours. Yelling at my crew for more potatoes, calling us a bunch of "melon-farmers". we had a riot!  He even went to his daytime workshop with his dirty kitchen apron, running late because he "just came from his shift in the kitchen".

Why do we do it?  Why not spend the week at the beach? I love the people i work with there. I love the people I cook for. I love making that many people feel happy and cared for.  I love the community we build each year. But mostly, I love the terrified excitement I get from feeding that many people. I love the adrenaline rush!

see you at the fest next year!