Equestrian Halloween

A spooky charcuterie. Because the only thing better than a night of candy, eats, ghosts and goblin fun – is doing it all in the barn! Photo by Twisted Tree Photography

This edition of Western Foodie isn’t so much of a “dish” per se, as it is an event. However, the pièce de résistance charcuterie board prepared by Chef Edgar, does take centre stage! As Halloween is fast approaching, we thought it would be fun to focus on a spooky, equestrian-style party for kids and parents alike. With the ample space that an indoor arena offers and the concept of trick-or-treating through the barn, this party can be as socially-distanced or together as you’d like. Plus, it gives the little ones a chance at Halloween candy within your bubble, if you’re still not comfortable with the idea of going door-to-door.

Trick-or-treating in the barn.

SPOOKY CHARCUTERIE
All parties need a charcuterie board, but one with a Halloween twist might just be a little more exciting than a traditional meat and cheese tray. Featuring foods of specific colour hues (like orange, white, burgundy or olive), this charcuterie board prepared by Chef Edgar is a frightful (but fun!) treat to snack on. Since there are no hard and fast rules to creating these grazing appetizers, charcuterie boards can either be sweet or savoury. However, the key to a truly fascinating one is a spread that presents a range of colours and textures – and it must be served on an interesting platter. Plus, when each of the food items seems to fit within the “haunted” theme, this board will appeal to both children and their parents.

It’s true that Chef Edgar is an artist when it comes to comes to arranging a charcuterie feast, but there’s really no right or wrong way to assemble one. Opting for a large, circular wood plank (which is convenient when it comes to using knives,) Edgar choose seven different types of cheeses for our Halloween platter. The cheese was placed strategically around the wood board first and most of it was kept whole, allowing guests the option to slice it themselves with individual cheese cutters provided to each adult.

Next, some of the signature inedible, decor was positioned into the dish. This included a small white pumpkin, a skull head (complete with soft white cheese and olive eyeballs), a meat cleaver and a unicorn skull figurine.

Then, four different types of meat were stationed on the board. Unlike the cheeses, meat should be pre-sliced. Edgar fashioned some of the thinner, circular meats (like prosciutto or Fennel Salami) into rosettes and spread other types like the cured sausages in heaps throughout.

He finished off the board filling up empty spaces with specialities like raisins on-the-vine, figs, dragonfruit, cape gooseberries, olives, figs, grapes and fresh honey comb. The result was astounding and a haunting display everyone could enjoy!

FRIGHT NIGHT GAMES
A Halloween party isn’t complete without some festive games. Classics like the egg-and-spoon race are always good for a chuckle when everyone is racing in your arena in full-on costume – but here’s a suggestion, don’t use real eggs or you might have a mess in your arena dirt. Opt for the cardboard egg versions instead.

Spider web game created with streamers and jump standards. Photo by Bar XP PHOTO.

We used trick or treat bags for a take on the “potato sac” race, and a Jack-O-Lantern with its mouth cut-out along with some skull head balls served well for a target toss game.

The favourite of the youngsters however, was our “Spider Web.” In this game we used some jump standards, duct tape and paper streamers to create a web. The kids then had to crawl, bounce or maneuver their way through the web without breaking or touching a streamer. It was a total hit! Then we amped up the contests with some fun prizes for the kiddos – did someone say full-size chocolate bars..?

A pumpkin craft table. Photo by Bar XP PHOTO.

BARN TRICK-OR-TREATING
There’s something about the idea of trick-or-treating with horses that is exceptionally special for youngsters. We placed a treat in front of each stall in the barn and had the stall windows open, so the horses could stick their heads out to watch. Then each child was given a candy sac, instructed not to run (so as not to spook the horses) and turned loose. By the end of the barn alleyway, each child had a full trick-or-treat bag and it all happened within our social bubble.

The concept of having the horses hand out treats was a real hit. Photo by Bar XP PHOTO.

Treats like individual candy bags made from surgical gloves, graveyard puddings, hand sanitizer, Halloween headbands, chip bags, reusable pumpkin cups, spooky socks, toothbrushes and a medley of other items were “handed out” by the horses to each child.

Photo by Bar XP PHOTO.

PHOTOBOOTH
Because, is it really a party if no pictures were taken? The dollar store is a great place for items like spider webs or balloons to help you with a spooky backdrop. Add a fog machine for a truly, haunting vibe!

Birria Tacos


Not your average “Taco Tuesday” evening dinner.

By MIKE EDGAR, Photos by TWISTED TREE PHOTOGRAPHY

Birria tacos are becoming all the rage and after one bite, you’ll want them for supper every night too. Birria is traditionally a Mexican dish consisting of a meat stew made from goat meat, and occasionally beef or mutton (but never pork). The stew is slow-cooked and has a savoury, sweet and sour flavour, with a hint of spice.

In Birria tacos, the stew is placed inside a tortilla shell with cheese, dipped in broth and fried up. This isn’t an easy dish to prepare, but once you taste a bite of a Birria taco’s sizzled, cheesy, crispy, goodness – you’ll never want a normal taco again.

BIRRIA STEW INGREDIENTS
 
For the Meat:
1 lb Beef Chuck
1 lb Beef Shank
1 lb Beef Shortrib
2 Tsp. Salt
2 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper
2 Tsp. Ground Cumin
 
For the Broth:
4 Dried New Mexico Chilies
4 Dried Ancho Chilies
1 Can Chipotle Pepper in Adobo
2 Tsp. Whole Peppercorns
2 Cloves
10 Whole Star Anise, Dry
4 Bay Leaves
5 Three-Inch Cinnamon Sticks
1 Tsp. Ground Cumin
1 Tsp. Ground Ginger
8 Garlic Cloves
1 Spanish Onion, Sliced
2 Cups Crushed Tomato
1 Litre Beef Stock
2 Oranges Sliced
1 Tbsp. Salt
1 Cup Brown Sugar
 
For the Tacos:
Tortillas of Your Choice
Diced White Onion
Fresh Cilantro
2 Cups Oaxaca Cheese, Shredded 
Fresh Lime
Fresh Jalapeño
Shredded Stew Meat

METHOD FOR THE MEAT
Remove stems and seeds from chilies. In a pot, bring two cups of water to a boil. Add the chilies and simmer until tender (around two minutes). Add chillies and half the water to a blender and puree until smooth, then add the canned chipotle and puree again until smooth. Set aside until its time to build the stew.
 
Cut your meat into manageable pieces and season with salt pepper and cumin. In a heavy dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil until you start to see it smoke. Brown your meat a little at a time, ensuring you get a good sear. Then remove it from the pot.

Using the same pot, sauté the onion and garlic until soft. Add peppercorns, cumin, ginger, bay leaves, clove, star anise, cinnamon sticks and salt. Sauté for another two minutes. Add your beef, crushed tomato, beef broth, oranges, sugar, and chillie puree.

If the meat is not covered by liquid, add an appropriate amount of water to cover. Bring to a boil, cover and place in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven for four hours. If after four hours the meat is not tender enough to shred, then put the lid back on and continue to cook until tender.
 
After the meat has reached desired texture, remove from the oven and let the meat cool in the broth. Once cooled, remove the meat from the broth and shred with a fork or by hand. Set aside in a bowl.
 
Strain the broth into a pot, making sure all the spices are removed. Keep the broth in the fridge until needed.
 

The stewed meat is placed inside a tortilla with cheese, dipped into broth and then placed into your cast iron pan for frying.
Once one side is fried to crispy goodness, fold the tortilla and fry the other side.

METHOD FOR THE TACOS
Mix the oaxaca cheese into the shredded stew meat. Remove the broth from the fridge and place half of it into a bowl or shallow plastic container. Warm the other remaining half of the broth on low heat, on the stove.

In a large cast iron pan on medium high heat, warm some vegetable oil. Fill your tortillas with the shredded meat and cheese, then quickly dip into the cold broth (which was set aside in a bowl) and fry in your cast iron pan on each side – until golden brown and until the cheese melts.

Place the now fried Birria tacos on a serving platter. Pour the warm broth into a ramekin or bowl and place next to the tacos for dipping. Garnish with chopped onion, sliced jalapeños, lime wedges, and cilantro. Grab a taco and plunge it into the warm Birria broth and enjoy! 

When you are ready to enjoy your Birria tacos, dip into the warm broth and enjoy!

6 Halloween Treats

Need to send a spooky treat to the school this week? Want to impress your stable mates at a Halloween barn party? Here are 6 of our favorite Halloween snacks. Take the above Sugar Skull fruit platter for example. Loaded with fresh fruit and complimented by a cookie crust and frosting, this is a treat that is perfect for a Day of the Dead party!

Or what about this Candy Corn jell-o? Two packs of Jell-o, some whipped cream and a candy corn topper and these little individual treats are a delight with everyone!

 

Witch finger pretzel rods are a spectacularly sweet-and-salty treat – and a little creepy.

 

These poison apples are to die for… but seriously, aren’t they pretty?

 

We love this Rice Krispie treat idea! The candy eyeballs are the perfect touch – So cute and the kiddies would love them.

 

Lastly, this cheesy witch broom idea is adorable and healthy! Made with only three ingredients, they look as easy to do as they are tasty to eat.

Happy Halloween!

 

Outdoor Oven Pizzas

Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

Make this drool-worthy homemade pizza, to enjoy with friends or family on the patio.

BY MIKE EDGAR

Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

DOUGH:
3 and ¼ cups All Purpose Flour
2 tsp. Active Dry Yeast
1 tbsp. Salt
2 tbsp. Honey
1 cup warm Water
¼ cup dry, White Wine at room temperature
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Method – In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast and salt and mix well. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the warm water, wine and oil. Using a wooden spoon mix the wet ingredients into the dry until the mixture is stiff to stir. Then mix with your hands in the bowl until the dough comes together and pulls away from the bowl. Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Remove dough from the bowl and knead for five minutes. Oil a large clean bowl and place the dough ball inside. Cover with a damp towel and allow to proof in a warm place. Let it double in size.

SAUCE:
100 oz can of Diced Tomatoes
1 Onion, thinly sliced
5 cloves Garlic, chopped
1/2 cup Dry Oregano
1 tbsp. Salt
1 tbsp. Pepper
1 cup Olive Oil

Method – Heat olive oil in sauce pot. Sauté onions, garlic, salt , pepper and oregano for about three minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for two hours at a low simmer. Stir occasionally with a twist to help break up the ingredients as they cook.

ROASTED FENNEL:

1 Fennel bulb
1 tbsp. Olive Oil

Method – Thinly slice the fennel. Sauté in frying pan until tender. Then place in a 400-degree oven for about 10 minutes.

CHEESE:
Fresh buffalo mozzarella and fresh goat cheese (chevre). Bocconcini cheese made with cows milk will also work.

SAUSAGE MEAT:

3 lbs. Ground Pork
3 tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
1 tbsp. Salt
1 tbsp. Black Pepper
1 tbsp. Garlic Powder
1 tbsp. Onion Powder
1 tbsp. Whole Fennel Seed
2 tsp. Sweet Smoked Paprika
2 tsp. Chili Flakes
1 tsp. Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Dry Oregano

Method – Mix all ingredients together. Mince for 10 minutes to ensure all spices are evenly mixed.

Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

Building the Pizza

Portion the dough into 10 oz. portions and form onto balls. Let proof for another hour. Dust work surface with corn meal or flour to aid the rolling process. Roll your dough out into a circle. A 10 oz. dough should make a 10-inch pizza.

Sauce your dough. Add fennel and sausage. Tear the cheese into smaller pieces and place randomly on the pizza.

Use a pizza stone to cook your pizza. Allow the stone 10 minutes to heat up in the BBQ or oven before placing the pizza on it to cook. Slide your pizza paddle under the dough and transfer it to the hot pizza stone. If your use a BBQ, it should be set to 500 degrees. Your pizza will take between five and ten minutes to cook properly. It is ready when the crust is brown.

Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

Once the pizza is cooked, top it throughout with fresh basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil.

Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

Enjoy! * Thank-you to Tudor Stables and Connie and Andy Cicoria for allowing us to shoot this recipe on their beautiful outdoor patio.

Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

 

Mason Jar Chicken Salad

By MIKE EDGAR, Photos by TWISTED TREE PHOTOGRAPHY

 

Tired of horse show concession food? Here’s a healthy recipe you can pack to take with you!

INGREDIENTS:

2 litre Jar

1 Chicken Breast, boneless skinless

1/4 cup Greek Yogurt, plain

1/2 cup Grainy Mustard

1/2 cup Honey

Juice of half a Lemon

1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt

1/2 tsp. Black Pepper

1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder

1 pint Grape Tomatoes, cut into halves

1 Cucumber, diced 1/2 cup

Sliced Almonds 100 grams

Goat Cheese, crumbled

2 cups Baby Arugula

METHOD:

Dressing – Mix yogurt, honey, mustard and lemon juice. Once mixed add almonds, cucumber and tomato. Set aside.

Chicken – Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Season chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Roast for 20 minutes. Let cool, then slice.

 

The jar:

Layer 1 – half of the cucumber tomato mix.

Layer 2 – half the sliced chicken.

Layer 3 – half the goat cheese.

Layer4 – half the remaining Dressing.

Layer 5 – half the arugula. Repeat all layers until jar is full.

Yogurt Parfait Breakfast

Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

Tired of horse show concession food? Here’s a healthy breakfast recipe you can pack to take with you, as featured in our May/June issue of Western Horse Review.

BY MIKE EDGAR, PHOTOS BY TWISTED TREE PHOTOGRAPHY

Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

INGREDIENTS:

2 litre Jar
1 litre Greek Yogurt, plain
1 pint Strawberries, quartered
1 pint Raspberries
1 pint Blueberries
1 pint Blackberries
Zest of 1 Lemon
3 tbsp. Sugar
1/4 cup Fresh Mint, chopped
2 tbsp. Honey
1/ 2 cup Sliced Almonds
2 cups Granola
1/4 cup Whole Fresh Mint Leaves

METHOD:

Berries – Combine all berries, chopped mint, lemon zest and sugar.

Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

The jar:
Layer 1 – half of the yogurt.
Layer 2 – 1 tablespoon honey.
Layer 3 – half the granola.
Layer 4 – half the almonds.
Layer 5 – half the berries.
Layer 6 – half of the whole mint leaves.
Repeat all layers again to fill the jar.

Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

Enjoy this amazing start to your day!

For a video tutorial, check our Facebook page: Mason Jar – Yogurt Parfait

Ranch Sunday Supper

Photo by Callaghan Creative Co.

By Mike Edgar

Grilled beef tenderloin with carrot puree, drunken onions, mushroom reduction, rosemary and peppercorn butter. Skip the overpriced, overcrowded restaurant scene and create your own five-star steak dinner at home! You can thank us later.

STEAK
Ask your butcher for six, 6-oz tenderloin steaks. Season with salt and pepper, Grill to your desired doneness.

CARROT PUREE
10 large orange carrots, chopped
2 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. butter
½ cup 35% cream
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

METHOD
1. In a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven, roast the carrots with the honey and butter until tender.
2. Place in a blender with cream, salt, pepper. Puree until smooth.

MUSHROOM REDUCTION
3 cups beef broth
1 cup red wine
1 tbsp. whole peppercorns
½ bulb of fresh fennel
1 tbsp. salt
2 cups dried porcini mushroom
2 tbsp. tomato paste

METHOD
1. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a sauce pot, reduce heat to a simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Strain the liquid into a second sauce pot and reduce that until it reaches a syrup consistency.

DRUNKEN ONIONS
Pearl onions (four per person, peeled)
½ cup port wine

METHOD
1. In a 400-degree oven, roast the onions in the port until the port coats the onions like a syrup. Check every 10 minutes until this happens.

PEPPERCORN BUTTER
1 lb. butter, softened
1 tbsp. pink peppercorns
1 tsp. talt
2 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
Zest of 1 lemon
125 grams blue cheese
½ clove fresh garlic

METHOD
1. Mix all ingredients in a food processor until all are evenly mixed into the butter.
2. Place on top of the finished steak and watch it melt.

Chef Mike places micro mustard greens on top for a delicious finishing touch. Photo by Callaghan Creations Co.

 

 

 

Drizzling organic Greek olive oil on top adds a fruity note to the dish. Photo by Callaghan Creative Co.

 

A PERFECT PAIRING
After a day working horses in the cold, an Alberta beef dinner dish paired with a 2015 Salentein Reserve Malbec from Salentein Wines in Mendoza, Argentina is a welcome luxury to finish off the evening. In 2016 Jane Staples of Certified Sommelier rated this wine as 91/100 with the following review:
Yummy blueberry aromas, followed by Damson plums, ripe blueberry, mocha and vanilla on a very flavourful palate. Satiny and sensuous in the mouth, with a lingering spicy finish.

www.bodegasalentein.com

Photo by Callaghan Creative Co.

ABOUT THE CHEF:

Mike Edgar graduated from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in the Culinary Arts. He stayed in Calgary, AB working at some of the city’s top restaurants. In 2007, he opened his own restaurant in Calgary’s east end. After eight years of being a chef there, Edgar decided to take a step back and left the industry to spend more time with his son. His son has now expressed an interest in learning his father’s skills and in horses simultaneously.

A Country Easter

With (hypothetical) Spring in the air and Easter to celebrate this weekend, my kids and I needed some country-esque decorating inspiration. As such, we turned to Pinterest and found a few cool ideas we thought we’d share with you. After all, a snow storm outside plus time off school means this household needs a few crafts to keep everyone happy.

First up was a tablescape for our Easter dinner. With its peat moss and bunny features, this one from Nora Murphy Country House is a favorite:

Next up were the eggs. These ones caught our eyes…

As found on Pinterest

and the same with these…

As found on Pinterest

…or these are adorable.

As found on Pinterest

However in reality, this is more our style:

The Easter Bunny also has some work to do, to help the kids gather their eggs after the Easter egg hunt. This is an adorable idea for the little horse lovers in your lives!

Speaking of Easter egg hunts, I’ve always wanted to do this. Just not sure this is the year for it…

In whatever capacity you celebrate Easter, we hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Pasta Pomodoro

By Mike Edgar

The ideal way to serve a hard-working crew of cowboys and girls.

INGREDIENTS
Dry pasta of your choice x 500 grams
9 Red Tomatoes Chopped
2 Shallots Sliced
3 Cloves of Garlic, Chopped
½ Cup Olive Oil
¼ Cup White Wine
2 Tbsp. Dry Oregano
1 Tbsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Black Pepper
¼ Cup Chopped Parsley
10 Basil leaves
¼ cup parmesan cheese grated
3 Balls Bocconcini Cheese
2 Tbsp. Butter

METHOD:

1. Heat olive oil in large saucepan.

2. Add garlic, shallots, salt, pepper, oregano, white wine and tomatoes. Let that stew for 15 minutes at medium heat, constantly stirring to prevent burning.

3. When the tomatoes have broken down into the olive oil, remove from heat and puree in a blender, return to pan.

4. Cook your pasta, strain when finished.

5. Bring your sauce back to a boil and whisk in the butter.

6. Add cooked pasta to the sauce, toss in the parmesan cheese and parsley and transfer to a serving bowl. Tear pieces of bocconcini and basil on top of the pasta, drizzle with olive oil and serve. Serves four to five people.

 


ABOUT THE CHEF:

Mike Edgar graduated from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in the Culinary Arts. He stayed in Calgary, AB working at some of the city’s top restaurants. In 2007, he opened his own restaurant in Calgary’s east end. After eight years of being a chef there, Edgar decided to take a step back and left the industry to spend more time with his son. His son has now expressed an interest in learning his father’s skills and in horses simultaneously.