Spiced Squash Soup

This creamy, cold weather soup is the ultimate in comfort food. Make it ahead and save in the freezer to suit a busy schedule, or serve it as an appetizer to really wow your family at dinner. This hearty soup combines the sweetness of butternut squash from the garden with a whipped, goat cheese finish that neutralizes the soup’s cayenne kick – offering a blend of flavours that are sure to chase the winter blues away.

By Mike Edgar & Jenn Webster

INGREDIENTS
1 Onion
1 kgs Butternut Squash, Peeled and Diced
1 Onion, Chopped
4 Cloves of Garlic
2 Tbsp. Ground Tumeric
2 Tbsp. Ground Ginger
2 Tbsp. Ground Coriander
1 Tsp. Cayenne Pepper
2/3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
2 L Chicken Stock
500 ml Heavy Cream
Nasturtium for Garnish1 Cup Raw Pumpkin Seeds
1 Tsp. of Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
1 Cup Whipping Cream
100 Grams Soft Goat Cheese
2 Tbsp. Chives

Prep and chop all of your vegetables and spices.

METHOD
Prep and chop all of your vegetables up (squash, onions, garlic and chives.) Toss the onions, garlic and squash together with seasonings, olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Grill in a large, cast-iron skillet, or roast in the oven at 400-degrees Fahrenheit until the squash is tender. Depending on how you cut your squash, this process could take anywhere from 10-25 minutes.

Either grill or roast the squash, vegetables and seasonings together until tender.
Finalized, roasted squash.

Puree the roasted squash mixture when cooked.

Puree the roasted squash when cooked and combine with cream.

Meanwhile, mix the pumpkin seeds with olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at 400-degrees Fahrenheit until the seeds turn brown.

Roast the pumpkin seeds in the oven until brown.

Next, whip the whipping cream on high until you achieve stiff peaks. Add the goat cheese and chives and whip until incorporated. Set aside for the moment.

Whip the whipping cream, goat cheese and chives together.

Add the pureed squash mixture to chicken stock in a large pot and stir together on the stove. Add 500 ml of heavy cream and brown sugar and bring to a boil. Taste and check for flavour – if it is not to your liking, you may want to add a little more seasoning.

Add your pureed squash mixture to chicken stock, heavy cream and brown sugar in a large pot and stir together on the stove.

Put the soup into individual bowls and top with a spoonful of the whipped goat cheese mixture. Sprinkle each bowl neatly with toasted pumpkin seeds. Top with a few pieces of nasturtium, for a beautiful finish.

Beef Shanks

This holiday feast is juicy, full of flavour and will have your guests Ooo-ing and Ahh-ing all evening long.

If you’re up for a non-traditional Christmas dinner this year, this iconic dish is bound to become your next, family-approved classic. Slow-cooked to perfection, this show-stopping platter of beef is topped with a glaze reduction, vegetables and dainty truffle oil fries, then served on a bed of smoked blue cheese polenta. It’s a meal so filling and delicious that you may never go back to turkey dinner again.

By MIKE EDGAR & JENN WEBSTER

BEEF SHANKS

There are two ways to obtain the off-cut of beef that is desirable for this recipe. Firstly, you can ask your local butcher for a whole beef shank tied, or you can have the butcher cut the meat into two to three-inch thick pieces. Cutting them into smaller pieces makes them easier to handle. For this recipe however, we cooked the shanks whole.
 
Ingredients:
2 Whole Beef Shanks, Frenched and Tied.
3 Carrots, Chopped
4 Celery Stocks, Chopped
2 Onions, Chopped
5 Garlic Cloves
250 Grams Fresh Ginger, Chopped
750 mls Red Wine
5 L Beef Stock
5 Thyme Sprigs
4 Rosemary Sprigs
Salt
Ground Black Pepper
2 Cups Brown Sugar
 
Method:
In a large frying pan or Dutch oven heat canola oil on high heat. Generously season the shanks with salt and pepper. Sear all sides of the shanks and transfer to a large pan or Dutch oven. Add carrots, celery, onion, garlic and ginger to the pan you seared the beef in. Sauté until the vegetables start to brown. Add half the wine and scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the rest of the wine, beef stock, brown sugar, thyme, and rosemary. Bring to a boil and then pour into the pan with the shanks. Cover and braise at 35-degrees Fahrenheit for five hours or until tender.

Cover and braise your beef shanks for five hours, or until tender.


When shanks are done, strain out half the braising liquid into a separate pot to make a glaze. Leave the shanks in the remaining liquid and cover to keep warm. Reduce the strained braising liquid on medium heat, until it reaches a syrup consistency. To serve the shanks, you will need help to prop them up on a platter. You can use your favourite holiday accompaniments. For this recipe, we used a smoked blue cheese polenta, balsamic roasted shallots, roasted squash and grilled bok choy. Please see below for these recipes.

Drizzle the glaze all over the shanks.


Firstly, on the bottom of your platter, pour the polenta down as a base. Then, arrange half of the vegetables around the platter and gently place the shanks in the center – moving any vegetables around as needed, to aid the shanks in standing straight up. Drizzle the glaze all over the shanks. Scatter the remaining vegetables on the platter, and you are ready to impress your guests!
 

Creating the polenta.


SMOKED BLUE CHEESE POLENTA
6 Cups Chicken Stock
2 Cups 35% Cream
2 Cups Coarse Corn Meal
60 gm Butter
200 gm Smoked Blue Cheese
1 Cup Grated Parmesan
1 Tbsp. Kosher Salt
1 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper
¼ Cup Parsley, Chopped
¼ Cup Chives, Chopped
 
Method:
Bring stock, cream, salt and pepper to a boil, add the corn meal and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring constantly until thick and creamy.
Remove from heat and stir in butter, blue cheese, parmesan, chive, and parsley and you are ready to serve.
 

Dicing up shallots and bok choy.
Roasting the shallots, drizzled with balsamic vinegar.


BALSAMIC ROASTED SHALLOTS

10 Large Whole Shallots, Peeled and Halved
3 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tbsp. Honey
4 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves
Salt and Pepper
 
Pre-heat oven to 400-degrees Fahrenheit. Melt butter in an oven-safe frying pan over medium heat. Add honey, balsamic, and thyme. Stir to combine. Add your shallots flat side down, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in oven for 20 to 25min.

Roasted with butter, olive oil and salt, these squash wedges make a delicious addition to the beef shank dish.

ROASTED SQUASH

2 Kabocha Squash, Seeded and Cut into Wedges (leaving the skin on)
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Butter
Salt and Pepper
 
Pre-heat oven to 400-degreesFahrenheit. Heat oil, and butter in a cast iron pan. Place squash in the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. After the squash has a nice golden brown sear on one side, flip them and put in the oven to roast for approximately 20 minutes, flipping every five minutes.
 

Grill bok choy on the BBQ for a nice finish.


BOK CHOY

Cut bok choy in halves. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place bok choy flat-side down on a very hot grill and sear for 30 seconds, ensuring each one gets a really nice grill mark. Flip and sear for another 30 seconds and they are ready to eat.

Holiday Side Dishes

If you saw our recent Western Foodie post about the Holiday Beef Wellington, these are the perfect side dishes to go with. And if the Beef Wellingon doesn’t steal the show, these side dishes definitely will!

By MIKE EDGAR, Photos by TWISTED TREE PHOTOGRAPHY

ROASTED GARLIC MASHED POTATOES

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bulb Garlic,
  • Intact Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 6 Large Russett Potatoes, Peeled and Cut into 1-inch Chunks
  • 4 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, at Room Temperature
  • 1 Tsp. Salt, Plus More as Needed
  • 1 Cup Milk, Plus More as Needed
  • Minced Chives, for Garnish (Optional)

Method:
Preheat the oven to 375˚ F. Use a sharp knife to slice off the top end so that the bulb remains intact and all of the cloves are exposed. Place on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Fold the foil around the bulb so that it is completely covered and bake until the cloves are tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool at least 10 minutes before handling. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the bulb so that the softened cloves fall out. Discard the peels. Use the tines of a fork to mash the roasted garlic into a paste. Set aside.

Place the chopped potatoes in a large stockpot and cover with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Continue to cook uncovered until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 15-18 minutes. Drain well.

Return the potatoes to the warm pot. Add in the butter, salt, milk, and the roasted garlic paste. With an electric mixer, beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, adding more milk as needed. Avoid over-beating. *Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Garnish with minced chives. Serve warm.

ROASTED ASPARAGUS WITH HOLLANDAISE
Ingredients:

1 Bunch Asparagus Stalks
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Large Pinch Sea Salt
Black Pepper to Taste

Method:

Preheat oven to 400. Meanwhile on a baking sheet, toss asparagus with the olive oil. Arrange stalks evenly on the pan, then sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.

Roast for 20-25 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through for even, delicious browning.

HOLLANDAISE FOR TWO
Ingredients:

2 Egg Yolks
1.5 Tsp. Lemon Juice
1/4 Cup Butter Melted
Pinch Sea Salt
Pinch Black Cracked Pepper

Method:

There are lots of methods to use when making Hollandaise Sauce. While I want to be a purist and use a double-boiler, I must admit – I have an immersion blender and it is pretty fool proof. These recipes easily double, triple, quadruple, etc. Make Hollandaise for a crowd, by golly! Whichever method you use, here are your options:

Immersion Blender: Place egg yolks and lemon juice in a tall-sided container that isn’t too wide (think a quart-sized soup container). With the immersion blender, combine the egg yolk and lemon juice briefly. Continue to run the immersion blender and dribble in the melted butter. Add a little sea salt and black pepper. You’re done!

Blender: Place egg yolks and lemon juice in the blender. Pulse briefly to combine. Turn the blender on a low setting, take either the whole lid or just that little plastic part in the top off and slow drizzle in the melted butter. Add a little sea salt and black pepper. You’re done!

Double-boiler: Fill a medium pot with a few inches of water. Set on medium-high heat. Place a bowl over the top of the pot, making sure its large enough that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the boiling water underneath. Place egg yolks and lemon juice in the bowl. Begin whisking until combined. Slowly dribble melted butter in, whisking continuously. Add a little sea salt and black pepper. Finito.

Stove-top: NOTE: Don’t pre-melt your butter! Simply cut the butter into little pads. Set a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Moving quickly, whisk the eggs and lemon juice together in the pan. Slowly add a pad or two of butter at a time, whisking continuously and removing the pan from the heat if you feel a curdle coming on. Add a little sea salt and black pepper. Again, you’re all finished!

If however, you’re not done, and your hollandaise broke and isn’t a gloriously, smooth sauce – beat an additional egg yolk in a separate bowl and slowly whisk into the broken sauce, bit by bit. That should do the trick.

This spin on Christmas dinner is pleasing to the eye and palate – and gloriously festive.

Holiday Beef Wellington

Complimented by porcini mushrooms and a prosciutto wrap underneath melt-in-your-mouth pastry, this beef wellington is what dreams are made of.

A twist on a classic. This crowd-pleasing beef wellington is a perfect centrepiece for your next Christmas dinner.


By MIKE EDGAR, Photos by TWISTED TREE PHOTOGRAPHY

BEEF WELLINGTON

Ingredients:
1.5 Kg Beef Fillet
2 Tsp. Vegetable or Sunflower Oil
2 x 50g Pack Dried Porcini Mushrooms
25g butter, plus extra for the sauce
500g (1 lb. 2oz) Shitake Mushrooms, Finely Chopped
Handful Fresh Thyme Leaves
6 Slices Prosciutto
1 x 500g Pack Lighter All-Butter Puff Pastry
Plain Flour, for Dusting
1 Egg, Beaten to Glaze
1/2 Cup of Dijon Mustard

For the Sauce

500ml (½pt) Good-Quality Beef Stock
1 Bottle 750ml Shiraz

METHOD

Season the beef with salt and black pepper. Heat the oil in a large frying pan.

Seasoning the meat.

Sear the meat for 30 seconds on all sides until turning golden. Leave to cool.

Searing the meat.

Meanwhile, soak the porcini mushrooms in 250ml (8fl oz) boiling water until softened. Remove from the liquid, squeeze dry, then chop finely. Reserve the soaking liquid. 

Heat the butter in a large frying pan. Add the mushrooms and the thyme. Cook until golden and the pan is dry (up to 20 minutes). Leave to cool completely. Reserve a quarter of the mushrooms in the pan.

Rub the beef with the Dijon Mustard.

Rub the beef generously with the Dijon Mustard.

Put two large sheets of clingfilm on a work surface, overlapping slightly. Place the prosciutto on top, overlapping the edges to make one ‘sheet’ large enough to wrap the beef. Spread with three quarters of the mushroom mixture, then sit the meat on top and spread with the remaining mushrooms.

The beef on the cingfilm with prosciutto and mushroom mixture.

Roll the prosciutto around the beef, using the clingfilm. Wrap tightly and chill for 10 minutes.

Roll the prosciutto around the beef, using the clingfilm. Wrap everything tightly together in the clingfilm.

Set aside a quarter of the pastry. On a floured surface, roll the rest into a square or rectangle big enough to wrap the fillet: approximately 35cm (14-inch) square. Trim to neaten, then roll the edges of the joining sides a little more thinly.

Remove the clingfilm from the beef and position it in the middle of the pastry. Wrap the pastry up along the length of the beef, overlapping slightly at the join. Brush the edges with beaten egg and seal. Fold up each end like a parcel. Transfer to a lightly greased baking tray, seam side down. Roll out the remaining pastry and cut shapes to decorate.

The beef is placed inside the pastry.

Brush the Wellington all over with egg, press on the decorations and brush again. Chill for 20 minutes (or up to 12 hours if you like).

Brushing the pastry with egg with help it seal and allow the details to stick.

Preheat the oven to gas 8, 230°C, fan 210°C and put a baking sheet in the top third. To make the sauce, pour the wine into the pan with the reserved mushrooms. Bring to the boil and simmer until the wine has reduced to about one tablespoon. Add the stock and the porcini mushroom liquid and boil for 10 minutes until syrupy. Season, then stir in one teaspoon of butter. Set aside. 

Put the Wellington and its tray onto the heated baking sheet in the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to gas 6, 200°C, fan 180°C, then cook for another 20 minutes for medium-rare meat (15 for rare, 25 for medium). 

Leave to rest for 10 minutes. Warm the sauce through. Serve slices of the Wellington with the sauce and vegetables.

If you’re interested in side dishes to go with this exquisite meal check out our blog here.

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!