Known as “Fearless in the Kitchen”, Christine will be sharing her food tips and experience with our audiences on Monday, July 10th at 3PM-4PM and at a special ticketed event on Tuesday, July 11th 6PM-9PM. Tickets to “An Evening with Christine Cushing” are available through Ticketmaster. Stampede gate entry, a glass of wine, an appetizer and a gift of Christine Cushing’s Bold extra virgin olive oil is included.
As the host of Food Network’s Christine Cushing Live, her reality show, and Fearless in the Kitchen, on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Christine has been showing Canada how to cook for 15 years. Her newest show, Confucius Was a Foodie is an exciting doc series on the air on Nat Geo Asia and NTD TV in Canada. As the resident chef on the highest rated talk show in Canada, the Marilyn Denis Show, Christine’s life revolves entirely around food.
Calgary Stampede (CS): You are presenting on the Kitchen Theatre stage Tuesday, July 11th which is Canada 150 day on Stampede Park. Does nationality play an important part in who you are as a chef?
Christine Cushing: Nationality does play a big part in who I am as a chef. As Canadians we have developed a culinary identity that is relatively young and as a result I believe we don’t feel the strong restrictions to techniques or the ‘ way it should’ be of people from countries with a very long food history. The vast array of our local products , that are available to us from coast to coast in combination with this freedom to explore and constantly innovate, makes being a chef in Canada a true blessing.
CS: You have been traveling a lot filming Confucius Was A Foodie – how has this influenced you as a chef?
Christine : Travel has a way of imprinting on you as a chef unlike almost anything else . The new ingredients, smells , techniques and combinations transfer onto you and become part of your DNA. I know I’m getting a bit insane but I feel so profoundly changed by my journeys throughout Asia.
CS: You are known as “Fearless in the Kitchen” – is personality important in the kitchen?
Christine: Absolutely. I wrote that book because I really wanted to show how much you personality affects everything you do. I for example was not a great baker growing up because I realized I wasn’t precise enough. When I trained to learn how to bake it taught more patience and precision in my savoury kitchen as well. I never measure still, unless I am baking. I advise people who measure everything, to try to let it go and see how freeing it feels.
CS: What do you love about your job?
Christine: I love that from the moment I left University and my linguistics studies, I followed my truth: Cooking. I love that every day is different. I love that I never stop learning and I love that after so many years of cooking, shopping, writing recipes, books, TV. When people ask me ‘ do you cook at home?” I say of course… I love it.
CS: Do you have a favourite recipe you would like to share?
Christine: Picking a favourite recipe is always very tough because I cook how I feel and love to cook many different dishes. I do have one that comes to mind that really encapsulates the essence of having cooked most of my life here in Canada .
It’s black cod in crazy water and is a great example of how I don’t stick to the so called rules and love to experiment while keeping the process simple. This fun recipe can be made any day of the week and is a twist on a classic Italian spicy broth called “ Aqua Pazza. Here I am using an unusual combination of red wine and wild mushrooms for fish.
When I first made the recipe for friends they absolutely loved it but could not tell me what was in it. If black cod is unavailable , you need to substitute a rich fish that can handle the spice and red wine like , salmon, or arctic char; Black cod is however, the ultimate.
Black Cod in Crazy Water
Prep time: 15 min
Cooking time : 20 min
1½ pounds Black cod fillet- sliced into 4 pieces – about2 “ thick (6 oz each)
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
8 round very thin slices of pancetta
2 sprigs fresh tarragon
1 ½ tbsp. olive oil (22 ml)
2 shallots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 dried chile, crushed or to taste
½ cup dry medium body red wine (125 ml)
1 cup fish stock or clam juice (250 ml)
1 Tbsp. dried porcini mushrooms ( 15 ml) soaked in hot water for 5 min.
1 Tbsp. tomato paste (15 ml)
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Sprig tarragon for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 D convection or 375 still
Leave skin on cod and season flesh side . Lay on plate , skin side down. Top each with half a sprig of tarragon , broken up. Cover with 2 rounds of pancetta , overlapping slightly to cover exposed side of fish. Repeat with remaining pieces.
In a large deep skillet, heat 1 ½ tbsp. olive oil on medium high. Sear the side covered in pancetta for about 4 minutes , until golden. Transfer fish to a parchment lined medium baking dish, skin side down. Finish baking in oven at 350 D for about 12-14 minutes until firm and cooked through.
Drain excess fat from skillet, if desired, and return pan to medium high heat. Sauté shallots for 2 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and chile . Reduce heat to medium and continue to sauté until garlic is just golden. Deglaze with red wine and stock or clam juice. Stir and add the drained porcini mushrooms and tomato paste. Simmer uncovered for 8-10 minutes , while fish is baking and sauce is reduced by half.
Serve fish into shallow bowls. Pour sauce over each dividing equally. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and chopped fresh tarragon.
Makes 4 servings
Slow Braised Beef and Barley with Smoked Bacon and Currants
This succulent beef recipe is a mash up of beef and barley soup and the best beef stew ever. It’s ideal simmered in a slow cooker recipe or a heavy bottom pot.
2 Tbsp. canola oil (25 ml)
3 lbs stewing beef cut from blade (1.35 kg)
1 oz. smoked Bacon, diced (25 gm)
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 -2 cups beef broth (250-500 ml)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste (25 ml)
1 cup dry red Canadian wine (250 ml)
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp. sweet paprika (5 ml)
2 bay leaves
6 stems fresh thyme
2 Tbsp. currants (25 ml)
¾ cup pearl barley (175 ml)
Salt and pepper to taste
Several sprigs Flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnish
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and pat meat dry. Brown the meat over medium high setting, in batches, for about 4-5 minutes. Add the bacon and onion and brown gently until onion is soft. Deglaze pan with beef broth, red wine and add tomato paste. Stir well and scrape all the brown bits off the bottom with wooden spoon. Add the garlic, paprika, bay leaves and thyme. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 2 1/2 hours, until meat is tender, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasoning.
Meat should be tender and sauce should be loose. Add more beef broth, to adjust sauce, if needed. Bring to a simmer and add the currants and barley. Cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes until barley is just tender and there is the consistency of loose porridge.
Remove from heat and add chopped fresh parsley.
Venison Sausages with Smashed Rosemary Yukon Gold Potatoes
4 venison sausages
8 small Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
3 Rosemary sprigs
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (15 ml)
2 green onions, finely minced
¼ cup butter (50 ml)
Salt, to taste
Canadian mustard for garnish
Place potatoes in a medium pot and cover with cold water. Season with salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to low. Simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are just tender. Drain.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Meanwhile, bake sausages on bottom rack until golden , while potatoes are boiling. Remove and set aside.
Increase oven to 425 D.
Transfer potatoes to a baking sheet drizzled with olive oil. Using a large, flat meat tenderizer or a heavy-bottomed pot, smash each one with into a thick pancake shape. Brush the tops with more oil and butter, and season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with rosemary. Bake at 425 D until golden and crisp, about 15-20 minutes. For last 5 minutes, return sausages to oven to finish cooking. Turn the broiler on and broil for 2-3 minutes for extra crispy potatoes.
Sprinkle with chopped green onions and serve with sausages.
Whiskey Maple Pan Roasted Salmon
You can’t get more Canadian than this delectable combination of rye whisky, maple and Dijon mustard. It gives the salmon a beautiful crust and a perfectly balanced flavour. You can easily omit the whisky if you’re making it for the kids and use a little lemon or lime juice instead. The case iron pan rules for that crispy crust.
4 pieces salmon fillets, each about 6-ounces, preferably wild
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp. grated ginger (15 ml)
1 tbsp. canola oil (15 ml)
1 tbsp. Canadian whisky (15 ml)
1 ½ tbsp. grainy Canadian mustard (22 ml)
1 ½ tbsp. maple syrup (22ml)
Sprig of dill, for finishing the plate (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Season salmon very lightly with salt and cracked black pepper and rub in grated ginger. Heat cast iron skillet dry, until hot. Add the oil and add the salmon, skin side down and sear until golden brown, about 2 min. Flip and repeat.
Combine maple syrup, Canadian mustard and whisky in small bowl. Make sure salmon is turned over with skin side down and brush glaze on top of flesh side of salmon.
Transfer salmon in cast iron fry pan to preheated oven. Bake salmon until just cooked through, firm to the touch and when knife inserted in centre feels warm to touch, about 5 to 7 minutes depending on thickness of fish. Garnish with a sprig of dill, if desired.
Pan Roasted Duck Breast with Saskatoon Berries
2 Muscovy duck breasts, 1 pound each, or other plump variety of duck (454 grams)
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger (5 ml)
½ tsp. ground edible sumac, or to taste (2.5 ml)
several sprigs fresh thyme leaves, chopped
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
2 tbsp. tamari soy sauce (25 ml)
2 tbsp. Saskatoon berry jelly (25 ml)
½ cup Sherry (125ml)
Score the duck breasts on the fatty side in a criss-cross pattern with a sharp knife. Season breast with sea salt on both sides. Sprinkle with grated ginger, sumac and thyme leaves.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place duck- fat side down- in a hot pan with oven proof handles, over medium-low heat and render the fat for 8-10 minutes. Remove the duck and drain. (You can discard the fat or save for another use). Duck skin should be golden at this point. Flip duck over and brown the bottom for 1-2 minutes.
Transfer pan to the oven and roast at 350 D, fat side down for 4 minutes. Turn duck breasts over. Cook for another 12-14 minutes or until duck has reached an internal temp of 140 D. for medium rare. Remove duck from the oven, transfer to cutting board, and tent with aluminium foil to rest for 5 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to insure proper temperature. Meat will continue to cook while resting.
Meanwhile for glaze, combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and simmer uncovered until thick and the consistency of loose honey, about 5-7 minutes. If glaze is getting too dry remove from heat and add a little water to get to desired consistency.
Thinly slice the duck and fan slices and serve drizzled with warm glaze and pancakes, if desired.
Wild Rice Pancakes
1/4 cup wild rice, (60 ml cooked until tender but not breaking
2 Tbsp. freshly chopped chives (25 ml)
chopped thyme to taste
½ cup all purpose flour (125 ml)
1 tsp. baking powder (5 ml)
½ tsp. baking soda (2.5 ml)
1/2 tsp. salt (2.5 ml)
½ cup buttermilk (125 ml)
2 tbsp. melted butter (25 ml)
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
melted butter to cooking pancakes
Cook the wild rice until tender, drain and add chopped chives and thyme. Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Add the wet ingredient to the dry ingredients. Whisk gently so that all the flour is absorbed. Add the melted butter and stir in the wild rice and some freshly ground pepper. Let batter rest for about 30 minutes.
Brush a crepe pan or non-stick skillet with a little melted butter, and cook pancakes over medium high heat. Spoon about 2 Tbsp. of batter at a time and cook until bubbles form. Flip pancake and cook other side until golden, about 1 minute per side. Repeat and keep pancakes warm in a low oven. Make about 12 -2-inch pancakes.