27 April 2009

Christine Cushing Lamb Souvlaki

Lamb Souvlaki

If you have been following More Than Burnt Toast you will know I have started a weekly feature to highlight Canadian Chefs. Through your TV networks, or perhaps on other blogs, or even just right here on More Than Burnt Toast you may have heard of some of our Canadian chefs. For those of you who haven't, I hope you will find it interesting to see what our chefs are up to, a little about their history and how they came to love what they do. For the next few months I will be featuring one of our Canadian chefs each week. As the fifth installment in my Canadian Chef series I will introduce you to:

Christine Cushing

I have been watching Christine on the Food Network for years. She has been a link to the foods that I love as well as a link to the Toronto area where I grew up. Christine was born in Athens, Greece and immigrated with her family to Canada when she was a year old. She grew up in the Toronto area and began cooking alongside her father, an accomplished home chef who taught her how to be fearless in the kitchen.

According to her web site, although cooking was in her veins, Christine decided to pursue a career in her other passion in the field of linguistics. Somewhere in between her studies and home she discovered that the kitchen was still calling her. She went on to complete the Food and Beverage Management Program at the prestigious George Brown College and then later at the Paris based École de Cuisine La Varenne. Her year in France changed her philosophy of food and made her strive even harder to follow a career in the culinary arts. She has worked in such renowned kitchens as Toronto’s The Four Seasons Hotel, King Ranch Health Spa and Scaramouche Restaurant.

She also had her own successful catering business and was focusing on recipe development and food styling. Her love of teaching spun off a cooking school called "Cooking Chez Toi" where she would teach in people's homes with cooking parties.

Christine was the host of Christine Cushing Live for four seasons and prior to its debut in October 2001, she hosted three seasons of Dish It Out on Life Network. She has published two best-selling cookbooks, Dish it Out and Fearless in the Kitchen, and her third called “ Pure Food” won a Gourmand world cookbook award in Spain (Whitecap 2007).

She also has a product line, Pure by Christine Cushing which you can find on her web site here. The line features a spectacular, award winning extra virgin olive oil from the sunny island of Crete and a series of five delicious, all natural sauces made from Christine’s personal recipe in small batches in Niagara Falls that were finalists in the Canadian Grand prix 2006 . Based on true customer comments and brand testing, she redesigned her brand identity to better suit her philosophy of starting with great ingredients and sharing all her insatiable passion in the kitchen with viewers, consumers and foodies everywhere.

She says, "I am working on a very exciting new show for the Corus Network called “Fearless in the Kitchen.” The show takes getting to know people to a whole new level as I will go into the kitchens of people who can’t cook and give them a culinary makeover of sorts. I want them to go from hopeless to fearless with a series of fun excursions and step-by-step cooking guidance. The finale of the show will involve these self-described “terrible cooks” cooking a meal for their shocked family and friends. Will they succeed? You’ll have to tune in to find out!"

I had a hard time choosing just one dish, but ultimately decided to go with a dish that speaks to Christines Greek heritage with Barbequed Lamb Kebabs and Greek Fries. You could also try Mixed Greens with Olive Oil Pomegranate Dressing , Green Tea Creme Brulee , Ginger Lemon Chicken Soup, Chocolate Pecan Torte withFluer de Sel, Baked Semolina Custard With A Lemon Honey Glaze, Dolmades With Egg Lemon Sauce, or Stuffed Leg Of Lamb With Pine Nuts, Herbs And Feta.

She was the spokesperson for Cook for the Cure Breast Cancer campaign and a superhero for the Starbright foundation for Sick Kids hospital in keeping with the generous nature of worldwide chefs.

**Christine's Souvlaki**

1- 1/2 pounds boneless leg or shoulder of lamb, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (60 ml)
1/3 cup red wine vinegar (75 ml)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
1tablespoon dried Greek oregano (15 ml)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (30 ml)
1- 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint (22 ml)
Coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Tzatziki, for serving
Pita bread, for serving

Add olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, onion, oregano, parsley, mint and black pepper to a bowl. Mix until combined. Add lamb to bowl and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate. Marinate overnight for best results or for at least 2 hours. If using wooden skewers soak them in water overnight or for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the grill to medium high.

Thread lamb evenly onto 4 skewers. Season the lamb souvlaki with salt and pepper. Grill skewers 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium or cook a few minutes longer if you prefer well done (6 to 7) minutes. Serve with tzatziki sauce and pita bread.

**Greek Fries**

4 cups vegetable oil (1 litre)
6 large Yukon gold potatoes
Dried Greek oregano, to taste
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled (250 ml)
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (30 ml)
Coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley (15 ml)

Peel and cut potatoes into 1/4-inch thick slices. Soak in water for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight. Remove fries from the water and dry very well.

Heat the oil in a deep pot until it reaches 330 degrees F. Blanch potatoes in small batches in oil for 3 minutes or until just cooked through but not browned. Drain on paper towel and cool to room temperature. Heat the oil to 375 degrees F. Fry potatoes again for 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towel.

Assembly: Season the fries with salt and pepper and dried oregano. Sprinkle with a little fresh lemon juice, chopped parsley and crumbled feta. Serve immediately.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. Oh, I like the Canadian Chefs feature! I first heard of Christine from Equal Opportunity Kitchen Blog last year.

    Look at that platter, it all looks so tasty, and nice hunk of feta!

  2. I have yet to find a recipe of CC's that I don't like and I strongly suspect this one will fall into the same category. Looks delicious.

  3. The show she is working on sounds like great fun! And I want, Want, WANT these Greek fries, OMG!

    (...I know, I'm slow...I feel like I need a big amount of time to devote and only have bits & pcs...soon!)

    Love these posts on Canadian Chefs...I may never have run across them if not for you, thanks :)

  4. Is that a giant piece of feta beside the lamb? I could make a meal out of that alone!

  5. It would be hard to believe that I have never made souvlaki and for not reason at all!!! This week I will most definitely change that....I have just seen too many of the mouthwatering recipes in the last week!!!! A lovely meal!!!

  6. I love Christine Cushing! I went to see her at the local mall in Windsor a few years ago when she was promoting her new cookbook at the time. She was great! My mom and I used to religiously watch her show, Christine Cushing Live, when I still lived in Canada. I miss those days. Thanks for sharing and keep up the awesome work!

  7. I wish we got Christine here in my area, I've heard so much about her. The lamb looks to die for.

  8. in crete, lamb is never made into souvlaki - we are used to the heavy taste of pork or the light taste of chicken. i might try making this myself, as a middle alternative

  9. Yummy, that dish looks mighty scrumptious!



  10. OMG!!! 7am here and I really could eat that whole plate of food right now - that looks soooo good!

  11. I love finding out about chefs in other countries - great posting. The food looks fabulous.

  12. i've never encountered any information about ms cushing, but what a history! here's hoping i can be as successful. :)
    meanwhile, greek food rules, and that's pretty much all there is to it. :)

  13. Every time I read your Canadian posts I vow to post more Canadian chefs and their recipes.. then I forget until the next week.
    I love kebabs, great choice! I have two of Christine's books - the first and the last.
    Thanks for reminding me to focus on all the great Canadian cooks we have.

  14. Looks delicious! Lamb souvlaki is one of many ways I love to eat lamb! And around this time of year, there is no such thing as too much lamb!

  15. I love Greek food, especially the potatoes with the lovely lemon flavor. What a nice spin on fries!

  16. The souvlaki sounds excellent!

  17. There is something about potatoes, oregano, and lemon juice that makes them magical.

    Great write up and going to check out her books at the library.

  18. I am really enjoying your Canadian Chefs series, Val! This souvlaki looks so good!

  19. Although I have not tried souvlaki made of lamb, in Greece we use either pork or chicken, I would really like to have a piece of that one...it looks delicious!

  20. I love souvlaki! It looks great

  21. That plate of food represents everything I love about Greek cuisine all in one place...yum!!!!

  22. I love the Canadian Chef's feature! It's so much fun to learn about chefs new to me! The recipe you highlight here sounds delightful, too...

  23. A really nice souvlaki recipe by Christine! The Greek fries sound great. There's a restaurant near my work that has fries tossed very lightly in Greek dressing. They stay crisp but they are so tasty!

  24. Oh, Christine is OK. I used to watch that show she had with the special guests that would come on and help her cook and was sad to see it go.

  25. Great recipe from another talented Canadian. You can't go wrong with souvlaki.

    I do love those potatoes too.

  26. Great introduction to this Canadian chef, who I had not heard of before. If this recipe is any indicator of things to come---I have a feeling I'm going to quickly become addicted to this feature.

  27. You put together some great-looking Greek dishes. Look at all of that glorious feta. Now, I'm kind of regretting declining to make a salad for dinner tonight.

    I should really make these potatoes - I've seen different variations of them around a lot lately.

  28. Thats one heck of a platter of food Val, it all looks perfectly cooked and the presentation makes me want to dig in! Love that big hunk of feta.

  29. That's another Chef that I really enjoy watching. Great plate Val.

  30. I would struggle to choose one of those recipes as well. I love the sound of her stuffed leg of lamb. But this was a great choice. I would love to sit down to this. Delicious!!!!

  31. Oh gosh, does that look and sound terrific! I like how you described her father teaching her to be fearless in the kitchen! Gee ... I haven't eaten dinner yet ... guess what I'm craving!

  32. I never see good stuff like this on the Food Network when I'm in the US!!!
    Maybe I should come to Canada....

  33. I love this post - great post...love the idea

  34. I really admire your effort for the Blogger-Aid Val.Lovely platter.

  35. I'm enjoying this series, Val. I don't watch FN, so some of these chefs are new to me.
    Thanks! Keep 'em coming!


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