19 January 2010

Next in Our Canadian Chef Series Lynn Crawford Cooks up Lemon Honey Pistachio Chicken with Turkish Apricot Rice Pilaf

Lemon Honey Pistachio Chicken with Turkish Apricot Rice Pilaf

If you have been following More Than Burnt Toast you will know I started a bi-weekly feature to highlight Canadian Chefs in 2009. This year I will continue on this journey full force to bring you all that Canada has to offer!!! 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 continue to feature one of our Canadian chefs when time allows. There will be some chefs you have heard of and adore and some lesser known who are "up and coming". Some are not even chefs at all, but just Canadians who are passionate about what they do!! As the thirteenth installment in my Canadian Chef series I introduce you to:

Lynn Crawford

Lynn was born into a Scottish family in Willowdale, Ontario and later moved during her high school years to nearby Richmond Hill. Her father was a butcher, and while they grew up on simple comfort foods he exposed his two children early to all the world has to offer in food and wine. While studying fine art at Ontario's University of Guelph, she realized she had missed her true calling and decided on changing paths to become a professional chef.  While cooking for friends in her apartment after class, she was always looking to create challenging and complicated dishes. She loved to go to the farmer's markets and would  buy secondhand cookbooks and back issues of Gourmet magazine from the fifties and sixties. I think she sounds like a lot of food bloggers!!!!
Therefore she quit university and moved to Toronto to enroll in George Brown College’s acclaimed culinary program.  During her studies, she explored Toronto’s finest restaurants, honing her skills and receiving classical training from the city’s premier chefs. When she graduated she went to California to apprentice in restaurants with two of our best known icons... Alice Waters and the late Barbara Troop.

If you’re a fan of Food Network Canada, then Lynn Crawford is a familiar face to you. Lynn is best known  from Restaurant Makeover. Pegged as Canada’s Top Female Chef, she has worked for the Four Seasons for 19 years in several of the hotel chain's prestigious properties, including Nevis, Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto. Lynn received tremendous media attention as the executive chef of Four Seasons Hotel in New York City, where she was the only female executive chef for a Four Seasons property in the world. She appeared on the Food Network's Iron Chef America (the third chef from Canada to do so), in a battle with Iron Chef Bobby Flay. Lynn is a tremendous culinary presence here in the North.

Lynn has very simple beliefs and philosophies on food. “I have always thought of food as an expression of art,” she says. “I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to fuel my passion every day. I express myself best by using beautiful products. I want to leave an impression, create a memory, and nothing matters more to me than a beautiful dish. I adore food!” The creation of a delicious meal does require passion and quality ingredients. To have one without the other would seem unnatural and would go against everything that Lynn Crawford stands for. Maintaining a philosophy that food needs to be celebrated and shared with family and friends, Lynn believes that food is not something that should be kept to oneself but shared with many as a means of providing a sense of enjoyment. I am sure this resonates with many of us as well.

So what is Lynn up to these days?   After a 24 year career as a five-star, high profile chef, she is leaving her post as Executive Chef at the Four Seasons Hotel Manhattan for the ultimate gastronomic adventure!!!  Her own show Pitchin’ In  premiered January 4 on Food Network Canada . Here she's travels all over the map to try to reconnect with food and to meet the farmers, fishermen and others who produce the foods she makes into extraordinary meals each day. This is a drastic change from the fancy kitchens and expensive, luxurious ingredients she has been working with for so many years at the Four Seasons.  

In each episode of Pitchin In Lynn Crawford makes a deal with her local hosts. They let her work hard with them for a few days to learn the ropes and in return she cooks them a spectacular dinner featuring their own products. Lynn takes on any challenge that comes her way, relying on local hunters, fishermen or farmers to show her how it’s done. From fighting off bugs in the muddy Louisiana crawfish ponds to cleaning up after pigs in Georgia and wrestling lobsters in Nova Scotia, there isn’t anything she won’t try in the name of fresh food. With each show we learn with Lunn to gain an understanding and appreciation for food that is not taught in culinary school. Lynn Crawford’s passion for food gets her through each new situation and her sense of humour and adventure make this series a sheer joy to watch.

When Lynn isn’t travelling to new fisheries and farms on Pitchin’ In she’s working on opening her first restaurant in Toronto, Ontario, currently set to open in March 2010.  Understandably the restaurant will be about sharing the table and supporting local producers.

Lynn is an accomplished chef which made it more than difficult to decide on what to make for this months chefs series. With choices like:

 Oven Braised Lamb Stew and Winter Squash Cobbler,
 Pomegranate Sugar-Dusted White Chocolate Doughnuts,
Truffle Macaroni and Cheese,
Pan Seared Salmon with Pink Shrimp Hollandaise,
Honey Butter Roasted Scallops with Gingered Carrot Puree and Vegetable Bhaji Fritters  ,

I ultimately decided upon this chicken dish. Quite often cooking for me is about what I have on hand as well as flavour even if I would have loved to prepare any of the dishes above. This chicken dish was moist and flavourful.

**Lemon Honey Pistachio Chicken with Turkish Apricot Rice Pilaf**

 4 chicken breast, boneless, skinless
2 whole Lemons, juiced
1 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely diced
1 cup orzo
900 mL chicken stock or water
2 cups long grain rice
4 strips orange zest
1 pinch saffron
1/2 cup dried apricots, finely diced
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 bunch dill chopped
1/4 cup scallion, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small mixing bowl combine the lemon juice, pistachios and honey and mix together.

Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper. Sear the chicken in a sauté pan over the medium heat until golden brown on both sides.

Add the lemon honey pistachio mixture onto the tops of the chicken. Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.

In a heavy bottom pot with a lid, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add the onions and orzo and cook until golden brown, or until the orzo smells nutty.

Add the rice and stir to coat with onions and orzo. Add the stock, orange zest, saffron, dried apricots, raisins and season with salt.

Bring the rice mixture to a boil. Stir once and cover with the lid. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and rest on the stovetop for 10 minutes with the lid on. Add the chopped dill and scallions and fluff into the rice pilaf using a fork.

To serve, spoon the apricot rice pilaf onto a plate and top with the lemon honey pistachio chicken.

“If you don’t have passion then it’s just a job,” says Crawford. “That’s the difference between a cook and a chef.  A chef never stops thinking about food.”

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. The chicken looks wonderful Valli! I never tried it with pistachos and I love them... this is my kind of dish for sure ;D.

  2. Lemon, honey and pistachios? Wow, now that's a nice way to eat chicken.

  3. I really miss Food Network Canada and I especially enjoyed Lynn on Restaurant Makeover. She has a very nice presence and personality. I have no doubt this is another of her wonderful recipes. Thank you!

  4. That chicken dish looks marvelous! What flavors!



  5. I am LOVING this, the flavours of the nuts and honey with smooth, 'plain' chicken - lovely!!!!!

  6. This recipe has become one of my family's favourite! The Turkish Apricot Rice Pilaf is a great side and pairs so well with this chicken. Am I alone in wishing Lynn Crawford would publish a cookbook of her own?! She's got so many great recipes floating around out there...

  7. What a delicious looking meal! I love Middle Eastern flavours.
    I absolutely love your Canadian profiles.
    (Not a big fan of Lynn Crawford, I'm sure her food is great but I find her obnoxious and loud. ;-)

  8. This is an inspiring combination of flavors! I love this series you created!

  9. I love this Vall. And really love Canadian chefs are awesome, xx gloria

  10. This is a great way to use Pistachios. I like the colors in this dish Val. Looks delicious.

  11. What a wonderful series, Val. I don't know many Canadian chefs and your posts are very interesting and informative.

    Love all the flavors going on in this mouth watering chicken dish.

  12. It was fun reading about Lynn and this chicken dish looks outstanding. I love the pistachios!!

  13. I don't know what fascinates me more, the pilaf or the chicken.....I suppose one compliments the other. Great chef, great meal!!!!

  14. Lemon Honey Pistachio! Whats not to like??

  15. apricots, raisins, the ever-humble pistachio...not to mention honey, lemon, and orange! my goodness, the burst of flavors in this must be ridiculously scrumptious!

  16. Love that pistachio topping. Have I mentioned how much I love pistachios? I'm sure it's only been 600 or 700 times...I could really see that on more than just chicken. It would be fun to toss with green beans or other veggies.

  17. I do so love pistacchio's Val and this meal combined together looks fabulous. The pilaf has my mouth watering, can't wait to try it! I just saved it in my favorites!

  18. Thank you for introducing us to Lynn. She's an amazing talent. The flavors in this dish are sensational. Who knew chicken could be so sexy?

  19. LC has long been my favourite Canadian chef. She has an amazing sense of humour and an uncanny ability to make it all look entirely simple. The best is that she's real and approachable and doesn't seem to have this whole ego thing going on.

  20. pistachios always seem so exotic to me! I mean, I eat them and they're readily available, but using them as an ingredient makes me think of far away places.

  21. This sounds amazingly good, Val - so many of my favorite flavors!

  22. What a lovely chicken dish. You've reminded me to use pistachios more. They really make a dish sing.

  23. I really love this series you have,. It's introduced me to so many new chefs that I probably otherwise wouldn't ahve known about!

    This recipe sounds delicious. I love honey and pistachios in savory dishes...the middle eastern flavors just do it for me every time.

  24. This whole meal sounds SO good. I love nut-crusted chicken dishes and the orzo/rice pilaf looks delicious!

  25. Lynn Crawford sounds quite accomplished! This recipe looks absolutely divine. I will have to try it!

  26. Hi again, I am using one of your recipes in my blog tomorrow!

  27. The pistachio chicken photo alone is awesome but the sound of Pitchin'In makes me wish I still had television.
    Love your picture ... the pistachios are so gorgeous.

  28. I love the sound and look of this!
    Chicken, honey and pistachios.....yum!

  29. apricot rice pilaf - what a great idea

    using fruit in salads and savoury dishes is becoming quite popular in greece - this is great, as it encourages people to eat more fruit, whereas before, if they were full after the main meal, they would skimp on it

  30. This looks and sounds so delicious. I would LOVE to be sitting at your table one day!

  31. I love nut crusts and Lynn Crawfors and her cooking. Her new show is good as well.

  32. I can smell this chicken here! What a beautiful recipe Valli :)

    Have a great evening, Margot

  33. What a beautiful combination of colors and flavors!


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