Philippine Daily Inquirer / 03:40 AM July 21, 2016
Guests invited to Anna Olson’s house in Welland, Ontario, can always look forward to having more than one dessert. After all, the Canadian celebrity chef, who stars in her own TV cooking shows (“Sugar,” “Kitchen Equipped,” “Bake with Anna Olson,” and “Fresh with Anna Olson”) started her career as a pastry chef.
At home, “dessert is never an afterthought,” she told dinner guests gathered recently at Makati Shangri-La’s Sage restaurant.
And what fabulous desserts she can whip up: lattice-topped blueberry pie, apple fritters, candied orange cassata, raspberry filled doughnuts, and an elegant Boston cream pie with vanilla custard filling and chocolate glaze, to name a few.
Moreover, during her shows she makes it all seem so easy. Maybe it’s because her instructions are always clear, her kitchen well-organized, and the pacing of each segment is just right. It’s enough to inspire novice cooks and bakers to try to replicate those mouthwatering pastries in their own kitchens.
Now Olson takes that inspiration further—specifically thousands of miles further. She recently toured four Southeast Asian cities to learn more about their food and culture, then channeled her experiences into recipes inspired by the dishes she had tasted.
The result is a new show called “Inspired by Anna Olson,” premiering on the Asian Food Channel on July 29 at 9 p.m.
“There’s something about having a cuisine that’s out of your comfort zone,” Olson said. “I love the sheer adventure of it.”
Episodes in the program will include demonstrations by Filipino chef Rob Pengson, whose squab inasal (grilled pigeon), kinilaw (tuna ceviche) and tocino del cielo (bite-size custards) inspired Olson to create maple barbecued chicken wings, salmon tartare on cassava cakes and mini lime crème caramels.
Chef Margarita Fores will demonstrate recipes for short rib adobo with adlai, river prawn sinigang with watermelon, and atchara, which Olson has channeled into coffee braised beef on Canadian wild rice, roasted apple and garlic mussels and pickled squash marmalade.
And for his part, Claude Tayag will extol the merits of Pampanga’s cuisine with his recipes for bulanglang (fish broth with guava purée), halo-halo (iced dessert with beans, coconut and corn) and sans rival, all of which inspired Olson to create rosemary roasted venison rack with blueberry balsamic sauce, sweet potato ice cream sundae with corn nut brittle and maple spice reduction, and Eton mess torte.
The other cities Olson visited were Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh. From them, she likewise drew inspiration for dishes like Atlantic lobster chowder (from Singapore), rosette cookies (Thailand) and espresso granita with coconut cream (Vietnam).
In many of her recipes, Olson makes use of the very best that Canada has to offer such as maple syrup, canola oil, Canadian beef, Atlantic lobster and fresh blueberries. Likewise, her emphasis is always on respecting the techniques, ingredients and the people she learned from.
The making of “Inspired,” she says, has deepened her respect for Asia’s diverse and deeply rooted cultures. “The flavors of the region are so varied and intense, yet at the same time, so humble and heartwarming. I hope the viewers enjoy the show as much as I have had in making it.”
Having visited Manila five times, Olson has become familiar with Filipino food. She and her husband Michael, a chef himself, have their own favorites. For Michael it’s lechon, while for Anna it’s sans rival torte.
Here’s Anna’s recipe for barbecued chicken wings with maple syrup.
Maple barbecue chicken wings
(Recipe courtesy of Anna Olson)
For the spice rub:
1 k chicken wings
¼ c (50 g) sugar
2 tbsp (15 g) coarse salt
2 tbsp (15 g) chili powder
1 ½ tbsp (6 g) paprika
2 tsp (4 g) garlic powder
2 tsp (4 g) onion powder
2 tsp (2 g) ground cumin
2 tsp (2 g) ground coriander
2 tsp (2 g) ground black pepper
For the glaze:
¼ c (60 ml) maple syrup
¼ c (60 ml) apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp reserved spice rub
Sriracha hot sauce, to taste
Make the spice rub:
Wash the chicken wings, then pat them dry with paper towels. In a mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, salt and spices to blend well. Set aside one tablespoon of the spice rub. Toss the remaining rub onto the chicken wings, coating well. This can be done up to two hours ahead of time, then chilled in refrigerator until ready to cook.
When ready to cook: Preheat the barbecue grill to 300ºF (150ºC, or medium low). Or you can also cook this in an oven. Preheat the oven to same temperature.
Grill the chicken wings with the lid of the barbecue grill down for one hour, turning once. Or, if using an oven, arrange the chicken wings in a grilling pan and cook in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, turning once.
Meanwhile, make the glaze: Stir the maple syrup, vinegar and reserved spice rub together, adding Sriracha sauce to taste. Brush this over the chicken wings and continue cooking for about 10 more minutes. Serve immediately.
Anna Olson says you can use this spice rub mixture on other grilled foods such as chicken breast and pork tenderloin. You can even mix it into ground beef for burgers.
Sriracha sauce is a very hot sauce made with chilies. Best to use it sparingly.
Canadian maple syrup is available in big supermarkets like Rustan’s and Cash and Carry. Look in the baking or the sugar sections.