Beef



I know this is a mass over-generalization, but I think if you have a male in your house, you might have someone who claims the TV for a good part of Sunday to watch upwards of 3-4 football games, and eagerly checks the scores of those games they didn’t get to watch.  I enjoy football.  In fact our very own BC Lions (CFL for my dear American readers) advanced in our playoff run today, and I cheered them on even though I was home alone.  Given that I knew today would be football dominated in our house, and that TB was going to be out in the morning to coach in the pouring rain, I thought I would have a hearty lunch waiting for him to warm him up and to give him the “game” experience, even if only watching on a cold, wet rainy Sunday in our living room.

Recently I discovered our little grocery store stocks very thinly sliced rib-eye for shabu shabu.  I find it has great flexibility and this was a prime example of grabbing some super accessible ingredients to make a tasty weekend lunch in about 15 minutes.  I don’t profess to know about the great Philly cheese steak.  From what I can tell, there is a rivalry around it.  What is authentic?  Who makes the best ones? To use cheese slices or cheese sauces.  I just used memory from the one or two that I have had at sporting events.  I looked for provolone at our little store, but they were out, so I went with a Monterrey jack – it melted like a charm and added a nice richness to the sandwich.  It also, as TB pointed out, helped keep everything together…so, don’t skimp on your cheese!

Philly Cheesestake 2

Ingredients:

1 sweet onion, sliced thinly
1 green, yellow, red or orange pepper thinly sliced
1 TB oil
2 TB butter
salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced

1 TB butter
1/2 kg of rib-eye, sliced very thinly
(I would ask your butcher do this if it isn’t already cut.  Or through  the rib-eye in the freezer for about 30 minutes to let it firm up and then slice, much easier this way to get consistent slices.
10-14 s
lices cheese, depending on size – you want to melt some on your bottom bun, and one over the meaT)
4-5
hoagie or hamburger buns

Directions:

     

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large fry pan with a lid, melt oil and first amount of butter over medium-high heat.  Add pepper and onions, stir and allow to cook for 5-10 minutes, you don’t want to burn them like I did, so make sure you don’t rush it by turning the heat up too high.
  3. Prepare buns, slice and place slices of cheese on base.  Place on a pan, ready to hit the oven.
  4. Once the onions are starting to caramelize, add garlic and jalapeno.  Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper, stir and allow to cook for about one minute.
  5. Remove onion mixture to a bowl, set aside.
  6. Turn heat up to high, add butter. Add thinly sliced meat.  If using a Teflon pan, use two wooden spoons to work the meat, pulling it apart to get that kind of shredded look, encouraging fast cooking without over cooking and loosing the tenderness fo the steak.
  7. Add buns to oven to warm and melt cheese.
  8. Once your meat is cooked to your just below your liking, we like it medium rare, so we stopped our cooking really at rare.  Stir in onion mixture.  Then place cheese in one layer over the pan, cover, turn heat down and let cheese melt.
  9. Remove buns from oven.  With a slotted spoon scoop out mixture, let drain a little and then serve on the bun.
  10.  

Serves 4-5.


Couscous, barley, quinoa…and wheat berries. All good for you grains.  Barley was fairly common in our home when we were kids, but other than that we didn’t venture much past wild or brown rice.

Today, really I should say this afternoon, felt like a wonderful spring day.  It was breezy, but sunny.  I took the dog for a walk along the Stanley Park Seawall when I got home from work and felt like a light summer-esque meal.  I have wanted to try wheat berries for a while now and kind of threw this together based on what we had in the house.

I actually really liked it.  If you haven’t had wheat berries before they are a little chewy and take a considerable amount of time to cook…these took 2 hours, though I had read anywhere from 1 to 1 1/2 hours – maybe I didn’t have the temp high enough.  And really, you could add whatever you have in your fridge.  Bean sprouts, sugar peas or carrots would be nice too.

wheat-berry-salad

Ingredients:

1 cup raw soft wheat berries
2 1/2 cups veggie broth

1 cucumber, cubed
1 large tomato
1 orange pepper
2 green onions
2 cups fresh spinach

3 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2-3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 shallot, finely minced
1 garlic clove, finely minced

steak, pan fried and then thinly sliced (but anyway you cook it would be good)

Directions:

  1. Combine wheat berries and stock in a pot, bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer.  Allow to cook until the stock has all been absorbed. (anywhere from 1 1/2 – 2 hrs).  Once done cooking, allow to cool.  This may mean spreading them out on a baking sheet and placing in the fridge.
  2. Combine veggies in a salad bowl.
  3. Combine dressing ingredients together and emulsify.
  4. Mix wheat berries, veggies and dressing together – if you want you can combine everything except the spinach and let sit together for the flavours to intensify.
  5. Once steak is cooked and allowed rest, slice thinly and top salad with it.

Serves 3-4


baked-lasagne The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of   
Beans and Caviar
, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

Ever since I got my pasta machine for my birthday, I have been wanting to make lasagne. And look… here it is as a Daring Baker’s challenge!  I was very excited.  Now, TB doesn’t much care for lasagne.  Mainly because he isn’t a lover of ricotta cheese or cream sauces for the most part.  What appealed to me with this recipe is the spinach pasta!  I have only ever made plain pasta, and have been waiting to venture into the flavoured variety.   And the efforts have paid off… he said, and I quote “this is the best lasagne I have ever had.”

While the recipe below is extensive and a little daunting, don’t despair, you can make it over a few different days.    I made the ragu sauce the evening before, the bechemel sauce and pasta the morning of the day I baked the lasange…and then it was just to throw it together.  Yum!  Imagine the rich, sweet, tangy flavours all melding together.

I have a few pieces of feedback for this recipe:

1. I felt the ragu sauce needed a little more of a tomato kick, so I added about half a can of tomato sauce.

2. The pasta needed more moisture, I ended up using large eggs, not jumbo, so I used three of those and about a quarter cup of water.

3. The Bechamel sauce was fabulous.  Probably one of the best I have made…

…all in all…perfect for a rainy wet Spring night!  And here it is…before it went into the oven:

lasagne-not-baked

Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi al Forno)

(Serves 8 to 10 as a first course, 6 to 8 as a main dish)

10 quarts (9 litres) salted water
1 recipe Spinach Pasta cut for lasagna (recipe follows)#1
1 recipe Bechamel Sauce (recipe follows)#2
1 recipe Country Style Ragu (recipe follows)#3
1 cup (4 ounces/125g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Method
Working Ahead:
The ragu  and the béchamel sauce can be made up to three days ahead. The ragu can also be frozen for up to one month. The pasta can be rolled out, cut and dried up to 24 hours before cooking. The assembled lasagne can wait at room temperature (20 degrees Celsius/68 degrees Fahrenheit) about 1 hour before baking. Do not refrigerate it before baking, as the topping of béchamel and cheese will overcook by the time the center is hot.

Assembling the Ingredients:
Have all the sauces, rewarmed gently over a medium heat, and the pasta at hand. Have a large perforated skimmer and a large bowl of cold water next to the stove. Spread a double thickness of paper towels over a large counter space. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Oil or butter a 3 quart (approx 3 litre) shallow baking dish.

Cooking the Pasta:
Bring the salted water to a boil. Drop about four pieces of pasta in the water at a time. Cook about 2 minutes. If you are using dried pasta, cook about 4 minutes, taste, and cook longer if necessary. The pasta will continue cooking during baking, so make sure it is only barely tender. Lift the lasagne from the water with a skimmer, drain, and then slip into the bowl of cold water to stop cooking. When cool, lift out and dry on the paper towels. Repeat until all the pasta is cooked.

Assembling the Lasagne:
Spread a thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange a layer of about four overlapping sheets of pasta over the béchamel. Spread a thin layer of béchamel (about 3 or 4 spoonfuls) over the pasta, and then an equally thin layer of the ragu. Sprinkle with about 1&1/2 tablespoons of the béchamel and about 1/3 cup of the cheese. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used, finishing with béchamel sauce and topping with a generous dusting of cheese.

Baking and Serving the Lasagne:
Cover the baking dish lightly with foil, taking care not to let it touch the top of the lasagne. Bake 40 minutes, or until almost heated through. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes, or until hot in the center (test by inserting a knife – if  it comes out very warm, the dish is ready). Take care not to brown the cheese topping. It should be melted, creamy looking and barely tinged with a little gold. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the lasagne rest for about 10 minutes. Then serve. This is not a solid lasagne, but a moist one that slips a bit when it is cut and served.

#1 Spinach Egg Pasta (Pasta Verde)

Preparation: 45 minutes

Makes enough for 6 to 8 first course servings or 4 to 6 main course servings, equivalent to 1 pound (450g) dried boxed pasta.

2 jumbo eggs (2 ounces/60g or more)
10 ounces (300g) fresh spinach, rinsed dry, and finely chopped; or 6 ounces (170g) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3&1/2 cups (14 ounces/400g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour (organic stone ground preferred)

Working by Hand:

Equipment

A roomy work surface, 24 to 30 inches deep by 30 to 36 inches (60cm to 77cm deep by 60cm to 92cm). Any smooth surface will do, but marble cools dough slightly, making it less flexible than desired.

A pastry scraper and a small wooden spoon for blending the dough.

A wooden dowel-style rolling pin. In Italy, pasta makers use one about 35 inches long and 2 inches thick (89cm long and 5cm thick). The shorter American-style pin with handles at either end can be used, but the longer it is, the easier it is to roll the pasta.
Note: although it is not traditional, Enza has successfully made pasta with a marble rolling pin, and this can be substituted for the wooden pin, if you have one.

Plastic wrap to wrap the resting dough and to cover rolled-out pasta waiting to be filled. It protects the pasta from drying out too quickly.

A sharp chef’s knife for cutting pasta sheets.

Cloth-covered chair backs, broom handles, or specially designed pasta racks found in cookware shops for draping the pasta.

Mixing the dough:
Mound the flour in the center of your work surface and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs and spinach. Use a wooden spoon to beat together the eggs and spinach. Then gradually start incorporating shallow scrapings of flour from the sides of the well into the liquid. As you work more and more flour into the liquid, the well’s sides may collapse. Use a pastry scraper to keep the liquids from running off and to incorporate the last bits of flour into the dough. Don’t worry if it looks like a hopelessly rough and messy lump.

Kneading:
With the aid of the scraper to scoop up unruly pieces, start kneading the dough. Once it becomes a cohesive mass, use the scraper to remove any bits of hard flour on the work surface – these will make the dough lumpy. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes. Its consistency should be elastic and a little sticky. If it is too sticky to move easily, knead in a few more tablespoons of flour. Continue kneading about 10 minutes, or until the dough has become satiny, smooth, and very elastic. It will feel alive under your hands. Do not shortcut this step. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let it relax at room temperature 30 minutes to 3 hours.

Stretching and Thinning:
If using an extra-long rolling pin work with half the dough at a time. With a regular-length rolling pin, roll out a quarter of the dough at a time and keep the rest of the dough wrapped. Lightly sprinkle a large work surface with flour. The idea is to stretch the dough rather than press down and push it. Shape it into a ball and begin rolling out to form a circle, frequently turning the disc of dough a quarter turn. As it thins outs, start rolling the disc back on the pin a quarter of the way toward the center and stretching it gently sideways by running the palms of your hands over the rolled-up dough from the center of the pin outward. Unroll, turn the disc a quarter turn, and repeat. Do twice more.

Stretch and even out the center of the disc by rolling the dough a quarter of the way back on the pin. Then gently push the rolling pin away from you with one hand while holding the sheet in place on the work surface with the other hand. Repeat three more times, turning the dough a quarter turn each time.

Repeat the two processes as the disc becomes larger and thinner. The goal is a sheet of even thickness. For lasagne, the sheet should be so thin that you can clearly see your hand through it and see colours. Cut into rectangles about 4 by 8 inches (10 x 20 cm). Note: Enza says that transparency is a crucial element of lasagne pasta and the dough should be rolled as thinly as possible. She says this is why her housekeeper has such strong arms!

Dry the pasta at room temperature and store in a sealed container or bag.

#2 Bechamel

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60g) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour, organic stone ground preferred
2&2/3 cups (approx 570ml) milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Using a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat. Sift over the flour, whisk until smooth, and then stir (without stopping) for about 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk a little at a time and keep the mixture smooth. Bring to a slow simmer, and stir 3 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Season with salt, pepper, and a hint of nutmeg.

#3 Country Style Ragu’ (Ragu alla Contadina)

Preparation Time: Ingredient Preparation Time 30 minutes and Cooking time 2 hours

Makes enough sauce for 1 recipe fresh pasta or 1 pound/450g dried pasta)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (45 mL)
2 ounces/60g pancetta, finely chopped
1 medium onion, minced
1 medium stalk celery with leaves, minced
1 small carrot, minced
4 ounces/125g boneless veal shoulder or round
4 ounces/125g pork loin, trimmed of fat, or 4 ounces/125g mild Italian sausage (made without fennel)
8 ounces/250g beef skirt steak, hanging tender, or boneless chuck blade or chuck center cut (in order of preference)
1 ounce/30g thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma
2/3 cup (5 ounces/160ml) dry red wine
1 &1/2 cups (12 ounces/375ml) chicken or beef stock (homemade if possible)
2 cups (16 ounces/500ml) milk
3 canned plum tomatoes, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Working Ahead:
The ragu can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. It also freezes well for up to 1 month. Skim the fat from the ragu’ before using it.

Browning the Ragu Base:
Heat the olive oil in a 12 inch (30cm) skillet (frying pan) over medium-high heat. Have a large saucepan handy to use once browning is complete. Add the pancetta and minced vegetables and sauté, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, 10 minutes, or until the onions barely begin to color. Coarsely grind all the meats together, including the prosciutto, in a food processor or meat grinder. Stir into the pan and slowly brown over medium heat. First the meats will give off a liquid and turn dull grey but, as the liquid evaporates, browning will begin. Stir often, scooping under the meats with the wooden spatula. Protect the brown glaze forming on the bottom of the pan by turning the heat down. Cook 15 minutes, or until the meats are a deep brown. Turn the contents of the skillet into a strainer and shake out the fat. Turn them into the saucepan and set over medium heat.

Reducing and Simmering: Add the wine to the skillet, lowering the heat so the sauce bubbles quietly. Stir occasionally until the wine has reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Scrape up the brown glaze as the wine bubbles. Then pour the reduced wine into the saucepan and set the skillet aside.

Stir ½ cup stock into the saucepan and let it bubble slowly, 10 minutes, or until totally evaporated. Repeat with another ½ cup stock. Stir in the last 1/2 cup stock along with the milk. Adjust heat so the liquid bubbles very slowly. Partially cover the pot, and cook 1 hour. Stir frequently to check for sticking.

Add the tomatoes, crushing them as they go into the pot. Cook uncovered, at a very slow bubble for another 45 minutes, or until the sauce resembles a thick, meaty stew. Season with salt and pepper.

All recipes below from The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food by Lynne Rossetto Kasper (published by William Morrow and Company Inc., 1992).


I am on a house cleaning purge – perhaps instead of spring cleaning, I am fall cleaning. One place that needs some love is my cookbook bookcase. I am always ripping out recipes or being given recipes that I think “I will make one day” – I am sure many people have this as well.

Years ago a former colleague gave me this recipe. Photocopied from a book. Unfortunately I have no idea what the source is, so apologies to the creator. But in an effort to clean the shelf, random papers must go, and this needs to be added to the blog for posterity.

When I think of this recipe I think of the word, umami. The kitchen even smells great when the steak is marinating! No picture, but just know that when this all comes together and you cook your steak perfectly it is a great addition to a meal from the grill!

Ingredients
1 cup dark soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 cloves finally minced garlic cloves
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
(sometimes I used ground ginger from the spice rack and that works fine too)

freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar (or juice from 1/2 a lemon)
1 Tbsp cornstarch (or tapioca starch)

Directions:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a non-reactive dish.
  2. Add the meat, turn to coat and marinate for 10-30 minutes. Turn meat half way through to ensure equal marinating. Do not marinate overnight, as this is a fairly salty marinade.
  3. Cook steaks to the doneness you like. Be sure to allow them to rest for 4 minutes and the quickly return to grill to heat up for 30 seconds or so.
** Enough for 4 steaks

I have been so delinquent at posting – yet, I have been taking lots of pictures and scribbling down food combos (I am not sure I could call them recipes!) These are a favourite on a night we wanting take out – but a homemade version. I love that this dish is so versatile, really you could put any veggies or ground meat/tofu into it.

Ingredients:
1/2 small onion

3 cloves garlic

2 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 to 1 lb ground meat (this is beef, but chicken, turkey and pork have all been good)
2 carrots
2 celery stocks
1 red/yellow or green pepper
2-3 button mushrooms
1 handful chopped spinach
1-2 Tbsp sambal/chili sauce
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp hoison sauce
1-2 tsp honey *to taste*
2Tbsp Peanut Satay sauce (optional)

Half a bag of steam fried noodles
One head lettuce

Directions:
1. Wash and finely dice all veggies

2. In a wok or large fry pan heat up sesame oil over medium-high heat
3. Add onions and garlic, do not burn
4. Add meat and brown
5. Add all veggies, except for spinach and stir

6. Add sambal, soy, hoison, peanut satay sauces and honey
7. Allow veggies to cook for about 3-4 minutes
8. Add spinach and cook for another 30 seconds
9. Wash head lettuce and smack the base on the counter, this helps loosen all the leaves

10. Place a layer of the steamed noodles in your serving bowl, top with the hot meat/veggie combo.
11. Serve and Enjoy.

*in the past I have added small cubed firm tofu, it absorbs the sauce nicely*


Comfort foods are always very individual to a person’s taste and memories associated. Pete is sick right now and wanted spicy Taiwanese beef noodle soup from a little hole in the wall shop about 20 minutes away. I am sure there is somewhere closer in our neighbourhood, but we haven’t found it yet. So instead of heading out I thought I would try to create my own version of one of his comfort foods – it turned out pretty well! It is by no means authentic; nor is it right from scratch! Comfort can’t take all day long after all.

Ingredients for Beef:
2-3 lb top sirloin roast
salt
pepper
2 garlic cloves
olive oil

Ingredients for Thick Noodles:
3 cups all purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/2 cup water (approximate)

Ingredients for Soup:
3 crushed garlic cloves
2 peeled shallots
8 cups water
1 cube beef bouillon
1 cube veggie bouillon
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
couple dashes fish sauce
2-3 heaped teaspoons spicy sambal/chili sauce*
*add as little or as much as you like


Directions:
Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. To prepare the roast pat it dry. Make some slits in the meat, and insert sliced garlic in for flavour. Seasoned it with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in fry pan. Sear each side of roast; once all sides are seared, place in caserole dish, that has about 1/2 water in it and cover with aluminum foil. We like our meat rare/medium-rare – I cooked for about 50 minutes and overcooked – at that point it was well done – I would suggest about 35-40 minutes for it to not be too over done, OR, if you have time, slow roast it until it is soft and able to fall apart. Once meat is cooked to where you want it, remove from heat, cover and let the juices re-distribute.

Once meat is in the oven, start making the noodles. On a clean counter top, mound the flour, make a well, and crack the eggs into the centre of the well. With your fingers incorporate the eggs into the dough, if needed to help bond it all together, add small amounts of water at a time. Kneed the dough until smooth (about 5 minutes). I don’t have a pasta maker, if I did this next part would have been a lot easier! I rolled the pasta out with a rolling pin (divide ball into quarters to make this a lot faster). With a pasta machine you would want to run it through twice at each thickness interval. I thought I had it thin enough when I had it down to about 3 mm, but I would suggest going a little thinner than that. Once rolled out to the thickness you want – roll the dough into a long tube (like a rolled up newspaper), taking your knife cut the pasta into about 5-7mm widths. You have created what looks like a coin of pasta, but once you unroll each coin is a long string of thick noodle pasta. Drape pasta over a clean dish rack, a big bowl, or (gasp!) a pasta drying rack.

To make the soup base I started tossing things in that we had around the house, basically bring the water to a boil and through everything else in, let it simmer away as the flavours infuse.

Boil water for the pasta while it is hanging and drying out. Add pasta a few handfuls at a time, don’t overcrowd the pot. Once noodles float to the top (3-4 minutes) add noodles to simmering pot of soup base.

Ladle the noodles and soup into a bowl. You can take the meat, shred it if possible and serve on top of soup. Or you can do what I did. Slice up the roast, into bite size pieces and toss in the soup, that way it infuses with all the flavours of the soup base – either way – enjoy! Great for colds, or just cold rainy weather.


There are some nights when we look in the fridge and it is bare…or at least nothing we really want to eat. Then the great debate, do we order in, do we go out? What can we make… it is raining, so going to the store isn’t really what you feel like doing after a long day at work, that’s when we usually hit the pantry. This recipe was compiled with what we had on hand, I know it is by no means authentic, but I like that you add what you have. If we had had some frozen corn niblets for example, I would have added those. Spiciness is a personal preference, so always start with less and then work up. For the purposes of a rainy Tuesday night, this worked quite nicely, especially when supplemented with some simple fresh from the oven cornbread.

** the steam was perfect to melt the cheddar into the chili**


Ingredients for Pantry Chili

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 sweet onion, diced
1 chopped green pepper
2 cups sliced mushrooms (canned would do fine here)
1 lb extra lean ground beef
2 hot peppers, diced (I had some jalapeños on hand)
1 19 oz can of Black Beans
1 19 0z can of Kidney Beans
1 28 oz can of Crushed Tomatoes
14 oz water

4 Tbsp red chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground chipotle powder
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp thyme

** shredded cheese to top

Directions:
In a dutch oven or large pot, heat the oil. Add the garlic, onions, and green and hot peppers, sweat them, being careful not to brown/burn the garlic, when the peppers get soft, add the mushrooms. Add the ground beef once the veggies are all soft. Add seasoning and stir until the ground beef is browned (skim off excess fat, if needed). Add both types of beans, tomatoes and water, let simmer for 20 minutes. Flavour to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with shredded cheese on top.