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Posts Tagged ‘classic’

As Sitelle and I live a few hundred kilometres apart, it’s always a treat when we get together for dinner.  We had the pleasure of dining together last week, and I knew I wanted to cook something easy and fun involving the grill, as I was cooking for a small crowd (my parents and her fiancé joined in on the party!)   We started with her tasty kuri squash soup and ended with my favourite dessert of all-time, raspberry glacee pie. All in all it was a lovely escape from the hectic life of a medical clerk!

Shish kabobs are one of my favourites – and with all the gorgeous fresh produce (ripe cherry tomatoes! perfect yellow zucchinis! fresh red onions!) at the farmer’s market in Ottawa, I couldn’t help but be inspired. Who doesn’t love meat cooked by fire (not to mention veggies cooked by fire)??

I love the hint of rosemary in the marinade as it keeps the meat tasting fresh. Whenever I make these kabobs, I usually try to use a high-end cut of meat.  The marinade will tenderize the beef regardless, but as the recipe calls for little beef, it’s always special to splurge on the high-end nicely marbled cuts.  Feel free to mix up the type of veggies – the combination below is the classic choice in my family.

If you are feeding vegetarians too, it’s easy to simply leave off the meat on a skewer or two.  I usually have leftover veggies after threading all the skewers balanced with beef and veggies anyways.  With these extra veggies, I cook them on a separate skewer or simply in a large basket for the BBQ.  Charred vegetables make for great leftovers!

Classic Beef Shish Kabobs

The kabobs got eaten before I was able to snap a post-grilling pic, but here they are assembled and ready for the grill

Classic Beef Shish Kabobs

Serves ~6

Ingredients

For the marinade

3/4 cup olive oil

3/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, pressed

2 tsp. granulated sugar

1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1 lb top sirloin steak, trim the fat and cut into 1-inch cubes

For the kabobs

2 red onions, cut into large wedges

24 cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed

2 zucchinis cut into large rounds

24 cherry tomatoes

2 peppers, cut into large 1-inch chunks

2 tbsp olive oil

Freshly ground pepper and salt, to taste

6-12 metal skewers (or if using bamboo, soak in water for half an hour)

Directions

To make the marinade: In a bowl, stir together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, sugar, rosemary, and pepper.  Place the beef cubes in a large sealable plastic bag and pour in the marinate. Seal the bag and marinade at room temperature for at least 1 hour or preferably overnight in the fridge.

About half an hour before you want to start grilling, combine the vegetables with the oil and seasonings.  Toss gently to combine. Place the beef in a bowl and discard the marinade.  Thread the beef and vegetables on the skewers, dividing them evenly, until the skewers are filled.  Start and end with a vegetable on your skewer as often the grill isn’t as hot near the edges.

Prepare a hot fire in a grill – either over hot coals or high propane. Place the skewers on the grill directly over the heat.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, then turn the skewers with tongs. Continue cooking for 3-4 minutes more for medium-rare or longer for well-done.  The veggies should be cooked but firm and nicely charred, while the meat should give easily when pressed.

To serve, slide the beef and veggies off the skewers onto a platter and enjoy.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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By March, I’m tired of winter food: the root veggies, onions, and garlic are at the end of their time, and the new spring crops are far from being ready, unless Maple Syrup falls in the category of a proper food!

Instead I’ve been leaning to dried pulses: beans and lentils, which seem to be timeless. This week, I’ve been inspired to create new dishes inspired by Latin American flavours. This dish came together on its own, from simple ingredients, and requires little effort other than remembering to soak the beans in advance. The result is a delicious bean stew, which can be eaten with tortillas, over rice, or even as a soup if you cook it in large volumes of water or broth!

IMG_20140317_190938

Ingredients – 4 servings

-1 cup dried kidney beans, soaked for 1 day or boiled, rinced, boiled again, and soaked for 3 hours
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1/2 red onion, diced
-1 jalapeño, finely diced (seeds removed if you don’t like it too spicy)
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-2 tsp chili powder
-1 stick cinnamon
-1/2 to 1 tsp salt (to taste)
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-juice from 1/2 a lime
-1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce (omit if vegetarian, and add 1/4 vegetable bouillon cube to replace)
-1/2 red pepper, small dice
-2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
-1L water

Directions:
Soak the beans in advance. When ready, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the onions until they become soft, then add the garlic, jalapeño, cinnamon stick and the spices. Sprinkle the salt over the top, and stir, until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.

When the onion begins to brown, add the water, and bring to a boil. Add the Worcestershire sauce and the lime juice and simmer on low for 1-2 hours, covered.

Increase the heat to medium and add the red pepper. Remove the cover, stirring and crushing a few of the beans. Allow to simmer uncovered at a mild boil until most of the liquid is either absorbed or boiled off. The beans stew should become a bit thicker, and there should not be more than a ‘sauce’ when it is ready. Finally, add the cilantro, and if you like the lime feel free to add another spritz or two of lime before serving!

-Sitelle

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One of my favourite things to go home to after a long day of work is to have a cup of tea in a quiet house, especially when the snow has already begun and winter is fast approaching. Baking some cookies can do the trick too, which I did yesterday. Without any cookbooks or internet at my disposal yesterday, I was left to my own devices, which included a jar of peanut butter (no recipe on that label), some butter, sugar, flour, and… jam! I love thumbprint cookies with jam, so why not take the old PB&J sandwich to the next course, and turn it into a dessert? The result was delicious!

Now that the snow has begun, I just wish I could bake cookies every day when I come home.

Ingredients:

-1/2 cup brown sugar

-1/4 cup soft butter

-1 egg

-1/2 cup peanut butter (I like the “just peanuts” kind)

-1 cup flour

-1/2 cup quick-cooking oats

-1 tsp baking powder

-pinch salt

-strawberry or raspberry (my favourite!) jam

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375F. In a medium bowl cream the butter and sugar together, and then add egg and peanut butter. Stir until mixture is smooth.

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients well. Add peanut butter mixture, and mix in with your hands. Grease a cookie sheet. Place small balls of batter on sheet and make thumbprint hole inside. Fill with jam.
Bake for 15-18 minutes or until cooked but still a bit soft. Cool on a baking rack and serve with a glass of milk or hot-chocolate!

-Sitelle

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This cookie recipe is somewhat notorious among our friends: somehow, in second year, they acquired the nickname “broccoli cookies” – not because they are made with any part of broccoli, nor because they are green, nor because they do not taste good. On the contrary – they got their name being made almost entirely with whole-wheat flour, which makes them healthier than their all-purpose flour counter parts but are absolutely delicious. They’re super easy, and fast to make. With a cooking time of 8-9 minutes, there’s no excuse not to make them!

Originally the recipe was a classic from the Joy of Cooking – Chocolate chip cookies. Now it’s been altered somewhat, right into the cookbook, in pencil of course. It may just be the page where the book naturally falls open to, at least half of the time.

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
pinch or two salt if butter is unsalted
2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup chopped blanched almonds

Directions

Preheat oven to 375F. Mix the dry ingredients together in a small bowl. In a large bowl mix the butter, sugar and egg until well combined. Add salt and vanilla and mix well. Combine dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Mix with hands. Add chocolate chips and blanched almonds.

Form teaspoon-fulls of dough into balls and place on baking trays lined with parchment paper. Cook for 8-9 minutes, then carefully remove with a spatula onto cooling racks. They are pretty soft, so they can break if you’re not careful!

Hope you enjoy these simple delights!!

-Sitelle

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Thinking about what to make for a pot-luck, I had a brainwave. Cheesecake!  I hadn’t made this in a really long time, and so I had forgotten that it’s actually quite easy.  I also must admit that I acted more as a consultant in the creation of this cake, but still enjoyed every minute of it.  Now it is all gone, devoured by five people in one evening.

We used Donna Hay’s recipe from Modern Classics II (p 80), altering it according to what we had and what we were craving.

Ingredients (8 generous servings)

-110 g graham cracker crumbs
-2/3 cups almond meal
-60g butter, melted
-1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
-1 1/2 Tbsp water
-330 g cream cheese, softened
-460 g ricotta cheese
-4 eggs
-1 cup sugar
-1 Tbsp finely grated lemon rind
-1/4 cup lemon juice
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 cup frozen raspberries
-2 Tbsp sugar
-1/4 cup water

Directions

Blanch the whole almonds (if you are making the meal yourself) in a pot of boiling water for 3 minutes, then drain and pop their skin off.  Place the almonds in the oven at 300F for 20 minutes to dry them.

In a food processor, grind the almonds.  Add the graham cracker crumbs and the butter and pulse until fully combined.

Line the base of an 8 inch springform pan with parchment paper, and grease the sides of the dish.  Pack the graham cracker crumb mixture down to make the crust in the pan.  Refrigerate immediately

In a bowl, mix the water and cornstarch well.  In a food processor, process the cheeses, eggs, lemon (zest and juice), vanilla extract and sugar into a smooth paste, scraping the sides down several times.  Pour this mix into the pan.

Meanwhile, heat the raspberries and water in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add the sugar and reduce the liquids.  Strain the juices into a bowl, pressing the purée through a sieve to remove the majority of the raspberry seeds.

Once the raspberry coulis is made, drop some onto the top of the cheese mixture and pass a butter knife through it to make the swirls.  It’s really fun to do that!

Bake at 300F for 60-80 minutes, or until set.  Refrigerate covered in plastic wrap until cold before serving.  Serve with the remainder of the coulis drizzled on top.

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What in the world is Canadian food?  Well, it’s something I’ve been giving a lot of thought to lately, because a friend of ours from Denmark asked us to make him some Canadian food.  That was more of a challenge than I thought it would be!

My family’s roots in Canada are not long; I am first-generation Canadian on my mother’s side, and second on my father.  This means we do not have long-standing “Canadian Recipes” that have been passed down generation to generation.  Catherine, on the other hand, may be able to speak to that.

What exactly is Canadian food?  In a course this past week (human nutritional ecology), we asked the question of what are and why do certain foods become culturally defined?  Sometimes, such as the famous British Christmas Pudding attests to, it is a cultural recipe by the making: in this case the government decided it was time to bring the nation together with a dessert.

In Canada, however, the situation is very different.  We are, by nature, a diverse bunch of people who have been living on this land of ours for very different amounts of time.  There is lobster on the East Coast, smoked fish in the great lakes and the West Coast, Ukranian/Polish food in the prairies, Inuit food in the North, poutine and other dishes in Québec… so I struggled to decide what to make.

In the end I decided that I would have a theme running throughout: maple syrup, because this food has been a part of this land for much longer than it even was known as Canada.  There were sweet potato fries dipped in maple syrup, maple-walnut ice cream, and butter tarts with maple syrup and pecans. Today, I am sharing the butter tart recipe.  I adapted the recipe from Canadian Living’s Best Butter Tart recipe from a magazine clipping I had from a few years ago.  I hope you enjoy them!  They are absolutely delicious, with a wonderfully flaky crust and oozing with maple deliciousness.

Ingredients – 12 tarts

Pastry

-1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 Tbsp granulated sugar
– 1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
-1 egg yolk
-1 tsp vinegar
-1/3 cup ice water, plus more if necessary

Filling

-1/2 cup brown sugar
-2/3 cups maple syrup
-1 egg
-2 Tbsp butter, softened
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 pinch salt
-1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions

To make the crust, mix the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl.  Cube the cold butter and keep in fridge to make sure it is as cold as possible.  Cut it quickly into the flour mixture, until pea-sized butter lumps and a few bigger ones remain. Then mix the egg yolk with vinegar and 1/3 cup water.  Quickly mix this into the flour mix with your hands, and form it into a ball as fast as possible without kneading.  Form it into a disk and let it rest at least 1 hour in the fridge in plastic wrap.

To make the filling, heat the maple syrup over medium-high heat, and let it boil down until it is about 1/2 cup in volume, close to 5 minutes of bubbling. Watch it carefully as it easily bubbles over.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, cooled syrup, butter, vanilla, and salt.

Roll out the pastry between two sheets of wax paper or onto a well floured surface.  Cut into 12 squares.  Butter a muffin tin, and place the squares in each muffin container.  Drop some pecans into each, cover with syrup, and drop a few more pecans on top.

Bake in a preheated oven at 400F for between 12-17 minutes, until the tips of the pastry are golden and the middle is bubbly.  Remove from the oven once they are cooked, and let cool at least 30 minutes before removing them from the muffin tin (syrup will end up everywhere if you are impatient… I can attest to this!).  Enjoy with afternoon tea or for dessert.  These are an absolute treat, and judging by their name, I was expecting far more than 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp butter.  But then again, my background is French…

-Sitelle

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Although there are many different ways of making steak, this is one of my favourites.  Since I rarely eat steak, I enjoy this even more.

After so many sweet posts yesterday in celebration of pi, I thought it would be nice to indulge in a savoury meal.  This one is a classic that is simple, elegant, and delicious.  Shopping for this meal was as much fun as it was delicious.  I love going into Kensington market, and visiting my usual butcher, cheese shop, bakery, fish monger, and produce shop.  When I first moved to Toronto, I found it difficult to know where to go in Kensington as there are multiples of everything.  It took me time to learn by repeated observation which places had high stock turn-over, the freshest crispest vegetables, and the cleanest practices.  Now that I may be leaving Toronto in the near future, I have finally established my favourites.  Too bad it took so long!

And for my vegetarian friends, I will soon post cauliflower steaks, but in the meantime I will let Catherine have the majority of the vegetarian posts.

Ingredients – for 2 dinners

-2 Tbsp butter
-1 Tbsp cracked pepper
– 2 beef tenderloin (or other) steaks
-3 Tbsp crême fraiche
-1 pinch salt per steak
-1 quantity warmest wintery mashed potatoes (https://gourmeh.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/warmest-wintery-mashed-potatoes/)

Directions

In a heavy-bottomed frying pan, heat the butter over medium heat.  Place the pepper on a cutting board or plate, and press both sides of each steak into it.  Once the butter is bubbly, sear one side of the steak and leave it in place for about 3-4 minutes (or more if the steak is really thick).  Using a spatula, carefully lift it up and turn it over, searing the other side for an additional 3-4 minutes.  These steaks were really thick, so it took closer to 6 minutes a side for a rare-medium-rare outcome.  Once the steaks are done to your liking, simply remove the steaks from the pan, and add the creme fraiche and salt to the pan and bring to a quick simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate cooking juices.  Pour a little of this sauce over the steaks and the mashed potatoes.  This is great with any green vegetable, and can be garnished with parsley.  Enjoy!

-Sitelle

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