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Asian Steak Tacos

20 Jan

So, two posts in one week? knock me over with a feather….Never thought I’d see the day! I am really trying to step away from my iPhone more (another of my new years resolutions), which has caused me to haul out my big camera more often. It’s doing wonders for blogging, because I find it’s the photos that hold me back more than anything.

On a side note, while stepping away from my iPhone and taking real pictures has been happening, stepping away from my iPhone in general has not. I am painful with the stupid thing, reading blogs, reading the newspaper (honestly, like 15 times a day. Ya know, in case anything major happens i’ts super important that little old stay-at-home-mom knows as SOON AS IT HAPPENS!), watching other people’s interesting lives on instagram, and obsessively checking the weather. I really need to be stopped. I only mention this because I didn’t want to give off the wrong impression that I am succeeding with this stay away from my phone thing, really I am only winning on the camera front and failing miserably on all others.

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So, back to what I actually came here for, Asian Steak Tacos. These are a flavour explosion and are so so so easy. They are great for a casual stand-around-your-kitchen-island kind of dinner with friends . We use them a lot for entertaining,  but also a casual weeknight meal when it’s just Mark and I.

Asian Steak Tacos (recipe by Gordon Ramsey)

serves 4

Ingredients:

2 sirloin steaks

10 to 12 flour or corn tortillas

Steak Marinade:

2 tbsp white miso paste

2 tbsp mirin

1 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp olive oil

Wasabi Mayo:

3 tbsp mayo

1 tsp wasabi paste

Cabbage Salad:

1/2 head of Napa/Chinese Cabbage, finely sliced like a coleslaw

1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp dried chili flakes

Directions:

Assemble the steak marinade in a shallow dish that will fit both steaks. DO NOT PUT THE STEAKS IN THE MARINADE (see below ** for more details).

Heat an indoor grill pan (or any old pan) to medium heat (you can also cook your steak on the BBQ if you’d like. Since it’s polar-vortex-freezing outside I am currently rocking the indoor grill pan). Rub your steaks with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on the grill and cook for a few minutes each side until medium rare. Mark usually covers the pan with a lid so that it acts more like a BBQ and traps the heat to speed things up. Since you will be slicing these, you can also cut a cheater cut in the middle to check their doneness (not a real word) while cooking.

Once cooked to medium rare (or whatever your heart desires), remove from pan and place into the marinade, making sure to spoon marinade over the top of the steak as well. Let rest while you assemble the cabbage and the mayo (but really you can leave these to rest a couple of days in the fridge if you wanted – just serve room temperature when you eventually serve it). If using right away just let them marinade on the counter.

In a bowl combine the cabbage, rice wine vinegar, toasted sesame oil and chili flakes. Toss.

In a small bowl combine the mayo and wasabi paste.

Toast (or just heat up) your tortillas. I toast mine over the open flame of my gas cook top. A few minutes per side on an element with the flame at medium-high does the trick. I just use tongs to turn them over. This gives them a nice charred flavour. I suspect you could also do this on the BBQ. If you don’t have a gas cook top, you can warm your tortillas by wrapping them in a damp towel and microwaving for 30 to 45 seconds, or by heating your oven to 250 degrees, wrapping them in a damp towel placed in an oven-proof dish with a tight fitting lid, and baking for 20 minutes.

Once the tortillas are heated transfer them to a tortilla warmer (ya right I own one of those!) or a covered plate to keep them nice and warm.

Remove the layer of fat along the side of each steak and thinly slice the steaks onto a platter.

To serve, let each person make their own taco by layering wasabi mayo, steak and cabbage salad.

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**The part of this recipe that I found hard to get used to at first is the cook first, marinade second. Weird right? It works. The flavour is great, and this marinade doesn’t really stand up to cooking, so its flavour would be completely lost if done the other way around. Trust the process people!

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Also, for the moms out there. My little guy isn’t quite there yet with lettuce, cabbage etc. I don’t know if it’s not enough teeth, or what, but he struggles. So I adapt this meal for him and he just gets the marinated sliced steak with some roasted sweet potatoes and veggies.  It’s a bit more work, but it means I am not cooking him a whole separate meal, just adding some sides.

Enjoy!

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Black Bean Burgers with Chipotle Mayo

16 Jan

After a very long break, I have added blogging to my new years resolutions. Hopefully it’s the swift kick-in-the-ass that I need to get back to sharing recipes! I am not typically one of those successful stick-to-your-resolutions types. Maybe 2014 is my year to change?? ugh, lets hope so.

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So, black bean burgers. Something I have been trying to do lately with my meal planning is be more budget friendly. I am at home full time with my son right now, with another one on the way, so smart budgeting is pretty top of my list these days. Being at home not only slashes my food budget, but also gives me a bit more time to put into smart meal planning and grocery shopping to help drive the grocery bill down. So hopefully a new theme around here is cheaper meals that are still interesting and are far from yet another plate of spaghetti  day in and day out. A way I can help bring the weekly food cost down is a more vegetarian friendly menu. So, full circle, black bean burgers!

Black Bean Burgers (adapted from skinnytaste.com)

serves 6

Ingredients:

1 red pepper, seeded and roughly chopped

1 bunch of green onions, chopped

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

2 eggs

1 1/2 tbsp cumin

1 to 2 tsp of your favourite hot sauce (optional)

1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats

2 19oz tins of black beans (if you tins are smaller reduce the amount of oats), rinsed

4 whole wheat pitas

1 avocado, sliced, for serving

Chipotle Mayo:

1 cup mayo

4 chipotles in adobo sauce (you can find these canned in the Mexican section of your food store)

Directions:

Place the red pepper, green onion, garlic, cilantro, egg, cumin ,hot sauce and oats in a food processor. Pulse until very finely chopped. Place the black beans in the food processor and pulse until they are incorporated. You should have some mixed in and some partially chopped. You do not want a completely smooth paste, it will be too wet. That being said, if your mixture ends up too wet, add in more oats a tbsp at a time until the consistency is something you can easily form into patties with your hands.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes to help the mixture firm up and to allow the flavours to combine.

Rinse your food processor clean and place the mayo and chipotles in adobo in and pulse until smooth.

Heat a frying pan to medium high heat, put a glug of olive oil in the pan and form 6 patties with the burger mixture, place the patties in the pan and cook approximately 5 minutes per side, until a nice golden brown crust forms.

Serve in a pita, topped with chipotle mayo and avocado.

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Don’t let me hold you back with my avocado suggestion though, feel free to go nuts with your toppings, tomato would be delicious as well, or really anything!

My one year old will eat these (minus the spicy mayo) and my husband also loves them (for a meatless burger that is saying something).

Remember my spaghetti comment above? Ya, well eat my words already, I have something spaghetti coming at you very soon I hope….

Beef Bourguignon

11 Mar

In my previous post I declared I was back with healthy and delicious food. Lets slide this one in under delicious. I think my liberal use of bacon and butter disqualifies it from the former category.

So Julia Childs. She’s cool, I dig her, I kinda want to be like her, except I don’t have the patience. So I lovingly use her cookbook (emphasis on the word lovingly, look at how dog-eared this thing is….)

However, I have to change everything because sadly I am not living in Paris, being supported by my husband, trying to find things to fill my days while eating butter by the  spoonful. sigh. Maybe in my next life? The english translation of that rant is I change her recipes to skip a number of steps so that I am not in my kitchen for hours on end. I prefer practical to lazy thanks!

Beef Bourguignon (serves 6)

Ingredients:

6 slices of bacon, diced

3 lbs stewing beef, cubed into 1 inch cubes

1 onion, diced

1 large carrot, halved and sliced

2 tbsp all-purpose flour (mixed with some salt and pepper)

3 cups red wine

2 to 3 cups beef stock (or just enough so that the beef is just covered – we’ll get to this stage below)

1 bay leaf

1 tbsp tomato paste

1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme

2 garlic cloves (crushed with the palm of your hand)

1 lb of whole crimini mushrooms, quartered

1 bag of red pearl onions (this is about 18 to 24 onions), peeled (I put them in boiling water for 10 to 15 seconds and then run them under cold water before peeling. It makes peeling much easier)

Turn the over onto 450 degrees. In a cast iron pot heated to medium high heat cook the bacon until crisp, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. In the bacon fat brown the meat on all sides in batches, being careful not to crowd the pan. Set aside browned pieces on a tray to collect the juices.

In the same pot throw in the carrot and onion and stir until slightly softened (about 5 minutes). Remove from pot and place in a bowl. Return the beef to the pot, stir in the flour so that it coats the meat, cover and place in the oven for 2 minutes. Remove from oven, stir thoroughly, cover and put back in the oven for another 2 minutes.

Once you’ve removed the pot from the oven turn it down to 325 degrees. Place the bacon and the vegetables back into the pot with the beef and add the wine, bay leaf , thyme, tomato paste and garlic cloves and stock (only add enough stock to slightly cover the beef, if that is a bit more or less than the recipe calls for that’s alright). Bring to a gentle boil, cover and place in the oven. Check after 10 minutes to ensure a gentle simmer. If it is simmering to roughly you will get tough meat, not the fall apart kind. You really don’t want tough meat.

Cook for 3 to 4 hours (check here and there to make sure it is a gentle simmer). How do you know where to pull it out in the 3 to 4 hour range? Well, last time I let it go close to 4 hours in an oven that is not the best for bang on temperature reading and the liquid dried too much, Your liquid should be slightly thickened and concentrated and your beef should be fall apart tender.

Towards the end of the cooking process in a fry pan on medium high heat saute the mushrooms and onions with a very liberal portion of butter. Until softened and browned.

Once the Beef Bourguignon comes out of the oven, stir in the mushrooms and onions, remove the bay leaf and serve garnished with parsley if you’re feeling fancy.

I like to serve this with mashed potatoes or a crusty toasted garlic bread (like ciabatta or a french stick), with a green salad along side.

I do realize how ridiculous it is to post this on a day when it is 15 degrees and sunny out. The good news? If there is a freak storm and you need to cuddle up in front of the fire in the next month, well then you’re set with this meal!

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

23 Nov

I don’t have much to say today. It’s Wednesday, I’m exhausted.

Stuffed peppers are simple. I need simple most nights. My work hours aren’t exactly regular.

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 large peppers, halved and hollowed

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

2 cups cooked rice (I usually make extra when I am having rice as a side dish earlier in the week)

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 tin black beans

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin

1 cup grated cheese

In a large fry pan saute on medium heat the onion and garlic for a few minutes, until soft. Add the rice, tomatoes, black beans and spices and saute for 10 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the peppers in a baking dish.

Fill each pepper with the rice mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and place cheese on top of each pepper. Bake for another 10 minutes.

I’m experimenting with my slow cooker tomorrow. Wish me luck, I most likely need it.

Szechuan Braised Cod

19 Nov

It is taking every ounce of my being these days to not haul out my christmas boxes, turn on the carols and watch National Lampoons Christmas Vacation on repeat. I promised Mark that I would wait until after American thanksgiving. Sometimes I’m such an idiot. My new potterybarn christmas doormat came in the mail last week. Ten bucks says it’s on the front porch by the end of the day. Not sure why I bother making these promises.

Not only is Szechuan braised cod easy and delicious. It also happens to be red, garnished with green. See what’s happening here?

Szechuan Braised Cod (from Fine Cooking)

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lb of black cod, cut into 4 even pieces

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp corn starch

3/4 cup chicken broth

1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp ketchup (remember when i said I hate ketchup. I still do. I love this recipe and it has ketchup. FAIL.)

2 eggs beaten

10 dried whole red chilis (if you don’t have dried, you can use just 10 small red chilis)

4 green onions, sliced (set aside the sliced white parts)

1 1/2 tbsp ginger (grate it like i suggest here)

In a bowl mix the 2 tbsp of cornstarch with the vinegar, chicken broth, soy sauce and ketchup.

In a shallow bowl spread out the 1/2 cup of cornstarch. In another shallow bowl beat the two eggs. Heat a fry pan to medium high heat and put in a couple of tablespoons of oil. Dredge the fish in the cornstarch, then soak the fish in the egg on all sides. Place the fish into the pan and fry on each side until fish is browned. Transfer the fish to another plate.

Add a little bit more oil to the pan if necessary and saute the chilis, white parts of the green onion and the ginger for about a minute. Give the liquid mixture you previous combine a quick stir and pour into the pan, it should come to a boil and start to thicken quickly. When this happens turn the heat down to medium-low, return the fish to the pan, making sure each piece has been coated in the sauce. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for another 5 minutes until the fish flakes.

Serve the fish over jasmine rice (spooning extra sauce over each piece) and sprinkle with the remainder of the sliced green onion.

Vegetarian Enchiladas

15 Nov

I’ve returned from my transformation from Miss. P to Mrs. T. I didn’t forget about all of you, I just needed some time to get my act together in the wedding department so that I wasn’t showing up nude to a dinner of salteens and waters for 185 of my closest friends and family. Then I needed some time to lie on a beach, eat great food that I didn’t have to cook and drink blueberry mojitos. Ya, you heard that right. Blueberry mojitos. I will now spend countless hours trying to recreate these. Just what I need to be doing with my spare time. Fail.

So veggie enchiladas. I had never eaten an enchilada until i made these. (stay with me). I could not stop talking about them after my first bite. To the point where it was probably pretty annoying to be Mark, who was eating next to me, because I droned on all dinner about how good they were and how did I never know about enchiladas? Ya, the translation is I basically spent the entire dinner patting myself on the back for making such a win. I then proceeded to phone him the next day while I was eating them again for lunch and re-enact the entire self-praise thing over the phone. I’m a real gem.

Vegetarian Enchiladas (adapted from Jessica’s recipe at How Sweet Eats)

Serves 4 very hungry people

Ingredients:

1 onion finely diced

1 red pepper finely diced

1 green pepper finely diced

2 portobello mushroom caps, finely diced

1 cup of frozen corn kernels

1 tins of black beans, drained

2 tins of red enchilada sauce (around here we use the hot kind)

1 tin of refried beans

8 large whole wheat tortillas (or if you prefer to live on the edge you can get white flour tortillas)

a handful of shredded cheese (feel free to be very generous with your handful, you may want to do a few)

In a large pan saute the onion, peppers, mushroom and potato until soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the corn, black beans, 1 tin of the enchilada sauce and the refried beans. Stir to combine and heat through.

Preheat your oven to 350.

Grease a large baking dish. Assemble your enchiladas by placing some filling in a tortilla and rolling it, continue with all 8 tortillas and snuggle them all into the pan side by side.

Cover with the remaining tin of enchilada sauce and then sprinkle the handful of grated cheese over top. Bake for 1/2 an hour.

I like to serve with some sour cream (lie. I typically substitute greek yogurt for sour cream – healthy and tasty) and guacamole.

I’m going to be more of a regular on this little blog of mine. I promise.

Chicken Stew with Chive Dumplings

3 Oct

There are times when you stumble across something and it makes you so happy and you feel like it is just meant to be. And then for reasons of the universe (in this case entirely weather related) you’re separate for what seems like an eternity. And then when you finally do reunite it is that much sweeter. I just described my relationship with chicken and dumplings. A late winter discovery. My complete inability to pull out  my dutch oven when it’s 25 degrees out. The result = our separation. But, now we’re…..reunited and it feels so good, reunited cause we understood, there’s one perfect fit…..Peaches & Herb…..anybody? anybody? Bueller? ……Awkward.

So ya, comfort food. I had some dental work done recently and chewing really isn’t my strong suit right now (neither is not complaining about said dental work, but what can ya do?). It was also 6 degrees on Sunday morning. yes, I said 6 degrees. Ridiculous! Not only is this warm, comforting and requires very little chewing, but it also makes your house smell heavenly.

Chicken and Chive Dumplings (from Smitten Kitchen)

Serves 6 to 8 people

Ingredients:

Stew:

5 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (for me, this meant 16 thighs), seasoned generously with salt and pepper

4 tbsp olive oil

4 tbsp butter (yup, butter, real butter, i don’t cook with it often so savour this moment folks)

2 leeks, sliced** (see the notes at the bottom about slicing and rinsing leeks for this recipe)

1 large onion, diced

6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup dry sherry (you can substitute brandy if you don’t have sherry)

4 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup whole milk (it’s important you don’t use skim or low-fat milk here )

1 tsp fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 cup frozen green peas

3 tbsp fresh tarragon leaves, chopped

Dumplings:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup fresh chives, finely chopped

1 cup whole milk

3 tbsp reserved chicken fat (bear with me, you will get this during the cooking process for the stew – so don’t go asking your local food store for reserved chicken fat like a crazy person)

For the stew: Heat a dutch oven on the stove to medium-high heat. Pour in 2 tbsp of olive oil and place half of the chicken thighs in the pot, skin side down. Cook until skin has browned (about 5 to 7 minutes), then flip and brown the other side. Remove to a platter and repeat with the rest fo the chicken. Once you have removed the chicken from the pot remove all the skin and discard.

Drain the chicken fat into a heat-proof bowl (I say heat proof b/c there may have been a plastic tupperware and scalding chicken fat situation at one point – melted plastic does not a tasty dinner make). Return the dutch oven to the stove, still at medium-high heat and put the butter in the pot. Once the butter is melted add the onions and leeks. Saute until soft (about 5 minutes). Stir in the flour. Then whisk in the sherry, being sure to scrape up any brown bits at the bottom of the pot. Add the milk and chicken broth and whisk so there are no lumps. Add the bay leaf and thyme and all the chicken (including any juices that have accumulated on the platter). Make sure all the chicken is nicely nestled in the pot, cover and let simmer for 1 hour.

During this time take a nap or something. Just don’t make the dumpling batter until right before you are about to use it. It doesn’t do it any good to sit around for an hour.

After the hour, remove the chicken to a platter (if you’re using the same one clean it – salmonella does not make you friends). Remove all the meat from the bone and return the meat to the pot, discard the bone. Add the peas and tarragon to the pot.

For the dumplings: Now you can make the dumpling batter. In a bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt and chives. Add the milk to your reserved chicken fat and microwave until it is warm (30 to 45 seconds). Add the milk and chicken fat to the dry ingredients and stir with a spoon until entirely incorporated.

Return the stew to a simmer. Using a spoon, place golf ball size portions of the dumpling batter onto the top of the stew. Leave about a 1/4 of an inch between each dumpling. Place the lid on the dutch over and allow to simmer until the dumplings have doubled in size, about 15 minutes.

This isn’t exactly a weeknight wonder. It’s a tad time-consuming and it’s worth every single second!

Thanks to some good antibiotics and the miracle I like to call Advil, I think I am headed for more solid food, and thankfully, a wedding day that doesn’t involve a chipmunk cheek! Oh happy day!!!!!

***How to slice a leek. Cut off the green end and discard. Slice the leek lengthwise up the middle. Then slice the leek into crescent-shaped circles across the bottom. Now that you’re got the layers separated into small slices you need to rinse the leek. Leeks tend to have sand between their layers. It’s important before you use them to rinse them. Separate the layers and soak them in a bowl of water. This allows all the sand to fall to the bottom. Then drain the water and dry them in a tea towel.

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