Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Beet Salad

Adapted from http://nettleandquince.com

Serves 8

  • 6 whole raw beets
  • 1/2 bunch of flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 T olive oil
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1/2 t ground black pepper
  • Chives
Peel and grate the beets with the fine setting of a hand-held grater or food processor. Wash and finely chop the parsley.
Mix the beets with a generous douse of olive oil, freshly pressed lemon juice, salt, and pepper, checking the seasoning as you go and adjusting to taste. Mix in the parsley.
Roughly cut the chives into 1/2 inch pieces and toss into the salad.

Japchae (Korean Noodles with Stuff in them)

Adapted from: http://www.youfedababychili.com

Serves 6

  • 6 dried or fresh shittake mushrooms
  • 6 dried or fresh oyster mushrooms
  • 8 oz dry rice vermicelli noodles
  • 8 oz lean, choice beef, cut into strips about 2 inches long 
  • 3 T vegetable oil
  • water
  • sugar 
  • 1/2 T sesame oil
  • 1/2 T soy sauce
  • black pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • kosher salt
  • 1 julienned carrot
  • 8 oz frozen leaf spinach*, thawed and drained (or a comparable amount of sigumchi namul as described below)
  • 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 chopped scallion
  • 1 T toasted sesame seeds
  • The seasoning:
  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 T rice wine or dry vermouth
  • 1 T sherry vinegar
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1 T ground, toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 chopped scallion
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp chopped garlic

If using dried mushrooms, rinse briefly and soak them in warm water for about 30 minutes or until soft. Cook noodles as per package instructions.
While the mushrooms and noodles are rehydrating, mix ingredients for the seasoning. Add 4 T of seasoning to the sliced beef and knead to mix flavors. Stir-fry quickly over medium-high heat in a heated, nonstick pan. Remove meat from the pan as soon as it turns brown, transfer to a very large bowl, and set aside. As long as the liquids do not burn, there is generally no need to clean the pan between uses.
Once the noodles have lost their stiffness (about 30 minutes), drain and cut them into 5-inch long pieces. Stir-fry in 5 T of seasoning, 1 T grapeseed oil, and 1/4 C of water until the noodles are slightly underdone. Do not discard the remainder of the seasoning, as you will need it to finish the dish. Add cooked noodles to the large bowl, next to the cooked beef.
Squeeze excess water from the rehydrated mushrooms using paper (or cotton) towels. Remove stems from the shittake mushrooms and slice thinly. I love the shape and texture of wood ear mushrooms (also found in Asian markets as “black mushrooms,” or simply, “black fungus”), so I cut them rather coarsely into pieces roughly the size of a quarter.
Mix 1/2 T each of soy sauce and sesame oil with a dash of pepper, use it to coat the mushrooms, and stir-fry over medium heat until the shittakes are soft and golden brown. Remove and transfer to the large bowl.
Stir-fry sliced onion over medium heat in 1 T grapeseed oil with 1/2 tsp kosher salt until soft. Do not allow them to become overly brown. Remove and transfer to the large bowl.
Stir-fry carrot strips over medium heat in 1 T grapeseed oil with 1/2 tsp kosher salt until
al dente, adding a spoonful of water when necessary to prevent the carrot from drying out. Remove and transfer to the large bowl.
If using sigumchi namul, add directly to the large bowl. If using thawed or freshly blanched (and shocked) spinach, cut into 2-inch lengths. Sauté for a few minutes in about 1 T grapeseed oil with 1/2 tsp chopped garlic, a dash of black pepper, 1 tsp kosher salt, and a sprinkle of sugar. Remove, and add 1 chopped scallion and 1 T sesame seeds. Transfer to the large bowl.
Mix all vegetables with noodles and beef in the bowl with about 1 T of the seasoning. Adjust seasoning, if necessary.
Serve warmed or (more commonly) at room temperature.
SIGUMCHI NAMUL (Seasoned spinach)

  • 2 lbs spinach leaves, trimmed and cleaned
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 T distilled white vinegar
  • 1 thinly sliced scallion
  • 1 t red pepper flakes
  • 1 T toasted sesame seeds
In a large stockpot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and blanch spinach leaves until bright green, no longer than 10 seconds. Immediately shock the leaves in icewater, and drain. Squeeze out excess water, and blot with paper towels. It’s not necessary to get it completely dry, just not dripping wet. Mix soy sauce, salt, sugar and vinegar in a large bowl and toss with wilted spinach leaves (your hands are the best tools here). Add scallion, kochukaru and sesame seeds and toss once more. Optionally, you can chop the resulting mass of spinach into roughly bite sized chunks.
Notes. 2 lbs of raw spinach looks like a large amount. Don’t worry. It will compact to the size of a softball with this recipe. You will, however, need a very large bowl for cleaning and shocking. To get the best color, it’s important not to overcook the leaves. Do this in batches, if necessary.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Artisan Bread

Woke up this morning to find only the heel of Wednesday's loaf left over. This would not do.

Before I dive into a bread-making frenzy, I need coffee. The coffee tin however, is empty. Luckily we have an emergency stash, carefully guarded by our fake cat. Notice his paw, hiding bricks of espresso. Tricky kitty.

Now caffeinated, I can get to the good stuff. Our fridge always has a container filled with dough in it. This container has enough dough for two loaves of bread. When empty, it is replenished with more dough and thrown back in the fridge for future loaves. The bread costs cents, has a few basic ingredients, all recognizable and tastes fantastic. We use white flour and modify the recipe in order to make pizza dough. The pizza dough and bread are always big hits. It's time to share our secret and let people know just how dummy-proof this recipe is.  

From: Hertzberg, J. and Francois, Z. Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking New York: Thomas Dunne Publishing. 2007 p 26. 


  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 T granulated yeast (2 packets)
  • 1 1/2 T kosher or other coarse salt
  • 6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white or whole wheat flour
  • Seeds  (we use about 1/2 cups of flax seeds) *optional

Warm the water slightly: It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature, about 100 degrees F. Warm water will rise the dough to the right temperature in about two hours. You can use cold tap water and get the identical result, but the first rising will take 3-4 hours.

Add yeast and salt to the water in a 5-quart bowl, or preferably, in a resealable, lidded (not airtight), plastic food container or food-grade bucket. Dont worry about getting it all to dissolve.

Mix in the flour-kneading is unnecessary: Add all of the flour at once, measuring it in with dry-ingredient  measuring cups, by gently scooping up flour, then sweeping the top level with a knife or spatula, don't press down into the flour as you scoop or you'll throw off the measurement by compressing. Mix with a wooden spoon, a high-capacity food processor fitted with the dough attachment, or a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the dough hook until the mixture is uniform. If you're hand-mixing and it becomes too difficult to incorporate all the flour with the spoon, you can reach into your mixing vessel with very wet hands and press the mixture together. Don't knead! It isn't necessary. You're finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches. This step is done in a matter of minutes, and will yield a dough that is wet and loose enough to confirm to the shape of its container.

Allow to rise: Cover with a lid (not airtight) that fits well to the container you're using. Do not use screw-topped bottles or Mason jars, which could explode from the trapped gases. Lidded plastic buckets designed for dough storage are readily available. Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse, approximately 2 hours, depending on the room's temperature. Longer rising times, up to about 5 hours, will not harm the result. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period. Fully refrigerated dough is less sticky and easier to work with than dough at room temperature. So, the first time you try our method, it's best to refrigerate the dough overnight, before shaping a loaf.

I remove half of the dough and mould it into a log. I slice several cuts into the surface of the dough and let sit for 20 minutes. Then I turn on the oven to 450 degrees and let the loaf continue to sit while the oven heats up. Once heated, I put a tray in one of the bottom racks of the oven and fill with 1-2 cups of water. The loaf gets put on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper and slides into one of the shelves above the water-filled tray. Let the bread bake for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Filet Mignon fou de fafa

I dig beef. Having lived in Alberta for 30+ years is likely a contributing factor. It's given me no grief, and we produce some of the best cow around. What's not to like? I do enjoy experimenting with other meats, fish and meatless dishes. We have access to so many foods we didn't 20 years ago, it's impossible not to be tempted to try other dishes. Nonetheless, when I go out to eat, I have to resist the temptation to order the steak dish on the menu, in order to try something different.

I think the other bonus about red meat is that it goes famously with red wine. Wouldn't you know, I happen to love red wine also? I am chugging some back as we speak. Only a little...in a bucket.

Typically I barbecue my beef, but our barbecue is covered in 3 feet of snow. These filets have been pan seared as a result. 

Adapted from Reader's Digest February 2010 edition pg 120.

Serves 2

  • 2, 6 oz filet steaks
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/2 t ground pepper
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 shallot, peeled and diced
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 lb mixed mushrooms cleaned and sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry, red wine
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Pat steaks dry and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper, then rub with half of the olive oil.
Heat a skillet and brush with remaining olive oil.  Add steaks and cook to medium rare- 5-6 minutes each side. Remove steaks from pan and return pan to heat.
There should be a little oil left in the pan. If not, add about a tsp to it. Add shallots and cook for about a minute. Add the vinegar and mix well, stirring rapidly until vinegar evaporates and shallots begin to brown. Add mushrooms and let cook for 2 minutes. Add wine, cooking on medium-high heat, stirring, until about half of the wine has evaporated.  Add oyster sauce and cook the mixture for a few minutes, until mushrooms are glazed and there are a few tablespoons of sauce on the pan. To serve, top the steaks with fresh parsley.

What's in the fridge will go in this salsa

I'm making steaks and baked potatoes for dinner tonight and needed something to give the combo a little kick. Uschi, my partner-in-crime's mother asked me to make this as an addition to a chicken dinner one night and I never forgot it. It's easy and makes store bought salsas look fruitless (har, har, har). Today's ingredients are what I have available, but if you have cilantro you'll really make this salsa worth the effort. Corn, green peppers and other random veggies are good additions too!

Serves 6


  • 2 large tomatoes 
  • 1 jalapeno pepper (remove the seeds if you prefer a milder salsa)
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 t olive oil
  • juice of one lime
  • salt & pepper to taste

Dice all vegetables and combine in a bowl. Add the olive oil, lime juice and salt & pepper and stir. Eat!

Liv's Badass Miso Soup

Again, this recipe isn't my baby per se, but I've added and removed items with each attempt, so it's quickly become mine. I was looking for ways to use up my leftover miso paste, having bought a pound of it for another recipe. Miso is incredibly salty, as is fish sauce, so you may want to start with less and add in more if required. If you're not a fish sauce believer, use soya sauce, wine or anything to add a little kick and moisture to the vegetables.

Serves 8

Adapted from.....

  • 8 cups of water
  • 3 T miso paste (add more to taste if required)
  • 1 T honey
  • 5 cups chopped spinach
  • 1 lb cooked and peeled shrimp
  • 1 cup of sliced water chestnuts
  • 1 dried chili, diced
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 package of udon noodles
  • 1 T oil
  • 1 T chopped garlic
  • yo mama...just kidding
  • 3 cups of chopped mushrooms (shitake mushrooms makes this worth eating over and over again)

Mix the miso paste and honey in with the water until dissolved completely. Bring to a boil.
Add the noodles to boiling water and let sit under a low boil for about 7 minutes.
Saute the spinach and mushrooms, with the garlic, fish sauce and chili.
Add the cooked vegetables and all other ingredients to the noodle pot. 
Let simmer for about 10 minutes.
You can serve this with a lime wedge and cilantro, but I couldn't be bothered.

Cakes, fabulous cakes!

I'm only now perusing through my Vegas photos, having returned a month ago to check out venues for our wedding. Surprisingly, I found very few pictures of the venues we saw, but look what was buried in between some suite shots: sweet shots! The name of this shop escapes me-must be something like Jean-Phillipe Saucisson Moutarde or something. It was definitely a long, French name. Anyways, the decorative cakes done up with fondant are winners.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Killer Coleslaw

This is my contribution to a potluck tomorrow. A long-time favorite of my family's and so easy to put together. This baddie tends to be a hit with picky eaters too and since this party is for co-workers who don't do vegetables, I'm hoping it's a success.

Adapted from: The Best of the Best: Best of Bridge

Serves 8-10 


  • Savoy cabbage finely chopped
  • Red pepper finely chopped
  • 6 green onions sliced
  • 1 package of asian freeze-dried noodles (chicken flavour)
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds 


  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • Package of seasoning from the noodles

Combine the first three ingredients for the coleslaw. Crush the package of noodles and throw into a fry pan. Toast the noodles until golden brown, adding sunflower seeds to heat. Combine with the slaw ingredients. Mix the dressing ingredients well and add to the slaw. Serve immediately.

Sesame seeds or sliced almonds would also serve well with this salad.

Toaster Cheese Sandwich of Awesomeness

Serves 4

Adapted from...my head!! I'm sure I've seen this on a website at some point, but I didn't use one today.

  • Medium yellow onion sliced
  • Two cups sliced mushrooms
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 french baguette
  • 1cup Jarlsberg cheese grated
  • 1 cup Gouda cheese grated
  • Sharp mustard (optional)


Add the oil and vinegar in a heated fry pan
Stir in the onions and let saute for 2-3 minutes
Add the mushrooms, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms have softened
Remove the onions and mushrooms from the pan
Slice the baguette in half and cut each length into sandwich size pieces
Combine the mushrooms, onions and combination of cheeses to approximately 4 slices of the baguette and top with the additional baguette slices
Place in the frying pan to toast each side of the sandwich and melt the cheese

We tried one with a sharp mustard added and it had a nice punch to it. I enjoyed these without any spread so I opted not to add it to the recipe.

Roasted Leg of Lamb with Tzatziki & Pomegranate Tabbouleh

I was going to use any lamb leftovers in a stew, but had so much tzatziki left that I used both in souvlaki pitas.  Good little lunch idea if you're bored of sandwiches.

Serves 8
Adapted from: http://www.joanne-eatswellwithothers.com

Leg of Lamb

  • 6 shallots, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 T coriander
  • 1 1/2 T salt
  • 1 T red chile flakes
  • 1 (6 lb) leg of lamb (bone-in)

In a large bowl, mix together the shallots, garlic, rosemary, sugar, coriander, salt, and red pepper flakes.  Rub onto the surface of the lamb.  Set the lamb in a large glass baking dish and refrigerate over night, covered in plastic wrap.

Preheat the oven to 375.  Remove the lamb from the fridge and rinse it off.  Pat it dry.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Brown the lamb on both sides.

Set the lamb in a roasting pan and roast, fat side up, until it reaches an internal temperature of 140-150 degrees, about 1 1/2 hours.  Transfer to a platter and let sit for 20 minutes before cutting.

Makes about 2 cups

  • 2 cups Greek yogurt
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 T minced shallots

Stir together all the ingredients in a bowl until thoroughly combined.

Pomegranate Tabbouleh Salad
Serves 4, adapted from

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup bulgur
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup mint, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup cucumber, chopped 
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup feta
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 T honey
  • 1 t dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Bring the water to a boil.  Stir in the bulgur.  Cover and turn off heat.  Let sit for 20 minutes.

Toss the bulgur with the parsley, mint, scallions, tomatoes, cucumber, almonds, pomegranate seeds, and feta.

In a separate bowl, stir together the olive oil through mustard.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Toss with the bulgur mixture until it is coated.

Curried Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Maple-Ginger Sweet Potatoes and Apple

Serves 6
For the pork:
  • 1 large pork tenderloin, cut into 6 medallions
  • 2 T curry powder
  • 2 T canola oil
For the apple cider sauce:
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T of cold unsalted butter
  • 1 t chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 t cornstarch mixed with 1/2 teaspoon water
Roasted sweet potatoes and apples:
  • 2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 T unsalted butter, (2 T melted, 1 not)
  • 3 T lemon juice, divided
  • 2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cubed
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 t grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t ground nutmeg
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Roasted sweet potatoes and apples:
  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Toss cubed sweet potatoes with the melted butter, the grated ginger, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and some fresh ground pepper and arrange them in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. 
  • Place sheet in the oven and cook for 15 minutes, give them a quick stir and then continue roasting them for another 15 minutes.
  • Pull the sheet from the oven, drizzle the potatoes with the maple syrup, add the cranberries, and give them another stir.  Place back in the oven and roast for a final 10 minutes.
  • While the potatoes are roasting, heat 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter and the other 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in a small frying pan and throw in the cubed apples and chopped nuts. Cook until the apples have softened some, but still have a little crunch. Place in a bowl to reserve.
  • When the potatoes have finished roasting, add them to the bowl of apples and stir to combine.  Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, with chopped scallions and cilantro sprinkled over the top.
Apple cider sauce:
  • Place the 2 cups of apple cider and the 1/2 tablesoon of apple cider vinegar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and reduce to 1/2 cup.  Lower the heat and add the cornstarch slurry, whisking constantly until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in the tablespoon of butter until it is fully emulsified with the cider. Toss in the thyme leaves, and season to taste with freshly ground pepper.  Cover and reserve in a warm place.
Pork tenderloin:
  • Season the pork medallions with the curry powder and let stand for at about 30 minutes.
  • In a large, heavy skillet, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 8 to 10 minutes total. Depending on the size of your tenderloin and thickness of your medallions, they may be fully cooked at this point, if not, transfer the skillet to the 400℉ oven and continue cooking until the center of the pork registers 150-155 ℉.   Remove the meat from the skillet and tent with foil to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

Shrimp Risotto

Serves 6

Adapted from http://canelamoida.blogspot.com

This blog is usually about as creative as it gets for me. This week however, I will be taking on another project that will test my do-it-yourself boundaries. An upholstered headboard is in the works. I just have to pick up the foam and particle board, and I will be steps closer to the half-assed luxury bedroom I've always wanted. Giddy-up.

So this risotto recipe looked simple enough that I could whip it up on a weeknight. That's exactly what I did and it's turned into somewhat of a hit. Pair it with a fruit-filled spinach salad, and you'll have yourself a lovely meal.

Shrimp Risotto
1 lb medium shrimp
salt to taste
2 T olive oil
2 onions
5 cloves garlic
1 cup risotto
1 cup white wine
4 tomatoes
coriander or parsley to taste

Peel the shrimp and put the shells and heat in a baking pan, covered with salt water for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, saute onion in olive oil and garlic.
Add risotto and saute until translucent. Cool off with the wine, add the tomatoes peeled and seeded and cut into pieces. Season with salt.
Drain the broth to cook the shrimp, smash the heads and shells to get all the juices. Go slowly pouring the broth to cook the risotto until it ready to open.
Quickly saute the shrimp in a skillet with a little olive oil. Add them to rice, stir and sprinkle with chopped coriander or parsley to taste.