Monday, April 30, 2012

Asian Flank Steak & Boursin-Bacon Twice Baked Potatoes

If this were my last day on Earth I'd be looking for a juicy, rare steak and a loaded baked potato. There is nothing better. Might also be looking for loved ones and some guns amid the chaos, but let's focus on the food here. Having noticed my lack of enthusiasm with respect to eating leftovers has brought my comfort meals back into play. Steak and taters are at the top of the charts. This particular steak is a slightly different take on the classic, but the marinade is one my Dad has used for ages. The combination is a no-brainer and one I've used in other recipes. Flank is no prime cut of beef either, but you wouldn't know it once it all comes together.

As for the potato, this is my first experience making a stuffed potato, let alone one with Boursin and horseradish. Two words: Easy & divine. I am truly looking forward to making this again!

Asian Flank Steak

Serves 6

  • 3-4 lbs flank steak

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 3 T honey
  • 1 t grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 3 T oil
  • 2 T sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup green onions


In a bowl, combine the marinade ingredients, mixing well. Pour into a large, sealable plastic bag and add the steak. Close the bag and toss back and forth, ensuring the marinade coats the steak. Throw in the fridge for several hours or preferably overnight. Dad lets this sit overnight, but I ran out of time and let it marinate for 5 hours. I managed to get good results in the shorter period of time. 

When ready to grill, place the steak minus the marinade on a tray and season with rock salt and freshly ground pepper. Set the barbecue on high and oil the grill while it heats. Grill for 3-4 minutes per side. Remove and cover with tin foil. Let sit for ten minutes. While the steak is sitting, place the marinade in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, allowing to simmer for two minutes. Slice the steak thinly against the grain and serve with the marinade drizzled over top.  

Twice Baked Potatoes


Serves 4

  • 4 large russet potatoes
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 4 T horseradish
  • 1 block Boursin cheese
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/2 t salt

Bake the potatoes at about 400F. While they are baking, fry up the bacon in a large skillet with the half cup of water. As the water evaporates, the bacon will crisp evenly. This takes about 15 minutes. Once cooked, chop the bacon into bite-size pieces. 

As soon as the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice off the tops of the potatoes and scoop out the contents into a bowl, reserving the skins.  Add the bacon, Boursin, green onions, horseradish, salt and pepper. Mash until smooth. Fill the skins with the potato mix and return to oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the tops become brown. 

Grilled Asparagus

Serves 4

  • 1 T Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 Bunch Asparagus


Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a bunch of asparagus by rinsing well and snapping the ends off each spear. Toss the spears with olive oil, rock salt and pepper. Throw on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until the spears are green and the skin looks slightly wrinkled.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Key Lime Pie

This particular key lime pie is more about mixing and less about baking. Although I've never made any dessert with lime, I enjoy everything lemon and thought this would be of a similar vein. It is. It also is easy and a terrific excuse to break out the whipping cream. Go on now, buy yourself some limes, butter, eggs and graham crackers and wow your buddies today. Don't forget the whipping cream. You'll need dollops of it to accompany the pie.

From: Canadian House & Home. May, 2012. p 158 

  • 1 cup graham crackers, crushed (or graham crumbs)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 120 ml key lime juice, or regular lime juice
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 can sweetened, condensed milk
  • whipped cream for serving


Preheat oven to 375 F. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Press firmly into pie plate. Combine sweetened, condensed mil and egg yolks, whisking together. Whisk in lime juice until smooth. Pour mixture into pie crust and back until set, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool, then refrigerate for at lest 3 hours. Garnish with freshly whipped cream and serve.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Cinnamon Apple Quinoa Parfait

To stay or....

One of very few breakfast recipes I've made in the last year, but if you're on the go a lot, this breakfast is worth a try. It's easy to carry with you and keeps for a week. I just ate the last of them yesterday and it tasted as good as the first.

I pulled this recipe from because of its use of quinoa; the super grain. Packed with amino acids, fiber, protein and magnesium, this little gem will help you stay in the game. Magnesium-rich foods help your muscles relax and I've been honing in on this mineral to help my muscles do just that. Kids will love the layered simplicity of this dish, and if plain yoghurt doesn't cut it for you, throw in a flavoured yoghurt of your choice. This isn't just food, this is high-octane fuel.

To go!

Adapted From:


Oat Crumble
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 T sunflower oil
  • 2 t granulated sugar
  • 1 t ground cinnamon

Apple Compote
  • 4 apples, cored and chopped
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • Handful of nuts (walnut pieces & almonds went in mine)
  • 1 T water or more for cooking

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups greek yoghurt (I used plain 2% greek yoghurt, but feel free to get a richer or leaner yoghurt if you prefer)

Cook the quinoa according to package instructions adding the cinnamon to the quinoa after it has cooked. 

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine all the ingredients for the apple compote, mixing well. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Partially cover the mixture until apples are soft and any liquid in the pan becomes syrupy, approximately 10 minutes. Add more water if necessary. When cooked, remove from heat and let cool completely.

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine all ingredients for the oat crumble and distributed on a baking sheet. Bake in oven for approximately 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

To assemble, place a 1/4 cup of the yoghurt, 1/4 cup of the quinoa and a 1/4 cup of the apple compote in layers in a bowl or jar. Repeat the layers and top with the oat crumble. Serve! 

Pan Seared Halibut with Lentil and Sun-dried Tomato Ragu

More recipes!! I was on a cooking mission at the end of March, but with all this cooking, I ran out of time to post my experiments. I enjoyed this dish and made a few changes to it from the get go. For starters, I bought halibut steaks as opposed to filets. Why? Price. Halibut filets were and arm and a leg at our local seafood store, so the steaks appeared to be a good compromise. I also modified the recipe slightly by using rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes in lieu of semi-dried ones. 

Next time (and there will be one), I'd halve the amount of onion in this dish. It ended up being a bit onion-heavy. The directions below have already been modified to suit this preference.

Adapted From:

Serves 4


For the Ragu:
  • 2 cups cooked french lentils
  • 2 T dijon mustard
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated in hot water
  • 2 sprigs of thyme leaves, chopped
  • zest and juice of two lemons
  • 3 T olive oil
  • bunch of flat leaf parsley, loosely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the Halibut:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 halibut steaks (approximately 5 oz each...although I opted to purchase one mother of a steak instead)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 T pesto


In a saucepan on low heat, mix the lentils, mustard, onion, tomatoes, thyme, lemon zest and juice. Add the olive oil, salt and pepper and let heat for 5-6 minutes to blend in the flavours. Once the ragu is warmed through, remove it from the heat and add the chopped parsley.

For the fish, heat olive oil in a skillet on medium heat and place the steaks into the skillet. Season the surface of the fish with salt and pepper, and when the pan-side is a golden brown, flip over the fish and pour the lemon juice on to the cooked surface. Turn the heat down to low and let cook through (should take anywhere from 3-6 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fish).

Spoon the lentils on a dish and and place the halibut steak on top. Serve immediately.

Baba Ghanoush

Our new cat is helping me draft this post. He's finally curled up beside me after his four post-poop laps of the apartment and has his paw on the space bar in the event I need assistance. 

As part of this cookathon I mentioned in an earlier post, I went looking for dips to include as a snack in my meal. I'm into week five of a triathlon training program and am coming to terms with the fact that peanut butter M&M's are not the afternoon boost my coach was referring to. Too bad, because I've just heard that the U.S. has limited edition coconut M&M's on hand. Sweet lord, that sounds worth a try.  This week I thought I'd replace afternoon chocolate with afternoon baba ghanoush. While very tasty, it is definitely not chocolate. Mind you, I had a few end-of-day workouts this week that wouldn't have been possible without a substance snack and this is that kind of snack. Serve it with pita bread, veggies or crackers and enjoy. Remember that the garlic in this recipe gets more intense over time, so you may opt not to bring it to the office closer to the end of the week. I have no shame, so I just kept bringing it to work. 

In other news, the recipe this is based on calls for no salt. In an effort to reduce salt intake, the authors have indicated that the acid from the lemon juice helps enhance the flavour in this dish sufficiently to warrant no additional salt. While likely true, I added Sriracha sauce and salt, because..well.. I felt it needed a bit more punch. You may want to try the recipe from Three Many Cooks first and then add the salt and sauce if you prefer a little more punch too.

Adapted From:

Serves 8

  • 2 medium eggplants, poked with a fork
  • 1/2 cup packed parsley leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 T lemon juice
  • 1 T smoked paprika, plus extra for sprinkling on top of the dish
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of tahini
  • 1 T Sriracha sauce
  • 1 t salt


Adjust your oven rack to a middle position and heat oven to 400F. Place the eggplants on a baking sheet and in the oven for approximately 40 minutes, or until they look wrinkly and sad. Once they've cooled enough to handle, remove the skin from the eggplants.

Mince parsley and garlic in a food processer. Add the eggplants and remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and top with a little smoked paprika and drizzled olive oil. Serve with chopped vegetables, crackers and/or pita wedges. 

Hunan Tofu..or Hunan Chicken, Beef or Seafood if you prefer.

Lessons learned from this recipe:

  • You can over-fry tofu. In an attempt to get the golden-brown color pictured on the recipe's original website, I let the tofu sit in oil too long. Take a look at the picture of the tofu to your right for what not to do. If you follow the time guidelines, you shouldn't have this problem and  your tofu should look a bit more like this:

  • This dish can easily evolve into a very salty dish. This is likely the only meal I've cooked where I would use reduced salt soya sauce.
  • Whether there is a typo in the recipe I followed or not, I thought it called for too much pepper for my liking. I've adjusted the recipe to suit my tastes. On the other hand, I was using pre-ground and relatively fine pepper for the first time in ages, which I wouldn't do again. 

If tofu isn't your thing, substitute it with chicken, fish, seafood (shrimp would rock this dish) or beef and saute the meat in a bit of oil as opposed to frying it. 

Despite a few errors in the making, I loved this dish. I took the entire thing to work and ate it all week. It's one of the few I've made that has a sauce that's restaurant quality. I ate this with long grain brown rice, but any kind of noodle or other rice would be lovely too. I will be making this again, factoring in all of the points above. 

Adapted from:

Serves 4

  • 1/4 cup country ham, julienned
  • 1 T Chinese cooking wine or sherry
  • 20 oz of firm tofu plus oil for frying
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 3 green onions, julienned
  • 2 red chilis seeded and sliced thin
  • 1 T garlic, minced
  • 3 T chinese black bean sauce
  • 1 tsp of ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1t dark soya sauce
  • 1/2 t sesame oil
  • 1 t cornstarch
  • 1 T water


Mix the ham and wine/sherry in a bowl and set aside to soak. Cut the tofu into half-inch thick slices. Pat the tofu dry.  Cover the interior surface of a large frying pan with a good dose of oil and heat on high. Once hot, add the tofu to the oil a few pieces at a time, frying for 2 minutes on each side. Remove and set on paper towel, adding more to the pan as space becomes available. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a saucepan or wok on high. Once heated, saute the onions, chili and garlic for about a minute. Add the black bean sauce, pepper and the ham. Stir in the chicken broth, soya sauce  and sesame oil. Mix the cornstarch and water together in a bowl. When the liquid begins to boil, add the cornstarch mixture, reducing the heat to let the contents simmer until it thickens. Add the tofu, coating it with the sauce and let simmer for another 2 minutes. Serve with long grain rice or noodles.