Monday, October 16, 2017

Merlot Sauce for Juicy steaks or Roast Beef

So my hubby and I just got back from a month long vacation in Europe.  It was spectacular to say the least!  In fact, in spending time overseas and fulfilling my life long dream, it was apparent that the longing for something I had deep within was easily fulfilled by the cultures, the ways of life and the joie de vivre over there.  One thing I noticed was that people CONVERSE with one another and I never saw anyone text at a table.  Also in Paris, there are no TVs in the bistros or restaurants, so yes, you must talk to the person you came to dinner with!  In addition to regular walking and counting our magnanimous steps that we got accustomed to as tourists, the other thing I couldn't wait to keep in my life and practice at home was the tradition of England's, Sunday Lunch.  So this past weekend we did just that!  We invited a small mix of family and friends together to partake in a simple and casual gathering.  We had the roast (I forgot to season it can you believe it!  I did however marinate it in some wine and will do that next time but for a whole day) and the Yorkshire puddings.  But what I loved the absolute most was the Merlot sauce for the beef instead of the traditional gravy.  Now I love my traditional gravy, but because I roasted veggies with big bad Bob, all the drippings seeped into the potatoes and carrots.  Last week we were in Las Vegas for a wedding and one night I ordered up a steak (well actually 2 nights) and it came with this gorgeous and divine Merlot Sauce.  I think you will LOVE it!  Serve with juicy steaks or roast beef and Yorkshire Puds if you like too!

1/2 bottle of red wine
1 bouillon cube of chicken for broth
3 cups of water

1/4 cup of flour
2 tbsp. of butter

Add the wine, water and bouillon cubes to a pot and let come to a light boil.  Turn down the heat and simmer for about an hour.  After about an hour I added a little more red wine and some extra water because mine was a few grains salty, but not too much.

Then when you've tasted your mixture, make a paste with flour and the liquid and add a little at a time to the pot to thicken up the sauce.  Whisk well and of course keep tasting and adjusting as needed.  This is sooo delicious.  Keep warm and pour over steak or roast.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Blue Cheese and Rosemary Shortbread

OK, these were just soooo delicious!  A savoury shortbread with just a hint of sweet and some good blue cheese.  I hosted a Julia Child Dinner Party recently and popped these cookies into coffee mugs my hubby made for my friends to take home.  The cookies are great for an appie with wine in the summer or winter.  Bon Appetite!

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  1 cup of salted butter, softened, 1/2 cup white sugar, 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup of blue cheese, 1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary.

I like to use my mixer for this stuff, so basically beat the butter until fluffy first, then add the sugar until everything is blended.  Then stir in the blue cheese and rosemary.  You are going to have to put this shortbread into the freezer to harden somewhat before baking.  Divide dough and make two logs.  Wrap in plastic wrap and pop into the freezer for about 1/2-1 hour.  Mine froze really fast.  When about to bake, take out of freezer, slice into 1/4 inch slices.  Put parchment paper on a cookie sheet and put about 1 inch apart on cookie sheet.  Bake at 325 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Just keep checking to make sure they don't get too brown.  Then take out and cool on a plate.  Oh these are flippin delicious!  Makes about 3 dozen.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Meatball Lunch with Chucky Tomato Sauce

I go to a pub here in Vancouver and can't get enough of this lunch.  I absolutely love the simplicity of dish because it is not overpowered by too many spices.  It is just an easy and sublime marriage of three good meatballs and a basily summer sun tasting chunky tomato sauce.   I usually make my own tomato sauce, but in this case, I used just two cans and one jar to cover lunch.

Obviously you can go more fresh using fresh basil, garlic, oregano, Parmesan.

1 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef, 2 eggs, 1 cup of panko, 1 cup of Parmesan cheese (I just used your basic pantry powder), 1/3 cup of melted butter (I've seen butter put into THE BEST BURGERS), 2 tbsp. of onion, 1 tbsp.  1 Tbsp. garlic powder, 2 Tbsp. of any Italian spices, or just oregano.  Mix well.  Form about 12 medium-sized meatballs in a casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Now for your easy peasy tomato sauce:  2 small cans of diced tomatoes with Italian spices (or just plain if you like) and then one jar of Paul Newman's tomato basil.  Put all three in a pot, warm and stir.  Arrange meatballs in a beautiful serving dish and pour the tomato sauce over.  Garnish with parsley and serve.  Easily warmed up if you bring it to a pot-luck.

Cucumber Feta Cheese Crostini - Delish!

Summer is smoky here in British Columbia but prior to being smoky I managed to make a few appetizers in the great outdoors for a few glorious summer parties.  Here is an appetizer that is so delicious, so addictive and so easy to make.  If you are going to a party or having one, these babies are easy to whip up in advance and are a hit!

1 baguette, 8 tsp. olive oil, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 1 small package of feta cheese, 1/2 tsp. of lemon juice, salt and pepper, 1 small cucumber thinly sliced.

Slice baguette into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces.  Brush one side of each baguette piece with the olive oil and sprinkle with little bit of salt and garlic powder.  Put into a 400 degree oven on a cookie sheet and bake for about 5-8 minutes (or until you like the crispness of it).

Take out and cool down.

In a bowl mix together feta cheese, lemon, salt and pepper and a little more olive oil if you like.  Spread over each baguette and top with cucumber and a bit of salt if you like.  Always make sure you taste your concoction to add whatever more you might like.  XO

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Pork Cassoulet and Chocolate Almond Orange Cake aka French Soul Food

It's snowing here in beautiful British Columbia and I am cozied up with a few people watching the Super Bowl.  While I have some good appies (chicken wings, scallops and bacon) roasting away in the oven to stay within the bounds of a traditional Super Bowl fare, I am also cooking our family Sunday dinner.  I defrosted a pork roast and had lots of brown lentils so I am slow cooking a pork cassoulet in the crock pot, accompanied with Yorkshire puddings and Nigella Lawson's recipe for almond flour and orange chocolate cake.  Of course this is perfect for those who are gluten free and it is seriously sublime.  Rather than using regular olive oil in the recipe however, I make sure I have orange flavored olive oil for this cake which you can get at most Italian delis and all those cool olive oil and vinegar specialty stores popping up.  Here's to some delicious French Soul Food!

Get your slow cooker organized
a Pork Roast
Fav spices, I chose fennel and some Montreal Steak Spice (because it was closest in the pantry and my back was too sore to reach for something else!)
olive oil
1 1/2 cups of brown lentils
4 large carrots peeled and chopped how you like them
2 onions sliced
4 garlic cloves
6 celery chopped
maple syrup
chicken broth

Season your pork roast with your favorite spices and sear in a pan or pot with olive oil along with the onions adding the garlic in a little later so it doesn't burn.

Once your pork is seared, pop it into your slow cooker with onions and garlic, add carrots, celery and lentils.  Pour in enough chicken broth to cover half of the pork.  Drizzle with some maple syrup about 1/4 cup. 

I then put my slow cooker on high to cook the veggies for about three hours, then to low and slow so that all the veggies and the lentils would absorb all the juices from the chicken broth and pork.  Let me tell you one and all - this is DELICIOUS!

Total cooking time will be 7 hours, but of course, it may not even take that long depending on the size of your roast.  Just baby it and taste a little here and there to see how it is going.  Slow cookers are the best.

Almond Flour Chocolate Orange Olive Oil Cake

Now for the cake.  This recipe is so easy and absolutely fabulous.  The orange adds a special touch and of course the almond flour and the chocolate make it decadent. 

In a mixture or with your mixer spoon, combine three eggs, 2/3 cup orange flavored olive oil (don't panic if you've not the orange flavored, use regular olive oil), 1 cup of sugar.  Mix until primrose

coloured and thick.  In a cup mix 6 tbsp. of cocoa, 2 tsp. of vanilla and 1/2 cup of boiling water and add to the primrose mix.  Let stir for a bit, then add 1 1/2 cup of almond flour, 1 tsp. baking soda and continue mixing. 

Pour into a greased cake pan or spring form pan and bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes....or even a little more if you like.  The cake will be a tiny bit pudding like.  XO

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Tom's Margaritas

Really, there isn't anything more special about these than most recipes, but this is the recipe from my hubby's 15 year old self. 

A relative sent an email to us today asking for the Margarita recipe my hubby used to make for all the adults in Kelowna when he was about 14-15 years old. Some of us from "the old days" got early bartending skills when our relatives sent us into the kitchen to fetch them a drink by pouring "two fingers" of whatever booze in a glass with some mix. Here is my husband's recipe for those fabulous Margaritas from days gone by:
1 ounce of tequila
1 ounce of triple sec...
1/2 ounce of lime cordial
Put in a blender. (This is for one serving)

Pour into prepared salted rimmed glasses
Stir with your finger

Maya Angelou's Caramel Cake

I love the late Maya Angelou's poetry, her  rich inspirational real stories as well as the way she transformed her pain into purpose.  She was also a fantastic cook.  Here is a recipe for her Caramel Cake, a cake I can only describe as being a replica of my family's favourite from The (old) Sperling Bakery - a cake that we all loved until our neighborhood bakery closed down.  It was so exciting to find a recipe that tastes just like it!

Serves 8

8 tbs. (1 stick of butter), 1 1/4 cups sugar, 1/4 cup Caramel Syrup (recipe follows), 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 cup milk, 2 large eggs, Caramel Frosting (recipe follows).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line 2-8 inch layer cake pans with greased wax paper.  In large mixing bowl, beat butter, and add 1 cup sugar gradually until light and fluffy.  Beat in syrup.  In medium mixing bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add sifted ingredients to creamed mixture, alternating with milk.  In separate medium mixing bowl, beat eggs about 3 minutes, until foamy.  Add remaining sugar, and beat until there is a fine spongy foam.  Stir into cake batter until blended.  Divide batter between cake pans.  Bake for about 25 minutes.  Remove pans from oven.  Test to make sure cake is done with toothpick.  If not return to oven for 10 more minutes.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes.  Turn out onto rack, and remove wax paper.  Let cakes cool to room temp before frosting.  To assemble:  Centre one cooled cake layer on cake plate.  Cover top and sides with generous helping of frosting.  Place second layer evenly on frosted layer.  Repeat frosting procedure.  Cool in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Caramel Syrup:  Heat 1 cup white sugar in heavy skillet over low heat and stir constantly until melted to a brown liquid.  When it bubbles, remove from heat and slowly add boiling water, stirring constantly.  Pour into container and cool.
Caramel Frosting:  Brown 6 tbsp. butter in heavy pot over medium heat-be vigilant or it will burn.  Allow butter to cool.  In large mixing bowl, add 8 ounce pack confectioners' sugar, 4 tbsp. heavy cream, 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract and a pinch of salt and beat until smooth.  If frosting is too stiff, add tbsp. of half and half or full cream to thin.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Valerie Bertinelli's Seriously Good Sausage Bites

I love Valerie Bertinelli and her cooking show.  I got this recipe and gave it a try.  Let me just warn you, they are very addictive but WOW, they are a great little hors d'oeuvre with a glass of wine and good company.  Not many people would give them a second look at these appetizers because they are far from fancy....but everyone will love them! 

Cooking spray, 10 ounces of bulk hot Italian sausage (I used about large sausages), 3 cups of self-rising flour, 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, 1 tbsp. Tabasco sauce, 1 1/4 cups grated Cheddar cheese.

Put the oven to 400 and arrange the racks in the upper and lower third of the oven.  Coat 2 baking sheets with the cooking spray.  Cook the sausage in a medium skillet over medium high heat, breaking it up with a spoon, until cooked through and no pink remains.  Using a slotted spoon transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

Combine flour and butter in food processor or with pie dough cutter (or fingers).  Drizzle in buttermilk and Tabasco and pulse just until dough comes together.  Turn the dough out into a large bowl and fold in the sausage and cheese.  Using two spoons, shape the dough into walnut-size balls and drop onto the baking sheets.

Bake, switching and rotating the pans halfway through baking, until golden and cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then use a spatula to remove and transfer to a platter.  Bake the remaining sausage bites in the same matter.  Yum!!!!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Black Truffle Salt

OK, this was just too easy and of course, you have all probably tried this recipe already.  But if my family devoured these babies and the pan was left completely empty, then you know that this simple side kick was delicious.  The secret of course is to cook the Brussel sprouts in the oven until the leaves are crispy.  Some might even turn a tinge black.  But inside these gorgeous little morsels is a centre of complete and luscious creaminess.  Oh my God, they are good.

Turn the oven on to 350.  Then pile as many Brussel sprouts as you wish (mine was half a large bag) into a roasting pan.  Drizzle with a few tbsp. of olive oil, sprinkle about 1 tbsp. of garlic powder over all and then a tsp. of black truffle salt.  Obviously, if you are roasting less vegetable, adjust your seasonings.  Toss the Brussel sprouts so that the olive oil and seasoning is all over, then pop into the oven and wave goodbye for about one hour or until the Brussels are good and crisp.  Sweet and nutty deliciousness.  I am making more tonight.  And as if you didn't already know, Brussel Sprouts are seriously healthy too.