Boeuf Bourguignon

beef fryingThis recipe is ripped right out of the pages of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French CookingBut that’s not where I learnt it. This is a dish from my childhood. It’s funny how the hings you grow up seem normal. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized that most kids in Canada didn’t have this dish

beef searedas a regular staple in their diets. I grew up watching Julia Child on PBS with my mom. I love making this dish, not just because it encourages you to speak in Julia’s high-pitched voice, but because it is a simple beef stew, elevated by technique. Don’t try to skip steps, don’t over fill your pan, don’t cheat. The end result is worth the extra work.

 

Boeuf Bourguignon

beef raw2 lbs beef

ok, lets talk about beef. What cut I use depends on how much time I have. If you need this made in a hurry and still want it to taste awesome, use tenderloin. You can brown it, make the saucy part and serve it medium rare. If you have a couple hours, use sirloin. Makes a nice braise, but doesnt need a ton of time. But for the best tasting, with the richest sauce use something from the shoulder. You can use cross rib, top blade or even chuck shortribs.

1/2 lb baconbacon

1 lb mushrooms, halved, quartered or whole

1/2 lb baby onions, shallots or cipollini

or if you can’t find any of those, just coarse chop regular onions

1 clove garlic, smashed

2 cups full bodied red wine

2 cups beef stock

2 bay leaves

1 sprig rosemary

salt and pepper to taste

cornstarch

  1. dice beef into 1 1/2 inch cubes. season with salt and pepper
  2. cut bacon into 1/2 inch lardons, peel onions (or shallots)shallots
  3. in a heavy dutch oven, fry bacon until a healthy amount of bacon fat has been rendered. remove bacon from pot and set aside, pour off excess fat, but save the fat.
  4. working in batches so you don’t crowd the pot. brown beef on all sides. set aside
  5. mushroomsreturn a little bacon fat to the pot. again working in batches, sautee the mushrooms. set aside
  6. add a little more bacon fat and sautee the onions. deglaze the pan with red wine. add bay leaf and rosemary and bring to a boil. reduce until 1/2 cup of wine remains.
  7. return beef, mushrooms and bacon to pot. Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and braise until meat is fork tender.bacon and mushrooms
  8. if the sauce is thin, make a slurry with the cornstarch and mix into the sauce. bring back to a boil to thicken
  9. check seasoning. (trick: if the sauce tastes a little flat you can add a tbsp soy sauce. If it tastes too acidic, add a little brown sugar. If it tastes too sweet, add a tsp vinegar.)
  10. Bouef BourguignonBe sure to wish your dinner guests a resounding “Bon Appetit!!”

Easy Chicken Curry Dinner in 4 Parts

curry pic 1Okay, maybe doing any dinner that involves 4 parts can’t really be called “easy”. But each part is easy and they all stand alone. Serve the curry with the rice and skip the other two. Enjoy the eggplant with a couple poached eggs and some toasted bread. Use the zucchini as a side dish to almost anything. Take the curry, wrap it in a tortilla and call it Roti. There are lots of options. But even if you made the whole 4 part menu, you should be in and out of your kitchen in under an hour.  And there is a reason your stove has 4 elements.

If you have any bottled chutney’s or hot sauces, pull them out of the fridge for this. You can add to this menu by serving it with sliced cucumbers, some nice plain yogurt, some little bowls on nuts and seeds. Part of the fun of Indian cooking is the way you get to play with your food.

chicken curryChicken Curry

2 lbs chicken thighs

1 tbsp canola oil

1 large onion, diced

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp ginger, minced

1 tbsp of your favourite curry powder

(pro tip: If you don’t feel like grinding your own curry powder. try mixing two different ones together. For this recipe I used 2 parts madras curry and 2 part hot jamaican)

pinch of chilies, to taste

1 tbsp brown sugar

6 russet potatoes, peeled and diced

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup yogurt

salt and pepper to taste

  1. cut chicken into large chunks. Heat oil in a large skillet or dutch oven. Add chicken to pot. Let chicken begin to brown
  2. add onions, celery, garlic, ginger, spices and sugar. Cook for about 5 minutes on high heat, stirring occasionally.
  3. add potatoes and stock. bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are soft and chicken is tender.
  4. Mix in yogurt , check seasoning and serve.

Sweet and Spicy Eggplanteggplant

1 tbsp canola oil

1 large eggplant or a couple small ones, diced

1 large onion, diced

1 tbsp coriander seed

1 tsp (or more) dried chili flakes

2 cups diced tomatoes

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white vinegar

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1 tbsp sesame oil

salt and pepper to taste

  1. in a dry pan, toast the coriander til it starts to pop.
  2. add oil and sauté onions until translucent. Add chilies and eggplant and sauté until eggplant is tender.
  3. add tomatoes, sugar and vinegar. Bring to a boil.
  4. reduce heat and simmer until “jammy”.
  5. stir in sesame seeds and sesame oil. adjust seasoning. Serve hot with dinner, but any  leftovers will keep well in the refrigerator and can be used as a chutney.

Shredded Zucchinishredded zucchini

4 zucchini, grated on the largest grater size, or julienned on a mandoline.

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp ground cumin

lime

salt and pepper to taste.

  1. working in batches, being careful not to overload the frying pan, sauté the zuchinni.
  2. Sprinkle with chilies, cumin, salt and a squeeze of lime.

riceBasmati Rice

2 cups basmati rice, cleaned

3 1/2 cups water

1 tbsp butter

  1. put all ingredients in sauce pan. cover with lid
  2. bring to a boil.
  3. reduce heat to a simmer and cook until all the liquid is absorbed. About 20 minutes.

Variations

  1. after the rice is cooked, stir in chopped green onion, cilantro and mint
  2. after rice is cooked, stir in raisins and slivered almonds
  3. while rice is cooking, add some orange peel, a couple star anise, a couple whole cloves, and a piece of cinnamon stick
  4. while cooking, add lemon zest, a slice of ginger and green coriander pods
  5. while cooking add a few threads of saffron
  6. all of the above

How to Build a Big Salad

big salad1 Start with greens

I like to use at least two types of greens.
Use iceberg or romaine for crunch and then
arugula or spinach or mesclun or mizuna or kale or some other more serious green for flavour.

if you are feeling fancy, make Macerated Kale. It breaks it down and makes it tastier and easier to chew.

To make, slice kale into thin strips. (Chiffonade as we chefs call it). Season with salt and pepper, a squeeze of lemon and a massage in a little olive oil.

Or season with soy sauce and dried chilies, a splash of rice vinegar and massage in sesame oil. adding toasted sesame seeds is nice too.

Or add a little protein. Massage in some tahini and lemon, or peanut butter, or almond butter….

2 Add Veggies, add any or all of the following, whatever you have in your fridge

tomatoes, diced, wedged, cherry tomatoes….
cucumbers, sliced or diced
canned corn
celery, chopped
cabbage, shredded
carrots sliced thin or shredded
broccoli or cauliflower (roasted if you have time)
cooked green beans
red onion, I like to soak in cold water for a bit to take the edge off
snap peas
beets, boiled or roasted
… you get the idea. veggies

3 Add protein, one or more of the following

grilled, sliced chicken breast
grilled, sliced steak
dice ham or salami
hard boiled egg, wedged or chopped
cottage cheese
cheddar, gouda, smoked cheese… any hard cheese
blue cheese, particularly good with arugula and grilled steak
feta, goat cheese or parmesan
4Add something crunchy and interesting

sunflower seeds
walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts… any nut
sesame seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds
croutons
tortilla chips, corn chips…
coarsely chopped herbs
raisins, currants, dried cranberries

Dress your  salad

can be as simple as a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon or a splash of balsamic or use one of these simple dressings:

 

Dijon and Honey

1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp grainy dijon mustard
pinch of salt
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsps olive oil

Sesasme Ginger

small clove of garlic, minced
½ tsp grated fresh ginger
pinch of chili flakes
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp rice vinegar (or lime juice)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsps canola oil
1 tbsps sesame seeds (optional)

Orange Coriander

1 tsps cracked coriander seeds
1 tsp chili flakes
zest and juice of one orange
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsps olive oil

Yogurt Dill

1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 tbsp chopped parsley
pinch of cayenne
½ cup yogurt
½ cup mayonaise
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Some of the combinations will work better than others, but play around, you’ll find the ones you like the best.

Chicken Livers with Polenta

livers 8This is our perfect comfort food. Feeling tired? Long day? Feeling sad and just need a warm hug? Chicken livers cooked with sausage or bacon, caramelized onions, tomatoes and stock that gets velvety as it reduces. Spoon this over creamy polenta, find a quaint english mystery show on Netflix… and chill.

We make this with bacon or sausage, depending what we have on hand. You can leave out the salty fatty pork component if you would like, but why? You can use wine or beer, but its just as good without. If you like mushrooms, you can add mushrooms. Feel the need for some healthy greens? Chop up a little kale and add it to the mix. The polenta is simple, quite basic, I usually add a little grated parm to the polenta, but it’s really good with smoked cheddar. Use whatever cheese you have on hand, or leave the cheese out all together. If you are avoiding dairy you can sub olive oil for the butter and skip the cheese.

Make sure you start the polenta before you start the livers because the longer the cornmeal has to cook the better.

Polenta

polenta 14 cups water

pinch of salt

1 cup cornmeal

2 tbsps butter

1/2 cup shredded parm, (or other cheese)

s+p to taste

 

  1. Put water in a heavy bottomed pot. Add salt, bring to a boil.
  2. Whisk the water to create a whirlpool, slowly pour in the cornmeal whisking the whole time. The mix should be the consistency of heavy cream. Don’t worry, it will thicken. Don’t keep adding cornmeal until it is thick, thats too much cornmeal.
  3. Bring cornmeal back to a boil and then turn down very low. Let simmer, stirring occasionally. If it gets too thick, add more water. If you have the patience, let this simmer for 45 minutes. The longer it cooks, the less gritty the cornmeal and the silkier the texture.
  4. Right before you serve, whisk in the butter, grated cheese and check the seasoning. You could also add chopped parsley, basil or other fresh herbs.

This is a great side dish for braised meats, chicken cacciatore or saucy sautéed vegetables. Try it with just a dollop of mascarpone and some chopped basil.

Chicken Livers

1/2 lb sausage or baconlivers 1

1 large onion, diced

1 clove garlic, miced

pinch of chilies

1 lb chicken livers

1 cup flour (optional)

1/4 cup wine or beer, optionalsliced garlic

2 cups chicken or beef stock

1 large tomato, diced

1/4 cup chopped green onions

s+p to taste

livers-4.jpg

 

 

  1. if you are using sausage, I like to use a mild italian sausage. If you like a little more heat, by all means, use a spicy sausage. If you are using bacon, slice it thick and cut it into 1/2 inch strips (or lardons).
  2. sauteé onions and sausage in a large heavy skillet until sausage is brown. add garlic and chili flakes and sauté one minute longer
  3. dust the chicken livers with flour. (if you are trying to avoid gluten, you can use corn flour or my favourite, chick pea flour. or you can skip this step altogether. The flour just helps give the livers a nice brown crust and thickens the sauce a bit)livers 5
  4. push all the sausage and onions to one side of pan. Shake any excess flour off the livers and place in pan. Now ignore them, walk away, don’t mess with them. People often spend too much time fiddling with food. If you keep fussing with the livers they won’t brown properly, you will tear the meat and make a murky grey mess. Leave the livers alone until the one side is nice and crisp and well browned. Then flip them over.
  5. livers 6Add the wine or beer if you want,  and reduce. Add the stock and reduce until sauce is creamy. Toss in  tomatoes and green onions and check the seasoning. Chicken Livers are best when just a little bit pink inside, if you over cook them they get chalky in texture.
  6. Serve livers on the polenta. Enjoy with a nice medium bodied red, like a valpolicella or a tempranillo or a dark malty beer.

Want to try something different? Check  Food 52
for this fun recipe for Buffalo Style Chicken Livers

Potato Leek Soup

Potato Leek soup

2 tbsps olive oil

3 large beautiful leeks, thinly sliced cross-wise – as you near the dark green parts, peel back the tougher bits and keep slicing, until it’s all tough parts.

3 lbs potatoes, cut in half and then thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

stock to cover – about 1.5 litres

chili flakes

salt and pepper

1 whole lemon – zest the rind and juice it

  1. Put the sliced leeks in a colander and push the rings apart. Leeks hold a lot of dirt from growing so you want to take a few minutes to make sure they are well rinsed.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a big soup pot. Add the leeks and saute til soft. Add the potatoes,garlic, chili flakes and saute for a few minutes, getting a bit of char happening on some of the potatoes.
  3. Season with salt and pepper. Add the stock and scrape the bottom of the pot to pull up all the yummy bits stuck to the bottom. Let simmer for 40 minutes, uncovered.
  4. Add lemon zest and lemon juice. Taste to decide if it needs more salt or pepper.

Sometimes, I will throw a can of corn into this soup because I know my girls love it and it adds a bit of colour. You can add it at any point.

Tomato Lentil Soup

lentil soup1/2 lb diced bacon or turkey bacon or diced sausage (this is totally optional – if not using bacon or sausage, you will need some canola or olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan before sautéing the veggies)

1 white onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 ribs of celery, sliced (including the leaves, they are so good, especially in soups)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 zucchini, diced

1 cup cut green beans (or cabbage or cauliflower)

1 big can diced tomatoes or 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes

2 cups cooked french lentils (brown or Puy – just not red lentils – boil them in stock, herbs and a tsp of butter until they are al dente)

1/2 tsp chili flakes

salt and pepper

chopped fresh basil or flat leaf parsley or both (and as much or as little as you like)

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

  1. Fry the bacon in the soup pot until crispy – depending on the size of the pot, you may need to do this in batches. If you put too much bacon in at once, it kind of struggles to get crispy – leave space between the pieces. If using bacon, start with a cold pot and heat it at medium high, this avoids the bacon burning or being burnt and soggy: truly a bacon disaster.
  2.  Once the bacon or sausage is nice and crispy, remove it from the pot and set aside. Drain off most of the fat, just leaving a coating on the bottom of the pan.
  3. Saute the onions over medium high heat until soft and just starting to turn brown, add celery, carrots and garlic. Add chili flakes, salt, pepper. Cook for another 1-2 minutes then add the zucchini. Continue to saute for a few minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, green beans and lentils. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Add the chopped herbs and the balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!

Butternut Squash with Shitake and Apple Appetizer

1 butternut squash

apple

1 cup shitake mushroom tops

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tart apple

lemon juice

olive oil

salt and pepper

1.I love how butternut squash has 2 parts, the top is shaped like a zucchini and is solid flesh. the bottom is round and is hollow, filled with seeds. This recipe uses both those parts. Try to find a squash with a skinny top so that when you slice it, it is a good appetizer size. To prepare, cut he top  and bottom off the squash. Cut the squash in half separating the skinny part from the round part. Peel the skinny part and slice into 1/4inch thick coins. Cut the round part in half and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle the squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake the top coins in a 350 oven for about 15 minutes, until it starts to brown. Bake the bottom part for 30-40 minutes until soft.

2.slice shitake mushrooms tops, sauté in a little oil with garlic, add soy sauce and remove from heat.

3. Scoop the squash out of the bottom half of the squash, puree in a food processor until very smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper

4. slice apple into little matchsticks, toss with lemon.

5. To assemble, drop a teaspoon of warm squash puree onto each squash round. top with shitake mushrooms, garnish with apple matchsticks. This dish tastes like early autumn. Depending on how big the squash is, you should get around 12 canapes. You will probably have leftover puree which you can use for a veggie side dish or as the base of a soup.