Saturday, 9 March 2013

Simple Steak

We are a family of carnivores! Everyone in my family loves a tender, juicy steak, with or without toppings such as mushrooms, seafood, onions, etc.
The best steaks are very simple. You MUST start with top quality beef or bison, and a very good cut of meat, and then cook it with a little salt and pepper to your prefered doneness. Most of our family like steaks rare or blue. Some people think we are barbarians, but hey - we like what we like with no excuses. When Luc was in NB with the army he had some friends over for a BBQ. When they saw his steaks they told him "That is barbaric." Luc replied, "NO it isn't. Barbaric is standing in a field, and as the cow runs by cut a chunk off and eat it still warm!" Of course we would never do such a thing, but we definately like our steaks on the rare side. Wil even likes 'Steak Tartare', which I don't want to eat. If you are not familiar with the term 'tartare' it means RAW!

Tops choices for making good steaks are strip loin - aka New York, prime rib, T-bone, or sirloin. I do buy the more expensive cut occasionally, especially if they are on sale for a good price, but usually I cook top sirloin steaks. I sometimes have the butcher cut them for me, as many times the steaks in the meat counter are too thin. If a steak is less than an inch thick, it cooks too quickly, and get tough. These cuts can be grilled, broiled, or pan fried and each way of cooking has it's own pros and cons. Of course, our favourite all time steak is the one cooked over a bed of real coals - gas grills are okay, but old fashioned coals provide a flavour all their own.

What you need: 200 - 400 gr steak per person; freshly ground black pepper, salt. An option to regular salt and pepper is a commercial mix like 'Montreal Steak Spice'.

What you do:
If cooking on a BBQ or gas grill, brush grill with a small amount of oil, or spray the grill with non-stick spray before heating. Get BBQ or grill preheated. If using your broiler, preheat the broiler for about 8 minutes.
If cooking in a frying pan, use a stainless steel, aluminum, or cast iron pan, as non-stick pans can not be heated hot enough for searing steak. Heat a small amount of oil or margarine until nearly at smoking point - do not use olive oil as it will burn before getting to the heat needed.

  Sprinkle steak with pepper and a light sprinkle of salt. Place on the heated grill or in the pan. Cook a few minutes and turn over. Cook a few minutes more, or until done to your liking. This is the most tricky part. Wil always says " You can ask for what ever you like, but you get what you get." 

Cooking Times:
For blue rare  - about 1-2 minutes per side. (Actually Ben says, " put in on count to 3 turn it over count to 3 and take it off.)
For rare - about 4 mintes per side.
For medium rare - 5-7 minutes per side.
For more cooked, I don't know the times, as we never have anyone who wants medium to well done steaks.

Such classics as pan fried onions or mushrooms are easy to do. Just wash, slice and fry in butter until done. Add to cooked steak. As an option for this, check out the recipe for Wil's Special Mushrooms on an earlier post.

Steak Oscar: cook chopped shrimp, scallops, and/or crab meat in a little butter, then add some onion, garlic, and chopped parsley. Place a generous Tbs on each cooked steak.

Chopped cooked bacon is also a great topping for steaks.

Many things go well with steaks, baked potatoes are usually served with them at restaurants, but you can also serve noodles, or pasta (lasagna and spaghetti come to mind), or rice dishes. Any vegetable or salad dish also goes well with steak. Then again, Ben like to have with his steak - more steak. He would be happy to eat only meat - but that is not the healthiest choice.

Good luck.  Have fun and enjoy.

Honey Mustard Salmon

This is one of Matthew's favourite supper dishes. I got the original recipe from a BC government publication on fish. As usual, I have changed the recipe over the years, and added a few extra things to it.

What you need: 1/4 cup butter or margarine; 1 pound of salmon fillets or steaks; 2 Tbs honey, 1 Tbs dijon mustard; salt and pepper to taste; 1 Tbs fresh minced onion; 1 large clove fresh minced garlic, 1/4 tsp cardamom; 1 tsp dried tarragon flakes.
Preheat the oven to 450*F
What you do: melt the butter and place into the baking dish. In a small bowl mix honey and mustard. Add all the seasonings, and stir well. Place all the fish into the baking dish and spread the seasoning mix evenly over all the pieces. Cover the dish with foil.
 Bake for 10 - 20 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through. Make sure to NOT overcook.

Goes great with a rice or noodle side,  or wild and white rice blend, and steamed vegetable.

Coating mix for fish, pork, or chicken ( Gluten free version)

Everyone is familiar with packaged coating mixes for making  'oven fried' chicken, or breaded fish or pork chops. I have always prefered to make my own versions, which are lower in salt, and have no preservatives, (or less preservatives). For many years I have made bread crumbs from the unwanted ends of loaves of bread. I allow them to dry out on the counter, then crush them in the blender, and store in an airtight container. I do occasionally buy bread crumbs, but they are made from white bread, and I prefer to buy whole wheat bread, so I like to make my own bread crumbs. Another really delicious wayto make crumbs is to grind up dried out crescent rolls. That buttery flavour is delicious is a coating mix.

**To make gluten free coatings, there are two substitutions for the bread crumbs, and both are easily available. Corn flakes and some brands of rice cereal are gluten free, and can easily be turned into crumbs to make delicious and crunchy coatings. some versions of Cheerios brand cereals are also gluten free. I learned recently, (spring 2017), that Kellogs brand Rice Krispies are not GF, as they add a barley malt to colour the rice. Please use caution when choosing your crumb ingredients.

To make a breading mix, I combine a cup of crumbs with a variety of spices. The kind of spices changes depending on what you will use the coating for. Each time it is unique, as I don't measure anything.

Chicken - I use poultry seasoning, or a mixture of thyme and sage to add to the basic seasonings. Other options are oregano, chervil, or marjoram.

Fish - I use a dried lemon zest with dill or taragon, added to the basic seasonings.

Pork - I use sage most often, but sometimes ground rosemary or oregano added to the basic seasonings.

There is no end to the variety of seasonings you can try. If you like heat in your food - as in spicy - add some crushed red peppers to the dry mix or some hot sauce to your liquid. Have fun trying new tastes. Food should be more than just a means to survive, it should be something you enjoy eating.

What you need:  1 cup of crumbs; [1 Tbs onion powder; 1 Tbs garlic powder; 2 tsp parsley; 1 tsp ground black pepper; 1/2 tsp - 1 tsp salt;]* 1 Tbs of combined spices. A liquid - ( can be whisked egg with milk, juice, broth, or even plain water).
*the basic seasonings.
What you do: Prepare your dry ingredients by placing into a large zip type bag. Shake well to mix. Place the liquid into a shallow dish. Dip your prepared pieces into the liquid you have chosen, and
shake slightly, then place into the zip bag and shake to coat evenly. Remove and place onto a plate, until all the pieces are coated. Cook in the oven or frying pan as usual.
If baking pieces. I place 1/4 cup of butter or margarine in the baking dish, and place into the oven for a few minutes to melt. Then I add the coated pieces, and baste with the melted fat before baking. Turn the pieces over half way through the cooking time, and baste again.


Monday, 4 March 2013

Ben's Favourite Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Any time I ask Ben what he wants me to make for dinner, he will say "MEAT", and then add, "and garlic mashed potatoes."

It might seem silly to put this recipe on the blog because everyone knows how to make mashed potatoes, right?? Wrong. Some people find potatoes a challenge, and prefer to buy theirs fried at MacDonalds. (YUK!!) I do like french fries, and make them too, but mashed potatoes are just such a comfort food! Also a good food for babies, without the seasonings, of course. It is important to use a good firm fleshed potato such as red, or Yukon Gold. Russet potatoes are best for baking or frying, not for mashing.

What you need: 1-2 potatoes for each person; a pot of water, salt; milk; butter, and fresh minced garlic or garlic powder; salt and pepper to taste.

What you do:  Peel and chop potatoes then place in pot of water. Sprinkle with about 1/4 tsp of salt per person. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and let simmer for 18 to 20 minutes, or until potatoes are just tender. Test potatoes by poking with a fork. Drain water from the pot, and mash the potatoes. Add butter and milk, then whisk together until smooth and creamy. Add garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with any meat or fish and steamed or raw veggies. Can be served with gravy, or butter sauce.


Classic Liver and Onions - with gluten free version

Here is the liver recipe that you can find in most family style restaurants, and the one you mother probably made when you were a kid. This is the version served most often at our house. Once again, baby beef liver is best, and cooking until just done is critical.

What you need: 150 - 200 gr liver per person; 3 - 4 slices bacon per person; 1 large onion sliced into rings; 1/2 cup flour; 1 tsp onion powder; 1 tsp garlic powder; salt and pepper to taste; 1 package of brown gravy mix, or 2 cups of left over roast gravy.

What you do: Preheat oven to 250*F.  In a large skillet, cook bacon until done to your taste. Meanwhile prepare the gravy mix as directed. Place bacon slices in an oven proof dish and set into the oven to keep warm. Cook onion slices in bacon fat, until they begin to brown. Place in oven to keep warm. Clean liver pieces and remove any tough membranes. Mix flour and seasonings in a flat plate. Dredge the liver pieces, and quickly fry on each side in the bacon fat. As each piece is cooked, place it into the oven to keep warm. When  all the liver is cooked, pour off any extra bacon grease, then add the gravy to the skillet and stir to pick up any pan drippings. Serve in a gravy boat with the liver, bacon, and onions. This goes great with mashed potatoes and veggies.

To make gluten free, just substitute the flour and gravy with gluten free ones.

As always, enjoy.

Foie Genevoise - with a gluten free variation

Foie Genevoise is also known as Geneva Style Liver - now don't give me that look. Many people HATE liver, and many others love it, but this is a recipe which will make you, if not love it, at least be able to tolerate it.
Liver is a very inexpensive form of protein, with lots of iron, and many other good nutrients. When we were kids, my dad would cook liver, and we called it leather. The secret to a great liver dish is to use baby beef liver, and cook it quickly and - like fish- just until done. When over cooked, liver becomes tough, just like leather.

In our house, 3 out of 5 like liver, and would eat it several times a month, while the others would prefer to never see liver again. Liver can have a very strong flavour. That is why baby beef liver is the best. If you like, you can soak liver overnight in a cup of milk, which will remove some of the bitter flavour. I learned to make this when I was living in Geneva. The whipping cream really makes the difference.

What you need: 150 - 200 gr liver per person; 1/2 cup of flour; salt and pepper to taste; 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp garlic powder; 2 Tbs butter; 1 small container - 250 ml- whipping cream.

Whay you do: Pre-heat oven to about 250* F.  Cut liver into small strips, and remove any tough membranes. In a flat plate, stir flour and seasonings. Dredge the liver pieces in the flour mixture. Using a reular skillet - (not a non-stick kind) - heat the butter until just beginning to brown over medium high heat. Sear liver pieces quickly on each side, and remove to an oven proof dish. Place in oven to keep warm. Repeat as needed until all the liver pieces are cooked. Pour the cream into the skillet, and stir to pick up any pan drippings, then whisk in as much of the flour mixture as needed to make a smooth sauce. Serve immediately over the liver pieces.

This is great served over rice or noodles, with a salad or steamed veggies on the side. The only caution, is that those things need to be ready at the same time the liver is done, as letting the liver sit for long can make it over cooked and toughen up. It really is delicious.

If you are on a gluten free diet, use flour which is gluten free, and make the same way.

As always - enjoy.

Taste of Summer (in the winter) Salad - Gluten free

Taste of Summer Salad

Very easy to make and also very easy to change or tweak each time you make it, I had this last night for dinner, and thought it tasted like a bit of summer in mid winter - hence the name.

What you need: 1cup of mixed baby spring greens; 1 cup of baby spinach leaves; 1/2 cup of dried blueberries, (or fresh blueberries); 1/4 cup of fried onion pieces, (available in packages near the fresh salad stuff at your grocery store); 1/4 cup slivered almonds. dressings of your choice.

What you do:  In a large salad bowl toss the greens, onion, fruit and nuts. Allow each person to add dressing of their choice on their plate. (The biggest advantage to this, is that left over salad can be put into the frige to enjoy the next day).

 - use any kind of fruit or berries - they can be fresh, frozen and thawed, dried, or canned - peaches, etc.
- use any kind of nuts that you like, or top with one of the salad topper mixes which are available in the grocery store.
- add or remove any kind of lettuce or greens that you want.