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"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Braised Spiced Lamb Shanks

This was my first time making lamb shanks and it won't be the last.  They were tender, spicy and delicious.  The recipe is from Epicurious.  

Here's what you need:

2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns

3-4 large lamb shanks

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large white onion, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
10 garlic cloves, peeled
3 celery stalks, cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled, cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 small leek
3 cups ruby Port
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
4 cups beef broth

6 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Orecchiette with Bay Scallops and Corn

Some things are just made for each other. Pasta, particularly, often has a special relationship with other ingredients based on its shape. Pappardelle's wide ribbons pair well with thick ragù. Orecchietti means "little ears" and the curved shape is perfect for tiny bay scallops and corn to rest in. This was a very successful meal that will make it into our regular rotation.

Here's what you need for 4 servings:

400g bay scallops (thawed if frozen)
250g oricchiette
6 green onions
1 hot pepper (or red bell pepper)
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup cooked, chopped bacon (optional)
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the oricchiette. Cook according to package directions. Before draining, reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water.

Chop the chili pepper and the white and light green parts of the green onions (chop the dark green parts and keep them separate).

While pasta is cooking, heat 1/2 tbsp oil in a large pan and cook the corn, bacon, peppers and onions for about 3 minutes until softened.  

Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

Dry the scallops well. Heat the other 1/2 tbsp oil in the pan and add the scallops, sprinkling with salt and pepper.

Cook the scallops just 2 minutes, tossing until lightly browned, then add the wine and bring to a simmer.

Remove the scallops to the bowl with the corn so they don't over cook.  Then add the butter to the wine and simmer for a few minutes to reduce slightly.

Once the pasta is cooked, reserve 1 cup of the cooking water then drain and toss the pasta with the butter and wine in the pan.

Then add the cooked vegetables and scallops back to the pan along with the dark parts of the green onions and toss it all together, adding pasta water as needed to moisten the mixture.

Serve it up in bowls for one of the tastiest pastas you've had in a while.

See how all the ingredients nestle into the little pasta ears?  Perfection.  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pork with Cranberry Madeira Sauce

Here's another recipe using Summer Fresh Sauces.  Summer Fresh was nice enough to send me some of these sauces to try.  This time I tried the Cranberry Madeira sauce.  

For this recipe for 4 you need:

8 thin, boneless pork chops
1/4 cup flour
10 sage leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper 
Summer Fresh Cranberry Madeira Sauce

First finely chop the sage.

Spread the flour out on a plate. Season with a little salt and pepper.

Press the chopped sage leaves into the pork chops and then dredge in the flour.

Coat both sides in flour and shake off the excess.  

Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and add the pork.  These little chops are so thin they only need a minute or two per side.  Brown on both sides.

Then remove the pork chops to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Pour the Cranberry Madeira sauce into the pan and bring it to a simmer.

Add the pork chops to the sauce and simmer 2 minutes until heated through.

I served the pork chops with a little sauce on top over an Israeli couscous mix with some steamed broccoli on the side.  They'd also be great with rice, mashed potatoes or bulgur.  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Short & Sweet Sunday - Shmokey Rob n' Sons

This weekend we had takeout and it was so good!  Shmokey Rob n' Sons is in an old mall near our house.  There's not much else in the mall but it's worth the trip.  

I can't speak to how authentic their BBQ is, since I've never had the opportunity to taste real southern BBQ, but I can tell you their food is delicious.  We've tried a few things on their menu, but our favourites (so far) are the brisket sandwich and cassava fries.  (Cassava is a starchy, tuberous root that has a taste and texture slightly similar to potatoes but more starchy and firm.  They hold up way better than french fries for takeout too.) 

Aside from the brisket and pulled pork sandwiches, fries and cole slaw, they also have specials like ribs and "burnt ends" which are smoked, braised brisket ends.  We've never had the pleasure of sampling them since they've been already sold out every time we've visited, but some day!

I had my brisket with some Julian Cherry Bomb hard cider which is deliciously tart.

If you live in London or come to visit, I can't recommend this place enough.  The mall atmosphere isn't fantastic, but the place itself is super cute with table service and beer on tap as well as takeout.  Give it a try!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Sesame Pork with Bok Choy

Here's a nice, simple way to prepare pork.  Sauce always makes the difference in a simple pan-fried meat dish.  This sweet and salty sauce is a great compliment to the pork and the bok choy.  

Here's what you need:

1 lb thin boneless pork chops or pork tenderloin
1/2 cup apple butter
3 tablespoons tamari (thicker, richer soy sauce)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced ginger
3 tablespooons sesame seeds
4-6 heads baby bok choy (or one large bok choy)

First add the apple butter into a small saucepan.

Add in the minced ginger, lemon juice and tamari.  Bring it to a gentle boil over medium heat and then simmer for about 5 minutes.  Keep warm.

If you're using a pork tenderloin you'll need to slice it into medallions   I used these thin pork chops instead.  Season the pork with salt and pepper.  

Sear the pork in a pan with a little oil.  These thin chops only take a few minutes per side.

Flip and brown the other side.

Remove to a plate and cover to keep warm.  

Rinse the bok choy in a colander and add it to the pan with a little water.  Steam, covered for about 3-4 minutes until wilted.  

Sprinkle the pork with toasted sesame seeds. 

Then drizzle the pork and bok choy with the sauce.

I served this with carrots roasted with salt and a little five spice powder.  A quick and easy meal that turned out great.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

3 Peppercorn Braised Short Ribs

Summer Fresh sent me some of their new fresh sauces to try.  There are several different sauces that can be used to cook or top meat or vegetables.  Here's my first attempt at creating a recipe for the sauces.  

When I thought about 3 Peppercorn sauce the first thing I thought of was beef and then I decided to braise some short ribs.  

Short ribs are generally pretty inexpensive but they pack a lot of flavour.  I cut the short ribs into sections.

I sprinkled them with salt and pepper and browned them in hot oil in a large enamelled cast iron pot.

Once browned on all sides, I removed the beef from the pot and put it aside.

I peeled and diced up an onion, carrot and parsnip and added them to the pot.

I sautéed them for about 5 minutes until softened. 

Then I added about a cup of red wine and stirred to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pot while bringing it to a boil. 

I added the whole container of 3 Peppercorn sauce.

Then brought it to a simmer, put the lid on it and popped it into a 350 degree oven for about 2 hours until the meat was tender and falling off the bone. Check it after about an hour and add some more liquid (wine or water) if it is getting dry.

Here it is after 2 hours.  

There's some fat on top so I skimmed it off with a spoon.

Then I served it with mashed potatoes and celeriac.

I also served some roasted Brussels sprouts I popped in the oven for 30 minutes while the short ribs braised.

This was a nice, rich dish and the whole peppercorns in the sauce gave it an authentic flavour and texture.