Tuesday, March 05, 2013

RPI - Yeast: Soft Pretzels

The Lowdown:

Pretzels are memory makers. Well, maybe they are memory enhancers. The memories of circuses, fairs, hockey games (or any sports game), concerts, rodeos, carnivals; and of course, Oktoberfest are all heightened by the food and beverage we consume during them. This theory isn't just related to cheap snacks during the aforementioned events. It can be a great meal you ate on a trip that defined the entire vacation. It can be a picnic on the beach that made your summer that much better. It can be a wine that always reminds you of a past anniversary. It can be an aroma emanating from a kitchen that reminds you of home. It can be a shot that ruined your birthday... like say a Bacardi 151 muff diver (I'll get my revenge for that soon enough).

In some unfortunate cases, these same events can be remembered by what came up. Back from the dead food. Food Zombies..? Once good food items coming back to life as an undead, decrepit version of a once loved meal. No need to over think this, it was just merely an after(life) thought.

Back to the events. One thing that all of these events have in common is the infamous pretzel -- salty, warm, doughy, and just plain classic. Sometimes it can even be your saviour when you've had one too many overpriced beers at a sporting event. Overpriced is an understatement. We've all seen them revolving around the heat lamp in those weird oscillating ovens. Some of you may have even wondered just how much salt can they actually fit onto one pretzel.

The fact is, we've all waited way too long in a line-up to get a hold of one of these salty treats. This is where this story starts. This installment of RPI, as the title states, is yeast. I was recently at a hockey game waiting in one of the said line-ups. Taking light years to get to the counter I starting thinking about how to make a pretzel at home. This is just a classic "one thing lead to another and here we are" story. Sorry to talk in bullet points, but I'm tired of typing. Farewell. My friends. Ciao.

The Playlist:

2.5 cups Flour
Flour, for kneading surface
1 tbsp Sugar
1 tbsp Yeast
1 cup Water, tepid
1 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Olive oil

The Skinny:

  1. In large bowl: prime yeast by combining with water and sugar. Cover with towel and let sit for 10 minutes. Combine the flour, and salt into the yeast liquid.
  2. Once dough ball has formed, generously flour a surface and kneed the dough for 7 minutes. 
  3. Preheat oven to 450*.
  4. Put dough back into the bowl and coat with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for an hour.
  5. Cut dough into six individual balls and roll out into ropes and form into pretzel shapes. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake for 8 minutes, until browned. 

Stay Rad -h
Featured on: Premeditated Leftovers33 Shades of GreenChef in TrainingFood Renegade, Foodie Friday,  

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Apple Cinnamon Biscotti

Hello darling readers!

I love Italy... Or at least I think I do. I've never actually been. But I do love the idea of Italy.

Carafes of Tuscan wine. Cafes with cute little patios. Football...the real football. Not American football. The architecture. The canals. Endless meals of pasta, gnocchi and fresh tomato sauces and herbs and cheese. Tiramisu. And the language - oh so pretty.

Okay, that sounds an awful lot like any country I imagine in Western Europe. But there's nothing wrong with that.

Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong place. I think I was meant for small town European living. Italian living. On the coast. On a small little farm with dogs and chickens and ducks, a couple of pigs and our own acre of vegetables. Detached from the materialism of North American culture, I'd get around on an old bicycle with a basket on the front. Every day would be a balmy 24 degrees and sunny. My days would be spent making slow food that we'd eat on the veranda looking out over the country side. I'd can tomato sauce made from tomatoes off my own vines and write and paint and read and sip tea and coffee all day long... my own home-made biscotti on the side.

Well, I've got the biscotti down, anyhow.

Baby steps, my friends. Baby steps.

Apple Cinnamon Biscotti
(printable recipe) - makes a lot.


2 C Flour+ extra for dusting.
2 Tsp Baking Powder.
1/2 C Sugar + extra for dusting.
1 Tsp Salt.
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon.
Pinch of Nutmeg.
2 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract.
2 Pastured Eggs, room temperature.
6 Tbsp Butter, room temperature.
1 C Apple, cored and diced.
1/2 C Blanched Slivered Almonds, toasted.

What to Do:

Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the dry ingredients save for the sugar. In another, the wet - but not the butter.

In a third bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the wet mixture. Mix well. Then add the dry, followed by the almonds and the apple.

Dump onto a well floured counter and massage until it's semi-dough like. Break into two halves and place each one on the parchment lined baking sheet. 

Shape into logs, about 1 1/2" thick and sprinkle with a little extra sugar.

Bake in hot oven for 25 - 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool about 15 minutes. 

Slice the logs at an angle. Place back in the oven and bake a further 20 - 25 minutes. Remove from the heat. Place biscotti pieces on wire racks to cool completely before serving.

Serve with a big cup of tea.


What's your dream life look like? Where would you live? What would you do?


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Roasted Garlic & Squash Pasta Sauce

The Lowdown:

Las Vegas -- the only place that has ever inspired me to go on a cleanse. I'm not talking about just showering either. Although, that city does make you feel like you need ten showers a day. I'm talking about the real deal -- liver, kidney, and maybe a little soul cleansing. Having just returned from Sin City, I am in severe need of some form of a health kick. Two weeks to be exact... is the goal I may or may not make it to.

As we all know, diets are lame. Uber lame actually. Cleanses are even worse. But if you make horrible life decisions like me, and have to endure through one, you might as well make the best of it. This is one of those recipes that I think just might make a diet and/or cleanse better. Oh man, just saying the word cleanse makes me want a glass of wine. They say you always want what you can't have. Then again, I wanted wine when I was allowed to have it. Deductive reasoning would clearly state that this idiom was devised for some purpose other than wine.

Although this meal bent a few minor rules, I felt really good about it. I avoided all the major no-nos which is the true purpose of a cleanse. I also used up the remainder of my ceasar dressing. Actually, it's my friend's "Doukhobor" ceasar recipe. He insists everything needs more garlic. After eating it, I understand. Some things just need more garlic.

I may have bent the truth. I attempted to make his "Doukhobor" dressing recipe, but instead of mincing everything I threw it all in a blender because I was lazy. Needless to say, that was a bad idea. It came out a sludge. Nobody wants that on their lettuce. However, add a little bit of roasted squash and blam-o -- a perfect, healthy, and tasty pasta sauce.

Stupid blender. In two weeks, when this cleanse is over, that blender will pay dearly for this by making me a margarita...

The Playlist:

1 Butternut squash
1/2 cup Olive oil (more if needed to make a paste)
7-10 cloves Garlic
1 Lemon, juiced
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tsp Pepper, fresh cracked
2 tsp Paprika, smoked
Salt & pepper, to taste

Optional Topping:
250g Sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup Oregano (fresh), chopped
1/2 cup Terragon (fresh), chopped
4 Shallots, minced
3 tbsp Olive oil
3 tbsp White wine vinegar
Salt & Pepper, to taste

GF Fettuccine:
1/4 cup Brown rice flour
3/4 cup Chick pea flour
1 Egg
Chick pea flour, as needed

The Skinny:

Sauce Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375*.
  2. Cut squash in half and de-seed. In large baking dish 1/4 full of water: place squash face down and bake for 40 minutes.
  3. In blender: combined the rest of the sauce ingredients and puree. Set aside until squash is finished.
  4. Remove squash from oven when finished. Remove the skin and add the flesh of the squash to the blender. Puree until smooth.
  5. Voila, sauce is done.
GF Pasta Directions:
  1. In large mixing bowl: combine flours and egg. Mix until egg is incorporated into the flour. Add enough water to form a dough ball. This isn't a science so add more water and/or flour until it resembles a very dense pizza dough.
  2. Kneed dough on a well floured surface for approximately 5 minutes. After kneeding it shouldn't be tacky.
  3. Cover dough ball with cellophane wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  4. Cut dough ball into two.
  5. Use pasta maker as per the directions that came with the pasta maker. 
 Optional Topping Directions:
  1.  In large skillet: heat oil on medium-high heat. Add shallots and saute until clear.
  2. Add sundried tomatoes, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add remainder of ingredients to the pan except for the fresh herbs. Sautee on high heat for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and add the herbs. Mix quickly and serve.

Stay Rad -h
Featured on: Premeditated Leftovers33 Shades of GreenChef in TrainingFood Renegade, Foodie Friday,  

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Rippin Another Blog: Parmesan Roasted Fennel with Mozzarella di Bufala and Reduced Balsamico

Good morning sugar loves!

It's my opinion that food is something that unites us all. Without getting all humanistic and homogenizing (because I learned in my Women's Studies classes that's a bad thing), we all need food. We all eat food (hopefully). We all want food (except those with eating disorders). And we all love food. Who doesn't enjoy eating?? (again, see above).

While what we eat differs from country to country, region to region, home to home, person to person - we do all eat.

And thank God for that. She must love food too.

That's why for the month of February I selected a Swedish blog to rip a recipe from. Min ugn är min tv. We might not speak or type the same language but with photos as fantastic as this Mattias', how can we not connect? The best part was looking at the food and trying to figure out what dishes were. And when it came to actually making one of his dishes, as Haydn mentioned yesterday, Google translator is a handy-dandy-translating magic machine! 

Fennel gets an incredibly tender flavor when it's cooked, losing most of it's aniseed punch, while the creaminess of the mozzzarella paired with the crunchiness of the cheese is unreal.

Small note: Buy the best ingredients for this that you can afford. They key to simple dishes like this is getting the good shit. Your mouth will thank you. Twice.

tack så mycket, Mattias... and Google Translator.

Roasted Parmean w Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella
(printable recipe) - serves 2.


2 Large Bulbs of Fennel.
2 Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella
Real Parmesan Cheese, finely grated.
Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Coarse Sea Salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper. 
1 Batch Balsamic Reduction.

What to Do:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 

As it heats, chop the woody and fuzzy tops off the fennel and slice in half. Place on a baking pan and drizzle generously with oil, salt and pepper. Place in the hot oven and bake for 30-45 minutes or until it starts to brown nicely. 

Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with a good helping of Parmesan cheese. Place back in the oven and continue to cook until the cheese has a juicy golden color (approx 15 minutes). 

As your fennel bakes, remove the fresh buffalo mozza from the package and in a sieve to drain well.

Once the fennel is done, pile it all up on a big plate, drizzle with a good helping of balsamic reduction and olive oil, garnish with some fennel tops and serve with a loaf of crusty bread.



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Rippin' Another Blog: SesameTuna & Pea Shoot Salad

The Lowdown:

First of all, I'm just going to say how amazed I am with google translator. Kristy decided (I'm not sure how) that our next Rippin' Another Blog session was going to be from Mattias Jeppsson's Min ugn ar min TV.

The first thing you may notice is that it makes absolutely no sense. That is unless you speak Swedish(?). I think it's Swedish at least. Actually, it was kind of fun. It was like shopping in a specialty food store where you have no idea what any of the ingredients are, or what they are used for. There were pictures and there was jibberish. That is all.

Luckily for all of us, google translator is mind-blowingly amazing. In approximately three seconds I had already understood the recipe. Understood as in I read the English translation. Interesting choice Kristy, interesting choice.

I'm not much of a salad kind of guy. I generally find them boring and dull. I understand their importance for healthy eating and all that jazz. Still, I just can't get over how bland they can be. That is of course, unless you lie and call something that isn't a salad, a salad. This recipe is really just a glorified, albeit delicious, tuna recipe. I simply added red cabbage, a few more pea shoots, and put salad in the name to make myself feel good about my life decisions. In all honesty, who doesn't love a salad that really isn't a salad?

What's even better about this "salad," is the fact that I went to the grocery store, cooked the tuna, made the dressing, and plated the meal in under thirty minutes. The only thing keeping this meal from being uber healthy is the ridiculous amounts of heavy metals in the fish. Heavy metal as in mercury, not Metallica or Slayer. Healthy, quick, easy, and done.

The Playlist:

1 Ahi tuna steak
1/2 Lime, juiced
1/2 cup Olive oil
1 tbsp Sesame seeds
1 package Pea Shoots
Red Cabbage, to garnish
Cilantro, to garnish
Sea salt & Pepper, to taste

The Skinny:

  1.  In seasoned cast iron pan: heat on medium-high until pan is hot.
  2. Seer tuna on each side for 20-30 seconds.
  3. Sprinkle sesame seeds onto tuna and slice.
  4. Mix the olive oil, salt, pepper, and lime juice.
  5. Place tuna on a bed of cabbage and pea shoots. Add cilantro and dressing.

Stay Rad -h
Featured on: Premeditated Leftovers33 Shades of GreenChef in TrainingFood Renegade, Foodie Friday,  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Thai Green Curry (Gaeng Kiaw Wan)

The Lowdown:

I'm not sure that I've ever gone out for Thai food and not ordered a variation of this dish. It always manages to catch my attention, despite my best efforts to explore the remainder of the menu. In the end, what does it matter? Get a doggy bag and take it all home for later. However, this post isn't an meant to be an ode to my favourite Thai restaurants in town. Nor is it meant to praise one of my favourite "poor me, poor me, I'm sick and need a cure" recipes (although seriously, all that garlic, ginger, and shallots is a wonderful preventative medicine). No, this post is intended for something far more devious -- playful revenge.

I feel that over this holiday season, a bit of public payback is in order. Being the perfect son that I am, I decided that my parents would probably love a break from cooking while I was in their neck of the [urban] woods. Given that I love cooking, and they were paying for the groceries, it seemed perfect. Oh god how much I miss them paying for groceries.

Winters in Toronto can be quite brisk, making a spicy Thai green curry the perfect dish to make. After braving the cold, then fighting tooth and nail in the grocery store (December 23 in a grocery store is near suicide) I came home to the question, "why didn't you just buy the packaged green curry paste?" Oh, the humility! If this wasn't enough, it was soon followed by, "if it's not good, you still have time to go to the store and buy the packaged stuff." Oh lord, please help me restrain myself. And now everyone knows the antics I must deal with.

The Playlist:

Curry Paste:
4 Serrano peppers, chopped
1 large piece Ginger, chopped
2 Shallots, chopped
3 cloves Garlic, chopped
1 bunch Cilantro, stems only
1 Lime, zest and juice
1 Lemongrass stalk, outer layer removed then chopped
1 tbsp Oyster sauce
1 tbsp Fish sauce
1 tsp Coriander, ground
1 tsp Cumin, ground
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp White pepper, ground

1 lb Mussels, fresh
1/2 lb Prawns
2 cups Shitake mushrooms, coursely chopped (optional)
Vegetables, julienne (optional)
3 cups Sui choy, chopped
3 tbsp Vegetable oil
1 can Coconut milk
2 cups Chicken broth (optional)
5 Kaffir lime leaves
Thai basil leaves, to taste
Thai chili peppers, to taste
Coriander, to taste

The Skinny:

After trial and error, along with a helpful tip, I found that an immersion blender is the easiest way with the best results. Apparently it releases the fragrance and oils of each of the curry paste ingredients. Optimally, a stone mortar and pestle works best, but it takes much longer and I don't own one.

  1. In immersion blender measuring cup (tall and thin): add lemongrass, ginger, and serrano peppers. Using immersion blender mince until a grainy paste forms. Then add shallots, garlic, and lime peels and repeat the blending process. Finally add the remaining curry paste ingredients and repeat the blending process.
  2. The curry paste makes a dish for 5-7 people. Or it can be separated into two dishes for 2-3 people. The remainder of the instructions are for the smaller portion. For the larger portion you can double the ingredients or add them as you please. The paste can be refrigerated for two weeks or frozen.
  3. In large wok: heat oil on medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add curry paste and cook until fragrant (about 5 minutes). This requires constant stirring so that the paste doesn't burn. Add 1/4 of the coconut milk and continue mixing until it becomes the same consistency as a thin guacamole. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the remaining coconut milk and bring back to a gentle boil. Add chicken broth and simmer for 30 - 45 minutes. 
  4. Remove 2 cups of liquid and set aside.
  5. To wok: If bell peppers and celery are desired add them now and cook for 5 minutes. Add Thai basil, Thai chili peppers, mushrooms, and kaffir lime leaves and remove from heat.
  6. Remove curry from the wok and place in a serving dish and set aside.
  7. In wok: on high heat add the liquid that was set aside and bring to a boil. Add mussels and prawns and cover. Cook until mussel shells open (about 2-3 minutes). Remove all mussels that remained shut. 
  8. Add mussels, broth, and prawns to the serving dish.
  9. Serve with rice and the chopped sui choy. Pouring the broth over the sui choy in individual bowls cooks it just enough so that it remains firm.

Stay Rad -h
Featured on: Premeditated Leftovers33 Shades of GreenChef in TrainingFood Renegade, Foodie Friday,  


Thursday, February 07, 2013

RPI: Mission Lamb (Roast Lamb Dinner)

Sometimes you want original... Something new and exciting and inventive.

...and sometimes you want traditional. Moments and places that just shouldn't be ef'd with.

Does that make traditional boring? Nay! It's comforting. And gentle. And in this case, generally and specifically delicious.

When lamb was selected for our next Rock Paper Ingredient challenge, I couldn't have been happier. Lamb is by far, in my top ten ingredients of all time. Nothing beats moist, perfectly cooked lamb with all it's gamey succulence and tender, fall apart in your mouth texture. Lamb. Oh lamb. lamb. lamb. Yes. Lamb. 

Pair it with a big fat, kick ya in the crotch red wine, and you'll have me purring faster than a....well, than a cat getting it's belly scratched. Please don't scratch my belly. Especially when it's full of lamb and red wine. Because chances are, I ate a lot of lamb. And drank a lot of red wine. And I'm havin me some lamby red wine babies - and you should never - EVER - walk up and rub a pregnant woman's belly.

My choice for RPI Mission Lamb: Lamb roast dinner. Ain't nothin' wrong with that. Not boring. Not unoriginal. Not a bad idea at all. In fact, it was comforting. And gentle. And generally and specifically delicious.

Roast Lamb Dinner
(printable recipe) - serves 5-6.


3 Lb. Lamb Roast, no bone.
1 Head of Garlic, peeled.
2 Apples, cored and cut into quarters.
3 Leeks, washed and sliced.
1 Lemon for juice and zest.
Handful of Fresh Rosemary.
Handful of Fresh Thyme.
1 Tbsp Coriander Seeds.
2 Tbsp Butter.
1 C Dry Red Wine.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Coarse Sea Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.

What to Do:

12 - 24 hours in advance: Marinate the lamb. First, truss the lamb with butcher string to ensure even thickness of the lamb all the way around. In a pestle and mortar, bash together the coriander, lemon zest, and a good dose of salt and pepper. Once the pods are open and fragrant, pour into a freezer bag or appropriate sealable container along with the herbs and a few good glugs of olive oil. Place lamb in the container and massage into the marinade. Seal and place in the fridge to marinate, occasionally rotating to ensure even marination.

When it's time to cook: Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F and place a cast-iron pan over fairly high heat.

As that heats,  place in hot pan and sear until you have good color on each side. Remove from the heat and place on a wire rack in a roasting pan. Throw in the rest of the ingredients - the butter, wine and lemon juice - and tuck around the lamb. Cover and place in oven. Roast for an hour and a quarter to an hour and a half or until a thermometer reads 132-135 degrees F for medium rare.

Remove from the oven, place meat and wire rack over a cutting board and cover with foil. Allow the meat to rest 10-15 minutes. Slice thinly and serve.

While the meat rests, make your sauce. In the same dirty pan you seared the lamb in, add the red wine, a sprig or two of herbs and a good helping of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat and then turn heat down to a simmer. Allow the wine to reduce by half, making sure to scrape all the bits off the bottom of the pan. Stir in the butter and lemon juice. Strain through a fine sieve and serve along side lamb.



Tuesday, February 05, 2013

RPI - Lamb: Lamb & Date Meatball Tagine

The Lowdown:

Every now and then something beautiful comes from a mistake. We've all had these moments, and we all love these moments. This meal was one of those moments. It started out as a disaster. Very rarely do I create something that I don't like. I'm not saying I'm a garbarator, but I like most foods and will eat just about anything (other than eggplant and durian). The meatballs.. well, I hate to admit it, but they were lacking something. Perhaps the dates made them too sweet (probably because I was too lazy to chop them up fine enough). Or perhaps it was the lack of spiciness. Either way, they were destined to be doomed. The countdown was on, and their fate was looking rather grim.

Then it came to me. Why not stew them in a tagine? They are all ready Moroccan spiced, so it made perfect sense.With the kick of the cayenne pepper, and the robust flavours of the tagine, the meatballs were much more well-rounded. Fear not; no food was wasted in the making of this blog, and I ate happily every after. Everyone loves a fairytale ending.

If I could change one thing about this, it would have been to remove the tomatoes and substitute them with something else. I'm not quite sure what, but although I enjoyed it, I found it to be a bit too similar to an odd pasta sauce. Oh well, live and learn.

The Playlist:

2 lbs Lamb, ground
1/2 cup Dates, finely chopped
1/2 Onion, finely chopped
1 Egg
3 cloves Garlic, minced
3 tbsp Chickpea flour
1/2 tsp Coriander, ground
1/2 tsp Ginger, ground
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp White pepper
Pepper, to taste

2 tbsp Oil or lard
5 Tomatoes, chopped
1 large Onion, chopped
5 cloves Garlic, minced
1/4 cup Dried apricots, halved
1 tsp Cayenne pepper
2 tsp Black pepper, fresh ground
2 tbsp Ginger, minced
1 tbsp Turmeric
2 tsp Cinnamon, ground
1 Cinnamon stick
2 tbsp Paprika, Spanish
2 cups Stock (beef or lamb)
1 tbsp Lemon juice

The Skinny:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*.
  2. In large mixing bowl: mix all ingredients together until everything is bound together. Roll into 8 - 12 balls, ensuring that they are firmly pressed together.
  3. Place on a greased baking sheet and cook for 30-40 minutes.
  4. In heavy pot: heat oil over medium-high and saute onions and garlic until translucent. Add tomatoes, cover, and simmer until tomatoes have lost their shape. Add remaining ingredients, turn heat down to low, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove meatbalss from the oven and put the desired amount into the tagine. Cover and allow to simmer for 1 hour.
  6. Serve as a stew or with rice.

Stay Rad -h
Featured on: Premeditated Leftovers33 Shades of GreenChef in TrainingFood Renegade

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Balls in My Mouth (Swedish Meatballs)

...do ball and nut jokes ever get old?

Don't answer that. It's likely. But I still giggle every time. 

Something else that makes me giggle? Actually putting meatballs in my mouth. Not because it's hilarious but because it makes my little mouth do back flips.

I love me a good meatball.

If they're on the menu, you can sure as heck bet your right arm I'm going to order them. Unfortunately, restauranteurs often fuck it up. They lack that lovin' feeling and extra touch that makes a truly great meatball. It isn't just about balls of meat. It's a science, nay an art, you know.

There are various secrets to creating a great fucking meatball. One, it's all about the meat. Obviously. Grass fed beef. Very important. Also, don't be afraid to mix genres. My meatballs almost always contain a mixture of beef, veal (still beef, but baby beef - make sure to ask your butcher how the calves were treated - they need to roam free), and pork. That way you make sure you get a good level of fat, of sweetness and of course, beefiness. 

Also, the breadcrumbs. You can get white, multi-grain, whole wheat, fine, coarse, panko, seasoned, herbed, store bought, home-made and even rainbow with bits of unicorn thrown in...Okay, that last one might not be true. Choose something light and fluffy - I often go for panko. They're airy and sop up a lot of moisture. 

Flavor Profiles and Herbs. In the breadcrumbs or aside. Herb that shit up. Parsley is nice. Thyme. Rosemary. Roast some garlic in the oven with olive oil and chopped thyme and then toss that into the mix. Finely dice half an onion and even caramelize it if you feel so inclined. Blue cheese isn't a bad idea either. Maybe a bit of chopped apple? Worcestershire sauce is a MUST. And of course, lemon zest is never a bad thing.

Use a good quality egg(s) to bind everything together. I insist upon pastured eggs. Their whites (the binding agent) are far superior in quality and content and work much better than crappy store bought ones. The same goes for the yolks - good yolk = good flavor and richness.

And of course, last but certainly not least - season the shit out of that mixture. Salt and pepper are our friends, my friends. 

Side note: I usually roll my balls in flour before frying in a pan to brown. It helps hold them together and creates a fabulous outer texture for the finished product.

...And that's just off the top of my head.

Point is: Show your meatballs some love. They'll thank you for it. Or at least your guests will. 

Side note: Don't be put off by the ingredient list - it seems long but comes together very quickly.

Swedish Meatballs
(printable recipe) - serves 4.

Ingredients for Balls:

3/4 Lb. Pastured Pork.
3/4 Lb. Pastured Beef.
2 Medium Sized Pastured eggs.
1 Small Onion, peeled & finely diced.
2 Cloves of Garlic, peeled & minced.
Dash of All Spice.
Dash of Ground Nutmeg.
1 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Italian Flat-Leaf Parsley.
2 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce.
1/2 C Panko Crumbs.
Coarse Sea Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.

2 C Flour.
2 Tbsp Butter, unsalted.
Extra Chopped Parsley to Garnish.

Ingredients for Sauce:

2 C Beef of Chicken Stock.
1/2 C Sour Cream.
3/4 C Heavy Cream.
2 Tbsp of Flour.
2 Tbsp Butter, unsalted.
Coarse Sea Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.

What to Do:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, a large plate or baking dish with some paper towel and fill a shallow bowl with the flour. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the balls save for the flour, butter and garnish parsley. You may need to add more panko if your meat has a lot of moisture. Once it is all worked in, firm yet still moist, roll into 1-2" balls and set prepared baking sheet.

Gently roll each ball in the bowl of flour, shake off excess, and return to prepared baking sheet.

Place a large frying pan over medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp of butter and melt until sizzling. Gently drop some of the balls into the frying pan and shake well until the flour coating the balls is moist. Don't over-crowd the pan or you'll end up with steamed balls rather than browned balls. Allow the balls to cook through and get a nice dark color on the outside - approximately 7 minutes in the pan. Once cooked, remove from the pan and place on paper lined dish. Repeat until all the balls have cooked through.

Set aside. 

Now make your sauce. In that same pan, Toss in the last 2 Tbsp of butter and allow to sizzle. Stir in 2 Tbsp of flour and heat until fragrant and it starts to change colour. Remove from the heat and gently pour in stock. Return to heat, making sure to get all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan and stir constantly until thickened. Add the cream and sour cream and season well to taste. Gently spoon the balls back into the pan, heat through and serve with a generous helping of the garnish parsley on top.


What are your secret ingredients?


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Too Hot to Trot Trio

The Lowdown:

Pain is inevitable. We learn this from a young age when our parents temporarily ruined our lives by taking away our favourite toy. The kid would then storm off saying something along the lines of, "you'll never understand me!" This was followed by one to three door slams, depending on how brave the particular child was. After this, the pouting phase occurs, which can last up to an astonishing three weeks. Funny how kids can't keep a train of thought going in school for more than three seconds, but they can hold a grudge for three months when their Pokemon game is taken away. Ahem, pain is inevitable was the point.

But what about those times when you want to inflict pain on yourself? I'm not talking about leather whips, ball gags, or hot wax either. I'm sure if you're into that, you can find a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. I'm talking about the real hot stuff. Meow (that sounded sexier in my head than typed out). I'm talking about heat. Spicy is the spice of life, after all.
After writing for nearly a year, I thought I'd confess my love for spiciness (again). That, and I thought it should be known that hot sauces are all relatively simple to make. Every recipe I browsed contained the same base ingredients: vinegar, salt, hot peppers. Of course, this was only the base and the rest was left up to creativity. Bring it on cold, miserable winter.

The Playlist:

Very Verdi Hot Sauce
15 Cherry bomb peppers (green), de-stemmed & halved
1 cup White wine vinegar
1 cup White vinegar
1/2 cup Lime juice
1/4 cup Cilantro
1 tsp Basil, dried
1 tsp Dill, dried
1 tsp White pepper
2 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp Onion powder
2 tbsp Salt
3 dashes Green food colouring (optional)

Red-Hot Hot Sauce
50 Thai chili peppers, de-stemmed
1 cup Red wine vinegar
1 cup White vinegar
1 cup Water
2 tbsp Salt
5-10 dashes, Liquid smoke

Mellow Yellow Hot Sauce 
4 Banana peppers, de-stemmed
1 cup Champagne berry vinegar
1/2 cup White vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup Lime juice

3 Cardamom pods
2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Corriander seed, ground
2 tsp Garlic powder

The Skinny:

  1. In medium sauce pan: add all of the ingredients, cover, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes.
  2. OPTIONAL: you can cook half of the peppers, then add the remaining peppers in the blending process to get a more vibrant flavour, spice, and colour.
  3. Allow to cool, remove the cinnamon stick/cardamom pods, add the uncooked peppers (if done the optional way), then puree in a blender. If desired you can strain so the seeds are not in the sauce.

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Stay Rad -h