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food: slow cooker beef with balsamic

so this is fun… the leaves are falling, the air is chilled… that means its SLOW COOKER SEASON!
hooray!  every lazy cook’s favourite time of the year.  i for one, am a huge fan.
but i’ll be honest… there gets to be a point when everything you throw in the slow cooker kinda starts to feel the same… it’s broth or tomato base… its a soup or a stew… since it comes from *my* slow cooker, its usually spicy and slightly mexican seasoned… it has mirepoix or similar for the veg…

yes, its easy to get into a slow cooker rut.
i did however find a fun listing of “30 nights of paleo crock pot meals” which has breathed new life into my slow cooker (can i from here on just refer to it as the SC? perfect.)

so yesterday i decided to try out the recipe from civilized caveman cooking for a balsamic roast.
i basically had all the ingredients in my house (besides the roast, which a quick trip to the farm solved) and it sounded different and tasty.  plus we buy a balsamic vinegar from costco that is not only delicious, but in a giant bottle, so i always feel the need to cook with a lot of it whenever possible.

step 1 – season & sear off the roast.

i used paprika, garlic salt, salt & pepper for seasoning and then seared it at high heat with coconut oil in my non stick.
it was smoky in my kitchen for 5am, lol.  but we were rewarded with a beautiful sear on that little fucker.
oh, it was a small beef top sirloin roast about 1lb – served 2 people.  the recipe calls for a 2lb roast but obviously serves more.

step 2 – veggies meet meat.

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the recipe called for onions only, but i had carrots & celery handy, so i threw together the tried & true mirepoix.
i used a whole yellow onion as per the recipe and 2 sticks of celery & 2 carrots.
then lovingly placed the seared roast on top.

step 3 – add liquid.

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the recipe told me to deglaze the pan with the wine & water, but since i seared mine at such a high heat, the pan had some black bits that i decided i should live without.
also, the recipe calls for white wine – which with beef seemed weird to me. so i used red.  also i had red open already and not white, so there’s that.
i combined the following and poured it into the SC:
– 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
– 1 cup tomato sauce (i used the italian kind in the glass bottle)
– 1/2 cup of red wine
– 1/3 cup of water
of course, throw in a pinch of salt for good measure and some cracked black pepper.

step 4 – cook on low for however long you’re going to be out of the house for.  mine went for 12 hours.

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step 5 – serve and eat up!

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final thoughts – as always, i think every recipe can benefit from chili flakes. but also i think its worth mentioning that often in recipes like this, i’ll remove the meat and use my immersion blender to puree the slow cooked veg, making the sauce thicker and more gravy-like.  that would have been delightful in this case.
the vinegar gave a nice acidity but didn’t overwhelm anything and the beef turned out delightfully slow cooker perfect.
and my house smelled fucking spectacular when i got home.
SC win!

here’s the original recipe for those that like to play by the rules.

Crockpot Balsamic Roast

Ingredients

  • 2 Lb any roast, I used Top Round
  • 1 Large Sweet Onion, sliced
  • 8 Ounces Tomato Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 2 Tbsp White Wine
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • Rub(Amount to your taste): Salt, Black Pepper, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Smoked Paprika

Cooking Steps

Season your roast on both sides generously with the spices listed above to your liking
Heat your coconut oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, once warm sear each side of your roast for 3-4 minutes
Place your sliced onions in the bottom of your crock pot and put your seared meat on top of the onions
Combine your balsamic vinegar and tomato sauce in a bowl and mix well, then pour over your meat in the crock pot
Add your water and white wine to your pan and de-glaze it
Pour this mixture in your crock pot as well
Place the lid on, set to low and cook for 6-8 hours
Enjoy

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food: pie party

on sunday we had a pie party.
and it was pretty rad.

3 kinds of pie were served… one savory main and two delicious dessert offerings.

i took care of the savory pie.
since we had a vegetarian on board, i decided just to make a veggie pot pie… it had all the usual suspects… onion, carrots, leek, celery, peas, corn, yellow wax beans and red skinned potatoes.
i made a roux with butter & flour and then added veggie stock and a bit of milk.
seasoned it with salt, pepper, fresh thyme & rosemary.  and dried chipotles.

but the real star of this pie is the crust.
i kinda phoned it in with a frozen tenderflake puff pastry… but then i like to think i made up for it with the magic layer.
this idea is from a canadian living recipe… basically you roll out one layer of puff pastry and coat it with fresh grated parmesan cheese & fresh chopped herbs and then layer the other dough on top.
the result is a secret flavour layer that takes the traditional pot pie up a notch (or two)

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on to the sweet pies!
moonbeam made her decadent s’mores pie… which was so rich and sweet and aiodjg;fngakhnf.  gah.
it was ridiculous.

graham cracker crust, chocolate ganache that you wanted to rub all over your body… and vegan marshmallow fluff that was bruleed at serving time.
because she’s fancy like that.

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julie’s pie contribution was ridiculous in its own right.
a german apple pie filled with sour cream.
it was unlike anything i’ve had before.  and i’m not usually an apple pie lover, because the cooked fruit thing turns me off… but this was awesome.
so i made her give me the recipe to post for y’all.

Sour Cream Apple Pie (or just the German Apple if you prefer)

Filling:
3 TBSP flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/8 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
3 c. thinly sliced apples (granny smiths are good)

Bake in pastry shell 20-30 mins at 400 degrees
Reduce temp to 350 for 30 minutes more

Prepare topping:
1/3-1/2 c. brown sugar
1/3-1/2 c. flour
1-1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4-1/3 c. butter

make topping into a crumble add to pie and bake another 20 minutes.

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this pie was GOOD.
and such a perfect compliment to the s’mores pie which was super sweet yumminess… this one had a little bit of acid and the filling itself was relatively neutral.

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then, in her infinite wisdom, moonbeam paired the dessert pies with a fortified wine.
which, truly was the icing on the cake.  or the crust on the pie.  depending on your metaphors.

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pie party = great success!

food: charred corn salad

okay,so i’ve pretty much been the worst for posting over the past few weeks… part of it has been because i’ve been busy and the other part has just been a straight up lack of anything good to say.

but i do have a recipe post for you…

last weekend i made a charred corn salad from my bon apetit magazine and it turned out, by all accounts, to be quite yummy.
i say “by all accounts”, because i didn’t actually eat any of it.
i’m trying to steer away from the corn and i don’t like tomatoes and onions. so this was really not something i made for *me*
which is fine. because it was meant for bbq sharing.

anyways, it was a little more time consuming than i thought… lots of tiny chopping and grilling the corn and shucking it ect… but it yielded a GIANT bowl of salad and was fresh & healthy and all that good stuff.

the recipe is here but i downsized it a little and only used 10 ears of corn, which i felt was PLENTY.
i also decided to go for a “everything chopped the same size” feel to the salad. so, mine looked a little different than theirs.

Charred Corn Salad with Basil and Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 12 ears of corn, husked
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup (loosely packed) fresh basil leaves, large leaves torn
  • 1/3 cup (or more) fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Preparation

  • Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to high. Rub corn with 1 Tbsp. oil. Grill, turning frequently, until corn is charred and heated through, 10-12 minutes. Remove from grill; when cool enough to handle, cut kernels from cobs and transfer to a large bowl. DO AHEAD: Corn can be made 3 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.
  • Place onion in a strainer and rinse with cold water to mellow its flavor. Drain well. Mix onion, remaining 5 Tbsp. oil, tomatoes, basil, 1/3 cup lime juice, and thyme into corn. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more lime juice, if desired. DO AHEAD: Salad can be assembled 1 hour ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

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baking: paleo zucchini muffins

if there’s one baked good that i have a serious soft spot for it’s a really nice zucchini bread.
preferably the kind with chocolate and/or chocolate chips in it.

and wouldn’t you know it… it’s zucchini season.

sadly, my 3 zucchini plants are not yielding bounty like i had hoped.
they appear to have some sort of pest… maybe a fungus? i don’t know.
but all my zucchinis get about an inch long and then shrivel up and die.
so it’s a good thing that zucchinis are local and cheap right now – $.69 a pound – bargain!

so… i kinda bought 2 pounds of them. and then another pound of yellow zucchinis.

but i have plans.

i found this recipe that sounded seriously yummy.
and i thought it was worth testing out.
after all, it did come to my inbox courtesy of nom nom paleo, which never steers me wrong…

Recipe: Perfect Paleo Zucchini Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups almond butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 c. shredded zucchini, strained or squeezed
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon (GOOD quality makes a huge difference)

Instructions

  1. Add all items to a mixing bowl in order and stir.
  2. Pour into paper-lined muffin tins (trust me, this is a step you don’t want to skip).
  3. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until slightly brown on edges and passes the toothpick test.
  4. Makes 12 muffins.

ummm… ya.
these muffins are fucking incredible.
this is probably the best baked zucchini item i’ve ever had.
period.  paleo or not.

i did make a few slight tweaks to the above recipe…
i added about a tablespoon of raw agave syrup for a bit more sweetness and i also added a 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips.
and i didn’t have 2.5 cups of almond butter, i only had 2 cups.  but it still worked magically.
i also used trader joe’s almond butter with sea salt in it because it was all i had.
the only real difference was that i had to cook them for 21 minutes before they were done.

but i just absolutely annihilated one.  …and i’m thinking about going back for a repeat performance.
they’re light and cakey and sweet and chocolaty and so frigging good!
i’ll admit that there’s been a bit of my paleo baking adventures have netted me some puck-like results… but this was not one of them.  in fact, i would bet money that not very many people would peg this as a flour-free product.

i’ve never cooked with almond butter before… although i’ve cooked with almond flour lots… i just didn’t realize this was a “thing” that one could do.
so, awesome learning experience.

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food: coconut banana bread with lime glaze

the banana and i have a love/hate relationship.
well… more accurately its a tolerated/hate relationship.
i’m not a lover of the banana (wait – did that sound weird?) and my palate is especially offended by faux banana flavourings.
maybe it harkens back to days of the medicine not-so-cleverly-disguised.
or maybe its just gross.

as for the banana itself… i avoid it.
years back i had my gallbladder removed and prior to that surgery i was suffering from some pretty regular and horrible heartburn.  the banana was a prime culprit.
even a bit of banana in anything would cause me a pretty significant amount of suffering.
so i stopped eating them.
you know, like someone who has the capacity to learn a lesson might.

but then i had my surgery, recovered, and found i could eat some foods i’d been avoiding.
so i decided to give the old banana another chance.
this my friends, was a mistake.
i don’t have the capacity to accurately describe the acute pain i experienced, but i would akin it to having your internal organs in a vice.
i experienced straight up violent pain.
like stabbing cramping pains so painful i felt nauseous and had to lay down.
cold sweats, shaking hands kind of pain.
fun times.

but, i thought to myself, it must have been something else that factored in.  i mean, how could a banana, a piece of fruit for pete’s sake,  make me have such an awful reaction?
so i tried it again.  and again.
and i literally ate a banana every day for a two week period trying to convince myself it was not the source of this ridiculous agony.

but, it really was.
i can’t eat bananas.
i don’t know what it does to my insides, but i kinda figure its taking some sort of blender to them.

so, this recipe, is not for me.
in fact, since it’s a “healthy” recipe, but still contains the wheat, its definitely not for me.

but, recently my mom made this and i had to sneak a piece.
because when you put lime & coconut in the same thing, well that my friends, is magic time.

and i won’t fuck around here.  this recipe is outstanding.
so if you’re a banana bread lover, get in there.
because this was even worth me laying on the couch all night moaning in pain on account of wheat meets banana (terrible idea natalie.)

Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze

Cooking Light SEPTEMBER 2007

  • Yield: 1 loaf, 16 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
  • 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

Place granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, yogurt, rum, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Stir in 1/2 cup coconut.

Spoon batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon coconut. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan.

Combine powdered sugar and juice, stirring with a whisk; drizzle over warm bread. Cool completely on wire rack.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 193
  • Calories from fat: 21%
  • Fat: 4.6g
  • Saturated fat: 2.8g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 1.1g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.3g
  • Protein: 2.9g
  • Carbohydrate: 35g
  • Fiber: 1.1g
  • Cholesterol: 35mg
  • Iron: 1mg
  • Sodium: 179mg
  • Calcium: 15mg

food: pork shoulder

 

for canada day, we kinda went all out.
i’m not going to give you a whole lot of preamble, but we slow roasted a 15lb bone-in pork shoulder for 24 hours.
so, there’s that.

we also let it brine for 24 hours before cooking.
aaaaand we butchered the pig ourselves.
so let’s just say it was a real farm to table meal so to speak.

i’ll let the pictures tell the story…

brine for 24 hours.

homemade spice rub and injection.

ready for the oven.

after 6 hours.

after 15 hours.

finished product after 24 hours at 200 degrees.

and then we let it cool for an hour and removed the fat cap and shredded the pig into a mountain of deliciousness.

we served it up with 3 bbq sauces.  a mustard based south carolina sauce.  a vinegar north carolina sauce.  and a more classic looking kansas city bbq sauce.
and then we chowed down with some delicious cornbread & coleslaw side dishes.

everyone like their bbq different.
this first plate is mine.  i poured the vinegar sauce all over the pork and then did a side of mustard and classic bbq sauces and dipped as i ate.

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this second plate is moonbeam’s.  she made 4 piles, one plain and one with each of the 3 sauces to taste them all appropriately.

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and then jules made hers into a cornbread sandwich.  which, frankly, i can’t fault a sister for.

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the winners were the two homemade sauces, north & south carolina.
the bottled sauce was the least favourite even though it was a tasty one.
the pork itself was incredible.  so tender and roasted to perfection.
and as an added bonus, it made my house smell magical for 2 days.

it was the first time i’d ever cooked something for that long and wow.  what results.
part of me was a bit nervous about the whole endeavor… leaving the oven on overnight, what if it overcooked and dried out ect… but it turned out absolutely perfect.

and now i shall be eating pork leftovers for the next week.  and that is in no way a complaint.

food: nicoise salad

i don’t know if this is in any way unusual or noteworthy, but until last night neither my husband nor i had ever had a nicoise salad.
i mean… we’re not french… but we do like salads.  and seafood…. so… ya.

anyways.  in addition to working on paring down everything about our lives, the food budget is definitely a giant blinking light on the list.  we like food and 100% believe its worth the money to buy quality food.
but we also are living on the BC working man’s paycheque.  which means it can’t be all sablefish and spot prawns.

canned tuna and canned salmon are two things we’ve really taken a shining to lately.
it’s economical, relatively speaking, although you pay a premium for the ethically caught options, but its worth it…
and it’s tasty, fast and easy for those times when standing over the stove just isn’t your idea of a good time.
but one can only eat so many fish cakes (untrue – that shit is delicious) and so we’ve been hunting around for new ideas.

this nicoise salad really made itself.
my husband came home with bags of produce on monday and among them were lovely green beans, little red potatoes, baby heirloom tomatoes and 2 giant heads of romaine…
and also this genius idea.

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we made a dressing of olive oil, anchovy, olive brine, lemon and white wine vinegar with some tarragon and garlic for flavour and whisked it together by hand.
the cooked potatoes and blanched green beans were tossed in it and the rest was drizzled on top.

for the tuna, we used one can packed in water and drained and one can packed in oil with jalapenos in it and mixed them together so it had oil, but not too much.

garnished with perfectly hard boiled eggs sprinkled with a few grains of coarse salt, tomatoes, olives and capers and it was ready for eating.

except for for mine, of course.  thats my husband’s plate above.
mine is the picky and much smaller plate below.
which was still equally as delightful.

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