Wednesday, 30 May 2012

New York Strip, Port Grilled Mushrooms, Summer Garden Salad and Rhubarb-Buttermilk Tea Cake

Here’s another menu all of the carnivores out there will just adore.
Nothing, absolutely nothing beats a grilled steak, hot off the BBQ, served up with your very own, homemade steak sauce...look out HP, there’s a new sauce in town!
Barbecue season is off to a brilliant start with these recipes in my repertoire!

Start things off with a favourite beverage

Brit-style Port Steak Sauce

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup malt vinegar
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup port
Boil balsamic vinegar in a large, wide frying pan over high until reduced by half, 2 to 3 min. 
Add remaining ingredients to pan.  
Whisk until slightly thickened and reduced to 1 cup, 2 to 4 more min. 
Cool completely.

To make Port grilled mushrooms:
Preheat barbecue to medium-high. Grill whole mushrooms until cooked through, basting often with Port Steak Sauce. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Summer Garden Salad

  • 2 tbsp red-wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 baby cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh mint (optional)
Whisk vinegar with oil and Dijon in a bowl. 
Stir in cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, shallot and mint until combined. 

Drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with steak spice
Dinner is served!

Rhubarb-buttermilk Tea Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup sifted icing sugar
  • 4 to 5 tsp lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly spray bottom of an 8 × 4-in. loaf pan.
Stir flour with baking soda and salt in medium bowl. 
Whisk egg with brown sugar, buttermilk, oil and vanilla in large bowl, then stir in flour mixture. 
Add rhubarb and pecans and stir just until combined. 
Scrape batter into prepared pan.
Bake in centre of oven until a cake tester inserted in centre of loaf comes out clean, 70 to 75 min. Transfer to a rack to cool in pan for 10 min.
Stir icing sugar with lemon juice in a small bowl, adding juice 1 tsp at a time until thick and smooth. Drizzle glaze over warm loaf, letting it run down the sides.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Grilled Chicken with Tomato and Onion Chutney, Corn on the Cob and Minted Zucchini Salad

This Tuesday Dinner is dead simple. What's easier than grilled chicken breast and corn on the cob? This does not, by any means, take away from the deliciousness of the meal...simple doesn't have to mean boring!
The chutney I made for a BBQ we had on the bank holiday Monday. The chutney essentially replaced the ketchup and mustard on the burger - an amazing condiment to accompany both burgers and chicken.

Tomato and Onion Chutney

  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped sweet onion
  • 1½ lbs campari-style tomatoes, quartered
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp  sea salt
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium heat.

Add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until the onion is softened. Add the tomatoes, brown sugar, vinegar, salt and mustard seeds and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 40 to 45 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down and become syrupy and caramelized and the juices have evaporated, stirring often during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Remove from the heat and cool completely before serving.

Makes about 2 cups.

Minted Zucchini Salad

  • 4 zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

Preheat barbecue to medium. Season zucchini slices with pepper.
Whisk oil with vinegar and salt in a medium bowl. Add zucchini slices and turn to coat.
Oil grill, then barbecue zucchini, uncovered, until tender, 1 to 2 min per side. 

Return to bowl with vinaigrette. Stir in mint. 

Corn on the Cob

Clean cobs and measure off a square of foil to cover the corn. Add butter, salt and pepper. BBQ for approx. 10 minutes on med-high heat.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

House-blend Vitamin Water

My Homemade Vitamin Water


10 cups water
½ cucumber, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
¼ cup basil leaves, shredded
1/3 cup mint, shredded

Stir all ingredients in a pitcher. Place in fridge overnight and serve.

No calories, no chemicals, and only a fraction of the price of those vitamin-enhanced waters found in our corner store shop coolers.
Simply refreshing!

Liquid Sunshine - One Week, One Month Limoncello

Mark and I were sitting out on our balcony in the glorious sunshine, reading our books, when I came across this little gem. I remembered Italian friends of mine telling me about visiting Italy and enjoying this amazing drink. I was determined to get this project underway (considering it takes one week and one month to make) just to see what the hoopla was about!

Makes about 6 cups
zest of 6 lemons
750 ml vodka
3 cups sugar
3 cups water

Put the lemon zest in bowl and pour in the vodka. Cover the bowl and let stand for one week at room temperature.
In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and water and cook over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. 

Remove from heat and let cool to warm. Add the vodka mixture and stir well. 
Strain the liquid into sterilized bottles; seal and refrigerate for at least 1 month or up to a year.

Serve very cold, in small glasses.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Tracy's Rustic Homemade Pizza - from Scratch, yo

Why on Earth would we ever want to make pizza from scratch when we have the endless options of eat-in, take-out, and bake at home varieties out there?
Well, for me, it's knowing what's going into my pizza pie, and the feeling of doing something that so many people before me have done...seems a bit melodramatic, but people have been making pizza for centuries, so why haven't I done this before? Because it's easier to pick one up off the shelf at the neighbourhood grocery store and pop it in the oven at your convenience, that's why.
Today, for the first time, I took a little time, and some simple ingredients, and made a MUCH BETTER pizza for my dinner. Lovely. I think everyone should give it at try, at least once.
For me, I'm looking forward to creating more of my own pizza sensations. 

Really Simple Pizza Dough
Makes enough for 2 small, thin crust pizzas.
3 cups flour (can replace up to half of this with whole wheat flour) 
1 ½  teaspoon salt
1 ½  teaspoon active dry yeast
1cup lukewarm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more)
2 tablespoon olive oil 
¼ cup each
small green pepper
sun dried tomatoes
red onion
black olives
marinated artichoke hearts
3 button mushrooms
½ cup mozzarella cheese, grated
And for the meat-a-vours
1 hot Italian sausage, cooked
50 g prosciutto
¼ cup sundried tomatoes
¼ cup hot pickled hot peppers
½ cup mozzarella cheese, grated 

Some fresh Basil in there too.
Stir dry ingredients, including yeast, in a large bowl. 
Add water and olive oil, stirring mixture into as close to a ball as you can. 
Dump all clumps and floury bits onto a lightly floured surface and knead everything into a homogeneous ball.
If you are finding this step difficult, one of the best tricks is to simply pause. Leave the dough in a lightly-floured spot, put the empty bowl upside-down on top of it and come back in 2 to 5 minutes, at which point you will find the dough a lot more lovable.
Knead it for just a minute or two. Lightly oil the bowl (a spritz of cooking spray does the trick) where you had mixed it — one-bowl recipe! — dump the dough in, turn it over so all sides are coated, cover it in plastic wrap and leave it undisturbed for an hour or two, until it has doubled in size.
Dump it back on the floured counter (yup, I leave mine messy), and gently press the air out of the dough with the palm of your hands. 
Divide into two.
Fold the pieces into an approximate ball shape, and let it sit under that plastic wrap for 20 more minutes.
Sprinkle a pizza stone or baking sheet with cornmeal and preheat your oven to its top temperature. Roll out the pizza. 
Toss on whatever topping and seasonings you like. (always err on the side of skimpy with toppings so to not weight down the dough too much, or if I have multiple toppings, to keep them very thinly sliced.)
Bake it for about 10 minutes

Pizza Sauce

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 680 ml can tomato puree
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • ¼ cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
In a large saucepan, saute garlic in oil until tender. 
Stir in the remaining ingredients. 
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour or until sauce reaches desired thickness. Use in Deep-Dish Sausage Pizza, Tomato Artichoke Chicken or any recipe that calls for pizza sauce. Sauce may be refrigerated for up to 1 week. 
Oh yes, yummy goodness. Hot, hot stuff.