Sunday, October 31, 2010

rouladen - regional recipes Germany

Our next stop on the Regional Recipes tour is Germany.  Joanne from Eats Well With Others chose Germany this month for obvious reasons.  Yes, Oktoberfest.  Can you imagine? An entire festival dedicated to drinking beer, eating hearty food and singing oompah pah at the top of your lungs.  Barbaric! Fun!

The whole premise of Oktoberfest actually sounds like a meeting of the Starfish Club.  These "meetings" usually involve lots of food, free flowing beer or wine and definitely a whole lot of singing.  Our mantra: Sing like there's nobody listening............or looking, as the case may be.  A picture is worth a thousand words.  Need I say more?

Serves 6 - 8

2 lbs beef moose round steak, cut and pounded into thin slices
1 medium onion, chopped fine
5 slices bacon, chopped fine
3 large dill pickles, chopped fine
1/4 cup Dijon mustard or grainy German mustard
1 cup beef stock
1/2 cup red wine
4 tbsp flour

Cut round steak into thin slices and if necessary use meat tenderizer to pound meat to an approximate 1/4 inch thickness.  To minimize the mess, cover the meat with plastic wrap before you pound it.

Saute bacon and onion until onion is translucent, approximately 5 minutes over medium heat.  In a small bowl mix onions, bacon and pickles.

Spread a thin layer of mustard over each slice of meat, followed by a thin layer of the bacon mixture.

Roll each piece of meat into a "log" and secure with a couple of toothpicks.

Pour 2 tablespoons of oil into a large skillet and place the rolls of meat into the skillet.  Brown the meat over medium to high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low and add the beef stock and red wine.  Cover and simmer for a few hours.  Add a little water to the pan as necessary.

Remove meat rolls from the pan and make a gravy with the remaining juices by adding a flour and water mixture, ensuring that the flour is mixed into the water well to avoid lumps.  Increase heat to medium high and add flour mixture to pan while stirring with a whisk.  Continue stirring until the gravy has thickened to the desired consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon gravy over the meat rolls and serve with mashed potatoes or spaetzle. Guten Appetit!

categories and cravings

I often find myself categorizing my dinner guests according to their food and drink preferences.  After someone has sat at my table a few times, I will usually know which categories they fall into.

For instance, I will know if you like red or white wine and whether or not you are a beer drinker and if so, do you prefer a lager or a pale ale?  In our house, there are two categories of beer: Corona and brown shi#*.  Can you tell which one I like? 

I will know whether you are a boring traditional meat and potatoes sort or if you have an adventurous palate and are up to trying different ethnic foods.  And if so, what level of heat do you like/can you stand?  I have three categories: Wimp, Middle of the Road and Masochistic.  So tell me, are you hot or not?

Do you like seafood?  If not, I will usually make you try a fresh Sockeye Salmon dish, at least once, because this fish has been known to convert more than a few non-believers.  In my opinion, it is the least fishy of fish.  GWH likes to push the raw oysters on our guests because he simply cannot understand how anyone could not like these little morsels of oceanic ambrosia.  I have discovered that under the right circumstances, i.e. lots and lots of champagne, that they are actually pretty good; the taste is reminiscent of a light ocean breeze.  Did I mention that he insists that you chew them?  Eww, right?!

Do you have a sweet tooth?  There are some people that you can count on to have dessert. Every. Single. Time.  You barely have the question out of your mouth and they are nodding their heads in agreement, fork in hand and a gleam in their eye because they know that their craving for sweet will soon be satisfied.

And speaking of cravings, how do you feel about chocolate?  Are you passionate about it?  Do you crave it?  Do you hide it in the freezer?  And if so, do you prefer milk, dark or white?  This week's theme at  I Heart Cooking Clubs is Chocolate Cravings and I chose to make Chocolate Pizza from Giada's Family Dinners cookbook.  As you will notice, in this recipe there are three different flavours of chocolate to satisfy each category of chocolate lover.  Although, because all the chocolates are melted together, this really will not work for those in the "all foods must be kept separate and cannot touch" category.

Chocolate Pizza

1 pound homemade pizza dough, recipe follows, or purchased pizza dough
2 teaspoons butter, melted
1/4 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread (recommended: Nutella)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons milk chocolate chips
2 tablespoons white chocolate chips
2 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts, toasted
Position the oven rack on the bottom of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F.

Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the dough to a 9-inch-diameter round. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet. Using your fingers, make indentations all over the dough. Brush the dough with butter, then bake until the crust is crisp and pale golden brown, about 20 minutes. Immediately spread the chocolate-hazelnut spread over the pizza then sprinkle all the chocolate chips over. Bake just until the chocolate begins to melt, about 1 minute. Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the pizza. Cut into wedges and serve.

Pizza Dough:

1/2 cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for bowl

Mix the warm water and yeast in a small bowl to blend. Let stand until the yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes. Mix the flour and salt in a food processor to blend. Blend in the oil. With the machine running, add the yeast mixture and blend just until the dough forms. Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl and turn the dough to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm draft-free area until the dough doubles in volume, about 1 hour. Punch the down dough and form into ball. The dough can be used immediately or stored airtight in the refrigerator for 1 day.

  1. I used Pilsbury pizza dough.
  2. I sprinkled a little brown sugar on the outer edge of the pizza crust.
  3. I added dried cranberries and used pecans instead of hazelnuts.
  4. Next time I would reduce the cooking time for the crust as I found it took a little longer than one minute to melt the chocolate and the crust was a little too hard.
I have linked this post to the following sites.


    cookbook sundays

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    smorgasbord for the senses

    This past weekend,  I had the pleasure of attending the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival which was held at the Granville Island Market.  It was a veritable smorgasbord for the senses.  

    The famous Market is a foodie's paradise and my eyes thirstily drank in the beautiful displays  - luscious blackberries piled in a blue-black pyramid; fresh, tender balls of  boccoccini;  jellied, rosemary chicken confit; and elaborate, exquisite desserts that were too lovely to eat.  

    My ears tingled with pleasure as they listened to the many authors of various genres share their insightful advice and read from their own works, published and unpublished, but my ears were especially thankful to experience the men's choir, Chor Leoni, perform alongside the author, Jack Hodgins, as he read from his numerous and humorous tomes. It stirred my soul.  

    The feel of the intermittent, cool, light breeze on my face, as we dined al fresco on the balcony of the Sandbar Restaurant overlooking False Creek, was so refreshing in the otherwise, balmy October air.  From this vantage point, we had a most perfect view of the city lights.  

    And of course, I could not give a sensory account of the weekend without mentioning the cornucopia of tastes and smells - sweet and sour lemon chicken; white-chocolate latte with chocolate whip (oh, em, gee!); warm, cinnamon crepes; deep, rich Shiraz; lemon-zested Dungeness crab cakes; tender, sweet, lightly-battered calamari; crispy bacon and fried eggs with baked beans; tender Chinese dumplings dipped in a light, sweet soy sauce; the salty, sweet air of the ocean breeze (happy place!); fresh, crusty bread dipped in Balsamic vinegar reduction and extra virgin olive oil; globes of creamy chocolate; sharp, herbed, pungent Cheddar cheese; Sockeye Salmon with Red Curry-Coconut Sauce alongside aromatic Basmati rice and delicately flavoured fresh, plump, raspberries in a salad of crisp tender greens and so much more.

    Our hotel suite was equipped with a full on kitchen so we decided to stay in for dinner on Saturday night.  We enjoyed the view of Vancouver, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, through the floor to ceiling windows of our lofty suite.  The low, sexy strains of Leonard Cohen permeated the room as we supped on fresh Sockeye salmon and sipped on deep, dark aromatic red wine.  Very Canadiana don't you think.  Hard to take.

    Sockeye Salmon with Red Curry-Coconut Sauce 
    adapted from In the Kitchen The Costco Way


    1 13 1/2 oz. can coconut milk
    1 cup tomato basil sauce
    1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
    1 cube chicken bouillon
    1 tsp red curry paste
    1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
    salt and pepper
    4-6 to 8 oz. salmon fillets

    In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk, tomato sauce, ginger, chicken bouillion, and curry paste.  Bring sauce to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly; immediately lower temperature to medium-low and simmer for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in cilantro and remove from the heat.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

    Meanwhile brush the salmon with vegetable oil and season to taste with salt and pepper on both sides.  Grill for 3 - 5 minutes on each side, or until cooked to taste.

    Pour the sauce over the salmon and serve wth rice.

    1. I used some leftover Marinara sauce with basil added instead of the tomato basil sauce. 
    2. For the red curry paste, I used Patak's vindaloo sauce.
    3. I baked the salmon in the oven for about twenty minutes.

    Photo Credit: Sandra Fiedler


    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    memories of manicotti at midnight

    I have always been a foodie.   I have fond memories of Easy Bake Ovens and tea parties with leftover pancake sandwiches.  Even as a teenager, when, as we all know our focus can become a little obscured, I stayed steady on the food path. 

    I remember one particular night where we were hanging out with the "gang", back in the day that's what we did in small town Canada, my girlfriend and I decided that we were hungry and that we were going to go back to her house to have "something to eat".    Now when you picture "something to eat" for a teenager that usually means Kraft Dinner or Pizza Pops, right?  Something that requires the least amount of effort.  Not for us.  We were food snobs, even then.  We were craving something hearty and real.  

    After perusing the cupboards for possibilities, we decided on making Manicotti at midnight.  We gathered the ingredients, took out the pots and pans and thawed the meat in the microwave.  We then proceeded to make the Manicotti along with lots of noise and a big mess, I am sure.  Her poor mother.  

    I don't think that I have actually made Manicotti since that night but it is said that food evokes memories, right?  But what about metabolism?  Can food bring back your metabolism?  The last time I had Manicotti, I was definitely a lot lighter and this pasta diet seems to be working for Giada de Laurentiis as well.  So I decided to try her Manicotti recipe and here it is, my new weight loss plan.

    Giada de Laurentiis
    Photo by Gavin Bond
    Marinara Sauce

    1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    2 small onions, finely chopped
    2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    2 stalks celery, finely chopped
    2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
    2 dried bay leaves

    In a large casserole pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste. (The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before using.)

    Beef and Cheese Manicotti
    4 teaspoons olive oil
    1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
    1 pound ground beef moose
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    14 (8-ounce package) manicotti
    1 (15-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta
    3 cups shredded mozzarella
    1 cup grated Parnesan
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    3 cups Marinara Sauce (recipe above)
    2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

    Heat a heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, onion and ground beef. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until the meat browns and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and cool.

    Brush 1 teaspoon of oil over a large baking sheet. Cook the manicotti in a large pot of boiling salted water until slightly softened, but still very firm to the bite, about 4 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the manicotti from the pot to the oiled baking sheet and cool.

    Meanwhile, combine the ricotta, 1 1/2 to 2 cups mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and parsley. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper to taste, and mix. Stir the cooled meat mixture into the cheese mixture.

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

    Brush the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil over a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish.  Spoon 1 1/2 cups of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Fill the manicotti with the cheese-meat mixture. Arrange the stuffed pasta in a single layer in the prepared dish and spoon the remaining sauce over.

    Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese, then the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan over the stuffed pasta. Dot entire dish with the butter pieces. Bake the manicotti uncovered until heated through and the sauce bubbles on the sides of the dish, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let the manicotti stand 5 minutes and serve.


    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    grape leaves stuffed with ground moose and rice

    I remember a neighborhood that I lived in long ago and the first time we were invited across the street to join our neighbors for dinner.  These particular neighbors owned a restaurant and he was as Greek as they come.  I decided that I would bring Spanacopita to dinner.  One of the other guests remarked that she thought that I was pretty nervy to be bringing Spanacopita to this particular house.  I really hadn't thought anything of it until she mentioned it. 

    This was the beginning of a long friendship borne of a common appreciation for good food and good wine.  We shared many meals together, simple and extravagant, and from them I learned to make several Greek dishes.  Moussaka was a Greek dish that I tackled on my own, though, and he said that mine was better than his mother's. 

    They would often go to visit YaYa, as they called his mother, driving for about an hour both ways.  When they returned it was almost certain that they would be bringing dolmades made by YaYa's loving hands and they would often share them with us.  We would eat them cold with our fingers as a snack and they were usually accompanied by beer.  It was a good combination. 

    Over the years venues change and people come and go but the memories linger.  For me, these memories most often seem to take the form of meals shared. I haven't seen either of them for many years now but when I saw that this month's Daring Cooks challenge was to make dolmades, I was excited because this is one of the Greek dishes that I had never made.  So, I know you are wondering, did I make a dish worthy of sharing at a Greek's dinner table?  All I can say is...YaYa would have been proud.

    Grape Leaves Stuffed with Ground Meat and Rice 
    with Apricot Tamarind Sauce/ Yebra
    Adapted from Aromas of Aleppo by Poopa Dweck and Michael J. Cohen. Published by Harper Collins, 2007 

    Yield: 6 to 8 servings


    1 pound (455 gm) ground (minced) beef moose
    1/3 cup (80 ml) (2 1/3 oz) (65 gm) short grain rice
    1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) all spice
    2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil
    1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) cinnamon
    1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) kosher (coarse) salt
    ¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) white pepper
    1 onion, chopped
    6 cloves garlic, chopped
    1 cup (5½ oz) (150 gm) pine nuts **optional**

    Soak rice in water, enough to cover, for 30 minutes. Combine meat, rice, allspice, vegetable oil, cinnamon, salt, white pepper, onions, garlic and if desired, pine nuts, in a large mixing bowl. Mix well.

    If using grape leaves preserved in brine, put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them to remove the salt. Make sure that the water penetrates well between the layers and leave them soaking for about twenty minutes and then change the water a time or two using fresh cold water.  If using fresh leaves, plunge a few at a time in boiling water for a few seconds only, until they become limp, and lift them out.

     Ingredients for assembly:
    1 pound (455 gm) hashu/filling (see recipe above)
    36 preserved grape leaves, stems trimmed, drained, rinsed and patted dry
    1 tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable oil
    6 dried apricots – or more if you desire
    3 tablespoons (45 ml) tamarind concentrate
    ¼ cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
    1 tablespoon (15 ml) (9 gm) kosher (coarse) salt

    1. Place a grape leaf on a flat surface, vein side up. You can trim the little stem if you would like.
    2. Place about two teaspoons (10 ml) of the filling in the center of the leaf, near the stem edge.
    3. Roll the leaf end to end, starting from the stem edge. As you roll, fold the sides of the leaf in toward the center. The leaf should resemble a small cigar, about 2 to 2 1/2 inches (50 mm to 65mm) long.
    4. Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling.(You can freeze the stuffed grape leaves at this point. Just line a baking sheet with wax paper. When firmly frozen, transfer to an airtight plastic bag place back in the freezer.)

    1. In a medium saucepan put in the vegetable oil and then place the filled grape leaves in the pot with the seam at the bottom.
    2. Place apricots in between the stuffed grape leaves. Cover and cook over low heat for 5- 8 minutes or until the grape leaves begin to sweat.
    3. Using all three tablespoons, place a little of the tamarind concentrate over the rolls.
    4. Combine lemon juice, salt, and water and then add to pan, filling it ¾ full.
    5. Weigh down the grape leaves with a heat proof plate or board to prevent them from unraveling. Cover and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 40 minutes.  Alternatively, place the saucepan in an oven preheated to moderate 350°F/180°C and cook for an hour.  
    6. Spoon cooking liquid over the grape leaves occasionally. You will know they are done, when the grape leaves are neither soupy nor dry.
    7. Tilt pan sideways over serving platter, allowing the grape leaves to tumble out. Try not to handle them individually to reduce unraveling.  Alternately you can try spooning them out very gently. 

    Tamarind paste can be found at Asian, Mexican or Indian grocers.  You can also find the pods (a little more difficult) and make the paste yourself.  It is akin to a sweet/tangy tea flavor.

     Blog-checking lines: Our October 2010 hostess, Lori of Lori’s Lipsmacking Goodness, has challenged The Daring Cooks to stuff grape leaves. Lori chose a recipe from Aromas of Aleppo and a recipe from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.


    Monday, October 11, 2010

    teriyaki cedar-planked salmon with fruit salsa

    This year in the Pacific Northwest, we had the largest Sockeye Salmon run since 1913.  My freezer and I are very grateful for this event.  Of course, GWH was out fishing every moment that he could.  He often got up at three in the morning just so that they could get out there and secure their "spot".  That's dedicated..... or crazy.  Nonetheless, I am glad that he is crazy because now I have salmon in the freezer.

    During this fishing frenzy, we had company from Arizona and I wanted to cook a meal that represented our local flavours.  I decided on Teriyaki cedar-planked salmon with fruit salsa.

    GWH has a "famous" Teriyaki sauce recipe that he has used for years and he brags about how good it is.  And it is good.  Very good.  It is so good that all I had to do was add a little honey to the recipe.  He didn't think this was necessary and he really didn't want me messing with his "famous" recipe. So I explained it to him like this. Just think of me as the honey.  Like the sauce, you were good before the "honey" was added but now you are better.  Ahh, he says.

    GWH's "Famous" Teriyaki Sauce

    He makes this sauce in bulk and then stores it in the fridge in the soy sauce tin.

    4 liters Kikkoman soya sauce
    1 lb. garlic cloves
    1 lb ginger root
    4 oz. green onion
    26 oz. Demererra sugar
    9 oz. cooking sherry
    2 tsp. olive oil

    Coarsely chop all ingredients.

    Mix all ingredients in large pot. Bring to boil, simmer for 40 minutes.  Refrigerate overnight and strain next day.

    Teriyaki Cedar-Planked Salmon

    1 Salmon, filleted
    2 cups GWH "Famous" Teriyaki Sauce
    1 cup honey 

    Soak the cedar plank over night in a cooler or large bucket filled with water.  You may need something heavy to submerge the plank.

    Marinate the salmon in the Teriyaki Sauce for at least two hours.  Remove salmon to cedar planks and reserve marinade.  Mix marinade with honey to create a glaze.  Spread glaze over salmon. 

    Place cedar planks on hot barbecue and cook until done approximately 1/2 an hour, depending on the size of the fish.

    The plank will smolder and create a smoky flavour throughout the salmon.

    Serve with fruit salsa.


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