Saturday, 16 February 2008

Valentine's Dinner

We aren't really the couple that does much for Valentine's day. No presents, or flowers or store bought chocolates. I think it stems mostly from my unwillingness to celebrate the 'holiday', and Hubby's wise decision to follow my lead.

The one thing I do like to do, and Hubby likes to enjoy, is have a nice meal. I mean we have to eat supper anyway so why not make it slightly more special. Of course what a better way to make a meal 'special' than by including chocolate. We didn't limit our selves to dessert however to add this rich ingredient, but we slipped it into our main course as well. The result: Fantastically sinful!

Chile Marinated Steak: (original from Epicurious)
Serves 2
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup chipotle chilies
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Steaks
Chili Steak

In blender place garlic, cilantro, and chilies, and roughly chop. Add olive oil in stream and puree mixture. Add cocoa and lime juice and continue to blend together. Final marinade will be a very thick paste.

Season steak with salt and pepper. and place in dish. Cover one side with marinade, and then flip and cover other. Cover and marinade in fridge for 24 hours.

Before cooking remove steak and place on counter for 30 min to bring to room temperature. Wipe off excess marinate. and cook steaks either on bbq or under broiler until desired tenderness.


Chocolate Pots:
Serves 5-6
  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp rum
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Strawberries
Chocolate pots

In medium sauce heat cream until bubbles begin to appear on sides of pan. Remove from heat and add chocoalte. Let side 1 minute, then whisk together.

In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks and slowly add 1 cup of hot cream mixture. Transfer back to pot and whisk until smooth. Add butter and rum, mixing well.

Pour into ramekins and refrigerate, min of 4 hours, but can be made the night before.

Serve with fresh strawberries, which according to Hubby "make the dish!"

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Menu Planning

Ahhh, Valentine's Day is this week. Love, romance and most importantly chocolate ;) To be perfectly honest though we aren't really Valentine's day celebrating people. I don't like all the fuss, and just use it as an excuse to make dessert in the middle of the week. My Hubby of course doesn't protest that part at all and sits back and enjoys.

Other than the Hallmark holiday though there isn't much excitement in our home this week. Next week will be totally different though, and there will be big changes in our household family dynamic...stay tune for that one! Consequently simple, but delicious meals, that really require minimal time to prepare are on my list every night this week. I am really looking forward to everything though, and it should be fun.

Tuesday: Pizza
Wednesday: Reuben Sandwiches
Thursday: Chipotle marinated steaks (also marinated in cocoa), asparagus, potatoes and chocolate pots for dessert.
Friday: Night off
Saturday: Tofu and veggie green curry stir fry
Sunday: soup
Monday: Left overs

Have a good week everyone@

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Hidden Tresures

Years ago for my birthday, by some of my dearest friends, I was given this beautiful little Japanese teapot and set of cups. I absolutely adore it, and was somehow lucky enough to stumble across some of the matching dishes at Home Sense one day. Of course I walked out with as many as I could afford that day, knowing I would never get a chance to pick them up again there. When I got them home though I put my treasures in a box (home was still the condo at that point) and forgot completely about them. It wasn't until we moved, and I unpacked the unmarked box that I discovered them again. This time a space in the cupboard was made. This time I vowed to use them soon.

Well I finally did last night, and it was on a recipe I wish I had found a long time ago too! The dish was sort of an at home version of one of my favorite Vietnamese dishes, Pho. I pleasantly was surprised at the ease and speed in which everything came together, and the versatility that the recipe holds. I can definitely see it being repeated in our house, instead of going out to eat quite so often at least.

Beef Noodle Bowls: (Serves: 4) - Originally from: Eat, Shrink, & Be Merry
  • 4oz rice noodles or whole wheat spaghetti
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 3 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp grated ginger root
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 12 oz beef tenderloin very thinly sliced
  • 3 cups thinly sliced bok choy (I like this addition because we are trying to each more veggies at the moment)
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 chopped basil
To serve along side:
  • bean sprouts
  • lime, cut into wedges
  • mint leaves
  • Chili sauce
  • cilantro leaves

Cook noodles according to package directions, rinse in cold water and set aside.

Combine broth, ginger, soy sauce, oil and lime juice in pot. Bring to boil reduce heat and simmer for three minutes.

Add bok choy, basil, green onion and beef. Cook until beef is just cooked through.

To assemble: Place noodles on bottom of bowl, top with bean sprouts. Ladle soup over top. At this point season to individuals taste with mint, more lime juice, cilantro or hoisin and chili sauce.

(Our personal favorite thing to add!)


Sunday, 3 February 2008

Ever expaning collection

I love cookbooks! Honestly who doesn't. Even if I don't make any of the recipes out of them for years them bring me so much joy. Curling up on the couch, with a hot cup of tea I love to read through them. I search for inspiration, drool over the photos, and in the case of many read the stories.

I find they are the absolutely perfect gift for just about anyone on my list, and I of course love to receive them too. Quite frankly I am always shocked when my family says they don't know what to get me. It seems so obvious to me that a new cookbook would be perfect. I guess I will have to work on them ;) They are getting better though. For Christmas I did receive a copy of Nigella's Feast. Unfortunately this was the third time I have received this book as a gift. The first from my mother at Christmas a few years back, then from my Hubby for my birthday the year after, and this final time from my brother. It has become a little bit of a joke in the family now :)

I did regretfully exchange the book, as I hate returning Christmas gifts, and acquired myself a copy of Giada's Family Dinners. I am in love with the book! I have just barely started using it, but am very impressed. Easy to follow, simple dishes that make your mouth water. For the moment it is definitely staying on the top of my ever growing pile of FoodNetwork chef cookbooks :)

Friday, 1 February 2008

Better late than never

I have been meaning for weeks now to share all of the wonderful details of our Christmas dinner. Hubby and I had so much fun doing everything, and worked very well as a team. I was initially a little sceptical about this joint cooking venture, as it would have been the first time something like this was too occur. Okay, it is practiacally the first time Hubby would be in the kitchen doing something other than trying to steal a taste of whatever I am preparing ;) But, yes it all turned out. Both of our families were so impressed with everything from the appitizer right on through to dessert. Even now we are still getting compliments on the bacon wrapped, maple syrup baseted turkey we Hubby cooked.

Pictures and recipies were to supposed to follow very quickly after the glourious occasion, but never seemed to make it here. Then all of a sudden it was one week after the holidays, then two and three. Now it is February, and it seems rather inappropriate to be bringing up Christmas dinner all of a sudden (even though that is exactly what I am doing right now). I guess for now most of it will be nicely tucked away, waiting to make its debut next holiday season.

There is one that I will share however, and that is the dessert. I debated and went back and forth on many different choices before selecting and sticking with this tarte. I am so glad this is the one I picked in the end :) It was a nice balance of sweet and tarte and had such a festive feel to it. The magnificent thing about it too was the ability to prepare it in advance, so I wasn't scrambling around at the last minute after dinner.

Cranberry Chocolate tarte

Chocolate Cranberry Tarte:

Cranberry Topping:
1/2 cup cranberry juice, divided
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 12-ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger

1 1/4 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (made from about 6 1/2 ounces cookies, finely ground in processor)
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Mascarpone Filling:
1 8-ounce container mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup chilled whipping cream1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Thin strips of crystallized ginger (optional garnish)

Cranberry Chocolate tarte

For cranberry topping:
Pour 1/4 cup cranberry juice into small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand until softened, 15 minutes. Combine 1/4 cup cranberry juice, cranberries, and next 5 ingredients in medium saucepan; bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until cranberries are tender but still plump, 5 minutes. Strain into bowl; set cranberries aside. Add gelatin mixture to hot juice in bowl; stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir cranberries back into juice. Chill until cranberry mixture is cold and slightly thickened, at least 8 hours or overnight. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.Stir chopped crystallized ginger into cranberry mixture.

For crust:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Combine chocolate wafer cookie crumbs, sugar, and salt in medium bowl; add 5 tablespoons melted butter and stir until crumbs feel moist when pressed together with fingertips, adding remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter if mixture is dry. Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Bake chocolate crust until beginning to set and slightly crisp, pressing with spoon if crust puffs during baking, about 14 minutes. Transfer tart pan to rack and cool crust completely before filling.

For mascarpone filling:
Using electric mixer, beat all ingredients except ginger in medium bowl just until thick enough to spread (do not overbeat or mixture may curdle). Spread filling in cooled crust. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.Spoon cranberry mixture evenly over mascarpone filling. Chill at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours. Garnish with crystallized ginger strips, if desired. Cut tart into wedges and serve cold.