food amongst family and friends

Korean Style Lettuce Wraps July 24, 2013

Filed under: Beef,Mains,Make Ahead,Quick and easy — blisteringlydrunk @ 9:57 am
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IMG_8172This is another great recipe from Fine Cooking’s Grilling magazine. I have made this a couple of times now, both for company and just for us. It’s a hit with adults and kids alike and a great icebreaker in the tradition of messy foods (tacos, spaghetti, meatballs subs, you know what I mean) only more warm weather appropriate, in that its nice and light. Plus, it comes together in no time; you can marinate it for 1/2 an hour if you need to get dinner on the table, or 8 hours if you are trying to get your prep done ahead. Either way is tasty, then the meat cooks in the time it takes the rice to cook. My biggest problem with this recipe is not eating too much; I always think I should have just one more!

1/2 medium Asian pear or 1 whole ripe pear

6 Tbsp soy sauce

1/4 cup sake (I use 2 Tbsp each, rice vinegar and sherry, due to lack of sake in my house)

3 1/2 Tbsp sugar

4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

Salt and pepper

1 flank steak (mine was about 1 1/2 lbs)

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp sesame oil

1 Tbsp sesame seeds

2 cups cooked rice (I made coconut jasmine rice; just replace the water with light coconut milk when you cook it, the flavour is soooo worth it!)

1 head of leaf lettuce, red or green, washed and separated into leaves

1. Core the pear and roughly chop. Put it into a blender along with soy sauce, sake, sugar, garlic, a pinch of salt and 3/4 tsp freshly ground pepper. Process until smooth, then transfer to a bowl and stir in green onions, sesame oil and sesame seeds.

2. Place the flank steak in a wide shallow dish, then poke all over with the tip of a paring knife. Reserve half a cup of marinade for serving then pour the rest over the meat. Let sit for 1/2 an hour at room temperature, or up to 8 hours in the fridge.

3. Preheat grill to medium high heat and start your rice. Grill the meat for about 5 minutes a side for medium rare (will vary with the thickness of your steak, so use your discretion). Let rest for 5 minutes, then thinly slice across the grain.

4. To serve, place a lettuce leaf on your plate, top with about 1/4 cup of rice, meat and then spoon or pour over sauce. Fold up the bottom of the leaf and then fold the sides in (like a tortilla). I find it easiest to put everything on the table and let everyone make their own.

Enjoy! And make sure you have napkins ready!



Homemade chili powder and my ultimate chili February 8, 2013

Filed under: Beef,Make Ahead,Pork,Sausage,Soups,Uncategorized — blisteringlydrunk @ 1:57 pm
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IMG_7150This post has been waaaaay too long coming. I keep promising the recipe to people, but I didn’t want to post it until I had a picture, and I couldn’t take a picture until I made more, and I couldn’t make more until I had time/the season was right/the kids forgot that they don’t like chili so were willing to try it again, and I wouldn’t have time until my children (??? not sure when I will actually have more time)/the season’s almost over (again)/the kids finally forgot. That’s a lot of excuses, huh? I eventually ran out of them and just buckled down one night and made this, at which point I remembered that it takes all of 15 minutes to do and I really should have done it ages ago whether my kids liked it or not. I think I was confused because the last time I made this, I made enough to give a jar each to my 15 favourite people as Christmas gifts, which did take a long time because my coffee/spice grinder just isn’t that big. But it was a hit, hence the recipe requests, so without further ado, here is the recipe (originally found here, but adjusted a lot) along with MY (read: adjust to suit your palate) ultimate chili recipe.

Chili Powder

5 dried Guajillo chilies

2 dried Chipotle chilies (if you are a big Chipotle fan, you could add one more of these and one less Arbol)

3 dried Arbol chilies (if you like really spicy chili, I would add another of these)

1 Tbsp good quality smoked paprika

1 Tbsp coriander seed

2 Tbsp cumin seed

1 big cinnamon stick

2 tsp whole cloves

4 tsp oregano

1 tsp onion powder (your could also add garlic powder here; I like to add fresh garlic to the chili, but if you want to keep the chili prep minimal, that’s one way to cut down)

1 tsp whole black peppercorns

1. Wipe dust off the dried chilies and toast them whole on a cookie sheet in a 200 oven, until the chilies are crisp and fragrant, anywhere from 10-20 minutes, depending on the chilies.

2. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over medium heat and toast coriander and cinnamon for one minute, then add the cumin seed. Toast until fragrant, 5 minutes at the most, being careful not to burn them.

3. Remove the seeds and stems from the guajillo and chipotle chilies, then add, along with remaining ingredients to a spice/coffee grinder. If using your regular coffee grinder, tap out any loose grounds, but don’t worry about it being perfectly clean; the coffee with be a good flavour kick in the chill. Afterwards just run a piece of fresh bread through it to clean up the remaining spices. I usually have to do mine in two batches to start with and then do one big batch once everything is ground down to size.

4. Pat yourself on the back, you’re done.

My Ultimate Chili

OK, this is the way I like chill; it’s rich and flavourful, with a slight kick (in deference to my children. As it is I still have to add a big spoonful of yogurt to theirs to mild it out a little) and a subtle sweetness. I have my favourite chili veggies in here and all my favourite beans. Make sure when you make it, you do the same; if you prefer green peppers to red, switch it; if you don’t like mushrooms, or don’t like them from a can, switch it; if you want to burn your mouth with heat, add more chilies or hot sauce; make it your own, but trust me and try the chocolate, vinegar and brown sugar, they make this recipe!

2-4 cloves garlic (to taste), finely diced

2 medium onions, diced

1 lb extra lean ground beef (I love bison or ostrich here as well)

1 lb good quality chorizo sausage, casings removed (I use a chicken one I love, but pork is also fantastic, just make sure you have eaten the sausage on it’s own and like the flavour of it, as that’s what will come out in the chill, more than the type of meat)

2, 28 oz cans diced tomatoes

1 24 oz jar passata (strained tomatoes)

50 grams dark (the darker the better; 70-85%) chocolate

3 Tbsp dark brown sugar

2 Tbsp vinegar (I just use white, but white wine would work too)

2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp Chili powder (this is assuming the homemade stuff above; if using store bought, you will need a lot more, I would say double to start)

2 dashes Worcestershire sauce

2 10 oz cans whole mushrooms, halved

2 sweet red bell peppers, diced

4 19 oz cans beans (I usually use 2 kidney beans, one chick pea, and one either black bean or black eyed peas, depending on what’s in my cupboard)

1. Heat a large stock pot over medium heat and add beef, sausage, onions and garlic. Cook, stirring and breaking up large chunks of meat, until beef and sausage are just cooked.

2. Add tomatoes, passata, chocolate, sugar, vinegar, salt, chili powder, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes, until thickened to stew like consistency.

3. Add beans, red peppers, and mushrooms. Simmer for another 15-20 minutes, or until peppers are cooked to your liking. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary, keeping in mind that the flavours will enhance over time. I prefer to make my chili a day or two before I plan to eat it, to give the flavours time to bloom.



PS A friend told me to try giving my kids taco chips to scoop up the chili with; worked like a charm, now everyone loves chili!


Sliders in gougeres with kalamata olive aioli July 17, 2012

Filed under: Appetizers,Beef,Make Ahead,Sauces — blisteringlydrunk @ 4:19 pm
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This is ones of those things that sounds fancy, looks fancy and tastes amazing, but is actually quite simple. Not to mention that it pleased everyone from my 3 year old, to my foodie sister (and more importantly, me). We actually had these at my husband’s Christmas party way back at the end of November last year and I have been meaning to make them ever since. It was a fantastic, cook your own Christmas dinner party at the Cookbook Company here in Calgary and they sent  home the recipes afterwards. I was in charge of a lot of egg whites for the souffles and didn’t actually get to see how this was done, so I had some strangely shaped gougeres at the end of it, but they tasted fantastic, so all’s well that ends well. Thank you Chef Craig Westhaver for the wonderful recipe!


1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup cold water

1 cup flour

salt and red pepper flakes to taste

1/2 tsp cumin seed

4 eggs

1 cup crumbled blue cheese

In a medium sauce pan, bring water and butter to a boil. Once all the butter is melted in, add the flour, salt, red pepper flakes (a dash or two), and cumin seeds. Stir together and continue to cook over medium heat until a ball forms and pulls smoothly from the walls of the pot. For me this happened pretty much by the time everything was combined. Remove from heat and let stand for 5-10 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated between each addition. Stir in the cheese. Preheat oven to 400 and line two cookie sheets with parchment. Pipe or spoon onto parchment into the size (keeping in mind how big you want your sliders to be) and shape you want; they will puff up a little, but not a ton, so pile the dough up a bit or you will end up with very flat gourgeres like me. Bake for about 20 minutes without ever opening the oven door. They are done when crisp on the outside but still soft in the middle. This should make about 2  to 2 1/2 dozen. I made mine the day before, kept them in a plastic bag and then just popped them back in a hot oven for 3 minutes to crisp them back up before serving; worked like a charm.


2 lbs lean ground beef

1 egg

2 Tbsp bread crumbs

2 cloves garlic, minced

salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything together using just the ends of your fingertips, taking care not to squish or squeeze the meat, this will keep it very tender. I made 2 oz patties, which was actually a little too big, I think next time I will aim for 1 to 1 1/2 oz patties, which should make about 22 to 25 sliders. I cooked mine on a hot grill for about 3 minutes a side, which was perfect. Again, I made the patties the day before and then cooked them just prior to serving. I have also frozen some raw, which came out perfectly if you were wanting to get this step done well in advance.

Olive Aioli

1 egg yolk

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1/2 lemon, juiced

4-6 cloves garlic, pureed (I did this with the parsley in the food processor, then added to olives at the end until finely chopped)

2 Tbsp minced parsely

1/2 cup kalamata olives, finely chopped

1/2 cup olive oil

red pepper flakes and salt to taste

1 – 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar (optional, taste first as lemon may be enough)

In a non-reactive bowl. whisk together egg, mustard and lemon juice. Then, slowly, in a long, thin stream add in the olive oil while vigorously whisking to emulsify. Add the remaining ingredients, tasting and adjusting salt, vinegar and red pepper flakes at the end. Again, I made this the day before.
To serve, halve the gougeres, add a Tbsp or so of aioli to the bottom, followed by a slider, top with the top of the gourgere. With everything done the day before, the whole platter of these came together in about 15-20 minutes, including cooking the sliders.








April Snow Storms bring . . . Beef, Leek, and Pot Barley Soup April 4, 2012

Filed under: Beef,Mains,Make Ahead,Soups — blisteringlydrunk @ 7:58 pm
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I actually made this prior to the snowstorm, based on day 5 of my husband’s voice slowly disappearing. I thought he deserved a soup, and since I’ve been feeling uninspired in the kitchen lately, I used this as an excuse to try a new recipe, which I took straight from Meagan. This is like a grown up version of the hamburger soup my Mom always made when we were kids, and everyone loved it. Apparently the original recipe calls for 2 1/2 lbs of beef short ribs, but Meagan used beef stew meat, so I went for a combo of the two; 1/2 lb of short ribs for flavour and the rest stewing meat. I think if I have time in the future to make this the day before I want to eat it, I’ll try all short ribs, then cool it, so I can skim the fat off, but just having a couple in there added a ton of flavour without all the fat. This was an easy recipe that the whole family loved, plus I froze half of it for an easy dinner later; I can see this becoming a regular in my soup rotation.

2 1/2 lbs cubed stewing beef or short ribs

1 tsp each, salt and fresh ground pepper

1 Tbsp oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 large leeks, sliced, white and light green parts only

5 celery sticks, chopped

3 medium carrots, sliced

1 medium onion, chopped

1 L beef broth

1 L water

1 cup red wine (I used a bordeaux)

1, 28 oz can diced tomatoes

1 Tbsp fresh thyme, leaves only (I aimed for a well rounded Tbsp)

3/4 cup pot barley

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1. In a large stock pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Salt and pepper the meat, then add to pot, stirring until browned on all sides.

2. Add garlic, leeks, carrots and onion, lowering heat to medium low, stirring once or twice, then covering. Let veggies ‘sweat’ (cook without browning) for about 10 minutes, without lifting the lid. Then take the lid off and turn up the heat to medium or so and let the veggies get slightly browned.

3. Add broth, water, wine, tomatoes, and thyme and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and let simmer, mostly covered, for about an hour. Add barley and simmer, covered, for another 45 minutes, or until barley is tender. Stir in balsamic and parsley.

4. At this point it is ready to serve, or if using all short ribs, let cool to room temperature, then cool for several hours, or overnight, in the fridge, or until fat solidifies on top. Scrape fat off the top, then reheat and serve.

Serves 6 – 8 adults




Favourite beef stirfry February 23, 2012

Filed under: Beef,Mains,Make Ahead,Quick and easy — blisteringlydrunk @ 2:09 pm
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This almost seems like a cop out post as I’m sure everyone has this recipe, or some version of it, kicking around their kitchens, but I decided I had to post it after we had it last week for the first time in a while and we all remembered how much we love it. It’s simple, easy, fast and can be adapted to suit whatever veggies you have around. Plus, when trying to save on money or cut back on meat or lose weight, I have often cut the amount of meat and doubled the veggies with fantastic results. Below is how I made it this time, and while I consider the brocoli a must, I have often used canned baby corns, sweet peppers, cauliflower, snap peas, rapini, parsnips and any other vegetable I happen to have in my fridge when I go to make this, so be creative. Oh, and this recipe comes from my mom, we ate it countless times growing up and I’m still not tired of it, though she often served hers on spaghettini and I usually serve it on brown rice – I recently acquired some lovely sprouted brown rice that I have been serving with everything, so that is what is pictured here. Also, I have often sliced the meat and frozen it in the marinade for easy weeknight dinner prep.

1 flank steak, sliced thinly across the grain (about 1 1/2 pounds, but less is more than fine; this was a very meaty stir fry. Also, using a different cut of meat is okay too, as long as it’s not too fatty, the key is just in slicing it as thin as you can, so make sure your knife is sharp and your meat is cold – half frozen even)

1/2 cup orange juice

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

1 inch ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated

1 tsp sambal oelek – optional, for those who don’t like heat

Stir together orange juice through sambal oelek and add the meat. Allow to marinate for at least an hour, but up to overnight. This is also where I would freeze it, if you are so inclined.

1-2 tsp olive oil

1 large onion, red or white, halved and sliced

1 head brocoli, trimmed to florets (2-3 cups)

4-5 medium carrots, sliced on the diagonal

12-15 mushrooms, quartered

1 Tbsp corn starch

Heat a large (and I mean large) skillet over medium high heat. Drain the meat by pressing through a strainer to get out as much marinade as possible, making sure to reserve the marinade. Add oil, and then meat and onions to preheated skillet and stir fry quickly to brown.

Meanwhile, add cornstarch to reserved marinade and set aside. Lightly steam the broccoli either in the microwave or in an inch of water in a small saucepan.

Remove browned beef from skillet to a plate, adding any juices to the reserved marinade. Add carrots and mushrooms to the skillet, sauteeing for 10 minutes or so, until the carrots are browned, but still crisp. Drain the broccoli, then add, along with beef, onions and marinade to the skillet. Stir constantly until marinade is thickened, translucent and coating everything. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6 adults.








Beef tenderloin with mustard peppercorn crust July 26, 2011

Filed under: Beef,Mains — blisteringlydrunk @ 10:35 am

Beef tenderloinThis was a delicious, tender roast that I served for a dinner party – very little prep time and it was a big hit.  I got the idea from Lighthearted at Home by Anne Lindsay.  I served it with steamed asparagus, horseradish and yam fries.

2 1/2 lb. beef tenderloin
1/4 c. Dijon mustard
2 t minced garlic
2 T ground black peppercorns

Mix together mustard and garlic and slap all over the tenderloin then cover it all with the pepper.  Let it stand at room temp. for about an hour.  Roast at 425°F for 10, then reduce heat to 350°F until med. rare (internal temp. of around 140°F) – about 40 min.  Remove and let stand for 10 min. before carving. Cheers!  Ren


Slow Cooker Short Ribs, Asian-style March 21, 2011

Filed under: Beef,Mains,Quick and easy — blisteringlydrunk @ 11:53 am
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This is one of those crazy easy, tasty, all-in-one-pot kind of recipes that I am eternally thankful for on days when I want good food but am feeling cooked out. And, even my vegetable-phobic husband likes the cabbage cooked this way, which is saying something. I found the recipe at Real Simple, and it fully lived up to that name, this could not have been easier. We had this with some steamed Jasmine rice, but it would be fine all on its own too. I used boneless short ribs, because that’s what I could find, but the original recipe called for 4lbs of bone in, if you can find them. Happy eating!

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

2 lbs boneless beef short ribs

4 medium carrots, quartered

1 small green cabbage, quartered

2 Tbsp cornstartch

Mix first 6 ingredients, through pepper, in slow cooker, then add ribs and carrots in one layer, and lay the cabbage over the top. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or on high for 5-6 hours. Remove meat and veggies, turn heat to high and add the cornstarch (mixed first with a Tbsp or so of water so it doesn’t clump) and let sauce thicken while everyone dishes up, then top with some sauce and dig in!

This was a maximum of 15 min of work and very tasty; I can’t recommend it enough.