Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bowen Island Getaway

Before the Christmas rush began some friends rented a house out on Bowen Island and how can you say no to that?
I'm not actually fishing, I just like casting and I'm pretty sure you can't catch anything in 5 cm deep water, but let's just pretend I am.

Perfect weather.

Just out watering the herbs! No, not really. There was supposed to be a herb garden but we couldn't find it, though being December might have had something to do with it.

Honestly, look at that view. Fully equipped kitchen, Bon Iver tuneage, crackling fireplace, glass of red, leave me there.

Small little grocery store, very few choices, 7 hungry people..

Easy easy, pasta and grilled meat.

Island contentment.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Meatballs, 2 Ways

Spicy Meatball Subs
Gift exchange eats! My favorite way to make them is with ground veal, beef, pork and Italian sausage and simmered in a San Marzano tomato sauce.

Perfect for a party, you can make it ahead of time and just warm it on site. I pre-ordered Vietnamese baguettes from my fave banh mi shop on Kingsway, for this I prefer them over French baguettes because they're lighter, crispy and not as bready.

A little mizuna ( a green similar to arugula but slightly less peppery) fresh shaved parm and a warning from our hostess that she would kill anyone who drops a meatball on her large cream suede ottoman.

Spaghetti and Meatballs
The week before the party was actually where I got the idea for the subs. I was craving total comfort food and this is exactly what I wanted. A couple friends came over and thought we could catch a movie later on but I told them we had a surprise guest coming over. They said, tell em to come! I said we have to stay home, just wait!

Meet Rufio, I was puppy sitting! They were pretty enamored with the guest :)

You'd think he was the one that ate the pasta. The little guy pretty much slept the whole night.

Makes approx 45

1/2 white onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground chuck beef
1 lb ground veal
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb Italian sausage (ask butcher for this or buy sausage and remove casings)
2 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup fresh grated parmigiano reggiano (optional)
1/2 whole wheat panko bread crumbs, give or take
10 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp chili flakes
*if paleo, omit water, cheese and bread crumb)

1. In a small pan saute onion and garlic until soft, let cool.
2. Mix together all 4 meats, add in onion and garlic, basil, chili flakes, s+p eggs and water, just till combined.
3. Preheat small pan with a little oil
4. Add in whole wheat panko, just enough until mixture comes together.
5. Take a bit of the ground meat mixture and form into a little patty, pan fry till done, taste and check for seasoning.
6. Form into golf ball size rounds. In a large pan with oil, fry until golden brown on all sides. Place in tomato sauce.

San Marzano Tomato Sauce
2-12 oz can San Marzano Whole Tomatoes
25 oz bottle of tomato puree
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp sugar (if needed)
6 fresh basil leaves, rough chopped

1. In a large pot, saute garlic until soft, add San Marzano tomatoes and puree. Slightly crush the whole tomatoes.
2. Season with chili flakes, sugar, s+p and basil. Let simmer.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Secret Santa

At the beginning of December friends and I have a Secret Santa gift exchange, we do dinner and then open presents.

It's pretty obvious to whoever gets me that I'm their Secret Santa. Last year I did a 3 course dinner for my friend, so everybody knows if I get you, you're gettin food!

Bachelor friends are pretty easy to please.
(I hid the tag but he knew as soon as he opened the cookies)

For dinner that night a bunch of us made food and brought it over (full post comin up). My friend Soph's the host sent me a message a few days before:
S: Hey, how can I combine potatoes with mac and cheese.
Me: Seriously?
Me: Well you could make mac and cheese, top it with mashed potatoes, cover it with more cheese and bake it.
Me: That's total carbolicious overload're going to comatose everybody. but DO IT.
S: I'm doin it.

When your real fam doesn't live in the same city, you feel pretty grateful for your second family of tight friendships :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rib Eye Steak with Wild Mushroom Bacon Ragout

It's funny, I don't really like to put a label on how I eat or what I eat. I went to a nutrition school where everyone was very adamant about only bringing in their soaked nuts, kale, quinoa salads, kombucha and whole grain sandwiches but then felt bad when they let it slip that they ate chips and cookies on the weekend. I went to a French cuisine based culinary school so no matter what I was taught, I knew there was no way I'd cut out butter, flour and sugar. Now, it just tends to be more in moderation. It's only my little opinion, but I just think there's a need to really not care what anyone thinks. Everybody is different and everyone has foods that work and don't work for them. For myself, I eat whatever makes me feel good (eating a chunk of cookie dough as I type!). I was just talking to a lady who has been on a raw food diet for a year and feels fabulous. Awesome, that's what works for her! I once tried take out from Gorilla Foods, a raw food resto downtown, I had one bite of the collard green wrap and came home and stuffed it with chicken.

That said, I seem to naturally eat pretty Paleo during the weekdays. Breakfast is usually eggs, avocado,vegetables and fruit and dinner is usually meat and veg, like this Rib Eye with Wild Mushroom Bacon Ragout. Meat and veg can get a little boring so I like to come up with things that will compliment the protein. I know not everybody is a fan of mushrooms, so it can absolutely be substituted with a vegetable you like such as roasted butternut squash, zucchini, asparagus. Pretty much everything goes well with bacon. Well except Vegetarianism..but good on you!

Rib Eye Steak with Wild Mushroom Bacon Ragout
(Serves 2)
2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 cup chanterelle mushrooms, torn into pieces
10 strips bacon, sliced crosswise in 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 white onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
1/2 cup low sodium beef stock (or chicken stock)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
s+p to taste
2 rib eye steaks, grilled, broiled or pan fried
kale, steamed
cherry tomatoes, roasted
2 eggs, sunny side up

1. In a medium size pan, fry bacon until crispy. Transfer bacon to a side plate and reserve bacon fat. Sample bacon, obviously for quality control purposes.

2. Add back 3 tbsp of bacon fat, saute onions until caramelized on medium high heat. Add mushrooms, garlic and thyme and cook until soft.

3. Add beef stock and balsamic vinegar, turn heat on high and reduce down until sauce becomes thick. Add bacon back in, season with salt and pepper.

4. Place kale and tomatoes on plate, add steak, mushroom ragout and a sunny side up egg because we all know everything tastes better with an egg on top.