Monthly Archives: April 2019

Beef Picspam: Corned Beef Brisket and Braised Eye of Round Roast

Even though my proteins of choice are usually chicken and pork, every once in a while, beef is available at a good price. Here are a few dishes I’ve made featuring those purchases.

A pre-seasoned corned beef brisket bought on sale (~40% off) was featured in both dinners and sandwiches for economical and tasty meals.

Sliced corned beef on demi-baguette with Dijon mustard served with onion rings and salad

Served with mashed potatoes and braised red cabbage.

And a large piece of eye of round (often found for a good price) was portioned into three pieces, each of which was prepared in a different fashion, to maximize flavour and tenderness.

Eye of round braised in an onion soup mixture … some of the braising liquid was used to make an onion gravy served over the sliced beef and over the mashed potatoes.

Roast was coated in seasoned flour, seared and simmered in braising liquid.

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A Couple of Breads

I’ve mentioned the bi-weekly bread challenges from the Bread BakingĀ  FB group before and, in this post, I’m going to share some pictures of the latest challenge, French Baguettes.

The basic recipe which was to be used for the challenge makes four baguettes. I halved it and ended up with a couple of fourteen inch long baguettes which I devoured almost immediately, so I made another half batch and shaped it into four demi-baguettes.

I rewrote the instructions and posted the recipe below.

French Baguettes and Demi-Baguettes

Crumb of the baguettes

MaryAnn’s Baguettes – makes 4 baguettes, each about 14 inches/35-36 cm long.

Poolish/Sponge
2 cups + 2 tbsp water
2 1/2 cups/ 335 gm bread flour
1 tbsp dry yeast

2 1/2 cups/335 gm bread flour
1 tbsp/18 gm Kosher salt or 2 tsp/12 gm table salt
oil, for hands

Combine poolish ingredients in a large bowl. Cover, and allow to stand until bubbly, about 45 minutes.

Stir in the 2nd amount of flour. Mix until smooth. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle on the Kosher salt and, with oiled hands, slide fingers under each side, and stretch and fold over the top a few times, turning the bowl with each fold. Let stand for 15 minutes and stretch and fold a few times. Repeat the folding routine several times over the course of an hour. Allow to double.

Dump the dough out onto a well floured surface. Divide into 4 equal portions and shape into baguettes. (Pre-shape and let sit for 15-20 minutes and then shape. Baguettes are pre-shaped into logs/ovals while demi-baguettes are pre-shaped into rounds.)

Allow to rise until doubled.

Preheat oven to 450 deg F/232 deg C.

Slash the baguettes and bake for 20-25 minutes.

A future bread challenge is for a rye bread. I’ve never baked with rye before so I picked up some flour from the Bulk Barn and decided to try a small rye loaf recipe shared on the group. I added some cocoa powder, molasses and salt to the dough and rewrote the instructions. The recipe is posted below.

Caraway Rye Bread – makes a terrific corned beef brisket sandwich with Dijon mustard

RT’s Small Caraway Rye Loaf – makes ~700 gm dough, enough for one 9×5 inch loaf, sliced into 16 pieces

1 tsp salt
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp molasses
1-2 tbsp brown sugar, packed (optional)
90 gm dark rye flour
315 gm strong bread flour
1 tbsp dry active yeast
1 tbsp caraway seed
45 ml/3 tbsp light oil
13 ml/~1 tbsp white vinegar
280 ml/1 cup warm water
Softened or melted unsalted butter, for brushing

Proof the yeast with molasses and warm water for 10-15 minutes until foamy.

In a large bowl, combine the rye flour, caraway seed and all but about 50 gms of the bread flour. Add the salt, cocoa powder and brown sugar, if using. Stir together to mix all dry ingredients.

Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add the proofed yeast, oil and vinegar. Stir well until a ball of dough forms. Transfer the dough to a working surface lightly sprinkled with some of the reserved flour. Knead for 10 minutes using up the remaining flour. Cover the dough with the bowl you mixed your dough in. Let rest for 10 minutes then knead for a further 10 minutes and shape into a ball.

Lightly rub a clean bowl with some vegetable oil. Add the ball of dough to the oiled bowl. Turn the dough a few times to lightly coat with the oil. Cover the bowl with a sheet of plastic food wrap and drape with a towel. Let rise in a warm area until doubled, 1 – 1 1/2 hrs.

Preheat the oven to 190 deg C/375 deg F.

Lightly punch down the risen dough, shape to fit into a loaf pan and let proof until at least 1 1/2 times larger. (It may not double though mine did in about 40 minutes.) Spray the loaf with water and slash the top, if desired.

Bake the bread for 40 minutes or until knocking on the bottom of the loaf gives a hollow sound. Brush the top of the loaf with softened or melted butter to give it a glossy appearance.

Let cool overnight before cutting.

Velveting Beef and a Spicy Beef Bowl

For some reason, I never shared the results of a recent experiment in turning a relatively tough eye of round roast into a more tender piece of beef. The technique of ‘velveting’ is practiced in Chinese restaurants and is used for both beef and chicken dishes. I velveted in water, not oil, because I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of the latter, nor did I want to waste the oil. I’m frugal that way.

For the spicy beef dish below, I used the recipe/technique found on the YouTube video here. The ingredient list and amounts I used are listed in the bare bones recipe below.

Velveted Beef, Broccoli and Mushrooms over Rice

Spicy Beef, Broccoli and Mushrooms – serves 2

300 gm velveted beef

1 tbsp vegetable oil (and 1 tsp sesame oil)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 inch ginger, minced or grated
3-4 dried red chilis
5 large mushrooms, cut in half and thickly sliced
1 head of broccoli, broken up into florettes

Sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
2-4 tbsp water

Serve over rice

After marinating the meat

How to Velvet Meat – yields 2 cups

1 pound boneless chicken, beef or pork, cut into 1/2 inch thick strips
1 egg white (2 tbsp)
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine (mirin or sake)
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt

Velveting in Water

large pot of water
1 tablespoon oil

Wash meat and drain well.

In a bowl, combine egg white, Chinese wine, oil, cornstarch and salt. Whisk together until smooth and frothy. Add meat and marinate in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. In a colander, drain meat.

In a pot over high heat, combine about 2-inch deep of water and 1 tablespoon of oil. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and immediately add meat, stirring to disperse. Bring water back to a gentle simmer and once it’s barely bubbling, continue to cook meat for about 1 minute, stirring occasionally. With a slotted spoon, remove meat from pot and drain well.

NOTE: You’ll want to velvet the meat in two or three batches making sure that you add the meat slices a few at a time, rather than in clumps, so they don’t stick but float freely in the pot of water.

After velveting in water and the stir fry

Review of the Velveting Technique: While delicious and noticeably more tender than previous attempts at the dish using the same cut of beef, WITHOUT velveting, the beef wasn’t quite as meltingly tender as the beef I’ve eaten in Chinese restaurants. I think the technique and dish will continue to be a work in progress.

 

Creamy Chicken Piccata for Two

Meal planning strategy: I haven’t cooked anything Italian in some time, there was a jar of capers languishing in the fridge and a couple of boneless, skinless, chicken breasts in the freezer, so I looked for a recipe for Chicken Piccata that used ingredients that I already had. The breasts weighed a bit over a pound so I split them horizontally into four, more or less equal sized portions, and made some adjustments to the recipe I found here since I wanted to toss the pasta in the sauce.

Chicken Piccata – serves 2, generously

200 gm fettuccine, linguine or spaghetti

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, ~1 pound/454 gm
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter, divided

For flouring chicken cutlets
1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
pinch ground black pepper
1 1/2-2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

For lemon sauce
3/4 cup chicken stock, or a dry white wine
1/4 cup whipping cream (optional)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp brined capers, drained
1 clove garlic, finely minced or 1/8 tsp garlic powder (optional)

1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley or 1-2 tsp dried parsley, for garnish
3-4 thin slices of lemon, for garnish

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, stop the cooking by transferring the noodle to cold water and then, if needed to wait for the sauce, transfer the noodles to warm water.

To make chicken cutlets, cut each chicken breast horizontally into two equal sized pieces or butterfly and cut in half. If the thickness of the cutlets is uneven, put them between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound them with a meat hammer to 1/4 inch thickness.

In a shallow pan or pie tin, mix together the flour, salt, pepper, and grated Parmesan. Rinse the chicken pieces quickly in water, drain well and dredge them in the flour mixture, until well coated.

Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium/medium-high heat and when heated, add the chicken cutlets. Do not crowd the pan to ensure even cooking. Cook in half batches. Brown well on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and transfer to a plate with a rim to retain any juices that may be released by the breasts. Cook the other breasts in the same manner. Cover to keep warm.

Add the chicken stock or white wine, lemon juice, and capers to the pan. Use a spatula to scrape up any browned bits. Reduce the sauce by half. (NOTE: For additional lemon flavour, add the sliced lemons at this point so the lemon oil from the zest can infuse into the sauce. If your sauce volume seems low or you want a creamy sauce, whisk in the whipping cream and let reduce for a few minutes.)

Whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter (cut into 2-3 pieces), a piece at a time until each piece just melts. This may not be necessary if you’re using the whipping cream as that will thicken the sauce.

Drain the pasta well. Add the pasta to the saute pan so it can warm in the sauce, if it’s cooled down. Divide the pasta between two plates.

Plate the chicken over the pasta and serve with the sauce poured over the top. Sprinkle with parsley before serving and add a slice or two of the lemon for garnish.

I didn’t notice that I hadn’t sprinkled the parsley over the top until after I’d plated the dish. Oh well…

I set aside two of the cutlets for use in other dishes as there was too much chicken for two servings.

Bread, Loco Moco, Tortillas and Ice Cream

PICSPAM WARNING

I’ve got a backlog of pictures that I wanted to share but couldn’t come up with a good way to tie these disparate items together, so I’m just going to lump them into one post, and let you sort them out.

Since I gave up buying bread at the grocery store, I have to restock whenever I run out of bread in my freezer. And, of course, pizzas are on the roster of regular meals at home or for work lunches.

Instead of making my usual two pizzas, I used half of the dough to make a foguasse, a sort of pull apart French bread. The shaping (leaf-like) is designed for easy tearing and sharing. Or you can just eat it all yourself dipped into a small bowl of herb, sea salt and freshly ground pepper infused extra virgin olive oil. I rolled it out a bit too thinly so by the time I slashed and opened up the dough, it got too thin in some areas. They got crispy rather than remaining puffy and being a sponge for the oil. But I dealt with the hardship.

I turned a small sweet potato, into a loaf of regular sandwich bread (700 gm of dough) and four small (60 gm, pre-bake weight) buns. Two of the buns were used for mini hamburger patties.

The hamburger patties for the buns were leftover from making loco moco. Loco moco is a Hawaiian dish consisting of a bed of hot steamed rice (long or short grain works) topped with a hamburger patty and beef/brown gravy. It is often topped with a fried egg, runny yolk preferred, and served with a side of pasta salad. Two slices of fried Spam may be served along side. I’ve made the classic burger loco moco and one featuring Spam served with eel sauce instead of the beef gravy in the past and it’s a delicious and easy meal to put together.

Loco Moco with hot sauce … runny yolk adds flavour to the rice along with the beef gravy

Flour Tortillas … a version with all purpose flour and masa harina

Chicken fajita with home made flour tortillas and Mexican rice

Top and bottom of tortilla

I wanted something sweet and had a bit of nostalgia for my mom’s favourite ice cream flavour. This was a boozier version than she ever tasted.

Rum and Raisin No Churn Ice Cream

Rum and Raisin No Churn Ice Cream – makes ~2 cups

1/3 cup raisins
2-3 tbsp dark rum
3/4 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Soak raisins in rum for one hour or overnight. Drain off the excess rum and add the raisins to the condensed milk and vanilla in a large bowl. Whip the heavy cream in second large bowl. Fold the whipped cream into the condensed milk/raisin mixture. Pour into freezer container and freeze for at least 6 hrs or overnight.

Dreaming of Strawberries

A while ago, I went shopping and came home with a nice clamshell of strawberries. They were on my list. They were even on sale. Trouble, was, I had forgotten why I bought them. (I must learn to write these things down … somewhere.) So there I was, staring at these very perishable fresh fruit while the clock was counting down. I finally came up with few ideas.

I had a lone banana in the freezer so I made this Banana-Strawberry Smoothie. I’m sure I wrote down the recipe somewhere and when I find it, I’ll be sure to add it.

I know that I used a half a cup each of milk and orange juice, about a cup of washed and hulled strawberries, 2-3 tbsp plain Balkan yogurt and a tbsp of honey for sweetness. And, of course, one frozen banana broken into chunks so as not to strain my blender. An ounce of Cointreau may have found its way in there. Just sayin’.

After a bit of searching on line, I found a recipe for a barely cooked, strawberry sauce. and stirred some into a batch of mini Strawberry Cheesecakes. Less is more, as in many things, and I actually liked the marbled version of these minis better. Just a touch of concentrated flavour, and the visual was more striking.

Strawberry sauce for Cheesecake

2 pkgs (10 oz/283.5 gm each = 567 gm) sliced sweetened frozen strawberries, thawed and drained
1 tbsp corn starch

Place strawberries and corn starch in a blender. Cover and puree until smooth. Pour strawberry sauce into a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook and stir until the sauce is thick and shiny, about 2 minutes. Set aside 1/3 cup and cool. Cover and refrigerate the remaining sauce for serving.

For a fresh touch, I chopped up some fresh strawberries into small pieces and stirred them into the still warm sauce.

Strawberry sauce over French Vanilla ice cream or spooned over the mini Cheesecakes

I DID eat some plain. Oh, and I finally remembered why I bought the strawberries. I was going to make a vanilla sponge/Swiss roll and add diced strawberries and whipped cream as a filling. One day, it WILL happen.