Tag Archives: beef

Swedish Cinnamon Star Bread and Blue Cheese (Stilton) Burgers with Blue Cheese Sauce

I’ve been seeing these star breads on various blogs for ages, but they were always filled with Nutella. And, Nutella is pricey. So, I went with a cinnamon, sugar and softened butter filling instead. I used the recipe found here. The technique is quite simple but the presentation is impressive. I’m not totally happy with the dough so I’m going to keep looking for a recipe that I like better.

Technique Pictures

 
 
 

Burgers … fast, inexpensive and tasty even when you don’t grill them.

I neglected to freeze the rest of a recent extra lean ground beef purchase, because I was planning on making chili as well as the ‘pasta e fagioli’ that I posted a while ago. Of course, something came up and then I ran across the last of the Stilton blue cheese from my Christmas dinner. After a fast google search I decided to make stuffed burgers using an Emeril Lagasse recipe I found. And then I forgot to put in the essence the recipe called for so I ended up with fairly boring burgers. Though I DID add a couple of tablespoons of caramelized onions to the meat along with some salt and pepper.

The stuffed burgers called for making 4 quarter pounder patties and then pairing them up with the cheese sandwiched between. The result was 2 HUGE stuffed burgers.

 

The second pound of meat was divided into 8 patties and I made 4 much smaller stuffed burgers which just fit into a couple of pretzel buns from the city market.

 

Instead of the fancy sauce/dressing that Emeril made, I went for fast and easy … ketchup and mustard.

Amazing what you’ll do when you’re hungry and want to eat as soon as possible.

I still had some Stilton left so I made a very simple blue cheese sauce/dip with it … Stilton, whipping cream and grated Parmesan cheese.

It was great over one of the large burgers which I served with rice and a salad. And even better as a dip for onion rings.

 

And here’s a freezer clear-out meal I came up with.

Chicken drumsticks marinated in vindaloo paste/yogurt and served with a side of chickpea curry over couscous.

Dessert ended up being the last of the panna cotta with raspberry coulis and no-churn blueberry ice cream.

Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans) Soup Redux

I first made this soup 5 years ago. It’s very similar to a minestrone soup in terms of ingredients, but I like this one better as the protein (ground beef in this case though you can use Italian sausage as well) makes it a heartier meal. You can use canned kidney beans for convenience but I prefer cooking my own from scratch. The recipe purports to be a copycat of the Olive Garden soup. I’ve never tasted the original version but this soup is a tasty one and the recipe below makes about 12 cups.

Olive Garden’s Pasta e Fagioli

Half Batch – makes 4 1/2 quarts

1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb lean ground beef
6 ounces/ 1 cup onion, small dice
7 ounces/ 1 cup celery, small dice
7 ounces/ 1 cup carrots, small dice
24 ounces canned tomatoes, diced
1 cup cooked red kidney beans
1 cup cooked white kidney beans (or 2 cups red)
44 ounces beef stock (or 2 beef bouillon cubes and 5 cups water)
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
salt as needed, start with 1/2 tsp
2 1/2 tsp chopped parsley (or 1 tsp dried parsley)
3/4 tsp Tabasco sauce
24 ounces/ 3 cups spaghetti sauce**
4 ounces/ 1/2 cup small shell macaroni (or any other small pasta)

** I used a jar of Classico Fire Roasted Tomato and Garlic spaghetti sauce.

Saute beef in oil, in a large 5 qt dutch oven until the beef starts to brown. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and tomatoes. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Drain and rinse beans and add to the pot. Also add beef stock, oregano, black pepper, Tabasco, spaghetti sauce, and pasta. Taste and add salt as desired (~1 tsp).

Add chopped parsley. Simmer till celery and carrots are tender (about 45 minutes).

NOTE: Make sure to stir all the way to the bottom at least every 7-10 minutes as the ingredients, especially the beef, settle and may stick and burn. If the soup seems too thick before serving, add a bit of water. You may garnish the soup with some grated Parmesan cheese.

Christmas Dinner: Prime Rib

Beef isn’t on the menu too often at my house. Not that I don’t love it, but chicken and pork are more affordable and usually on sale. However, I decided to splurge this year and make a British themed Christmas menu with the focus on a prime rib.

It was huge for a single person, almost 5 pounds, but the price was right (<$30), and I figured I’d get at least six meals out of it.

So, I bought what turned out to be a single bone roast and made the traditional sides – Yorkshire puddings/popovers with gravy from the juice, roast potatoes and carrots and mincemeat tarts and some bought marzipan topped fruit cake for ‘afters’.

I tried to restrain my picture taking cause I wanted to eat warm food for a change. I wasn’t totally successful but I TRIED.

Prime rib meal

Dessert plate

And then, because I always have to go that little bit further, I bought a wedge of Stilton cheese and did a poached pear (cranberry mead, honey, cloves, vanilla bean, cinnamon stick sugar syrup), Stilton and walnut plate.

Cheese and nut plate

Plating 2 … cause I couldn’t decide which one I liked better

Prime rib before and after roasting

  

Carved and leftovers for the freezer … some were more rare than others

  

Popovers

Prime rib and sides

Baked Chinese Buns and other stuff

WARNING: Picture Heavy Post

I’ve been doing quite a bit of cooking from my freezer these days due to necessity. No money and free time means I can get creative.

I love dim sum and one of my favourite dishes is char siu bao or Chinese bbq’d pork buns. I was going to use the Korean pork tenderloin for a filling but I was too lazy to do so when I had a  container of Jamaican beef patty filling in the freezer, so I used that instead. I ended up making 2 batches (24 buns total) to use up all the thawed filling. Next time I’ll try for something more traditional with my own Chinese bbq’d pork. The buns were a definite winner.

Char Siu Bao Dough – makes 12 x 1 1/2 oz buns

2 1/4 tsp (1 package) of dried yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups (280 gm/10 oz) plain flour
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp salt

Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp cold water

Shaping the Buns:

Place the sugar and warm water in a small bowl, mix until the sugar has dissolved. Add yeast and leave it for 10 – 15 minutes until it becomes all frothy.

Sift flour into a large bowl.

Add the yeast mixture, beaten egg, oil and salt and stir. Bring the flour mixture together with a fork or your hands.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for approximately 10 minutes. Use as little flour as possible for kneading. The dough should be smooth and slightly elastic.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Leave to rise until it is double in size. This will take from 1 – 2 hours depending on the temperature in your kitchen.

Once dough has doubled in size transfer to a working surface over which you’ve scattered some flour. Deflate the dough a bit and divide into 12 equal portions. Shape into round balls.

You can use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to approximately 8cm (3 inches) in diameter. Then pick the piece of dough up and gently pull the edges to enlarge to about 10cm (4 inches) in diameter. (By doing this it keeps the dough slightly thicker in the centre. This means that when your buns are cooking they won’t split on the top.)

Place a good sized tbsp of filling on the dough circle. Then gather the edges and seal your bun.

NOTE: Alternatively, press the ball of dough down with the heel of your palm, put the stretched dough into your left hand and add the filling. Use the thumb of your left hand to press down on the filling while using the thumb and first two fingers of your right hand to draw the edges of the dough up around the filling.

Place the bun sealed side down on your baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the dough. (You can press down on the balls gently so the bun won’t be too bread-y on the top and the filling will more centered. See picture below. ) Once all the buns are finished, brush the surface with egg wash.

Place in a preheated oven of 400º F for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

The buns went well with a freshly made bowl of creamy turkey and wild rice soup.

A few other goodies made this month: Raisin butter tarts and a couple of mini pies, coconut panna cotta with a blueberry sauce or a simple apricot jam base and a quince paste garnish.

I used the extra blueberry sauce for a filling for a couple of blueberry-raspberry mini pies. The filling for the fruit pies was thickened with a cornstarch slurry and cooked together with a handful of frozen raspberries before being allowed to cool. The pastry for the tarts and pies were made with Tenderflake lard pastry from the freezer.

And lest you think it was all about the sweets … here are some other tasty dishes.

Chorizo sausage, jalapeno cheese and cheddar cornbread … with leftover turkey potato gnocchi soup

Salmon in roasted tomato and pesto marinara over fettuccine

Pork chops – either simmered in a cream of mushroom gravy or breaded and pan fried

And then, there’s always a pizza or two. In this case, the last of the whole wheat sourdough dough from my freezer.

Washed down with a refreshing beer, in this case a Japanese Sapporo.

Easy Stove Top Stuffing Meatloaf

I’m trying to use my pantry ingredients to make meals without buying anything unnecessary. So when I wanted to use up a pound of regular ground beef from the freezer to make meatloaf, but didn’t have any celery in the house, I wondered if I could use a box of Stove Top stuffing as a substitute/ingredient. I asked around on my FB food groups and got lots of go-aheads. For the meats, I used a pound each of regular ground beef and lean ground pork.

I didn’t have any mashing potatoes so I ate the sliced and browned meatloaf on sourdough wholewheat bread sandwiches.

Easy Stove Top Stuffing Meatloaf – makes 2 one pound loaves

Meatloaf mixture

1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1/2 large onion, grated
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 cup each ground beef and lean pork
1 (6 ounce) box Stove Top stuffing mix (any flavor)
1 cup warm water or milk (or half of each)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 tsp sage
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2-1 tsp salt (I used the smaller amount and think it needed a bit more next time)
1/3 cup ketchup or bbq sauce

Glaze

1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup bbq sauce

Preheat oven to 375 deg F.

In a large saute pan, saute the onions and carrots in the vegetable oil until the onions are translucent and the carrots are tender. Transfer to a medium sized bowl and let cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl mix together all the ingredients.

Pat into two 1 pound disposable aluminum loaf pans in which you’ve poked a dozen or so holes with a wooden skewers. Place on a rack over a foil lined baking pan to catch any fat that oozes out.

Mix glaze ingredients together and spread a thin layer on top.

Bake for 1 hour (half an hour covered and half an hour uncovered) or until the middle is cooked through.

Put under the broiler for a few minutes if you want a darker top. Let stand for at least 10 min to let the juices redistribute through the loaf before cutting.

(You can stick a knife into the center and test the temperature of the knife against your chin.)

The result was a moist and flavourful meatloaf.

Guiness Beef Stew and French Macarons

I’m not much of a drinker but I DO like a cold beer with a bbq or a Tex-Mex meal. I prefer light beers like Tecate or Sapporo/Asahi but I’ve enjoyed a stout or two in the past. (Just half a pint though cause it’s a pretty rich drink.) Over the years, I’ve seen those recipes for beef stews and steak and kidney pies using Guiness and been tempted to give them a try. This past Friday I picked up a can of Guiness draft beer and made a pot of stew with some blade steak.

Guinness Irish Beef Stew – serves 4-6

2-3 tbsp olive oil (or bacon fat**)
1 1/2 lbs beef, trimmed and cubed
1-2 (1/2 tbsp) large garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, finely diced
4 cups beef stock (or chicken stock and 1 tbsp beef soup mix**)
1 cup Guinness stout
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried parsley
2 lbs potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large (1 1/2 cups) carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
salt and pepper to taste (start with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper)

Optional flour slurry to thicken stew – 1 tbsp flour and 2 tbsp of cold water mixed until smooth

** What I  used

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add half the beef and saute until brown on all sides, about 3-5 minutes. Remove to a large bowl and reserve. Add a second tbsp of olive oil to the dutch oven, the rest of the beef, and brown. Remove to the bowl with the rest of the sauteed beef and reserve.

Add the onion and garlic to the oil in the dutch oven and saute for a couple of minutes. If needed, add a bit more of the olive oil. Add the tomato paste and saute for 1 minute.

Add the browned beef, beef stock, Guinness, bay leaves, thyme and parsley. Add salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

Bring the mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 1-1 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally depending on the cut of stew used. (If you wish, you can put the dutch oven in a 350 deg Fahrenheit oven for this time.)

Add the potatoes and carrots and continue simmering until vegetables and beef are very tender, another 30-40 minutes. Check periodically to make sure the meat and veggies are submerged.

Discard bay leaves. Tilt pan and skim off any fat if your meat was very fatty. Salt and pepper to taste. Uncover for the last 10 minutes or so if you want your stew to thicken up.

(NOTE: For an even thicker stew, combine 1 tbsp flour with 2 tbsp of cold water. Transfer the dutch oven to the stove top, bring the stew to a boil and add the flour mixture. Cook for several minutes until thickened.)

Transfer stew to serving bowl.

(Can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before serving.).

And, since I had a couple of egg whites left over from making Saturday’s sugar cookies, which I ‘aged’ overnight on the counter, I made a second try at French macarons.

John Santiago’s French Macarons – makes about a dozen macarons (pairs)

1/2 cup powdered/icing sugar
1 egg white, room temperature
1/4 cup almond flour (blanched ground almonds)
2 1/2 tbsp white sugar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
flavouring (almond, vanilla, or orange extract or 1 tsp or more espresso powder, 1 tsp cocoa powder)
gel food colouring

Combine the icing sugar with the almond flour. Sift twice to remove any big pieces of almond. Grind them in a food processor if necessary.

In a large, clean bowl, add the egg white/s and beat until frothy. Add the cream of tartar. Add, regular white sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, until soft peaks form. If using food colouring and flavour, add with the last of the sugar and continue beating until you get stiff peaks.

Add powdered sugar/almond flour to the egg white mixure. Start with 1/4 of the mixture. Stir in and then fold the rest into the lightened egg white. Stir around the edge of the bowl and fold into the middle. Repeat 20-30 times or until your mixture flows smoothly when dropped from 5-6 inches.

Pipe mixture onto parchment paper through a 1/2 inch round tip. (You may want to trace a pattern on the underside of your parchment paper as a guide to the size of the macarons so they’ll be uniform.) Tap pan a few times to get rid of air bubbles, then LET SIT FOR AT LEAST 30 MINUTES! until the outside of the disc is dry to the touch.

Preheat oven to 300 deg F.

Bake for 17-20 minutes! (Baking times will vary depending on the environment they have rested in. They can bake anywhere between 15 – 25 minutes.)

NOTE: They are ready when they are firm on their ‘feet’ and lift without sticking. You don’t want to rip off the top when you lift them up. 🙂

Remove them from the baking tray immediately when they come out of the oven. You can run a small offset spatula under them to make sure no areas are stuck and then place them on a wire rack to cool. By removing them immediately from the hot baking sheet it stops the cooking process so they don’t over cook and become hard. You want them to be crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.

The stew was an unqualified success. The macarons less so as I still have to work on the timing of the addition and type of food colouring for the macarons. Liquid food colouring, added after you’ve beaten your egg whites to stiff peaks, will result in over beaten and hollow macarons. And overbaking will give you dry, hard centers.

You can see those errors in this macaron.

Next time I’ll invest in gel or paste food colouring and add it with the granulated sugar. Even so, this batch of macarons were much better than my first attempt and I can tentatively check it off my food bucket list.

I filled my macarons with melted chocolate as I hadn’t really PLANNED on success.

Greek Beef and Rice Meatballs in Egg-Lemon Sauce Soup … OPA!!!!

There are two very similar beef and rice meatball soups that I like and that I was torn between making … a Greek version in an egg-lemon sauce which is called “youvarlakia avgolemono” and a Spanish/Mexican version with a tomato based sauce called “albondigas”. I chose the Greek version because I wasn’t in the mood for tomatoes and because I hadn’t made an avgolemono soup in some time. The previous version used shredded chicken and rice in a flavourful and slightly tart broth … chicken soup with a definite Greek twist or two.

NOTE: You can cook your meatballs right in the chicken broth but I wanted a cleaner preparation so I precooked the rice meatballs in salted water. The rest of the soup was made with chicken broth. If you don’t want to lose the flavour from the cooking liquid or don’t have chicken broth, remove the meatballs, strain the cooking liquid and add 2 heaping tbsp of chicken soup mix  to it for a more ‘chicken-y’ taste.

youvarlakia = meat and rice meatballs
avgolemono = egg-lemon sauce

Greek Meatballs in Egg-Lemon Sauce (Youvarlakia Avgolemono) – serves 6, 3 meatballs per person

1 lb lean ground beef
2 tbsp uncooked rice or orzo
1 finely chopped onion (plus 1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil for sauteing, optional)
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley or 1 1/2 tsp dried
1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint or 1 1/2 tsp dried
1/4 tsp dried oregano
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (start with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper for the meatballs)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups water, vegetable or chicken broth (plus 1 tsp of salt if using water)

For the Avgolemono Sauce:

3 large eggs (at room temperature)
juice of 2 lemons (more to taste)
1 heaping tbsp flour

NOTE: 1 lemon gives you ~3 tbsp of juice

Garnish:

Shredded fresh herbs (parsley or mint) or sliced green onion

I don’t like the texture of boiled onions in my meatballs so I sauteed them and the finely minced garlic in 1/2 tbsp of vegetable oil, drained and let them cool before adding them to the meat mixture.

Making the meatballs:

In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the beef, rice, onion, garlic, parsley, mint, oregano, salt, pepper and beaten egg. Mix all the ingredients well. (Use your hands!) You may refrigerate the meat mixture until the next day at this point.

Put 1/2 cup of flour in a small bowl for coating your meatballs.

Shaping and cooking the meatballs:

Roll the meat mixture into small balls (~2 tbsp each) and then roll each ball around in the flour (shaking off any excess flour). Place the meatball in a stock pot that’s large enough to fit the meatballs in a single layer. Repeat until the meat mixture is used up. (I got exactly 18 meatballs.)

Fill the stock pot with enough broth so that it goes about half an inch above the meatballs, and bring the broth to a boil.

Cover and simmer for 45 min or until the meatballs are cooked through and the rice is tender.

About 10 minutes before your meatballs are done, begin making your egg-lemon sauce.

Making the egg-lemon sauce (Avgolemono):

Separate the three eggs into two bowls. Place the yolks in a small bowl and beat gently with a fork.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg whites by hand until they’re frothy (a few minutes). While still beating, add the beaten yolks to the bowl slowly. Continue beating and add 1 heaping tablespoon of flour. Stop beating and add the lemon juice. Start by only adding 3 tbsp of the lemon juice. You can always add more at the end. Whisk together until the mixture is smooth.

Finishing the soup:

Once the meatballs are cooked, remove them with a slotted spoon and set them aside in a medium sized bowl.

You may want to cut one in half to make sure it’s cooked through.

Skim any scum from the top of the broth so it looks nice and clean. Or you may prefer to strain the broth through a sieve into another stock pot or a dutch oven.

This came from straining 2 cups of the cooking liquid which I used for the egg-lemon sauce.

Take 2 cups of the hot broth, a ladle at a time, and slowly pour it into the egg froth, mixing well as you do so. NOTE: This is important or the eggs may curdle when you add them into the hot broth. The mixture should be smooth and creamy.

Pour the egg/flour/broth mixture back into the stock pot and bring the broth to a slow boil. Taste to see if the seasonings need to be adjusted by adding more salt and pepper or more lemon juice.

Place 3 meatballs in each serving bowl and pour about one cup of the hot egg-lemon sauce over them.

Serve immediately with a sprinkling of fresh herbs or sliced green onion on top.

NOTE: You may also add the cooked meatballs to the egg-lemon sauce and serve family style out of the stock pot.

The frothy sauce will lose its texture on standing and reheating so you’ll want to serve it immediately.

Weekday BBQ: Steaks, Chicken Tikka Skewers etc. (Peach Crumble Bars for Dessert)

Years ago, my parents gave me a full sized propane bbq as a housewarming gift.

That may not sound like a practical gift for a single person … but with some planning, you get some great tasting meals, at a good price, for very little effort, especially if you fill up the grill. Personally, I find hot dogs bland and boring but, throw them on a grill, and you’ve got a taste treat that you can pair with chili, throw into a pot of baked beans or even serve over pasta in a marinara sauce.

The star of today’s bbq was this pair of sirloin steaks. A bit pricey at $18.60 for the two, but after bbq’ing them and cutting each steak into 3 or 4 portions, the results were much more economical.

Blackberry/raspberry lemonade with a splash of club soda. Cause you need something cold and refreshing while you’re standing over a hot bbq grill wielding your tongs.

I didn’t have any sour cream for the baked potato so I spooned on some tzatziki sauce. Yummy.

The BBQ – Sirloin steaks, package of hot dogs and 2 chicken breasts marinaded in tikka masala paste and yogurt then threaded on metal skewers.

And ended up with

Steaks

Hot Dogs – Normally, I forget these little guys and they get charred but this time, I got them JUST RIGHT.

Chicken Tikka Skewers and Baked Potatoes – au jus (for the sirloin steak) in the background

Throwing meat on the barbecue somehow seems like cheating. It’s not really cooking the way I do it. I ‘sometimes’ marinate the meat but more often I just salt and pepper it. So, I try to do a little extra for the sides or the dessert. I put back the 3 packages of blueberries I bought this rainy Saturday morning and instead bagged 9 peaches so I could make a tray of peach crumble bars.

The peaches were BEAUTIFUL even if not as sweet and juicy as I would have liked.

I’ve used this crumble recipe before with cherries, nectarines and, of course, peaches. You can use berries or mangoes, if you want. This Peach Melba (raspberries and peaches) variation was delicious. The juiciness of the fruit really makes the crumble special. That’s why I don’t think apples or pears would work as well, but, since I haven’t tried them, I may be wrong. If you try those fruit, let me know.

I had some extra filling so I used it to fill a frozen mini pie shell from the pastry I made a couple of weeks ago. I stole some of the crumb topping from the bars in place of a top crust.

I <3 Onions – Beef Burgers and Lamb Kofta Kebabs

The first barbecue of the year was a successful one. I threw whatever I could find in my freezer on the grill … hamburgers, lamb skewers and a package of Oktoberfest Grill ‘Ems. But first, I had to do a bit of preparing of the ground meat.

I enjoy the taste of onions with my burgers but I don’t care for the texture of raw onions so I usually saute some diced onions and add it to my meat mixtures.

After frying the onions and prepping the meat on Saturday, I was too hungry to wait til the next day to bbq, so I pan-fried a couple of the smaller hamburger patties and threw them into this sesame seed bun. There’s melted cheese between the two and some ‘healthy’ lettuce on the bottom. 🙂

Beef Burger

Cross-section through the burger

Barbecued Hamburgers – Word to the wise … do NOT bbq burgers made with regular hamburger meat! The flames are scary.

Ok, the simplest recipe for a hamburger is just to throw some salt and pepper at ground sirloin or other high quality beef, form it into a patty and throw in on a grill, but some of us have limited budgets, so we buy the lean ground beef at the market  … NOT those ground meat chubs at the grocery chains cause I have SOME standards left. And when I first looked up a ‘recipe’ for a hamburger, it told me to use bread crumbs (soaked in milk for moisture) and an egg for binding. So that’s what I’m posting below. Do whatever you want. It’s your burger.

Basic Hamburger – makes 8 4 oz patties

2 pounds lean ground beef
1 small onion, finely diced and sauteed in 1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp dried bread crumbs
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten well

Sauteed onions

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

Divide into 8 portions and shape into patties. You can do it by hand or by using a handy patty press like this one, complete with instructions in case it’s too high tech for you to figure out on your own. The press holds exactly 4 oz.

I’m cheap frugal so I used food wrap.

Pan fry, grill or barbecue.

Ground Lamb Skewers (and some Grill ‘Ems)

Lamb Kofta Kebabs or Ground Lamb Skewers – makes 8 skewers, serve 2 per person

1 pound ground lamb
zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried mint
1 1/2 tbsp minced dehydrated onion
scant tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander

Mix lemon zest, dehydrated onion and all the herbs and spices together. Sprinkle over the ground meat and knead in well.

Cover and refrigerate the meat mixture overnight to allow the flavours to meld.

About 45 minutes before you want to cook the kebabs, soak 8 bamboo skewers in water for at least 30 minutes.

Divide the meat into 8 portions and shape into a ball. With damp hands, insert the skewer into the ball of meat and shape the meat around the skewer into a 2-3 inch sausage shape.

Grill or barbecue the kebabs for about 8-10 minutes over medium heat until golden brown and cooked through, rotating ever few minutes.

Serve 2 kebabs with spicy yogurt sauce (recipe below) drizzled over them.

Spicy yogurt – makes 1 cup

1 cup Greek style yogurt
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 tsp each ground cumin, coriander, and mint
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients for spicy yogurt and refrigerate until ready to use.

Satay: Beef, Chicken or Pork

Even though satay (sate) refers to to skewered, grilled meat served with one of a variety of sauces (ie. sweet or regular soy, pineapple, tempeh) , most people have come to expect satay to be served with a peanut sauce. It’s this most well-known type of satay that I’m going to make in this post.

Satay consists of two components: first, a marinade that flavours and tenderizes the meat before threading the meat onto skewers and grilling it. Second, a sauce (usually peanut based) to serve with the skewers. I’ve been using a jarred satay bbq sauce which can be used for both purposes with some additional ingredients added to the sauce before using it as a marinade. However, I decided to make everything from scratch for a change using a recipe that I found on Fridgg.com.

Although I chose to make my satay with pork tenderloin, it can be made with boneless, skinless chicken thighs (more flavourful than breasts and won’t dry out as much) or thinly sliced beef tenderloin.

Pork Satay with Peanut Sauce – makes 16 skewers, serve 2 per person as an appetizer and 4 per person as a main

1 pound of pork (loin or shoulder cuts)

16 6-8 inch wooden or bamboo skewers, soaked in warm water for 20-30 minutes

1/2 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp ginger root, chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice**
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp vegetable oil (or peanut or olive oil)

** I didn’t have any lemons in the house so I used 1/2 tsp of the tamarind concentrate in the picture below, diluting it with enough water to equal 2 tbsp total. It’s normally used to make the sauce for Indian panipuri … not that I’ve ever made them.

If you have a small food processor or blender, dump in everything except the pork and blend until smooth. Otherwise, chop the onions, garlic and ginger really fine then mix it all together in a medium to large bowl.

Cut pork into 16 x 1 inch wide and 1/4 inch thick strips. (My tenderloin was about 10 inches long and 2 inches wide, so I cut it in half,  and then I cut each half lengthwise into 4 x 2 inch wide planks. Each plank was then cut in half.)

Cover pork with marinade.

You can place the pork into a bowl, cover/seal and chill, or place the meat and marinade into a ziplock bag, seal and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.

Pat the soaked skewers dry and gently and slowly slide meat strips onto the skewers. Discard the leftover marinade.

Broil or grill at 550°F (or pan fry on medium-high) for 8-10 minutes or until the edges just start to char. Flip and cook another 8-10 minutes.

Serve the satay with Basmati or jasmine rice and sauce (recipe below) for dipping.

Peanut Sauce – makes about 1 cup, enough for a tablespoon per skewer.

3/4 cup coconut milk
4 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1-2 dried red chilies, chopped (keep the seeds for heat)

In a small saucepan combine the dry ingredients with the soy sauce and lemon juice, mixing well. Add the coconut milk and peanut butter, stirring again and then place over medium low heat. Stir the contents often so you get a smooth mixture.

The peanut sauce may be made ahead of time so as to let the spicy chilies infuse the sauce. Reheat before serving in that case. If needed, you may thin the sauce with a tsp or two of water. Make extra as it’s delicious over the accompanying rice or dipping.