Tag Archives: beef

Stuffed Pepper Soup with Albondigas

I was planning on sleeping in on Sunday and then doing a quick run to the city market to buy some things I need for next week’s cooking. Well, I picked up a couple of goodies for lunch too, and something NOT on my shopping list.

At around 2 pm, I was bored so I decided to get started on the cooking early.

I was going to make a big pot of stuffed pepper soup since I had a couple of peppers in the crisper and I had bought extra ground beef … and then I had a BRILLIANT idea. Why bother using up a pound of ground beef that I just bought, when I had almost 2 dozen perfectly good cooked albondigas (Mexican meatballs with rice) in the freezer. So, I made the rest of the dish and added the albondigas and 1/2 cup of raw long grain rice for the last 20 minutes of cooking.

A hour later, I had 6-8 servings of an amazing soup hearty enough to be a meal. All it needs is some bread for dipping into it.

International Cooking

What country/nationality’s cooking, other than your own, do you enjoy?

I live in Canada and other than poutine and butter tarts, I can’t really claim that I cook anything that is particularly CANADIAN. Throwing maple syrup into a dish doesn’t make it Canadian, does it?

I enjoy a variety of national cuisines. This past week … I made Chinese (kale and white miso soup), Japanese and Tex-Mex dishes.

Donburi, or Japanese rice bowls, are a great way to use up leftover sushi rice. Chicken is one of my favourite proteins to top the rice bowl. The beef version was a new one for me though I didn’t have the paper thin fatty beef that is usually used and ended up with some chewy strips of sirloin steak. It still tasted good, though.

Chicken katsu (cutlet) with scrambled egg poached in the simmering sauce …

… and gyudon (beef) with egg. In Japan a raw egg is broken over the hot rice bowl but our eggs aren’t safe to eat raw so I poached mine. Paper thin cut fatty beef is preferred for quick cooking time and flavour. I garnished the rice bowl with shredded pickled ginger and green onion. And the pink, white and green colours looked pretty too.

I made a half dozen crab stick and avocado hand rolls with the rest of the sushi rice.

As for Tex-Mex … well, it’s better than going to Taco Bell. (Even if it IS an occasional guilty pleasure.)

Beef fajitas

Tamales are more Mexican than Tex-Mex but I’m going to throw them into the mix.

And, lest I forget … an iced Thai coffee to beat the heat. One of these days, I’ll make a more expansive Thai menu.

Iced Thai Coffee

Make double strength coffee and let cool to room temperature. If you like cardamom, a pinch or two added to the coffee while you’re brewing it is tasty.

In a tall glass, add a few ice cubes, 1-2 tbsp of sweetened condensed milk depending on how sweet you like your coffee. Pour the coffee over the ice cubes.

Albondigas (Mexican Meatball) Soup and Cafe Bombon

I had planned on a Greek themed cooking weekend inspired by a package of phyllo dough in my freezer … galactoboureko and spanakotheropita and dolmathes. (I keep seeing those jars of brined grape leaves in the grocery store). I even wrote them down on a piece of paper.

And then I picked up a two pound package of fresh lean ground beef on sale at Freshco and decided to make albondigas (Mexican meatball) soup since my friend Spikesgirl58 had shared her recipe with me earlier in the week. Well, I started with her recipe.

And then I made a few changes.

Are you surprised?

I figure that about 90% of the recipe is hers.

I thawed the rest of the 1 pound package of home made Mexican chorizo to add to the meatball mixture, and picked up some other items on Saturday morning, including baby spinach, fresh cilantro and limes.

Spikesgirl’s Albondigas (Meatball) Soup – makes 6 – 8 main-dish servings

Meatballs – makes 40-44 meatballs, use half of the meatballs in soup below

1 1/2 – 2 pounds lean ground beef (or half beef and half raw chorizo sausage**)
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
1 egg, well beaten
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1** – 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro**, mint** and oregano), coarsely chopped
2 tbsp – 1/4 cup** rice

Soup

6 cups chicken stock
4 cups beef stock or consommé
1/2 tsp dried oregano (Mexican or Greek)
1 medium sized onion coarsely chopped
4 medium /6 small carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 cup chopped tomatoes or canned with liquid (optional)
1/2** – 1 cup frozen corn (optional)
1/2** – 1 cup frozen peas (optional)
1/2** – 3/4 pound baby spinach
2 to 3 limes, cut into wedges

** Amounts I used

Combine ground beef/chorizo, bread crumbs, rice, garlic, red pepper flakes, chopped herbs, salt and egg. Form into meatballs about 1 inch in diameter (~2 tbsp).

In an 8 quart kettle, combine the chicken stock with the beef stock, onions and oregano.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Drop the meatballs into the stock.

Simmer meatballs for about 5 minutes, then spoon off any fat. (THIS IS IMPORTANT … I didn’t do it and ended up with a layer of fat on top of my soup.)

Add the carrots and potatoes. Continue simmering, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until carrots and potatoes are tender to bite.

Meanwhile, clean spinach discarding the tough stems. Wash leaves and chop the large ones in half. Add to stock along with corn/peas and tomatoes and cook, uncovered, for an additional 5 minutes.

“Ladle into bowls and pass limes,” according to Spikesgirl.

* * *

I used the second pound of ground beef for some spaghetti sauce and threw in some other leftover items from my freezer including sauteed mushrooms and pureed tomatoes.

Cafe Bombon

I thought this coffee drink would pair well with a Mexican soup as it has Spanish/Mexican roots … being equal parts sweetened condensed milk topped with piping hot espresso. Serve in a tall clear glass with a spoon so your guests can admire the layers and then stir and sip this VERY sweet drink. It cools quickly by the way.

Rain/snow mix, income tax, sourdough bread and some soup … Oh My!

I lost 2 hrs of work on this post due to a dumb mistake so I hope it’s better on the second attempt. (MUST remember to save.)

I made this bread a couple of weeks ago but just got around to sharing. Hopefully, I haven’t forgotten to include anything crucial in the write-up of the recipe.

My reconstituted sourdough starter has finally gotten nice and lively (Sluggo no more) so I risked an entire loaf made JUST with starter. NO commercial yeast at all. And … success!! I could have let it rise a bit more, but after 3 hrs it HAD doubled. At least to my anxious eyes. So I baked it off.

This is an adaptation of Debra Collins‘ “One Day Sourdough” recipe, though I’ve rewritten it to reflect the changes I made … hand kneading, changed amounts of starter and water and different baking temperature.

One Day Sourdough by Debra Collins – makes ~800 gm dough

3 tbsp sugar
1 cup warm water 105 degrees**
1/2 cup active sourdough starter**
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil (or melted butter)
3 – 3 1/2 cup all purpose flour, divided

** Used 3/4 cup each, warm water and sourdough starter

In a medium sized bowl, dissolve the sugar in the warm water.

In a large bowl, add 2 cups of the flour and the salt. Stir to mix. Add the oil, sourdough starter and the warm water/sugar mixture. With a wooden spoon, beat together until you have a smooth batter.

Gradually stir in the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time until it’s too thick to stir any more. Sprinkle some of the remaining flour on your work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Knead for about 5 minutes, using only as much flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Shape the dough into ball and cover with a large bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes. Uncover the dough and knead for an additional 5 minutes.

Return the dough ball to the bowl you made it in, cover with saran wrap and let rise for 30 minutes, covered.

After the rest, turn the dough out onto your work surface again and roll out or gently press with your knuckles, until it becomes a rectangle 10 x 14 inches. Roll up and place the dough pinched seam down into a greased 9 x 4 inch loaf pan or 8 x 4 loaf pan. Cover with your saran wrap and let rise until doubled in size, in a warm place. Be patient as this will take several hours. (I poked the dough after 3 hours and it sprang back quickly so I baked it.)

Preheat the oven to 425 deg F. Brush with a little egg glaze or milk. You may also sprinkle the top with sesame or poppy seeds and cut a slit in the top of the bread.

Bake for about 25 minutes until done. (After 20 minutes the top had gotten as dark as I wished so I covered the loaf with a large sheet of aluminum foil and baked for an additional 5 minutes.)

Turn out onto a cooling rack and cool until room temperature before you cut it.

I’m very happy with the results. Nice flavour, not too sour, firm enough texture that I could slice it for sandwich bread but soft enough for good mouth feel.

We’ve had 3 days of rain/snow mix this weekend starting on the Friday so that meant I didn’t run as many errands as I had planned. Leaving me plenty of time to cook. Saturday morning, after getting my income tax done (yay for getting money back), I went grocery shopping, and later that day, used up all the sourdough starter I had on making some pancakes (love those bubbles) for the freezer and a pepperoni and cheese pizza for supper.

I picked up 2 trays of pork chops while grocery shopping and processed them for the freezer and future meals. And a package of Canadian bacon (they ran out of the sale regular bacon) which I fried up for Sunday brunch. I cooked a couple of pork chops for Sunday dinner.

And then I made a BIG pot of spicy vegetable beef soup. I added barley to part of the soup for a total of 12 (8 of the former and 4 of the latter) servings. The recipe below won’t make quite as much. I scaled my actual soup making up as I had a bit over 2 pounds of beef to work with and I wanted to use some of a bag of barley that I had picked up that morning.

Spicy Vegetable Beef Soup – serves 8

1-1 1/4 pound rump roast
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, medium dice
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 cups pureed tomatoes
2 cups diced tomatoes
4 cups water, water and 2 beef bouillon cubes or beef broth, plus more water as needed
1 (16 ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables, thawed*
1 stalk celery, medium dice
1 medium carrot, medium dice
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper, or hot sauce to taste
6 ounces ditalini or other small soup pasta**

salt and pepper to taste (start with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper)

* Substitute with 1 cup each frozen corn and green peas in last 10 minutes of cooking so as not to lose colour and texture of the peas.
**Substitute with 1 diced potato or 1/2 cup picked and rinsed barley. The barley will take 40-45 minutes to cook until tender.

Trim fat from roast and cut into 1 inch cubes.

Place meat in a large pot over medium-high heat with oil and cook, stirring, until meat is browned. You may need to do this in batches removing each batch of seared meat before adding another batch. Add more oil as needed.

Remove the meat to a large container and add onion and garlic, sauteeing at medium heat until the onion is tender. Return the meat to the pot.

Pour in the water/broth, tomatoes and tomato puree. Stir in mixed vegetables, carrot and celery. Season with oregano, thyme, basil, parsley, cayenne, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 75 minutes. (After half an hour add the barley if using instead of pasta. You’ll need to stir the contents well to the bottom as your barley will settle and stick as it swells up and absorbs the liquid. More liquid may be needed at this point.)

The barley version of the soup

Stir in pasta and cook 10 minutes more, until pasta is tender.

Freezer clearance is an endless project. This time I located a couple of chicken cutlets at the bottom of the freezer, along with some trimmings from a batch of bone-in chicken breasts, so I breaded and pan fried the cutlets, topped them with some melted mozzarella and served them with pasta dressed with a simple jarred spaghetti sauce.

I added the rest of the chicken to a bowl of off the cuff egg noodles dressed with a spicy jarred pad Thai sauce. I wish I’d had more chicken as I could see eating this dish often.

Well, I think I’m all caught up now.

Placinta (Strudel) Redux

ETA: The post dropped before I’d finished adding the pictures. I made it several weeks ago … and lost track with RL stuff.

Strudel/phyllo/burek dough is found in many cuisines under a wide variety of names. My Romanian parents called it “placinta” and my mom’s cheese (placinta cu branza) or apple (placinta cu mere) versions were eagerly anticipated at my house. She also made a pumpkin version (placinta cu dulete or dovleac) which wasn’t bad … if that’s all that was left, IMNSHO.

I’m only made it once before, successfully. I don’t think this try was as good as that one and I messed up a few things, but everything was, at least, edible.

NOTE: I just discovered that I had only made a half recipe on that previous attempt so it’s possible that my stand mixer just wasn’t able to knead it well enough to get the gluten development it needed. It’s hard to imagine that my mom did all this by hand.

Because I didn’t have a lot of cheese (feta and ricotta) in the freezer, left over from previous projects, only enough for 2 mini coils, in fact, I thawed a container of filling for Jamaican beef patties and filled the remaining dough with it. My filling estimates were a bit uneven and the first roll was too meaty, while the 2nd was a bit too doughy. Oh well, it just means I need more practice.

Recipe in Pictures

Dough balls, coated with oil and allowed to rest covered with food wrap. After 1-2 hrs, each ball is stretched, carefully, over a linen covered surface, before being filled. Extra oil or melted butter is generously drizzled over the dough to help with the browning. Don’t skimp.

The thickened edges are trimmed off before rolling up into a long ‘snake’. The resulting ‘snake’ can then be coiled or shaped into a U onto a baking sheet before baking

The inside of the cheese strudel was a bit gummier than my mom’s ever turned out though it WAS cooked.

Cheese Strudel

Meat Strudel

My goal is still to be able to stretch the dough to cover the entire kitchen table, as she did.

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.