Friday, July 15, 2011

Rosa’s Juicy And Tasty Italian Veal Burgers

One of the things I like about cooking is finding new recipes. And the best way to find new recipes is by eating other people’s food. Of course, if you like someone else’s recipe, you might have to fight them to get it. Other times, people just enjoy sharing their knowledge or family secrets. I, personally, like to bug people to get their recipes. It’s much better and so much more fun than finding recipes in books or magazines. At least, other people’s recipes have been tested and tried and you can be assured they are close to perfection. I got the following recipe from my mom, who got it from one of her coworkers, Rosa. Of course, Rosa is Italian, and of course, she’s got some amazing recipes to share.

This is one of my favorite burger recipes. Who ever said a burger absolutely had to be made of beef? This one, made of veal, is delicate yet bold in taste. It’s easy to make and even easier to eat. If you feel like making burgers but want to give your sandwiches a little fancy twist, this is the perfect recipe to let yourself go! It’s juicy and savory, just like a Friday night snack should be!

Makes 4 burgers or 3 bigger ones

Veal Pattie
600gr ground veal
1 egg, beaten
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tbsp sundried tomatoes, thinly chopped
About 1 cup goat cheese, chopped
Salt & Pepper

In a large bowl, blend together all the ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Make 4 patties. Set aside.

½ cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp Dijon mustard

In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients. Set aside.

1 large onion
1 red bell pepper (optional)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

In a large skillet, over medium-low heat, cook the onions and peppers in the balsamic vinegar until they become tender. It should take about 20-30 minutes.

When ready to serve, cook the patties in a large skillet over medium heat. Cooking time should be about 7-8 minutes. You could use a BBQ but because of the filling in the meat, the patties might disintegrate on the grill… so be careful if that’s your choice of cooking method.

Toast a burger bread, put a patty on top. Scoop some of the mayonnaise and top with the onion and red pepper mixture. Serve hot with a crunchy summer salad on the side. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Feisty Caribbean Sauce Called ‘Sauce Chien’

A couple of years back I spent a few months in the Caribbean. More precisely, I was on the island of Martinique. I know… I was really lucky! While I was there, I met a chef who was kind enough to teach me the local way of cooking. In exchange, I would spend some time in his restaurant, waitressing. Nothing too stressful (the island way!) and it was all worth it. It was such an amazing experience. On top of learning great recipes, I learned how to make local drinks (yummy!), and learned the true way of cooking when you’re in a tropical country: in a kitchen where flies are all over the place and ants make little trails along the walls. Lets just say the sanitary rules are not the same over there as the ones we have here, in North America!

A great way to give some kick to fish or meat in Martinique is by covering it with a sauce called ‘sauce chien’. It’s basically pickled onions. I love onions and vinegar so this really satisfies my taste and gives my food that special island kick. It’s a feisty, simple yet very effective sauce, one which is perfect to enhance your summer meals. I even use the leftover sauce in my salads. Why not? After all, it’s made of onions and vinegar!

½ big white onion, diced extremely finely
White vinegar
2 small tomatoes, emptied and cut in very fine dices
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Put the finely diced onions in a bowl. Cover completely with white vinegar. Add the tomatoes and the vegetable oil. Add some salt to taste (you need at least 1 tbsp).

Serve on top of a whole grilled fish of fish fillets. In the Caribbean they use Red Snapper. I used Pangasius and it was delicious!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Sugary Delight: Chocolate Pot De Crème. A Special Recipe For Vero

I’ve come to a cool realization lately… People actually read this blog! If you’re reading these lines, you’re probably thinking: ‘Well yeah, of course I read this blog!’. But things are not that obvious when you’re the one actually writing the lines. When I first started off, I needed a kick, something to keep me entertained and stimulated while I was at home on maternity leave. But I never thought I would actually get people to read me and appreciate the stuff (i.e. recipes) that I post. Lately, some of you have showed a true interest and a sincere appreciation for what I write and to you (you know who you are!), I say thank you. Thanks for reading me, for trying out my recipes, and for letting me know how things turn out. I looooove hearing from you!

So the other night I went a bit overboard with my wine drinking (hey, I’m aloud, I haven’t drank in 2 years!) and I promised a friend, whom I also realized was one of my fans (should I really qualify you or anyone else as being a fan?), that I would post a desert recipe for her. She’s a fine connoisseur of all deserts and a true lover of the sugar rush… So for her, I’m posting one of my most difficult recipes up to now. Deserts are never easy (I should know, I usually am terrible at making them) and this one should only be tried by those of you who either excel at desert making or who are truly patient and willing to take on a good cooking challenge. This one is perfect and Vero, if you nail this one, I promise you won’t be disappointed. On top of it, there’s no yogurt in the recipe! Enjoy.

Makes 6 servings

½ cup milk
½ cup 35% cream
1 tbsp sugar
3 egg yolks
1 gelatin sheet, rehydrated
1 1/3 cup milk chocolate (40% cocoa)

In a saucepan, bring to a boil the cream, milk and sugar.

In a bowl, slightly whisk the egg yolks. While whisking, gradually and very slowly pour the hot creamy liquid onto the egg yolks. Don’t go too fast or you will get an omelet instead of a creamy mixture!

Pour the egg and cream mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, constantly whisking, until the cream becomes thick and creamy (it should stick to the back of a spoon). Take off the heat and add the gelatin. Blend well.

Add the chocolate (it should be in small pieces) to the hot mixture and blend until it’s completely melted.

Pour into separate serving bowls or glasses. Cover with cellophane and put in the fridge for a few hours.

1 ½ cups 35% cream
½ vanilla bean, split in half and grated
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp brown sugar
1 gelatin sheet, rehydrated

In a small saucepan, bring the cream and the vanilla to a boil. Take off the heat and keep aside.

In another saucepan, put the brown sugar and cook over high heat, constantly blending with a wooden spoon. Once the sugar is completely melted and starts to boil, bring the heat to the lowest and gradually add in the hot cream mixture. Be careful, everything is extremely hot at this stage.

Once the cream is completely added in, cook for 1 more minute, making sure the caramel is completely melted. Take off the heat and add the gelatin.

Pour the hot mixture into a bowl that you’ve put over a bigger bowl filled with ice cubes. Let cool.

Once the mixture is completely cooled, pour over the chocolate mixture. Cover with cellophane and put in the fridge for another few hours.

1 egg white
1 cup whole almonds, skin off
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt (Maldon is the best!)

Preheat your oven at 350˚F.

In a bowl, whisk the egg white so it becomes bubbly. Add the almonds and make sure they are completely covered with the egg white.

Put the almonds on a baking sheet covered with a silicone baker’s sheet or wax paper (making sure you don’t put any excess egg white), and sprinkle with the sugar and salt. Cook in the oven for about 8 minutes.

When ready to serve, take the cellophane off the serving bowls and decorate with the almonds. You can even sprinkle a little bit of cocoa powder on top. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Whisky Shrimp Sauce Made For The Lazy

Is it me, or do we cook less during summer? I mean, I cook, but very differently than during winter time. Putting a piece of meat or fish on the grill, grilling vegetables sprinkled with olive oil, having a fresh salad, all of this is so much easier than cooking behind the stove for hours. For this reason, I realize I don’t have as many interesting and fun recipes to present to you. It’s not because I like to cook that I’m purposely going make complicated recipes. Shame on me! In the next few weeks, I think I’m going to try to make “inspired summer food”. Simple and easy yet maybe a level above simply grilling my food!

Cold food during the summer is very much accepted by all. On the contrary, winter calls for hot, steaming food. Which is why you’re aloud to make cold, boiled shrimps, for your dinner tonight... if you feel like it! Just make sure you make a killer sauce to go along with them. The following sauce is sure damn good and makes the shrimp shine, showing off its great flavor. Because summer is for the lazy and whisky is for the happy!

1 cup mayonnaise
3 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp Whisky
2 tsp Cajun spices (optinal)

In a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients.

Serve with big cooked shrimps. They can even be cold!  

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Version Of A Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice)

On this rainy day, I need to prepare something that’s easy to make, satisfying for the tummy and for which I have all the ingredients at home. Not an easy task, I have to admit. Still, I’m one who’s prepared most of the time and one who always keeps a nice stash of non-perishables in my cupboard!

Today, my creativity has targeted an Asian dish: Nasi Goreng. Nasi Goreng finds its origin in Indonesia and Malaysia and pretty much means fried rice. I call my version of the dish “improved” simply because I gave it my own twist. To make it more fun and colorful, I added a few ingredients. This way, I’m making sure we’re getting a few veggies, protein and some crunchiness which is always fun in the mouth. I’ve indicated optional next to the ingredients I’ve added. You can decide to make the normal version or put your own twist to it, depending on what you’ve got at home. The easy thing about this recipe is that you can make your rice in advance. When you’re ready to cook, it’ll take you about 10 minutes to get the whole thing done. This is fantastic on a weeknight when time is limited!

Makes 4 servings

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp Sambal Olek (2 if you like it hot!)
125g raw shrimps, peeled
125g raw chicken, diced
3 green shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp soya sauce
2 tbsp oisin sauce (optinal)
1 tbsp fish sauce (optional)
4 eggs
3 cups cold cooked rice
1 small can (8 oz) bamboo shoots (optional)
1 small can (8 oz) water chestnut (optional)
½ cup green beans (optional)
1 can (7.4 oz) unpeeled whole straw mushrooms (optional)

In a small bowl, mix together the green shallots, garlic, soya, oisin and fish sauces. Set aside.

In a wok, heat the oil over high heat and add the Sambal Olek and chicken. Cook the chicken until it is colored.

Add the shrimps, sauce mixture, bamboo shoots, water chestnut, green beans, straw mushrooms, and rice. Cook for another 5 minutes, until the rice is hot.

I a small pan, cook the eggs separately, over easy.

Place the rice in a dome shape on a plate. Cover with and egg and decorate with pieces of tomato and cucumber.  

Monday, July 4, 2011

Delicious Banana Cream Pie; Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover

I’ve said this before but for those who don’t know it yet, I have to confess to something: I’m not great at making desert. I’m not that bad, but I miss my deserts one time out of two. That’s a fifty percent success ratio. Not impressive for someone who says she can kick butt in the kitchen!

Anyways. I like a good challenge so the other day I suggested to a friend of mine that I bring desert to her diner party. Of course, she accepted. I scratched my head, not knowing what to do. That’s when I realised I had a few dying bananas on my kitchen counter (my toddler loooooves bananas so I always have a bunch around, which explains my inclination at making banana deserts!). I also had a graham pie crust in the cupboard, something I had bought a few months back thinking one day I’d make a pie. One and the other put together equalled a banana pie. So I searched a few recipes and decided I’d be making banana cream pie.

The one thing you usually have to follow when you make a desert, are the ingredients. Desert making is a science, not an art, so there’s no space for creativity. Which is where I mostly fail. I always try to put my own twist to recipes, which is what makes them go wrong! For this one, instead of making ONLY banana slices at the bottom of the pie, I pureed half of them and added them to the pudding mixture… The pudding ended up being a bit more muddy then I expected… and the results when not very chic!! But don’t get fooled by its looks; it tasted amazing and between the four of us, we almost finished the entire pie! I’m sure that if you follow the recipe properly and you don’t go wild like me, your pie will be pretty and a great success!!

Makes 8 servings (or 4 big ones!)

1 Graham pie crust (9-inch)
¾ cup white sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 cups milk
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 tbsp butter
1 ¼ tsp vanilla extract
4 bananas, sliced

Preheat the oven at 350˚F.

In a skillet, combine sugar, flour and salt. Add the milk gradually, stirring gently. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until the mixture is bubbly. Keep stirring and cook for about 2 more minutes, and then remove from burner.

Stir a small quantity of the hot mixture into the beaten egg yolks, and immediately add the egg yolks mixture to the rest of the hot mixture. Cook for 2 more minutes until the pudding becomes a rich, creamy texture. Remember to always keep stirring. Remove the mixture from the stove, and add the butter and vanilla. Stir until the whole thing has a smooth consistency.

Slice the bananas onto the pie shell. Top with the pudding mixture.

Bake in the oven for 13 to 15 minutes. Chill for an hour. Decorate if you think it needs better presentation.