Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bite-sized Roast Beef Sandwich

           I'm a sucker for cute little things. I adore the little teeny-tiny single serving Heinz Ketchup and Tabasco bottles we serve with the steak tartar at Beaver Hall. Maybe it's because I'm not the tallest man and holding one makes me feel like a giant. Maybe that's why I love making these "sandwiches" so much. It's fun to be able to wolf down a whole roast beef sandwich in one bite. This New Year's Eve, if your guests see 50 little roast beef sandwiches parked next to the chips 'n dip, they are sure to be impressed.
          To make these bites you could save some time by buying pre-made, pre-sliced roast beef, but the quality of what you find at the grocery store is usually pretty sub-par. I want to show you a little trick that will give an ordinary steak the flavour and texture of roast beef. I use a Ziplock  bag and large pot of warm water to cook the steak "sous-vide" and then give it a quick sear in a smoking hot pan. To do this style of cooking, a professional kitchen might have a high-tech piece of gear called an immersion circulator that will keep a water bath at a precise temperature. At home, a large pot of water with a thermometer will do the trick. This way the steak will cook gently in the warm water bath and you can achieve the texture of a 5lbs  roast that has been cooking for hours with a 1" steak that has been cooking for minutes. One 8oz (250g) steak will make 20-25 bites.
Start to finish 30 minutes. Makes 25 bites.

1 250g (8oz) strip loin steak
50ml creamed horseradish*
5 gherkins, thinly sliced
Montreal steak spice
Dijon mustard
25 mini toast slices

*creamed horseradish can be bought pre-prepared, but for a fresher flavour mix equal parts whipped cream & horseradish

1. Seal the steak tightly in a Ziplock bag. To push the air out, submerge the bag in water, keeping the seal just above the water as you close it. Place the sealed steak in a 60C water bath for 15 minutes.  The hot tap water at most homes is already close to that temperate, so all you want to to is hold it there. A large pot of water should keep a stable temperature on medium/low heat. Keep some ice-cubes near by to throw in if the water gets too hot. Cooking at a lower temperature for longer (55C for 1 hour) will give even more tender results, but it is very hard to hold water at that precise a temperature for that amount of time without an immersion circulator.
2. Remove the cooked steak from the bag, slice into two strips. Season with Montreal Steak spice
3. Get a cast iron pan smoking hot. Add a small amount of oil and then quickly sear the strips on each side. Let the steaks rest for 5 minutes and then thinly slice.
4. Lay out all your toasts and spread a small amount of djion mustard on each one. Place 2 slices of beef on each toast and then garnish with creamed horseradish and gherkins.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Turkey Stuffing

           I don't think I'm alone when I say that the stuffing is my favorite part of Christmas dinner. I always pile it onto my plate every year. This recipe doesn't veer too far away from the classic turkey stuffing we all know and love, but jazzes it up a bit with the addition of some fruit and nuts. The flavours of apples, raisins and hazelnuts go really well with turkey; a little dash of cinnamon will enliven your bird too. When it comes to herbs, a ready mix of dried Italian herbs or poultry seasoning is a good start, but it is worth it to pick up a bunch of fresh sage. In general, it's always preferable to use fresh herbs over dried and fresh sage will make a big difference in the end.  I incorporate some rye bread for extra depth of flavour, but I also use white bread because it does a better job of soaking up all the other flavours. Be sure to get a dark, dense whole-grain rye bread, not the white sandwich variety.   Hopefully you'll find this stuffing so delicious you will want to have it not just for Christmas. It can make a great side dish for chicken or duck on any occasion. 


75g butter
750ml onion, diced
500ml celery, diced
3 macintosh or courtland apples, diced
250ml golden raisins
100g hazelnuts 
1 bunch fresh sage, chopped
2 tbs poultry seasoning or italian seasoning
1/2 tbs ground cinnamon 
100g hazelnuts 
2L white bread, cubed
2L rye bread, cubed
300 ml chicken stock

1. Melt 50g of butter in a large skillet and add the onions. Sautee until golden brown. Add the remaining butter, celery, apples and dried seasoning and saute for 5 minutes.
3. Mix the remaining ingredients with the sauteed apples, celery and onion in a large baking dish and bake in the oven at 350F for 30 to 40 minutes.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

gingerbread cookies

     When I was working on my recipe for candied lemon, I was thinking about all the different ways to use them. Christmas is just days away, so that's probably why I thought of incorporating them into a gingerbread cookie. I love gingerbread, but I also love gingersnaps. This cookie has the best of both worlds - the spicy kick of a gingersnap and the soft texture of fresh gingerbread. They are delicious even without the candied lemon on top, but I assure you, the flavour of the candied lemon combined with the gingerbread is really out of this world.   
175g butter
100g brown sugar
100g granulated sugar
100ml molasses
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tbs cinnamon
1/2 tbs ground cloves
2 tbs ginger
1/2 table baking powder
2 pinch salt

1. Beat the sugar and butter together until smooth and then incorporate the molasses and egg. Mix until smooth.    

2. In a separate bowl mix together all of the remaining dry ingredients.

3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until the batter forms one large smooth ball of dough.
4. Roll the dough into 1" (2.5cm) balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchement paper. Press the balls down with a wooden spoon to shape the cookies. Leave space between the cookies on the tray, as they will spread out during cooking.
5. Bake at 350F until the edges are firm to the touch, about 12 to 15 minutes. To apply the candied lemon, put a drop of water and a pinch of sugar in the center of each cookie and spread with the back of a spoon. Lay the candied lemon on top and press down firmly. Return the cookies to the oven for 2 minutes and then transfer to a rack and let cool completely. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Salmon Mousse

These tasty little bites are the perfect for any Christmas or New Year's Eve party. Whenever I need to make canapes for a party, salmon mousse on cucumber is always one of the first things I think of. It's inexpensive, easy and a real crowd pleaser. Recently it's become so popular that it's verging on cliché. Last year I made 300 for a charity event at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel and was a little embarrassed when I found out that two other restaurants at the event had salmon on cucumber on their tables. I got over my embarrassment pretty quick when I saw the smiles on the guests faces. After all, it's a cliché for a reason - it's simply delicious.
        What set's this version apart is the candied lemon. It adds both flavor and texture to the bite You can find the recipe for how to candy you own lemon in my last post.


200g salmon, cubed
130ml 35% whipping cream
1 bunch dill
10g onion, thinly slice
1 English cucumber
1/2 lemon, sliced

candied lemon for garnish   

1. Place the salmon in a steamer (any strainer over a pot of boiling water works fine) with a few thin slices of onion, 1/2 bunch dill and a few slices of lemon. Cook until salmon is just starting to flake apart, about 8 minutes.
2. Discard lemon slices and dill and purée salmon & onions with 30 ml (2tbs) cream in a blender or food processor.
3.  Whip 100ml of cream and then fold into the pureed salmon. Add the juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 bunch dill, finely chopped. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Cut the cucumber into 1/4" slices. Spoon a small amount of mousse onto each slice and then garnish with a sprig of dill and chopped candied lemon.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Candied Lemon

    The other day I was at my favourite butcher shop when I saw the cutest little lime-shaped lemons by the cash register. Turns outs they were meyer lemons. I had heard of them, but had never seen a fresh one before, so I had to pick some up. They are sweeter and more tart than regular lemons and I figured it would be fun to candy some. If you can't find meyer lemons, regular lemons will work fine for this recipe. You can use the same technique to make candied lime or orange too.
   Candied lemons make a great garnish for any seafood dish. I'll be posting a couple recipes soon that use them. They are also delicious chopped up and sprinkled over desserts like ice cream & chocolate mousse. Or, if you are like my girlfriend who is now addicted to candied lemons, you can eat them as a tangy snack on their own.

2 meyer lemons (or small regular lemons)
100g (3/4 cup) sugar
2 pinches of salt

1. Mix the sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl and toss the lemon slices in the mixture. Let stand for 30 minutes to let the lemons macerate. The lemons with release their juice and the rind will soften.

2. Strain and discard the juice, keeping only the syrup that coats the slices.
3. Preheat the oven to 250F. Arrange the lemon slices on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. When the lemon just start to caramelize they are ready. If they get too dark they will become bitter.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Savory Roasted Pumpkin Pie with Toasted Hazlenuts

    Today we had the first snow storm of the year here in Montreal and Thanksgiving seems like a distant memory. However, for American readers, the big feast is tomorrow. To help celebrate the occasion, I'm revisiting a recipe I did for Canadian Thanksgiving in this video. This hearty pie eats like a main course and is perfect for pleasing any vegetarians at the big family meal. Fresh pumpkin can be hard to find as soon as thanksgiving is over, so if you want to try the recipe anytime this winter you can substitute the pumpkin with butternut or acorn squash.    

You can find the whole recipe for the featured dish here

Monday, November 21, 2011

Poached salmon with lentil salad

I've been making an effort to eat healthier lately and this recipe has been my go to dish for when I'm craving something luxurious and guilt free. The mix of the meaty salmon and creamy avocado is rich and comforting. These two ingredients are high in fat, but it's the "good fat" that can help lower cholesterol levels. Salmon and avocado go so well together that I already used the pairing for my salmon tartare recipe. If you try this recipe out I recommend you get a little extra salmon & avocado to make the tartare too.
        For the salad I use sprouted lentils and chickpeas. Sprouted lentils & chickpeas have even more nutritional value that their dried counterparts. They also have a great texture. They are already soft, so I simply boil them for 2 minutes until they are warm but still have their crunch. Look for sprouted legumes at health food stores. If you can't find any, use lentils that have been boiled until soft (about 15 minutes) and canned chickpeas.

Start to finish 30 minutes. Serves 2.


2 200g (7oz)    salmon fillets
100g (3/4 cup) sprouted lentils
100g (3/4 cup) sprouted chickpeas
75g (2 1/2 oz) green curry paste
2 lemons
1 lime
1 avocado
250ml (1 cup) coconut milk
2 cups watercress

1. Cut each salmon filet lengthwise down the middle, stopping before the end, leaving the 2 halves attached. Unfold each filet, season with salt & pepper and then roll into a spiral. Use a toothpick to hold the filets together.
3. Combine the lentils and chickpeas in a small sauce pot and cover with water. Boil for 2 minutes and then strain most of the water out, leaving about 50ml (1 1/2 oz) in the pot. Add 50g green curry past, the zest and juice of half a lemon and half a lime. Simmer for 2 more minutes.

4. In a blender, combine the avocado, 25g green curry paste, coconut milk & the juice of half a lemon and half and lime. Blend until smooth.
5. Brings 2L of salter water to a boil in a pot, 1 lemon cut in half and reduce to a gentle simmer. Add the salmon and poach for 8 minutes.
6. Spoon the avocado puree into the center of 2 plates and then place a pile of the lentils & chickpeas over the avocado. Place the salmon on top and garnish with a small handful of watercress.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Boeuf Bourguignon

As Eddard Stark would say, winter is coming. Here in Montreal  I can already feel a winter chill in the air and it's always around this time of year that I start to crave warm, hearty dishes like this one. This dish is inspired by a version of the French classic Boeuf Bourguignon that we used to do when I worked at Globe. We braised beef cheeks in red wine and served them over fingerling potatoes with sauteed mushrooms and bacon.
   Beef cheeks are absolutely amazing when braised until they are fork tender, but they can be pretty hard to find, even at a good butcher shop. For that reason, I use a different cut in this recipe: flat iron steak. This cut can also be a bit hard to find, but it's gaining popularity. It's inexpensive and is perfect for braising. Ask your butcher to trim off the white membrane and then cut it into 1" steaks. If you can't find beef cheeks or flat iron steak, go with short ribs. They are a bit more expensive, but are a very flavorful cut.
   To call this recipe boeuf bourguinon is a real stretch because the only thing it actually has in common with the classic French stew is that the beef is braised in red wine. Really, I just love the texture of  braised beef, but I find it so much more satisfying to have one hulking piece of meat on my plate. You'll find that the melting texture of the beef goes perfectly with the creamy roasted garlic mashed potatoes from my previous post. The beef takes 3 hours to cook, so I suggest you try putting it together on a Saturday night while making that night's dinner and then warm it up the following day in the braising liquid for a lazy Sunday dinner. A braise like this also works well for a dinner party. You can prepare it early in the day and then when your guests arrive all you will have to do is reheat everything and serve.

Serves 5, prep time 30 minutes, cooking time 3 1/2 hours

1 kg flat iron steak, cut into 5 steaks
3 white onions
2 cloves garlic
450g (1lbs) carrots, peeled
1 bottle red wine, cabernet sauvignon
3 tablespoons tomato paste
225g (1/2lbs) extra fine green beans
900g mashed potatoes
vegetable oil, salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 450F
1. Cut the onions and garlic in half. Roughly chop half the carrots and reserve the rest for garnish. Put the vegetables on a baking tray and drizzle with oil. Roast in the oven until golden brown. About 15 minutes. When the vegetables are done, lower the oven to 350F.
2. While the vegetables are roasting, start searing the steaks. Season the steaks with salt & pepper. Heat a small amount of oil in a large frying pan on high heat. Add the steaks and lower the heat to medium high. Sear the steaks until nice and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Don't overcrowd the pan or the steam coming off the steaks will keep you from achieving a good sear. You will probably have to fry the steaks in 2 batches.
3. Combine the vegetable and the beef in a large pot and add the red wine, tomato paste, black peppercorns & bay leaves. Add enough water to cover everything and cover the pot with a lid or aluminium foil. Place in the oven at 350F. Check the meat after 3 hours. It should be easy to pull apart with a fork. If the meat is not tender enough after 3 hours, return the pot to the oven and then let cook for another 30 to 60 minutes. Braising beef is a patients person's game. For extra succulent results you can try braising the beef overnight, for 12 hours at 250F.
4. When the meat is cooked, strain the liquid and remove the vegetables discard them. Return the beef to the pot and let simmer on the stove until the braising liquid is thick enough to coat the meat. About 10 minutes. Season with salt & fresh ground pepper.
5. While the sauce is reducing, cook the remaining carrots and the beans in salted boiling water. Heat the mash potatoes, put a mound of potatoes on each plate and top with the beans and carrots, followed by the beef. Drizzle the remaining sauce over each plate.