Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Spicy Beef & Pork Bacon Cheeseburgers with Duck Fat

These burgers are amazing.  There is no reason to go out and have a "gourmet" burger...you can make one right at home.  My husband and I have always played around with different ingredients to find the perfect burger, I think we finally have found our match.  If you are not crazy about the spice, you can control that by not adding as much of the chili pepper.  The other benefit about these are that you don't cook them on the grill.  Cooking these burgers on a cast iron pan allow the meat to maintain all their delicious juices.  Enjoy!

Spicy Beef & Pork Bacon Cheeseburgers with Duck Fat

  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 3 Chili peppers from a can in adobo sauce
  • 1 packet of dry onion soup mix
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • handful of breadcrumbs
  • 6 slices of good bacon, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley, minced
  • 1/2 tspn. ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup duck fat 
  • Garnish: Buns, Tomatoes, lettuce, mayo & ketchup
-Combine all ingredients above in a large bowl, except the duck fat. Mix well together and form into 4-6 patties.  Heat a large cast iron pan over medium high heat.  Brush the duck fat on the top of each patty.  Cook patties on pan, roughly 4 minutes on each side for a medium-rare burger.  Arrange patties on buns and add desired toppings.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Warm Bacon & Egg Salad with Potatoes Lyonnaise & Chile

These two dishes come from Chef April Bloomfield whom I mentioned in another post.  Any dish that I have been inspired to try making from Chef Bloomfield has been so amazing.  We like anything that has bacon, and the fact that there is a runny egg on top of greens along with bacon is something I had to try.  Growing up, my parents would make us breakfast for dinner as a special treat...we loved it and this salad was the grown up version of breakfast for dinner to me.  The caramelized onions on top of the potatoes with a pinch of lemon are out of this world.  Enjoy!

Warm Bacon and Egg Salad

  • 1/4 cup, plus 3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
  • 1 generous cup 1/2 in. crustless bread cubes
  • 8 slices of lean bacon
  • 4 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 2 Tbl. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tspns. Dijon mustard
  • salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 5 oz. baby arugula
  • 1/4 chopped chives
  • ground pepper
-In a large non-stick skillet, heat 2 Tbl. olive oil.  Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat until golden brown, about 2 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer garlic to a mini food processor.  Add the bread cubes to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring until browned and crisp, 3 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.  Heat 1 Tbl. of the oil in the skillet.  Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until crisp.  Transfer the bacon to a plate and keep warm.  Reserve the bacon fat in the skillet.  In the food processor, add the anchovies, vinegar, mustard and remaining 1/4 cup of oil to the garlic.  Process until smooth and season with salt.  Heat the bacon fat in the skillet.  Crack the eggs into the skillet and fry over moderately high heat until over easy.  In a large bowl, toss the arugula and croutons in the dressing.  Mound the salad on plates and sprinkle with chives.  Top with the bacon and the fried eggs, season with pepper and serve right away.

Potatoes Lyonnaise with Lemon and Chile
  • 1 Tbl. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • salt
  • 2 baking potatoes (1 3/4 lbs) peeled and sliced crosswise 1/2in thick
  • 1/4 cup rendered duck fat or unsalted butter
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped
  • fresh ground pepper
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 2 tspns. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbl. chopped parsley
-In a medium saucepan, melt the butter in the olive oil.  Add the sliced onions and a large pinch of salt.  Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until the onions are very soft and golden, about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, put the potato slices in a large saucepan of water, add a large pinch of salt and bring to a boil.  Simmer over moderately high heat until the potatoes are just tender, about 5 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and spread the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet; let cool to room temperature.  Gently pat the slices dry.  In a large non-stick skillet, heat the duck fat.  Add the potato slices and cook over moderately high heat until they are browned and crisp, about 6 minutes on each side.
-Add the chopped garlic and shake it in the skillet until just golden, about 30 seconds.  Add the cooked onions and season them with salt and pepper.  Gently stir in the crushed red pepper and lemon juice.  Transfer the potatoes and onions to a platter, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve right away.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Korean Sliders

I decided to make these sliders as a fancy/gourmet treat during Sunday football.  These are so incredibly easy and very tasty.  I already added these to a list to make for the next cocktail party we have, so good.  I kind of had low expectations for these when I started marinating the meat, I wasn't sure how they would turn out....they tasted fantastic.  Time to start planning a cocktail party...

Korean Sliders

  • 1lb. skirt steak
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbl. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbl. grated ginger
  • 1 Tbl. sake
  • 1 Tbl. sesame oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • To serve: mini buns, mayo, kimchi
-Combine all the above ingredients in a bowl and mix together.  Place steaks in a plastic bag and pour the marinade over the meat.  Marinade for at least 2 hours.  Heat a cast iron pan over high heat and add some butter.  Sear the meat and thinly slice.

-Slice the mini buns in half and place face side down in the hot pan for a couple minutes to warm them.  Spread mayo on each side of the bun.  Lay the sliced meat on one side and layer kimchi on top of the meat. Enjoy!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Salad Nicoise with Seared Tuna

This salad is really light and fresh tasting.  We make this whenever we're craving a salad that is full of different kinds of veggies. This salad is also really fulfilling because of the seared tuna, so tasty.  You can add more vegetables or omit ones that I have listed below as well.  I tend to make more of everything and assemble the salad during the week for lunch or quick dinners.

Salad Nicoise with Seared Tuna


  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tspn. Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbl. red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 Tbl. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 Tbl. minced fresh tarragon
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound small red new potatoes, scrubbed and halved
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/2 pound french green beans, stems trimmed
  • 2 lbs. fresh sushi-quality tuna
  • 2 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • lettuce of choice
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup nicoise olives
  • 16 anchovy fillets
  • 16 caper berries
  • 1/2 bunch fresh chives, chopped
-To make the vinaigrette: combine all ingredients in a mason jar.  Screw cap on and shake vigorously to emulsify.  Set the dressing aside while preparing the salad so the flavors can marry.

-Cooking the potatoes, eggs, and green beans in the same pot cuts down on prep time and clean up.  Put the potatoes in a large saucepan, add water to cover and a nice pinch of salt; bring to a boil over medium heat.  Simmer the potatoes for 12 minutes to give them a head start and then add the eggs.  Place a steamer basket or colander on top of the simmering water.  Put the green beans in the steamer and cover with a lid.  Steam the beans for 5 minutes until crisp tender while continuing to cook the potatoes until they are fork tender.   Drain out the water and put the potatoes, eggs, and green beans in a colander; briefly rinse under cold water.  Peel the shells off the eggs and cut them in 1/2 lengthwise.  

-Place a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Rub the tuna on all sides with olive oil, and a bit of the vinaigrette; season with a fair amount of salt and pepper.  Lay the tuna in the hot pan and sear for 2 minutes on each side.  Transfer the tuna to a cutting board and slice.

-Combine the lettuce,potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, olives, anchovies, capers and chives in a large mixing bowl.  Take the vinaigrette and give it another good shake to recombine.  Drizzle the salad with enough of the dressing to full moisten and toss gently.  Season with salt and pepper.  Put tossed salad down into each individual bowls.  Lay the seared tuna across the salad and then top with the eggs.  Drizzle more dressing on top if you desire.

Coffee and Brown Sugar Bacon

This bacon is the perfect treat to a weekend brunch.  The coffee and sugar enrich the taste of the bacon and it is so easy to make and incredibly gourmet tasting.  On this occasion, along with the bacon we made French Toast and spicy Bloody Marys.  Our idea of the perfect start to a Sunday....enjoy!

Coffee and Brown Sugar Bacon

  • 1 lb. thick cut bacon
  • 1 Tbl. ground coffee
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbl. freshly brewed coffee
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with wax paper and set a flat cooling rack on top of the baking sheet.  Lay bacon strips on rack.  In a small bowl combine brown sugar and brewed coffee to make a paste.  Brush strips with paste and sprinkle with ground coffee.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Turn bacon over and brush with remaining sugar glaze.  Bake until crispy, 10 minutes more.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Linguine with Bay Scallops, Fennel and Tomatoes

We celebrated our honeymoon in Italy.  Our first stop was Positano, in the Amalfi Coast.  I had the most amazing linguine and scallop dish that I am still trying to recreate.  We're still not sure if it tasted so good because of the scenery and excitement of our honeymoon or if it really was just so delicious.  Either way, this dish is very tasty.  The fennel adds a subtle taste but pairs very well with the bay scallops. Its a very light and fresh dish. Enjoy!

Linguine with Bay Scallops, Fennel and Tomatoes

  • 8oz. linguine
  • 3 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, halved, very thinly sliced, plus 1 Tbl. chopped fennel fronds
  • 1 medium onion, halved, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb. bay scallops
  • 1 6oz. container cherry tomatoes, halved if large
  • 1 Tbl. Pernod 
  • 4 Tbl. fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
-Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally.  Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid.  Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbl. oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add sliced fennel and onion; sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Saute until wilted but crisp-tender, about 6 minutes.  Using slotted spoon, transfer to medium bowl.  Add remaining 1 Tbl. oil to the skillet.  Add scallops and saute until just opaque in center, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes.  

-Using a slotted spoon, transfer to bowl with fennel-onion mixture.  Add tomatoes to skillet and saute until heated through, about 2 minutes.  Return fennel-onion mixture and scallops to skillet.  Mix in Pernod.  Add drained pasta to skillet; toss to coat, adding reserved cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls if dry.  Stir in 3 Tbl. chopped parsley and 1 Tbl. fennel fronds.  Transfer to a large serving bowl, sprinkle remaining parsley, and serve with lemon wedges.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

a little late...Merry Christmas Eve!

Christmas Eve this year was delicious!  We decided to do heavy appetizers...tasty! Below are a few pictures of some of items we made.  Let me know if you would like any of the recipes.  Bon Appetite and Merry Christmas!
Roasted Butternut Squash on a Ricotta-Sage Crostini

Bourbon Glazed Drummettes 

Lox Platter with the fixins

Hoisin Pork Sliders

Faux Pho

We love Pho, and I never had attempted to make it because making the broth had always intimidated me.  This recipe makes the broth have depth by the ginger and other spices, and is cooked relatively quick.  This attempt was my first, I plan on making the REAL attempt someday!  Enjoy!

Faux Pho

  • 1 tspn. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 3x1" piece peeled ginger
  • 2 1/2 cups low salt beef broth
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 4" cinnamon stick
  • 2 cups mixed mushrooms (oyster, stemmed shiitake)
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • kosher salt
  • 2 packages instant ramen, noodles only
  • 1 1/4-1/2 lb. piece beef eye round, sliced crosswise 1/8in thick
  • Garnish: bean sprouts, basil leaves, jalapeno slices, cilantro, limes, hoisin sauce, hot sauce
-Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat.  Add onion, cut side down, garlic and ginger.  Cook, stirring occasionally until the garlic is golden, 3-4 minutes.  Add 1 1/2 cups water, broth, star anise and cinnamon; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer until flavors meld, 7-8 minutes.  
-Add mushrooms; simmer 2 minutes.  Add scallion.  Season with salt.
-Meanwhile, boil ramen until tender but still firm to bite.  Drain; divide among large bowls. Add beef slices to soup; simmer until just cooked through, about 20 seconds.  Using tongs, transfer beef to bowls.

-Discard ginger, garlic, star anise, and cinnamon.  Ladle broth into bowls.  Garnish with bean sprouts, basil, jalapeno and cilantro.  Add hoisin sauce and hot sauce to taste.

Gourmet Sloppy Joes & Deviled Potato Salad

These sloppy joes are the perfect meal for a football game or other casual gathering.  Trust me, they are so delicious and you'll never want to make one out of the can ever again!  The potato salad is a perfect compliment and has just the right amount of tang.  Grab lots of extra napkins...these sandwiches are very sloppy!!

Gourmet Sloppy Joes
  • 1 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 lbs. ground beef
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbl. Montreal Steak seasoning
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 Tbl. red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbl. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbl. tomato paste
  • 4 crusty rolls
  • Garnish: Tomatoes, pickles
-Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add oil and meat to the pan.  Spread the meat around the pan and begin to break it up.  Combine brown sugar and steak seasoning.  Add sugar and spice mixture to the skillet and combine.  When the meat has browned, add onion and red peppers to the skillet.  Reduce heat to medium and cook onion, peppers , red wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce with meat for 5 minutes.  Add tomato sauce and paste to pan.  Stir to combine.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook mixture 5 minutes longer. 

Slice rolls in half and pile sloppy joe mixture on top and add garnish on top.  Enjoy!

Deviled Potato Salad
  • 5 all-purpose potatoes, peeled and diced
  • salt & ground pepper
  • 1/4 onion
  • 3 Tbl. prepared yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tspn. sweet paprika 
  • 1 tspn. hot cayenne pepper sauce (tobasco)
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
-Boil potatoes in water seasoned with salt until they are tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain cooked potatoes and return to the warm pot to dry them out.  Let potatoes stand for 2 minutes, then spread potatoes out on to a cookie sheet to quick cool them.  In the bottom of a medium mixing bowl, grate 1/4 onion using a hand grater.  Add mustard and mayonnaise, paprika and cayenne pepper sauce to the grated onion and stir to combine.  Add potatoes to the bowl and stir to evenly distribute dressing.  Season potatoes with salt and pepper.  Top each portion with the scallions.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Pappa al Pomodoro

This soup is so fresh tasting and is even better for leftovers the next day.  The real treat to this soup is the baked pancetta and basil that you add to the top, delicious!  This recipe is one of Ina Gartens, she has a few different tomato based soups...this one is by far our favorite.  Enjoy!

Pappa al Pomodoro
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 1 cup medium-diced carrots, unpeeled (3 carrots)
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and medium-diced (1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 tspns. minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 3 cups (1 inch) diced ciabatta bread, crusts removed
  • 2 (28oz.) cans good Italian plum tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • For the topping:  3 cups (1 inch) diced ciabatta bread, 2 oz. thickly sliced pancetta, chopped; 24-30 whole basil leaves, 3 Tbl. good olive oil, plus more for serving
-Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Add the onions, carrots, fennel, and garlic and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until tender.  Add the ciabatta cubes and cook for 5 more minutes.

-Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process just until coarsely chopped.  Add the tomatoes to the pot along with the chicken stock, red wine, basil, 1 Tbl. salt, and 1 1/2 tspns. pepper.  Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and allow to simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  For the topping, place the ciabatta, pancetta, and basil on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss well.  Cook, stirring occasionally , for 20-25 minutes, until all the ingredients are crisp.  The basil leaves will turn dark and crisp, which is perfectly fine.

-Reheat the soup, if necessary, and beat with a wire whisk until the bread is broken up.  If you need to use an immersion blender, that may help break it up, but don't blend too much.  Stir in the Parmesan and taste for seasoning.  Serve hot, sprinkled with the topping and drizzled with additional olive oil.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Lyon-Style Chicken with Vinegar Sauce & Spinach and Mushrooms with Truffle Oil

This chicken recipe is from Chef April Bloomfield who runs The Spotted Pig in NY.  This dish was so delicious I can't even come up with words to describe just how good it was.  I love when a chicken dish surprises my husband and I...and this one did to say the least!  We made a simple spinach and mushroom side, but gave it a little punch with truffle oil.  This meal was tasty!!!

Lyon-Style Chicken with Vinegar Sauce

  • 3 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil
  • One 4lb. chicken cut into 10 pieces or 8-10 thighs (I used thighs)
  • 3 Tbl. unsalted butter
  • 12 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup Banyuls vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup creme fraiche
-Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  In a large, deep skillet (I used a dutch oven), heat the oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, add to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat until browned.  Add 1 Tbl. butter to the skillet and swirl to coat the chicken.  Turn the chicken skin side up and add the garlic and bay leaf.  Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake the chicken for 8 minutes, until the breast pieces are just white throughout.  Transfer the breast pieces to a plate.  (If using just thighs, add the vinegar to the pan after 8 minutes) 

Add the vinegar to the skillet, return to the oven and bake the remaining chicken, basting a few times, until cooked through, 15 minutes longer.  Transfer the chicken and garlic to a plate. 
-Add the chicken stock to the skillet and boil, scraping up the browned bits, until reduced to 1 1/4 cups, about 10 minutes.  Whisk in the creme fraiche and the remaining 2 Tbl. butter.  Return the chicken to the skillet along with any accumulated juices.  Simmer over moderately high heat, basting a few times, until the sauce thickens slightly and the chicken is heated through, about 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  **I served some of the juice in a side bowl.

Spinach and Mushrooms with Truffle Oil
  • 2 Tbl. butter
  • 10oz. button mushrooms or crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 1/2 9oz bags fresh spinach leaves
  • 2 tspn. truffle oil
-Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add mushrooms; saute until brown and liquid evaporates, about 8 minutes.  Add shallot; saute 2 minutes.  Add spinach 1/2 at a time, to skillet with mushrooms and toss over medium high heat, allowing each batch to wilt slightly before adding next, about 2 minutes per batch.  Saute just until all spinach is wilted and heated through.  Stir in truffle oil. Season with salt and pepper.

DIY Pork Sausage Logs

Making sausage is easier than you think.  You don't need casings, meat grinder or other crazy ingredients.  Below is a very simple recipe for pork sausage.  You can play around with other meats and spices, but I used pork shoulder because of its great ratio of meat to fat.  The sausage can be in your freezer for up to 6 weeks, and is so easy to quickly cook and add to a plate of eggs on a Saturday. You can even use the sausage in a tomato sauce for pasta. Enjoy!

-Stir together 2 Tbl. each chopped fresh sage and chopped fresh thyme, 2 Tbl. plus 1 1/2 tspn. coarse salt and minced garlic (from 7-8 large cloves), and 1 Tbl. each freshly grated nutmeg and cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicy).
-Arrange 1 boneless pork shoulder (4 lbs), cut into 1/2 inch cubes, on a rimmed baking sheet.  Freeze for 20 minutes.  Working in 4 batches, 1 lb. at a time, grind meat in a food processor until only small pieces of fat remain, and mix in about 2 Tbl. spice mixture; transfer to an 8x12in piece of parchment paper.  Roll into a log.  Twist ends to make sure it is secure.  Freeze until ready to use.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Cheers to 2012!!

As usual, we had a really quiet night at home New Years Eve and celebrated with a fantastic gourmet meal.  We have never been into a crazy New Years night, so cooking a big meal has always been our thing.  Below are a few pictures capturing our good eats.  It was great to be close to a gourmet farmers market this year...we went to Granville Island and bought all our seafood from the Lobster Man and produce at one of the local stands.  Every bite was so tasty! Menu: Kumamoto Oysters, Rib Eye Steaks brushed in Duck fat from Oyama Sausage, Boiled Lobsters from The Lobster Man, Mushrooms cooked in Duck fat with pancetta, classic baked potato and Nanaimo bars from Laurelle's Bakery.  We had cocktails to start, Aaron made Manhattans and with dinner we had one of our favorite wines from Yoakim Bridge that we had been saving.  Bon Appetite!!!

Cheers to a Happy 2012! Full of love, laughter, food and success!!! xo