Beef Coconut Stew

Love it! So easy and delicious. I usually do a variation on this that’s in a pan with chicken but thought I would try this one with beef and kaffir lime leaves, when I came across it yesterday. Who doesn’t love slow-cooked everything?!

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Lime leaves can be found in the Granville Island market at South China Seas, and likely other ethnic food stores in Vancouver but this is where I found them.

I have to credit Edible Vancouver for this one. They have a great list of recipes, including Rhubarb Heaven which I’m making later this week with the ginger snaps I made on Sunday. Truly amazing dish but more on that to come…

1lb stew beef in 1″ cubes
1tbsp flour
Dredge beef in flour. In ovenproof stock pot, sear in high temp oil. They call for 1 tbsp veg oil but I would use grapeseed. Grapeseed oil is great because it imparts little-to-no flavour and heats at a higher temp than other oils.

1-2 tbsp red Thai curry paste (definitely 2)
3 lime leaves
1 stalk lemongrass, cut in a few pieces, large enough to remove later
1 can coconut milk
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 scallions, chopped
1 lime juiced

Reduce heat. Add curry, lime leaves and lemongrass. Stir. Add coconut milk, fish sauce.
Place in oven at 300 degrees for two hours. Reduce heat to 200 for third hour.

Just before serving, remove lime leaves and lemongrass. Add lime juice and scallions. Serve with steamed bok choy and jasmine rice.

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Don’t F— with Molasses.

Rarely is an ingredient so unwieldy, so stubborn, or so impossible to persuade as molasses… assuming that the ingredient you have is not still alive.

Step one: buy new molasses. I think the last time I made ginger snaps was last summer and I’m sure the container I had was already at least a year old at that time. By today, it had reached such a consistency that it was thick enough to stand on. I managed to secure the needed half cup for the recipe and should have given up but being my mom’s daughter, I was going to try to scrape every last bit of that molasses out of there…

Step two: accept that resistance is futile. Shortly into this endeavour, I quickly realized that the molasses was winning. Not just winning but decimating me and wrapping every last twisty sticky drizzle over and around every surface in sight.

Step three: find hot water. Lots of it. Toss everything in, throw away container and give up.

And don’t get me wrong. I didn’t even try to measure it, knowing just what a feat it would be to get it into a measuring cup and out again. This was all just trying to get it from the container into the bowl.

If that still doesn’t deter you, here’s the recipe. Enjoy 🙂

3 cups flour
3 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp ground ginger
Mix.

In separate bowl:
1 cup butter/margarine
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
Mix. Add to dry ingredients and mix. Make cookie balls on cookie sheets and bake 10-12 minutes at 350F.

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Caramelized apples with Cambozola

Oh. My. Goodness. If there was a way to have dessert for dinner, this is it.

I do have the good fortune of living near the Granville Island Market where Duso’s makes this incredible brie, pear, caramelized onion cappelletti pasta. I usually buy some whenever I see it and it resulted tonight, in one of my greatest inspirations ever. I only ate four – they are quite large but this dish was so richly delicious. Plus, I started with fig and anise bread from Terra with cambozola and schinkenspeck so I was already partly full 😉

Start with 1 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp brown sugar. Melt and saute with peeled, thinly sliced ambrosia apples, until soft.
Add approx. 1/2 cup cambozola (or gorgonzola for even more flavour, or brie for less, but a rich, soft cheese) and melt into sauce. Stir with pasta and serve.

Again, this was only about 8 large pieces of cappelletti. You can increase/decrease the rough recipe above as desired. So beautifully savoury and caramelly 🙂

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Rot kohl.

I know this image is dark but this is pretty much what it looks like. It’s purple. This is a lovely German dish – and one of my favourite sides for meaty dishes – pork or beef… a nice rouladen, perhaps, accompanied by spätzle? Um, yes. This is totally approximate but delicious. Modify to taste.

1 small red cabbage or half, shredded
2 apples, diced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

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Blueberry muffins.

This is so yummers. I have been looking for a good fruit muffin recipe for a while and this one is great. Fluffy but not too sweet.

  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 400°F. Put liners in muffin cups.
Mix. Fold in blueberries gently.

I added the zest of two lemons and juice of one lemon. Actually, still not very lemony. Might add more lemon juice next time. I also added a dollop of that rich Greek lemon yogurt in the middle – creamy and delicious!

Bake until golden, 20-30 minutes.

Source: modified from Gourmet July 2006

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Pork.

Slow cooking a nice big pork butt/shoulder for a few hours is one of the easiest, most delicious dinners there is. Seriously. It’s easier than boiling pasta – you just have to plan ahead.
I topped mine today with apple slices and thyme. I used Ambrosias because I love them but with meat like this, I think I’ll try Granny Smith next time so that the flavour stands up a bit more. Just like the pear sausage dish from last week – when pairing fruit with meat, look for a stronger, more acidic variety.

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Pierogies! Make them once and you’ll never go back.

Seriously. These are a lot of work but totally worth it. You’ll never eat those cheapy Cheemo ones again.
I got this simple recipe from Epicurious (c/o Gourmet, April 2004 – highly modified) and I have made it several times. It takes a few hours so I usually do it on a weekend. Yesterday, I tripled the batch so I would have some to give away and enough to keep me going for a while and it took me about three hours. If you do this though, I suggest making individual doughs, not tripling the dough recipe from the start. You will see why as you read on… Still, even one dough is a good workout for those triceps.

For dough

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (plus additional for kneading. I’ve never needed more. The dough is extremely elastic.)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Make dough:
Put flour in a large shallow bowl and make a well in center. Add water, egg, oil, and salt to well and carefully beat together with a fork without incorporating flour. Continue stirring with a wooden spoon, gradually incorporating flour, until a soft dough forms. (You can be this careful if you want to, but I like to just put everything in a bowl and mix. It seems to turn out the same.) Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead, dusting with flour as needed to keep dough from sticking (again, probably won’t need more flour), until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes (dough will be very soft – this is what the recipe says – I’ve never found it to be particularly soft, just very dense. I’ve also found kneading for less time doesn’t make much difference. Just make sure your ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.). Invert a bowl over dough and let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

For potato filling

  • 1 1/2 pound russet (baking) potatoes
  • 6 ounces coarsely grated extra-sharp white Cheddar (2 1/4 cups)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Mixing up the fillings is fun – you could do a more traditional bacon and onion or sauerkraut (though I suggest using sauerkraut as a topping rather than a filler. Too difficult to work with.). I usually use cheese of some kind and an herb or two. I think next time I might try my favourite cheese, cambozola and maybe some tarragon… Mmmmm…

Make filling while dough stands:
Peel potatoes and chop. Cook potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling water until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain potatoes, then transfer to a bowl along with fillings and mash until smooth.

Form pierogies: need round cookie cutter, approx. 3″ in diameter.
Halve dough and roll out 1 half (keep remaining half under inverted bowl) on surface (flour if you like but not really necessary – do not overflour surface or dough will slide instead of stretching) with a lightly floured rolling pin (seriously, I don’t know what is with this recipe and putting so much flour down) into a 15-inch round (1/8 inch thick), then cut out rounds with lightly floured cutter (really? the cutter? Basically, try to get it as thin as possible. Again, it’s highly dense and elastic, so I find it’s easiest to get it started with the rolling pin and then stretch it out by hand like pizza dough, then put it back on your surface and roll.). Holding 1 round in palm of your hand (I stretch it again here), put a small scoop of potato in center of the round and close your hand to fold round in half, enclosing filling. Pinch edges together to seal completely (do not leave any gaps or pierogi will open during cooking).

If eating right away: Transfer pierogi to a lightly floured kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and cover with another towel. Form more pierogies in same manner. (Seriously, Gourmet? Did this need to be explained?)

I like to put them on a wax-papered cookie sheet and put them in the freezer. It’s important to let them freeze individually so they don’t glom together into one giant pierogi. It’s messy. If this happens to you, resist the temptation to try pulling them apart. This will definitely tear the dough which will lead to a doughy, potato soup when you try to cook them. Toss the whole glommy mess into boiling water and they will separate while cooking.

I also suggest resisting the temptation to re-roll your dough scraps but give it a whirl if you like a challenge. As mentioned, the dough is already incredibly elastic and doing this seems to multiply the effect to become impossibly so. I suggest instead, preparing a second batch of dough, if you want more than this makes, which is probably roughly 30-40, or maybe a few more, if you are rolling the dough thinner or making smaller ones.

PS… Ya pear

Turns out they’re crispy too. I had a second one on hand and thought it just wasn’t fully ripe yet but it turns out, they stay crispy, even when they’re going bad on the inside… 😦

Pancakes.

So wonderfully simple. I love pancakes. Breakfast, lunch or dinner. This simple recipe is super quick to make and creates flawless pancakes every time. (I like to throw them together while the bacon is cooking, which then also gives you some bacon fat to fry your pancakes.)

1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
pinch salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
splash of vanilla

Mix.

I added blueberries and cocoa nibs to this one. Cocoa nibs are one of my favourite discoveries this year. They are essentially the cocoa bean after being crushed lightly, so they come in small pieces. The true core of chocolate but they also have this beautiful savoury, nutty flavour. They are, after all, 100% cocoa, but really not as bitter as you would find a 100% cocoa chocolate bar. You can generally find bags or tins of them in natural foods or specialty markets.

I think my favourite combination is the zest of two lemons and blueberries, so today, I improvised with some of that delightfully rich greek yogurt in lemon flavour.  This afternoon… lemon blueberry muffins!

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Oh glorious delight!

Hand-crafted, one of a kind donuts. Oh me, oh my!
Cartems just popped up in Gastown and is totally worth enduring the trip (and sketchiness) for one of these babies. Fresh, crispy and not too sweet. Go early though – they’re only open 11am to 3pm. Pictured here, Earl Grey with rose petals and Makers Mark Bourbon bacon. Yum.

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