Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sweet Summer Treats

This past weekend was the Memorial Day long weekend for the US, and since it was my very first one, I figured I might as well do something fun! We were kindly invited by our friends over to their house for a bbq, so I offered to bring the burgers and dessert. I made my own hamburger meat of course, because I like buying a higher quality ground beef, -which just means I know the beef hasn't been fed any hormones and the cuts of beef used are clearly labeled. It's easier and cheaper to buy pre-made patties, but I trust myself more than I trust a factory that churns out patties using unknown cuts of beef. Plus I honestly believe my burgers are yummy and simple! All you need for 10 burgers is 2 lbs. of ground beef, 2 tbsp. Montreal Steak Spice (or to taste), 1/2 cup bread crumbs, and 3 eggs. The pièce de résistance of the weekend though, is something that my husband and I collaborated on: Jell-O Orange Slices! I got the idea from a friend of mine from San Diego who loves to eat! Thanks Di!

I am proud to say that although this project was my idea, most of the work was done by my wonderful husband! He sliced 6 Navel oranges in half (one was sacrificed for tasting), scooped out the insides, stored the pulp in a Ziploc bag, and even found a way to mend a punctured rind! He was also a superstar at cutting the actual wedges! In case you were wondering, we transported the halves in my trusty two-tiered cupcake carrier and sliced them on premises at the bbq. They were a hit of course, who doesn't love Jell-O?

To be used for strawberry-orange smoothies this week! Yum.

Will you choose the red slice, or the blue slice, Neo?

Can also be enjoyed frozen!

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Steak Affair to Remember

Hello friends! I know it's been a while, I have been a happily busy bee! Friends have visited, I left the country for a couple of weeks, and I aged another year. So, all good stuff! I haven't been too adventurous in trying new recipes because, let's face it, a lot of the things I discovered that I can make have been delicious, so I wanted seconds and thirds! Neither has there been much baking lately because I am way too good at it and sugar is way too addictive and binge-inducing. But as the weather gets ever warmer, my husband and I have inevitably started to crave grilled food. The first and most delicious grilled food that comes to mind is: Steak. Delicious, delicious steak. We don't have an outdoor grill yet, but there is always my trusty cast-iron grill pan, who has yet to make us regret cooking with her (her name is Marge). Tonight we ate flat iron steaks marinated in lemon & pepper, roasted potatoes tossed in olive oil, sea salt, pepper, garlic powder and parsley, and my husband's absolute favourite, boiled asparagus with a pat of butter and dash of sea salt & pepper. Unfortunately, I don't have a finally product photo because it was so good that we got way too excited to eat and then... ate it without documenting, which, in my opinion, is way better testimony of my cooking than a photograph!

First of all, it's important to get a really great and yet affordable cut of beef. I talk a lot and make friends very easily with random people on the street, so it wasn't hard to become buddies with my local butcher. His name is Carlos, and he is the sweetest! He always takes care of me, points me towards the best and most delicious deals, and feeds me all sorts of yummy samples! You should always trust a man who tells you what meat to buy so that you can "look like an even better cook to your husband"! Carlos is hilarious, and quite right!

Marinating your steak in lemon juice makes is softer, so you don't have to use a meat mallet. Add a little bit of freshly ground pepper, put it in a dish and cover it in tin foil over night. The next day, always take your steaks out of the fridge an hour before you cook them. They'll cook better, I promise you!

Taking the chill off my meat
While you wait for your meat, you can start your potatoes and asparagus. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees farenheit. Wash your asparagus and snap off the woody ends, set it aside. I like to use Yukon Gold potatoes, they're my favourite, so I peeled (optional) 3 small ones and cut them up into 1.5 inch cubes. Then I put them in a bowl and tossed them with a tablespoon of olive oil, a pinch of sea salt, a dash of garlic powder, a dash of pepper, and some parsley flakes. I like to get down and dirty with my hands and mix it all up, so that I can feel that all the potato pieces have been properly coated! Then you can throw them into a heat-safe baking dish and pop them in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

We like our steaks medium rare, so for a 0.5" thick cut, 3 minutes on each side on medium heat in a cast-iron grill pan should render the result I like. For a 1"-2" cut, 4-5 minutes should do it. Always remember that it's better to undercook rather then overcook -you can't ever take it back if you've cooked it too much! Finally, in a shallow pan, bring about an inch of water to a boil, add a pinch of kosher salt and throw your asparagus in until it's a nice, bright green, about 2 minutes. Drain and toss with a pat of butter and season it to taste.

Mmmmm, so good.

Potatoes are my fave.

Look at those beauties!
Edges are a bit more cooked than I like, but it was still delicious!
I have to admit that I have really gotten the hang of this. Stay tuned this Memorial Day weekend for a cute and yummy summer dessert idea!