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So, my little sister is getting married!  Her beau popped the question and gave her a big Tiffany’s style solitaire diamond ring.  It was totally a la My big Fat Greek Wedding proposal.   Remember that?  I have never forgotten it.  In the age of getting on TV to propose, there is something so special about an intimate conversation with nice words and a genuine proposal with no bells and whistles.  Oh love, I love love!

Naturally, I began thinking about what we would make them for a celebratory meal.  By great coincidence (or was it?), my parents were coming up that weekend.  Perfect for a family hoorah!  Sometimes my husband and I are quite adventurous when it comes to making meals for company.  We love seafood, rich bold tastes and things that are out of the ordinary.  My sister’s new fiance (OMG – wait, am I too old to say OMG or is it just so out of style already? Maybe I’ll stick with oh my lordy!) has less of an adventurous palate.  For example, he announced to us that he did not like bison meat.  Little did he know that the only tpe of steak or red meat that he had eaten at our house had been bison.  Let’s just say, we are helping him broaden his culinay travels.  So, we had to think of something classic. 

We thought….steak and potaotes.  That is a classic choice, right?  Who wouldn’t like that?  Well, let’s just say we stepped it up a tiny notch and he was, thank the lordy, happy with it.  We finshed it with a chic cocolate cake (wait for the next post) and of course some bubbly!

So, finally about the food, the steak has a spicy crab salad resting atop and the unassuming potato got layered with cheese and wrapped in savoy cabbage.   Congrats to the newly engaged couple and please try this combo out for your next dinner party.

Steak

We always buy a half or a quarter buffalo from the Buffalo Horn Ranch near Calgary and throw it in the freezer.  It’s so nice to know how the animals are being treated and butchered.  We prefer bison to beef because it is a self-sufficient animal.  Self-sufficient meaning – it births on it’s own because it’s offspring has not been bred to get too big,  It grows slower making the meat more nutritious and it grazes on grass and is never sent to the feedlot to get fattened up.  Seriously, though, just check out where your meat is coming from whether it is beef or bison.  Well, there is my rant about that, if you wanted it or not 🙂

So, we just grilled the steaks on the BBQ.  4 minutes a side for bison steaks.

Spicy Crab Salad Topper

This recipe was one of those scribbles-on-a-scrap-of-paper-recipe from the Food Netwrok I was telling you about.  I think it is from Tyler’s Ultimate with Tyler Florence.

1 tbsp sriracha (spicy asian red sauce with a green lid and rooster on the front)

2 tbsp mayonnaise (I used Miracle Whip because I’m a fan of the zip :))

1 lime

1 pint crab meat (I used 2 cans crab meat, but getting it from the fish monger is ideal)

Cilantro

Stir the sriracha and mayo together and it forms a pretty pink mixture. (Did you know this is the “spicy suace ” on a spicy tuna sushi roll).  Add the crab and the juice of 1 lime and stir.  When it comes to the cilantro, some people hate it some people love it.  You could substitute it with parsley.  Add about half of a bunch or as much or little as you like.  Now that was simple, but so elegant on top of steak.

Cabbage Wrapped Potatoes and Cheese – Ricardo Larrivee with some changes

10 savoy cabbage leaves

2 finely slices leeks

2 tbsp butter

0.25 cup white wine (optional)

1 block cheddar (preferably aged 2-5 years), cubed

6 potatoes (I still had some garden ones from my Mom, thanks!)

3 cups milk

1 sprig fresh thyme or some dried

1 clove garlic

salt and pepper     

Ok, this takes a couple pots, but does it look and taste spectacular when it is done.  Start one large pot of salted water boiling.  Immerse the cabbage leaves and let them soften up for about 2 minutes.  Remove and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.  Set aside. 

Preheat the over to 375 degrees farenheit.  Peel and thinly slice the potatoes.  A mandalin really helps in this situation.  Put in a large pan with the 3 cups of milk, thyme and minced garlic.  Add S + P.  Let simmer and stir occasionally to prevent burning of the milk, until the potatoes are al dente (when they are almost cooked, but still cannot be pierced easily).

In a pan, melt the butter and saute the leaks.  When they are translucent add the wine.  If opting out of the wine, just add the cubed cheese.  Melt, set aside.

Now, line a buttered 9 inch springform pan with parchment paper.  Place one cabbage leaf down at the bottom and then line the sides of the pan with 6 more leaves.  Leave them hanging over the edge and also overlapping the bottom leaf.  Place half of the potatoes in the pan after removing the thyme sprig.  Press them down with a spatula.  Pour the melted cheese evenly over the potato layer.  Next, layer the rest of the potatoes over the cheese layer.  Finally, place a leaf over the layers and fold the side leaves in.  Finish with the final leaf over the top.  Brush with melted butter.  Cover the whole pan with 2 layers of tin foil and put on a cookie sheet in case of leakage.  Bake for about 90 minutes or until the potaotes can be pierced easily with a fork. 

Ok, that was a lot of steps and pots but the outcome is so cool.  Serve to the table whole (you know you gotta show that thing off!) and slice like a pie.

Still steaming

Buttermilk.  It’s one of my pet peeves.  Why, you ask?  Because I have only ever seen a 1 litre carton at the grocery store.  Have you ever seen a recipe that calls for that much buttermilk?  What do you do with all the leftovers?  I made something or other with it and then I am now stuck with more than half a carton left.  Well, gentle readers, I have a couple recipes to ease your pain.  You are feeling this pain too, right?

The asparagus soup is curtosy of Christine Cushing.  Thank you Christine.  You have given me a recipe that I can change the veg and keep adding the dreaded left over buttermillk.  You can make this soup as broccoli soup, cauliflower soup, etc, but asparagus is a cool switch up that no one expects.

Recipe 2 is an easy/great cronbread from a Food Lovas’ fave – Smitten Kitchen (check the blog roll).  So many cornbreads call for cream.  Remember, I once was an athlete and therefore still steer clear of heavy cream.  Buttermilk is thick and creamy and has the added bonus of a little zip!  Dress it up as you wish.  You could add cheese and jalapenos, your favourite herbs or just keep it straight forward and plain like I did.

Asparagus Soup

4 cups fresh green asparagus trimmed, then peeled and chopped (approximately 2 bunches), cutting and reserving the tips

1/2 onion, chopped

1 leek, white part only, washed well and chopped

1 medium sized carrot, peeled and diced

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (30 ml)

1 medium sized potato, peeled and diced

1 cup spinach, chopped (125 ml)

4 cups chicken stock (1litre)

optional: 1/2 cup white wine (125 ml)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne (1 ml)

Coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup buttermilk (60 ml)

Start by sauteing the leek, carrots and onion until the onions are clear.  Now add the wine if you are using it.  simmer until it is almost gone.  Add the broth, potato and asparagus stems.  Boil until the potato is tender.  Check by poking with a fork.  When tender, add the chopped spinach.  This is for colour, so add it and wait until it wilts.  Use an immersion blender or table-top blender to smooth the soup into a luscious velvety liquid.  The potato will help it to become thick.  It’s important that you peel the asparagus and cut off the ends so that there is minimal strings.  If the soup is stringy try straining it with a mesh strainer.  Now add the buttermilk (you can add more if you would like) and the cayenne for a little heat.   While the oup is cooking you can steam the reserved asparagus tips and use them for garnish when plating.  Hint:  You can put a strainer above the soup to steam the tips. 

Cornbread – Smitten Kitchen

1 tbsp butter

1.5 cups stone-ground cornmeal

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1.5 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 large egg

1.5 cups whole or lowfat buttermilk

2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees farenheit.  Put the pan (9 inch round or square) into the oven with the 1 tbsp butter while it is preheating.  Mix dry ingredients together and then add the wet.  Pul out the pan from the oven and the butter should be melted and very hot – possibly smoking.  Swirl the butter to cover the pan.  Pour in the batter and it should sizzle.  Place in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the top of the bread is golden brown and the edge has pulled away from the side of the skillet.  Serve warm.  Hint:  A cast iron pan is perfect for this recipe, so use it if you have one.

So, it’s the Super Bowl this Sunday.  I’m not going to lie – I don’t follow the NFL.  Hey, if we were talkin’ CFL it would be a different story.  I actually made this dip for this season’s Grey Cup.  The Riders were really going for it, I thought they were going all the way….ok, I can’t really talk about this.  It still hurts so bad.  Back to the Super Bowl.  My Dad and brother are really into the NFL.  They actually bet on games every week.  They are always going to a party for the big game.  My involvement in this whole thing:  making the appies, of course! 

This is a recipe from the one and only – my Mom.  She has a dish for everything and everyone gushes over her grub.  Even since I was a wee one, I can’t remember my Mom ever cooking something I didn’t like.  Her food is all about taste and of course everything she makes gives me comfort.  When I moved away from home, she wrote me out a recipe book of all the recipes I love.  For one of the first potlucks I was invited to, I wanted to impress, but I was lacking in the experience/know-how of cooking.  I got out the hand written recipe book and whipped up this dip.  It was a real hit because the flavour is great!

Oven Hot Dip is a sister to the 7 Layer Dip.  You know the one.  It’s at every party and is delicious, but this is an unexpected update.  Have fun watching the game this weekend or if you’re like me – have fun getting all the food ready and get dipping.  Oh, and pretend to watch the game too.

Oven Hot Dip

Beat:

8 oz cream cheese (1 brick)

0.5 cup pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce

1.5 tbsp taco spice (eg. Old El Paso taco spice packet)

Topping:

1/2 of a red pepper, diced

1/2 of a green pepper, diced

3 stalks of green onion, chopped

1 cup grated cheese (cheddar or marble)

symbols of teams playing – optional (thanks Arne!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit.  Blend cream cheese, sauce and spice with a hand-held blender.  I’ve tried doing it under my own power – pretty hard, but possible.   Spread in a 9 x 9 baking dish or if you want it thinner you can use a bigger one.  Sprinkle diced red and green pepper and onion on top.  Cover with cheese and optional team symbols.  Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and warmed through.

Ahhh, Sunday dinner.  If you are as lucky as my husband and I, you get to go over to your parents’ house for Sunday dinner.  As soon as Friday comes along, I am already thinking, “I wonder what Peter is planning make?”  It starts with wine and cheese, followed by a stunning main, dessert of pie or bavarois and finished with tea and chocolates.  We appreciate the food, the night off and of course the good company.  Last weekend the dinner was coming to an end and we came to the conclusion that Peter was going to be really busy this weekend.  Out of the goodness of my heart I said, “Why don’t you come to our house for dinner nest Sunday?”  My mind instantly started reeling.  What would I make for this gourmet chef!  Ok, he’s not a chef , but he’s from Europe and you know that they just have a je ne sais quoi  when it comes to cooking.  Maybe it’s the herbs or maybe it’s the attention to detail.  Either way, it’s gourmet. 

Back to my dilemma – what should I cook?  First, I have to impress my husband’s parent and second, I just started this blog which has somehow given me major cred in the kitchen.  Pressure!  This brings me to my obsession with the Food Network.  Come on, you know that I know that you love the Food Network too.  Well, I keep a piece of paper beside the couch for when I need to frantically jot down a recipe I just watched.  This is the just that recipe.  Thanks to Roger Mooking, I had the perfect recipe hand written on a scrap of paper crammed into my recipe pile.  This recipe caught my eye because of the soba noodles.  I’ve travelled to Japan, specifically Nagano, Japan and the specialty food of the region is soba noodles.  Therefore this soba noodle salad was a sure-fire try and the nori crusted salmon sounded good too.  Well, let me tell you, this recipe is a show stopper.  Be ready for lots of little steps, but the finish is well worth it.  The noodles are exquisitely flavourful and the crust on the salmon is salty, crispy and spicy. It is a true delight!

 Soba Noodle Salad – Roger Mooking with some adaptations

Sometimes Soba noodles can be expensive.  If you live in Calgary, check out the Planet Organic where you can find Soba noodles in a light blue box for a cheaper price.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 Pound shitake mushroom caps, sliced

1 tablespoon ginger, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 carrot, julienned

2 cups sugar snap peas, blanched and thinly sliced on a bias

1 bunch garlic chives (or green onion), cut into 1 inch pieces on a bias

the vinaigrette (below)

230 g box or enough for 4 people soba noodles

1 nori sheet, cut into 1 inch pieces, for garnish

some extra sesame seeds, for garnish

salt and pepper

Vinaigrette

1/2 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon ginger, minced

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Noodle Salad

Start by sautéing the mushrooms in the oil seasoned with salt until they are cooked down and brown, about 7 minutes.  Add the rest of the veggies with the garlic and ginger and sauté until they turn bright.  Add 3 tbsp of the vinaigrette and remove from heat.   While sautéing the veggies, boil the soba noodles according to the package.  When ready, drain and then spread out on a baking sheet.  Spoon the rest of the vinaigrette over and stir with chopstick (that’s the easiest to use – trust me).  Let the noodles suck up all that great flavour for 5-10 minutes.  Then toss with the noodles.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and cut nori.

Nori Crusted Salmon – Roger Mooking with some adaptations

2 nori sheets, toasted

1 teaspoon paprika

1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 teaspoon black peppercorns, ground

2 tablespoons butter

1 shallot or 1/4 onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Thai chili, sliced or sriracha hot sauce to taste (I put in 10 small drops)

salt

 4 pieces of salmon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.  Begin by toasting the nori sheets.  Using tongs, hold the nori sheet over the hot element.  Be sure not to touch the nori to the element.  The sheet will crinkle and become very crusty. 

Set aside while you combine the rest of the dry ingredients in a small bowl.  Take the toasted nori in hand and crush into small pieces and add to the bowl.  Melt the butter in a small pan and add the shallot or onion and garlic.  When the onions are clear add the dry ingredients.  Stir and let toast for 2 minutes and remove from heat.  In a large pan, melt 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp veg oil.  Salt both sides of the salmon and then sear it, skin side up and then skin side down, both sides for a couple minutes.  Finally, place the seared salmon on a baking dish and cover with the nori crust.  Bake for about 7 minutes or until cooked through.  You are done!

Foodlova

I'm an ex-Olympian and I have a serious passion for food. I guess you could call me a food lova! What about you?

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