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So I am one of the many followers of Food Lovas.  I always enjoy checking in every once in a while to see the latest creation and am always amazed at the high level of cooking and presentation that are posted.  Kerry had asked some of her friends and family if we wanted to come up with our own “post” for her blog.  Being a huge food “lova” myself, I couldn’t refuse and decided I needed to come up with something good.

The problem I always have when I cook is that I can never decide what to make when going through a cookbook.  There are always too many choices and I often find I’m missing several ingredients.  So lately I’ve noticed, rather than going through all the different recipes, I just seem to go to the supermarket instead, see what’s new or on sale, buy it and then try and make something of it.  Once I get home, I then look up a recipe either in my cookbooks or online.  This is a little counter productive, as I often end up returning to the grocery store to buy missing ingredients.

This is pretty much exactly what happened the other day.  I was out grocery shopping with my wife and son, and was going through the meat section.  I caught a glimpse of the flank steak out of the corner of my eye and it immediately intrigued me.  I thought to myself “I’m pretty sure I’ve had this cut of beef before either in a fajita or some other Mexican food, but I’ve never cooked it myself.”  Being up for something new and it was on sale, I decided to buy it and see what I could make of it.  As soon as I got home I pulled out my cookbooks and found four different recipes out of my favorite book – Weber’s Big Book of Grilling.  I decided to go with the one that included a salad as I am terrible at picking a matching side for a good entree.

I made sure to invite a friend over for dinner so as to have a third opinion.  All three of us were pleasantly surprised by the entire meal.  The right mix of cumin & chili powder made for an excellent rub that really gave the steak a “Mexican” taste.  The steak itself is very lean, however quite tough and even “chewy”.  This is a result of the cut and many recipes call for marinating the meat so as to help it tenderize. The rub is not overpowering in the slightest way and goes really well with the flavor of the beef.  The salad is light, crunchy and very refreshing.  Grilling the red onion really brings out the natural sweetness and takes the “edge” off.  The juices from the orange helped to enhance the flavor of the dressing and went surprisingly well with the jicama.  Even though none us are huge cilantro fans, we found it not to be too overbearing in the salad and was well complimented by the parsley.  All in all, we found this to be an extremely tasty, satisfying and healthy meal.

***Thanks to Tuna for the great guest blog! We needed some BBQ gracing the blog this summer.  And that Jicama salad, nice.  I can just taste it all now….(cue dream music)

Mexican flank steak with jicama – orange salad

The Rub:

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp granulated garlic (avoid garlic powder if you can, there is a difference)

1 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 flank steak, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds and about 3/4 inch thick

( I ended up doubling the rub as my flank steak weighed almost 2 kilos)

The dressing:

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro (if you are not a big cilantro fan, like me, only use 1 tbsp cilantro, and add 1 tbsp fresh Italian parsley)

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp granulated sugar

1 tsp minced serrano chile, with seeds (feel free to throw in a little more for flavor as the serranoes aren’t too spicy)

For the salad:

1 small red onion, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch slices

extra virgin olive oil

2 cups jicama cut into matchsticks

4 oranges, peeled & sectioned

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

For the rub: In a small bowl combine the rub ingredients.  Trim the steak of any surface fat. Press the rub into both sides of the steak.  Cover the steak with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 to 6 hours.

To make the dressing: In a small bowl whish together the dressing ingredients.

For the salad:  Lightly brush the onion slices with the olive oil.  Grill over medium heat until well marked and tender, approximately 8 to 10 minutes, turning halfway through grilling time.  Remove from the grill and chop into 1/2 inch pieces.  Place the onion in a medium bowl and add the jicama and orange segments.  Pour in the dressing, toss with two forks, and season with salt and pepper.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.  Serve at room temperature.

For the steak: Allow the steak to stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before grilling.  Brush or spray both sides of the steak with oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Grill over medium heat until the internal temperature reached 145 degrees Fahrenheit for medium rare, 8 to 10 minutes, turning once halfway through grilling time.  Remove from the grill and allow to rest for 3 to 5 minutes.  Cut across the grain into thin diagonal slices.  Serve warm with the salad.

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So, gentle readers, I have a little surprise!  On this blog I often refer to some of my great friends who are amazing cooks.  Back in Calgary, me and Mr.F would be invited to these said friends’ houses for dinner.  Not just any dinner, people.  We would be eating in style.  We love to get together for an excuse to make something that is not just ok, but great!  This is one of the things I miss most about being home: dinner parties!  Through this blog, I still get to share my culinary adventures, even though my friends back home can’t taste the food, but I’m missing out on their food odesseys.  And isn’t that what having dinner is all about – sharing?   This is where the great idea stems from.  Why not get my friends/family from back home to cook up some meals as guest bloggers and then it will be like I/you can be having dinner with them!  At their house!  Yes, my friends, this is a great idea.  Stay tuned for guest bloggers in the months to come…..

So, lately I have been bombarding you with salads.  They are delicious salads, mind you, but a person can’t just live on salad, right?  We need a little dessert in life.  A little sweet finish to a meal.  And who better to call upon for that craving, than Shelly over at Cookies and Cups.  While laughing hysterically at her posts and gawking at her masterfully created sweets, I finally resolved that I would attempt another one of her recipes.  How could I resist?  It was cheesecake squares.  Cheesecake, people.  One of my weaknesses.

I remember when I was little and my Mom would order cheesecake for dessert at a restaurant.  She would gingerly pierce her fork through the pointed slice, bring the creamy forkful to her lips and them hum “”mmmmmm” sounds over and over while she tasted the piece.  I was sure that I wanted a taste of THAT!  “Please Mom, can I have some?”  Of course my Mom succumb to my annoying pleading.  When I pierced a huge piece and stuffed it in my mouth, I could almost not swallow.  Yuck!  I wanted to spit it out.  What was this?!  It’s not even sweet.  Man, grown-ups are weird.  I think I’ll stick to my ice-cream sunday slathered in sticky sweet caramel, thank you very much.

And as the sands of time passed, I became said grown-up.  And with that grown-up status, so came the love of cheesecake and the “mmmmm” sounds of tasting a piece.  Now I think, “Man, kids’ tastebuds are weird.”

This cheesecake is not totally your grown-up style, though.  It has a ribbon of caramel running through it and some chunks of white oreos, too.  I guess it would be somewhere between the tween years and hitting 21.  Adults will like it and maybe even a kid or two will eat it.  Maybe they will eat everything between the “cheesecake” parts, but whatever.  Enjoy!

*****Photos courtesy of Mr. Foodlova – he is so creative 🙂

White Oreo and Caramel Cheesecake – via Cookies and Cups

So, I had to go pretty liberal with the ingredients in this recipe.  I found Wether’s Originals toffees to melt because I couldn’t find those little wrapped ones that are so abundant in North America.  Lo and behold, there were no Vanilla Oreos in the stores I checked.  Guess they are a little behind the times here when it comes to Oreos.  I bought a sandwich cookie of vanilla wafers and cream filling.  Not quite like the Oreo, but I think it did the trick.

28 Golden Oreos  (18 finely crushed, 10 carsely chopped)

3 tbsp melted butter

20-24 wrapped caramels

1 tbsp water

2 bricks cream cheese, softened

1 cup marshmallow fluff

1 egg

Ok, start by finely crushing 18 of those golden Oreos.  This is going to be the crust.  Mix in the 3 tbsp of melted butter and press firmly into the bottom of a dish.  You can go with a 9×9 inch square or a 9inch round whatever you prefer.  I did mine in a much bigger round (since it’s the only one I’ve got!) and the cheesecake was pretty thin.  Put the crust in a preheated 350 degrees farenheit oven for 10 minutes.  et aside and let cool for 0-15 minutes.

Next, mix the cream cheese, marshmallow fluff (kind of a brilliant idea instead of sugar) and the egg together.  Mix in the rest of the Oreos that are coarsely chopped. 

Meanwhile, melt those caramels with the 1 tbsp of water in the microwave or on the stove.  I used the stove, but if you use the microwave, Shelly says, 1 minute on high, stirring once at 30 secs.

Pour the cream cheese filling over the cooled crust.  Now dollop the melted caramels over the top.   Use a knife to create the swirls.  Then, pop it into the oven at 350 degrees farenheit for 20-25 minutes.  Finally, enjoy the sweet cheesecake!

Wow, that is kind of a long title.  I am the worst at coming up with recipe titles.  When I ask Mr. Foodlova if he wants this salad for dinner, I usually say, “want that, you know, that salmon chunk salad”  or I masterfully stutter ” I’m making that bean thingy mix salad tonight.”  Doesn’t that sound delicious?  Bean mix – yuck.  So, I’m giving you the long version title because then you  know all the main players in this game and you will be thinking of how the combo will taste.  Spoiler alert –> it is awe(high note) – some(low note).

I’m going to go on a little side note here, so please bear with me.  I like me some comedy and sometimes we will rent a DVD.  On the advice of my sister-cousin (that’s my name for a cuz that is like a sis) we rented Russell Peters.  Um, you need to rent Russell Peter. OMG it is funny.  No exclamation marks in this paragraph because I am being 100% serious.  Funny.  Now, recently I surfed Youtube and landed on this Russell Peters’ bit (fyi: contains swearwords!).  Watch and you will totally understand how I just wrote awe(high note) – some(low note) above.  And if you’re a friend of Mr. Foodlova, then you will be losing your mind laughing because it is an exact replica of how he will articulate a particular swear.

Back to the main track….where was I, oh ya, I am writing a food blog.  Beans and salmon.  Ricardo.  Yes, the lovely debonaire character.  I miss his Quebecois accent on TLC, but still have his cookbook to browse.  This recipe does not hail from his cookbook, oh no, this is one committed to memory from his show.  I’m sure I remember it slightly different than he made it, but it is deadly none the less.

If it’s hot out in your neck of the woods, then eat it chilled, if it’s mild, then eat it warm.  If you live south of the equator, eat it hot.  Any way you like, it is lick-the-bowl-when-you’re-finished good.

**Loaded on It’s a Blog Party!

Salmon Salad with Green and Black Beans – adapted from Ricardo Larrivee

Now, here are some variations.  I prefer to use sage as the fresh herb of choice.  It gives the salad a crazy-good earthy taste.  I replaced it with dill on this day because sage was out at the store.  Turns out that either way is great.  If you need some carb action in this meal, steam/boil/bake some potatoes and toss with the salad.  A side of plain rice mixed in would also be good.

You can step this recipe up a notch by BBQing the fish and green beans first.  This gives the salad a smoky taste and the salmon gets those crispy edges.  I definitely reccommend it, especially if it’s too hot to cook in the house.

Salmon (enough for 2-4 people or however many you are feeding) cubed into 1 inch squares

2 C fresh green beans (break the beans into 1 inch segments)

1 can Black beans, rinsed (important!)

1/2 an onion, diced (or a whole small one)

3 stalks celery, chopped

fresh sage (add to taste)

Dressing:

3 tbsp  canola oil

3 tbsp apple cider vinegar (I’ve used red wine vinegar and it was good too)

1 tbsp dijon mustard

Salt and Pepper to taste

Begin by steaming the green beans.  You can just boil the beans or throw them in the microwave, but the method I like is using a one-size-fits-all steamer tray.  This thing is so pretty, but also works aweome.  It fits in any size pot.  All you need to do is put about 1 inch of water at the bottom and then place the tray in.  Lay the veggies on top and start steaming.  You can even do potatoes this way.

 

 In another large pan, start to saute the onion and celery.  All the ingredients are going in this pan, so make sure it is big enough.  When the onions just turn opaque, drop in the cubed salmon.  Gently stir around the mixture until the salmon is cooked, but not flaking apart.  Throw in the rinsed black beans and steamed green beans and toss.  When the whole mixture is warm, pour out into a large serving bowl.  Tear the sage into the bowl (or chop the dill).

Mix all the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a jar and shake until combined.  Just so you know – the mustard acts as an emulsifier and that is why the oil and vinegar can mix.  Booya, I know my chemistry 🙂

Now heap onto your plate and make sure you get seconds!

Hello.  As I was clicking through those other food blogs I told you about (What I’m Reading), I started wondering if everyone was on holidays?  How could they just leave us all hanging here with only a post here and there.  Don’t they know that they have loyal followers that need want to read their new shiny posts as often as possible?  Don’t they know that some people are bored and rely on their postings to pass time and procrastinate on papers that are due at the end of the month?! 

Then I looked at the last time that I posted….ummmm….sorry.  Yup, I am guilty of the same thing.  The weather turned hot here and I have been spending less time at the computer.  I have been coaching some speed skating, crocheting a baby blanket, taking Dutch lessons, frequenting the markets around Delft, riding over to Rotterdam to watch the Tour de France in person – you know just your every day stuff.  Um, I hope you caught that last one, you know the one about watching the Tour de France!!!  Ya, just your every day stuff over here in Europe.

While I try to put a lid on the bragging, let’s talk about this recipe.  It’s not European at all, but it is a recipe from a European (is the UK european?).  Jamie Oliver that is.  The Naked Chef.  Remember when everyone used to call him that and you started watching the Food Network just to see a guy cooking in the nude only to be disappointed, but then excited again since his recipes were so dang good and easy?  We have a friend who is in love with Jamie.  He’s got every cookbook and every time we get invited over for a meal, it’s some amazing dish from the pages of the Naked Chef.  

This amazing Thai salad is from his first (I think) publication The Naked Chef Takes Off.  Said friend inspired me to buy this cookbook for Mr. Foodlova and it has not disappointed.  Aside from this salad, my first post on Risotto is from this book.  There are several others that are so easy and tasty that you just keep making them.

You know when you eat something and you think, “What is that taste?”  It’s a taste you keep wanting more of.  “Sure I’ll have another helping of the salad”, “What’s in this salad?”  That would be the star of this dish – the vinaigrette.  Lime juice, ginger, soy sauce, cilantro and the secret ingredient is sesame oil.  That is the je-ne-sais-quoi (or however you would say that is Thai) of the salad.  You will not be disappointed if you try it and summer time is the perfect time!

Crunchy Thai Salad – adapted from Jamie Oliver 

This salad can be made by the truckload.  If you’re making it for the whole family or a BBQ/potluck then use a whole savoy cabbage.  To make it smaller just use half of the cabbage head. 

1 Chinese or Savoy cabbage 

A couple handfuls of arugula and/or spinach 

red and green bell pepper, julienned (finely sliced in strips) 

a couple handfuls of bean sprouts 

a small bag of baby snap peas 

a couple green onions, chopped on the bias – for asian flair! 

half of an english cucumber sliced in strips to match the peppers 

See how you can add anything you want or have in your fridge?  Just add as much as you think.  You can’t really go wrong.  This is the combo I usually use (plus or minus a few ingredients), but go nuts! 

Vinaigrette 

4 tbsp lime juice 

3 tbsp oil 

1 tbsp sesame oil 

1 tbsp soy sauce 

a good pinch of brown sugar 

1 tbsp minced ginger 

1 small clove garlic, minced 

something spicy – you could use a red chili, some red pepper flakes, some hot sauce you like, I’ve even used some Sweet chili sauce. 

a handful of chopped cilantro (can be substituted with basil or mint) right into the dressing. 

Chop up all the veggies and throw into a large bowl.  Shake all the vinaigrette ingredients up in a jar.  Pour over the veggies and toss.  Sprinkole with some sesame seeds to finish it off.  Let sit for a few minute in the fridge so that the vinaigrette can get soaked up a little.  

If you want to make it a meal, add some cooked egg or rice noodles and some chicken or shrimp would do the trick for some protein.

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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