Steak Salad

In our house, we can be accused of not eating enough vegetables. We are carnivores and proud of it. We will never give up red meat, avoid salty, fatty deli meats like prosciutto and I will never substitute tofu/veggie-something where meat is meant to be. All of that being said I am making an honest effort to get us slightly more healthy and fit.

A few weeks ago I started this effort by making Giada De Laurentiis’ Steak Salad.

Food Credit: Food Network

I’m sorry, I had to work meat in there somehow.

In theory this is an easy meal to make. However, because I don’t know how to cook (apparently) I sliced deep into my thumb with a serrated knife while cutting up the lettuce for this salad. Yes, that’s right: I did not injure myself while cutting steak but while cutting lettuce. In retrospect, I should have gotten stitches as one should do with all deep, serrated cuts but now I will proudly sport my first cooking scar.

I absolutely loved this salad. The flavours worked together nicely, from the subtle blend of greens (romaine, endive and arugula) to the kick of blue cheese and the juiciness from the steak. The dressing added a nice tang and citrus taste to the salad. I can’t wait to make this in the summer and enjoy it in the backyard with a nice cold beer.

The perfect salad to make you dream of summer and forget how bloody cold it has been lately! Recipe from the Food Network is below the cut and happy munching!

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Meals in Minutes – Trapani-Style Rigatoni

1. This is a simple and fresh pasta. The sauce tastes like a summer garden and is tossed and lightly coats the pasta. I didn’t use the almonds in my sauce which caused the sauce to be slightly lighter and not as thick. I loved the pesto quality of this sauce and how quickly it came together. I made the sauce using my immersion blender, rather than a food processor (no, I still do not have one!) and it worked perfectly. I love that the sauce is completely infused with the flavours of garlic, tomato and basil and then the pasta is dotted with chunks of these veggies.

2. Rigatoni is not my favourite pasta. It is too thick and bulky to eat in this way. Next time I make this pasta I will use penne instead. Shells or rotini would work great as well.

3. This pasta is going to become a staple in the summer – using fresh basil and tomatoes from the garden. Quick, easy, and fresh – a great recipe for summer. I think this pasta would even taste great served cold as a side for a barbecue.

Recipe below the cut – happy munching!

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Meals in Minutes – Broccoli Orecchiette

My first meal courtesy of Jamie Oliver – Broccoli Orrechiette with Zucchini & Bocconcini Salad (which I didn’t make) and Proscuitto and Melon Salad.

1. I wasn’t crazy about this pasta. I don’t think mine turned out exactly how it is supposed to because my sauce didn’t turn out. Not having a food processor makes this impossible to make. There wasn’t enough broccoli tossed with the pasta, making it not substantial enough to make it a main course for a meal. This pasta would work better served cold and as a side for a summer BBQ.

2. There was a nice saltiness from the capers and the anchovies. Anchovies make frequent appearances in Jamie Oliver’s recipes – they add a rich, salty, deep flavour which ties the whole dish together. I had never liked anchovies before trying some of JO’s recipes but I am sold on how great they are to take your dish up a notch.

3. The prosciutto and melon salad is delicious and a classic Italian dish. You need to use good quality prosciutto in order to be able to actually cut through it. Pre-packaged prosciutto is not great – go up to the deli counter and ask for it. By doing this, your prosciutto will also be sliced thinner and will be leaner. The balsamic vinegar brings out the natural sweetness in the prosciutto and highlights the sweet, summer taste of the melon.

4. This is an easy recipe but I didn’t love it. It’s a good introduction to cooking and to Jamie Oliver but after that introduction, I don’t think I will be making that again, at least not the pasta. There are too many recipes and too little time to waste on making okay recipes again. I think the prosciutto and melon salad will become a staple at our house this summer, using fresh basil from Ninni’s garden.

Recipe is below the cut and happy munching!

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Oktoberfest Inspired Dinner

One of my favourite things about fall is the number of festivals celebrating harvests and fresh produce. With harvests comes drinking and the greatest celebration of beer, Oktoberfest. I am not doing anything for Oktoberfest but for Wednesday night’s dinner I made Schnitzel in honour of it.

1. I should have hammered out my meat so it was thinner and would have fried better. I also should have used vegetable oil because it has a higher burning point than olive oil. I made a mess of my pan and my coating flaked off. This was also because I didn’t continue to add oil between batches of pork and I didn’t follow the recipe and use enough oil. Win.

2. Make sure to have a fresh lemon to spritz on this pork. It will add a little fresh zing to it.

3. The suggested salad was great – it was cool, fresh and light. This would be a perfect salad to enjoy in the summer. It is also incredibly easy to make.

GC has voted this recipe a make again so that should be a vote of confidence for people. Recipe is below the cut and happy munching!

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Czehoski

On Thursday night I went to Czehoski on Queen St W with my friend, Al.

I have always been intrigued by this restaurant because of how the paint is chipping off the sign and how it looks reminiscent of Soviet Russia. Obviously, this got my Eastern European senses tingling.

The inside of the restaurant has these great green, leather booths and for some reason, it reminded me of an old school hall. They apparently have a great patio and as our days of summer are numbered, I will need to check that out soon. The washrooms are slightly sketchy: they are in the basement that is partly finished and resembles a Russian prison. The actual washrooms themselves are finished and perfectly pleasant, it is just the staircase leading to them that makes you (or probably more accurately, just me) think you are being lead to a gulag.

The menu is a combination of Eastern European fare, some Italian and American classics like burgers and rotisserie chicken dinners. They have a plate called Babcia’s Pierogies and I am going to have to try these next time as I don’t think I have ever tried my own Babcia’s pierogies.

I ordered the Mac & Cheese.

Czeho Man ‘n Cheese – cheddar stout rarebit sauce, and Ontario curds. You can also get this with crab meat or chorizo in it. Since it was my first time at Czehoski, I opted for tasting this mac ‘n cheese in its purest sense. This was amazing. It was extremely cheesy and creamy with a woody, caramelized taste from the stout. Rarebit sauce does not have rabbit in it, it is simply a traditional Welsh cheese sauce similar to Swiss fondue. This is just a fancy way to dress up a classic comfort food. The Ontario curds were a new way to incorporate more cheese that I have never done/tried before. The result was huge chunks of partly melted, partly solid cheese that squeak against your teeth. Yums. This is a mac ‘n cheese worth having. I’m going to eat it several more times in all its various forms and toppings.

Al ordered the Beet Salad.

The Beet Salad – Grey Owl’s goat cheese, lemon, horseradish and frisee. I feel like they are leaving out descriptors and ingredients to what this salad consists of. Al’s only complaints was that the beets were slightly undercooked and hard.

This restaurant has an extensive menu featuring different cuisines and options. A great drink menu and a comfortable, relaxing atmosphere both inside and out. Another joint worth checking out especially if you are looking for great mac ‘n cheese.

Happy munching!

Canada Day

On Canada Day, GC and I hosted a BBQ for our friends to celebrate Canada and to watch the Euro Cup final between Italy and Spain.

My modest festive decorations. They were pretty much all from Dollarama or Michael’s and I am reusing them for the Summer Olympics in three weeks.

The BBQ spread included:

1. Mexican Bean Salad
2. Classic Macaroni Salad
3. Red Skinned Potato Salad
4. Burgers and Hot Dogs

For dessert I made classic Canadian desserts which, because everyone was so stuffed, we didn’t actually get to eat. I made Nanaimo Bars (not photographed as I have made them before) and a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie,my first ever.

Juicy, sweet, with a hint of citrus – a perfect pie of summer. The crust turned out really well – light, flaky and buttery. If I do say so myself, this pie is very pretty, minus the edges. I need to work on my pie edges. I get frustrated and just smush the top and bottom crust together until everything holds together.

It was a great day – good friends, good food and a good day. The only downside was that Italy lost to Spain 4-0.

Happy Canada Day and Happy Euro.