Friday, May 25, 2007

Another Tuna Debacle

So S and I made a pepper-crusted seared tuna steak and, although it was better than my baked tuna travesty of the other night, it was still a bit of a disaster. (Jelly Bean and Calimocho, by the way, were mortified when they found out I had baked tuna the other night.) Anyways, last night we put on too much pepper. We were coughing every time we got near the kitchen, because of insane pepper vapours that penetrated our lungs without mercy. Also, I think the pan wasn't hot enough, because no crispy brown crust happened, although the tuna somehow still managed to cook for too long and wasn't pink inside. This is really tricky. Jelly Bean says that it's best to start with no frills when learning. No pepper crust, just sear bare tuna in oil. And Calimocho says to jack up the heat to max, and just sear for a few seconds each side. The recipe in my book said sear around 3 minutes per side, which is obviously a TYPO. Gahh!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Seared Tuna Steak Effort No. 1

Okay. In my "About Me," I do mention that one of the purposes of this blog is to define moments of pure befuddlement as well as moments of discovery and triumph. Well, here' s a befuddlement: On the way home today, Jelly Bean was talking about what she was going to have for dinner, and she inspired me to make a seared tuna steak. After consulting various cookbooks, I tried to make a succulent steak, one that personifies tenderness and maintains a ruby-red interior, but alas I failed. I got scared at the prospect of pan frying and decided to opt for the oven, which never lets me down when I make salmon. That turned out be a bad idea. Salmon and tuna obviously behave differently in the oven. I baked the tuna in a 400 C oven for five minutes on one side and seven on the next, and then let it rest for a bit while I puttered around. Well, when I went to eat my very expensive tuna steak it was hard and flaky, not tender and moist, nor a marbled red. In fact, it would be rather accurate to report that it was a bit grey and very cooked the whole way through. Humph. I still have a lot to learn. But I do have one more steak. Maybe I will test out another recipe later this week - perhaps on an unsuspecting S. Stay tuned for the ensuing dramatic events.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Roast Chicken With Garlicky Yoghurt Sauce

Here's a nice supper for two that combines lots of different flavours and textures: crispy lemon chicken, soft caramelized onions, a smooth garlicky yoghurt sauce and a marinated tomato salad.

It might seem like a lot to coordinate, but each building block is just a few easy-to-combine ingredients. I had help in the form of S who cooked the chicken part (he's a whiz with meats).

This recipe is adapted from Australian chef Bill Granger's cookbook called bills: breakfast, lunch + dinner. Actually, it's his cover recipe :). The "sublimely delicious caramelized onions" are aptly named (they rock) and are from Dana McCauley's Pantry Raid.

Yoghurt Sauce
1 cup plain yoghurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt, just a pinch
Mix together and leave for one hour in the fridge.

Marinated Tomato Salad
two small ripe tomatoes, cubed
sea salt
red wine vinegar
olive oil
Mix together and marinate for one hour before draining. Drain and mix with more olive oil and chopped parsely.

Caramelized Onions
one large sweet onion, sliced
thyme, fresh or dried
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 C cooking sherry
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
Fry the onions, thyme, salt and pepper in butter until they have turned translucent, about 10 minutes. Add sugar and cook another 5 -10 minutes until the onions have browned a bit. Add the sherry and worcestershire and reduce until the onions have absorbed most of the liquids. Use as a building block in the roasted chicken recipe.

Roasted Chicken
4 chicken thighs, skin left on, deboned
sea salt
lemon, sliced into rounds
1 Tbsp oregano
5 Tbsp olive oil

Lightly oil the bottom of a casserole dish and cover with a single layer of lemon rounds. Spread the caramelized onions over the lemons. Fry the chicken on both sides in a frypan until the sides are browned and crispy. Place the chicken skin side up on the bed of onions. Sprinkle with oregano and olive oil. Cook in a 350 C oven for 20-25 minutes.

Serve with the garlic yoghurt sauce and tomato salad.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Homemade Korean Barbeque

I am a woman obsessed ... with Korean barbeque (just had some tonight at Oz Kafe). That restaurant in Toronto a few weeks ago really made an impression on me. I cooked a pared-down version of KB this weekend. Here's how it turned out (yummy, a lot of work, but well worth the wait).

Korean Barbeque for Two
Adapted from Jenny Kwak's recipe in Dok Suni, reproduced on

The main ingredients are:
~400 g rib-eye steak, thinly sliced
red leaf lettuce, whole leaves
dipping sauce

Marinate the steak slices in the following ingredients for half an hour:
1/2 C soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp white sugar
1 Tbsp sake
1 tsp black pepper
3 green onions, chopped
2-inch piece of ginger, grated
1/2 pear, peeled and minced
Fry the marinated meat in a bit of olive oil and pile on a plate. You can substitute kiwi for pear. The fruit will tenderize the meat, but don't use more than half of it, otherwise the meat may become too soft.

To make the dipping sauce, mix these ingredients together and warm in a saucepan over low until thickened:
3 Tbsp miso paste
4 cloves garlic, chopped
6 tsp hot pepper sauce
3 tsp olive oil
6 Tbsp water

Serve with the lettuce wraps, kimchi and sake.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Local Food Celebrities

I went to Toronto's first-ever Green Living Show in late April. It was a huge hit, and they had a star-studded speaker lineup, I must say. The couple from the 100 Mile Diet were there to talk about their year of local eating in Vancouver and Gill Deacon, Daryl Hannah and Jamie Kennedy, all spoke at the podium about the importance of local eating.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

The Korean Grill in Toronto

As my old friend JP says, "At the Korean Grill House, it's all about the meat!"

Last weekend I was in Toronto again for work and I saw JP. We lived together when we were in university and she was the best cook in the house. And as you can see, we had platters and platters of meat, from fish to pork to beef.

We ordered the unlimited Korean BBQ with unlimited lettuce and condiments and it only cost us $20 each. Now this is my kind of eating! You cook the meats on the sunken BBQ in the middle of the table. Then you take a lettuce leaf, smear it with chili sauce, add some barbecued meat or fish, top with condiments - kimchi, a pickled cabbage that is an aquired taste but then becomes addictive, bean sprouts and fried tofu, among other tasties - and wrap it up into a bundle and pop it in your mouth. We even tried some tongue.

Cooking the food before you eat it forces you to take it slow. Another great thing is, since the food arrives on many plates and needs to be assembled, you'll never know how much you are eating. Therefore one has no excuse to feel like a greedy pig at the Korean Grill. We went to the one at Yonge and Bloor, but there are other locations at Yonge and Dundas, and Queen and University. It's probably wise to make a reservation before you go because it's really popular.

My only complaint is that when they find out it's someone's birthday, they bang this great gong at the front and everybody yells "Happy Birthday," which is kind of irritating when you are trying to talk to someone. But I really recommend this place. The prices are great and the BBQ is just fantastic!

Korean Grill House
754 Yonge St. (corner Bloor)
Toronto, ON

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Chicken Stock

Whenever I am sick, I just crave soups. Nutritious, brothy, spicy ones, like a lemony dhal or a hot and sour Thai soup (like the one at Siam Bistro, yum). Sometimes I make a chicken stock from scratch, which takes almost all day, and make soup with it the next day. I usually buy four pounds of chicken bones from my butcher, freeze half of it and use the remaining two pounds for a stock-making session. There are lots of ways to make stock, but I always follow the recipe from the Joy of Cooking.

(makes 5-6 cups)

2 lb. chicken bones
cold water to cover

Cover the bones with cold water, put the lid on the pan and slowly bring to a boil. When the water boils, immediately turn down the heat to a barely-there simmer. For this next half hour it's important to constanty skim off the heavy scum that will form. If you don't, all those impurities will become incorporated into the stock and it will be cloudy instead of clear.

1 onion, unpeeled and quartered
1 stalk celery
1 carrot
1 leek, white part only
1 bouquet garni - half a bay leaf, two sprigs of thyme and a few sprigs of parsely
2 cloves
8 whole black peppercorns

Add these other ingredients after the half hour of skimming. Continue to simmer and skim. You'll need to skim less often now. Cook this way for three to four hours. Sieve the liquid and throw out the solids. Let the stock cool on the counter for a while. Keep it overnight in the fridge. The next day, spoon off the layer of fat that has accumulated. You should have five or six cups of stock. I always end up with lots more than that, so I simmer the sieved stock down again the next day until I have the right amount.

A good tip from Nigella Lawson - buy a bunch of plastic measuring cups and line them with plastic baggies. Then pour one cup of stock into each measuring cup and freeze. When the liquid has frozen you can just pop off the cup and the baggie will contain one measured cup, ready for use whenever you need it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Update on the Fearsome Bean-Wielder

I cannot let it rest. I am obsessed. It makes me helpless with laughter. If you share my immature glee in this story, you have to read this article in the Guardian. I mean, if it was anything other than beans it just wouldn't have the same effect ...

Related Posts with Thumbnails