Saturday, January 31, 2009

Braised pork loin with vegetables and mashed potatoes

Braised pork loin with mashed potatoes and vegetables by beFOODled on Flickr.

For our main plate on New Year's Day in Calgary, Mark, S and I served braised pork loin medallions topped with caramelized onions. We served them with mashed potatoes, sautéed Asian-glazed carrots, pan-seared bok choy and baked Provençale tomato.

Mark told us that the classic onion-carrot-celery flavour base used in braising is called mirepoix by the French. He also advised that tender cuts of meat, such as this loin, do not have to be fully submerged in liquid when braised. But more sinewy cuts, such as shoulder or hock, taste more tender if submerged.

Braised pork loin
serves six

enough pork loin to serve six
1/2 bottle red wine
parsley sprigs
bay leaf
whole garlic cloves
onions, carrots and celery in a large dice (mirepoix)
dried thyme

Marinate the pork loin by beFOODled on Flickr.

Marinate the pork loin in the above ingredients for a few hours.

Season the pork and reserve the marinade by beFOODled on Flickr.

Brush the elements of the marinade off the meat and season the pork loin on all sides. Set the marinade aside.

Brown the pork loin on all sides in a hot pan with hot oil. Set aside.

Sauté the garnishes in the marinade by beFOODled on Flickr.

With tongs or a slotted spoon, remove all of the whole vegetables, herbs and seasonings from the marinade. And keep that wine for later (for the love of Bacchus, don't throw it out!) Sauté the elements of the marinade for a few minutes in the same frying pan.

In a cast iron Dutch oven, add a layer of the sautéed veggies and then add the meat on top. Add the rest of the cooked veggies on top of the meat. Add some tomato paste and the wine from the marinade (about two cups). Add about two more cups of chicken or vegetable stock, or as much as you need.

Braised pork loin in a Dutch oven by beFOODled on Flickr.

Cook for two-and-a-half hours at 300 to 325 degrees. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes under foil before cutting into medallions.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Meet the chefs at the Elgin St. Freehouse

The Elgin St. Freehouse's Mark Leonard and Kalidas Cappuccino by beFOODled on Flickr.

Meet Ottawa chefs Mark Leonard and Kalidas Cappuccino and check out some of their delicious fare in my latest post for They work at the Elgin St. Freehouse, a small restaurant in downtown Ottawa that has also been featured on beFOODled.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Leek and egg drop soup

Leek and egg drop soup by beFOODled on Flickr.

We made this delicious leek and egg drop soup with Mark in Calgary. This is a great recipe to bring out the best in homemade chicken stock if you have any. We used a combination of commercial low sodium chicken stock and some of Mark's homemade turkey stock.

When we poured in the eggs, they didn't separate into stringy bits like you find in traditional egg drop soup. They just sort of blended in and turned the soup pastel yellow. It wasn't quite the effect we were after, but it still looked nice and tasted great. We served this soup with a homemade parsley and Parmesan croûtes with compound butter.

Leek and egg drop soup

one to two finely diced onions
one to two finely sliced leeks (whitish parts only)
4 cups chicken stock or whatever you have on hand
2 eggs
6 to 8 fresh basil leaves
cracked black pepper

Add the onion and leek to a stock pot with hot oil in the bottom. Sweat the onion and leek on low heat with a bit of salt to keep it from browning. Add stock. Cover and let simmer for half an hour. Before serving, drizzle in a couple of beaten eggs from a height through the tines of a fork while stirring in one direction.

Garnish with cracked black pepper and julienned basil leaves.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Off to a luscious start with rack of lamb

Rack of lamb by beFOODled on Flickr.

The other appetizer we made with Mark was rack of lamb, which I've never eaten as a starter before. We cooked two racks and served two ribs and a salmon tartare croûte per person. It turned out so luscious and juicy! Without further ado, here's the recipe:

Rack of lamb
two racks of lamb with eight ribs each
bread crumbs
bread crumbs
oil with a high smoking point, such as canola or grapeseed

Season the racks of lamb by beFOODled on Flickr.

Season the raw racks of lamb with salt and pepper.

Brown the racks of lamb by beFOODled on Flickr.

Brown the racks one at a time in hot oil in a frying pan with high sides. Mark says that you should only put meat in the pan when the oil is near its smoking point. That's when the oil starts to separate or dimple in the pan.

Brown each side of the rack. The bony side is curved and impossible to press against the bottom of the pan. If you use a high-sided pan, great, you can prop it up against the side and pour hot oil down it with a ladle. If you're using a low-sided pan, no worries, just skip that side. Cross the racks together on a plate so that the ribs interlock. Put them aside and let them rest and cool down a bit.

Apply mustard to the racks of lamb by beFOODled on Flickr.

Smear a thin layer of Dijon mustard onto the tops of the racks. This will bind the crust.

Apply mustard to the racks of lamb by beFOODled on Flickr.

In a bowl, combine bread crumbs, parmesan and parsley. Press the mixture down onto the racks. Put some pats of butter over the tops of the ribs. Put the lamb into the fridge until ready to cook.

Take the lamb out a bit before you want to cook it. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes at 425 degree F in a normal oven or 390 in a convection oven. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes under foil before cutting the ribs.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Salmon tartare croûtes with compound butter

Salmon tartare croûtes with compound butter on beFOODled's Flickr page.

On New Year's Day, S and I spent the day cooking with Mark, a friend of the family in Calgary. He has trained at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, a Vancouver-based cooking school that emphasizes presentation as much as taste. Mark had a whole menu planned straight from his imagination and inspired by a full French service. He drew us diagrams and explained all of the dishes we would make. We were to cook five courses for dinner later with his wife and S's parents. We started cooking at 11 a.m. and served and 5 p.m. and learned so much! Starting with this appetizer ... salmon tartare croûtes with compound butter.

Salmon tartare croûtes
a fillet of raw salmon, ideally wild Pacific and sushi grade
a garlic clove, minced
minced fresh parsley
minced capers
bit of cracked black pepper
bit of salt
lemon juice

Finely dice the raw salmon and gently mix in the minced garlic, parsley, capers and pepper. If you make it in advance, put this mixture in the fridge to sit for an hour or longer. Fold in a bit of salt and lemon juice just before serving.

Make quinelles, those three-sided football shapes that you make passing the mixture between two spoons with many flicks of the wrist. Serve on croûtes (toasted baguette slices) that have been spread with a compound butter.

Compound butter
In French, these are called les beurres composés (composed butters). You can make a compound butter out of any combination of your favourite flavours. We made ours with roasted garlic and parsley.

Cut the top off a head of garlic at the lowest clove. Add a bit of salt and olive oil and wrap in foil. Bake for 45 minutes in the oven at 375 degrees F.

Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the skins and let cool. Mash them in a bowl with a stick of butter, minced parsley and salt. Roll up the butter in a cylindrical shape in parchment paper and put in the fridge to harden. Cut into thin pucks when ready to use.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Shikiji, a ramen house in Calgary

Miso ramen at Shikiji on beFOODled's Flickr page.

There's one thing that puts the ramen at Shikiji in a league of its own: You get a facial while you eat!

Ramen here is served in a bowl that's honestly at least 10 inches wide. Every time I leaned over to slurp up a noodle or hunt for a slice of BBQ pork, I got a steamy miso facial treatment. I could have literally dove in and swam around, like Rool, the brownie in Willow who falls into a barrel of beer and can't believe his good fortune :)

There are four ramen choices on the menu: soy, miso, BBQ pork and shio. The difference, I think, is mostly in the broth. My bowl, which must have held several litres of miso ramen, cost a mere $11.60. The first thing the server brings is a little mortar filled with sesame seeds and a pestle for grinding them up. You can grind the seeds while you wait, and then sprinkle them over your soup. The only thing missing was a boiled egg.

How I wish Shikiji was in Ottawa, but alas, it's a little gem that belongs to Calgary. It's one of the many places that makes this city sparkle with a great but still largely unacknowledged culture.

Aside from the delicious noodles, there's a full menu of every Japanese favourite you could imagine, from edamame and gyoza to donburi and sushi. Below is a photo of the bento box that S's mom ordered.

Shikiji Japanese Noodles and Sushi
1608 Centre St. N.E.
Calgary, AB T2E 2R9
Tel: 403.520.0093

Bento box at Shikiji on beFOODled's Flickr page.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Stir-fried rice bowl

Stir-fried rice bowlStir-fried rice bowl, originally uploaded by beFOODled.

I made this last night because I had a craving for fried rice with egg on top, kind of like the nasi goreng my Mom used to make. I used what I had, which was frozen, shelled edamame instead of frozen peas, and day-old basmati rice instead of the short grain variety that's preferred for fried rice. It was still very tasty, though, and a fast meal.

Main ingredients
cold day-old rice (preferably short grain)
yellow onion
green onions
red pepper
chorizo sausage
shelled edamame (or frozen peas)

Slice all of the veggies and the chorizo on the diagonal, to resemble the shape of a penne pasta. Set aside.

Asian dressing
cider vinegar, about three tablespoons
one inch piece of grated ginger and juice
soy sauce, about two tablespoons
pinch of salt
bigger pinch of sugar
a few drops of sesame chilli oil
a few drops of sesame oil

Dissolve the salt and sugar in the vinegar first, then add all of the other dressing ingredients, mix well and set aside.

In a frying pan, fry the chorizo until browned and set aside. In the same pan, fry the vegetables — yellow onion, red pepper, green onion, garlic. Put the chorizo back into the pan. Add the dressing and the edamame and cover the pan for four minutes to steam the edamame. Turn off the heat.

In a different pan, fry an egg sunny side up. Season with salt and pepper.

Microwave the cold rice and spoon into a bowl. Top with the fried egg and the chorizo/vegetable mixture and tuck into the goodness of this stir-fried rice bowl.

Stir-fried rice bowl detail

Stir-fried rice bowl detail, originally uploaded by beFOODled.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Oyster crêpes

Oyster crêpesOyster crêpes, originally uploaded by beFOODled.

S's mom made these delicious, rich oyster crêpes for dinner on my first night in Calgary during my visit over the holidays. She used raw oysters packed in water in a jar. Previously, I had only eaten oysters raw on the half-shell and smoked on crackers. If you are an oyster lover like me, you will also enjoy this recipe.

The crêpes are very useful for other fillings, too. You can wrap them around anything you wish, even sweet flavours. S's mom recommends you let the batter sit overnight, or at least an hour before making the crêpes.

Crepes, originally uploaded by beFOODled.

3/4 C flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 1/2 C milk
2 Tbsp melted butter

Put all of the dry ingredients together. Start beating in a bit of milk. Add an egg and beat it in. Continue to add egg and milk alternately. Strain the batter. Add the melted butter. Leave the batter overnight in the fridge or at least one hour. Cook the crêpes in a frying pan brushed with a bit of butter on medium heat on both sides until golden. Set aside on a plate.

Raw oysters
Raw oysters, originally uploaded by beFOODled.

Oyster filling
8 sliced cremini (brown) mushrooms
one diced onion
chopped fresh parsley
18 oysters
canola oil

Salt the oysters in a colander and rub them with the salt. Rinse off some of the salt and lay out on paper towels. Dip and coat them lightly in flour. Fry them in the canola oil until golden and crispy. Set aside.

Cremini mushrooms, onions and parsley
Cremini mushrooms, onions and parsley, originally uploaded by beFOODled.
In the same pan, fry the onions and mushrooms until soft. Add flour, then milk and plain Philadelphia light cream cheese until goopy. Add salt and parsley. Mix together. Add the oysters back to the pan and coat.

Add filling to the crêpes, wrap them up and serve.

Sautéed vegetables and fried oysters
Sautéed vegetables and fried oysters, originally uploaded by beFOODled.

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