culinary creations for the best night of the week

Category: Food for Thought

Balsamic and Dijon Marinated Steaks with a Red Wine & Shallot Reduction

This sauce can take over an hour to make, but it is well worth it. The red wine and balsamic flavours are so delicious, that this sauce will enhance nearly every meat dish you can think of. Inspired by Chef Gordon Ramsay’s Shallot and Red Wine sauce, this is a restaurant-worthy sauce! It also freezes really well, so if you’ve got the time, then why not make a huge batch of sauce and freeze them in ice cube tray sizes that can be reheated in the future for individual serving portions. Tonight, we’re having this sauce served over Balsamic and Dijon Marinated Steaks, on a bed of organic baby arugula. Be sure to slice the meat up prior to pouring the sauce over top, so that the sauce has a chance to coat each piece!

Marinated Steaks

Ingredients

2 lean steaks

4 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp. dijon mustard

Directions:

Mix dijon and balsamic, and spread generously over steaks. Cover, and let marinade for at least 1 hour, or over night if possible. Allow steaks to warm up to room temperature prior to grilling. Cook steaks to desired consistency, and then let rest atleast 5 minutes to maintain all the juices.

To serve: slice steaks diagonally, and lay on top of baby arugula. Spoon generous amounts of Red Wine and Shallot Reduction over steaks.

Red Wine & Shallot Reduction

Ingredients

3 medium sized shallots , sliced

4 tbsp.  olive oil

1 clove garlic, sliced

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. black pepper

1 sprig rosemary

2 cups red wine (a good bet is to use the same wine you’ll be drinking with dinner)

I can condensed beef broth, no water added

1 tbsp.  butter

Directions:

Sauté shallots with olive oil in heavy soup pot over medium-high heat, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until lightly golden brown. Add rosemary, pepper, and balsamic vinegar, and cook down until vinegar turns into syrup, about 5-10 minutes. Add red wine, and simmer until reduced by half (this can easily take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour). Add condensed beef broth, and simmer again until reduced by half (again, this takes a while…). Once the sauce has reduced down to about 1 cup, remove rosemary, and stir in butter. Serve hot over steak of other meat dishes.

Note: This sauce refrigerates nicely, and can be made in advanced and reheated before serving.

Simple Crab Bisque

Ok, I’ll admit this one is a bit of a cheater. But if it tastes great, then I don’t think there is anything too wrong with using canned soup in a recipe! This soup is amazing, and takes only a few minutes to prepare. With a sprinkle of cayenne on top, the presentation is beautiful… and it is sure to be a crowd pleaser before any gourmet meal.

Simple Crab Bisque

 

Ingredients:

1 shallot

1 tbsp. butter

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can cream of asparagus soup

2 cups milk

1 cup light cream

1 can chunk crab meat (or about 3/4 cup of fresh meat if it’s available)

1 cup dry white wine

 

Directions:

Over medium heat, cook finely chopped shallot with butter in a heavy soup pot until soft, about 2 minutes. Add chicken and asparagus soup, milk, and light cream into pot, and stir until mixed. Cook until a light simmer is reached. Add white wine, and allow to cook until simmer is reached again. Stir in the crab meat, and remove from heat. Let soup sit for 2 minutes to allow the crab meat to heat up.

Serve immediately, with a pinch of cayenne for garnish.

 

 

Home-made Ricotta and Herb Focaccia Bread Mini Pizzas

These mini pizzas are a combination of two main recipes: Home Made Ricotta Cheese and Onion & Balsamic Focaccia Bread.

Onion & Balsamic Focaccia Bread

One of my favourite snacks as a kid was my mom’s fresh baked focaccia bread, dipped in oil and vinegar. This recipe is a slight adaptation of the family recipe, with some tweaks to make the flavour more bold and complex. Normally this bread is baked in larger loafs, but in this case, I’ve shapes them into little rounds to act as the crust for mini pizzas.

Ingredients:

1 onion, finely chopped

¼ cup olive oil

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

5 cups whole wheat flour

1 package instant yeast

1 tsp salt

1 tsp Italian spice mix

1 ½ cup warm water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375

Heat oil in heavy stove top saucepan. Add onions to oil, and cook on medium heat until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar, and cook an additional 1 minute. Remove from heat, and allow mixture to cool to room temperature.

In a mixing bowl, combine 3 cups flour, yeast, salt, and spices. Add warm water and onion mixture, and stir until fully combined. Using dough hooks, allow mixer to knead dough on medium speed for at least 10 minutes. This step can also be done by hand if you’re looking for a work out! After ten minutes, the dough should be elastic and not sticky. If still sticky, add more flour and kneed a little longer. When dough is ready, cover the bowl with a clean tea tower, and allow to rest for at least another 10 minutes.

On a dry, floured surface, place dough in a single ball. Punch down the dough, and divide into desired baking portions.

Note: in this case, I’m using the dough for mini pizza crusts, so I will separate the dough into small fist sized portions. For regular focaccia bread, divide dough in two and create 10 inch round loafs)

Place formed dough on greased cookie sheet. Brush dough rounds lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle spices and/or a cheese mixture on top. Bake loaves in oven on middle rack until golden brown, and slightly hard and hollow sounding when tapped. For 2 regular sized loaves, bake for 25-30 minutes. For small mini pizza sized portions, bake 15 minutes.

Home Made Ricotta Cheese 

Making ricotta is extremely simple, and tastes nothing like the stuff you buy in the store. From only a few simple ingredients you can create delicious and creamy ricotta cheese at home, for a fraction of the price.

Ingredients:
4 cups whole milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

1/2 tsp kosher salt

Directions:
Combine the milk, cream, and salt in a heavy saucepan, and heat on medium heat. Stir continuously to avoid scalding at bottom of pan. Once mixture reaches a light boil, turn the heat down to low (so it is only lightly simmering). Add the lemon juice and stir only once to combine. Leave mixture undisturbed for 1 more minute, and then stir only once again. Let rest another 1 minute, and then remove from heat. At this point the mixture should have separated nicely into curds and whey.

If you have a colander, put in larger bowl and line with cheese cloth. If not, very loosely cover a large bowl with 2 layers of cheese cloth, and hold cheesecloth in place with tape or elastic band.

Pour the separated mixture into the cheesecloth, and let drain about 1 hour at room temperature.

Once curds have drained, remove from cheesecloth, and either serve or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days. This recipe makes about 1 cup of ricotta cheese.

Note: Do NOT throw away the milk whey that separates from the curds. Hold onto this, and use in other recipes, such as our heavenly whey crepes!

I topped these pizzas with Ricotta cheese, left over balsamic onion mix from the Focaccia bread recipe, fresh basil, and roasted garlic. Roasting garlic at home is extremely easy, and is a nice addition to many dishes. Simply cut the tops off a head of garlic, and remove the outer layer of skin. Place cut side up in a muffin tin, smother with about 1-2 tbsp. olive oil, cover individually with tin foil, and bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes.


Sunday Night Tradition

The tradition of creating elaborate gourmet meals on Sunday nights began way back. My other half works nights, and I work days – Sunday is the only day of the week that we have to spend more than a few hours together. They say people come together over food, and Sundays in our house is no different. This blog is meant to share all the interesting recipes I’ve created and adapted. Every week will bring  new recipes, new photos, and personal reviews of all the different dishes I create.

I hope you enjoy!

N