Saturday, October 22, 2011

Got sausages?

I'm now working full time at Lululemon and as is expected with retail, working all kinds o' random shifts on a weekly basis, with some spanning 2 traditional meal times such as 11-7pm or 12-8pm.
I was also finding that being on my feet all day in a crazy busy store required my meals to be a bit bigger to compensate and my regular snacking between meals is now non existent. Dipping celery sticks in peanut butter is not a good thing to do while folding pants.
So my recent days off have turned into mammoth cooking (and consequent tupperwaring) sessions to prepare me for my work days ahead.
This week my weekend was Weds and Thurs so Weds was spent choosing recipes and buying ingredients and on Thursday the kitchen became Command Centre: Special Ops.
On the menu was a simple sausage bake I ripped from a random magazine at some point and stashed in my file of torn out recipes. Also I wanted to make a chicken curry in my newly purchased slow cooker. I made this chicken curry before and was hoping for the same delicious end result without the preceding drama. If you missed out on that click here to learn about it.

The sausage bake I chose because, well, it's got sausages in it and it would be suitable as a breakfast, lunch or dinner option in a hurry when reheated.

Tomato, basil, sausage bake

4 large or 8 small sausages (I used local organic pork sausages from Planet Organic)
punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 red onion, cut into wedges
olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
basil leaves, roughly torn

Pre-heat oven to 400C.
Toss sausages, garlic and onion in a large baking dish. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake uncovered for about 20 mins for small sausages, 30-40 for larger, until golden.
Add cherry tomatoes and vinegar and toss together gently.
Return to oven for another 15 mins or until the sausages have started to break down and the sausages are cooked through
Stir in basil leaves and serve.

I didn't have any balsamic vinegar but I made it anyway and it was fine although I do think the vingear would make for a more lively sauce, and if you happen to like fresh crusty bread, it would probably taste alright when dipped in said sauce.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pep up yo' shrimp

This is my go to recipe when I want a quick meal that is intense in flavour, deliciously fragrant and simple to make. You could serve for a weeknight meal or to impress any guests.
The recipe is from a magazine I bought a few years ago called "Fast and Fresh" and I have probably made it at least 10 times. If anyone asks me for inspiration for dinner tonight, I usually describe this dish.

Salt and Pepper Shrimp
2 tsp black peppercorns (or a mixture of black, pink, green and white)
2lb shrimp, peeled with tails on or off...your choice. (the recipe calls for shell on, but that's a pain to eat and the flavour doesn't penetrate as much. I leave tails on for aesthetics as they are easily removed when eating)
2 tsp salt ,divided
2 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed ( I prefer crushed to finely chopped from a texture stand point and I find the chopped form is more likely to burn due to the higher heat of stir frying)
1 cup cilantro, chopped finely

Crush the peppercorns roughly.
mix shrimp in a bowl with half of the peppercorns and 1 tsp of the salt.
Heat wok or pan over high heat and add oil, garlic, and rest of peppercorns and salt and stir constantly for one minute until fragrant. The pepper will be very fragrant so be prepared!
Add shrimp and cook, stirring constantly until cooked through, about 3 mins depending on the size of the shrimp.
Turn off heat and add the cilantro to the shrimp in the pan and toss to combine.

Tonight I served this on top of lightly steamed green veggies (asparagus, zucchini and broccoli) that were drizzled with a tamari (or soy sauce) and toasted sesame oil drizzle. I didn't have any cilantro and the dish was still great but the cilantro really makes the flavour so much more intense and the dark green flecks definitely add to the mouthwatering rating.

I like using large shrimp for this, usually at least size 26-30, and I love black tiger shrimp. If you make extra, refrigerate the leftovers and serve in a salad for a gourmet lunch the next day.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ultimate tenderloin

Since my move to Halifax, I've been on a random daily schedule and have found myself at times, turning on the TV between the hours of 1-3pm.....potentially a danger zone. I have, for the most part, not been sucked in by Dr Phil, but I have discovered that I LOVE Steven and Chris on CBC. SHOCKER! yes, I particularly love Chris and his sense of humor. I want my own Chris to tell me which cushions to buy and that I simply MUST buy that handtowel. I particularly loved the episode where they had miniature pigs.....AHHHHHH! Guess you had to see it to get it. You would want one too.
The other CBC show I have caught is Best Ever Recipes. What I like about this show is that the recipes they choose are always simple but dinner party worth and usually very well balanced nutritionally. On this particular episode, beef tenderloin was the star. I watched and drooled, and promptly scribbled down the recipe before running out the door to buy the ingredients. Pb is an expert tenderloin cooker, in particular on the BBQ. He puts the meat out to marinate for a few hours in olive oil and then cooks it to perfection (aka medium rare/rare) EVERY time. He's a natural.
I was a little hesistant to attempt the tenderloin as I have become so accustomed to the ultimate steak courtesy of PB and his BBQ skilz but my mouth was watering and I couldn't resist having a shot at it.

Peppercorn crusted beef tenderloin
2 1 inch thick tenderloin steaks
2 tsp crushed black peppercorns (coarsely crushed and freshly crushed)
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp olive oil
1 crushed garlic clove

mix together all the ingredients (told you it was easy). Roll the sides of the steak in the mixture leaving the top and bottom surfaces clear.

Heat some oil and a knob of butter in a pan over med high heat and sear steaks on both sides for a few minutes until desired done-ness. Let sit for 5-10 mins covered in foil.

I served mine with a green salad and button mushrooms pan fried with shallots in red wine.
The proof is in the picture! the crust was amazing and don't worry if you don't like mustard, the taste was not prominent but it enhanced the beef immensely. I will be doing this next time I pony up for tenderloin. Worth every penny...Sirloin is SO ....not tenderloin.