Beef Stew in Chocolate and Red Wine

March 25, 2012

I can’t believe it’s been almost three months since I updated this blog. However, it doesn’t mean that we haven’t been cooking. Everyone has to eat, right? March has been an unpredictable month, it felt like summer came for an unexpected visit and now she has gone back to get the rest of her camper so spring can settle in proper. It’s chilly now and the days are good for a snuggle again. This beef stew really hit the spot for us as it’s the perfect accompaniment to snuggling just don’t spill. Served with some luscious garlic mash potatoes, it’s comfort food in a bowl.

Yesterday before dinner, I found a disc of unused Choc Sol’s Aztec Drinking Chocolate and thought it would be a great to use as part of seasoning for the stew. I took a nibble off the disc and it had a nice spiciness to it on top of the bittersweet Mayan cacao. And a certain red wine in my pantry would be the perfect pairing to this chocolate and thus this beef stew was born.

I also have a dirty secret about this beef stew ~ and I will only tell you about it at the very end.

Before you start:
Cooking time for this stew is 1.5 hours | Dark chocolate can be used as a replacement | Beef stock/chicken stock can be used in place of water | If buying whole chunk of meat, use a beef chuck cross rib cut for best results

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The Festive Five Spiced and Orange Roasted Duck

December 30, 2011

For Christmas eve, we roasted duck for dinner at the in-laws’ place. I thought a different fowl for a change would be nice, instead of the usual turkey. In all honesty, I am not really very fond of turkey. There is the thing with the size of it and getting stuck eating turkey for 2 weeks and then there is the gameyness to it that I can’t appreciate. Duck is delicious, on the other hand.

I bought a 2.5kg frozen Brome Lake duck and it was plenty to feed 4 to 6 people easily with three side dishes and a Scottish Meat Pie (for another post for another day!) that were served that night. Duck is more festive, in my opinion. If you can find goose, even better! This recipe incorporates macerated orange zest, five spice powder and garlic; and it works for any bird you intend to roast.I also stuffed the bird with some good quality pork sausage stuffing. Basically, I just cut open the sausage casing and just pull out the meat into a bowl. For lightness, I have also added some breadcrumbs and some chopped herbs for extra flavour.  I went a step further by coating the duck with a mixture of honey, corn syrup, balsamic vinegar, malt vinegar and red wine for a shiny finish. I wanted to give the duck a nice flavour on the skin and to achieve that glorious dark shellac when it comes out of the oven.

Don’t be afraid of duck. It’s anatomy is no different from a chicken or a turkey for that matter. If you have roasted chicken or turkey, you can do this. It’s really not an intimidating bird to roast at all. In fact, the bird is self-basting because of the high fat content that lives under its skin.

Now, carving it on the other hand was a bitch. But that’s another story for later. This is a recipe for roasting a duck, making it pretty and making a sauce out of the drippings on the pan.

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Bacon Thyme Biscotti

December 20, 2011

I have a fascination with bacon and in the past, I’ve tried bacon with cheddar cheese biscotti. It was alright. But for Christmas this year, I wanted to bake-a-present and so I decided on cookie dough + bacon + thyme + salted maple caramel. The only thing was that I had to experiment with recipes as I go because I had never made this before. Well,

I suppose it turned out all right. The Bacon Thyme Biscotti was tasty but I feel the salted maple caramel was a bit lost in translation. I tried three executions before deciding that the usual biscotti method was the best.

There were two iterations of the decided execution and the first iteration were to make individually wrapped bacon with cookie dough. It was not the most time efficient method and the drizzling of the maple caramel was disastrously sticky! In the end, I went with layering the crispy bacon in a huge batch of cookie dough and then dribbled maple caramel ontop the bacon slices before topping it off with more cookie dough. Voila! 30 minutes of resting and 15mins more of baking later I have biscotti made with bacon, thyme and salted maple caramel.

I should trademark the name Bacon Thyme. Really.

Bacon Thyme Biscotti Recipe read more …


The Wedding Menu

December 13, 2011

I got married on 11.11.11 and it was the most wonderful day of my life. Now, as someone who is food-wise, I had to make sure that food served that day had to be memorable. I wanted to be involved from the very beginning of the menu creation and wanted to know how and what will be served. Thankfully, Chef David was marvelously patient. Every critique and revision of the menu was taken seriously, and then applied.

The menu was crafted based on foods we had liked to eat. We both like simple flavours such as garlic, basil, five spice, star anise, tomatoes, bananas, black pepper, olives, citrus.    I made sure to let the chef know that we don’t have a particular affinity to fine ingredients like truffle, foie gras or even sharks’ fin. We would rather enjoy a ripe tomato seasoned with sea salt and fresh basil or a succulent, braised piece of meat sauced with its own juice – simple but delicious things cooked right. Fine dining is a luxury we both enjoy splurging on sometimes so presentation and quality ingredients was important to us. I should probably also mention that because I am Chinese, the menu must include poultry, seafood and fish as these ingredients all had significant auspiciousness to it. We had to keep everyone happy. read more …

Roasted peppers and vegetable soup

December 8, 2011

Oh bloggy, have some soup because you and I are going to get acquainted again fairly soon. With Christmas so near, I’ve decided to bake-a-present. A naughty but delicious one that is. And, of course there are the crowd-pleasers as well.

I’ve been flaking it out with this blog and for a good reason. Been busy the past few months with life and work. I just got properly married in November. After 13 years of being together, we are married! It feels “legit” now, ya know what I’m saying? But regardless, it still feels the same – and i mean that in a good kind of way.

On the other side of things, I’ve recently ordered a cheese making kit from the New England Cheese Making Supply Company. You can imagine my excitement slowly brewing as I wait for my parcel to arrive. And I can’t wait to make my own squeaky cheese curds to accompany my poutine. And mozzarella and cheddar and ricotta and maybe taking the mozzarella to another level by converting it into a burrata!

Anyway, I thought I’d make amends with this blog (and whatever readership that might be left) with a lovely pot of soup made with my favourite vegetables and seasoned with rosemary and fennel. It’s a strange spice combination but it works!

Peppers are one of my favourite types of vegetables and when they are roasted until their skins are blackened their flesh becomes smokey and juicy. And when you chop them up and add into soups, they add smokiness and a ton of flavour only a roasted pepper can give. If you’re feeling like a little punch in your soup, roast a couple of jalapeno or A habanero and pucker up. This soup celebrates peppers and I like adding a lot of greens to brighten it up and to add some extra good ol’ veggie goodness into the mix. read more …

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