Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sauteed Bison with Potatoes Dijon

Here's a nice twist to old fashioned 'meat and potoates' that I really enjoy making. The potatoes Dijon is another recipe from my book except the Bison is new addition. I found it really made the plate pop and it's fun and easy to make. Good quality Bison has a nice strong gamey flavour that isn't off putting and goes well with the potatoes.


3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 lb Bison steaks
1 tablespoon of butter
salt and pepper to taste

Potatoes Dijon

2 pounds baby purple potatoes, haled
3 red onions, diced
4 tablespoons of mayonnaise
2 yellow peppers, finely diced
1/2 pounds turkey bacon, chpped
3 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped


Add the potatoes to a pot of salted water and cook for 10-15 minutes.

Add the bacon to a pan and allow to cool a bit. Keep the drippings and set aside. Crumble the bacon and add the onion, peppers, mustard and mayonnaise to the bacon.

Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a pan and add the butter. When the pan and the oil is hot, add the bison to sear. Cook from 4 to 7 minutes a side until done in the middle. Spoon the butter/oil mixture over the bison to baste. Tilt the pan if necessary but be careful. When the bison is cooked, remove to a plate and allow to rest for a five minutes.

Add the hot potatoes to the cold mix and stir with turkey bacon drippings. Add basil immediately before serving.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mediterranean Linguine with Tomatoes, Olives and Smoked Mussels


11 oz dried linguine
1 tbsp sea (or kosher) salt and pepper each
3 tbsp olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 large white onion, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup of fish (or chicken) stock (substitute white wine)
1/2 cup Smoked Mussels, chopped
1 can (8 oz) of chopped olives, drained
3/4 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 tbsp butter
5-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped


Boil a pot of salted water (should taste like soup) and add the pasta. Cook for 8 to eleven minutes until al dente or to taste.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a pan over medium low heat and add the onion and garlic and fish stock until soft about 3 minutes. Add the olives and mussels and heat through an addition minute or two and the liquid is reduced by half.

Drain the pasta and add the butter, stirring to mix evenly. Add the olive, mussel and onion-garlic mixture and toss until evenly distributed. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if necessary.

Add to warm plates and drizzle with olive oil and additional sea salt.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Quinoa : Pronounced "Keen-wa" (Quinoa pudding with fresh blackberries and pear)

Quinoa is a seed that is edible though it's not quite a cereal grain though it's technically a fruit. It's leaves can be eaten much like lettuce though they're not easy to find. It can be used as a substitute for rice, couscous or small pasta and it's mighty healthy. It's not cheap but if you're looking for a healthy alternative to brown rice that's easy to cook, Quinoa is a good choice.

This is a simple pudding you can make for breakfast or a dessert. I've made a similar breakfast recipe with risotto but this is a healthier version.


2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups of milk
1/3 cup of maple syrup
3/4 of dried cranberries
1 cup of vanilla yogourt
1/2 cup of blackberries
1 pear, chopped


Add the water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the quinoa and reduce to low heat. Cover and simmer up to 15 minutes until all the water is dissolved and the quinoa is soft in texture.

Place the cornstarch, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

In a saucepan, add the milk, maple syrup and cranberries and heat over medium low heat. Add the cranberries and the dry ingredients, whisking until smooth and slightly thickened about 2 minutes. Stir in the quinoa and cook for about 5 minutes until well blended and heated through.

At this point, the mixture can be stored in the refrigerator. It should be cool until ready to add the yogourt. Stir in the pear and add the blackberries on top.

Obama's Key Appointment: White House Chef

The NY Daily News has an article speculating on the identity of one of Barack Obama's most important appointments: White House executive chef. The article says that Obama is very health conscious about his food, in contrast to Bush's love of BLTs and BBQ, and there are three main chefs in the running: Art Smith, Rick Bayless and Daniel Young.

Obama's Key Appointment: White House Chef

Surprise! Surprise! Barack Obama is a health nut. Good to know we won't see a beer gut on the guy in four years.

Courtesy of Ed Brayton at Scienceblogs.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Big Mac: Home version

You may have heard of Don Gorske's record of having eaten 23,000 Big Macs. Gorske was the Big Mac addict chronicled in Morgan Spurlock's fast food expose Super Size Me. Gorske says he eats roughly two of the popular fast food hamburgers a day.

The Big Mac has a long history as a staple of the fast food diet. Perhaps the mixed message of Super Size Me was counter productive and showing people how to make their favourite fast foods from fresh local ingredients is the better option than staying away. It does make more sense to show how to make their favourites from fresh local ingredients rather than deter people from going to McDonald's.

So with that I give you the home made Big Mac.

It was easy and I used organic baby greens. It tastes just like a big mac -- only better. I won't even insult your intelligence by telling you what you already know about the health factor.

There are tons of recipes on the net that replicated the recipe fairly well but being a McDonald's veteran. I worked there in my teen years and discovered cooking while working some overnight maintenance shifts in which we were allowed to cook anything as long as we wrote everything down we used.

Fryers, grills... you name it ... a huge kitchen and 18 years old? We got creative. You get the picture.


1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 pound very lean ground beef
5 oz organic mixed baby greens, chopped
4 Sesame buns plus 4 tops of other (cheaper) buns (similar width)
2-3 Dill pickles, sliced
4 slices processed (American) cheese
1/2 medium Onion, chopped finely (save some for the sauce)
salt and pepper to taste

The sauce:

1/4 cup of thousand island dressing
2 teaspoons of ketchup
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
1 teaspoon of sugar (ok to substitute splenda or sugar sub)
1 tablespoon of finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon relish
1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of mayonaise (don't use the low fat stuff -- it contains too much sugar)
1 tablespoon of worcestershire sauce


Combine the sauce ingredients and set aside.

Cut the tops of the extra top buns and reuse for other hamburgers or make bread crumbs.

Either place buns in a toaster oven (a top, a middle and a bottom) for each slice (easiest way) or heat a pan and fry the buns until golden brown.

You'll need to grab a golf ball size of ground beef, flatten it and even it out so it cooks evenly.

Heat the olive oil in a pan and fry the burgers for about a minute each side. The burgers should be about the size of a regular big mac. The ingredients are supposed to blend so don't make them too big unless you have a ginormous mouth. Cover to keep warm.

Turn the meat and season with salt and pepper. Normally, McDonald's would add the onion on top of the meat, but it was reconstituted so please do not try this at home!!!

McDonald's buns are smaller than most commercially available buns, so smaller buns are not only better, but healthier.

To make the sandwich, place a tablespoon of the sauce on the lower portion, and a tablespoon on the middle. Place enough of the greens to cover both the middle and the bottom. Place a slice of cheese on the bottom and two pickle slices on the middle. Then two burgers on each and then a teaspoon of the chopped onion on each. Top with sesame bun and it's done.

note: I tried this with whole wheat buns and chopped baby spinach but it felt like biting into a garden hedge. Use one or the other, don't use both.
If you want a more authentic taste, eliminate the sesame oil and the worcestershire but I think it's better and more flavorful that way.
You can substitute romaine lettuce for the greens or use the green leafy part of iceberg.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

How to boil water like you mean it!

I often have to cook foods in boiling water. It's practically a default reaction and a culinary practice most people are used to. Pot. Water. Stove. High heat. Wait for bubbles. As much as I love a good rolling boil, I've always felt that it's the next step where people go awry.


Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I think flavour should come from every single step in the cooking process. There are many ways to enrich the flavour of a dish and I usually try to add it to the boiling water. I used to think only my mother could could rice properly. White rice I had tried from other sources tasted bland in comparison until she told me she always cooked it in water with a chicken bouillon cube thrown in instead of salt. I have a short list of things I like to add when I cook anything in water, especially pastas, rice, eggs, grains, vegetables and meats. I always add salt when cooking vegetables and it helps retain their colour, but when cooking most foods you could always try adding anything from this list you think applies.

  • Curry

  • Chicken stock/cube

  • Cinnamon Sticks

  • Bovril (beef stock)

  • fish stock

  • Clam juice

  • Fresh Herbs

  • Onion, garlic and chives in a cheese cloth

  • Olive oil

  • Almond, sesame (or other nut) oil

  • Vinegar (especially flavour infused rice or wine vinegars)

  • Raw vegetables (even if they're a bit old)

This list is not by any means complete. If you have a suggestion, please feel free to post in comments.