Slow cooked brisket and rosemary goose fat potatoes

This past Christmas I decided to get in on the holiday fun by hosting a pseudo Christmas dinner with a Jewish twist.  Instead of making a roast or turkey, I chose to make a large brisket.  My mother has always made delicious brisket but I decided to put a flavourful twist on mine, inspired by my slow cooker ribs.  Before making a brisket for the first time I polled my mother, aunt and mother’s cousin for their recipes.  I used their recipes as the backbone for mine.   The brisket worked out so well that I decided to make it a second time for my family at Purim.  I paired it with simple, delicious roast potatoes with a twist.   Although this meal is quite time consuming, the end result is a delicious, satisfying dinner that’s perfect for entertaining.

4 lb beef brisket (this is a particular cut of beef, easily found in any store with a large kosher section)
Kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
Baking tray

First, cut any excess fast from your brisket.  Mine was double faced and had a thick band of fat through the middle so I separated the halves for ease.  Don’t try and remove all the fat, it gives flavour to your meat.  The goal is simply to avoid anyone having to cut large chunks of fat off their meat while eating dinner.

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Season liberally with salt and pepper and roast for 20-30 minutes at 375 F on both sides.

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3 cups tomato paste
3 cups water
1 cup red wine
2/3 cup brown sugar
4 tbsp lemon juice
4 tsp Worcestershire
4 tbsp Sriracha
4 tbsp steak sauce, (e.g. club house)
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp salt
Bowl
Whisk

While your meat is roasting, mix your sauce.  Begin by mixing your tomato paste and water until it is the consistency of ketchup.

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Next, add the rest of your ingredients and mix well to combine.

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10 cloves garlic, peeled
2 large carrots, cut into 2 inch chunks
2 celery stalks, cut into 2 inch chunks
Slow cooker

Once your meat is browned, pour a bit of your sauce into your slow cooker to coat the bottom.  Add your meat and pour over the rest of the sauce until coated.  Toss in your garlic cloves, carrots and celery and turn your cooker to Low.  Leave your brisket to cook for about 15 hours.

2 bags miniature multicoloured potatoes (you could use plain, full sized ones but I think these are so cute)
2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
5 garlic cloves, halved
Sea salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
4 tbsp goose fat
Baking tray

Wash your potatoes and toss them with your seasoning.  Roast in the oven for an hour until golden brown.

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30 minutes before serving, slice your brisket and place it in a casserole dish covered in sauce.  Roast at 350 F until bubbling.

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Enjoy!

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Double meat pizza with mushrooms and onion

Homemade pizza is one of my husband’s favourite meals.  On our honeymoon in Italy we had the most amazing pizza in Sorrento at a small restaurant called Da Gigino (http://www.dagigino.com/en/).  Their pizza was so incredibly delicious that we went back two more times before leaving for Rome!  Mine sadly does not compare to that perfection, but it’s quite delicious despite my lack of wood burning oven.  I tend to customize the thickness of my pizza crust based on the toppings I use.  My favourite pizzas have a thin crust (using half the dough made in this recipe) but that will only work with a small number of light toppings.  For this pizza, given the heaviness of the sauce and the number of toppings, I decided to use a thicker (but still delicious) crust.

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (I buy Fleishman’s)
2 tbsp olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
Tsp dried basil
Tsp garlic powder
2 1/2 cups flour (I use AP for a lighter dough, but you can certainly substitute bread flour-the consistency will change but it will still taste lovely)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp onion powder
Measuring cup
Mixing bowl

First, dissolve the yeast in warm water until creamy, about 10 minutes.

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In a large bowl, combine your flour, seasoning, olive oil, salt, white sugar and yeast mixture.  Stir well to combine, then beat until a stiff dough has formed and your dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl.  If you do not have a mixer, simply kneed your dough until it has pulled together and is elastic to the touch.

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Cover and leave to rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes.

3 mushrooms
1/4 onion (I like using Vidalia)
1/2 ball of mozzarella (this type of mozzarella is usually found in the deli section with the fancier cheeses)
Fresh basil leaves, torn
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
Parmesan cheese, grated
Olive oil for drizzling
1/2 cup bolognese sauce (See my previous recipe for Penne with bolognese sauce-you could also use marinara)
Pizza tray

Roll out your dough (or use your hands to pull it) into a round pizza form.

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Evenly distribute your sauce (keep it thin or your pizza will turn out soggy) and add your cheese and toppings.  I like baking my pizza on a perforated tray lined with parchment paper, this allows it to bake thoroughly without sticking.

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Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes, until golden brown.

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Enjoy piping hot with a large salad!

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Pasta bolognese

This meal is the ultimate comfort food.  When my husband and I were in Italy we had the most amazing bolognese in Tuscany and I was determined to replicate it at home.  After reading many recipes, I compiled my own from bits and pieces.  I still haven’t recreated the magic of a perfect bowl in the Tuscan countryside, but I think this recipe is quite delicious.  One way to make this recipe even more authentic is to use ground veal instead of beef.  I have mentioned before that I don’t use veal in my recipes and avoid eating it for ethical reasons, however I’m quite sure that was part of the deliciousness in Italy.  You should either make this first thing in the morning on a weekend to enjoy that night, or overnight as it takes about 11 hours total (including preparation).  If you don’t own a slow cooker you could always simply use your pasta pot set on low, just keep a close eye on it.  Your leftovers will freeze very well in containers or Ziploc freezer bags.  I hope you find this meal worth the time as I do!

1 large onion or 2 small, cut into 1-inch dice
2 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch dice
4 cloves garlic
Tbsp chili flakes
I cup cubed pancetta
Extra-virgin olive oil, for the pan
Kosher salt
3 pounds ground beef
2 cups tomato paste
3 cups hearty red wine (remember, your dish will be as good as the wine you use so open a fresh bottle for this)
Water (if necessary)
3-4 bay leaves
1 bunch thyme, tied in a bundle
Penne
Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
Olive oil, for finishing
Food processor
Large pasta pot
Slow cooker

Puree onion, carrots, celery, and garlic into a coarse paste in your food processor.

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Coat your pot with oil and heat at medium. Add the pureed veggies and season generously with salt. Bring the pan to a medium-high heat and cook until all the water has evaporated and your veggies become nice and brown, stirring frequently, about 15 to 20 minutes.

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Add the ground beef and pancetta and season again generously with salt. Caramelize your beef! This is where all the delicious flavours develop in your sauce.  Cook another 15 to 20 minutes.

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Add the tomato paste and cook until browned, about 4 to 5 minutes then add the red wine. Cook until the wine has reduced by half, another 4 to 5 minutes.  Finally, add water to the pan until the water is about 1 inch above the meat. Toss in your bay leaves and the bundle of thyme and stir to combine everything. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  Taste your sauce and and season with salt, if needed (you probably will).

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Add your sauce to your slow cooker and leave to simmer on low overnight 8-10 hours.

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30 minutes before eating, heat some heavily salted water. When the water is at a rolling boil add your pasta and cook for 1 minute less than it calls for on the package.  Drain the pasta and heat your sauce in the pot. Stir or toss the pasta to coat with the sauce. Add some of the reserved sauce, if needed, to make it about an even ratio between pasta and sauce.  Heat the sauce and pasta together then turn off the heat.

Sprinkle with Parmesan, drizzle with olive oil and enjoy!

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Spaghetti with Parmesan meatballs and marinara

As I’ve mentioned again and again, I love Italian food.  Nothing can beat a bowl of pasta with a delicious sauce and some freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano.  Surprisingly I didn’t eat any meatballs on our honeymoon in Italy.  I attribute this glaring omission to a subconscious knowledge that any meatball in Italy would likely be made with veal.  You may notice from my recipes (I also refer to my inevitable future post about bolognese sauce) that although I adore Italian food, I never cook with veal.  I have moral issues with the way the animals are raised, and while I am very unlikely to ever become vegetarian (in part because it would break my husband’s heart), I do try and purchase organic ethically raised meat wherever possible.  As a result of this, and other ingredients, this recipe may seem somewhat unconventional but I promise the results are a delicious, moist meatball with the added ‘something’ of grated Parmesan inside.

1 lb ground beef
1 egg
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Regianno
Tsp chili flakes
Tsp salt
Tsp pepper
2 cloves minced garlic
Tsp onion powder
3/4 cup lukewarm water
Homemade marinara (see my earlier posts)
¼ cup minced Vidallia Onion
2 zucchini
Handful of spaghetti (I like Barilla)
Olive oil
Baking sheet
Saute pan

Combine your beef, garlic, egg, cheese, chili flakes, onion powder, salt and pepper.   Once thoroughly blended, add your bread crumbs into the meat mixture.  Slowly add the warm water 1/2 cup at a time.  Your mixture will be very moist but should still hold it’s shape if rolled into meatballs.

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Shape into meatballs (I like making larger, fist sized meatballs) and drizzle with olive oil.  Bake the meatballs at 375 for 10-15 minutes until cooked then brown at 425 for 10 min, turning once.

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Slice your onion and zuchinni and roast them in the oven for 5-10 min with your meatballs.

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Your finished meatballs should be brown with a nice crust.

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Place the cooked meatballs and veggies into your Marinara Sauce and cook for 15 more minutes while you boil your pasta.

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Serve with grated Parmesan, enjoy!

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Spicy pancetta beef burgers

My husband loves red meat and one of his favourite dinners is my homemade burgers.  My philosophy with burgers (and everything really) is that all elements of a dish should have flavour.  Instead of a simple burger with lots of condiments and add ons, this burger has loads of seasoning and flavour inside the patty.  Professional chefs will likely tell you not to put Worcestershire in a burger, that it belongs in meatloaf.  However, since I was little my mom has put Worcestershire in her homemade burgers so I follow that tradition.  If you dislike Worcestershire or simply want to try something different, I’ve also used soya sauce (Kikkoman) and garlic spare rib sauce (VH) in its place.  As with any recipe, this can be adapted to your personal taste with more/less seasoning being used.

1 egg
1 tsp Worstershire Sauce
1 lb extra lean ground beef (try and get your beef from the butcher’s counter if possible, that way you know it was recently ground)
Sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp chili flakes
1 tbsp Sriracha
¼ cup minced pancetta, chopped very fine (this adds some fat to the burger, you could also use a more fatty beef and omit it)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp onion powder
Large bowl
Stainless steel skillet

Smoosh your ground beef into a bowl, leaving a well at the bottom.  Add the egg and Worcestershire sauce, pancetta and spices (except for the salt).  Use your hands to blend your burger until everything is mixed and pulled together: you can use a spoon but the ingredients won’t be as evenly distributed.

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Divide your meat into 3 or 4 balls (my husband likes me to make 3 for slightly larger patties).  Flatten the ball in your hands and press into a circle until it’s approximately an inch thick: try not to overwork your meat.

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Heat some olive oil in a heavy bottom skillet on medium high heat.  Grind some sea salt onto your patties then add them to the pan.  Resist the urge to flip the burgers prematurely.  You will know the patties are ready to flip when they easily release from the pan; if they stick, wait a bit longer.  The result should be delicious burgers with a lovely, caramelized crust.  If you are adding cheese, put it on before your burgers are completely cooked; this way your cheese will melt but your patty won’t dry out.

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Top with your favourite condiments on a soft bakery bun and enjoy!

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