Cooking with Alison

Archive for the ‘Main Course’ Category

How to Make a Beef Wellington

In How-To, Red Meat and Eggs on October 1, 2016 at am
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We like our meat really rare, so this was perfect for us. Typically, medium-rare is preferred.

When my mother-in-law brought home foie gras paté from a trip to France, I was over the moon excited to eat it! I knew I had to do it justice, so I saved it for a special occasion and used it to attempt my first beef wellington. Luckily, it was a huge success and my sister- and brother-in-law both claimed that it was way better than the beef wellington they ate at one of Chef Ramsey’s restaurants. I really encourage you to try this at home, because 1. it’ll be just as delicious with affordable pate, 2. it’s very impressive and perfect for special occasions, and 3. it is surprisingly easy to make! Cooking shows led me to believe that only the most highly trained chefs are capable of pulling off beef wellington. Not true at all. Anyone can make this!

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White Wine, Garlic, and Butter Steamed Clams Recipe

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks, Fish / Seafood on July 11, 2016 at am

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My parents love seafood, so whenever I cook for a special occasion, I always include a shellfish dish. I love these buttery and garlicky clams for a starter coarse. They’re ridiculously easy to make.

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Marsala Sauce Recipe

In Poultry, Red Meat and Eggs, Sides and Sauces on April 8, 2016 at am

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Marsala is an Italian, fortified wine that is very similar to Spanish sherry and madeira. All of these wines are great for cooking. I love the flavour and subtle sweetness of this sauce, and I love the simplicity and versatility of the recipe. Marsala sauce pairs nicely with chicken, pork, and steak. The meat is usually cooked in the sauce, but since I love to batch cook, I usually make the sauce separately from the meat and freeze the leftovers.

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Orzo Salad with Olives and Feta Recipe

In Pasta, Rice, and Doughs, Soups and Salads on March 25, 2016 at am

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I don’t cook with olives or feta cheese very often, because I try to stick to a low sodium diet, but when I received a can of olives from Spain as a souvenir, I knew that I had to do them justice. In my opinion, this orzo salad was the perfect way to use them, because the olives add the perfect saltiness and tanginess to the otherwise bland pasta. The great thing about this salad is that it can be served cold or at room temperature and during any season.

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Favourite Italian Bolognese Sauce Recipe

In Pasta, Rice, and Doughs, Red Meat and Eggs, Sides and Sauces on November 15, 2014 at am

I’ve made this delicious and authentic Italian bolognese sauce twice now, and I’ve learned a few things about how to make this sauce even better.  First of all, don’t use finely ground meat.  You will get the best results in texture if you grind the meat yourself using a food processor fitted with a metal blade.  The store ground meat ends up feeling and tasting gritty.  Secondly, the quality of the canned tomatoes that you use makes a huge difference.  For best results, use san marzano tomatoes if you can afford it.  Though not necessary to make a delicious sauce, it will make a huge difference in tomato flavour.  (I found very affordable cans of san marzano tomatoes at Costco.)  Lastly, this sauce is delicious when made with lamb, too.  So feel free to try making this using beef, lamb, or a combination of beef and pork.  This recipe makes a large batch of sauce and is an easy way to cook for a large group.  I made this for dinner for 9 people and there was enough for everyone to have seconds.  The sauce is freezer friendly and the recipe can be halved.

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Review of Toronto’s Top Steak Houses (UPDATED)

In Red Meat and Eggs, Reviews on November 11, 2014 at am

I used to avoid steakhouses altogether, because I had only ever received disappointing, over-cooked, and over-priced meals (often with a side of snobby customer service) from the steak houses that I had been to.  Luckily, John, who loves steak houses, introduced me to some very good ones in the city.  Now we both love going out for steak.  It is a rare treat for us, so it took over a year to eat my way through some of the best rated steakhouses in Toronto.  Here are my reviews.  Please note that I always order the rib eye steak and I order it rare.  Also, I do not like eating at chain restaurants, so you won’t see Ruth’s Chris, The Keg, or Outback Steakhouse on this list.

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Anchovy Pesto Pasta Recipe

In Pasta, Rice, and Doughs on November 2, 2014 at am

I don’t normally experiment with anchovies, so I’m really glad that I gave this recipe a chance.  I guess you could say that it was meant to be, because I had some anchovies leftover from making caesar dressing (see recipe here), when I happened to stumble upon an anchovy pasta recipe in an old cookbook that I was flipping through.  I made it for a dinner party and everyone loved it.  I love how quick and easy it is to make.  You could easily double the recipe (I did!) and make it in advance.  I like serving this with roasted chicken and a side salad.  The only downside to serving this dish is that it’s not easy to pair with wine.

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Romanian Cabbage Rolls – The Only Cabbage Rolls I Eat

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks, How-To, Other Dishes, Red Meat and Eggs, Sides and Sauces on September 26, 2014 at am

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I never understood why people like cabbage rolls until my friend Joana made Romanian cabbage rolls.  This is the same friend that changed my mind about polenta, by the way (see my soft polenta recipes here).  I am so so grateful that Joana introduced me to Romanian cabbage rolls, because I am in love with them!  They are truly the best cabbage rolls that I have ever tasted.  The main difference between Romanian cabbage rolls and other cabbage rolls is that the Romanian ones are made with pickled cabbage.  You can find vacuum sealed whole heads of pickled cabbage in European grocery stores.  Joana’s recipe is also great because she uses a blend of different types of meat.  Although they are easy to make, I don’t make them often, because rolling all of those cabbage rolls can be time-consuming.  I hope you won’t be discouraged, because this recipe makes a very large batch that happens to be freezer-friendly.  With the colder weather moving in, I knew that I couldn’t put off making these any longer.  These are great to make for pot lucks or when feeding a crowd, because they can be served warm or cold.

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Simple Tomato Pasta Sauce Recipe (with a Secret Ingredient)

In Pasta, Rice, and Doughs on August 29, 2014 at am

This pasta sauce uses a short list of ingredients and is very easy to make.  This recipe is for a vegetarian pasta dish, but you could always add meat if preferred.  The key ingredient that makes a world of difference to this otherwise simple tomato sauce is ricotta cheese.  Try adding a dollop of ricotta cheese to your favourite tomato-based pasta sauce recipe, or simply mix it in with store-bought tomato sauce.  This is a great way to use up leftover ricotta.  Some of my other recipes that use ricotta cheese include lasagna rollsricotta and tomato crostini, wild mushroom ravioli, puff pastry tarts with arugula and cherry tomatoes, and lemon ricotta muffins.

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Easy and Delicious Curry Chicken Recipe (Only 5 Ingredients)

In Indian, Meat and Eggs, Poultry on July 27, 2014 at am

First off, you should know that this recipe is, by no means, an authentic curry recipe from any part of the world.  However, it is addictively delicious and ridiculously easy to make.  I don’t normally post recipes that aren’t traditional or authentic, so believe me when I say that this recipe is worth sharing.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it instantly becomes one of your family favourite recipes.  It’s mild in heat, buttery, and slightly sweet.  My sister’s friend, Chelsea, introduced me to this recipe.  She made it for us and a large group of people at a ski chalet, once.  Every single person loved it.  I made it for John’s mom one day and she loved it too.  This is a great dish to make for a crowd.

The key to making this sauce more than just a sum of its 4 ingredients, is to use high quality and complex curry powder.  I’ve had the best success using Malaysian meat curry powder.  Otherwise, it will taste like a curried, honey dijon chicken dish.  But even the curried, honey dijon chicken tastes great, so use whatever you have on hand.  Note that if you use a yellow curry powder, the colour of your sauce will be more yellow than mine.  Ideally, you want the dijon mustard to be indiscernible, leaving your guests wondering what’s behind that addictive flavour.

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How to Grill Pizza (Bob Blumer’s Demonstration)

In Pasta, Rice, and Doughs on June 17, 2014 at am

When I attended the Great Canadian Cheese Festival (see post here), I had the privilege of attending celebrity Chef Bob Blumer’s demonstration on how to grill pizza.  His recipe for grilled pizza can be found in his cookbook, Glutton for Pleasure.  His grilled pizza really was delicious.  I am sharing his instructions for how to grill a pizza on a BBQ here.  Note that he used an 8 burner BBQ that had a built in thermometer.

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Bob Blumer

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Dry Rub Recipe for Beef Ribs

In Main Course, Red Meat and Eggs on June 12, 2014 at am

I made beef ribs using this dry rub twice in one week, because my brother and John couldn’t get enough of them.  You could also use it on beef brisket.  Feel free to substitute any of the ingredients with whatever you happen to have on hand.  For example, you could try omitting the nutmeg or adding ground mustard or ground cumin to switch up the flavours every now and then.  (See here for my favourite dry rub recipe for chicken.)

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