Friday, 6 January 2012

Beef Bourguignon

Here in Quebec, when Beef Bourguignon cubes go on special, you should buy it because otherwise it's too expensive. This is not the same as stewing beef, although you could certainly use it as a substitute. It's a better quality beef. So, when I saw it on special this week, I knew I had to make this glorious dish, especially since I have a little time on my hands what with still being on holiday. So I got out two cookbooks, both my Julia Child and Laura Calder to compare recipes. The ingredients were very similar, but Calder's recipe seemed to be broken down more simply, so I went with it. 

Servings: 6-8, although I halved it for my husband and I, it gave us two dinners and two lunches.


4 pounds Beef Bourguignon or stewing beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and halved
2 onions, peeled and halved
4 cloves garlic, just crushed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1  bottle red wine
4 cups beef stock
1 bouquet garni (made from bay leaf,parsley stems, and thyme sprigs) 

2 dried bay leaves, 1/2 tsp dried thyme, and a few sprigs of fresh parsley. 


1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more if needed
6 to 8 slices bacon, cut into lardons
40 baby onions, peeled
16 ounces mushrooms


Both recipes called for a casserole, but I personally didn't have a stove top safe one that I was aware of, so I used a big pot. Preheat the oven to 325°. Turn up the heat to medium-high, and brown the beef in small batches in the oil. You really want to get good browning here, but make sure to stir it around right away otherwise your meat will stick About 3 minutes or so.

Deglaze the pot or casserole with the wine and stock. Stick the beef back in along with the carrots and onions and the herbs. Bring this all to a boil and put the pot in the oven, covered, and let simmer for about 2 hours, or until the meet is tender. Stir once in a while. 

For the garnish: In the second hour of cooking, pan fry the bacon, remove them, and in their grease (I did take out a little of the grease), fry the onions, then the mushrooms separately. I, God forbid, forgot to buy the pearl onions... It's too bad, because it is a really nice little touch, but I ended up just coarsely dicing an onion instead.  

Once the meat is done, you take it out with a slotted spoon and put it on a plate. Remove the carrots, onions, and chunks of herbs and spices from the pot. On the stovetop, bring the remaining liquid to a boil, and thicken until you can coat the back of a spoon. Add in the meat and garnish and cook together for about ten minutes. That's it! 

By chance, I realized I served this dish up with two sides that I have previously blogged about, my chickpea orzo salad (but I served it warm) and Greek horta. It sounds like an unusual combination, but the flavours all worked really nicely together. 

Enjoy! Have a great day!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Martha Stewart's Buttermilk Waffles

This Christmas, the inlaws were kind enough to buy each of the kids kitchen gadgets, and while the rest of the siblings got sandwich presses, we got a waffle iron... Honestly, I think they grabbed the wrong box by accident - but what a great mistake!!!

So yesterday for breakfast, I finally got around to making my first batch! It was the hubby's last day off before going back to work, so he needed a treat, and boy, were they worth the effort!

I went straight to Martha for this recipe, I figured if someone knew how to bump up a plain waffle recipe just a tad, it would be her. Heads up: LOTS of butter here. Eat slowly, stop when you're full. Remember the rules. Now grab your favourite mug of coffee, and get cooking!


  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp) melted unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

veg oil to oil the iron


Plug in your waffle iron. If it's new, they say to wipe it down with a damp cloth and dry it off. Mix together your dry ingredients. Martha says sift, but I never do that. I heard on a show a while back that if you just whisk things together, it will more or less have the same effect, so that's what I do.

For the buttermilk: Does anyone actually buy this stuff for recipes??? I mean, I can understand for a drink or something, but otherwise I just use that standard old trick of 1 tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice and add milk to make 1 cup - in this case doubled. It might not be exactly the same, but I'm just not willing to spend the money on extra ingredients.

Melt the butter. Mix with buttermilk. Separate eggs, and add yolks to the wet mixture, along with the vanilla. Whip the egg whites until stiff, but not dry. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, then fold the egg whites in. 

I use a ceramic pastry brush to slather a little oil on the grill. Fill each waffle mold - in my case two - with about 1/3 cup of batter, and spread it out sort of quickly so that it covers the entire area. I noticed that you really need to make sure you fill the iron all the way to the top for the right mold to come out, but at the same time they also say to not overfill it. 

Cooking time is about 3-5 minutes per batch, but I found the better measure to be when there's no steam coming out anymore. Store them in a 200 degree oven on a cookie sheet until they are all done. 

Review: These waffles came out tasting even better than I imagined. The cinnamon was the perfect added touch. I would not change a thing about the recipe. The one thing that I didn't love had nothing to do with the recipe, I think. These waffles were not crispy at all. From what I read on the internet, there are two important elements in crispy waffles: butter and heat. Well... there was no shortage of butter. Sadly, my waffle iron is probably a lower end model. There is no heat control whatsoever, it just plugs in. I froze the leftovers and this morning my my hubby toasted one up in the toaster oven. It's much crispier!

Enjoy your breakfast, and have a great day!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Greek Avgolemono Soup

Here is a quick, easy recipe for my favourite Greek soup. Translated, it means something like egg-lemon soup. It is sort of like the Greek version of Grandma's chicken soup, but with a creamy, lemony twist. In the recipe I mention cooked chicken and chicken broth here...the old school way is to make the broth and shred up some of the chicken you boiled in it, but just like chicken soup, the quicker way is to get yourself some leftover or bbq chicken and something like Bovril Chicken base, which is the closest thing to real that I have found.

Servings: About a third of a big soup pot full.

Ingredients: This is what happens when you get a recipe from my Greek father in-law.... We're talking about a man who sometimes gives measurements in juice glasses.... you sort of get used to this European way, you just have to taste a lot and make it to your liking.

Broth to fill a big soup pot up about half way, diluted with some water since it will cook down (something like 20 cups or so, depending on the pot).
1 cup or so of plain long grain rice or orzo
1 medium carrot, quartered lengthwise then sliced into small pieces
2 eggs
2 heaping soup spoons corn starch
lemon to taste (LOTS!)
2 cups of shredded cooked chicken (boil it in the broth if it's not cooked already and then top off the pot with more water)
a sprinkling of dill
salt to taste


Bring the broth to a boil, add the rice and carrot and boil until cooked.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, lemon and corn starch. When I say lots of lemon, I'm not kidding. I'm sure I used at least half a cup in this big soup pot. You almost can't put too much. It's really important that you temper the egg by slowly drizzling in big spoonfuls of the hot soup and stirring constantly, just about until the egg mixture is hot. Then you slowly stir that mixture into the pot. Be very careful about this, because otherwise the egg just cooks right up and turns into wispy scrambled eggs in the pot... not what you are going for.

While you let the soup cook for a couple of minutes, maybe 5 or so, add the chicken and seasonings. That's all! This soup is soooo good and warm, it's all you want to eat after a week of over-eating. I myself have a big container of it in the fridge, and it's lunches for the week.

Have a great day!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Dr. Oz Green Drink: Week 1

Welcome back! Happy New Year to you all, and I hope you all are doing well. I am unfortunately doing a little too well. As I said, the week between Christmas and New Year's Day is basically a free for all. While I do still try to implement the basic principles of the Mediterranean Diet (Eat real food, eat slowly, stop when you're full), things do tend to go overboard, but I let it get that way! So needless to say, I've got a little catch up work to do. 

On a slightly different but related note, I've also made a decision. Weight loss is still big on my radar. REAL big. But I've got to make feeling good and healthy my number one priority. I've suffered with fatigue since I was 15 and got mono. The tired feelings just never really left. And after multiple doctors' tests, appointments, and useless conclusions, not to mention gaining about 50 pounds over the years, life doesn't feel so lively for this food blogger, and really hasn't in a very long time. I've got the Mediterranean Diet down in a big way, but I'm still really not in great shape - actually, I'm in ridiculously bad shape, and could always use some nutritional boosting. Along with my usual recipes and tips, I'll be posting regularly about what I'm doing, and will let you know what's working for me. I know for sure I'm not the only one in this boat, and I'd love to hear what you are doing to fight fatigue. 

So step number one: I'm going green. No, not vegetarian, although I did do that for about 4 years, and it just made me more tired even thought I was really careful about meeting nutritional needs. I've been much healthier since putting meet back into my diet, and much less prone to getting sick. I'm testing the waters with the ever popular Green Smoothie. I've been reading a lot about how this is supposed to make you have more energy and keep you strong, not to mention to do all of those good things fruits and veggies do like protect against disease and cancer.

I'm starting with this Dr. Oz Green Juice. Apparently he and Oprah drink it every day, and both swear by it. For some reason, I just really trust the opinion of both of these people... I just do. Anyway, if you want to try this too, whiz up the following in your blender to make 4 servings (I quartered it for 1 serving):

2 cups spinach
2 cups cucumber
1 head of celery
1/2 inch or teaspoon ginger root
1 bunch parsley
2 apples
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1/2 lemon 

- So I tried the drink twice now, and I like the taste. It's slightly sweet, and I like the ginger element. My problem so far: I don't think my cheap version of the Magic Bullet is strong enough to process that parsley. It feels like I'm drinking a glass of salsa verde or something... So until I get a better Bullet, I think I'll try to eliminate the parsley and just put more spinach in... I don't think that'll do much harm. I noticed that the second time I tried it (still with parsley), it tasted better.. I was reading something, I don't remember where, that said the more you drink these things, the more alkaloid your body gets... Though I doubt this could happen in a day. 

-I feel kinda good after drinking this. But I'm on vacation and this could just be because I'm better rested. I will report back next Monday to let you all know how this goes. 

Have a great day!