Kate's Cuisine

Apr 21 2015

BBQ Asian Pork Roast

BBQ Asian Pork Roast

Last week we pulled out the barbecue, cleaned it inside and out and fired it up for the first time this season. And what’s the first thing we cooked on it? Pork roast, naturally. During the coming summer months, don’t deprive yourself of roasts just because you don’t want to heat up your house by turning the oven on. And don’t think you always have to make slow cooker roasts either. Using indirect heat on the barbecue, you can get some of the most succulent, juiciest roasts that also have that smoky flavour that can make them some of the best roasts you’ve ever had. That’s certainly what I found out when making this BBQ Asian Pork Roast.

1 boneless pork loin roast, about 4 pounds $8.35
Zest and juice of 4 mandarin oranges $0.99
2 tablespoons brown sugar $0.02
1 tablespoon soy sauce $0.05
1 tablespoon olive oil $0.03
3 cloves garlic, minced $0.03
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced $0.15
1 tablespoon Chinese five spice powder $0.37
1 teaspoon chile paste $0.10
1 teaspoon sesame oil $0.10

Total cost $10.19
Cost per serving $1.69

1.) In a bowl combine the mandarin zest and juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, olive oil, garlic, ginger, Chinese five spice powder, chile paste, and sesame oil.

2.) Place the pork roast in a glass casserole dish and pour the marinade over top. Turn to coat, then cover and refrigerate for 2 – 24 hours.

3.) Turn both sides of a gas grill to low heat, grease the rack with olive oil, and close the lid to let the grill preheat. When ready, turn off one side of the burner. On this side, place the pork roast. Brush with the reserved marinade and continue to brush and baste every 10 minutes for the first 30 minutes of cooking time.

4.) Continue cooking the pork roast for another hour and 10 minutes, until the roast is about 145 degrees in the centre for a medium roast. If you like a hotter temperature, cook the roast until desired doneness.

5.) When finished cooking, remove the roast from the grill, cover and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

6.) Serve and enjoy!

Apr 21 2015

Chinese Five Spice Powder

Chinese Five Spice

Chinese five spice is a spice blend created in China that tries to encapsulate the five tastes: spicy, sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. This blend is then used for a number of different dishes including stews, fish, chicken, and pork. Households in China typically make their own blends, making each one distinct and making each dish unique to that home. I suggest that you do the same and take a pass on the pre-mixed blends that you’ll find in supermarkets and just make your own. It’ll taste fresher, more unique to your household, and you’ll know exactly what went into it. This recipe will give you about a cup of the blend. Store it in an airtight container at room temperature and it’ll keep for several months.

2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon $1.12
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cloves $2.17
2 1/2 tablespoons ground and toasted fennel seed $1.20
2 1/2 tablespoons ground and toasted szechuan peppers $1.50

Total cost $5.99

1.) Place all ingredients into a bowl or container and stir or shake to mix.

Apr 11 2015

Mushroom Cheddar Bacon Burger

Mushroom Cheddar Bacon Burger

Sometimes I post things on the site, not because they’re such creative recipes, but because sometimes we just need a reminder of all the many good things that are out there to make for dinner. I know that too often I’ve stared down chicken breasts or ground meat wondering what to do with them before I end up making the same old thing. Then after I’ve eaten it, I remember “Oh yeah, I should have done this with it,”or “I should have done that!” It’s the same thing with this hamburger recipe. No, I’m certainly not the first to pile on a heaping mound of sauteed mushrooms, melted cheese and crispy bacon. And maybe when you’re staring down some ground meat, hamburgers will come to mind – perhaps even with all of your favourite toppings. But just in case they don’t, and you are also tempted to make the same old thing, this is your friendly reminder that you don’t have to.

1 pound ground beef $5.69
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce $0.08
1 egg, lightly beaten $0.20
1 tablespoon dried basil $0.60
1 tablespoon dried oregano $0.60
1 tablespoon garlic powder $0.33
1 tablespoon onion powder $0.25
1 cup Cheddar cheese, grated $1.25
4 slices bacon $1.20
1 cup mushrooms, sliced $0.99
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided $0.04
4 hamburger buns $1.25
Salt $0.01
Pepper $0.01

Total cost $12.50
Cost per serving $3.12

1.) Place the ground beef in a large bowl with the Worcestershire sauce, egg, basil, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, about 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix all the ingredients well but do not over-mix. Divide the mixture into 4 equal parts and then form each part into a hamburger patty.

2.) When all of the hamburgers have been formed, heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the hamburger patties and cook for about 7 minutes, until the patty is nicely seared on one side. Flip, cover with a lid or aluminum foil, and cook for another 7 minutes.

3.) Remove lid and move all patties as far to the side as you can. Evenly distribute the cheese among the hamburgers and let melt while cooking the other toppings.

4.) In another corner of the pan, heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil and add sliced mushrooms. Turn in the oil and saute until mushrooms are evenly browned.

5.) While the hamburgers and mushrooms are cooking, cut each bacon slice in half and add to the other portion of the pan. You can use a different pan if your skillet isn’t big enough to fit everything, but I still like to cut the bacon slices in half so that they fit better on the patty. Cook bacon for 10 minutes or so, turning occasionally, until bacon is crisp.

6.) Divide the hamburgers among the bottom of four hamburger buns and top with the sliced mushrooms and bacon. Top with lettuce, tomato, onion, and other toppings of your choice and close with the top of the bun.

7.) Serve and enjoy!

Apr 10 2015

Somen Noodles with Chicken in a Peanut Sauce

Peanut Somen Noodles

I get so excited when I’m at the grocery store and see something that I’ve never seen before. Often this happens in the ethnic foods aisle and usually that excitement is quickly squashed by seeing that the item I’m looking at includes a great amount of shellfish or worse, some unidentified fish that I can’t take my chances with. But after seeing somen noodles beside the soba noodles I had just put in my cart, my excitement could fly with abandon. Especially when I got them home and made this dish that’s somewhat of a cross between a stir fry and a satay

8 ounces dry somen noodles $1.00
3 cups chicken stock $1.50
2 tablespoons soy sauce $0.10
2 tablespoons crunchy or smooth peanut butter $0.36
2 teaspoons sesame oil $0.06
1 teaspoon hot sauce $0.06
2 teaspoons peanut oil $0.02
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced $0.15
3 cloves of garlic, minced $0.03
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced $0.71
1 pound cooked chicken, diced $3.25
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped $0.33
1/4 cup green onion, chopped $0.14
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped $0.12

Total cost $7.83
Cost per serving $1.96

1.) Cook noodles according to package directions. When finished cooking, drain and run cold water over them to stop the cooking process.

2.) Meanwhile in a medium saucepan, combine the chicken broth, soy sauce, peanut butter, sesame oil, and hot sauce. Whisk until blended and set pan over medium heat. Whisk until blended and set pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes.

3.) In another large skillet, heat peanut oil. Add ginger and garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Add bell pepper and saute for 2 minutes. Add chicken and saute for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the peanut sauce and simmer for a minute or two. Add the drained noodles and stir and toss to fully combine.

4.) Divide the mixture between four plates and top with a handful each of peanuts, scallions, and chopped parsley.

5.) Serve and enjoy!

Apr 09 2015

Shepherd’s Pie with Veggie Mashed Potatoes

Shepherds Pie

When making Shepherd’s Pie, can I ask why we go to all the trouble of using three separate cooking dishes? I mean, we brown the meat in one pan, then boil the potatoes in another, and use yet another to house the meat mixture and potatoes when it goes into the oven. Even though this is the way I’ve been doing it for decades, it struck me as odd the last time I went to make Shepherd’s Pie. So I don’t have an answer to the potato pot yet, but I did do away with that third dish and just baked the entire thing in the pan used to cook the meat.

While I was at it, I made some other changes too, namely by adding both carrots and cauliflower to the potatoes. The carrots were purely for colour, because I thought it would make the potatoes pretty; and the cauliflower was for an added boost of nutrients. If you’ve got a picky bunch swarming around the dinner table, you can hide the cauliflower because it won’t be distinguishable; but you’ll have to fess up to those carrots. I can tell you that my picky people were fine with them.

1 1/2 pounds ground beef $8.06
1 onion, diced $0.47
3 cloves garlic, minced $0.03
2 tablespoons paprika $0.96
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves $1.00
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce $0.12
3 pounds potatoes, scrubbed and quartered $1.49
1/2 head of cauliflower $1.98
3 large carrots, grated $0.36
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour $0.04
2 tablespoons butter, plus 3 tablespoons $0.30
1 cup beef broth $1.00
1/4 cup milk $0.07
Salt $0.01
Pepper $0.01

Total cost $15.90
Cost per serving $2.65

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.) Place potatoes and cauliflower in a large pot and fill with water. Add a generous amount of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, lower heat and boil just until the potatoes and cauliflower are fork-tender.

3.) Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat. When butter is sizzling, add onion and saute for 2 minutes, just until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and saute for another minute.

4.) Add meat to the pan, breaking it up as you do. Stir and then add the paprika, thyme, Worcestershire, salt and pepper.

5.) When meat has nearly browned throughout, combine flour and broth and mix or shake vigorously to create a slurry. Add to meat mixture, stir, and then bring to a boil. Turn off heat and set aside.

6.) In a small saucepan combine the milk and 3 tablespoons of butter. Set over medium heat and warm through just until the milk is no longer chilled and the butter has melted.

7.) When the potatoes and cauliflower have finished cooking, drain and return to pot. Add the grated carrots and stir to incorporate. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

8.) Even out the beef in the pan so that it has a flat surface. Add the potatoes to the top of the beef mixture and smooth out until even. Place the entire pan into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is lightly browned. When finished baking, let the Shepherd’s Pie rest for at least 5 minutes before cutting.

9.) Serve and enjoy!

Apr 08 2015

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

Garlic Parmesan Potatoes

Combining garlic and Parmesan is really a beautiful thing, as many of you attested to when I posted the recipe for Garlic Parmesan Drumsticks. This natural pairing comes together once again with these potatoes that I made last time I was at my mom’s. When I made them, I was trying to make Ina Garten’s Garlic Roasted Potatoes, and thought that Parmesan was included. It isn’t in hers (so I guess I still need to try that recipe), but it is in mine. And it’s as good as I thought it would be.

3 pounds small red or white potatoes $3.50
1/4 cup olive oil $0.12
1 teaspoon kosher salt $0.01
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper $0.01
2 tablespoons minced garlic $0.02
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley $0.35
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese $0.99

Total cost $5.00
Cost per serving $1.25

1.) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.) Cut the potatoes in half and place in a bowl with all other ingredients, except the parsley. Toss until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed and the potatoes are well coated.

3.) Transfer the potatoes to a sheet pan and spread out in a single layer. Place in the preheated oven and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning the potatoes twice during cooking.

4.) Remove the potatoes from the oven and toss with the fresh parsley. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary.

5.) Serve and enjoy!

Apr 03 2015

How to Cook the Perfect Steak

Perfect Steak

We’re big meat eaters around here, so I’ve cooked a fair amount of steaks in my lifetime. It’s something that can be quite daunting at first, if only because you’ve paid so much money for this one piece of meat and you really don’t want to screw it up. I’ve been there and I get it. Unfortunately, it’s something that’s quite easy to do because steaks can go from blue-rare to well-done in just a matter of minutes. Not to mention that if you don’t treat it properly before and after you cook it, this could also ruin that tender cut you were hoping to enjoy. So, here are some tips on how to cook the perfect steak so the next time you’re staring one down, there will be no intimidation. Just fearless ambition that you in fact, can do this.

The Marinade/Rub

  • Whether you use a wet marinade or a dry rub will depend entirely on the kind of steak you’re cooking. Tougher cuts of steak such as flank steak or round steak respond best to wet marinades because the marinade will break down the fibres of the meat over a period of time, actually making it more tender. The best cuts of steak including strip loin, sirloin, and filets should never be used with a wet marinade. These cuts are already very tender and leaving them in a marinade will greatly affect their texture. For these types of steaks, a dry rub comprised of different spices will give you the flavour you want, without interfering with the steak’s natural texture.

The Pan

  • Steaks cook best in a pan, not on a barbecue or outdoor grill. While I myself am looking forward to summer when I can, at least once, throw some steaks on the grill, they won’t develop the outside char that makes a steak perfect. They will however, still be juicy and delicious.
  • Use a cast iron or other heavy-bottomed skillet for your steak. These will get incredibly hot, allowing that outer charred crust to form.
  • Make sure your pan is big enough. If you go cramming six steaks into a pan that was only meant to hold three or four, you’re going to have real problems. Your steak will never develop colour and instead, you’ll be left with a sad-looking grey piece of meat that you just don’t know what to do with. If your pan is not big enough, just cook the steak in batches. They cook very quickly, so you can prepare the others while the cooked steaks are resting.

The Oil

  • An oil with a “high smoke point” are the only ones that should be used. This means that they can reach a very high temperature before burning and starting to smoke. Avocado oil, grape seed oil, and almond oil all have very high smoke points. While olive oil can be used, you must keep an eye on your steak to make sure they’re not burning during cooking.
  • Never use butter. While you might think it will give you better flavour, butter has one of the lowest smoke points of all the fats and will burn very, very quickly. Before you even have both sides of your steak cooked, at least one of them will be burned. Not charred, but burned.
  • Know how to use butter. Did I say “never use butter”? Well, you can use it, just not as your main oil. When the steak has cooked on one side, flip it. While the other side of the steak is cooking, place a nob of butter to the side of the pan and place some thyme or rosemary twigs on top. Let the butter melt and then, tilting the pan so you can scoop up the flavoured butter with a spoon, use that butter to baste the steak during the remainder of the cooking process. This will give extra flavour and that perfect sheen to your steaks. You can also, once your steak is done cooking, add a nob of butter right on top of the steak. It will melt and coat the steak with that perfect smoothness and creaminess that only butter can bring.
  • Oil the pan, not the steak. Some cooks insist on slathering their steak with oil and then adding it directly into a dry, hot pan. This can make cooking steak even trickier because, if you wait too long to place the steak in the pan, the oil will settle into the steak, giving it a greasy look and feel even after it’s done cooking. Your best (and easiest) bet is to add a tablespoon or two of oil into the pan, let it get really hot, and then add the steak.

The Seasoning

  • While you can get crazy with the different seasonings and rubs for your steak, just a little salt and pepper are all that’s really needed. But, because certain types of steak can be very thick, just sprinkling a little bit on usually isn’t enough to get the flavour throughout. Instead, mix together a bit of salt and pepper on a plate. Then, minutes before your steak is to be cooked, simply press it into the seasoning, on all sides, before adding it to the hot oiled pan. This will allow the seasoning to really penetrate the steak, giving you more flavour.

The Temperature

  • Perhaps the biggest part of cooking any steak is to get the centre temperature right – the temperature (and colour) in the centre of the steak. These temperatures are known as: blue-rare, rare, medium rare, medium, medium-well, and well-done.
  • Blue-rare is when the steak hasn’t really been cooked that long at all, typically thrown into the pan letting one side cook for a minute or two, and then flipping it and giving the second side just a minute or slightly longer. When finished “cooking”, these steak will have a very bloody, almost purple in the centre and, true to its name, could still be blue in some parts. The temperature in the centre of these steaks is 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
  • Rare steaks are cooked throughout but still have a deep red appearance in the centre. They will release a lot of juice even when on the plate and have a cool centre. Rare steaks have a centre temperature of 120 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Medium-rare steaks are considered to be “the best” among chefs in the culinary world. These steaks will have a bright pink (but not red) colour throughout and will still be slightly warm in the centre. They will also have juices that will flow out of the steak, but not nearly as much as rare or blue-rare steaks. The temperature for medium-rare steaks is 130 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Medium steaks are mostly grey throughout, although they will have a slight pink tinge to them. Their centre will be warm. Medium steaks have a centre temperature of 140 to 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Medium-well steaks are entirely grey throughout, are hot in the centre, and will not release any juices. The temperature on these steaks is 150 to 155 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Well-done steaks are hot and grey throughout, and are the hottest temperature you can take your steak to, being above 160 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s important to know that you shouldn’t go much higher than that temperature because it will dry the steak out. Even well-done steaks should be flavourful and juicy, and still have some texture to them.
  • The best way to check the temperature of a steak is with a meat thermometer, especially if you’re fairly new to the process. But, even with a temperature, you should be mindful of “feeling” for the doneness of your steak with the tip of your finger and the skin on your palm. The test is done this way: open your palm so that it’s facing you and make sure your hand is relaxed. Press on the little ball of flesh just under your thumb. This is what rare meat feels like. Now, bring your index finger and thumb together and once again press on that area of flesh; this is what medium-rare steak should feel like when you poke and prod it. Release your index finger and thumb and now bring your middle finger and thumb together, once again feeling that area under your thumb when you do; this is what medium feels like. When you join your ring finger and your thumb you’ll get the feeling for medium-well and when you join your pinky and thumb together, you’ll feel that that little ball of flesh is very tight and has very little ability to “bounce back” or “spring” to the touch. This is what well-done steak feels like. Now you can poke your steak in the centre, compare it with how that little area under your thumb felt, and get an idea for how done your steak is.
  • Practice using the finger test every time you cook a steak. It takes a lot of practice (who am I kidding? It takes a ton of frustrating attempts before you finally get the “feel” for it) but over time, you’ll get it. You should also use a meat thermometer while still using the hand method, as it will give you an idea for how the hand should feel when steak is at a certain temperature.
  • Never, ever, ever cut a steak open just to check the doneness inside. All of the juices will flow out leaving you with a tough, flavourless piece of meat that up until this point, you’ve worked so hard to attain.

The Resting Period

  • Allowing the steak to rest after cooking is an essential component to cooking any piece of meat, but it all started with the steak. Resting allows the juices to work their way back into the meat and settle there, so they don’t end up all over your cutting board or plate. It’s true that even a rare steak can look well-done by the time it gets to the table if you’ve taken it directly out of the pan and sliced it up right away. Cover it with foil to keep it hot, and let it rest. It needs it.
  • Steaks need to rest for a minimum of five minutes. Without foil they’ll stay hot for up to ten minutes and with foil, even longer than that.

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