Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sesame Ginger Steak Salad

There was a nice looking steak left over from our weekend festivities, a rare occurence at our place (the steak, not the festivities).  I put it to good use with one of my favorite salads.  The star of this dish is a silky, flavourful sesame-ginger dressing.  It is drizzled over crisp greens and crunchy vegetables topped with succulent, ginger marinated steak and creamy avocado.  MmmnnGH!  The dressing is reminiscent of one of my past addictions - WAFU.  Have you tried it?  Yum.  I only say past obsession because I've learned to make something similar.  This version is just a little bit punchier.  I figured out how to make it a couple of years ago after a desperate search of my city turned up WAFU free.  Luckily, times are a changin' and you can easily pick some up at your local grocery store's sushi station or even here when you need it.  Enjoy this healthy, delicious meal with your loved one, I bet a few of you indulged in too much champagne and chocolate on Monday.  I sure did.

Sesame Ginger Steak Salad
Origin: Jaime, Impeccable Taste

Notes:  This salad is great without the steak of course.  My Hubby had it with leftover seared tuna which was great too.  This dressing would be good with any kind of greens or veggies; tomatoes, green beans and broccoli would all be nice.  The avocado is a must.


1 small clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons tahini
1/4 cup grapeseed oil (or vegetable oil)
2 tablespoons warm water

3 tablespoons sherry
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced or finely grated
1 lb steak, ribeye or sirloin about 1 inch thick

6 cups greens, I used chopped romaine lettuce and baby arugula
1/2 cup carrot, coarsely shredded
1/2 cup red or yellow sweet pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 cup green onion, thinly sliced
1 avocado, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/2 tablespoon black sesame seeds (optional)

To marinate the steak, combine all of the steak ingredients in a resealable plastic bag, shake to distribute the marinade and set in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour (let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking).

To make the dressing, in a blender, combine the first 6 ingredients (garlic through sugar) and puree.  Add the tahini, oil and warm water and puree until smooth and emulsified.  Season with salt.  You can thin the dressing with a little additional warm water if necessary.

When ready to eat, cook your steak.  Heat a little oil in a frying pan over medium high heat.  When the oil is hot add the steak, watch out - it will splatter.  Cook the steak for about 2 minutes on each side, until nicely browned.  If you prefer your steak more well done, turn down the heat and cook it for an additional couple of minutes.  Transfer the steak to a plate and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

To assemble the salad, plate the greens and vegetables, top with sliced avocado and sliced steak.  Drizzle with dressing and garnish with sesame seeds.  Serves 4.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bruschetta with Burrata & Radicchio Marmalade and D.I.F.D.

On a serious note, in November 2010, our city, and the entire NHL was stunned and saddened by the news that the daughter of our Ottawa Senators coach, Luke Richardson, took her own life at just 14 years old.  She was a beautiful, talented and loved little girl.  Thousands of people attended this young girl's memorial and were moved to tears as dozens of friends, teachers and teammates spoke about what an incredible girl Daron was.  Today would have been Daron's 15th Birthday.  Our city has proclaimed today "DO IT FOR DARON, Purple Pledge Day".  Everywhere I look I see people sporting the colour purple, Daron's fave.  Today Daron's loved ones hope to raise money for the Daron Richardson Fund at the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health, they hope to raise awareness and encourage conversations between parents and teens about suicide.  So today I present to you something purple in honour of D.I.F.D.

The above pictures are of Burrata cheese, an Italian cheese consisting of a solid mozzarella casing holding a dreamy mix of fresh mozzarella and cream inside.  It is quite decadent and hard to find (I got mine here).  It needs to be prepared simply to enjoy its delicate flavour and succulent texture.  In this recipe it tops a basic crostini with sauteed radicchio and a little balsamic vinegar.  The mix of the bitter radicchio and creamy cheese is blissful.

Bruschetta with Burrata & Radicchio Marmalade

Notes:  Make sure to salt the Radicchio mixture well, it will bring out the best in this bitter vegetable and enhance these simple flavours.  An additional drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar at the end is nice, if that suits your fancy.


1 lb radicchio (I used 2 large heads)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
5 whole garlic cloves, peeled, smashed slightly
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 baguette
1/2 pound burrata
Freshly ground black pepper
Cut each head of radicchio lengthwise into quarters and cut the core out of each quarter.  Cut each quarter into crosswise ribbons about 1/4 inch wide. Combine the radicchio in a cold skillet with 3 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, salt and balsamic vinegar. Cover and cook over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until the radicchio has softened, about 10 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low and cook until the radicchio is quite soft and the bitterness has cooked out, about 5 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and perhaps just a little more balsamic vinegar. Remove from heat and set aside. Remove the garlic before serving.

While the radicchio is cooking, slice the baguette into 1/2 inch slices, drizzle with a little olive oil and toast in the oven at 400 degrees for 7-10 minutes.  Or grill bread until lightly toasted on both sides.

Spoon a heaping teaspoon of the radicchio marmalade onto each slice of bread and top with a similarly sized spoonful of burrata (try to get both the filling and the wrapping in each spoonful). Sprinkle each with a light grinding of black pepper and a drizzle of the remaining olive oil and serve.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Lime Squares with Macadamia Nut Crust

Yesterday, amidst Snowpocalypse, I spotted a little bag of macadamia nuts in my pantry.  I immediately had visions of these lime squares.  The snow day got me out of the office a few hours early and I thought I'd better put those hours to good use.  Baking a sunny, tropical treat would fit the bill.  These squares are a regular for me.  The first time I made them was for a friend's baby shower.  My adorable friend took one bite and fell to her pregnant knees on the kitchen floor.  She proclaimed with a groan, "I want these for every baby shower, birthday and special occasion from here on out".  I knew I'd be seeing a lot of these in our future.  And I have.  They've graced my table for brunches, birthdays, tea parties, special dinners and now, snow days. 


Lime Squares with Macadamia Nut Crust
Origin: Adapted from Martha Stewart

Notes:  The original recipe calls for pistachio nuts in the crust which I've done several times and it's great, but there is something about the lime/macadamia nut combo that I just love.


4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for pan
2/3 cup macadamia nuts
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated lime zest (from 2-3 limes)

2 large egg yolks
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from about 6 limes)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush an 8 inch square baking dish with melted butter.  Line the bottom with parchment paper, leaving a 2 inch overhang on two sides.

In a food processor, finely grind macadamia nuts with graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and lime zest. With the food processor running, pour in the butter through the feed tube.  Process until just combined.  The mixture should resemble wet sand and it should hold together when pressed between your fingers.  Press mixture into the prepared pan and work the crust up the sides of the pan to form a 1 inch border.  Bake crust until lightly browned, about 8 to 12 minutes. Cool crust on a rack for 30 minutes.

To make the filling, whisk together the egg yolks and condensed milk in a large bowl. Add lime juice and whisk until smooth. Pour filling into cooled crust and carefully spread to the edges.

Bake until set, about 15 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack and then chill at least 1 hour before serving.

Using the parchment paper overhang, lift out of pan, and transfer to a cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut into 16 squares, wiping your knife clean with a damp kitchen towel between each cut.  Store squares in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Horseradish & Aged Cheddar Dip


I consider myself lucky that my Hubby is not into team sports.  I don't lose him every Sunday for football or every Saturday night for Hockey Night in Canada.  He does keeps busy with a love of cars, rap music and outdoor recreation but his Superbowl would be something more like a Barret Jackson Auto Auction or BET Spring Bling.  This Sunday afternoon he'll likely be cross country skiing in the woods, not in front of the TV.  However, I wholeheartedly support the Superbowl because it brings people together to forget about the real world for a while.  It's a very food-centric event and who doesn't love the commercials and half time show.  This recipe would be a great addition to a Superbowl menu, it's a party dip with a smidgen of sophistication.  It's still a mayo laden dip, but it has sharp, aged cheddar, horseradish, and crunchy little radish bits.  It's lovely.

Aged Cheddar & Horseradish Dip
Origin: Adapted from Gourmet

Notes:  You can play around with adding a little sour cream instead of some of the mayo if you'd like to lighten it up a bit.  But who are we kidding here...the main ingredients are cheese and mayonnaise.  You won't be able to eat it all yourself if you make it for guests.  You can add adjust the horseradish level to your taste.


2 cups coarsely grated extra sharp white Cheddar
1 1/2 cups finely chopped radish
1 cup mayonnaise
3 - 4 tablespoons horseradish
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl, stir to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve with pita chips.