Friday, 22 June 2012

Food & Wine Magazine: June Cover Recipe

Balsamic Marinated Flank Steak
Rating: 5 out of 5. Summertime BBQ perfection in a dish. Enough said.

This is my 8th month testing Food & Wine Cover recipes with Jasmine of Cook That Book! Time flies when you're eating well. 


It was refreshing to see a cover recipe that didn't have a list of ingredients that was 8 feet long. Not that I mind that sort of experimentation - in fact, I love it - but given how the general hubub of summer is beginning and that we'd had a less than a perfect week, it was nice to be able to relax a little with this recipe. Given how pricey the cut of meat was, too, it was a welcome reprieve to realize I already had most of the other ingredients on hand.

Looking over the recipe, I realized right away that it was a beauty, and was sure it would be a hit with F. Given that the recipe called for 3 whole pounds of flank steak, however, I also knew this would be a great excuse for a dinner party. By now, you can probably guess who we ended up inviting over, if you've read the past few posts here.

When I went to get my steak the night before, I was praised by the butcher for choosing such a great cut, and he outright swooned when I told him what I'd be doing with it, especially when I said I'd be marinating it for nearly 24 hours. Ha! I couldn't exactly take any credit for the choice of recipe, but it did affirm my suspicion that we were in for a great night of dining in.

To give you an idea, the flank steak I ended up purchasing was just under 2.2 lbs, and it was too big to fit in a 9x13 casserole dish to marinate. I had to get out my largest serving platter, and even then it was a tight squeeze!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Jumbleberry Crisp

Happy first day of summer!

I have an Aimée original here for you today. I've been trying to get more in the mind-set of recipe developing and less of recipe following these days. I can follow a recipe like nobody's business, but I never think to write down the recipes I 'create' most nights for dinner. And by 'create' I mean looking through the pantry and fridge and dreaming up a dish from what's there, like so many of us do! (Must work on documenting those dinner recipes.)

When it comes to baking and desserts, however, and while I often adapt recipes, it's not often I start with an idea or ingredient and develop the recipe around it, the way I do when I cook. For that reason, I'm starting with something simple in this post: Jumbleberry Crisp.

I adore crisps and associate them just as much with autumn as I do with summer, depending on what lies beneath that crumbly, upper layer. I do usually find them a touch too sweet, however, so I attempted to make one that focuses more on flavour and texture than on outright sweetness.

I'm also still in Boot Camp and working my tail off - quite literally! - so I thought it would be best to stick with lighter desserts (like last week's No-Bake Blueberry Cheesecake Squares) for another one of our BBQs with "the neighbours." I absolutely loved the end product.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

No-Bake Blueberry Cheesecake Squares

Have I mentioned how stellar our new neighbours are yet? It's worth mentioning again. After a whopping 3 weeks in the neighbourhood, we feel like we've been here for ages (in the very best of ways). There have already been many an evening spent fire-side, with many a drink a laugh to be had. Nicknames for F. abound and have evolved into (my mother's favourite) "F. Dot," and "F. Pants." Needless to say, we kind of like living here!

Last night was no exception when 3 households came together for a BBQ. "F. Pants" has been in his element, making great use of that smoker, and last night he contributed two batches of spicy (intentionally, this time!) smoked chicken wings that were to die for. It really didn't take him long to get the hang of things, and I'm certainly loving the fringe benefits of having that smoker around! 

I wanted to whip up something fast but tasty for dessert; something that could be dished out alongside a burger if need be. I dug around and found a recipe by Mark Bittman for these No-Bake Blueberry Cheesecake Squares that were featured in the NY Times in July 2008. My mom has made something similar to these for years, so immediately the recipe appealed to me. I'm not sure what the ingredients are in my mother's version, but the beauty of Bittman's recipe is that it's really quite light! Using cream cheese, ricotta (both can be 'light', if you choose), lemon zest and honey for the filling, then graham crackers, chopped walnuts, and a little butter for the base, you really could fare worse (calorically speaking!) in a dessert.

Had I let them set longer, I'm sure they would have come out more cleanly, but I was much too impatient.  The squares were light, fluffy, and decadent enough in the aftermath of a BBQ. I absolutely loved the extra crunch in the crust made by the walnuts, too. A fast and delicious recipe to kick off your weekend this summer!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Muffin Monday: Cherry, Oatmeal & Walnut Muffins

This week's Muffin Monday recipe comes at a great time for easing back on sugar and dessert! With only a little brown sugar in this recipe, it makes for an excellent and wholesome breakfast muffin. 

Just over a week ago I started attending a Boot Camp class here in town and thus far I've made it out 4 times. The word 'class' isn't really the most apt way to describe those one hour sessions, and a one hour session easily feels like the longest hour ever. It has been absolutely brutal - by far the most intense and difficult physical training I've ever been subjected to - but also incredibly gratifying. Come on, results! My goal is to be able to do 10 push ups by the middle of June, and considering I can still only do one, saggy-in-the-middle push up after a week of Boot Camp, this girl still has a long way to go. But when you work that hard, to a state of exhaustion never felt before, there's no way you're going to spoil the effort with junk food. (I know Jasmine feels me because, oddly enough, we both started Boot Camps on the very same day, on our respective Canadian coasts, without realizing it!) 

The recipe was originally called Apricot Oatmeal Muffins, but I substituted the milk for buttermilk, the dried apricots for dried cherries, and threw about a 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts into the mix. I sprinkled some extra oats and cinnamon over the top of the muffins right before they went into the oven, too. In retrospect, I should have used whole wheat flour to really hit it out of the healthy park, but alas. Next time.

This recipe made 11, jumbo-sized Cherry, Oatmeal & Walnut Muffins, which is a great yield! They turned out wonderfully: nice domes, a great crumb, and full of texture and flavour.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

#MonthlyMiettes - May Round-Up - Buttermilk Panna Cotta

Firstly, apologies to my fellow bakers for waiting until the 2nd of June to get this post up! I've been a little under the weather over the past couple of days, so today was the first chance I've had to get down to business. As a special side note, I'd also like to wish my parents a very, very Happy 39th (yes, 39th!) Anniversary! Incredible, right?

But without further ado, welcome to another wonderful month of Miettes! This month we tackled Buttermilk Panna Cotta and another wonderful round of wonderful, talented bloggers have joined me. Wonderful! I'm always so grateful to be in such excellent company, and to be testing these recipes alongside such gifted bakers.