Saturday, 25 January 2014

Steak and Potato Spring Rolls with Gravy Dipping Sauce


This is a fun idea for a snack on game day. It is steak and mashed potatoes wrapped in a spring roll and served with a gravy dipping sauce. I pan fried them in olive oil so I didn't need to get out the deep fryer and the good olive oil just adds to the rich little snack.

You will need:
  • 2 baking potatoes - like a russet 
  • 1/2 cup milk (any kind)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil - I always use extra virgin
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 steak - I used a filet mignon/beef tenderloin
  • 2 cloves garlic - chopped
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning mix with a bit of chili flakes
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • won ton wrappers 
Gravy Dip
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms - any kind
  • 1 small onion - diced fine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • water or beef broth to thin out
  • salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: make your mashed potatoes. Wash and peel potatoes. Chop into large chunks.


Step 2: Place in salted water and boil until a knife inserted indicates the potatoes are soft and cooked through. This takes approx 20-30 minutes on medium heat. (depending on the size of your chunks, smaller pieces cook faster)


Step 3: drain potatoes and place back into the hot pot. Add milk, olive oil and butter and mash. Add salt and pepper and taste to ensure seasoned properly. You want the potatoes mashed but not thin and wet. Once they cool they will firm up slightly. Set aside to cool.


Step 4: place steak in a small bowl. Add chopped garlic, Italian seasoning, ground pepper and olive oil. Rub and let sit until meat comes to room temperature. I do not add salt here I wait until just before cooking it.


Step 5:  add a good sprinkle of salt and add meat and olive oil to a hot pan. Cook briefly. A few minutes on each side. You don't want to overcook the steak since it is a very tender cut and also because you will be cooking it a bit more once it is in the wrapper. I cook mine to a medium-rare. Remove from pan and let sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing.  


Step 6: chop mushrooms, onions and garlic.


Step 7: in the same pan (do not wash it!) place onions and olive oil and cook for 10 minutes on medium heat, scraping all the browned bits from the steak into the onions. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook another 10 minutes. You want to cook out most of the water from the mushrooms and they will just start to brown. Add the flour and stir into the mushrooms. Cook 30 seconds and add 1/2 cup of beef broth or water. Stir well. The broth with thicken with the flour and you can continue to add a bit more broth until the gravy is the consistency you prefer in a gravy.


Step 8: slice cooled steak. Separate the won ton wrappers (I work with 4 at a time to avoid drying out) Add a slice of beef and a heaped teaspoon of mashed potato, salt and pepper. Dip your finger in water and wet edges of wrapper. Fold in sides and wrap, making sure water seals edges. Repeat until you are done. You can use mashed potatoes and asparagus or ham or whatever you like.


Step 9: in a large pan shallow fry the spring rolls in olive oil until browned  on all sides. Place on paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper right away. You can deep fry if you prefer. I like this method because it is easier, cleaner and I use better quality oil.


what is not to love?!! steak and mashed potatoes dipped in gravy!














Monday, 20 January 2014

Chocolate Ferrero Rocher Cream Tart



This is a very simple but decadent pie that is sure to impress! I have chopped some Ferrero Rocher chocolates and made a layer at the bottom of the pie with these milk chocolates.The crunchy contrast, along with the dark filling and the soft whipped cream made a perfect end to a fabulous meal.
 Big Pete has already asked me to make again!


You will need:

  • 1 heaped cup of graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 tbsp of melted butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar (or vanilla sugar)
  • 4-6 chopped Ferrero Rocher chocolates - place in fridge to harden and then chop
  • 8 oz/226 grams of chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 oz/62 grams of semi sweet chocolate (which is 6 squares of Lindt chocolate)
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Topping
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp vanilla sugar
1 tbsp vanilla or rum
grated chocolate to top



Step 1: in a small bowl add graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar. Combine with your fingers and press into a tart pan with removable bottom. My pan is 9 1/2 inches. I use my hands to spread evenly then I used a measuring cup to press in the bottom and sides for an even crust.

Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove and let cool.


Step 2: gather all your ingredients. Since this is a chocolate tart the better the quality of chocolate the better your end result.


Step 3: weigh and chop your bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate. Place the bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate, butter and vanilla in a small bowl. Chop and leave the Ferrero Rocher until the crust has cooled.


Step 4: in a small pot add vanilla sugar (or regular sugar) and cream. I make my own vanilla sugar by slicing vanilla pods in half and adding to a container of sugar. Just keep adding sugar and vanilla as you use it up. I heat the cream until it just starts to come to the boil (approx 5 minutes...watch it or it can easily boil over!) As soon as it comes to a boil remove from heat.


Step 5: pour the cream over the chocolate, butter and vanilla and let sit for 4 minutes. Then gently stir until smooth and glossy. Let cool.


Step 6: place chopped Ferrero Rocher pieces evenly over cooled crust. You can add more of you like a bit more.


Step 7: pour cooled chocolate in crust. You can leave this on the counter to harden for a few hours or you can place in fridge to speed up the process.


Step 8: just before serving make whipped cream.Add cream, sugar and vanilla or rum to a large bowl. You can also add a tbsp of powdered milk to stabilize the cream if you are going to have some left over for the next day or two. Whip until you just get stiff peaks.



Spoon and spread the cream over the tart and grate a bit more chocolate to top. Dip a large knife in hot water and dry with each slice to make perfect slices (clearly this did not happen when this slice was cut...I am just saying!) 

Enjoy!!! you know you will want more than one slice.



















Friday, 17 January 2014

Pear, Ham and Cheese Ravioli


Next time you have some leftover ham make a batch of ham and cheese ravioli. The pasta is really not difficult to make fresh and you can make a ton and freeze some for a later date. I have actually made these from a ham hock that I slowly cooked and mixed with grated pear, ricotta, mascarpone and Swiss cheeses. I cooked the ravioli and just tossed in some great extra virgin olive oil and some spring onions. Simple but dynamite!

You will need:
Pasta
  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp water only if necessary

Filling
  • 2 cups chopped cooked ham
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped Swiss cheese
  • 3 heaped tbsp ricotta cheese
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small pear - grated

  • 1 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp olive oil to saute 
  • chopped spring onions/scallions 
  • salt and pepper 
  • optional: shaved Parmesano Reggiano




I used a ham hock which I cooked for ages however, you can simply use some chopped ham if you prefer or are pressed for time. I took the ham hock and cooked it slowly in a large pot of water. The water just covered the ham and I included a few bay leaves, 2 chopped carrots, a few cloves and a few peppercorns. I cooked the ham hock (knuckle) for 3 hours on low and then let it cool. I removed the skin and any fat.

At this stage in a food processor I pureed: 3 cloves garlic, 1 onion, 2 green onions, a handful of parsley, some fresh thyme, a fresh red chili, 2 bay leaves, 1/2 tsp of each - salt and pepper, 1/4 cup fresh chopped pineapple and 1 tsp jerk seasoning. I covered the ham with my puree and roasted in a 375 degree F oven for 2 hours more.


Finally, I took the ham hock and all its juices and covered it about halfway up the hock with water and once again let it slowly cook on the stove covered and on low heat for another 2 hours until it was falling off the bone. This is a tough piece of meat but, if you cook it slowly it will get as tender and actually more delicious than some hams you can buy.

 Hey!!! I get it, most people can't be bothered because this just takes too long that is why I have also suggested you can use good quality ham and still get a great product. I am just sharing another way.


Step 1: make your pasta. I use a food processor for great results. Place all ingredients except water in processor and mix for 10-15 seconds. If it doesn't start to form a ball it will need the additional water. Re-start the machine and let it run for approximately 30 seconds and it should form a ball and almost stop the machine. Take out dough and with a bit of additional flour knead a few times on the counter. You should have a lovely soft dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes before rolling out.


Step 2: Make your filling. Take your chopped ham (buy the best quality ham you can find for optimum flavour and texture - you can even use good quality sliced deli hams here), mascarpone cheese, Swiss cheese, ricotta cheese, chopped parsley, salt and pepper and grated pear. Mix and taste it to make sure it is not bland. If you need to adjust your seasoning do it.


Step 3: cut dough into 8 equal pieces. I cut in half and then keep cutting each in half until I get 8 even pieces. Make sure you have lots of flour to avoid pasta from sticking to machine and also counter. I run through my pasta roller attachment on my kitchenaid machine until I get to about #5. I don't want the dough too thin so the filling comes out. I work with 1 sheet at a time and keep the other pieces of dough covered with plastic wrap while I am filling the one I have. I simply cut squares and add a tsp of filling to each square, then dip my finger in water and run water along 2 edges of square, then fold and seal by pinching together. You can cut them with a cutter if you prefer this is just fast for me.

Place finished ravioli on a floured baking sheet. Repeat until finished.

If you want to freeze them at this stage place separated ravioli in freezer and let get hard for 1 hour. Once frozen remove and place in Ziploc bag. When you want to cook them take them from frozen and right into boiling water to cook.


Step 4: in salted boiling water place a few ravioli and gently stir. Once they float to the top let them cook 2 minutes more.


Step 5: remove from water with a spider or slotted spoon and place into a hot pan with butter and olive oil


Step 6: gently cook on medium heat for another minute or two on each side. Add a sprinkle of spring onions and salt and pepper to taste.


Serve with some chopped parsley and a shaving a Parmesano Reggiano.