Steak and Mushroom Pie

It’s time to get in the festive mood! It’s the fun month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Though I’m already over the cheesy modern Christmas music. Just not the same as the standards. My husband and I had a quiet Thanksgiving as our kids were in South Carolina. My aunt very kindly invited us to her place for Thanksgiving dinner. We had a lovely meal and a lovely time. She is an awesome aunt and she’s very good to us.

Even though the weather can’t decide to be warm or cold this season there has been been opportunity for comfort food. And you can’t go wrong with steak and mushroom pie.

In a small bowl, add about 3 oz of flour and season with sea salt and pepper. Mix well. Take a half pound/8oz of stewing steak and cut it into small cubes. Toss in the flour until well coated.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan and start browning the steak.

Coarsely chop a shallot and a couple of cloves of garlic. Add to the pan.

Cut up enough mushrooms to make half a cup/3-4oz. Sauté in the pan then add about 2 1/2 cups/20oz of vegetable bouillon. Bring to a simmer. For seasoning and flavour I added a half cup of dry sherry and a small handful of fresh oregano, chopped. Slow cook on low for a few hours until the steak is tender and falling apart. To thicken the broth, add either a couple of teaspoons of flour or corn starch(flour) to a couple of tablespoons of water to make a slurry. Add this to the saucepan and bring up to a boil to cook the flour and thicken the broth. Adjust the seasoning as needed as sometimes the flour can dull the flavours.

Split the stew between ramekins. I made enough for two. Melt a tablespoon of butter and brush individual layers of phyllo dough to top the ramekins. Broil/grill til the top is nice and golden.

Perfect with a nice deep red wine on a chilly night!


Parsnip and Roasted Mushroom Soup

I have to hand it to our son, he had his wisdom teeth removed yesterday and he did really well. Me?  Didn’t sleep the night before.  It’s so much easier when stuff is done to you rather than your kids.  Now he gets to hear his parents telling him to eat his ice cream.  Think he’ll be ok.  😊

Woke up being very happy for fuzzy socks with freezing temperatures and gusting winds.  Definitely soup season!  On one of our date nights, my husband ordered an amazing mushroom soup and it sparked an idea for a mushroom and parsnip soup.  Their soup just had mushrooms in it with Gorgonzola cheese.  Well I shouldn’t say just as it was delicious.  But I went off on a tangent.  

As luck would have it, the co-op had a great selection of mushrooms.  Including a Japanese mushroom called maitake.  Slice up the mushrooms and toss them in olive oil.

Roast them at 350F/175C until they are nicely browned.  In the meantime, peel and dice 1 to 2 parsnips depending on the size.  Finely chop a couple of garlic cloves.  Sauté the parsnips and garlic with olive oil in a saucepan.

Add a amall handful of fresh thyme, sauté for another minute or so.  Add about three cups of chicken stock and half a cup of dry sherry.  Bring to a medium simmer.  Once the mushrooms are roasted, add them to the soup.

Season with sea salt and pepper.  Cook until the parsnips are soft and the broth has reduced about a quarter.  Remove from the heat and purée until reasonably smooth.

Top with a dollop of sour cream and a bit of chive.  This could easily be made vegan with a veg broth.  The parsnip makes it very creamy so I didn’t have to add any cream.  


Crêpes – The Savory Side of Life

Crêpes are a treat we do once in awhile for dinner.  My husband enjoys making them and a few years ago we bought him a crêpe pan.  It also gets a lot of use for my eggs so it was a win-win.  🙂  But I’ve always been impressed that he could make these.  I was also lulled into a false sense of “how hard can this be?”.  So I decided I would give it a go last night.  Parts of it are really easy.  But I quickly learned it takes practice on the actual cooking of the crêpe.  Fortunately we only need 4 good ones as it was just the two of us.

As crêpes are extremely versatile we have fun with sweet and savory.  Generally we stuff ours with some sort of filling.  I wanted two savory fillings this time round.  I bought some rabbit sausages for one filling and chose a lovely apple for the second.  The recipe I used for the batter was from the book Crêpes – Sweet and Savory Recipes for the Home Cook by Lou Seibert Pappas.  Interesting fact from the book crêpes comes from the Latin word crispus meaning crisp.

The batter should be made about 2 hours before the actual cooking and it can be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours.  You can use a blender, a food processor, or a whisk.  We use the blender.  In the blender I place 2 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1/3 cup water, 2 Tablespoons of melted butter, 1/4 tsp of salt, and a cup of flour.

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Blend for 5 seconds.  Take a rubber spatula and scrape the sides then blend for a couple of seconds.  That’s it.  You don’t want to overwork the batter.

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Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.  For the rabbit filling I chopped up a couple of garlic cloves and some baby portabello mushrooms.  I removed the rabbit sausage from it’s casing and tried to chop it up into small pieces.  Wasn’t that easy.  In a skillet with hot olive oil saute the ingredients to brown the rabbit meat.

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Add a splash of dry sherry and some lemon thyme.  Let that simmer to cook through.  For the next filling I chopped up some sage and apples.

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In a small skillet I melted about a tablespoon of butter and sauteed the sage in it for a couple of minutes.  Then I added the apples to cook.  I wanted the apples softened but not mushy.

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I set aside the fillings and got the batter ready.  Heat a dry pan until hot.  Here is the first tricky part.  You want to rub a bit of butter onto the hot pan.  If you do it too much the batter goes all wonky and won’t spread out.  Because our pan is about 9″ wide we use 1/4 cup of batter at a time.  Remove the pan from the heat and then spread the batter around the pan.  It needs to be poured in then tilt the pan about until it is coated.

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Once the sides start browning and the crêpe can be easily lifted with a spatula flip it over and cook for about 15 seconds to finish off the top side.   Remove and place on paper towels to cool off.  The next tricky bit I encountered as having a pan too hot.  You can end up with a jelly fish shape.

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Cute but not right.  It should look a bit like this:

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Once all the batter has been cooked it is time to stuff them.  And crêpes not used can easily be frozen for another time.  I set the toaster oven to 375F/190C because we need to melt cheese.  For the apple filling I placed a few slices of brie in the center of the crêpe and topped with the apples.

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Fold like a burrito and place in the baking pan.  I scooped the rabbit filling into the center and topped with freshly shredded Jarlsberg.

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I put the rest of the cheese over the two crêpes with the rabbit.  Can’t waste any cheese!  🙂

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Bake until the cheese is melted and it is ready to serve.

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The apple ones came out really blurry so I only have the rabbit ones to show.

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The possibilities for fillings are endless with these.  And it is a delicious way to have dinner.  🙂



Roasted Mushroom and Parsnip Ravioli

It is spring break from school this week for the kids and I set up yesterday to be a bake day for them as they like to get into the kitchen.  While they were making cookies and congo bars I thought I’d make raviolis for dinner.  I hadn’t made them in awhile as it is somewhat time consuming.  Question was, what to make?  I knew I wanted mushrooms but wasn’t sure what else to do.  As my gaze wandered round the kitchen I saw the parsnips my husband pulled from the garden.  This is a great treat as we planted them last year.  So I decided to do a roasted mushroom and parsnip mixture.  I was really pleased with the results!

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I bought oyster, baby bellas, and shiitake mushrooms.  I coarsely chopped them along with the parsnips and tossed them with olive oil and salt and pepper.

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These were roasted at 400 F/204C stirring occasionally as they roasted.  About halfway through I added some fresh thyme.

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Once they had browned nicely I set the veg aside to cool completely.  While this was cooling I prepped the pasta to rest.  Once the mixture cooled I put it into the food processor and grated some Jarlsberg cheese.  It was about 1/2 cup of cheese.  I also added a couple of splashes of dry sherry.

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I pulsed the processor until it was a coarse mixture.

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Now I haven’t gotten round to getting ravioli molds yet so I am still doing this by hand.  Well I do have a Kitchen Aid to roll it out so we’re halfway there.  🙂  I roll out a sheet at a time and fill as I go.  All that is needed for the filling is about a teaspoon of mixture then brush a beaten egg round the mixture to help seal the pasta.

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It is important to get the air out! Though that isn’t always easy but you could end up with burst balloons if there is too much air.

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Before I cooked the ravioli I sauteed up some garlic and mushrooms and prepared this cream and butter sauce to complete the dish.  The ravioli only needs to cook for about 4 minutes in boiling salted water.

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Drain and toss in the sauce and serve.

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It had a lovely earthy flavour and it was great on a cool night.


Rustic Leek and Potato Soup

It has been quite cold lately and that calls for good comfort food.  I had frozen about as much as I could of the crazy sized leeks and we still have some in the garden!  So I decided to come up with a leek and potato soup.  A lot of recipes call for cream and I wanted something lighter as we had dodgeball that night and we didn’t want heavy stomachs.  And I didn’t want to dirty a lot of dishes.  🙂

We like the dark green parts of the leek as it has a wonderful flavour and adds a bit of colour to the soup.  I chopped up about 3 cups of leeks and 3 cups of potatoes. I always keep the skins of the potatoes on as most of the nutrition is right under the skin.  Besides it looks nice.  I also chopped about a cup of mushrooms.

In a large saucepan I heated up the olive oil and sauteed the leeks and mushrooms.

After a few minutes I put in the potatoes to saute.

It is important to keep stirring so it doesn’t catch on the bottom.  Then I added about 4 cups of chicken stock and brought it up to a boil.  I also added about 1/2 a cup of dry sherry to start with.  I added a few more splashes to get the flavour right.

It needs to simmer on a “fast” simmer until the potatoes are cooked through.  I usually wait to salt and pepper it until the end as simmering it really gets the flavours together then you know how much salt and pepper to put in.

This is a simple soup full of flavour.  It takes about a 1/2 hour to make and is perfect for a cold day.


Roast Beef and Gravy

With the weather cooling down it was time for a roast.  We really enjoy a traditional Sunday roast but as we have dodgeball now we did it on a Saturday.  Because of the components to the roast I will do it in a few posts, otherwise this would be a very long post!

So off I went to the grocery store to get the roast beef.  They didn’t have any all natural roast beef out but fortunately the butcher was there and he said he could get me a nice cut.  He even did two so I could choose.  I chose the less expensive one.  🙂  Only needed a few pounds for our little family!

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

When I do a roast I make sure there is liquid in with the roast.  One, so the meat doesn’t dry out, and two so I have some nice fixings for the gravy.  To start I slice up a little bit of onion and garlic and put it in the base of the broiler pan.  I add rosemary and thyme.

Next I add water to nearly cover the veg and add about 1/2 cup of marsala wine and 1/4 cup of dry sherry.

I add the broiler tray on top of this and place the meat in the center.  Add salt and pepper and some olive oil to the meat.

Pop into the oven.  Some recipe books say about 20 minutes per pound.  Ours was 2.27lbs and to get it to about 130 F for rare we had it in there for an hour and 15 minutes.  So check the temp at about an hour to gauge where you are for the doneness you want.  Once done remove, cover with tin foil and let rest.  Resting is very important before you cut the meat.  It allows the juices to reabsorb into the meat.

Next, on to the gravy!  Pour the drippings into a pot on the stove.

Start the gravy simmering.  To thicken add flour or cornstarch which has been dissolved in water to the mixture.  Bring to a boil.  I ended up making this gravy a little too thick as I’m used to making a large batch of gravy for the holidays.  I got a little carried away!

Add salt and pepper to taste and I like to add gravy master to this.  It gives it a lovely colour and some seasoning to it.  Let it boil a minute or so then simmer.

Slice the roast beef to serve.  As it was just the four of us I put the gravy on as I was dishing out the food.  If it is a large group then I use a gravy boat for the table.

All that is left is to sit down and enjoy.  Prep time for this was about 5 minutes or so and to do up the gravy took less than 10 minutes.  It’s an easy meal with great results.



Risotto with Sherry Mushrooms

My husband and I enjoy watching Hell’s Kitchen.  Not so much Ramsey yelling all the time but we like the competition.  One thing that gets us is how often they screw up risotto.  And it always looks a beige brownish mess on telly.  I wouldn’t eat it!  But we do enjoy risotto and it is not hard to make.  Does ours always come out the same each time?  No but it’s close.  And no one yells at us!

This recipe makes enough for the four of us though that will change as the kids grow.

To start I heat up our homemade chicken stock. You need about 4 cups. This ensures you aren’t stalling the cooking process when you add it to the risotto.  Because homemade stock may not be that salty taste as you cook to see if you need to add salt as seasoning.

While that is simmering I prep the onions, garlic, mushroom and thyme. It’s about 1/2 an onion and a few mushrooms.  I have a cup of risotto ready. I also grate about a cup of parmesan cheese.  My daughter practiced her knife skills with the garlic.  I showed her how to mash and mince the garlic.

No fingers were lost in this production of risotto!  🙂

In a large skillet melt a couple of tablespoons of butter and saute the onions for a few minutes to soften.

Add in half the garlic ( we use about 3-4 cloves total) and saute for two minutes.  Then add in the risotto and again saute for 2 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of sherry.

At this point gradually add the broth as the risotto soaks it up.  Stir as it is cooking.  While this is cooking, in a separate skillet heat up some olive oil and toss in the mushrooms, thyme, and garlic.  Cook until the mushrooms start to brown then add in a bit of sherry and saute for a few minutes.

We have garden peas in the freezer which I used for this.  Because they were from our garden they take longer to cook than store bought, which I didn’t realise so I ended up using a bit more broth to cook than normal so this risotto came out slightly less creamy than usual.

When most of the broth has been absorbed add the grated cheese and mushroom mixture to the risotto.  Stir then serve.  When we were in Italy we learned that you don’t want the risotto to cook so much that it is mushy.  You don’t want it crunchy either but have it a bit al dente.

Serve with more cheese on top and enjoy!  This takes about 45 minutes total but is very easy to put together and there are many variations of risotto to try.




Mushroom Crostini

To go along with the bacon crostini I also did a mushroom crostini with the mushrooms we grew out of that kit.  This is also very easy to make and has a wonderful earthy flavour.

I chopped up the mushrooms.  Here I used shiitake and oyster mushrooms.  I also used garlic and lemon thyme.

I saute these ingredients in olive oil.  You could use butter if that is your preference. Once the mushrooms start to brown a bit I then put in some very dry sherry.  1/4-1/2 cup depending on the taste you are looking for.  While these are cooking toast up some crostinis with olive oil.

Spoon on and enjoy!  This takes less than twenty minutes to make so is a great dish when you are in a rush.


Bacon Crostini

One of the things we learned at the cooking class we took in Tuscany was crostinis.  Easy to make and great for a light meal or starters.  My husband makes amazing bread and he did up the baguettes for this.  Unfortunately I was at work so I don’t have any photos.  When I make them I will do a post.

To start I gathered some fresh rosemary from the garden.

Then I chopped up some bacon and onion.  The bacon is nitrate free that we can get at our grocery store.

I start rendering the bacon first, once there is enough bacon fat I through in the onions and rosemary to cook through.  To deglaze the pan and add flavour I usually splash in a bit of white balsamic vinegar.  It’s not real balsamic obviously but that’s what it says on the label.  I got distracted and splashed in dry sherry instead.  Fortunately it worked just as well.

While this is cooking put some olive oil on the sliced bread and toast.  Top the crostini and enjoy!

I usually do a decent batch of this because it is so delicious.  This is very good paired with a chablis or pinot grigio.