Thai Beef and Noodle Salad

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This is another really great recipe that I got from my mom (she always finds the best recipes!) I’m not a huge eater of red meat, but when I do eat it I enjoy it – and it was very enjoyable in this salad! The dressing, made with fish sauce, sesame oil, fresh ginger, and others, had a nice tang to it that was prefect for the current summer weather, and the fresh vegetables added to the crispness of the salad. Enjoy!

Thai Beef and Noodle Salad

Ingredients:

1 lb linguine or other fine noodle
I use: 1/2 lb rice noodles & 1 bag of salad greens
1 lb skirt steak
1 1/2 cup of roughly chopped mixture of cilantro, mint, basil
2 carrots peeled and thinly sliced ( 2 inch long)
1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
1/2 cup roughly chopped roasted peanuts

Steak marinade:

2 cloves garlic crushed
1 T fish sauce
2 T soy sauce
1 T sugar

Dressing:

2 T and 2 teaspoon fish sauce
2T and 2 teaspoon sesame oil
1T soy sauce
3 teaspoon Sriracha
4 T brown sugar
4 T peeled, minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 4 limes)

Directions:

Marinate the steak. (Large zip lock bags work great.). Place in refrig for at least 30 minutes and up to one day. The longer it marinates the better. Remove from refrig 15 min before grilling/cooking. Grill for 4 1/2 min on each side, let rest for awhile covered in aluminum foil, then slice thinly. Can also cook in frying pan over medium heat.

Cook noodles al dente, drain. If using rice noodles make sure they don’t stick together when cooking or pull apart if they did stick. Mix some of the dressing with noodles.

Place noodles, salad, and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add 2/3 of the steak and add remaining dressing and toss all together. Top with the remaining steak and the chopped peanuts.

 

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Vitello Tonnato (Veal with Tuna Sauce)

 

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Vitello Tonnato, or Veal with Tuna Sauce, is a typical dish from the northern Piedmont region of Italy, from where the Italian hails. In Italy it is usually served as an antipasto but can also make a good main course, and it is considered beautiful, elaborate and appropriate for a high-end dinner. It is a very summery dish as the thinly sliced meat is served cold, and it is also the traditional centerpiece of the Ferragosto dinner in Milan (Assumption Day, August 15). However, it can also work in the winter months, and many Piedmontese families serve it as part of Christmas dinner.

I’ve personally eaten the dish several times prior to attempting to cook it: once made by the Italian’s mamma in her classic Torinese apartment; once at a authentically rustic agriturismo (essentially a restaurant that uses local and farm-grown products); and once at a beautiful wedding of a friend in the sprawling hills of Turin.

It’s an unusual combination – veal and tuna – but somehow it just works and produces this incredibly tasty dish. The creative combination makes it seem as though it would be a more modern, inventive dish, but actually it is quite classic and traditional. A recipe for Vitello Tonnato can be found in Pellegrino Artusi’s well-loved “Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well”, first published in Florence in 1891.

The Italian and I have been talking about trying our hand at cooking the dish for more than a year now, and we finally decided to give it a go one warm and summery day in London. The end result was very good, although we did struggle to cut the meat slices as thinly as they would at a restaurant. Given our rather rudimentary selection of cookery and slicing tools, I think we did a pretty decent job!

*Note, the recipe can also be made with beef instead of veal, although if going this route it is best to choose a cut of beef that is less strong in taste (typically from younger cows or manzo as they say in Italian).

Ingredients:

  • 3 Hard boiled eggs
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 Celery stick
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • Balsamic vinegar, to taste
  • Anchovies (6 fillets)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup white wine (3/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp Rosemary
  • Water
  • 1/2 kilo Veal
  • 15 Capers
  • 1 can Tuna
  • 1 tsp Cloves
  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large pot. Place the veal in the pot along with the carrot, celery, onion (cut in half or quartered), rosemary, cloves, and a pinch of salt. Pour white wine over the contents of the pot and simmer for a few minutes to slightly brown the meat.

Add 8 cups of water to the pot or until the meat is completely covered in the water. Let the meat cook over low heat for an hour and a half or two hours. When the veal is cooked, turn off the heat and let the broth cool.

For the tuna sauce, place in a large bowl the canned tuna, chopped boiled eggs, anchovies, capers. Puree in a blender, adding a bit of olive oil and broth from the veal in order to make a soft, creamy sauce. Can also add lemon juice to the cause (to taste). Be careful to not add too much broth or the sauce will become too liquid and runny.

Cut the cooked veal into thin slices, as thin as possible. Place the veal slices onto a serving plate. Spread balsamic vinegar (to taste) on top of each veal slice. Then top that with the creamy tuna sauce. Garnish with capers, black olives, shaved parmigiano reggiano and a sprinkle of parsley.

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Fondue Bourguignonne

Fondue Bourguignonne is a new dish for me, and something that the Italian has been talking about for the nearly three years we’ve been together. When he first mentioned it, I had envisioned Beef Bourguignon, the stew prepared with beef braised in red wine. This recipe was familiar to my American ears due to the American public’s general fixation with Julia Child and her famous recipe book that includes such French classics as Beef Bourguignon. Alas, this is not the bourguignon that the Italian had in mind, as I discovered during our most recent dinner party.

Indeed, the dish was not a stew but in fact made in a large metal pot and served fondue-style. It is a great dish to have at a party as it is family-style with the guests skewering and cooking their own meat. There were eight of us sharing the same fondue pot, a nice, heavy metal contraption the Italian and I had recently bought on Amazon. It heated the oil perfectly and will probably be used for future fondue endeavors of the cheese and chocolate variety.

The meats in the Fondue Bourguignonne process are served with an array of different sauces, of which choices are limitless. We had a number of sauces, both homemade and bought, that included: Dijon mustard, ketchup, English chutney, gherkins, mayonnaise, tartar sauce, Chinese chilli sauce, homemade curry sauce, homemade green sauce, and homemade blue cheese sauce. They were all delicious and went excellently with our meats, which included a choice of beef, chicken and pork, although meatballs or just about any other kind of meat would also work.

The most difficult part of the whole thing was getting the meat on the skewer when its raw. The second most difficult part was deciding which sauce to eat at that particular moment. The easiest part was eating it. They were all delicious!

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A line of sauces for our meat

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The homemade sauces

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Skewers ready to go

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Meat ready to be skewered

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Cooking the meat

Fondue Bourguignonne 

Ingredients:

Four cups vegetable oil or other good quality oil (such as sunflower)

8 ounces beef tenderloin, cut into small cubes or strips

8 ounces chicken breast, boneless and skinless, cut into small cubes or strips.

8 ounces of pork (any meat of choice), cut into small cubes or strips.

Directions:

Heat oil in a fondue pot until very hot. While oil is heating cut the meat into cubes and arrange on plates, raw.

Place sauces in separate bowls on table.

To eat, spear the meat with a skewer and place in pot, cooking a few minutes or until crispy.

Remove from skewer and eat with a fork. Dip in sauces, and enjoy!

Salsa Verde (Green Sauce)

Salsa Verde, also known as Bagnet Vert, is a traditional sauce from Piedmont, the region from where the Italian hails. It is simple but flavourful and is typically served with meats. In addition to the Fondue Bourguignonne, people from Piedmont serve it with another typical dish about which I’ve written, the “Bollito”, or boiled meats.

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Salsa Verde

Ingredients:

Parsley – 120 grams

Cappers – 1 T

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 100 grams

Anchovies – 3 fillets

Two hard-boiled egg yolks

Pepper – to taste

Garlic – two cloves

Red Wine Vinegar – 50 grams

Old, stale crustless bread bread – cubed, 80 grams

Directions:

Cut the crust off the old bread and cube it. Soak the cubes in vinegar.

Cut the stems off the parsley.

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Curry Sauce

Ingredients:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons (or more) curry powder optional

1/2 chopped onion

Directions:

Cook the onions in a pot in olive oil over medium heat until translucent. Let the onions chill. Mix all ingredients together. Add more seasoning if desired.

Blue Cheese Sauce

Ingredients:

5 oz (150 g) crumbled blue cheese

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 crushed garlic clove

chopped parsley

8 oz milk

salt and pepper

Directions:

Melt ingredients in saucepan over medium heat until combined. Serve.

Polpette al Sugo (Meatballs in Sauce)

In Italy, meatballs are a dish that stands on its own – they are not tainted with pasta as in the classically American “spaghetti and meatballs”. They are served as a secondo, or a second course which is usually a meat course that follows the primo, typically a pasta dish. The Italian and I made meatballs the other day and had a lot of fun making this hands-on food.  They were also quite tasty and I didn’t even miss the pasta!

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Ingredients:

Minced beef – 500 grams

Bread – two slices

Salt and Pepper to taste

Parsley – 2 tsp

Garlic – 3 cloves

Nutmeg – 1/4 tsp

Eggs – 3

Parmesan cheese – 1/2 cup grated

Fresh basil – 3-4 leaves

Canned tomato sauce – 1 can

Onion – 1

Olive oil – 1 Tablespoon

Directions:

Chop the slices of bread (or use pre-made bread crumbs) into squares. Place the minced beef in a mixing bowl and add the bread crumbs, parmesan, parsley, eggs, salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Knead the mixture with your hands and then let it sit for an hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the tomato sauce. In a frying pan, simmer the oil, garlic and chopped onion until the onion becomes translucent. Add the tomato sauce and season with salt and pepper. Let this simmer until the sauce reduces.

Begin to form the meatballs by taking about 2 Tablespoons of the meat mixture and shaping it into a ball with the palm of hands.

When the tomato sauce has reduced, add the meatballs to the pan and simmer for about 20-30 minutes on low heat. Add the basil leaves about five minutes before removing from heat.

When the meatballs are cooked through, remove from the flame. Serve hot.

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Lamb Chili with White Beans

I am a big fan of chili, winter or summer, and have been known to experiment with different kinds of meats, beans, and vegetables. Turkey chili has been a long-standing favorite and a go-to recipe when I need some easy-to-make yet tasty comfort food. One of the other things I like about chili is its freezability, as well as the fact that it makes great leftovers.

While perusing chili recipes online the other day, I came across this one for lamb chili, something I’ve never tried before. I found the recipe in the Dining section of the New York Times, and it came out wonderfully. Served with a bit of yogurt, it reminded me of a trip to Greece last year where we frequently ate lamb skewers and Tzatziki. (Tzatziki is another favorite recipe of mine, but I’ll have to get to that one later.)

No pictures this time as chili doesn’t necessarily appear the most appetizing on an iphone, but I thought the recipe should be documented as a favorite nonetheless!

Lamb Chili with White Beans

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound ground lamb

Kosher salt and black pepper

1 onion, finely chopped

2 or 3 bell peppers, seeded and diced

1 small bunch cilantro, cleaned

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 small jalapeños, seeded, if desired, and finely chopped (or sub 1.5 T of dried chili flakes)

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 1/2 cups cooked white beans (homemade or canned)

Plain yogurt, preferably sheep’s milk, for serving

Directions:

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and cook, breaking up with a fork, until well browned, 5 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Transfer meat to a paper towel-lined plate.

Add the onion and bell peppers. Cook until the vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Finely chop 2 tablespoons of the cilantro stems and add to the pot. Stir in the garlic and jalapeño (or chili flakes) and cook 2 minutes. Add coriander and cumin, and cook 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until it begins to turn brown.

Return the lamb to the pot. Stir in 4 cups water, the beans and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Simmer over medium-low heat for 45 minutes; add more water if the chili becomes too thick. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Ladle into bowls, and top with a dollop of yogurt and a squeeze of lime. Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.