Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Love redefined

I am sure you have noticed the lack of beef dishes on my blog. But also the promise of a 'meaty future' to my husband (and a 7 year old daughter who has inherited his steak loving gene). Just as with baking, I find it difficult to put love into preparing beef. I love certain cuts, but they happen to also carry a big price tag: Filet Mignon, or a roast tenderloin, is what I can honestly say I enjoy. New York strip being a close second when barbecued, but other than that I love my veggies and, of course, bread - but especially veggies drenched in olive oil that then soak into fresh bread. Add some fresh herbs and I am a happy lady!

Yesterday I set out to take a less expensive Round Roast (cut from the leg, so it's a tougher cut, but with the right technique - braising - it does get quite tender), in hope of turning it into something spectacular. I carefully sweated out my flavour base: a trio of onion, carrot and celery. Then lovingly added fresh rosemary, sage and bay leaves plus a good amount of garlic. The beef was seared, which doesn't necessarily keep in the juices but does add an element of flavour to the dish. Everything was then topped with some stock and left alone to simmer for a good hour. Sounds yummy! But I just couldn't get in the mood... After an hour or so, I removed the beef, reduced the braising liquid, added a splash of lime and fresh black pepper. Still nothing...

Let's just say my husband gets to eat a bunch of beef over the next few days! I did eat a little - it was very tender, full of flavour. So I would say it IS possible to take a cheap cut of beef and make into something great. For those of us on a budget (and who isn't), this can be great news! But it looks as though this is not a place I personally can cut costs, and that's OK. I am OK with beef just once or twice a month.

So if you are reading this, and following my recipes, be prepared to get depth of flavour, sometimes crisp and fresh, other times robust - out of the ground, off of trees and snipped from an herb garden. That's where the love is! And should I invite you over for lunch some day, you may find yourself eating Bruschetta and Guacamole, with home made crispy bread and pita, of course!

Tomato Bruschetta with Basil

6 ripe tomatoes
fine sea salt
1 clove of garlic, make sure to remove any green from the middle of the clove
1/4 cup olive oil
pinch of cayenne
handful of fresh basil leaves

crusty bread, sliced 1/2 inch thick, about 3 inches in width
olive oil
a few cloves of garlic, halved

Dice the tomatoes into 1cm pieces. Place in a fine mesh sieve over a bowl or the sink. Sprinkle with a generous amount of salt (about 2 tablespoons) and allow the salt to pull the water out of tomatoes for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, mash a clove of garlic into a paste, either with a mortar and pestle or the side of a knife on a cutting board.
In a medium size bowl, combine the garlic, cayenne, olive oil and a handful of roughly chopped basil. When the tomatoes have drained, add them as well. Stir to combine.
Heat up a saute pan to medium high heat, add a good splash of olive oil. Crisp the bread slices on both sides.
Remove bread from the heat and immediately rub them with garlic.
Place a basil leaf on the bread, plus a heaping spoon of the tomatoes, and enjoy!

Add a thin slice of fresh mozzarella on top of the basil leaf to change it up once in a while! YUM.

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