Rosemary & Balsamic Beef Fillet on Garlic, Arugula Pesto Crostini + Grilled Zucchini, Roasted Cashew, Parmesan Salad

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A variation on some recipes I found in my ‘Plenty’ and ‘Relaxed Cooking by Curtis Stone’ cookbooks. I’ve written out the recipes in the flow that I did them, including the variations I improvised with. You may find a different way works for you, or you may even want to substitute some ingredients… but I heartily recommend you try at least the crostinis with arugula pesto – so yummy!

INGREDIENTS

Salad:

  • 2 medium zucchinis
  • Mixed greens/mescaline
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Cashews/pistachios/nut of your choice
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Pepper
Crostinis:
  • Baguette
  • 1 lb beef tenderloin/beef you can slice
  • Rosemary (fresh or dried)
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic powder or chopped garlic cloves
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Balsamic vinegar
Arugula Pesto:
  • Arugula
  • Olive oil
  • Walnuts or pine nuts (I used walnuts)
  • Parmesan
  • Pepper
  • Salt
STEPS
Arugula Pesto:
beef2Wash a big handful of arugula and place it in a food processor with a few tablespoons of olive oil, pepper, and your walnuts/pine nuts. Put the lid on and mix. If it doesn’t mix to a paste put a bit more olive oil in and try again.
Then add 2-3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese and mix again.
Set aside.
 
Grilled Zucchini, Roasted Cashew & Shaved Parmesan Salad:
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  •  Grill the Zucchini: Turn the heat up high on your griddle/sandwich press. As it heats, wash the zucchini then slice and coat it with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill the zucchini when the griddle is hot. Remove from heat and let cool.
  • Roast the Nuts: Place the nuts in a skillet and heat it on Medium to toast them. Shake the pan every so often to prevent burning. Remove from heat when they’ve browned a bit and set aside to cool.
  • Prep the Salad Greens: Wash and drain the salad (I highly recommend a salad spinner for this) and place in a bowl. Drizzle a bit of olive oil and balsamic over the leaves, then grate some pepper, and mix.
  • Mix ‘Em Together: Throw on the zucchini, nuts, and grate some Parmesan on top.
It’s now ready to serve.

Crostini – Preparing the Bread:

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Thinly slice the baguette and arrange on a pan. Drizzle some olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder (or chopped garlic) on top. Heat in oven for about 5 mins (or until bread starts to brown). Turn off the oven but leave the bread in there to keep warm until the beef is ready.

Beef:
beef4Heat a skillet to medium-high.
Slice the beef thinly and coat it in some olive oil, a light drizzle of balsamic, some salt and pepper and rosemary. (If you’re using fresh rosemary pull the leaves off the sprigs.)
Line the pan with the beef, let it cool a minute or two then flip. The goal is to sear and cook it while still leaving a bit of pink in the middle.
Remove from heat.
To assemble the crostinis:
You can either pre-assemble all of them or place the pesto, hot bread and beef at the centre of the table for diners to help themselves to (which is what I did).
Here’s what you do:
– Spread some pesto on a slice
– Put some beef on it
– Put a bit more pesto on top
Savour the deliciousness!
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B.A.T. Sandwich

The B.A.T. = Bacon, Arugula and Tomato.

Now, I love the classic flavours of a BLT, but I thought I’d try some things differently to kick this standard dish up a notch… and boy was it worth it!

Some extras that make this sandwich special are the oozing melted cheeses (aged cheddar and mozzarella), the warmth and crunch of the toasted bread and the fact that the arugula and tomatoes are lightly sauteed. The little extras go a long way for making this sandwich such a delight to eat.

What you need:

  • bread slices (number depends on number of sandwiches made)
  • butter or margarine
  • a good chunk of each mozzarella and aged cheddar, grated finely
  • tomatoes, sliced
  • arugula
  • bacon
  • a sandwich press/griddle (or large frying pan if you don’t have one)
  • fresh black pepper

What you do:

  • Turn on your sandwich griddle to preheat
  • Butter both sides of each bread slice
  • In a frying pan, place tomato slices down and throw in arugula– ensure both become heated enough to darken and start to soften. Set aside (try to keep them separate).
  • Fry your bacon.
  • On the bottom bread slices of each sandwich, layer on the sauteed arugula. Then your bacon (you may have to cut bacon pieces in half). Then sauteed tomato. Sprinkle on a bit of fresh black pepper. Then add a generous amount of each cheese, covering everything.
  • Place top bread slices on.
  • 2 at a time, grill them in your sandwich griddle, giving the lid a firm press down. (Or grill in a frying pan and press down with spatula.)
  • When the cheese starts to ooze out, plate the sandwiches, cut ’em in half and enjoy!

* Tips for cooking bacon: I usually put my bacon on a cold pan so they don’t scorch (spread out flat), then turn the heat on to medium-low. Turn frequently to prevent burning. I sometimes press the fat against the pan to help it melt off. — and salad tongs are super helpful!

Old Cheddar Cheeseburgers w/ Sauteed Arugula & Mushrooms

This was a spontaneous first attempt at hamburgers and they turned out not too shabby, if I may say so. I shared the meal with K and my littlest brother, P– we all reached for seconds. The old cheddar and lightly sauteed arugula added great flavour kicks, and the sauteed mushrooms added that extra layer of texture that I’m so fond of.

Because I made them on the fly, I don’t have any measurements recorded– but that’s ok because cooking is largely about interpretation to your own tastes! Here’s an outline of what to do– I hope you like them too!

What you need:

  • 1 small cooking onion, finely chopped
  • about 1 lb (500 g) ground beef (this was extra lean)
  • 2-3 tomatoes (sliced and put into a small serving bowl)
  • 1 package pre-sliced cremini mushrooms (or buy whole and slice them yourself)
  • 2 big handfuls arugula
  • approx. 2 tbsp. yellow mustard (I used French’s)
  • old cheddar (slices to top burgers)
  • sea salt (about 1/4 tsp)  and black pepper (about 1/2 tsp)
  • hamburger buns of your choice (I prefer with sesame seeds– again, for texture)

What to do:

  1. Wash mushrooms and place in a small, covered pot and steam over medium heat until soft. You may have to add a bit of water if the pot starts to get dry. *Let them cook as you do everything else below.* Place into small serving bowl once soft.
  2. In a large pan (the one you’ll use for the burgers), sautee the arugula until it darkens and softens (about 1 minute). Set aside in a small serving bowl.
  3. In a large bowl, combine meat, onion, salt, pepper, and mustard. Mix well with hands.
  4. In the large pan used for the arugula, place as many burgers as will fit reasonably, cooking on medium-low heat (not too high so you don’t burn the meat). Flatten burger patties to about 1.5 cm thickness as you load them into the pan. Flip after cooked on one side, cook completely.
  5. Add cheese slices on top of each fully-cooked burger just before setting them aside on a large serving plate.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until all burgers are cooked.
  7. To eat, have family or guests place each burger on a bun and top with the sauteed arugula, mushrooms, and sliced tomato. Bon Appetit!

Morrocan Beef Salad

I found this unique recipe in the August 2010 issue of Style at Home Magazine. They do this great food feature in each issue called “Fast 5”: “Donna Hay’s fresh quickies for every night of the week”. I tried this one out and it was so yummy, festive, and totally fresh-tasting.

I couldn’t find any marinating steak so I substituted veal and grilled it through, and I didn’t end up needing all of the spices (I pre-mixed them to ensure the flavour was uniform throughout). Nevertheless, I’ll copy the recipe below since it’s so simple, and you can do with it what you wish!  (The image above is the result I had.)

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Directions:

Rub an inside or outside round marinating steak with 2 tsp (10 mL) each ground cumin and sweet paprika, and sea salt and pepper. Drizzle with oil. Marinate for 10 minutes. Barbecue for 5 minutes on each side or until medium-rare (I say grill it to your preference). Slice and serve with a salad of feta, drained canned chickpeas, mint leaves, sliced tomato, and lemon juice.

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Summary of Ingredients:

  • inside or outside round marinating steak (or veal, as I used)
  • 2 tsp (10mL) each ground cumin, paprika
  • sea salt and pepper (to your taste)
  • oil
  • feta
  • canned chickpeas, drained
  • mint leaves (I chopped mine)
  • sliced tomato
  • lemon juice

Grilled Turkey & Brie Croissant Sandwiches

I got the idea for these sandwiches after eating lunch at Pusateri’s one day. They’ve got a delicious turkey-brie croissant sandwich that they put blueberry mayo into (instead of the black currant jam that I had in my fridge), but either will do.

I added the apple for the extra “crunch” texture, and I highly recommend it.

Grilling these sandwiches makes all the difference. They’re still good cold, but sooo good hot.

Here’s what you need:

  • croissants
  • smoked turkey cold cuts
  • brie cheese, sliced to about 1/4 inch thick
  • arugula or spinach (or both, in my case)
  • apple, *thinly* sliced
  • a dark berry jam (or berry mayo)

Here’s what you do:

  • Cut all croissants open.
  • Spread small amount of jam along top inner croissant halfs.
  • Place about 2-3 layers of turkey on croissant bottom halfs.
  • Layer in the greens (arugula/spinach), then some apple on top.
  • Next put on the brie, and close the sandwiches up.
  • Grill them with an indoor grill or a good ol’ pan, “grilled-cheese”-style.

Bon Appetit!

Honey Dijon Glazed BBQ Chicken

This chicken ended up being so tasty that leftovers were out of the question!

Experimenting, I concocted this super simple glaze that definitely worked.

Ready? Here’s all you need:

  • Honey
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Chicken Thighs

Here’s all you do:

  • In a bowl, add enough honey and dijon mustard to coat however much chicken you have at the following ratio: about 4 tbsp honey to 1 tbsp dijon
  • grind in the amount of black pepper that suits your taste
  • mix mix mix mix mix with a spoon
  • Coat the chicken, then grill.  (You can use a real BBQ, an indoor grill, or even a pan if you don’t have either.)

That’s all folks!

I served it with green beans and garlic butter-coated tiny red potatoes.

Egg “Muffins”

These yummy little things are a cinch to whip up, and you can customize them in all sorts of ways! They’re fantastic for breakfast or for a hearty mid-day snack. My dad invented them one morning and they’ve become a Sunday morning staple for our family. The great thing about them is that you can throw in whatever veggies, meat and cheese you have, as long as you’ve got eggs. Don’t underestimate the punch these little things pack, though– they’re quite filling!

Egg “Muffins” (the way I did them here)
(Makes 6)

  • 1/2 a tomato, sliced
  • 2 stalks green onion, chopped
  • cheese (amount and type is your choice– I used Old Cheddar here), thinly sliced
  • 6 cold cuts (I used smoked chicken breast here) (OR, you can even use smoked salmon!)
  • freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 6 eggs
  • grease of your choice (oil or butter)– I use butter

Preheat oven to 300 F.
Grease each muffin cup.
Press 1 cold cut (or salmon) into the bottom of each muffin cup.
Crack an egg into each cup (don’t worry about keeping the yolk intact).
Place a tomato slice, and sprinkle some green onion, onto each one.
Ground some black pepper onto each one.
Bake until clear egg whites become white.
Remove from oven and add some cheese onto each one.
Bake again until cheese has melted and eggs have risen slightly.
Remove each egg “muffin” carefully with a fork & enjoy!