|So much tasty bread! We picked one called "Crazy Grains"|
"Hmmmm, what am I hungry for...? Wait, what the eff is that in the bottom right corner? Bread... Crème... Caramel...
|This (sweet) Bread Pudding was soooooo tasty. It had pieces of freakin' chocolate croissant in it!!!|
|The spokesmodel sure likes it!|
So, as we progressed from one end of Preston Street to the other, we noticed two things. First, there are a lot of Italian restaurants I want to try! Second, there is a marked lack of proper grocers/supermarkets in the area. There are maybe two fully appointed grocers: Casa Nicastro, which was a smurf-village version of La Bottega Nicastro in the Byward Market (more on that later), but we did pick up some lovely Pecorino Romano cheese from there, and Luciano's (mentioned earlier). But upon inspection of Luciano's, they a) were ridiculously remiss in their supply of fruits and veg, and b) didn't have meat that was any better of cheaper than what could be found in the Market. So we pretty much made up our minds to head home with what we had, hop a bus to the Market, and get our foodstuffs from people who already know our names! OK, maybe there's a neighbourhood bias leaking out, sorry...
|That's a big sammich!|
|Onions - cheap and plentiful!|
|Byward Fruit Market - 36 Byward Market Square|
|Aubrey's Meats - 59 York Street|
- 1 loaf of rustic whole grain bread, cut into large cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions, large, peeled and chopped
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup 35% whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 8 ounces grated parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
1.Preheat your oven to 400°F. Put bread onto a baking sheet and toast it in the oven for 15 minutes or so. Remove when it is golden brown and crispy. This adds tremendous flavour and dries out the bread which helps it absorb the pudding mixture. Cool the bread until you can handle it.
2.While the bread toasts sauté the onions in a large skillet with the olive oil. Sauté until softened and golden brown then add the garlic which would burn in the time it takes the onions to brown. Sauté for another few minutes.
3.Pour the tomatoes and onion mixture into a large bowl along with the cream, oregano, cheese, eggs, salt and pepper and whisk well. Toss the toasted bread into the mixture and let it rest a few minutes allowing it to soak up all the liquid. Oil an 8 x 8-inch baking pan and pour the mixture into it. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. NOTE: DO NOT OVERBAKE! We did and well, look at the result:
|Yeah, the top is not supposed to be black. D'oh...|
The next item, the Steakhouse Mushroom Stew turned out much better, it was quite tasty. The only drawback with this was that there was so much going on flavour-wise that we couldn't quite taste all the different mushrooms we were using.
Steakhouse Mushroom Stew (by Michael Smith - Chef at Home)
- 1 pound mixed mushrooms, shiitake, oyster, portabello, button and cremini (we added the wood blewits and reconstituted some dry ones
- 1/4 cup butter- 2 onions, peeled and sliced
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
- 1 tablespoon soya sauce
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup 35% whipping cream
1. Trim the mushrooms as needed, removing any tough stems. Cut larger mushrooms into smaller pieces. Smaller mushrooms may be left whole or simply halved to show off their form. Rinse them well then roll in a towel to dry them off.
2. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat then add the butter and onions and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes until they’re golden brown. Add the mushrooms and continue. Once they release moisture and become a bit "soupy" add the soya sauce, thyme and pepper. Continue cooking until the mushrooms are tender and most of the moisture has evaporated, concentrating the flavour. Add the cream and stir until the sauce has thickened.
|Mmmmm, shroomy goodness!|
What REALLY made the meal was the main course. The Tuscan-Style Steak Salad was one of the tastiest mains I've had in a very long time and I'll definitely be using this recipe again:
Tuscan Grilled Beef Salad (by Michael Smith - Chef at Home)
- 1 large striploin steak, 24 ounces or more, 4-inches thick, bone-in if possible (it's pretty hard to find steaks like this pre-cut, so we used a couple of 1-inch thick 10 oz. striploins. As long as you cook them rare to medium-rare, they'll be fantastic.)
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 bottle of premium extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound baby arugula, or more (as mentioned, we could only find a spring salad mix, so I'm curious as to what the flavour would be if we used arugula)
- 8 ounces fresh basil leaves (optional)
- 1 lemon, juiced and zested
- Coarse sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper peppercorns
- 8 ounces chunk of authentic Parmigiano Reggiano (we might have used Pecorino instead, it was still DAMN tasty!)
1.Preheat your favourite grill to high. Meanwhile puree the garlic and oregano with a few splashes of the olive oil. Slather the marinade all over the steak.
2.Once the grill is hot, season the steak with salt and pepper and begin slowly grilling it. Take your time and keep an eye on the grill heat, adjusting to prevent burning. A large steak takes longer to cook as heat penetrates to its center, enough time for the exterior to brown and potentially scorch. Flip as it sears, once it has browned, flip it frequently to further prevent burning. Use your best judgment to gauge doneness. Poking, prodding, pinching, probing even peeking. A meat thermometer works well even a sneak peak at the interior is better than guessing. A piece of beef this large should be cooked to medium rare or rare to maximize its juiciness, well done would be criminal! It may take 20 minutes or more. When it's done rest the steak for ten minutes or so, give the meat a chance to relax and reabsorb its moisture. Pre-mature slicing releases agitated hot moisture that is lost as juice. Rest before slicing.
3.As the beef grills get everything ready for the tableside presentation. Mound the arugula and basil leaves in the middle of a large festive platter. Present the steak to your table on a wooden cutting board with a sharp knife. Once the steak has rested slice it very thinly and arrange the slices around the arugula. Sprinkle everything with lots of olive oil from a special bottle. You may theatrically zest the lemon over the salad then squeeze on the juice. Season with liberal sprinkles of coarse sea sat with lots and lots of freshly ground peppercorns, coarsely ground. Last but not least, using a vegetable peeler, garnish the works with shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano.
|Pretty and tasty!|
So, in the end, not every culinary adventure ends up quite the way we expect it. But isn't the journey itself the important part? Or maybe it's a simple matter of this: No day that ends in steak can ever be considered disappointing.
Till next time! Enjoy!