Thursday, June 25, 2015

Beef Carpaccio or How I let my New Year's Eve blog post sit for way too long...

Howdy folks!

OK, after more than 6 months of procrastinating on the second part of a New Year's Eve post, I'm taking a simpler route and only presenting the best thing on the menu, which was the Beef Carpaccio.

Basically, beef carpaccio is a hunk of beef tenderloin, the cut of meat that filet mignon is cut from, quickly seared and pounded flat to an almost paper-like thickness (or thinness, I guess?).

Now, as tasty as a simple piece of high quality beef, it needs a bit of a tangy and vegetable counterpoint. Almost every version of the recipe that I've seen includes a salad of some kind or another, but the most prominent pairing I could find was arugula, so I used that and tried to put together a good dressing that would elevate the beefy goodness.

Truth is, you can't really beat the flavours of lemon and garlic in a dressing, especially when you're knee-deep in the cuisines of the Mediterranean that so prominently feature them.

Beef Carpaccio w. Arugula and Lemon-Garlic Dressing

For beef

- 1 lb. beef tenderloin
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed  
- 2 tbsp olive oil

For dressing

- 2 tbsp. olive oil (as high quality as possible)
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- juice of half a lemon
- pinch dried basil
- pinch dried oregano (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste

- 2 cups arugula, washed and dried


- Remove meat from the fridge at least an hour before cooking. Rub meat with 1 tbsp olive oil and salt, pepper and fennel seeds and let sit.
- Mix dressing ingredients with a whisk and refrigerate.  
- Once your meat is ready to be cooked, heat a frying pan on medium-high/high heat and heat the other 1 tbsp of oil until very hot.
- Sear meat on high heat until you get a good crust on all sides of the meat, reduce heat as needed to prevent oil from smoking. Expect the meat to be very rare, nearly raw in the middle; don't worry, it's supposed to be like that.
- Remove from heat and set to rest for at least 10 minutes.

Searing away!

- Now that your meat is seared, that's when the knife skills come into play. Using a sharp knife, cut meat against the grain as thinly as possible. 
- Place slices of meat on cutting board and pound with a meat hammer until paper thin. Don't go crazy or you'll tear the beef to shreds.
- Arrange slices of beef in a circle on a nice plate or serving tray (as opposed to the boring plate I used).
- Remove dressing from fridge. Take garlic out, whisk again and toss with the arugula. Using your hands or tongs, arrange the arugula in the middle of the serving plate.

Yes, the meat is close to raw, but it's awesome.

The best way to eat the carpaccio is with your fingers. Using a fork or something (like clean fingers or the Force), place a small bit of the arugula on the meat, maybe wrap it, and eat the heck out of it.

The flavour is, well, super-beefy, with the zing of the dressing and the peppery flavour of the arugula rounding out the bite perfectly. It was a fantastic dish and easy to prepare, make it if you get the chance. Trust me.


Saturday, June 13, 2015


Howdy folks!

As I've stated a few times before, I'm still pretty new and clumsy at this whole "dessert" deal. I can make a pretty good brownie, but that's about it...

But one of the cornerstones of life is learning, right?

So, in my quest to broaden my sugary horizons, I thought I should try my hand at making fudge. Because fudge.

Now, being a good Canadian boy, I decided that my first attempt should be Maple Fudge. 

I took to the Internet and had little trouble finding multiple recipes, but I found myself a little intimidated by the complexity of the recipes. Yeah, there were only a few ingredients, but there were ice baths involved and electric implements of all kinds... Yikes! You mean you can't make fudge with just a fork and elbow grease?!?!? Apparently not quite...

Fortunately, after a bit of tooling about on google, I was able to find a straightforward version that was easy enough for my rookie arse at, logically enough, But, being not so flush with syrup or nuts and basically being a cheap sonofagun, I tooled around with the ingredients a bit by replacing half the syrup with brown sugar and using bacon in place of nuts... I had a lot of bacon in the fridge... Also, bacon. And guess what? I was able to make it with just elbow grease (and a candy thermometer). It might not have been as smooth as a baby's butt and I doubt I'd sell it, but GODDAMN IT WAS TASTY; especially with bacon, even if the bacon-on-things food fad is super-passé.

Maple-Bacon Fudge

Makes about 24 small pieces


- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 2-3 strips bacon, cooked and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)


- In a small pot or saucepan, melt sugar, butter and syrup together on medium heat and bring to a gentle boil for about 5 minutes.
- Add cream and let cook until candy thermometer shows a temperature of 118°C (245°F).
- Stir in nuts (if using) and remove from heat.
- Beat mixture with an electric beater, or a whisk and elbow grease (the Brennan Method), for about 10 minutes until mixture stiffens up.
- Grease a square baking dish or similar receptacle, pour fudge in.
- Top fudge with cooked bacon and push in to make sure bacon stays on.
- Cool completely in fridge (about 1 hour), remove and cut into pieces and snarf the bejongus out of it!

Snarfy snarfy snarf snarf!!!!