Wing Night!

There’s no longer a free inch of shelf space in my house to display even one more small little cookbook. It’s gotten so bad that if I open the cupboard above the desk in our family room too quickly, one of the books or magazines stuffed on the top shelf is quite likely to fall on my head. And yet, I keep buying them. Hey, there’s still some free space under our bed in the master bedroom.

Fortunately my need for a cookbook “fix” has slowed dramatically since I started blogging a couple months ago. I’m inspired almost daily by a never-ending supply of creative recipes and pictures from other bloggers that leave me feeling hungry at all hours of the day. I have to say that it’s the best aspect of blogging.

I’ve tried quite a few of the recipes that I’ve come across, and I have a long list of recipes that I still want to try. Today I thought I’d share a couple simple recipes for something just about everyone I know loves—wings! I tried two recipes on the same night because, well, I just couldn’t decide which to try. Thanks to Eva of KitchenInspirations and Kay at Pure Complex for the inspiration.

With about three pounds of wings in total, I started out by halving the Maple Garlic Chicken Wings recipe and shaking the sauce and half the wings in a large baggie. I dumped the wings on a baking sheet lined with foil (as per Eva’s suggestion) and then added the Maple-Mustard Chicken Wings sauce (halved also) and the remaining wings to the baggie. I cooked them all at 400° for about an hour.

Set your table with some carrot sticks, a bowl of edamame, potato wedges and you’ve got yourself a wing night! Although my husband would say that it isn’t wing night without a cold frosty one, so be sure to grab a beer for the adults. (I added some chunky potato wedges sprayed with Pam Olive Oil and sprinkled with seasonings on a second baking sheet to the oven with the wings for the last half hour. I also made a quickie dipping sauce by adding a bit of bottled honey mustard dressing to some sour cream.)

Here are the links to the recipes:

Maple Garlic Chicken Wings

Grilled Maple-Mustard Chicken Wings

Advertisements

Beef Short Ribs with Orange Gremolata & Polenta

Beef short ribs have been on the menu of many of the meals that I would rank as highly memorable over the years. There was the dinner at Scalini Fedeli in Tribeca, New York City; an anniversary dinner at the Charles Inn Restaurant in Niagara-on-the-Lake; and a recent dinner in the Quinn Family Kitchen after a fun afternoon of skating (thank you Laura and Kevin). Whatever the occasion—fine dining or a casual family get-together—there’s just something about beef short ribs.

I had high expectations of this short rib recipe and I can tell you that it didn’t disappoint. I made it a while back when my good friend Pam from Ottawa came to spend a night with us—so for that reason alone it was a memorable evening. But the combination of the orange gremolata, short ribs and polenta made me unable to control myself—I must have eaten three bowls of this dish. It is comforting, hearty and very flavourful.

If you’ve never tried polenta, why not shake things up a bit? I saw chef Michael Smith make polenta with a can of cream-style corn many years ago and I’ve made it this way ever since.

Beef Short Ribs with Orange Gremolata

Adapted slightly from Judith Finlayson, Slow Cooker Recipes

  • 4 lbs beef short ribs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • ½ cup dry red wine

Directions

  1. Preheat oven on broil setting. Broil ribs on both sides until brown, about 10 minutes per side. Place in slow cooker.
  2. Heat oil over medium heat and add onions, carrots and celery and cook until soft. Add garlic, salt, pepper and thyme and cook for one minute. Sprinkle flour over mixture and cook, stirring for one minute. Add tomato paste, beef broth and wine and bring to a boil.
  3. Pour mixture over ribs and cook on high in slow cooker for 5 to 6 hours (or low for 10 hours) until ribs are tender and falling off the bone.

Orange Gremolata

  • ½ cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Grated orange zest from one orange (using a microplane)

Combine ingredients in a small bowl just before serving and pass at the table. (We passed the gremolata at the table, so you won’t see it in my photo!)

Polenta

  • 1 14-oz can cream-style corn
  • ½ can milk (use the empty corn can for measuring)
  • 1-1/2 can of water
  • ½ can of cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Add cream-style corn to medium sauce pan (with metal handle, so that it is oven safe) on medium heat.
  3. Add water, milk and butter and stir for a couple of minutes until butter is melted and well incorporated. Bring to a boil.
  4. Pour in cornmeal in a steady stream, stirring constantly. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes on the stove top and then cover with lid and cook in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes.

TIP:

  • If you want to make this on your stove top, follow step one. Then for step two, use a dutch oven and follow all steps noted. However, you’ll need to add extra liquid — increase the beef broth to 1-1/2 cups and increase the red wine to about 3 cups. Add short ribs to the dutch oven and cook covered on low heat for 1.5 to 2 hours until meet is fall off the bone.

Chocolate and Black Beans – Original or Common?

You may be starting to sense a chocolate theme in my recent posts. Well, this fascination with chocolate all started two weeks ago when my husband Kevin and I went to dinner at Victor Restaurant here in Toronto. The restaurant offers an Iron Chef dinner option, where you select a feature ingredient and they prepare a five-course dinner battle around that ingredient. Each chef or cook in the Victor Kitchen prepares a different course and you rank each of the courses based on four criteria. At the end of the meal, you tally up your scores and the chef or cook’s dish with the highest ranking wins. Doesn’t that sound fun?

So it’ll come as no surprise that we chose chocolate as our theme ingredient. That’s right—five glorious courses each prepared with chocolate in some shape or fashion. I’m going to summarize each of the dishes at the end of this post, but I want to start by telling you about our first course and how it inspired today’s recipe.

We started with: Chocolate Soup with Black Bean Salsa, topped with Crispy Pumpkin Seeds, Cilantro and Crispy Pork Belly and Tortilla Strips. As we tasted the delicious soup, Kevin started to work on his rankings and I have to say he was taking it all very seriously. When he got to the “how original or authentic was the dish” category, he started to talk about how the flavours were the same as my chili (which has a bit of chocolate in it) so he felt it wasn’t that original. I countered that it was in fact original for a savory chocolate soup to have those same flavours. Out came his BlackBerry, followed by a Google search on “chocolate and beans.” Well, this resulted in hundreds of black bean brownie recipes—but no chocolate and black bean soup recipes. In the end, Kevin still felt it wasn’t that original because obviously the chocolate and black bean combination was pretty popular in the form of brownies. So tell me, what do you think? Was this an authentic/original dish—or a common one? Which one of us was right?

I decided on the spot that I would make a Black Bean Brownie recipe for you as a tribute to this amazing dinner and our lively dinner debate. I whipped up a batch right away, altering the recipe a bit as I went along. The brownies were super easy to make and surprisingly tasty. The ponytails didn’t suspect for a minute that the brownies were made with beans. There you have it—flourless Chocolate Black Bean Brownies! Who knew? (Apparently the hundreds of people who have blogged about black bean brownies…)

Black Bean Brownies

Adapted from Allrecipies.com (Canada) by Elizabeth

  • 1 15.5 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp instant coffee (optional)
  • ½ cup chocolate chips (I used milk and white chocolate swirl chips)

 Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Lightly grease an 8” x 8” square baking dish.

3. Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips in a blender and blend until smooth.

4. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.

5. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top of dish.

6. Bake in preheated oven until top is dry and edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes.

Victor Restaurant (at Hotel Le Germain, Toronto)

Iron Chef Dinner — Theme Ingredient: Chocolate

Dish 1:   Chocolate Soup with Black Bean Salsa, topped with Crispy Pumpkin Seeds, Cilantro and Crispy Pork Belly and Tortilla Strips (Total score 34 out of 40; each of us could award up to 20 points, with up to 5 points in 4 categories)

Dish 2:   Lobster and Scallops with White Chocolate Velouté in Puff Pastry (Total score 40 out of 40; THE WINNER of the Challenge; prepared by the Salad Cook and apparently his 1st win!)

Dish 3:   Duck and Soba Noodles, with Chocolate, Mushrooms and Bacon in a Cocoa Butter Sauce (Total score 33 out of 40)

Dish 4:   Organic Beef Tenderloin, White Chocolate Potatoes Purée, Spinach, Pickled Onion and Beets, with Cocoa Sauce drizzled on the side (Total score 38 out of 40)

Dish 5:   Flourless Chocolate Cake, Brandied Cherries, Chocolate Ice Cream, and Chocolate Truffles with Crushed Praline (Total score 33 out of 40)

Essentially Victor’s five chefs/cooks created this menu just for us, as we were the only ones in the restaurant participating in the Iron Chef dinner that night. It was an absolutely unique and delicious dining experience that we both LOVED. I highly recommend the Iron Chef Dinner Challenge at Victor Restaurant. However, you must book your Iron Chef dinner well in advance when you provide them with your theme ingredient. It was $80 per person for the meal, and $40 per person for the wine pairings.


Two BFFs: Sweet and Salty

Bad or good; ugly or beautiful; sweet or salty—conventional wisdom has taught us that if one of these qualities holds true, then the opposite is automatically untrue. And then along came Thai cuisine into the mainstream a number of years ago, to teach us that sweet and salty can co-exist in mouth-wateringly delicious ways. Now it seems that we think nothing of adding salt to our caramels and other sweet confections.

This cookie bar recipe will show you that not only can sweet and salty get along well—they can in fact be BFFs. They get along so well that they are dangerous. Yes, these cookie bars are that good. It is dangerous for me to be alone with them, as they are dangerously good. Just ask the colleague who had one at our company pot luck last week. She chased me as I was picking up my Tupperware container, so that she could have the leftover crumbs. Yes, they are dangerous.

The credit for this recipe goes to Maria from Two Peas and Their Pod. (Her photos of these cookie bars are way better than my pic!) I didn’t change a thing because the recipe was perfect as is. I highly recommend this recipe, as these bars are super easy to make and a sure-fire hit for any pot-luck lunch or night home alone.

Chocolate Chip Salted Caramel Cookie Bars

  • 2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 10 ounces caramel candy squares, unwrapped (about 35 caramels by my calculations)
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Sea salt, for sprinkling over caramel and bars

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 2-quart baking pan (11 x 8 glass Pyrex dish).

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the melted butter and sugars together until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix on low, just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

4. In a large microwave safe bowl, combine the caramels and heavy cream. Microwave caramels on High until caramels are melted, stirring every 20 to 25 seconds. This will take about 2 minutes, depending on your microwave.

5. Divide the cookie dough in half. Press half of the cookie dough into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the spatula. Pour hot caramel over the cookie dough. Sprinkle caramel with sea salt. Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough over the caramel and spread dough with a spatula until the caramel is covered. Sprinkle the bars with additional sea salt.

6.Bake cookie bars for 30 minutes or until the top of the bars are light golden brown and the edges start to pull away from the pan. Cool bars on a wire rack to room temperature. Cut bars into squares and serve.