Tag Archives: smoked paprika

Beef Roasts and Dirty Little Secrets

24 Jan

oven roast beef

Everyone has his or her own dirty little secrets. Some bloggers even write about those secrets. Up to now, I haven’t been one of those bloggers.

Here’s my dirty little secret for today: I’m quite comfortable in the kitchen, and there are few dishes I haven’t attempted to make, or wouldn’t consider attempting. But I’d never made a roast of beef until recently. I have no idea why, really. In theory, it’s dead simple. You find yourself a large cut of beef, prep it with a spice rub, or even just salt and pepper, and throw it in the oven for several hours until it’s done. Really, a roast does most of the cooking for you.

Of course, that may be why it took me so long to make my first beef roast. I like to play in the kitchen. My brain rationalizes cooking as an active thing—chopping, mixing, stirring. Putting something in the oven or a slow cooker and leaving it be just kind of freaks me out, I guess.

But my most recent assignment as a Canada Beef brand ambassador was to cook a roast of beef—which was exactly the nudge I needed to finally cross this one off my never-cooked list.

Canada Beef’s consumer information site, BeefInfo.org, has a ton of useful tips on making a roast of beef—everything from what cuts to look for, to how long to cook the roast, and of course, recipe ideas. I certainly scoured the site as I was figuring out how to tackle this meal.

One of the most daunting, and eye-opening, elements for me was how to buy a roast. Frankly, I always thought that a beef roast was a beef roast. But it turns out that there are several roast cuts you can choose from, which come from different parts of the cow. Premium roasts come from the loin and rib; they’re more tender, but more expensive. Then there are cuts from the hip. They’re leaner and cheaper. I opted for the latter category, buying a sirloin tip roast.

wet rub for meat

I made a wet rub for my roast, mixing 1.5 teaspoons of smoked paprika, a half teaspoon each of cinnamon and cumin, one minced garlic clove, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard and a few generous grinds of salt and pepper, plus a few drops of water to bring everything together. I covered the roast in the rub and let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours so the flavours could work their way into the meat.

To cook my roast beef, I followed Canada Beef’s tip of starting the process by oven-searing the beef. Place the roast in a shallow roasting pan, and cook uncovered in a 450 F oven for 10 minutes, before reducing the heat to 300 F for the rest of the cooking time. To be honest, I didn’t think this got the best sear on the meat and I’ll try their alternate suggestion next time—searing on the stove top in a bit of oil, before putting it into the oven at 300 F.

roast beef pan

From there, as Tom Petty once sang, the waiting is the hardest part. Cooking time will depend on the weight of your roast and the degree of doneness you want from your meat. Check out the cooking time chart here for a guideline, but a foolproof method is to use a digital meat thermometer (the team at Canada Beef were kind enough to send all their beef ambassadors one to cook with); you select the type of meat you’re cooking, the doneness level you want (rare, medium or well-done), and the thermometer lets you know when your roast has reached the target internal temperature.

When my roast was done—I bought a five-pound roast to serve a small crowd, and was going for medium-well, so the cooking time was a little over three hours—I let it sit for 20 minutes or so before slicing. This is an important step if you want your roast to be tender and juicy after you cut it.

Turns out that all my food abandonment issues were for naught. The roast turned out great, and it gave us plenty of leftovers for lunch. And, really, what’s better than an easy, hands-off dinner that’s sure to leave you with bonus meals?

A Holiday Cocktail: The Smoked Sammon

19 Dec

Belvedere vodka cocktail

Whether or not you’re as food crazed as I am, everyone has food memories they associate with the holidays. Growing up, the appetizer table at Christmas dinner always included a smoked salmon platter, sometimes paired with a dill cream cheese, and often garnished with cucumber and lemon slices.

So, when I was asked by the team at Off The Grid to participate in a promotion where Toronto cocktail fanatics were asked to create a holiday tipple using Belvedere vodka*, my thoughts turned to one of my favorite holiday food memories. Those who’ve followed this blog know I’ve never shied away from unusual cocktail ingredients or smoky flavours (truthfully, I have a strong preference for brown spirits), so putting together a cocktail reminiscent of a smoked salmon platter was a welcome challenge.

The result: The Smoked Sammon (The name is a play on the name of the street I live on… and a reflection of the fact there is definitely no actual fish in this drink!).

cucumber Belvedere smoked paprika

To make this drink, step 1 is infusing the vodka with cucumber and dill. Peel, halve and de-seed half an English cucumber, then chop the halves into small chunks. Throw the cucumber into a mason jar, or any container with a tight seal, along with a handful of fresh dill. Pour in half a bottle of Belvedere vodka and close the lid. Store in the fridge for three to four days to infuse, and give the jar a gentle shake once a day.

Step 2: create the “smoke” for your cocktail. For this, I made a smoked paprika simple syrup, an idea I borrowed from Toronto chef Matt Kantor. Heat 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of water and 2 tablespoons of smoked paprika in a saucepan over medium heat for 10 minutes or so, until the sugar is dissolved. Let the syrup cool completely, then store in the fridge in a Tupperware (it’ll keep for several days).

Finally, make your drink. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and shake together 2 ounces of the infused vodka, half an ounce of your smoked paprika syrup and a few dashes of citrusy bitters to round things out (I used Bittered Sling’s Lem-Marrakech Bitters). Pour into a cocktail glass over ice, and garnish with a slice of cucumber from your infused vodka.

*Thanks to Belvedere and offthegridto.com for supplying me with a bottle of vodka to play with. To check out more cocktail creations, visit Off The Grid.

Eggs Benny with Zucchini Latkes and Smoked Paprika Hollandaise

12 Mar

Zucchini Benedict Smoked Paprika Hollandaise

Last week, I finally got around to creating a dedicated recipe page for Communal Table, something Jenny and I had talked about doing for a while as a way to make it easier for readers to check out the recipes we post here without having to read through all our posts. In the process of doing that, I spent time going through everything we’ve posted over the past year and categorizing our recipes by main ingredient. Out of the 33 recipes we’ve posted, only about a dozen have included meat, fish or seafood.

Jenny’s been a significant influence on both my cooking and eating habits, in terms of easing me out of my tendency toward cooking with – and eating – meat. I’ve always understood that eating less meat and more vegetarian protein is a good thing, but it wasn’t until we met and she brought the appreciation for cooking without meat to our relationship that I really began to think about it.

In the spirit of cooking with less meat, this one’s another egg recipe. File this one under recipe ideas that come into my brain randomly while I’m trying to be productive at work but really thinking about food. Eggs benedict is one of my favourite breakfast dishes, but it’s something I rarely allow myself to eat anymore now that I understand the fat and sodium content of delicious ham and hollandaise sauce, and the complete lack of nutritional value in an English muffin. In this recipe, a zucchini latke takes the place of the English muffin, while the heavy hollandaise sauce is replaced with a light smoked paprika yogurt sauce that turned out, frankly, to be just as satisfying as hollandaise.

As an aside, I’ve never made latkes and wanted these to be healthier than the traditional oil-fried ones. So I did a google search for baked zucchini latkes, followed the recipe I found, and expected it to turn out great. It didn’t. They didn’t brown and ended up a bit of a mess after an extended cooking time in the oven. I have a few theories as to why this happened, the most logical being that I was too rushed trying to make this recipe on a weeknight and didn’t take the time to squeeze enough liquid from the zucchini and onion, which prevented adequate browning. Nevertheless, these came out of the oven and ended up in the frying pan where they turned out great. The recipe below reflects the successful frying pan method, but I’m still determined to find a workable baked zucchini latke recipe – if anyone out there has one, let me know.

The recipe below made enough for three servings of two bennys each, with a couple of latkes leftover.

Eggs Benedict with Zucchini Latkes and Smoked Paprika Hollandaise

For zucchini latkes:

4 large zucchini
1 onion
2 eggs
½ C flour
¼ C breadcrumbs
1 tsp baking powder

Grate zucchini and onion (we used a box grater, but a food processor would probably be even better). Wrap grated zucchini and onion in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze as much moisture out as you can. This will take several minutes, but is totally worth the effort (as I mention above).

Crack eggs into a mixing bowl. Add zucchini and onion to bowl, along with all dry ingredients and generous grinds of salt and pepper. Mix everything together well. Form into flat round discs and fry in enough oil to cover the bottom of a pan, over medium-high heat. Cook a few minutes per side until nicely browned.

For smoked paprika hollandaise:

In a bowl, mix together a few tablespoons of plain 1% yogurt, the juice of half a lemon (we used a Meyer, which added a bit more sweetness), a squirt of sriracha, half a teaspoon of smoked paprika and a pinch of sugar. The lack of precise measurements in this recipe is because we basically just made it to taste, which I find is the easiest way to prepare a sauce. As long as you start with a sufficient amount of yogurt for the number of benedict servings you’re preparing, and enough smoked paprika to get the smoky flavour you want in this, the sauce will turn out fine.

To prepare benedict, place zucchini latkes on plates (we served two per person), top each with a poached egg and a generous spoonful of the smoked paprika hollandaise. Serve with a simple green salad for a light, delicious meal that even the biggest meat eater will enjoy.

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