Roast Bison or Venison with Red Wine and Onion Jus (Northwest Territories)

Roasted Venison

Wanna hear something cool about the the Northwest Territories (NWT)? Did you know that the Northern Lights (that crazy natural laser light show seen in the utmost northern part of the globe) can be seen about 243 nights out of the year? In the NWT, game meat such as Bison and Venison are a big seller, as they tend to have readier access to such meats, rather than beef. Personally, I’m jealous! I kinda feel that today’s game meat, tastes the way that beef used to taste before we over commercialized the industry. Keep in mind though that game meat is always leaner than domestic meat, so special care must be taken when roasting to prevent it from drying out. It’s important to never cook it past medium. This roast will serve 8.

Ingredients:

5 pound bison or venison roast
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced*
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ginger
½ teaspoon pepper
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 ½ cups dry red wine
2 cups pearl onions
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¾ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons margarine
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped*

* Click here to learn how to clean these herbs.

Directions:

In small bowl, combine the garlic, thyme, cinnamon, ginger and pepper. Make some slits (about 8) around the roast, about an inch wide. Stuff some of the spice mixture into the slits, and use the remainder to rub over the whole roast.

Place roast in re-sealable plastic bag, along with the regular onion, carrots, bay leaves and wine. Seal the bag, and let it marinate in refrigerator for 6-24 hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Once the roast is finished marinating, remove the roast from the bag, reserving the vegetables and the marinating liquid separately. Place the vegetables and bay leaves in the bottom of a roasting pan, and pour in about 1 cup of water. Set the roasting pan aside for now.

In a large enough skillet to fit the roast, heat the vegetable oil over high heat, and then sear the roast, turning it in the skillet so that all sides get seared. Lay the seared roast over the vegetables in the roasting pan, and sprinkle with half of the salt.

Cover the roast loosely with foil, and roast for about 2 hours, or until meat thermometer inserted in centre reads 125 to 140 degrees for rare to medium. Do not cook beyond medium. Transfer to warm platter and tent with foil; let stand for about 10 minutes before carving.

To prepare Onions and Jus:
In heatproof bowl, cover the pearl onions with boiling water and let stand for 1 minute. This will loosen their skins. Drain the water and peel the onions.

In the same skillet you browned the meat in, melt the margarine over medium-high heat, and brown the pearl onions. You are not cooking the onions through at this point, just browning them. Using a slotted spoon, transfer onions to bowl (keeping the oil in the skillet).

Add the sugar to the skillet and stir over medium heat until it turns a nutty brown, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved marinade and remaining salt. Bring the jus to a boil over high heat and boil until reduced by half to about ⅔ cup, about 5 minutes. Strain through fine sieve or cheesecloth into small saucepan.

Strain liquid found in the roasting pan into glass measuring cup, and add enough water, if necessary, to make ½ cup. Add the roast liquid to the reduced marinating liquid and bring to a boil.

Add the pearl onions to the saucepan, and cover, cooking over a medium heat until the onions are tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley. Spoon a little sauce over the roast slices and serve with remaining sauce.

Wineries & Vineyards (Ontario)

Niagara Region Winery

So one of Ontario’s pride and joys is the Niagara Region in the southernmost tip of the province. Not only is it simply beautiful, but it is home to Niagara Falls and unbelievable soil and climate for growing grapes. Because of this, wineries and vineyards are a major attraction, both for tourists and economically for the province. The Ontario growing region lies between the 52° and 41° parallels, placing them in the middle of the northern grape growing belt. This is the same latitude as Bordeaux, France and the Northern wine regions of California! Because of this, we are able to grow a vast number of grapes, producing excellent award winning wines. Today, instead of a recipe featuring wine, I thought I’d give a little Wine 101 – Breaking down some of the types of wine, and how to use them in cooking. I will be also posting this information as a separate page on this blog so that it’s easy to refer back to. Remember, as always; check the label of your bottle before using it to confirm that it is kosher. If you would like to see more alcohols that are kosher, check out our Kosher Alcohol List by clicking here. Enjoy, and drink responsibly!


Wine 101
A basic introduction to wine, plus pairing suggestions to make every dinner special.

The Whites
Chardonnay is a versatile wine grape: its flavour and aromas are easily influenced by where it’s grown and how it’s made. Fruit flavours range from apple and lime in cooler climates to tropical fruits in warmer places. When barrelled in oak, it takes on a richness characterized by honey and butter flavours. When barrelled in stainless steel, it often retains more mineral flavours and comes across as fresher on the palate. Chardonnay excels in Burgundy, France.

Riesling is a crisp, clean wine with green apple, pear and lime flavours. The best offer pleasing mineral qualities as well. With age, Riesling takes on honey flavours and attractive oily aromas. Riesling grows well in Germany, the Alsace region of France, the Finger Lakes region of New York, and parts of Australia and Washington State. Riesling pairs nicely with spicy foods, and poultry.

Pinot Gris is made from grapes that generally produce different styles of wine depending on where the grapes are grown and how they’re handled in the cellar. In the Alsace region of France, and in places like Oregon and New Zealand, Pinot Gris typically makes rich wines marked by a bit of spice. The Italian style (Pinot Grigio) tends to be fresh, crisp and refreshing. This either style of this wine goes well with seafood and pasta dishes, vegetarian food and poultry.

Sauvignon Blanc is a fresh, crisp, aromatic wine with grapefruit and grassy flavours. This wine is the star of the Loire region of France. It also shines in the Bordeaux region, where it is often blended with Semillon. In the New World, New Zealand has emerged as a prime spot for Sauvignon Blanc. Sauvignon Blanc is a food-friendly wine that goes well with many seafood, poultry and vegetable dishes.

The Reds
Merlot is a soft, supple wine with nice fruit flavours of plums and blackberries and occasionally mint, chocolate and eucalyptus flavours and aromas. Typically, it is ready to drink earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon, which sometimes needs a few years for its astringent tannins to mellow. Outside of Europe, New World Merlot shines in places like California, Chile and Washington State.

Cabernet Sauvignon is more assertive than Merlot, with more tannin and greater ageing potential. It can have flavours of blackberries, plums, black currants, and cassis. Aged in oak, Cabernet Sauvignon can take on flavours of vanilla, cedar, chocolate, and coffee. Beyond Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon does well in Napa, California, where it produces smooth, ripe wines. Washington State, Chile and Australia are also making excellent Cabernet. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are very nice with meat dishes like beef and lamb.

Pinot Noir, a notoriously difficult grape to grow, made its mark initially in Burgundy, France. The grape continues to deliver single-varietal wines that are among the best in the world. Pinot Noirs are delicate wines that taste of red fruits like cherries, raspberries and strawberries. With age, flavours and aromas become more complex, developing earthy notes like mushrooms and decaying leaves. Burgundy in particular is noted for developing these earthy flavours. In the New World, tasty Pinot Noir is being made in Oregon, New Zealand, and some of the cooler appellations of California. Pinot Noir is a versatile food wine, great with poultry, salmon, meat and vegetable dishes.

Syrah is at home in the Rhone region of France, where the grape makes spicy, rich, darkly delicious wines that increase in complexity as they age. Syrah also makes delicious wines in Australia, where it is marketed as Shiraz. Australian versions are typically big, bold and spicy with jammy fruit and aromas of leather and black fruit. Syrah also excels in Washington State, where it often displays an attractive acid balance, and in California, where the styles vary significantly. Syrah is a very versatile wine that pairs well with a wide variety of foods. It’s terrific with grilled meats.

Other Reds to Consider
Sangiovese is the wine grape that makes Chianti, a tremendous food wine with flavours and aromas of cherries and rose petals.

Nebbiolo is the grape variety that makes Barolo and Barbaresco, the noble (and pricey) red wines of the Piedmont region of Italy. With age, flavour notes of plums and cherries are enhanced by flavours of smoke, tar and roses.

Malbec is a star in Argentina, where it produces inky wines with an attractive smoke and leather quality. It also stands out in Cahors in southern France.

Tempranillo is a famous grape of Spain, where it is used in wines of the Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions.

Gamay makes the fresh and fruity, raspberry-flavoured wines of the Beaujolais region of Burgundy.

Zinfandel has found its home in California, where it produces big, fruity, often spicy red wines.


Cooking with Wine:

Wine’s complexity of flavours and aromas is one reason it works so well as an ingredient for cooking.

The Flavour Factors

Alcohol
Alcohol itself doesn’t add flavour to dishes so much as it helps release flavour molecules in foods and assists in dissolving fats, allowing ingredients to reveal their own unique flavours in ways that other liquids (like water or broth) or fats (like butter and olive oil) cannot.

When adding wine to a sauce, make sure you allow most of the alcohol to cook off; otherwise, the sauce may have a harsh, slightly boozy taste. How do you know when enough is enough? After adding the wine, cook the sauce uncovered until it reduces by about half. As the alcohol burns away, the flavour of the sauce will concentrate, becoming more delicious.

Tannins
Tannins come from the grape’s skins, stems, and seeds. Thick-skinned grapes, like Cabernet Sauvignon, produce more tannic wines than thinner-skinned varietals like Pinot Noir. And red wines have more tannin than whites. This is because the juice of red grapes spends more time swimming around with their skins than white grapes whose juice is separated from the skins soon after pressing. The juice of white grapes just doesn’t hang out with its skins long enough to pick up tannins.

Tannins affect the texture of a wine. We often experience them in the mouth as a drying sensation, rather than as a specific taste. In a young red wine with lots of tannin, they can come across as astringent and pucker-inducing, but the tannins will mellow with age, and are, in fact, one of the compounds that allows red wines to age gracefully.

How do tannins affect our eating experience? Well, let’s take Cabernet Sauvignon. Beef dishes are a classic pairing partner for Cabernet Sauvignon. In large part, it’s because Cabernet Sauvignon is a highly tannic wine. The tannins in the wine become attracted to the proteins in the meat rather than the proteins in your saliva, which makes the wine seem less astringent, a softer experience in your mouth.

When you make a pan sauce with Cabernet Sauvignon, the tannins become concentrated as the sauce reduces. If the sauce does not also contain enough protein and fat to handle those tannins, the end result could be a sauce that is a bit astringent for your liking. A vegetarian sauce, then, will probably work better with a less tannic red wine, like Pinot Noir, or a white wine.

Acidity
Have you ever paired a tomato sauce with a red wine like Merlot? The acid in the tomatoes can burn right through the wine, making it seem flat. That’s because Merlot, which is typically on the low end in acid, can’t compete with the acid in the tomatoes. Chianti Classico, on the other hand, is a terrific choice for tomato-based pasta dishes: the sangiovese grape (the main grape in Chianti) has enough acid to stand up to the acid in the tomato sauce.

Of course, all wines have acid. So when cooking with wine, use non-reactive pans and skillets (like those made from stainless steel or enamelled cast iron) to avoid discolouration when the acid hits the pan.

Flavours and Aromas
When you’re making a dish that has one or two dominant flavours, it’s worth thinking about wines that share those basic taste characteristics. Pinot Noir, for example, particularly Pinot Noir from Burgundy, is known for having flavours and aromas of mushrooms; it might pair up nicely with a dish that features lots of fresh, sautéed mushrooms. A bright dish with a healthy splash of citrus might respond well to a wine with a nice, bright citrus flavour–like Sauvignon Blanc. A cream sauce with fish will likely match up well with a creamy, buttery Chardonnay.

Preserve Your Cooking Wine
Once you uncork a bottle of wine, and oxygen is introduced into the scene, the wine slowly begins to change. No matter how good or expensive the wine was to begin with, it will eventually turn to vinegar.

Bear that in mind when a recipe calls for wine. It’s easy to reach for that half-full bottle you’ve kept in the cupboard for a month. But before you pour it into the pan, take a moment to determine its condition. Cooking with this wine could make the dish taste sour.

One way to make the wine last a bit longer is to refrigerate it. The cold climate will slow the chemical changes that are conspiring to turn your wine to vinegar. Another method is to transfer the leftover wine into a smaller bottle. This helps because a smaller bottle will have less air in it. You can also buy fancy vacuum contraptions that suck the air out of the bottle. An even easier solution, of course, is to drink the wine before it goes bad!

Maple and Soy Roasted Duck

Maple and Soy Roasted DuckSo out of the three entrees served at Queen Victoria’s May 15, 1879, one of them was for Filet de Canetons aux Petits Pois or for those non-Frenchies, Fillets of Roasted Ducklings with Small Peas. Of course, I was able to find a Victorian Era recipe for the dish, but the recipe doesn’t fit with today’s tastes, it’s actually strangely both simple and rich at the same time. To fit with more modern tastes, today’s recipe is for a Maple and Soy Roasted Duck with a wine, thyme and grape sauce. Delicious! This dish will serve 6-8 people or can be halved easily for 4 people.

Filets de Canetons aux petits poisIngredients:

2 whole ducks (2 ½ kg each)
Fine sea salt to taste
4 sprigs of fresh thyme*
8 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 clementine or mandarin oranges, rinsed and quartered
3 teaspoons good quality soy sauce
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Sauce:
2 ½ cups cabernet sauvignon red wine
2 sprigs of fresh thyme*
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 cups seedless red grapes, rinsed and halved
2 tablespoons jelly of choice (I recommend cherry, currant or raspberry)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean thyme properly.

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Remove the ducks from their packaging, empty the cavities and rinse under cold water. Make sure to pat dry the ducks inside and out. Cut off excess fat from the ends. Using a fork, prick the skin of the duck on top and underneath (on the fatty parts), without piercing the meat.

Season the duck with salt on the outside and inside the cavity. Stuff the each duck with 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, the 4 cloves of garlic and 1 clementine or mandarin orange worth of quarters, and then truss.

Place the duck, breast side down, on a grill in an approximately 13 x 9 in broiling pan. If you don’t have a grill for your roasting pan, you can place a wire cooling rack used for baking in a deep casserole dish instead. Just make sure to indicate that the cooling rack is now considered a meat utensil. Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees, turn the ducks over to breast side up, and roast for another 30 minutes.

In the meantime, put the wine, grapes, 2 sprigs of thyme and jelly in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce to half over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, or more to taste. Mix. Set aside. Take the ducks out of the oven, and baste with the fat and cooking juices. Put the ducks back in the oven and continue cooking until the skin turns golden brown, approximately 60 minutes.

Take the ducks out of the broiling pan. Mix the soy sauce and remaining maple syrup together and then brush the mixture over the ducks. Return to the oven and cook for another 10 minutes. Empty the accumulated fat. Tilt the ducks to empty the cooking juices that have accumulated in the cavity. Skim off the juice and add to the sauce. Transfer the ducks to a serving plate. Remove string and leave to rest for 15 minutes. Slice and serve with the sauce on the side.

Easy Marinades

Marinades 101These marinades use ingredients that you likely have on hand. Remember that they typical ratio for marinades is one part oil to three or four parts acid, with extra ingredients added to taste. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk, then transfer the marinade to a large freezer bag and add your favourite protein. Seal the bag, turning it so the protein is exposed to the marinade, and refrigerate for 3 hours to overnight, for meats or tofu, or about 1 hour to 4 hours for fish.

Honey Barbecue Marinade
Olive oil + Dry Red Wine + Honey + Crushed Garlic + Pepper

Fresh Mediterranean Herb Marinade
Olive Oil + Balsamic Vinegar + Finely Chopped Rosemary* and Basil* + Salt + Pepper

Asian Fusion Buttermilk Marinade
Sesame Oil + Buttermilk** + Ground Ginger + Cilantro* + Soy Sauce + Pepper

* Click here to learn how to clean these herbs.
** Click here on tips for making non-dairy buttermilk.

Beef Stroganoff with Egg Noodles – Бефстроганов с яичной лапшой

Beef StroganoffIngredients:

1 cup red or white wine
2 pounds beef chuck roast
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup margarine (or 1 stick)
1 medium cooking onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup all-purpose flour or cornstarch
2 ⅔ cups beef broth
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 cup sliced mushrooms, canned or fresh
⅓ cup non-dairy sour cream
⅓ non-dairy cream cheese
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1 package egg noodles (to serve)

Directions:

Remove any fat and gristle from the roast and cut into strips ½ inch thick by 2 inches long. Put the meat in a large bowl or container and season with ½ teaspoon of both salt and pepper, tossing to coat. Add about 1 cup of wine and let sit in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours to marinate.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and brown the beef strips quickly, then remove them strips to a plate. Add the onions to the pan and cook slowly for 3 to 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and add them to the plate with the beef strips.

In a small bowl mix together the flour/starch with a little bit of broth to help it dissolve. Add the mixture to pan which now only contains the juices of the meat and onions, and mix around to bring up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Pour in beef broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and stir in mustard. Return the beef and onions to the pan, along with mushrooms, then cover and simmer for 1 hour or until the meat is tender.

Boil noodles according to the package directions. Drain once cooked, and set aside until beef is ready.
In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese and the sour cream. Five minutes before serving, mix in the cheese mixture. Heat briefly then salt and pepper to taste. Serve over a bed of wide egg noodles.

Pere al Vino Rosso (Pears Poached in Red Wine)

Pears poached in wineIngredients:

8 pears, peeled
1 bottle of red wine, or enough to cover the pears
1 cup sugar
2 sticks of cinnamon
3-4 whole cloves
Zest of half a lemon or orange*

Directions:

Peel your pears—one per serving—leaving on the stem if the pear has one. Then place them snugly in a saucepan with just enough room to hold the pears in a single layer.

Pour over the wine over the pears, so that they are at least ¾ of the way covered. Then add sugar, cinnamon, cloves and if you like, some lemon or orange zest.

Allow the pears to simmer for about 20 minutes, turning them if need be so that they cook and colour evenly, until they are quite tender but not falling apart.

Remove the pears onto a shallow serving bowl or plate, and continue to simmer the wine until has reduced into a syrupy consistency, then strain and pour over the pears. Allow the pears and their sauce to cool before serving.

* Click here for my tips on zesting citrus.

The Italian Diet

Italian Food FlagSo it seems like the Italians seem to know what they’re doing when it comes to eating healthy! Many of the standard ingredients that are a MUST for Italian cooking are up there are the heart-healthy eating guides. Here are just some of them:

Olive Oil
Make olive oil, which is high in monounsaturated fat, your go-to cooking oil. By replacing butter with olive oil—the most commonly used oil in the Mediterranean—you’ll cut back on saturated fat, help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and boost levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. In addition, extra-virgin olive oil is high in antioxidants called polyphenols that have been linked to heart health.

Tomatoes
There’s nothing quite like a ripe tomato, whether served on a bed of fresh greens or made into an Italian red sauce to dress a bowl of hearty pasta. Tomatoes are packed with vitamin C and lycopene, a heart-protective antioxidant that may also help prevent some cancers (particularly prostate). Vitamin A, potassium and folate are also among the tomato’s nutritional benefits. Although cooked tomatoes have less vitamin C, their lycopene is more available and antioxidant activity is undiminished.

Garlic
Garlic is magical; at least that’s what the ancients Romans thought. We now know that garlic has both antibiotic and anti-fungal properties. In an era before antibiotics, garlic may have kept the Greeks and Romans free of infection. Garlic boasts anticancer characteristics—studies show it may lower breast, colon, stomach, throat and skin cancer risks. It’s heart-healthy, too, as it’s been shown to prevent clotting. The secret to all these health benefits? Sulfides. Those beneficial sulfides aren’t released, however, unless the garlic is crushed or chopped and left to sit for at least 10 to 15 minutes before eating or cooking. Garlic purchased already chopped offers the same benefits.

Red Wine
What Italian dinner is complete without a glass of wine? And preferably, for health, make it red wine. Enjoying wine in moderation during meals, not drinking alone outside of the meal and never in excess, can increase “good” HDL cholesterol, may help regulate blood sugar and can even help you digest your food and absorb its nutrients. Pour yourself a 5-ounce serving of your favorite Chianti, Montepulciano or other Italian red to pair with the earthy flavors of Italian cooking.

So if you were looking for an excuse to get cooking, just say your doctor told you it was for your health! Per la vostra salute!

Mushroom Stuffed Beef Rouladen

Rouladen

For this recipe, I suggest using shoulder steak. Have your butcher tenderize it for you, or if you don’t have that option, you can go at it with a meat mallet. I hear it’s a great stress reliever!

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 pound assorted mushrooms (brown, Portobello, button, etc.), thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup bread crumbs
8 (3 ounce) pieces shoulder steak, pounded thin
¼ cup dry red wine
2 ½ cups beef stock
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Directions:

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Stir in garlic, onion and mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms and onion have softened, then stir in dried thyme, remove from heat, and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cool, season to taste with salt and pepper, then mix in the beaten egg and breadcrumbs. Evenly divide the mushroom mixture among the top round slices. Roll each Rouladen around the filling into a tight cylinder and secure with a toothpick. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the Rouladen, then transfer to an 8×8 inch baking dish. Pour wine into the hot skillet and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, stir the beef stock into the flour, and mix until smooth. Pour the beef stock into the skillet and return to a simmer. Cook until thickened, then stir in the Dijon mustard. Pour this sauce over the Rouladen. Cover, and bake 60 to 75 minutes in the preheated oven, until the meat is tender. This recipe makes 8 Rouladen. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes or wide egg noodles.

Dates – תמרים

Date in Hebrew is תמרים related to the word תם—to end, and so on that note we make the following request when eating this symbolic date:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁיִּתַּמּוּ אוֹיְבֵינוּ וְשׂוֹנְאֵינוּ וְכָל מְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתֵנוּ

May it be Your will, Lord our G-d and the G-d of our fathers, that there come an end to our enemies, haters and those who wish evil upon us.

So having this in mind, here are two recipes for how to serve up your war-ending dates this year!

Dolci Datteri

Dolci Datteri – Sweet Stuffed Dates

Makes 24 dates

Ingredients:

24 pitted dates
½ cup chopped, toasted pine nuts (or nut of your choice)
6 tablespoons red wine
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper (optional)
½ cup honey

Directions:

Stuff dates with chopped nuts in the empty cavity left by removing the pit. Place the dates in a medium sized sauté pan. Sprinkle with pepper if desired. Add wine, and then drizzle honey over the dates. Cook over a medium heat until the skins begin to peel off the fruit. Transfer the dates to a serving dish, and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Angels on Camels

Devils on Horseback – Angels on Camels?

This recipe originally called for the use of bacon, but I’ve switched it up with the use of deli meat instead, and re-named them Angels on Camels rather than Devils!

Makes 20 dates

Ingredients:

20 wooden toothpicks
¼ cup reduced-sodium or regular soy sauce
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¾ cup brown sugar
20 dates, pitted
20 whole smoked or roasted almonds
10 thin slices of turkey or beef pastrami, cut in half to make strips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Soak the toothpicks in a bowl of water (so they don’t burn in the oven). Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. In a bowl, mix together the soy sauce and ginger. In a separate shallow bowl place the brown sugar. Spread open the pitted date, and stuff each one with an almond. Wrap a strip of the pastrami around the date and then secure in place with a toothpick. Dip the bundle in the soy mixture and then into the brown sugar, and then place on the prepared baking dish. Repeat this process with each of the dates. If desired, sprinkle a little more brown sugar over all of the bundles. Bake in the preheated oven until the pastrami is brown and crisp, about 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving; serve warm or at room temperature.

Slow Cooked Pot Roast

Pot Roast

This recipe will serve 8 to 10 people, depending on how much your guests like their meat! The recipe calls for fresh thyme and parsley. I’ve noted the equivalent in the ingredient list for dried thyme, but for the parsley, it is slightly different. Because you are using half the parsley on the vegetables and half in the gravy, you would need the equivalent of 2 tablespoons dried on the vegetables and 2 tablespoons dried in the gravy. If you wish to use fresh herbs, please refer to the vegetable checking page to learn how to properly clean them.

Ingredients:

One 4-pound beef chuck roast
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
⅓ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for coating
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, cut into ½ inch wedges
3 cloves garlic, mashed
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup red wine
3 cups low-sodium beef/chicken/vegetable broth
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ cup loosely packed parsley leaves, chopped

Directions:

Sprinkle the roast all over with 2 ½ teaspoons salt and 1 ½ teaspoons pepper. Coat in flour and shake off any excess. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the roast to the skillet and cook until golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes, turning as needed. Transfer the roast to the insert of a 6-quart slow cooker, along with the carrots, celery, onions and garlic. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet over medium heat. Add the tomato paste and stir until the oil begins to turn brick-red, about 1 minute. Add the flour and wine and whisk until thick (it’s OK if there are some lumps). Add the beef broth, bay leaves, thyme, allspice, ½ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper and bring to a simmer, whisking, until the gravy is smooth and thickens slightly, about 4 minutes. Pour the gravy into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. The roast and vegetables should be tender. Remove the roast and let rest for a few minutes. Discard the thyme stems and strain the vegetables, reserving the gravy. Toss the vegetables with half the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Stir the remaining parsley into the gravy and season with salt and pepper. Slice the roast against the grain. Serve the meat and vegetables on a platter, moistening them with some of the gravy; serve the remaining gravy on the side.

If you want to make this ahead of time, follow all the same steps, browning the meat and creating the gravy, but allow them to cool. Slice up your vegetables, and add everything (minus the parsley) to a large gallon sized freezer bag. When you wish to actually cook your roast, let it defrost in your fridge first, then add it the crock pot and follow the remainder of the above instructions. It may take a while for the roast to defrost, even overnight. I suggest having a drip pan underneath it in the fridge so that you don’t have to worry about any errant juices.