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Friday, December 18, 2009

Organic Meat & Steak and Cheese Pie Recipe

If you are a host of this coming Christmas party, sticking to the mantra "more than enough" is always the safest bet. One of the worst thing that could happen to any good host is is finding out that you're running low on food when the party is just getting into full swing. Steaks in fact, are good choices to kick start your next soiree. Easy and hassle free, this also encourages friendly conversation, being less structured than a sit-down meal and at the same time, your guests would appreciate the gradual build-up of different nuances, smoky aroma and flavors.

Instead of throwing a shrimp on the grill or barbecue, how about slices of delectable, perfectly marbled and always tender beefy parts like rib eye, porterhouse, tenderloin, New York strip, flatiron, bavette, skirt or hanger steaks? If you relish the idea of sinking your teeth into these bizarre bits, then you can browse through Healthy Red Meat Recipes to get the recipe ideas. If you aren't much of a beef steak connoisseur, you can opt for tender and flavorful porks, sweet, mild, naturally tender and never gamy lambs or distinctive flavor poultry.

How to Choose Lean Red Meat? 
Healthy Beef Recipes and Low Fat Cooking Tips
Cuts of Beef, Beef Grades, Buying & Storing Tips, Special Types of Beef
Healthy Lamb Recipes and Low Fat Cooking Tips
Healthy Pork Recipes and Low Fat Cooking Tips

As an environmental and health-conscious consumer, I reckon it's essential to buy organic meat. You can contribute to the well-being of your community by supporting local, sustainable and organic farms that raise livestock traditionally in an ethical manner and caretake the environment. Farms that support healthy and ecological neighborhoods ensure the animals have the space, not confined and spend time outdoors in the fresh air and sunlight needed to live natural lives. Animals raised organically are not allowed to be fed antibiotics, added hormones, other artificial drugs or any genetically modified foods, hence they're always significantly healthier than their industrially-raised counterparts. Animal products certified as organic can not have their genes modified and their diet tends to be more well-rounded. Hence, these “free-range” and “ranch raised” livestock that are raised in a more humane way produce more purer, flavorful and healthier cuts of meat. Moreover, contrary to the synthetic pesticides and fertilizers used on industrial farms which tend to contaminate groundwater and soil, these free range animals graze as they are inclined and not fed with food containing pesticides, hence the amount of persistent pesticides in their fat is reduced. Eating organic animal fat reduces your exposure to these chemical residues and lead you to a more healthier life.

Organic meat topic aside, I will share steak and cheese pie recipe in this blog entry to help you indulging your guests without having to compromise on taste.  Here we go, Christmas party on tap!

Steak and Cheese Pie
Steak and Cheese Pie

Ingredients :
3 red onions, sliced
3 tbsp oilve oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 sprig of rosemary
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter + more for greasing pie plate
2 sticks celery, finely sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
200g brown mushrooms, quartered
1kg beef brisket, cubed
2 cups dark beer or stout
1 1/2 tbsp plain flour
1 cup beef stock
200g shredded cheddar cheese
500g frozen puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

For the filling :

1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C.

2. In a deep, heavy ovenproof pot, saute onions over low heat with olive oil, salt and pepper until slightly browned, about 10 minutes.

3. Stir in rosemary and garlic. Add 1 tbsp butter, celery, carrots and mushrooms. Add beef brisket.

4. Pour in beer or stout and stir.

5. In a small bowl, mix flour with 2 tbsp of beef stock to form a paste. Add to the pan and stir in to blend.

6. Pour just enough beef stock into the pan so that the liquid barely covers the beef and vegetables.

7. Put in the oven and cook for 1 hour. Take the stew out and give it a stir, and then cook for another hour. Stir in cheese and set aside to cool.

8. To make the pastry, pre-heat oven to 190°C. Thaw frozen puff pastry and then roll out to 5mm thin.

9. Grease a pie dish with some butter and line its bottom with the puff pastry. Bake blind for 20 minutes.

10. Roll out the rest of the pastry and cut in a circle to fit the top of your pie dish. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use.

11. When 20 minutes is up, remove pie dish in the oven, fill with cooled stew filling and carefully place the circle of pastry over the top, pressing down on the diameter of the pie to seal it.

12. Brush egg over the pastry and make a small slit in the centre of the pastry. Bake for 25 minutes.

Tips :

To bake blind, line pastry in the bottom of the pie dish, then cover with a piece of foil or baking parchment. Fill with pie weights, uncooked rice or beans and bake. This will help to weigh the pastry down so that it doesn't rise.

More on  Healthy Easy Food Recipes 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Casserole Roasted Chicken with Garlic, Lemon and Watercress Salad Recipe

I came across this comedy-drama film Julie & Julia while scouring the world wide web sometimes ago and it did pique my interest to find out more about the film. Written and directed by Nora Ephron, the film depicts events in the life of chef Julia Child in the early years in her culinary career, contrasting her life with Julie Powell, a frustrated secretary, who aspires to cook all 524 recipes from Child's cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking during a single year, 2002. Powell then blogs her daily experiences and gaining a loyal following along the way. Though separated by time and space, both women are at loose ends until they discover that with the right combination of passion, fearlessness and butter, anything is possible.

Meryl Streep has received many positive review for her performance as Julia Child in the film. At her beguiling best, Meryl Streep is playing our idea of Julia Child more elusively and more truthfully. If you are Julia Child's fan but yet to watch the movie, you can preview this Julie and Julia movie trailer provided by Columbia Pictures below.


On another occasion, chef John from http://foodwishes.com/ demonstrated Julia Child's casserole roasted chicken in remembrance of Julia Child, a world renowned American chef, author and television personality who introduced French cuisine and cooking techniques to the American mainstream through her many cookbooks and television programs. Check it out!


"You wanna be haunted by Julia Child? I don't think so." This really got a good chuckle out of me.

This recipe is from Julia Child's cookbook, Cooking with Master Chefs, from the chapter with Jeremiah Tower, an author of New American Classics, teacher at the California Culinary Academy and prestigious James Beard Award-winner who emphasizes the use of locally grown ingredients to elevate simple dishes to fine delicacies. The recipe goes like this. Bon appetit!

Ingredients :

For the Chicken :
A 5 pound roaster chicken
Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
Olive oil (as needed)
3 lemons, halved crosswise
2 sprigs rosemary
4 sprigs thyme (optional)

6 cloves garlic, crushed, unpeeled
1 onion, sliced

For the Salad :
2 tbsp walnut or hazelnut oil
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 bunch watercress

Special Equipment Suggested :
A covered casserole or roaster just large enough to hold the chicken comfortably
A bulb baster
A pastry brush
An oven-proof serving platter

Timing :
Total 2 hours. 1 hour for covered roasting, 1/2 hour for browning, and a 30-minute rest before carving.

Preparing the Chicken :

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Place all ingredients and equipment beside your main work area on a large tray or newspapers, and plan to dispose of and/or wash everything (including your hands) thoroughly with soap and hot water when you are through.

Remove the packet of giblets in the cavity, and reserve for something else. Remove any visible clumps of fat from inside the cavity, wash and dry them in paper towels, and set aside. Wash the chicken both inside and out under cold running water; dry thoroughly with paper towels.

Salt and pepper the cavity lightly, pour in a spoonful of olive oil, and stuff in a handful of garlic, thyme and rosemary. Squeeze in the juice of a lemon, and add the lemon halves. Truss the chicken, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and set it breast up in the casserole. Flatten the reserved pieces of chicken fat with your fist and lay them over the breast. Smash the rest of the garlic cloves with the flat of your big knife and lay them also over the chicken along with the remaining rosemary and thyme. Squeeze on the rest of the lemons, tossing the squeezed halves into the casserole.

Note:
The chicken is now ready for the oven, and may be prepared to this point two hours ahead.

Roasting the Chicken - 1 1/2 hours:

Set the covered casserole in the lower third of the pre-heated oven. Basting is really not necessary, but a quick peek now and then is useful just to see how things are going. You may also desire a quick basting with the accumulated juices, using a bulb baster.

After an hour, remove the cover and turn the thermostat up to 400 F. Continue roasting and letting the chicken brown.

When is it done? The thighs will be fairly tender when pressed; the drumsticks will move up and down in their sockets fairly well. When the bird is lifted, the last juices to fall from the vent end will be clear yellow with no trace of rose.

Remove the chicken to the serving platter, cut off the trussing strings, and return the chicken to the turned-off oven, leaving the door ajar.

Preparing the sauce and serving the roasted chicken and salad :

Drain the juices from the casserole through a sieve. Using a ladle, push the garlic to extract juice from it as well. Skim the fat off the surface in the remaining juices of the strained liquid. Whisk in the walnut oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss the watercress into the sauce to coat well. Place the seasoned watercress around the chicken and drizzle with any remaining sauce.

More on  Healthy Easy Food Recipes

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