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We have been lead to believe that the grain fed beef is the bench mark for quality beef and that Alberta is the best source of Canadian beef. Marketers have spent millions to create this perception because the cheapest way to produce beef is by feeding it grain. How can that be when grass fed beef is just eating grass and you have to buy grain you ask? It is because of the amount of land it takes to produce grass fed beef. This is not intended as a shot at feedlot beef, I choose not to eat it but there is no other way to produce the quantity of beef that we desire in North America.
Having said that if you desire a real taste treat you should try grass fed Nova Scotia beef. Getaway farms produces a premier product and you can get fresh cuts 7 days a week from Meat Mongers at the Halifax Seaport Farmers Market. This is a nice lean beef, that is full of flavor. The fat that there is has a beautiful flavour and texture and is a nice compliment to this prime beef.
For a real treat I purchased a 2 rib standing rib roast and was not disappointed. I took great care in preparing this roast to ensure that I would be able to enjoy it fully. I seared it, crusted it and slow roasted it to a medium. Then made a jus out of the pan drippings and served it with roasted potatoes and veggies. If you are a lover of roast beef this is the recipe for you.
1 2 rib standing Rib Roast
2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp Prepared Mustard
2 tsp Horseradish
12 Cloves of Garlic
1 tsp each Black and White Pepper Corns
2 tbsp Grape seed Oil
2 Carrots pealed and cut into strips
2 Stocks of Celery cut into strips
1 Onion rough chopped
1 Cup of Red Wine
1 Cup of Homemade Beef Stock
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp honey
Salt the Rib Roast with course salt and bring to room temperature on a paper towel. Wipe the roast dry, dust with fresh ground pepper. Heat the grape seed oil over high heat and sear the roast on all sides for about 3 minutes each side until you get a good hard sear. Allow to cool a bit on a plate so you can handle it. Peal and crush six clove of garlic. Slit the roast with a paring knife and insert the cloves of garlic into the slits. Combine the mustards, horseradish, course ground white and black pepper corns, 2 cloves of chopped garlic and coat the entire outside surface of the roast with it.
Preheat the oven to 325 and line the bottom of the pan with the carrots, celery, onion and 4 cloves of rough chopped garlic and toss in olive oil. Place a rack over the veggies and set the roast fat side up on the rack.
Roast the beef in the oven, that fat drippings will coat the veggies and the juices and veggies will flavor the jus. Cook to 130 degrees then when resting the temp should go to 135.
While the beef is resting strain out the drippings remove the veg and put back into the roasting pan. Heat over high heat then deglaze with red wine, reduce a little then add in the beef stock. Strain into a sauce pot add in the honey and salt and pepper to taste.
Serve the beef sliced off the bone with roasted potatoes and seasonal veggies.
Thanks to my Nova Scotia farmers for the amazing product, local is so much better!!
Beef – Getaway Farms
Veggies – Taproot Farm
Red Wine – Jost Vineyards
Garlic – Evan’s Family Farm
One of my favorite childhood meals has to be sloppy joes. A flavorful rich meaty sauce over grilled bread topped with cheese. My families sloppy joes were made with a homemade meat sauce which is the key. You cannot get the flavor of a true rich meat sauce out of a can and as with most canned goods the sodium levels are through the roof.
A good meat sauce takes time but you can make it in a large batch and it freezes beautifully. For my sloppy joes I use a lean or extra lean ground beef. You can mix in ground pork, veal or chicken as well but for simplicity I stick with beef.
I use grass fed beef from a local supplier (Getaway Farms). You cannot get this kind of flavor in grain fed beef and nutritionally it is far superior. I also know if it is fresh or frozen and can handle it appropriately. It comes from one or at most two cows which makes it more controlled from a food safety standpoint. My butcher and farmer can tell me the exact cut or cuts that went into it so I know what I am eating. With this beef I never get that liver/organ meat taste that I experience from some factory food ground beef.
Unlike a burger which benefits from a higher fat content to add flavor and moisture in a meat sauce you would just strain off the fat so you might as well go lean. Also extra lean ground beef benefits from the long slow simmer we will do a the end of this process to meld flavors. We will also use celery, carrots and onions in this sauce and caramelization to build a deep rich flavor. This sauce is a favorite of mine and it makes the perfect sloppy joe.
To bring this dish up a notch I replace the burger bun with some panini pressed french bread and add in some of the garlic scape pesto from my last post. I also replace the traditional cheese slice with some fresh cheese curd. It is still sloppy and super flavourful.
1.5 tbsp grape seed oil
2 pounds of fresh or thawed extra lean ground beef (allow to sit at room temp for 1 hour before using)
1 large or 2 medium onions (small dice)
3 large or 6 small carrots (small dice)
3 stalks of celery (small dice)
3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp smoked paprika
1/3 cup bourbon or rye
1.5 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
2 cups red wine tomato sauce (prior blog post)
salt and pepper
In a large pot or dutch oven heat up 1.5 tbsp of grape seed oil over medium high to high heat, I tend to do mine on MAX. I use grape seed oil here because of it’s high smoke point. My dad used to tease my grandmother about there being other settings on the stove then Max, now I understand why she cooked with high heat… flavor. We have warmed the beef a bit so we don’t cool the oil off, we want to caramelize the beef to build flavor adding cold beef to hot oil will give you boiled beef. Break the beef up and add it into the oil, sprinkle in a tsp of salt to help draw out moisture. Stir the beef with a wooden spoon often, don’t leave it sitting on high heat while you do something else, it will burn. Keep stirring and breaking up the beef until it is well browned. Brown is flavor. We will end up with brown bits on the bottom of the pot, we will get that later too.
When the beef is browned, remove the beef to a plate and set aside. If there is not enough oil to cook the veggies add a tsp more and reduce the heat to medium high. We have find diced the veggies because we want good caramelization and when we simmer it the veggies will almost dissolve into the sauce adding amazing flavor. Add the onion, carrots and celery into the hot oil, add in another 1/2 tsp of salt which will flavor and draw water out of the veggies allowing for better caramelization. Stir the veggies until they start to brown, then add in the garlic. Continue to cook until everything is browned. Be careful not to burn any components here.
When everything is well browned add the tomato paste, and paprika and cook until you see the oils separate, tomato paste is always better when you fry it off a bit. Now we go after the brown bits on the pan which are full of flavor. Deglaze the pan with the bourbon and worcestershire sauce. Then add in the beef, stir well to combine and add in the milk and nutmeg and finally the tomato sauce. Now reduce the heat to low and maintain a low simmer. Cover and let simmer for a good 2 to 3 hours. Stir every half hour or so adding in a little water if it starts to get too thick. This will make the meat super tender and the flavors will meld beautifully. When it has finished simmering add salt and pepper to taste.
This sauce is amazing in lasagna, on homemade pasta or in this case on a sloppy joe. Make lots and freeze it for a quick family meal during the week.
Now for the Sloppy Joe
Slice the french bread horizontally across the middle and then cut into as many servings as you desire. Lightly butter the bread on both sides and put it into a hot panini press and cook until crispy, turning 90 degrees half way through to create cross hatching. Then spread on a layer of garlic scape pesto. The cross hatching we created will grab a little extra pesto which is a nice treat.
Heat up your broiler to 500 degrees, top the bread with the meat sauce and a generous amount of fresh cheese curds. Broil until the cheese is bubbly and starts to brown, top with a little more pesto and serve.
Thanks to my local producers for providing me with ingredients to make this pop:
Beef: Getaway Farms via Meat Mongers at the Halifax Market
Celery and Onion:Taproot Farm
Garlic and Carrots: Evans Farm Market
Milk and Cheese Curd: Fox Hill Cheese House
I love being introduced to new product, it is one of the main reasons I enjoy my CSA share. Garlic scape is the green ropey sprout that grows out of the garlic bulb. During the summer these are trimmed off so the bulb can finish maturing. I got a bunch of these in my CSA share over the last few weeks and went to the internet to figure out what to do with them. They are too tough to just cut up and eat as you would a green onion but they have a beautiful, sweet, fresh garlic flavor.
The first thing I tried was making garlic scape pesto. I removed the flower buds and cut the scape into 2 inch pieces which I then ground up in my food processor. I then drizzled in olive oil until I reached the consistency of a rough paste. Then it is just a matter of adding a little salt and pepper to finish it. I love the fresh garlicky taste of this pesto and set off on finding dishes I could make with it.
Creamy Garlic Scape Pizza:
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup béchamel sauce
1 tsp garlic scape pesto
1 cup spinach
1/2 cup green olives
3/4 cup fresh cheese curds
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
I have a simple bread machine recipe for pizza dough that I like to use, the bread machine takes all of the time and effort out of this. I can even set a timer so it is ready for me when I get home if I am out all day.
While the dough was in the bread machine I made one recipe of the béchamel sauce from a prior blog post and set it aside to cool. Then I added in 1 tsp garlic scape pesto.
I rolled out the pizza dough onto a square cookie sheet, brushed on the olive oil and blind baked it for about 3 minutes in a 475 degree oven to crisp it up a bit. When the pizza skin came out of the oven I spread on the béchamel sauce until the skin was covered with a thin coat, it took about a cup. Then I topped it with tomato, sliced green olives spinach, and fresh cheese curds. I then grated the parmesan cheese on top and baked at 500 until the cheese started to brown and the sauce was bubbly. Allow to cool so the sauce will set up, slice and enjoy.
Garlic Bread made with Garlic Scape
Garlic bread is a favorite in this household and there is no better way to make it than with garlic scape pesto. Raw garlic is harsh and garlic butter can get really greasy. Garlic scape pesto has a nice amount of oil and will give a fresh garlic taste without it being over powering.
1 loaf of french bread (I used my bread machine for this as well)
Garlic Scape Pesto – enough to cover off the surface of the bread
Fresh Cheese Curds
Take your loaf of french bread and slice it down the middle horizontally butter it lightly and spread with the garlic scape pesto, I like a nice layer across the whole surface, you can be generous with it. Then top with fresh cheese curd and put into a 475 degree oven until it is bubbly and the cheese starts to brown. This is no doubt the best garlic bread I have ever had.
I have one more recipe that I want to share with you but I will do that in my next post later this week. Sloppy Joe’s on panini pressed french bread topped with garlic scape pesto. It is a winner.
This is an amazing ingredient that I was not familiar with but you can pick it up at many of the local farmers markets in Nova Scotia in July and early August.
I would like to thank my farmers for the following ingredients:
Tomato, Spinach, Garlic Scape : Taproot Farms
Milk for the Béchamel and Cheese Curds: Fox Hill Cheese House
Flour for my bread and crust: Speerville Mills
Sauces are the core of great cooking. They add flavor and moisture to food and can elevate an average meal to exceptional. We have done 2 of the 5 french mother sauces (tomato and hollandaise) and now I am going to show you a few things you can do with a béchamel sauce.
Béchamel is your classic white sauce. It is the base for creamed eggs, alfredo sauce, cheese sauces, and is found in greek pastitiso and moussaka. When you master this quick and easy sauce you can eliminate many processed food from your pantry and make a wide variety of flavorful meals.
Yes this is a butter and milk based sauce and contains all of the calories that would indicate. However if you are going to eat food with a white sauce base you are better off to make it yourself. Commercial white sauces which claim to be better for you because they are low in fat are loaded with sodium, modified vegetable fats, preservatives and simple carbohydrates. Many health researchers will tell you these sauces are worst for your weight and overall health than a homemade white sauce. From a flavour standpoint there is no comparison, commercial white sauces taste like salted wallpaper paste. If you are going to enjoy a white sauce you are always better to make it yourself.
2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 Cups of Fox Hill Cheese Milk (If using regular milk add in 1/2 tbsp more butter)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh nutmeg
Finish seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
Yields about 1.5 cups of sauce.
The foundation of béchamel is butter and flour, this cooked together is called a roux. You need to melt the butter over medium heat and then add the flour and stir with a whisk. A common mistake here is to just add in the milk, you don’t want to do that yet. You need to cook the flour, so whisk over medium heat until the roux turns a golden, almost brown color. This is a blonde roux, there are darker ones but for a white sauce we stop the cooking here. This process toasts the wheat a bit, if you don’t do this it will rob your sauce of flavor and add a starchy taste to it.
Once your roux is golden, slowly add in the milk and whisk until it is smooth, heat until it starts to bubble and then remove it from the heat, add in the salt and nutmeg. You can add more milk if you desire to thin the sauce.
This sauce can be used as is, but I usually add different flavours to it depending on what I am making.
Creamed Asparagus on Toast
This recipe uses a basic béchamel sauce with a few little twists. Prepare the béchamel as per the recipe above with the following changes.
I like my boiled egg in this dish with the yolk firm but not dried out. Take one or two eggs per person, place them in cold water, Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to medium low for 6 minutes. Drop into an ice bath until you can handle then peal the eggs.
Preparing the Asparagus and Plating:
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Trim the lower 1/2 inch of asparagus off. Allow 4 to 5 spears per person. Salt the water with 1 tbsp of salt and then drop in the asparagus for 3 minutes. Allow to dry for a couple minutes on a clean tea towel and then place on the toast, top with the béchamel and a boiled egg cut in half. Season with a pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
This is one variation using the Béchamel mother sauce. It is also the base for a great cheese sauce, which I will use to make spicy macaroni and cheese, and nice garlicky Alfredo sauce or any herb based cream sauce, like the one I used to make my Dill Lemon Creamed Eggs with Foxhill Cheese Milk” href=”http://realcreativeeats.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/dill-lemon-creamed-eggs-with-foxhill-cheese-milk/” target=”_blank”>Dill Lemon Creamed Eggs on Toast. Master this mother sauce and say good by to all of the starch salt and chemical filled processed food that will harm your health and rob you of flavour.
Thanks to my local farmers for producing the high quality ingredients I used in this recipe:
Milk: Fox Hill Cheese
Asparagus: Taproot Farms
I have been absent from my blog for a bit, sorry to you all, my seasonal allergies nailed me hard last week so I took it easy. Now I am back swinging and have a few posts coming this week.
My week 9 CSA included more asparagus, some mixed greens, green onions, radishes and beet greens. This is adding all kinds of freshness to my meals. Radishes in potato salad, mixed greens with green onion, radish and cucumber with a fresh vinaigrette (argan oil, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and honey with some fresh herbs) and some homemade croutons made a great green salad. Also fresh cucumber pickle (cucumber, olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper makes a fresh topping to a sandwich or a little side to go with some BBQ.
Asparagus is a fantastic vegetable, I did creamed asparagus on toast with the first batch, this batch I want to do a cold asparagus salad with bacon. Cook the asparagus in well salted (like the ocean) boiling water for 3 minutes then drop it into an ice bath to end the cooking and preserve the color. Drain very well on a kitchen towel. Then toss it in a dressing of 4 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar, 2 lemons juiced, 2 Tbsp dijon mustard and 2 tsp honey with salt and pepper to taste. Chill this for a couple hours and add in bacon and grated parmesan cheese. This is a great little salad.
I got some more beet greens and those have been boiled off and sautéed with olive oil, red chili, lemon juice and salt and pepper. They are a great side to go with a nice piece of beef and potatoes. I am really enjoying the variety of greens this year. Beet greens are among the most tender and least bitter, they are a favorite of mine.
I also got more apples and rhubarb. Rhubarb went into some fantastic muffins this time and the apples will be eaten (red delicious this time and I love those.) I also got some concentrated cranberry juice which I am going to use in a punch and some cider that is already gone :). Cranberry juice should come with a warning label. mistaking it for cranberry cocktail I took a big mouthful, holy bitter. The rest will be going with some simple syrup water and vodka.
Can’t wait for my next week’s CSA :) really hoping for some strawberries.