Archive for the 'preserves' Category

Grilled Steak with Gremolata and Warm Potato Salad

Steak with gremolata 3 585x814 Grilled Steak with Gremolata and Warm Potato Salad

If you live somewhere where there are actually things growing out of the ground already, lucky you. Here in Calgary, there are still small glaciers on most streets and in yards, but this weekend the temperature finally crept up past zero. Way up past ten, even! Hello, barbecue. It’s been awhile.

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Last week I had lunch with a local rancher (one who supplies our Calgary Co-op stores with beef that’s born and bred in Alberta), and was given a gorgeous T-bone steak to take home, which we used as an excuse to fire up the grill (which since October has been subbing as an outdoor freezer). When you get a taste of spring, even when there’s still snow on the ground, you gotta jump on it.

Gremolata steak Collage 1 Grilled Steak with Gremolata and Warm Potato Salad

Christoph the rancher says that when you have a steak like this, it doesn’t need anything but salt. I tend to agree. But I had a jar of gremolata in the fridge – a gift from Earl’s Tin Palace to celebrate their post-flood re-opening just last week – which being a mixture of garlic, lemon, parsley and olive oil, is the perfect accessory for a simply grilled steak. (I may not know how to dress myself, but I have an idea of how to accessorize food.) In fact, you can make a pretty fab potato salad by dousing warm potatoes with gremolata, then a big glob of mayo; the gremolata brightens it, adds that hit of acidity that’s usually obtained with pickle brine, and decorates it with bits of green. Springy!

Steak with gremolata 1 Grilled Steak with Gremolata and Warm Potato Salad

As for the steak, you don’t need a recipe so much as basic instructions on how to cook one. Once you’ve selected your steak and have decided it’s destined for dinner, pull it out of the fridge so that it can start cooking from room temperature. If it appears wet, pat it dry with a paper towel, and shower it generously with salt – I add freshly ground pepper, too. I like to cook ours in a cast iron skillet or on the barbecue – either way, get it smoking hot before you put the steak on, then leave it for 3-4 minutes – don’t fiddle with it or move it or (gasp!) squish it – until it develops a nice bottom crust. Flip it over and cook for 2-3 minutes on the other side, then set it on a plate and let it rest for 5 minutes. This will make an inch-thick steak medium-rare; you can adjust your cooking time accordingly.

Steak with gremolata 6 Grilled Steak with Gremolata and Warm Potato Salad

For the potato salad, I cut russets – only because russets were what I had, but I don’t mind them in a potato salad – into big chunks, covered them with water and brought them to a simmer. (This was faster than baking them, which would have been pretty divine too.) Once they were tender I drained them and tossed them, still steaming, with a generous pour of gremolata and a fairly enormous spoonful of mayo. Salt and pepper, if it needs it, and bingo – potato salad that I like even better served warm, especially alongside a steak.

To make your own gremolata, all you need is lemon, garlic, parsley and olive oil, and a means to mash it all together. The stuff is brilliant to have a jar of in the fridge, and once you get hooked on it, you’ll find plenty of uses for it – anything from steak to fish, drizzled on fresh bread, you get the idea.


Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1-2 handfuls flat-leaf parsley, roughly or finely chopped
a glug or two of good olive oil

Stir, whiz (in the bowl of a food processor) or mash everything together with a mortar and pestle, adding enough olive oil to create a loose sauce; store in a jar in the fridge for up to a week. (The gremolata will improve in flavour after a day or two.)

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March 10 2014 | beef and preserves and veg | 10 Comments »

Homemade All-Fruit Mincemeat (and Tarts)

mince tarts 3 Homemade All Fruit Mincemeat (and Tarts)

I made mincemeat from scratch last night. And again this morning. What took me so long? I mean to do it every year, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t managed to for at least a decade. (I’d remember. And I won’t make that mistake again.) I adore mincemeat, applied liberally by spoon or by tart. And yes, it likely has a lot to do with the season during which they’re eaten – I can’t think of another food so exclusive to Christmas as the mince tart – but what’s not to love about a dark jammy mix of dried fruit, citrus, apples and spices? And of course most things are their best selves when they’ve been homemade vs. mass-produced.

mincemeat 1 Homemade All Fruit Mincemeat (and Tarts)
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mincemeat 4 Homemade All Fruit Mincemeat (and Tarts)

I started with grated apples and chopped pears, along with raisins (two kinds) and currants, the zest and juice of a lemon and orange, some brown sugar and spices. Nevermind the suet – I used a bit of butter instead, which when you think about it has the best flavour of any solid fat out there. There isn’t much to the method – all that needs doing is some chopping and grating and tossing in a pot – and it could all be streamlined by a few pulses in the food processor. But even by hand I started making it at 3, wanting to beat sundown (photos and all), and it was ready and bubbling on the stove when the boys got home from school at 3:40. So not a big deal.

mince tarts 6 Homemade All Fruit Mincemeat (and Tarts)

I looked to Delia for advice, being the matriarch of British cooking and all, but her formula required fresh apples and dried fruit to marinate of their own free will, with no heat to help things along. Others called for cranberries, which I love, but feared would take over the mincemeat. I have a particular idea of what mincemeat and mince tarts should taste like, and thus a very clear finish line. And I’m not sure I want my mince tarts tasting of cranberry sauce. I also don’t have 2-3 weeks to wait for my fruit to transform into mincemeat. Heat coaxes the juices out of the fruit and helps the raisins absorb it, and transforms the lot into a thick, sweet mass in about 15 minutes. (You could pop it into a pressure cooker instead, and let it go for 5 minutes or so.)

mincemeat bowl Homemade All Fruit Mincemeat (and Tarts)

It has a better texture than the jarred stuff, I think – cooked down but still chunky, not mushy. The raisins and currants are soft but distinct. If you want a finer texture, you could roughly chop it all up first, or blitz it in a food processor – some mincemeat is almost pasty – or smoosh it with the back of your spoon as it simmers. Once cooled, it will keep in the fridge for weeks or months, if you can keep from eating it. (Apologies for the pre-dawn photos by kitchen light – I made this batch of tarts to bring in to CBC this morning. My car smelled great.)

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mincemeat 5 Homemade All Fruit Mincemeat (and Tarts)

My only motivation to stop eating it at the stove, with a spoon, is the promise of mince tarts. Made with butter pastry and small cut-outs set on top as partial lids – a small star cutter works great here, but I didn’t have the gumption to go down the basement and look for it at 6 am.

mince tarts 5 Homemade All Fruit Mincemeat (and Tarts)

Mince tarts for breakfast, lunch, dinner and elevenses – yes?

mince tarts 1 Homemade All Fruit Mincemeat (and Tarts)

If you like boozy mincemeat, add about 1/4 cup brandy, bourbon or rum after you remove the pot from the heat. This would make a fab hostess gift, packed in little jars for sharing.

All-Fruit Mincemeat

2 apples, coarsely grated
1-2 pears, finely chopped
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
1 cup raisins
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup currants
1/2 cup candied citron or peel
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1-2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or some cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg)
pinch salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted (optional)

In a large saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the walnuts or pecans (if you’re using them). Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, for 20-30 minutes, until dark golden and thick. Remove from the heat and let cool; stir in the nuts, if you’re using them.

Store in a sealed container or jars in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for 6 months.

Makes about 4 cups.

Mince Tarts


1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup butter, chilled and cut into pieces
¼ cup ice-cold water

2-3 cups mincemeat

milk or cream and sugar, for brushing/sprinkling (optional)

In a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and use a fork, pastry blender, wire whisk or the “pulse” motion of the food processor to blend the mixture until it resembles coarse meal, with lumps of fat no bigger than a pea.

Drizzle the water over the mixture and stir until the dough comes together, adding a little more a bit at a time if you need it. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten it into a disc, wrap it in plastic and let rest 20-30 minutes.

To bake the tarts, preheat the oven to 375?F and roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to about ¼-inch thick. Cut out circles with a cookie cutter or glass rim and press into ungreased muffin tins – regular or mini. Reroll the scraps once and cut out small rounds, stars or other shapes if you want your tarts lidded.

Fill each pastry cup with mincemeat and either leave open or lay a cut-out piece of pastry on top. If you like, brush with a little milk or cream and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden. Let cool until warm, then run a thin knife around the edge to remove them from the pan. Makes about 1 dozen tarts.

pixel Homemade All Fruit Mincemeat (and Tarts)
button print gry20 Homemade All Fruit Mincemeat (and Tarts)

December 10 2013 | dessert and preserves | 19 Comments »

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