Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sunday Night Braise, Monday Night Wheel

The skies have been open here in Vancouver for a long time. It rains most every day, often very hard, and there is no end in sight. The good news is - that means it's slow food time. While I love the grill, I also love the rich flavours of braised or stewed meats, and the occasional roast bird is good too.

Sunday was a braise, in this case blade steaks. Slow food requires a bit more of a commitment, in that you have to get started around 2 o'clock to have dinner on the table by 6:30, but that is just fine for Sunday afternoons. Around 2:00 PM I take the blade steaks out of the fridge and pound a mixture of salt, pepper, flour and rosemary into them, then let them get to room temperature.

Shallots and elephant garlic are sweated over low heat until translucent then removed from the pan and reserved. The temperature is turned up to medium high and the steaks are seared for a minute on each side, then the pan is deglazed with beef stock and red wine.

The steaks are transferred to a big oval Creuset dish along with the shallot/garlic mix and some chopped rosemary. The pan juices are supplemented with about a cup of beef stock, which is brought to a boil, and then poured over the steaks, the liquid should not cover the steaks but should come about half way up the sides. Cover the pot and pop it into a 300 degree oven for about 2 1/2 hours. Take the steaks out and let them rest while you reduce the jus, add a bit of roux and a dollop of sour cream and serve with mashed spuds and your vegetable of choice. Sunday night this was served with a very nice Portuguese Red from Jose Maria de Fonseca - Jose de Souza 2003 which had the perfect brightness of flavour and crisp acidity to work with the rich earthy tones of the braise.

Monday night is often Pizza night at our house. Wife tends to have late meetings on Monday so I make Pizza for daughter and I, with resulting leftovers for:

1) Wife upon arriving home late
2) Daughter's lunches for the week

I used to make my own dough but about 6 months ago I discovered an excellent frozen dough, from Calabria Bakery, at Stongs so I now use that as my dough. Take the dough out of the freezer the night before you are going to use it and leave it in the fridge overnight, in the morning take it out and put it in a bowl somewhere warm with, a bit of olive oil on top. If you remember turn the dough ball a couple of times during the day, if you don't remember don't worry.

Around 90 minutes before dinner I punch down the dough ball, cut it in half, stretch and roll into 2 pizzas (I use rectangular baking dishes) - these will be very thin crust pizzas so go easy on the toppings. I top daughter's wheel with mozzarella/romano cheeses, sauteed mushrooms, pepperoni and spinach. The second pizza changes from time to time but will always have some meat (sausage, prosciutto etc), mushrooms and spinach plus sometimes roasted peppers/pine nuts,,,,,whatever. The second pizza may also use a cheese variation. sometimes fontina, sometimes provolone, sometimes chevre - you get the picture.

First pizza goes into a 475 oven for 20 minutes then transferred to the warming oven (225 degrees) while the second pizza cooks - yes I have 2 ovens, doesn't everyone ? Serve with a green salad and cheap red wine ....... enjoy.

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