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Dinner and Dance Friday: Oxtail Stew with my dance crew, woohoo!

Yes I am a terrible poet; luckily I didn’t major in English.  Friday night was another successful dinner with my dance crew, Jen and Jose (some pretty mean nicknames were tossed around when I asked them what they wanted to be named as in this post, but I finally decided to go with their actual names instead of things like “butcher-rat”…don’t ask).

The slow cooker meal we went with was oxtail stew, Italian style, courtesy of this blog: http://memoriediangelina.blogspot.com/2009/07/coda-alla-vaccinara.html

Ingredients

  • pancetta
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 4-5 stalks celery
  • handful of parsley
  • one large oxtail (2 smaller ones would work too)
  • about 1 1/2-2 cups red wine
  • 2 cans crushed tomatoes
  • one bay leaf
  • whole cloves

We didn’t have pancetta so we skipped it, but it was decided that if we did have it, it would have added some nice flavour.  First, chop up all the veggies and sauté in some olive oil until tender-however, leave out half of the celery and save that for later.  Once veggies are soft, place in slow cooker.  Take the oxtail and brown on all sides in pan-season with salt and pepper.  Add the red wine and boil off.  Once wine is boiled off, throw oxtail in slow cooker and add the tomatoes (use the liquid it comes in).  Make sure oxtail is just covered with enough liquid: I found I didn’t need to add any water, but if you need to, add some.  Throw in the bay leaf and a handful of whole cloves.  Set on high for 6 hours.  Half an hour before serving, throw in the rest of the celery-this is supposed to prevent it from tasting too cloying.  Serve with a baguette to soak up the sauce.

It tasted amazing!  The meat tasted very tender; it’s hard to describe the taste of the meat itself, but oxtail is unique and I quite like it.  Just a note, it’s not super fatty, but there is fat to this cut of meat.  It is very flavourful, but I could see some people finding it heavy; the way it’s prepared here helps to offset that.  

To finish off the meal, we also had a Nutella dessert, which Jose made from scratch!  It’s called: Brioche roulée au Nutella.

Ingredients

  • 225 g of flour (just a tad less than 2 cups)
  • pinch of salt
  • 25 g icing sugar (3 1/4 tsps)
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 50 ml of milk, warmed
  • Nutella
  • Honey
  • 1/4 cup butter

Mix flour, salt, sugar, baking powder.  Add the egg.  Heat the butter, using a microwave, until liquid and pour in.  Mix and slowly incorporate the warm milk.  Mold dough with hands until homogeneous.  Add more flour or milk as necessary if too sticky, or too floury.  Cover and let stand for at least 2 hours; best to leave overnight.

Roll dough over floured surface into rectangle of about 20 x 40 cm.  Spread Nutella over dough, leaving 1 cm border.  Roll dough lengthwise and cut into small pieces, about every 5 cm.  Place on baking sheet and cover and let stand for one hour.  Brush tops with a little honey.  Preheat oven to lowest setting and bake for five minutes.  Then increase to 180 C and bake another 20 minutes.

These were really yummy.  The only thing I’d change would be to add some chopped nuts on top of the Nutella.  But Jose did a great job with these, they didn’t last long!

And, as per usual, we topped of the night with some swing dancing!  Perfect Friday night.

EM

Sunday Roast

After a fun but tiring weekend of dance workshops, I needed to make sure I had something for lunch for the rest of the week.  I like cooking batches of food to save me the trouble of cooking everyday.  So I decided to break out the slow cooker again to make something easy- BBQ Pulled Pork for sandwiches.  I have made this before and had several people try it (including my guinea pig, Andria) who all agreed it was a keeper.  Here it is:

Ingredients

  • 1 can condensed beef broth
  • pork roast (any size, you can just eye this-I had a 1.2 kg roast or something like that).  You can use a cheaper cut of meat as the slow cooker will make this very tender, so don’t waste your money on something expensive
  • salt and pepper
  • BBQ sauce of your liking: I used a hickory smoke BBQ sauce

Rub some salt and pepper all over the roast.  You could probably skip the salt b/c the beef broth will have plenty of sodium.  Place roast in slow cooker.  Pour broth over it.  I added half a can of water as well.  You want to make sure there is enough liquid: my guide is that the liquid should be enough to rise half way up the roast.

Now here is the thing:  I have read that if the temperature is too low then the meat doesn’t cook properly and you can get food poisoning.  I am not a fan of bacteria, and I’m sure if I just Googled this, I could find a chart on what the temp should be on the slow cooker to avoid this.  But this is how I made sure my meat was cooked properly.  I started the roast off on high for 3 hours, then I turned the slow cooker to low for 10 hours.  When I woke up I had a perfectly cooked and tender roast.

Next, I take the roast out and drain the broth.  Alternatively, you could keep it and turn it into gravy for potatoes.  Then, take two forks and shred the roast.  Add some of your favourite BBQ sauce to the shredded meat.  There is no right amount, just add to your taste.  I would estimate that I added somewhere between 1 1/2 cups to 2 cups of sauce.  Mix well.

And that’s it, you have BBQ pulled pork for sandwiches!

EM

Pork Congee

For those of you unfamiliar with congee, it’s a rice porridge that is a popular Chinese dish.  Because I grew up with it and ate it on a fairly regular basis, I forget that sometimes the texture can be displeasing to others.  If you can get past it though, a wonderful world of different types of congee will be open to you.  Because the base of it is just rice and water, you can make congee with almost any type of meat you like.  I personally like pork, turkey, and fish most.  I also like the Hong Kong style mixed-seafood congee.  Best of all is when you have a fried Chinese Doughnut and dip it in the congee.  Chinese Doughnuts are long fried pieces of dough.  I have yet to discover how those are made.

Here is a recipe for pork congee that I use.  I use a slow cooker to cook it, and mine is a 5 quart size-made enough to last me for several days.

Ingredients

  • 2 pork chops
  • soy sauce
  • sesame oil
  • green onion for garnish
  • 2 cups rice
  • water
  • handful of dried oysters and dried scallops (available from china town, though you could probably skip it)

Slice up the pork chops into bite size pieces and marinade briefly in soy sauce and sesame oil (just enough to coat all pieces and really, I only marinate for five minutes).  Then take all ingredients except for the onion and throw it all into the slow cooker.  I filled my pot up almost to the top with water: make sure you leave some room so when it starts to boil it doesn’t boil over.  Set your slow cooker to high for 4 hours.  Easy and delicious.