Thursday, May 26, 2011

BBQ Sirloin roast

Cooking meat in the middle east is simple, we either grill it (kebobs, tikka, kufta) or we stew it (different parts of the animal - shoulder, stewing meats, heads, feet...whatever)

And then there are a million things to do with minced meat of various fat contents -like fillings for all kinds of kubbas and stuffings.. it's very versatile as my mother says.

This is the sort of thing I'm familiar with, and then on top of that I used to be a vegetarian for all my teen years so I pretty much missed out on learning how to cook meats.

Now that I eat meat again I've began exploring the world of western meat cooking methods like steaks and burgers. There is nothing like a good steak I think, and with all the cuts I try to keep it simple to let the true flavour of the meat shine.

Most of the people I know wouldn't go near a piece of meat cooked anything less than well done - the occasional "done" tikka is ok but we really like to over cook our meat.

At our family BBQ last summer everyone other than my brave 'foodie' mother could not stomach the thought of eating a perfectly cooked medium lamb chop so we had to re-bake the already BBQed chops.

Ohh well! :)

The other day I came upon a giant sirloin roast (top or bottom? Cant' remember what the package was labelled as but it was reasonably priced) I had froze them both until I did some research on what to do with them.

The first one I had totally ruined, thinking that it was a good cut for braising/stewing I removed all the good pieces of meat (took a good 30 mins !) and then browned and braised it in my big pot and the end result was a really dry texture, nothing like stewing meat at all.

The next day I thawed out the next piece, I was determined to make things right so this time I dried the meat and rubbed it with a good helping of dijon mustard then sprinkled it with BBQ spice blend (salt in the mix was good, though I added a 1/4 cup of brown sugar to it) and then rubbed that all over the meat.

Once it came to room temp and marinated well I fired up the BBQ grill and seared up the huge piece of meat until nice and brown on all sides. Now I put the grill on low and covered the top part loosely with a piece of foil and left the lid of the BBQ open.

This cooked for about 45 mins, turning half way through and making sure it did not burn from time to time. The smell in the neighbourhood was heavenly and that crust with the brown sugar and spice rub looked so delicious!

I was hoping at this point that things were ok inside the meat and that it turned out edible, so I removed it and let it rest on a tray tented (using a foil tent to let all the juices distribute)

When it was time to eat I sliced into it and to my surprise it was perfect!!! Yay!
Just the way I like my meat, medium. Mmmm!

The bottom shots are of the first day it was grilled, and the sandwiches were made with cold leftovers, it went a long way and was really good with that flavourful sweet crust, even the juices dripping off and collecting in the pan were so yummy!

Give it a try, it's like BBQ roast beef (I have yet to learn how to make a good oven/slow cooker roast beef) and leftovers are amazing.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bumping into a Cupcake shop!

I heard about them, on tv I think!

How fun was it to bump into them today while in Milton, Ontario.

It was the end of the day and they were clearing out, two flavours left only but I took one of each anyway and enjoyed them very much.
Moist cupcake and fluffy airy buttercream, so good!

Good Morning Wednesday!

Shortly after waking up and turning on the computer I see this concoction that looks quite good while I do my routine scroll through foodie sites and blogs, upon reading the recipe here it seemed simple enough so I ran into the kitchen to whip some up before a long day ....

I'm not a coffee drinker but I love all things coffee (flavoured..etc. even Ice cream!) so this was quite a treat.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Let Them Eat Cake

I was in the mood for baking and celebrating, but what was the occasion you ask? ... Nothing specific, maybe the weather warming up or feeling a little better after all these months of avoiding food and photography, but now I wanted to jump right back into it so I whipped up this pretty looking cake to share.

Served with fresh strawberries for the perfect girly indulgence.


Ingredients for the cake layers:
1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
6 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 unsalted butter, melted

To make the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of two 8" round cake pans. Cut a parchment paper circle to fit onto the bottom of each pan.

Sift the flour three times onto a sheet of parchment or wax paper.

Beat the eggs and sugar in the large bowl of your mixer, using the paddle attachment, for up to 10 minutes, until the volume has increased at least three times. The mixture should look thick, pale yellow, and bubbly.

Take the bowl off of the mixer. Sprinkle in half of the flour, folding it in with a hand-whisk just until combined; repeat with the rest of the flour.

Drizzle in the melted butter and whisk only until combined.

Divide the batter equally between the prepared cake pans.

Bake the layers for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cakes begin to pull away slightly from the sides of the pan. Cool the layers for 10 minutes before removing them from the pans. Peel off the parchment circles and let the layers cool completely before assembling the cake.

** My notes: I used red food colouring to the dye the cake pink, less for the lighter shade and more for the intense shade. Also on the dark pink I used cake flour instead of AP and that yield a cake with more holes, I'd stick with AP it's more dense but richer.   I obviously doubled the recipe above, or made it twice for each the lighter cakes and the darker ones. 

Frost with your favourite buttercream or whipped cream.

Cabbage rolls

Cabbage rolls by Adventuress Heart
Cabbage rolls, a photo by Adventuress Heart on Flickr.

Delicious cabbage rolls using leftover rice and that cabbage that has been in the fridge for a while.

If you have too much rice on hand this is the perfect recipe!

Mix cooked rice with fresh herbs (mint/parsley - pulsed in the processor with onion and garlic)
Add aromatics mix to tomato puree (or tomato paste + water) and mix well, I sneaked a little harissa (north african chili condiment mix into it) . Add salt/pepper to season and any spices you like (I add arabic 7 spice, gives it some warmth)

Mix the tomato mixture with the rice and begin stuffing/rolling your cabbage leaves (pre cut and boiled briefly in salt water to tenderize - can do this step ahead of time and drain then refrigerate for use)

Line your pot with the cabbage rolls, or your casserole. Add a bit of water to the bottom (not too much remember rice is cooked! ) and bake until it smells good.
Add more tomato sauce on top to cover and a layer or sauerkraut if that is your preference.

They taste better the next day!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hard boiling eggs

Egg by Adventuress Heart
Egg, a photo by Adventuress Heart on Flickr.

Easiest way to hard boil eggs: Add eggs to pot, cover with water. Sprinkle a pinch of salt in the pot.

Place pot on burner, let water come to a boil, immediately cover and remove from heat.
Let sit for 10 mins minimum.

Peel and enjoy! Beautiful eggs with bright yellow yolks.

Summer grilled tikka kebobs

Now that summer is here it means one thing - BBQ season!

My favourite way to prep kebobs are marinating the sirloin cubes in some lemon, greek oregano, salt and olive oil.

Another variation is arabic 7 spice with a sprinkling of sumac for that tang and olive oil. So good.
My mother likes to marinade her meat overnight with lots of chopped onion and black pepper (salt later to prevent all the moisture from coming out of the meat)

These tender bits get skewered onto wooded or metal skewers (wooden should be soaked prior to prevent burning) then they get grilled up quickly and served with fresh bread and lots of chopped vegetables or a salad.

Easy and delicious! Feel free to share your favourite kebob marinades!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A trip to David's Tea

David's tea, a new tea shop on the scene.

Previous to my new discovery I've been familiar with both the Tea Emporium and Teaopia which have been gaining popularity as they spread out across the city promoting healthy and wide varieties of teas.

I've been a fan of both, as I love tea and it's always fun to try new varieties and blends, plus they have some amazing gift items for tea lovers, from mugs to tea pots and those beautiful cast iron traditional pots, even kettles... matcha stone bowls with matching bamboo whisks.

You almost always learn something new from a visit.

Here are a few things I picked up from David's tea.

Happy Kombucha, which they had samples of the first day I walked into their store.
It's fruity, exotic, tropical but very addictive, something about it just makes you keep coming back and while I drink a lot of tea and on a regular basis I've never felt so drawn to a "Fruity" tea as much as this one.

Good stuff!!
Today I returned with a new tea, movie night! It smells like caramel maple pop corn! Absolutely wonderful with notes of apple. Can't wait to brew up a batch.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Heirloom carrots

Root veggies are fantastic to roast, it brings out the sweetness and makes a perfect and healthy side dish.

Try seeking out some local heirloom variety carrots for an old fashioned twist, not only will it impress your guests and family by the gorgeous colours but they each have their own unique flavour.

To roast any veggie, first chop into desired shapes/sizes then toss with an oil (if using butter - a little oil is wise to sprinkle over to prevent burning)

For the harder varities chop them smaller, for anything softer like the average carrot chop them a little large - this way everything will cook evenly.
Also I like to chop things on the bias for a lot of cooking/roasting surface space.

Now season with salt, black pepper and go wild... paprika is delicious and adds some heat, brown sugar and cinnamon brings out further sweetness which would complement any savoury main dish, slivered garlic slices, even cumin (seeds or spice) adds a nice warmth for a winter dish.

Try your favourite herbs, thyme or rosemary. I think a little brightness from lemon complements just about anything, do a squeeze or lemon or lime could do it.

Now roast at 425 F tossing from time to time until it proves tender with a fork or knife test.

Enjoy and don't be shy to let me know how you enjoy prepping carrots!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rotisserie chicken

The Hamilton Beach double decker toaster oven with rotisserie makes awesome chicken!

Rotisserie chicken by Adventuress Heart
Rotisserie chicken, a photo by Adventuress Heart on Flickr.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tahini buns, Cinnamon buns & Sticky buns

I've finally perfected my cinnamon bun recipe.... and here it is!

Cinnamon buns

- 4 3/4 c flour or 5 cups
- 2 tsp instant yeast
- 6 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 c softened butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 c very warm milk.
And zest or orange or lemon (optional)

Cream butter, add eggs, add mixed dry ingredients working the butter into the flour by hand
- Add warm milk, knead together until very smooth for 10 mins.

-Allow to double in size oiled and covered in a bowl, then roll out and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (you can spread with butter first if you want)
-Roll it up and cut thick slices then arrange in a parchment lined pan and allow to double in size again.
-Bake at 350 for 20-30 mins.

For a delicious alternative, try the Tahini bun. Spread some tahini (middle eastern sesame paste) on the dough and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake. It's rather delicious and apparently a legit greek recipe.

Yum yum! ^_^

Lebna - Yogurt Cheese

LOVE Lebna! I used to take lebna sandwiches to school as a child, trumps cream cheese any day. It's smooth, creamy, tangy, and a little salty. Mmmmm. You'll see it on most breakfast tables in the middle east drizzled with a little bit of oil and scooped up with pieces of fresh flat bread.

If I remember correctly Queen Rania of Jordan herself on the View said she used to take lebna sandwiches to school.

Here is how to make it:

For the container above I used 3 yogurt containers (650 g) They were on sale!

Add all the yogurt into a big bowl and add some salt (1 tsp per container should be ok)
Whisk it all up and pour into a sieve that is lined with a paper towel or cheese cloth.
In recent years I've found paper towel to be very durable (scotties?) They don't tear or leave any fragments in the cheese and they're sanitary because I can just throw it away.

I line the sieve really well then pour it all in. (make sure the sieve can stand properly, or has little feet) then place the sieve over another bowl (lots of water will come out)

I remember my mother hanging a tied up cheese cloth around the sink faucet and leaving it there overnight but now I put the bowl in the fridge and in 2 days it's done.

Keep removing excess liquid so it does not reabsorb if it collects, and then turn out the paper towel to reveal you're beautiful cheese. Store in a container and enjoy with a little drizzle of good olive oil. Perfect for your breakfast table, brunch or mezze spread.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Peach Upside Down Cake I


  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 5 fresh peaches - peeled, pitted and halved
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk


  1. Melt 1/4 cup butter or margarine in an 8 inch square pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar and nutmeg. Arrange peach halves, cut side down, in pan.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Spread batter over peaches.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 35 to 40 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Remove cake from oven, and let stand in pan for 5 minutes; invert onto serving platter. Serve with whipped cream.


    This recipe is truly fantastic!! The cake is amazing, you won't believe it until you try it. Substitute whatever fruit you want but canned peaches work just fine, this time I tried it with fresh pineapple and it was divine! Let me know what you think of that cake!!!

My favourite Banana Bread recipe - easy as pie!

Banana Bread II


  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed banana
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Grease an 8x4 inch loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Add butter, eggs, nuts, and mashed banana. Beat until well blended.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.


    * I double the walnuts, because I love them so much!! Also dates are awesome, or chocolate chips for a twist.
    Give it a try, you won't regret it ;)