Archive for the ‘Cook’s Illustrated’ Category

Day 67 – Korean-style BBQ

April 22, 2007

Saturday April 21, 2007: Korean BBQ Ribs

Saw an interesting recipe in the latest Cook’s Illustrated for Korean style bbq ribs that uses short-ribs of all things. With the beautiful weather finally here, I wanted to get the Weber going – there’s nothing like the smell of briquettes when you’re sitting in the sun waiting for your supper – and thought this might be a recipe worth trying.

This was the best decision I made all weekend. David Pazzmino from Cook’s deserves a medal for this recipe.

It starts off with a fascinating marinade:

1 Pear, peeled, cored and chopped
6 cloves of garlic
4 teaspoons of ginger
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar

Put all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and spin until smooth.

Prepping the Beef

Cook’s identifies four types of short ribs: English, flanken, korean and boneless. The only type I’ve ever seen for sale here in Toronto are the flanken style and that’s what I picked up for Saturday’s dinner.

If there are bones in your short ribs, you’ll have to carefully remove them along with any hard fat and silver skin.  

Your boneless beef should then be  put between two sheets of waxed paper and given a quick pounding with a wine bottle (or heavy blunt instrument of your choice) – you’re looking for uniform pieces of meat that are about four inches long, one inch wide and about one-quarter inch thick.

The marinade should be poured over these beef portions and put in the fridge for 1 to 12 hours – this is a tenderizing marinade, so the longer the beef sits the more tender it will become.  Our beef got about a four hour bath and was fantastically tender.

The Sides

I filled the chimney with briquettes and while they burned to grey, my daughter and I snapped some yellow beans and washed lettuce for a salad. The beans went into a foil pouch with some olive oil and a sprinkling of kosher salt.

For the salad dressing, I wanted to complement the Korean-style ribs and whipped up something along these lines (I don’t measure when I make salad dressing, so this is a best guess)

1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce

Mix these three items together and then slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking vigorously – taste as it thickens and stop when it’s struck the right balance.

We also made a batch of basmati rice.


The ribs go over the hot coals and cook for about five minutes a side. They should be done in under 12 minutes. The foil pouch of beans also takes about 10-12 minutes to cook over indirect heat.

The Verdict

K. LOVED the ribs. She wants me to make them for the kids’ birthday parties. I too couldn’t get enough, I’m glad I didn’t make five pounds of them (as the recipe suggests) I would have eaten them all.

This recipe is a serious keeper. My hat is off to Cook’s on this one.

The boy liked the ribs too but my daughter wasn’t converted. She doesn’t like any char on her food, and was trying to find pieces of rib that had “no skin” she did eat lots of rice, beans and salad.

For dessert, our lovely neighbours actually passed a plate of assorted squares over the fence (lemon, date, some sort of caramel chocolate number).

My daughter also roasted marshmallows over the dying coals of the BBQ – one of her favourite summer activities.


Day 61 – Dinner with the In-Laws

April 16, 2007

Saturday, April 14, 2007: BBQ Salmon, stir-fried veg

K. and I enrolled in a infant-child first aid course on Saturday so my in-laws came down for the day to look after the kids.

Saturday morning, I stopped by the fish-monger and picked up a side of pacific salmon, which I tucked in the fridge.

When we got home from our course, the salmon was marinated in a mixture of 1/4 cup soy, 1/4 cup maple syrup that was featured in Cook’s Illustrated a few month’s ago. The fish was marinaded for about 45 minutes (skin side up, so that only the flesh went in the marinade).

The Salmon went skin-side down on the gas grill at 400F, with the heat turned down slightly on the side of the grill where the salmon was placed.

Some basmati rice went on the cooker and a red pepper, green beans and snow peas were prepped for a stir fry. After a few minutes in a very hot wok, I added the following mix:
2 Tablespoons Oyster Sauce
2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons Light Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 clove garlic, minced

I finished the stir-fry with a few drops of sesame oil and a sprinkling of white sesame seeds.

The salmon was basted at the 10 and 18 minute mark with the left-over marinade and was finished cooking after 20 minutes.

The Verdict
The kids ate everything – the rice, the veggies, the salmon and the cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices we also put on their plates and K’s parents seemed to really like the Salmon.

My mother-in-law brought a very nice layered spice cake with a whipped cream/cream cheese icing for dessert. My son ate all of his piece and most of his grandfather’s too (he knew who’s lap to aim for once his dessert was done).

Most importantly, K. and I are now well versed in the Heimlich just in case…

Day 42 – Stuffed Pork Roast

March 26, 2007

Sunday, March 25th: Crusted, herb-stuffed Pork Roast

I don’t know what it is about Sundays, but I always think we should finish out the week with a bigger or nicer meal. Yesterday, K. asked me to do a roast for Sunday dinner. 

When everyone in the house went down for a Sunday afternoon nap, I set out to see what was on offer that would make for a nice Sunday supper.

The Butcher had 2 really nice centre cut Pork roasts. I grabbed the smaller of the two. At the green grocers, I picked up some fresh sage and thyme, arugula, and a bunch of beets.

The Prep

This is based on a recipe for crusted, herb-stuffed pork roast from a recent issue of Cook’s Illustrated, with a little inspiration from the stuffed breast of veal recipe in Gordon Hammersley’s Bistro Cooking at Home.

I cut the greens off the beats, gave them a quick rinse under the tap and then wrapped each wet beet in aluminum foil. They go into a 400F oven (although this time they went into a cold oven, set for 400F…)

The Topping

The Cook’s recipe calls for you to make your own breadcrumbs. I skipped that step and used pre-packaged crumbs from our local bakery that we keep on hand to make meatloaf. The recipe also called for one cup of crumbs, but eyeing the roast, I knew that was way too much…here’s what I used:

2/3 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup dried herbes de provence
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp fresh thyme
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir until well mixed.

The Stuffing

I used the ratios from the Cooks Illustrated recipe, but changed the herbs (is there anyone who actually likes cooking with Parsley? Who wants 1/3 cup parsley in their food…not me). I also threw in the grainy mustard as it’s a great match with the pork and I love it in Hammersley’s stuffed veal recipe. So here’s what I used…

1/3 Cup (well packed) fresh herbs (sage and thyme)
6 Tablespoons grated Parm
1 Clove garlic
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon grainy dijon mustard

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and give it a whirl until it’s smooth (about 10 seconds)

The Roast

1. With a sharp knife, cut a cross hatch pattern in the fat cap.
2. Cut a small pocket in the side of the pork roast
3. Take 1/4 cup of the stuffing mixture (the mustard, herb mix) and spoon it into the pocket in the side of your roast
4. Using butcher twine, tie your roast back up (three quick loops should do it)
5. In a hot skillet, warm some olive oil and brown the roast on all sides (3-4 min/side)
6. Remove the roast from the skillet and carefully press the remaining mustard/herb mix into the top of the roast. Press the bread crumbs into the herb-mustard mix until the roast is well coated.

Turn your oven down to 350 and roast the pork for about an hour or until it’s done to your liking. I cooked mine until it’s 140 to 145F and then I let it stand for ten minutes before carving (most food regs require 160F for pork, but I find at that temp the pork is ruined…)

The beets go under a stream of cold water from the tap. This protects your fingers as the foil comes off and helps the skins slide right off the beets. The beets are then cut in quarters and sprinkled with a touch of kosher salt.

We also had an arugula salad (I bought the roquette as I knew it would be perfect on my roast pork sandwich Monday afternoon – and it was). 

The Verdict

Both kids loved the roast and the boy ate lots of beets. Our daughter wasn’t sure about the beets and I clearly over played my hand when I told her the beets would make her pee pink (she’s such a girly-girl who loves everything and anything that’s pink, I thought this was a sure fire way to get her to eat her vegetables). That was the final straw and the beets were emphatically pushed to the side of the plate.

We enjoyed the roast with a 1999 Santa Duc Cotes-du-Rhone that was starting to show it’s age, but was a very pleasant match.


We each had a bowl of ice cream as we sat together and watched Toy Story before bed. It was a lovely Sunday night (and I went 4 for 4 in my NCAA bracket too).

Day 27 – Maple Glazed Salmon

March 12, 2007

March 10th, 2007: Soy-Maple glazed Salmon

The marinade/glaze for this recipe, taken from an older issue of Cook’s Illustrated is dead simple:

Mix 1/4 Cup soy sauce with 1/4 Cup maple syrup

That’s it. Full stop. Two ingredients, one bowl.

Reserve 2 tablespoons of the marinade and pour the balance into a large, shallow pan and place the salmon fillets skin side up Cook’s is rather emphatic about this last point.

The original recipe called for the fish to be grilled, but I didn’t feel like dealing with a BBQ with all the wet snow still out on the deck,  so I let the fish marinate for about 30 minutes plus the time it to took to get the oven up to 400F.

The fish went on a broiler pan and into the hot oven for 12 minutes. Rice went on at the same time the fish went in. About 5 minutes later, I stir fried julienned carrots, with roughly cut onions and red peppers – once they began to cook I added shredded napa cabbage and broccoli florets along with 2 tablespoons of red wine, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 minced clove of garlic and let the whole thing steam and bubble.

After 12 minutes, I removed the salmon, brushed on the reserved 2 tablespoons of marinade and placed it under the broiler for a minute or two.

Rice, veg and fish went on the plate and it was a big hit. There wasn’t a single veg or piece of fish left over…

Day 8 – Squash Soup; Braised Lamb Shanks

February 18, 2007

February 18, 2007: Squash Soup and Braised Lamb Shanks

The soup is based on Thomas Keller’s Butternut Squash Soup recipe from his cookbook Bouchon. The lamb shanks are based on  a recipe in Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries (the book that inspired this blog).

Another freezing cold day, -19C with wind chill. The weatherman promised it would be +7C on Monday. Same folks are now calling for it to be -14C.  A 21 degree swing this time of year is just plain cruel.

If it was a weekday, it would be time to crack out the slowcooker, but as it’s a lazy Sunday it’s time for a nice soup and a good in-the-oven braise.

The Soup Prep
A large butternut squash is split in half, the cavity cleared of seeds and the neck removed.

The cavity gets a splash of olive oil, some salt and pepper and a collection of fresh herbs. The split squash goes cut side down on a foil lined sheet into a 350F oven for an hour.

While it roasts, I slice and dice: 1 cup of leeks, 1/2 cup of carrots, 1/2 cup of shallots, 1/2 cup of onions. The neck of the squash is peeled and cut into a 1/2 inch dice.

Stage II
Once the squash is out of the oven and cool enough to handle, a neutral oil is warmed in a large pan and in go the leeks, onions, carrots, and shallots. After five or so minutes, the raw diced squash, six cloves of peeled garlic, salt and pepper go into the pan.

Here’s the secret to this dish – two minutes after the squash and garlic go into the pan, add 2 tablespoons of honey. This is a twist I never would have thought of and it gives this soup a really deep, complex flavour.

After that, the roasted, skinned squashed, 6 cups of vegetable stock go into the pot -the whole thing is brought to the boil – and then simmered for at least 30 minutes.

Working in batches,  the soup is run through the blender and passed through a sieve back into a waiting saucepan. Taste the soup, adjust the seasonings; if it’s too thick add a bit more vegetable stock. Then it’s ready to just re-heat and serve. To finish it, Keller calls for nutmeg infused creme fraiche and fried sage, but that will have to wait for another day…

The Shanks
Last night I trimmed up a couple of lamb shanks, removing the excess fat and cutting back some of the silver skin. They trimmed shanks went into a Tupperware with a cup of red wine, a bay leaf, a touch of salt and a garlic clove that had been passed through a rasp.


This afternoon, the shanks get browned in hot oil and then a mirepoix hits the pan. Once the mirepoix has cooked off, the shanks, three smashed cloves of garlic, an onion cut into wedges, a cup of red wine and a cup of beef stock are added to the pan. The whole thing goes into a 300F oven for an hour.

After an hour, a tablespoon of grainy pommery mustard gets stirred into the mix, the shanks are turned over (wet side up, dry side into the mix) and it all heads back into the oven for another hour. 

Some garlic mashed potatoes go into the bowl and the shanks go on top…(with way too much steam for the camera to handle)
Shanks with a steamed lens

K. made chocolate pots de creme from the December issue of Cooks Illustrated. She said they were very easy to make and they were delicious; however, they were really heavy. Way heavier than any pots de creme I’ve ever had, bordering on being solid chocolate…perhaps she overcooked the creme anglais. Still, a bowl of dark chocolate with whipped cream is never a bad thing.

The Wine
2004 Saintsbury Chardonnay with the soup (thank goodness for half-bottles) and Plan Pegau Lot 2004 with the lamb.

The Verdict
Both kids liked the lamb, though they weren’t so sure about the soup or the mashed potatoes. As could be expected, the chocolate was a the most popular dish of the night.

Day 2 – Chinese BBQ Pork

February 13, 2007

Dish 2: February 12th, 2007

Chinese BBQ Pork from Cook’s Illustrated, March and April 2007 

The latest Cook Illustrated arrived and had quite a few recipes that I immediately wanted to try: Potato Roesti, Lemon Layer Cake, Roasted Tomato Sauce and the Chinese Barbeque Pork. 

The BBQ pork seemed the most promising (February doesn’t seem like the ideal time to be cooking with lemons or tomatoes) so on Sunday, we picked up a large pork butt and the marinade ingredients we didn’t have on hand (Hoisin sauce, sesame oil) and set to work. 

Day One: The recipe calls for a four inch thick, boneless, pork butt. Mine fit that description but was a bit more difficult to butcher than the handy little line drawing in Cook’s led me to believe. In fact, of the maybe eight slices the butt produced, about half were rather malformed, if not completely falling apart.  While I did my best to keep these pieces uniform, the structure of the pork butt conspired against me and the slices were more frankenporker than chop or steak. 

Day Two: I came home from work and with my three year old sitting on the counter to help and the one year old clinging to my legs, we quickly made the marinade and got the required 50% and the mangled pork into a Ziploc bag and back into the fridge. 

The remaining half of the marinade went into a sauce pan and our three year old was more than happy to squeeze in ¼ ketchup and 1/3 cup honey. This saucepan then went over medium heat until reduced to a cup.

Easy peasy.

Cooking: Step I
The pork comes out of the marinade about an hour later and goes onto a rack set over a roasting pan or cookie sheet. Knowing what was to come I lined the roaster with tin foil to expedite clean-up. 
The whole package was wrapped in foil again and shot into a 300F oven for 20 minutes. After 20, the top foil comes off and the pork is left to roast unmolested for another 45 minutes. Enough time for a quick snack of chips, guacamole and a few cunning games of connect-four. 

Cooking: Step II
After 45 minutes, the oven goes off, the broiler goes on and the marinade is brushed over the pork. Back under the broiler it goes for five to ten minutes until it takes on a nice mahogany colour. 
The pork gets flipped, the bare side gets the reduced marinade and broiler treatment til it too takes on some colour.

The Verdict
With the exception of cutting the pork butt, the prep was easy, a bit messy but easy.

Clean-up, even with the foil, was a chunky mess. But hey, as the cook I don’t always have to deal with the clean up end of things. That said, a clean-as-you-go approach here will make things a lot easier. 

The end product didn’t get that nice red colour (almost like a smoke ring) that you get from a traditional Chinese take-out joint (or in the stylized photo in the back of the magazine) but the pork had a very nice, complex taste and a pretty good texture too.

The boy loved the pork and pretty much ate his weight in it.

My daughter wasn’t as sold and made a meal out of the sides of steamed broccoli and brown rice pilaf.

I didn’t think I’d make it again until I made BBQ pork fried rice the day after. My daughter ate all of it (ALL OF IT) for lunch. A big hit…

Kobus Gwertztraminer 2005 – not a bad match, a bit too much residual sweetness in the wine to match perfectly.