Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Yesterday I shared the recipe for my Italian Beef Sausage. After discovery the fabulous deliciousness of making my own spiced meat, I had to try making my own REAL sausages!
I gathered my nerve and asked KitchenAid if they would send me their KitchenAid Sausage Stuffer and they said yes! I so ADORE KitchenAid! See, I already had bought their food grinder. When I received their Sausage Stuffer by mail I thought I was all set to go.
Oh wait! I realized. Um... I need sausage casings, don't I?!
Pete's Frootique to the rescue! I wanted to get the synthetic casings but they proved to be ridiculously expensive so I got the pork casings (only a couple of bucks) and they also gave me some great advice on how to make sausages which I share in my video.
Now I was set! I had my KitchenAid mixer, food grinder, sausage stuffer, Italian beef sausage meat and the casings. I was ready to go! You can see me using my meat grinder for the first time here BTW.
So what was next? Making the sausages!!! Oh I had such tech troubles while making this video but I think it covers the technique on how to do so pretty darn well.
They are not perfect and do not look factory-made. At all. So I will dub them "artisan sausages," LOL. The twisting into the shape was easier to do than I thought it would be. Those casing are also pretty darn tough! I did not bust any of them, I am proud to say.
I sautéd and browned them in some olive oil.
I added red wine and tomato sauce to braise them in, covering the pot.
Wow, they looks so REAL! Real sausages by yours truly!
So dry! OMG, so dry. As my Mom would say, "Blech!" LOL. OK, so a spiced meat recipe does not necessarily translate into delicious sausages damn it. Still, I ate them all. I was not letting all that work go to waste.
Thank you KitchenAid!
I hope I did not let you down KitchenAid! As I was working on the video yesterday I checked my mail and your holiday card was there in my mailbox! You totally made my day and I promise, I will make better sausages in the future. Now that I know it is not hard to do, nothing can stop me.
For those of you who know about sausage-making, please check out my wishlist. There are a couple of books there and I would love to know if you have read them or could recommend any for me.
I am not giving up! There will be fabulous sausages made in my kitchen in 2014!
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
If you have been wondering why I have not been sharing as many recipes as I usually do, there are a few reasons why this is the case:
- Recipe testing and creating cost money
- Our budget is getting tighter and tighter
- So many recipes suck
You end up with a HUGE pot of food you do not want to eat. This is a vegetarian stew with quinoa I tried that had lots of herbs and spices. I really thought it was going to be a winner but Reg said it best, "How can a dish with so much texture and stuff have no flavour?"
Determined to not throw out all that food, I asked myself, "What would Mom do?"
I heard her quite clearly, "ADD MEAT!"
You got it Mom!
I decided to make my own beef Italian sausages. Well, OK, meatballs at this point. I normally just cut up the sausages anyway so why not? It had all the flavours of the sausage and that is what counts.
I toasted 1 tsp fennel seeds in a shallow pan over low heat until fragrant. I let them cool.
I used my spice grinder which is a coffee grinder to grind down the seeds as much as it could.
To a pound of lean ground beef I added 1 tbsp of hot smoked paprika. This made a very HOT sausage so if you want to go milder, use 3/4 tsp regular smoked paprica.
I added some chopped parsley, 1 clove of crushed garlic and seasoned with 1 1/2 tsp salt and some freshly ground pepper. I mixed together with my hands but handled gently. You should let meat sit covered in the fridge for a while to let flavours meld but I was in a hurry.
I made a few small meatballs and sautéd in a hot pan with some olive oil.
I browned them on all sides and then finished them in a 350F oven for 10 minutes.
As I said, these were HOT! Too hot for me but they definitely added more flavour to the veggie stew to make it more edible. Thank goodness!
The next day I just cooked up some of the meat and used it as a topping for a pizza with my super fast, easy & tasty pizza sauce.
Made one of the best pizzas I have ever had! So good!!! Mom was right, as usual. Meat really adds flavour and spiced meat takes food to a whole new level.
Sausage Odyssey Continues
Thanks to KitchenAid, I am now able to make REAL sausages! I already had the KitchenAid Food Grinder Attachment (watch unboxing and product testing video here) but they sent me their Sausage Stuffer Kit Attachment. I am so excited! To make my owns sausages from scratch? What could be better.
Tomorrow I will share the technique, the story, the challenges of making your own sausage. I had tech issues attack my kitchen but I did it. I used this recipe and made my own sausages from scratch. One of the coolest foodie days for me ever. Thank you KitchenAid!
Monday, December 2, 2013
Over the weekend I invited my friends Emily and Alissa to come over and have a quiet little tasting party of President's Choice products from their Holiday Insider's Reports. They were all hot appetizers which I made one by one as we sampled and talked about the products throughout the day.
PC Dim Sum Hors D'oeuvre Collection
We love to go out for Asian food together so I thought the perfect place to start was with the PC Dim Sum Hors D'oeuvre Collection. I had no idea at the time that I started with the most complicated of the appetizers!
You get two trays of 4 Shrimp Sui Mai, Chicken and Shrimp Har Gao dumplings for $7.99 (+800 pts).
You also set a sesame-soy sauce for dipping. To defrost both the dumplings and the sauce you need to submerge the unopened tray and the sauce for around 5 minutes in hot water. The tray kept floating so I had to anchor it down with my big container of salt.
You will also need a steamer to make the dim sum. Kudos to them for being so authentic but what if you do not have a steamer?
I will say the presentation is very elegant and sophisticated. Not bad for dim sum at home with very little work!
We enjoyed the shrimp dumplings but found the chicken (in photo above) was quite chewy, under seasoned and the meat was ground too fine. Too bad considering this is the only one Reg might have tried! I did like the shrimp ones a lot and considering I have not been out for dim sum since a visit to Vancouver over seven years ago? This was a treat. I give this product four out of five wooden spoons. It is not as good as going out but for those who can't? Definitely a good second choice.
PC Coconut Chicken Lollipops
I did not think I was going to be impressed by the PC Coconut Chicken Lollipops. So many times I have tried "coconut" something-or-other and there is so little coconut flavour. I thought to myself, a box of 14 for $9.99 (+1000 pts)? It better be good!
Damn it, they are good! Really good and I can taste the coconut clearly. Not only that, Reg adored these and he had them for dinner one night, LOL. So now of course I have to come up with my own recipe for coconut chicken.
This product is made with chicken breast meat marinated in red Thai curry sauce and is wrapped in a crispy coconut breading. The sweet Thai chili sauce that comes with it worked great with the subtle heat in the chicken. It just pushed it over the edge.
I do have one complaint though. The skewers they are on are very sharp. To have the second piece of meat you have to bite it off sideways or else it is a real health hazard. I personally would not serve these to kids on the skewer. But other than that? They are perfect! I give these four and a half out of five wooden spoons. Safety first people!
PC Sushi Bites
I had the PC Sushi Bites at the PC Points Holiday Party last week. I must admit, had I not tried them ahead of time I may not have picked them up for my little party. Cooked sushi? Are they mad?!
In one box you get 12 sushi bites, six scallop and six shrimp. I did not realize until later they are divided up in separate bags so we ended up only taste testing the shrimp bites at the party. A box of 12 is $6.99 (+800 points) which is pretty cheap in comparison to buying a platter of fresh sushi.
You just bake them up and top with the thawed mild wasabi cream that comes in the box.
Crispy hot sushi with creamy wasabi? I was a huge skeptic but OMG, these are delicious! You of course have to be a seafood lover to appreciate this product but let's just say I ate all the scallops bites for dinner last night with lots of creamy wasabi. I hope they sell these all year. I will eat them... All year.
The crispy breading of the bites contrasted with the moist seafood and the added creamy mild tang of the wasabi make the Sushi Bites unbelievably delicious. This product gets five out of five wooden spoons.
PC Moroccan Cigars Hors D'oeuvres
To continue the exotic flavour tasting we finished with PC Moroccan Cigars Hors D'oeuvres. You get 2 trays of 9 spiced beef pastries for $9.99 (+1000 pts). Hand rolled made with beef, cinnamon and cumin, these are easily prepared in the oven for finger food at your holiday party.
They do not come with a dipping sauce so I used the sweet Thai chili sauce from the chicken which I know, is not half as appropriate than making the pomegranate dipping sauce recipe from their site but I did not have time to do that.
These are unusual and definitely tasty and delicious but I feel a tad over-priced, especially since they are the only item that I tried that did not come with a sauce but obviously should have one. I also really hate the branding of "cigars" (and they are actually way too small to be a cigar so the analogy does not really work) and then eating it. I just think this type of marketing is unappetizing and outdated. I know they are rolled by hand but that is where the similarity stops, thank goodness.
I give this product three out of five wooden spoons.
I want to say thank you to Emily and Alissa for coming and sharing this experience with me! Because of my fibromyalgia, it is rare that I can host anything. Chronic pain and exhaustion just are not good ingredients for being a good host but President's Choice made that easy for me.
Thank you President's Choice for helping me feed my guests with your fabulous new products. They were all impressive, exotic and pretty darn fabulous. You have now made me obsessed with sushi even more and you inspired me to come up with my own fantastic coconut chicken. You really made throwing a little party doable for me and for that, I am so grateful.