Monday, 24 June 2013

What to do with ground beef? (Aaloo Keema)

Aaloo Keema, Ground beef Curry


Veg oil to season pan, since a cast Iron Skillet or wok works well for this recipe, but a large high walled nonstick frying pan will also work, or a large pot.

1 Finely diced white onion
2 Pounds ground beef
3-4 Cloves garlic minced
2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1/4 Teaspoon red chili flakes
2 Teaspoons Parsley
1 Tablespoon ground coriander seed
1 1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 1/2 Teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 Teaspoon cayenne (Use 1 full Teaspoon if you like extra spicy)
1 Teaspoon Turmeric (Use 2 if you like it extra spicy)
1 Can diced tomatoes
1 Cup frozen shelled edamame (or green peas)
1/2 Cup frozen corn
1/2 Cup 1 cm by 1 cm cubed potatoes
1 Teaspoon Garam Masala (An Indian spice blend, not needed, but adds a little something extra)
Green onion to garnish
Sesame seeds to garnish
Pepper and salt to season


Pre-steam the potato cubes for about 10 minutes over boiling water to help speed the cooking process, or you can add them at the same time as the corn and edamame and just reduce the sauce longer. Your choice.

Heat and oil your pan as required for a cast iron or nonstick pan, and gently brown the onion over medium heat.

Once the onion is just browning add the ground beef, garlic, and ginger root. Season with salt and pepper and cook the beef thoroughly, breaking it up as it cooks.

While the beef is cooking, in a small bowl combine the coriander, salt, cumin, cayenne, turmeric  chili flakes, and parsley and sift together creating a curry spice blend.

You can also make extra of this spice blend and use it to make other curried dishes. It's a really nice mild curry flavor, not too spicy.

Once the beef is cooked add the can of diced tomatoes, juice and all to the pan, and the curry spice blend. Reduce heat to low and stir and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Then add the edamame and the corn and the pre-steamed potatoes.

Continue to cook for about 15-20 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the potatoes are soft. Sprinkle a teaspoon of garam marsala (or more) over the top of the curried beef and turn the heat off. Let it sit for 5 minutes and serve over top of basmati rice, with green onion and sesame seeds to garnish and naan bread on the side.


Ps: July 2014, Made this again tonight, left out the potatoes and the sauce still thickened and made it a bit lighter. Plus we had really fresh yummy naan- so we ripped it into small pieces and used the torn naan to roll the curried beef and rice into a little Pakistani taco. I highly suggest eating it this way.


I am a person who likes to try a lot of different foods, I get bored if I eat the same thing too often. Which means there are some things (like ground beef) that are common and often on sale that I get bored of eating the same ways that my mother made. Really there are only so many times a girl can eat meat balls, burgers, and meat loaf, before she grows weary of it.  So I had to try and find something new, different but still yummy.

So I've tried a few different things, making different bolognese sauce things, pasta, casseroles, lasagnas, but pasta is not meant for every day. So then I tried making Mexican spicy beef for tacos, burritos, nachos, but that is still a lot of heavy food. Finally I thought what about a curried beef served with basmati rice, and maybe some naan bread.

I looked up a few recipes, but disagreed or didn't like, or just didn't have access to a lot of the things called for in any traditional ground beef recipe. So I made up my own based on a few different sources. Plus tested by me and changed around a bit to make it nearly fool proof. So this is an altered version of Aaloo Keema, a ground meat curry dish from Pakistan. Make it and serve it with some fresh Naan Bread and a lot of Basmati rice with green onions and sesame seeds for garnish and impress your friends with a burst of flavor from a country most people I know couldn't find on a map. Exotic!

PS August 2014, Leftovers can be frozen in little portions and defrosted and heated for lunches or dinner again. Reheats and serves perfectly after being frozen.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Nova Scotia Stuffing Versus Newfoundland Dressing

I grew up in Nova Scotia but have since moved to Newfoundland and sadly for me one of the biggest differences between the two has been the differences between the traditional Sunday dinners with the whole family. In Nova Scotia there is stuffing, and potatoes, often corn and carrots, fresh baked rolls, and ideally a roast turkey or chicken. In Newfoundland they have Jiggs dinner and it's a whole other sort of affair with potatoes, turnips, carrots, cabbage/greens, all being boiled in a giant stock pot with salt beef for flavor. and of course to make "pot liquor" all served with a roast, or chicken, or turkey. But one thing is almost similar if it's poultry; there best be some dressing to go with it or there isn't going to a happy person from either province at the table.

So what do I consider to be the differences between stuffing and dressing? Both are similar but Stuffing has a bread and potato base, while dressing is mostly just about the bread crumbs. There is another big difference and that is in the sort of savory used, Nova Scotian's go for summer savory, a sweet herb similar to parsley but with so much more flavor, my papa always grew mine for me! In Newfoundland Mount Scio Savory is the king, a stronger more peppery flavor but either summer savory or savory are key for making any East Coast stuffing or dressing.

Now if you start making some dressing you best make some extra to have fries dressing and gravy the next day with those leftovers! It is a Newfoundland tradition after all.

Nova Scotia Stuffing

So perfect on a leftover roast chicken/turkey sammy with left over gravy. . . 


2-3 Decent sized russet potatoes, peeled, boiled soft and mashed
1 Large Onion, finely chopped
3-4 Celery stalks, finely chopped, or done in a food processor pulse setting till small and even
3 Tablespoons to 1/4 Cup summer savory
Bread crumbs, ideally 2-3 days old fresh bread crumbs that are soft (not a panko/crunchy style)
Salt and Pepper to season well
1 Egg, Beaten lightly


In a bowl or in the pot the potatoes were boiled in, combine the celery, onion, potatoes, and summer savory, season well with salt and pepper and mix well till everything looks like it has an even consistency. By small handfuls slowly add in the bread crumbs, working with your hands until it isn't sticky, but not overly dry either. It is a delicate balance, and you just need to learn to feel for it.

Once the ideal consistency for the stuffing is reached it should mold easily into a ball shape and keep it. At this stage add the beaten egg and mix well again. Stuff into the cavity of the poultry and roast. DO NOT over stuff the cavity, the Stuffing will expand as it cooks and it needs just a little bit of space. Once the cavity is stuffed, use a wadded up piece of aluminum foil to cover the opening. Then truss* the bird to roast it.

Or if you don't want to stuff it into a cavity, smoothing it into a casserole pan and baking for about 1 hour at the end of turkey cooking time also works.

*Truss- Using butchers twine tie the bird together. Start by cutting a piece of string about 2 feet long. Place the string on a clean work surface or place, and place the chicken on top of the string, around where the wings are, back bone down. Bring the string around the top, cross it over itself, knot if desired and wrap the string around the back of the bird again, just ahead of the legs. Cross over or knot, and wrap the string around to the breast side of the bird. Tie the drumsticks together close to the body and closing off the cavity as best you can.

I also sometimes tie and knot a little butchers string handle on top of the chicken, so when it is roasted all I need to do is grab the handle and lift the cooked poultry to a resting pan.

Newfoundland Dressing

Goes great on french fries with left over gravy the next day. . . 


3-4 Cups fresh bread crumbs*, not panko style
1 Onion, finely diced
3 Tablespoons- 1/4 Cup Savory
Salt and Pepper to season
3 Tablespoons melted butter


Combine bread crumbs, onion, and savory in a medium sized bowl, mix well to get an even consistency. Season well with salt and pepper and just before stuffing the poultry cavity or transferring to a casserole dish to bake in, drizzle the melted butter over the stuffing and toss gently to mix the butter in.

Then either use to stuff the cavity of poultry, or toast in a shallow casserole dish until golden brown, then use either pan drippings from the poultry or some pot liquor to drizzle over the top, stir the dressing and toast lightly again to enhance the flavor.

Save the left overs for a Newfie poutine made from golden fries, dressing and gravy!



Roasting a turkey or chicken? Check out my guide to preparing, cooking, stuffing, and making gravy for a roast dinner.

Ps sometimes if I happen to be in an adventurous mood I will also add a tablespoon or two of sage, marjoram or thyme to the stuffing just to give it a little extra kick. Some people also enjoy a few toasted chestnuts in theirs, but I for one hate all nuts so it wont be seen in any of mine, but I am an open minded lady and can appreciate that not everyone is so anti-nut!

October 2013, also craisins! A handful of craisins goes a long way to stepping stuffing or dressing up to a fancy level for Thanks-Giving Dinner!

December 2013, Recipe updated slightly thanks to future M-I-L, also her advice to use 1/2 loaf of day old bread, and tear it into pieces by hand to  get the best results.

October 2014, Look I added pictures! I am going out to a lovely cabin by a lake tomorrow for Thanks-Giving dinner and to please myself and my Newfoundland born and raised friends I literally made both kinds of dressing today. Looking at the pictures there really isn't that much of a difference between the two, but trust me the texture is very different. Both are delicious.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Spicy Squid Chips

Spicy Squid Chips

Awesome with a Spicy Dip!


About 2-3 cleaned squid tubes
1/2 Cup Flour
1 Tablespoon paprika
1/2 Teaspoon each of salt and pepper
1 Small Egg, beaten
1/2 Cup milk
Lemon wedges to garnish
Fresh parsley to garnish


Preheat your deep fryer to the manufacturers suggested seafood temperature, or a medium-low temperature.

Whisk the milk and egg together in a medium bowl, set aside.

Clean and rinse the squid tubes by slicing open one side of the tube, removing the glass looking fin if there is one, and scraping away anything that looks like a membrane or slime. Leaving a flat piece of squid meat. Pat the squid dry with paper towels. Slice the dried squid meat into one inch by one inch squares.

In a large ziplock bag combine the flour, paprika, salt, and pepper. Toss in the squid chips and shake to coat evenly. Empty the bag out over a garbage can into a strainer, gently shaking the excess flour off. You could also do this step in a large bowl and toss and dredge the squid pieces.

Working with only a few pieces at a time, dip the squid in the milk and egg mixture, then carefully and by only cooking a few at a time, fry the squid chips for about one and a half minutes, until it is just fried and turning a nice golden color.

Do not crowd the pan! even cooking is prefered and they will stay warm on a plate warmed up in the oven a bit while the rest cook. Or use two pans to be super fast. But do not crowd them, squid and all seafood is delicate, it has lived a life without the gravity pulling down constantly. Over crowding leads to a rubbery feeling squid and its not nice to eat.  A quick fry is also key as squid will quickly overcook.

 Repeat with all squid chips until done, while keeping the cooked squid chips hot in a just warmed oven or on a warmed pate.  When done, garnish with lemon and parsley.



I grew up in a lovely little town that had a lot of great things going on. One of the best things was that it was right next door to the Atlantic ocean and some of the best fresh and local seafood in the world. One of my favorite places to go was a small restaurant right on the wharf where fisherman came to dock with their catches of the day. This of course meant that the seafood shop was supplied right from the Ocean with the fish only needing to travel about 20 meters from the ocean. It was the freshest and most flavorful seafood that I'm sure I will ever get in my life. I miss it dearly but at least it introduced me to the best seafood life has to offer.

But let us return to us actually cooking food, one of my favorite things to eat at that restaurant were the squid dishes. Squid gets a pretty bad reputation as being rubbery and very fishy smelling and just not very good. But local, never frozen or quick frozen squid is delightful. In fact if your fish or any seafood smells strongly fishy than that means it is older and very likely about to spoil and go rancid. Fresh seafood should just smell like clean ocean water. Quality is key with seafood where the proteins are much more delicate than say beef, if you skimp out on quality seafood you are much more likely to notice it. So talk to your local fishermen and get your hands on some fresh squid tubes because this recipe is one of my favorite snacks.

PS October 2013, I was just on vacation and had calamari that came with tzatziki  sauce, which I do not like but the plate was garnished with a Red Pepper Aioli on the calarami plate, and myself and soon to be husband much prefered the calamari with the red pepper aioli. Try making it some time because I know I will be making it here for us sometime soon.

PSS August 2014, try dicing a fresh jalapeno pepper and frying that along with the squid. You could even make a thin batter of water and flour  or egg and some of the remaining spiced flour used for the squid to make some nice spicy crunchy pepper bites.