Wednesday, August 29, 2012

recipe: grilled beef tenderloin with chocolate sauce

Grilled beef tenderloin with dark chocolate sauce??? Yes, you read that correctly. I know that it might sound a little (or very) odd, depending on how daring you are in the kitchen, but you’ll have to trust me on this one.
This recipe is a play on the mole sauce of Mexican cuisine – mole is the general name for a number of sauces (red, yellow, black, green, etc.) which always include some sort of chili pepper and sometimes even chocolate.
I’ve adapted this recipe from celebrity chef Ted Reader – I was once his cooking assistant at Dish Cooking Studio – this was one of the recipes that he featured for a grilling class. Ted was a ton of fun to work with, and his recipes are delicious, fun and unique (and always fattening…) but this one is worth every calorie.
The original recipe calls for smoked white chocolate and Godiva chocolate liqueur, but I’ve adapted it to use dark chocolate instead. The sauce is still quite sweet, so I suggest that you serve it with something sharp and/or slightly bitter to offset its richness – sautéed rapini (also known as broccoli rabe) works well. Also, don’t forget the garlic mashed potatoes!
I made this dish for my husband during the first year that we dated. He was quite hesitant and rather skeptical before cutting into his steak and dipping it into the sauce – but to this day he still talks about how surprised he was to find that the chocolate went so well with the beef.
grilled beef tenderloin with chocolate sauce
ingredients for beef
  • 4 (four), six ounce beef tenderloin filets, about 1½ (one-and-one-half) inches thick
  • 2 (two) tablespoons good quality olive oil
  • 2 (two) tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
ingredients for sauce
  • 2 (two) tablespoons butter
  • 1 (one) clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (one) small shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 (one half) jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3/4 (three quarters) cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 (one half) cup 70 % dark chocolate (or 80-90%, if you prefer), coarsely chopped
  • 2 (two) teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Place olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a large ziplock bag and shake, add steaks and coat with marinade. Marinate steaks for a few hours or overnight if desired (leave in fridge)
  • Remove steaks from fridge and marinade, season with salt and pepper.
  • Preheat the grill to medium high.
  • To prepare the sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Sauté the garlic, shallot and jalapeno for 1-2 (one to two) minutes until tender. Add in ¼ (one-quarter) cup of the cream and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low and stir in some of the chocolate, a little at a time, alternating with the remaining cream.
  • Gently bring up to a low boil and let simmer for a few minutes until thick. Add fresh thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Grill beef tenderloin steaks for 4-5 (four to five) minutes per side for medium-rare doneness. Serve each steak drizzled with the chocolate sauce (or on the side to use as a dip).

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

recipe: Spinach Artichoke Dip

Get your chips and crackers ready for my new favourite dip recipe!  A few weeks back, we attended a going away party hosted by our friends Kim and Rob.  Kim’s a great cook, and accordingly, she prepared a selection of delicious, one-bite appetizers.  David loved her mini caprese salad in grape tomato cups, but it was her spinach-artichoke dip that really made me swoon.  Who doesn’t love a good dip?  I sheepishly asked Kim for the recipe and she graciously agreed.  In addition to the recipe, I thought I’d share with you a list of different “dippers” that I’ve used at our catered events over the years.

 While almost everyone loves to dip potato chips, tortilla chips and crackers, there are many other delicious options to try, such as:

 ·        sliced apples or pears

·        steamed or roasted artichoke hearts

·        roasted, halved new potatoes

·        roasted, cubed pieces of sweet potato, butternut squash and/or parsnips

·        roasted broccoli or cauliflower (medium-sized florets)

·        steamed or roasted asparagus or fennel

·        cubes of artisan bread, such as raisin-walnut or potato-rosemary

·        skewered grapes, red or green

·        fried apple chips (available in bags in the produce section of most grocery stores)

·        crispy wonton wrappers
(cut each wrapper into 4 pieces – shallow fry in vegetable oil or lightly spritz with vegetable oil and bake)

·        flat pretzel crackers

·        mini meat or cheese ravioli, cooked

·        poached shrimp

·        sweet Italian sausage, cooked and sliced into half-inch discs

·        cubes of cooked ham

·        small cocktail onions

·        if you’re feeling REALLY indulgent… crisply-cooked bacon strips!

 Kim’s Spinach and Artichoke Dip


 ·        10 (ten) oz. package frozen leaf spinach, thawed, squeezed dry, and chopped

·        6 (six) oz. can artichoke hearts, thinly sliced and patted dry

·        1 (one) cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

·        ¾ (three-quarters) cup mayonnaise

·        ¾ (three-quarters) cup sour cream

·        Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1.      Preheat oven to 425°F.

2.      In a large bowl, mix the spinach, artichokes, ¾ (three-quarters) cup of the parmigiano, mayonnaise, sour cream, ½ (half) tsp. salt, and ¾ (three-quarters) tsp. pepper.  

3.      Transfer to a one-quart (or slightly smaller) baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ (one-quarter) cup parmigiano.

4.      Bake on the middle rack until the top browns and the inside warms through, about 25 (twenty-five) minutes.

5.      Let cool slightly and serve with dippers.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Just Released Extra Virgin Olive Oils!

have arrived at Dana Shortt Gourmet!!

Australian PICUAL ~ Fruity, tropical & slightly ripe olive notes, this mild intensity EVOO has a smooth beginning, slightly bitter centre & lingering pepper finsih. Well balanced & crowd pleasing!

Chilean FAVALOSA (FS-17) ~ Green, grassy EVOO with robust intensity. Well balanced and complex with creamy avocado notes, low bitterness and tomato leaf aromas.

Chilean KORONEIKI ~ Extremely fruity & very pungent, this bold & robust EVOO displays green fruit flavour attributes of green tea, grass & green banana. A black pepper mouth sensation indicative of desirable high phenolic content & freshness lends this EVOO a spicy sensation.

Come on in to TASTE these new oils.... Fresh is best!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

recipe: Texas caviar

If you’re a parent (or grandparent) to one or more children five years old (or younger), I strongly suggest that you read this column.

Back in May, we were invited to our friends Martha and Mike’s house for a get together/barbeque.  They live in Breslau and the air show was on – the kids (and adults) had a blast watching (from the backyard) the jets roar by directly overhead. 

As much fun as this was, there was some lull time between viewing the different airplanes – but not surprisingly, super-organized Martha had a plan to keep the kids entertained.  She brought out several paint rollers and brushes, as well as a few plastic paint trays (all from the dollar store), filled with water.  The kids had a blast “painting” the fence with water.  This kept six children entertained for at least half an hour, which is no small feat!  Just as they were starting to lose interest, Martha brought out some sidewalk chalk, which the kids used to create artwork on the fence… which could be wiped away with the stroke of a paintbrush or a blast from the water hose, or left for the next big rainfall.

By now, I’m sure that you may be wondering what this story has to do with food.  Well, due to Martha’s fun activity (which kept the kids well-occupied), the adults were actually able to enjoy some uninterrupted conversation (again, no small feat) while eating a delicious appetizer that Martha prepared.  Martha and Mike are both great cooks and this healthy dip/salsa was a real crowd-pleaser.

Texas Caviar


·         1 (one) can black beans, drained
·         1 (one) can black-eyed peas, drained
·         1 (one) can niblet corn, drained
·         2 (two) small cans sweet green chilies, drained and chopped (Martha uses canned jalapeños)
·         1 (one) red onion, diced fine
·         1 (one) green pepper, diced
·         1 (one) red pepper, diced
·         5 (five) Roma tomatoes, diced
·         salt & pepper to taste
·         250 (two hundred fifty) mL zesty Italian salad dressing


1.      Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl
(make the night before serving it so that the flavors can be absorbed).
2.      Serve with nacho chips or pita chips.

Note:  Keeps well in fridge for up to a week.

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