Here is a recipe that is a new family favourite of mine. Well here is the story behind it... I recently purchased a new cookbook (yet another one for my growing collection hehe) called Best Ever Indian. If you ask me it's a pretty bold title. I say anytime you use the word "best" you better mean it, anyways I digress, back to my story. I was flipping through the pages and saw this balti beef recipe, and to be honest at first I just thought it looked like a slow cooked beefy tomato sauce, but then I kept reading. It sounded so easy and I had everything readily available in my pantry so off I started on a new cooking adventure (cheesy I know). I served this baby up for dinner and both my hubby and I looked at each other wide-eyed. One word...Delicious! As a lover of any curry dish, this was a beautiful symphony of spicy flavours. My hubby liked it because it was authentically Indian but without being too spicy. Serve it up with warm naan bread and you have a simple but elegant Indian dinner. I definitely say make this one tonight!

Adapted from the "Balti Beef" recipe from the Best Ever Indian: A collection of over 100 essential recipes cookbook (2008)

Serves 4-6

Ingredients for balti sauce:
  • 2 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 canned chopped tomatoes (14 oz)
  • 1 tsp ground paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper

Ingredients for remaining:
  • 2 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 large red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 lb boneless beef (i.e. sirloin), thinly sliced
  • fresh cilantro sprigs, to garnish
  • Indian bread (to serve)
  • Cucumber and mint raita (to serve)

1. Balti Sauce: Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat, and melt the ghee or pour 2 tbsp of veggie oil. Add the onions, garlic and ginger paste and saute for about 5 minutes, until the onion is golden brown. Stir in the tomatoes, and add in the paprika, turmeric, cumin, coriander, chili powder, cardamom, bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste.

2. Bring the temp up to boil, keep stirring, then reduce the heat and simmer for another 20 minutes. Make sure to stir occasionally to prevent the ingredients from sticking to the bottom. Turn the heat off. Let the sauce cool slightly, then disgard the bay leaf. Pour the mixture into a food processor or blender and mix until you reach a smooth consistency.

3. Wipe the skillet and return the heat to medium-high. Add in the ghee or veggie oil. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute for 5-8 minutes until golden brown. Add in the bell peppers and continue to fry for another 2 minutes.

4. Add in the sliced beef, and fry for 2 minutes, until it starts to turn brown. Add the balti sauce and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer. Let it cook for about 5 minutes or until the sauce slightly reduces again and the bell peppers are tender. Add a bit of salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve warm with the Indian bread, and garnish with the cilantro sprigs. Add a good dollop of raita on top and enjoy!

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Instructions: Hit play, and listen throughout whilst reading.

Verily, good day to you oh dearest of readers, as I humbly welcome you one and all to a very hoity-toity affair, being yet another premier.  I have cast aside my casual rubbish and donned a suit (or not) to pen this very dignified and very wordily named column, "Matthew's Shall We Not Partake In Wine?"

This inspirational column will only appear on the rarest of occasions, so, like a quality port or scotch whisky, enjoy it, savour it, bookmark it, tell your friends and clergy, and immerse yourself in this glorious world of fine wine.

The first jewel of the vine to be given the royal treatment is the Chateau Gigognan from the heavenly region of the southern Rhone region of France known as the Chateauneuf-du-Pape, which obtained its name from the Avignon Papacy of the Medieval Ages.

Chilled for twenty (XX) minutes prior to uncorking, this naturally corked wonder, which featured the vintage date stamped right atop said cork (2007, or MMVII) and a nice graphic print, poured a lovely deep red, which was intense, and richly regal - a little alliteration for my inaugural stately column, not unlike the Ionic or Doric!

The nose was robust and flavourful, featuring jammy, deep red/dark fruits of cherry, blueberry and others.  Truly, it was very strong, and rich too, and with an alcohol percentage of 15.5%, one should not be taken a back to utter, "O ho!" etc.

The taste was utterly sublime.  This wine was very deep and rich in its flavours and nuances, featuring more jammy wonder with further blueberry and other berry cohorts.  It was quite dry as well, with beautifully balanced tannins for a very pleasing drinking experience and no bitterness/sourness, as the fruits just completely envelop and overwhelm the aridity.  Its aftertaste had perhaps just a hint of spice, and the tannins did peek through the Firmament ever so gently as well. 

But! the wisdom of ye olde "back of the bottle" cannot be ignored, as it declared thusly in regards to taste and flavour: "This wine offers...aromas currant and raspberry, white pepper and garrigue.  [The wine]...finishes with notes of licorice and pomegranate."

Garrigue?  Oh, a "type of low, soft-leaved scrubland found on limestone soils around the Mediterranean basin."  (Wikipedia.)   *cough*

Made from a blend of Grenache (a spicy, berry flavoured grape widely found in warmer climates and popular in du-Pape blends), Syrah (a type of Shiraz) and Mourvedre (a grape varietal used to make such potent, rich wines as this), the Chateau Gigognan was a velvety, gorgeous experience which I am very grateful to have had, largely in part to my dear wife's generosity in securing me a gift card to the LCBO, which I used to obtain this special treat.  Single adjectives will suffice in describing and summarizing this wine to you:



Tour de force!


The Keys to Heaven as Christ is said to have handed to St. Peter feature prominently on the bottle's decor under a Papal Tiara.  I recommend you engage on a pilgrimage if not to France, but to your local wine proprietor, and pick up a bottle whilst you can; you will be blessed!

***3/4 out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$39.95 (US$40.66).


LCBO/Vintages #219899
Wine, Red Wine
15.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: 1
Made in: Rhone, France
By: Chateau Gigognan
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We have had quite the summer this year. I can only say two words to describe and humid! (at least where I am). I'm sure a lot of you brought out the barbeque this season and pretty much grilled your standard BBQ fare, burgers or hot dogs. Here is a different take on hot dogs that will get your family or guests going "whaa? you put hot dogs in pasta?". Now I know that this sounds a bit strange to some of you, but believe me this was a real winner at my house. My husband didn't even realize he was eating hot dog until I mentioned it! He was really impressed *pat on the back for me*. If you happen to have a few hot dogs kicking around in the fridge, why not give this a try for a different summer hot dog dinner.

Serves 2 generously

  • Half a boxed (454g) pkg of linguine
  • 2 medium hot dogs, sliced in half, then diagonally
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 8-10 cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 scallions (green onions), sliced into thirds, and sliced thin lengthways
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut in half, then diagonally 1/2" thick
  • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 6-8 tbsp chicken or beef stock
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard
  • large handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • Fresh Parmesan, grated (to serve)

1. Put on a large pot of boiling water, salt the water, and cook the linguine until al dente. Follow the package instructions for further cooking details.

2. Preheat a large shallow pan on medium high heat, place in the hot dogs, oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook for a good 2-3 minutes to sear the hot dogs, and to flavour the oil. Lower the heat to medium, and add in the mushrooms, scallions, red bell pepper, and zucchini. Season the veggies with salt and pepper. Saute for about 3 minutes. Make sure that the veggies are still somewhat crisp and not fully cooked.

3. Deglaze the pan by pouring in the stock. Make sure to scrap up all of the yummy bits from the bottom of the pan (if any). Stir in the tomato paste and the yellow mustard, and cook for another 2 minutes or until the flavours have combined.

4. Add in the cooked linguine and the chopped parsley at this point, and toss using tongs; making sure all of the sauce has coated the pasta. Serve with a good sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Cook's Tip: If the stock has cooked away and there isn't enough sauce to coat the pasta, then go ahead and add more stock, a little at a time.

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