“Borscht” Pasta (AKA Deconstructed Borscht with Beet Noodles)

'Borscht' Pasta

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print


Ingredients

  • 1 large beet, peeled and spiralized into noodles
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsps butter or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup broth (vegetable or chicken)
  • 15 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped (or 1 tsp dried dill)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • sour cream, for garnish (optional)

Directions

Heat the butter or oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until the garlic is fragrant and is starting to brown. Add the tomatoes, and stir, cooking until the tomato skins blister and split. Next, add the beet noodles, stirring to coat the noodles with the butter/oil. Add the broth and cover the pan to allow the noodles to steam for about 5-8 minutes or until they become tender. Uncover and cook, stirring regularly, until the liquid is almost completely gone. Add the dill and stir. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, if desired.

And now for the details…

Beet noodles. No, not beet-infused pasta, but actual noodles made out of beets. You’re probably already familiar with zucchini or carrot noodles by spiralizing the vegetables, but how about spiralizing beets? The inspiration for this dish came while I was grocery shopping. The grocery store had beet noodles already prepped for sale and my first thought was “what the heck would you do with beet noodles?”

Well… my brain wouldn’t let it go and I felt the need to figure out what I would do with beet noodles. The earthy flavour of beets is quite pungent, so just throwing them in with any old dish as a pasta replacement would heavily change the flavour of meal. Besides, that beety flavour is so tasty, was there a way to highlight it and make the beet noodles the star of the dish? And then it came to me: a borscht-inspired “pasta” dish.

In order to minimize the mess at home, since I’d never tried spiralizing beets, I chose to use a golden beet instead of a purple/red beet. I can only imagine what the kitchen would have looked like after trying to do this with the deeply coloured purple/red beet. Dark red stains everywhere, it would heavily resemble the scene of a murder. So let’s avoid that and go with the golden beet, shall we? Same great flavour. Less mess. *cheesy smile and thumbs up*

When choosing a beet, try to pick one that’s a little on the larger side, between the size of a tennis ball and softball. In order to spiralize, we need to peel the beet first. Don’t worry about peeling off the bottom of the beet, that’s going to be anchored into the end of our spiralizer. The mistake I made here was to spiralize the whole beet without cutting the noodles as I went. This resulted in looooooooooong Rapunzel-like strands of beet noodles that were a little challenging to work with. I would suggest giving them a little snip with food scissors every 8″-12″/20-30cm as you spiralize to form reasonable-length noodles.

Next, we start cooking! Heat the butter or oil in a large pan/skillet over medium heat. Add your minced garlic and stir until the garlic becomes fragrant (is there a smell much better than garlic cooking in butter?) and add the tomatoes. Cook the tomatoes, stirring regularly, until the skin on the tomatoes blisters and splits open.

Add the beet noodles into the pan. Stir them well so they become coated with the garlicky butter/oil. I found the easiest way to do this was to use some tongs to pick up the noodles and shift them around the pan. Add the broth to the pan, and cover the pan, allowing the beet noodles to cook and soften. This will take about 5-8 minutes.

Finally, uncover the pan, and sprinkle with the dill, stirring well. If there is still quite a bit of liquid in the pan, keep stirring and cooking until most of the liquid has been absorbed/cooked off. Finally, transfer to a serving dish and serve with sour cream!

Happy eating.

Instant Pot BBQ Pork Ribs

Instant Pot BBQ Pork Ribs

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


Ingredients

  • 1 rack St. Louis style or spare pork ribs, membrane removed
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsps chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp hickory smoke powder (optional if hard to find)
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup beer (alternatives: pineapple juice, cola or chicken broth)
  • 1.5 cups BBQ sauce

Directions

Mix together all the herbs, spices with the salt, cornstarch and sugar. Rub this powder into the ribs. Set the rack into the Instant Pot, pour the beer into the bottom. Roll the ribs into a spiral and set onto the rack of the pot, bones vertical. Close and seal, cooking on “Meat” setting for 25 minutes. Remove and slather with BBQ sauce and either place on high temp grill or under a broiler for 3-5 minutes per side to caramelize. Serve with extra sauce.

And now for the details…

Okay, so this is another one of those recipes that almost seems too easy to share. The Instant Pot has changed my life when it comes to cooking ribs. Remember that previous method of boiling or baking the ribs for several hours to try and get them tender? NO MORE! The Instant Pot makes this SO EASY, and so fast, that ribs on a weekday are not only a possibility, but a preferred option because of how simple it makes your evening meal.

If you want to make these even faster, you can do what I do and mix up a large batch of the rub and store it in a Tupperware container, so you can even skip measuring out spices when it’s time to make these.

Speaking of the rub, that’s where we start out recipe. In a bowl (or Tupperware), mix together the garlic powder, chilli powder, cumin, oregano, chipotle powder, hickory smoke powder, salt, cornstarch and sugar. If you cannot find hickory smoke powder, just skip that part. I know it took me a long time to hunt it down, and I’ve been treating that stuff like it’s powdered gold. Again, you double, triple, quadruple, or more the amount of those measurements, and just have the rest sitting in a container for the next time you make the ribs.

Next, it’s time to get those ribs ready for cooking! Before you rub everything in, tear off the membrane, also known as the silver skin, on the back of the ribs. It’s not the end of world if you forget this step, but the ribs will have this membrane on them when you eat, and it’s a little chewy and ropy. There are plenty of videos and info out there showing you how to do this, I found this video has great info on how and why to remove the membrane (skip to 1:30 to see the technique ;P).

Next we’ll take that rub and… well… rub… it into the rack of ribs (if you’re storing extra, make sure to set that aside so that you don’t cross-contaminate the spare rub with those ribby fingies). Get right in there and massage the rub into the meat on both sides. To save on using extra dishes, I actually do this right on the packaging the ribs came in 😛

Next, it’s time to cook! Pour the beer into the bottom of the Instant Pot. If you’re not a fan or don’t want to cook with alcohol, you can replace the beer with juice (I recommend pineapple, but orange or apple would work too), broth, or even cola or root beer.

Next, curl the ribs into a spiral and place them so the bones are vertical in the pot. In my case, unfortunately the rack was cut in half in order to fit the packaging, so I just kinda half-circled them around the outside of the pot. I have tried doubling the recipe, and a spiralled double rack JUST fits into the pot. Cover the pot up and set the lid to “Sealed” position. We are going to pressure cook these on the “Meat” setting for 25 minutes.

Once you have that set, we wait. You basically have 25 minutes of your life back. So many options on what to do here. You could make some pretty impressive sides to go with those ribs. OR. You could kick up your heels and enjoy the rest of the can of beer, since there’s more that 1 cup in a can 😉

Once the ribs are done, unseal the lid and let the pressure come back down, then open up that lid and expose the gloriousness that is the cooked ribs. Lay them on a tray and slather them with your favourite BBQ sauce (both sides).

Now you have two options here: you can either finish these off on the grill or in the oven. On the grill, set your heat to medium-high, or in the oven, set your broiler to medium-hi. Either place the ribs right on the grill or under the broiler, and cook them for a few minutes on either side, just long enough to get some darkened, caramelized bits.

Remove from the heat, and either serve up directly with your extra BBQ sauce on the side, or slather on a bit more sauce just before serving.

Happy eating.

Biscuit-Style Cinnamon Rolls

Biscuit-Style Cinnamon Rolls

  • Servings: 12 buns
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
  • Print


Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsps granulated sugar
  • 4 tsps baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup cold butter + 1/3 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pecan pieces (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400ºF/205ºC Blend the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the 1/4 cup cold butter. Add the milk and stir until just combined. Let sit in fridge while making the filling. Mix together the 1/3 cup softened butter, brown sugar and cinnamon until formed into a paste. Take the dough out of the fridge, roll out on a floured surface to a rectangle approximately 12″/30cm by 18″/46cm. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin well. Place approximately 1/2-1 tsp of the filling into the base of each cup of the muffin tin. Spread the remaining filling over the rectangle of dough. If using, sprinkle raisins and pecans over the topping. Roll the dough from the long edge up, so you end up with a 18″/46cm roll. Cut the roll into 12. Place the rolls, with a cut side down, into the prepared muffin tin. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the buns are golden brown. Let cool 5 minutes, then remove from tin. Serve.

And now for the details…

Howdy folks! Admittedly, this one is not my recipe. It’s a recipe I had gotten from my mom, and she has been making it since I was a kid. My parents were in to visit this past weekend and I asked her the origin of the recipe, since all I have is a recipe card I diligently copied years ago from hers when I moved away. Turns out, this is a recipe from Canadian Living magazine that my mom found years ago (it was when I was a kid, so I’m not going to talk about just how long ago… just… it’s been awhile.)

Do you have cinnamon bun fanatics in your home? These rolls are not quite the same as a cinnamon bun, since the leavening agent here is baking powder instead of yeast, and you won’t get that same fluffy texture. But to be honest, I prefer these rolls over yeast cinnamon buns any day. Yeast cinnamon buns remind a little bit of the texture of pancakes or French toast. Particularly the middle of the bun, where it’s kinda doughy and if it’s had time to sit in the moist filling, it almost gets a little soggy… no thank you, no thank you! Biscuit cinnamon rolls are still a little soft in the middle, but they’ve got this crispiness going on around the edges, and the filling caramelizes a bit since the rolls are cooked apart in separate baking tin cups. MmmmmmmmMMMMmmmmm…

So let’s get to cooking, shall we? First off? Preheat that oven to 400ºF/205ºC!

We start with the dough. Mix/sift together the dry ingredients for the dough (flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, kosher salt). You can use regular salt here, in fact, I think that’s what the original recipe calls for, but I liked the idea of using kosher salt so you would get occasional bites of the salty bits, giving the buns an almost salted caramel type flavour. Once the dry ingredients are mixed together, cut the cold butter (1/4 cup worth) in, using a pastry blender or knives. You can do all of this in a food processor too, which will make it even easier! Cut the butter in until its down to about pea-sized pieces. Next, we add the milk. Mix it in just until the dough has formed up. We don’t want to mix too long or the dough will get tough. Set the dough aside, maybe even sticking it into the fridge, while you get the filling ready.

To get the filling ready, we are going to smush together the softened butter (1/3 cup), brown sugar, and cinnamon. Get it mixed all nicely together so it’s a smooth paste. Before it makes its way into the cinnamon rolls, we’re going to prep the muffin tins by greasing them well (or not at all if you’re using silicone tins; man, I love this muffin tin!) and then dropping about 1/2-1 teaspoon of the filling into the bottom of each cup. This is going to give us that gooey, but crispy bottom for each roll.

Next step is to get those rolls ready! Flour the surface of your kitchen counter quite well so the dough does not stick. Roll out the dough so it becomes a rectangle about 12″/30cm by 18″/46cm. It does not need to be perfect, just an approximation of a rectangle of that size. The dough should be about 1/2″/1cm thick. I just used my fingers to pat and flatten out the dough, but you could also use a rolling pin if you’d like. As you flatten it out, lift each corner occasionally to make sure there is enough flour underneath that the dough will not end up sticking to the counter.

Once the dough is the right size/shape, smear the topping over the dough, trying to get close to the edges and corners. If you are using them, add the raisins and pecans by sprinkling them over the topping. I polled on the Instagram to see what the consensus was on raisins vs. none, and wow, I was not expecting so many folks to be anti-raisin! I was assuming 50/50, but it ended up being closer to 70% of folks who would prefer no raisins! Since I was making these primarily for my dad while he was visiting, the raisins stayed 😉

Next, we roll these up and get them ready for baking! Roll the dough from the long edge up, so that the roll ends up being about 18″/46cm long. If parts of it are sticking, pull them up lightly, and if there is a LOT of flour as you roll, dust it off onto the counter as you roll. Once rolled, let the seam come to the bottom, and then cut the roll into 12 pieces. I find the easiest way to get a somewhat consistent set of pieces is to cut the roll in half first, cut each of the halves in three, then cut each of those pieces in two.

Finally, place each of the pieces into cups of the muffin tins, with the cut sides facing down and up, and bake for 15-25 minutes, or until the rolls are a nice golden brown.

Once they are done, let them cool for about 5 minutes, then remove them from the tins while they are still warm. If you leave them too long, and they cool completely, the bottom, caramel-like middles will harden, and they will be very hard to remove from the tin.

Finally, serve!

Happy eating.