Rob Feenie’s Casual Classics Cook Book Preview
Cactus Club! Iron Chef! Lumière! Feenies! Feenie Weenie (which is his hot dog at Cactus Club)… whatever associations you have with the house hold brand, it is likely you recognize the name or man behind it! He is one of Canada’s most popular chefs and arguably Vancouver’s biggest celebrity chef. Rob Feenie is the Executive Chef for Cactus Club Cafe and he’s out with his new cook book Rob Feenie’s Casual Classics – Everyday Recipe for Family and Friends.
He is known for his fine dining style, but this book is catered for the everyday home cook. With soup, salads and sandwiches and classic comfort foods, it’s food that we have all likely tried at some point, but with some original Feenie flare. The recipes aren’t very complicated and most of the ingredients you would have at home (in a North American kitchen). However there are some Asian and Italian influences and it was stuff I could imagine being on the Rob Feenie Signature Menu at Cactus Club Cafe.
I was invited to the book launch for his new cook book at Cactus Club to sample some of the recipes. The following will give you an idea of what to expect in the book. To be honest I actually thought they were going to be featured on the Cactus Club menu, and it would have been appropriate, but this is not the case. Although who knows? It might be one day.
Barbequed Duck Spring Rolls – I actually wasn’t expecting to be as impressed with these as I was. Being Asian I’m naturally biased when it comes to anything Asian inspired or “Asian fusion”. Quite often it’s some bastardized version of the real deal, but in this case I really liked them! Of course these aren’t meant to be authentic, but I would actually order them at a restaurant and part of me was hoping they would show up on the Cactus Club menu.
The Barbecued Duck Spring Rolls were stuffed with vermicelli noodles, cabbage, green onions and cilantro and wrapped in a flaky phyllo dough which was better than the traditional spring roll wrapper. The recipe for it uses a premade barbeuqe duck from a Chinese butcher chop, so the assembly is actually quite easy.
Meatballs with Dipping Sauce – It’s probably in every family oriented recipe book. Everyone’s mother, grandma, father or sister etc. claims they make “the best” meatballs. Personally I don’t think “the best” anything exists, but if it’s your favourite I can accept that.
I listed meatballs as one of the Vancouver Food Trends for 2012 and it’s something almost everyone knows and loves. It’s just meatloaf, but rolled into balls and it’s a classic comfort food that I find lots of people have a soft spot for. Out of the meatballs I’ve tried this year I really loved the ones from Ricardo’s Mediterranean Grill (recipe here) , but I haven’t tried making either at home yet.
Feenie’s meatballs were made with whole milk, bread, ground beef, pork and other seasonings and spices. they were topped with tomato sauce and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. I probably would have liked it over spaghetti more so than alone, but this made for an easy appetizer.
Citrus Cured Steelhead Salmon – This is another one I really liked. It was a very West Coast salad to me, but it was actually inspired by Chef Feenie’s time he spent in Sweden. He used local Steelhead Salmon which is always fantastic.
It was cured with lemons, limes, orange and a bit of sugar and salt, served with a warm potato salad dressed in horseradish-mustard vinaigrette and topped with a drizzle of Dijon dill mayonnaise. The sauces were really simple and required few ingredients, so the curing part was the only thing that took a bit more time (6-8 hours).
Chocolate Brownies – Every casual classic recipe book has to include it. This, bread pudding, chocolate chip cookies, or apple pie, and his recipe book actually does have an apple pie recipe. This Chocolate Brownie is served with Boubon-Butterscotch Sauce so there is a nice little twist, much like many of the other recipes featured in this book. It was a solid fudgy brownie with chopped walnuts and it probably would have been even better with ice cream… as warm brownies always are.
Last, but not least I’ve included a recipe for Feenie’s Asian Sloppy Joes with Cabbage-Cilantro Slaw. This recipe sounded fun and delicious to me. It was a Sloppy Joe meets a Pulled Pork Sandwich and the Asian inspiration was undeniably West Coast and Vancouver. It was a nice switch up and I would even consider using the Chinese Mantou steamed buns, or brioche buns for something more commonly found. I would also add some cucumber to the slaw, but I’d take out the seeds so it’s not as wet.
Asian Sloppy Joes with Cabbage-Cilantro Slaw Recipe
Serves 6 to 8
When I think of sloppy joes, those ground beef sandwiches I remember eating as a kid, it reminds me of my mom preparing Hamburger Helper (yes, that’s right, I have had it a few times). The key to her version was a soft bun and a drippy grey meat mix—nothing more. This updated recipe is an Asian version made using both pork and beef. The key is to buy soft buns and warm them—in the oven if it’s already on, or in the microwave for 10 seconds—to soften them up. If you don’t want to make sloppy joes, use this recipe with pasta for an Asian-style spaghetti or serve it with mashed potatoes as a main course. Remember to pour off all the fat from the meat before adding the liquids.
2 cups shredded green cabbage
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime (about 1 Tbsp)
2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
2 red onions, in 1/4 inch dice (about 2 cups)
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 ribs celery, in 1/4-inch dice (about 3/4 cup)
1 Tbsp sambal oelek or
any hot sauce of your choice
1 lb extra-lean ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 cup hoisin sauce
1 cup chopped fresh or
canned Roma tomatoes
Juice of 1 lime (about 1 Tbsp)
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
6 Portuguese buns or
any other bun of your choice
Cabbage-cilantro slaw Combine cabbage and cilantro in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice and grapeseed oil. Just before serving, pour the vinaigrette over the cabbage mixture and toss lightly. Will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for 2 days.
Sloppy joes Heat a large, heavy frying pan on medium-high. Add grapeseed oil and swirl the pan to spread the oil. Add onions, garlic, ginger, celery and sambal oelek and sauté, stirring often, until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add ground beef and ground pork and use a wooden spoon to break meat into small pieces. Cook, stirring frequently, until meat is no longer pink, 6 to 8 minutes. Pour off and discard any fat from the meat. Add hoisin sauce, tomatoes and lime juice, then season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Preheat the oven to 375˚f. Cut the buns in half, place them on a baking sheet and warm for 2 minutes, or until very lightly toasted.
Arrange the bottom halves of the buns on individual plates. Spoon about 2/3 cup of the sloppy joe mixture on top of each bun, then cover with 2 to 3 Tbsp of cabbage-cilantro slaw. Finish with the top halves of the buns. Serve immediately. Refrigerate leftover meat and slaw, separately, in airtight containers for up to 2 days.
Rob Feenie’s Casual Classics Cook Book Giveaway!
Prize: Rob Feenie’s Cook Book.
How to enter:
1) “LIKE” the Follow Me Foodie Facebook Fanpage and comment with your favourite classic dish.
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Winner will be selected at random.
Contest closes August 31 at 11:59pm.