Sunday, January 25, 2009

Rob's Birthday

Every yaer, I cook a dinner for Rob's Birthday. He picks a few items that he really wants and I try to build a menu around that. This year, his picks were creme brulee and pork belly.
I start off by setting the table properly and writing up a menu for him.

The first course was butter poached spot prawns in a bouillabaise-style bisque. I started by poaching and peeling the prawns, building a tower with them and then I topped it all off with a crouton and some rouille. At the table, I poured the hot bisque around the prawns. The bisque was made with a homemade fish stock, tomatoes, onions, fennel and saffron. The wine pairing was a 2005 Pinot Noir from Bourgogne, courtesy of Kitsilano Wine Cellars

A tomato and brie tart was served on a fresh herb salad lightly dressed with olive oil and balsamic.

The least successful course was the pork belly. Rob still enjoyed it, but I wasn't happy ~ totally overcooked. I strayed from what I know and followed a recipe, even though it felt wrong. The flavours were great though and I have already been toying with some ideas as to how I could make it better. The wine pairing was a Nichol Vineyards Gewurtztraminer.

The final course, creme brulee, was excellent. I made one totally traditional creme brulee and then I made an Early grey custard, folded in a meringue made with the leftover egg whites and hot simple syrup and froze it in individual ramekins. At dinner, I bruleed the top of both and I had one cold and frothy creme brulee and one warm and decadent one. Rob was in heaven and ate four creme brulee in total. We enjoyed this with a 1996 Sauternes ~ heaven in a glass.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

"Keep Calm and Carry On"

That was the motto that greeted us as we stepped into Cascade on Main St. I think I may need to adopt that for my own personal use...
I was having a catch-up/birthday dinner with M and Cascade happens to be so close to her place, we ended up there by default. The cocktail lists were impressive, lots of old school cocktails, lots of creative new cocktails, I went with a Clover Club (gin, raspberry, egg white lime and something else delicious) and M had a hemingway daquiri.


I want to go back just to drink my way through the cocktail menu!
After much deliberation, I settled on the oxtail and M went for the veggie burger.

The oxtail was decadent... lots of bacon, tender oxtail. I also loved the little pot they brought it in. I picked a glass of red to drink with it and it turned out to be an excellent choice. Of course, when I sat down to write this post, I couldn't actually remember the name of the wine. I fired off a quick email to the restaurant and received a prompt and detailed reply with a link to the liquor store listing. I will be scoring a bottle of this for nice dinners...

I tried a bit of M's burger patty and I found the flavour/texture to be interesting and appealing, but I am not sure I would like it in a bun - too much starch on starch. Of course, I am not a vegetarian, so perhaps not the best choice to judge a veggie burger...
All in all, an excellent dinner and I am sure I will find myself back there sometime in the future. I was also happy with the service and will be recommending this place to others.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Christmas Dinner

I know, I know, Christmas was weeks ago. But I was lazy and didn't feel like posting even though I was snowed in. So here it is. No recipes, no break from tradition.
Prime Rib with Yorkshire pudding

Apple pie with vanilla ice cream.

I am heading to Cascade tonight for a friend's birthday. I will take pictures; she is used to it now and maybe I will have something interesting to talk about tomorrow!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year


Welcome to 2009; here's hoping it is a good one...
My first dinner of 2009 is in the oven after a long day of movie watching (complete with several trips to Videomatica to return a defective dvd). We took in Tropic Thunder and Burn After Reading and tried repeatedly to finish STardust. Unfortunately, every single copy the video store had was defective. Enough about today: the picture posted above is from our dinner two nights ago. I have discovered a very affordable seafood - squid! I prepared it very simply, slicing the tubes into thin strips and seasoning with salt and szechuan pepper. I tossed it in panko crumbs and quickly fried it until just cooked - any longer and you will have well seasoned rubber bands. After the squid was all cooked up, I tossed the remaining panko in the frying pan with ginger, lemongrass and red thai chilis. A quick browning and that was pured over the squid.
I served this on a bed of glass noodles with a crisp vegetable salad and fresh cilantro and thai basil. Refreshing, delicious and under 5$!