Saturday, December 31, 2005

Paella Fried Rice

Rob made this last night ~ a break from beef, beeef, beef. He found the recipe on the main page of Epicurious. We thought we might make a couple changes next time, but it was a delicious one dish meal. Rob added prawns and asparagus to the original recipe.


Remember, you absolutely cannot make delicious fried rice using freshly cooked rice! If you cook the rice yourself (a day to a week ahead), buy long-grain (Carolina) rice and follow the package directions for making drier rice.

Otherwise, use leftover Chinese take-out rice.

Active time: 35 min Start to finish: 35 min

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil(try infusing oil with saffron)
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes (next time, try aleppo pepper)
1 large onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
2 (3- to 4-oz) Spanish chorizo (spicy dried pork sausage) links, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch-thick pieces
4 cups cold cooked rice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
10-oz package frozen peas
1/3 cup hulled (green) pumpkin seeds, toasted
1 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Added 6 jumpo tiger prawns and a cup of asparagus tips.
Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook cumin and red pepper flakes, stirring, 1 minute. Add onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring, until softened. Add chorizo and sauté over moderately high heat, stirring, until sausage begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Add rice, crumbling it, and salt. Sauté, stirring, until some grains begin to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Add peas and sauté, stirring, just until peas are heated through. Remove from heat and stir in pumpkin seeds and cilantro.

Makes 4 servings.


Weekend Cat Blogging

Aggie's favourite spot ~ looking over my shoulder at the computer.

Head on over to Eat Stuff, check out HRH Kiri on the velvet pillow and all the other cats as well.

Friday, December 30, 2005

MEME ~ You Are What You Eat

I got tagged for this before christmas by Nerissa and was very lazy and shoved it to the back burner. Since I locked my keys in a classroom and can't do anything till someone gets here, I guess now is the time. This was started by a fellow Canadian, Ruth of Once Upon a Feast.
Ten Favourite foods
1. Lamb This was a no brainer. We eat lamb every other week and I would eat it more if it wasn't so bad for me/expensive. Lamb Stew, Lamb Shanks, rack of lamb, leg of them all.
2.Garlic. Goes in almost every dish that comes ut of my kitchen. I especially love roasting it with potatoes and parsnips ~ it gets this lovely candy sweetness.
3. Marrow. What can I say, I am a marrow fiend ;D
4.Dark Chocolate.. Not crazy on milk or white chocolate, but give me a bar of good quality, super dark chocolate and I will be happy for hours. I particularily like it with a little chili heat to it.
5. Cheese. any cheese will do, but my desert island cheese would have to be Pecorino Pepato, a lovely sheeps milk (?) cheese with whole black peppercorns.
6. EggsThe runnier the yolk, the better.
7. Peanut butter.One of my favourite ways to eat it is in a sandwhich with Number 8.
8. Dill Pickles. Crisp, garlicky fat dills. Sandwhiches (see 7), or just straight out of the jar.
9.Olives. All of them. Sundried are my current favourites, but I'll devour any of them
10. Oysters Raw please. And if I could have 11 & 12 it would be tuna and salmon, also raw.

Wonder what this list says about me??

Tags go to
Sara of I Like to Cook
Catesa of Look Hunny I Cooked
Templar of Food Ninja

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


What happens when you prepare a 10lb roast for two? You get 9lbs of leftover meat!
I was also feeling less than enthused about preparing a gourmet feast. So I committed a crime against culinary snobbery. I made a beef "stroganoff" with SOME of the leftover beef (8lbs to go!). It was actually pretty darn good!


1/2 c. chopped onion
1lb sliced mushrooms
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 pt. sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup(+water)(I used a low-sodium one~ Amy's Organic is good)
1 lb leftover roast beef
Egg noodles, prepared as pkg. directs
Salt & pepper
2 tbsp. flour
1/2 c. milk

If using leftover beef, start sauteing onion in 2 tablespoons butter, Add mushrooms and cook down. Add flour, milk, water and soup. Add beef and remaining ingredients, except sour cream, dill and noodles. Cook 10 minutes. Just before serving, add sour cream and dill. Serve over noodles.
Recipe adapted from

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Morning Breakfast

Every year, Rob makes a special Christmas morning breakfast ~ french toast stuffed with brie and strawberries. It is a once a year thing and something I really look forward to. Of course, recipe requests are met with "I don't HAVE a recipe, it just comes together in my head..."

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Fishy Feast

I am not Italian nor am I Catholic. But How could I pass up an excuse for a seafood extravaganza?? So I decided to honour the tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes.
I started with oysters, with just a squeeze of lemon.
This was followed by Chef Soren's Gravlax on slices of boiled red potato with a sour cream and grainy mustard sauce.
The final piece was a bouillabaise with french baguette. I cheated on two levels here ~ I put 5 of my seven fishes in the stew. And I used a bag of Stock Market Bouillabaise Starter....

time to curl up with the Christmas specials and Rob.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Weekend Cat Blogging

Sometimes, you just need to spoil your pets. No matter how bad they have been (Aggie is seriously in the cat house right now). As Clare pointed out, you don't know how long you will be blessed with their presence. So if they want to crawl into bed , let them do it once in a while.

Editing to add the good news ~ the cat came back!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Corn Tortillas.

I have been dying to make som corn tortillas. Today, my first day off, seemed like the perfect opportunity. I looked for recipes for corn tortillas in some of my favourite blogs and I came across this post from Gluten Free Girl. How much easier could it possibly get?
I slow cooked a cheap pork roast with some tomatilla/dried chile salsa and some molasses and served up the usual suspects. Et voila ~ homemade soft tacos!

Still here

Yes, I am still alive ~ I was just so busy the last few days that any down time was spent sleeping.
The party went well (I think) and I DID have the vat of hot chocolate and people seemed to like it. I'll have to see if I have any postable pictures from that night.
If anybody is reading this, I just wanted to mention Kiri from Eat Stuff, the co-host of Weekend Cat Blogging. He seems to have gone for a little adventure and his mum, Clare is very worried about him. I am sure she could use some more good thoughts sent her way.
Also wanted to point out the Menu for Hope Campaign. Although I am too poor to participate, I would encourage anyone who can to take part. There are some amazing foody prizes on offer, but time is running out. Personally, I want the Bay Area Books...
I'll be back with food pics, Weekend Cat Blogging and Christmas Stories.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Weekend Cat Blogging

Aggie tries to be so helpful. Here, she is assisting me with a sewing project by keeping the pattern and instructions warm...

Head on over to Eatstuff to see the whole gang.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


This recipe is for Sara ~ it has been ages since we made it, but I think I might have to try it out again soon. It was adapted from Tyler Florence's Ultimate Paella and the notes are the ones I originally posted it to the CLBB with.

Okay, this can't really be a review of Tyler's ultimate, because I fiddled the recipe , But it was the jumping off point, so here goes. If anyone is interested, the original recipe is here
I had to start by cutting his recipe down to 1/4 its original size. It says that it serves 4, but I think he meant four monsters..... I also found that his recipe did not really have enough liquid, so we bumped the quantity up. I was also a bit dubious about blackening the bottom, but it really DID add something extra. In fact I want it again. Now. So here is our take on Paella

* Exported from MasterCook *

The Ultimate Paella (according to rob and linda)

Recipe By :
Serving Size : 4 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories :

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1/2 pound chicken thighs, no skin, R-T-C -- (about 3)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small chorizo -- sliced 1/4" thick
salt and pepper
1 cup onion -- diced
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup arborio rice
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 pinch saffron threads
1/2 pound shrimp -- peeled and deveined
1/4 cup peas, frozen

Heat oil in a paella pan (or a skillet if you are like us and paella pan-less) over medium high heat. Saute chrizo until browned, remove and reserve. Add chicken and brown both sides. Add salt and pepper. Remove from pan and reserve.

Drain any excess oil, so there is about a tablespoon left in the pan. Add onion and garlic. Cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Then add tomato paste and cook a bit until mixture caramelizes a bit and the flavours meld. Stir in rice, allowing the oil to coat the grains. Add the stock and simmer 10 minutes. Add chicken, chorizo, peas and saffron. Cook 7 minutes, then add the shrimp. Cook a further 8 minutes. Crank the heat up too high and cook 5 minutes until you smell a slight toasting/burning smell. Remove from the heat, let rest 5 minutes.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 395 Calories; 12g Fat (28.3% calories from fat); 24g Protein; 44g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 113mg Cholesterol; 1676mg Sodium. Exchanges: 2 1/2 Grain(Starch); 2 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 1 1/2 Fat.

NOTES : This was adapted from Tyler Florence's ultimate paella


Last week, the advanced pastry students were doing plated desserts and one of them made a decadent spiced hot chocolate. She had a ton left over and let me take some home. Saturday afternoon, warmed up with a dash of Kahlua, I was in Chocolate Heaven.

The chocolate is made by creating a ganache and adding enough milk or cream to get a drinkable consistency. There was also some cayenne that just made for a toe melting kind of drink.
I was considering filling my crockpot with this for the Christmas party ~ or is that just too weird?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Spiedini alla Romana

The next appetizer we tried out ALSO had anchovies. However, this one did NOT make the cut ~ too fussy and not tasty enough to make the fussiness worthwhile. The anchovy oil is making an appearance in my salad dressing though!

Mozzarella and Anchovy Skewers: Spiedini alla Romana
Recipe copyright 2000, Mario Batali. All rights reserved.
2 cups (1-inch) bread cubes
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 anchovy fillets, rinsed, drained, boned and finely chopped
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons basil, cut into chiffonade
Pinch hot chili flakes

Skewer bread and cheese, alternating cheese and bread. Heat oil in a 12
to 14-inch saute pan, add the skewers and cook until crusty. Remove from pan to a platter. Add the
anchovies and white wine to the pan. Swirl the pan over medium heat to deglaze and, if necessary,
scrape with a wooden spoon. Add the parsley, basil and chili flakes, and cook for 1 more minute.
Drizzle the sauce over the skewers and serve at once.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Anchovy Puffs

The second appetizer we test drove ~ this one made the cut and we will be using it on Saturday. The recipes is modified from Gourmet 1994 (don’t remember which month).

a2-ounce can flat anchovies, rinsed patted dry, and minced
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
Zest of one lemon
1tbsp grated parmesana
1-pound package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
an egg wash made by beating 1 large egg with 1 tablespoon water

In a small bowl with a fork mash anchovies with mayonnaise. Stir in parsley, lemon & parmesan. On a lightly floured surface roll out both sheets of pastry into 14-inch squares and trim edges to form 13-inch squares. Brush off excess flour and spread anchovy mayonnaise evenly over 1 pastry sheet. Cover with remaining pastry sheet and press sheets together gently.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
With a 3- to 4-inch decorative cutter, such as a fish, cut pastry into shapes. Reserve scraps and cut into bite-size pieces to bake separately. (To eliminate scraps forego decorative shapes altogether and simply cut pastry into squares.)
Arrange pastries on lightly greased baking sheets and brush tops with egg wash. With the edge of a cookie cutter or the back of a sharp knife score fish. Bake pastries in oven until puffed and golden, 15 minutes.( in my oven)
These can be frozen after baking and reheated at 375 for 10 mins (from frozen) Makes about 24 anchovy puffs plus scraps.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Tis the Season

Not sure why, but I go crazy for Christmas. I love lights, I love decorating, I love holiday baking and excuses to get together with friends.
This year, Rob and I decided to have a small gathering on the 17th and we started practicing food this weekend. We Auditioned:
Lavender Lemon Almonds
Anchovy Puffs
Westphalian Ham and Celeriac Canapes
I'll start with the almonds. I can't remember where I discovered the link to the original recipe~ it was on a blog somewhere. It was for Lemon and Salt Almonds, and I simply used my new obssesion, Lavender Sea Salt.

Roasted Almonds with Lemon and Salt
From Health

3 cups unblanched almonds
1 1/4 cups fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Lavender Sea Salt (or equal parts Lavender and salt)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°. Soak nuts in juice for 30 minutes. Remove nuts with a slotted spoon. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Place the nuts in a large bowl; toss with salt and oil. Return nuts to baking sheet, and bake 10 minutes longer, or until lightly browned.

Yield: serves 10-12
Courtesy of

CALORIES 158; FAT 13g (sat 1g,mono 8g,poly 3g); PROTEIN 5g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; SODIUM 941mg; FIBER 3g; IRON 0.0mg

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The final result....

The truffles are ALL dipped!! I am so happy I am done ~ that was a crazy mess.

Clockwise from top left ~ Peanut Butter Truffles; Blackberry Liquer Truffles; Gingerbread Truffles; White Chocolate Dipped Blackberry Liquer Truffles
The Gingerbread Truffle Recipe
1/2c whipping cream
5 whole allspice
5 whole cloves
1 tablespoon molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
4 oz bittersweet chocolate (used Lindt 85%)
4 oz white chocolate (used Lindt)
1/3 c unsalted butter
1/4 c chopped crystalised ginger

Bring first 7 ingredients just to the boil, Remove from heat and steep for one hour. Combine the chocolates in a double boiler and melt; remove from heat. Add butter. Strain cream mixture into chocolate and stir to combine. Chill.
Once truffle mix is set, use a melon baller to scoop out small balls. Chill again, then dip in chocolate of yoor choice.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Weekend Cat Blogging

Aggie is such a wuss. The temperature gets down around 5C and she is under the blankets with Rob, just her little head poking out.

This has been a sad week in the cat world. My grandparent's cat died this week. He had been with them since 1991, so I am sure they will miss him dearly.
Grandma, if you are reading this, I am thinking of you and Aggie and I are send Hugs and purrs.
Head on over to Eat Stuff, say Happy Birthday to Clare and check out all the other cats.
Also, don't forget to pay your respects to Stephanie.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

It didn't

Remember when I said it could only go up?
I was wrong.
I had to supervise a greasetrap emptying. MMmmmm more good smells. Then, it overflowed AGAIN. I fell way behind on my work schedule, didn't have lunch. 2:00, I called Rob (yes, I was crying) to tell him how crappy my day was. Then I missed my bus to my second job and was 5 mins late.... Things started to get better there. Quiet day, I finished my work at 6, came home. Rob had lamb stew on, my favourite ultimate comfort food. I called the family member, had a good chat, feel better about that.
Then I checked my blog subscriptions. Adorable little Macroom from Dispensing Happiness died. I cried my eyes out.

It can only go up from here

I don't think anyone can understand quite how bad my morning was unless they have worked in a food service operation. I was 5 minutes late (stupid bus) and greeted by an overflowed greasetrap that had sat and dried all that scunge on to the floor overnight. I just finished cleaning it. The smell is indescribable.

ETA. I was so wrong. It can get worse. A very close family member just lost their job.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Sunday Night Challenge

Yes, I know it is Wednesday, but I thought late is better than never! So my turn, Rob picked a can of corn as my mystery ingredient. I was expecting to be in severe pain, so I originally conceived of a smooth corn, potato and bacon chowder. However, I was able to chew, had very little time due to excessive truffle making and was tired. I settled on Crockpot Barbecue Pork Shoulder, Homemade Creamed Corn and mashed potatoes. No recipes, they were all off the top of my head. Very homey, simple food.
I would have liked teh creamed corn to be a little creamier, but otherwise I was pleased.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

What I did with my Sunday

Day off. You would think I would be resting.

64 Blackberry Liquer Truffles, 32 of which are dipped in white chocolate
32 Gingerbread Truffles
32 Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles
An Unknown number of Lavender Lemon Shortbread Cookies

(plus breakfast and lunch)
AND its my night for Sunday Challenge (corn).


Liquer Truffles

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Lindt 70%)
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Blackberry "cassis" (I made this two months ago and let it steep in my pantry ~ sub flavoured spirit of your choice)

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate over simmering water. Remove from heat, mix in the butter until smooth, then whisk in the cream, the vanilla, and the wine. Cover and chill until it firms up. Then form round balls (1 to 1 1/2 inches) of the chocolate mixture. Roll them in the cocoa to coat or dip in tempered chocolate. Store, covered in the refrigerator until just before serving.

Peanut Butter Truffles

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
2 tbsp sugar

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate over simmering water. Melt cream, sugar, vanill and peanut butter together. Remove chocolate from heat, mix in the butter until smooth, then whisk in the cream-peanut butter combo. Cover and chill until it firms up. Then form round balls (1 to 1 1/2 inches) of the chocolate mixture. Coat with cocoa powder or dip in tempered chocolate. Store, covered in the refrigerator until just before serving.

The gingerbread truffle recipe will come ~I adapted a BA recipe and I am trying to remember what the heck I did.

Dodging a Bullet

YEsterday, I was supposed to have a wisdom tooth extracted. Back story: last wisdomtooth removed took two hours and a whole lot of freezing and I was in excruciating pain for quite a while. So I was quite apprehensive going in to the dentist yesterday afternoon. He ran some tests, then told me that the nerve damage was completely gone AND I DID NOT HAVE TO HAVE MY TOOTH REMOVED!!!!!!!!!!! I learned that the sinuses and the teeth are very closely linked, and extended periods of congestion (allergies) were damaging the nerves of my teeth. Getting the congestion under control results in the nerves being able to work properly.

To celebrate, Rob and I went to the Polar Express 3D. Excellent movie! And wonderful in 3D. I highly reccomend it if you like Christmas even a little bit.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Weekend Cat Blogging

Look, Aggie is actually playing! I so rarely get the action shots from her ~ really, she plays once a week maybe. This is her favourite toy, a little fat man on a string stuffed with homegrown catnip.

Head on over to Eatstuff, say hi to Kiri and Clare and check out all the other cats from around the world.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Lavender Tangerine Salmon

I got to cook again tonight (savouring these last few days of culinary freedom) so I went for salmon. I also had a jar of Lavender Fleur De Sel on hand that I have been dying to use. The result:
Lavender Salmon with a Tangerine Beurre Blanc, Whole Wheat Couscous with Dried Cranberries, and Snap Peas.

Rob raved all the way through dinner and for about 5 minutes after.

Lavender Salmon with Tangerine Beurre Blanc

2 Salmon Fillets (6 oz)
Lavender Fleur de Sel ( if I didn't have this option, I would mix fleur de sel and cooking grade lavender)
Cracked Black Pepper
Olive oil
Zest and juice of one tangerine
tablespoon cold butter

Heat oil in a saute pan. Sprinkle salmon with salt and cracked back pepper and place flesh side down in the hot pan. Cook for 2.5 minutes, flip, continue cooking until done (I went a further two minutes). Remove salmon from pan; keep warm. Pour excess fat from pan and return to heat. Deglaze with tangerine juice, add zest and reduce slightly. Swirl in cold butter, spoon over salmon.


If you are in Vancouver, suffering from a chocolate addiction and a full wallet, go check out Sen5es ~ Thomas Haas Chocolates are to die for AND a work of art to boot.
As for the new job, I may have less time to blog, but I'll try to keep it up. I now work from 6am-2 then 3-7pm, giving me just enough time to get from one place to another. I love it though, actually working with a Catering Company!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Braised Short Ribs

I am starting to sense a theme in my cooking ~ winter food. Tonight, I try out a new job, which will become my second job (hopefully). But that means that I will lose a lot of my kitchen priviliges, so last night, I went for one last hurrah. I picked up shortribs and came home to search for recipes. I discovered one that looked right up my alley at Restaurant Widow. I don't know why I haven't checked out her recipes before ~ they all look amazing.
Braised Short Ribs with Smoked Cheddar Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

And the recipe:

Braised Short Ribs - serves 2

3 pound short ribs, bone in

1/2 cup flour

1 tsp salt

pinch pepper

1/4 cup strained pork fat (from cooking bacon), lard, or olive oil

1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped

3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

1 head garlic, cloves smashed and peeled, left whole

2 sprigs rosemary

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 cup red wine

about 2 cups beef stock

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the flour, salt and pepper in a zip-top bag; place 2-3 ribs in the bag and shake, then remove the ribs, shaking off the excess flour. In a large, oven-proof saute pan (or dutch oven) over medium heat, melt your bacon fat and brown the short ribs in 2-3 batches; do not crowd the pan. Brown each side for about 1 minute or until nicely brown. Repeat until all ribs are browned and set aside.

Place the onions and carrot in the pan and saute until they are just beginning to brown, then add the garlic cloves, oregano and rosemary. Add the tomato paste and stir into the veggies; add a good pinch of salt. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and then place the short ribs back in the pan. Add enough beef stock to come about halfway up the ribs; cover the pan and cook in oven for about 2 hours, or until the ribs are very tender.

Remove the ribs from the pan, cover with foil, and set aside. Carefully strain the braising liquid and discard solids. I like to strain it again, but it's a matter of personal taste. Place the liquid in a bowl and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until the fat has solidified. Remove the fat from the top and discard; place the liquid back in the pan and simmer, over medium heat; add the short ribs back to the pan and reheat for about 10 minutes. Remove the ribs to plates and allow the liquid to reduce (4 minutes or so), until you have a nice reduction. Pour over the short ribs (and potatoes!) and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Cheap Eats

Last night was a poverty supper night. I don’t know how may of you can actually identify with this, but it was the night before my payday, and I had forgotten to get money from Rob before I left the house. I had ten dollars in my pocket and nothing for dinner.
Some frugal shopping and the generous gift of a friend (thank you Canice!) and I was set.

Pork with Spiced Italian Fruits, Sauteed Spinach and Roasted mashed Acorn Squash. Total Bill: $7.02

Cheap And Easy Pork
3 pork chops of indeterminate origin

Pound pork chops down to 1/2cm thickness (just under ¼”). Season with Salt and pepper, dust with flour. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Quickly fry pork chops (3 minutes, maybe 5. Use your instincts). Serve with either a pan sauce or a chutney/relish.

If I didn’t have the fruit, I would have deglazed the pan with wine, added some parsley, capers and butter and spooned it over the pork.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Easy Meals

Sometimes I am just too tired or lazy to cook. That's when I am grateful for my old job. I used to bring home expiring pasta sauces and freeze them. This particular one was a creamy pesto one. Just sauteed shrimp, boiled pasta, warmed everything together and served

Monday, November 28, 2005

Sunday Night Challenge ~ Rob

Special Ingredient: Dried Pasilla chilis
Result: Delicious, Mouthwatering Ribs, Potato Salad and Garlicky Broccoli

Rob pretty much rocked this one ~ I tried to throw him a curve ball with a chili that is hard to find in these parts (Thank you, Beth) but he snapped back with an adaptation of Who Loves Ya BabyBack?

Who Loves Ya Baby-Back?
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
With Alterations By Rob

2 whole slabs pork baby back ribs

Dry Rub:
8 tablespoons light brown sugar, tightly packed
3 tablespoons kosher salt 1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon jalapeno seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning 2-3 tablespoons ground pasilla chili
1/2 teaspoon rubbed thyme
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Braising Liquid:
1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 cloves garlic, chopped

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Place each slab of baby back ribs on a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, shiny side down. Sprinkle each side generously with the dry rub. Pat the dry rub into the meat. Refrigerate the ribs for a minimum of 1 hour. In a microwavable container, combine all ingredients for the braising liquid. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Yeah, we don't have a microwave. So a pot on the stove works just fine, thank you.

Place the ribs on a baking sheet. Open one end of the foil on each slab and pour half of the braising liquid into each foil packet. Tilt the baking sheet in order to equally distribute the braising liquid. Braise the ribs in the oven for 2 1/2 hours.

Transfer the braising liquid into a medium saucepot. Bring the liquid to a simmer and reduce by half or until of a thick syrup consistency. Brush the glaze onto the ribs. Place under the broiler just until the glaze caramelizes lightly. Slice each slab into 2 rib bone portions. Place the remaining hot glaze into a bowl and toss the rib portions in the glaze.

*This recipe makes several batches of dry rub.

Potato Salad adapted from Food Network, modifications in italics.

Potato Salad

4 pounds Idaho potatoes 500g new potatoes
4 jumbo eggs, hard boiled 2 eggs, hardboiled
2 1/2 cups mayonnaise 1/4 cup mayo
4 green onions, finely chopped 1 green onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 tablespoon yellow mustard 1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tsp capers, chopped
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

In a large pot, add potatoes and water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender. Drain and cool. Peel cooked potatoes and cut into small chunks. Put in a very large serving bowl or container. Toss with vinegar. Peel and finely chop hard boiled eggs and add to bowl. Add mayonnaise, green onions, celery, mustard, capers, pepper and salt. Mix until just combined. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours before serving.

Episode#: NF0103

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Extreme Cooking

Ok, maybe not quite EXTREME cooking, but definetly (how do you spell that word..) getting down and dirty with the food. See, last weekend, Rob and I went to Chinatown for some yummy buns and on our way back, we stopped at T&T Supermarket. The first thing you see when you walk in to the store are the huge tanks full of live fish. And I made a beeline for the trout tank. Last year we started buyiong trout at T&T and it is so cheap and fresh, we never looked back. You pick out the one you want, the fish guy nets it, shows it to you and then kills it for you and guts it. Am I getting too graphic for a food blog? I happen to think that if you are going to eat it, you need to understand where it comes from. Anyway, we but it in our basket, got all the necessary vegetables and checked out. This particular fish wasn't a flopper, but sometimes they get a case of the post mortem twitches which can be very offputting, especially if you are on a crowded skytrain...
I cooked the trout whole and served it with whole wheat couscous and a fennel and orange salad with pomegranate dressing inspired by Randi of Culinary Adventures.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Dinner with a Friend

Well, really it was only Rob and I. But when I make a recipe from someone, I feel almost like they are there with me. Tonight, I made Sandy's Beef Stew in the crockpot, served with a new discovery, Irish Mum's Bread from 101 Cookbooks. Every time I make this stew, it makes me very warm and cozy, and tonight was no exception. So here's to you Sandy!

Oven Baked Beef Stew

1 Tbsp. oil
2 lb. stew meat, cut in 1½" cubes (i got a beautiful piece of chuck roast and cubed it myself)
1/3 c. flour or 1/4 c. cornstarch (used both because the crockpot doesn't allow liquid to evaporate and my stew was a little thin)
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. garlic powder (or lots of minced fresh garlic ;D)
1 tsp. marjoram
12 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained (used whole tomatoes, cause that is what I had)
10 oz. beef or vegetable broth (used some veal stock I had made a few months ago)
1/2 cup dry red wine (used Chocolate Porter)
2 cups cube peeled potatoes (turnips tonight)
1 cup sliced celery
4 medium carrots, sliced (2 carrots, cause that is what I had)
3 small onions, quartered (1 onion, diced)
1/4 tsp. pepper

Heat oil in in a pan over medium. Toss beef in flour and brown. Transfer to crocpot, deglaze pan with either stock or wine (or beer). Add salt, garlic powder, marjoram and pepper to crockpot. Stir in tomatoes, broth and wine (or beer); mix well. Place on low, cook three hours. Add remaining ingredients, mix well. Cover; cook for 2 or 3 hours or until meat is tender.

Irish Mum's Brown Bread

3 cups whole wheat bread flour (Ross says: this is best when the flour is coarse as opposed to the whole wheat flour you get here which is fully milled. Heidi says: I used a standard whole wheat bread flour which seemed to be pretty finely milled, because that's all I could find, even at Rainbow Foods. Linda says: I also used standard wheat flour ~ despite my best efforts, I was unable to find coarse ground)

1 cup unbleached white bread flour (Heidi: I used King Arthur brand)
Pinch of salt (Linda says: at least a teaspoon)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4+ cups buttermilk (Linda says: I needed at least another cup)
2 ounces butter
1 egg

Melt the butter over gentle heat.
In a medium-sized bowl lightly beat the egg and then gradually add the buttermilk all the while stirring to incorporate the egg. Beat in the butter.

In another bowl sift and mix the dry ingredients as best you can (not really a prob if you can't find the coarse flour), and then stir in the buttermilk mixture. If you are using a baking tin the mixture should be on the wetter side - (heidi: like a thick brownie mix, something you could pour into the tin, not scoopable by hand really). If your dough is too dry, mix in small splashes of buttermilk until it is the right consistency.

Cook at 400F for 50 minutes on the middle rack. You want to hear a sort of hollow sound when you knock on the bottom of the tin. Resist the urge to take the bread out too soon, or the middle of the bread won't get cooked through.

Makes 1 loaf.

Weekend Cat Blogging

A seldom seen side of Agnes ~ Demon Cat!

This is the look she gets in her eye when someone is eating a big bowl of pasta with shrimp and cream sauce.

Head on over to Eatstuff to check out all the other cuties.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Sugar High Friday/ Is My Blog Burning

A joint event this month and perfect for the season! I can't resist cookies ~ baking will pull me out of the deepest November Fog Funks and I plan to go all out this weekend. Came home from work this afternoon with 5lb of unsalted butter (sharing the cost of a case, not stealing) and immediately turned the oven on. My first selection? So called "Melting Cookies" They looked so similar to something my grandmother makes at Christmas, that I had to give them a try. With some altering of the shape of course. My grandmother's cookies are called snowballs and are perfectly round so I made small ball cookies instead of the crescent shape suggested by the recipe.... I am thinking next time I want to try some cardamom and ground almonds in the mix.

Recipe Courtesy of Food Network.
Now for a recipe that is all mine!
White chocolate, Dried Cranberry and Pecan Cookies

I went all out disgusting and made 1/4cup sized cookies...

White Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Pecans & Dried Cranberries

Servings 24

3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter -- softened
1 cup (227g) white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
10 ounces (285g) white chocolate
1 cup dried cranberries
1.Preheat oven to 350 F (175C).
2.Cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg and vanilla and blend in.
3.Stir in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt.
Stir in chocolate chunks, dried cranberries and pecans.
4.Drop by tablespoons onto a greased baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown around the edges.
5.Let cool slightly and enjoy.

Mmmm Lamb

Rob and I are addicted to lamb ~ we eat it at least once a week. Here is something Rob just whipped up last week. Braised Lamb shanks with garlicky broccoli and minted new potatoes

He did the braising in the crockpot, so the meat was moist and tender and falling off the bones... I could go for some right now!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Feeling Blah

Sometimes, Vancouver can really put you in a funk. Or at least, it does that to me.
Because I work 6-2 in a windowless room, I have been unable to get any sun, the fog rolling in as I finish work.

I don't feel like cooking good things or doing much of anything really. I made a decent meal last night, but was feeling so lethargic, I didn't bother to take pictures....

Picture courtesy of KatKam

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


This should be subititled "I need a lesson in food photography". Because the pic is hideous. The food was not, though. Our fridge was reaching critical mass point, so I had to use up leftovers.
I marinated chicken breasts (leftover from the sticky chili chicken) in yoghurt and sambal olek, then threw them on the George for 7 minutes. This was served with leftover saffron wild rice and fresh herbs, and a salad from the veggie drawer. even the salad dressing was made with leftovers, incorporating the last of teh artichokes from Rob's Sunday Night Challenge.

I told you the picture was awful!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Hot Apple Cider

Cold, foggy pea soup weather. Time for hot apple cider! I make this by heating up apple cider with various spices (cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice) and adding a shot of brandy. Warms you right to the toes!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Sunday Night Challenge

My turn to be challenged. Rob picked maple syrup as my mystery ingredient, I suspect hoping I would make something sweet.
I went with an epicurious recipe for chicken stuffed with smoked cheddar and sage with a green apple slaw. Only I can't eat raw apples, so I turned it into a chutney :D I served it with Parsnip and Potato Latkes, also epicurious and a Persimmon Salad to start. First time I have bothered to do a wine pairing ~ went with a French Viogner.


1/2 cup coarsely grated smoked cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon cream cheese, room temperature
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
4 boneless chicken breast halves with skin and tenderloin attached
1/4 cup Scotch whisky
2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
Green Apple Chutney
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon Scotch whisky
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1 very large Granny Smith apple, halved, cored, cut into matchstick-size strips (about 2 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup paper-thin slices red onion

For chicken:
Stir cheddar cheese, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, cream cheese, and sage in small bowl to blend. Place 1 chicken breast, skin side down, on work surface. Using small sharp knife, cut 1 1/2-inch-deep by 2-inch-long horizontal pocket in chicken. Pack in 1/4 of stuffing. Press tenderloin into pocket opening to seal in stuffing. Repeat with remaining chicken and stuffing. Arrange chicken on small baking sheet. Combine 1/4 cup maple syrup, whisky, brown sugar, and butter in small saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until sauce comes to simmer and is blended. (Chicken and basting sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and refrigerate.)

For green apple chutney:
Simmer Ingredients until apples are just soft. Refrigerate.

HEat up broiler and place chicken on a lined broiler pan. Rewarm basting sauce; transfer half to bowl and use as basting sauce. Reduce the remaining sauce only slightly, being careful not to oil it.Broil chicken, turning every 5-7 minutes, basting regularily. Broil until cooked through. Transfer chicken to platter. Serve with apple chutney, passing reserved sauce separately.

Makes 4 servings.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sunday Brunch

A one off MeMe by Andrew of Spittoon. What did I have for Sunday breakfast. We shared a massive mushroom, red pepper and cheddar omelet with oniony hash browns. Not a typical Sunday breakfast, but what we were in the mood for this cold and foggy morning.


After a long couple of days at work, I needed to knock off early on Friday. So I called a friend, set up a lunch date and headed out. We had passed the place on our way to get yummy carb goodies from the New Town Bakery in Chinatown, and I immediately wanted to try it. I think it bills it self as a modern take on the French bistro concept. Their dinner menu is a little out of my recovering student budget, but lunch seems to be reasonable (unless you buy a martini). My review is a little mixed though.

The place was crammed when we arrived, but they seated us after no more than five minutes. We pored over the menus, taking our sweet time because everything looked so good. I settled on a prosciutto, caramelised onion and possibly goat cheese crepe (should have taken notes) and the Eiffel Tower martini (raspberry, lemon, beautiful lemon garnish). She opted for a Free range chicken pannini and a ginger, mango martini (damn good, did not taste alcoholic).
The crepe was heaven. It arrived all by itself on a plate, the salad separate. It looked so naked and lonely and unassuming on that plate, but when I took my first bite, I forgot all about that. Sweet caramelised onions, salty prosciutto. I think my eyes rolled back in my head.

The salad was also excellent, perfectly dressed, in my opinion.

After lunch though, things started to go pear shaped. Apparently, the restaurant has only one phone line, which constantly seems to be busy. Well, it took me longer to pay with my credit card than it did for our meal to arrive and I was pretty cranky by the time I signed the bill. GET A SECOND PHONE LINE!!

The restaurant website is here, and a fellow Vancouver food blogger reviewed it a while back. Of course, reading her review now, I am surprised I even bothered to eat there!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

New Town Bakery

I have a new obsession. Just last week, one of my friends took me to New Town Bakery for some steamed buns and other delicious carby goods. I took one bite of the Asado pork steamed bun and I was hooked. I have been back twice on my own since then and today, I decided to take Rob along too.
I can't even describe how good these are, only reccomend that you try one if you have the opportunity.
I picked out the buns adding a pork turnover as well, and we spilled out on to the street, looking for somewhere to sit for a second and eat them. Usually I don't wait, tearing the bag open as soon as I am out the door and standing on the sidewalk to devour it. Rob is more patient, so we walked back down the street to the Sun Yat Sen Garden and found a stone bench in the watery winter sunlight.

Weekend Cat Blogging

Laundry days. Agnes tries to climb on the piles of clean laundry straight from the dryer. We like to minimize the amount of cat hair on our clothes, so Rob started laying out his sweatpants fresh from the dryer. As soona s she sees them, she is right in there curled up, soaking all the warmth up.

Clare and Kiri are back in action, so head on over to check out everyone elses much loved furry friends.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


I am tired, sick and at work at 6 this am. So I wasn'tg really in the mood to write up a beautiful post on Lamb with Rosemary Polenta. Instead, I'll give you a shot of my new favourite beer. And it isn't just because it has a fun name!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Experiments in Cuisine

Sometimes I get a little crazy and I try to invent a recipe I have only ever seen written once. That happened to me recently. I saw a recipe for green pea cakes in an old Gourmet magazine and when Rob told me he was doing racks of lamb for dinner, I knew I wanted to make those cakes, Of course, I couldn't for the life of me find the recipe. So I got creative. The result wasn't quite what I had envisioned, but it was actually pretty good. Plating is all Rob.

Basically, I pureed green peas with one egg, salt and pepper and 1/4 cup corn starch. Then I deep fried (i know, bad Linda) little scoops of the pea mixture. They pouffed and crisped up and were delicate and very green pea flavoured. I think I'll try them again.
No recipes for the lamb or potatoes ~ those are some of Rob's amazing standby dishes.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Italian American Meatballs

Another one of Rob's meals. I know, this is my blog, but he does half the cooking in our house, so I thought I should showcase his talents too. These are the meatballs I referenced earlier. I liked them so much I begged him to make them again, along with the killer sauce.

The sauce recipe requires typing and I am extremely lazy, but the meatballs are another off the Food Network website.

Italian-American Meatballs
From Food Network Kitchens
See this recipe on air Sunday Nov. 27 at 10:00 AM ET/PT.

2 slices white sandwich bread, stale
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground beef chuck
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 medium onion, grated (about 1/4 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large egg, beaten
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil, divided
Quick Marinara Sauce, recipe follows

Serving suggestions: 1 pound cooked spaghetti or linquini

Grate the bread or pulse into crumbs in a food processor. In a small bowl toss the bread crumbs with 1/3 cup cold milk to re-hydrate.

In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, pork, veal, beef, Parmesan, parsley, salt, onion, garlic, and egg and mix until combined. Season the meat mixture with pepper.
Using your hands, gently form the meat mixture into 18 slightly larger than golf ball-sized balls. (Packing the meat mixture too tightly together will result in tough meatballs). Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

Heat half the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a plate. Drain the oil and wipe out the skillet, return to the heat, and repeat with the remaining oil and meatballs.

Drain and wipe out the skillet again. Return all the meatballs to the skillet and pour in the marinara sauce. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered, swirling the pan occasionally, until the meatballs are cooked through about 15 minutes. The cheese in the meatballs will start to melt when the meatballs are ready. Serve immediately with the Quick Marinara Sauce and spaghetti or on sandwiches. If serving with spaghetti, toss with 1/3 of the sauce.These meatballs can be stored, covered in the refrigerator for 3 days, or frozen for up to 6 weeks.

Copyright (c) 2004 Television Food Network, G.P., All Rights Reserved.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Sunday Night Challenge

This week, Rob was up to the bat. I chose a can of artichokes as his challenge ingredients ( it had been kicking around the pantry for a while). This is what he produced.

Salmon with an artichoke crust and mint vinaigrette, salad and rice pilaf.
The salmon recipe was from food network and with a few modifications, it was perfect. Everything else was from my dearest's culinary imagination.

Here is the recipe, modifications in bold, courtesy of Todd English

Artichoke Crusted Salmon with Mint Vinaigrette

Artichoke Crust:
6 fresh, frozen or canned artichoke bottoms
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
3 garlic cloves
1/4 cup non-fat buttermilk or yogurt (we used buttermilk)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons unflavored bread crumbs (panko)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
12 baby artichokes, thinly sliced through the heart (optional) or 2 tablespoons bread crumbs

Mint Vinaigrette:
1 beefsteak tomato, minced
2 shallots, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (apple cider)

To make artichoke crust, place the artichoke bottoms, thyme, garlic, buttermilk or yogurt, mustard, bread crumbs, salt and pepper in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth. Sprinkle the salmon with the salt and pepper. Divide the artichoke crust into 4 portions and place dollops on the top side only of the salmon fillets. Pat down to form a crust. Cover the artichoke crust with the artichoke slices or sprinkle with bread crumbs. To make the mint vinaigrette, combine the tomato, shallots, mint, lemon juice, salt, pepper and vinegar in a small bowl. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a large non stick skillet over a medium high heat and when it is hot, add the salmon fillets skin side down. Cook until the skin is crispy, about 2 minutes. Transfer to the oven and bake until the salmon is rare, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately with the mint vinaigrette. ( we actually seared it, then popped it in at 350 for 5 mins (on the TOP rack) before turning the broiler on to finish it)

Copyright © 2003 Television Food Network, G.P., All Rights Reserved
This was intense and delicious. Rob scores a winner!