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!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Roasted Cauliflower with Parmesan and Herbs

Another good Cooking Light recipe. I served it with seared salmon and Caeser salad.

The recipe is from the November issue. I'll paraphrase it.

1 head cauliflower
fresh thyme and parsley, chopped
couple cloves garlic chopped
grated parmesan

Toss the cauliflower in olive oil, salt & pepper. Roast at 450F for 20ish minutes. Mix the cauliflower with the chopped herbs, garlic and parmesan, roastt a further 10 minutes. Serve.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Weekend Cat Blogging

This is a special edition of Weekend Cat Blogging ~ poor Clare and Kiri were attacked last week and Kiri got scared and attacked Clare. Well, when Aggie heard the news, she just had to send Clare (and Kiri) a hug...

some chocolate cake (not for Kiri)

And some flowers

Clare, we hope you are all better soon!
Love, Aggie and Linda.

Boo is hosting this week.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Nerd Alert

I am nerdier than 77% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Pork Belly

Month's ago, I was introduced to the joys of slow-roasted pork belly by my instructor. I knew it was the kind of dish Rob would love to eat, so I decided to have a go at it. A trip to T&T and I came away with pork side, which was close enough in resemblance to the kind of belly that we did in class. I slashed teh skin at regular intervals, shoved black peppercorns and bay leaves into the slits and roasted it for 3 hours at 325F, finishing it under the broiler to crisp up the crackling. It was served with an apple/ veal jus, mashed potatoes and sauteed brussels sprouts. Decadent, not to be repeated very often, but oh so good!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Mexican Chocolate

A recent post by Crystal of Poco-cocoa reminded me of the huge stash of Mexican chocolate languishing in my pantry. How could I have neglected it for so long?? And what should I use it for.
First, the beverage. Steaming frothy cup of mexican chocolate with a dash of Kahlua (just a dash, I swear).

Then I decided to play with my favourite Chocolate Chip recipe and create Mexican Chocolate cookies. These were very good and I am starting to regret making them (or at least making so many of them ;D)

Mexican Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Servings 24

3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter -- softened
1 cup (227g) brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp Kahlua (or vanilla, if you like)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
10 ounces (285g) mexican chocolate (like Ibarra)-- cut into chunks

1.Preheat oven to 350 F (175C).
2.Cream together butter and sugars until smooth. Add egg and Kahlua and blend in.
3.Stir in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt.
Stir in chocolate chunks 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.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Going Home

Well, the day came where I had to say goodbye to San Francisco and my dear friend. I was still half-asleep when she left that morning, so i hope I was coherent. I got up, packed my suitcase (totally forgot to squeeze in the roasted ricotta that I picked up at Rainbow Grocery) and trundled off to the BART station. I had a few hours to kill and I opted to have breakfast at a very small stand on Market Street.

After breakfast, I got on the train for the last time and made my way to SFO. What a beautiful International Terminal. I was excited, thinking I would get to kill some more time in this great airport. Wait a minute, my flight is a domestic one, so I get stuck in some ugly terminal undergoing construction. When lunchtime came, I took my chances at the Willow Grill, ordering the Guac Burger. Worst Lunch Ever!! Greasy, lukewarm, flavourless... I could go on.

Fortunately I made out like a bandit at the Duty Free (luck was on my side at customs as well, he gave me a "warning" for being over my duty free limit) and I will not let one bad lunch ruin my enjoyment of San Francisco. I am already planning my next visit...

Previous Posts
Day One AM
Day One PM part 1
Day One PM Part 2
Day Two AM
Day Two PM

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Sunday Challenge

Rob and I have decided to start a new tradition. On Friday, one of us will choose a secret ingredient for Sunday's dinner, allowing the other time to plan a menu in which to use the special ingredient. I went first and Rob picked Coconut milk as my challenge ingredient. I turned to my old stand by, the Cooking Light Bulletin Boards. A quick search pulled up a recipe for Sticky Coconut Chicken and I knew I had my winner.

It was fantastic ~ sticky, slightly hot, slightly sweet, juicy, crispy on the outside... I served it with noodles and long beans.
The recipe is originally from Sunset
Sticky Coconut Chicken with Chili Glaze

8 chicken thighs (I actually bought two chickens, jointed them and use the legs and thighs)
¾ cup canned coconut milk (stir before measuring)
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
1 tsp hot chili flakes
Chili glaze (recipe follows)
4 or 5 green onions, thinly sliced

1. Rinse chicken and pat dry. In a large bowl, mix coconut milk, ginger, pepper, and hot chili flakes. Add chicken and mix; cover airtight and chill at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.
2. Lift chicken from bowl, reserving marinade; pull thighs open and lay flat on a lightly oiled barbecue grill over a solid bed of hot coals or high heat on a gas grill; close lid on gas grill. Cook, turning thighs as needed to brown on both sides, until meat is no longer pink in center of thickest part (cut to test), 10 to 12 minutes, basting frequently with remaining marinade (use it all) until 2 minutes before chicken is done.
3. Transfer thighs to a warm platter and pour the chili glaze evenly over meat; garnish platter with green onions.

Chili Glaze
In a 2- to 3-quart pan, combine ¾ cup rice vinegar, ½ cup sugar, 3 tbsp soy sauce, and 1 tsp hot chili flakes. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring often, until mixture is reduced to ½ cup, 8 to 10 minutes. Use hot. If making glaze up to 1 week ahead, cover and chill; reheat before serving.

Note- I just put the chicken under the broiler since I don't have a grill. It took a few extra minutes to finish, but it worked!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

San Francisco Part 4? Or is it 3?

Starting to lose track of my San Francisco posts.... where were we last? Ah yes..lunch at the De Young.
From there, I headed for Haight and Ashbury on foot (might as well go all out on the tourist thing eh? It was a disappointment ~ not quite cheesy enough to be fun, not quite cool and different enough to be interesting. And I was cranky because my feet were really starting to hurt at this point. Bus stop beckoned me and I answered, taking the bus back to Powell and Market and found myself wandering into the San Francisco Centre. Curved Escalators! Chain Stores Never Encountered BEfore By This Canadian ! Nordstroms!
So I rode the curved escalators up all seven floors to the NOrdstrom cafe at the top. A certain blogger has described Nordstroms as her happy place, so I was curious.
I was also still pretty sated from my huge burger at the museum, so I opted for a sorbet trio and a Midnight Martini. I felt like a total lush, sitting at the bar, sipping my martini and swooning over the Acia Berry sorbet (the other two flavours were just ok.)

The martini was a raspberry vodka and Chambord concoction that went down just fine, thank you.

Feeling somewhat relieved and rested, I took the express elevator back down to street level and wandered the streets for a while, discovering my a couple places I would like to go back to with some money: DSW and Anthropologie

My feet were really protesting at this point, so I summoned up the energy to ride the escalator at Virgin, seeking out Citizen Cupcake, before putting myself on the BART and heading for Oakland. I picked up a Provence Chocolate Mousse Cake ~ delicious, rich and creamy, four of us split it and were all buzzed on sugar after. My favourite part was the subtle hint of lavendar drifting around behind all that chocolate and Grand Marnier.
I needn't go over the part were I got back to Em's house and collapsed on the couch for several hours. Or the discovery of the blood blister on my baby toe...

Several hours later, a group of us were seated at a table, eyeing the Pizzaiolo menu.
We settled on three pizzas and a bottle of Rioja. This was the best pizza I have ever had. The crust so thin and yet crispy enough to hold up the toppings. One of our pizzas was a chef's choice (the chef puts whatever he/she feels like on it) and it was probably my favourite of the three ~ House made sausage, rapini, jersey mozzarella.... The other two were a nettle pizza and a Leek, Anchovy, kalamata and fontina (also stunning).

We rolled out of there SO full and I managed to avoid the twinges of sadness as I realised I would be leavng the next day. I met great people and saw beautiful sights. And ate very good food of course.

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Saturday, November 05, 2005

Weekend Cat Blogging

After a couple weeks away from the limelight, Aggie is back, striking a pose.

Kiri is off to torment his grandparents, so Boo is doing the honours hosting this weekend.
I know technically, it is still Friday, but I have some spare time, so I am posting now.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Lamb Provencale

Rob treated me to a wonderful dinner last week, a recipe from a book that a good friend gave me, Best Of the Best with recipes from what Food and wine mag deems were the best cookbooks of the year.
After enjoying this recipe, I can understand why! Lamb chops paired with a rich intense tomato and olive "sauce".
he sauce was also excellent thinned out a bit and served with homemade meatballs and spaghetti for a Sunday night dinner.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Fall Dinners

VAncouver can be a pretty grey and chilling place in the fall, but I don't mind too much, because it means it is time for the fall meals. You know, that hearty, warming, earthy kind of food? Well, this meal was a perfect example of that. The soup was amazing and could easily be fiddled with to be a much more elegant starter.

And the simple combination of hoisin and orange marinated salmon, resting on sauteed swiss chard finished the whole meal nicely.

The recipe for the soup was found online:
Chanterelle Soup with Dried Apples, Hazelnuts and Apple Brandy
Says author/chef Cory Schreiber: Although it may seem luxurious to use the pricy chanterelle om a soup, I think you'll find it well worth the splurge. THis potato-based soup accents the mushroom's unique flavor with dreid apples, hazelnuts and apple brandy. This soup can be made several days ahead and refrigerated. Serves 8.

3 T. unsalted butter
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and chopped
1 leek (white part only), washed and chopped
3 t. salt
2 T. water
2 lbs. fresh chanterelle or cremini mushrooms, or a mixture, wiped clean and thinly sliced
8 C chicken stock or broth
1 C apple cider
3 medium Yukon Gold or russet potatotes, peeled and chopped
1 T. fennel seeds, toasted and ground
1/4 C. apple brandy or hard apple cider
1 T. apple cider vinegar
2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 C. chopped dried apples
1/2 C. hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and finely chopped
6 fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced crosswise

In a heave 4 qt. pot, melt 2 T of the butter over low heat. Add the celery, parsnips, onions, fennel, leek and 1 t of the salt and saute for 5 mins. Stir in the water and 1/2 pound of the mushrooms, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 mins or until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the stock and cider and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and ground fennel seeds and simmer for 20-25 mins or until the potatoes are soft. Let cool. In a food processor or blender, puree the soup, in batches if necessary. For a very creamy soup, press the puree through a fine-meshed sieve; set aside.

In a heavy 4 qt. pot, melt the remaining 1 T butter over medium heat. Add the remaining mushrooms and saute until soft, about 8 mins. Add the brandy or hard cider, vinegar, pepper and remaining 2 t. salt and simmer for about 5 minutes. Pour in the pureed soup. Heat until warm.

To serve, ladle into soup bowls. Garnish with the apples hazelnuts and sage.

Recipe adapted from Wildwood, Cooking from the Source in the Pacific Northwest by Cory Schreiber.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Five Point, Vancouver

Saturday Brunch is served from 10 am at the Five Point on Main Street. I ordered the sundried tomato, mushroom and green onion scramble which was excellent. Rob had the Basic breakfast (2 eggs, 2 sausage, hash browns and toast). His eggs were a perfect sunny side up.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Ferry Building, Frog Hollow Farms, Cable Cars and The DeYoung

My second day in San Francisco, I woke up with sore feet but I was determined to get another full day of exploring in. I headed out early and took BART to the first stop on the San Francisco side, Embarcadero. Walking down to the Ferry Building, I was stumbling around and gawking wide eyed at everything. I love San Francisco. Anyway, Breakfast was at Frog Hollow Farm outlet - fresh orange juice, ricotta tart and a peach puff pastry creation, all excellent.

After that, I hopped on a train that dropped me at Fisherman's Wharf. I wasn't keen on wandering around that area so I poked my head in the Boudin store, and then poked around the side streets in the surrounding area. That is when I spotted the cable car ~ immediately knew I had to do it. I know, it is utterly cheesy, but I LOVED it. So much fun. I walked back down the hill to the terminus, bought my five dollar ticket, jumped on the very back and held on for dear life.

I didn't get off till we hit the end of the end of the line at Market St. From there I grabbed a bus out to Golden Gate Park ~ I had heard about the opening of the De Young Building and I really wanted to check it out. I walked around the park, hoping to stumble across it, and eventually I did. By this point I was starving, so I headed straight for the cafe. The line was exceptionally long, so I got to take in the decor of the building, These amazing glass lights in varying shades hung from the ceiling and I couldn't stop staring at them ~ absolutely gorgeous.

I ordered the burger, still surprised everytime I get asked how I want it (DISCLAIMER: In Canada, burgers ONLY come well done. My steak I like MEdium rare, but my burgers have to be cooked!) and waited. And waited. Maybe it was because I was so hungry by the time my food arrived, but this was a damn good burger!! Very juicy, condiments on the side, nicely seasoned. The pickle was terrible, which was sad, because I am a total pickle freak.

I'll leave you with a picture of the outside of the building, which is so unique in my humble and undeducated opinion. It really seemed to blend in with the surroundings.