Thursday, March 30, 2006

Seared Wild Salmon with New Potatoes & Dijon Broth

This recipe came from the April Bon Appetit, but I felt it necessary to seriously alter it. When it goes up on the site, I will post the link to the original recipe. I quite liked the result, very spring like and fresh tasting...

Seared Wild Salmon with New Potatoes & Dijon Broth

1 1/2 lb baby red potatoes
2 4-6oz salmon fillets
1cup dry white wine
2 large shallots
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 c mushroom broth
2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
1lb baby spinach leaves
1tbsp olive oil

Boil red potatoes until cooked through. Cut in half
Combine wine, shallots, vinegar and broth in a heavy saucepan. Boil until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in tarragon, dijon and new potatoes and keep warm.
Heat a metal skillet over high heat. Oil liberally and add the salmon, skin side down. Cook 3 minutes. Turn and finish for one minute.
While the salmon is cooking, wilt spinach. Place spinach in a bowl, add potatoes, top with salmon. Drizzle liberally with broth. Eat.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Healthy Spring Pasta

There are going to have to be some changes around here. For the last 5 years, I have been eating the way Rob likes to eat and it is slowly killing me. I love red meat, I just don't think my body was designed to eat it 5 days a week. And vegetables can be the feature of a meal on a regular basis, you know. Cream and butter do NOT necessarily make everything better.

Rant over, but I am serious. I need to eat healthier. I don't want to deprive Rob of the richness that he so craves, but I will turn into a bowlful of jelly if I don't do something drastic.
He requested creamy pasta sauce, lots of it. I felt an artery wobble shut at the thought. But I braved ahead....

Does it look rich and decadent? Its still in the prototype stage, so the recipe isn't exact.

Asparagus, Brocoolini and Shitake Mushroom Bowtie Pasta with a Meyer Lemon Cream Sauce

1/2lb asparagus
1lb brocollini
A generous handful of baby shitake mushrooms
3 cups fat free, unsweetened soy milk (Non GMO please)
1 clove garlic
2 bay leaves
2 meyer lemons, juice and zest
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/3 lb uncooked bowtie pasta
salt to taste

Gently steam the veggies and mushrooms until just done and toss with Meyer Lemon juice and salt. Cook pasta to desired doneness
Heat the soy milk gently with a sliced clove of garlic, 2 bay leaves and the meyer lemon zest. Steep for ten minutes. Strain. Bring the soy milk back up to heat and thicken with cornstarch, season with salt. Pour over steamed vegetables and toss with pasta. Serve.
Serve 3-4

So am I nuts? Apparently not. This was a really good, light feeling meal and Rob liked the sauce too.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

3rd Street Cafe

Despite my best intentions, we only managed to eat one memorable meal out on our trip to Sidney ~ it was pure luck as well that brought us to this tiny cafe on the main street of sleepy Sidney. The place was packed, but the service was still efficient and cheerful. The specials were tempting and I ordered the feature omelet; asiago, mushroom, sundried tomato and ham. While we waited for our breakfast, I could see one of the cooks in the tiny kitchen chopping a huge vat of potatoes for hashbrowns. Breakfast was huge and I was unable to finish despite my best efforts. Breakfast for two was 20$.

Friday, March 24, 2006


After that brief hiatus, Aggie is back....
I tormented her with some beads....

And then she got her revenge on the beads!

Head over to Eatstuff for the rest of the kitties!

Braised Beef Shanks

This was supposed to be my IMBB post. I went to Whole Foods (Whole PayCheque) fully intending to buy ingredients for a 30 minute meal. Somehow, I walked out with two beef shanks, some golden beets, two potatoes and the tiniest portion of goat cheese I have ever seen.
Obviously, with beef shanks, there will be no magical 30 minute meal transformation....but they were so good. Totally worth blowing off IMBB for. I would do it tomorrow or Sunday, but we are headed to the island.
Without further ado, Braised Beef Shanks, Mashed Potatoes and Golden Beet Salad with goat cheese and a Pink Peppercorn Vinaigrette

Braised Beef Shanks
The flavours in this were born out of a clean out the fridge moment.

2 beef shanks
two stalks celery, chopped
1 shallot, diced
3 cloves garlic
1/2 bunch rosemary
1/2 bunch thyme
1 28 oz can plum tomatoes
1/4 cup red vermouth
1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
2 anchovie fillets.

Preheat oven to 275F.
Heat a large skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat. Season and sear shanks about 3 minutes per side and set aside. Add celery, shallot & garlic to pan.Add salt & saute lightly. Deglaze with vermouth, stir in tomatoes and return shanks to the pan. Add the herbs, olives and anchovies, cover and palce in the oven for 3-4hrs.

Before serving, I removed the shanks from the pan and strained the cooking liquid into a fat separator. I used that as the sauce.


Do you love chocolate? Do you live in Vancouver? If you answered yes to both those questions, you must have heard of Chocoatl by now. If not, get down there and try it.

Rachel and I dropped in this morning, chatted with the owners a bit and sampled some of their product; Spiced hot chocolate, Dark chocolate Saffron Truffle and Lava Truffle for me, Rose Hot Chocolate, Dark Chocolate Saffron Truffle and Kahlua Truffle for her... If you try nothing else, try the saffron truffles. I didn't even pause for a picture, I am afraid.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Rebar ~ Mac & Cheese

Sunday I made my first recipe from my new Rebar cookbook Audrey's Mac & Cheese. I really enjoyed it, the only thing I wanted was a little more sauciness. The recipe below is almost exact ~ I had to cut it in half for the sake of our budget AND our waistlines.

Audrey's Deluxe Mac & Cheese

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
3 cups pasta -- dry
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion -- minced
salt -- to taste
4 cloves garlic -- minced
2 tablespoons fresh oregano -- chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme -- chopped
1/4 cup Italian parsley -- chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 3/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups grated aged white cheddar
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts

Cook pasta until just done. Strain and toss with a light coating of olive oil.

Heat 1/2 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet and saute onion for five minutes. Add half the garlic and some salt and saute until garlic is golden. Transfer to a bowl and stir in half of the herbs. Set aside

Next, make a roux. Gently heat the milk and keep it warm. Set a saucepan over medium heat and melt the butter. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk constantly as the flour and butter turn golden. Gradually add warm milk and salt and whisk thoroughly. Heat until sauce thickens (about 10 minutes). Add the sauteed onion/herb mix, grated cheese and stir until cheese melts. Season to taste.

Finally make the topping. Combine the breadcrumbs with the remaining garlic, herbs, Parmesan, pine nuts, salt, pepper and remaining olive oil. Mix thoroughly.

Preheat oven to 350. Combine the pasta and cheese sauce in a large bowl and mix well. Pour into an oiled baking dish. Scatter the topping over the entire surface, working some of it into the noodles. Bake uncovered until golden and bubbly, about 45 minutes. Serve.

"Rebar Cookbook"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 741 Calories; 39g Fat (47.1% calories from fat); 31g Protein; 67g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 78mg Cholesterol; 623mg Sodium. Exchanges: 4 Grain(Starch); 2 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Non-Fat Milk; 6 Fat.

Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Muerte de Chocolate Cookies

Not trusting BabelFish right now, so if anyone knows how to say Death By Chocolate in MExican, let me know...

Mexican Chocolate is one of my favourite indulgences and cookies are one of Rob's, so I combined them again into my new favourite cookie. The format will look a little familiar ~ why mess with a good thing??

Mexican Death by Chocolate Cookies

3/4 cup softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg
1 1/3 cups AP flour
1/3 cup Penzey's Cocoa Powder (you can try other brands, but I can't guarantee results)
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
5 oz semisweet chocolate chips
5 oz Mexican Chocolate, chunked

Cream butter and sugars together, add vanilla, cinnamon and egg. Mix until completely blended. Combine dry ingredients and stir into wet along with the chocolate. Make 1 tbsp sized cookies using a melon baller other appropriate utensil, flattening slightly. Bake at 375 for 8 minutes.

Good News!

Sorry for the whine yesterday. I feel better today, the chiro fixed my absolutely mind numbing back pain and I got a small job! I get to cook lunch and dinner for 12 retired priests over the Easter long weekend. I am so excited, really looking forward to it. I get to do what I love without paperwork added in!!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Whine Time

No Weekend Cat Blogging.

Someone asked me a few months ago how long I could keep working two jobs. I didn't know then, but sure do now. Two weeks ago! You may have noticed that my posts have dropped right off ~ I have reached the point where my functioning is limited to work, sleep, eat. Today I have a chiro, so that might help revitalise me. And I have a restaurant review to share ~ Culinaria in downtown Vancouver. I'll be back later. In the meantime, check out Eatstuff and all the cats whose owners made the effort to show them off. (Can you tell I am feeling a little guilty for my laziness?)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Cooking With Bloggers

I love discovering new recipes from fellow food bloggers and Saturday night was no exception.

I was eyeing the jerk chicken over at Always in the Kitchen and when the recipe was shared I jumped at the opportunity to try it. I won't repost the recipe here ~ just head on over there to check it out. Rob commented that he wished it had cilantro in it, which I thought was quite amusing as there is a very specific note about resisting the cilantro urge added to the bottom of the recipe. It was an excellent sauce, not too hot, fresh flavours from all the lime juice. It paired so well with the coconut yams (whip together coconut milk and roasted yams. Season. Serve) I will use it again for sure, but it still isn't like Mr. Mark's Jerk Sauce though, so I will keep up the search for that elusive flavour combo on the side....
Thank you for sharing, Dawna and Palle.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Weekend Cat Blogging

Aggie peeking coyly from behind the bedroom curtain.
She has learned a new trick ~ stand in front of the fridge and meow loudly and incessantly and the humans will give you a teaspoon of half&half just to get you to stop...

Check out the whirlwind of activity over at Eatstuff, along with all the other cute cats.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Thank You Maureen!

A friend was reading my blog a couple weeks ago and noticed my wishlist on the side. She emailed me to let me know that she had a copy of the Rebar Cookbook that was not being used to its full potential.
Cut a long story short ~ it arrived on Thursday!!!

So thank you so much Maureen, I look forward to cooking from it ~ I have a few recipes earmarked already....

Monday, March 06, 2006

This was a wonderful meal, light, full of spring flavours. the recipe is Jamie Oliver, courtesy of my Food & Wine Best of the Best Cookbook (thank you Julian). I will type it up when I feel like devoting 1/2 an hour to transcribing (not the world's best typist).

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Creamy Chicken Chowder

Remember the chicken dish from Friday night? Well the liquid I saved from that turned out to be thick, rich, and full of flavour as well as being free from fat! It became the base for my deceptively decadent Saturday Lunch Soup

Creamy Chicken Chowder

2 cups flavourful broth (preferably leftovers from Crispy Chicken)
2 stalks celery
1 cup cooked brown rice (yay, leftovers!)
2 cups cooked chicken (more leftovers)
1/4 cup white wine
salt & pepper to taste
water as needed
fresh basil (optional)

Simmer the broth and celery until celery is tender. Add cooked brown rice and simmer until heated through. Puree and strain soup. Add white wine and as much water as is needed to reach desired consistency. Stir in cooked chicken and heat through, season to taste.

One Year

My blog is over a year old and I didn't even notice it happen!

Weekend Cat Blogging

Aggie seems to have this idea in her head that if she rubs her nose on the tap and meows incessantly, water will magically flow ~ you would think she doesn't have a big bowl of fresh water waiting for her by her food dish!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Crispy Chicken with Basil

Friday night dinners, I have a little freedom and like to make something that takes a loong time to cook. This particular dish I have made before and will most likely make again. The recipe came to my attention via the CLBB, I believe originally posted by Sweetnicks and I have done very little to modify it.

Crispy Chicken with Basil and Sweet Tomatoes

4 chicken drumsticks and 4 chicken quarters (legs and thighs joined)(I just used 4 hinquarters)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
a big bunch of fresh basil, rough chopped
1 lb cherry tomatoes, halved (2lb campari tomatoes ~ slightly bigger than cherry~ left whole)
10 cloves of garlic, chopped (left whole, used one head)
olive oil
1-1/2 lbs of new potatoes, scrubbed and chopped in bite-size pieces (used whole red baby potatoes)

Preheat oven to 275. Season the chicken pieces with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and put them in a snug-fitting pan in one layer. Throw in all the basil leaves, the halved cherry tomatoes and the potatoes.(did not add potatoes at this point) Scatter the garlic cloves into the pan and drizzle over some olive oil. Mix around, pushing the tomatoes and potatoes underneath the chicken. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour. Take it out, and stir it all around a bit and raise the heat to 325 and cook for another 2 hours(, adding red potatoes when one hour left). It's done when you see clear juice coming from the chicken when pierced and the meat falls off the bone.

I saved the juice, defatted it and used it in another recipe, which I will share later...