Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Cooking With Bloggers: Halibut

I have found several recipes at passionate nonchalance that grab my eye; the lastest was this halibut dish. I stuck pretty close to aria's recipe, only leaving out one ingredient (mostly because I forgot).

Roasted Halibut with Olives

1 lg filet halibut, cut into serving pieces
unfiltered or good olive oil
handfull green olives
a few sprigs fresh rosemary, torn in half
2 cloves garic, thinly sliced
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 375F. Place halibut in a baking dish. Scatter olives and rosemary over top, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15-30 minutes or until halibut is just cooked through. Serve with lemon wedge on the side.

The fish was very flavourful without being overwhelmed by the other components of the dish. Thank you aria, for another winner!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Lucky Girl

I am one lucky girl. I received this amazing care package from a friend Down South just the other day. I feel totally spoiled!

On the news front, I am studiously avoiding doing anything extracurricular as I make the final push to finish Buffy. You will be hearing more from me once I get through the last three disks of the series.
Rob is taking off for 2 weeks to work in Ontario and I am going to be a lonely gal. Which means I will be doing lots of geeky updating of the blog, reformatting etc.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Rob's Birthday Dinner

Every year, I try to treat Rob to the birthday dinner of his dreams. Last year's was pretty good, but I think I beat it this year!

We started with the ubiquitous oyster, four of them actually, on a bed of coarse salt and red salt. This was paired with a Champagne (a real one), seen in the picture below.

I just have to say that I went to Liberty Wines on Granville Island and the woman who helped me was wonderful.

The oysters were followed by a wild mushroom and winter vegetable soup, modeled after one that I made last year; recipe found here. I paired this course with the Champagne as well.

Every year, Rob requests foie gras. This year, I poached pear in honey and balsamic, fanned and then broiled some of the pear and pureed the rest with the balsamic liquid. The foie itself went into a scary hot pan, 30 seconds a side. The smoke was incredible; I was coughing and choking as I tried to fan it away from the building smoke detector. I placed the seared foie on a piece of toasted brioche and served with rest of the sauce. Rob said it was the highlight of the meal.

With this course, I paired a Sauternes, a luscious sweet apricot/peachy wine. It worked so well with the richness of the meat and the sweet acidity of the sauce.

After all that decadence, I had to go for a light refreshing salad; shaved fennel, arugula and pine nuts. This worked with the Sauternes as well, accentuating the apricot side more.

The final savoury course was a lamb osso buco with polenta and glazed winter vegetables. It will be repeated in this house!

The most expensive wine of the night was the one paired with the lamb. But it was so perfect! It is called Brunello Di Montalcino. I suggest reading this interesting little tidbit about it. A wine I would not hesitate to recommend to anyone looking for something a little more special.

I cheated on desert and got a chocolate mousse cake from Urban Fare; I was too exhausted to cook anything alse.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Restaurant: Fuel

I have been dying to check out Fuel since well before they opened ~ it just looked so cool inside! Then I heard the news around work that it was the work of Tom Doughty and Rob Belcham (C, Nu). I don't usually talk restaurants, chefs and gossip here, because I figure it will bore most people, especially the Non-Vancouverites. Lets just say these are some culinary heavyweights.
The restaurant opened, the menu could be perused online and my coworkers were raving. My wallet not so much (this place is really out of my league!). But wait; there is a lunch menu. So today, I took Rob to Fuel for lunch as Phase II of birthday action.
We walked in and were greeted warmly, seated quickly in a terribly uncomfortable not cosy environment. Oh, the chairs were comfortable enough, but they were packed in there so tight, the only really intimate feeling about the whole place was how intimate you could get with your neighbours! No pictures because of this AND the table to my right was irritating me with their snobiness and general expectancy of premium treatment while still being rude to the waitstaff.
We were served efficiently, but I noticed another couple that didn't get their bread until we were on our main course and they were there before us.
I ordered a lemon-thyme soda and a braised lamb sandwich. Rob ordered crispy pork belly. We were served cute little miniature epi on slabs of polished (granite?) with whipped butter and Maldon salt. Delicious.
My soda was also impeccable and I was tempted to order a second. For the 3.50$ price tag, it was worth every cent.
The food arrived. My lamb sandwich was huge, the pile of red onions rings still managed to dwarf it. The sandwich itself was tasty and extremely filling, but the seasoning was lacking (read salt). I could not stop eating the onion rings though! Lightly battered, almost tempura like, well salted, crispy but soft and sweet...yum**.
Rob, well I could tell he was annoyed as soon as he tried to cut a piece of the pork belly. It was served in a bowl with a dashi, shiitake mushrooms and julienned red radish. The dashi broth, while adding a wonderful flavour element to the dish, completely negated the crispiness of the pork belly. The presentation bowl was shaped in such a way that it was extremely difficult to cut the pork neatly as well. The flavour was good, the dish was rich and meaty, but the presentation left a little to be desired.
Am I glad I went there? Absolutely! Would I go there again? In a word ~no.
**technical culinary term

Wait! Can I change my mind?? I have been sitting here thinking about it... I think next time I will go by myself and sit at the dining bar in front of the kitchen...

Off Topic: Family

This is not a food post so feel free not to read it. I am totally wiped out right now, having just returned from a memorial service held for my great-grandmother. As if coping with her death wasn't challenging enough, my mother showed up with my half sister. People I haven't seen or spoken to in 17 years. Why does family have to be so bloody complicated??

Thursday, January 18, 2007

the accidental foodie

Barbara Jo's was having a book sale last week and I scored the accidental foodie for a ridiculously cheap price. A food editor's stories of the culinary heroes who have touched his life, with recipes thrown in for good measure. I am barely 1/4 of the way into it, but I already have several of the recipes marked for testing. Last night, I made Bill Granger's Chicken Schnitzel with Tomato and Preserved Lemon salad

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Chicken with Artichokes and Peas

MY alternate entry for the stew event. The recipe is adapted from this months Gourmet Magazine.


Chicken thighs are a natural for braising because they stay nice and juicy. Plus, the dark meat is a good counterpoint to the sweetness of peas and the slight acidity of the artichokes.

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
750 g boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 (14-oz) can artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained, and halved lengthwise
1 cup frozen baby peas (not thawed)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon herbes de provence
Preheat oven to 300F
Put flour in a shallow bowl. Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, then dredge, 1 piece at a time, in flour, shaking off excess. Transfer to a sheet of wax paper as coated.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté chicken turning over once, until deep golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes total. Transfer to a plate (chicken will not be fully cooked).

Add onion with remaining tablespoon oil to skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden brown around edges, about 6 minutes. Add herbes de provence and wine and boil, stirring and scraping up any brown bits, 1 minute. Stir in broth, artichokes, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Return chicken to skillet along with any juices from plate, cover and place in oven. Simmer until chicken is tender, about 40minutes. Stir in peas and simmer, covered, 5 minutes.

Transfer chicken to a shallow serving dish. Stir parsley and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper into artichoke mixture, then spoon over chicken.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Beef Stew with Wild Mushrooms.

I love stew and coincidentally, its the theme of this months Waiter, Theres Something in My...! This recipe was taken from Kalyn's Kitchen and adapted slightly to fit my cravings, although I am sure it would be delicious in Kalyn's adaptation from a Mark Bittman recipe. Of course, I just realised that this is HER submission for the meme, so I'll make a different stew to submit for myself. In the meantime, here is my take on it.

Beef Stew with Dried Mushrooms
(about 6 servings, adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen's adaptation from Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World, page 381)

2 cups beef stock, heated to boiling
2 cups dried chanterelle and porcini mushrooms
1 red onion, chopped
2 lb sirloin tip roast, cut into pieces about 1" or slightly larger
olive oil
1/4 cup red wine
1 can fire-roasted tomatoes (I use Muir Glen)
1/4 cup tomato paste
bay leaves (I just cut a bunch from my bay tree)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
3 cups red potatoes

Preheat Oven to 300F

Heat stock to point of boiling in saucepan, turn off heat, then add mushrooms and let them soak for at least half an hour.

In large heavy pan, heat olive oil. Season beef well with salt and pepper and sear in batches, setting aside seared beef.

In same pan, saute onions until soft. Add tomato paste and cook for another minute or two. Deglaze the pan with red wine, then add fire roasted tomatoes, the meat, the mushrooms and stock and bay leaves. Cover and place in the oven for about one hour.

Cut potatoes into roughly 2 inch pieces and add to the stew, stirring well to coat. Return to the oven for a further 45 minutes. Then remove the lid and allow stew to cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Friday, January 12, 2007

Food in Vegas

My Room service breakfast: corned beef hash with poached eggs

Clams in a marinara sauce. This was an appetizer portion; I finally figured out that in order to avoid insane portions, order appies.

13.95 prime rib dinner. Need I say more.

Breakfast buffet at the Bellagio.

Sandwiches from wichcraft; meatloaf and hot turkey and bacon.

Dessert from Bellagio buffet; chocolate jello, espresso cream.

Dessert from Bellagio buffet; apricot pannacotta.

Cinnamon bun from room service.

Country fried steak and eggs.

Rob's Bellagio room service breakfast; eggs Benedict

Oysters make him happy!

Mexicali burger from Margaritaville (can anyone say cheesefest? The restaurant, not the burger. The burger was quite good.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I'm Back!

Night view
Originally uploaded by kayaksoup.
Well, we actually got home at 3:30 am on Monday morning, but I spent the last couple days recovering, dealing with sad family news and working.
This picture was the actual view from our room at the Bellagio...I'll be back with more tomorrow ~ must watch Buffy Season 2 (I am so addicted, it isn't even funny)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Steak Salad

Steak Salad
Originally uploaded by kayaksoup.
The night before we leave for Las Vegas, we go for a relatively light meal; a steak salad with a ginger lime vinaigrette and a baked potato. Big flavour bang and by splitting a ribeye, we saved a bit of money too. The tomato is a newish breed that we discovered at our favourite produce stand, something Russo. It actually has a little flavour and a beautiful texture!
Here is the recipe for the vinaigrette, which we also used as a marinade as well for the steak. This is my favourite dressing and we keep a jar of it in the fridge at all times.

Ginger Soy Vinaigrette
I shallot minced
1/2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
black pepper
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice.

recipe from Wolfgang Puck

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Chicken with Serrano ham and quince paste

2007_01_02 001
Originally uploaded by kayaksoup.
This was last nights dinner; we had some leftover Serrano ham in the fridge and I wanted something relatively simple for dinner. Rob spread quince paste combined with herbes de Provence on slices of Serrano ham. HE then wrapped the ham around a chicken breast. The chicken was seared and then baked in the oven to an internal temp of 150F. Rest the chicken for 5 minutes, slice and serve.
THe potatoes are actually leftovers from our New Years Eve Dinner; Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes from Cooking Light.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Healthy Lunch

I think this qualifies as a healthy lunch. I blame a lot of my snacking issues on two factors; work and my lack of solid lunches. I tend to skim over lunch, grab a bite in passing, even turn lunch into a snack, which results in all sorts of low blood sugar issues and crankiness. Today, I made it home from work early enough to whip this up.

1 egg
4 egg whites
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
salt and pepper
1 tbsp salsa

heat a nonstick pan over medium high heat. Saute red pepper and onion till soft, remove from pan. Beat eggs, season with salt and pepper and pour into pan. Cook gently, lifting edges and allowing uncooked egg to flow underneath. When the eggs are almost set, add peppers and onions and fold eggs over to create a half moon. Transfer to serving dish and top with salsa.

I should also mention that I have a new computer!! which is part of my issues with blogging; having trouble getting all my old blogging tools to work.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

Welcome to 2007! I will be a year of transition for us as Rob looks for a new job. Before all that nastiness starts though, I surprised hime with an early birthday present; we are going to Las Vegas!

I don't make resolutions as such, but I do have a few goals for the coming year. I need to tame the snacking beast and I am going to try to be a better blogger. I never imagined, when I started in 2005, that I would still be blogging 2 years later!