Thursday, October 16, 2008

West Coast Fall


Wild Salmon, Pine Mushrooms, Celery Root and Parsnip Puree and Sauteed Red Kale

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cooking for Priests


I was called back to do a couple of shifts for the priests and I was hunting for the perfect dessert. Some over ripe bananas on the counter were the jumping off point. They prefer food that is homey and simple, so I actually pulled this recipe from a book that I have had for a few years now: Kitchen Sense. A good basic cookbook that would be favourably compared to the Joy of Cooking. Recommended for those classic family pleasing recipes. I loved how the caramel Cream Cheese frosting was not too sweet. And the priests loved it as well. One asked me were I bought it.....
I have paraphrased the recipes as Davis' writing style is extremely detailed.
Here is the amazon link just in case.

Kitchen Sense

Banana Cake
Kitchen Sense, Mitchell Davis

1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the pan, at room temp
3/4 cup buttermilk ( I used the vinegar/milk sub)
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups ap flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract ( I also added 1/2 teaspoon maple extract)
3 very large ripe bananas (about 1 1/4 cups

Preheat your oven to 350F Butter and flour one 9x13 0r 2 9 inch cake pans.
In a small bowl, combine baking soda and buttermilk. In another bowl, mix the remaining dry ingredients.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar to form a smooth paste. Add eggs, one at a time, beating as you go. Stir in vanilla or whatever other extract you chose.
Stir in half of the bananas, half of the milk and half the dry ingredients. Mix until incorporated. Repeat. Pour into prepared pans.
Bake for about 30 mins (mine took longer, but I think it was because of the sucky ovens at the priests) until the cake has risen, browned, pulled away from the edges and springs back from the touch. Let cool for 20 minutes, run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert onto rack, allowing to cool completely.

Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 2.5 cups

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups cream cheese at room temp
6 taplespoons unsalted butter at room temp

In a saucepan, combine sugar with 1/4 cup cold water. Set over medium high heat and stir to dissolve sugar. Bring to a boil and cook until the bubbles get slower, the syrup thickens, and the sugars start to darken. Swirl the pan to ensure that the caramelization is even. Keep swirling until the sugar has reached a dark mahogany colour. Remove from heat and immediately (CAREFULLY) add the heavy cream to stop the cooking. The caramel will bubble and froth, but keep swirling and stirring and it will settle to a rich thick sauce.Stir in salt and allow to cool to room temp (this will take about and hour).
In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat together the cream cheese and butter, scraping down the sides, until smooth and light. Beat in cooled caramel. Icing can be used as is or chilled to stiffen somewhat before putting on the cake.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Wild Rice and Celery Root Chowder


Believe it or not, I do still cook these days. Just not as often or elaborately as I would like to. This soup was a warm and comforting meal in a bowl and I had plenty of leftovers for the freezer.
Thank you to Lisa for sharing the recipe

Celery Root and Wild Rice Chowder


1/2 cup wild rice
1 pound celery root
2 large leeks, white parts only
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 celery rib, diced
1 cup thinly sliced russet potato
1/4 cup chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
1 bay leaf
1 large Thyme sprigs
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water,
2 cups half-and-half or milk
truffle oil, optional


1. Cover the wild rice with 5 cups water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat. Cover and simmer about 45 minutes until tender.
2. Thickly cut away the celery root skins, then quarter and chop the root into bite-sized pieces. You should have about 3 cups. Chop and wash leeks.
3. Melt butter in soup pot. Add the veggies, parsley, bay leaf, thyme, and 1 1/2 tsp salt. Cook over medium-high for about 5 minutes, then add stock. Bring to boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the milk and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Taste for salt and season with pepper. To give soup a creamy background, puree a cup of the veggies and return to the pot. (I actually added the wild rice at this point, then pureed a bit. That gave the soup a lot of body and really brought out the nuttiness of the wild rice.)
4. Divide the soup among 4 or 6 bowls and then add a mound of wild rice to each (See above, totally did not garnish w/ rice.) Garnish with parsley and a drop of truffle oil. (I did not have truffle oil on hand and it was just fine without.)

The Sandwich was made on Terra Bread Fig and Anise Loaf with 8 year old cheddar and Grand Fir Prosciutto from Oyama Sausage on Granville Island and was the perfect match to the meal.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Day 7 ~ The longest day

Morning of my second to last day in NY. I got up early, fighting my desire to loll about in my nice hotel room, and went for a walk looking for breakfast. I actually made it as far as the museum of Natural History, before turning back and eating at the Moon Rock diner a mere two blocks from my hotel (nothing like a 40 block trek to whet the appetite.)

I headed back to the Hilton, packed my bag and checked out, checking my bag at the luggage room. It was a little overcast and to be honest, I was getting tired. For days now, I had been walking the length of Manhattan and it was starting to get to me. So I cheated and grabbed a cab to the Museum of Natural History. Less than a minute after pulling away from the hotel, the sky darkened ominously. Another minute and thunder rumbled. By the time we passed Columbus Circle, the sky had opened up and thousands of gallons of water poured out. You think I am exaggerating?? I live in Vancouver, one of the wettest places around and I have never seen rain like this. It was 10 in the morning and it looked like 8 at night. Thunder shook the cab and lightening would brighten everything for a few brief seconds.

As we made our way to the Museum, I could see pools filling on the side of the road. It took less than 10 minutes to get there (maybe 15). The street in front of the museum was two way, so the cab driver had to pull over across from the main entrance. I paid him and jumped out. It was like leaping into a cold pool. I gasped for breath, my feet sunk up to my ankles in a puddle, water streamed over me. I tried to get my bearings and dashed across the road and into the safety of the museum. Less than 30 seconds and I was soaked to the skin. I stood in the lobby dripping, trying to decide what to do. I ended up buying a sweatshirt from the museum shop and changing into that. I wrung my hair out in the bathroom, emptied my shoes and wrung my socks out. I coat checked the shirt I had been wearing, hoping that a few hours of hanging would dry it out. Then I went to check out the museum.
I opted for a guided tour and I was glad I did. I think I got more out of it for that reason. But the Met is still my favourite and I wish I had spent more time there than the Natural History museum. Lunch was had in the bowels of the building at the museum cafeteria.

Some sort of mexican type meal....

I grabbed my shirt from coat check and stumbled out of the building. The sun was shining!! I walked back to the Hilton, grabbed my suitcase and took a cab to my final hotel on Washington Square Park. Beautiful building and I felt a little frisson of excitement as I noticed Babbo across the street.

I checked in. The room was small, but clean, comfortable and attractive, but I didn't have any time to enjoy it as I realized how fast my time in the city was coming to an end. I walked down to the Hilton at Ground Zero to pick up my cell phone charger (left it there when I stayed), then headed off for another ramble through downtown, sticking more to the east side of downtown. Then I wandered through Chinatown, Soho, Noho, Greenwich Village and West Village. I wish I had stayed in this neighbourhood the whole time; so alive and interesting. I found myself at a wine bar, sipping a glass of white, planning my first move for the evening. I remembered the recommendation for Kittechai, so I went back to my room, changed and made my way there. It was SO trendy it hurt.
trendy people at Kittechai
But the cocktails were fabulous and the food delicious. I ordered a drink with vodka, muddled pink grapefruit and red thai chilis, the food was an order of Kampachi sashimi. The service sucked, but I suspect that had more to do with my singularly not cool presence. From there. I wandered till I found an Italian restaurant. Another glass of wine, two more appetizer, obsequious service.

My appetizers were a tomato salad with burrata and some sort of octopus dish. Both well executed and tasty. I was starting to feel all warm and fuzzy at this point. I remembered another reccomendation, from my friends at Blue Hill. I had seen the oyster bar they suggested in the neighbourhood, so I made my way there. Lenny & Joe's, I believe it is called. The maitre'd was hilarious, some over the top flamboyant performer. He seated me at the bar and I ordered half a dozen oysters and a virgin mojito (what can I say, I was getting a little tipsy at this point.) I got to chatting about oysters and the west coast with the couple next to me. I told them about my indulgent eating and drinking ramble through the area. He asked me why I hadn't been to Babbo yet. I mentioned my distinct lack of a reservation. He told me I should be able to get in at the bar. I paid my bill and slowly ambled over to Babbo, psyched myself up and opened the door. From the outside, it looks so peaceful. Inside, it was warm, packed, loud. I asked about a possible seat at the bar. Half an hour wait. So I ordered a glass of prosecco, made my way to a corner and tried to make myself as small as possible (we are talking CRAMPED here.) I just watched people come and go for closer to 40 minutes. At one point, a group showed up 1/2 an hour late for their seating. The Maitr'd berated them and made them stand in a corner for ten minutes while he tried to find them a table. Then, a space at the bar and I was in. I ordered a half litre of red wine and a plate of beef cheek ravioli. The bartender was surprised that was all I wanted, but to be honest, I was pretty full and it was now roughly 10:45pm. The pasta was perfect. I cannot put it in words. Lets just say I reached ravioli nirvana. After that, I ordered dessert ( no idea why, or how I managed to eat it.) strawberry crostada with balsamic zabaglione amd balsamic syrup. As I had been enjoying my meal, the couple from the oyster bar appeared, obviously regulars as the bartender hailed them by name. A table was found for them, near the bar and jokes were bandied around. I loved sitting at the bar, what a FUN place to be.
I staggered out, drunk, full and delirious. I had to walk around the block a few times before pouring myself into bed. it was 12:30am

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Pork Tenderloin with Maple Glaze, Yam Gnocchi, Brussels Sprouts

New York Day 6

Remember me?? Yes, I know it has been a month since I updated. Life can get very busy here...

Where were we..... Ahh yes, day 6, New York City. I had spent the night in CT with Kathryn and her family. We got up early Sunday morning and took the scenic route to the train station (beautiful countryside). A few short hours and we were back in the city, heading for brunch at Sarabeths in Central park. Kathryn and I were joined by Greta and Stephanie and were seated promptly (thanks to Greta getting in line for us!). The portions were huge ~ I ordered an omelet with potatoes and bacon (or was it ham).

After a wonderful breakfast, chatting, watching the crowds go by, etc, we wandered through Central Park for several hours. It was a beautiful day and much more crowded than the last time I was there. The time flew by and before we knew it, Stephanie and Greta had to return to their families. (It was so nice to finally meet you both!). Kathryn and I made a token effort to do some shopping, but we were both suffering from some feet fatigue, so headed back to my hotel so I could check in. Imagine our surprise when we tried to cross Broadway only to discover a huge parade blocking the way. Apparently, it was a Dominican Days parade (loud and colourful). After managing to fight our way across, I checked into the Hilton in Midtown. My room was on the 20th floor and not bad considering the price. But the longer we were in the room, the more I noticed things. Like the black tape holding the shower head on OR the empty coffee station. Beggars can't be chosers though, so I was resigned to my fate. As we set out again for Penzeys and an early dinner, I noticed it was raining. Thinking that there might be a complimentary umbrella in the closet (there was at my last Hilton) I opened the door and looked around. No umbrella, but some stripey fabric on the top shelf.... I pulled it down to discover a pair of mens boxer shorts. On the way out, I stopped at the front desk;
"I was wondering if I could get the coffee station in my room refilled. And umm also could someone come pick up the mens underwear from the floor of my closet."
The desk clerk was mortified;
"Ewwww. Would you like us to move you to another room?"
"No, I don't want to be too much of a bother. If someone comes and gets it, that would be good."
"no, I insist, we will move you."
And just like that, I was on the 30th floor with a swanky suite that was obviously much newer and much nicer. I love the Hilton.
After a brief moving around of luggage, Kathryn and I set off again. On the way to the Grand Central Penzeys, we discovered this adorable Japanese pastry shop where I picked up a few snacks for later.

We ended up having dinner at a little Thai place near Grand Central, then I said goodbye to Kathryn as she headed home to CT and I went for a wander up Madison Avenue, looking in all the pretty stores along the way.

LAter that night, I left my hotel after dark and made the trek to Times Square. It was probably 10 or 10:30 and the streets were packed. The sky was lit up by all the signs and I could only take a few minutes of it before I had to duck away down another street. I ended up finding a little Japanese place and enjoying a late night glass of wine with a gorgeous looking (and tasting) hotpot.