Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Eggnog Recipe

After some tweaking, here is the eggnog recipe.
Incidentally, this uses a standard "2litre" carton of milk, so I saved the carton and poured the eggnog back to store it in the refrigerator. This does not taste store bought, it is much spicier. And that is a good thing....

700 ml milk (i used whole milk)
18 egg yolks
360 ml sugar
1.4 l milk
5 cinnamon sticks
7.5 ml nutmeg

Combine the first amount of milk with the spices and simmer over low heat.
Heat the second measure over medium heat.
In a mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar. Once the milk is heated, slowly add the milk to the egg yolks with the mixer running at medium.
Return egg mixture to the pot and cook until it thickens. Add the milk with the steeped spices and immediately chill. an ice bath is the best way to go here. Once chilled, strain and decant into a suitable container. Enjoy. Ideally with lots of rum....

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pig Industry Dinner

Last night, I was very lucky to be in possesion of a ticket for a special dinner at Fuel. It was an industry (meaning food industry) event, so it started at 11pm. It was so worth the wait.

We started with predrinks at Maenam. The service was spotty at best. 20 minutes to get a drink from the bar?? The server kept blaming the bartender, but I think they shared the blame...

A glimpse of what was to come in the window.

The room was set up with 5 long tables and it was packed. Silver pitchers of cold beer from R&B Brewing sat on every table and the room was humming as people caught up with old friends and made new ones.
The dishes started to come out of the kitchen. First a bowl of roasted red and yellow beets with toasted almonds. Next, a mound of baked beans with pork meatballs and pork lardons. Cabbage, the best cabbage I have ever eaten, creamy, braised cabbage with (I think) bacon. A crisp salad of arugula, apple and Montreal smoked tongue. My plate was filling up rapidly and there was still more to come. Buttermilk fried onion rings and roasted potatoes and then, finally, the star of the evening, the roast suckling pig.

Yeah, I was that happy.
As we enjoyed the feast, servers came around with platters of the good bits... jowls, brains, trotters and ears. Having tried all those good bits before, I took a trotter and left the other bits for my table companions.
Just when we thought it was over, the plates were cleared and more came out ~ a selection of cheeses with honeycomb and crisp bread, bacon ice cream and something called pudding Chaumard (basically cake cooked in a maple syrup concoction).
We were begging for mercy by the end of it. I stumbled home full of beer and found, with a big smile on my face. It was 1:30 am when I got home.

Unfortunately, Fuel will be closing Nov 29th. Fortunately it will be reopening as refuel Dec 2nd. And Fuel is doing some Whole Hog Dinners Tonight (Nov26) and tomorrow night..<

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day

Every year, I post this poem. in my mind, it will forever be linked with November 11th.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Spicy Cauliflower and Peanut Soup


This isn't a recipe, it's the realisation of an idea.
When I worked at the Stock Market, one of my favourite soups was a spicy cauliflower and peanut with cilantro.
I found a huge(really, its the size of three heads) head of cauliflower in the 1$ bin on Granville Island, it was a cool fall day, so I decided to give it a shot.
I started by throwing 2 cloves of garlic and couple of cups of cauliflower florets in a pot with a tough of water. I steamed it until the cauliflower was tender, then threw it in the food processor with some milk, water, salt and pepper, peanut butter and sambal. Once the soup was smooth, I adjusted peanut butter and sambal levels, thinned it a little more and reheated it. Right at the end, I threw a generous handful of finely chopped cilantro.
The result? a huge success. Warm, rich, spicy and very satisfying.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A tale of two films

The Vancouver International Film Festival ran for the last couple of weeks and I was fortunately able to take in several movies. Two that I chose ended up being interesting complements to each other. I promise, this is about food...

The first was HomeGrown, an interesting look at an american family and their attempts to live off the land. Check out the details here and their own website here.
The second was eatrip, a Japanese documentary looking at people's relationship to food. A trailer here, but no subtitles, and a summary here.
HomeGrown was a fascinating look at what can be accomplished if you just but your mind (and back) to it. An inspiring film, I was ready to leap up out of my seat and run home and plant things...
Eatrip was a visual love letter to food. Every person interviewed was passionate about eating and all for different reasons. My favourite was a 90 year old priest who said
"We eat 3 times a day. I have eaten three times a day for 90 years and I am still not sick of it." All the interviews were interspersed with beautiful footage of cooking, stark photos of food and the places it comes from.
One of the interviewees was a homemaker from Okinawa, a woman who raised her two children on a homestead, growing all their own food, not using a refrigerator, living the simple life. As I watched her speak with joy about eating the seasons, enjoying what her garden gave to her, I was reminded of the Dervaes family (HomeGrown) gently complaining about eating the same thing day in and day out when it was in season...
I would reccommend both of these movies to anyone who cares about food and where it comes form, as well as the impact that we have on our planet.

Friday, October 16, 2009

SF Notes: Dotties True Blue Cafe

Yes, I realise I have been home from San Francisco for 3 months. But I can pretend that it hasn't been that long by looking through my trip pictures and notes. Its like I was there only yesterday..
I ate at Dotties with a friend. It was her choice, I was just along for the ride and what a ride it was! We waited in line for aprox 30-40 minutes (I didn't mind, I was on vacation) and ended up with seats at the counter. Which meant we were about 4 feet from the griddle. The daily specials all looked fabulous, but I settled on housemade pork sausage scramble with jalapeno cornbread toast and hash browns. Lisa ordered eggs with black bean cakes and toast and we also tried a blueberry pancake. Everything was delicious, but the standouts were the cornbread and Lisa's black bean cakes.
Would I go back again? Absolutely... but if I lived in San Francisco, I probably wouldn't bother to wait in line for breakfast that long....

Thursday, October 15, 2009

English Style Breakfast

English style breakfasts are usually found in B&BS. This isn't everyday fare, this is I don't plan on eating for 8hrs kind of breakfasts. I posted about the one that we enjoyed on our recent trip to England.
Today, disheartened by the sad offerings of our farmer's market, I was wandering around Granville Island trying to decide what to make Rob and I for breakfast. I bought a few Pine mushrooms on a whim and that is when I decided to go full english. With a Linda twist of course..

Free range eggs sunny side up, Gammon bacon from Oyama Sausage, homemade baked Rancho Gordo beans, fried heirloom tomato from my garden and sauteed pine mushrooms. The kind of breakfast I would serve in my fantasy B&B.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Not food: art

Look at that, another 2 months with no blog post... I still cook, really I do! I just don't feel like writing about it all the time...

Today, I swung by the One of a Kind Show at the convention center. Its on till Sunday and full of, well, one of a kind things.
I stopped by the Hob Snobs booth and picked up 3 adorable cards by The Beautiful Project. I was also eyeing the laptop bags by Track and Field and was thrilled to hear that she makes netbook bags as well. I will be picking one of those up when I have a chance to make it to Cambie and 13th.

After that, I was drawn to the Luved Clothing booth, where I ended up purchasing the wrap hoodie (left) in a dark green. So warm cozy and comfortable. I decided after that I was cut off from purchasing, but that didn't stop me from ogling all the other wonderful objects/jewellery/art/fashion.
Check it out!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

SF Notes: Pizzaiolo


If you ever find yourself in Oakland, or San Francisco, looking for a place to eat, I cannot recommend Pizzaiolo enough. This was my second visit. The first, four years ago fueled an obsession that stuck with me.
Walking distance from the BART in a fun neighbourhood, the place is usually packed.
Four of us went this time and ordered a selection of items to share. We started (and kept going) with bread from Acme bread company. So addictive, chewy goodness.
Off the antipasti menu, we had Blue Heron Farm little gems Caesar, Hand stretched mozzarella with spicy gypsy peppers, little yellow beans and salsa rustica and Padron peppers and okra from the wood oven with seas salt and olive oil.
I had been dubious about the choice of Caesar salad (how good can a Caesar salad be??) but it was the best caesar I have ever had; lots of anchovy and garlic. The hand stretched mozzarella was decadent and the yellow bean salad a nice change from a usual accompaniment of basil and tomatoes. As for the Padrone peppers, well they are always a hit with their smokey sweet spiciness and the okra was a surprisingly delicious addition.
From the Primi, we ordered Spaghetti with Manila clams, housemade sausage and hot pepper. Perfect al dente pasta with just the right amount of sauciness. The clams were nicely done, no hint of rubbery toughness.
From the Pizze menu, we ordered two items. For me, the pizza is what makes this place so special. Their beautiful wood oven yields crusts with just the right balance of crispy and chewy with a hint of charred smokiness. They also have a light hand with the toppings, so the pizza do not end up overladen and soggy. The rapini and housemade sausage and the wild arugula, prosciutto and grana with an egg cracked on top were our choices. I wish i could have ordered them all.
Amazingly, we stilled had room for dessert and split an order of panna cotta with roasted nectarines and wild blackberries and one of chocolate walnut cream cake with espresso caramel sauce. Both desserts were well executed. The panna cotta was a little soft, but that was more than compensated for by the roasted nectarines intense flavour and natural sweetness.
We shared a bottle of Old Vines Zinfandel from Sausal Winery that one of my dining companions had brought and I started with a delicious tequila cocktail. The bill was roughly 40$ each.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Farmer's Market Bounty

I have been so lucky lately, having Thursdays off and getting to hit our Granville Island Farmers MArket. Two weeks ago, Rob and I went a little crazy on our Thursday night dinner, piling on the fresh produce.

Tomato Salad with fresh goats cheese and basil, Potato Salad made with 3 kinds of organic potatoes from Pemberton, Fresh Corn on the cob and fresh broad beans. Tastes like summer!!

Rob has been completely fixating on my potato salad, so I am going to try and write down the recipe next time I make it.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Summer refresher

I was shopping on Granville Island the other day and noticed this in the display case at the Stock Market. I couldn't resist.

Once at home, the first glass was mixed with a generous splash of Gin and a twist of lemon. Instant summer refreshment.

I couldn't actually taste the chili, but the thai basil and lime leaf flavours were very present and the sweetness level was perfect. I wish it had a wee bit more of a citrus zing to it though, hence the twist of lemon.

Thursday, August 06, 2009



These are the first tomatoes we have evr grown. We ate one standing at the counter with salt and pepper. The other one is going with our flank steak tacos tonight.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


This is a brief overview of our meal at Lumiere. It is not an official review, but you should know that the meal did not disappoint. Okay, that is an understatement. The meal was phenomenal. I am still waiting on a confirmation of the actual wine pairings.

Tomato Amuse Bouche
tomato vol au vent, tomato consomme and some sort of a cream cheese topped with roasted tomato gelee and Pine nuts

This was the amuse of the night and each miniature bite packed a serious flavour punch. There was no wine pairing with this and we were finishing off our refreshing Hemingway Daiquiris.

Dungeness Crab with Champagne Mango
Pickled Papaya, Piquillo Pepper Coulis, Coriander

Paired with a spanish or perhaps brazilian white.

Qualicum Bay Scallops
with cornmeal crust, fresh creamed corn, crispy okra and a chicken and scallop jus

I had this dish instead of the foie gras course as the foie had hazelnuts on it. The wine pairing was a pinot blanc, but I also had a glass of the riesling served with the foie and it made an excellent match with the dish. I LOVED this and I am no fan of cooked scallops.

Foie Gras Terrine
Napoleon of Plum and Hazelnut, House Cured Duck Pastrami

BC Spot Prawn and Pork Belly
With Heart of Palm, Pickled Ramps, Radish, Smoked Hen of the Wood

Paired with a chenin blanc I believe. (too much wine, my memory is so foggy).

Oh, look...

Yeah, that would explain why I can't remember the wine pairings so well...

Uni Crusted Halibut
Green and White Asparagus, Buddha Hand, Black Garlic

paired with an amazing viognier from California

Pea Ravioli with a Champagne "veloute"
Sugar Snaps, Oyster Mushrooms, Pearl Onion, Mint

This dish was had by two out of the four at our table, paired with a chenin blanc although it worked with the mystery viognier as well, I got to taste one of the ravioli and they just exploded in the mouth, with a very smooth filling and an intense fresh pea taste.
Sadly, the pictures are starting to suck at this point. I blame the lighting in the restaurant. Or maybe I should blame the wine.

Seared Duck Breast
Glazed with Hennessey XO and other good things, served with spinach, a warm cherry and daikon with a cherry sauce.

Paired with??

Quail with Lentils
Pureed and whole french lentils, cubes of foie

I think that is what this dish is. It wasn't one that I got, and I didn't even taste it because there were hazelnuts in it. And yes, the picture is really bad. I did warn you...

Pistachio Crusted Lamb
Chickpea Panisse, "Cannelloni" of Braised Shoulder, Bulgur, Apricot and Pistachio

Paired with something red from Chateauneuf de Pape. So good, the lamb was perfectly cooked, but the ravioli made my night.

Duo of Beef
Red Wine Braised Short Rib with Potato Fondant and Rosemary Soubise
Seared Rib Eye with Braised Romaine and Shallot

This was the alternative to the lamb course. It was paired with a red from the Tannat grape. Very punchy, but worked beautifully with the beef.

Cheese Course

paired with Madiera
Sadly, I can only remember a few of the cheeses. There was a Morbier and a chevre and a fabulous blue.

Summer Strawberry Pavlova
Lemon-scented Strawberries, Vanilla Cream, Pink Peppercorn Meringue

It was the perfect summer dessert with an unbelieveably delicate meringue. Paired with a sauterne

Opera Cake

The alternative to the pavlova. I think pavlovas won this course....

Chocolate Fondant

with Peanut Nougatine Ice cream

Pavlovas have been knocked off the podium in the dessert contest with this one. It was a warm chocolate cake that wasn't too sweet and made for a very happy match with the Graham's port that we were served.

A selection of dainty desserts that followed our meal. The finger is to give an idea of scale.

After all that eating and drinking, a certain member of our group decided the party wasn't over and asked for some more beverages. We successfully polished off a bottle of Canados, a BC made apple brandy.
And then the aforementioned member of our group ordered one more drink for the night.
So we also polished off a bottle of the Blue Mountain Brut.
Five hours after we started, we rolled (or poured) ourselves into cab. What an amazing meal.

A Teaser


Monday, July 27, 2009

The sky


I took this photo a while back and promptly forgot about it ~ one of the drawbacks of having an 8GB memory card in your camera. I have not photoshopped this, the sky really did look like the picture. Taken on a sea wall walk.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

England Part The End

Its only been 3 months since we returned from England and a mere three weeks until my next trip : San Francisco, 5 days. Can't wait.

Cast your mind back, way back. I left you all with Saturday night in Worcester....
We were awakened the next day by the peal of church bells and it just didn't stop. It was actually a beautiful sound, but it was also the only sound that echoed through the streets of Worcester. As we wondered around, marveling at the emptiness of the city, it dawned on me that it wasn't just Sunday morning, it was Easter Sunday! Nothing was open, so we hit the Tesco express for supplies and headed back to the boat.
Cruising through the city was a little disconcerting ~ dead rats floated by, the bottom of the boat scraped on sunken mystery objects. A boat trying to pass us going the other way ended up stuck for a few minutes on something submerged, etc. A big sigh of relief for us once we left the city behind and started to climb into the country side. By this point, we were actually very close to our home base, so we decided to take every opportunity to stop. A canal side pub in Tibburton afforded us a good opportunity for a lunch break. With the boat tied, we enjoyed a long and very leisurely lunch

After returning to the boat, we continued up the canal for an hour or so, stopping at Dunhampstead for another couple of beers before settling in for the night.
The next morning was misty and still as we continued our ascent towards Stoke Works. We stopped mid morning and headed off down a right of way towards Hanbury Hall. I loved that we could stumble through farmer's fields, arriving at a heritage property. An appetite worked up from our traipsing through the fields, we turned back and headed down to Hanbury Wharf where we stumbled on an excellent carvery pub lunch. The carvery featured roast pork with crackling, roast beef, roast turkey and all the sides ~ I think Rob was in meat coma heaven. Thankfully, we had a long hike back to the boat to work off all that food. Continuing on up the canal, we stopped at Stoke Works for the night, a mere fifteen minutes from our home base. It was a beautiful day and we luxuriated in the sun sipping pints at a local canalside pub.

The afternoon was bittersweet, as we knew our idyllic vacation was coming to an end. The next morning, we were up early, had the boat returned by 10 am and began the next phase of our adventure; getting to London...
This was more difficult than you might think. First, a cab had to be called to get us to Bromsgrove train station. and of course we had just missed the next train to Birmingham, so there was an hour wait. Then we were crammed like sardines into the train cars for the 20 minutes or so trip to Birmingham. Upon arrival, a quick glance at he departures board told me that the next train to London was leaving in two minutes from a platform far away from us. I told Rob to just follow me and took off through the crowds. We made the mad dash from one end of the crowded station to the other, only to discover that the London train was delayed by 10 minutes. Poor Rob had never experienced anything like that station before; he said it reminded him of Brazil with the loudspeakers squawking incomprehensible announcements into the chaos. He also told me later that all he could do was focus on my rapidly disappearing back as I took off through the crowds; he had no idea where he was going or how to get there.
Once on the train, it was a short, uneventful ride into London, where we took a black cab to our hotel, Grosvenor House. I cannot recommend this hotel enough. I managed to score a really sweet deal on Priceline, getting a room for 150$/night.
After 14 days of sleeping on a piece of foam over plywood, it was all we could do to drag ourselves out of the room for some sightseeing instead of just collapsing on the luxurious bed. We didn't have much time, but we wandered around the area surrounding our hotel, checking out Oxford Street and Marble Arch/Hyde Park before returning to our room to freshen up for dinner.
As a belated birthday treat, we ate at Corrigans, in the hotel. The meal was very good, but the highlight for me was the beautiful fresh rhubarb souffle for dessert.

We were also blessed with a very loud an entertaining snob at one of the cetral tables in the room. It was all I could do to keep it together as the woman made various proclamations to her dining companions
" He was such a lovely gentleman, but it was so unfortunate, he wears a BASEBALL cap.."
"I just saw (insert name of play here). Really, I have no idea why Judi Dench wasted her time on it, it was just abysmal."
"Oh yes, we met them on the cruise. Such a lovely couple..." and so on

We strolled back into the hotel and enjoyed a deep sleep on our comfy bed. THe next morning, we took a car service to Heathrow (a Mercedes, totally worth it) and said our goodbyes to England. We were lucky enough to get three seats together fro the flight home so we could stretch out a little..

England Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dinner for Rob

Just some pictures of a special dinner I made for Rob and I last night...

poached quail eggs, new potatoes, creme fraiche and salmon roe
final product was actually garnished with watercress from our patio garden instead of chives

The greens from our garden that later became a salad course.

Chilled pea soup with mint and lemon
I used fresh peas from my garden to add texture and the mint was also growing just outside our window.

Stellars Jay Brut with raspberries ~ the first of many wines we drank

Foie gras ~ One of Rob's special requests

Ravioli with a truffle white wine butter sauce
The ravioli are stuffed with duck confit, sage from our garden, truffle and chanterelle mushrooms. Garnished with mini chantrelles and crispy duck skin.

Duck breast with new potatoes and wilted swiss chard from our garden

creme brulee, another of Rob's requests

cheese plate

the aftermath

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fresh from the garden

I have been busy with my little patio garden and tonight we enjoyed some of the "fruits" of our labour. I made fresh pasta with some pesto, feta, tomatoes and some of the purple peas from our garden.

I suspect the peas are more of a shucking pea, but it was fun to eat the first ones like this. The downside to the purple peas? They share their colour with whatever they touch after they have been blanched. Case in point: my fingers.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

England Part 6

Tewkesbury. After a rocky start, we were ready to explore the town... except there didn't seem to be a whole lot to see. The high street could be walked in five minutes or less and the surrounding streets that we tried out were devoid of anything of interest. I didn't mind, however as all I really wanted to see was the Abbey. I have an obsession with old buildings and the older and more majestic they are, the better. Tewkesbury Abbey did not disappoint. Preparations were under way for Easter Celebrations so the church was a hive of activity making sureptitious picture taking almost impossible.
We wandered the aisles, poking our noses in little nooks and crannies, running our hands over centuries old tombs. A chantry chapel drew me in, with unique detailing on the ceiling. As I stepped back to take it all in, my foot came down on 4 inches of empty air. There was some staggering backwards, some flailing of arms in a desperate attempt to stop the inevitable. I found myself flat on my back on the stone floor of Tewkesbury Abbey with a bruised elbow and ego. Yay me!
After righting myself , we made our way to the exits and walked back to the boat, keeping our eyes peeled for a restaurant or pub to eat dinner at. The selection was not ideal; a choice of "2 meals for 9.99" form the English Equivalent of Dennys or an outrageously pricey dinner in a tiny (and way more upscale than us) cafe. We settled on greasy fish and chips wrapped in paper from the local fish shop.

I just have to note that this was my first fish and chips of the trip, but I think it was Rob's 6th.
The next morning, we wandered back into town in the hopes of picking up a few groceries for the road (or should I say river). Somehow, culinary gold was struck. A local butcher shop AND a local greengrocer were open and we picked up a beautiful pork shoulder roast and some good looking produce before hurrying back to the boat so we could lock out of the Avon onto the Severn. A gaggle of eager power boaters, one other narrowboat crew and Rob and I were all clustered around the lock keepers shack in the hopes of being the first through. Somehow, the narrowboats won the lock lottery and we were sent down together.

The morning was clear and calm, sun shining. A short waterway lead from the last lock on the Avon to the junction with the Severn. The view of Mythe Bridge as we swung out wide on the river to avoid the sandbar was breathtaking.

This day rated as one of the most idyllic yet as we cruised calmly up the Severn taking in the sun, the wide calm water, the fresh air. I could hear birds singing, fish jumping. Once in a while, a boat would pass us going the other way, but we were largely on our own. This was also the day that I truly enjoyed driving the boat the most.
WE ate lunch on the run again and reached the first lock on the river sometime around 2, maybe 3. The gates were huge and incredibly daunting, the lock keeper's shouted instructions almost impossible to understand, but we made it up without incident. From there it was a few hundred yards to the bottom lock of the Worcester and Birmingham canal, the one we had started on 11 or 12 days earlier.
We locked up without incident, tied up near Diglis Basin and headed for the cathedral (see previous mention of obsession).
Worcester Cathedral was even more majestic than Tewkesbury and I managed to avoid any embarrassing incidents.

There was one small problem. I had done no research on the layout of Worcester, it was a Saturday afternoon and we had no idea where to find a grocery/liquor store. I got the pork shoulder roast started low and slow, with some onions, bay and Strongbow, left Rob in charge and set out. After roughly 30 minutes of walking, I found a Tesco Express. It would have to do. In hindsight, I should have done a little more sightseeing/tourist shopping, but I had no idea what day it was....
Dinner was oh so good (I heart British Pork)
Rob and I needed some exercise after that so we set off for a walk along the Severn to take in the amazing sunset.....

Next time: The bells! The Bells! Plus some dead rats. Also, taking our time drinking, some more drinking and Stoke Prior again.