Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Clean out the 'fridge Quesadilla

This evening was a 'clean out the 'fridge' night. We had a few spicy sausages that we had to eat up and we didn't want to eat them as is. My first thought was TACO...but we also have ground beef to get rid of so that will be later this week. I looked in the 'fridge and saw some whole wheat tortillas and voila...QUESADILLAS !

Here's what I did:

  • got the sausages going in a pan
  • grated some cheddar cheese (I had ha;f a package so I grated the whole thing...the left over will be used in the tacos)
  • pulled out 1 yellow onion, 1 green pepper and a bunch of button mushrooms, chopped them got them going in a pan. I added some cracked pepper, salt, and some dried herbs
  • once the sausage was done I took them off the heat and cut them up into thin pieces
  • on one tortilla i placed the sausage pieces randomly, then added the onion, green pepper and mushroom and topped it with cheese.
  • add the second tortilla and straight into a heated pan
  • once the side was crispy flip
  • once that side was crispy, it was placed on a cutting board and cut into 8 pieces

Add a touch of sour cream and mmm mmm mmm...a filling clean out the 'fridge dinner !

(so filling in fact, the leftovers are for lunch tomorrow)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Mornay Sauce (cheese sauce)

I wanted to make a side dish with a cheese sauce so I figured, why not return to the Robuchon Book for the recipe. To do the sauce I first had to create a white roux, then a bechamel sauce and finally the mornay sauce (none of which I have ever done before).


For the White Roux I did the following:
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 6 Tablespoons Flour
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, taking care not to let it brown. Dump the flour in all at once and use a whisk to mix it completely with the butter so that there are no lumps. Stir the mixture continuously for 2 to 3 minutes. It should whiten, foam, and look as though it is boiling, but it should not actually bubble. Remove saucepan from heat and allow to cool.

( I'm not sure about the 'foam and looking as though it's boiling....I just mixed it until it was all one consistency and it looked right)

Next was the Bechamel Sauce:

  • White Roux
  • 1 quart of milk
  • Salt
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Whole Nutmeg to grate
  1. Bring the milt to a boil and pour it over the roux. Whisk the mixture into a sleek, lump free sauce. Bring to a bubble and cook for 10 minutes at most, stirring and maintaining a very gentle simmer. Season with a pinch of salt, a dash of cayenne, and if you wish, a few gratings of nutmeg
  2. a cooked baschamel sauce may be passed through a fine strainer to remove any lumps that may have formed.

(We added a bit more than a pinch of salt and a dash of cayenne....we did not add nutmeg)

Now onto the Mornay Sauce:

  • Bechamel sauce
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 cup of grated Gruyere cheese
  1. Bring the Bechamel sauce to a boil in a saucepan over low heat, stirring with a spatula. Whisk the egg yolks to break them up. On very low heat, stirring constantly, pour the egg yolks slowly into the bechamel. Add the grated cheese and stir until completely melted.

( we did not add the eggs...we used Cheddar cheese and used 2 cups. We also added a few shakes of Parmesan cheese)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Chocolates - Turtles & Ferrero Rocher



The Holidays arrive and so do the chocolates. I don't think I consume as much chocolate in the 11 months leading up to Christmas as I do over the 2 weeks at the end of December. And of course, I have my favourites.
They are Turtles and Ferrero Rocher. Both I could eat until I burst. And once the clock has struck 12 on Jan 1st, I shun them for another 11 months.
Both of these tasty treats have got to be the most addictive things outside of jelly beans, popcorn and crack. Even though I try, I cannot have just 1. Even sticking to 2 is near impossible. I find, it's just easier to ensure neither are within 30 feet of me or my house. Because if they are, they might as well just be dropped in my lap. And don't even think of taking the last one....that's a good way to lose fingers and/or get a broken arm.
That's just a warning to anyone who stops by our place and has the same cravings I do....be very careful....even though they are on a tray and look to be an offering for anyone who wanders by...they're not.....they're all mine....

Monday, December 21, 2009

A few Beers

At the work Christmas party this past weekend I had the opportunity to try a few new beers.
The first was the Erdinger Weissbier. This is a nice cloudy Bavarian wheat beer at 5.3% that has a very light flavour. Citrus works very well with this. I enjoyed this one and can see myself tucking into again in the future.







The second was the Blanche De Chambly. From Canadian Unibroue , another wheat beer at 5%, again a very light flavour that works well with Citrus.


The third was the Duvel . This is a Golden Ale from Belgium. A stronger beer at 9% but it doesn't have the bite of most strong beers. It's an easy drinking beer with a slight fruit flavour.




I would recommend any of these to someone who is tired of the usual during the holiday season.





Captain Morgans Dimwitted Nephew ?

I came across this Rum when I was in the UK on my last trip. I can't say it was the best I've ever had but it certainly wasn't the worst. I don't think the back shelf Rum's need to worry...but the lower end ones should be concerned. This stuff was being sold cheap...it had that distinct "I'm not an expensive Rum" taste but it didn't make me gag when I knocked it back with Coke.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Guilty Pleasures - Fast Food


I'm as guilty as the next when it comes to food that's bad for you. I'll talk smack about all the nasty bits that are inside a chicken nugget, but I'll gleefully chomp them down when they are smothered in individual pre-packaged processed BBQ sauce. I'll swear off the stuff when I watch something like 'Super Size Me' or see hordes of overweight people packed in line at KFC, but eventually, the craving gets the best of me and I'll be one of the masses moving slowly through the cattle rails to the till where you hear the familiar phrase "coke with that?".


Why is this stuff sooooo addictive? I have visions of the Simpson's episode when all the characters where chasing after the final Rib-Wich and the rich German gives up his car for the coveted treat only to look blankly after it's finished and state " I have the buyers remorse". This is how I feel after each gorging. I'm sure many will agree, when you get the fast food call, you'd step over your own mother to get your hands on the [insert nasty food-thing here] and once it's greasy bulk slides into your stomach and you feel the uneasy twitchings of your body saying 'WTF IS THAT?!?!?" you immediately feel like you should should have a steel brush shower, go to confession and/or run to the nearest toilet to cry the blues and ask God 'why am I so weak?'


I have tried to cut this 'stuff' out but to date have been unsuccessful. I have, however, limited my visits as well as tried to focus on the ones that aren't as bad (or at least, they seem like they aren't as bad). Places like Subway & Edo Japan, seem, to be a bit better so I'll choose these over Mc D's or Wendy's (I haven't been to an A&W for years...I can honestly say, I can't remember the last time).


I suppose a little guilty pleasure every now and then isn't the end of the world. I'll re-evaluate when I get out of breath walking to the girl taking my order.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

French Onion Soup



To celebrate the fact that I love onions and to stay on theme, we decided to dust off the cook book project and make my favourite soup. French Onion Soup. For a little history, French Onion Soup originated in Lyon, but somewhere along the line it became a popular late-night supper in Les Halles, the old central food market in Paris.

We used the Robuchon book for this recipe. It's as follows:


  • 2 pounds of onions
  • 10 table spoons of butter
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1/2 pound country bread
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 3 cups freshly grated cheese
  1. Peel onions, slice into thin rounds. Melt Butter in a soup pot and add the onions, stirring to coat well with butter. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes until they are slightly golden brown.
  2. add broth. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes over low heat, stirring from time to time.
  3. Preheat broiler. When hot lightly toast bread on both sides. Remove the bread but leave the broiler on.
  4. Blend the soup to get onions broken up. Season to taste. Fill oven proof bowls with soup.
  5. Top each soup with slice of toast and cover with grated cheese. Give each soup a twist of pepper and put under broiler for 3-4 minutes, long enough to crisp the cheese but not burn.

here's what we changed

We used a combination of Swiss and mozzarella cheese. We used yellow and red onions. We used Beef broth instead of chicken. We did not blend the soup (we left the larger chunks of onion). We did season the soup (the beef broth had enough). We used French Bread.

We were very happy with the end result and we made enough to freeze in packages for soup in the future.

If you'd like to purchase the Robuchon book (it's fantastic) click on the amazon link on the right where it shows cookbooks etc.

Enjoy !

Monday, November 30, 2009

Health benefits of Onions


Even though they make me stink and cry, I love onions. Fried, broiled, BBQ'd, green, yellow, red, white, you name it, I love it. And, not only are they tasty, they're very good for you. Here's what Winston Craig has to say about them:
What would life be like without onions? The onion has been used as an ingredient in various dishes for thousands of years by many cultures around the world. World onion production is steadily increasing so that onion is now the second most important horticultural crop after tomatoes.

There are many different varieties of onion, red, yellow, white, and green, each with their own unique flavor, from very strong to mildly sweet. Onions can be eaten raw, cooked, fried, dried or roasted. They are commonly used to flavor dips, salads, soups, spreads, stir-fry and other dishes.

Onions (Allium cepa) belong to the lily family, the same family as garlic, leeks, chives, scallions and shallots.There are over 600 species of Allium, distributed all over Europe, North America, Northern Africa and Asia. The plants can be used as ornamentals, vegetables, spices, or as medicine. There are over 120 different documented uses of the Alliums.

Onion and other Allium vegetables are characterized by their rich content of thiosulfinates, sulfides, sulfoxides, and other odoriferous sulfur compounds. The cysteine sulfoxides are primarily responsible for the onion flavor and produce the eye-irritating compounds that induce lacrimation. The thiosulfinates exhibit antimicrobial properties. Onion is effective against many bacteria including Bacillus subtilis, Salmonella, and E. coli. Onion is not as potent as garlic since the sulfur compounds in onion are only about one-quarter the level found in garlic.
The Value of Onions
Onions have a variety of medicinal effects. Early American settlers used wild onions to treat colds, coughs, and asthma, and to repel insects. In Chinese medicine, onions have been used to treat angina, coughs, bacterial infections, and breathing problems.

The World Health Organization (WHO) supports the use of onions for the treatment of poor appetite and to prevent atherosclerosis. In addition, onion extracts are recognized by WHO for providing relief in the treatment of coughs and colds, asthma and bronchitis. Onions are known to decrease bronchial spasms. An onion extract was found to decrease allergy-induced bronchial constriction in asthma patients.

Onions are a very rich source of fructo-oligosaccharides. These oligomers stimulate the growth of healthy bifidobacteria and suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon. In addition, they can reduce the risk of tumors developing in the colon.
Cardiovascular Help
Onions contain a number of sulfides similar to those found in garlic which may lower blood lipids and blood pressure. In India, communities that never consumed onions or garlic had blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels substantially higher, and blood clotting times shorter, than the communities that ate liberal amounts of garlic and onions. Onions are a rich source of flavonoids, substances known to provide protection against cardiovascular disease. Onions are also natural anticlotting agents since they possess substances with fibrinolytic activity and can suppress platelet-clumping. The anticlotting effect of onions closely correlates with their sulfur content.
Cancer Prevention
Onion extracts, rich in a variety of sulfides, provide some protection against tumor growth. In central Georgia where Vidalia onions are grown, mortality rates from stomach cancer are about one-half the average level for the United States. Studies in Greece have shown a high consumption of onions, garlic and other allium herbs to be protective against stomach cancer.

Chinese with the highest intake of onions, garlic, and other Allium vegetables have a risk of stomach cancer 40 percent less than those with the lowest intake. Elderly Dutch men and women with the highest onion consumption (at least one-half onion/day) had one-half the level of stomach cancer compared with those consuming no onions at all.

Western Yellow, New York Bold, and Northern Red onions have the richest concentration of flavonoids and phenolics, providing them with the greatest antioxidant and anti-proliferative activity of 10 onions tested. The mild-tasting Western White and Vidalia onions had the lowest antioxidant content and lowest anti-proliferative activity. The consumer trend to increasingly purchase the less pungent, milder onion varieties may not be the best, since the onions with a stronger flavor and higher astringency appear to have superior health-promoting properties.
Use and Safety
Onions have a universal appeal. They are safely consumed by most people. However, consuming large quantities of onions can lead to stomach distress and gastrointestinal irritation that may result in nausea and diarrhea. There are no known interactions with drugs except that they can potentiate the action of anticoagulants.
Conclusion
Onions, and other Allium species, are highly valued herbs possessing culinary and medicinal value. Some of their beneficial properties are seen after long-term usage. Onion may be a useful herb for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, especially since they diminish the risk of blood clots. Onion also protects against stomach and other cancers, as well as protecting against certain infections. Onion can improve lung function, especially in asthmatics. The more pungent varieties of onion appear to possess the greatest concentration of health-promoting phytochemicals.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pubs Spared in Queen's Speach

Taken from The Publican http://www.thepublican.com/


Industry spared in Queen's Speech
18 November, 2009

By John Dunne

Pubs avoid facing any new measures

The industry can breath a sigh of relief after being spared any new shake-up in the Queen's Speech.

Measures to steer Britian out of recession and to keep a tight rein on bankers' excesses were among the key policy proposals announced.

That contrasts with last year when licensees were in the firing line.


They were hit with the Policing and Crime Bill - which is now law and includes the controversial mandatory code of practice.

Mark Hastings of the British Beer & Pub Association said: "The fact that the pub industry has not been mentioned this time round is a blessing. The fact that there has been no increase in the legislative or regulatory burden in the pub sector is a good thing.

"Of course as a lobby we are always still looking for legislation that can assist the pub sector."

Why are the best things in life bad for you ?



Oh my beloved bacon, why do you hate me ? There's no surprise...I LOVES me some bacon. I could eat it all day and night. I have been told that I possess the very rare bacon gene. It creates an uncontrollable urge to gorge on bacon. Something this tasty can't be bad...right? Outside of the obvious...the fatty salty goodness, there's the heart stopping cholesterol badness...and did I say fatty goodness ? There's the other nasty bit. The link to Nitrates and Cancer. I'm not suggesting a mob gather and we run and burn down the deli and cured meats department at the local grocery store. No. It's more a "read the label" kind of thing. Here's some info from http://www.realsimple.com/




What they are: Nitrates and nitrites are chemical compounds found in many foods, including some salts. Salt containing nitrates has been favored for preserving meat because it maintains color and flavor while inhibiting bacterial growth.

Why they're unhealthy: Nitrates have been linked to infant methemoglobinemia, a deficiency of oxygen in the blood. Also, nitrate can interact with the amines in protein to form nitrosamines, which have been linked to cancer in lab animals.

What's being done: The USDA now requires bacon processors to add antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, which have been proven to inhibit nitrosamine formation. But if you're still worried, you can limit your intake by sticking with nitrate-free bacon products, having your bacon with a glass of antioxidant-rich orange juice, and not overcooking your strips. Studies have shown that well-done bacon contains more nitrosamines

Not to worry stomach...this won't put me off bacon...just have to find the nitrate free stuff.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A list of places I like to eat at in Calgary

Here is a sample (off the top of my head) of places we like to eat at (in no particular order).

This is just a sample...many more out there

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wildwood Grill & Brewing Company - Calgary


One of my favourite places to dine out is the Wildwood Grill & Brewing Company. It's located on 4th street south in the Calgary Downtown, and in my opinion is one of the best places to showcase local (Alberta) ingredients.
The dining room on the main level has an open kitchen and is rustic and very cozy, while the brew pub downstairs is very casual and welcoming.
I have sampled a number of dishes on the menu (every one being fantastic) with some of my favourites being the Duck Springrolls, Bison Tartare & the Elk Loin Medallions.
Not only have we dined upstairs, our company has had the last two Christmas parties in the downstairs pub. Both parties were top notch. From the service to the food. It's nice to go out to eat where everyone hosting, serving and cooking has a passion for the food & beer and takes the time to do things right.
I would highly recommend trying the Wildwood on your next outing !

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Great British Pub Food


It's no big shock that I'm a fan of Gordon Ramsay. As a matter of fact, I'll be curling up tonight to catch Hell's Kitchen on the tube. I have a couple of Ramsay's books and while I think they're pretty good, I still find that I'm not interested in 100% of what he's written up.
The other day I was in Chapters and flipped through a copy of his Great British Pub Food. I immediately thought "mmmmmm". Again, there's no shock I LOVE English Pub Food. I say English Pub Food since our local Pub Food consists usually of deep fried wings, nacho's, chicken fingers and other greasy tid-bits. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy hitting a local and scarfing down a plate of hot wings with the best of them. But when I think GOOD Pub Food I think English Pub Food. Things like, Pot Pies, Beef Stews, Proper Fish and Chips.
I intend to pick this up as a Santa gift for my stocking this year and get started ASAP. This should give our Dismal Cook Book Project a shot in the arm.
searching the book I came across this persons adventure through the book. Enjoy !

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival

Coming Soon: Oct 15th thru 17th

Rocky Mountain Food & Wine Festival.

http://www.rockymountainwine.com/calgary.html

When not to deep fry......

I have to be honest. I love deep fried food. Fish & Chips. Wantons. Chicken Fingers. Tempura. I could go on.
BUT, there are all sorts of foods that should never be dipped in the bubbling fat, like cake for instance...I don't think any sane person would do this. However, in my travels I've come across some deep fried oddities, and I'm not talking about bugs (funny how these things always seem to show up at fun fairs, outdoor carnivals and circus'. Is eating this strange stuff the reason the fat lady has a beard or the truth behind the mysterious dog-boy?). For example, who's bright idea was it to deep fry a peperoni stick ?? They're already tasty and bad for you in their natural form, let alone deep fried. I'm sure some might liken this to a corn dog, but I disagree. Also, what Einstein decided a Mars bar would be the 'be all end all' when it was deep fried ?? I've also seen Deep Fried Ice Cream, Oreo's and dough. YES dough...isn't that a doughnut ? Apparently not.
Now, I consider myself adventurous, so at some point I'm sure I'll throw back a deep fried peperoni stick...but I think it will be a cold day in hell before a deep fried Mars bar ever crosses these lips.
What are your thoughts ? To Deep Fry or Not to Deep Fry ? That is the question.....

Friday, September 4, 2009

Millarville Farmers' Market

Not too far of a drive from our home is the town of Millarville. They hold the title of Largest Farmers' Market in Southern Alberta. We like to get out there a few times every summer and last weekend was the first time we made it this year. I love the fresh produce and the Hutterites can be counted on for good cheese and maybe a few pies.
We like to try something new once in a while and last week we bought some farm raised elk from E & L Ranching. We opted for a package that came with 2 New York Elk steak, 5 Elk Burgers and 6 Elk wieners. The prices were fair. I am not usually one for hot dogs but the Elk wieners could make me change my mind. They tasted so good, not processed and not really fatty. The burgers have been a nice change in the usual BBQ fair and we are going to have the last of them tonight. The steaks though, wow, fantastic. I was worried that they would be dry or gamy tasting and they were neither. We kept them simple with a little oil and some salt and pepper, grilled them to about medium rare and dug in.
I highly recommend checking out the elk people if you see them at another Farmers' Market or if you see them out in Millarville. You can reach them at efalk@xplornet.com or 403 224 2396 to make your own package up. 1/4, 1/2 and whole carcasses are also available.
Oh and if you go, bring your own bags, bring a toonie for parking and if it rained recently where your rubber boots!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mussels with Bacon

Last night I had a hankerin' for some seafood. I swung by the grocery store on the way home and picked up 2 lbs of medium sized Atlantic Mussels and some fresh French Bread.
We didn't use a specific recipe and just went with what we had in the 'fridge (it's too bad, 'cause I thought we had some cider for the sauce but I was out of luck).
Here's what we did:
- Cut up approx. 5 strips of bacon into small cubes and get this frying in a large pan.
- when the bacon is about 75% done, add chopped onion
- when the onion is about 80% add fine shopped garlic
- Add fresh thyme and a small dash of chili flakes
(I would wait to add salt and pepper at the end since the bacon will add a fair amount of salt to the dish)
- now that these ingredients are good to go, add the mussels (pre-cleaned)
- add a splash of flavour and cover the pan (in our case I wanted to add cider but didn't have any so I went with a white wine we had in the 'fridge) - be careful with the amount as the mussels hold water and it will start to release once the shells open - you want these to steam not boil.
- Mussels don't take long to cook so keep an eye on them
- After they're cooked, remove the mussels into another bowl or pan, reduce the remaining liquid, season for taste (the bacon should add a fair amount of salt so you may not need to add any extra)
- pour over mussels and enjoy
I could eat mussels every day. I think the next version we will use a strong stout for the broth.
enjoy


Monday, August 24, 2009

Field Trip: Filipino Bakery

So there is a new Filipino bakery and grocery store that opened near our house recently. I have meant to go in but never got around to it. Today I took my son for a walk and checked it out.
They don't carry fresh produce or meat but they do have a pretty big selection of imported packaged snacks and a freezer section full of whole fish and hunks of coconut and leaves. I didn't give the freezer section a thorough look but I intend to next time. There was a lot of interesting looking things and I tried out the pea pod snacks. They are a little salty but tasty and were a hit with the toddler but not so much the husband. I would get them again.
Next time I had that way I will try the corn variety and one of the purple ube cake packs. I love things that are naturally purple.
The coconut jam caught my eye but I don't know what to do with it and I am afraid of how sweet it will be. And if anyone knows what to do with salted tamarind, let me know because it looked like something fun to play with. :)
Since this place is a bakery I tried out some coconut buns. They were really sweet but a sweet coconut taste that I personally love. The bun part was soft and fresh and the coconut filling was sticky and gooey. I think these will become a go to treat for me. Next time I want to try the BBQ beef or BBQ pork buns or maybe a Red Bean bun if I am feeling adventurous.
So, any suggestions on things I should look for next time I am in there?
I can't remember the exact name of this place and google isn't being my friend so I will update and add the name once I track it down.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Breakfast Bacon Egg Cups



I was surfing around looking for something simple to make for breakfast and I came across these Bacon Egg Cups. It's a very simple and tasty recipe. Silly me, i didn't bookmark the site and I'm not sure what it is. I found it through links on this site and others. If you know who's site this came from, please let me know so I can send them a shout out >thanks<. Also, sorry for the bad picture. I'd already eaten one and couldn't find my camera so I used my phone.....eesh.

- grease a muffin pan

- cut small circle pieces of bread using a cookie cutter or glass

- pre-cook some bacon (not completely as it will be going in the oven)

- break egg into a bowl and pour away half the egg white ( I used the egg whites for another dish)

- place bacon in the muffin tin

- add the bread (push to bottom)

- pour in the yoke and half egg white

- put in the oven at 385F for roughly 8-9 min (until egg white is done and/or until yoke is cooked to your liking)

-Add cracked pepper to the top

These little guys are very easy and tasty. I would try it again and sprinkle some goat cheese on the top.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

BLT's


The other night we treated ourselves to a simple dinner of BLT's with a side of Peaches and Cream corn. There is nothing like a tasty BLT.


Ours were made with a few slices of thick bacon, green leaf lettuce from the garden, a few slices of a nice ripe tomato, goat cheese all seasoned with salt and pepper on a fresh thick Ciabatta bun. Best BLT ever !



We topped it off with a side of peaches and cream corn.


I could eat these every day !





Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cookbook Project - Ramsay's Salmon

Tonight I embarked on my first journey into our cookbook project. I went with a dish from Gordon Ramsay's Fast Food book. That being, Salmon with Mediterranean Flavours.





SOURCE: Gordon Ramsay's Fast Food - Page 180 - Salmon with Mediterranean Flavours

Ingredients [serves 4]

4 skinned salmon fillets, about 200g each

1/4 cup [50ml] sun-dried tomatoes in oil, halved if large Handful of basil leaves
1/4 cup [50ml] pitted black olives
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
Sea salt and black pepper
Olive oil, to drizzle


Heat the oven to 200C/400F. Place the salmon fillets on a board, skinned side down. use an apple corer to make 6 small holes in each fillet.
Flatten the sun-dried tomatoes and place on a basil leaf, an olive and a sliver of garlic on each one. Roll up and use to stuff the holes on the salmon. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the salmon fillets on a lightly oiled baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 6-8 minutes until medium rare - the thickest part will feel slightly springy when pressed. Transfer to warm plates and serve [he has a tomato salad that goes with it in the book that we did not do. We did a side salad from our garden]

Our thoughts:


The idea of the book is that each of the meals is an easy recipe that can be made quickly so that people eat fresh home cooked meals every night instead of ordering pizza, etc. It is true, this is an easy recipe to follow and the prep time is minimal. The cooking time he recommends (6 to 8 minutes for medium rare) may work well in a commercial oven, in a home oven with hot spots and varying thickness of Salmon, you'll need to check. We cooked ours for 11minutes and it was under medium rare so we put it in for an additional 4 minutes. It ended up medium but that's ok for us. You'll need to gauge according to your own oven and your preference for salmon.

With regards to the 'Mediterranean flavours', they taste very good. However, all the flavour is concentrated in the areas of the basil, etc. The salmon in the other areas did not really pick up the flavours. I think I would try this a bit different. I would try the same ingredients but as follows:

- Rough chop the olives, sun dried tomatoes and basil

- use roasted garlic or fine chopped garlic

- mix the above together and spread on top of the salmon

- then bake

I'm going to try it this way and see what happens.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

More on the Huckleberry Pancake

I don't think the pancake got enough credit below. It was possibly the best thing I have ever eaten for breakfast in my life. We lucked in to showing up during Huckleberry Days and the Hucks were on sale everywhere in delicious concoctions in cluding the pancakes. It was a little crispy and a little bit fluffy and all delicious. The huckleberry butter was perfection. So if you find yourself in White Fish Montana and have a hankering to eat at a bowling alley The Pin & Cue is the place for you.

Huckleberry Days

Lunch at Divino


I arrived home from a brief trip out of town around 1:00pm and being a bit hungry decided to head downtown for a bite. I wandered up and down Stephen Avenue Mall unsure of what I was after and decided to stop at Divino.
I was greeted at the door quickly and since the dinner rush was over I grabbed a seat near the front window and faced the street. The server was prompt and pleasant.
I only needed a light meal so I focused on their appetizers. I went with the mussels & frites. (I was told by the server that this would be more than enough for lunch).
The mussels arrived piled high and where perfectly cooked and huge. They didn't last long on the plate. I used the bread provided to sop up the remaining sauce. The pomme frites were a bit under cooked...kind of soggy.
I still had some room when I was finished so I went straight for the creme brulee. It was fantastic.
All in all a great lunch experience. Divino is highly recommended.

Breakfast in Whitefish Montana


We decided to take a weekend trip down to Whitefish Montana for some shopping and to get away. In the morning after our first night we hit my favourite haunt for a good hearty breakfast. The place is The Pin and Cue. Don't let the exterior or the fact that this is a bowling alley fool you. You will get excellent service and a great breakfast for a reasonable price every time.
This time, I had the chicken fried steak with sausage gravy, sunny side up eggs, brown toast and diced potatoes. Always a great way to start the day (especially if you had one too many the night before). The Mrs. had bacon, scramlbed eggs and brown toast. The icing on the cake for her was the special. HUCKLEBERRY Pancakes with HUCKLEBERRY butter. I thought she was going to jump out of the booth in glee when she saw this.
As always, the food was great and the service exceptional. I didn't get a chance to taste the pancake and butter, but judging by how fast they disappeared and the smile on the Mrs. face, I'd have to say these were top notch.
If ever you're in Whitefish Montana, check out the Pin & Cue. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, July 24, 2009

No Fail BBQ Chicken

I had some chicken breasts that I wanted to BBQ up to use in some wraps I planned on making for a picnic on Saturday. This is just a loose recipe so feel free to change anything up to suit your personal tastes.
Take one pkg of chicken-any cut will do. Marinate it in your favourite flavourings. I used garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper and fresh thyme. Let it marinate for a few hours in the fridge or overnight.
Preheat your BBQ and put the chicken on. Let it cook a few minutes and flip to get those great BBQ char marks. Have your favourite BBQ sauce on hand but you will see later you don't really need it. Now is the time to close the lid and walk away. Go unload the dishwasher, get your toddler ready for bed, watch Jeopardy and clean up some toys. Maybe start some laundry while you are at it. The key to this recipe is to completely forget your chicken, for say an hour.
That should be enough time. Do you smell that? Your chicken should be totally burned to a crisp. Black right through. You know it is done when there is smoke billowing out of your BBQ and the chicken looks like charcoal. Mmmm. Like I said before, the BBQ sauce wasn't really needed as you may choose to forget the chicken just before it is time to put it on.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Guinness Pork Ribs

When I returned from my vacation I wanted to do something to salute the 'black stuff' beverage from the emerald isle. I had a few racks of pork ribs and thought, what better than Guinness Marinated BBQ Ribs. Here's what I did:
  • I seasoned the pork ribs with sea salt and pepper and placed them in a roasting pan
  • I rough chopped 1 yellow onion and 5 cloves of garlic and tossed into the pan
  • 3 full bottles of Guinness were added so the meat was thoroughly covered
  • The ribs were in the fridge for 2 days (soaking up the good stuff)
  • The BBQ was ready and the ribs were on medium heat until crispy
  • 2 of the racks I added a bit more seasoning, 2 racks I added some BBQ sauce

The ribs turned out great ! The Guinness flavour wasn't super strong, but it was there in the background.

Be careful when you BBQ these as they can burn easily, especially when the BBQ sauce is added.

A fresh green salad and roasted potatoes finished off the meal.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Cook Book Project

So The Cook Book Project. We have stacks of cook books that we hardly ever use. We have decided to try our hand at cooking a new recipe out of each and every book between now and Christmas. So that is it in a nut shell. We will try to blog 3 new recipes a week. Looking forward to trying new recipes!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cookbook Project: Blueberry Crumb Cake


Source: Martha Stewart Living 2002 Annual Recipes
Classic Crumb Cake with Blueberries

Cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
10 tbsp butter-room temperature plus more for greasing the pan
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup sour cream
2 cups blueberries

Crumb topping:
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
12 tablespoons butter-room temperature
1 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 350f. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl; set aside. Grease a 9 inch round pan with butter; set aside.

Cake: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. About 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time until well combined. Add vanilla and then the reserved flour mixture. Mix until just blended. Stir in 2 cups of the blueberries. Don't over mix. Spoon into the greased pan. Sprinkle with the crumb topping.

Crumb topping: Mix the cinnamon, salt, brown sugar, flour together. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or two butter knives or your hands until you get a crumb consistency. Toss in the cup of blueberries. Sprinkle the crumbs in to the batter.

Martha's Recipe says to bake for 50-60 minutes in a 9 inch cake pan. Testing the middle to be sure that a toothpick in the centre comes out clean. In my experience it took closer to 85 minutes until the toothpick came out clean. So definitely double check if it is cooked through do not count on the timing on this one!

Our thoughts on this one is that it is good. Really nice taste and consistency. I would make it again but I would add a little lemon zest and a table spoon or so of fresh lemon juice.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Seafood - Howth, Ireland


During my brief visit to Ireland, we left the hustle and bustle of Dublin's Temple bar for the coastal town of Howth and their seafood. We strolled up the pier taking in the sights and smells from the restaurants and cafes. It was a difficult decision as each place had a unique look and menu. We settled on the Oar House http://www.oarhouse.ie/ .


The menu looked fantastic, and the smells coming from the kitchen were amazing. I wasn't feeling over adventurous so I figured I'd stick to the tried and true (it would also give me something to compare against).


We ordered the Calamari to start. Then for a starter I had the steamed mussels and my friend had the Chowder. For mains we both had the fish and chips.


The crispy Calamari came on a nice white rectangle plate, neatly presented, with two dipping sauces. It was perfectly cooked and the sauces (plumb and tatziki) complemented nicely.


Next, a large bowl of chowder and a huge plate of steamed mussels. I was a bit surprised as I ordered the tapas size (I wonder what the large bowl looks like). The mussels were fantastic. I assume the chowder was too since it didn't last long.


Lastly was the fish and chips. These again, were presented cleanly on a square wood plate and were perfectly cooked and I must say, came with the best mushy peas I have ever had.


All in all, a great dining experience. The service was exceptional and a nice treat on a lazy afternoon.


The Oar House is highly recommended if you ever get to Howth.


(my only minor complaint was a server grabbed our bread after the starter so neither of us had any to get the last bits of mussel sauce or chowder...oh well...I guess we could have just asked for more ;-) )

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dublin

Hello All BDH here.
I'll be heading over to Dublin next Wednesday and love recommendations for places to eat great food and sip tasty pints. I'll be sure to update with all of the places we get to.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Beer Can Chicken in the Rain

With the new BBQ we got one of those beer can chicken stands. Being a beer fan, cooking a chicken like this always kind of intrigued me. So I picked up a whole chicken and tried my hand at my first beer can chicken.
It was pretty straightforward and I think it will be easy to adapt to any flavourings. I used one 355ml can of beer. It wasn't my favourite beer but it was the only canned beer we had in the house. I poured the top quarter in to a pie plate and stuffed some fresh thyme (from my garden) in to the can. Wrestling the chicken on to the stand was easier said than done. I think my chicken was a boy and had small hips. :) I seasoned the oustide with salt and pepper.
Pre heat your BBQ and you will probably have to take out the top wrack so you can still close the lid. The only directions on my stand were to not let the drip tray get dry so I kept some water handy to pour in there if the beer I had already poured in evaporated.
I checked it a few times and rotated it so it would brown evenly, make sure you have some tongs ready to do this. I basted it with the drip pan, which did get dry so I added the water. It took a little over an hour. You want the temperature taken at the thigh to read 180f and the juices to run clear. Obviously a bigger chicken will take longer and I had my temperature jacked up because it started to rain the minute I put the chicken on.
It was neat to see the steam coming out through the top of the chicken. I can't say that the beer flavour came through but it was definately juicy. Maybe next time I will try brining it before hand or use a more flavourful beer. I remember a recipe I saw once doing this but with a can of coke instead of beer. I don't know if I will try that one, maybe a can of gingerale.
I roasted some beets and sweet potato too while I was at it, but those will be for tomorrow in a salad I think.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's BBQ Time !


Nice weather has arrived [for now] and with that, starts the season of the BBQ. We finally finished the deck and no deck is complete without a natural gas powered grill to satisfy your carnivorous cravings !

Since our summer [or lack there of] is brief, we intend to use the new toy as much as possible. And we're off to a good start. There is nothing like sitting outside, having a tasty beverage and letting your mouth water to the smells of the food being prepared.
The maiden voyage was the duo of burgers and smokies. The burgers were a combination of lean ground beef and ground pork, with shredded onion garlic and seasoning. Grilled to perfection they were placed on whole wheat buns, a generous slice of old cheddar and the usual suspects (green leaf lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion, mayo, mustard, ketchup et al).
The next night we enjoyed a BBQ'd Pork Loin. Simply seasoned and grilled for about 15-20 minutes, with a side dish of sliced potatoes with onion and red pepper (these were on the BBQ first since they took longer than the pork).
As the days go on, I'm sure we'll become much more adventurous and we'll let you know about our successes....and failures (hoping there aren't too many of those)....

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sharing the Blog Love



A big shout out and thanks to blogger http://betterthanboogers.blogspot.com/
who has given us the One Lovely Blog Award !

This is the first acknowledgement we've received and it makes us feel great that people out there in the interwebs are reading our musings. We'll continue to try and entertain !

As per the previous, it's time for us to share the love. Here are the rules:
  1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who granted the award, and his or her blog link
  2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you've newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for the award.

and here are the chosen ones:

http://adventuresinbabyfood.blogspot.com/

http://www.tinnedtomatoes.com/

http://rumbleinthekitchen.blogspot.com/

http://www.vintagevictuals.com/

http://disfordinner.blogspot.com/

http://passionateeater.blogspot.com/

http://oishiifood.blogspot.com/

http://eatlikeagirl.com/

http://mommara.blogspot.com/

http://goodthingscatered.blogspot.com/

http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/

http://aglimpseoflondon.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Toast



If there's one thing for me that brings breakfast home, it has to be toast. I can deal with many things being mediocre, but if the toast shows up crappy, my day can be ruined. OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. It's not like I'm going to yell at a customer, or flip the bird to an unsuspecting pedestrian because I received a bit of thin dry toast, but it sure brings me down a notch.

I have very simple tastes with toast. Butter. That's it. I'm not a jam person, I only apply peanut butter if it's a toasted sandwich (and never for breakfast), I don't cut it into strips and dunk in a soft boiled egg, I'm not a cream cheese person, I don't add cinnamon, and I certainly do not spread Nuttela. NOT that there's anything wrong with the above. I'm just purist. Even if it's French toast, I stay away from icing sugar and/or maple syrup (again, absolutely nothing wrong with those options).

Now, getting back to what can go wrong with toast. You would think that this should be the easiest breakfast side dish. However, I have seen many a side dish go sideways. From burnt, to soggy. Thin and stale, to cold and tasteless.

It's very simple. Toast should be hot, crisp and ready for the application of which ever condiment one believes accents their toast the best (in my case, butter....nothing more). The style of bread brings on a whole new discussion we won't get into, mostly due to the fact that if you;re having toast at your favourite breakfast joint, you are at the whim of whatever they are serving. At home, I like a hearty multi-grain or sourdough, thickly cut.


Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, I'd say that toast is the most important side dish of the most important meal of the day. Enjoy your toast !

Monday, May 11, 2009

Vietnamese Subs - Thai Tai - Calgary


When you're craving a sub/sandwich, bypass the usual stops (Subway, Mr. Sub, etc) and head over to one of the 4 Calgary locations of Thai Tai. This place serves up tasty Vietnamese subs and other dishes. (Soup, Rice Bowls, Rolls & Salads) They're quick, inexpensive and most of all - taste great. Our favourite is #17, Sate Beef Onion ($6.15), with all the fixin's. They never disappoint.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Guinness - the beer that's good for you


Since I'm heading to Dublin in july I was very happy to read the following [taken from the BBC news]

Guinness good for you - official

The long-running ad campaign is well-knownThe old advertising slogan "Guinness is Good for You" may be true after all, according to researchers.
A pint of the black stuff a day may work as well as an aspirin to prevent heart clots that raise the risk of heart attacks.
Drinking lager does not yield the same benefits, experts from University of Wisconsin told a conference in the US.
Guinness were told to stop using the slogan decades ago - and the firm still makes no health claims for the drink.
The Wisconsin team tested the health-giving properties of stout against lager by giving it to dogs who had narrowed arteries similar to those in heart disease.
They found that those given the Guinness had reduced clotting activity in their blood, but not those given lager.
Heart trigger
Clotting is important for patients who are at risk of a heart attack because they have hardened arteries.
A heart attack is triggered when a clot lodges in one of these arteries supplying the heart.
Many patients are prescribed low-dose aspirin as this cuts the ability of the blood to form these dangerous clots.
The researchers told a meeting of the American Heart Association in Orlando, Florida, that the most benefit they saw was from 24 fluid ounces of Guinness - just over a pint - taken at mealtimes.
We already know that most of the clotting effects are due to the alcohol itself, rather than any other ingredients
Spokesman, Brewing Research InternationalThey believe that "antioxidant compounds" in the Guinness, similar to those found in certain fruits and vegetables, are responsible for the health benefits because they slow down the deposit of harmful cholesterol on the artery walls.
However, Diageo, the company that now manufactures Guinness, said: "We never make any medical claims for our drinks."
The company now runs advertisements that call for "responsible drinking".
A spokesman for Brewing Research International, which conducts research for the industry, said she would be "wary" of placing the health benefits of any alcohol brand above another.
She said: "We already know that most of the clotting effects are due to the alcohol itself, rather than any other ingredients.
"It is possible that there is an extra effect due to the antioxidants in Guinness - but I would like to see this research repeated."
She said that reviving the old adverts for Guinness might be problematic - at least in the EU.
Draft legislation could outlaw any health claims in adverts for alcohol in Europe, she said.
Feelgood factor
The original campaign in the 1920s stemmed from market research - when people told the company that they felt good after their pint, the slogan was born.
In England, post-operative patients used to be given Guinness, as were blood donors, based on the belief that it was high in iron.
Pregnant women and nursing mothers were at one stage advised to drink Guinness - the present advice is against this.
The UK is still the largest market in the world for Guinness, although the drink does not feature in the UK's top ten beer brands according to the latest research

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Steak and Potatoes

BDH here. I decided the other day that I wanted a steak sandwich for dinner. But, I didn;t just want a steak on bread. I needed something a bit more. I hit the grocey store and bought a couple round steaks, some baby white potatoes, french bread, double smoked bacon and some button mushrooms. Keeping with Ramsays 'Keep it Simple' I wasn't going to do anything really 'over the top'.

I covered the steaks in fresh cracked pepper and then wrapped them in the double smoked bacon (I assumed the salt from the bacon would be more than enough). I added some fresh chopped garlic and olive oil and threw the steaks in the oven on a grill pan (this would have been so much better on the BBQ, but we have been hit with the never ending winter so the BBQ will hae to wait).


I tossed the baby white potatoes into a pot to boil and then started a pan for the mushrooms and onions.

After the potatoes were almost cooked through, I took them out, cut them in half, hit them with some dried herb & salt and pepper and threw them in the oven with the steaks. (to be honest, I'm not sure how long I cooked the steak...I was looking for medium rare, but I ended up with medium so they were in a little longer than I wanted...I am still learning about this cooking thing >wink<).


When the steak was ready, I placed it on a a piece of French Bread and put the mushrooms on top.
A very filling sandwich

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Broccoli - yum

Keeping on with the 'foods with benefits' kick, Broccoli is a vegtable that is loaded with good stuff:

Taken from CliniCard:

A chemical that naturally occurs in broccoli may help protect the lungs against the damage that leads to lung disease, according to a study conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
The researchers studied the lung cells of 39 humans with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition in which the airways narrow and it becomes chronically difficult to breathe. They compared these to tissue samples from patients without COPD, which is particularly common among tobacco smokers.
The cells of lungs suffering from COPD were found to be deficient in a protein produced by a gene called NFR2, which regulates a variety of processes that clear out toxins and pollutants from the lungs. Perhaps for this reason, the lungs also had significantly lower levels of antioxidants and the proteins that prevent antioxidants from degrading. The more severe the COPD, the lower the levels of antioxidants and all these proteins.
Previous research in mice has shown that shutting off the NFR2 gene in mice leads to the development of early onset severe emphysema, a common symptom of COPD. In the current study, however, the researchers found that the NFR2 gene in the COPD-afflicted lungs was working fine, suggesting that the NFR2 protein was simply being degraded rapidly after production.
When they added the broccoli compound sulforapane to these cells, they found that all NFR2-mediated antioxidant lung defenses were returned to normal. This suggests that sulforapane and other strategies for restoring NFR2 activity may eventually be used as COPD treatments.
“Controlled restoration of NRF2 antioxidant defenses together with existing therapies, such as smoking cessation and use of anti-inflammatory agents, may greatly help in attenuating COPD progression as well as in preventing disease exacerbations,” the researchers wrote.
Other studies have suggested that sulforapane can help protect blood vessels from the damage caused by diabetes, and that a diet high in vegetables from the same family as broccoli (brassica, or cruciferous) can protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer.by: David Gutierrez, staff writer

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Magic of Red Wine


Not only is it tastey and good for your blood...it also keeps you thin....awesome !!



FROM THE TIMES OF INDIA -A glass of red wine a day not only helps keep the heart healthy, but as it turns out, it can also help battle obesity. And if you are a teetotaller who would rather stay away from spirits, don’t fret because just eating grapes will also have the same effect. As it turns out, the thing responsible for this fat fighting phenomenon is resveratrol, a compound present in grapes and red wine, according to a new study. Researchers at the University of Ulm in Germany carried out a study to see whether past research of resveratrol protecting laboratory mice from the health problems of obesity, also applied to humans by changing the size or function of fat cells. The German team used a strain of human fat cell precursors, called preadipocytes, which develop into mature fat cells. They found that resveratrol not only inhibited the pre-fat cells from increasing and prevented them from converting into mature fat cells, but that it also hindered fat storage. What especially interested the boffins was that resveratrol reduced production of certain cytokines (interleukins 6 and 8), substances that may be linked to the development of obesity-related disorders, such as diabetes and clogged coronary arteries. "Resveratrol has anti-obesity properties by exerting its effects directly on the fat cells. Thus, resveratrol might help to prevent development of obesity or might be suited to treating obesity," said the study's lead author, Pamela Fischer-Posovszky, PhD, a pediatric endocrinology research fellow in the university's Diabetes and Obesity Unit.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tapas In Fulham - El Metro



Big Daddy H here. I just returned from a weekend in London (Fulham area), and despite what some might think, I was able to tear myself away from the English Pubs, Pints and Fish and Chip shops to enjoy some other flavours.



We swung by a place 1 block off Fulham Broadway and Hardwood Rd (right by the Fulham Broadway Station...ok, granted, we thought it was a traditional English pub at first....). El Metro, is a quaint little spot that kind of has the look of an old pub that's been refurbished to be Spanish Bar/Eatery. Initially we were going to eat on the patio, but changed our minds and sat inside. We were quickly greeted by all the staff (the service was fantastic) The inside was clean and compact and every so often vibrated to the rumble of the train directly underneath.

I had at first, before entering the place, thought I wanted a proper English fry up, but once I saw the Tapas menu, I immediately changed my mind. They had a special of 4 - Tapas, glass of wine, and desert for 7.95 (UK). I was sold.


I chose the Crispy Calamari, Mushroom, Onion & Pepper Salad (awesome...the light salt and olive oil was perfect), Mussels & Eggplant and cheese (this was almost like scallop potatoes except with eggplant)


The mussels were a bit small and the sauce could have used a bit more salt, but overall, everything was excellent.
I had a glass of the house red (not bad) and finished it all off with creme caramel (very good).
I would highly recommend this gem if you are ever in the area.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Eating and drinking through Vancouver Island

Where else would you like to be in April in Canada? Victoria of course! We flew out for a family get together and travelled around the Island a bit. We ate well.


Halibut and Chips in Victoria in the harbour

We went to Merridale Estate Cidery for a walk around and to eat at the restaurant. It didn't dissapoint. I only wish we had been there a little later in the season to see the orchard in bloom. It was still a lovely way to spend the morning.
http://www.merridalecider.com/ciderhouse/pubs-and-restaurants-serving-our-cider

Make a reservation for lunch if you ever go!
H had the Roast Chicken Pot Pie. So so good and paired it with the cider they reccomended.
I had the roast pork sandwich with brie and their home made apple relish. I am salivating remembering this 0ne. I had a glass of the MerriBerri cider and it was a perfect pairing.

To be honest I wanted to eat everything on their menu it all looked so good. Well except the curried egg salad sandwich that was the special, I didn't need to try that.

Up the Island we go...

In a little seaside place in Qualicum Beach I had an Oyster Burger and H had the fish and chips...again. I wasn't sure I'd like an Oyster Burger as I hadn't had oysters cooked before. But I did. Maybe it was the generous amounts of tarter sauce, I don't know.
We also hit up a few vineyards while in the Cowichan Bay area. Check out this place if you are ever in the area. Their bistro opens after Easter so we missed out but the grounds were gorgeous and the staff helpfula and knowledgeable.







Thursday, April 9, 2009

Weeee! New purchase!

After coveting a food processor for, like ever I treated myself to an early birthday present. Played with it yesterday a bit and it was such fun making sweet potatoes for the baby! :) I should have bought this a long time ago. Next up is slicing potatoes for scalloped potatoes for Easter Dinner.

New post coming anytime now covering our extra long weekend out to Vancouver Island which was full of local beers, wines and cider and more fish and chips than is good for a person. yummmm halibut...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Proper English Fry Up

Big Daddy H here again. We had guests over Friday night who are soon going to be spending some time in the UK. So I thought I would give them a preview with a proper English fry up.

This consisted of the following:
  • Pork Sausage (par boiled then fried to crisp them up)
  • Fried Halved Tomatoes (simple, cut them in half, drop them on the pan)
  • Scrambled Eggs (typically with an English Fry up you'll get them over easy or sunny side up, but I decided to scramble these with some seasoning salt, pepper and dried oregano...I have a thing for oregano)
  • beans (really really simple...open can, pour into pot and heat)
  • sauted mushrooms ( add butter to the pan, toss in chopped button mushrooms, add dried herbs)
  • toast

Very simple, very filling.

Sea-Food Pasta

Big Daddy H here again. Friday night I decided to do something with sea-food and pasta. Again, I didn't follow any specific recipe. Here's what I put together.

  • 1 Package of Pollack (it's a fish that has the same texture and taste as crab and is very inexpensive)
  • 20 small scallops
  • 1 package of pre-cooked shrimp (fresh is always better, but the pre-cooked frozen stuff is not bad)
  • hand full of whole wheat pasta

I got a pot of boiling salted water going. While waiting, I heated a pan, added olive oil, and pan seared the scallops. Salt and Pepper the scallops before hitting the pan. Be very very careful with the these as they can be over cooked very easily. Flip them once the side is a nice caramelized brown. Once cooked (doesn't take long) take them out of the pan and let them rest. By this time. the pasta was being put in the boiling water. Toss the shrimps in the pan that the scallops were in to heat them up (low heat).

Now, begin the sauce. I didn't want a marinara sauce so I went with a home made Alfredo. By no means is this a low cal dish. In a pan I put a quarter cup of butter, a half cup of whipping cream, added some salt and pepper and some dried oregano. I left this at a low heat and let it reduce a bit. When the past was almost done, I added a cup of fresh Parmesan cheese, and then tossed the shrimp and pollack into the sauce. Pull the pasta out, drain, put in a serving dish. Add the sauce. Put the Scallops on top. Serve.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Roasted Rack of Lamb


Big Daddy H here. We were at Costco and saw some nice looking rack of lamb (from Australia...fancy). I thought I would give it a go, I've never cooked lamb before. I decided to follow Gordon Ramsay's mantra "KEEP IT SIMPLE". I didn't follow any particular recipe other than breezing through a few cook books, and taking what I thought was interesting and tossing the rest (most recipes were basic salt and pepper...almost too simple). It went something like this.
  • Chopped Fresh Rosemary (1 sprig ?)
  • 2 Cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • Toss this into a bowl, add Salt and Pepper, some dried Oregano, bread crumbs and Olive Oil
  • Put a bit of Olive Oil in a roasting pan or dish, place the lamb in the dish meat side up
  • Crack some pepper onto the lamb
  • Rub the side of the lamb with Dijon Mustard
  • Add the Bread Crumb mixture to the lamb

We had roasted potatoes, so those were already in the oven cooking. After about 25 minutes of these in a 380 oven, the heat was raised to 400 and in went the lamb. After 20 minutes, the 'tatoes were ready and the lamb was cooked to a medium rare. (during the last 9 minutes, I chopped up some carrots and got them boiling).

I think they turned out well....they didn't last long on the plate.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Left over Chicken

So like I had said below, I made a lot of chicken. A lot. I had leftovers and I don't really like eating leftovers. So I did a two things with the leftovers.

chicken pasta salad: pulled the chicken off the bones and added it in large chunks to a pasta salad that I had made that was made with whole wheat pasta, a tangy dressing and bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, green onion and broccoli.

chicken and sweet potato baby food: pulled the meat off of the bones and rough chopped it and tossed it in the blender. It was about 1 cup of meat. Simmered about 1 cup of sweet potato until soft and let it cool, reserving the cooking liquid. Put the sweet potato in with the chicken and pureed. I had to add some of the sweet potato water to smooth it out.

Tandoori Chicken

My husband loves a deal and he went grocery shopping and bought a huge container of chicken legs with the backs attached. He promptly froze the whole thing when he got home. I found it in the freezer and thought, "what will I do with this giant chicken-sicle?" I had recently bought some tandoori spices and had half a tub of plain yogurt sitting in the fridge.
I didn't follow a recipe per se, just kind of scanned a few recipes that google lead me to and decided to try my hand at some tandoori chicken. The tandoori spice pack smelled really good and to be honest I didn't really know if it was missing anything. I bought that kind because I noticed an Indian lady grabbing a couple packets of the same one and figured she would know if it was any good or not.

The Recipe(ish)

I trimmed the chicken of extra skin and fat, sliced through the skin and into the meat a few slashes in to each piece. This is to allow the marinade to really get in to the meat. I seasoned them generously with salt and pepper then set them aside.

In a bowl, I mixed together about 2 cups of the plain yogurt and about 1/2 cup of the tandoori spice mix. I tasted it and decided more ginger, garlic and a splash of lime juice were needed.

I put the chicken and the yogurt mix into a large zipper bag and made sure each piece was well coated in the bright red yogurt. The recipes I had read online said to marinate it at least 8 hours, as I had left the skin on I decided overnight was better.

So 24 hours later...the chicken looks good. I preheated my broiler in the oven on low. I am glad my oven has 2 heat settings for the broiler, my last oven didn't. I arranged the chicken, skin side up and popped it in the oven on the second from the top position. I broiled it for about 12 minutes then flipped the chicken. I broiled that side for another 12 minutes. It smelled amazing and was looking so good. I flipped it one last time so the skin was up and broiled it for another couple minutes, just to crisp up the skin a little more.
I served it with a warm couscous and tomato salad and the last of some fresh asparagus. It made for a flavourful and light supper. We will be making tandoori chicken again, that is for sure!