Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wednesday, April 29th - Project Empty Bowl

We went to an event last night at the Burnaby Hilton for the PROJECT EMPTY BOWL to fight local hunger and poverty. It is the 8th year it's ran and they raised 30k$! It is still small and to be honest, I thought it was rather poorly advertised. I only found it two years ago when I first moved here when I was scavenging for Vancouver food events. There were gnoshing food stations and silent auctions.

The restaurants serving were: the award winning, Bocuse d'Or representing, the Pear Tree, Hart House, Horizons, Hilton Restaurant, Valley Bakery.

The food was wonderful. I particularly enjoyed the Horizons Restaurant station. The Pear Tree was nice as well but it was easily the most inefficient station I have ever seen. Have you ever seen the next best chef or the next Food Network star when one of the challenges is one of these charity or appetiser evenings? Timing is a factor.

The Pear tree had two dishes. The tune was delicious, perfectly seared though lacking a bit in flavour. The second was a pea ravioli on some diced root veg. It was unbelievably poorly planned. The line up was long and crawled. The chef would sautee for 5-10 minutes some zuccini and other tiny diced veg for several minutes while boiling a half dozen ravioli. The dish is served with the ravioli served on the veg. He would only serve the fully plated dish and only start the next round once he had completely finished plating all the ravioli. It was astonishing. I got one near the beginning so I did not wait in line. D was not as fortunate. It was delicious. Really. Much better than the tuna. Though, I will say, having had it, I would not have recommended waiting in a 15 minute line for it. It was just 1 ravioli!

Horizons had two seafood dishes. Yay! One was an fantastic, huge, luscious, perfectly seared scalloped on some chopped tomatoes and some rocket. The second was a beautiful, well, plated mini dinner. It was a smoked troute on a bed of new potatoes and green beens. Wonderful. Seriously will need to book a visit to this restaurant. They were highly efficient as a station. There was rarely anyone waiting. They always had portions of their plating on the go, in the process so has not to be bottlenecked along the way, without sacrificing quality.

Hilton, I had, unfairly, the lowest expectation for the host hotel's own restaurant. I was wrong. They had to simple yet elegant dishes served with care and pride. The first was an easy easy but very yummy tuna tartar salad in sesame and soy served with greens. The second was a seared sliced steak served on what I think was a saffron risotto (I didn't take notes) with addictive carmelised onions. Just great. I didn't have the steak, just the rice and the onions and they happily plated it without the meat. D did and he thought it was well cooked and to temperature.

The Harthouse station was friendly and delicious. Horizons where a bit standoffish as a cooking team. Heads down. But the Harthouse station were smiles and serving with cheeky pride. They were happy to plate their yummy mash with beans without the large piece of braised porkbelly and cinnamon foam. D liked it quite a lot. We both loved their second dish. it was a goat cheese roulade. The roll was thinly sliced potato and it was served on a smear of beet puree. Wonderful! We've eaten there in the past but with it way out in the far end of Burnaby from town, it's rather an event to go. Their food is wonderful.

The final was the dessert station. Valley Bakery served cream puffs. The cream was fresh and had a touch of orange essence. Tasty but rather simple and a shame that that there wasn't more variety. They simply served one, two or three to a plate. There was no other dessert station. Shame. There are alot of lovely bakeries and chocolatiers who could have volunteered.

Here are the pictures:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tuesday, April 28th - Chipotle Basted Halibut Steak with Celery and Blue Cheese Salad

Dinner was a very typical spring/summer fare for us. Yams. MMMMM I lurve my yams. The most nutritious food next to the red pepper.
First up was a SUPER simple:
Celery and Blue cheese
1/2 bunch of celery, thinly sliced on a bias (angle)
1/2 c crumbled good blue cheese
1-2 T good olive oil
salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Toss all of the above. Salt to taste. That easy and that tasty.
Chipotle Halibut BBQ'd
Rub your favourite rub or baste on your halibut steaks. We used a baste seen above. Quite tasty. I think I prefer bastes to rubs, personally. Nice kick to it and you get to serve it at the table as well. Let them sit for about 20 - 30 minutes before grilling
4-5 minutes a side and feel free to rebaste after the first turn.
BBQ'd Yams
Par- cook the yams in the microwave for 4 min/piece or steam for 10-15.
Put them on the BBQ as you're heating it up. You'll need about 20 minutes. Fork tender. ie. you can jab it and it doesn't feel like an apple.
Serve with low fat sour cream and chives.

Dona Paula Los Cardos Chardonnay.
Lovely sunny day meal.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday, April 27th - BBQ'd Pizza

I spent so much time earlier trying to sort out the widget that I don't have time to load the recipes for dinner or D will kill me.

We're having strawberry pie with Soya Ice Cream for dessert now.... he's on the phone while I type this in ;-D I'll finish tomorrow.

Dinner was BBQ'd 'Curry' pizza a la Zante's in San Francisco.

BBQ'd Curry Pizza

Crust was the BBQ Naan dough I made yesterday. I cut the dough in half and wrapped in plastic an put it in the fridge.

The left over half of the dough is large enough to make two 12" pizza's. Roll out thin and place on a pizza peel to carry to the BBQ. Don't over load because it will not be on there for very long. Do not turn the BBQ on too high or you will have charcoal.

Sauce is plain red sauce or tomato puree, about 1/2 c per pizza with 1 T of curry paste. Mix well. The curry paste is a concentrate and you don't want to get hit with too much.

I am a big fan of pre grated cheese if you're making a few pizzas unless you're making a marguerita and need fresh mozzarella. No subbing! I used a cheddar nacho saputo grated mix.

Spread the sauce out thinly. You're coating like a first coat of paint not spackling on a thick layer. Sprinkle a small handful of cheese.

Pizza 1:
Cauliflour chopped, chopped spinach (fresh or defrosted frozen) and onion.

Pizza 2:
Chopped spinach, red onion sliced, sundried tomatoes chopped, loin of tuna (in a foil pack, chunked tuna will do in a pinch but not flaked please), and marinated eggplant strips.


Top with cheese.

Place on BBQ on indirect heat until cheese is melted. ~5 minutes.


We drank a Carmen Reserve Petit Syrah.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday, April 26th - BBQ Naan, Sourcream marinated Shrimp and Onion Compote

Sunny day, slept in. All I've done is have coffee, egg white omlette sandwich and a biscotti....
BBQ Naan

1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup white sugar (or honey. I like honey)
4 tablespoons milk
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/4 cups whole wheat bread flour

Garnish as you like
minced garlic
fresh parsley
melted butter

In a large bowl, or handy dandy stand mixer with the dough hook, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. As always, the dough will pull cleanly away from sides of the mixer bowl as you go. Do the whole 6-8 minutes though to build up good gluten. If you're doing it by hand, as most of the wets are incorporated, do the rest on a clean working surface. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. Place dough in a well oiled bowl. Same mixing bowl is fine. Grab the dough ball, pour some oil in a couple of T and swirl it around. Cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. There really isn't a warm enough place in ours for bread rising so what we do is turn the oven on to the lowest setting while kneading then turn it off when it comes to temp. You can't have it too hot or the yeast will die. So leave the door ajar if it is too hot. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.

Punch down dough, and knead in garnishes if you want. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

During the second rising, preheat grill to high heat.
At grill side, roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle. Lightly oil grill. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, and continue the process until all the naan has been prepared.

Madhur Jaffrey's Raita is the basis but I've altered it with what I have in the fridge.

I love Madhur Jaffrey's food. She is one of the first non western food chef's I grew up watching. Albeit, they were old, scratch BBC reruns but they were great. I still remember that she was the first to teach me about frying the spices before grinding or cooking. You see that in the way I do my Thai Curry.

Cucumber Raita

1/2 cucumber diced or grated
1/2 tub of plain yogurt or sour cream (we had sour cream left from the pea soup the other day)
few leaves of fresh mint chopped
few springs of fresh coriander chopped
cardammom pod seeded
black pepper

Serve COLD as a side to any curry or meat dish. We're having prawn skewers later.

Sweet Onion Compote

This is a very simple french side (you know alot of folks do what koreans do as a regular part of their diet and don't know it. Koreans have a word for all these sides and they have a permanent place on the table. You don't have a table with out them. They're called BAHNCHAHN.)

1 large sweet onion, sliced, Vidalia or the like
1/8 - 1/4 cup butter, RELAX it's a few tablespoons
olive oil it tempers the cooking and keeps the butter from scorching
1/2 t sugar (optional but helps the browning)

over low to medium heat, fry the onions until soft and turn brown. that's it. it will take a while, at least 30 minutes. Don't rush it. You're not after crispy fried onion rings. You're looking for almost a marmalade. Your patience will be rewarded. DELISH... I've seen others do this with raisins or fruit. That's to augment the sweetness. Not necessary. .... still cooking while drinking a lovely SPICY Caesar.

Coming up (Naan rising)

Grilled sour cream marinated Shrimp
(Food & Wine Magazine May 2008)

1 c sour cream
6 garlic cloves
1 t cumin seeds
1 t garam masala
1 t white pepper fresh
1 t black pepper fresh cracked
1 t cumin ground
1 t ground ginger
1/2 t tumeric
16 large shrimp deveined
3 T unsalted butter
1/2 t chat masala (if you have it. it's a garnish. It's a specialty spice mix. Don't fuss if you don't have it)
Lime wedges

1. In a large shallow dish whisk the sour cream with garlic, cumin seeds, garam masala, pepper corns, ground cumin, ginger and turmeric. Add the shrimp and coat thoroughly. Cover and refridgerage for 3 hours.
2. Remove the shrimp from the marinade and thread the skewers. Season with salt. Oil the grates, heat to high. cook 2 minutes per side until mostly cooked through. Brush with butter and further grill until glazed. Sprinkle with the chat masala (indian spice mix) and serve with lime wedges.

We've done this before and served with a pilaf. It is VERY tender and tasty. Tonight will be the first time with the naan. Funny, I just had this wine at lunch last week. I wasn't sure about it. Our dinner guests from the other night brought it. BC inhabitants are fiercely loyal to their wine and B&H are no exception. They like referrals to, drink and bring BC wine. I think that's great. You know what you prefer and what you believe in. Cool. It was nicer than when I ordered it by the glass. Very nice deep berry nose. Medium to short on length. I enjoyed drinking it more this time than last. Course you never know what you get when you order a glass really. :-I

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday, April 25th - Grilled Portobello with Blue Cheese and Biscotti

How funny is this? Or maybe not. I suck at capp art but I put some chocolate sprinkles on my capp and I think I got a Cherry Blossom thing going!

Went for a lovely bike ride in Stanley Park. I say lovely because it was strangely empty. It's normally a gauntlet of slow riding tourist on their single gear rented bicycles or on tandem bicycles. I think if you're on a tandem you should be hoofing it. Two horses one bike! Hello. But it was relatively empty to a level, we were wondering where everyone was, like we were missing some massive event that we somehow slept through the announcement of.

Breakfast was a montreal bagel with organic peanut butter which D keeps in the fridge. Have I winged about this in the past? Possibly. How is one to spread peanut butter when it is as hard as cold butter. :-(.

When we got back from the bike ride we made a quick lunch of some portobello mushrooms we picked up at Apple Hill market on 6th. aka the small market with everything.

Grilled Portobello and Blue Cheese burger

4 large portobello trimmed and cleaned
1/4 c blue cheese crumbled
2 kaiser rolls
Roasted Red Pepper spread from last night.

Grill all four portobellos on all sides.
Crumble the cheese (see how complex this isn't)
Spread roasted redpepper dip or babaganous or hummous, whatever you have on the split kaiser roll or portuguese bun. Any hearty bun you want. (loaf bread won't work as well because the portobellos are very juicey and the bread will go soggy)

Place the mushrooms with the cheese in the middle.

Now D did insides of the mushrooms in to hold the juices. I would have put the topsides in with the cheese in the middle so the bread would soak the juices. Your choice. Eitherway, with the two mushrooms, you'll never say that a veggie (non-tofu) burger can't be 'meaty' again.
I'm trying to bake off the last log of biscotti from Super Bowl. I froze it because the first three resulted in a year's supply of biscotti we had to bring to work to get through..

It will take you at least an hour and a half end to end after the dough is ready so be aware of the time committment. Though the first bake is 55 minutes so you can do other stuff. The end is a bit quick. b
D went out to buy some more planters and check out the fish mongers we always pass on Kingsway with the gianormous tank of king crab and dungeness crab. They also had the famed BC Spot prawns. Sadly most of the stock was spoken for by restaurants. So he went next door to one of those local grocers that seemed to always have fruit about to go off for a huge discount. He saw pints of decent looking strawberries for dollar. He bought four. As I had the oven on, he asked me to think about doing a pie or something. We didn't know that strawberries aren't baked in strawberry pies. Who knew? We've done all sorts of other pies, like pear, strawberry and rubarb, cherry, apple.... and they're all baked. Weird. We amalgamated a couple of different recipes we saw so we could use some of the things in our pantry as well as more strawberries.

Got Lotsa Strawberries Pie
2 pints strawberries, washed, drained, hulled and sliced... like with a boiled egg slicer
1 c sugar
3/4 c water (maybe less because I sliced the strawberries instead of cutting them in half so much more surface area for hydroscopic leaching... ie. water to be sucked out of the berry)
3 T of cornstarch
Pre baked and cooled pie shell

Mix water sugar and cornstarch in small saucepan.
Bring to boil stirring often.
When mixture thickens and turns transparent like shampoo, remove from heat add strawberries and pour into baked pie shell.
Chill in fridge for a few hours.

Zanzibar Coconut Tofu Curry
1/2 c coconut milk
1 c veggie stock
1T Zanzibar curry powder (D bought on holiday last year, it is different from regular, spicier)
1 chopped shallot (because we are out of onion, D made guacamole this afternoon and now we're out)
1 thumb of sliced ginger
2 serrano or other hot chillis seeded! and sliced
1 handful (i.e. fist) of green beans trimmed
1 half red bell pepper
1 half large zuccini slided and quartered
1 block (well, I used a block but we would have been okay with half bc of all the veg)
3/4 c jasmine rice (uncooked - cook as instructed)
1/2 c chopped cilantro

TIP ON TOFU in curries do in this order!

1. heat some canola oil or peanut oil on high
2. fry the tofu cubes until toasty first
3. add the zuccini until toasty
4. add the shallot, redpepper, ginger and turn heat down slightly
5. add the beans and chillis
6. add the curry powder and stir... have the fan going!!!!
7. add the coconut milk and stock and simmer for 5 minutes until the green beans go bright green.
8. serve on rice with cilantro.

Serve with light white wine to compliment the rich sauce and to cut the spice. We had a sauvignon blanc.

Friday, April 24th - Maple Glazed Salmon and Chilled Pea and Ginger soup

We had guests over. It seemed like a good idea when we invited them for a Friday night. No big right? We have plans for Saturday and we haven't seen them for a while and it's hard to get a good time as they have kids and we're all over the place. So when they offered up Friday, we offered to cook. Well, realising Thursday night that we both have day jobs and hadn't bought any groceries and they're coming over 2 hrs after the earliest we could possible get home. Actually, about the time we normally get home... well we were freaking. Thankfully D was thinking ahead and when he set aside three bottles I thought they were all for dinner. I was wrong, gleefully. One was for while we were cooking. That made things seem far less pressed for time.

Starter 1 was a Lime and Cilantro Hummous Dip we bought at the farmer's market from the Bean Guy. Which I guess, if we'd planned better we could have made but it worked out because we always make too many appetisers.
Starter 2 I made, sort of winging it because I couldn't find the recipe I wanted and was getting frustrated while searching for it amongst pasta sauces and vinagrettes.

Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade

2-3 Roasted Red Bell Pepper (from a Jar if you don't have time, instructions from scratch below)
1-2 cloves garlic depending on size
3-5 of your favourite olives, (remove the pit)
1 t or 4 springs of fresh Orego-Thyme off the stem
1 t capers
1 t anchovie paste
1/4 c or so of chili olive oil (depends as you mix how much you need)

Load everything into a food process except the olive oil. Pulse until the texture of salsa. Then start on a steady chop and drizzle in olive oil until you get the consistency you want. If you're using a smaller machine pour in the oil about a 1T at a time and puree in. Serve with crackers or bread. Add cracked black pepper but don't add salt. The capers, olives and anchovie paste is enough.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper
BBQ or Broiler or Gas Stove Top all work.
Whichever you're using turn it on high.
1. place pepper on BBQ, or directly on gas element or on a pan directly under broiler.
2. turn as it cooks until it's charcoal BLACK. You're roasting off the skin.
3. when it's black all over, place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap or place in a paper bag and fold shut. 3-5 minutes
4. they'll still be hot so becareful. use a cloth napkin, it's best but bare hands or paper (NON LINTY) towel. In the sink, rub off the black. It should have steamed off from sitting. Do not use water to rinse!
5.Cut open and de seed. They're ready for use.

You can make dip like above, pasta sauce or serve in filet sized cuts as anti pasta with some olive oil and garlic. So good.

Next course was Chilled Pea soupe with Ginger and Mint garnished with Sour Cream from Taste magazine. So simple and so tasty. You can really taste the freshness of the peas and the ginger.

If you don't have time to chill you can serve it warm.

Chilled Pea and Ginger Soup
Serves 6
2 tbsp unsalted butter
½ cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp or two thumbs of fresh gingerroot, peeled and minced
3 cups stock
4 cups (or 500 g, but we used the whole 1/5 lb) fresh or frozen peas, thawed
2 tbsp or 10-12 leaves fresh mint, minced
freshly ground white pepper
sour cream, optional
  1. Sauté onion, ginger and garlic in butter in a saucepan until softened. Do not brown.
  2. Add the stock peas and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 5 minutes just to blend flavours.
  4. Stir in mint. Purée in a blender until smooth.
    Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm with a dollop of sour cream and chives or chill and serve cold.
Main was a Maple Ginger Glazed Salmon on Scallions BBQ's on a cedar plank (we don't have a cedar plank but we did BBQ)

Cedar Plank Salmon with Ginger Maple Syrup Glaze
(Chef Eric,, D took an intermediate cooking class with him)

1 cup pure maple syrup
3 tbsps fresh ginger, minced
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 garlic cloves, minced 2 tbsps soy sauce
2 lb. center cut salmon filet, with skin
Salt & pepper to taste
1 bunch of scallions

In a small saucepan, combine maple syrup, ginger, lemon, garlic, and soy sauce. Simmer and reduce to about 1 cup (about 30 minutes). Let cool.

Using a clean cloth, rub the top of the plank with ½ cup of olive oil. Arrange the scallions on the surface of the plank. Preheat oven to 400°F.Place the salmon, skin side down, on the scallions.

We BBQ'd and did not have a plank. We heated the BBQ up. Laid the scallions directly on the Grill. Placed the Salmon directly on the scallions on the grill and contined normally.

Season the fish with sea salt and black pepper. Using a large brush baste the salmon. Roast for approximately 25 to 30 minutes until the fish is cooked through. During the cooking process, baste every ten minutes, and baste again just before serving.

Serve on the plank. if you have one. We served at table on a nice little cutting board. The scallions were all carmelly and absorbed alot of the nice fat from the fish. Very good. Even our more reserved guest reached over and grabbed the scallion left sitting on her husbands plate.

Highly recommend you try the glaze at the least.

Here is a picture from the Chef's website because I didn't want to take too many photos with our guests here.

I'll have to load the Dessert recipe later. I am burning the morning away.

Dessert was a Vanilla Bean and Ginger Creme Brulee... YUP Ginger themed. SOOOOO GOOOOD and GOOOOOD for you.

Ginger and Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée

For Custard
2 cups whipping or heavy cream, sorry no low fat substitutes here.
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
4-5 large egg yolks, well we normally have 5 but we were short and it turned out okay.

For the caramel Brûlée
12 teaspoons sugar
Sliced Kiwi on top

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Place three 4-inch-diameter ramekins in a large roasting pan.
  2. Mix cream, sugar and ginger in heavy medium saucepan.
  3. Using small sharp knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean. Add seeds and bean to saucepan.
  4. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to simmer. Cover pan, reduce heat to very low and simmer gently 10 minutes to infuse flavors.
  5. Strain into large measuring cup.
  6. Whisk yolks in medium bowl until well blended. Gradually whisk in hot cream mixture just to blend.
  7. Return custard to measuring cup; divide among dishes.
  8. Pour enough hot water into pans to come halfway up sides of dishes. (This is called a Bain Marie. It helps cook things like cream evenly.) Carefully transfer pans to oven. Or pour whilst the pan is on a rack in the oven and pour the water in while it's in the oven.
  9. Bake custards until almost set in center when pans are gently shaken, about 30 minutes for fluted flan dishes and 35 minutes for ramekins. Using metal spatula, transfer custards in dishes to work surface; cool 30 minutes.
  10. Chill.
Sugar Caramel Crème Brûlée top:
  1. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons sugar evenly over each custard.
  2. Working with 1 custard at a time, hold butane cooking torch so that flame is 2 inches above surface.
  3. Old the ramekin with the tips of your fingers, use the hand you're better with because you turn the dish while you hold the flame still in the same spot.
  4. Direct flame so that sugar melts and browns, about 2 minutes.
    Refrigerate until custards are firm again but topping is still brittle.
Garnish crème brûlées with fruit.

Sorry no photos. The recipe made six. We had four so I'll photo the last two when we have them.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday, April 23rd - Thai Food and Night School

I took a team mate out for lunch today. She's a mom of two and was answering email until midnight. And you know what? It drives her. It's just in her nature. She's wonderful but at the same time, it makes me feel bad that I let her work that late. But who am I to say what a balanced life is? It's subjective.

So we went down the road to Khai. I've been meaning to try this place for a while but I'm hesitent to suggest it because I only want to go if the daily special is something I would eat :-D. Otherwise, I think it's on the expensive side for lunch. ~10-15 bucks.

I had my favourite and you've come to know as my barometer for Thai restaurants... the Pad Kee Mow. Okay so it was pretty good. Decent amount of tofu. The veg were chopped a bit small though and actually not alot of it. My friend at the Phad Ladna and it had loads of cauliflour, broccoli and snow peas. I only had carrots and red peppers in a fine dice. Thankfully there was an okay amount of thai basil unlike Simply Thai...BUT they did use the Phad thai noodle and not the broadnoodle like the hofun. Actually, Phad Ladna had the wide noodle I was hoping for. Plus the noodle came in a big clump. Still tasty though.

Therefore, in the lead is still URBAN Thai Bistro on Hamilton. Best amount of veg, wide noodle, not dry and clumpy. Loads of basil. Yes it's just one dish but it's a good indicator. That said, the mother ship, the Thai House's phad thai is terrible. They use ketchup instead of tamarin. Alot of places do this. Blech... why bother. You can get the mix just as easy and not as foul tasting and bright orange!!!!

Thai House, Urban Thai Bistro (Top of the Phad Kee Meow heap)
1119 Hamilton Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 5P6‎
(604) 408-7788‎

Now beware. On Hamilton there are THREE Thai places.... Going from Nelson to Drake (South Westish) Urban Thai - Simply Thai - Charm Thai. Charm Thai and Simply thai are the same owner. Charm Thai is a bit higher end and only started serving lunch recently. Simply Thai is simply missable.

Now Khai Thai Cuisine
1119 Hamilton Street
Vancouver BC
V6B 5P6
‎(604) 408-7788‎
Lunch specials for 8.95, decent quality.

This poor place has been completly enveloped in a construction site. You can't miss it.

We have night school tonight. First night from 6h30-9h30 every Thursday for 6 weeks. Language course. We haven't sorted out the logisitics of timing and food. We're going to wing it tonight and see how it plays out. I don't even know if there is a cafeteria in there. I'll buy a muffin just in case on the way and I think D is picking up sushi. Of course, we'll have to sort something out that is a bit healthier ;-D
Okay there is a restaurant thought I didn't check the hours. There is a cafe but I'm not eating greasy university cafe muffins for 9 weeks. Luckily we realised that the TNT Supermarket is 3 blocks away. Yay. They have a great take out area with prepared food. Most of it is meant for lunch so by the time we're heading for night school, the food is normally marked down. Bonus. I used to go to the one at Metrotown in Burnaby all the time for lunch and the food is very well priced for food and the hot and cold selection is awesome. I particularly like the Vegetarian Cold Vietnamese rolls. Yum. Course by the end of the day they were all gone. The only cold rolls left where the onese with shredded porkskin, shudder.
I was going to get one of their stuffed sticky rice rolls which at lunch you can get to order with your own filling in black or white rice. By the end of the day they pre make them. Now it's been a few months since I took a look in the area but they have easily shrunk in size by 30%. Not cool. I walked on.
We had a medium sized sushi tray with about 15 pieces of nigiri and rolls. Quite good for takeaway. At least you know it was made that day on site. Other places like work cafeteria or Safeway, get them made from further away so they're refridgerated a bit too cool so the rice goes all hard. Not the case here. We had seaweed and sesame salad and a spicy squid salad. The squid was alright but the seaweed salad was way way way to nautical smelling.
We've sorted our Thursday night school dinner. Yay!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wednesday, April 22nd - Real Earth Day - Spinaci Tagliatelle with Neufchatel and Cherry Tomatoes

Today was the real earth day so of course that means free coffee at Starbucks with mug. I had a bit with breakfast but I knew I was gonna get my Bux with soymilk on the other end so I waited till I got to work :-D Free coffeeeee!

Dinner was simple as heck and no reason not to have a lovely pasta dish rather than typical spagetti in red sauce.

Tagliatelle di Spinaci in Neufchatel and Cherry Tomatoes.

250 g or half a box of Barilla spinach Tagliatelle for two people
1/2 c fresh cheese (looks like cream cheese but it is not) you can find it in the specialty cheese section or at farmer's markets which is where we got it. Now here are some suggested subsitutes for this dish if you don't have it (1/8-1/4 good olive oil, plain organic yogurt, plain greek yogurt or creme fraiche. Please don't listen to the curly haired winged actor in the philly tv commercials. I've tried... blech)
10 cherry tomatoes cut in half
2 green onions sliced in 1/2 inch slices

Cook the pasta in a big pot of salted oiled water for 6 minutes no more because it will cook more in the sauce.
Meanwhile fry the tomatoes and onions in a 2T of olive oil. When the pasta is done use a pasta fork to lift the pasta into the pan. Take about 1/2 of the pasta water as well. Mix in the cheese slowly until it's mixed through out. Add more pasta water as needed. Fresh ground pepper. You don't need parmesan but if you like it go ahead. If you've used yogurt, I would.

We had a lovely carmenere grape red wine 2007. Very bold wine, maybe too strong and heavy for this dish. It wasn't as bad as it could have been if it were a wheat pasta or lighter sauce.

This dish took 10 minutes to put together. Really nice and as D likes to say meets my finicky pasta requirements. 1) interesting pasta 2) clingy sauce 3) vegetable included 4) aromatic included. MMMMMMMM

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuesday, April 21st - Sushi Home and...

It is super sunny and warm today so I made a point of popping out for lunch. But no one is downtown so I took it away.

I got the Lunch Special of 22 pieces of Sushi (Yam, Tuna, California) for 6$ and a BBQ Salmon Roll for 3$.

Sushi Home
509 Dunsmuir (corner of Richards)

The price is great but the box does not come with Miso or Salad. The yam roll is not very good. Even in my regular cheap place on Granville near Davie, it's made fresh. You can see the Yam has sat around. The BBQ Salmon is alright or at least the sauce on top is quite nice while it's fresh. It started to congeal pretty quick. The rice is mushy.

I'm making Zuccini Thyme Quinoa to have with Sunchoke soup from last week.
For the Zuccini Thyme Quinoa
1/3 c quinoa
1/4 c redonion sliced
1/2 c zuccini diced
1 1/3 c water
3 small sprigs of fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil.

Monday, April 20th - Cru Poplar Grove Dinner

I will have to update and review later. Below is the menu of the wine pairing dinner we attended at the Cru Restaurant on Broadway. The winery of the evening was Poplar Grove Winery from Naramata. I will go into detail when I've got a minute but the food and the wine was sensational!!! The wine just flowed and flowed. Well worth it. We will be going back there for sure. As well, I fully intend to get a case of the Chardonnay. I have to thank Cru for offering to substitue the Bison and the Duck with a seafood alternative which didn't stray very far from the original menu.
Cru Restaurant
1459 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC

Poplar Grove Winery Dinner @ CRU

Poplar Grove Wine Dinner
Monday, April 20, 2009
$95 per person, including wine

House Smoked Trout (Amuse Bouche)
toasted brioche and grapefruit crème fraiche
"Monster" Sauvignon Blanc

So easy and very tasty. It is an amuse bouche which wasn't indicated on the menu but the owner did give us a warning as they were coming out. We have some smoked salmon at home I'm going to try this with instead of cheese or mustard.

Dungeness Crab and Green Mango Salad
avocado and coconut mousse with toasted pine nuts
I will be reminiscing about the avocado coconut mousse for a while. It is was just a garnish but what a garnish. The whole dish was really nice and the chardonnay pairing was brilliant. You can really taste that the chef had specifically built the dish for the chard. Ymmmmm.

Roasted Fraser Valley Duck Breast for D & Seared Scallops for me with:
Creamy gorgonzola polenta and grainy dijon balsamic reduction
Cabernet Franc 2005

(no photo of the Duck and fois Gras). The scallops were perfectly cooked. The gorganzola polenta was just amazing. I will have to figure out how to make this. It was so good.

Classic Oka Crusted Bison Striploin for D & Pan Fried Lingcod with Pecans for me.
garlic confit pommes puree and mushroom merlot demi-glace
The Legacy 2005
The pommes puree were salty on both our plates. The Bison was done beautifully. D was extremely pleased with it and the duck. I found the lingcod slightly stringy but the pecans were very well suited to the fish and the wine. I was rather surprised. The photo of my dish was too blurry from the romantic lighting :-P

Pistachio and Goat Cheese Cheesecake
citrus sable with poached sour cherries
vanilla bean cherry syrup (photo above)

This was an incredible dessert, really. Very interesting subtly on the goat cheese I wouldn't have thought of for dessert. I do love goat cheese though so it wasn't difficult for me to like either way. The pistacios were a great compliment. I am going to try adding a bit of goat cheese next time instead of sour cream to my cheese cake!!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday, April 19th - Corn Muffins and Asparagus Omlette and Pizza

Breakfast, well rolled out of bed at around 10. I'm making corn muffins from a mix. I normally do make them scratch I promise. I had an odd obsession of collecting certain recipes when I was a teenager and they were Bread Pudding recipes and Corn Bread recipes. I don't know why. We rarely ate western food growing up and I guess I might have had a curiousity about hearty comfort food developed from necessity. I have a great corn bread recipe that uses canned corn for texture. So last fall visiting my sisters for Black Friday in the Bay Area, I bought an iconic corn bread mix called JIFF. Not Jiffy as in the peanut butter. (photo coming). The box contains enough mix to make 6-8 muffins and costs 99cents. Perfect! Well, it's sat in my pantry now for nearly a year. I'm making half.


The box weights 240 g.
I measured out 120 g
add 1/8 t cayenne pepper
add 1/8 t of cumin (My sisters are rolling their eyes now because I alwasy do this. A pinch of this a pinch of that. What is really nice in cornbread is also sage or rosemary mmmmmm)
Beat 1 egg and pour in half the egg into the mix.
Add 3 T of milk (1/6 of a cup)
Butter six of the cups of a 'normal' muffin tin. I pulled out my pop over tin that D bought me and he laughed and said I'd maybe get two out of that if I made the whole box.
I like to butter symmetrically so that the muffins are evenly spaced out. I probably do this because I always had 'cheaper' muffin tins that warped from uneven baking. D has Analon so he didn't understand why I was doing this. I even go to the extent of pouring water into the empty cups. I still have tins that wobble on a counter top :-(.

Spoon out into the buttered cups. About 1.5 T per cup.

Bake at 405 F for 15-20 minutes until golden. I put it at 405 instead of 400 because I peak and like to keep the oven at 400.

D is using the half egg and 4 other eggs to make an

Asparagus Omlette with Cherry Tomato Balsamic Salad

4.5 organic eggs
half a bunch of baby asparagus spears, trimmed and chopped
1/4 c red onion sliced
1/2 c cherry tomatoes sliced in half
1/4 c fresh cheese (like farmer's ricotta or regular cheese, do not use cream cheese as a replacement.)
salt and pepper.

Sautee the Asparagus and the red onion until soft, set aside
Beat the eggs with 1-2 T of milk. Pour into medium heat pan with butter.
Push about with rubber spatula to run the uncooked bits touch the pan. Really, with a decent sized pan and this amount of eggs, it should be fine. Add the veg back, add the cheese and fold. Let it sit for a couple of minutes. Turn gently and serve. Clearly if you do one serving at a time, it'll be easier to turn and serve.

Serve with a few cherry tomatoes sliced and sprinkled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar with some course salt and pepper. Easy and tastes wonderful!


Maguerita Pizza

see pizza dough recipe from April 13th

Pre heat oven to 450.

Roll out dough as thin as you like. As you know, we go mazto thin, the size of a baking sheet.

Add red sauch, sliced rounds of fresh mozzarella, as much as you like. D uses one baseball sized ball. Add the basil after baking....20 minutes.

We had the most amazing Pinot Noir with the pizza. Delta Vineyard Pinot Noir from Malborough in NZ. ~30$ CAD in BC. Ymmmmm cheaper probably almost anywhere else. Recommend you try it!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saturday, April 18th - Earth Day - Vancouver Noodle Box and Poached Local Sole

Noodle Box
(604) 734-1310
1867 W 4th Ave
Vancouver, BC

3 on 7 Maples, maybe another half for comfort and fill. I would recommend. You get the take away in those cardboard boxes with the wire handle like in the movies. So kitch. Love it.

Coffee and Scones from Choices market. ... four luscious looking buttermilk, apple and cinnamon crunch scones to be exact. MMMM. My Saturday morning photo does not do it justice. I thought it was rich and buttery but D thought they were a bit soggy even though we heated them in the oven instead of the microwave. I reckon it's because of the apples. Still nice change from cereal or yogurt :-DPlanted trees, ferns, roses, flowers and grass at Jericho Beach. Planted some Columbines and grass with (or rather near) Mayor Gregor Robertson. Stopped to pick up some Expresso beans at 49th Parallel before lunch at the Noodle Box on 4th. They serve a variety of 'Asian styles' from Malaysian, Thai, Japanese, Chinese .... in large bowls heaped with sprouts, peanuts and cilantro regardless of which you order. The portions were decent. D thought they were average. I was working to finish mine. I had the Indonesian Spicy Peanut with Tofu and D had the Teriyaki Udon with Prawn. You can choose the heat rating. I chose third from worst, X Rated, though 3 higher than what they consider 'average'. D chose average and he thought it was a bit too spicy. I thought mine had it's pockets of heat but because of the peanut sauce which is creamy, didn't feel threatening. I thought the udon noodles were great but I thought the teriyaki was too sweet. D didn't. Course, I've never been a teriyaki fan. If I lived closer I'd probably be a regular.

I'll add more later. D is outside planting the herbs we bought by himself. I feel bad.

I made dinner tonight.

Poached Sole with Coconut and Lime with a side of Israeli Couscous

Prepare israeli couscous or rice as per package. Israeli couscous is so cool. The beads are the size of tapioca pearls. In the middle eastern shops you might mistake them for tapioca. I did. The package is all just arabic script and didn't know until I asked.

The cooking time will depend on the size of the bead. Some are smaller. The ones that come in branded boxes in specialty grocers like Trader Joe's or Draeggers or Urban Fare or Meinhart's. They're more predictable to neophytes like me who didn't grow up making it. But I bought mine at a shop run by and meant for middle eastern clientele not aware that it was sold in those branded boxes. Truthfully, didn't want to pay those prices. Like risotto, best to taste for doness. About 1/3 c per person, double that in Water. Season with salt and pepper. I like to toss in olive oil to brown a bit. Then add the water and boil for 15 minutes then let sit covered. fluff with fork.


(for 2, about 150 - 200g per person)

2 filets of fresh sole

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

1/2 c sliced leek (optional, I had them in the fridge)

1/2 c thinly sliced carrot (I used my mandolin on the 1/4 inch setting)

1 c chopped green beans (I think I'll change this veg next time to zuccini or asparagus or .. dunno yet)

1/2 lime juice

zest of 1 lime

1/2 c coconut milk

1 c vegetable broth (I used a low sodium cube)

1 T ginger sliced (you can mince but D doesn't like ginger so I make it big enough for him to pick out)

2 cloves garlic (optional but I would urge you put it in)

1/2 t hot sauce (plain or asian, not chipotle)

1/2 t favourite curry powder.

FIRST, I recommend you chop all the veg. NEXT have the broth and coconut milk in a measuring cup ready. THIRD wash the fish and drain.

In a large skillet or sauce pan, sautee in olive oil the following in this order adding about 1 minute apart: Leek, Onion, Carrot, Ginger, Curry Powder, Garlic

Add 1/2 of the broth. (If' you've mixed the liquids then 1/4 of the liquid) cover and simmer for a couple of minutes only to soften the carrots. Don't bother with this if you don't mind the al dente carrots. I prefer them that way.

Add the green beans and toss briefly. Add all the liquids, including the lime juice and the hot sauce. Add the fish carefully and gingerly shimmy it below the veg under the broth. Cover and simmer on medium for 3 - 5 minutes. 5 was fine for the fish to cook through with the thickness we had.

Serve over the couscous. It was tasty, almost like a green curry really. It sounded alot more exotic when I came across the original recipe in a magazine. But basically, it's a thai curry. What I would say, it was super easy to make, which I think was the point. What I did decide is that I need to have fresh sole more often. The fish was great! (photo to come)

Dessert is some Almond and Cranberry Nougat we bought at the Gelato place on Venables I wrote about on Friday. MMMMM

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday, April 17th - 218 Flavours of Gelato and Ice Cream

On the way home from a Goorin sample sale, we stopped at a Vancouver landmark of sorts. On the corner of Venables and 1st. Pink awning and pink building side. You can't miss it.

It has 218 flavours on site and is made locally. They have a building across the road with a little parking lot and tables. The cones must be purchased first and you're given a colour coded poker chip. 4$ single, 6$ double and 8$ triple. Watching the scooping, the single is the best deal. We both got doubles. Well, I got them for us because I dragged D to the sample sale. It's 2$ extra for a chocolate dipped waffle cone. The waffle cones are made right in the parlour.

You're allowed to try whatever and D did!

Amongst the tastings were:

  1. Wasabi
  2. Fig and nut
  3. Basil and pernod
  4. Death by Mango
  5. Chocolate ginger
  6. Chocolate Montego (rum)
  7. Chocolate English toffee
  8. Coffee Crisp
  9. Fig and lemon zest
  10. Frangelico with chocolate shavings
  11. Chocolate fudge
  12. Pumpkin and walnut
  13. .... and a few more that escape me.

We also saw but didn't try:

  1. Durian
  2. Garlic
  3. Saffron
  4. Rubarb Pie
  5. all the cheesecakes
  6. all the standards
  7. Chocolate brownie
  8. Oreo
  9. Mint Oreo
  10. all the sorbets
  11. Cinnamon
  12. Cinnamon coffee
  13. Dulce de leche
  14. Dutch chocolate
  15. and on and on
I had a scoop of the Walnut and Pumpkin and Fig and Lemon Zest. D had a scoop of Chocolate Fudge and Basil Pernod. Sooo delicious and fresh. You can clearly taste in the flavours like ginger and basil that it is made from solid real ingredients. Families were streaming in and out with their kids and locals stopping in for the regular. Wonderful.
La Casa Gelato
1033 Venables Street
Vancouver, B.C.
V6A 3R9
7 on 7 maples

Course now D's full so we're going to post pone the poached sole we planned. I offered to buy dinner but he said that wasn't the point :-D. So we'll have soup later. I'm making some Leek Quinoa to have with my soup. No boullion this time. Just pepper, 1/4 t salt and 1/2 c leek and 1/4 c quinoa.

Soup, I'm going to have the Sunchoke and Leek from the other night. D is full from the below.

We're having a bit of a Cheese Board while hanging out.

Little Qualicum Cheese works blue and Ridge Crest Dairy fresh chive and garlic.

Claire Bleu blue cheese, Fresh chive Neufchatel, cornichon, pickled onions, olives and Mary's Rice and Grain crackers. D didn't like the crackers he bought from Choices. I loved them. They were rice crackers with poppy seed, sesame seeds and other grain. He thought they were wheat. Oh well. I like em. :-D I prefer the blue cheese to the new cheese so I'm clearly bogarting the lovely local blue cheese I bought at the Wise Hall Farmer's market last week. mmmmm
Catena was later in the evening. MMMMMM