Sunday, July 26, 2009

Saturday, July 25th - Tortilla de Patates (omlette) and Sweet Onion Tart

Spanish Omlette - Tortilla de Patatas with Tomato Salad

Sweet Onion Tart w Anchovies and Olives

Photos only to start :-D

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Friday, July 24th - Seafood Fideu

Photo to start :-D

Mussel and Clam Seafood Fideu

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival this Weekend

Photos for now.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Monday, July 13th - Turmeric Tortellini with Asiago in Sage Butter

I bought it at the First Ravioli Store on Commercial. Our regular haunt for fresh pasta and authentic italian food stuffs. Mmmmm this was surprisingly flavourful.... the turmeric I mean. I thought the tumeric was largely in there for the colour. The pasta was a bright yellow. It's used in quite alot of Indian recipes. It was referred to has India's Saffron in Medieval Europe. Similar to Saffron, it imparts a very bright mustardy yellow colour to food it's added too. Saffron, however, also imparts a subtle rich flavour. Turmeric, in it's well recognised dried, ground state, can be used in many foods to add the yellow colour from sweet to savour foods without interfering with the flavour. Though if you were to smell it in the jar, it does smell earthy or something akin to chewing on a pencil.

With that in mind, I thought it would go nicely with the Pistacio Pesto I made a few weeks ago that is in my freezer. MMMMM. I may have also rhymed off the suggestion of sage butter to D and he then, hitched on to that. I might have been okay with a red sauce as well, but when we try a new ravioli, I like to make sure I can taste the actual pasta and filling instead of it being lost in the sauce. That way we know whether to buy it again and again.

We went golfing yesterday after work for 'sunset', which is after 6 but before 7. At most golf courses, the price is half the daytime rate because you're not likely to do much more than half a course. You could manage to do up to 14 holes with acceptable, yet difficult light but then you'd be all the way at the other end of the course and you'd have to haul ass across the course in the dark to get to the club house and the cars. Nah. We did 10 with two friends. It was a great activity for a Monday night. Monday nights are so often wasted. You're either mourning the end of another weekend or the beginning of another work week. Which usually results in bumming around the house. I was exhausted this morning though. Truth be told, that is because of the lack of sleep I had on Saturday.

Anyhoo, I had a craving for veggie burgers and corn on the cob. I bought some corn on Commercial as well on the weekend. But in the end, we didn't get home until nine so opted for the easier, faster option of the pasta. I bargained with D that if he cooked, then we would have the sage butter over the pesto so I could wash my hair. Actually, he had an added reason for the choice too. Our sage plant is enormous at the moment. It really needed the trim. Normally you'd take maybe 10-15 thumb sized leaves but we took probably 30 or more. It still looked heavily laden after the harvest.

Turmeric Tortellini with Asiago in Sage Butter


Fresh tortellini from your favourite italian food shop
4-5 pats butter
30 fresh sage leaves
Fresh parmesan
Fresh pepper
truffle oil (optional)
chili flakes (optional)

We have fresh stuffed pasta at least 2 a month so trust me when I say we have the portions and the timing down pat.

200-215 g per person.... if you're doing a full sauce with vegetables in it, you can go on the leaner side. We had 225 g per person tonight because I made the lady get a bit more when I ordered so instead of just asking for another 20 g (1 tortellini :-P) I got 450 so I didn't waste her time :-P.

In a large pot, boil water with a good 1/2 t of salt, a good pinch.
Carefully dump the pasta in
Boil uncovered for 12-14 minutes.
This is where you have to trust me. It might seem long but unless the pasta was made just hours earlier, you won't over cook. We've tested.
-ravioli or simple pouch...tondi etc, 11-13 minutes (ie. less folds and pasta on pasta action)
-sachetti 12-14
When you're on the early end of the time window, in this case, 12 minutes, put a pan on another element with 4-5 pats of butter.
Slowly melt the butter, you can add a spash of olive oil if you want to prevent it from over heating.
When it's all flowy and the butter starts to brown slightly, add the sage leaves.
You can probably turn the heat off the pasta now but test a piece of the pasta corners first.
When the pasta is done, turn off the heat under the butter. Use a slotted spoon to lift the pasta into the pan with the butter and sage. Don't worry about shaking the pasta too much as you go. You'll want some of the pasta water.
Continue to spoon the pasta in batches into the butter and turn gently as you go so it's all well coated. Add some more pasta water if it looks too dry. It should not have any liquid on the plate but it should look luscious.
Serve with freshly grated parmesan and sprinkle with truffle oil if you have it.
It isn't necessary but ours is getting to the end of it's 'life' so we want to use it up while it still has its truffly goodness.
I also added some chili flakes in tribute to the tumeric. It was delicious. (photos pending)

Footnote on truffle oil. Not an extensive footnote by any means. Truffle oil is an oil infused with a black or white truffle. Sometimes you'll get a little hunk of truffle in the bottle. Though you can buy it in all sizes, a 'normal' person really buys a bottle the size of an airplane liquor bottle because it's very expensive and you will not go through enough to have more. You can get it at quite a decent price in italy or the duty free in Italian airports but not here.

So when you first open it, you will be struck by the potent truffle aroma. I do mean struck because truffle aroma means ripe smelly feet. It's like the hyper essence of mushrooms. You only need a few drops on your pasta or fish or meat to impart a wonderful flavour. What happens then is that because of the small bottle and the price you under use it. At first I would put more than a few drops and then feel bad because D only used 3. :-P but it tasted guuuuud. Unfortunately that truffle aroma is volatile and though oil holds aromatics quite well it will eventually fade away and you will have a tiny bottle of expensive plain oil. This will happen everytime you open it. So I would suggest you use it as you like to use it. You'll be surprised that it will still probably not be too much at a go and you won't feel like you wasted truffley goodness to the air. MMMMM our is fading now so that's why we used it with this pasta.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday, July 13th - Crusty Brown Bread Fast and Slooooooowwww

FAST (regular)SLOoooOOW

I am having breakfast with a friend and her two babies. Well, her second baby is a new arrival and we've not had a chance to catch up for a couple of months. Terrible, hey? But if we laid out all the craziness that this economy and year has dealt us, it's fairly understandable. Anyhoo... I'm bringing bread. She's allergic to fermented beverages or I would have made this bread with beer. MMMMM

I chose a simple enough whole wheat recipe but substituted the half half whole wheat and all purpose flour with all whole wheat. As a result, I had to use almost a cup more than the classic recipe required. This is normal in general with baking bread. I'm used to it. It is incredibly effected by environmental conditions. If it is humid, you will need to either cut back on the liquid or add flour. That's fine. You don't want a stiff dough but you want it to pull away from the bowl cleanly and four a managable ball of dough. If you add too much flour, it'll be too dense and stiff.

I split the dough and made one round 12" loaf for this morning (last night at midnight, I had insomnia) and the second I've let rise three times as an experiment.

Crusty Brown Bread

1 1/4 c water, warm but not too hot.
2 T honey
2 t active yeast or one packet
1/2 t ground ginger
4 c whole wheat flour & 1.5 t salt
2T olive oil
cornmeal and olive oil for lubrication and baking

Stand mixer method is the only variation I will give. Assume that when I get to the kneading stage you can put out on a floured surface and knead by hand.

In your warmed mixing bowl, with the dough hook on but out of the bowl, pour the water and add the honey. Stir to ensure it's dissolved. Add ginger and yeast. Leave alone for 10 minutes or until foamy. Now this might only take 5 minutes, but if it takes longer than 10 minutes to start to look like a cappucino then your yeast might be too old. Don't fret, I throw nothing away. You'll just need to add half an hour or more to rising. Or if really old, throw away.

Turn the mixer on Stir. Add the olive oil. Add the flour half cup at a time. When you've added half, turn the mixer upto 2. When you have 3 cups in turn up to 4 until all the flour is absorbed. If it is still sticking to the bowl at the bottom or if you poke it (with mixer on stop) and it's sticky, add another half cup of flour. I had to had a little over 4 in total. The bran in the whole wheat flour does not absorb liquid very fast if at all. So using all whole wheat instead of half all purpose requires more flour. Mix on four until you're satisfied it's pulling cleanly away. Turn down to 2 and leave to knead for 10 minutes or more.

Take the dough off the hook and form into a ball. Lift with one hand out of the bowl and put a small amount of oil into the bottom of the bowl. With the dough in one hand, swirl around the bowl to lube the bowl and the top of the ball. Turn the ball over so greased side is up and cover. Let rise for 1 hour.

Push down gently with finger tips. No need for violent pugialism (punching). Cut dough in half. Here is where we part ways.

FAST or Regular:

Knead the ball in your hand. No need for a floured surface. Oily ball and hands is enough. Just keep it folding it in on itself as if you're stuff itself into it's bottom to form a perfect ball. Place the ball on an oiled sheet. Slice the top with a razor or sharp knife three times. Cover with the mixing bowl and set aside to rise for another hour.

Set the oven to 415 with a pizza stone on the second from bottom rack. When the dough goes in, turn the oven down to 405.

When the dough is risen, open the oven and spread some cornmeal out on the stone. Shimmy the dough onto the stone. Bake for 30 minutes.

Let cool on rack until completely cool if not eating right away with MELTING BUTTER. MMMMM


After the dough splitting. Grease a large glass bowl and after forming into a ball and kneading it like a stressball a bit. Cover and let stand for the same as the one you baked the FAST way.

When you put the FAST one in the oven, put this one in the fridge.

If the dough rises to the top of the cover. Poke it down with your finger tips gently to prevent big bubbles.

In the morning or 12 hours later, poke down again. ... you can take out the oven if you're planning on baking soon.

Let rise on an oil sheet in ball form for an hour.

I topped this with olive oil, coarse salt and fresh rosemary.

Heat the oven to 415 and then turn down to 405 when the bread goes in. MMMMM.

I wante to see if the commercial yeast could stand up to long rising. It seems to have worked. Longer rising leads to better flavour and finer, more even texture.....

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday, July 12 - Eggplant and Prawn curry

(excuse the photo. I had to use my useless point and shoot because my new CANON SLR is in for repair AGAIN!)

D is away and so, of course, I made a seriously mouth scorching curry. D would never approve.

Along side, an Antelope Ridge Old Vines Chardonnay :-D

I made a balti. I normally make a Yellow Korean Curry which I think better approximates the original Indian Baigan Bartha. I've made it from scratch too but the Korean Curry cubes work really well. However, D has hidden my curry cubes. It's so strange. The dude has 3 year old oregano but asks me why I still have curry sauce cubes for 3 months. I remember him asking me about them a couple of months ago but I've turned the freezer inside out as well as the pantry and can't find them. I was just on Commercial and saw it in some specialty grocers but didn't want to buy more before I finished this one because D would say that I'm needlessly stocking up.:-P

I had originally planned on making an Asian Risotto with Miso base but thought about what I should have, taking advantage of D's absence. My odd experimentations are usually a good bet. Then I thought heat! Yeah heat and brussel sprouts. He hates both. So nowadays, I serve my Jamaican, Thai, Sezcuan, Indian and Korean with hot sauce on the table. I also only have brussel sprouts when D's away or when I'm mad and put it in a stir fry :-D.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts (last minute)

The brussel sprouts were a bit excessive tonight. I'm totally stuffed. I roast them. I don't recall the science, which I used to know, so just take my word for it. The roasting method eliminates the bitterness which will normally turn off the sensitive tastebuds of kids. I actually like them anywhich way but roasted adds a very tasty nuttiness that is YUMERIFFIC. So whilst also making the curry, I put 10 or 12 frozen brussel sprouts on an oiled baking sheet directly into a hot oven which I was using to bake the eggplant for the curry. I would normally go through more but I forgot about them until the last minute. It turned out okay. After the oven reached 450, I just turned it off and then let them sit there while I finished cooking.

Eggplant Curry with Prawns

Like I said this is a deviation from my normal Baigan Bartha... this is an Eggplant Balti which has not really satisfied my craving since I saw the article about Vij in the Globe and Mail but it had eggplant so I'm happy. Ingredients are in the order of how they should be added to a medium hot dutch oven pot.

1T oil, safflower or vegetable
1T butter or gee (clarified butter, this makes a huge difference in making it taste like restaurant indian food)
1 small or 1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced
(put the fan on now)
2 T Balti paste (pick your favourite, in jars in most grocers)
1 t ground ginger (nice strong stuff we bought in Bali, if not, 1 inch of fresh)
1 t fenugreek
1 t coriander seeds
2 chopped chilis (hot!)
(you could add the spices directly to the oil before the onion but I find this prevents the scorching a bit)
4-5 cloves garlic chopped
1 can of tomatoes or 2-3 fresh chopped tomatoes.
Stew on medium low heat.
Meanwhile: set the oven for 450.
1 large Eggplant, 1 inch cubes
Toss in olive oil
Spread out on a greased baking sheet.
Shake the pan a few times and when they brown, turn the oven off and let them sit in the hot oven until you need them.

After letting the pot stew for 5 minutes add the eggplant and stir.
1 can chickpeas, drained
Stew covered on medium low heat for 10-15 minutes.

Add the cleaned prawns to the pot for the last few minutes of cooking. The pot should still be bubbling to ensure it's safely cooked. You can entirely leave the prawns out. I normally do.

Serve over basmati rice or as I did tonight Quinoa.

I added a dash of habenero sauce just to turn up the heat more..mmmmmmmMMMM

Opened a bottle of the Antelope Ridge Old Vines Chardonnay I bought in the Okanagan last weekend.

Friday, July 11th - BBQ'd Organic Beets and Cajun Catfish

I love beets. I love beets pickled, fresh, baked, steamed, grilled, fried or in chip form. I can't believe I used to hate beets. I mean really, I thought they were awful. I remember trying a diet that specified half a can of sliced beets and basically eating them with my nose plugged. I realise now that those canned beets are not the best representatives for this lovely root veg. I mean it would be like judging potatoes on the canned ones or the dehydrated mash flakes.

I try to have fresh whenever I can but they do require some preparation and can take longer than your normal root side dish. One of my favourite quick beet snacks are the tiny pickled jarred ones that are smaller than a pingpong ball. Just pop them in my mouth. YUM. But when you can get fresh beets at a farmer's market, go for it! I prefer to buy them with their greens still on or VERY recently trimmed. I don't like it when they're sold in the supermarket with the greens chopped off and they're all dusty looking. The greens are lovely to eat as well, straight up or steamed.

Grilled Beets with Feta and Thyme

We bought medium, baseball sized ones so it's preferable to chop the greens right off. If you have smaller ones, you can often leave an inch of greens still on since the top hasn't gotten too old or rooty yet. To start, don't trim at all. Keep as you got them to do the washing. All you need to do is wash them under running water and scrub them with a CLEAN abrasive sponge or vegetable brush. Get quite tough when you scrub the dust from the tops. Then to start trimming, you might want to don some rubber gloves. But if you're careful and quick, you'll be okay and only get a little pink. Trip the root end off, and cut out any roots or deep eyes. Cut the tops off. They will start to 'bleed' from wherever you cut them so handle them accordingly. I would therefore recommend you root and trim before slicing. Slice a cm thick. Toss in olive oil and season with salt and fresh pepper.

Grill in a basket for about 20-30 minutes. They'll be tender but not potato tender. I used a basket since some of the slices were to small to put directly on the grill.

When the beets are ready toss with fresh thyme leaves and crumbled feta. MMMMMMMM
D bought two Catfish Filet's at Choices. They were preseasoned with a Cajun Marinade. mmm so easy. All we needed to do was unwrap and brush with some olive oil. I topped them with some Fresh Spicy Oregano leaves. Grill for 2-3 minutes aside.

We had a small green salad on the side dress with a simple
Tarragon Mustard and Lemon Juice dressing.

1 T tarragon mustard
1/2 lemon juiced
1 t honey
2-3 T olive oil (this is much less than is typically used but I like it tart)

Whisk the mustard, lemon juice and honey until smooth
Keep whisking rapidly while drizzling in some olive oil until you have the consistency you like.

Toss with greens.

We had a Callia Viognier to sip on then had a Artazuri Rose with the meal.

Thursday, June 25th - Mushroom and Garlic Scape Risotto

(CATCHING UP!) We bought garlic scapes last weekend at the UBC farm. It's a fairly small farmer's market out on the UBC campus behind the botanical garden. It's actually not really easy to find. Watch for the small obscure signs. It's also not that large a market. It sells the provisions grown on the UBC farm. So all the veg are quite fresh and grown organically. We bought a zuccini the size of my thigh. Seriously, it took forever to get through it. I was putting it randomly into dishes... well except for the risotto tonight. D wouldn't let me. Instead I managed to get him to add two of the garlic scapes we bought. We had them on Sunday in omlettes. The scapes are the flower stem that grows from the garlic bulb as it develops. More often than not, it is cut off early and composted to make the bulbs stronger. They start out curling like a Q but eventually straighten out into a flower. They have a texture, once cooked of an asparagus spear with a mild garlic taste. It's fantastic! It was the first time I'd ever had it. We bought a pound.

Mixed Mushroom Risotto w Edamame Beans and Garlic Scapes

1 c risotto rice (2 people with a lunch portion)
2 portobello mushrooms, stem removed and gills cleaned out, sliced
4 oyster mushrooms, fresh brushed and sliced
2/3 c shelled edamame beans thawed
butter (we're using the left over herb butter from yesterday)
olive oil
1 shallot
thyme, fresh a few sprigs
rosemary, 1 sprig
1 c dry white wine
1 1/2 l of veggie stock or chicken broth
Salt and Pepper

In a small sauce pan, pour all the broth and bring to a boil then turn down to a bare simmer (what does that mean? small ginger ale sized bubbles that gather on the bottom of the pan and occasionally break to the surface)

In butter and olive oil in a large pan, fry all the mushrooms until browned and considerably shrunk. Set aside. We normally set aside on one of the dinner plates, normally mine because I like to retain all the flavoury goodness :-) Sautee the garlic scapes until softened and set aside. You can add more but D didn't want to add them at all so I threw two in for me :-P

Add olive oil to the same pan (don't clean) and on medium-low heat, fry the minced shallot until softened but not browned. Add the rice. Add more olive oil if needed. You need all the rice coated with oil so that it glistens. Cook until slightly nutty... or 5 minutes, stirring. Season with salt and pepper, perhaps a 1 t each to begin with. Add the wine by pouring in circles over the pan. Some people who don't like to measure will say that a coup is a steady stream twice around the pan. Stir.Always stir. With a wide wooden spoon. Risotto is all about stirring. Being involved with your food. Stirring will encourage the starches on the arborio rice to come off and make that creaminess known in risotto. Heat should be medium low (1-10, about a 5 or 6)When most of the liquid is absorbed so that when you stroke the middle of the pan with a wooden spoon, it doesn't immediately gather back up, add a ladel of broth (about 1/2 cup). Stir and repeat. The whole process should take about 35-40 minutes.

When you get close to the time mark, taste the risotto to test the texture. I like it softer than D. D likes it a bit 'crunchy'. If you don't think you have enough liquid left, just add more water to the pot or dissolve another veggie stock cube or add a dash of wine. No panic. Season as needed. At about 20 minutes add the veg, in this case, mushrooms back.When you are 1 ladel away, turn the heat off, add the last ladel and some dobs of butter over the surface and cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Uncover and freshly grate 1/2 c -3/4 c parmesan and stirl. Serve with a pat of herb butter and more freshly grated parmesan on the plate as well.

Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Reserva

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thursday, July 9th - Ebisu Sushi non weekend deal!

I had a sushi craving and we keep meaning to hit Ebi Su on a Su-Th night because they have great specials off weekend. You can get 2 Maki Rolls for 6.50 where they're normally 5-6$ each. As well, nigiri is almost 40% off. D prefers Nigiri. I prefer decent Maki. Maki are the rolls that are the iconic sushi where there is a sheet of nori (kim/seaweed) rolled around or inside a sausage shaped roll of rice with fillings and cut into slices. Nigiri are pieces of fish, egg or tofu draped over an egg shaped piece of rice. After much consultation, over a large bottle of Asahi beer, we decided to opt to combine some of the roll specials with the Table d'hote. I've ordered it in the past and it is an amazing deal and VERY TASTY. I don't care for Teriyaki at all and so I'm glad that this one has a sushi combo as an option for the main.
So we ordered a Dynamite Roll (Tempura Shrimp, 'crab' and avocado) and Chopped Scallop (Scallop, Japanese mayonnaise, and Tobiko (pickled turnip)), 5 tuna nigiri and the Table D'hote.

The Table D'Hote selections were: Tuna Taco's, Sashimi Salad with spicy dressing, Clam Miso, Mango Paradise sushi combo (half a Mango Paradise Roll w nigiri (Eel, Salmon, Tuna, Ebi)) and some Green Tea ice cream to finish.
Hands down the whole of the Table D'hote is a deal and all very high quality and tasty. The Miso comes with a few nice plump manila clams, piping hot. The Tacos are deep fried wonton wrappers shaped into tiny tacos filled with greens, large piece of spicy tuna sashimi, topped with mayo and roe. They are VERY nice and on their own cost 8$ as a starter and you receive a full sized portion in the menu. The Sashimi Salad is the star of this menu. It is mixed greens topped with pea sprouts some seaweed and at least 8 large pieces of sashimi. You get the choice of creamy (mayo dressing) or spicy (korean-esque pepper sauce). It is again a full portion and not the reduced sizes you often see in a prix fixe. The rolls are lovely. D wasn't jazzed about the Mango paradise but I don't particularly know why. It's awesome. And the Nigiri are full sized and very fresh.

I qualify that the nigiri is full sized because the nigiri we ordered separately on the special menu seemed slightly smaller as did the Dynamite roll. I wasn't sure until we got the nigiri that came with the main menu and you could see that they were slightly smaller. The Scallop roll was VERY good. I normally HATE scallop rolls because I find them too 'fishy' or actually just fishy because I don't find good fresh sushi fishy at all. But with the extra mayo that comes on this roll, it's very rich and enjoyable. The Dynamite roll was just okay. Rather short. Often when you order a Dynamite roll it is the length of two tempura shrimp and sliced into the resulting 6 pieces but this one was the length of 1 tempura shrimp and so the slices were quite 'thin'. The brand name beer is slightly pricey.

(604) 876-3388
601 W Broadway

Ebisu (Kamei Royale) on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 29th - DB Bistro St Cosme Dinner with Spies

I love dinner events which involve wine, clearly given my Twitter. As well, D has been looking forward to trying DB Bistro ever since we heard that he was taking over for Rob Feenie. I mean really, it's a tad surprising and odd that a top chef like Daniel Boulud is in Vancouver in any form. I wonder though. One of the points that drove Feenie out was that the investors felt that he wasn't 'present' enough anymore. I guess he felt he'd out grown his small town britches and had resorted to simply consulting at the bistro which bore his name and the most expensive burger in Canada. Oh well. No love lost and he's landed on his feet with ...cough cough White Spot and Cactus Club (I believe)

Anyhoo, Monday nights at any restaurant is not a big night let alone in these economic times where a handful of very popular locales in Vancouver have already shut down. So DB Bistro has been hosting a Winemaker's Dinner Series on Monday nights. For 65$ plus 20% tip, already tacked on!! (boo), you have 4 courses of DB Bistro fayre paired with wine from a specific winery. We went on the night for the Rhone Valley winery Saint Cosme... though, oddly enough, only 2 of the wines were St. Cosme.

Booking was a bit of a chore and to be honest, I hadn't realised I had been booked until they called to confirm. How odd is that?? I exchanged a few phone calls and unanswered emails with a very unresponsive reservation staff because I wanted to be certain that my dietary limitations could be accomodated. So after I did not hear back, I assumed they could not. Then whilst attending a jazz concert, I got a call asking me to put my card down to confirm. Okay. Well, why not. We are also booked in a few weeks for a second with Myer's Family Winery from the Okanagan but I thought in case something came up, it would be okay to take this in case we had to later cancel the other. We will probably go because D knows the Myer Family folks.

The aperatif was a Paul Zinck bubbly, very subtle and delicate. From the Rhone region but not from St Cosme.
It was served with a Tarte Flambe...which I would more describe as a tartlette. The 'normal' one was ham and cheese but our table was non red meat so we were served a lovely mushroom one.

It was then followed by a white blend St Cosme, slightly floral nose, light, decent body, a little short on length. I preferred the red blend that followed.

It was served with a Gazpacho which was topped with avocado and a drizzle of oil. It was nice. I like my Gazpacho better :-D. It was a tad under seasoned. It was overall nice soup and I loved the avocado but really it was an odd addition to the overall menu. It is on the DB menu and so I assume that's why it was served but it was incongruent with the whole meal.

It was then followed by a red blend St Cosme Saint Joseph. It was very nice. Good body. Field berries. Yum.

It was paired with Grilled Fraser Valley Pork Chop with potatoes, snap peas. D had that. I had the Baked Halibut with Asparagus, Fava Beans and what I think were small potato cakes.

We had a tart which really did not leave an impression with me at all. It was then finished with a lovely cheese course that was served with a Gehringer Brother Late Harvest Riesling. I loved this wine. Less sweet than an icewine, not syrupy at all. Full of orchard fruit.

Overall, it was of decent value. The food was well presented and serving was well timed. Again think the Gazpacho was odd. I'm looking forward to the next one we're booked for but rather annoyed with the defacto 20% tip. I mean that's what D likes to tip anyway but when you're not given the option especially when you're seated with strangers, it doesn't seem right.

DB Bistro
2551 W Broadway
Vancouver, BC

DB Bistro Moderne on Urbanspoon

One thing I will suggest now is that you should just book and then state your limitations after. The thing is that they will serve you whatever is on the DB Bistro menu anyway since the rest of the restaurant is still open. Another IMPORTANT suggest I would make is try to either specify that you would like to sit on your own or book with friends. We'll be going with another couple the next time. This night we were sat with newly transplanted Florida couple who were highly suspicious. Firstly, they were quite prententious which I just don't think is pleasant night out. I mean if that is not what you planned for. I felt like we were on a couples speed date. I don't think that having a 100$ dinner means that you should make small talk with a couple you would normally have nothing in common with. But as well, this couple Reagan and Dave from Florida managed to dodge virtually every question we posed them back on us. He works for Hot Head games and formerly Activision but didn't seem interested in talking about games even though I love to talk about games. Some how we kept being drawn to how we felt about Canada's position and our opinion on the Iraq and Afghan war? Hello??? Add to that he claimed to only be a developer but she was draped in diamonds and wearing a Hermes scarf and they eat only at Michelin star global restaurants. Come on! D thought they were on the witness protection program or spies. It's usually the other way around for such crazy assumptions but it was D which prompted the friends I told this story to actually pay attention :-P. They were both scraped the topping off the tart and left the crust and asked about the carbs in the main too. What do they think wine is? It's a big ol' glass of carb!!!! Man, if we hadn't found another couple to go with, I would have been tempted to cancel because I really didn't want to have to go through that again. I am generally compelled to be pleasant and she seemed friendly enough but he was altogether fishy and unpleasant. 'Yes, yes, but what does conservative in Canada really mean?' Hello? We just told you! Excuse me? Are you defending George Bush? Odd.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Wednesday, July 8th - Leftover Curry on Ultimate Frisbee Night

I spent the entire day working in the centre of a construction hurricane. I could have worked downtown but I stayed home because after discovering holes in our walls from the exterior improvement work, I was a bit worried about leaving the nest unprotected. Just when it seemed that the work was quieting down, it ramped up! It was so loud I had to take calls in a closet. I wore ear plugs for most of the day with the phone on vibration.

As well, it rained all day. Today is obviously ultimate frisbee day and I was in no mood to play so the weather wasn't helping. The crew also messed an electrical circuit over the weekend, there is a socket missing from our back wall. So the fire alarm went off three times and we were woken with a start each time. Very upsetting.

It was a tough call for lunch since I'm trying to reduce my caloric intake at the moment. I didn't watch myself at all over the weekend in the Okanagan but I already knew that I was carrying an extra 4 lbs over my target weight and 6 lbs over where I feel comfortable. It all happened over the last few weeks only. Stress I guess. I'm usually quite happy either way so long as certain things fit okay. A pair of my trousers were a bit snug which prompted me to weigh myself last week :-(. So I've been eating only 1.5 packages of oatmeal for lunch and cutting out snacks. I don't cut out wine because that's madness. As well, I actually think that wine has increased my metabolism over the last two years that I've been seeing D and drinking red wine regularly. I also found an obscure medical paper on the topic. I don't want that to encourage you to start doing this. Not at all. I only sought the information out because I wanted to understand why I lost 10 lbs AFTER starting to drink wine nightly. But as it looked as if it were clearing, I ate a full lunch. Ultimate is basically running on a field roughly the size of an indoor soccer field for 2 1 hour games. Very high cardio as well as the subbing off is cardio training with the fluctuating effort. Really good for fat burn! I need to load up on game day or I feel weak.

When I got home, D had already put my leftover Prawn Balti Curry I made last night in the microwave for me. He was rather blue about all the work in the house but he was still sweet enough to think of me and put my food in the microwave for my approximate 9h30 home time. He BBQ'd. He does that when I have a game because he gets to eat meat on his own :-D.

He had a Carmen Reserve Syrah. Very dry, a tad acidic for me but nice with my tomato based curry. Yay polyphenols!

(photos pending)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Monday, July 6th - Carribean Salmon/Crab Souffle

Wonderful, simple and tasty. No cheese!

Wine: Pares Balta Blanco B 2008,

As you can see, I'm still fiddling with the layout and storyboard but it's an organic project for me. Tonight is what happens when you have too many eggs in the house. D insists on free range, organic eggs so if we're ever at a farmer's market he picks up a dozen since they're fresher. We bought some over a week ago but since we hadn't done a big shop he assumed we were out. So when we hit all the farmer stands on the way through Keremeos in the interior of BC, he picked up another dozen. We got home to two dozen eggs! At the farmer's stand, they're still just as expensive as in the grocery which is twice to three times the price of 'regular', sweat-shop eggs. I sorta figured that eggs are eggs, particularly 'invisible' eggs where they are a binding agent in baking. However, if they are the focus, you can see and taste the difference. Crack one next to each other on a flat plate. There are three things you will notice about the organic/free range eggs: 1)yolks are a brighter and deeper yellow (sweat shop ones are quite pale) 2) yolks are more upright and dome shaped 3) whites are not as runny and keep the shape of an iconic fried egg even before cooked (sweat-shop eggs will run out and except for the white nearest the yolk, it is quite watery so you'll have to gather them up as you fry them sunny side up).

Since we had so many eggs, we had a couple of main meal options, soufflee, quiche or omlette. I didn't fancy omlette as we have them so often. We didn't have crust around or cheese for a quiche. I like Souffle's quite alot because they seem fussier than they really are. How many comedy shows have you seen where an inexperienced chef does something wrong and it caves it. That doesn't really happen. Keep the oven door closed and thereby keeping the oven temperature steady. Jiggle to check if it's done. It should wobble a little, it will never completely firm up like an egg-foo-yung (which is also yummy), so never fear as long as you cook it for at least the length of time on the recipe and you trust your egg source.

The extra advantage of this recipe is that you can do it with stuff in the house. A true French souffle will require quite alot of Gruyere cheese which is yummy and nutty but rarely regularly stocked in the house. Also you can play with the seafood you use. We were going to buy some 'picked' shelled crab at the Choices market but we ran out of time so we just used a tin of sockeye salmon. De-bone, de-skin and crumble slightly. No cheese! Make as spicy as you like. D doesn't like spicy so he held to the recipe which is less than mild in the end. I served some scotch bonnet sauce on the side.

Caribbean Salmon (Crab/Seafood) Souffle

1/2 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup mixed fresh herbs: parsley, basil, thyme
(Original required Celery tops but that was the one ingredient we didn't have sitting around so we decided that Parsley was a pretty good approximation and Thyme is a very caribbean herb. Actually, I think when I made this last, I may have read to quickly and used a whole celery stalk which was nice too.)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
ground black pepper to taste
3 Tbs unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 C milk
4 free range organic egg yolks
1 tin sockeye salmon (1/2 lb crab meat)
6 free range organic egg whites, stiffly beaten
1/4 tsp fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Butter a 8 cup souffle dish. Easiest way to do this is to use the butter wrapper or using a pat of butter with some parchement paper or your fingers :-) Be thorough.
Toast coconut in a non-stick skillet over low heat.
In a medium skillet, melt butter over low heat and add the celery, garlic, curry powder, thyme, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper - cook for 3 minutes. Stir in flour until smooth for about 1 minute. Pour in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Set aside and cool slightly.
Whisk the egg yolks one at a time into the sauce. Stir in coconut and crab meat.
In medium bowl, beat egg whites and lemon juice with a mixer until stiff, but not dry. Stir 1/4 of the whites into crab mixture. Quickly and gently fold in the remaining whites. Do not deflate the volume.
Transfer mixture to the souffle dish and place it on a rack at the bottom of the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes or until golden, puffed and still moist inside.

Tuesday, July 7th - Shrimp Balti Curry

Monday, July 06, 2009

Saturday, July 4th - Okanagan Grill Fest continued

Our friend's are so funny. P brought is own crepe pan with him on our Okanagan roadtrip along with his own flour and butter. P used a recipe that he got from a french canadian friend. I don't have his recipe with me but from what I recall, it was not disimilar from our recipe but he used all water instead of milk. I'll normally add some water to thin it out and I've made them with just water in the past in a pinch when I didn't have milk. I learned that trick from an ex from Quebec as well. For them to turn out best, try to have the batter slightly thicker than milk.


2 c Flour
1/2 t salt
2T sugar (opt)
2 1/4 c Water
4 eggs

Whisk the wets together with the salt. Add the flour and whisk smooth. If you have some time, let it rest. You might have to add slight more water if you do as well because the flour will absorb the liquid.

Butter the pan on medium heat. Pour 1 ladle into the pan and swirl as if it were on a tilt-a-whirl so it spreads out in the pan. When you're able to freely shimmy it around the pan, pick the edge up slightly and see if it's barely golden.

Now you can do one of two things here. D and I stack all the finished crepe and fill at the table. P was filling them in the pan as they do in the crepe kiosks.

Choice of fillings were: Chopped fresh berries, cheese, cold cuts, maple syrup, chocolate hazelnut spread.


We stopped at Burrowing Owl for lunch. The food looked great but I passed since they didn't have anything me friendly on the menu that was light enough yet not a salad. I did not want 20 salad. I'm still trying to shed those extra few stress pounds. I tried to order the Chioppino because it sounded awesome but it came with chorizo and chicken broth. Strange. Chioppino is normally made from lobster broth. D had the Charcuterie plate. It looked quite tasty and I snatched some of his olives. One of my friends ordered the Chioppino and it did look quite good but one of the 'assembled to order' kind instead of the hearty stew that it originate from. What was particularly odd about this restaurant was that it was part of the Burrowing Owl winery but their own wine was marked up double on the menu. WTF?

All day long we stopped at variety of market stalls and bought fresh veg and then stopped at the supermarket in Oliver to buy protein. They have an IGA. The seafood selection was VERY disappointing. Any competition would do well to offer even a slightly better selection.

Dinner was another Grill fest. The BBQ at the rental house was rather small and didn't have a second shelf for resting or veg and the house didn't come with a BBQ basket. So we had to make some compromises on the asparagus and potatoes.:

New Potatoes with garlic and butter in foil packets.
Grilled scallions, washed trimmed, tossed in olive oil and placed directly on the grill.
Baby greens with fresh cukes and heirloom tomatoes
Asparagus tossed in oil and foil packed.

For protein, D and I grilled Tuna steaks. I marinated mine in some Diane's BBQ sauce and D used some Sesame salad dressing we used on the green salad.

There were steaks and prawn skewers as well.

We drank a Blue Mountain Gamay from E, Township 7 Rose from D and Poplar Grove Chardonnay from me. Another Hillside Estate CabFranc, this one was P's. Pretty much all the wine we drank and dinner was either E&P's or D&me.

For dessert, we had a farmer's market pie with some Elephant Island Framboise from DJ. The pie was so fresh. Ymmmmm

Friday, July 03, 2009

Thursday, July 2nd - Pesto and Leftovers

We're heading out town for the fake long weekend to the Okanagan Valley with some friends to do a wineries crusade, so we wanted to go through our fridge so tonight was leftover or ez pasta.

I save some of my Shaolin takeaway from last night for lunch but in the end I didn't fancy having nuked smelly noodles at work. I wanted to heat them up properly and enjoy them at home. D didn't want noodles again. He felt like pasta. D had some of the pesto I made last week with Garofolo pasta. I had the leftovers from my Shaolin to myself. My Veggie Cumin Hela (Round extruded) Noodles and half of D's Seafood Curry Cutting noodles. I heated it up in a non-stick pan without oil since most chinese noodles have soooo much oil in the sauce and prep that it didn't need it. We ate most of the tofu and seafood the night before so I added some TVP for protein supplement.

TVP is texturised vegetable protein. It comes in mince sized or chunk sized. All you do is add enough boiling water cover and set aside... or at least that's what the instructions say. I never find that the soaking is enough. I prefer to cook it in the water on the stove top for a few minutes until the water is soaked up. It has the chewy texture of say, firm tofu or chicken. In the UK, you can get it in savour flavours or plain. The plain has NO flavour at all. It's all texture. D says it's like chewing on a sponge. I'll admit that it's been a fair amount of time since I've had chicken, but I kinda thought that it was simulating chicken. Maybe not a chicken breast but say a chicken nugget. I like it in a pinch for that little bit of weight to a dish when I don't feel like I've had protein. Before I started seeing D, I definitely wasn't getting regular protein like seafood. I could have gone days on just veg. I started eating quinoa because of that. It's a very high protein grain. So this TVP sold at Choices in the bulk food area is perfect. It's defintely more expensive than it was in the UK and harder to find. It was half the price. Here I've only found it in Choices Markets and not all of them. For awhile, it wasn't always there. I asked the manager and he said that there wasn't enough demand so he would only order it once in a while at the request of one of his regulars and he would come it as soon as it was in stock and bought it all. Now, two years later, it's always there. Yum. I'm glad because even if I were to start eating meat again, chicken and poultry in general would be the last I would have again. Too strong a flavour but the texture was okay.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Wednesday, July 1st - Canada Jazz Festival and Sha-lin takeaway

Last night when I got a last minute call to the Reef, I had already made dinner, Asian cold rolls. But when anyone is up for the Reef and I can get my Ackee and Saltfish. Asian cold rolls are perfect when you feel you need something light yet filling. Now there is a bit of chopping and prepping but it's so worth it. You can also do what I did and prep all the ingredients and let people make them as you go.

So I did manage to have one before hoping on my bike to the Reef but I wasn't sure when we'd get to them so I had some for 'brunch'. D was taking the morning off for Canada Day to ride his motorbike with a friend who has one too. They hit Cypress Mountain and some of the road along the North Shore. He promised he'd get back for noon at the latest since there was actually quite alot going on in town that I wanted to catch.

Asian Cold Rolls

Noodle stuffing:
1/2 package (or two pucks) of rice/bean vermicelli noodles (photo pending, normally they come in a cellophane pack of four pucks similar to the noodles that come in instant ramen)
1T fresh basil chiffonade (ribboned)
1T fresh mint
1/2 T chili flakes
2T sesame oil
1/2 T light soy
Boil the noodles for five minutes and drain and rinse with ice cold water. Toss with the oil and herbs. Cut with scissors so you have shorter threads. Set aside and chill.

Other stuffing:
1 carrot julienned, quickly sauteed until soft
1/2 medium zuccini julienned, quickly sauteed until soft or raw, as you like
8 shrimps poached quickly in simmering water until pink. I used the water I boiled the noodles in since I lifted the noodles out with a chinese sieve. Set aside to cool then slice the bodies in half like when they're butterflied.
2-3 leaves of curly endive destemmed and chopped (I also quickly sauteed these too)
1/2 c fresh cilantro chopped
2 spring onions sliced
1/4 c fresh basil

Peanut sauce: 2T peanut butter, 1T light soy, 1/2T sesame oil, 1T rice wine vinegar, chili sauce to taste, whisk until smooth. Add more water or vinegar to thin out. Play with the proportions if you like it sweeter use mirin.
Chili vinegar: Just soak some chili flakes in mirin and wine or rice wine vinegar
Wasabi Soy: typical sushi dipping fare, easy peasy. Whisk some wasabi into a small dish of light soy.

The 'WRAP' are rice wraps that come in various circle sizes, I have the 8" diameter one. They come dehydrated in packs of like 50. I'll take a photo of the pack and post soon. They are white and slightly translucent and VERY brittle.

So have all the stuffings and acoutrements chilled and ready. This will help the rolling success. At this point you can choose to make them or serve all the fixings on the table and have a pie plate on the table with room temperature water. Make sure everyone's hands are clean. Place a rice rap in the the water and submerge in the water by pressing down. Let sit for 15-30 seconds. They don't need to be super soaked, I've made that mistake in the past and they tear really easily. You will have similar results if the water is too hot. Lift out the wrap by the edges and spread on your plate. Don't over fill. The vermicelli are the base and fill like a burrito with a sausage like amount of filling down the center line. When you've filled to your liking, bring up the shorter ends. Use water to help the sticking. Then roll the long ends in and roll up. You're never going to get them as tight as in the restaurants, or at least I can't :-P so don't feel bad. Dip in the sauce of your preference.

Other fillings that work are smoke salmon, cucumbers, chives, bean sprouts or alphalfa sprouts.

When D got back we hit the Vancouver Jazz Festival stages on Granville Island then mid afternoon hit the Yaletown Grand Prix. It's a lap race on touring cycles through Yaletown. It's quite something to watch. The turns are tight, the roads are crap and they are going FAST! We were meant to meet up with friends at Toyo's but they called an audible too and stayed at Granville Island so we got takeaway at my favourite noodle joint on Broadway so we could have it leisurely with some nice wine. Tonight is a school night, unfortunately. Canada Day falls on a Wednesday :-( Toyo's is still a must try since its staying power is admirable. It was trapped behind the Cambie construction for 3 years. It had the worse position too right at the foot of the bridge with no through sidewalk.

I had Cumin Hela Noodle with Vegetables and Tofu and D had the Curry Noodle with Seafood. It was the first time I've had the Hela noodle. I always get the cumin because I know I'll enjoy it. It's not a fancy place so the rest of the sauces taste fairly run of the mill. But no matter which you order all the noodles are made to order in heaping portions. The Hela noodles are extruded round chunky noodles and might move into my pref. Cutting are my other fav. They are cut with a little paring knife rapidly into the water so sort of look like wood peels when someone 'widdles'. Other choices include pulled where the famous lump is folded, bounced twisted, folded to get very fine noodles and cutting where it is rolled out and cut. All made to order only.

Sha-Lin Noodle House
548 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC
Just West of Cambie
Pick up and Eat in only
Jazz festival, quiet night after Gastown Shaolin takeaway.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Friday, June 26 - Articoke, Bean and Greens Stew

D does artichokes really well but he always does them the same way; Lemon Braised served on fettucini. It's wonderful but there are other ways to do this lovely vegetable from the thistle family. I'm quite glad that D likes to do them so much. The first time he made them, I thought maybe he was 'putting up' with it so we could have some but as it turns out, he enjoys the process. Yay for me. I prefer to either buy the marinated italian ones or the roasted ones in the olive bars in the nicer markets. YUM! Albeit, they're not as nice as fresh, well, the BBQ'd ones you can buy at the IGA olive bar are not bad. They look and taste as if they've been made in the last few days. If you're going to steam them whole and munch on the leaf ends, which I don't entirely understand, you have to remove the thistle carefully down in the middle. It gets everywhere. They're worse than small fish bones. If you do just the hearts, as we do, you have to trim off all the leaves and clean the choke out. Now the trimming does help the de-choking a bit but not too much and the trimming is quite labourious as well. Yay for me, D likes the process like I do baking bread.

This recipe is based on Saveur Magazine but I suggested we add some white canellini beans to add some weight to the soup. It's called a stew but really it's a soup. As well, I made some quinoa to serve in the soup as well.

Artichoke, Beans and Greens Stew

1/4 c T olive oil
4 large full sized artichokes, trimmed, cleaned and de-choked
6 shallots halved
kosher salt
2 t black sesame seeds
(1.5 t ground sumac was the original but we didn't have it. It's meant to add a tartness similar to lemons)
1 whole lemon juiced and zest
1/2 t hot paprika
1/2 t fresh black pepper
8 oz curly endive, roots trimmed
8 oz swiss chared, stemmed and sliced
4 cups water
1 lemon quartered

Heat 1/4 c oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add artichokes and shallots and cook a few minutes until golden, stir occasionally, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and add sesame seeds, paprika, lemon zest and pepper another couple minutes. Add 4 cups water and bring to boil. Reduce to medium low and simmer uncovered until artichokes and shallots are tender, 15 minutes more. Add greens and beans, let simmer a few more minutes until greens are wilted and beans heated through. Serve with lemon.

Serve with crusty bread or with quinoa.