Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve Dinner 2009

THIS IS an AMAZING meal ALTOGETHER. It all was wonderful together.

Phyllo Pastry nibbles filled with: Spinach and Feta, Mixed Sauteed Mushrooms and Curried Potatoes (store bought :0D)

Wasabi and Parsnip Soup

2 tablespoons of butter
2 cups parsnips, peeled and diced
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup peeled and diced Yukon Gold potatoes
4 cups stock
1 tablespoon wasabi paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 large shrimp, cut into 3 pieces each

Heat butter in soup pot over medium heat. Add parsnips, onions and potatoes and sauté for approximately 4 minutes (until they are shiny).

Add stock, wasabi paste and soy sauce and bring to a boil. We used dried wasabi instead because D thinks it's more authentic but I think ours has gone stale. Don't assume that dessicated herbs and such can last. We added some paste I had in the fridge and it added the kick it was supposed to. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 12 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft.

Pour soup into a blender or use a hand blender and purée until smooth. Return to pot and add cream. Bring to a simmer and add shrimp. Poach shrimp until pink (approximately 2 to 3 minutes) and remove.

When ready to serve, add shrimp to each serving and top, if you wish, with a parsnip chip. Serves 6. We made the whole pot cuz we looooovvvee soup! D accidentally added twice the liquid, the shrimp sunk to the bottom :-P I think it was meant to be thick enough to support the garnish. Still lovely.

Grilled Tuna Loin with Kalamata Tapenade and Roasted Tomatoes

1 pint vine cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup Orange Chili Oil, recipe follows

Black Olive Tapenade:
2 cups pitted Kalamata olives
1 big garlic clove
Small handful fresh tarragon leaves
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Small handful fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Lay out cherry vine tomatoes in a single layer on a roasting tray. Drizzle with orange chili oil and roast in the oven for 8 to10 minutes until tomatoes are slightly burst and have given off their juices. Set aside.

For the olive tapenade:
Add tapenade ingredients to a food processor and process to a coarse puree. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and set aside.

Now prepare the tuna. Heat a large cast iron griddle pan over high heat. Drizzle the tuna with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on the hot grill for about 45 seconds and then turn over and do the same. The tuna should be rare on the inside and have nice grill marks on the outside.

To serve, smear a spoonful of the white bean puree on the bottom of a plate. Top with a the tuna and a spoonful of tapenade over the top. Set a cluster of the roasted tomatoes over the top and drizzle the juices from the pan all around the plate. Garnish with fresh arugula leaves.

Orange Chili Oil:
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons dried red chili flakes
5 strips orange peel
1 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Make the chili oil by adding the thyme, rosemary, chili flakes and orange peel to the oil. Put aside and let it sit for at least 1 hour to let the flavors infuse.

Steamed Red Swiss Chard
Trim the woodier bits of the stem. Chop into 2 inch strips and simply place in a large skillet with some olive oil and shallow water for 10 minutes.


1.5 cups heavy cream
3/4 cups veggie / chicken stock (low sodium)
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh parmesan, grated

Bring the liquids and spices to a low simmer. Add the cornmeal slowly and whisk briskly to avoid lumps. Add more stock or water if it gets too thick. It will continue to thicken if on heat. Unlike oatmeal, it will keep on sucking in the liquid without watering out. Just before serving, while still warm, whisk in the parmesan. This is THE BEST polenta I have ever had. I am thinking about playing with the cream amount with milk or stock but this was New Years Eve so cream it is!

Ginger and Vanilla Creme Brulee

December 31st 2009 - Going on

So, I had a really really crappy fall 2009 at work. I was working for an incompetent version of Ned Flanders. Grrrr. That meant I had to sacrifice some fun stuff. I didn't join the fall ultimate league and the photography course I thought about taking. And of course, I had no energy or time to keep up the blog. Don't worry. I'm back. I still have my photos and I will do my level best to catch up. I would love to tell you about new restaurants in Vancouver like:

ReFuel on 4th (YUM! revamped Fuel to keep up with the bitch of the economy. What other city would see the top new chef winner have to close his restaurant. Come on folks and visitors! Let's eat out beyond Yaletown and Coal Harbour!)

Cobre Neuvo Latino in Gastown (New menu and unfortunately, they've left off the pages at the back that translated the latino menu items. Still wonderful! Jerk scallops are spicy and luscious)

We went to Terrino's in Toronto, Club Chasse de Peche in Montreal. I had a slightly burned pizza at Pi in the Mission in San Francisco and greasy Chinese in Menlo Park.

I've also tried new recipes and perfected my Ackee and Saltfish methodology with some help. I have a great new recipe for Peppercorn Shortbread and others I made by the tin full for Christmas. And bubbling away in the fridge is my lovely, pungent sourdough bread starter. I had to start with 1 small tsp of commercial yeast that brewed on the counter for a week and I've made several lovely loaves with and one flat failure of a focaccia. There are starter recipes that call for no commercial yeast but since we have construction tarp all over our place, there is no airflow for airbourne goodies.... well not alot of it anyway. I've also re learned some tricks on breadmaking. I've been making it since I was an early teen. Something about the living dough that just turns me on! But lately I've been making my dough too stiff. I watched a pizza making show on TV the other day and the dough looked down right soupy before proofing but it turned out great.
Halibut papillote with israeli couscouse and fennel.

All good things yet to come. Please keep reading!

And of course, still loads and loads of good wine!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sunday, December 6th - Eggs w Shitake Shrooms Eggplant on Sourdough and Miso Salmon Soba Bowl

D made breakfast with some sourdough bread I baked, over two days. Chopped and sauteed some shitake mushrooms leftover from a Risotto we had on Friday and half an eggplant I used for a Green Curry on Thursday. Eggs over easy... well D did mine over hard :( yolks cooked through. The sour dough is awesome. Turned out better than I could have expected. The starter took 2 days and it was totally worth it. Watching it, stirring it, wringing out the damp cloth, feeding it. I used 1/8th rye flour to ensure extra flavour but you can definitely pick up on the tangy starter in there. Yay.

Starter is now living in the fridge in a mason jar with a crank top. It used to have fancy Holt Renfrew rosemary cashews in it. I don't throw lovely jars away.

Tonight, I'm making a miso broth with baby bok choy, scallions, enoki mushrooms on Soba noodles. Topped with a crispy seared Wild Sockey Salmon filet... fotos later.