Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday, May 30 - Babaganoush and Wasabi Tuna

We finally had a chance to go hit a farmer's market this weekend. As well, we were able to do a proper shop along Commercial. There are so many things that are part of our regular eating habits that we had been lax on due to typical two working people's schedules. But I'm so excited, sobre todo, that we found artichokes on sale. Normally in late spring, the season, artichokes are everwhere for like a dollar a piece. Normally a nice softball sized artichoke will run you about 5 bucks. In season, they are plentiful and so much more flavourful and sustainable. So I was quite dismayed that for most of April and May we didn't find the abundance that we'd seen the past.

We woke up early to go to a charity event I had volunteered us for so breakfast was meagre. It was a pot of coffee and a scone that I bought yesterday at Starbucks. It was okay. It was a pumkin scone and I lurve pumpkin anything. But the icing was a bit surgary the texture of the scone was a bit cakey. I like my scones to be tender and dry, as they should be.

I did manage to scarf down a Spanakopita at my favorite place on Commercial 1824, near 3rd ave. As well, I bought a market loaf at the Trout Lake Farmer's market. The break was just gorgeous. Fresh and you could just smell the difference from the supermarket. I'm pretty sure I took a picture of the stall. I noshed a bit on that until D snagged the bag from me before I ate the whole loaf, thank goodness.

After our big shop we came up for a bit of a repose and a nosh on some of the middle eastern flatbread we bought for later. I had a bit with a piece of feta and some oil cured anchovies. I love love love anchovies. It started in Spain. Before that I was your typical North American, programmed by TV to hate anchovies... oh no anchovies on your pizza. Whatever. They're wonderful in their salty richness. Yuuuummmmm and D made his coleslaw. We found some nice fennel today so it was the full recipe.


1/2 a small red cabbage finely shredded
1/2 a small white cabbage finely shredded (slightly larger than a softball)
1 large carrot grated or julienned
1 large fennel bulb finely sliced
1/2 small onion finely diced

1/4 c + 1/8 c mayo (don't use miracle whip)
1/4 c sour cream (use low fat if you must)
1/4 t sugar
1/2 lemon juiced
1t hotsauce, I used the Matouks that I bought on Commercial that they serve in the Reef jamaican restaurant. mmmmm

TOSS to coat thoroughly. SALT and PEPPER to taste. It's best when you let it sit. We had this last week but we didn't have the slaw and did a different amount.

I had a small bowl right away and I could taste the difference sitting makes.

Now we bought the big middle eastern flatbread in the same place we always do, the Mediterranean Specialty Foods store 1824 Commercial where I buy my Spanakopita. It's the size of a hand towel and is VERY chewy. It's perfect for hummous, babaganouzsh and dips.

BBQ'd Arabian Roasted Baba Ganoush

1 large eggplant,
fresh parsley, chopped as much as you like
3 garlic cloves, chopped (D would do 2)
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 tablespoons lemon or one whole lemon but it could be a lemon and a half
4 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons olive oil

Cut the eggplant in half and oil.
Place on the BBQ for about 5-10 minutes until tender.
Add lemon juice, tahina / sesame paste, olive oil & mix. By hand or food processor.
When the Eggplant is soft and mooshy, (you can let it cool but we're hungry), scrape the flesh from the peel and add to the mixture. Pulse to mix but don't blend until smooth.


Serve with a garnish of parsely with flat bread. YUUUUUUMMM with the chary goodness.

photos and dinner to come.

Wasabi and Sesame Encrusted Tuna Loin

2 lbs of tuna loin. We kept the whole loin together, rough the length of a good salmon you can cut in 4 portions if you like. Make sure it's nice and fresh or fresh frozen and thawed.
1/2 c soy sauce
1/2 c honey
1/4 c wasabi powder
1/4 c black and white raw sesame seeds

Whisk to combine. Place the tuna loin in a large zippable, leakproof, baggie and pour in the mixture (set aside 1/4 c for dipping while eating) and massage into the loin. Close up the bag and marinate in fridge in the bag for at least an hour or over nite.

When you're preparing for BBQ, take the tuna out of the bag and place on a cutting board. Pour over the sesame seeds. Roll around until evenly coated. Press in as you roll. You may need to add more seeds. You'll be surprised the the seeds totally stayed on.

BBQ on high direct heat for 2-3 minutes a side. Turn to cook on 4 sides. The sesame seeds will pop. That's normal. You'll want to see about 1/2 cm cooked edges and nice soft pink sashimi like doneness in the Add Imagemiddle.
Serve sliced. We didn't because our knives are at the sharpener. Yes. All of them. It wasn't my idea. So we have little paring knives. So we just cut a few nice cunks and served with slaw. I roasted some banana peppers on the side too. D wanted nothing to do with them. He's not a crazy heat fan ;-). Lovely. We had a Pares Balta Blanc 2008. A quite a bit peachier than 2007 which I normally wouldn't go for but it suited the dish and the summery day quite well.

Dessert was a cheese board with Qualicum cheeses: Herbie (soft herbed fresh cheese), Blue and Salte aged Cheddar, with Fresh Market Loaf.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Friday, May 28th - Starbucks Wrap, Meeting Pizza Hut and FUSE

Ug, Friday was horrible at work. Simply horrible. You'll notice how lame I have been on catching up on my journal here on my food habits. Why? The nature of my job hits serious time demands in peak periods, particularly at quarter ends. It reaches a Fever Pitch simulating Hell at the half year. When D is around, I have more discipline about my time and eating. When I'm left to my own devices I stray to bachelorette of eating comfort food and working until the wee hours of the morning. D was away this whole week so I found myself working until midnight several nights this week. I had pizza like 3 times this week. BLECH.

I woke up earlier than normal to go out to the Burnaby office. I had a mini Oatmeal Raisin Clif bar for breakfast and a Starbux coffee while walking to the Skytrain. Then I sat in a conference room glued until 3pm. At noon, I had full sized Peanut Butter Clif bar that was about 6 months over due. It tasted okay but a bit stale. I washed it down with tap water. Man I hate May / June at work. So at 3:30, right before a big meeting, I had had had to go out and get a coffee. I grabbed a Soy Latte for the protein and a Thai Tuna wrap. I bought a pumpkin scone for later, knowing that the meeting would run long.
The Starbucks Thai Tuna wrap was pretty good. It had a bit of a kick and had carrots and rice mixed into the tuna. Though, surprising for quality for Starbucks, the tuna was of a catfood consistency. Really mashed up with no recognisable chunks of tuna. The soy latte was nice though.
(2.5 Maples really)

Then, at around 7pm ... this is a FRIDAY, they brought in Pizza Hut pizza and soda. Grrrr I flipping hate it when a guy orders meeting food. Two things will invariably happen, without fail:

1. Vegetarians are completely forgotten, in fact, all the food will be extra meaty.
2. All sodas will not be diet. Full sugar!

They ordered a Meatlovers and a Hawaiian completely swathed in ham. To wash that down, 7Up and Pepsi, full fat. I went for the Hawaiian and peeled off the ham. It really was the only option and I was starving. I even had half a 7Up, I was so desperate and didn't want to seem rude that someone thought to at least recognise the fact that we shouldn't be working so late on a Friday!!!!

I couldn't have darted faster at 8pm. We were off to the Vancouver Art Gallery monthly Fuse night. The Art Gallery opens its doors for the evening until 2am. They have several performance artists throughout the evening. It's wonderful. The only downsides were that I had a splitting headache. I was in a quite a bit of pain but after such a left brained week, I needed some artistic reprieve. It did work a bit. The other downside was that the wine at the bar was a HORRIBLE Mission Hill Merlot Cab. As I twitted, it was like a pair of hipster jeans, like the ones all over the place that night. It was too tight, pulled in the wrong places, tarty and too short.

Thursday, May 28th - Mushroom Pizza with Eggplant

Pizza for dinner again. I started work at 7h30 and was at the office until 7pm. I had to run directly to my night school class from the office. I was so hungry but I didn't want to be late. I really have to blame the slowpoke from finance I'm working with. He's new to the company from ICBC. Doesn't that say it all.

I got home and 9h30 from school and immediately put on the oven. I hade a plain pizza in the fridge. I added some sliced mushrooms and some olive marinated eggplant strips. You can get them in any Italian food shop. They come jars and have a spicy variety as well. I just plopped some onto the top with a bit of the oil. I think I should have tried to drain a bit more of the oil off. The pizza ended up being quite rich. I really couldn't complain at that time of night though.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday, May 27th - Elephant Walk Phad Thai

I used to live in England for a few years so I appreciate pubs as a source of good food. Yes, there's beer as well. I'm off beer right now. I'll take a sip occasionally but without unavoidable bloating...I mean I look 3 months preggers! Now wine, they are shite for, bar none! I've even been to a few Gastro pubs that shamefully don't pay enough attention to their winelist. Not really an issue in Vancouver though, or Canada in general. Gastro pubs will only garner a 'huh?' if uttered here. Too bad. The food is honest and wonderful if you find a good one. If you're planning a foodie trip to the uk, consider a Gastro Pub crawl. You can search for them online.

Well, Wednesday was a horribly annoying day with the beginning of a string of end of day calls that dragged on for 5 hours. I will confess, that I got changed for my Ultimate game with the game on speaker. I hadn't had a bite before going so I was starved after the game.

We went to the Elephant Walk pub on 41st. It was a car ride from the field and I don't see why we bothered. I tried to order wine and the nice girl's response was bewilderment.

me: What kind of wine do you have?
her: huh? What do you mean?
me: What kind of wine do you have?
her: well, we have both kinds.
me: What do you mean?
her: Red and White.
me: what kind of white?
her: house
me: what is on the bottle?
her: huh?
me: nevermind
So we all put in our food orders in. I ordered Elephant Walk Phad Thai. Pad Thai is oddly enough, a fixture in true english pubs along with the chips. Weird I know but true. Usually mountainous piles of noodles which are perfect for the starving over worked professional who is trapped in a cheesy neighborhood pub with no wine. Actually, I've had some Pad Thai at pubs that is better than the orange, ketchupy ones I've had in some Thai Restaurants. I.e. the Thai House on 6th near Burrard is like that. I mean really how hard is it for a proper thai place to have tamarind paste!!!

Anyhoo, this was not one of those favourable pad thai pub experiences. It was alright though, and definitely not ketchupy which is good but it wasn't stir fried enough and the noodles were underdone. The up side was they used the wide noodles which are usually in the Ho Fun. There were loads and loads of bell peppers. I felt like I was eating forever. So filling it was, veggeriffic, it was. Worth a trip back to 41st and Victoria? No.

I did end up ordering the 'house' white. It wasn't bad. If I am faced with the situation where I have to order blind wine in a place like that I will opt for the white. I find bad reds far worse that bad whites.

If you do want to go, their Yam Fries were good. I stole a couple from my friends' plates. The mini sliders looked alright as well as their chicken wings (not the BBQ). Oh and Thursday is musical bingo.

Elephant Walk Pub
1445 41st Avenue East
Vancouver, BC
V5P 1J8

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday, May 26th - Mushroom Pizza with Broccoli

I had a mentee session with a friend who is graduating from her MBA soon. We went to Jimmy's Tap house. I've been their for lunch and for a quick bite it's good. I wouldn't go for a nice dinner. We only had wine today and boy did I need it. I had a glass of, Wolf Blass Shiraz. I didn't really care for anything on the list but I thought Wolf Blass might be safe. It wasn't it was nasty. Really sour, and bitter.

I ran home because I still had work to do so I had my 'too much work' default of a plain pizza. I topped it with Mushrooms and Broccoli. I only washed it and not steamed it. I really like what happens to Broccoli, Kale and Brussel sprouts when you roast them instead of boiling. They get this wonderful nutty flavour you can't beat. Place the broccoli on top of all the other toppings. Now, they will fall off and you could add extra cheese if you want to glue it on but that's not what I needed this junk food week.

MMMMM roasted broccoli :-D

Monday, May 25, 2009

Monday, May 25th - Greek Cous Cous with Tuna

I topped it with some tuna loin. We've opted lately to go with the foil packed tuna loin over the cat food tins. I wish I had had some extra dressing or mayo because just adding this to the salad was a bit dry. The couscous was awesome though. I used to make even bigger batches and bring it to work for a week. MMMMMM

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Saturday, May 23 - EAT Vancouver & BBQ

I was on my own for breakfast. D went for a motorbike ride up the coast with a couple of guys from my ultimate team. Bike riders are so funny. They find out that they ride and then become great friends.

I snoozed in and made an Egg White Quesadilla

3 eggs, separated
2 whole wheat tortillas
2 oz cheddar or how much you want

Separate the eggs and cover the yolks and keep in the fridge. Put a non stick pan on low heat. Melt a pat of butter and a dash of olive oil. Wait a minute for it to come back to temperature. Pour in the eggs. Swirl the pan so that the pan is covered. Move the egg around as it cooks so more of the gooey bits hit the pan. When it looks more or less done and less transparent looking, shimmy your spatula under and lift, you can use your fingers if you're careful and flip over. Only for 10 s on the other side. You just want it to set. I don't like crispy egg whites.

On a plate, have one of the tortillas out. Put the egg out onto the tortilla and then slide the tortilla on to the pan. Top with slices of the cheddar and cover with the other tortilla. If you don't want that much tortilla, use just one and fold. When the cheese starts to melt, flip until toasty.

I went to EAT Vancouver for the afternoon. It was brilliant. One of the best food fairs I've been to in a long time. I still don't approve of having to charge us entrance and then in addition having us have to buy tickets to have food samples. A few years ago, the event was in Canada Place so there was no entrance charge. I was good with that. All the same, there were actually quite alot of free samples from all the booths. I did buy some tickets to have some of the wine samples and one mango lassi.

I sat and watched a few of the Master Chef showdowns and Ricardo make a YUMMY looking sable fish (aka black cod) in a Sun-dried Tomato Pesto. He was hilarious. I think the recipe is in his book but this is how I remember he made it.

Sable Fish in Sun Dried Tomato and Pumpkin Seed Pesto

(the proportions are good but the amount will very depending on how much fish you cook)
2 150 - 200g filets per person
1/2 c oil cured sun dried tomato
1/2 c raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds
1-2T capers
olive oil
salt and pepper

On a cutting board mince the tomatoes. Add the pumpkin seeds on top and continue to chop. Add the capers and chop. You can do this in a food processor if you like. Just pulse though, don't puree. Drizzle in oil until you get a paste.

Add some olive oil and a pat of butter into a non stick pan. Sear the halibut on one side for 3-4 minutes. The trick he said was to do most of the cooking on the first side. The other side after the turn will be a minute at most. The first side is the presentation side.

Serve with the pesto pressed onto the presentation side with your choice of vegetable or rice.

We went to my friend E's for a birthday barbeque. We brough some strawberries, kettle chips and Tofurky Kielbasa dogs with mini panini loaves for the buns. Your typical BBQ fayre. The Kielbasa dogs were pretty good. Funny thing was that someone else brought the exact same dogs. Yay Vancouver vegetarians. On the side, someone had brought some homemade potato salad. It was really nice. One of the most loathed traditions of potluck BBQ's is the storebought potato salad, all mayo goopiness and mushy potatoes. This one was nicely cooked potatoes, with pickles, shredded carrots and mayo. It was yummmmoo! I went for a second dog but our friend P had an extra Salmon burger he bought from Costco. I, of course opted for it. There was someone right there wanting my cooked Tofurky dog :-). The salmon burger was pretty good. A bit dry so I had to add some mayo and mustard.

We brought a nice Spanish white to go with.

Eliana and Pat's birthday ... Kielbasa Dogs and Salmon Burger. Nice potato salad and bean salad.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday, May 22 Ebisu

I had a sushi craving that wouldn't go away. Try as I might to go for sushi at lunch during the week, I couldn't get away. It takes too long to get to the place I like and I really can't be bothered to settle. So it was going to be sushi tonight no matter what. I felt bad and of course did my typical 'unless you want something else'. We were pretty beat by the time we got home and sat down with a drink and D was really not looking keen to drive to the Eatery. I felt like interesting sushi or good sushi. Eatery is the 'best' sushi but I enjoy their funky rolls. The price is pretty good too. The service SUCKS. I mean SUCKS LIKE A HOOVER. They're not that nice and I'm unclear if that's part of their 'thing'. As well, they sell underwear and to sell it, there are photos of the wait staff wearing it by the bathroom. How weird is that? So sitting their enjoying a nice glass of wine, I suggested we just walk over to the place up the road on 8th backing on to Broadway that we keep talking about trying. It used to be 'Kamikura' and I loved it. The spider and dragon there were great. Well, they're gone and I'm unclear why. Anyhoo, we opted for local no driving.

I'm glad we did. The set menu is a FANTASTIC deal. You get 5 courses for 19$ Helloo?? Just the two starter dishes are worth 9 a piece. And they were full sized as well. The Sunday to Thursday menu is awesome. It is a bargain and it is definitely quality compared to the bargain sushi up and down broadway. The decor hadn't changed so I wonder if Kamikura was just bought out.
So I got the menu. D ordered some Tuna and Salmon Nigiri, a roll with a Vancouver roll (california with salmon wrapped outside). We split a spider. mmmm Spider roll is my favourite and I rarely get it because it's fairly rare on the menu of your random places. It is a tempura fried soft shelled crab in a maki roll. Yummmm. It was so good.
My menu was:
Choice of appetiser: I got the tuna tartar tacos. So good. This is the dish I remember loving when this place was Kamikura. You get two small wonton round sized tacos with a mayo dressing.
Choice of salad: I got the sashimi salad. It was a nice portion with mixed greens with nearly 10 pieces of sashimi on it with a spicy sauce that tasted kind of Korean.
Choice of miso: I got the miso with manila clams. It had three big juicy clams. Ymmm
Choice of main: I wanted sushi. Teriyaki just ain't my thing. I got a dish with 4 pieces of nigiri and half a Mango roll (mango roll is a Vancouver roll with a thin slice of mango wrapped around it.) The nigiri were Ebi (shrimp), Tuna, Salmon, Unago (eel)
Choice of ice cream: I got mango. D loves green tea but I think it tastes like playdough. blech.
I had a sake marguerita which was entirely missable and D had a big ass Asahi.
Overall, this place will become my goto sushi place like Shaolin for noodle. MMMMMM

(604) 876-3388
601 W Broadway

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday, May 21 - night school

Night school is getting me down from a culinary evening. I have to say. D, however, is going to be late to school to attend an event at the French consulate. The French consul is hosting his business school alumni. So he's having lovely wine and cheese and nibbles.

I am not. But it guess it's not terrible because when D and I don't eat together, I get to indulge in comfort food. I made a big bowl of brown basmati and I'm buying a spicy tofu salad from TnT on the way to night school. It's funny because normally D and I got sit in the lounge during our break and wolf down dinner and chat about our day. As I was eating alone, I actually chatted with my classmates, while still trying to wolf down my food. Our break is only 15 minutes. Truthfully, I probably eat quite fast but no one works well with a deadline :-D

The one upside is that the quick meals is making our Thursday meals quite lite. I guess I could do with that once in a while.

Thing about brown rice though is that it is a pain in the arse to do right. I've given up with traditional as far as getting it right. You have to boil the bejeezus out of it, in at least 1/2 more water, for nearly an hour and the grains split. I'm fine with that now. The only way to avoid the grain bustage is presoaking for a good while. Who's got the time?? Also, who really wants to use the stove for an hour unless you're making a stew. I use this little microwave contraption my mom bought me for Christmas because she thought I wasn't eating properly. I think she mixed me up with my sister O. But O got one too. It is a ceramic bowl that sits in a plastic bowl, slightly larger with a vented lid that clamps on. Inside, there is also an inverted dish that drips back extra steam water. It will do brown rice in about 11 minutes if you do a cup. The grains will still bust if you don't presoak. Also, if you nuke, you're likely to kill alot of the vitaminy goodness. NOW, I discovered this miracle brown rice from Dan-D-Pak. Brownrice jasmine (I'll take a photo later) that acts like white rice. It wasn't a pre-cooked variety or brown coloured white like a cheeky friend asserted. It takes 13 minutes on the stove top. It comes in a large plastic bag with green labelling from dandpak. I swear by it. It tastes awesome and stays in tact and is nutty as brown rice, as well as jasmine should be.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday, May 20 - Coleslaw, salmon - pinot gris

D made a great slaw that he's been doing for years from Saveur Magazine. It's been adapted because the original calls for fennel and we didn't see alot of nice fennel. I had an ultimate game so he of, rightfully, bought a steak. He is still on his organic committment. Unfortunately, when he went to the butcher and asked what they had in organic, they didn't have his favourite Ribeye, only NY strip. He admitted he was tempted but he didn't.

D had BBQ'd New York Strip with Chimichuri sauce

Chimichuri has the consistency of pistou or pesto with out the nuts. So when loading up your small food processor or mortar and pestal, play with the proportions to get the consistency you like.

D's Chimichuri sauce

1/2 c Parsely
1/4-1/2 c Olive Oil
1T Red Vinegar
1 t salt and pepper
1/2 t red pepper flakes
Squeeze of Lime, half a lime

Process until chunky but even. Don't over puree to peanut butter.

D's adapted Coleslaw (serves two generously)

1/2 small red cabbage
1/2 small green/white cabbage (slightly bigger than a softball)
1 small red onion
2 large carrots julienned
2/3 c mayonnaise (use real or olive oil real)
1/4 c sour cream
2 T lemon juice
1/4 t sugar
1/4 t hot sauce (like tabasco)

Shred cabbage, thinly slice onion, and julienne carrots and toss together. Whisk the wets together and toss until thoroughly coated. Salt and pepper at the end. Refridgerate for a hour if you can.

When I got home, I had:

Coleslaw with smoked salmon with Black Olives

2 c coleslaw
2-3 oz smoked salmon flaked
10 pitted olives

Don't toss, just stack. The black olives really went really well with the slaw. I think the next time I might suggest we put it directly into recipe. YMMMM

Had a Corte Giara Pinot Grigio. I'm buying a case of this. This is awesome.

We also had a Ristow Cabsav. IT WAS amazing! We didn't finish it and had some the next day and it wasn't as nice. We did pump it but it didn't matter.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tuesday, May 19 - Squid Ink Pasa with whitesauce

We opened the smoked salmon on the weekend for the J's eggs. It's a whole side of salmon so it's unlikely that you'll go through it at one sitting. It comes foil pack and keeps for about a week. It is very versatile. It's not like lox which are still red and thinly sliced if pre packed. It has the appearance of poached fish. It's packed in its own juices and oils but it was only cooked smoked. It goes very well with eggs, cream sauces, sandwiches. Yummmmm
Bechemel / White sauce

1 c milk
1 T flour
1 T butter
1/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
white pepper
In a small sauce pan, melt butter and whisk in butter. You're not making a roux so don't brown this. You're just looking for a smooth paste. Keep the heat low. Add the milk and keep whisking until you get a consistency that will coat the back of your spoon. Cook to long and you will get a thick paste. You can thin it out with water or milk. Grate in fresh nutmeg. This is important and wonderful.
Boil the squid ink fusilli for about 8-10 minutes until al dente. Scoop with a slotted spoon directly into the sauce to have some of the water. The sauce will thicken while waiting for the pasta. Toss in the flaked salmon and top with fresh herbs. Add parmesan if you like but the salt in the fish you won't need it.
Yummmmm and EASY

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday, May 18th - Focaccia al Pomordorini, Eggs Benedict MY Way, Butternut Barley Risotto

Focaccia al Pomordorini

1 1/4 t yeast (1 envelope is normally 2 t, used the whole envelope....we'll see)
2 T sugar
2 c unbleached flour
1 1/2 - 2 c whole wheat flour
1 T and 1 t kosher or course salt
1/2 c olive oil
1 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
1/4 lb or 100 g pitted, black olives
sea salt

Now I originally got this recipe from Saveur May 2009 issue. I've altered it to make is easier for me to make. I just do not like having to knead in my place because I don't have the big marble table I had at mom's when I was a kid and the flour on the counters is just messy. Now remember, this can all be done by hand up to the point all the ingredients are put together you'd turn it out onto a floured surface and work by hand.

Put a bit of boiling water in your kitchen mixer with the dough hook on. I'm making breakfast, Eggs Benny my West Sayeed style with Lemon Aoli so I did this in stutter steps.... The water is just to warm the mixer bowl since it's big and steel and normally cold.

Measure out 1 1/4 c warm water. Warmer than room but cool enough to put your finger in with out an ow ow. Empty out mixer bowl. Put 1T of the sugar and add the water. Pour in the yeast. If you want you can measure out the right amount since the envelope is more. Set aside for 10 minutes until foamy.

On a flexy cutting board or bowl. Measure 2C unbleached flour and 1C of the whole wheat. Add the 1T + 1t salt and 1T of remaing sugar. Whisk a bit to combine.

In the bowl, add the 1/2 c of oil. Add the collar if you have one, that has the ingredient spout to prevent spillage. I spill. I can spill when trying to pour ingredients into a large wide pit. Fold up the flexy cutting board and with it still on stir, add the flour mix. When it's all in turn up to one notch up, 2 maybe 4 if it's not coming together for a few seconds. If it is still to soft and sticky, add more whole wheat flour by the heaping table spoon until it is a soft dough that pulls away from the side and leaves the bowl clean. Knead on 2 for at least 10 minutes or until you've finished serving your eggs benny my West Sayeed style (photos later) :-P.

Turn off the machine, pull the dough off the hook and fold the dough into a ball. Put a few t of oil in the bottom and with the dough in one hand swirl around the bowl to coat the bowl with oil. Then turn over so the oil side of the dough is up. Cover with plastic wrap or damp towel and put in a warm place. I put it in the oven to rise for 90 minutes.

Oil a cast iron skillet. 12" at least. Push down the dough a bit and form a ball. It is alot spongy and softer than your typical bread dough or pizza dough. No worries. Oil changes the texture alot!!! With your finger tips or with your palms press out the dough into the skillet. Cover with a damp towel or pot lid that overs the skillet and set a side to rise for an hour....

During this time... I have to go buy the cherry tomatoes and olives :-D I was going to settle for Leek and Anchovy focaccia but D wants me to follow the magazine as per instructed because the photo looks awesome..

Stay tuned.

Eggs benedict J's West Sayeed style

4 eggs
1 large saucepan full of salted water
2 T white vinegar
1 palm sized portion of smoked salmon
4 pieces of round multigrain rustic stick
a few T of Lemon Aoli (see recipe below)

Bring sauce pan to a bare simmer. The vinegar is ESSENTIAL. It keeps the eggs together. It's really cool. I first saw this on a Gary Rhodes UK food show. It works like a charm. I've been doing it this way ever since.

On the side, have a small skillet with a small amount of water on 'melt' or lowest setting.

Have the eggs out about 10 minutes before cooking so that they don't cool the water down when you add them. Always have one egg ready in a small prep bowl ready to go when the other one is cooking. ONLY cook ONE egg at a time. Ready?

Take a small whisk and stir the water medium speed along the edge until the water doesn't fight you and is moving like a merry go round. Take the whisk out and drop the egg slowly into the centre. The egg will close in on itself like a @#ershy's kiss. 4 minutes max. Play with the heat so it doesn't boil but keeps that bare simmer. Crack the next egg into the prep bowl. Take a slotted spoon and remove the egg carefully to the small skillet, cover. Repeat in the saucepan with the next egg. 4 min max for soft to runny. 5 for medium... any closer to 5 or if the water is too hot will cook the egg through.

Toast the toast rounds. Set on plate. Place the broken pieces of the smoked salmon or lox on the toast. Lift each egg out of the skillet with a slotted spoon and a paper towel under the spoon to sop up excess water. Top with the Aoli and fresh herbs.... SOOOOO good.

Lemon Aoli

1 egg yolk
2 clove garlic
few sprigs tarragon
1/2 lemon, juice
pinch of salt
dash of tobasco
splash of hot water
1 c of olive oil.

Blend in a small processer until looks like a loose mayo.

Summer Corn and Cherry Tomato Succotash
(Original version from San Jose Mercury)

4 ears corn, removed from cob while raw, canned corn not an option. Don't make this with canned. Eat something else. The point is SEASONAL. :-D
1T extra virgin Olive oil
1 clove garlic chopped
1 shallot or 3 green onions, white part only
1 basket of cherry tomatoes or fresh small tomatoes halved or quartered depending on size.
1 T balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Shuck fresh corn! Heat oil in a wok and sauté garlic until golden add corn and cook 4 min. Add tomatoes for 2 more minutes. Season with Salt and pepper. Add balsamic, cook 1 minute until sticky. Turn off heat and add the shallot. Serve as a side or with a salad. Parsley or fresh herb on top.

YUUUUUUMMMMO we make this often when corn is cheap and in season.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday, May 17th - Tuna Sandwich and the REEF

Breakfast was banana bread and oatmeal. MMMMMM I really like camping breakfasts because I think deep down I really like oatmeal but for some reason, I don't eat it enough during my normal life. Weird.

Lunch was on the hike from Heck up Bear Mountain. I put some Sirah in my sealable travel mug and had tuna sandwich with the second foil pack of tuna loin we packed. No more blue cheese though. We used aged cheddar. MMMM it was so nice with the sirah and especially from the climb that would never end. You can see the tuna loin we used. It was lovely and we got it on sale at TNT. It's normally quite expensive so we'll keep our eyes peeled. It so much nicer than canned.

Dinner was at one of my favorite restaurants. We really struggled with what to do with the Monday of the long weekend. We were going to stay in Harrison for dinner and then drive back after but I really had a craving for Ackee after seeing someone's twit about their Ackee recipe. I couldn't shake it. I was pretty sure I wanted to be back in town for Monday. It was meant to rain and it did. So it was a matter of pack in the rain first thing or sleep at home. So we took off around 7. Got in town for about nine, missed end of the long weekend traffic and hit the REEF....WOOOO Reef. It happened to be their ten year anniversary so draft beer was on sale and so were their jerk wings. Well, we didn't have their jerk wings but D did have some beer.

We got their ever popular plaintain chip starter. I was facing the kitchen so I saw them keep coming. I forgot to take a photo because service was slow and so I dove in. Of course, (eventually) we had their YUMMERIFFIC, johnny cakes that now come with coconut butter. They serve them instead of bread. They've grown. How often does that happen nowadays.... it is 30 percent biggery AYAYAYYYAYA. They're fried, cornmeal like bread. SOOOOOO good.

I got their famous ackee and saltfish.. Now let me explain where my opinion comes from. I lived in Kingston Jamaica for five months. I ate it in restaurants, had a friend make it, made it myself there. I had a jamaican flatemate in gradschool, S, who made it and swore by his nan's recipe, had other jamaican friends in grad school make it. Bought it in tins to make it myself S's way while living in London. Bought in old skul places in Brixton in London. I know good ackee... except for the small amount of ackee in it. It is the Shizza. They do put a decent amount of ackee. I know this place on Yonge near Wellesley in Toronto. You'd be hard pressed to find any ackee in their ackee and saltfish. Oh and the REEF, puts a lovely amount of saltfish too. YUMMMMMMMM
Oh important food-footnote, I am a suck for heat. I love the hot sauce at the reef. It is old skul scotch bonette pepper. They also have their own sauce which is cool with some pineapple. But the Matouk's is the best. But I've been known to over do it. I'm in a good place now:-D. I temper my temptation:-D

D got goat curry. He thought it had more potatoes than curry but still quite nice. That's why I stick with the signature. I've fallen for their Mahi mahi and their specials in the past but I have learned... ackee, that's the way, ackee. I did not care for their rumpunch and their wine list is horrible.
I may winge about the winelist and the slow service but their Plaintain Chips, Johnny Cakes and Ackee keep me coming back every few months.
Cost: $-$$
Ambiance: Dark and slightly, collegial
Staff: Friendly but slow
Winelist:  not worth a mention but it is Jamaican-mon
the Reef
4172 Main St
Vancouver, BC
The Reef on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saturday, May 16th - Picnic on the lake and Gnocci in Vegan Bolognese

Breakfast was banana bread D bought a bakesale outside the roundhouse. It was amazing. Moist and banany but not mushy. I also had a flax and multigrain oatmeal. Oatmeal is SOOO perfect for camping. All you need is a lite little envelope of oatmeal, a travel mug, and boiling water. Combine and stir. MMMMM Warm and comforting.

Lunch was foil packed whole tuna loin on a whole grain loaf with organic beefsteak tomato and blue cheese. With it we had an Artazuri Rose 2007

Dinner was Gnocci in Vegan Bolognese

The Vegan Bolognese was home made from a couple of weeks ago. We jarred it and put it the back of the fridge. I normally wouldn't have kept home made sauce in the fridge that long in the fridge without freezing but D is braver and reckoned that all the acid in the tomatoes would keep it okay. It was fine but we made sure it came to a boil on reheat. The sauce was:

1 onion, 1 tin of tomatoes, 4-5 sliced button mushrooms, 1/4 marinated eggplant, 1 package italian soymince, olive oil, salt and pepper. Sautee all the veg and stew. The veg mince should be the last thing that needs to go in because it only needs heating through.

Boil the Gnocci (vacuum packed) about 8 minutes, drain most of the water off. Toss with the sauce. Top with shaved parmesan.

We had an AWESOME rich, intense, PLUSH Domaine de Cristia Cote du Rhone. I would buy a case of this.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday, May 15th - New India Restaurant and Buffet

Brutal, I run out for lunch up on Broadway. I'm normally downtown and there are loads of cheap tasty sushi places. Not so on the slopes. Over priced for what they offer. I mean really a cucumber roll, tuna and salmon each the size of a finger for 8 bucks.

So I tried this Indian place on the corner of Willow and Broadway. It's in a business centre. It's called the New India Restaurant and Buffet. They have a lunch box with a chicken and a choice of veg with naan. I got two veg and ordered an extra samosa. The samosa never came and they told me after they handed me the rest of my lunch that it would be another 10 minutes. When I got home to eat it, I peeled off the two pieces of promising looking naan. I mean they looked like the real deal instead of factory made. Well they had beens strategically placed hiding the CHARCOAL BRIQUETTE side down on top of my food. I'm not saying burnt toast. I would take a photo but it's too gross. It was entirely burnt to black and it was a few mm thick of charcoal!!!!!

The saag palak paneer was pretty good but the gobi aloo (cauliflour and potato was totally under done and tasted of NOTHING.) This place was horrible. I mean don't go near it.

New India Restauran and Buffet
Broadway and Willow
Negative 2 maples. :-( :-(

Dinner was at the campsite in Harrison Hot Springs. We brought the Artichoke and Ricotta Ravioli we bought at Granville Island with some premade jarred Barilla Basil Pesto.. ... try to be sure to read the ingredients in a jar of pesto when buying it. Ingredients need to be listed in order of abundance... Olive Oil, Basil and Garlic should be the top three. Not all jarred pestos are made the same!

Camping can be fun and rustic but if you pack properly and plan meals, you can still eat really well. We had a Cote du Rhone Domaine du Mordoree. So Yummm... please read my comments on the photo. Decant if you can AND be sure to let it breathe for at least ten minutes, 30 minutes ideally.

I blanched some asparagus the night before, well drained, and put in a baggie. After boiling the ravioli (fresh so 1o minutes) drain most of the water off. Add the Pesto and toss. Shave some fres parmesan with a camp knife. After serving the ravioli toss the asparagus, cut in half, in the pot you made the ravioli and serve on top of the dish and top with the cheese. MMMMMMM
Was so hungry by the time it was ready that I forgot to take a photo.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday, May 14th - Pannini and Tomato Salad

We went a new way for dinner tonight with night school. I felt like a sandwich. I don't know why probably because D is always telling me he likes the sandwiches at choices and aggro cafe.

How unfortunate a name of a restaurant is that really??? Aggro Cafe. I'm not abbreviating. It's in Yaletown. On Hamilton and Davie.

Anyhoo, we had some fresh tomatoes we needed to use before they went off so I simly quartered them and dressed them with course salt, fresh pepper and olive oil and balsamic. D picked up a veggie roasted veg pannini and a zuccini loaf slice from Aggro Cafe.

The ingredients were a bit sparse for what I like from a hearty pannini. D insisted that's the classic european way. I said we're not in europe and where's the eggplant :0). At the least, the european kin are alot more generous on the cheese. Never the less, it was quite tasty and if we had it piping hot, it probably would have been even better.

The tomato salad was great. D does not put tomatoes in the fridge subscribing to that theory that a % of flavour compounds in Tomatoes are lost if kept in the fridge. My sister V does that too. I like cold tomatoes. I think it brightens them up. But I didn't for this salad for pax sake :-).

Wednesday, May 13th - Sutton Place Wine and Tapas

Tonight was a wine tasting for patrons of the Sutton Place wine shop as well as follower of the Liquid Arts web mailer. I wasn't meant to attend as I have ultimate frisbee on Wednesdays but it's pouring rain and games were cancelled.

It was free. Yay! Free. But of course, there are alot of sales associated with tastings like this. The pourers are so much more familiar with the wines than the ones at other 'paid for' tastings, since Liquid art had their sales associates pouring. J my friend came with and she was very impressed that she like a very high percentage of the wines which is rare in a big tasting.

The pleasant surprise was the food. I had thought there might be cheese and bread but the Sutton provided loads of amazing 'pinxos' or cocktail snacks for the entire evening. As well, the cheese station was all amazing cheese, several selections of Poplar Grove cheeses, goat, brie, QC oka. mmmmm I had thought we'd need to go to dinner after. I wanted to try La Brasserie on Davie. But we didn't need to.

The warm goodies included: tuna tartar in a small corn tortilla cone with guacamole (I'll need to remember this. J is a caterer and she was taking notes). Pork chops, Mini burges made from shoulder, Shrimp on bamboo skewers, Mushroom bruscetta, spring rolls.

As for the wine: J bought a case of a variety of wines. She plans to get a case of the Mt. Billy. It's meant to go on sale soon so she's holding off. We bought half a case specfically from this event, the Cote du Rhone Modoree and Cristia. MMMMM They were amazing.

The best the best ones I had were at the Liquid Arts table were the Palladium and Columella from the Sadie Family. Just STUNNING. Very expensive so I was quite glad to have two tastes :-D

See some of my photos on

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tuesday, May 12th - Biggest Loser & Boneta

Tuesday's are funny around us. I have a keen interest in the reality show the Biggest Loser. I think of all the repugnant programming out there, the Biggest Loser is a rare ray of good news out there. One could argue that it is also a sad view into the fact that America has this problem to begin with. I see that too. But this show inspires people at home, if you follow their at home contest, as well as the people on. I think it's great. It can be anywhere from 1 to 2 hours on a Tuesday. Actually it's quite annoying how inconsistent it is. Just bizarre. This last season, it smoothed out to all Tuesday's at least. D hates it. I get animated about the people and the conflicts and D could not care less. He sits and watches quietly. Well, he flips to Restaurant Makeover during the commercials. Also we tend to eat quite late so we miss the beginning quite regularly, which is okay because there is so much re-capping.

Well, tonight was the 3 hour finale. D couldn't get of the country to avoid seeing it so he's settled for dinner with a friend at Boneta (boooo Boneta). I was glad too because Boneta is my Biggest Loser. I can't stand that restaurant. I had a horrible experience there last fall, both on service and food taste, and cannot, in all honesty, recommend it to anyone. D thought his food was okay and thought maybe it was an isolated experience since the reviews were so good. It doesn't sound like it was. The entire menu was dominated with meat. The last time I was there, the claim that they cater to Vegetarians is that the peel off the meat off the dish, leave the meat juice and still charge you the same. HELLO???? Then they gave me a tail piece of tuna (this was a 7pm and they said they were nearly out) and called it a collar??? HELLO???

D is on an organic meat only kick after reading a few disturbing books on the raising of farm animals. They were extrememly limited. He had the Buffalo Carpaccio which he said was alright. Though not indicated as organic, apparently, it is by nature, organic. He ordered a pork chop, though it was not organic but in support of the Canadian Pork industry. He said it was quite good. Though that wasn't the dish that originally came placed before him. He was given a plate of gnocci which the server laid before him and left. Several minutes later, by which time I would have snuck a few pieces with my fingers, D said he didn't. The Maitre d' came by and snatched it saying that they it was meant for another table. He brought it directly to the other table. EEEEEwwww. If I were that table and saw where it came from, I would not have wanted it. The Md' did bring a tiny portion to try since he felt bad that he had brought the dish and teased them with it. I reckon that he was being that nice to them because D knew his wife and it was extremely empty that night as well. I think he's got it out of his system. I hope I hope. I won't go back.

Biggest Loser, well I had Home-made Ramen with Mandu. With ramen noodles, a veg broth, broccoli, chopped scallion and mom's home made mandu (Korean dumplings, veggie-seafood). Perfect warm comfort food to eat with TV :-). The ramen noodles that come packed in larger packs, not in the flavoured packs are so much cheaper and it's super easy to use your own broth or boullion cubes to make the soup base and use whatever veg or protein you like. As well, you get to control the salt level. Most of the flavour packs from the asian stores are HIGH in salt as well as MSG. MSG is terribly bad for you but admittedly a common flavouring often found in household asian kitchens. It was in ours when I was a child. Not anymore. Most asian restaurants might still use it. It's worth asking. Monosodiumglutamate is highly allergenic, as been linked or suggested as a carcinogenic and other ill effects. I am not a nutrional scientist but it is only a web search away to verify that you should try to control your MSG intake.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday, May 11 - Pan Fried Trout with Asparagus

Pan Fried Trout

2 fish small filets with skin on (150 - 200g per person). Cleaned and dried, inside and out.

Season the fish with salt and pepper and dredge in flour and shake off excess. It should look dusted. We're using whole little cleaned fish so we're stuffing them with fresh thyme and parsely.

Heat cast iron pan and add canola oil/peanut oil and a pat of butter. When the foamy bubbling subsides add fish. If it's a half fish, then start meat side down.

Cook until golden crust. Flip over and cook until the same golden colour is acheived. Set aside on a warm plate.

Add juice of a lemon to the pan and 2 T of butter and 1T of capers. Fry and pour over fish.

Broiled Asparagus

Trim the bottoms of the asparagus, about an inch from the bottom or the natural snapping point. Toss in olive oil, course salt and pepper.

Place on a pan on the highest shelf in the oven under the broiler for 5-10 minutes until roasty and tender.

We're warming up the left over rice from the paella from Saturday. No prawns though. They were all eaten :-P

We're having a Carmen Reserva Chardonna 2006 photos coming.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sunday, May 10th - Sunchoke Gratin, Crab cakes and Bada bing cherry pie

Breakfast were lovely raspberry scones that D picked up at a bakery in Blaine. Yumm. We pick up scones whenever we go down there.

Blind bake the crust by poking it all over with a fork and baking 10-15 minutes. We used store bought because it was about the cherries tonight.

4 cups Bing cherries, pitted
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar (depending on the sweetness of the fruit)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamonPinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Prepare the crust for a 9-inch double-crust pie.
2. Place the cherries in a large bowl. Mix orange and lemon juices with the cornstarch, then combine with sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Toss with the cherries. Let rest for 15 minutes.
3. Add the almond extract and the orange zest; toss well.
4. Line a 9-inch pie plate with one crust and prick all over with a fork. Spoon the cherry filling evenly into the crust. Dot all over with butter. Cover with a top crust. With water, moisten the crusts where they meet, then turn the top crust under the bottom and flute the edge. Cut a few slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Decorate the surface if you wish by rolling out the scraps and cutting several cherry, leaf, and stem shapes.
5. Bake pie in center of the oven for 10 minutes at 450°F. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake 45 to 55 minutes more, or until the crust is nicely golden. Let cool on a rack before serving warm or at room temperature.

Sunchoke Gratin
1 lb sunchokes
1 small potato
1/2 lemon
1 T butter
1/2 veggie stock cube
1/2 - 3/4 c parmesan fresh, real no green plastic containers please
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375. In a small sauce pan squeeze the lemon juice into it.

Peel most of the rough bits of skin off the sunchokes and the potato. If you're using a baking potato, just rub it with the cut lemon and set aside. Place the sunchokes into the water as you peel. Bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes. Drain.

Butter a square baking dish or pie dish.

Careful, they're hot. Slice into 1/4 inch slices. The potato too. Layer in the slices and add dots of butter and cover with grated parmesan or any nice hard cheese. Continue to layer.

Bake covered with foil for 20-30 minutes or until fork tender. Bake uncovered for another 15 minutes.
This was a bit of a disappointment because the sunchokes never get really soft. And that's their nature. It's just in a Gratin, you expect them to get soft like potatoes. The sliced of potato interspersed were great :-P

Crab cakes

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Saturday May 9th - Pancake Puffs and Prawns...not together

My adapted for puffs Low Fat GOLDEN fluffy pancake batter

1/3 c whole wheat flour
1/3 c unbleached flour
1 c milk
1 egg white
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 t sugar
1 T oil
melted butter

Sift all dry ingredients in a bowl.

Beat egg white until medium stiff.

Add oil and milk to dries and mix until until just moistened. Do not over mix or you'll make them chewy.

Fold in the egg white foam. You can be as gentle as you want. I wasn't because I was hungry. If you have time, you can let this rest for a few minutes. Like I said, I was hungry.

Place your cast iron pancake puff pan on medium heat. When it is hot, brush with melted butter. Pour batter to fill 2/3 of the way. (or more if you want them bigger)

You'll see them bubble like normal and pull away from the cup. This will take a few minutes. If they're brown all over, evenly, your heat may be up too high. Turn them over with a skewer or small knife.

Serve with sliced strawberries and maple syrup.... and chocolate cashew spread, if you're like that :-D
For lunch, we headed down to Granville Fishermen's pier. It's on the seawall just west of Granville Island. It was the 3rd annual... or something... pretty sure it's 3rd or 4th, I went to the first a few years ago. Much more low key and free then. ANNUAL BC SPOT PRAWN FESTIVAL.

BC SPOTTED PRAWNS are quite a bit different from your typical prawns and king prawns. The body is much meatier, cylindrical, and quite large. They're delicate and sweeter as well. Also they don't seem to shrink as much when they're cooked. Interesting as well, is that they are pink when they're raw and not grey. They're a very sustainable and eco friendly species with a rapid developmental cycle. The season is very short, a few months only. As well, unfortunately, a bulk of the spot prawns are sold to Japan. Grrrrr. Leaving fewer to the average consumer in BC.

The festival is the kickoff to the fishing season of the prawns and all the local area top Chef's participate. There were two sessions and we went to the first. There were ten chefs/restaurants representing: TOJO's, Bin941, Hyatt's, Blue Water Cafe, Fuel, Bishop's, PearTree, the Met, and Elixir.

Table 1:
I had Tojo's Spicy spot Prawn salad topped with spicy sauce and bonita flakes
D had Bin 941 crispy Prawn head with poached spot prawn, ebi mayo with watermelon

Table 2:
we both had Bishop's spotted prawn with kale buds and metchosin flour gnocci and rhubarb gastrique
missed Pear Tree and they didn't indicate their dish

Table 3:
we both had the Hyatt Regency Spot Prawn fondue ravioli with spot prawn bisque
missed the C restaurant poached spot prawn with North Arm beetroot with tarragon mayonnaise

Table 4:
I had the Fuel restaurant spot Prawn boil
D had the Diva at the Met Wild Nettle Veloute with spot prawn ceviche relish

Table 5:
I had Blue Water Cafe Sesame spot Prawn with Edamame puree (yummmmo) and sake yuzu sauce
D had spot Prawn cocktail with grapefruit and truffle salade with artisan lemon granite.

Each portion was meant to have at least one prawn (and they're huge of course) and if you had the ravioli it was inside and on top :-D. Prospect Winery was there serving samples of 7 varietals of their wine. It was alright. The Pinot Grigio was perfect for that day. Bright and Sunny, redolent of papaya and tropical fruit. Sweeter than I expected or seek of a gris but for that lovely day out on the pier, it was great.

We walked over the the fisherman's pier to buy some spotted prawn (probably too many) and bought an albacore tuna loin for another day.

Came home in between activities and had a quick

Arugula and Strawberry Salad

Toss washed arugula leaves with sliced strawberries and diced avocado in a simple olive oil and balsamic vinegrette. YMMMM

Later, D had a hummous craving. See recipe in Feb 1st, Super Bowl Sunday.

Dinner was a favourite of mine, PAELLA.
MY Spotted Prawn with English Pea and Roasted Red Pepper PAELLA

for 4 - 6 people

2 cups (had half a cup if this is for 6) bomba short grain rice or high quality short grain white rice. or (arborio but there are adjustments for risotto rice, you'll need more liquid and at least 15-20 minutes more time)
1 cup onion chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 cup of fresh peas (i bought english peas in the market and shucked them. Far fresher and sweeter. advice though, don't pick up the pre bag if you can. take the time and pick ones you can feel have peas in them. I had at least 40% of mine with peas that were only a sunflower seed sized)
2 large roasted red peppers sliced. (as I've mentioned before in the redpepper dip from last Friday, you can use good quality Italian/Spanish jarred ones in a pinch)
1.5-2lbs FRESH spotted prawns.
Add another 1/2 lb firm white flesh white fish if you want, I didn't this time.
2 l veggie or fish stock.... I used lobster stock homemade from a lobster dinner months ago.
Few springs of oregano fresh
1 t saffron
1 envelope Paella spices from a Spanish specialty store. Pick one that has low salt and I insist you have one that says AZAFRAN listed as an ingredient. Using the spice pack says to use water and not stock but I don't risk that lack of flavour. Otherwise, a good stock, fresh herbs and your own saffron is a preferable alternative. I mean really using the envelope says to only add water but I add stock, saffron and good coarse salt and fresh pepper and could have left it out. It's just a comfort thing for me. I brought it back from my last visit to Barcelona. Ive seen it in shops on Commercial since. I'm fairly certain I saw it in Trader Joe's.

Ingredients easy peasy right. It is but requires attention and patience. It's fun though.

Bring the stock to a boil with the saffron in a small sauce pan and reduce to a bare simmer and have too hand.

Chop and ready all your ingredients. Rinse the prawns thoroughly.

In a large 18-20" paella pan add olive oil and on medium heat sautee the onions. Stir until soft, a few minutes. Salt and Pepper. Add the rice and probably a bit more olive oil. Make sure all the rice is coated and glistening. Stir until starts to smell nutty. A couple of minutes. If your pajn is too big for your element, you'll want to move it around. Add a splash, 1/2 cup of white wine, nothing sweet (optional)

Add enough stock until all the rice is covered. Reduce heat. Stir to mix but don't over stir. This sounds like risotto yes. YOu can add all the stock at once if you like right away. I like to maintatin the heat and don't want to 'boil' the veggies. About half way along, say 20 minutes, add the peas and the red peppers. When you're about 10 minutes away or about 30-35 minutes along, add the prawns to the top add some water if you're out of stock. LEAVE THE SHELLS ON. LEAVE THE HEADS ON. ALL OF IT ADDS FLAVOUR. Salt and Pepper, cover with foil or a wok that's big enough if you have it. Turn up the heat to just above medium. 10-15 minutes. I like to let it rest with the heat off, on the element for another 10, particularly if the game is still on and you're waiting for an intermission.

THIS DISH WAS FABULOUS. Seriously lick your fingers GOOD. We had a great spanish wine with it, Ramos-Paul 2004 red blend. Yumm perfect for Spanish BC blend meal. So decadenet really because you'd normally only have a handful of prawn. The traditional has rabbit and chicken and sausage, all things I can't take the taste of. So I like seafood only ones that I can control the ingredients. ACTUALLY in spain, there are far more varieties of paella then people know here and we all do the typical mariscos one. There is a valencian one with only squid that's awesome and that's the home of paella.

We saved the prawn shells and heads for stock.

Friday, May 8th - Cedar Planked Maple Salmon and Organic Veg

Dinner was a surprise. A surprise because of the weather. It was sunny from about mid afternoon and it wasn't meant to be. So we decided to BBQ. D had bought some cedar planks, cooking grade, a couple of weeks ago so it was as good a time as any to put them to use.

D bought some wild salmon filet from Choices market. Their fish section is quite good for prices and wild options. We used the maple glaze we had left from last week:
As well, I picked up some organic veg: a big red beet the size of a softball, 2 ears of corn, and we had half an eggplant in the fridge.
The veg were sliced and tossed in olive oil and sprinkled with course salt and fresh cracked pepper. Tore the beards off the corn and soaked them a bit in water.

The beets need to go on first. They will take the longest to cook, at least 15/20 minutes. Egg plants will only need 10 minutes. The corn about 15.

The cedar plank needs to be soaked in water for at least half an hour. Submerge it and keep it under with a bottle. Brush on the marinade on the clean, deboned salmon and let sit.

A full half fish filet will take about 3 minutes a side.

MMMMMMM we had a lovely chablis with dinner and since everything was rich, the acidic french was great to cut through and lighten it up.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Thursday, May 7th - Night School sushi takeout

I would have had time to get hot food for our nightschool dinner break but I ended up running long on post work twittering. Terrible I know.

I was speedwalking to pick up dinner. We have class from half six to nine. So really it's a bit early for dinner beforehand and far too late when we get home. What is a bit of a pain is that we only get a 15 minute break to eat. This time I bought a nigiri sushi box (with salmon, tuna, salmon and avocado maki and dubu) , a california roll and a spicy fried dubu salad. I bought the dubu salad last week and I'm hooked now. I didn't take pictures because I was running to class and we wolfed it down between our breaks. TNT is a life saver night school, :-).

We had some Balweinie Single Malt scotch with some dark chocolate when we got home.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Wednesday, May 6th - comfort comes in Vegan Bolgnese

Why do I play in the rain. Really. I had a bit of a surreal moment in the middle of my ultimate game last night. It was chucking down rain. Biblical rain in the middle of a school yard field in Shaugnessy, a posh suburb south of Vancouver's downtown. There I was, lined up next to my crazy, life loving ultimate team. Variety of ages, backgrounds and ages all there, standing in the rain, waiting for someone to throw us a disc. Not an hour earlier I was on a conference call with one of my superiors superiors discussing incredibly heavy business and process issues. I couldn't help but laugh. I also got there late so I hadn't warmed up at all, I didn't have rain gear and so near the end of the first game I rang D begging for a lift.

He wasn't instantly willing. Actually, quite reluctant. So when a teammate offered to drive me most of the way home, I jumped at it. Guilt trips I don't need when I'm soaked, cold and achy. So I got home quite late, close to nine pm. I walked in an went straight to the shower. Pleasantly enough, when I got upstairs to the kitchen, D was making a pasta with veggie soy mince, eggplant, mushrooms, tinned tomatoes. ... and whole wheat pasta. In the decanter was a lovely French Cruvee. MMMMMM
Château Tour de Mirambeau Cruvée Passion 2003

If this is the last entry in the blog, the wine should be the top photo in Wine with Dinner.
Recipe to come but here are some photos.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Tuesday, May 5th - Porcini Tondi in Sage Butter

I don't know why I felt the need to top this dish with a portion of tuna loin. I was really craving protein. I will often do this and D humoured me but I think he could have done without it. I personally liked it. The porcini tondi is from the First Ravioli store. It was quite good because there was so much filling compared to the smaller shapes. I think as far as mushroomy flavour goes, their wild mushroom ravioli is better.

I highly recommend you boil this longer than you think you should. 11 - 12 minutes. We don't to 10 and it was still a bit too al dente. The 8 minutes you might think for other fresh pasta was way too soon.

Sage Butter
Melt 4 pats of butter with some olive oil until nutty coloured and most of the foam is gone from the water in the butter.
Add sage leaves, about 10.
Toss the cooked pasta in.
If you want to further accentuate the mushroom, drizzle on some truffle oil. Top with freshly grated parmesan.

Monday, May 4th - Rosé Revival - ReThink Pink

We went to a Rosé wine tasting in support of Re-Think for Breast Cancer Research. It was at Bridges Restaurant on Granville island. I've eaten there in the past. The seafood is yummmy but the food they put out this evening was... well, pathetic. They only had one small cheese table and then way in the back, a small side table with a some salmon on toasted french stick and shrimp on tortilla. That was it. Now, the cheese was amazing. They had one incredible soft goat cheese encrusted with peppercorns as well as really nice foccacia. But for grazing events, particularly at a restaurant of Bridges tier, this was less than par.

The wine, well, I was off Roses for a while and now I know why. Roses are prone to inferiority complexes. They have no personality of their own and tend to be watery. Now this is a generality. Of the 30 wines being poured, I really would buy maybe 5. There were some just weak ones that weren't offensive and then there were the offensive ones. KOOOLAID, sweet and sticky and not in a good way.

BEST: Jacquart Rosé NV – Champagne, France. Wonderful. Crisp, lovely, summer pure summer. I went back to this station quite alot. The bottle goes for 80 bucks in BC.

Fireblock Grenache Rosé 2006 – Clare Valley, Australia. At a more reasonable 30 (probably18 in most other places), this was a very nice glass. Had a brawn of it's own and none of the inferiority complex of it's watery peers. I would serve this with any grilled fish or some lighter pasta's.

Worst: Misconduct Wine Co. ‘Massacre’ Rosé 2007 - BC, aggressive, slightly sour, thinks it was born to be a merlot or pinot but didn't make it and is pissed. Don't waste your dollar. There were some suprising bargains you should try I'll list.

Gross/KOOLAID: Taylor Fladgate Croft Pink Port NV - Portugal. Let's get something straight. I love port. I am a fan of Taylor Fladgate port. This was just awful. I poured it away as fast as I could. It was like watered down port but with extra sugar. Brutal.

Joie Farm Gamay Pinot Noir Rosé 2008 – Naramata, BC. Not as sweet as the Croft but surprisingly sweet for a Pinot rose. You know given the right circumstances I could drink this but not with most foods.

Good Deals: L’Hortus Syrah/Grenache Rosé 2006 – Languedoc, France. Fresh, crisp, orchard fruit. Nice. Can stand up to a light meal.

Gabarda Syrah/Tempranillo Rosé 2006 - Spain. Strawberries and licorice. Had a sassy personality. With the Tempranillo could easy stand up to food without withering. Both of these are near the 20$ or under mark in BC and that's something for decent wine. If you hit below under 10 around here you are drinking swill. Seriously, because of the tax structure in British Columbia. I miss the states and europe for well priced GOOD wine.

We won a few of the silent auctions as well. I don't know why it is around here but the silent auctions don't do well. We normally bid up if it's a good cause. I've bid on things like skydiving though I'm terrified of heights because I wanted to help. I bought a dinner for two to Bridges and D got me a hour massage and 2 kayak rentals. Yay!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Sunday, May 3rd - Carribean Salt Cod Fritters and Okonomiyaki

Brunch was: (I started soaking the fish yesterday in a glass lasagna pan and changed the water every few hours. Must do this. D didn't the last time we made brandade and even though you soak it long enough, the salt will just sit around the fish unless you wash it away.)

Carribean Salt Cod Fritters
(Based on RecipeZaar - LadyPalm)
8 ounces (1lb) salt cod
1/2 c flour, half whole wheat half unbleached regular
1 teaspoon baking powder
1.5 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/4teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1T fresh orego-thyme leaves destemmed and washed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg lightly beaten
1/2 c milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 medium onion, finely grated or really finely chopped, I used the fine tooth comb on my madolin
1 hot pepper. I used a mexican chili. To be authentic, SCOTCH BONNET. Becareful and do not touch your eyes after or use gloves or hold the pepper with a piece of plastic film. Remember that episode of the Simpsons where Homer when crazy from eating a crazy pepper? It was probably a scotch bonnet.
oil about 1/2 inch up the side of a teflon pan or any. I just suck at not burning or sticking.

1 Soak the salt cod in water overnight. Drain, rinse well, place in saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover pan and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water and, when cool enough to handle, flake fish and set aside.

2 Mix flour, baking powder, spices and salt together in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in egg, milk and melted butter. Mix together to make a smooth batter. Stir in onion, chilli and flaked fish and mix well. Add more or less flour/milk as needed to make a typical fritter batter --flours vary due to changes in humidity.

3 Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in large deep fryingpan until hot but not smoking. Drop tablespoons of the mixture into the oil, a few at a time, spaced well apart. Fry for 3-4 minutes, turning once or twice until golden brown. Put heat on medium high. When I had it on high, they browned way too quickly. When I turned it down they took too long

4 Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper. I put a few paper bags from groceries underneath as well. I'm going to work on a non deep frying version now that I've tried this once through.

5. Keep warm in a 200 degree oven while frying the remaining fritters. Serve hot with your choice of dipping sauce (I like seafood cocktail sauce). Number of servings really depends on how big you make the fritters.

THEY WERE AWESOME. Tasted of Jamaica and the fresh thyme and bay seasoning are essential. The original recipe says all the herbs are optional. They are not.

We had them with a Arugula salad with Tomato and Avocado. Also as condiments we had hot sauce and watermelon chutney MMMMMMMMM

D also had a spontaneous desire for lemon aioli so as he dug in he hopped up and made some.

Easy Lemon Aioli

2T mayonnaise (real, preferable olive oil based)
1 T fresh thyme
1 T fresh squeezed lemon
1/2 clove garlic (optional)

Dinner is at a friends.... I'll work on the Saturday posting of curry later. Photos to come.

S is a lover is a conniseur of Japanese cuisine. He feels that as he is not Japanese, that to do it justice and pay proper homage, he does it exactly as it should traditionally done. Yay for us! He made us half a dozen Okonomiyaki, Miso soup, and spinach salad. The Okonomiyaki came with the traditional core ingredients of a light batter binding cabbage and ginger with: Pork, Shrimp, Mochi (rice cake), other veg or Noodle. He said that the Mochi and Noodle topped one is a ladies' favourite and HE IS RIGHT. It was soooo good. You dress the completed 'pancake' with Nori flakes, Bonita (dried tuna) flakes and deep hoisin like sauce. Mayo is on the table and eaters' choice.

SOOOOO goood! He is a master of japanese cuisine, seriously. I'm told his sabu sabu is to die for. Alas, I don't eat pork broth.

We had two bottle so of Sake. One we brought from Tokyo, Dai Gingo IWAI and one that S's friend 'Coco' brought from Japan as well, Goching Gam-Bye Both were subtle, mellow and complex. Not what we're used to in random sushi joints that taste of harsh methyl alcohol. The latter was lighter and more lively than the one we brough which was more 'serious' in attitude... (not in quality)... as a drink I mean. It was stern but round and yummy.

We finished the evening with a choice of fudgicle..mmmmmm or vanilla ice cream with green tea Matcha powder.