Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gotta Use the Eggs - Caribbean Salmon Souffle

Gotta use the Eggs - Caribbean Salmon Souffle
We're heading out soon for Christmas and we have half a dozen Eggs left in the fridge.  We don't normally eat Eggs for breakfast mid week so we were left with the typical vacation quandary.  What do you do with the Eggs?  Milk is not as big a worry because I drink quite alot of it but the Eggs are a challenge.  We always need them in the house but we don't eat them that often yet when we want one we're often out.  You know.  So here we have half a dozen Eggs and some basic pantry items.  What to do?  Well, a Souffle may not initially jump out at you as the easy option.  Yes you could default to an omelet.  I do love a good Spanish Tortilla (Potato Omelet) and I did just buy some adorable Peewee Potatoes.  Nope.  This Soufflee is super easy and needs little shopping if any.

I have made it a few times before and the link is here: Caribbean Salmon Souffle

What do you need in the house? 

1 rib of Celery.  Most markets sell Celery in ribs now or often they don't but the price is per pound so I am not shy about breaking off a rib or two.  Actually, I always buy two.  1 to cook the other to munch.
1 clove of Garlic.  If you don't, leave it out. 

1 half small Onion or Shallot
At least 1 c of Milk and Butter.

1/2 c flaked Coconut.  Most bakers stock this.  I do.  If you don't, leave it out.  Don't fear the souffle!  Once you get the base, the acoutrements are the fun bit.  I forgot the Coconut once even though it was sitting in the pan toasted on the stove.  It was fine.  It was not as interesting in my opinion but it was fine.
The only thing you may not already have in the house but most do is 1 tin of Salmon.  If you don't, any Frozen seafood like, Snapper, Shrimp or Crabmeat lurking in your freezer or pantry will do.  About 1 cup. 

The thing that is different today is that normally I do this Souffle with 4 Egg Yolks and 6 Egg Whites.  That is normally fine because the Yolks get used somewhere.  But since this is a preholiday fridge clearance, no Yolk shall be left behind.  I put in 6 Egg Yolks and 6 stiffly beaten Egg Whites. 

To compensate for the extra liquid in the 'Custard', I added 4 T of flour instead of the usual 3 T.

I still baked it for 30 minutes.  It is normally entirely set this we 5% gooey in the middle this time (extra Yolks!) which was yummo!.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Spicy Double Chocolate Ginger Diablo Cookies - revisited

Spicy Double Chocolate Ginger Diablo Cookies
I made my Spicy Double Chocolate Mexican Diablo Cookies again for my weekly mommies session at the local Community Centre.   D suggested I cut back on the Cayenne so if you click on the cookie title above to the original post, note that for this batch, I only used 1 t of Cayenne.  I thought it wasn't spicy at all but the consensus was that it was the right amount of heat.  I only had a few left to bring home.  We had hoped to give all of them away since D and I are still both carrying baby weight. :^D

I thought I would also note that the dough was ALOT stiffer this time.  The last time it was like Muffin batter and quite easy to mix.  This time it was quite stiff like more traditional cookie dough.  I might have chosen to use the stand mixer but it was too late.  I guess it was the size of the Eggs because I changed nothing else.  So I thought I would advise those who want to try it.  That you could hold back 1/4 of the Flour until later if you are concerned but you don't have to.  Just keep turning the dough over and over.  It will come together.  But a stand mixer will  make quick work of it.  Just mix it until the dusty look is gone.  I still chilled the dough as before.  I did use a 1 oz scoop this time.  You could use a Coffee Bean scoop, they are normally 1oz/2T as well but unfortunately, they don't have the sweeper for easy extraction.  Otherwise, roll them with your hands roughly the size of a ping pong ball.
Do not squash down. They'll spread a little but these are chewy in the middle.  If you like crispier thin cookies, you could use softened Butter instead.  Not the same though. This made a batch of 48 cookies.  I used two sheet pans at the 1/3 and 2/3 levels in the oven. Still cook for the 15 minutes but at 8 minutes swap the levels of the pans and rotate the front to the back.  Allow to cool for only a minute or two and they'll be firm enough for you to move.  Don't pile up until completely cooled. 


Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Frying Scotsman - Portland - Homemade Tartar Sauce! Need I say more?

Frying Scotsman Halibut and Chips
That title is my whole post.  I mean really! The dude makes his own Tartar sauce from scratch in his little truck.  Come on! That's food passion.  I doesn't have to be expensive fine dining to be haute.  Dude cares and it comes through in his food.

Little Frying Scotsman Trailer
We saw him on Eat St.  It's funny too because he has the ad for the show hanging in his cart now too.  He's as warm as he was on the show and we weren't holding TV cameras.  The fries are Handcut and the fresh Fish dipped in his own crispy Batter!  It's a very busy cart now because of his recent celebrity so everything is made to order as the fish is churned out at quite a pace.  It's a bit harder to sit in the downtown area near the carts but luckily he has a couple of standing tables in front of his cart.

The batter was very tasty and crisp.  It was a tad on the greasy side as he's moving so fast.  It could have been allowed to drain in the basket a few seconds longer.  The fries were PIPING hot.  Awesome.  And he doesn't over salt them so you can dress them as you please.  With Vinegar, good man!  Where else in the states!? Well, I guess it's caught on lately.  When I was a kid and we travelled and asked for Vinegar for our fries we were met with such stares.  And occasionally, a kind server would come from the kitchen with a bowl of vinegar and wait to see what we'd do with it.  Haha!

Service: Warm, welcoming, and enthusiastic
Ambiance: It's a foodtruck. Busy downtown cluster had a sort of fair ground feel.
Cost: $$

The Frying Scotsman (Food Cart)
(503) 706-3841
SW 9th And Alder St Map
Portland, OR 97205

The Frying Scotsman (Food Cart) on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Fifteen Minutes Fridge to Fork - Poached Eggs on Cheddar Polenta with Mushrooms

Fifteen Minutes from Fridge to Fork - Poached Eggs on Cheddar Polenta with Mushrooms
Lil dude decided to get up half an hour early today so I decided I was going to need a nice hearty breakfast to get through the morning. It was Saturday as week. I like to reserve hot breakfast to weekends. I don't know why while I'm on Mat Leave. After he'd had his Brekkie of Organic Pears and Apples (w dash of Carrots) with Oatmeal, I dove I to a majesty of engineering in the kitchen. I made my Poached Eggs on Polenta with Mushrooms in 15 minutes from fridge to fork on the fly.

Poached Eggs on Polenta with Mushrooms - 15 Minutes Fridge to Fork

1. Take out medium saucepan, small saucepan and a small nonstick pan. Fill the medium saucepan with Water and add 2 T White Vinegar + 1/2 t Salt turn on high heat. Add 1 T Olive Oil to the pan.
2. Goto fridge and fetch 2 Eggs, Milk, 1 c Crimini Mushrooms (leftover from Risotto on Thursday so already cleaned, woohoo. I would have grabbed whatever), 1 Scallion/Green Onion, and White sharp Cheddar if you have it
3. Turn on heat to frypan to medium. Throw in Mushrooms spread out and leave.
4. Measure out 3/4 c Milk and 1/2 c Water into small saucepan. Add 1/2 t Salt, dash fresh Nutmeg if you have it. Pepper to preference. Bring to boil. Measure out 4 T Cornmeal/Polenta Medium/Fine. Ours is in dry good jar on the counter :-). When Milk is boiling, turn down to Medium. With a whisk in one hand and the Corn in the other, whisk the Milk constantly and vigorously as you sprinkle in the Corn. Mix until it thickens. Taste to season. Cover and leave on low heat.
5. The water in Medium saucepan should not be boiling but steaming and with small bubbles on the bottom like it wants to. Break 1 Egg into the bowl you had the Corn. Stir the Water until you get a funnel in the centre. Stop stirring and drop the Egg in. The White should close in on itself like a chocolate kiss. Leave for 2 minutes. Toss the Mushrooms.
6. Slice the Scallion
7. Break the second Egg into the small bowl. Lift the first Egg out with a slotted spoon and place in a shallow dish on the side. Swirl the water again and drop the second Egg in for 2 minutes. Add back the first Egg. Toss the Mushrooms.
8. Stir the Polenta. Add some small pieces of 2 T Cheddar or grate it. I used the rasp I used for the Nutmeg. Finish with 1 T of Butter or Olive Oil. Dollop on to your plate.
9. Drain your Eggs with the slotted spoon. 4-5 minutes for Medium yolks. Place on the Polenta.
10. Top with the Mushrooms and garnish with the Scallions. Salt and Pepper.

15 minutes max. Lil Dude was in his high hair in the kitchen and that's the maximum amount of time he will tolerate sitting there. He'll sit contentedly watching me eat though. :-).  Another hour and a half of terrorizing the living room and he's napping now.


Friday, December 02, 2011

Portland Soup Company - Okay food and Not-so-okay company

Portland Soup Company Food Truck
I dragged D and lil T to the Portland Soup company.  I'd seen them on the Eat St. or Diners and was impressed how this young guy was making his own food from scratch.  I am a sucker for homemade soup.  D was not as excited and less so when we discovered it was in the cluster of foodtrucks out by the University.  Portland is a haven for foodtrucks.  They are everwhere and not just downtown.  You will mostly find them in clusters and semi-permanent sites in a sort of strip mall set up in parking lots and empty lots.  Sounds awesome but then as a local told us, it becomes harder to distinguish the good from the 'me-too'.   Well, I thought from the sounds of this one, that this was going to be one of the better ones with a guy who cares about good food and his patrons. Well, I regretted dragging D away from the downtown cluster and the Frying Scotsman for this one.  

Portland Soup Company Menu
First thing to note is that the soup was sold out by shortly after lunch as the Pork Butt he wanted.  Okay.  D looked at me, unimpressed and asked if I wanted to go elsewhere since I seemed so fixated on Soup.  I said no, undaunted since he was also known for his fresh Sandwiches and Salads.  So I ordered the Fresh Mozzarella Sandwich and D ordered a large Arugula Salad.  

Portland Soup Company - See the Salad titled ARUGULA?!?!
D then proceeded to take lil T and the stroller away to find a shady spot to eat.  I paid and waited.  After already running my creditcard, the dude behind the counter said he was out of Arugula.  I said, rather sarcastically and incredulously, "What!?".  He said again "We're out of Arugula.  Would you like to replace it with Spinach?"  I said "well, it was my husband's order and he's rolled away.  He really wanted Arugula."  I hemmed and hawed and said "Okay, give me the Spinach."  Dude turned around and exchanged words with dude#2 and cameback to me to say "we're out of Spinach.  Is mixed greens okay."  I said, emphatically "No. That's ridiculous."  He said to me, rather nonchalantly and exasperated "It's the same thing" To which I said "If that were true you wouldn't have felt it important to title the salad "Arugula Salad".  Then Dude#2 muttered, audibly, "What time is it?  Let's get out of here."  Arse!
Portland Soup Company - Arugula Salad without Arugula!
Portland  Soup Company Bland Mozzarella Sandwich
So left with no alternative and knowing D would have not been happy if I returned without his salad, I accepted the Mixed Greens. It was not the same thing.  The Salad had about as much personality as one of those plastic clamshell salads from McDonalds.  I guess that was why the chef had chosen Arugula!  The Sandwich was fresh enough but the Mozzarella was bland and the whole thing was not seasoned enough.  It tasted thrown together.  Disappointing food and experience.  Should have had the Mexican a few carts down.  Oh well, at least the Bangkok Duck&Chicken Thai (just the name, not what I ordered) and the Frying Scotsman the nextday was good and friendly.  

Service: Snotty
Ambiance: It's a foodtruck but University zone offers lots of alternative seating in shade. 
Cost: $$
Food: Mediocre and offered substitute was not par
The Portland Soup Company (Food Truck)
(541) 968-1230
University area
SW 4th and Hall Map
Portland, OR 97201
The Portland Soup Company (Food Truck) on Urbanspoon


Awase Miso Clam and Mushroom Chowder - Fusion Comfort

Awase Miso Clam and Mushroom Chowder
It's hard to have Deng Jang in the house when you don't eat Korean food everyday.  Deng Jang is Korean Miso.  It is more pungent and spicier.  Like Miso, store bought Deng Jang is very perishable.  If it isn't, it has preservatives like MSG.  Homemade Deng Jang lasts longer as there is more time and care taken in preserving it.  I remember as a kid, mom would be sat in the kitchen beating the basic version into loaves to ferment.  They would age and develop a sort of patina that looks like aging Cheese.  You won't find that sort of quality in the shops so if you're going to buy in the shops, you want to look for non GMO (not only organic) Soy and no MSG.  Soybean farming is quite dominated by the evil chemical empires that have GMO'd the crap out of much of the production but the regulation on GMO labelling is only for raw ingredients and not products containing GMO ingredients.  Tofu can be Organic but still be GMO.  Be aware.

But I digress.  So when we do buy Deng Jang, or Miso, D likes to find various ways of using it so we are sure to go through it.  To confess, D does prefer Miso over Deng Jang.  He finds Deng Jang too pungent for his palate.  When used in very small quantities, it needn't dominate a dish.  It can be used to add what is commonly known as 'Umame'.  The term is used to describe a depth of flavour.  It's the difference between a well developed broth and a limp watery one.  Literally, it means flavour or savoury in Japanese.  It was the objective for the discovery of MSG which has been associated with though not proven to be linked to health issues.  That aside, it doesn't taste very good as many shortcuts don't.  You'll find that 'flavour' in lazy Korean or Japanse restaurants in their broths, i.e. Royal Seoul House on Broadway, blech. So you can use Deng Jang or Miso in smaller quantities to create that flavour in things like Risotto, Salad Dressings, Soups, Marinades/Rubs, Dips.....or Chowder.

Awase Miso Clam and Mushroom Chowder

serves 4 as a main

3 lbs Manila Clams
1 c Dry White Wine (or 1/2 c Wine and 1 1/2 c Water)
1 c Water
1 c Water (2nd cup, or Clam Juice from a bottle, in addition to the juice from the Clams in the Chowder)
1 T Olive Oil
3 T Unsalted Butter
1 small Onion, diced
2 ribs Celery, finely diced
1 pack (1 c) Enoki or Brown Clamshell Mushrooms, brushed and roots trimmed
4-5 sprigs fresh Thyme, length of your index pinky finger
4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Bay Leaves
3 T Awase Miso (light Miso paste, but not the lightest. Look for non GMO, no MSG)
1 1/2 Yukon or White Potatoes (not Russet) 1" cubes
1 c Cream
Fresh Parsely, optional
Salt and Pepper

Scrub and rinse the Clams.  Use live.  They can stay in the fridge covered in a moist towel for upto two days but try to use them within 24 hours of getting them home.  We buy ours at TnT in their live Fish section.  We can pick our own Clams and Mussels. Throw any open ones away.  To double check, knock on them and they may spring closed. If they do not,  they are dead.

In a dutchoven or heavy pot, add the White Wine and the first cup of Water on High Heat and bring to boil.  You can reduce the amount of Wine to 1/2 a cup here if you want and increase the Water.  Dry White means not Sweet.  As well, do not use anything too Oaky.  American Chardonnays are too Oaky for this application.  Add the Clams when the liquid is boiling.  Cover and shake occasionally for 6-10 minutes.  After cooking, throw any closed ones away.  Lift the Clams out with a slotted spoon into a large bowl and set aside.  Strain the liquid through a fine sieve and reserve. Stop short of pouring when you reach the sand at the bottom of the pot.  You should have about 3-4 c.  Throw the sand away and rinse the pot.

Add the Olive Oil and the Butter to the pot in Medium heat.  Sautee the Onion and Celery until soft, ~5 minutes.  Add the Potatoes, Thyme, Bay Leaves and Garlic and sautee briefly.  Add the Miso and spread around.  Add the Clam liquid back and the Water/Clam Juice.  The Miso can be salty so only season after you've added the liquid.  Add the Cream and simmer for at least 10-15 minutes until the Potatoes are tender.  Add the Clams back and the Mushrooms.

Garnish w Parsley and serve with Toast. Soooo Yummo!  I would have added another Tablespoon of Miso and D would have liked to add Bacon.  He crumbled some Bacon he cooked on the side on top.  I think the Bacon would dominate the dish and think it is nice left out.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Byways Café - Bountiful Brekkie in Portland

Byways Cafe Portland
We visited Portland this summer to test the road with the new baby and to visit all the Yummo places we'd seen on FoodTv. One thing we hadn't anticipated was how spread out Portland is. We came down by train and didnt rent a car. We assumed we could get around on the extensive and FREE public transit system. Alas, some of the places on our list, like a famouse biscuit place and BBQ joint were well away from downtown. Thankfully, the Byways Café was right downtown and close enough to roll out of bed for breakfast.

They're well known for their scratch made food and generous portions. D and I like to call it 'American sized' portions because you will not find a plate of housemade Biscuits and Sausage Gravy as bountiful as theirs north of the Peace Arch.

Keeping the baby travel in consideration, it should be noted that accessibility into the Café and inside is not the greatest. We thought about sitting outside but it was too chilly and the view too industrial. Plus we would have missed out on their famous retro decor! It is packed to the rafters with vintage toys and memorabilia. It isn't very big so if you could wait. It is very tricky to manoeuver a stroller in, that's for sure.

Byways Cafe Portland Plate Wall
I ordered. The Blue Corn Pancakes that I has seen on TV but they'd sold out. I'm always surprised when a place runs out of their star dish early in service. Boo. So I ordered their Amaretto French Toast with Maple Pecan Butter made with Brioche!! D ordered their famous Biscuits and Gravy.

Byways Cafe Portland - Amaretto Brioche French Toast
Lil T decided to wake up, just as we were served, asking for his breakfast so D had to cut up my food for me. I had to eat my scrumptious French Toast while balancing T on my lap and wearing my 'hooter hider' cape. Normal day now. The Brioche was wonderful and nicely soaked. The Toast was nice and crispy on the outside and just creamy in the centre. The Maple Butter was crazy good. And even though I tried, D had wrestle my fork from me, I could not finish it. The portion was very generous. They offered to wrap it up but we were on foot as tourists and had more eating to do, sowe declined.

Byways Cafe Portland - Biscuits and Gravy
D's Biscuits and Gravy was something else. I'd only seen such plates in movies and TV. It was a heaping mound. Then on the side of that they give you two Eggs your way! The Biscuits were flavourful and flaky. D thought the Sausage was tasty as well but he just about got through half his plate. I tried to stab some Biscuit to help but he wrestled my fork away again. Food was great though. Service was friendly and didn't get mad at us for not finishing. :-P

We were going to change T before we left but it was a tiny little facility in the back. Don't get me wrong. I give a wide berth of understanding here. We have changed T in some tight places but there was no way. We changed him quickly on a park bench up the block. Poor Lil T, it was still quite chilly.

Service: welcoming and friendly
Cost: $$
Ambience: diner/grandmas 60s living room
Baby friendly: not so much

Byways Cafe
(503) 221-0011
Pearl District
1212 NW Glisan St
Portland, OR 97209
Byways Cafe on Urbanspoon

for a diner

Ask D, that's a high rating for me.  The way I see it, you have to leave room for the rare 7s :-D


Monday, November 28, 2011

Kabocha, Black Bean and Corn Chili - Hearty Harvest

Kabocha Black Bean and Corn Chili
We love to cook with seasonal veg. It feels right and tastes better. Kabochas are yummo. Their flavour is lot more consistent than Pumpkins in sweetness. They have a nice firm yet 'dry' texture that isnt grainy. It holds well in long cooking stews and doesnt go mushy. Of course a nice thick hearty Chili that you forget is very healthy and Vegetarian is perfect for a chilly, rainy West Coast evening. D loves that I calls for Stout too!  As a substitute for Kabocha you can use Acorn Squash, Butternut Squash or Pie Pumkin, in that order of preference.

We served with a nice Skillet Corn Bread with a whole head of Roasted Garlic that D made!!! Don't freak out. When you roast garlic doused in Olive Oil and wrapped in foil until soft, you get a sweet, caramelly Garlic that you could spread and eat straight. Yummo!

Kabocha, Black Bean and Corn Chili

4-6 c cubed Kabocha, (1/2 of a 10" Kabocha Squash)
1 Onion (slightly smaller than tennis ball), diced
4 cloves Garlic, chopped
1 large tin Italian Plum Tomatoes (28 oz), squashed
2 tins Black Beans, drained
1 bottle Guinness (or your favourite Stout Beer, avoid flavoured)
1/2 of the empty beer bottle of Water
2 T Maple Syrup, real (use Honey if you don't have real)
1 T Chili Powder
1 T ground Cumin
1 t Cinnamon
1 t dry Oregano
2 Chipotle Peppers, julienned
1 T Adobo Sauce (the liquid in the tin/jar with the Chipotles)
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 small tin Corn, drained (1 c)
Olive Oil
Cilantro or Parsley
Salt and Pepper

We used a larger Kabocha than we needed because I find them easier to peel and handle and the yield vs effort is better. :-) Cut the Kabocha in half and clean out. I like to use a Grapefruit spoon because of the serrated edges. Cut into wedges along the natural ridges or into 1" thick slices. Peel each piece then dice into 1/2" cubes.

Heat 1-2 T Olive Oil in a dutch oven on Meduim-high heat. Sauté the Onion until soft but not brown, ~ 5 minutes. Add the Kabocha and cook, stirring occasionally for another 5 minutes. Add the Garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the Tomatoes, Guinness, Maple Syrup, Herbes, Spices and Chipotle Peppers. Bring the qto a boil, then reduce heat to Low and simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes until the Kabocha is tender.

Add the Red Pepper, Black Beans and Corn, simmer for another 15 minutes at least. Let the flavours marry longer if you have the time. Season with Salt and Pepper to taste.

Top with a nice dollop of Plain Yogurt (or Sour Cream) and Cilantro/Parsley. serve with a nice hunk of Roasted Garlic Skillet Corn Bread!


Friday, November 25, 2011

Birthday Kaluha and Raspberry Sourdough French Toast - Best Way to Start a Day!

Kaluha and Sourdough French Toast
D warned me the night before not to eat in the morning.  He has to because lil T gets me up at the crack of dawn and I eat before D wakes up.  He prepped for my birthday breakfast the night before but I still didn't suspect.  He made me an awesome dinner as well but I'll post the Seared Scallops on Cauliflower Puree and Homemade Lobster Ravioli in Heavenly White Wine Cream Sauce later.  For now,  I'll brag about my awesome birthday brekkie treat!

D knows I have a Bread addiction but I'm also a Bread snob.  No airy tasteless bread for me!  That's why I love the idea and flavour of Sourdough, mmmm. It adds a nice tangy, hominess to French Toast.  It's like the way it was meant to be, a use for leftover bread.  D bought the round the day before and sliced it 1inch thick and left it in a slightly open paper bag over night. I ate the butts for dinner.  I didn't even asked where the middle went. Odd.

Birthday Kaluha and Raspberry Sourdough French Toast 

3 Eggs
1/4 Milk
1 T Kaluha (optional, Vanilla Extract is cool too but only 1 t)
Rind of half an Orange
1 T Sugar
1 Vanilla Pod, scraped (optional, we just have a bucket load from a holiday in Bali)
4 thick slices Sourdough Bread
1/2 c fresh Raspberries
Icing Sugar
Warm Maple Syrup (real stuff, not brown, maple flavoured sugar syrup in a plastic, lady shaped bottle)

Slice and leave the bread out overnight.  Letting the Bread go stale a bit will prevent it from sopping up the Custard like a sponge and dissolving.

Whisk all the Eggs, Milk, Sugar, Vanilla, and Kaluha together in a shallow baking dish that is not too big but can fit two slices of bread at least.

Heat a nonstick pan on Medium with a pat of Butter.

Let the bread soak for 20 seconds on each side.  Lift carefully and let the excess fall away and place in the pan.  Let cook for a couple minutes on each side.  It should be golden brown before flipping.  It should puff slightly.

The texture you're looking for is a crispy exterior and a light, fluffy, custardy interior like moister Bread Pudding.  Dust with Icing Sugar and serve with Raspberries and Maple Syrup....MMMMMM
Happy Birthday to me!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Provence Marinaside - Awesome View and Salty Lunch

Provence Marinaside - Wild Mushroom Ravioli in White Wine Buttersauce - Extra Garlic
Few restaurants in Vancouver can boast this location.  Metres away from the Yaletown offices, nestled in the glassy condo towers and facing the constant stream of passersby on the well loved Seawall.  I found that to be one of the most redeeming features of Provence, that and the kind service.  I cannot say I equally enjoyed the food.  I wanted to.  My friend with whom we were eating, is a regular.  He eats there at least 2-3 times a week and is one of the few people welcomed with his two boys.  Thankfully, lil T was asleep in his stroller for most of our lunch and we were with the regular so his presence wasn't entirely rejected.  That said, our friend R, the regular, said that it did take a few months of regular visits for his kids to be accepted.  It does have that air and fair enough.  Though it is woefully a misconception that a family friendly restaurant needs to be a TGIF's.  In Europe, particularly the family centric Spain, you will find babies in most restaurants of all styles at all hours.  Anyhoo, that all said to say that Provence is not entirely family friendly.

R and D ordered the Wild Mushroom Ravioli, oddly enough for R, with extra Garlic.  It's his go to dish there.  I ordered the Vegetarian Platter.  I tasted a bit of D's Ravioli.  It was well cooked.  The filling was a bit wanting but the White Wine and Butter sauce was lovely, particularly since I lurve Garlic.  

Vegetarian Antipasti Platter - Study in Salt
Unfortunately my dish was terrible.  It was a selection of the their Anitipasti, the Quinoa Salad, Green Beans, Stuffed Piquillo Peppers and Garlic Mash.  It was just an astounding study in Salt.  Each one was Saltier than the next.  I had to have a bit of the mildly Salty Green Beans just to be able to eat the rest and I love Quinoa!  Alas, it was not edible and I had to leave it.  Odd, really because the Antipasti is already prepared in their deli counter, someone could have tasted it before putting it out.  Quite disappointing.  I have had dinner there in the past for a Wine Makers Dinner.  It was much better though I'd still have to say someone in the kitchen does have a Salty palate.  Though D and R did validate that the salad was TOO TOO salty.  We let the staff know, they grinned, tolerantly apologised (mainly because we were with R) and bid us a good day.  So in future, IF I return, I'll stick to the warm menu.  Too bad, I love good Antipasti.

Ambiance:  Bright, airy
Service: Very hospitable though no concession was made for oversalted food
Cost: $$$-$$$$ (Mains ~30$)
Family Friendly: not so much, unless baby is sound asleep

Provence Marinaside Restaurant
1177 Marinaside Cres Map
Vancouver, BC V6Z
Provence Marinaside Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wholewheat Herbes de Provence Pull Apart Rolls - Toasty Savoury Goodness

Wholewheat Herbes de Provence Pull Apart Rolls
I get cravings for making bread like pregnant women might crave a boiled potato.... What? Just me? There is a dearth of GOOD bakeries in the Fairview area apart from Wholefoods and that includes the bland batons of air from Baguettes et Echalottes on Granville island. But if you don't want to pay the price of a large bag of flour for one (albeit tasty) loaf at WF, then you have to bake.

The dangerous thing about these scrumptious Pull Apart Rolls is that, as you slather butter on each steamy little ball of baked joy, you don't realise you've eaten nearly an entire loaf of bread. The Herbes de Provence give the otherwise run of the mill rolls a savouriness and subtle sophistication, particularly because of the Lavender. Mmmmmmm

Wholewheat Herbes de Provence Pull Apart Rolls

1 1/2 c Water, luke warm, it so hot you cannot comfortably dunk your finger
1 T Honey
2 t Yeast (or 1 envelope)
1 t Salt
2 t dry Herbes de Provence
1 c Bread Flour
3 c Wholewheat Flour (+/- 1/2 c depending on humidity)
1-2 T Olive Oil

In your stand mixer bowl, add the Water and Honey. Stir to dissolve. Sprinkle over the yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes until frothy.

Add the Salt, 1T Olive Oil and the Herbes de Provence. Mix on low/stir for a minute.

Leave on low/stir and add the first 2c of Flour a 1/2c at a time. Then turn it up to medium until all the flour is incorporated. Scrape down the sides and add another 1/2c of Flour. Turn on low until Flour is I corporated and youre safe from a face full of Flour. Continue to do this adding 1/4 cups of Flour until the dough pulls away cleanly from the sides and is slightly tacky to the touch. I like it stickier than normal. Or at least I do in Vancouver. For some reason, out east, I could bring the dough to a easy to handle consistency and it would turn out great. When I moved here and made dough to that consistency, it came out too dense and dry. Test test test...for your area.

Knead on medium for 10 minutes.

Grease a large bowl lightly. Lift the dough out and pull and roll it in your hands to form a ball. Place in greased bowl then turn over for oily side up. Set aside covered in plastic wrap or moist towel to rise for 1 hour.

Brush a bundt pan lightly with Olive Oil. Have a small bowl Oil at hand. Oil your hands. Pull bits of dough about 3/4 the size of tennis balls. Roll and drop into bundt pan. Continue and tightly pack the Rolls. Cover and let rise for 1 hour. Check though because the Rolls may rise over the lip of the pan and you don't want the dough to touch it. Uncover then.

Preheat oven to 375F

Brush with oil and bake for 25-30 minutes. It should be golden brown and risen.

Serve with a generous pat of Butta.....mmmmmm


Monday, November 14, 2011

Saag and Tamatar Paneer - a 'Meaty' Vegetarian Comfort Food

Saag and Tamatar Paneer
The thing about being a Vegetarian is that depending on where in the world you live, you find yourself making concessions.  Or at least I do with my low blood pressure and low iron.  I mean yeah, if you find yourself in Eastern Europe or Spain, you could choose to be one of those stalwart vegetarians living on mixed greens and bread.  Not me.  I don't believe that vegetarianism means sacrificing the enjoyment of food.  Particularly, for lack of a better word, I like dishes that are 'meaty' or hearty, rather.  You don't feel left wanting or full of water.  Indian cuisine do this marvelously.  It is a celebration of history, flavour and substance.  Yummo!
Above all dishes, I adore Saag Paneer.  That at the Eggplant dish of Baigan Bartha are my absolute favourites.  I decided last year to make my own Paneer because often in restaurants, the amount of Paneer to Spinach or Peas is a bit disappointing.  It is not hard at all but requires patience.  The first time I made it, it came out a tad crumbly but it still made a delicious Saag Paneer.  You need to cook the curds for a while after they start to separate.  There is a great video on YouTube by a lady called Manjula, seriously, like the Simpsons.  She's great!  When I was younger, I used to watch Madhur Jaffrey on PBS.  I loved how she always started by frying her spices.  Alot of Saag recipes don't call for the Black Mustard seeds but this is a bit of a tribute to my days of watching Madhur Jaffrey.  She always popped her Mustard seeds in various dishes.  I don't know for sure if she used it in this dish.  I really don't know how she managed to keep them in the pan though.  Mine scattered all over so I used a splatter guard.  As well, I didn't fry them.  I dry roasted.
I cook Spinach in a number of ways in Indian, West Indian, Korean, Salads, Spanish ..... In spite of it's leafy form, it is VERY 'meaty'.  It is loaded with iron is fantastic raw or cooked.  In this dish, the Spinach is married with alot of spices but it is still the star.

Saag Tamatar Paneer

600 g (2 pkg) frozen Spinach, chopped (1.5 lbs fresh Spinach)
12-15 oz Paneer (or Extra Firm Tofu, use ~300g if you want less, use 500g if you love Paneer like I do!)
2 T Canola oil
2 T Butter/Gee (Gee is clarified Butter. Use all Butter or Oil but all Butter is better)
2-3 T (6 - 7 medium cloves)Garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cups Tomatoes, chopped
1 t Turmeric
1 – 2 t Salt
1 T Cumin Seeds (Jeera)
1/2 T Coriander Seeds
1 t Black Mustard Seeds
5 Whole Cloves
1.5 t ground Red Cayenne
1/2 t Fenugreek (optional)
1 Cardamom Pod (optional)
1 inch Ginger, minced
1 Green Chile, minced
In a dry cast iron pan (or other dry stainless steel pan), toast the Cloves, Fenugreek and Seeds. Move the seeds around until you start to smell them and the Mustard Seeds start to pop. Let the. Cool slightly then grind them fine in a CLEAN grinder used for food or a coffee grinder that is dedicated to spices.

In a large skillet, heat the Butter/Oil on medium high heat. Sautée the Onion until soft and not brown, 3-5 minutes. Add the Chile, Ginger, Garlic for a couple minutes. Add the Spices and the Cardammom Pods and fry for a couple minutes.

**Okay so BE AWARE this is very aromatic! It is heavy and will linger for days so you can do a few things to mitigate 1. Fan on high the whole time. 2. Simmer a saucepan with vinegar water the whole cooking time. 3. Or Mom 'cowboy coffee' after cooking. That means boil water with a few T of ground coffee thrown right in. OR, since all of these things don't work perfectly, do not toast your own seeds, use pre-ground. Then do not fry the spices in the oil until AFTER the Tomatoes. Still do suggestions 1. and; 2. though.

Add the Tomatoes and heat through and mix so Spices and Aromatics are evenly distributed.  Sautee for a few minutes.  Add the Spinach and toss gently.  You don't want to break up the veg too much.  I like a chunky dish.  I really hate the Saag dishes in some joints that look like baby food.
When the all the Spinach as at least started to wilt, or after the Frozen Spinach is heated through, add the Paneer in dice sized cubes.  Fold gently with a wide wooden spoon.  I like to use a Korean Rice scooper.  I don't want to break down the Paneer.
Serve hot over Basmati.  Use Cilantro as a garnish but I know it's not entirely Indian but it's GOOOD.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Jack's Fishspot - Seattle - Blandest Fish on the Wet Coast

World's most fabulous is not the adjective I would use for Jack's Bland Fishspot.
We decided to pop down to Seattle for a few days to break up the baby monotony and visit some friends.  There are a few things we do without fail in Seattle, provided it isn't raining, and Pike's Place is one of them.  We go often enough that we aren't 'those' tourists who are taking pictures of the Romanescu and Artichokes in the vegetable stalls and not buying anything.  We go for the great fresh food and baked goods.  That's what we thought anyway when I suggested Jack's Fishspot for lunch.  I love the idea of a diner like fish diner attached to a Fish Monger.  Wonderful!  Too bad the guys don't do the fish justice.

We ordered the Regular Fish and Chips and a couple of Fish Taco's.  First thing to note was that did not do a traditional Beer Batter or Batter at all for that matter.  They did a Breadcrumb coating.  I find that a bit of a cheat/lazy/safe cop-out.  They don't want to risk having a bad batter or making the batter so they go for the 'fool-proof' crispy coating.  Now, you might expect that at Long John Silver's but not at at Fish Monger's fish joint.  To add insult to injury, they over cooked it.  The crumb was far too dark and tasted a tad burnt, which is all we tasted.  It was BLAND BLAND BLAND.  There wasn't a microscopic speck of seasoning anywhere on that plate, not even on the fries.  As well, when they tell you 3 pieces, you think, score! but alas, no, they are the size of chicken nuggets.  Boo!  Why? Because they don't have enough fish??

Then there were the Fish Taco's.  Again, covered in the over cooked Breadcrumb coating and equally BLAND and TASTELESS.  The Tortillas were tasteless, the Salsa was tasteless, the Fish was tasteless. It was layers upon layers of BLANDNESS.  Just awful.
Found a hair in my BLAND fish and chips - Jacks Fishspot
Did you think I was done?  Nope.  So at first, I was also quite excited about the fries which were skin-on, fresh cut and fried to order.  Apart from the lack of Salt, THERE WAS THE HAIR!  There was a wavy red hair on top of my fries.  I saw it as I splashed some Tobasco onto my fish.  Much like the hair of the dude with the crazy, unnetted hair behind the till!!!!  So I pointed it out to the dude cooking and he apologized and offered to make an entirely new plate.  Well, I thought that was very nice except when he came to our table with lightning speed with what I AM SURE was our original plate with the hair extracted.  The Fries where not piping hot as they were (because he just stalled for a few minutes instead of making new ones) and the Fish that I had already splashed with Tobasco were still there.  BOOOOOOOO!!!!!  Served along side this very disappointing lunch? was pre-made, store bought, packaged Tartar sauce.  Shameful.

Layers of BLANDNESS Fish Tacos #Jacksfishspot
Please do yourself a favour and give this place a miss if you find yourself needing a nosh.  Head a few doors down and get a nice bowl of Chowder instead at the Deli near the Seattle's Best Coffee shop or a nice Peroshky near the original Starbucks...

Jack's Fish Spot
(206) 467-0514

1514 Pike Place
Seattle, WA 98101

Jack's Fish Spot on Urbanspoon


Saturday, November 05, 2011

Saturday, November 5th - Nearly Out of Milk - Wholewheat Crêpes

Nearly Out of Milk Wholewheat Crêpes
Woke up today with a crêpes craving.  I slogged upstairs to D and lil T who were playing on the swing.  Having a reverse floor plan townhouse seemed like a great idea, no neighbours on our bedroom ceiling....until lil T.  Now when D takes the morning shift, T is banging his toys on our bedroom ceiling from 6am.  Wooo!  So on this sunny Saturday morning, rattled awake by plastic red roof being battered on the floor, I wanted a some nostalgic comfort.  Alas! Oh no! we're almost out of milk.  D warned that there wouldn't be enough for crêpes.  I shook the carton and estimated 3/4 c....seriously, I guessed exactly correctly.  Haha!  That was, well, less the amount of Milk D had already siphoned off for his morning Capp.  I don't dare touch that. 

I remembered back when I was in University and an ex boyfriend and I made his grand-mere's recipe for Crêpes and she used to use Water instead of Milk.  It made them alot lighter and lacier.  But I wasn't going to go all Water.  I like the richer texture that Milk gives them.  I decided just to augment what little 'free' Milk we had with Water. 

D wasn't thrilled with my use of Wholewheat Flour though but I really wasn't in the mood for White Flour.  I have to really be in the mood lately for White Flour and that's mostly in Pasta form.  The resulting Crêpes were light, nutty and crispy.  Yummo! 

Serve warm as you go with Maple Syrup (the real stuff!!), fresh Fruit, Preserves, Chocolate Spread and/or Cinnamon.

Nearly Out of Milk Whole Wheat Crêpes

1 1/4 c Wholewheat Flour
3/4 c Milk
1/2 c Water
1/8 t Salt (pinch)
1/4 t Vanilla
1 T Sugar (optional)
1/4 t Frangelico (Hazelnut Liqueur, optional)
Butter/Canola Oil for the pan

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the Flour, Salt and Sugar (optional).  Add the Milk and Water.  Whisk briefly.  Break the Eggs into the measuring cup you used for the Milk/Water and whisk to break up the Yolks a bit.  Add to the Batter.  Whisk to combine but do not over whisk. 

Let stand for at least 10-15 minutes.  Or in the fridge for half an hour and room temperature for half an hour  if you have the time or the patience.  I have never had the patience for that. 

I like to have a small bowl of melted Butter at the side of the pan with a Silicon Brush.  Heat a Non Stick Pan to Medium - Medium High heat.  Brush with a scant layer of Butter or Oil.  Ladel in 1/4 - 1/3 c of Batter.  I use a measuring cup but you can just use a ladel you're familiar with.  As you pour in the batter, lift the pan and begin to let it spread in a circular motion like on one of those bosu balancing boards. 

Let it sit for at least 1-2 minutes until the top is completely MATTE and the edges start to pull away from the pan.  Start to shimmy it with the pan alone then lift it with a wide thin Spatula.  Or if you're used to it, your fingers.  Flip.  It should be browned with spots and lacy bits. MMMMM  Cook the other side for another 2 minutes.  You want a decent amount of browned area so reflip and continue to cook as needed.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Saturday, October 22 - Spicy Double Chocolate Mexican Diablo Cookies

Spicy Double Chocolate Mexican Diablo Cookies
I first had a similar cookie from a food truck in Vancouver, #Tacofino, that started out in Tofino. Their Fish Tacos are delicious!  Their cookies are huge sellers as well and often sell out.  They're lovely but expensive in my books, for a cookie. Of course, I wanted to have a more economical way to enjoy the chocolatey spiciness. Their recipe is on a few websites but it's cut down from their restaurant version and the proportions do not work very well. Whilst halving a recipe or cutting back a quarter may work.  It doesn't work as well to reduce by 90% by pure percentages for a home baker. When I followed the online recipe version, the batter (not dough) was as loose as cake batter. When I saw them on TV Eat St. on Foodnetwork, their dough was stiff enough to roll and press. Now my dough is stiffer but more like servable ice cream. I've also made changes to the Spices. The outcome is OUTSTANDING. Gooey, spicy, fudgy goodness.

Spicy Double Chocolate Mexican Diablo Cookies

1 3/4 c Flour (~upto 2 c depending on your Eggs and humidity)
1 c Cocoa
1 t Baking Soda
1 t Cinnamon
2 t Cayenne
1/4 t Nutmeg
1/2 t Instant Espresso (or powder fine Espresso grounds)

2 Eggs
1/3 c Canola Oil
1/4 c fresh grated Ginger
1 c Brown Sugar
3/4 c White Sugar
1/2 T Vanilla Extract (make your own with Vodka and Vanilla Beans)

1 c Dark Chocolate Chips/Chunks
1 T coarse Salt for topping

Preheat the oven to 375F

In a large mixing bowl, add the Flour, Cocoa, Baking Soda and Spices. You could sift through a sieve but I thought it would be too messy and I was charging through these Cookies during lil T's morning nap. So instead, I used a small whisk to mix and break up any hard chunks.

In a smaller bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients except the Chocolate Chunks and Salt. The grate the Ginger just use a small hand grater used for Parmesan/Nutmeg (not a microplane/rasp) or the small side on a box grater. No need to use a Ginger grater. I have one and do not find it works well.

Add the wets to the dry and fold together with a large Rubber Spatula. Do not over mix but make sure to sweep across the bottom to incorporate all the dry pockets. About 20 strokes give or take 5. I mixed these by hand. The mixer freaks Lil T out.

Place in the refrigerator for half an hour.

Dish out on a parchment or silicon lined baking sheet with a 2 oz scooper. Leave 2-3 inches between cookies. Sprinkle with a small pinch of Salt. Will yield 12 large 4-5 inch sized cookies. Do NOT flatten.

Bake 15 minutes. They'll be soft and cracked on top.  Allow to cool for a couple minutes on the pan, enough to allow them to move with a thin spatula. Cool completely on a rack.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturnday, October 8th - Wholewheat Oatmeal Everything Muffin

Wholewheat Oatmeal Everything Muffin

It's taken 6 months but I think I have managed to find a way to bake with a baby.  I pre mix the night before.  I don't combine the full batter because I don't like to activate the leavening too early but I assemble all the ingredients on the counter and mix the dries in a bowl and leave it covered.  It was particularly important to do this ahead because well, lil T's room is underneath the kitchen. 
Wholewheat Oatmeal Everything Muffin
1 c Wholewheat Flour
1 c Wheat Bran
1 c Rolled Oats, not quick Oats, milled fine
1 t Baking Powder
1 t Baking Soda
1 t Salt

1 ripe Banana
1 c Milk
1 t Vanilla Extract
1-2 T Vegetable Oil
1/2 c packed Brown Sugar
2 Eggs

1/2 c each of Pecans, Dark Chocolate Chips, Macadamia Nuts, and dried Cranberries

So if you are starting the evening before to save time and minimise early morning noise then mill the Oats when baby is awake but perhaps in another room.  Lil T does not like the sound of the coffee grinder, blender or Baby Bullet.  In a mini food processor or your baby bullet with the flat milling blade on, grind your Oats until a floury consistency. 

In a large bowl, whisk together all the dries.  Cover and set aside until the next morning. 

In the morning. Preheat the oven to 400F. In a large 1 l mixing cup, mash the Banana with the Milk.  Add the rest of the Wet Ingredients (including sugar) but not the 'Everything' goodies.  You should have ~2c of Wet. 

Add to the Dry ingredients but do not over mix.  Gently fold by swooping around the bottom of the bowl and folding over to the middle of the top while turning the bowl.  Mix only just to combine.  Then fold in the add the 'Everything' goodies with only a handful of turns.  If you over mix, your Muffins will be tough and chewy. 

Spoon into lightly greased muffin tins.  Top with Pecan half (optional). Will make 12 medium muffins.  Place the filled muffin tin in the middle.  Close the door and reduce to 375F.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Check doness with a toothpick or skewer.  These were VERY FLUFFY and not dense like alot of 'healthier' muffins, even my own when I entirely eliminate most of the fat and eggs. 


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tuesday, October 11th - Watami Sushi - Affordable Fairview Go-To Lunch Sushi!

Watami Sushi - Sushi Combo Special
Being home in Fairview all day has forced me to find a new cheap go-to lunch-sushi. I'll admit that one does make some concessions on lunch-sushi. This particularly easy when the range and availability is what it is in Vancouver. So lunch-sushi isn't going to break the bank at Tojo's or Miku everyday but it needn't dip as low as mushy, fake sushi like the ones on Dunsmuir near Richards targeting the ESL kids. No, good lunch-sushi should sate the sushi addict affordably a few times a week yet have 1. decent rice flavour, 2. good filling to rice ratio, 3. fresh ingredients, 4. lunch combo specials, 5. size matters and a California roll should NOT be the same size as a Cucumber roll and 6. miso or tea included is only a bonus.

I've come to terms with the fact that there is no sushi a five minute pop-out between conference calls like when I was working downtown. Most of the Fairview joints are near Cambie. I tried a newer one today. It's so new it isn't on the google streetview. I'm pretty sure it's still showing an Indian place.

The cool offer here is that you can make your own lunch combo, actually all day. You can choose any three of 30 different Rolls or Cones and Miso is included for $5.95 plus taxes. There is no catch on that combo as I would have thought: no filler rolls like cucumber, no tiny rolls, no pre-made rolls. The rolls were only made to order and were all a decent size. I wasn't overwhelmed by too much rice. The rice was a good consistency though could have used more seasoning. Contrary to an earlier post, ingredients were fresh, possibly because turnover has increased or they responded to feedback or I ordered well.

I ordered the Spicy California Roll, Spicy Salmon Roll and Dynamite Roll. The Spiciness was a tad disappointing. It was basically a 'mild' flavoured Mayo added on top of a regular California and Salmon rather than spicing the filling itself. Other than that, the rolls were a nice size with very fresh Salmon. The Salmon, it should be noted, wasn't one of those tiny rolls often in these combos, the diameter of a lifesaver candy. The Dynamite roll was crispy and the Shrimp was not lost to the tempura.

The bonus Miso was the on the upper end of the range of lunch-sushi bonus miso. It had nice large pieces of the seaweed that led me to think it wasn't the insta-miso. As well, there were chunks of Krab (Pollock) in it.

I think I might have found my go-to lunch-sushi in Fairview. Service was fine but I was just taking out.

p.s. I went back a few days later and the Spicy Sauce was not drizzled on top but inside the sushi roll that time. :^D

Watami Sushi
(604) 708-8638
514 W Broadway
Vancouver, BC V5Z
Watami Sushi on Urbanspoon


Monday, October 3rd - Salty and Savoury Black Bean Clams

Clams in Black Bean Sauce
We usually do this with Dungeness Crab.  It is awesome with Dungeness as well, especially when you don't have to chop it.  The fish counter at TnT will chop it for you.  But if you do, add the Crab at the beginning with the Wine instead.  But I Clams are great and I find, more consistent than Mussels.  Touch wood.  I have found lately, that Mussels are a crap shoot.  There has been a fairly notable yield of bad ones before cooking and then funky ones after.  That's coming from a reliable fish counter.  Clams on the other hand, though smaller, usually more reliable.  I had a similar dish at the Shore on Granville but they used a scant amount of Black Bean Sauce to a point that it didn't taste at all Chinese but it was awesome.  Their appetiser portion of these Clams is the size of a Mussels entree.  So tada, we did our own version here.  I think I'll cut back on back on the Black Bean sauce next time to try to emulate the Shore Version more.  But the more Asian, in your face, Black Bean taste here is yummo too.

Steamed Clams in Black Bean Sauce

1-1.5 lb fresh, LIVE Manila Clams, in shell (for 2 people)
4-5 T Black Bean, sauce (recommend Lee Kum Kee, used another one with yellow all Chinese label once and it was SSSSSSOOOOOO SALTY)
1 inch fresh Ginger
1 t Sambal Oleck or Chili Garlic Sauce (Sambal is a Singaporean Chili Paste)
1 bunch Green Onions
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 T Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil
1 c dry White Wine

Fresh Cilantro, garnish, optional.

Rinse all the Clams.  Throw any open ones away.  You can buy them fresh from any fish monger or the fresh seafood bar at the TnT Asian Superstore.  You can keep live Clams in the fridge in damp cloth for a day, no more.  Ideally, you should use them the same day.

In a Med-Large pot or Wok, heat the Oil on Med High. Add the Ginger and Whites of the Green Onions.  Sautee for a few minutes.

Add the Black Bean Sauce and Chili Paste.  Stir briefly to incorporate.  Add the Clams and Wine.  Pour the Wine evenly over the pan.  Cover immediately. Shimmy the pan on the stove but don't uncover.  Let simmer for 6 minutes until all the Clams are open.  Serve hot like steamed Mussels.

Garnish with fresh Cilantro if you want.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Sunday, October 2 - Shitake and Crimini with Goat Cheese Crostini

Shitake and Crimini Mushroom Crostini with Goat Cheese
We're having people over for the first time in a while. Well, since our 'farewell to freedom' / baby home from NICU party. We don't have family around us so getting a babysitter this early that isn't someone I'm related to and therefore, in my eyes, has 'skin' in the game, doesn't float well with me. So Lil T factors in to plans. That meant, or so I thought, that we'd do some thing super easy for dinner party. Alas, the inner Heloise in D could not help bust through and our normal Roasted Nuts, Amuse Boucher, Appetisers, Starter, Main and Dessert ending up happening anyway.

These Crostini were our Appetisers. They are easy to make but they do require active participation for the duration of preparation. What does that mean? Well, I did a soup. So participation was front-end loaded, chop and walk. That's my idea of a baby friendly dish. Professionally, I'm in senior management and therefore an uber planner. When planning on baking or cooking, I pick days before, I plan out the chunks of activity between baby's needs; dry measure night before or loud processing when he's awake etc. Not D. He's like, power through, 'Lil dude should get use to the noise, plus you're here.' :-/ Six months into this concept and Lil Dude still screams bloody murder whenever D steams milk for his Macchiato. :-)

Shitake and Crimini Mushroom Goat Cheese Crostini

2 T Olive Oil
1 clove Garlic
1/2 Shallot, finely minced
1 T fresh Thyme
1 pint Shitake Mushrooms (one of those blue containers covered in plastic wrap in the market)
or half half 1-1.5 c Shitake and Crimini
2 T Sherry Vinegar
1/4 c Masala Wine
1/2 t Cornstarch
1 T Cream or Sour Cream
Salt to taste

Fresh Parsley or Fresh Thyme, garnish, optional

1/4 c fresh soft Goat Cheese

Brush and trim the Mushrooms.  Cook the Mushrooms in a pan on Medium/High heat with the Garlic, Thyme and Shallot.  Season slightly to taste but under salt.  The Cheese will add Saltiness.  Cook the Mushrooms until they are well browned.  Do not rush this.  5-10 minutes.  Then reduce heat to Medium.

Sautee Mushrooms in Pan
Whisk the Vinegar and Masala Wine with the Cornstarch.  Add to the Mushrooms.  Simmer until very thick.  Turn off the heat.  If your stove stays hot, remove the pan from the element.  Add the Cream. 

Toast some Baguette slices.  Spread with some Goat Cheese.  Place 1-2 T of the Mushrooms on each  and top with fresh Parsley or Thyme.  mmmm serve warm or room temperature.  Don't cook too far ahead or they congeal. D added the Cornstarch slurry just before serving.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sis-in-Law's Soupe Indienne - Indian Coconut Lentil Soup

Indian Coconut Lentil Soup
D went on a chopping rampage.  He decided that since he was making sauce and Ratatouille he'd do this soup as well since all the recipes were chopping heavy.  That seems like an efficient and good idea except for the person on the other end of the "I cook, you clean" bargain.   This recipe comes from my sister in law, which is weird  because she NEVER cooks.  Though she may protest that statement, I would say it's a fair one.  Her hubbo, J-L does 99% of the cooking and is awesome at it.  Good deal.  I wonder if this is actually J-L's recipe :^P  It is very tasty but if were upto me, I would make the optional Chili Flakes a part of the soup recipe and not optional.  It feels light and healthy even with the Coconut Milk.  I highly recommend you try it.

Soupe Indienne (Indian Coconut Lentil Soup)

2 c Lentils, dry (Orange or Yellow)
1 large Onion, chopped fine
1 1/2 T grated Ginger
6 cloves Garlic, minced
1 14 oz tin of Tomatoes, w the Juice
2 l Vegetable Broth (or Chicken if you prefer)
1 t Cumin
1 t Ground Coriander
1 1/2 t Curry Powder
1/2 t Cinnamon
1 tin Coconut Milk
1/2-1 T Sunflower Oil
1 Chipotle Chile, chopped (no Adobo sauce, D's addition to recipe)
Salt and Pepper
1 Lime
Fresh Cilantro, garnish
1 t toasted Coconut flakes  per bowl, garnish
Red Chili Flakes, garnish

In a large pot, heat half the oil on medium high heat.  Cook the Garlic, Onions until just transparent. Add the other half the Oil and add the Spices, Ginger and the Lentils.  Stir for a minute. 

Add the Tomatoes.  You can either run a knife around the can before adding them or as we do, squash each Tomato as you put it into the pot then pour in the liquid after.  Add the Vegetable Broth.

Bring just to a boil then reduce.  Simmer uncovered for 30-45 minutes. 
Add the Coconut Milk.  Season to taste with Salt and Pepper.  Add the juice of the Lime.
Serve with fresh Cilantro and Toasted Coconut Flakes.   (And if you like, Red Chili Flakes.  That was just me tho, not D)



Sunday, October 09, 2011

Saturday, October 1 - Sweet and Nutty Parsnip and Chestnut Risotto

Sweet and Nutty Parsnip and Chestnut Risotto
I'm not sure how D ended up making Parsnip Risotto.  We had planned on using the Butternut Squash I bought last week because I thought it was a cute shape and it's still sitting on the counter.  Then when I went looking for Parsnips for my soup, he changed his mind.  That's cool.  I love Parsnips.  They're sweet and nutty.  They make awesome chips as well.  The addition of the Chestnuts give the Risotto a nice roundness and autumnal quality.  Yummo!

Parsnip and Chestnut Risotto
 Serves 4 (or Serves 2 with seconds + 1 lunch)

1 c Arborio Rice
2 l (8 c) Veggie Broth
1 med Onion (tennis ball) diced
1 medium Parsmip (1 inch through middle, like large Carrot, 3/4 lb in store, 2 c diced)
1/2 c cooked Chestnuts (4-5) chopped
1 1/2 T Rosemary, fresh, picked from stem, minced
1/4 c Butter
1-2 T Olive Oil
1/2 c Parmesan, real, grated
Aged, REAL, Balsamic Vinegar
Fresh Parsley

In a small saucepan, bring the Veggie broth to a boil then reduce to a low low simmer.  That means, wisps of steam but no bubbles.

Wash, peel and dice the Parsnip.  Use the whole Parsnip, even the core.  In a large skillet, melt the Butter, less 1 T, on Medium High heat.  Sautee the Parsnip with the Rosemary until al dente soft, 8-10 minutes.  Set aside on one of the dinner plates, usually mine :^D

In the same skillet, heat the Olive Oil on Medium heat.  Sautee the Onions until soft, not browned. 3-5 minutes.  Add the Rice.  Stir until well coated 2 minutes.  Add a dash of Olive Oil if it looks a bit dry. Add the Wine around the pan.  Stir with a wooden spoon until most of the liquid is absorbed. 

Add a ladel of the broth and stir until absorbed (~3/4 c), until you can draw a line down the pan with the spoon and it doesn't close up immediately.  When you're about 3 ladels away from done, about 20 minutes into adding the broth, add the Parsnip back.  Add the chopped Chestnuts when you're 1 ladel away from done.  Stir gently.  You  don't want to mash the Chestnuts.

Add the Parmesan Cheese.  Stir gently.  Turn off the heat.  Add the last T of Butter broken up around the top of the Risotto.  Add the last ladel over top.  Cover and let sit for 10 minutes. 

Serve with a drizzle of Aged Balsamic and more Parmesan.  If you want to add some more richness, add a few drops of GOOD Extra Virgin Olive Oil.



Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Saturday, October 1 - Pear, Parsnip, Celeriac and Ginger Soup - Big Ol Pot of Seasonal Comfort

When the air gets that little edge where I turmoil everytime I'm at the door about taking a heavier coat and Vancouverites start carrying an umbrella by default (or at least those without Vancouver amnesia*), it's time to look to the root.  I love the heartiness and hominess of root and squash based soups.  I only tried Celeriac for the first time a few years ago.  It was in a mash I made. The idea of a vegetable with the nutty, spiciness of Celery with the creamy texture of a potato was facinating.  Apart, from the unappealing appearance and the even less comely trimming necessary, it is made for my tastes.  What do I mean by uncomely?  The root end lookes like a nest of worms.  There is dirt and fibrous bits that bug me from two aspects: the chore / grossness of cleaning in every nook and cranny and the % yield from the Celeriac you buy versus the amount Celeriac "meat" you have after trimming and peeling.  Waah.  But when you want a nice hearty soup, there's nothing like it.  The Parsnip is similar but is sweeter than the Celeriac and not as smooth a texture.  D used the other Parsnip we bought in a Parsnip and Chestnut Risotto I'll post tomorrow.  The combination in this soup is nutty, slightly sweet, a touch spicy from the Ginger and wonderfully satisfying. 

Pear, Parsnip, Celeriac and Ginger Soup
Serves 10-12 ie. leftovers eat or to freeze

2 T Butter
2-3 T Olive Oil
1 large Celeriac, (5 pin bowling ball sized, before peeling), 3-4 c diced
1 large Parsnip, (1.5 inches throug the middle), 2-3 c diced
4 med-large Bartlett Pears, cored and diced
2 cloves Garlic
2 inches fresh Ginger, sliced across the grain to slice the stringiness
1 med Onion, chopped, (tennis ball)
4 sprigs fresh Rosemary (woman's finger length)
4 sprigs fresh Thyme
3 Bay Leaves
1/2 c dry White Wine
3 c Veggie Broth
1 c Water
1/2 Lemon(for prep not for soup)
1.5 t Salt
Fleur de Sel, garnish
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, garnish

Fill a large bowl full of cold water.  Squeeze the half Lemon into it and leave it floating in the bowl.

Trim and peel the Celeriac.  The most efficient and not my way of doing it is to cut off the end that looks like a 'army buzz cut' and then cut off the root end ruthlessly.  That will be about 1/4 way down the top and bottom.  Now if you want to be more frugal.  Cut the root end more meticulously around the root bits to save the meat.  This will take some time and you may not want to bother.  Peel the sides with a peeler or sharp knife.  Place the peeled Celeriac into the acidulated water.

Peel the Parsnip with a peeler and place into the water.  The same with the Potato and Pears.  Although not entirely necessary, it will help with the aesthetics of browning.

Peel the Ginger and cut across the grain so you're cutting the 'threads' so you don't have any stringy bits after you puree.  Rough chop the Onion and the Garlic.  Leave the herbs whole.

Dice the Celeriac, Potato and the Parnip into cm (half inch) cubes.  Use all of the Parsnip.  Don't worry about the woody centre.  It doesn't matter in this use.  I do the Pears later.

In a large dutch oven or soup pot, at least 5 qts, melt the Butter and add the Oil on medium heat.  Sautee the Onions and Ginger for 5 minutes to soften, not brown.  Add the Celeriac, Parsnip and Herbs.  Sautee for 8-10 minutes.  Add the Potato and the Garlic.  Sautee for another 5 minutes.  Keep it moving. 

Cut the Pears away from the core and rough cut into large chunks.  Add to the pot as you're done.  Stir for a few minutes.  Add the Wine, Water and Broth.  Add the Salt and adjust to taste.  If you are not using a low sodium broth then you will not need to add as much Salt as I've indicated.

Bring to a Boil.  Then reduce to a steady low simmer.  Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let cool for 10-15 minutes (purely precautionary).  Fish out the Herbs.  I like to keep track of the stems and leaves I've put in so I'm sure I've fished them all out.  Blend until smooth with a hand blender.  You can leave it on the chunkier side for hominess.  There is obviously no photo because well, it looks like babyfood really.

Reheat and serve hot with a drizzle of GOOD Olive Oil and a touch of Fleur de Sel.  Fresh Parsley is a good option too.

*Vancouver Amnesia:  The odd and omnipresent condition for Vancouver residents (long term to lifers) to FORGET the bad weather that descends on the region from October to April.  This is contrary and distinct from becoming accustomed.  Vancouverites actually do not remember the bad weather that plagues us for most of the year.  Ask any of them and they only remember the few weeks of sun in the Summer or the 1 week heatwave of 25C and not the 30-60 consecutive days of constant rain and lack of sun (serious).  I have Vancouver born and bred friends who admit to being afflicted.