Friday, June 30, 2006

Kitchen Sense

When I was offered the chance by sara and cathy to advance preview a cookbook for free, I jumped at it. Unfortunately, I didn't get my last name to them in time and DHL was having a blast trying to deliver to Kayak Soup (I actually had a dispatcher ask me if I was a restaurant!). Once the cookbook was in my hands, I flipped through it, trying to decide what would be my first recipe. It is a solid cookbook, 600 recipes and all of them look like classics; basic recipes everyone can use in their repetoire.
It is strawberry season here in BC and Rob was harrassing me for strawberry shortcake; imagine my surprise when I tried the flip-the-pages-and-stop-on-a-random-recipe method, it fell to......... Strawberry Shortcake!

ETA; I guess I should actually REVIEW the shortcake ~ I deleted the recipe at the publisher's request and forgot to put my take on it in....
I am writing this two weeks after the fact, so my memory is a little hazy. I remember Rob swooning and going back for seconds. I remember thinking, yep, that's strawberry shortcake. ( He has the sweet tooth in our house).

Lazy Summer Dinner

Courtesy Granville Island Market. Rillettes, Kolbasa and Chocolate Pate from Oyama Sausage, Bruschetta topping and cucumber salad from Duso's, Peppered Brie from Dussa's. Served with a baguette from Terra Bread and a bottle of Riesling from Liberty Wines!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Super Tuscan Burgers

But first, my excited news; I bought a plane ticket to Michigan in September!!

Last night, I got around to making Tuesday's dinner; "Super Tuscan Burgers" or something like that. Its a Rachel Ray recipe and I think the first one of hers I have ever tried (not really a huge fan). It was a good recipe, although I have some potential changes in mind should I choose to make it again.

Super Tuscan Burgers

.75 lb ground veal
.75 lb ground pork
1/2 cup Merlot or dry Italian wine
1 med onions, finely chopped
1.5 Tbs sage
4 cloves garlic, chopped
Coarse black pepper
1 Tbs EVOO
.5 lb Cremini mushrooms (I used shiitakes, organic)
4 hamburger rolls (crusty rolls)
4 slices Fontina cheese
1 cup arugula leaves

1 Combine veal and pork in a bowl with 1/4 cup of the wine, the onions, sage, garlic and salt & pepper to taste. Form 4 large patties. (I used all of the wine and made six patties)
I ignored the directions from here on in, but I will include them for those who wish to cook their mushrooms in a big pile in the middle of their skillet.
2 Preheat a large (very large) non-stick skillet, leaving a space in the center of the pan to pile in the mushrooms. Add the sliced mushrooms to the skillet with the burgers.
3 Flip the burgers after 6 minutes and toss the mushrooms around as they brown at the center of the skillet. After the mushrooms begin to brown, season them with salt and pepper. (The color will be deeper and the mushrooms will remain firmer if you wait for them to brown before salting.)
4 Cook the burgers for 5 minutes on the second side, then remove them from the pan and place them onto bottom halves of the rolls and arronge on a flat serving plate. Place the sliced cheese on the burgers, then spoon the hot mushrooms over the cheese. Cover the plate loosely with foil to slightly melt the cheese.
5 Add the remaining ¼ cup of wine to the skillet and loosen the pan drippings. Dip the top halves of the rolls into the pan drippings to soak them up. Pile arugula on each burger, then set the top halves in place and serve.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Abigail's Party

So, I was unable to prepare my evening meal yesterday; here is a restaurant review I have been saving up.....

Clockwise from top left; sweet potato frites with sea salt, gnocchi with olives and goat cheese, goat cheese pave with roasted garlic, antipasto platter.
Abigail's Party is a reasonably new Kitsilano restaurant and was selected as a restaurant that could please vegetarians and carnivores at the same time. The drink menu almost impressed me more than the food; a page of amazing sounding cocktails. In fact, they sounded so good, we didn't even flinch at the 8$ price tag ~ thankfully, they lived up to the hype.
I personally found the food to be slightly hit and miss; the warm marinated olives were so good, I couldn't stop eating them, but the antipasto platter left me cold (I suspect most of the items on the platter were from a jar). I think the goat cheese pave with roasted garlic was my favourite; rich, decadent melting cheese, lots of roasted garlic.
The room was small, but didn't feel uncomfortable and I was very appreciative of the fact that they were able to seat a party of six with no reservation. However, they kept running out of menu items, which was excessively annoying.
If for no other reason, go for the cocktails!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Pasta Salad I

I love pasta salad, so I named this Pasta Salad 1; I figure a lot more of these will be coming through the summer.

Pasta Salad I

200g gemelli, uncooked
1 cup blanched green beans, one inch pieces
1 bell pepper, julienne
1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 cup sliced green olives
1/4 red onion, julienne
1 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
200g feta cheese, cubed

Cook pasta in lots of boiling salted water. Take it a little farther than you would for a hot pasta dish. Drain, rinse with cold water to destarch. This can be done ahead of time.
Chop artichoke hearts and combine all ingredients together. Season to taste.

We ate it with fried free range chicken legs and thighs and cold coronas on the patio.

Monday, June 26, 2006


I don't think I have mentioned this before; I love bakingsheet. I read it every day in my blogreader, and I file away her ideas for a day when I will need them. And that day came Saturday. A friend of mine was celebrating her birthday and I wanted something citrusy to make her. A vision appeared in my head, involving key limes and mascarpone cheese...could I make it work?
I headed to my go-to dessert site, bakingsheet and searched around. Aha! a lemon curd I could easily adapt to key lime curd. 20 something key limes later, it was done. And oh so good it was; super tart and citrusy, as only key limes can be.

Key Lime Curd
1 tablespoon key lime zest
1/2 cup key lime juice
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
Combine lime zest, juice, eggs and sugar in saucepan and whisk to combine. Continue whisking over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add butter.
Keep whisking until mixture starts to bubble and thicken. Transfer to a bowl and store in the fridge.

Okay, that out of the way, I could move on to the cake. I chose a basic genoise recipe, given to me several years ago by Emily.

4 eggs
2 egg whites
125 g sugar
125 grams sifted all purpose flour
60 g melted butter

Parchment line, butter and flour a spring form.
Preheat oven to 350.

Combine eggs, whites and sugar in your stand mixer bowl. If
the eggs are fresh out of the fridge, place the bowl
over boiling water to heat them up just to room temp
(or leave the eggs out). Once heated, whip with whisk
attachment until the mixture has tripled in volume -
watch the line of the mixture, it will rise and then
reach a point where it begins to fall again. At this
point remove from mixer and fold in the flour. After
incorporated fold in the butter (the butter is
optional, but really makes a much better cake). Pour
into prepared pan and bake until done (about 40-50 minutes)

Release from spring form and turn out unto towelled rack. Allow to cool completely. This can be made a day ahead. Just wrap well and store in the refrigerator.

With a long serrated knife, slice desired number of layers.

Now what to cover it all in? Back to bakingsheet, where I discovered this wonderful, totally foolproof mascarpone frosting.

Mascarpone Frosting
1/2 cup butter, room temerature
12 oz mascarpone, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp key lime zest

Beat together butter and mascarpone in a mixer. Add vanilla extract and gradually add all of the sugar until the frosting is thick, fluffy and smooth, about 5-10 minutes.Beat in key lime zest.

Unfortunately, I have no pictures of the finished cake, which I believe was well received. But here is a picture of some leftover frosting sandwiched between some gingersnap cookies.

Catching up

What can I say, its been hot, there's been birthdays, picnics and celebratory meals, Rob and I gave ourselves a mysterious stomach upset and there were 30lbs of strawberries to process.

Without further ado:

Sunday's breakfast was crepes, my first batch, topped with strawberry sauce. I have been wanting a crepe pan for ages and Rob convinced me to give in and buy it. I LOVE it and can't wait to try a million different fillings. My recipe for batter was from Epicurious, their Basic Crepes.

Another salmon dinner was had in there. In fact this may have been the one that set us off. Seared Copper River salmon, sauteed bok choy and green tea soba noodles with tamari and rice vinegar.

Because I had the whole weekend off, I was able to revisit a summer favourite; Farmer's Market Frittata. The Saturday Farmer's Market at Trout Lake is my absolute favourite and last summer, I started making Saturday breakfast from my pickings at Trout Lake. This week, the frittata contained squash blossoms, fresh cilantro, tiny organic red potatoes, local feta cheese, homemade chicken sausage and free range organic eggs.

Saturday afternoon, we had a picnic, then the evening was spent playing bocce ball in the park for a friend's brithday. How could we resist, the weather was perfect!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Chicken With Mango Salsa and Coconut Rice

Once again, I pulled an idea off Culinary In The Desert and gave it a little of my own twist.

Chicken with Mango Salsa, Green Beans, and Coconut Rice(Adapted from Culinary in the Desert, who adapted from CL)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon grated lime rind
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup cubed peeled ripe mango
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper

Coconut rice
1 cup uncooked basmati rice
1 sm can coconut milk
water to equal 1.5 c liquid

Remaining ingredients
Green Beans
2 free range chicken breast halves, frenched if you like.

Preheat oven to 375F
For the sauce, combine ingredients in a blender and proccess until incorporated. Pour over chicken.

To prepare salsa, combine mango, red onion, mint, and jalapeño in a medium bowl, tossing to combine. Season to taste.

To prepare coconut rice, combine rice, salt, water and coconut milk in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring once. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15-20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork; keep warm.

Cook green beans as desired.

Heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Place chiken skin side down, reserving marinade; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Place Chicken in the oven and bake for 20 mins or until cooked. While the chicken is cooking, boil the marinade until reduced to a syrup.
To serve, brush cooked chicken with marinade glaze, slice and serve with rice, beans and salsa.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Turkey Burgers with Special Sauce

I like top plan the week's menu in advance, but sometimes, it hits a snag. Monday's planned Dinner was Turkey Burgers with Special Sauce, spotted at Culinary in the Desert A trip to the market and I spotted fresh morels, only 12$/lb, What to do.....

Morel and Turkey Burgers with Special Sauce
(Adapted from Culinary In the Desert, who adapted from CL)

1/4 cup chopped watercress
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 c chopped morel mushrooms
salt and pepper to taste
16 ounces ground turkey breast
1/2 cup Special Sauce *see below
4 split whole wheat buns
4 lettuce leaves

Preheat grill

In a large bowl, mix together watercress, balsamic, soy sauce, oregano, mushrooms, garlic, salt, pepper and turkey. Shape mixture into 4 even-sized patties. Lightly oil the grill rack. Place them the rack and grill about 6 minutes on each side or until done. (cooked them stovetop)

Spread about 2 tablespoons of the sauce on the top half of each bun. Place a lettuce leaf on bottom halves and set the burger on top. Place the top half of the bun on and cut down the middle.

"Special Sauce"

3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped watercress
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped oregano

In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, watercress, Dijon, honey, balsamic, soy sauce and oregano. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Makes about 3/4 cup

Monday, June 19, 2006

Ancho Rubbed Prawns

Sunday dinner; Ancho Rubbed Prawns, Yukon Gold Potato Wedges and a Watermelon and Asian Pear Salad.

I rubbed extra large prawns with a mix of ancho powder, oregano, cumin and salt. They marinated for an hour then into the oven at 375 for ten minutes, turning once halfway through. The potatoes were a reBar recipe, wedged, tossed in olive oil and salt and roasted at 400F for 30 minutes. The salad was simple cubes of watermelona nd Asian Pear tossed in a lime and apple cider vinaigrette with some fresh asparagus.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

I get really cranky....

If I don't eat every five hours or so. My work lunch is at 11 and dinner in our house is usually seven, so I start to turn into a psycho around 5. Last night, that problem was solved with a little improvised appetizer.

I made a garlic scape pesto** (yes, I just happened to have some in the fridge), folded it into cream cheese and piped the mixture onto a melba round. Topped with a slice of super ripe tomato and I was able to make it all the way to 7:30 without killing anyone.

** I was inspired by Kalyn's recipe, but did not follow it. Mine had no cheese and some pinenuts added.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Duck Confit with Strawberry Pinot Sauce

I didn't blog wednesdays supper because it was, well, salmon. You all know that I know how to cook salmon, you have seen a million pictures of it on my blog, so I didn't think anyone would really care to see it again, even served with a chili lemon aioli...

Thursday night, I had a small work gathering, but I left after only 3 doubles (work night, I don't like to go overboard). I was feeling it as I sliced up the potatoes, but I managed to finish the meal in one piece.

We purchased some confited duck legs from Oyama Sausage on Granville Island and I seared them on the skin side, then popped them in the oven to heat through. I also sliced up Yukon Gold potatoes and panfried them till golden brown. The sauce was from some Pinot Strawberries my good friend Rachel gave me. I reduced them slightly and added a touch of balsamic for acidity to balance the richness of the duck. A simple salad and the meal was complete.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Easy Dinner

Looking for a meal you can whip off after a half dozen G&Ts? Then I have the recipe for you!
Turn on the broiler. Take five or six large roma tomatoes. Chop; spread on a bake sheet, drizzle with olive oil and salt and sprinkle a few gloves of garlic around. Place under the broiler.
Put a pot of pasta water on to boil. Chop one whole bunch of basil. Once the pasta water has boiled, add the pasta of your choice. Once the pasta is close to bing finished, pull the tomatoes out of the oven and blend. Stir in chopped basil, check seasoning. Drain pasta and serve topped with tomato sauce and and optional addition of soft french cheese. (makes it rich and satisfying versus light and refreshing.)

Monday, June 12, 2006

tony Posted by Picasa

Farmers Market Haul

I love the Trout Lake Farmer's Market! I managed to squeeze in a visit before work on Saturday.
I picked up the first tomatoes of the season; although they aren''t Milan's Tomatoes, they were still very good.

I also spotted squash blossoms.

Some fresh eggs, swiss chard and green garlic also made its way into my basket

The squash blossoms were stuffed with a soft french cheese, chopped toasted pine nuts and a wonderful dehydrated roasted garlic that a friend gave me. I then deep fried them, mindful of last year's experience. I served a small salad of tomatoes, balsamic, fleur de sel and fresh oregano on the side.

The second course was a ribeye, served with sauteed swiis chard. I love summer.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


This is a picture of one of my workplaces. This is the kitchen I cook for the priests in. I actually find it almost TOO big for the job, but I do like it~ wouldn't mind one of those at home!

Weekend Cat Blogging

I rearranged the bedroom last week, making it extremely difficult for Aggie to sleep in her favourite position; next to Rob. She countered by sleeping on his neatly folded jeans all night.

Kiri is off on a trip at Eatstuff, but the roundup will be there soon.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Lapsang and Meyer Lemon Roast Pork Loin

I have been in a bit of a funk lately, which has made me feel less like blogging everyday. In an effort to break myself out, here is last nights dinner.

I rubbed a pork loin roast with lapsang souchong and meyer lemon zest and left it in the fridge for 48 hrs. I pulled most of the tea off and placed it in the bottom of a roasting pan, setting a rack over top and roasting the pork in that pan at 350 till it was done. (I used a thermometer and took the roast to 140 ~ about 1 hr).

Editing for Jeff (and anyone else who wanted to know)

Lapsang Souchong is a smoky black tea, better explained in the link I posted. I have a wee obsession with it, having used it in the past. I have also used it on roasted chicken and I am thinking of trying to infuse fromage frais with the flavour!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Free Range Chicken

A dinner I could feel good about; free range chicken breast with sage and pink peppercorns, organic beet greens and new potatoes.

Friday, June 02, 2006

WCB/ Hey, Hay, Its Donna Hay!

Well, Weekend Cat Blogging is one year old, and Clare is throwing a party. She asked us all to bring our favourite toys and some checkerboard cookies....

Aggie's not particularily interested in the cookies ~

but you can see her smiling when I pull out her little man and stuff him full of catnip

Then, she hangs on for dear life, shooting me evil looks if I so much as look at her toy.

Check out the big party over at Eatstuff.

Pistachio and Rosewater Checker Board Cookies
For the Hay Hay its Donna Hay event, I was unable to make the recipe without changing the flavours. Its not that the chocolate and vanilla sounds bad ~ I just have an addiction to messing with recipes.

185 gms butter (6 1/2 ounces)
1 cup of caster (superfine) sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups plain flr (all purpose)
1 egg
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup ground pistachio
1 tbsp milk
2 tsp rose water

preheat oven to 180 C (355F).
Place the buter, sugar and vanilla ina food processor and process til smooth. Add the flour egg and egg yolk and continue til a smooth dough forms.
Remove half the dough and set aside. Add the pistachio and milk to the processor and process for 1-2 mins or until just combined. Remove the dough and roll betweern 2 sheets of bakingpaper until 5 mm or 1/4 inch thick. Add rosewater to the other half of the dough ( and I used a little red sugar to give the dough a pale pink colour), roll out as for original dough.
Use a square cookie cutter* to cut out squares arrange on baking sheet lined with baking paperto for cheqerboards. Repeat
Bake for 10 - 12 mins until crisp and golden. — You just lay the squares right next to each other they will stick together when they bake.

*Alt method 1) Use a ruler and a knife and cut small squares, can be fun and fiddly, esp if you want to make small squares
*Alt method 2) Divide the 2 doughs and make long thin logs, join the together and then cut 1 cm thick slices. You will need a sharp knife.