Archive for April, 2011

The Corkscrew Inn (Vancouver, BC)

I stayed a long weekend at a bed and breakfast in Vancouver, BC called The Corkscrew Inn. It was located in a beautiful, almost suburban neighborhood called Kitsilano. I was punctual for a warm breakfast served at 8:30am every single morning. 🙂

My favorite breakfast of the weekend was lemon ricotta pancakes. Just my luck, Rebar has a recipe for those which I’ll have to try!

So cute! Salmon and cream cheese omelette

Sweet potato fries

I love sweet potatoes. I love fries. I especially love sweet potato fries. If you haven’t tried your hand at these, I highly suggest you do. Here’s how easy they are to make:

Ingredients:
-1 sweet potato
-olive oil
-kosher salt
-cayenne pepper (if you want to add some heat)

Heat the oven to 400F. Peel and cut the sweet potato into steak or toothpick slices at your whim. Coat with a light layer of olive oil and season with salt. Then arrange them with room to breathe on a baking tray and stick them in the oven. Each side of the fries requires approx 10-15 minutes. Check them every 10 minutes or so to make sure they don’t burn. I found the steak fry size to be my favorite as the smaller varieties are harder to flip evenly during cooking.

You can eat these anyway you can dream of. Tonight I had half the batch with my chicken and gravy. Tomorrow morning, I may throw a sunny side egg over the other half and give them a warm yolk bath. Or, you can dip them in honey which is especially good if you’ve added a little cayenne pepper.

Yours for the taking!

It’s about time I told you about my chicken habit.

Almost every week to every other week I roast a chicken. I pick off the meat and then make chicken stock overnight with added carrots, celery and onions. Roasting a chicken seems like a luxury, but it’s not! It takes 1.25 hrs in the oven at 320F. I’m happy when my digital thermometer registered 160F. I brine the chicken in water, salt and lemon juice for approx. 20-30 minutes, mainly to remove the bacteria and other external impurities. I then cut small holes in the skin through which I stuff seasoning and rub it over the meat. I cover with olive oil and put it in a covered pot to roast. So easy!

From the stock, the options are limitless; soups, base for grains/beans/polenta, sauces, etc. Stock is so convenient to freeze and use whenever! I’ve heard of people freezing them in their ice cube trays so that they can access it a la carte.

Gravy. I have not made gravy during this weekly ritual until today. OMG. Do it. A good tip from my recently read chemistry cookbook, separate the fat and water layers before making the gravy. I did this the simple way by saving the drippings in a tupperware overnight and let the two phases separate themselves. Then the book advises to add flour to only the fat layer first and simmer for a few minutes. Afterwards, add the non-flat liquid and thicken and season. This fully incorporates the thickening agent, removes any floury taste, and ensure silky smooth gravy. I almost drooled while eating this chicken and gravy over a piece of bread.

Simply seasoned with herbs de provence, salt and pepper

farmers’ markets start the first week of May!!

To celebrate the coming season of fresh produce at my local outdoor farmers market, I made a simple caprese salad with a big, organic tomato from Whole Foods. Made right, caprese salad can be a divine creation.

Ingredients (all ingredients need to be the best quality)
-Tomato slices
-Buffalo mozzarella in liquid
-Basil
-Extra virgin olive oil
-Balsamic vinegar
-Kosher salt (do not proceed without large crystal salt!!!)

1. Slice tomatoes and lay flat on plate (don’t cheat and start to layer then in a pretty assortment before seasoning)
2. Pour a pile of kosher salt into your left palm and season all slices evenly. Then add freshly ground pepper.
3. Slice buffalo mozzarella and lay then on top of the tomato slices
4. Repeat step two for the mozzarella as it loves salt.
5. Rinse basil and thoroughly dry. Place individual leaves on top of mozzarella
6. Drizzle with olive oil
7. Take a Tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and evenly distribute it on the basil leaves. If you dried your basil leaves, it shouldn’t run off quickly onto the plate.
8. Lastly season your leaves if you want.
Enjoy 🙂

Juicy, salty heaven

Rebar (Victoria, BC)

This was like a religious pilgrimage for me after being repeatedly inspired by their famous cookbook, Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook. So happy to find this gem.

On the crunchy side of life in the best way possible. While I only had stomach room for a fresh juice (Emerald City) and date bar dessert, both were delicious!! I have them to thank for producing my favorite cookbook to date. If I liked in Victoria, I’d dine here often.

Yay!

Date dessert pie (tasted like my Grammy's shoe fly pie)

Abigail’s Party (Vancouver, BC)

Went here on the recommendation of a local Vancouverite and was very pleased with the casual atmosphere and superior food. I ordered the Chicago mule cocktail which was delicious. I also had the crispy skin salmon dish with gnocchi and wild mushrooms. YUM. The fish was fresh and for once, I felt happy to eat the skin. The gnocchi was a little tough but the overall flavor and carmelization on the mushrooms was perfect.

Salmon with wild mushrooms and gnocchi

Mistral (Vancouver, BC)

Very formal atmosphere but an intimate, warm setting. I saw that they offered fresh spaghetti with scallops and I was sold. For being a French bistro, I probably should have gone with a braised/stewed meat option, but I couldn’t help myself! Unfortunately, the dish fell a little flat, but overall the experience was memorable.

Vij’s Indian Restaurant (Vancouver, BC)

While the atmosphere is inviting and ever so slightly glamorous, the food let my high expectations down. Clearly each dish was made with care, but the finishing execution left me wanting more. Here’s the line-up:

In-line friendly bites: (thank you!)
Cassava fries – an obvious winner, yum. one of my favorite bites of the night

Cocktails – tasty and refreshing

Yam, paneer, and cabbage kofta in pureed lentil curry – Interesting combination and flavors, but the kofta was not crispy enough to counter the soupy texture of the curry.

Samosas filled with lamb and beef sauteed in fennel, cloves, and sumac – The flavors of the sauce that accompanied the samosas was delicious, however, the samosas itself was lacking in flavor. The pureed meat lost it’s meaty charm and was sadly as smooth as baby food.

Saag-paneer with lentil curry and chapati – tasty flavors for this classic dish but nothing extraordinary

Cashew chicken in tomato curry sauce – Perhaps our late dinner arrival caused the demise of this dish, but the flavors were so intense and confused that I couldn’t finish much of it. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that the sauce reduced too much and therefore left it over seasoned.

Bread – The bread served to our table tasted like pita from a plastic package bought from the grocery store. It lacked all warm, soft, fresh, flavorful characteristics that Indian breads are so well known for.

Samosas filled with lamb and beef

Yam and cabbage kofta in pureed lentil curry

Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes

For those who like tasty pancakes and also those who happen to have gluten allergies, cornmeal pancakes are made for you. The recipe calls for blue cornmeal which apparently has a nuttier flavor and more nutritional value than yellow cornmeal, but blue cornmeal isn’t even carried by Whole Foods! When I find it, I’ll try it. The recipe also prefers blue cornmeal because the alkalinity of the baking soda makes the blue color more prominent. Good to know if you are ever caught in a challenge to make ‘blue only’ food on Top Chef.

The pancakes turned out like blueberry cornbread muffins, but better. I’d definitely make them again. Here’s the recipe:
1 C. blue cornmeal (used yellow instead…resulting in a cool greenish/blue pancake color after blueberries were added)
1 T. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
.5 tsp. salt
1 C. milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 T. melted, unsalted butter
.5 C. all-purpose flour (I used corn flour to avoid a gluten allergy)
1 C. fresh blueberries (i used thawed frozen and loved the blue juice that accompanied them)

1. mix all dry ingredients except flour and all wet ingredients in a separate bowl
2. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and let sit for 10 minutes (so the baking powder and soda can do their magic)
3. Then add in the flour just until it disappears. Then fold in blueberries and DO NOT MIX further.
4. Cookem’ until their done on a griddle. Top with whatever floats your pancakes. 🙂

Yuummmmmm, brunch.

Potatoes Anna

To utilize my freshly made ghee, I made a simple ‘potatoes anna’ dish that my friend highly recommended from ‘What Einstein Told his Cook’. To my excitement, the recipe allowed me to use my mandolin slicer and cast iron skillet, two of my favorite kitchen tools. I added a sprinkling of herbs de provence to each layer along with salt/pepper seasoning. The result was beautiful and addictive.

Crispy golden starch.

Recipe (from book)
-4 medium potatoes
-2-4 T. clarified butter
-coarse salt
-freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450F.
2. Add a thin layer of clarified butter to the bottom of a cast iron skillet
3. Alternate spiraled layers of potato slices and seasonings (incld butter)
4. Once built, heat on stove top to a sizzle before slipping it into the oven with a lid
5. Cook time is approx. 30-35 minutes.

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