Friday, October 9, 2009

Applesauce.....Worlds best.

Well, this is the best I have ever tasted. So in my humble opinion I have claimed victory on this title. Really, the best part is that it is super pure.

NOTHING added. Except a little water.

I peeled some 5 pounds or so of the Macintosh variety, chopped them into 2 inch squares (quarters would work too), put them in a lasagna dish filled with a 1/4 cup water and then roasted them for around and hour at 400 degrees or until they were mushy but a little bit caramelized. Cooled. Put them in blender and pureed. Result? Smooth, sweet, devine apple silkiness. Some may say a little "baby food" like but I put this on some crepes filled with cottage cheese and I was in a very happy place.

Other ideas...

Latkes (potato pancakes)
As a substitute for oil and sugar in baking
The list goes on....

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Brown Sugar Baked Grapefruits

This is easier than toast. Grapefruit. Brown Sugar. Vanilla and optional candied ginger. Place in oven under broil and look what comes out? Pretty little cups of citrus sunshine.

3 grapefruits, cut in half with the a thin slice off the bottom so not to fall over
6 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
6 pieces of candied ginger (or more if you love the ginge)

Serves 6

Preheat over to Broil.
Cut grapefruits in half. Using a serrated knife cut inside and around the grapefruit half as to loosen the fruit.
In a small bowl mix vanilla and brown sugar. Place approximately a tablespoon over each grapefruit half. Place on a baking sheet and broil for 5-10 minutes keeping a close eye as not to burn but to lightly brown.
Remove from oven and place a piece of candied ginger in the middle. Let sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes (this isn't essential but lets the flavours saturate).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Food for Thought: Brain Food

As summer turns to fall, and my days of racing to a patio at 5pm end, I personally struggle with keeping my concentration levels high.

I was happy to read that I am far from alone. Seasons, diet and the inevitable aging are all contributing factors that affect memory.

The below article from The Province suggests to “eat brain food to keep your noodle like new”.

While the “noodle” brain reference seems outdated, the information does not.

The article argues that even though supplements have their place, “the problem with pills is that the extracted form of a nutrient rarely matches up with the complex whole form found in food.”

Find out more about what to eat to keep your “keys out of the freezer”.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes (or muffins)

These are a great " healthi-er" cupcake recipe. Obviously they still have sugar and butter but not that much and if you omit the frosting they are still quite lovely. Moist, chocolatey goodness.

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup agave nectar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 cup applesauce or applebutter
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup of walnuts (OPTIONAL)

Chocolate Creamcheese Frosting:
1/3 cup light cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place first 3 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at low speed until well blended. Stir in applesauce.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and the next 4 ingredients (through salt), stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture, beating just until moist. Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips, and walnuts if using. Pour batter into mini muffin or regular size tins. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean.
Meanwhile, beat creamcheese and butter with vanilla. Add salt. Slowly add powdered sugar. Frosting should be fairly thick consistency and may need additional sugar. Scrape frosting from bowl with a spatula and place in a icing bag. Chill in fridge for 15 minutes.
Once cupcakes are cooled pipe icing onto each one and bite in.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fig and Blue Cheese Pizza

This is pretty rich and decadent. Like wearing a fur bikini on a yacht in St Tropez, while drinking champagne and having peeled grapes fed to you. BUT a lot cheaper and tastier!

Fresh figs are best but dried will definitely be a great substitute. I like to serve these more as an appetizer than a main. Cut into squares and devour!

10 Fresh figs, cut and quartered
4-6 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup of blue cheese or gorgonzola
1/2 cup pecans
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
Ground pepper to taste
OPTIONAL: Balsamic Reduction

Pizza dough (your favorite recipe or purchased -- but make sure it is the dough. Not that premade shell stuff!)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Servings: 15 as an an appetizer

Roll out pizza dough into a 9 x 14 inch rectangle (approximately).
Spread honey evenly on pizza dough. Arrange figs in 4 even lines on rolled out pizza dough. Top with blue cheese, pecans, rosemary and pepper. Cook for 20 minute or until crust is set.
Remove, let cool, and drizzle with balsamic reduction, if using. Cut into 2x2 inch squares.

Before Oven

After Oven

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chipotle Cornbread

This cornbread is very corny. Ha, ha. I recommend serving it with BUTTER and WARM. Yum.

3 tablespoons butter
1 chipotle pepper finely minced
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
2 cups corn, fresh sliced off the cob
1/2 cup diced red pepper
1/4 cup minced cilantro
OPTIONAL: 1 cup shredded aged cheddar or monterey jack
Servings: 12 squares

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together the buttermilk, egg, melted butter, corn, chipotle, red pepper and cilantro. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir until just combined. If using the cheese, pour half the batter into a greased 8x8 pan. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of cheese over top and pour remaining batter. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of remaining cheese.
Fill it with the cornbread batter, pushing the batter out to the sides if needed. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until center is j set and a knife can be inserted and removed without batter.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Chai Zucchini Bread

I wanted to do a zucchini bread that was different than the norm. By adding the cardamom it gave it a spicier flavour and with the icing made it very reminiscent of carrot cake which I adore. This is not only lighter in calories and fat but super moist and tasty. You won't know the difference.

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
5 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup agave
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup light buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini

Orange Frosting (optional)
2 tablespoons light creamcheese
Zest from 1 orange
1 teaspoon orange juice
3/4 cup of icing sugar

Servings: 12-16

Combine flour through ginger in a large bowl and mix well. In a medium bowl with a handmixer whisk together butter through vanilla. Add zucchini to wet mixture. Combine with flour and whisk just until blended.
Pour batter into a greased 8 1/2 x 11 pan, loaf pan or muffin pan (your choice). If baking the loaf set for 60 minutes, muffins 25 minutes, pan 30-35 minutes.
If making frosting on high, whisk with handmixer until ingredients are blended. Once loaf has cooled spread over top and serve.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Food for Thought: Dinner Texting

It has long been considered common courtesy to not answer a phone call while you are at dinner. However, somehow text messaging has managed to slip through the etiquette cracks.

Some argue it is not as intrusive to the dinner environment since you are not speaking and are able to stop or start as you please- but to me that is the exact problem... it's 100% voluntary.

No one ever says "Sorry I have to take this text" or "It's business". For the most part texting is still largely a leisure activity.

There are certain circumstances where you can excuse a phone call at the dinner table. Yet does the same rule apply for texting?

The New York Times article "Play With Your Food, Just Don’t Text!" uses several examples to explore the social perception of texting in the dinner setting.

Harry Lewis, a Harvard computer science professor and one of the authors of “Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty and Happiness After the Digital Explosion”, has strong opinions regarding the matter.

He believes that “people think they can time-share: both texting and talking at once [but] you’re not fooling anybody. No one thinks someone on the cellphone can really be paying attention to another person.” This made me think of a few other instances when I tried to "time share" and how that affected my visit or my experience.

I don't know about you but going forward my phone will remain buried in the abyss that is my purse at mealtime.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Food for Thought: 10 New Uses for Vodka

Make yourself a cocktail and read more about how vodka can be used for everything from treating poision ivy to making your hair shine.

The Daily Green's Vodka Uses

I know what you are thinking - really? Vodka? Yep.

As The Daily Green points out, "it is widely available, effective and less toxic than many of the chemical alternatives you might use for these tasks."

I'm sold!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Read it: Flavor Bible

This book is UH-MAY-ZING!!!
Seriously. A page turner. Well, a page turner for foodie-nerds.
But it gives you the lowdown on what flavours pair well with different foods, plus it has lots of tips, quotes and interesting info from various famous chefs. It isn't a cookbook…this is for experimenting and getting creative with your own recipes.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies???

Apparently these chocolate chip cookies have garnered "BEST CCC" awards…this is the kind of thing that google was invented for.

So I tried out the recipe and…well, they are good but I am not sure they deserve the acclaim. Maybe I need to buy the special "disks" of chocolate and that they call for but I couldn't make my way to NY, where Jacques Torres sells them.

However, some highlights were the 36 hour dough-wait period. And they are pretty yum straight from the oven and with the salt on top. Sweet and salty is a sure-fire winner.
I have done more research since and there are recipes out there tweaking it with oatmeal and orange zest. I am going to give that a shot and report back later on whether or not it is an improved cookie.

In the meantime here is the recipe…

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Jacques Torres

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons
(8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content
Sea salt.

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
4. Scoop preferred size of cookie (1 tablespoon) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Food For Thought: Vitamin D

It’s official - vitamin D is the new belle of the supplement ball!

Not only are there several medical journals and articles published spewing rave reviews on the benefits but also just as many linking low levels to serious health problems.

And according to many studies, a deficiency is becoming alarmingly common.

Deficiencies were previously only associated with Rickets. However, it is now known to be linked to various forms of heart health, diabetes, depression, and severe osteoporosis.

There is also growing evidence that vitamin D may reduce the risk of some types of cancer - including breast.

Besides the sun, which Vancouver tends not to see very often, fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel are very good sources of vitamin D. You can also stock up on supplements and vitamin D fortified foods.

Read More... and more importantly make sure you are getting enough!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Zucchini Caprese

If you grow Zucchini or know someone who does you will know that they can reach gargantuan proportions and after the bizzilionth loaf of zucchini bread you will want to explore other options.
You could easily add roasted tomatoes to this as well.

2-3 medium zucchini sliced thinly as possible
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 balls buffalo mozzarella or bocconcini
1-4 cup toasted pinenuts
1/2 cup pesto

Basil Dressing
2 cloves garlic
4 cups packed fresh basil
1 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 cup good quality olive oil
Fresh ground pepper and sea salt to taste
Servings: 4

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Slice zucchini and brush with olive oil and place on baking sheet with parchment paper. Grill 5-10 minutes or until cooked through. On the bbq works best.
Remove, and place on a large serving platter. Cut 1/8 inch slice of cheese and place on top of zucchini slices. Sprinkle with pinenuts and dressing. Serve with a loaf of crunchy french bread to wipe up the dressing. Trust me. You will want to.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fresh Corn, Pepper & Avocado Salad

Fresh corn on the cob is so different from anything in a can or frozen that I really don't consider them in the same realm. So unless you have sweet, delicious corn on this isn't something I would make with a substitution. If you want a more substantial salad and to make it a meal you could always add black beans.

1 lime zest and juice
4 tomatillos cooked in boiling water until soft (3-5 minutes)
1 large bunch cilantro (4 cups)
1 garlic clove
1 chipotle pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 avocado
8 corn on the cobs, cooked and de-kerneled (that means cut the kernels off)
1/2 cup of feta or queso fresco
1 red or orange pepper diced
1 cup grape tomatoes or baby heirloom
2 green onions sliced

Servings: 4

Place all the dressing ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Place avocado through onions in a medium size salad bowl and pour dressing overtop and serve.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Food For Thought: Food and politics… doesn’t that sound like one ruins the other?

There has been an enormous backlash against Whole Foods after their CEO John Mackey was quoted in the Wall Street Journal last week as saying that health care is not an intrinsic right.

His support of health care savings accounts, a very conservative stance, has outraged even devoted fans to the point where a 14,000 strong Facebook group has already been created called “Boycott Whole Foods”.

In response, Whole Foods has sent letters to customers apologizing for any offense and created a forum on its website to discuss the issue but it seems to still be gaining speed on both sides of the border.

The feeling of betrayal has hit the company hard so far, with even devoted regulars declaring "it was only a matter of time before I'd have to reconcile my politics with my addiction to Whole Foods. I have to get my puffins elsewhere."

Do you think the lash out is just or are people expecting too much from the corporation (let’s not forget that it is one (wink))?

Chocolate Cranberry Coconut Pecan Cookies

I think the great thing about cookies is their versatility as far as what you want in them. By all means, if you don't like coconut or prefer dried cherries, then substitute them. I just went with what was in my pantry. I like these just barely cooked so they stay soft and chewy.

3/4 cup butter or vegetable shortening
1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups white all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chocolate covered cranberries or 1/2 cup dried cranberries and 1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup sweetened coconut

Makes 3 dozen

HEAT oven to 375ºF.
Combine butter, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended. Beat in egg. Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Mix into butter mixture until just blended. Stir in cranberries, chocolate chips and nuts and raisins.

Drop by rounded measuring tablespoonfuls 3 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet on a cooling rack. Remove cookies to rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Halibut Ceviche Tacos

I love making ceviche. So simple and flavorful. You could easily serve this with tortilla chips instead as an hors d'ouvres.

12 oz halibut filet, skinned, chopped into 1/4 inch cubes
Juice and zest from 1 orange
Juice from 2 limes
Juice from 1 lemon
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 minced jalapeño
4 tablespoons of coconut milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon fish sauce or soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

1 ripe avocado cut into thin slices
4 taco shells

1 mango (optional)
Shredded iceberg lettuce (optional)

Servings: 4 as an appetizer

Combine halibut, juices, zest, jalapeño in a re-sealable container and let sit 18-24 hours in the fridge. The acids from the citrus will "cook" the halibut. Remove, drain juice and place in medium size bowl.
Add the coconut milk, cilantro, sugar, fish sauce and salt and pepper. Add the mango if using.
Place a small handful of shredded lettuce inside the bottom of the taco shell. Fill with halibut mixture and top with a slice of the avocado.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Peach, Arugula, Almond, Feta Salad

Use up those peaches! I have been repeatedly using the fruit/nut/cheese combo for almost all my salads. Hey, when it works why not?

Juice from one orange
Zest from one orange
1/2 cup vegetable or grapeseed oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey

2 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
8 large handfuls arugula
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
1/4 cup feta
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

Balsamic Reduction (optional)

Servings: 4

Combine all ingredients for dressing in a small bowl and whisk. Place arugula in a large salad bowl and toss with dressing. Evenly distribute on 4 plates. Top each with 4-6 slices of peach, 1 tablespoon almonds, 1 tablespoon feta, 6 red onion slices and drizzle with Balsamic Reduction if using.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Vanilla Peach Juice

With peaches in season right now I am thinking of all ways I can use them. From cakes and pies to salads and juice.

This is lovely with a couple of icecubes thrown in to cool you down or as is. You can also freeze the peaches before hand so it is a more slurpie/slushie consistency. I like to serve it between courses to cleanse your palate or as an accompaniment to a peach dessert.

10 ripe peaches, peeled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of nutmeg
2 tablespoons agave nectar (optional)

Servings: 8 4 oz glasses

Puree all of the above in a blender and serve in liquor glasses.

Food for Thought: Food News Trends

While foodies always seek out articles regarding their passion, Terri Coles from the Ottawa Citizen claims that food has splashed onto the front page of mainstream news in a new way.

“From recalled tomatoes to calorie counts on menus, food and health was a big part of the news in 2008” and is gaining steam in 2009.

What’s going on in the fields has long been a reflection of economy, culture, and politics. However, maybe in a time of instant information it’s easier to follow the news worthy trends even as they are happening.

Coles lists the top 5 anticipated food-related hot news topics for 2009.

What do you think of her choices?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Grilled Vegetables, Arugula Pesto Dressing, Goats Cheese

I recommend using whatever garden fresh veggies you have. Squash, peppers, eggplant---if you can grow it, grill it, you will love it in this antipasto/salad. It is great for a large dinner party or summer bbq. Be generous with the olive oil and have a good rustic french loaf of bread to soak up the extra dressing. You will want to lick your plate if you don't.

Arugula-Basil Dressing
4 cloves garlic
4 cups packed fresh basil
8 cups packed fresh arugula
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 cups good quality olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste

8 peppers
6 zucchini
1 large red onion
1-2 cups cherry tomatoes
10 fresh basil leaves
1/2 cups goat cheese
1/4 cup-1/2cup olive oil for brushing on vegetables
Salt and pepper

Servings: 10

To make the pesto, take garlic and chop in a food processor. Add mustard. Add 1 cup of arugula or basil and alternate with cup of olive oil, until pureed. Set aside.
Cut vegetables. Peppers in thirds, zucchini-lengthwise 1/2 inch thick, red onion 1/2 inch thick. Brush with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Heat grill to 400 degrees and grill each side until done (10-15 minutes).
Remove from grill and arrange on a platter. Pour dressing overtop along with goat cheese, tomatoes and fresh basil. Serve.

Let's go shopping in Italy...

Well, since I can't just hop on a plane and go there, the next best thing is checking out these amazing Italian Deli's here in Vancouver. I like to pretend I am in Florence or Siena in a family run market. Except instead of having to use my broken Italian everyone speaks English. That would be the upside.

I love la Grotta del Formaggio. They have everything from ameretti cookies to buffalo mozzarella (direct from the motherland). I am a sucker for the labels. Sure, it's just a can of beans. If I were to do a taste test they would probably match up to the Canadian brand. But the cute little flag and Italian writing makes my heart sing.
Although I have never experienced one, their sandwiches are renowned.

La Grotta del Formaggio
1791 Commercial Drive

Here are some other Italian spots

Tosi Italian Food Imports
624 Main Street

Santa Barbara Market
1322 Commercial Drive

4156 E Hastings Street

Scardillo Grocery
2580 E Hastings Street

Renzullo Food Market
1370 Nanaimo Street

Friday, August 7, 2009

Blueberry Creamcheese Bites

This is ridiculously easy. Graham crackers. Blueberries. Creamcheese.
It is like a bitesize mini cheesecake minus the baking, effort and time.

12 graham crackers
250 grams creamcheese
Zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
Balsamic Reduction (optional)

6 servings

Mix creamcheese with zest and lemon juice. Place in freezer for a minimum of an hour. If you don’t have time for this the mixture will be a bit runny so omit the lemon juice.
Spread one tablespoon (or around that amount) on a cracker. Top with 3-5 blueberries and drizzle with a little balsamic reduction if you fancy.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Swiss Chard with Pinenuts, Raisins and Goat Cheese

Swiss Chard grows like a weed so if you know someone who is cultivating it go by their garden and grab some STAT.
This recipe is easy and so tasty! Great flavour combination. You can easily omit the pesto or goat cheese but with my obsession for all things fromage I found it brought it to the next level.

1 1/2 pounds Swiss chard
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup water
1/2 cup of goat cheese (optional)
1/4 cup arugula or basil pesto (optional)

4 servings

Coarsely chop stems and leaves separately. Roughly chop leaves.
Toast nuts on a baking sheet in oven at 375 for 5-8 minutes. Toss at the midway point or until golden.
Cook onion in oil in a medium pot, stirring occasionally, 1 minute, then add chard stems and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes. Add raisins and 1/2 cup water and simmer, covered, until stems are softened, about 3 minutes. Add chard leaves and remaining 1/2 cup water and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until leaves are tender, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve sprinkled with nuts, goat cheese and 1 tablespoon pesto.

Food for Thought: Designer Ice

Designer Ice. That is right kids. Don't laugh. Okay…well I kind of did. But before you choke on a cube, read the following article in Macleans.

A good mixologist will win you over on the argument of how pertinent a good ice cube is, as a chef will place value on his or her ingredients. Apparently everything from their esthetics to how they cool down a drink and effect the taste.
We have put emphasis on so many details in our foodie culture, and what was once laughed and scoffed as it de rigueur today.

One Vancouver bar manager made it a prerequisite that he have a Kold-Draft ice cube machine installed. Apparently this is like the Ferrari of icemakers and creates perfect ice morsels that enhance your cocktail like no other. If you don't want to order the machine, Iceculture, an Ontario company makes ice "balls" using a "100 percent pure water with a reverse-osmosis filtration system and ultraviolet light to kill any bacteria".
Serious stuff.
They cost $1.15 each and are approximately the size of a billiard ball.
Don't want to pay the hefty price tag in our current economic climate? You can spend a day creating your own by twice boiling some distilled water which apparently removes gaseous bubbles (not good bubbles). This is what the bar manager at Lumiere and DB Bistro Moderne does for special occasions.

Maybe one day we will all demand designer ice.
Think it that is hilariously preposterous? Remember there was a time when bottled water was thought to be a ridiculous fad that would never catch on.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Summer Salad

I got these stunning purple carrots from the Farmers Market in Whistler. They were so pretty that I had to buy them! I put them together with some fresh summer peas, some roasted pearl onions and tossed them with some organic greens. Like a lot of what I cook this salad has no rules. Just inspiration. So grab whatever veggies look good and are in season. Throw them together and enjoy the flavour burst.

2 bunch carrots (8-15 carrots) steamed whole
8-12 pearl onions, roasted
1 cup fresh summer peas, shelled
1 head lettuce

1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 garlic clove minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste

Servings: 6

Toss the lettuce with the dressing, reserving 4 tablespoons. Arrange veggies on top and drizzle with remaining dressing.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mushroom Cambozola Toasts

This is an easy appetizer to put together if you need something last minute. I like to have a baguette in the freezer at all times. You could use dry mushrooms for this and while fresh herbs are best, dry will do. Tarragon would be nice too, as mushrooms and tarragon are a great coupling. Don't have cambozola? Try a gorgonzola, blue, camembert---there are no rules!

French baguette, thinly sliced into 16 pieces and toasted.
10 button mushrooms sliced (or other varietal)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fresh chives
Salt and pepper
16 slices of Cambozola (approx. one small wheel)

Serves 8 as an appetizer

In a medium on medium frying pan heat butter until melted. Add garlic and sauté 2-3 minutes until soft. Add mushrooms and thyme, and cook until mushrooms are soft. Add salt and pepper and chives. Take a slice of bread and top with 2-3 mushroom slices. Place a piece of cambozola on top and put in a 375 degree oven for 2-3 minutes, just until cheese has melted.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Food for Thought: Beat The Heat With... Heat?

I personally love extremely hot weather. Living in Vancouver means heatwaves are a rarity and I am soaking up the sunshine while I can.

Shockingly, not everyone feels the same and people are in search of refuge beyond their air conditioned havens.

While most are loading up on iced coffees and popsicles, some have caught a whiff of a long standing secret to keep cool... with heat.

The Vancouver Sun article "Hot, Spicy Food Incites Cooling Sweats" argues that "sweating is a mechanism to cool the body. If you are drinking hot tea or eating spicy food and it makes you sweat, it can help dissipate the heat."

Sweating to cool down may not be a secret but for many simply eating the foods mentioned will reduce heat without the sweat.

Still not convinced? Check out the article for more information.

If you still aren't sold on the idea, I have included Wikipedia's list of some more ways to cool down minus the AC.

Wiki Cool Yourself Down Without AC

Heirloom Tomatoes

A ripe tomato is a beautiful thing…and it is a tasty thing too!
This is the time people.
To harvest this bounty and eat these delicious fruits up.
Go to your local Farmers Market, Commercial Drive, Whole Foods…they are all carrying them!
Fresh heirloom tomato salads are my favourite way to devour them.
Next up? A fresh salsa. This one gives you the option to add fresh corn. I only recommend this if you have the super sweet cobs. Serve up with tortilla chips (obvious) fish tacos, grilled fish, fajitas…as a bruschetta. Add some avocado on a bed of greens, toss with a little lime and olive oil and half a cup of the salsa---let your creativity take over.

This tomato stole my heart, then my belly. Is it not stunning?

Heirloom Tomato and Corn Salsa

1 1/2 pounds firm, ripe tomatoes , cut into 3/8-inch diced, about 3 cups
2 tablespoons minced jalapeño or 1/2 a chipotle large jalapeño chile minced (about 2 tablespoons) **see note
1/2 cup minced red onion
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2-1 teaspoon salt
pinch ground black pepper
2 - 6 teaspoons lime juice from 1 to 2 limes
1 cob of corn, cooked and sliced off the cob
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)

Yield: 4 cups

In a large colander or strainer place the chopped tomatoes and let drain for half an hour. Dice remaining ingredients. Place in a medium bowl with drained tomatoes and toss. Add corn if using.

**You can either use the jalapeño or chipotle. Both work and since I have an obsession with chipotle I like both. However, the jalapeño does let the tomato flavour shine a bit more.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Restaurant: Honjin Sushi

This may be my favourite place in town for sushi. Close proximity to where I live and the fish is just so fresh and yummy!
I have gotten so addicted that I really don't venture away as I crave their dishes so badly.

1. Their Spinach Gommae. The best. Almost more like a peanut sauce. I ADORE!!
2. Their Honjin Tuna Tsunami. Tuna in a sauce that is not described on the menu--but described in my mouth as "Slurp, yum, more!" and accompanied with avocado and cucumber and mango. PERFECT!
3. Sushi Shooters. This is seared tuna with this amazing turnip sauce. Sounds weird and no appetizing. Tastes so amazing and like nothing else. MUST HAVE
4. Spicy Tofu. The sauce. All about the sauce. KILLER!
Ok, so have I convinced you? Of course they do take out too.

Honjin Yaletown Sushi Restaurant
138 Davie St
Vancouver, BC
140 Lonsdale Ave
North Vancouver, BC

Friday, July 24, 2009

Carmelis Goat Cheese

Goat cheese is my water. I mean, I use this stuff so much my body mass must be 70% fromage.

It just makes everything taste so damn good!

If you are in the Okanagan area this summer (and I know 90% of BC residents are!)
You must go to the Carmelis Goat Cheese Farm. Over 30 different goat cheeses and they make the most amazing gelato. Any place that does a "goat cheese" tasting is tops in my book! I picked up some Smoked Carmel, Goatgonzolla and Heavenly. As far as I am concerned they were all the latter!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Watercress Salmon Sashimi Salad

I recommend going down to your fave or closest sushi joint and picking up some salmon sashimi from them for this salad. If that isn't an option you can easily substitute lox or a filet for a more substantial meal.

2 tablespoons light sour cream
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
4 tablespoons light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon horseradish
2 cloves minced garlic

1 bunch watercress
1 cup bean sprouts
12 pieces salmon sashimi
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

Servings: 4

Combine dressing ingredients in a food processor or small bowl. Toss with watercress, bean sprouts and red onion in a medium size bowl. Plate and place sashimi on top. Drizzle dressing on top of sashimi.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Food For Thought: Fancy Fast Food

Don’t worry I am not about to try to sell the idea of Burger King as a Friday night date destination. Instead, I wanted to share a new “view” on fast food that is gaining steam and participants.

Fancy Fast Food's slogan “Yeah, It’s Still Bad For You-But See How Good It Can Look” is a vague pitch at the movement.

This site, and a few others I have recently seen, show extreme makeovers of actual food items purchased at popular fast food restaurants.

For example: KFC’s 2 Piece original recipe combo transformed into a Chicken Corn Chowder. No additional ingredients are added except for an occasional simple garnish. Once you get past the initial disgust it is strangely impressive.

How did this...

become that?

Take a look…Fancy Fast Food

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Prawn, Avocado, Apple Coconut Salad

I have thought about changing the name of this blog to Salads Incorporated or maybe Salads etc?

I love salads! They are probably the meal I eat the most. I love the creativity and flavours. They are relatively fast to make and healthy.

This is one I whipped up the other night. Super fresh and zesty.

1 head sui choy cabbage, finely diced
1 granny smith apple, julienned
1 avocado, thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1/8 teaspoon green curry paste
2 cloves garlic, grated

Juice from 2 limes (around 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoon honey
Zest from 1 lime
Salt and pepper to taste

20 prawns

Servings: 4

Combine cilantro, coconut milk, fish sauce, green curry paste in a bowl and let marinate with prawns in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
Combine cabbage, apple, avocado and red onion in a large bowl and toss with dressing.
Preheat broiler and place prawns and coconut sauce in oven for approximately 5 minutes or just until they turn pink.
Plate salad onto 4 plates and top with coconut prawns.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tomato, Pea and Goat Cheese Salad

Summer tomatoes. It makes you wonder why we eat any other kind... really.
And fresh peas? Yum!
These are two foods that just shine when they are in season.! Get them now while they are at their prime.

4 ripe, preferably organic, beefsteak tomatoes
1 cup shelled fresh peas
1/2 cup goat cheese or feta

1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped finely fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Servings: 4

Whisk together all dressing ingredients.

Slice tomatoes a 1/4 inch thick and arrange slices evenly on a serving plate. Toss peas, goat cheese and drizzle dressing overtop.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blueberry, Pistachio and Cheese Salad

Fruit+cheese+nuts+greens=Perfect Marriage

Since blueberries are in season right now go get some and incorporate them into as many meals as you can.

Help prevent prostate cancer? Check
Help prevent ovarian cancer? Check
Help improve vision? Check
Prevent short term memory loss? Check
Better brain? Check
Better looking? Oh, for sure!
These little berries just do it all!
They are full of antioxidants and taste delish and if that if that doesn't get you on the blue bandwagon then nothing will.

3/4 cup fresh blueberries
8-10 large handfuls of mixed greens
1/3 cup shelled pistachios
1/2 cup feta or goat cheese

1 garlic clove minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Servings: 4

Combine dressing ingredients in a food processor. You will not use it all for the salad.

In a large bowl combine salad, cheese, nuts and blueberries and toss with 1/4 cup dressing or more to taste. Plate.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Food for Thought: Vancouver Summer Events

All Vancouverites savor summer!

It is those 10 weekends (if we are lucky) that we can sport our optimistically large collection of summer dresses and soak up some sunshine.With all the great things to do in BC in the summer, it's hard to prioritize.

The race for campsites and cabins has already begun but here are some summer event options from our Edible Diary.

Okanagan Food and Wine Summer Events

Summer Celebration Open Streets Events

Victoria Taste Festival

Canadian National BBQ Competition in Whistler

Vancouver Summer Food Festivals You Can't Miss

Food Inc.

A really important movie that doesn't just preach but offers solutions that you can easily integrate into your lifestyle and eating habits.

I am sure alot of people will be familiar with alot of the subject matter (ie: eat organic, eat locally) but this movie delves into more than just that.
It is currently playing at 5th Avenue Cinemas.

Lemon Tart

Who doesn't love a lemon tart? You could easily make this with grapefruit or lime as well. Citrus+pastry=Yum! This recipe comes from the Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver and I made it a few weeks ago at my Serious Foodie class.

Lemon Curd:
Juice of 2 lemons
Juice of 1/4 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed

1 1/4 cups of flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cold water (more or less)
2 tablespoons cold vodka

Servings: 4

To prepare dough, make sure it is all COLD. Cut butter into flour along with sugar and salat on a floured surface using a pastry cuter, fork or scraper. Once it resembles course cornmeal and water and vodka in 2-3 batches. Flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic. Rest for a minimum of 20 minutes or overnight in the fridge before rolling.

Remove from fridge and roll into a 1/8 inch circle. Cut around either individual tart shells or a 9 inch removabale bottom tart plate, leaving just 1/2 an inch border.
Pinch overhang of dough around shell and take rolling pin and run over top to flatten. Cut out a piece of parchment paper large enought to fit in the pie plate. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, with pastry weights or dried beans inside.

Pour cooled lemon curd into shell and let sit a minimum of 2 hours or overnight.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Free Zagat Guide!!!

Yes people. That is right. Go the website, fill out the survey and Zagat will send you a free guide. Awesome deal. Not only that but you get to be part of the voting that determines blow-your-mind dining vs. I-left-my-kitchen-for-this? Make a difference!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Chipotle Tomato Bean Casserole with Cilantro Pesto

So this isn't my concoction, but I figured it was so yum and made by my lovely friend Ambrosia that it should be shared anyway. The recipe itself is from this great site.

I am so very envious of her photos. She could make a crust of bread look tantalizing.

1 pound of large, dried white beans (corona, giant limas, gigantes, or any giant white beans you can find), rinsed, picked over and soaked overnight - or up to 24 hours.

Chipotle-tomato sauce
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 big pinches of red pepper flakes
2 pinches of salt
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves1 1/2 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers

Cilantro Pesto
1 medium clove of garlic1/3 cup fresh cilantro
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
big pinch of salt
2/3 cup kale or chard, washed, de-stemmed, and very finely chopped
1 cup feta cheese
1 1/2 cup whole-grain breadcrumbs, toasted in a skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil

Serves: 6

To prepare the beans. Drain and rinse the beans after their overnight soak. Then place them in a large saucepan and cover with an inch or two of water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the beans are cooked through and just tender. This can take anywhere from an hour to two hours (potentially more) depending on your beans, but do your best to avoid overcooking. Remove from heat, salt the beans (still in bean broth) with about a tablespoon of salt - enough that the bean liquid is tasty but on the salty side. Let the beans sit like this for ten minutes or so before draining and setting the beans aside.

In the meantime, make your tomato sauce. Place the 2 tablespoons olive oil, red pepper flakes, couple pinches of salt, and chopped garlic into a cold medium saucepan. Stir while you heat the saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute just 45 seconds or so until everything is fragrant - you don't want the garlic to brown. Stir in the tomatoes and the fresh oregano and heat to a gentle simmer, this takes just a couple minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the adobo sauce.
Make the cilantro pesto by combining the clove of garlic and cilantro in a food processor. Pulse while you drizzle in the olive oil - alternately, you could do this by hand. Season with a bit of salt and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. In a 9x13 baking pan (or large oven-proof casserole/dutch oven) toss the beans with the tomato sauce and the kale. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake in the top-third of the oven for roughly twenty-five to forty minutes, I look for the cheese to start browning and any visible beans to get a bit crusty. Remove from oven and let sit for about ten minutes. Top the beans with the breadcrumbs and just before serving drizzle with the cilantro pesto.