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.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tofu Chocolate Mousse with Fresh Raspberries

Yes, I know. Sounds gross. Sounds wrong. But aren't you kinda curious? Well, you will be pleasantly surprised! Infact I dare you to fool people...if you don't tell them they will never know. It is easy and full of protein and so much better for you than the traditional kind with a vat of whipped cream. Plus the guilt-free factor on the waistline is such a bonus.

2 packages silken tofu (medium firm will work too)
3 8 ounce squares of bakers chocolate or equivalent
4 tablespoons of cocoa powder
4 tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoon of maple syrup or agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 cup fresh raspberries

Servings: 6

Place chocolate in a medium saucepan and heat up on very low heat just until melted.
Place packages of tofu in a blender.
Add melted chocolate, cocoa powder, sugar, syrup, vanilla, pinch of salt and puree, until smooth.
Place into your favorite bowl or 6 separate parfait cups. Refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours. Top with fresh raspberries. Serve.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Food for Thought: The Dirty Dozen

Not everyone can afford to go "all organic" every time they go to the grocery store.

With nightly patio visits and weekend getaways slashing into your bank account, we wanted to help you prioritize which foods are more important to buy organically and which ones you can skimp on if need be.

This list, often referred to as the "dirty dozen" states the 12 foods possessing the highest and lowest concentrations of pesticides, additives, and hormones.

After re-googling a few times I found there are a few different opinions about foods that need to be on there. However, it seems that no matter which list you read, they start by referring to this one.

The Environmental Working Group not only offers a PDF download, they also offer an Iphone app option.

Ahhhhhh technology... you are glorious.

The Dirty Dozen Guide

Tarragon Potatoes and Lox

Tarragon and salmon trumps dill and salmon as far as flavour combinations go. Or I think so anyway. You could easily make this a large potato salad or individual like I have done in the photo. I used lox but bbq salmon or poached would work well too. There are no rules.

Tarragon Aioli (see recipe)
8 slices of lox
12 baby nugget potatoes, steamed and sliced in half, cooled
4 teaspoons finley diced shallots
Chives for garnish

Servings: 4

Toss cooled cooked potatoes in a bowl with 1/2 to a 3/4 cup of the aioli or until the potatoes are well coated.
Using a mold or freehand assemble on 4 plates a layer of potatoes. Top with a slice of lox. Another layer of potatoes, another layer of lox and garnish with shallots and chives.

Tarragon Aioli

This aioli is killer. My mom made it for a salmon once and I fell in love. The original came from Epicurious I think...but I have tweaked it over the years with the addition of feta and sour cream.

3 tablespoons fresh tarragon
3/4 cup light or regular mayonnaise
2 tablespoons feta
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon diced shallot
2 tablespoons light or regular sour cream
Salt & pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Serve on everything from fish to potatoes to veggies.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Raw Oysters

Raw oysters are one of those things I would have never tried or ordered without someone else pushing it on me. I won't even go into what people compare their aesthetics and texture to as I want you to try them if you never have. There are health risks to eating raw oysters and if you google them you can read all about it. There is also the whole myth of the raw oysters increasing ones sex drive. The FDA does not back this statement (really??) but they contain zinc, which is known to help naturally increase your testosterone levels. They also contain dopamine, a chemical that is known to naturally increase your libido. So there you have it folks. Alot of danger involved but don't we like to live on the edge???

12 raw oysters in their shell
4 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons minced shallots or red onion
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat leaf parsley
Season salt and pepper

Mix the vinegar, onion and parsley in a small bowl with salt and pepper. Pour 1/2 teaspoon over each oyster and eat immediately.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fruit Tree Project

I just saw a great documentary called Island on the Edge. The film looks at the history of food production on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands and what would happen to our food supply if we were suddenly cut off from the rest of the world. Throughout the film they interview and talk to local farmers and innovators about food production and how we can become more sustainable and conscious about what we eat. One of my favourites was the Fruit Tree Project in Victoria.
The Fruit Tree Project harvests fruit from private trees that would otherwise go to waste. The fruit is then distributed among the homeowners, volunteers, food banks and community organisations within Victoria. I just love everything about this idea.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Spelt Strawberry Scones

Wheat free, low sugar, low fat and so good. Make them with fresh strawberries and serve with butter or strawberry preserves for a double strawberry explosion!

2 cups spelt flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup hot water
1 cup quartered and sliced local, fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Servings: 12 scones

Preheat the oven to 375°. Grease a baking sheet. In a bowl, whisk the spelt with the baking powder and salt. Stir in the oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Stir in the hot water.
Scoop 12 mounds of batter 2 tablespoons each onto the prepared baking sheet. Place 3-4 strawberries on top and top with another 2-3 tablespoons so strawberries are covered with batter. Sprinkle a pinch of brown sugar and 6 or 8 sliced almonds on top. Bake the scones for 20 minutes, or until golden. Let the baking sheet cool completely on top of a rack.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Strawberry Avocado Salsa

I debated on putting this picture up as I am not sure the visual is that appetizing...but don't let looks fool you! It is very tasty! I put it on salmon and red snapper.

This goes well with fish and tortilla chips or just on its own. Great summer dish.

1 cup of sliced fresh strawberries
2 ripe avocados, sliced and diced
1 lime zested
4-6 limes juiced (approximately 1/2 cup)
1 jalapeno pepper minced and de-seeded
1/4 cup feta
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 corn on the cob, cooked and de-kernled
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all of the above in a medium bowl and toss well.