Monday, February 12, 2018

Favorite Snack

This snack entails recognizing a place and a product - both businesses are small and Vancouver based, which is a win, win for me.

 The snack is Fermented Cashew butter/paste with Turmeric and Black Pepper on Rice Crackers (the web site is here for the cashew spread). It is a riff - or pretty much a downright steal from 'The Federal's' toast dish that is made by smearing their homemade bread with the turmeric cashew butter, sprinkling with minced tarragon and pumpkin seeds and finishing with a drizzle of honey. I do exactly the same thing, but on rice quinoa crackers (in an effort to avoid bread). I love the taste combined with the crunch of cracker and seeds.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A New Kale Salad (for me)

This salad is inspired by the restaurant Salvio Volpe and a blog site of which I cannot remember the name - but it seems to be written by a woman in perhaps New York state, and the theme is 'getting shit done' or something like that. I think she used to write for the New York times, if she doesn't still do so. Humorous blog....wish I could remember the name.

One of the things I love about this salad is that it reminds me of my sister as I stand, precisely mincing the kale into even, delicate shreds (the perfect size to get stuck in my teeth!). It is a super easy salad that can be made up of only a few ingredients (kale, oil, lemon, garlic, Parmesan, salt and pepper) as a side salad but also expands out nicely to a texturally rich one dish meal with the addition of chicken, beluga lentils, etc.

This salad lasts days in the fridge, dressed (add the cheese and hemp just before serving to keep the textures defined). The dressing is a riff on a Ceasar salad dressing. You could substitute apple cider dressing, or create a lighter salad (less oil) by just tossing the greens with a really nice (but NOT $200 dollar nice) balsamic dressing and olive oil.

Ingredients for the Giant Bowl (as seen above) - serves 10 standard servings (maybe 12)

3 bunches kale (I used one bunch black, one bunch curly green and one bunch curly purple)
Approximately 1 1/2 cups grated parmesan
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup hemp seeds
1 cup olive oil
2 lemons
6 to 8 white anchovies, rinsed in tepid/warm water
2 cloves garlic
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


1. Chop the kale into thin slices, then chop across these roughly every 1/2 inch to give you delicate, finely sliced kale. Transfer the kale to a large bowl.
2.Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, anchovies, garlic, salt and pepper in a blender and whirl until smooth.
3. Toss the kale with 3/4 of the salad dressing - reserve the rest to adjust the final salad balance. If the remaining dressing is not needed for the kale salad, reserve for other salads in the fridge.
4. You can either store the salad as is in the fridge, and top with cheese and hemp seeds as needed, or if you are serving the whole thing in one evening, toss in the cheese and hemp seeds, fluff a bit so you get a nice colour and textural mix and serve.

One of my favourite flavour combinations is kale with pecans, so of course as soon as I started eating the bowl pictured above, I made the following addition - so you can also consider adding toasted pecans. The pecans pictured below are salt and peppered for extra punch.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Puffy Eyes, the Smell of Raw Chicken and Other Horrible Things

This post is not for Jenny, the most positive person I know.

I love cooking. I love thinking about food, the history, the politics, the flavours, the weird cultural practices, the chemistry and of course the actual practice of cooking and eating.

On the other hand, after a life of being immersed in it, there are also many things to do with cooking that annoy me (that is putting it mildly). What follows is a short list of my favourite cooking hates.

  • Puffy eyes from onslaught of tears due to chopping onions
  • Peeling sticky sweet garlic (love the results HATE peeling the thin film that refused to release)
  • Cooking show cooks who talk nostalgically about how their mom influenced their career
  • Washing spinach
  • The smell of raw chicken
  • Prepackaged fish cakes
  • Green peppers - unless literally just picked of a plant and eaten within ten minutes
  • Being sprayed with greywater
  • Correction - having even a drop of grey water on me
  • Smelling like lamb after cooking of a ton on the bbq
  • Any amount of water inside rubber gloves 
  • Lemon and chocolate combined in any form
  • Water running down my sleeves
  • Those cooks who spent their youth in university, then decided to become a chef, resulting in a unsubstantiated kitchen arrogance (its not all of you, just a memorable few)
  • Most farm raised fish (i don't have a problem with guppies)
  • I don't really like washing lettuce either
  • Washing dishes that did not need to be dirtied
  • Stinky washcloths, tea towels etc
  • Dogs in the kitchen (at home) - don't really like the cats there either
  • Dirty dishes in a sink of cold water in the morning
  • Wooden items left in water
  • Wet spots on the floor
  • Pancakes turned too many times (hahaha Michael, hope you are reading this)
  • Loose vegetables (carrots, potatoes, beets) in plastic bags from the grocer 
  • Fish cleaned inside the house, or any building
  • Burning nuts - because it is, at the very minimum, the third hundredth time i have done it
  • Boards not being bleached immediately after working with chicken (its the smell!)
Wow, that was satisfying.

Anyone want to add their dislikes to the comments field? Tag! You are it!

Friday, January 05, 2018

Perhaps a New Years Resolution Bubbling Here

Not the best food photo, but it appears I am well out of practice.

New Years dinner was simple and light on the palette, while the flavour was beautifully intense. A combination of reduced chicken stock and mussel broth essence gave this seafood soup the taste of a lobster bisque.

I made the dish from my head, so there is no recipe. Pretty basic though. Sauteed a few shallots with tiny dice carrots, deglazed with dry prosecco, added a few threads of saffron. Cooked mussels in the this, then pulled them out and shelled most of them, saving a few whole mussels for garnish.

Heated the concentrated chicken stock in another pan, added halibut chunks, large east coast scallops (cut in half against the grain) and prawns, cooked until all the fish was translucent. Seasoned with salt, pepper and a small splash of whip cream to lighten the colour. Then dumped in the mussels with their broth (essence), simmered for a few more minutes (maybe two - just to heat the mussels) until the seafood was just hot, sprinked with minced chives. Taste for seasoning, adjust and serve with baguette.

Wishing you all the best in 2018.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Chai Creme Brulee

Was walking home from the Market a month ago with some chai tea powder from the tea store. Is smelled so amazing that I immediately started thinking about the best way to make this into a dessert. First thing that popped into my mind - Chai Creme Brulee.
When I got everything mixed together I realized I had only 1 ramekin. ONE! For those that know me, that is just weird. Started scanning the kitchen (as I had guest coming over shortly and no time to go find some) and spotted my grandmothers teacups that I never use.
Use them all the time now!


4 cups whip cream
2 to 3 tablespoons chai tea mix
4 whole eggs
4 egg yolks (make coconut macaroons with the egg whites) -or 2 two whole eggs if you prefer
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon chai spice powder (with no tea)

kettle of boiling water

For the sugar lid:
1/2 cup sugar
few tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 300°

1. Combine whip cream and chai tea mix in a heavy bottomed pot and bring to a simmer. Keep on low for 5 minutes to let the tea steep.
2. In a bowl combine 4 eggs and 4 egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla, stir to mix. If you prefer, you could substitute 2 whole eggs instead of the 4 yolks - I prefer the texture of the brule with the extra fat from the yolks. Your call. 
3. After the cream has steeped, stir a little of the hot cream into the egg mixture, whisking as you add the cream. Continue diluting the eggs with cream until you have used about 1/2 the cream, then dump the egg mixture into the pot of remaining cream - whisking steadily.
4. Stir in the chai tea powder and then strain the lot through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl or measuring cup. Ladle the liquid into ramekins (usually 8 to 10 4 oz ramekins) or 7 to 8 teacups (depending on size).
5. Place the teacups into a 3 inch deep dish that can hold them all.Slowly pour about 1/2 the kettle of water into the bottom of the pan to a water bath. This will help cook the custard very gently. Place the dish in the oven, top up with remaining water until the ramekins/cups are at least half covered with water....two thirds is even better. Bake at 300 for 45 minutes, checking from 30 minutes on to see if they have set around the edges but are still a little jiggly in the middle.
6. Remove the ramekins/cups from the water bath and let cool for a few hours (in front of an open window in the winter works very well!) or better yet, in the fridge overnight.
7. About 20 to 30 minutes before serving make the sugar glaze on the stove - because I don't have a blow torch - by combining water and sugar in a heavy bottomed sauce pan set on low. Let the water/sugar warm until the sugar has dissolved, then turn the heat up to medium high and boil until the sugar turns amber. It is smokin' hot at this point and if you spill any on yourself or small humans it is going to HURT (hospital hurt!), so be careful. Remove from the heat and using a spoon, attempt to apply a very thin glaze of the dangerous amber liquid over the top of all the custards. Let set, and serve.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Bannock Burgers

I love bannock.  Warm, crunchy-ish on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, simple and sublime. Down home and, well ... downtown, it appears.

Never make it, rarely eat it, but LOVE bannock! - plain, with jam or cinnamon and sugar. Last night my friend K made a big batch of it to use instead of hamburger buns. I was deeply concerned about this, (although didn't want to say anything K!) for two reasons.
One, I would not be allowed to eat a crap load of them while still burning hot, damp with oil and drippy with jam.
Two, manners dictated that I had to wait till we ate them as a group in the form of burger buns. 

The wait was painful.

The burgers - divine!

I forgot to mention, we put rhubarb jam on the burgers...a perfect flavour foil to everything.  (oooooh, very nice pun there, if I do say so myself!)

Worth the wait - thanks all for the great dinner and fine company!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Snap goes the lid, Crackle goes the toast and Pop goes the caviar

It is good to go out with a bang, or in this case, a buttery pop.

Let me preface this with a little history. Last year was a year of change. I finally finished going to school, got an office job (weird!) and we had to adjust to me working full time. Whew.

Well, this year is going to be another year of change, with G finally able to take a year off. His last story of the year will go to air Tuesday. Every story that takes him out of town has a ripple effect around here. Well, this one had few ripples and a unexpected bonus!


Yes, it is being served with white toast. Yes, we are eating bread again, but not so much. (In case you are wondering, our no white food diet was a success and we liked just takes a bit of work in terms of organizing groceries, and our kids didn't like it)

Back to the caviar. It comes from a sturgeon farm on the Sunshine Coast, called Northern Divine. The place has been breeding white sturgeon from the Fraser River for about 10 years. It is a sustainable source of caviar that does not effect the endangered sturgeon in the Fraser (which is a good thing since we have been taking part in tagging sturgeon for research and protection - see below)

I cannot compare it to Russian caviar, for those of you well versed in these things, because it has been over a dozen years since I had any. Comparisons can be so boring anyway. That said, this caviar has a lovely buttery flavour, with a soft taste reminiscent of the sea. It also had a gentle pop to it. It was good on toast, but my favourite way of eating it is with blini, creme fraiche, and perhaps a snippet of garden fresh chive.

We have one more jar to eat before long, and you can be sure I'll be flippin' blini for that!

Sturgeon tagging - his one was 6 feet long!
A juvenile - both of them!