Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sweet & Sour Citrus Shake

My girlfriend makes a milkshake that tastes like bubblegum. The trick is that lime, when combined with banana, gives it this unique taste. So a citrus shake was my answer to that. It's equally tasty and equally unique.

To make, you must start by scraping off the zest of 2 limes, 1 lemon, and 1 medium sized orange (a navel orange for example). If you don't have a zester you'll have to slice it off the fruit and then trim the white off...or just go buy a zester. Place the zest of the citrus in a blender along with the juice of the same fruit, making sure not to let any seeds falls in. Finally, add about 2 1/2 cups of vanilla ice cream, 1 cup of milk, and 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Blend till everything is nice and smooth and enjoy.

One last thing. If you like things sour, add less sugar and ice cream. Plus, if you happen to have citric acid lying around, you might as well dump some of that in.

Oh and the next time we do make a "bubblegum" shake, I'll be sure to post the recipe here.


Friday, June 29, 2007

Panini Smoked Meat Sandwhich & Roasted Carrot Soup

Alone at home while I wait to go to work, I can think up some pretty crazy ideas when it comes to food seeing as my flavour matching still needs alot of tweeking. However, you'd have to be a total ignoramous to mess up a smoked meat sandwhich.

Seeing as the smoked meat (Montreal style has a very cured and smoked brisket) has a very powerful taste, you must pair it with equally intrusive flavours. Traditionally this includes rye bread, a side slice of kosher pickle, and mustard. I went a few steps further and put the pickle slices in the sandwhich, used grainy mustard instead of boring old prepared mustard, and added some monterey jack cheese. Sandwiched between a smoking panini press, the added crunchiness of the bread and warmth of the ingredients - lets not forget the melted cheese - really made a huge difference. With all of these very strong flavours, the sandwich was like an explosion of taste, perfect for any meal.

On a lighter more sofisticated note, I tried a recipe for roasted carrot soup that I found in a magazine entitled "The Best of Fine Cooking: Fresh, spring/summer 07". Included in this magazine are over 70 recipes geared towards the lighter seasons where - at least in the northern climates such as my own - everything is fresher especially at the farmer's market. The recipe in question is really a suprisingly smooth and yet lively taste for carrots. The liveliness comes from the ginger you add to the soup. But anyways, enough about me, here's the recipe.

Roasted Carrot Soup

1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch lengths (try to find the freshest garden carrots you can)
1 tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. unsalted butter
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 large celery rib, diced (I used a bok choy rib which worked just as well if not better)
1 tbs minced fresh ginger
2 cups chicken broth
Salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven at 375 degrees.
2. Toss chopped carrots in a baking dish with olive oil and seperate so that the pieces don't touch.
3. Place carrots in oven for 30 minutes, turn and cook for another 30 minutes.
4. Sauté onion in butter in a medium saucepan till translucent. Add celery (or bok choy) and ginger and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
5. Add roasted carrots, chicken broth, 2 cups of water, salt and pepper. Bring to boil then reduce to medium simmer for about 45 minutes covered.
6. Once cooked, let the soup cool completely.
7. Once cooled, purée soup in a blender and place to cool for a few hour or, better yet, overnight. When ready to eat, just reheat soup and enjoy.

Spaghetti Squash & A Sleeping Potion

I was introduced to spaghetti squash some time in my teens. Coming from a family of grilled cheese, pizza fingers and takeout, I was never introduced to anything culinarily (if that's eve a word) interesting. Well spaghetti squash is not only interesting, but it's a fabulous and healthy change from pasta.

To cook the squash, simple cut it in half, empty out the seeds, place in a baking pan with about an inch of water in the bottom, and cook in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes. Once cooked, use a spoon to scrape out the strands of crunchy squash. Serve with homemade spaghetti sauce. Yet be warned that it's best to serve 3 or 4 people on one squash. Half the squash to yourself can be a vegetable overdose which I guess isn't so bad when compared to deep-fried food overdoses.

I also started working again after 2 weeks being paid to stay at home while they cleaned the building in which I work after some minor fire damage. And if that wasn't enough, the shifts I'm scheduled for are from 5pm to 1am. Though I get up early in the morning and simply take a brief nap before work so that I don't pass out, the hours are less than desirable. What's more, when I get home I'm almost wide awake. The solution: a grandmother's trick to drink a tall glass of warm milk before going to bed.

Though some of you might cringe to think of warm milk, there are ways to make it a bit more appealing. I for one sprinkled a bit of sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract into the milk. This concoction almost tasted like Chai tea so it went down pretty well.

On a scientific note, the melatonin (the sleeping hormone) found in milk is what makes this perfect for a pre-sleep drink. (You could always take a shot of hard liquor or sleeping pills but that can prove to be problematic in the long run).

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Tortilla Heaven

My girlfriend's stepmother is Mexican and so packaged tortillas, fake salsa, and other imitations don't cut it. Thankfully, we got her stepmom's recipes over the holidays and have finally managed to make real tortillas and make a true Mexican style salsa (i.e. a more liquid salsa which isn't chunky at all). The result was a delicious supper where we pilled tonnes of roasted pork (which we would have made with achiote and orange juice if we hadn't lost our precious brick of spices), canned refried beans (I've been informed that these taste as good as the originals), chopped tomatoes, iceberg lettuce slices, some hotsauce for me, grated cheddar and sour cream. We would have made some mashed avocado but, to put it lightly, it had lost it's freshness.
Now if you do attempt to make the tortillas you must be forewarned that it really isn't an exact science. It's like watching an Italian grandmother make rules and no mesuring cups. It's all about good old fashion a bit o' this and a bit o' that. But when you do finally arrive at the perfect mix, you'll never want to eat store bought tortillas ever again.

One last tip is that you can make your own tortillas using Maseca mix (which are corn tortillas). Just throw in the wet ingredients and you've got tortillas. But, like dehydrated potatoes and boxed pancakes, the results are always better when you start from scratch.

Have fun!

Real Mexican Tortillas
1 kg all purpose flour
160 g tenderflake
2 tbsp sugar

Boil about 5 cups of water with salt. Take out 1 cup flour from the 1 kg and set aside for use during the rolling of the dough. Mix flour, sugar and tenderflake. Slowly add boiling water a but at a time until it has a dough texture. Make sur not to add too much water. Mix well as you are adding the water till it had been incorporated and then add more water if necessary. When the dough is ready, divide it into small balls about the size of a racketball. Flatten balls into something that looks like a tortilla with a rolling pin. The tortillas have to be very thin; if they're too thick it won't work.

Cook tortillas in a shallow frying pan. Put flattened dough in on one side for about 30 seconds, then flip them on the other side. At this point air bubbles will start to puff up the tortilla. Simply press on tortilla with a paper towel to let air out. Finally, flip tortilla onto uncooked side finish cooking. And that's it. You should now have a beautiful mound of blistery fresh tortillas. (Don't be shy to put a good lump butter on a really hot tortilla to enjoy as you work).

Mexican salsa
4 garlic cloves
3 tomatoes, skinned by scoring and putting in boiling water for a minute or so
1 onion
1/2 jalapeno
2 tsp oregano
Put all ingredients in a blender. Add a bit of oil to a pot and cook the salsa for 10 to 15 minutes. Taste salsa then add salt and pepper.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Veal Rolls Stuffed With Spinach & Gruyère With Rosti

Once again I can't recommend Gourmet Magazine enough. Their recipe for the veal roll and the rosti come from their travels in Switzerland. The meal is rich and would be perfect for a comfortable winter meal or, if coupled with a glass of chilled white wine and a subtle salad, it could be adapted for summer. Whenever you want to eat it, this meal is simply fantastic.

The veal scallopini is pounded thin between two sheets of plastic or, as I did, in a ziplock bag. You then spread a bit of anchovy butter on the veal (just 1 tbsp of anchovy paste mashed into 1/2 cup of butter) after having patted the scallopini dry and sprinkled a bit of salt and pepper. You then sprinkle some grated gruyère cheese leaving about and inch from the side so that once rolled the cheese will not ooze out too much. Over the cheese goes one layer of flatleaf spinach after which you roll the scallopini tightly, securing your work with a toothpick.
After preparing the rolls, simply sear in an hot ovenproof frying pan in some butter for about 4 minutes total making sure that all sides are nice and brown. Transfer rools and pan to 425 degree oven for another 5 minutes. You then remove the pan from the oven and the roll from the pan, putting foil over them to keep warm. Splash 1/3 cup dry white wine in the pan, scrape bottom to loosen those tasty little morsels and reduce sauce by half. Incorporate 2 tbsp of anchovy butter into sauce along with about 3 tbsp of fresh parsley, salt and pepper. Serve on top of rolls.
As for the rosti, the recipe is quite simple and resembles a hash brown. Bake potatoes in oven and when ready, let them cool long enough so that they are stiff enough to grate (you could also freeze the potatoes). When ready, grate potatoes and one onion, tossing these with a bit of salt and pepper - you could also add cheese or other ingredients if you like. Heat butter in a frying pan just the right size for the amount of mixture you have then dump potatoe mixture in and fry on that side till golden brown. Place a plate over the frying pan and flip rosti into it. You can add more butter here if required. Return rosti to pan so as to fry the other side. Both sides should take about 5 minutes each. Cut into slices and serve with veal rolls.
And don't forget to buy Gourmet Magazine...the recipes I try are just a tip of the iceberg!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Crab, Pizza Pockets, Summer Rolls & Steak...All in Two Day's Work

My girlfriend works at the grocery store which means that we know about all the great bargains. And seeing as we live in the Maritimes, the great bargains often include fresh seafood. On the menu tonight, crab!

We bought the crab pre-cooked and frozen. All we had to do was throw it in some boiling, well-salted water for a few minutes and soon we were eating our way through the sweet tender flesh. In my opinion, crab is oftentimes better than lobster. It is often cheaper too because lobster is so popular these days whereas people just 60 years or so were frowned upon for eating the ugly things. People would actually hide it in their garbage so that their neighbours didn't know that had to eat lobster! And when you consider that lobster and pretty much all seafood spend their lives sifting the crap out of the sea water, you get to understand why this would have been a proper preoccupation. I wish we were back in those days. I could eat all the lobster I want on my shoestring budget.
In the background of the photo above you can see our pizza pockets. We used the leftover wonton wrappers from the day before (those we used to make briks) and stuffed them with thick slices of pepperoni, spaghetti sauce, and grated mozzarella. We then dropped them in a pan of oil till they were nice and golden. The result? A gushing little accompanying dish. Though you can't eat more than a few of these little things without getting overwhelmed by the greasyness of it all, they were delicious.

Yesterday, for supper, we had some friends over. I prepared the smoked salmon appetizers similar to the gravlax. We then prepared some summer rolls which my girlfriend is crazy about, a recipe I got off Tyler Florence's Food 911. These little rolls are really fresh and light. They go well with pretty much anything. But we didn't just pair it with anything. I marinaded some steaks in a Thai inspired marinade which I got from Christine Cushing on Food TV. The sweetness of the marinade (which we could only marinade for a few hours but should be left for something like two days) worked well with the light summer rolls. It was a refreshing twist on the old meat and potatoes.

Finally, we ended with a huge cake our friend make for my birthday. When I get the recipe I'll post it. But for now I can only tell you that it was a mound of light cake, whipped cream, and toffee pieces. Served with a cup of licorice tea, it was a great end to a great meal.

Summer Rolls with Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce
1 oz Vietnamese cellophane noodles
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1/2 carrot, julienned
1 beet, julienned
1/4 fresh red chilli, cut into circles
1/2 handful fresh cilantro, hand-torn
1/4 cup chopped unsalted peanuts
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 lime, juiced
Mint leaves
Sea salt

1. Mix ingredients together in a bowl. Remember that the ingredients are approximative. Add or reduce any amount to personal taste or to give the rolls some extra umph.
2. Prepare rice paper according to instrustion.
3. Place about 1/4 cup of the filling near side of rice paper. Place one mint leaf on rice paper opposite to the filling. Flip sides of rice paper towards middle and then roll paper over filling and mint leaf to make a tight roll.

Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp fish sauce (or clam juice)
1/4 cup hot water
2 tbsp sugar
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp red chilli paste

1. Mix ingredients together and serve in individual bowls since double dipping will be inevitable.


Honey Thai Marinated Steak
2 oz sesame oil
8 oz honey
2 tbsp Thai spice paste
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 oz orange juice concentrate
Sea salt
Cracked coriander seeds
Light soy sauce, for dipping

1. Mix sesame oil, honey, paste, ginger, and orange juice concentrate in a large ziplock bag. Slip steaks into bag and marinate for 48 hours, flipping every 8 or 12 hours.
2. When ready to eat, preheat bbq grill.
3. Pat steaks dry, sprinkle with sea salt, pepper, and coriander seeds
4. Cook steaks to desired doneness, basting with remaining marinade.
5. Serve steak whole or sliced with soy sauce on side for dipping.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Early Morning Brik

Yet another lovely morning, getting paid to stay at home while a professional cleaning crew goes over the office I work at. It just smells like a campfire in there but apparently that's bad.
The recipe I cooked this morning was the first I've tried of Gourmet Magazine May issue. Since this issue focused on travel and food, the recipe for brik (pronounced breek) come from Tunisia. Basically, it's a fried tuna and egg turnover.
Though it was difficult to cook the egg inside while keeping the outside of the dough unburned, the end result was well worth it. And by the time I was cooking the fourth brik, I had gotten the hang of it.
The result was a smooth flavoured breakfast which the magazine informs me could also be eaten as a light supper or as a snack. The crispy exterior is a perfect contrast to the soft and gooey interior, the whole deliciously bathed in egg yolk. Here then is the recipe.
1 can tuna in oil, drained
1/4 cup chopped scallions or shallots
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 tbsp drained capers, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil plus additional for brushing
1 egg white
1 tbsp water
About 3 cups vegetable or peanut oil
6 spring-roll or wonton wrappers
6 whole eggs (medium sized).
1. Mash together tuna, scallions, parsley, capers, olive oil, salt and pepper.
2. Stir egg white with water
3. Heat vegetable or peanut oil in heavy skillet.
4. The tricky part. Lightly oil wrappers leaving about an inch untouched on the side. Form rings of tuna mixture in the bottom right hand corner over the olive oil. The moat should be large enough to keep egg in but not too large as to make it impossible to fold wrapper.
5. Brush edges of wrapper with egg white mixture and break a whole egg into the middle of the tuna ring.
6. Quickly fold wrapper and seal by pressing down on edges.
7. Take brik by the bottom right tip and gently lower into oil. With a metal spoon, lap some oil over un-submerged part of brik.
8. Cook briks until golden brown on each side. The egg inside should be given enough time to cook so make sure that the oil isn't too hot as to burn the wrappers before the egg has time to do its thing.
9. Repeat process. Make sure not to make too many briks at one time as the whole egg will make the wrapper soggy and impossible to handle.
10. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Bland Black Bean & Garlic Strir-fry

It's been a pretty boring day as far as food is concerned. The only thing remotely interesting was supper which took care of using up most of the vegetables we had left in the fridge. I julienned carrots and a beet, cut up a good serving of bok choy, grated some ginger, threw in some mini corn on the cobs and sliced water chestnuts, small button mushrooms, snow peas, bean sprouts, onion, and zuchini. I served it with some cellophane noodles, those clear noodles that only take a second or two to hydrate. I then went the lazy route and poured in a 350 ml bottle of President's Choice Memories of Hong Kong Spicy Black Bean & Garlic Sauce. The sauce was neither spicy nor did it taste of anything fantastic. Good old oyster sauce and soy sauce would have done the same.
My stir-frys usually end up this bland. They always taste the same. In my "other food blog" section you see to the right, there's a website where all this guy cooks is asian food. Next time I venture to the culinary far-east, I'll consult his pages first. Referring to the experts is usually better than stumbling through food preparation on your own unless you've got years of experience under your belt and a pallet that would make even the legendary Épicure jealous.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Crepes & Failed Ginger Beer

I don't care what your personal tastes are, crêpes beat pancakes any day. The shear versatility of crêpes as opposed to pancakes is one thing. But the texture is what really sets these two apart. Crêpes are smooth and buttery. Pancakes are puffy and soak up way too much syrup. Anyways, here's a recipe for traditional crêpes suzette.

1 cup all-purpose flour
4 tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
2 beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp cognac or brandy (optional)
As you would with any pastry, mix wet and dry ingredients together seperately and then mix together. The crêpes mixture should be very liquid and lump-less. Simply pour enough of mixture into a frying pan so that the bottom is covered. The crêpe should not be thin enough to hold together and not thick enough to mistaken for a steak. Enjoy with maple syrup, fruit, brown sugar, caramel, or whatever you feel like. Plus, crepes can also be used in non-desert meals.

In other news, I took a stab at homemade ginger beer. I love the spicyness of ginger beer, how refreshing it is, and I also like the fact that ginger is excellent for the stomach. However, making my own ginger beer didn't achieve the results I'd wanted. It tasted funky to say the least. The recipe - which I got online - called for a 2 litre bottle of water, 2 tbsp grated ginger with juice, juice of 1 lemon, 1 cup sugar, and 1/4 tsp dried yeast. You let stand in a warm area for a day or so and the yeast produces CO2. That much was achieved. But the taste was just gross. Anyways, the only good thing about this is that it gave me a chance to talk about peeling ginger, something I learned on Food Network. Simply use the tip of a small spoon and scrape. This allows you to get around every bump which causes less waste. This technique, however, did not make for a better ginger beer. Maybe some things are just better when they're bought...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sausage Burgers, Omelets & Beer-Butt Chicken Sandwich

I know what you’re thinking, “Oh what beautiful cross-hatching!” The idea for these sausage burgers came from the fact that I only had hamburger buns and didn’t feel like eating sausages in their usual form. So, I simply squeezed out the meat and formed patties, topped them with slices of jalapeno pepper havarti and then served them with Dijon mustard and pickles. What I wasn’t expecting was that sausage meat, as compared to hamburg meat, takes longer to cook. The result? Raw centers. For those parts that were cooked, the burger was good and a not-so-bad idea.

Seeing as I’m still off (with pay) because of the fire at the building I work, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying myself. I got up this morning to cook an omelet for my loved one before she headed off to work – it sucks that she has to work to get paid… I’ve determined that when making omelets, it’s better to leave milk, cream, or water out of the beaten eggs. They hold together better and don’t have that weird texture which tickles the soft pallet.

For her omelet, I put a few leaves of fresh thyme in with the eggs. Once the omelet was flipped over, I added thin slices of red onion and some goat cheese, folding the omelet in half. For myself, I used leftovers of the gravlaxsas in the beaten eggs. I then put some gravlax, goat cheese, and onion sprouts between the soft fold of the omelet. Served with a tall glass of fresh apple cider, yet another day “off” had started beautifully.

After spending my morning listening to French chansons and reading the May edition of Gourmet Magazine (highly recommended by the way), I made lunch with some leftover barbecued chicken I had. Next time I’m making the now common beer-butt chicken I’ll post it. (For those of you not familiar with the process, a half-full can of beer is stuck into the cavity of the chicken which is then placed upright onto the grill with the lid closed for about 50 minutes. Some stores now sell special rigs that make the balancing act of the chicken on the grill much easier. The result is a very tender chicken which tastes so beautifully of barbecue smoke.)

The leftovers of this chicken make for a great sandwich. I sometimes mix some mayonnaise and green onions in with the shredded chicken but I opted for a less heavy pairing of grainy mustard and the ever versatile onion sprouts on a whole wheat Kaiser bun. With a strong cup of home-brewed coffee, the week just keeps getting better.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll go to the beach again. Getting paid while sitting on the beach….ah, that’s life…

P.S. I'm sorry for the crappy quality of my pictures. My digital camera needs a good thrashing.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Gravlax with Gravlaxsas & Goat Cheese on Rye

I'm finally on a role! I've been curing some salmon Scandanavian style since Friday and I've finally tasted it. Oh and what a taste! I read that gravlax (cured salmon) is usually served in an open sandwich and so I did my take on that.

I toasted some dark rye bread and cut it into bitesized chunks. I then crumbled a bit of goat cheese onto every piece. Be careful not to put too much goat cheese as it will make the hors d'oeuvre too heavy. The goal of the goat cheese is cheese to smooth out the sharp taste of the gravlax (which is cured in salt) and the gravlaxsas. After the goat cheese, lay some thinly sliced gravlax and pour over about one and a half teaspoon of gravlaxsas. Finally, I topped it with onion sprouts but any type of sprouts would do.

The result of this combo is a party in your mouth. You get the smooth taste of goat cheese coupled with the rye bread, followed by the taste of the salty gravlax and the sharp gravlaxsas which finishes off with the subtle and crunchy sprouts. If you let the gravlax shine through - that is to say that the other ingredients haven't taken over - the whole should finish off with the perfect taste of the cured salmon.

Play with quantities and vary the layers to see what works best for your palet. You could also replace the goat cheese with cream cheese or any other soft and mild flavoured cheese.


Fresh salmon fillet, skin on
Large bunch of dill
3 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp pepper
1 tbsp spirits (I used spiced rum)

1. Curring salmon extracts the liquids from the fish. The dish you place the salmon fillet must therefore be large enough so the salmon fillet is not swimming in the liquids you're trying to extract from it.
2. Mix all ingredients and rub into the salmon, making sure that ingredients are well dispersed.
3. Place something heavy over the rubbed salmon fillet. If you have a dish the same size as the first, lay that one on top. I just used a small dish with a can on top.
4. Wrap the whole with clingwrap and place in fridge. It should take between 36 and 72 hours to cure the salmon depending on what your preference is. Every 12 hours or so, turn the filet over and baste it with the juices at the bottom of the dish it is curing in.
5. Once done, you have a few options of what to do with your cured salmon. A) If you have a smoker, you could smoke the salmon; B) You can serve the salmon in a sandwich or in a wrap, there are many recipes online for these. Just look for recipes which ask for smoked salmon; C) You can incorporate the salmon in a frittata; D) Let your imagination run free...gravlax ice cream anyone?


4 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
6 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp fresh dill, chopped

1. Mix Dijon, mustard powder, sugar and vinegar together.
2. Gradually incorporate olive oil. The end consistency should resemble a liquid mayonnaise.
3. Fold in chopped dill.
4. The gravlaxsas should keep for a while if it's covered and placed in the fridge.

Baked Brie & Maple Syrup

The building I work in caught fire over the weekend and so I'm off till Thursday with pay. It's really going to be the best week of "work" ever. And best of all I get to cook breakfast, lunch and supper while listening to Bénabar and company.
I started off the day with a white grapefruit sweetened with a bit of brown sugar and a coffee. What you see in that little boat-like dish is the best breakfast you could ever make. I got the recipe from Déjeuner Chez Cora, a Québec chain of breakfast restaurants famous for serving mountains of fruit with every single plate. Though delicious, breakfast there usually sets you back at least $40 for two. So making this dish at home is not only convenient and delicious but gives the old wallet a break too. Anyways, enough about the virtues of being a cheapskate, here is the recipe for the baked brie & maple Syrup.
Fill the bottom of a small ovenproof dish with nuts of choice (I serve it with walnuts but it's great with any nut or nut mix). Cover nuts with slices of brie and then with slices of apple. Top the whole thing with about 3 tablespoons worth of pure maple syrup, none of that fake syrup c*!p. You should have enough maple syrup to sweeten but not make your head spin in a crazy sugar rush. After all ingredients have been combined, place prepared dish in 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes and eat hot. You'll never want to eat bacon and eggs ever again. Oh, and don't forget the fruit.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Weekend by the Beach

This is the view I woke up to in my tent this morning...the only thing better than this would be if the same view was from my bed in my own beachside house through my floor to ceiling windows. But that will come later. Much later.

Food-wise, this weekend was also fantastic. We started off with a simple but delicious breakfast. We fried an egg (making sure to keep the yoke runny), and sandwiched it between an English muffin, bacon and a slice of processed cheese. It's like an Egg McMuffin but homemade which always equals better. With this breakfast sandwich I made some home fries, frying the boiled potatoes in the bacon fat and throwing sausage meat, onions, garlic, lemon, and paprika in with them. Complete with a tall glass of orange juice, the day was off to a great start.

We then went to the market where I found goat farmer who agreed to sell me some goat milk if I go get it myself (I want to make some cajeta - Mexican caramel - soon and goat's milk is a must). We also ended up buying a jug of apple cider and a pound of some whole shrimp that had been caught and cooked on the boat that morning.

Finally, we made supper tonight out of these shrimp and some clams I picked on the beach. I cooked the clams with one onion, some garlic, two tomatoes, a bit of celery, olive oil, a bottle of pale ale (leftover from last night's beach bonfire), fresh parsley, thyme, and oregano. Though I did rinse the clams properly, there was still some grit. They were good nonetheless. Especially considering that I picked them myself.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Three Strikes Against Homemade Pasta

Turns out homemade pasta is really hard to make. The recipe in the italian cookbook you see at the left says that the basic recipe for pasta is 1 cup of flour for every egg with 1/4 tsp of oil and a pinch of salt. With two cups of flour, I had to use 3 eggs. Strike one.

After that, it was kneading time or, in other words, forearm workout. The dough ended up pretty smooth and elastic but sadly I didn't roll it thin enough. Strike two. My attempts were made with a rolling I know why I was advised not to try making homemade pasta without a pasta maker. It would have been much easier to feed in the dough and turn a crank. Needless to say we didn't eat it, which would be strike three.

Accompanying the pasta was a Sauce Vierge (literally meaning "virgin sauce" in French) which I found in the Cordon Bleu Professional Cooking book. This textbook set me back about $90 Canadian but it was well worth the buy even though I can't try everything or it would send my food budget through the roof. Anyways, the sauce is very good. Its sharp, tangy taste is mellowed out by the olive oil and tender tomatoes. Here's the recipe.

Sauce Vierge

7oz 200ml Olive oil
4oz 110ml Lemon juice
2tsp 7g Garlic, chopped
1 tbsp 7g Basil, chopped
51/2oz 160g Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
2oz 50g Black olives, diced
Hot pepper sauce

1. Warm olive oil
2. Add other ingredients
3. Serve warm over pasta

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mushroom Sarnies and Mixed Seafood Soup...Yum!

I've had Portobello's sitting in my fridge for a bit and I really wanted to make a sandwich I got from one of Jamie Oliver's shows a few years back; it was from the time I attempted to go vegetarian. He called it a Mushroom Sarnie...I guess this is just a fancy word for sandwich in British lingo.
Though Jamie cooked his mushrooms in the oven, I decided to go with the barbecue. I just oil my grill, place the portobellos gill side down for about 2 minutes, flip them over, spoon on a generous helping of butter and cook till dripping and loose. That red stuff you see is the butter that goes with the portobello. I've included the recipe below. After that, you just serve the cooked portobellos on rye bread with Dijon mustard and watercress or any type of lettuce. I like this recipe cause it really showcases the meatyness of portobellos. I've seen a chili recipe once where the cubes of beef were replaced by cubes of these wonderful thick mushrooms. (By the way, when you buy your portobellos, remove the woody stems before you put them in your bag...just a little cheapskate trick ;)
My girlfriend also decided to make a mixed seafood chowder with that. Here in the Maritimes they sell relatively cheap packs of mixed seafood that sometimes look as though some young trainy was filleting the fish. This particular mix had haddock, lobster, scallops and really tiny shrimp. They sometimes have salmon, trout, crab and other seafood in there. It's scraps really.

The chowder (seen in front there) includes in order of cooking: bacon, cubed carrots, potatos, onions and celery, fish or chicken stock, fresh thyme, oregano and parsley. You can also add cream but this tends to make for a heavier soup and it is summer after all. We sadly didn't have any fish stock and so the seafood was confused by the broth. A sort of surf and turf thing.

Sun Dried Tomato and Chili Butter

8 oz (1 cup) butter, softened
4 sun dried tomatos
1 red chili (I used a cherry chili)
leaves of 3 fresh thyme sprigs
sea salt

1. Stick it all in a food processor and blend or chop ingredients and fold them into butter

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

And so it begins...

Hello fellow food lovers!

A bit about myself.

I grew up in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada which is a small town in Northern Ontario where the Chinese-Canadian food is the best anywhere, the pizza is unprecedented, the wild game is always fresh, and life is easy. And of course there were family influences. When my grandmother used to babysit us, she would bake us a pie if we went outside to pick enough raspberries. My mother offered the same deal with blueberries.

I now live in Moncton, New Brunswick. The ocean is only 26 kilometres away which means that seafood is readily available and cheap. I actually had some delicious smoked salmon on Paris Toast with goat cheese for supper. Envious? You should be.

As for my culinary experience, I have no formal training. I practice with cookbooks, textbooks they use in culinary academies, and try (but usually fail) to create my own recipes. So far, I have managed to be able to take the ingredients of most recipes and not have to look at the directions. Now I just have to learn how to better pair flavours.