Sunday, January 11, 2009

Soup Therapy

While spending the holidays with family in Ottawa, I made a huge pot of nice soup. It wasn't really anything fancy but for a group of people who would only need a phone to order takeout in place of a kitchen, homemade soup is something of a treat. Plus I was getting sick of eating shitty food.
As one would expect, I started by caramelizing some onions after which I deglazed the pan with about half a glass of merlot. To this I added carrots, celery, garlic, a red pepper, a de-seeded jalapeno pepper, a can of organic chick peas, two boxes of organic chicken stock, a big can of tomato juice, cayenne pepper, celery seeds, bay leaves, salt and black pepper. Surprisingly the soup was really good. Maybe I was just hungry for good food though.
When we got back home, I replicated the recipe with the addition of salmon, halibut and mackeral. I also changed some of the ingredients such as vegetable stock in place of chicken stock and white wine instead of merlot. The results were different but both were pretty good.

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

When I worked at the Pump House brewery this summer, the brewer there was a great connoisseur of beers. He also loved things really hoppy. For those familiar with beer, it would come to no surprise that my brewer friend raved about Dogfish Head's 60 Minute IPA.

Now if you're used to mainstream beers, this would be like drinking liquified dandelion greens. But if you enjoy the taste of beer, as a wine drinker might, this beer is for you. I had to go to Ontario to find it but I was pleasantly surprised when I did find it (they also had the Japanese Asahi beer there).

Yes this beer is very hoppy and thus bitter. But the bitterness doesn't seem to linger. It washes away to leave you with a pleasantly light malty finish. Just remember, our tongues have four different zones: sweet, salty, sour and bitter. So go ahead, excite your palate.

Breakfast Crepe Panini

Chain restaurants are so easily imitated and surpassed it's ridiculous. I know that it's part of the whole marketing brainwash that people run to chain restaurants but I still think it's ridiculous. We were paid a meal at Boston Pizza over the holidays and I'd rather have gone without eating for a week.

At Cora's Breakfast, a breakfast chain that specialises in nice fruit presentations, they've come up with what you see above: ham, eggs and cheese rolled into a crepe and grilled in a panini press. This is ridiculously easy to make. I don't even need to write it out for you.

All I do need to mention though is that you shouldn't make your crepes too sweet. A nice contrast of sweet and salty is good but not too much. Unless you want to pour maple syrup over the whole thing in the tradition of sugar shacks...but don't say I didn't warn you.

The Difference Real Quality Makes

Here in Canada, Maple Leaf have commercials which say "You can taste the difference quality makes." This is the same company who had outbreaks of listeria in their products sometime in 08. So yes I can taste the difference quality makes, but quality is very rarely something I find in brand, mass-produced, space age food products.

I find that good food is making me difficult. You get used to something good, it's hard to go back to the same old crap you used to ingest so thoughtlessly. Take, for example, the pasta dish you see above. Homemade italian sausages which I rolled into meatballs along with homemade pasta both from the market. Now the tomatoes came from a can. That's not the bad part. It's the brand that really messed an otherwise good dish up. The culprit is Hunt's Tomato Sauce. It tasted like overly vinegrated (not sure if that's a word but...) ketchup. Disgusting. Completely ruined everything.

For canned tomatoes, I usually buy Eden Organic from my local natural food stores ( They have quality products that aren't only environmentally sound but also delicious.

So there is a difference between real quality and marketed quality. As far as food goes, always judge it by its cover. Because if it's all flash, beautiful packaging but the ingredients read like something out of a chemistry set, you will certainly taste the difference fake food makes.

Here's to real food!