Sunday, May 31, 2009

Barbecued Jumbo Shrimp

This picture does not do these shrimp justice. They were so big it took 3 bites to get through one. My very good friend Dino had us all over for dinner last night and made what I consider, a fantastic and light summer meal. He started off by marinating the shrimp in some butter and lots of garlic. Then simply threw them on the barbecue. They were decadent. 

With that her served some warm focaccia and a yummy salad filled with mixed peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and feta. I'm still in awe by the shrimp.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Walleye Burger from the Whalesbone Supply Shop

I've blogged about the Whalesbone's Sustainable Oyster and Fish Supply shop on Kent street before. I normally don't blog the same spot twice but I think I'm going to have to start making exceptions if each visit is as fun and satisfying as mine was today. The last time I blogged about it was when my husband made a seared wild salmon dish that was absolutely fantastic. Today I picked up some halibut, sockeye salmon, smoked albacore tuna and 4 walleye burgers.

We're building a new deck in our backyard, and what better way to feed 3 hard working men and myself but with a satisfying and absolutely delicious walleye burger with all the fixings. In addition to the lightly fried fish, were yummy fried onions, mayo and lettuce. Worth every penny of the $5.50 price tag. You will not get a better quality fish sandwich in Ottawa.

I also shared a few pieces of my smoked tuna with the guys and it was fantastic. So fresh, smokey and buttery. If you do anything at all today, go buy some smoked albacore tuna from the Whalesbone. You won't regret it! Actually, they close at 2pm on Saturdays, so you'll have to wait until Monday. I was surprised at how busy they were when I arrived. About 8 people were waiting ahead of me for their sandwich, and another 6 arrived after. To make the wait for our freshly made sandwiches a little more exciting, they put on some tunes. Besides the fact that the sandwich alone is worth waiting for, it was a nice touch. I love having this store so close to my home. It makes eating really well, really easy.

Whalesbone Oyster House on Urbanspoon

Beer Up-the-Butt Chicken

I would say this is my husband's specialty. It's one of his regulars and possibly the absolute best way to cook chicken imaginable. If you're one of those people who doesn't like to eat the skin then don't bother with this recipe as you'll just end up torturing yourself. Having the beer up this little chicken's behind makes it so moist it's to die for. The flavours in the rub are out of this world and taste absolutely amazing. 

What you’ll need

- 2 chickens, 3-4 lbs. each
- 1/2 cup 'bone dust bbq spice'
- 2 cans beer

- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup hot sauce
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice

- 1/2 cup paprika
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 3 tbsp. salt
- 2 tbsp. ground corriander
- 2 tbsp. garlic powder
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 2 tbsp. curry powder
- 2 tbsp. hot mustard powder
- 1 tbsp. black pepper
- 1 tbsp. dried basil
- 1 tbsp. dried thyme
- 1 tbsp. ground cumin
- 1 tbsp. cayenne pepper

What to do

Rinse chickens with cold water and pat dry inside and out. Put half a cup of bone dust spice in a plastic bag, then each chicken separately. Shake to coat.

Open beer cans and take a big swig out of each. Install a can inside the cavity of each chicken. Place them on pie plate, then on BBQ over medium-high heat. Close lid and roast 50-60 minutes, until golden brown, basting continually with melted butter, hot sauce and lemon juice.

Delicious! Serve with your favourite summer salads.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Grand

Excellent, another market restaurant with good-looking, inexperienced staff. Unfortunately there are only a handful of restaurants in the market that don't fit that criteria. Why bother if the location alone will bring you business? All sarcasm aside, and the fact that I had higher hopes service-wise when I walked into The Grand (probably due to the great revue I read on the Omnivore's Ottawa blog), I did actually enjoy the food. The atmosphere is very fun, casual and inviting – perfect if you're starting the evening out with a group of friends. They can accommodate large groups quite easily. My favourite part of the meal was the appetizers. We ordered some fantastic dishes from the Antipasti selection – Olive and Pepper misti, a selection of black olives, kalamata olives and pepperonci marinated in olive oil and balsamic. The best one, and still making my mouth water at the thought of it, the Mushroom Assoluti, oyster mushrooms baked in a parmesan crust. And a third, also equally delicious and surprisingly light, the Meatballs ‘al forno’. I've never been a big pizza person. But if i'm going to eat pizza, I do prefer the thin crust and with very little to no cheese. I hate when a pizza has an inch thick slab of cheese over it, with an equal thickness of grease sitting on top. This was obviously not the case here. At first I found the prices to be a bit high for what you were getting, but the fact they go the extra mile to make authentic Neapolitan pizza brings it all into perspective. The pizza must have certain specific characteristics to be a true Napoletana pizza, including the dough being pressed with Italian flour and a precise amount of water, tomatoes Italian, bufala mozzarella, and cooked at a specified temperature in a wood burning oven. Additionally, they do not cut your pizza unless requested, another authentic tradition. I ordered the Sicilia, sicilian anchovies, capers, olives and mozzarella. Obviously flavourful from the saltiness of the ingredients, but definitely not too salty. It was really good. I split my pizza with a friend of mine to try the Grand – proscuitto di parma, fresh basil, scarmorza and mozzarella. I also tried a slice off my husband's, the Margherita, tomato sauce, bufala mozzarella and fresh basil. I'd probably go for that one next time. So simple and so yummy. I enjoyed my apps more than my pizza, but given that they've been open less than a week, i'm sure they will perfect their pizzas with time (Pizzeria Libretto in Toronto has mastered it according to my husband). I'm hoping the service will also follow suit with a bit of time. It was surprising that with the number of staff they had, getting our beer filled was lengthy and although each of us reiterated exactly what we ordered to the server (still not sure why she didn't know), they still screwed up the bills. Fortunately not bad enough to become a tip jar submission, but could definitely use some improving, which is why I've given them 1 star instead of the 3 they would have gotten for the food and ambiance. Apps range from $4 to $12 and mains from $15 to $18.

The Grand on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 25, 2009

Salmon Burgers with Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

I'm really starting to like the Metro in the Glebe. The more I look around in that store, the more I love what I see. In addition to a good natural/organic section of packaged foods, they also carry local products, like bison and beef. And really yummy fresh food, like what I had for dinner tonight. I picked up these fresh, pre-made salmon burgers thinking they'd be a great quick fix when my husband didn't feel like doing some crazy elaborate meal. I should have know that these simple burgers would turn into an amazing dinner with all the fixings! Alone they would have been great. The way my husband prepared them is to die for. We had hamburgers for lunch so neither of us felt like having a bun with them. So my husband rolled them in some bread crumbs and fried them like a fish cake. We had some leftover sundried tomato pesto so he mixed it with 2 big spoonfuls of yogurt and one of mayo and carefully spread it over the salmon burger/cake. And if that wasn't enough yumminess, he topped that concoction with a mixture of chopped tomatoes, cilantro and olive oil. Alongside this heavenly patty, were 3 caper berries and some homemade sweet potato fries that my husband tossed in some leftover rib spice rub, cayenne, olive oil, pepper and rock salt. He baked them at 450 for 20 minutes on a tray amongst some wild garlic bulbs. The fries were just the right spiciness and went perfectly with the salmon. I couldn't be a happier wife right now. This is by far the way to my heart. And he's got mine forever!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Perogies with Curry Cilantro Sauce

I don't care what anyone says, no one cooks perogies like my husband. They are soft on the inside and fried crisp and golden brown on the bottom layer of the outside. What makes them even more special is what he adds to them – perfectly fried, almost caramelized, onions and a homemade yogurt, mayo, curry and cilantro sauce for dipping. These perogies were stuffed with cottage cheese and potato. Nothing special until my husband got a hold of them. He served them with green beans. Yummy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Elk Burgers with Kale and Tomato

How do I love meat? Let me count the ways. This burger was so big, and so delicious, I had to eat it all. The results – me stuffed and thinking I should take a few days off from my meat obsession. I see salmon and haddock in my near future. Don't get me wrong, this is fine meat, the stuff rich people must eat every day. I wouldn't pig out on meat that has been processed somewhere unknown or that is full of fat. These local producers' meats are very lean, very healthy, and taste absolutely amazing. You wouldn't really believe it unless you tried it. This is another fantastic purchase from the Elk Ranch. If you don't want to drive way out to Carp, you can find them at the Ottawa Farmers' Market on Sundays. I bought four giant patties for $20. My husband barbecued the burgers and they didn't even reduce in size, that's how lean they were. He topped them with a bit of mayo, mustard, tomato, onions, wild garlic and kale and served them with some tomatoes and goat cheese and barbecued asparagus. That's right! Living the high life! You know, it's worth it to know where your food is coming from. That's my next obsession, and i've already kind of started – buying local.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Vegetarian Lasagna

My cooking weekend at Zoya's has been lasting a really long time. It's so nice to have something home made and delicious to just grab out of the freezer on any given night. We don't have much left though. After this, we've got a vegetable tort and that's it. This lasagna was super yummy. It was made with tomato sauce, eggplant, ricotta, and to-die-for pesto. I think this was the other Rachelle's recipe but to be honest I can't remember. Next time we have a day of cooking, we need to write on the packaging who's recipe it was. My husband served this with a salad I had prepared for my lunches – a mixture of baby spinach, kale, carrots, red pepper, pumpkin seeds and goat's cheese with a lemon dressing and some garlic toast. 

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Smoked Elk Sausage with Fried Yellow Boletus and Onions

I dropped $70 in about 10 minutes this morning at the Ottawa Farmer's Market. I'm sure I could have taken my time visiting each stall, but it was freezing out, so my shopping was done in record time. I bought some fresh garlic and a ton of meat. Ground beef, ground venison, ground lamb, elk hamburgers and what we ate tonight, smoked elk sausage from the Elk Ranch. I've had their meat before, so I wasn't surprised at how flavourful and downright awesome it was. My husband threw them on the barbecue and served them with some fried onions and boletus mushrooms, as well as beets and fiddleheads. The addition of fried onions on a plate take it from great to fantastic. I'm so lazy when it comes to cooking that I never take the time to make any meal great. I settle with good. My husband skips good altogether. With no effort his meals are great. But the majority of the time they're fantastic and impossible to match. He's got to be the reason I love food so much!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bison Burgers and Fiddleheads

Have you ever driven to Montreal and noticed the sign in a field that says I notice it every time I go. I finally remembered to check it out when I got home last week from a work trip. The site was a bit slow to load but with a little patience I was able to read about Ranch les Beaux Bisons. This past year I'd say I've been on a bit of a meat kick. Maybe not to the average person, but to myself personally. I've never been a huge meat eater. I also recently found out that meat is good for my blood type, especially bison. So my husband and I decided to stop in at this farm on our way home from Montreal last weekend. The experience we had was not at all what anyone would expect. I'm going to keep the story short. Nothing I say will do it justice – it's something you have to experience on your own. 

As we drove down the road leading to the house we could see many bison grazing in the field. Upon arrival, a small sign guided us to the front door. A middle-aged man who looked like he had been busy doing some work inside greeted us before we had a chance to reach for the door handle. The store is the front part of his home. There's a counter, a scale and some steel freezers to the right, and on the left were many pieces of bison hide on a couch, and further in, a stuffed baby bison amongst some bookshelves leading to the living room. I immediately began speaking to him in French. He explained his feeding and lifestyle process for the bison. They are basically wild if you want to make a long story short. He does not grain feed these animals at all. Additionally, he allows them to reproduce as they would in the wild. He does not speed up the process in order to increase his profit and the result is a far more flavourful meat. The meat he sells is in such high demand that you have to pre-order it if you want it fresh. Otherwise, you may just purchase the meat that is frozen, and I can tell you after tonight, delicious! We purchased some stewing meat as well as ground. Tonight we had the ground. My husband made the best burgers I've ever had. He put a little garlic and onion in the meat and one egg. A $10 package made us 4 burgers. He didn't add anything else to it. We wanted to really taste the meat, and boy did we ever. So much better than beef and so much healthier. At least you know what these animals have been eating. Now this meat was extremely lean. You have to be careful when cooking it so as to not overcook it and to not have it fall apart on you on the barbecue. My husband cooked them just long enough so that you could flip them in one piece and then just seared the other side briefly. We thought they may end up a little dry, but not at all. He served them with some fiddleheads and a balsamic spinach and radish salad.

If you go, give yourself a lot of time to visit. After learning about the bison, my husband asked Mr. Séguin if he spoke English. Do I?! I just wrote a book in English he said. His English was as good as his French. And from this point on, our visit went from 15 minutes to two hours. This man is the most unique man I have ever met. He told us many stories and life lessons that I still, almost 3 days later, cannot wrap my head around. His main one, about his book, is the most unusual love story I've ever heard. To make this long story very short, I will say only this, he briefly met the woman he was to spend the rest of his life with in 2001, and is still waiting for her to return today. His home has been prepared for the arrival of this family (she has 4 kids); however, spiritually, she is already there. It's just a matter of time. The book has yet to be published, I gather it will be soon, but this site will let you know when it is: It doesn't link to anything but the bison site right now. He's saving it for the book launch.

Energy Balls Recipe

Ok, I finally got the recipe for these bundles of goodness. This is direct from the source. Hope you understand French!

Boules d’énergie – Recipe 1
1T de dattes haché grossièrement (1 tbs chopped dates)
1 orange (Juice of and zeste)
1T riz soufflé (rice krispies) – we used whole grain
6 c a soupe de noix de coco non sucré (1tsp coconut, unsweetened)
1 T canneberge séchées (dried cranberries)
1/4 T de graines de tournesol (sunflower seeds)
2 c a soupe de graines de sésame (sesame seeds)
Mix the juice of one orange and its zeste with the dates on low-medium heat.
Mix other ingredients together except the unsalted coconut and sesame seeds.
when the orange juice and date mix is relatively homogeneous, it is ready to mix in with the other ingredients.
once mixed, create balls and roll them in the sesame and coconut.
cook for about 12-15 minutes at 375.
Boules d’énergie – Recipe 2

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup oatmeal (I used a mix of wholeweat oatmeal flakes)
1/2 cup sunflower seed
1 cup raisins (I had replaced mine with cranberries because that's what we had)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon flax seed (optional)
1 tablespoon wheat germ (optional)
Mix everything together and refrigerate. That's it!! ENJOY.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Barbecued Steak and Veggies

My friend Donnie made a group of us a fabulous meal tonight. I recently went for a live blood cell analysis and found out that for my blood type I should actually be eating red meat on a regular basis – for my health. Bring on the meat, I say! So tonight when I was given the choice between salmon, chicken or steak, I went with the steak. Donnie had a massive slab of meat that he cut into 6 pieces and cooked it marvelously on the bbq. My meat was so tender, juicy and so easy to eat. The veggies that came with it were also cooked to perfection – mixed peppers, onions and mushrooms. I couldn't have asked for a better way to end the weekend. Thanks Donnie!!

Holder – Montreal

My parents were in Montreal this weekend staying at my brother's place so we made our way there to spend mother's day both with them and my mother-in-law. We decided we were going to take them out for dinner to Holder, a wonderful French restaurant in old Montreal. I'd been once before, quite a few years ago, and always remebered this place as having the best beef tartare i've ever had. So of course I ordered it again. Instead of having it as my main this time I got it as a starter. It's a pretty big starter, thank god because I was sharing a lot of it. It was fantastic, as I remembered it, and just strengthened my original memory of it being the best ever. As I was scrolling through the menu trying to decide on my main, I saw it, the dish that would make this a meal tailored specifically to me – the Lobster Ravioli. I quickly shut my menu, there was nothing else in there that could possibly change my mind. I was so excited to eat. The quality of food did not disappoint. Everyone was raving about their dishes. I got to try a few and they were indeed very good. My mother started off with the Cream of Asparagus soup with crab and ham and force fed me a bite, I'm glad she did, it was amazing and full of flavour. I also tried some of her main, the Roasted Scallops in Safron Sauce, Leek “confits” and Spinach, so good. My mother-in-law ordered the Calamari to start, I had some of that too, as did my mother who raved that she had never had calamari so good as it's usually too rubbery. This one was perfect. I've noticed since I started my blog, people tend to share their meals with me more willingly, that may be the best part of doing this! So I also tried my husband's Holder Style Fish and Chips. These were the least greasy fish and chips I've ever had, which quickly puts them at the top of my list for best fish and chips. I let my brother pick the wine for the meal which ended up being a great decision on my part. I was about to order one I was familiar with but the one he chose was equally delicious if not better – Côtes du Rhône Villages “Ortas” 2004, Rasteau. Yes, I was very full by the end of it. But a bottle of Maury Vintage 2004, Mas Amiel quickly kicked my digestive system into gear. I love port at the end of a meal, as does my family, so evenings with them often end on a high note. This restaurant is a consistently good restaurant. Anyone we've sent there has raved about the food. The service is equally fantastic in this loud, traditionally French hustle-bustle restaurant. I would highly recommend it if you want a fun start to an evening out. I'm not sure it was the best place to bring the mothers however. Although there were many large groups in the restaurant, I think the loudness of the restaurant made hearing the person at the end of the table near impossible, but for a smaller group, it's a great place to go. Apps range from $8 to $21 and mains from $16 to $34. As you will see above, I've added a plus sign to my 3 star rating. Keeping the ratings to 5 simple choices has proven to be more difficult than originally planned. This restaurant is the first to leave me completely stumped. I can't do 3 and I can't do 4. So it is a 3+.

Holder on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Energy Balls

Of all the meals we cooked on Saturday, I think these energy balls are my favourite. I'm a big snacker, especially healthy snacks. Unfortunately I love the high fat ones (good fat of course), like granola or almonds, granola bars and stuff like that too, so this was right up my alley. They are made with whole grain Rice Krispies, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, dried cranberries, honey and either coconut and dates or peanut butter. It's very hard not to eat them all at once. They're the perfect snack just before leaving work for my bike ride home. I bring 3 to work and that's it. Seriously, once you start, you don't want to stop. I'm dreading the day I run out of them.

Thai Curry Haddock and Mangoes

I walked in to the most amazing smell this evening. My husband was cooking one of the Saturday cook-a-thon dishes – the thai curry haddock. Suddenly I was VERY hungry. This dish would normally be served as is but because we froze it the fish became very flaky and the entire dish itself quite saucy. So my husband made some spaghetti and we served it over that. Oh my god it was absolutely amazing. I almost think it's best served this way. The flavours were so intense and satisfying. It was made with coconut milk, fish sauce, chopped hot peppers, ginger, garlic and mangoes. I think this is one we'll be making again for sure!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Vegetable Quiche

Here's one of the first meals from our day of cooking. Zoya and I broke into the quiche that was prepared yesterday. Although this could easily be a lunch quiche, it was perfect for breakfast. What made it so special was that the base of the pie crust had tomato paste (or sauce) and oregano, which could almost make it pizza-like but way healthier. It was so yummy! I can't wait to try the next thing! Holding myself back from eating everything at once is going to be very difficult.

Cod with Fennel, Onions, Black Olives and Tomatoes

I drove to Tremblant yesterday to spend the weekend with my friend Zoya and to spend the day cooking with her, Rachelle (another Rachelle who also loves food), and Jas (Jacinthe). In fact, all four of us are food lovers. The only difference is that in addition to loving food, they also love to cook, not one of my fortes. But I thought i'd join in on the fun anyway. We spent a total of $400 (or $100 each) and made a ton of food. As the week goes on you'll see many posts coming from this cooking extravaganza. So last night, although quite exhausted, Rachelle and Zoya still managed to prepare a gorgeous meal. I didn't partake in the cooking of that one. I believe Jas may have done some chopping for it as well but didn't get to reap the benefits as she didn't stay for dinner. Rachelle picked up some cod at where she claims to be the best fishery in Montreal, Poissonnerie Antoine on avenue du Parc. And I believe her. This fish was fantastic – so fresh, and was cooked perfectly. They baked it with some fennel, onions, black olives and tomato in vegetable stock. It really was the icing on the cake after a full day of cooking. Keep your eyes open for some upcoming pics of our meals. We made turkey and sundried tomato meatloaf, vegetable torte, veggie quiche, quinoa and shrimp salad, thai curry fish, vegetable and pesto lasagna, hummus and energy balls – it was insane!