Sunday, August 30, 2009

Smoked Ribs with Cornbread and Grilled Peaches

It poured rain all day long yesterday so a heavy, comforting meal was the perfect way to remove the lingering chill. My husband made one of his many specialties, smoked ribs. I've raved about these ribs before so I won't bore you with the details. But if you haven't seen the post, I highly recommend checking it out. He makes the most amazing rub and then smoking them on top of that is just the best! They were still as good (if not better) last night as they were first time he served them to me.

My friend Zoya wanted to contribute to the meal as well. She knew that cornbread was often served with ribs, so we searched for a relatively simple recipe. We ended up finding a VERY easy one on, and it went beautifully with the ribs. If you read the reviews for this recipe, most people added more cream corn, so we did as well and it turned out great. We also added some chopped fresh jalapeno and a bit of maple syrup. Yummy! I think this now has to become a regular with the ribs going forward. In additon, my husband made mouthwatering garlic mashed potatoes, carrots and beans sprinkled with lemon juice, butter and salt. We were so stuffed, we could barely sit up in our chairs.

We waited a bit before moving onto the final course, a decadent dessert of grilled peaches topped with mascarpone and a balsamic drizzle. A few nights ago my husband threw some peaches on the bbq and served them to me dripping with maple syrup and cream. My reaction to the dessert inspired the one he made last night. Super easy but so impressive. My mouth is still watering.

And what would an evening such as this be without the right wine. We sipped on quite a few. All worth mentioning.

Zoya and Marc brought this delicious 2004 Rioja, La Montesa.

Leftover from the night before, we had a few sips left of yet another fantastic Rioja, 2005 Muga.

Currently my favourite wine, and mentioned in a previous post, the Robertson Winery Wolfkloof Shiraz from South Africa. And last but definitely not least, Deakin Estate's Australian Victoria Shiraz.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Frittata

I (yes me!) made breakfast this morning. My husband was still in bed. And it actually turned out great. I picked this recipe off the site. When I cook (rare I know), I pretty much always get my recipes from there. They're so clear, you can easily do detailed searches, and the reviews that come with all of them are so helpful.

This frittata is fun because it's made in a small dish rather than a big pan, which is just a bit different than the norm. The sun-dried tomato is so yummy and overall, just a really easy recipe. Perfect for me. I served these little frittatas with some toasted Art-is-in garlic and rosemary bread.

Cheese, Rillettes and Terrine

Our friends Zoya and Marc are here for the weekend. It's always a pretty big food fest when they come or when we go there. They enjoy food as much as we do so it makes revolving the weekend around eating so worth it. I didn't want my husband (or I) to be stuck in the kitchen last night though. I actually thought going to Murray Street and nibbling off their charcuterie menu would be nice. But we're all trying to cut down on eating out, so I decided to do the same thing but at home.

I went to the Chelsea Smokehouse to get the majority of our feast. They have such a marvelous selection of local foods. Check out what I brought home.

- Aux trois p'tits cochons verts – Mousse Foie de Volaille au Porto (terrine of chicken liver, duck fat, creme, egg and port)
- Aux trois p'tits cochons verts – Sanglier Canneberge (rillettes of pork, boar, liver, cranberries, egg, red wine)
- Gibiers Canabec – Terrine de lapin aux bleuets (rabbit terrine with duck, pork, chicken liver, blueberries, veal)
- La fromagerie le ptit train du nord – La Petite Folie soft sheep cheese
- Chelsea Smokehouse – Smoked salmon mousse with goat and sheep's milk cheese with horseradish
- La maison Alexis de Portneuf – La Sauvagine soft surface ripened cheese
- Olivia chocolate – 76% cocoa with a touch of maple – this is actually made in Wakefield!
- Gorgonzola (this was just from the grocery store)

I also picked up a few things that were recommended in the current issue of Ottawa Magazine. I'm not sure if it's because I've now been in Ottawa for 10 years, or if the writers have changed, or if I was just blindsighted before, but I've really enjoyed getting this magazine regularly for the past couple of years. They have wonderful restaurant reviews and fantastic information about lots of local food shops in every issue. This one was especially good with their “101 Tastes to Try Before You Die”. Quite a few things were purchased because of that article. Like bison spring rolls (they actually talked about the egg rolls), which I got for last night but never ended up cooking them.

Mmmm, lemon and salt pistachios. This was tasty treat number 49. As explained in the article, they're ordered from Iran and then sent to Montreal for roasting before they arrive at Shiraz. I especially love the chunks of salt.

The bread I picked up at two spots, the Red Apron and True Loaf Bread Company right next door. I picked up some Art-is-in garlic and rosemary bread, currently one of my absolute favourites, from the Red Apron, and a rye and walnut and French white baguette from True Loaf. It's really nice to have a selection of breads – it's almost just as fun as trying all the cheeses.

Fresh figues really complete a cheese plate.

And to pull it all together, some sweet pickled gherkins, St Ambroise beer mustard, L'Herborerie onion jam and date, crab apple and roasted cumin spread.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kind-of Thai Warm Shrimp Salad

Well, here we are, back to the healthier form of eating. And what a great meal to get started with! My husband roasted some corn on the barbecue and then shaved it off the cob. To that he added some shrimp, basil, baby spinach, feta and deliciously fresh tomatoes from a friend's garden in Fredericton. Fresh, home-grown tomatoes have so much more taste and firm texture than the imported ones in the grocery store. And from what I can tell, are super easy to grow, so worth the little effort.

For the dressing, my husband added some basil, lime, curry and cream to the PC Thai Green Curry sauce we had leftover in our fridge and heated it up. A slight spiciness and tangy aroma make this sauce a definite one to come back to.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pizza Delight

My husband and I had a list of places we wanted to eat before coming back to Ottawa. Lucky for us, dinners were being served left, right and center. Not so lucky for us, we only had a few days to fit it all in. So we didn’t get to hardly any of the places on our list. Except this one, Pizza Delight. Unfortunately we don’t have one of these anywhere near us now. I’m guessing if we did the luxury would be gone anyway. But since we don’t, it becomes one of our stops when we go home to the Maritimes. We waited right up to the last minute for this one, stopping in Edmundston just before crossing into Quebec.

My husband ordered his usual, a Donair, and me, just a regular ol’ pizza with the works. I’ve always loved their crust, thin, but not so thin you have to eat 10 slices to be full. Just the perfect amount of cheese and the usual yummy toppings that goes with the works. They have many different kinds to choose from now too. A comparable pizza in Ottawa is hard to find, but the Dewie is pretty close.

My husband isn’t so lucky with his Donair. You can’t get anything remotely close in Ottawa. In fact, I don't think Donair sauce even exists outside the Maritimes (although I've heard rumors there may be some, I've yet to find it). That unique, sweet tasting sauce has had east coasters wrapped around it’s little finger for a very long time. And the meat, donair meat, is also impossible to come by. There are no comparable options for this dish in Ottawa. One of the supposed-to-be “maritime” bars has tried and failed, using mayo for the sauce and ground beef for the meat – why even bother.

We snacked on these lovely treats all they way through Quebec. Yum!!

Lime and Cilantro Mussels and Lobster

Of course our last dinner out East included lobster. Why anyone would think anything else is beyond me. My father-in-law and his wife treated us to a heavenly finale the last night of our vacation. Since I’ve already done quite a few posts on lobster (once you’ve seen one little lobster face staring back at you, you’ve seen them all), I decided to focus on our appetizer – marvelous mussels.

I’ve had some pretty good mussels in my life. I’ve also had some pretty boring ones. I find they don’t always take on the flavour they’re cooked in. But these ones! Oh these ones were definitely some of the best. Mostly due to the fact that they did take on the flavours they were cooked in so nicely. Lime and cilantro (my favourite herb!) – really did these mussels justice. To the lime and cilantro, Brenda added some fresh chopped garlic, white wine, cream and a splash of hot sauce, for the most appetizing mussels ever!

She paired this dish up with a delicious fruity wine she brought back from BC, 2007 Kerner from Oliver Twist Estate Winery.

And with the lobster, probably the best accompanying wine out there, an oaky 2006 Okanagan Chardonnay from the Burrowing Owl Estate Winery.

We gobbled up our lobster with some side coleslaw and potato salad. And if that wasn’t enough, ended the evening with an ice cream from Tingley’s (actually the Dundonald Dairy Bar now, but everyone still calls it Tingley’s). Thanks guys for an unforgettable last dinner!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Herb Frittata

I woke up this morning to a marvelous breakfast. My mom always knows what to do to make you feel great after a night of a few too many drinks. The frittata, filled with ham, mozzarella and fresh cilantro was to die for. The cilantro added so much flavour to this oven-baked omelette and the best part? It came from my mom's garden. Slightly different, this cilantro wasn't flat leafed like I'm used to, it had the same texture as dill, but with the fragrant mix of parsley and citrus that make cilantro so great. 

What you’ll need
8 eggs
2 tbs water
120g deli-style shaved ham, chopped
1 cup shredded Kraft Mozzarella Cheese, divided
3 tbs chopped fresh cilantro, divided

What to do
Preheat oven to 350. Beat eggs and water with wire whisk in medium bowl. Stir in ham, 1/2 cup of the cheese and 2 tbs of the cilantro.

Pour into greased 9" pie plate and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes or until puffy and golden brown. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro. 

Lobster, Salad and Berry Berry Cake

Well, it's been quite a few days since I've done any posts. My husband and I were busy cleaning out everything we could from the fridge, which resulted in less than exciting meals (I lie, they were all delicious and photo-worthy, but it's all stuff I've blogged about recently so I refrained from boring anyone with the details). Actually, I do love leftovers. It's like going to a buffet of all my favourite foods. 

We were cleaning out the fridge in preparation for our trip out east. And here we are. What better way to get things started than with lobster! I called it in the car on the way down too – I bet my mother got me some lobster, I said. She had 7! What a feast, so yummy. And served with my all-time favourite salads, broccoli, cauliflower, bacon and cheese mixed together with a light mayo, vinegar and sugar dressing. And my absolute favourite potato salad in the world, my mom's, she mashes up the potatoes with egg, celery, onions, miracle whip, mustard, celery salt and salt and pepper. I love the simplicity of this recipe and the texture of it. I prefer my potatoes mashed over anything. 

For dessert, my mom made us this delicious summery Berry Berry Cake, taken from the Kraft What's Cooking magazine. I'm not a big cake person but this one changes everything. It's so light and tasty with the lemon zest you really just can't get enough. Fresh blueberries, raspberries and a dollop of whipped cream make this dessert a keeper for sure!

And what's a great meal without great wine? We shared a bottle recommended to me by Jean-Marc and another from my dad's stash. Both fantastic. 
- 2005 Santa Julia Magna, Mendoza, Argentina
- 2006 Las Moras Reserve, Tannat, San Juan, Argentina

After dinner, a Newfoundland Port completed the meal. I love port.

I'm sure this is one of many Maritime feasts lined up for us this weekend! Thanks so much for a great start mom!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tuscan Tuna-and-Bean Sandwiches

I was on a cooking frenzy this morning! That never happens. Must have been because the sun was shining and I was in such a great mood. I also knew we were planning to go kayaking at some point today. I decided to let my husband sleep in, rather than push him out of bed like I normally would when we have something planned. But in order to do that, I had to keep myself busy, so I decided to put my energy into sandwiches for the trip. That's when I found this marvelous recipe on

I was able to get all of the ingredients at Nicastro's in the Glebe. Even the bread, which was some Art-is-in garlic and rosemary bread – soooooo yummy. It's so soft and airy. It's perfect. They have a wonderful selection of Italian foods, and lots of organic produce BUT their service is the pits. Everytime I go it seems none of the staff want to be there. Helping you isn't just a bother, it downright painful and it seems they would loose their soul if they had to even try to smile. I go because it's convenient, but I'm seriously thinking the next time I will go out of my way and go to La Bottega in the market instead. At least then I'll feel welcome.

Ok, back to the sandwich! If you're tired of the usual plain old tuna with mayo, you've got to give this a try. It's great and has tons of flavourful ingredients that work wonderfully together. And the best part? I made it and it turned out ok! That's two in a row with the scones!

What you’ll need
For beans 1 (14- to 15-oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For tuna salad
2 (6-oz) cans Italian tuna in oil, drained
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

For sandwiches
8 (1/3-inch-thick) slices rustic Italian bread (from a round crusty loaf) or 4 (4-inch-long) oval panini rolls
1 cup loosely packed trimmed watercress sprigs

What to do
Prepare beans:
Coarsely mash beans with a fork in a bowl, then stir in garlic, lemon juice, oil, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Make tuna:
Flake tuna in a bowl with a fork, then stir in basil, olives, celery, onion, oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until combined.

Assemble sandwiches:
Spoon one fourth of bean mixture on 1 slice of bread, then top with one fourth of tuna salad, some watercress, and a slice of bread. Make 3 more sandwiches in same manner.

Marysol's Scones

Inspired by the She Eats Bears blog, I finally found the time (or should I say made the time) to make these delicious scones. When I saw Marysol's post they looked so yummy I just had to try making them myself. Mine don't look as fluffy as her's, but I must say, for my first time, they turned out pretty fantastic. I especially love the addition of the lemon zest. It was the perfect amount and made them so special. My husband also loved them. He is more like Marysol and enjoys them with butter, where as I am the jam person. Thanks for such a wonderful recipe – so easy to follow!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Smelts and Fried Tomatoes

If you love taking your time and picking out the bones as you enjoy your fish, then this is the meal for you! If you're starving and just want to eat, don't make this. Luckily I wasn't starving. And I found the work involved trying to eat this dish quite therapeutic. My husband on the other hand, didn't. It was not worth it to him. Maybe it's a genetic thing. My grandfather loved to eat bony fish, especially if he caught it. I didn't enjoy it as much as a kid, but I can appreciate it now.

The fried tomatoes went superbly with every moist morsel of fish I picked out. The crispness of the golden tempura batter on the smelts is what made it all so special. And the addition of oregano to the tomatoes was just sheer brilliance. I love my husband's cooking, in every way, shape and form. He always knows how to make a good meal sensational.

For the fresh heirloom tomatoes, my husband fried them with some garlic, olive oil and oregano. The smelts were coated in tempura batter (store bought) and then fried. Very yummy.

Chipotle Pork Cheeseburgers and Elote

My photo of this dish did not do it justice – so I didn't post it at all. I recommend going to it on because when my husband sent it to me saying this was what he was going to make for dinner my mouth started to water and didn't stop until I bit into this insanely delicious burger (10 hours later!). Yes, it did taste as good as it looked. Better in fact. My husband invited our new neighbours over for dinner along with 3 other friends, and well, let's just say that the food, although a bit messy, was very impressive. The burgers were topped with melted Muenster, creamy avocado (not mine tho), tomatillo, cilantro and a cilantro/mayo spread. With that my husband served elote – grilled corn on the cob spread with lime juice and mayo, and sprinkled with chili powder, a bit of cumin and salt, so perfect and so fresh.

What you’ll need
1 pound ground pork (not lean)
2 teaspoons minced chipotle in adob
o plus 1 teaspoon adobo sauce
2 garlic cloves, forced through a garlic press
4 slices Muenster cheese
4 hamburger buns, toasted
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 large tomatillo (1/4 pound), husked and rinsed, then sliced
1/2 small avocado, sliced
1/2 cup cilantro sprigs

What to do

Prepare a gas grill for direct-heat cooking over medium heat;

Gently mix pork, chipotle, garlic, and a scant teaspoon salt until just combined. Form into 4 (1/2-inch-thick) patties.

Oil grill rack, then grill patties, covered, 4 minutes.

Flip patties and top with a slice of cheese. Grill, covered, until just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes more.

Spread buns with mayonnaise (my husband made a mayo and cilantro spread) and assemble burgers with tomatillo, avocado, and cilantro (we added more adobo sauce).

The wine we drank was also impressive. Everyone submitted a bottle (or two or three!) We polished off 6! (my head does hurt a little) The below are all definitely worth a try.

- 2007 Expresiones Reserve Shiraz/Cab Sauvignon from Argentina

- 2006 Catena Malbec also from Argentina

- 2005 Chateau Lafon-Rochet from France

- 2006 Aresti Merlot from Chili

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Stuffed Snapper with Grilled Fennel and Zucchini

Here's a brand new recipe my husband put together this evening. Well, new to us. The flavours in this dish were so fresh and the fennel in the stuffing complements the fish like you wouldn't believe. My husband is the king at blowing me away with meals like this. Before we ate he commented that he hoped it turned out. I didn't have a doubt in my mind!

When eating from a whole fish, it's actually quite fun to share it off the same plate and just pick at it. That's what we did. It reminded my husband of when he was in Portugal, where they would just throw a whole fish on the plate and serve as-is.

To make this heavenly meal, my husband mix together some bread crumbs, chopped fennel stalk (use the stalk for this, you'll get more flavour from it), a couple cloves of chopped garlic, olive oil and lemon. Make 3 to 4 slits along the side of the red snapper, a little deeper near the head, and stuff each slit with the stuffing mixture. Ensure the fish is gutted and stuff the inside as well. Throw it on the bbq along with some fennel and zucchini. Honestly, a recipe to die for. And although pretty easy to make, is very impressive.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dumplings, Seaweed Salad and Kimchi

Inspired by our meal on Friday night, my husband picked up some kimchi and seaweed salad at the Korean Market today. With that, he served one of my favourite things, dumplings from Dong Ling, a fantastic little hole in the wall that I've blogged about before. If you're lucky enough, with your purchase of tasty dumplings, you may also get offered a hot pork patty, kind of like a Jamaican patty but greasier and so yummy. These dumplings are pretty easy to make. Simply place them in a deep frying pan, add about an inch of water around the dumplings and steam them with the lid on for about 5 minutes, or until the water runs dry. Then add a bit of sesame oil, sesame seeds and green onion and fry them until the bottoms are golden brown. I've actually cooked them before and did a fantastic job of it, which is rare for me. So if I can do it, anyone can. But I must say, I still can't get that perfect crispness that my husband gets every time. I prefer when he cooks them more!

Along with this wonderful dish was also a pretty great wine, recommended to me by Marysol, a woman who blogs about her wonderful meals and makes my mouth water on a regular basis. Thanks for the suggestion, we really enjoyed the wine! I'll be getting this one again and again.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Murray Street

I just had the absolute best breakfast I have ever had. I've reviewed Murray Street before, I knew it would be great. But I could never have imagined it being this great! Which is why i'm re-reviewing it and bumping up my rating to 5 stars. The breakfast menu in itself is pretty amazing, and the food does not disappoint. With rare additions like Glengarry Celtic blue cheese, garlic maple syrup, in-house smoked belly and pork brisket, why anyone would go for standard bacon and eggs is beyond me. And although each dish has it's own unique variations, they all still offer that comforting feeling you would get from traditional breakfasts.

They started us off with a sampling trio of tasty breads – banana and chocolate chip, chocolate and walnut and the most amazing bread pudding I've ever had, warm and sweet.

Then came our breakfast. I think mine was the best of all and actually made the rest of the table jealous. If you're having a hard time deciding what to get, go with A Brisket... A Basket, you will fall in love. Smoked, grilled heritage pork brisket, garlic maple syrup, in-house brioche-cheddar french toast and poached Beking's egg. The textures and flavours in this dish are to die for. The rich moistness and fattiness of the pork was heightened by the smoking process and paired with caramelized roasted garlic and french toast bathed in garlic maple syrup, made this dish one I will truly never forget. I also ordered a side of their baked beans, which was the perfect accompaniment.

My husband ordered the Steak and Eggs, grilled Kerr's skirt steak (sliced med-rare), in-house steak sauce, baked Beking's farm fresh eggs, Glengarry Celtic blue cheese and toast.

And Donnie ordered the Fritztatta, skillet baked eggs, in-house smoked belly and sausage, Pine River extra old cheddar, sun dried tomatoes, spaetzle and toast.

Breakfast is $12 for all meals – amazing deal for the quality and local ingredients. Side choices include Seasonal Fruit, Art-is-in Grilled Bread, In-house Sausage, Baked Beans, Cretons, Murray Street Ketchup or Strawberry Jam and Freshly Baked Pastries all ranging from $2 to $7. They also have delicious fresh squeezed orange juice. A fantastic patio in the back, simple and cozy decor inside and great service make this place a must for Saturday or Sunday brunch. I'll be back for sure!

Murray Street on Urbanspoon


My friend Donnie just got home from his yearly trip out East and with him were some treats for us! Some yummy dulse.

And some Atlantic beer.

Thanks Donnie!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Korean Kalbi BBQ

Pretty much since the day we moved into our house, our neighbours have been raving about these bbq ribs that friends of theirs make. You would love them – they'd say. We have to get you over one night to try them. Well, last night was the night, almost 4 years later. It's kind of an odd situation, our neighbours friends were the ones cooking. The chef of these truly sensational ribs – Hae Sung (I hope to god I spelled that correctly – if I didn't you can blame Jean, he gave me the spelling!), a super friendly Korean woman who really knows how to prepare these richly seasoned dishes.

The entire meal was a feast to say the least. Along with the aromatic and highly flavourful kalbi (marinated and grilled ribs), Hae Sung served chap chae, a tangle of cellophane noodles mixed with vegetables, meat and eggs – so yummy, namul (a bean sprout salad), kimchi (pickled cabbage), shoga (pickled ginger), takuwan (pickled radish), and another of my favourites, a seaweed salad. Our neighbours also included a selection of sushi rolls to this already mind-blowing dinner. This is like my dream meal. I can't rave enough about every single thing I ate. I seriously couldn't stop. I was so into my food I barely made it into any of the conversations going on around me.

I didn't even think about saving room for dessert! But when a crisp apple crumble was presented, I couldn't help but dig in. Little did the hostess know, this is one of my all-time favourite desserts.

My husband and I brought a magnificent wine that was highly recommended by Jean-Marc, one of my co-workers and personal sommelier. Robertson Winery Wolfkloof Shiraz from South Africa. It was amazing, and I'm very sad to say that my husband and I were the only red wine drinkers in the house. The good news? We got to have it all to ourselves. Although I would have really enjoyed sharing, it would have been the least I could do to thank them all for such a wonderful and fun night. My mouth still waters at the thought of it all. Thanks guys!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Zucchini Basil Soup with Zucchini Fritters

It doesn't matter what kind of day I have, coming home to these kinds of meals can cure just about any foul mood. Bad day today gets erased by magnificent evening tonight. As I was eating I thought to myself, if I had bad days like this and had nothing to come home to, then and only then, I could justify complaining about my bad day. Otherwise, I have absolutely nothing to complain about.

My husband made a beautiful zucchini and basil soup, so rich and flavourful. I love cream based soups, but they don't always love me. The wonderful thing about this recipe is that it feels like you're eating a cream soup, but you're not.

The smell of the fritters was filling the house and by the time I finally sat down to eat I was famished. If you can eat these fritter directly off the grill, do it! The taste and texture are so much better. They're still great even after sitting for a bit in the oven (while the others cook) but do yourself a favour and savour one off the grill. My husband followed the recipe below for these tasty treats using the flour and corn meal but also added corn to them from leftover corn on the cob, which pops lightly in your mouth when eaten immediately. A dollop of tzatziki accompanied this dish nicely. It was very difficult to stop eating them when I was full. The good news? I have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be able to escape the hectic work day and build up my anti-stress endorphins with each bite!

Zucchini Basil Soup

What you’ll need
4 zucchini, trimmed and cut
one chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups of chicken stock
1/2 cup packed basil leaves

What to do
Julienne skin from half of a zucchini with slicer; toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and drain in a sieve until wilted, at least 20 minutes. Coarsely chop remaining zucchini.

Cook onion and garlic in oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add chopped zucchini and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add stock and simmer partially covered until tender, about 15 minutes. Purée soup with basil in 2 batches in a blender.

Season soup with salt and pepper. Serve in shallow bowls with julienned zucchini mounded on top.

Zucchini Fritters

What you’ll need

4 medium zucchinis
3 small - medium russet potatoes
1 small - medium yellow onion
2 eggs
1/3 cup quinoa flour (or all-purpose flour)
1/3 cup sweet rice flour (or all-purpose flour)
1/3 cup masa (or corn meal)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

tzatziki sauce or sour cream for topping

What to do
Cut the tops and bottoms off of 4 zucchinis. Using the grater attachment, run the zucchinis through a food processor (or grate by hand). Peel and grate 3 russet potatoes and 1 yellow onion. Remove zucchinis, potatoes, and onion from processor, and squeeze well before placing in a large bowl. You want to get as much water out as you can so your batter isn't soupy.

To the zucchini/potato/onion mixture, add 2 eggs, 1/3 cup quinoa flour, 1/3 cup sweet rice flour, masa, salt, and pepper. Mix together thoroughly (I use my hands).

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed skillet on medium-high heat (about 1 cup of oil). Take about 1/3 - 1/2 a cup of dough in your hand and shape into a flat disk. Working in batches, fry latkes on one side until edges begin to turn brown, and cakes are cooked halfway through, 5-10 minutes. Flip cakes and fry another 3-5 minutes, until bottom is browned. Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel. Repeat until all the dough is used up. While you make the other batches, you can keep already made latkes warm by placing them on a cookie sheet in a warm oven (about 200 degrees).

Top with tzatziki or sour cream. Enjoy!

This recipe, with step by step pictures, can be found at this blog.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lamb and Beef Burgers with Colourful Carrots

Yay my husband is back! Thank god! I was starting to run out of money to eat out and out of friends' places to eat. He picked the cooking right back up last night with some delicious lamb and beef burgers to which he added some St Ambroise Beer Mustard. They were so yummy and juicy. I had a picture of them but I figured once you've seen one burger, you've kind of seen them all, even when the meat is different. So I'm focusing this post on the beautiful carrots that accompanied the meat.

I've been reading online about carrots and they were originally purple or red with a thin root. They didn't turn orange until the 1500's when Dutch growers used a mutant yellow carrot seed from North Africa to develop a carrot in the colour of the House of Orange, the Dutch Royal Family.

The first carrots were grown for medicinal purposes, each one having it's own strength. Check out the specifics on each one – studies have been carried out in the USA on the differing properties of different coloured carrots.

Orange Carrots contain beta carotene, with some alpha-carotene, both of which are orange pigments. High in Vitamin A essential for well-being, healthy eyes. These carrots originate from Europe and the Middle East.

Yellow carrots contain xanthophylls and lutene, pigments similar to beta carotene, which help develop healthy eyes aid in the fight against macular degeneration and may prevent lung and other cancers and reduce the risk of astherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). These came from the Middle East.

Red carrots are tinted by lycopene, (another form of carotene) a pigment also found in tomatoes and watermelon; lycopene is associated with the reduced risk of macular degeneration, serum lipid oxidation, helps prevent heart disease and a wide variety of cancers including prostate cancer. Originally from India and China.

White carrots lack pigment, but may contain other health-promoting substances called phytochemicals, natural bioactive compounds found in plant foods that work with nutrients and dietary fibre to protect against disease. One might say these are the least healthy of carrots. They originate from Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan.

Purple carrots (usually orange inside) have even more beta carotene than their orange cousins, and get their pigment from an entirely different class, the anthocyanins, these pigments act as powerful antioxidants, grabbing and holding on to harmful free radicals in the body. Anthocyanins also help prevent heart disease by slowing blood clotting and are good anti inflammatory agents. These originate from Turkey, and the Middle and Far East.

Black Carrots contain anthocyanins, part of the flavonoid family with antioxidant properties. Flavonoids are currently under investigation as anticancer compounds, as free radical scavengers in living systems, as well as inhibitors of LDL (the bad) cholesterol and the black carrot anthocyanins are especially active.

It has anti-bacterial and anti-fungicidal properties and oil made from its seed can help control scalp itchiness and provides essential nutrients for hair growth. The ancient black carrot has been making a comeback, not so much for culinary purposes but as a source of natural food colorants. These originate from Turkey, and the Middle and Far East.

I grabbed all this info from the carrot museum web site. Pretty interesting stuff.

And of course, I can't leave out the delicious wine that my friends Amy and Andrew brought for dinner – 2006 Syrah from K Mountain Vineyards that they picked up directly from the vineyard on their trip across Canada. Very bold and beautiful.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Von’s Bistro

I am re-reviewing this restaurant because the evening I just had is worth bumping this place up to three and a half stars. I think the food still remains a three (very good), but the service tonight was too good to leave at that. It was definitely worth four. So I've decided to break my rule and do the “half” star mark on this one. The service at Von's has always been good, but never “wow”. The uber friendly long blond haired woman we had serving us tonight was exactly how it should be wherever you go but unfortunately isn't. The service can make or break your night. And when you're paying to have a nice evening out, the last thing you want is to have the person you're paying ruin it. She was fantastic, super happy, friendly and very attentive.

I've also never had dinner at Von's, only breakfast or lunch. I'm sorry I waited this long to come. It's always been consistently good when I go. I also love the atmosphere. But my appetizer tonight was more than just good. I ordered the Colossal Shrimp, grilled and served with baby spinach, oyster mushrooms, grilled fennel and an orange sesame vinaigrette. The shrimp were cooked to perfection and so flavourful.

For my main I ordered the spinach and pesto Ravioli served in a roasted red pepper rosé sauce, also very yummy. My friends enjoyed their evening very much and 2 of them went with the Filet Mignon, 8oz of marinated beef tenderloin cooked rare and medium rare with a wild mushroom and green peppercorn cognac cream sauce and served with chive mashed potatoes. It looked really good! But I'm very sad to say that because I had already reviewed this restaurant before, I didn't bring my camera. I didn't think I'd be writing about it again. But I am, and I have no photos to show, which is very sad. I'll have to go again and get some photos to stick over this post.

To drink we had a Merlot, 2006 Sandhill Okanagan BC. And for dessert, a tasty Cranberry Almond Tart, the perfect way to end a relaxing, laid back evening.

Apps range from $8 to $15 and mains from $18 to $29.

Von's Bistro on Urbanspoon

Braised Beef Short Ribs

Oh my god we ate well last night. I've been reminiscing about the whole thing all morning. When my friend Dino invited us over for dinner and said he was just testing out a recipe, I knew it would be good. But I couldn't have imagined it being this good! This meal was seriously to die for.

He started us off with some cheese and grapes. As the night went on so did the slow cooking of the beef short ribs, which is really what makes this dish so good – 4 to 7 hours of cooking. There is no way any word can describe how delicious this meal was. You honestly had to be there. The meat literally fell off the bone and was so tender and juicy it would make any vegetarian change their ways. The fattiness of the meat just added to it's overall flavour and moistness and the vegetables served further heightened the taste sensation – grilled zucchini and pureed parsnip.

A refreshing arugula salad with high quality olive oil, lemon and parm accompanied this heavenly plate.

Dino heated the lemons before squeezing the juice from them. And the olive oil was from Dean and Deluca in NYC.

And of course, what good would a meal like this be without the perfect wine? And boy did we have the perfect wine!

2005 Alegoria Cab Sauvignon from Argentina – amazing.

And a fabulous French wine worth every penny – Château Haut-Sarpe Saint Emilion grand cru classé 2004.

Thank you Dino for yet another jaw-dropping meal!