Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pork Chops with Cranberries and Swiss Chard

I have to start by apologizing for not posting sooner. We had dinner on Sunday night at La Favorita and unfortunately I didn't feel the experience was worth talking about. Luckily the company was good! Quick side note, if you ever do have to go, don't waist your time on the pizza, no matter how good it looks on the menu.

This week was laid out to be a food week. I was signed up for the East Coast Kitchen Party on Monday at the Urban Element, was to have dinner in Montreal with my brother on Tuesday, and had reservations at Fraser Café tonight. I didn't think anything in the world could affect my appetite, ever. But some news concerning my dog's health shocked me on Monday morning and quickly eliminated every little bit of excitement I had for all of these food pleasures. So I cancelled everything. By this morning I had mentally sorted things out – thankfully. So my appetite this evening was back to normal. Just in time for this amazing dinner from my husband.

He got the recipe off The only thing he changed was port instead of wine. What a beautiful dinner. First off, the swiss chard cooked in garlic is genius. Anyone who is not a fan of greens (why you wouldn't be is beyond me), would quickly fall in love with them after having them cooked this way. And the pork chops! Wow! This entire plate is just an amazing combination of flavours, and colour! I know it's not Christmas time but I'm always up for that warm feeling that comes with the holidays. Cook this meal and the visual of it alone will make you feel happy and cozy. The sauce is to die for and the cranberries were not tart at all.

We even used local cranberries (from Greely! Céline...).

Can't rave enough about this dish.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Squash, Walnut and Pomegranate Salad

This is by far one of those “wow” meals. From the smells that filled the kitchen when my husband was cooking the sausage, to the popping of the pomegranate arils in the salad, every single thing about our dinner last night was outstanding.

The salad was filled with textures and flavours that complemented one another amazingly well – fresh arugula, toasted walnuts, tasty autumn squash, crumbled blue cheese and juicy pomegranate arils. Literally the perfect fall salad. The tender pork, stuffed with spicy Italian sausage and cilantro, was heavenly.

It's tough not to overeat when you're eating so well. My husband really knows how to wake up our taste buds and make the most of every single meal. I love it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


This is by far my favourite Vietnamese restaurant in Ottawa. The entire experience from start to finish leaves me completely satisfied. Their dishes have tons of flavour, the price is more than right and the service, exceptional. I feel like I'm at a friends place for dinner they are so happy to have us there.

Of course I went with my usual, rice paper shrimp wraps with peanut sauce. Always fresh, always perfectly done.

And Vermicelli with tasty meatballs and crispy spring rolls.

Tonight my husband went for the pho. Also a great choice.

It took me a while to warm up to this place after the loss of Cam Kong. But this past year they've officially become my second home again. I'm really not sure how else to describe this place except that it is perfect.

Fuschian on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Crêpe Complète

My husband used to eat these daily when he lived in France. Tonight he decided to make them for dinner – YUMMMMM. I love these kinds of dishes for dinner! It's deceiving though, they look all light and fluffy, but you get filled up pretty fast, especially with the cheese and ham.

My husband whisked together 1 cup of flour, 2 eggs, 1 cup of whole milk, 2tbs butter and a bit of salt. We don't have a crepe pan so my husband used a wok. Cook the batter while turning it to coat all sides of the wok. Continue turning it until it's all thinned out. Add one egg and scramble it in the pan, then spread it out thinly over the crepe. Add sliced ham and mozzarella. Fold over twice. He said it was easy. I don't think I'd ever attempt it without a crepe pan. My husband's so great at stuff like this, the crepe was perfectly golden and the cheese just oozed out the end. I couldn't ask for anything better.

We even used the best eggs – Bekings Farm eggs that we picked up at Aubrey's.


My father-in-law is visiting this week. He brought us some tomatoes. You can never have too many tomatoes!

Chicken on Hummus with Peppers and Swiss Chard

This has got to be the most colourful meal yet. It is so simple, yet so satisfying. If you're like me and really like sauces and dips, this is a great (and healthy) way to add pizazz to regular, everyday chicken. Barbecuing the chicken helps a great deal too.

My husband stir fried some swiss chard, peppers and whole garlic cloves and set them alongside the chicken that rested beautifully in the swirl of hummus. Yes, there was enough hummus for every bite of chicken AND peppers! Love it!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

French Onion Soup and Veal Stew

As soon as I heard Dino's voice when I answered the phone today, I got excited. He will often call us on a Sunday afternoon to invite us over for dinner. The anticipation alone makes my mouth water. But now, as I write this after having eaten everything, I can barely keep my eyes open as I am so full I could fall asleep.

The smells when we walked into his house were enough to make you so thankful for just being alive. And then the appetizer was set in front of us – a delicious french onion soup, the bread still slightly crusty on top as it slowly sucked up all the juice below it. Soft slivers of onion filled the rich broth along with melted Gruyere cheese, crisp and golden on the top.

The veal cooked for two hours in a pot of mixed vegetables and water. The vegetables were then removed, saving only the meat and broth which was then added to some butter and flour to make it creamier.

Fresh parsley completed the mixture and it was set on a bed of German egg noodles. This comforting dish was exquisite and the veal just fell apart in your mouth it was so moist.

We drank one of my favourite wines with the meal, Duque de Viseu from Portugal.

Thanks so much Dino, for yet another fantastic meal!

Mushroom Ravioli with Homemade Tomato, Italian Sausage and Mushroom Sauce

My friend Amy made a tomato sauce from scratch this past week and she was so proud of it that she gave me some to try.

I figured a special sauce such as this one required some quality pasta, so I picked up some fresh mushroom ravioli from Nicastro's (I know, I said I'd do my best to shop elsewhere but it's so darn convenient!).

The sauce was indeed amazing. You could taste the freshness of the tomatoes that were used. The little chunks of Italian sausage and thick slices of mushrooms gave it a rich texture, and the perfect amount of spiciness gave it a lovely kick but not so much that it overpowered the magnificent flavours of the ingredients within.

Thanks Amy! Had this for lunch today and have more for my lunch tomorrow!

Ottawa Farmers’ Market

I made my way over to the farmers' market this morning to pick up a few things and left with a few things more.
Bison jerky from Pykeview Meadows. So rich you only need a little bit and it's so satisfying.

And something I found very exciting, rolled spelt!

Rhubarb Preserve

About a month ago when I was having dinner with my friends Amy and Andrew, they served me a cheesecake for dessert that they topped with a homemade rhubarb preserve. This sweet mixture screams fall with it's combination of spices and would be the perfect thing on toast as a snack in the middle of the afternoon.

I had spent the night at their place on Friday and when I woke up Saturday morning, a scrambled egg and mushroom concoction was waiting for me along with toast and this jar of heavenly goodness. I must have made it quite clear how much I enjoyed the stuff because they sent me home with a container full! YUM!!!

Andrew, you'll have to thank your dad for me. I've been eating a lot of toast (sourdough from the Green Door) just so I can have some. I think I may try it with cheese next...

The Good Food Company

I went wedding dress shopping with a friend yesterday in Carleton Place. I was excited about the adventure because I knew it would end with a meal somewhere and I figured there had to be a nice little café or something in the area. And man, was I happy with our choice!

We stumbled into the Good Food Company, a quaint little spot with big windows at the front letting the beautiful sun's rays in. It was pretty busy but we lucked out with the last table at the back. They were still serving breakfast but also had the lunch menu available. Oh the choices!

I started off with the Soup of the Day, a potato and leek mixture that had the texture of a corn chowder, thick and rich and warmed me instantly. Alongside the bowl was a warm slice of whole grain bread.

My friend and I shared two mains, the Winter Spinach Salad and the Harvest Grilled Sandwich. Both had fantastic ingredients that went insanely well together. The two of us were in awe with every bite. The salad was made with baby spinach, baked sweet potatoes, fresh cranberries, bacon, toasted pecans and topped with a warm maple-dijon dressing. And the sandwich, sourdough bread toasted to perfection, was filled with chicken, bacon, old cheddar and caramelized green apples and red onion. The caramelized green apples were to die for. I thought I was going to go insane it was so good. I love marrying meat and fruit together. So many people I know hate that combination, and it just baffles me.

The service was excellent and the prices very reasonable. $8 to $10 for breakfast, $4 to $11 for soups and salads and $5 to $10 for lunch mains. It's the kind of spot I'd go all the way to Carleton Place for no other reason but to eat there.

The Good Food Company on Urbanspoon

Pho Thi Fusion

I have to start by apologizing for the lack of posts lately. We finally finished the last of our turkey yesterday so things should be getting back to normal now.

My husband and I went to Barrhaven on Friday night to have dinner with friends. This is the first time I've ever eaten outside of my centretown bubble. I have to say I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to my area of town and prefer not to venture too much outside of it. But I was pleasantly surprised when we had dinner here.

Once you're inside you quickly forget that you just drove through a strip mall parking lot to get there. The decor is very modern and inviting. And within seconds you notice the beauty of the plates being delivered to the tables – the presentation is fantastic.

My friends ordered the pho, it's their usual and they're very happy with it. I started off with the Wonton Soup made with minced pork and shrimp. It was very nice. I also got to try my friend's Rice Paper Wraps served with a roasted peanut garlic dip, fresh and yummy.

My main was the best tho, vegetarian Pad Thai. I love pad thai and rarely go to a thai restaurant without ordering it, so I've had a lot of different variations. I have to say that this is one of my favourite. It had the perfect amount of spice and the veggies were cooked to perfection.

The service was good. Apps range between $5.25 and $15, mains from $7.95 and $16. It's a pretty busy spot so I recommend making a reservation if you can. They don't take them on Friday or Saturday nights but the tables turnaround fairly quickly and the wait is never too long. If I ever have to eat in Barrhaven again, this is where I'll be going!

Pho Thi Fusion on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Turkey and Swiss Chard Soup

Looks a lot like my chicken soup post doesn't it? On Sunday morning I went to the Ottawa Farmers' Market to get veggies for dinner. I had picked up some swiss chard but seeing as we already had a ton of food, we didn't use it. So tonight my husband made a savoury turkey soup with swiss chard, orzo and carrots.

My husband put all of the un-edible pieces of turkey into a pot yesterday, along with a ton of salt, and boiled it for hours. Today he added the following ingredients (in this order) to the stock.
- Carrots
- Celery
- Fried onions and garlic
- Swiss chard
- Green onion
- Leftover turkey
- Thyme
- Orzo (only takes 8 minutes to cook)

The end result was to die for. So tasty and comforting. Yummm.

What We Eat

This post is not about one of my fabulous meals. It's more about what goes into those meals. Last night my husband and I watched Food Inc. Deep down I know that if I could peek into a hole and see where my food was coming from, I'd probably stop eating it. Forever. Although the past year, more than ever, I've been buying local. But I don't buy everything local or organic. And I certainly wouldn't say I make an effort to do so. After watching this movie, I'll be making an effort going forward.

Buying from our local farmers isn't cheap. But as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. Knowing the differences between mass production and more humane ways of preparing food can make every extra penny totally worth it. Go out to eat one less time this month and you'll probably make up the difference. And check out this article from Ron Eade, a great comparison and excellent read if you do find the prices a little hard to handle at some markets. (Oh, and a little return from the Ottawa Farmers' Market.) Living in Ottawa makes the transition pretty easy, it's not just markets that sell local and organic foods. The Glebe Metro for example carries tons of great stuff. And Aubrey's in the market is where my husband picks up a lot of our meat. For fish, the Whalesbone is still my favourite stop. The more I learn, the more I'll share.

After I wrote this I was going through my usual blog list and came across this post on the Urban Element blog. Very inspiring!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner

There's nothing more comforting than a turkey dinner. In the 9+ years my husband and I have been together I have to say that he has definitely perfected cooking a turkey. For some reason each year seems better than the last, even though each year has been outstanding. Always moist and tender. Never, ever, dry.

I picked up some fresh beans at the Ottawa Farmer's Market that morning. Jesse and Phil brought mashed potatoes, and my husband added squash to the mix. When the turkey came out of the oven I couldn't stop picking at the crispy bits of stuffing on the end.

Shortly after, a warm table setting surrounded by great friends heightened what a lucky person I am to have such wonderful people in my life and such glorious food.

Donnie brought the dessert, strawberry rhubarb pie (my favourite!) and pumpkin pie. The wine our guests brought were also definitely worth mentioning.

Le Clos Jordanne Pinot Noir from the Niagara Peninsula.

And Cinsaut Shiraz from South Africa.

In the afternoon before breaking into any of the wine bottles, I sipped on a Hockley Stout from Orangeville, Ontario. I decided to try this beer after reading When Stout Meets Stilton on The Delish Bite blog. Very chocolatey and yummy.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

L’Orée du Bois

A group of us went to L’Orée du Bois in Chelsea last night. My first impression as I walked in was how cozy it seemed inside. Dim lighting, warm and inviting, but much busier and larger than I expected from the outside.

So many choices of meats on the menu made my selection quite difficult – duck, rabbit, deer and wild boar. I finally decided to go with the table d'hôte of duckling, which I believe was somewhere around the $38 to $40 mark but couldn't find the price on the menu (and forgot to look closely at the bill afterward).

The first choice I had to make was for the soup. I went with the shrimp bisque with cognac and tarragon. It was an extra $2.75 and worth every penny. It's velvety texture was bursting with flavour and the tiny pieces of shrimp throughout were meaty and nice.

Next came my appetizer. This is where I was the most stuck. The mushrooms in a puff pastry with herb sauce were very tempting. I did get to try some and they were rich and flavourful. I was close to getting the duck foie gras mousse but since I was getting duck for my main I decided to go with the smoked salmon mousse with cucumber. Very light and super smokey – this dish was a fantastic choice.

My main, while very good, was my least favourite of the dishes. Brôme lake duckling with white turnip, port and mushroom sauce. All the “cookie-cutter” sides were yummy. 3 swirls of mashed potatoes that looked like they were made with a cake decorating bag and a perfect cylinder of turnip topped with little pieces of chopped asparagus. The duck, drowning in a smooth sauce had bits of soft onion that added a nice overall texture. The duck itself was slightly dry but with the sauce turned out ok.

I ordered the Domaine de la Cavale red wine from France, which in the menu seemed to be the choice to make. A lighter wine than I normally like but still pretty good. And finished off with a glass of port to go with my dessert, the homemade chocolate platter. Small pieces of dark chocolate in various shapes and sizes decorated the plate. In the centre, a dark chocolate cup with a creamy filling and bits of toffee that tasted a lot like a Skor bar – it's what made the plate. My husband wasn't going to get his dessert so I got it for him to share with the others – dark chocolate mousse and caramelized hazelnut. That one was a winner all around and went beautifully with my port.

My brother's nougat, although stunningly prepared, lacked flavour.

The service was good. A bit slow at the end but overall, very efficient. Because there were 8 of us, the tip was included in our bill. We tried to leave a bit more but our server was adamant that we were paying only what was on the bill, which I found to be kind of weird. It wasn't even 15%! After a few back and forths, we gave up and gave him only what he asked for.

L'Oree Du Bois on Urbanspoon

Jak’s Kitchen

Mmmmm. Breakfast at Jak's. Need I say more?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Catfish Cakes and Tomato Salad

This meal deserved my favourite wine, Robertson Winery Cab Sauvignon, my last one, and no longer available at the LCBO. So I cracked it open and continue to sip on it as I write.

I'm not sure what I love more, fish cakes or the sauce that comes with them. With this dish it's definitely the combination of the two. Alone these fish cakes are heavenly, as is the sauce. But together, they make my world complete. The sad thing about going out to eat and ordering fish cakes is that there's never enough sauce. At home, that problem doesn't exist (although maybe it should!). This recipe, as marvelous as it is, is really quite simple, a few ingredients that make the best of each other.

My husband mixed together 2 catfish filets, 1 chopped jalapeno pepper, 1 egg, some coriander, thyme, garlic, bread crumbs and flax seed. Formed the mixture into 4 patties and fried them. The sauce that I adored so much was an uninvolved mixture of mayo, lemon and paprika. A fresh yellow tomato and arugula salad lightly drizzled with balsamic and oil completed the meal.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Vietnam Palace

Although not normally my first choice for Vietnamese, I chose Vietnam Palace this evening mostly because of the softer, more formal (if I can say that) ambiance. A group of us wanted to take my friend Teresa out for her birthday and the setting was perfect for 5 chatty women.

I wanted so badly to order something different than my usual when staring at a Vietnamese menu. But alas, I defaulted to my favourite dishes, rice paper shrimp rolls with peanut sauce and vermicelli with shrimp and spring rolls.

Fresh as the ingredients were, I was slightly disappointed with the rice paper holding everything together. I don't think they soaked it long enough and the result was a tougher than usual roll. The yummy peanut sauce made up for it though. As did the pickled carrot shavings on the side of the plate.

I'm not sure why I can't get bored of vermicelli. I think part of it is an addiction to the act of eating noodles with chopsticks. And this tangle of noodles did not disappoint. Grilled shrimp, crispy spring rolls and strings of raw pickled carrot and julienne cucumber doused in a spicy fish sauce is like a little bit of heaven for me. The last bite as exciting and delicious as the first. Even though the dish was missing the crushed peanuts!

This wasn't my first visit. And most certainly won't be my last. The service was great and we had a wonderful evening. The two minor glitches above aren't a regular occurrence in my experience.

Vietnam Palace

Vietnam Palace on Urbanspoon