Archive for September, 2005

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The Soup Says It’s Fall

Thursday, September 29th, 2005

Chicken Soup with Butternut Squash and Shiitakes
I was waiting all summer to cook this. Janet made this for me a couple of times last winter, but wouldn’t let us make it again until the fall.

“It’s not summer food.”

This is my favorite soup. The tarragon and shiitakes add an incredible flavor. The chicken thighs cooked on the bone also helped. The recipe came out of Jan’s Quick from Scratch book, so I can’t link to the recipe. You’ll just have to beg us for it.

Beef ‘n Bok Choy

Wednesday, September 28th, 2005

Grilled Hoisin-Soy Steaks with Shiitake and Bok Choy

Who cares about dinner?! Marc gave me an iPod nano!! The making of this dinner is a mystery to me because I was deeply engrossed in figuring out all the features, testing all the functions and then downloading innumerable songs, audiobooks and photos. That thing is bloody brilliant. But I digress.

When I finally tore my eyes away from my new toy, Marc had set this plate full of good food in front of me and directed me to open the wine. No complaints here. Despite some failed attempts at toasting the sesame seeds (why is toasting nuts and seeds such a challenge for us? we put things under the broiler and promptly forget they are there), and some exclamations of frustration at said attempts, the end result was very good. The rib-eyes were marinated and then broiled to a perfect pink-in-the-middle-doneness and the bok choy, broiling alongside the meat, was cooked but still crunchy. See the shiitakes? Those ended up being nicely soft and absorbant for the yummy sauce which ended up all over everything and added just the right amount of sweetness and a kind of smokiness, I think. It was a big plate-full and yet I had no trouble consuming it all- what a shock.

What was the wine? Um, again, something red. I forget. I have to listen to music, now.


Salad for Supper

Tuesday, September 27th, 2005

Spinach Salad with Prosciutto, Herbed Goat Cheese, Cashews and Plums

That’s pretty much Yasmeen’s whole recipe for this salad. The only thing to add is that we roasted the prosciutto under the broiler for a few minutes (would’ve used the BBQ if we had one) and made a simple dressing of grape seed oil, olive oil, goat cheese, salt ‘n peppa. This is one of those episodes where “less is more” because it took all of 10 minutes to make this and it was really tasty.

We indulged for dessert with the H, E and R sections of a Special Dark Hershey bar.

To drink: ummm… red wine. I forget what. Something Sangiovese. It was fine.


Nearly Shrimp-tastic

Wednesday, September 21st, 2005

Rice-stick Noodle Salad with Vietnamese Shrimp
The flavours were similar to the Jasmine Rice Salad, but not quite as refined. Fresh chilis beat Red Pepper flakes. Perhaps if we used the cup of mint the recipe called for, it would have been more impressive.

Googles got a few great recipe’s I’d like to try.

O Curry, My Curry

Monday, September 19th, 2005

Stir-fried Noodles with Singapore Lamb Curry I arrived home yesterday to find Marc at work in the kitchen on supper. It was a book-club-meeting weekend and technically, I should still have been full from the exceedingly large amount of brunch consumed just hours earlier. However, I was prepared to rally my courage for a new and delicious meal. (In my family, if you feel full, you’re not done yet. I learned early to eat every meal as though I would never see food again. )
At any rate, it turns out that the dinner preparations were not for me, but for his Mom who was due to arrive shortly and who officially warranted the dinner-making. Luckily, it makes no difference to me in whose honour a meal was planned or prepared so long as I get to partake. Plus, I had some champagne from the weekend that miraculously made it through the bookclub unscathed (if only for the fact that the “ladies” were already too hungover to consider Mimosas in the morning) and that was set to compliment the curry quite well.
Both Marc and I rapaciously devoured both our first and second helpings in the time it took Shirley to eat one little bowl, due to the chopstick factor. She was determined, though, and in the end (thanks to the stab-a-noodle technique), she won.
It is marvelous what curry does to lamb. What is it that makes them so remarkably compatible? Same grandparents? A shared fondness for India? Perhaps it has to do with the lamb we buy; it comes boneless from the butcher (Second To None Meats) and is locally raised. In fact, it costs less than chicken though it does involve some removal of silverskin – America’s Test Kitchen taught us how to do that properly. Sliced up thin and cooked semi-rare, it slides right up to the noodles without hesitation and brazenly demands their cooperation. And the noodles, Lord love ’em, are suckers for a saucy lamb dressed in spices.

How Low the Mighty Have Fallen

Thursday, September 15th, 2005

This is Marc ordering a pizza:

We ordered from the sad little chain-store-pizza-joint down the street because we were actually too lazy to go to the one that makes a much better pizza but which is a few blocks away. The night before, we had cheeseburgers and onion rings from the Burger Inn (marvelous, as always). Right now, Sam is eating healthier than we are and his dog food contains mechanically-separated meat byproducts. Before we both pale from exposure to junk food, we must get off the couch and COOK, already.


Thursday, September 15th, 2005

Warm Jasmine Rice Salad with Shrimp and Thai Herbs
Finally, FINALLY, we have been able to find dried shrimp to put in this dish. Long, long ago, Marc made this salad as an accompaniment to a tuna thing with shiitake cream sauce. (This was back when we were first dating and had somehow, unintentionally, launched a competition of cooking and trying to impress the pants off each other with our culinary skills. We are simple folk: the way to our hearts is through our stomachs. The battle rages on.) At the time, dried shrimp were nowhere to be found, but the salad was delicious nonetheless and did indeed charm me to pieces.

Since then, we’ve made this several times but still had found nary a dried shrimp; that is, until we “discovered” the Asian market. Love that place- it really seems to have launched a new era in our menus in the last few weeks have been distinctly Asian-themed. Anyway, not only did we finally find the dried version, we also found some good frozen ones as well and Marc was practically skipping with anticipation as we left the store. Strangely enough, the dish was not elevated to new level of delectableness by the addition of this one ingredient but we now have a whole bag of shriveled shrimps in the freezer so we have to make this many, many more times. Twist my rubber arm.

This is definitely a salad but is big enough to be a meal unto itself. Marc had to use rubber gloves to chop the Thai chilis and that ingredient was worth the danger pay. Spicy, shrimpy, crunchy -with the fresh cucumber- I have no doubt that this will be a permanent fixture in our repertoire. Incidentally, it would probably make a brilliant potluck item and would charm the pants off any friends and co-workers, assuming that is the goal, of course.

Marc’s Favourite Dessert

Thursday, September 8th, 2005

Teriyaki-Glazed Sea Bass
This dish was very pretty: lovely colours, nice fish, bright greens. But it is hard for me to issue a verdict on its good-ness because we over-cooked the fish which made it taste less than great. The enoki mushrooms, however, were quite tasty, which is key because that one ingredient is why we tried this recipe. We saw them at the market two weeks ago and added them to a new list of Ingredients With Which We Should Try To Cook. I would be tempted to try this recipe again to see if we could get the fish right and to be able to say “enoki” some more. e-NOH-kee. (Wasn’t that a character from the 1980s Jennifer Connelly movie, Labyrinth?)

Pea Shoot and Spinach Salad with Bacon and Shiitakes
The salad, on the other hand, was scrumptious if only for the fact that it involved bacon. We halved the recipe, but added the full amount of bacon as indirectly instructed by Actually, the pea shoots added an interesting, but subtle, pea-flavour next to the spinach and the simple vinaigrette highlighted the flavours but was light enough not to instantly wilt all the leaves and drown the shiitakes. Next time, I would serve this as a starter rather than a side so as to appreciate the flavours unadulterated by a bossy entrée.

Lemon Cakes with Basil Lemon Syrup
This. Is. Brilliant.
This is the third time we’ve made this dessert in as many weeks and is part of the motivation for creating this whole, silly blog. Truth be told, this cake is the last one leftover from the wee wine-tasting party we had on Labour Day. We invited a couple of wine-loving friends over to open the “special bottles” that Marc has been saving since 1998. By the time dessert was ready, there were six of us sitting around enjoying the wine so we portioned out smaller sections of the cakes, each with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprig of fresh basil. The verdict was unanimous: fab u lous. “It tastes so fresh and clean and light. I would definitely choose this over any chocolate dessert on a menu.” “My pastry chef could learn from this recipe.” “I’m sad because I only have two bites left.” It almost stole all the wine’s thunder.

Of course, the wine: for this meal, it was Sagramoso Valpolicella Ripasso, 2002 and, because we are lushes, some Folonari Valpolicella Ripasso, 2003.

For the party, we had Marc’s favourite white, Evolution, from Oregon and his “specials” from Chile: Casa Laspostolle, Cuvée Alexandre, Merlot, 1996 and 1997. It was interesting (and deliciously luxurious) to be able to compare the different years; the ’96 was more oaky with a distinct taste of vanilla and the ’97 had just the faintest touch of mint. I don’t know if that is officially what those wines are supposed to taste like, but that’s what I tasted and it’s my party so I’ll wax oenologic if I want to.


The Mighty Gai Choy

Sunday, September 4th, 2005

Gai Choy With Stir-Fried PrawnsIndeed, we are enamored of our new found friend, the Chinese mustard green. So much so, in fact, that we attempted our second recipe involving this spicy, leaf-ed vegetable this week. Alas, this meal was a dud. It didn’t taste bad (after all, there were shrimp involved) but it was nothin’ to write home about.

Plus, there was the frustration factor to consider: we were using pointy-ended, Japanese chopsticks and trying to eat non-sticky rice. The result is that the two of us were practically licking the saucy rice out of the bowls because we couldn’t pick it up. Marc will deny this and say that I was the only one having trouble because I haven’t had enough practice using chopsticks. I am DEEPLY offended by this as I have been using chopsticks since I was six* and the difficulty encountered during this meal was not a result of operator error. It shall be noted that I was not the only one trying to eat while trying to look around the bowl in order to see the TV. So, there.

What We Drank: water – a direct result of Eric & Robyn’s wedding the previous evening. (The red wine made me perform a skit in front of the wedding guests. It shall not be forgiven for this.)

* To broaden our wee horizons when we were little, my Mom once made Chinese food at home. Take into account that this was Alberta in the 1980s and we may or may not have had very little exposure to anything close to Asian culture. To counter that, Mom made an evening of it; this involved taking the legs off the kitchen table so we could eat cross-legged on the floor, wearing our bathrobes and wide-brimmed hats made out of brown paper grocery bags stapled together (to simulate traditional Chinese dress, I assume), and using chopsticks. So, there.

Update: The fish sauce we purchased from the T&T Market may not have been the best choice. It was too fishy, salty and sweet, which is exactly what was wrong with the dish. The supermarket variety appears to be watered down and doesn’t quite have the same flavour.

Better than Cheez Whiz

Sunday, September 4th, 2005

This is my daily morning ritual. Praise be to the coffee gods, you let me face the world.

I am a little hung over because of the wedding last night. Coffee was a life need today. Of course, the footlong B.M.T. from Subway aided as well. Janet’s comfort food is grilled cheese sandwich made with Cheez Whiz. I can’t understand.