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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Monday night tacos! No matter that today is Thursday & this particular dinner happened months ago. Confession: There MAY have been a moment in time where I was cooking more than I was dining out. Mind you, fleeting. And stop snorting in disbelief. It happened! And then life resumed…… as it always does.

Anyway, this goes down as one of my most favourite spreads. Basa fish tacos. Wickedly good. And it doesn’t hurt that fresh cilantro, lime & avocado are everywhere. Serious contenders. Btw, if this reminds you of summer, wait ’til you try out this recipe in February. No food disparity. Tacos are for every season.

Why you’ll crave it: Basa fish with a touch of cumin, gaucasalsa, spicy cilantro sour cream, cabbage slaw, onion relish… everything except the tortillas & sprouts were made from scratch! Will take time this wknd (or next) to write out recipes. Pinky swear.

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Kitchen renovations = sole reason why I hosted Thanksgiving this year.

And up until Sunday morning when my mother called me, did I habour secret hopes she had been joking. Hosting didn’t mean cooking! Of course not. Crazy sense of humour. Free rein over my oven, stove, knives…entirely welcomed. Not quite.

Why such a big deal? Love to cook. Cook for friends all the time. Even completed Culinary Arts I at George Brown without burning down the kitchen.

Well, for one… I rarely (read: never) cook for my parents. Blessed (read: spoiled).

Second of all: My mother is AMAZING in the kitchen. And I know how to make one Vietnamese dish. Pourquoi? Because I’m too busy stuffing face to learn. Yell at me another time please. 2012 resolution…still a few months away.

So, I had 6hrs to get my sh*t together. Spent an hour menu planning. Spent another hour at the grocery store buying every root vegetable known (or unknown). Swooped in on the squash. Scoured shelves for nutmeg. Scored with disposable roasting pans. Debated organic chicken vs. cornish hen vs. duck for a good 15min (no turkey for Le fam). Lugged it all back home & spent the next 4hrs in the kitchen.

Peeled. Diced. Chopped. Roasted. Peeled. Roasted. Puréed. Simmered. Seasoned. Rubbed. Stuffed. Roasted. Basted. Plated. Served.

And mini-feast turned out magnificently! Bro, wish you could’ve seen it. You would’ve been proud.

Indulgently spectacular weekend. Thankful for the greatest family, friends… and a metabolism that just keeps on giving.

cornish hen w/ garlic & rosemary

roasted & curried butternut squash soup

medley of gorgeous root vegetables

cornish hen w/ garlic & rosemary

Recipes in a pinch. First time making everything. Will tweak & play around next time ;)

Roasted & Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Cornish Hen with Garlic & Rosemary

Roasted Fall Root Vegetables

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And it begins! Simple fare. Simple favourites. Casual dinner before a TIFF screening? Perfect.

From my first infatuation with Canteen almost a year ago (bonne anniversaire!), Chef Bangerter has had some fun with the menu… introducing new dishes, removing some and tweaking others. And I, with the help of a few friends, have eaten our way through most of it (surprise surprise!).

Below are my picks for best dishes to try pre-TIFF screening.  Sidebar: And only 24hrs until A & I strategically plant ourselves in front of one handsome-strapping-actor-musician-not-so-secret-love. Sweet lo, we can hardly stand it. Yep, fully aware of Eva canoodling. Temporary lapse.

Chef J, if he steps foot into the building and sits his cute butt down, you MUST send smoke signals. Will reco a few dishes, let him know the burrata upstairs is also to die for, happily offer up ourselves… ok, FOCUS.

Favourite Canteen dishes!

  1. Beet roots. Just started to love ’em. Now, can’t get enough of ’em.
  2. Seared scallops with a hint of curry. And sweet sweet raisins.
  3. White pizza, pancetta and a fried egg? Yes, please.
  4. The lemon posset. Lightest dessert ever created, every spoonful is sigh-worthy.

beet roots w/ tarragon, hazelnut, rice wine vinaigrette

seared scallops, curried cauli & sultana raisins

frattau pizza w/ potatoes, pancetta, fried egg, pecorino, rosemary

lemon posset, chantilly & blues

O&B Canteen
330 King St. West, TIFF Bell Lightbox
647.288.4710

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Cast iron grill pan is a girl’s new best friend. Flank steak, orzo with basil pesto, tomatoes & feta, asparagus. May or may not have had steak for breakfast this morning. High five leftovers!

Sometimes, I follow recipes. Most of the time, I don’t. Three adamant reasons: 1) discipline… what’s that? 2) feeding 6-8 mouths? not typically. 3) it’s just more fun! Inspired by recipes from Gourmet Grilling & Epicurious, here’s my take & cheers to Sunday dinners.

must bring camera out more often. iPhone4 & natural light.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

For steaks:

  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • splash of soy sauce
  • splash of red wine vinegar
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp of grainy mustard
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • flank steak (3/4 pounds)

For orzo:

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 Tbsp basil pesto (be generous)
  • 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta (or free-hand sprinkle)
  • salt & pepper to taste

For asparagus:

  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • small bundle of asparagus, trimmed
  • salt & pepper to taste

MARINATE, GRILL, TOSS & SAUTE

Flank steaks:

  • Whisk together olive oil, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, mustard, lemon, Worcestershire, garlic, cumin, pepper. Pour marinade into large sealable plastic bag. Seal steaks in bag. Shake shake to coat meat, then chill at least 4 hours and up to 8. Bring steaks to room temperature 30min before grilling.
  • Prepare grill pan for direct-heat cooking over medium heat.
  • Remove steaks from marinade (discard marinade) and pat dry. Grill, turning over once, until medium-rare, 4-6 minutes on each side.
  • Transfer steaks to a cutting board and let stand, uncovered, about 15min. Thinly slice steaks across the grain. Wahoo meat!

Orzo salad & asparagus:

  • Toss together basil pesto, tomatoes, fresh basil, lemon zest, salt & pepper in bowl. Let stand 10-15 min.
  • Multitasking action: Cook orzo in pot of boiling salted water until al dente (approx. 8-10 min). Drain & set aside.
  • Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on asparagus, coat evenly. Salt and pepper as desired. Put asparagus spears into skillet, no crowding, and saute over medium-high heat for 4-6min (depending on how you like ’em… fork pierce test).
  • In a medium-sized bowl, toss orzo & basil tomato mixture. Add feta & toss again. Serve warm or chilled. Best orzo salad ever.

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Love ad hoc dishes that work out. Egg noodles & pea shoots. Roasted tomatoes & basil. Chanterelle & oyster mushrooms. Delicious!

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So, Food Network Canada posted a casting call in August. Vague, no more than a paragraph, calling for food lovers for their ‘zany new Food Network game show’. J came across it & threatened to have me committed if I didn’t enter. Laughed in her face – paused – entertained for a few min, shook head and chalked up as a crazy, silly idea.

Fast forward a few weeks later: in bed at midnight, spitting out “why you should choose me!” reasons… #6: will stand in line in -15C weather for brunch at Bonjour Brioche.  True story.

Also decided to submit lovely E (unbeknownst to her) as my partner. So sneaky, right? This would be my SURPRISE to her, for her 30th birthday.

Managed to keep quiet for all of 45min. Then promptly spilled the beans & both squealed like little school girls while our developers covered their ears in pain.

And guess what……….

WE GOT PICKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Our "we're gonna be on the Food Network... AHHHH! faces.

For serious. Me & E! Together. Competing against other food-crazed folks. “No eating, cooking, judging. Just trivia questions & cash. The more you can answer, the more money you win.”

Pretty sure I may have just ordered every food trivia game I could find on Amazon.ca.

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Next up: Walnut-stuffed eggplants!

L & I made this recipe a few days ago… and swooned. It’s seriously that good.

Again, adapted from the Farmers’ Market Cookbook: Best of Summer (Vegetarian Times Special), but we had some fun with it. So, rations are slightly off – ahem – more eggplant filling than eggplant shells to fill…but who actually considers that a bad thing? We certainly didn’t as we stuffed our faces in anticipation for the real thing.

Without a doubt, the best dish we’ve EVER made together. This is what keeps our friendship alive.

Keep in mind, original recipe serves 6. We are, but of two hungry bellies.

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium eggplants – 3 lb. (why go medium when you can go large? 1 large beautiful eggplant, hefty lb.)
  • 2 Tbs. plus 4 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 2 medium onions, diced – 3 cups (3/4 large white onion)
  • 1 1/2 pt. grape tomatoes, halved – 3 cups (1 pt was enough for us)
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped walnut pieces
  • 2 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon (none in our cupboards excuse)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano (none in our cupboards excuse)
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
  • 2/3 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese – 3 oz. (one thing i don’t do… reduced-fat cheese. ok, we tried one with feta & one with goat cheese. the goat won. hands down.)
  • Lemon wedges, optional, for garnish (not optional. must include!)

Instructions:

1. Halve eggplants lengthwise, and scoop out flesh and seeds, leaving 1/2-inch-thick edges on eggplants’ shells. Cut scooped-out flesh into 1/2-inch pieces, and set in colander. Sprinkle eggplant pieces and inside of eggplant shells with salt. Let stand 25 to 30 minutes, or until beaded with moisture. (note: apparently it reduces potential bitterness, but may skip next time. time = money. worth it, but a bloody long time.) Rinse eggplant shells and pieces in cold water, and pat dry.

2. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop eggplant shells in water, and simmer 5 to 8 minutes, or until barely tender when pierced with fork. Drain in colander, cool, and pat dry.

3. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbs. olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onions 3 minutes, or until translucent. Add eggplant pieces, tomatoes, walnuts, cinnamon, oregano, and 1/4 cup water. Season with salt and pepper, if desired (yes, do). Cook 8 minutes, or until vegetables are softened and browned, stirring occasionally.

4. Preheat oven to broil. Toss breadcrumbs with 4 tsp. olive oil in bowl. Brush each eggplant shell with 1/2 tsp. oil, and place cut-side up on baking sheet. Broil 5 minutes, or until tender and starting to brown. Reduce oven heat to 375°F.

5. Divide filling among eggplant shells. Sprinkle each stuffed eggplant with breadcrumb mixture, and top with feta cheese (or in our case, 1 with feta, 1 with goat cheese). Bake 35 minutes, or until heated through and browned on top. Serve with lemon wedges, if using.

6. While waiting, enjoy extra eggplant filling with a glass of vino.

J&S, if you guys try this wknd – can’t wait to hear how it turns out!

walnut-stuffed eggplant

 

 

 

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