Sunday, October 31, 2010

Brill with roasted tomatoes

Saturday night found Dave and I alone for dinner, a very unusual but relaxing circumstance. I was craving fish, which is not often the case. When I say fish I mean white not too fishy tasting fish. My favourite is halibut, or on the very rare occasion that fresh fish has been caught up at Pender Harbour big enough to eat, then it is really hard to beat fresh caught ling or rock cod. So I headed down to
Inlet Seafoods in Newport Village If I am going to cook fish I want it to be fresh and Oceanwise, and so I go to seafood specialists and stay away from supermarkets.

There were a couple of options available one of them being my favourite halibut, but there was also Brill, this is actually Petrale Sole, which is called Brill on the west coast, it is a type of flounder similar to sole.  I bought two beautiful looking fillets.

I like my fish cooked simply so as not to lose the mild fresh flavour but like a kick of something to compliment that mildness.  I decided to make a topping of roasted tomatoes.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

last minute lebanese

Every year I declare a food theme, this is generated from a new piece of kitchen apparatus such as a tagine, or a trip, or as was the case this year a restaurant.  Earlier this year a friend at work recommended the restaurant Nuba a Lebanese restaurant down in gastown.  I was blown away by the fresh flavours and interesting food and so 2010 has been the year of Lebanese food. I have been exploring the cuisine for the last few months. So when I asked Connie what she would like for her birthday meal she said "what have you been doing in Lebanese recently?"

You have to understand this was 5:00 and I was still at work, so it had to be quick and mostly with what I had at home in the fridge.  She told me she had some cauliflower and would make some foccacia bread, and her daughter was going to make a cake. I had some lebanese cucumbers in my fridge and some good tomatoes so I picked up some ground lamb and beef and greek yogurt on the way home and the menu was set.

Lebanese cucumber and tomato salad
Crispy cauliflower tossed with lemon and spices
Foccacia bread
Chocolate cake

Friday, October 29, 2010

A day at Pike Place Market - lunch at Seatown

Though the weather was predicted to be monsoon like, it was not too bad Saturday was cloudy and a little drizzly .

So we decided before the heavens opened we would go down to Pike place Market.  We hopped on the trolley which dropped us off just by Nordstrom Rack.  We  had to go in and see what bargains were to be had.  Nancy and I found a pair of boots each that we could not live with out and Connie was our shopping husband holding purses jackets and discarded footwear.  Well it was her idea to go in.

Shopping out of the way down to pike Place Market.  We spent a very enjoyable hour or two wandering through the market taking in the sights and sounds.  There was beautiful fresh fruits and vegetables which was tempting me to cook dinner, but that passed.
Fresh colourful kale

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Seattle get away Dinner at Cafe Campagne

Seattle is only 3 hours drive from here (a little longer if the border is busy) so a good weekend getaway if you are looking for city life.   Connie, Nancy and I headed down friday afternoon for a weekend away from reality.

Friday evening we arrived in time for dinner, we did not have a reservation and after a little research and a glass of wine in our hotel room, we headed to Pike Place Market as there were several restaurants of interest and, we figured we would get in to one.  After trying and failing at "The Pink door" we tried Cafe Campagne  just around the corner.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Buffalo chicken and rosemary roasted potatoes

I love buffalo Chicken wings, it is one of my guilty pleasures along with Macdonalds french fries (don't judge me). I was talking about both those things at work today and started to crave chicken wings.  I am trying to eat healthy and chicken wings and fries does not fit into that picture. So this is what I came up with.

Rosemary roasted potatoes (for 4)
4 medium potatoes cut up into bite size pieces
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 sprig of rosemary

Pre heat the oven to 400.  Put the potatoes into a pot of salted water and bring to the boil and then simmer until the potatoes are almost cooked between 5 to 10 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes.  Drain the potatoes then toss in olive oil and rosemary and add to an oven proof frying pan.  Heat it up on top of the stove and then put into the oven.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Corn Chowder - warmth and comfort in a bowl

Yesterday really was a foul day and I felt like soup and did not have much time to come up with one.  Also I was away on the weekend and hot not done any shopping so it had to be made from what I found in the house.

Corn chowder it had to be, because all the ingredients were to hand and it does not take long to cook.

Makes enough soup for 4 medium bowls.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cheese scones

Today is a horrible late autumn day. Rainy, dark and windy, thoughts turn to warming food and long slow cooked meals.  Unfortunately I had to work a little late and did not get home until after 6:00 no time for long slow cooking.  I had to pull out something comforting warm and quick.  Corn chowder (more about that tomorrow) and cheese scones.

These are a big favourite of my sons, they are good with almost any soup or frankly just on their own.
This recipe will make about 1 dozen scones about the size of of the palm of your hand

2 cups of flour
1 1/2 tablespoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1/3 cup of butter
1 cup (or more) of grated cheese
3/4 cup of milk.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt, then add the butter cut into chunks.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Seattle get away

Spending the weekend in Seattle and away from my computer. Looking forward to some great food and adventures away foam my kitchen. No postings until Monday.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Panhaggerty is a dish from the North East of England which is where my Father is from, this is another dish from child hood, but this one that me back to visiting my other grandparents.

It is one of those simple dishes that hardly need a recipe and has only 3 ingredients

3 large potatoes sliced
1 medium onion sliced
2 cups of shredded cheese

I know cheese and potatoes again, I do love cheese and potatoes.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Yorkshire puddings

When I would visit my grandparents in Yorkshire in the north of England as a child my Grandmother made roast beef and Yorkshire pudding every Sunday lunch

Traditionally Yorkshire pudding was served before the beef with gravy poured in to the middle, this was so you would fill up and not eat as much beef.  Her Yorkshire puddings were perfect they were light and crispy and when I get them right, it takes me back to sitting in my grandmothers kitchen with her shovelling them fresh from the oven on to my plate.

She never gave me her recipe as sadly she died when I was still quite young, and my Mother did not make them, we always joked that she had not inherited the Yorkshire pudding gene.  Any way I experimented until I got them the way I wanted them.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Italian sausage week night pasta

This is probably my most common standby when I am having trouble with what to cook for dinner and I do not have a lot of time.  I always have pasta in the house and I nearly always have some italian sausage in the freezer.

4 Italian sausages sliced
1 onion chopped
1 clove of garlic thinly sliced
3 large tomatoes (last of the season sadly) or equivalent canned
Handful of chopped fresh basil and parsley.
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Pasta cook what ever amount you cook for your family we pasta shells tonight, but any pasta will do.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chicken prosciutto - Quick week night dinner

This is a recipe that I have adapted from Jamie Oliver, This is one of the recipes that he was using to try and get Britain to cook from scratch again, and put away the packages and take outs.  I like Jamie Oliver's way of cooking and encourage anyone to check out his recipes they are often easy and I have never come across one that I did not enjoy. I also agree with his cook good fresh food philosophy.

Recipe for 4

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped sage or thyme
Enough slices of Prosciutto to cover the breasts between 4 and 8 depending on size
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Monday, October 18, 2010

Roast pears and blue cheese

This is one my favourite fall/winter desserts, its easy tasty and not too sweet. We found some beautiful red pears up at Pender Harbour and so we had to make this dessert. It is good enough to serve to company but easy enough to make mid week for the family.
Red pears and Bramley apples the best of fall fruit.

All that is required for 4 is 
3 ripe pears sliced thickly
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of butter
3 slices of blue cheese

Toss the pears with the brown sugar and put in an oven proof dish dot the butter over the top.

Ready for the oven

Sunday, October 17, 2010

L'Abattoir- Restaurant Vancouver

Nancy and I have seasons tickets to the Playhouse this means than during the winter about once a month we get to go out for dinner and see a play midweek.  This is often an excuse to try out a new restaurant or sometimes to revisit old favourites.

Last Thursday was the first Play of the of the Season "The Fantastics" The play was fun and had one of my all time favourite songs in it "Time to Remember" this song always makes me feel nostalgic, but I am not really sure what for.  They did a good job of the production the singing was good and the buffoons were very funny.  Not the best musical ever, but a fun night any way.

For dinner we decided to try  l'Abattoir 217 Carrall St both of us had heard good things so thought it was time to go see for ourselves. It is situated on the edge of gas town close to the Woodward's building and around the corner from Blood Alley obviously where the name comes from.  

It was a beautiful sunny fall late afternoon and therefore walking through the rather sketchy neighborhood on my own felt just fine.  They do not take reservations so we had a back up plan of a couple of other good restaurants nearby if necessary, but not a problem, we got a table in the atrium space at the back.  I loved the wooden structure above us that made the space feel less cavernous and covering duct work while keeping the open light airy feeling.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

An italian night - Retirement Party

My Boss of 13 years is set to retire at the end of December before which she is going on an extended holiday and so I thought I should host a retirement party.  We did not want to have one of those formal do's which people go to to out of obligation, but have a party which we could all enjoy and really spend some time together outside of the office.  Since I am who I am food had to be front and center and because she and her husband are hoping to spend a couple of years in Italy,  Italian had to be the theme.

I will give some rough recipes as I was kind of cooking on the fly and really did not measure anything.  Several people asked for the pasta recipe, well I have tried but really I was making it up as I went along, so I will give my best guess of measurements.  There were 30 people in attendance and I think we all ate well and my fridge is  a happy place to explore today.

Menu consisted of:

Antipasto platters easy to make all the ingredients were purchased except the peppers I grilled myself

Every body's favourite Italian appetizer bruschetta

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Beet and goat cheese salad

I love beets, especially when they are roasted it brings out the their flavour so much better than boiling them.  roasting them not only makes them taste better it also makes them less messy to work with.

This is a wonderful salad to make in the fall and winter when the tomatoes and other salad vegetables are not at their best.

lovely fresh beets
5 small beets
1/2 red onion sliced thinly
1 whole red or green leaf lettuce
1/4 cup of goat cheese

1 tablespoon of grainy mustard
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoons of wine vinegar

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Comfort food - Beef bourginon

Beef bourginon is only beef stew cooked in red wine, nothing to be intimidated about.  There are many recipes for this iconic dish.

After watching Julie and Julia I had to make it again, It had been quite a while since I had.

Beef Bourginon was very popular when I was going to hotel school in the 70's, when french food was still king. But these traditional french dishes have quite fallen out of favour, though there seems to be a resurgence of interest in the classic french food and for good reason.

Some of the recipes are very complicated and will probably taste wonderful, but actually slightly simplifying things a little does not necessarily impact the flavour much at all.  So this is my simple straightforward recipe for beef bourginon.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sgroppino - The perfect ending to a heavy meal

Two years ago I was lucky enough to spend a week in Venice with my Father and one of his friends who was writing a book about architecture in Venice.  He spent a lot of time there doing research and was getting quite fluent in Italian. Every night we went to a different restaurant that he had eaten at many times and was known by the owners.  We had some good meals, but generally I was not as impressed with the food in Venice as I was with food from further south.

At the end of the first meal he did not order dessert off the menu but ordered Sgroppino, so I followed suite. What arrived was a wonderful light icy drink. I had this every night after that, as I really do not have much a sweet tooth and often don't even bother with dessert.

We had this after my first turkey dinner this last weekend, it was refreshing break before heading into pie.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A perfect side dish for turkey - A trio of root vegetables

We all have something that without it it is not really Christmas or thanksgiving dinner. For me it is brusselsprouts, for my friend Nancy it is apple and cabbage salad, for my late father in law it was turnip!

His five children and wife did not necessarily agree, as they did not like turnips, so his devoted only daughter found this recipe that includes turnip but hides the strong flavour that often puts people off. I now always make this dish for a turkey dinner as do my friends in fact it has almost userped the position of the brusselsprout, (but not quite), so thank you Mary Anne.

What makes this especially good for a turkey dinner is you do all the work ahead and then throw in to the oven to heat up when the turkey is out, resting and being carved.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cooking in my happy place

Currently cooking in my happy place Pender harbor, and I only have access to the Internet through my iPad which does not allow me to post pictures. :(

So nothing to post for a couple of days. But we have Been cooking up a storm and taking lots of pictures, so lots to post in a couple of days.

In the meantime have a great thanksgiving.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

C Lovers Fish and chips

When I was a little girl I used to stay with my grandparents in the North of England in a small town called Tingley Yorkshire.  It was like stepping back in time. Even in the 60's my grandparents did not have a fridge and so would have to shop every day for fresh food. The toilet was at the end of the yard (thank god it was flush) and all hot water had to boiled up on the stove, so a bath was not that common.  None of this bothered me (except when I woke up in the night and needed to go to the toilet.)  To me it was a wonderful home and one of the best things was the fish and chip shop less than a block away.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Easy chicken Marsala

Marsala is a fortified wine from Italy and is often used in making sauces.  There are sweet ones and not so sweet, you can also use wine or sherry (which is my Sunday afternoon tipple of choice and therefore usually available)

Recipe for 4
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup of seasoned flour (flour with salt and pepper)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 small onion diced
1 sliced garlic clove
1/4 cup of marsala wine or sherry
1/4 cup of chicken stock
1 tablespoon of cream (optional)

Cut the chicken breasts into chunks and then toss in the seasoned flour.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Quicker than delivery and way better than frozen

Fresh homemade pizza within 1/2 an hour of getting home from work.  It doesn't get much better than that.

This pizza is made using the no knead dough which makes the most wonderful crusty home made bread, (more about that another day).  It requires starting the dough at least 10 hours before baking but little else.

 To make this pizza enough for 4 you need

3 cups of all purpose flour
1/4 cup of instant dried yeast
1 teaspoon of salt
About 1 1/2 cups of cold water.

Before you go to bed mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, cover with a tea towel. (this saves a couple of minutes in the morning)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fall Fair - Ioco Ghost town days

I found my self this Sunday as I always do at the beginning of October baking dozens of cookies for children (some larger than others) to decorate with icing and sprinkles and then quickly consume. It was Ioco Ghost town days.

The Imperial Oil Company had a company town called Ioco  From around the turn of the last century up until the  late 60's.  This was a true company town with it 's own bowling green, tennis courts, social centre, school and church.  It was situated just outside the gates of the oil refinery on the Burrard Inlet.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Rogan Josh

I love Indian food and when it is done well the flavours can be rich and complex There are so many different styles of Indian food, it upsets me to see them all lumped in to a generic curry. In true Indian food there is no such thing as curry powder, there are different mixtures of spices, but really if you use the whole spices or grind them fresh the flavours are so much better.

Rogon Josh
There are 3 ingredients which are in almost every Indian dish, garlic, ginger and chili pepper.  I was taught by a friends wife, who owned an Indian Restaurant, that the easiest way to deal with these was to process a large batch and then keep them in the fridge and just spoon them out. This is a great idea if you cook Indian food every day (or own a restaurant).  But this year I got another suggestion from a local cook book author that you can freeze small quantities and pull them out and use from frozen.  I added my own twist which is freeze in an ice cube tray.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Week night dinner - quick roasted pork and potatoes

This dish is my week night fall back, this is what I make when I'm driving home thinking "what's for dinner tonight?" And no particular inspiration comes, you understand I would not say this out loud the answer from my dear husband would always be spaghetti. Even if I do not feel like stopping for groceries,  I pretty much always have some pork in the freezer and I can not imagine not having potatoes and garlic.

Quick roasted pork and potatoes