Thursday, March 31, 2011

Villa Confresi - Rincon Puerto Rico

I found the hotel Villa Cofresi Like I find almost everything these days (except my car keys) on the internet.  It had very good reviews on trip advisor and was locally owned and operated.  Also it said that most of their guests were Puerto Ricons.

Dave enjoying a Pirate special at Villa Cofresi
The rooms mostly seem to have a view of the ocean and the very large bar area is open to the beach and is humming most of the day and all of the evening.

View from the bar
The beach in front of the hotel was not private, but most of the people on it were from the Villa Cofresi.  We got the use of the loungers and most importantly the beach umbrellas.

This was my view for most of the day, in fact we kind of skipped lunch it was so pleasant on the beach.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Arriving in Puerto Rico

After a long night and a very quick dash through Washington DC Airport we arrived at San Juan airport, unfortunately our luggage did not navigate Dulles airport as quickly as we did and would be arriving later that afternoon.  They very kindly offered to deliver it to our hotel later that night.  If I had known how far that was I am not sure if I would have let them.

We decided to drive along the coast road and see if we could find something to eat, the woman said there would be plenty of places and that the Puerto Ricans are very friendly

Along the coast road
We saw a Bar and Grill by the side of the road with a shady place to sit so decided to stop.  I really could not identify what any of the food was so just pointed and hoped for the best.

It looked remarkably like the Papas rellenos that I had made for the daring cooks challenge, but instead of potato it was mashed plantain, I think these are called mufongo rellenos.  I had one with fish in it and another one with ground beef, very tasty and fresh.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rincon Puerto Rico

Currently enjoying sun and surf and very little Internet

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Balboa Tapas bar and restaurant Seattle

My husband and I are heading down to Puerto Rico for 10 days over Spring break. There was a good flight out of Seattle so we are taking a red eye from Seatac airport.  We arrived in Seattle at 6:15 so decided to go find something to eat in the university district, usually a good bet, we turned off the free way and drove keeping our eyes peeled for something that looked good.  

Now some people have perfect pitch and can sing each note in tune, or innate rhythm which makes them beautiful dancers, or photographic memories.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I have none of those things, but I do have a 6th sense for restaurants. It really did not look like anything from the outside, but it was calling to me it was Bilbao Tapas Bar and restaurant and I am glad it called.

There was an extensive tapas menu to choose from and a very friendly waiter who turned out to be Peruvian not Spanish.  I ordered a glass of red wine, he asked what type and I asked for full bodied, what came was a very good full bodied red wine better than most you get by the glass.

Then came some very fresh bread (always a good sign) and a bottle of olive oil with hot peppers and herbs in it.

Oil for dipping
 This was not only beautiful to look at it was very tasty to dip the bread in.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fridge soup - Kinda thai

Sunday at Pender Harbour is eating out of the fridge day, it is tradition that all meals have to be made out of what can be found in the house, no food shopping.
Thai vegetable soup and a glass of wine for the first day of Spring

 So this Sunday I surveyed what was in the fridge. This is what I found  bit of cabbage, both red and white, some fennel tops 1/2 onion 3 carrots 3 hot peppers basil, a few sprigs of asparagus a few snow peas and a garlic bulb

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fish taco's

On Saturday Nancy was busy working so I was sent out to hunt and gather, and I felt like fish tacos.  We were on the coast were there is lots of fresh fish so this seemed like a really good idea.

I went to the fish shop and bought some true cod (I hope that is a sustainable choice Connie) but any firm white fleshed fish would do or even prawns.

First I made the salsa

4 campari tomatoes (or equivalent) chopped
1/2 red onion chopped
1/2 avocado chopped
juice of two limes
1 chili pepper chopped very finely
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper (more salt than you think or need for that matter)

Toss all the ingredients together best when fresh but this is the same salsa that we had left over and I spooned over the chicken kebabs. Put in the fridge while the rest of the dish comes together.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Watermelon Radish

I spent this weekend in one of the most beautiful places on earth, the Sunshine Coast, not to be confused with the Sunshine Coast in Australia this is in British Columbia Canada.  I am lucky enough to have a friend with a place up there.  This weekend She and I ran away from real life and carpets being laid, and spent a restful weekend in Paradise.  She went ahead of me and greeted me with a wonderful dinner on Friday night and introduced me to a new food item Watermelon radishes.

Red cabbage slaw containing watermelon radish.
She had made pork chops in a mustard sauce served with potato and fennel gratin and a coleslaw which contained an ingredient that I had never had before, when asked she told me they were watermelon radishes and came from the IGA right there in Maderia Park.  The next day I had to go buy another one, and we ate it with almost everything that we had on the weekend.

Uncut watermelon radish
It looks quite boring in it's uncut form, but when you cut it open behold the beauty.

Cut open you can see how it gets it's name notice the wine bottle for scale

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Eggplant (aubergine) and potato curry

This dish is my go to dish if no one else is home for dinner, I love eggplant, potatoes and Indian food so how can I go wrong.  It is quick and easy to make for one, often I will have it on its own with some chutney and yogurt, but this night I had some broccoli rabe that need using up so I cooked that too.

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of garlic ginger and chili see this link to Rogon josh for details on this
1 small onion chopped
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of turmeric
On small eggplant preferably the Asian type chopped up
1 medium potato
1 cup of chicken stock (or vegetable if you want to keep it vegetarian)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Coconut lamb curry

This is another of the delicious Indian dishes that we had on Saturday night.  Both Connie and I were craving lamb curry, so we picked up a boneless lamb shoulder at the big TNT shop, then searched for a recipe when we got back, which we almost followed.

We used one whole shoulder and it fed 9 with a spoonful for dinner on Monday night.

1 small boneless shoulder of lamb chopped in to small chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves
4 whole black peppercorns
1 small stick of cinnamon
1 star anise
2 medium onions chopped
2 large garlic cloves crated or finely chopped
1 teaspoon of ginger finely chopped
1 tablespoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of garam masala
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of cashew nuts whizzed in a spice grinder
1 can of coconut milk
2 green chillies very finely chopped.
Garnish with fresh coriander

Place the oil and the first 4 whole spices in a large pot, cook them for a couple of minutes until they are fragrant.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Chicken biryani

To go with our prawns in coconut milk I decided to make chicken Biryani, I have seen several different ways of making this dish, and I wanted to try this one out.  This recipe was also from my Around the World Cook Book. I have never been a big rice lover especially plain boiled or steamed rice so this is a nice dish that makes the rice much tastier.

The recipe says this serves 4, it would if they were big eaters and if you were not serving a seperate meat dish we served 9 with enough for lunch left over. But we also had prawns, lamb and green beans.

1 1/2 cups basmati rice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 green chili finely chopped
1 inch piece of ginger finely chopped
1 1/2 lb chicken cut in to small pieces.  (we used thighs but breast would work as well)
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 tomatoes cut into wedges
1/4 teaspoon turmeric.
2 bay leaves
4 green cardamom pods
4 cloves

Monday, March 14, 2011

Daring cooks challenge - Papas and ceviche

Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenges us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.

I was very excited to do this challenge, I know nothing about Peruvian cooking, so of course I had to do some research, and this is what I found. Potatoes are big in Peru this is where they came from, thank you Peru I am for ever grateful as they are really my favourite food.  Corn, quinoa and fish are also popular so this challenge had both potatoes and fish and added a salad with corn and quinoa.

The finished Papas rellenos
First a confession many potatoes lost their lives in the making of this dish.  The first batch of mashed potatoes were just too wet and we all decided it would be a train wreck if we tried to use them.  So as someone quoted "when life gives you soggy potatoes make potato scones"  so I did.  So after a traditional Scottish potato-scones for an appetizer we got right back on that horse after sending my very hungry and obliging son out for some more potatoes.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Curried prawns in coconut milk

On Friday night I went to see the Canadian film Cooking with Stella at the Port Moody Canadian film festival.  The film was OK and had a few problems but the scenes of cooking Indian Food were inspirational. (To me and Connie anyway.) So as we left the theatre we said "we have to cook Indian food tomorrow"

Curried prawns in coconut milk
As the next day I was helping my son move out there was little research or thought put in to recipes or ingredients needed when we went shopping.  Undeterred Kathy, Connie and I headed out to TNT to get some ingredients to make "Some Indian food"

At TNT they had some beautiful looking tiger prawns for only 6.99 lb, So we picked 1 1/2 lbs up and that was the inspiration for the first dish.
Tiger prawns waiting to be curried

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chicken schnitzel - Week night dinner

Wednesday after a long day at work I came home to find I was on my own for dinner. There have been times that this means I sit down with a large bowl of popcorn and call that dinner or cook something that no one else in my family will eat like liver or curried eggplant. But this night I was feeling like schnitzel this along with it's very close cousin veal milanese, often my choice on a menu. You could of course make this with veal or pork, chicken breast is what I had so chicken it would be.

This is a quick easy way to cook boneless skinless chicken breasts that manages to keep them from drying out.

First thing I did was throw a potato in the microwave for 2 minutes and then into a 400 oven, so that by the time my chicken was cooked so was the potato.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Higgins - Portland Oregon

We walked past Higgins restaurant on our way back to the hotel after dinner on Saturday, it looked inviting and I got a good vibe about it so we checked on the menu, and though not cheap it was not outrageous either.

I checked it out on the Internet and a couple of guide books, it had very good reviews and in fact was #5 out of restaurants in Portland, so we decided to go there for dinner on Sunday.  Apparently this restaurant was doing local and organic before it was fashionable and was one of the leading lights in the sustainable local food movement. One of the reviews that I read talked about their charcuterie which they apparently are famous for so that is what we ordered for our first course.

Charcuterie Plate
What arrived was a marble slab with a wide array of artisanal cold cuts (is that a real thing) and 3 delicious Pate's.  We received a generous basket of olive and walnut bread to eat with them along with a couple of home made pickles.  It was truly delicious and I afraid to say we ate every last bit of it.

For a main course my father ordered the lentil patties served with roasted yams rice and mushrooms

Hazelnut and lentil patties

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hotel Modera - Portland Oregon

My husband booked the Hotel Modera for my father and I for our weekend get away in Portland.  They advertise themselves as a "Luxury Boutique Hotel in the heart of Downtown Portland" and that is exactly what it is, but at a reasonable price.

Court yard of Hotel Modera by night
 We entered into a lobby with some beautiful original works of art and were greeted by a very friendly approachable consierge/front desk clerk.

Lobby of the Hotel Modera

He made our reservation at the Chez Joly for us and then we went up to our rooms to freshen up before dinner.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Food Carts of Portland

When I knew we were going to Portland for the weekend the thing that I most wanted to do was check out the food carts.  We arrived on a Saturday late afternoon so the food carts had to wait until Sunday.  We were advised by the concierge at the hotel to go to the "Saturday Market"( apparently it is called the Saturday Market even on Sunday) This was down on the river front so we timed it so that we would be there for lunch.

Food carts at the "Saturday Market"
There were quite a selection of different cuisines Mexican, Thai, southern barbecue, Lebanese and Mongolian amongst others.  We both chose food from The Horn of Africa, this intrigued me I don't think I have ever had that and the pictures looked interesting.  I ordered the Chicken platter.

African food cart

Of everything that I ate this weekend and I had some very good food, this was my favourite. The chicken had some similarities to tandoori chicken, though it was moister and and very flavourful.  It was chicken leg and thigh meat so much tastier and moist than chicken breast.  This came with what looked like a samosa which was filled with chicken and potato and the pastry was exactly the same as a samosa.  There was also a vegetable curry, which had cabbage, carrots and green beans in it and a creamy yellow sauce which I think must have had some coconut milk and a whole lot of turmeric in it. Also on there was a wonderful lentil dish, boy I had some good lentils this week. The whole thing was served on a spongy rather sour tasting flat bread.  That was not my favourite part of the meal, but everything else was so good I let it slide.  The person standing next to me said, "that looks so colourful you could take a picture if it" which of course I did.

The chicken platter from the Horn of Africa

Monday, March 7, 2011

Chez Joly - Portland Oregon

Before going to Portland for the weekend my father had done some research of where to go for dinner and came up with Chez Joly a French restaurant on the outskirts of the Pearl district.

It was in a typical north American brick downtown building, but when you went inside you would have sworn you were in a bistro in Paris, they had hit just the right atmosphere with out being tacky.

I am a great believer that you can judge a restaurant on the bread basket.  I was happy we got some very good fresh french bread and the traditional unsalted butter that always says France to me.

We had a glass of red wine while we perused the menu which was full of french standards and was split in to two parts, the house specialities and the seasonal specialities.  I really liked this as I think it is important to eat seasonally and we both ordered from that portion of the menu.

My father order the beet and goat cheese salad.  This is something I love also and often make so I was interested to see their version.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Nuba Lebanese Restaurant

I discovered Nuba about a year ago and was blown away with their fresh interesting food.  This Thursday Nancy and I were going to the theatre (Death of a salesman) playing downtown Vancouver and due to no better suggestions we decided to go to Nuba for dinner again.

We did not have a reservation which 6:00 on a Thursday night was a bit of a problem, but as we promised to be finished by 7:30 they gave us a table.  It was a hectic week at work for both of us so a large glass of red wine was in order.  We decided to order 4 appetizers and share so that we could try more things.

The first thing to arrive was the Mjadra this was green lentils served with a generous helping of caramelised onions on top and avocado on the side.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mexican inspired salad

I was wanting to make a salad this Saturday to go with my next daring cooks challenge (more about that on the 14th). It needed to have bright flavours and it was to go with South American food so this is what I came up with.

2 avocados chopped
Juice of one lime
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup of olive oil
5 Lebanese cucumbers
1/2 red onion finely chopped
2 tomatoes chopped
1 yellow pepper chopped
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro