Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pickled red cabbage

Pickled red cabbage is something that I remember from my childhood in England.  This was something we had mostly at Christmas as it goes very well with cold meat, left over turkey or ham perhaps. Any way My husband bought this beautiful big red cabbage at the farmers Market in Penticton.

 The only thing to do was make pickled red cabbage.

I had never made this before but it fit in to my eating local and in season as advocated by Barbara Kingsolver's book "Animal Vegetable Miracle". In order to eat seasonally all year round, you have to preserve some things to be consumed in the long cold days of winter when there is very little grown locally.  So armed with my computer and google I searched the Internet for recipes for pickled red cabbage.  I found quite a few and the one I liked the sound of the most was on this seemed simple and I followed the instructions. There were very few measurements, I guess it really depends on the size of your cabbage.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pesto grilled chicken and Caprese salad

I was having some good friends over for dinner on Friday night after work, I only had about 1/2 hour prep time and I am trying to eat low fat so what  could I cook? On Thursday on the the way home I stopped in to "The Red Apple" on Hastings for inspiration, and they had wonderful fresh boccoccini, so I decided on Italian.

They also had some wonderful looking local new potatoes and tomatoes on the vine and had some chicken breasts in the freezer. Obviously I had to make caprese salad slices of tomato layered with the cheese sprinkled with salt, pepper a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

I served this on a dish that I had bought in Capri last year which had caprese salad on one end rather cute.  I love buying serving dishes when I travel they make the best souvenirs, though I think I really should not buy any more I have run out of storage.

While we were sitting on the deck enjoying a pre dinner glass of wine we had hummus and carrot sticks, again with the healthy low fat food.  I served hummus in an adorable little pig dish I bought in Seattle last year.

How could you resist this little pig
I defrosted the chicken during the day while I was at work and then marinaded them in a form of pesto.

To feed 4

Large bunch of basil
3 garlic cloves
Juice of one lemon
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of hot pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of salt
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Oven baked chicken and chips

Well after a couple of weeks in Europe and a further week in the Okanagan stuffing my face it is time to slow down and try to lose some of those extra pounds.  Though the summer is full of drinks on the patio, ice cream, and other fattening delights it is also full of fresh fruits and vegetables, and lots of daylight for running (or walking) in.

So tonight I tried to make a meal that was filling enough to satisfy my hunger, but low in fat and starch, so I went back to an old favourite from my weight watcher days.

To serve 2
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut in to chunks (speeds up the cooking)
  • 1/2 cup of low fat plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of mustard (I used a grainy mustard but any kind would do)
  • 1/2 cup of fine breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup of fresh herbs (I used parsley, basil, rosemary and sage, but any fresh or dried herbs would do.
Mix the yogurt and mustard together.

Then mix the breadcrumbs and herbs together with a little salt.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Salad de Fruits Restaurant Vancouver

My Father met me after work one evening this week and since the rest of the family was not going to be home for dinner we decided to go out.  The choice of where to go was not too hard as one of our favourite restaurants was close by, Salad de fruits.  It turned out to be a lovely evening so we thought it would be nice to sit outside on their deck and enjoy the evening.

Out door seating at Salad de fruits
  We started by sharing a Salade de chèvre chaud. (salad with warm goat cheese) This is a salad that I make sometimes, and we thought it would be a nice light start to the meal.

The salad was good, it had a light dressing on the mixed lettuce not drowning as I often find restaurant salads, and the cheese croutons were warm crisp and tangy.  Nothing spectacular but good never the less.

I ordered my old stand by duck confit.  It came with a wonderful cassis sauce that was tangy and not too sweet, and a selection of tender crisp vegetables.  This really was not authentically french, as in France traditionally the vegetables are well cooked and usually do not come with the meat.  But authentic or not they were delicious and cooked perfectly the duck and vegetables were sitting on a lovely garlic mashed potatoes.  These were so good I think they must have had a whole lot of butter in them, really the duck was not too salty as confit sometimes can be, and it was meltingly tender.

My father ordered Lapin (rabbit) and he decided to opt for fries instead of the vegetables.

There were a lot of fries, but being the good daughter that I am, I helped him out.  The rabbit was delicious cooked confit like the duck and served with a wonderful sauce with olives in it. There was also what tasted like a home made mayonnaise to dip the fries in, if you felt you were not getting enough fat.

Much to our waiters derision we did not have enough room for dessert, but just settled for a cup of coffee.  It was a lovely evening sitting outside enjoying a glass of wine and a wonderful meal together.  The food is always good and the prices are reasonable, with the main courses being around $20.00.  They have a fixed price menu which for $25.00 you get 3 courses, which is a really good deal if you can eat 3 full courses!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lake Breeze winery - Naramata bench

I have been going to Naramata every summer for about 24 years, and though the village itself has not changed much, the surrounding area has.  When we first started coming, there were a couple of wineries and the remainder of the area was devoted to growing fruit trees, peaches, cherries or apples. It is now reversed, there are ever more wineries and vineyards and fewer and fewer orchards.

One of the wineries that has been there for a few years now Lake Breeze, has branched out in to serving food on the deck. So this Wednesday when finally the weather had turned sunny and warm we decided to go there for lunch.

The patio was full and we were lucky to get a seat with out a reservation.  We had tasted the wines a couple of days before and therefore new that they would be good, and as you are eating right at the winery the wines are not much more that buying them from the wine store.

Two people ordered the cold roast chicken salad.

Though I did not get to try this they both said it was delicious and the salad did not look like it had too much dressing on it and there were some lovely looking berries on it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Perfect Roast potatoes

Roast potatoes in England are a very important component of a roast dinner, and there are many theories and methods of how to make the perfect roast potatoes.  Recently when I was in London James decided he was going  to try a method that his mother had read recently that apparently would impart the perfect crispy coating to the perfect roast potatoes.

The theory was if you tossed the parboiled potatoes in cornmeal before adding them to the fat they would crisp up even more.

First parboil the potatoes, you need floury potatoes for this not waxy ones as you want them to just be breaking down around the edges before you start roasting.

par boiled floury potatoes
Then he tossed them in a little cornmeal and added them to a roasting tin with the hot beef fat in it.  We got a great action shot of this happening.  If potatoes can be said to be in action.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Italian style dinner on the deck

So far this has been a horrible Summer in Vancouver, we have had far more than our share of rain and the temperatures have been way below normal.  So when Saturday was forecast to be warm and sunny we decided we should celebrate by having the neighborhood over for a dinner on the deck.

Having so recently returned from Italy I decided to make some of the food that we had there, but I did not want to waste the whole day in the kitchen as it was a beautiful day, so I kept it simple.

To start I made a antipasto platter.

I roasted some peppers and eggplant and served them with an assortment of Italian meats and a delicious fresh mozzarella.  This was just like the antipasto platters that we had put together in Florence at our Apartment

For the main course I made pizza using the foccacia bread recipe I made  the sauce by warming 3 garlic cloves that I sliced very thinly in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil until they were just golden.  Then I added a can of crushed tomatoes a handful of fresh basil chopped and 1/4 cup of red wine.  I let this simmer while the dough was rising and concentrate down.  I used this sauce on all the pizza's but three different toppings. One with Italian sausage, my home made sun dried tomatoes and boccocini

Italian sausage and boccocini
Then Over it all I sprinkled Parmesan.

Close up of the pizza with roasted eggplant and sun dried tomatoes ready for the oven

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Morrocan Spiced spit roast chicken

Sunday was another nice day, nice enough to barbecue Sunday dinner, and I really fancied a spit roast chicken.  Spit roasting a chicken really is the best way to cook a whole chicken, somehow it keeps it moister than conventional roasting.  I have a back burner on my barbecue which is great as the heat comes from the side and not from below the chicken, and therefore no flare ups.

But even with the spit roasting I wanted a flavourful rub to really make it sing so I decided to make a spice rub inspired by Moroccan spices.

I used a tablespoon of each of the following

dried ginger
hot pepper flakes

Thursday, July 14, 2011

daring cooks challenge - home made pasta

Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks' July hostess.  Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine.  She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with!

I had just returned from Italy and there was a dish that we had in a restaurant on the last night in Florence pappardella with wild boar sauce, that I really wanted to recreate so it was a challenge made in Heaven.

pappardelle with "wild boar" ragu
Ok I didn't find any wild Boar on the Sunshine Coast, but at the Oak tree Market I did find some really good fairly lean pork shoulder.

You really want pork shoulder or some other tougher kind of pork with some marbeling as if it is too lean it will not fall apart and shred as it should, on the other hand you do not want gobs of fat in it.

2 tablespoons  olive oil
1 pound cubed wild boar, may substitute pork shoulder, if desired
1  diced onion
4 diced carrots
2 stalks of celery chopped
2 garlic cloves sliced
1 small can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 bottle of  red wine
1 bay leaf
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig sage

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Gooseberry fool

On Sunday my Father and I went out to Hopcotts market to pick up an organic chicken and see what was in season.  Much to my delight they had gooseberries.

This is a taste of my childhood, gooseberries were only in season for a short time and my Mother would make gooseberry fool a couple of times each season, it truly was my favourite dessert growing up as I really did not like chocolate that much (that has changed with age I fear) and have never liked really sweet things, and gooseberries like rhubarb is naturally quite tart. In fact you can make rhubarb fool exactly the same way.

I have cheated a little, basically fools are just stewed fruit mixed half and half with whipped cream, but frankly the cream in Canada really does not hold a candle to the cream in England so I decided to use Liberty full fat Mediterranean plain yogurt.

To stew gooseberries you have to top and tail them, take off the hard bits on each end with a small sharp knife.

Gooseberries that have been topped and tailed
Place in a sauce pan with enough water to not quite cover them and add some honey or sugar to taste for this many gooseberries I added about 1/4 of honey.

ready to stew

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Piedmont Peppers

Finally summer appears to have arrived to the West Coast of Canada and the barbecue is back in action, this is a side dish that is one of my favourite side dishes in the summer (though I have been known to make it in the winter too).  It is a good foil to a barbecued steak, which is what we had it with on the long weekend.

The recipe is originally from Delia Smith's cook book "Summer"  there is another book called "Winter" and they are great books to go to for ideas and I like the fact that they are seasonal.

1/2 pepper per person
1/2 clove of garlic per person
1 tomato per person
optional 1/2 anchovy fillet per person
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh basil per per pepper.
Olive oil to drizzle over

Cut the peppers in half and take the stalk off and all the seeds then lay in a single layer in a roasting tin cut side up. In the cavity of each pepper place sliced garlic cut up tomato anchovy fillet if you are using them add freshly ground black pepper and salt.

Sprinkle with the chopped basil and drizzle olive oil over the whole thing.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sun dried tomatoes

In Florence we were traveling very light due to the expense (40 pounds) to check our baggage and so I could not buy very many things to bring home. One of the few things I did buy to bring home was sun dried cherry tomatoes at the central market.  So imagine my surprise when I came home from a weekend away to find all but 3 of them gone! My son and his friends had quite a feast of chicken and steaks and pasta and had found these in the cupboard and used them all. I hope they enjoyed them and it is another reason to go back.

Last week I stopped in at the Red Apple on Hastings and they had some wonderful looking mini plum tomatoes so I decided to pick some up and have a go at making my own.

I cut them in half and laid them out on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper.

My oven has a drying setting on it so I set it to low drying which is 140, if your oven does not go that low, put it as low as it will and prop the door open a little .  I left them in the oven for 3 hours and then turned the oven off and went to bed.

After sitting in the oven over night

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Things to do in London #7 - Imperial War museum and a pub lunch

The imperial War museum is certainly not one my favourite museums, but when my sons came it was high on their list, and we happened to be staying kitty corner across from it so we decided to drop in.  With all the museums and art galleries being free you have nothing to lose by dropping in for an hour or even less. The Imperial war Museum is situated about a 15 minute walk away from the London eye and the nearest tube station is Lambeth North. The building which accommodates the Imperial War Museum London was formerly the central portion of Bethlem Royal Hospital, or Bedlam, as it was commonly known which was a psychiatric hospital and is where  the term something being chaotic is as "being like bedlam" comes form.

It is quite an impressive building set in large grounds, in the front are two enourmous guns trained on the front door. The central atrium when you walk in side is also quite impressive with tanks on the floor and planes suspended from the the ceiling from both first and second world wars.

View of the Atrium as you enter
View looking down
There are several different exhibts other than the istruments of war, which frankly really do not interest me, the one that found far more compelling was the reconstruction of a house as it would have been

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Things to do in London #6 - Borough Market and Neal's Yard Dairy

I have to admit The England of the 1960's and 70's, which is when I was growing, up was a bit of a food wasteland. The British people really did not seem to care about food in the same way as they did in the rest of Europe.  The bakeries used fake cream in their pastries, everything came with chips and in most pubs the best you could hope for is a bag of crisps.  It is a different place now, it seems the British have had some kind of food Renaissance.  I guess part of this is because of the ease in which they now travel around Europe as well as being part of the EEC they have easy access to food from all over Europe.  That is not to say that all the good food in England is from Europe, they seemed to have rediscovered good English food like the many amazing cheeses made all over the British Isles.

Neal's Yard
A shining example of this is Neal's Yard Dairy This company started in the late 70's over in Covent Garden and then moved to Borough Market in the late 90's which is when the real food movement seemed to really get going in England. Any way no trip to London is complete in my mind with out a trip to both Neal's Yard Dairy or Borough Market which Neal's Yard is situated on the edge of.

A selection of Cheese at Neal's yard
If you want an English cheese, and believe me who wouldn't this is the place to go.
You should smell the inside of this shop
They all sell artisan made yogurts, cream and the piece de resistance, eccles cakes.  These are pastries made with flaky buttery pastry filled with raisins.

Neal's Yard eccles cakes

Friday, July 8, 2011

Things to do in London #5 - The Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum, or the V&A as every self respecting Londoner would call it, is an amazing Museum. It was always my favourite as a child as they had a great costume gallery. Sadly when we visited the costume gallery was closed for refurbishment. But I was blown away by some of the new exhibits that have been re done. The jewellery was a knock out, both in the content and the display. You were not allowed to take any photographs due to value of the collection so here is a picture off their website.

There was also a collection of miniature mosaics, with the pieces being so small that they looked like paintings and an exhibit of design through the 20th century which was fascinating. This is all housed in a very large Victorian building, some of which has be restored and some like the jewellery exhibit has been updated.  The V & A is situated by the South Kensington Tube station and just down the road from Harrods in Knightsbridge. The building is set around a courtyard with a large pond and some grass which had it been a warmer day would have been nice to sit out in.

The cafe at the V&A is also spectacular it is located in the V&A's original refreshment rooms, these three rooms formed the first museum restaurant in the world and were intended as a showpiece of modern design, craftsmanship and manufacturing. They are absolutely stunning, each one being very different  we had to have lunch there.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Things to do in London #4 - The National Portrait Gallery

One of the best kept secrets in London is the National Portrait Gallery. Everyone knows the National Gallery which is wonderful and I visit almost every time I go to London, but the Portrait gallery is smaller and more intimate. It has a great collection of paintings and photographs documenting famous British people from the past as well as the present.

The ground floor has the most contemporary works of such people as Judy Dench, Princes William and Harry, and Lily Allen.  Every time I go there are always some new ones.  They also have special exhibits which unlike the rest of the gallery you have to pay for.

On the 2nd and 3rd floors they have everything from some wonderful portraits of Queen Elizabeth I and Henry 8th to a tiny sketch which is the only known drawing of Jane Austen.

Restaurant at National Gallery restaurant

But one of the best things at the National Portrait gallery is the restaurant which is on the 4th floor and has the most wonderful views over Trafalgar square and across the Thames.  You feel as you are almost at eye level to Nelson standing on his column, except he has his back to you.

I have wanted to go to lunch here for years, but usually I go visit the gallery on my own and this was something I wanted to share.  So this time I had two of my best friends from Canada with me so I took them up the long escalator and stairs to the top for lunch. 

The amazing view

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Lucca is a small walled town between Florence and Pisa.  We were flying out of Pisa, but not until late in the evening so we decided to take a train to Lucca, maybe cycle around as that was highly recommended and then continue on to Pisa in time to see the leaning tower then fly back to London.

Well as Robert Burns wrote "the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry", and these ones certainly did.  All started well, we got the bus to the train station and managed to catch the appropriate and very cheap train to Lucca.  The trip took about 1 hour as it stopped quite a few times.  Then things derailed, Connie had been assured by one of her trusty guide books that there was a place that you could leave your luggage and rent a bike right by the train station.

One of the beautiful squares in Lucca
There was no luggage drop to be found so we headed dragging our bags behind us through the large city walls.  I asked a policeman if he knew of a place, and my Italian was nonexistent, and his English not much better, so he directed us back where we came from and we tried again at the train station.

Still no luck, so now starting to get hot and tired of dragging our luggage around, we headed back through the walls.  This time we asked a bicycle rental shop who suggested we tried the bus station, the route he sent us on, was up on the wall surrounding the town and back down about a 1/4 the way round.   This was the low point, and there are no pictures of this very picteresque walk as no one was in the mood to take pictures.  Fortunately by the bus station there was somewhere to leave our luggage (for about double the price of the train!).  All thoughts of cycling had left my head, I wanted to find a restaurant in a shady spot for a cold drink and something to eat.

Nancy enjoying a cool beer after the route march
We found the perfect little spot and ordered beer and prosseco, cooled off and relaxed. We ordered two pizzas and two salads to share.

pizza with mozzerela, mushrooms, arrugala and parmazan