Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lemon, sage and garlic roast chicken

I picked up two frying chickens from Hopcott's on Sunday and as I did not know how many were coming for dinner I decided to cook them both. I have really been enjoying my spit roast on the barbecue this summer, but I wanted to do something a little different from my usual spice rub.

I have a lot of very healthy sage in the garden and sage goes so well with chicken I decided to use that along with some garlic and a couple of lemons.

I pulled the skin away from the flesh on the breast and pushed in some sprigs of sage and finely sliced garlic.  I then squeezed a lemon over each bird and placed the cut halves along with a sprig of sage in each cavity.

Then I sprinkled them salt and trussed them and threaded them on to the spit.

Ready to roll

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Orzo salad

The original vision for this salad was for it to be made with couscous, but unfortunately there was no couscous in the pantry, but there was Orzo.

1 cup of dried orzo cooked as per package.
2 sprigs of fresh basil
2 sprigs of fresh mint
Juice of two lemons
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 garlic clove grated
4 green onions chopped
3 lebanese cucumbers cut in to chunks
4 campari tomatoes cut in to quarters

Cook the orzo and run cold water over it in a sieve to wash away the starch, then drain.

Combine the herbs, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic in a bowl along with the chopped green onion to form the dressing.

Add the drained orzo and remaining ingredients, and let the orzo absorb the dressing for at least half an hour.

This made a great accompaniment to the lamb popsicles along with some local fresh green beans and roasted eggplant.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Impromptu dinner for 18 - barbecued chicken and salads

After the the Boat Festival, the executive and volunteers repaired back to Nancy's house for a swim, a debriefing and of course dinner.  This had not been planned so a quick assessment of fridge contents and a trip to the local IGA was in order.

Nancy had a large bag of frozen tail on shrimps in the freezer so we ran them under cold water in a sieve to partially defrost, and pan fried quickly in olive oil and garlic.

This made a great nibble to assuage everyone's hunger along with some homemade salsa, chips, vegetable platter, hummus and foccacia bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar brought by some of the guests.

After considering the possibilities, it was decided to barbecue some chicken and serve it with assorted salads.

For the chicken I used Moroccan spice rub that I had used before, but added a little smoked paprika.  After rubbing the chicken all over I cooked the chicken pieces over indirect heat on the barbecue, putting the chicken on one side of the barbecue and the heat on the other.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

PCA Family Boat Festival

The Pleasantside Community Association (PCA) held it's first Annual Family Boat Festival this weekend. Since I am on the executive of the association I was involved in organizing this event. As usual my involvement would be mostly to do with food.

This being a family event, that had to break even, and I had no idea how many people would be coming we decided to keep in simple, hamburgers and hot dogs.  Nothing gourmet here, no food porn pictures, but the hamburgers were not bad though I say so my self.

But the event really wasn't about food it was about bringing the community together to enjoy the beautiful place that we live in and enjoying a glorious summer day.

The main event was the boat races, we had races for kids with parents in a couple of different age groups and we had one young boater as young as three!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lamb Popsicles

I was introduced to the concept of lamb Popsicles at Vijs restaurant in Vancouver they are the signature dish there and like everything I have ever had there, are out of this world.  They have now become a popular item at other restaurants and as an appetizer at parties.

Lamb Popsicles basking in the setting sun

On Friday afternoon when Nancy and I were at Costco shopping for a community event this Saturday we both spied these wonderful looking lamb racks from Australia. I know these are not local in fact they really could not have come from further away, but never the less we both had a single thought "lamb Popsicles.

Beautiful Australian rack of lamb cut into Popsicles
We cut the rack in to chops, the bones had already been frenched (scraped clean) so that was the only prep that we had to do. I made a quick marinade based on what I could remember of the recipe in Vijs's cook book.

1/4 cup of white wine
2 tablespoons of grainy mustard
1 teaspoon of salt.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Preserving summer- Salsa

I love fresh salsa and make it all the time in the summer and even in the winter sometimes, and I have never  thought much of the salsa that you buy in jars.  So when I come across a recipe that says to add a jar of salsa I usually just go to the next recipe.

So I decided with 12 of the tomatoes I brought back from the Okanagan to make my own jarred salsa.

12 of the plum tomatoes chopped skins and seeds and all
1 large sweet onion chopped
2 peppers one red the other yellow chopped
1 jalapeno finely chopped
1 tablespoon of ground cumin
10 tablespoons of lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
handful of chopped cilantro.

I added every thing except the cilantro to a large pot.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Preserving summer- Tomato puree

I spent the last few days up in the Okanagan Valley, a little piece of heaven 4 hours drive from Vancouver.

Looking over Naramata 
Though the valley, especially around Naramata has been almost taken over by the wine industry, there are still some orchards and small farms selling wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables.  Amongst other things we brought back a case of plum tomatoes, as I wanted to continue with my eat fresh, eat local lifestyle. This would mean preserving some of the fruits of the summer to consume in the depths of winter.

I have not really canned before, so I am no expert, but there are plenty of them on the web, which is where I did my research.  There seemed to be 2 important things when canning tomatoes, add lemon juice to up the ph levels and to process in a water bath for 30 hours or until the lids are sealed.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Green beans and potatoes cooked in fresh tomato sauce

Somebody at work recently gave me some green beans fresh from her Aunts garden, what a treat. I was reminded of dish that I had seen on a Jamie Oliver show once, where he cooked green beans in a fresh tomato sauce both grown in his garden.

Not only did I have these wonderful fresh green beans, but I also had a few potatoes that I dug out of my very own garden! So I decided to add those and make myself a vegetarian one pot meal.

Dinner for one, or a side dish for two.

2 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of hot pepper flakes
2 cups of chopped fresh tomatoes
A small bunch of fresh basil
4 small new potatoes
2 hand fulls of green beans

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Herb vinegar

My herbs on the deck are now in their full glory and what a joy it is cook with abundant fresh herbs.  However I was trying to think of ways to preserve some of their flavour for the winter when the pickings are thin.

Also I just finished some tarragon vinegar which I had brought from Valentine Farm in Summerland a small vinegar works that uses Okanagan grapes to make their vinegar and infuse with home grown herbs and fruit.  So I had a beautiful bottle with a stopper to make my own herb vinegar. After reflecting on what herbs I wanted to use, I chose sage and basil.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Roast pork stuffed with apricot stuffing

Saturday found me up at Pender Harbour looking for inspiration at the Oak tree Market for dinner.  They had some lovely looking crown of pork roasts and I was reminded of a recipe for roast pork with apricot stuffing that I had seen on Not Quite Nigella last week.  I thought at the time that I liked the sound of it so this was the perfect opportunity to try it out.

Of course I changed it up a bit partly because I was missing some of the ingredients.

2 shallots finely chopped (or 1 small onion)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 clove of garlic sliced
1/2 cup of dried apricots chopped
2 cups of olive bread chopped
a sprig of thyme (well actually I would have liked a sprig of thyme but there was none)
1 tablespoon of grand marnier
1/4 of orange juice.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summer pudding - English food at it's best

Summer pudding is one of dishes that you can only really make at this time of year.  You can make it in the winter using frozen berries, but it is not the same.  Right now all the berries are at their height, and in the Pender Harbour IGA we even found red currents which are an important ingredient to make it authentic.

Not only are all the fruits at their height, but the weather finally feels a bit more like summer, so a no bake dessert is a welcome treat.  Traditionally these are made in a large bowl, but in the interests of time and cuteness, I made individual ones.

Per Portion

1 cup of fresh berries (raspberries, red currents, blue berries, black berries, black currents)
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of water
3 slices of soft white bread

Mix the berries together in a pot and add the sugar and water.

Simmer until the fruit is just giving off its juices, you do not want to cook the fruit as you want to keep the fresh fruit flavour.

Friday, August 12, 2011

No Internet

Suffering through router failure hopefully everything will be up and running by Tuesday

Monday, August 8, 2011

Crime Lab Restaurant Vancouver

Saturday night before meeting our friends on their boat, my father, husband and I decided to go out for dinner.  We were parked at the entrance to Stanley Park and so the Crime Lab  was the closest restaurant, and it has a spectacular view of Coal Harbour.

Our timing was perfect, just as we arrived a table of 4 on the deck was paying their bill and so we managed one of the much sought after tables outside.

I did not really have great hopes for the food, the restaurant has such a stunning view and an extensive drinks menu, I thought the food would be a bit of a throw away. But I was wrong, the food though not cheap, was not overpriced and was very good.

My father ordered the seafood linguini.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Home made hummus to go

On Saturday night Vancouver was having the last of 3 nights of "the festival of light"which is a half hour spectacular firework display in English Bay.  hundreds of thousands of people from all over the lower mainland come into town to see this, so when a friend invited us down to their boat to watch them we jumped at the chance.

We arrived at around 7:30 after having eaten dinner, but we were going to have a little nibble to eat and a glass of wine while we waited for the fireworks to begin. Hummus is a healthy alternative to most dips, so I decided to make some to go along with the vegetables that my friend was bringing.

forgive the plastic container but look at the view
I could have bought some, but really it is so easy to make and I always have the ingredients in my fridge and pantry, so I decided to make it instead. But if I do buy hummus, I always add the juice of a lemon or two to brighten up the flavour.

1 can of chickpeas
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of tahini (you could add more to taste)
Juice of two or three lemons
1/4 cup of olive oil (or water to make even healthier)
salt to taste

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Go Fish West Broadway

This restaurant just opened about 2 weeks ago just across from where I work, it is the same people who run the outdoor fish stand down on Granville Island.  I have been there several times and though the food was always good, service was not great and often the lines extremely long.  So when it was suggested last Friday that we go there for lunch I jumped at the chance.

The restaurant is located where Bin 942 was at 1521 West Broadway and I believe is run by the same people as Bin 942.  The decor has completely changed much brighter and a little down market from the previous incarnation.

One of my friends ordered the scallop ceviche, she was served what looked like ceaser salad with two cooked scallops.  When she questioned this the waitress said that they would bring the correct dish and was very apologetic.  She said why don't you eat this anyway while the correct dish is made.  I shared as I had my own problems.  This was very good with lightly grilled romaine lettuce, the dressing on the side and two bacon wrapped scallops.  We both enjoyed it and then her dish arrived.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Roast yellow zucchini

At the Farmers Market on Sunday my friends daughter bought some beautiful yellow squash and since she and her parents were coming for dinner she asked if I would cook them for her. I had intended to roast them with parmesan but unfortunately I was completely out of parmesan cheese.  Plan b make a mixture of breadcrumbs and fresh herbs to top them with, but I was completely out of breadcrumbs and no spare bread to make any with.  Plan C it would have to be.

Plan C was a handful of stoned wheat thin crackers wizzed in a small food processor with fresh basil, parsley and some course salt.

I sprinkled this over the top of the zucchini then drizzled with olive oil.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Potato and beet top soup

Monday was not really a soup kind of day, finally the sun was shining and the temperatures were up to normal, but I had bag of beet tops that needed using, and I really did feel like soup.

I got them at the farmers market on Sunday, some attached to my beets and some that someone else did not want.  I love the flavor of beet tops and they are full of goodness.

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 small onion chopped
1 garlic clove crushed
tops off two bunches of beets chopped
2 medium potatoes
2 cups of stock (I used beef because that is what I had, but chicken would have been fine)
Salt and pepper

Monday, August 1, 2011

Coquitlam Farmers market dinner

The very last day of July and the farmers markets around town are in full swing, full of local produce and what better way to go shopping than to buy directly from the farmer when the food is at its freshest and most flavourful.
Farmers market dinner
There were many stalls selling raspberries and blueberries which abound in the Fraser Valley and are at there peak right now.

There were also many very beautiful looking beets, zucchini, lettuce, radishes and so much more.

It was hard to resist any of it, but this is what I finally came home with.

Yellow zucchini (courtesy of my friends daughter who commissioned me to cook it for her) fresh garlic, beets, potatoes, rainbow chard, rainbow radishes, red oakleaf lettuce and a local cheese.