Thursday, September 29, 2011

Potage aka Leek and potato soup

Last week we were very kindly invited to the Cottager and his wife's for an informal dinner after work.  The Cottager was in charge of making an old favourite of mine Leek and potato soup, he had added carrots as well, and it was delicious. When I was a child growing up in England, we used to go to France for our holidays every year. One of the highlights of those trips for me was the food, the food in France tasted so much better than anything in England.  There were several things I had to have every year, Stuffed tomato from a charcuterie, a custard slice from a bakery, moules mariner from Etaples and Potage the ubiquitous potato soup that seemed to be everywhere.

Any way when I saw some lovely fresh leeks at the farmers market I decided to follow his lead and make some Potage for my self.

To clean leeks (which tend to have dirt growing up inside the rings) you cut the leek in quarters with out cutting through the root.

Leek with the top cut off and the shaft cut in to quarters
Then you spread out the leaves under a running tap and all the dirt will be washed away.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Roasted cauliflower and tomatoes

I got the idea for this very simple dish from a recipe from Martha Stewart. I think both cauliflower and tomatoes gain something from being roasted, it intensifies the flavour of the tomato and gives the cauliflower a rather nice nutty flavour.

I had people coming for dinner on Saturday night and I had spent the morning cleaning up the house due to the fact that part of roof and ceiling are in the process of being fixed, and the afternoon picking them and food up.  So I wanted to cook a very easy no fuss meal, and all the ingredients were so fresh and good I did not really need to add too much.

I picked up a beautiful cauliflower at Granville Island and I had picked a bowl full of cherry tomatoes from my deck so all I did was toss these with some olive oil salt and pepper and place in a shallow roasting tin.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Roast chicken with white beans and sausage.

It is mid September and last weekend it felt like it, though the sun was shining sometimes there was a chill in the air and so we felt like something comforting to eat. Nancy had bought at hopcott's chicken so since this was a free range organic chicken I wanted to cook it simply and let the flavour of the chicken come out, and at the end of the day roast chicken is one of the best meals.

To roast the chicken, all I did was truss it and sprinkle very liberally with salt.

Ready for the oven
I placed it on a rack and cooked in a 400 oven for about an hour until the skin was crispy and no pink juices came out of the chicken.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

quinoa tabbouleh

The baby of our department turned 30 this weekend, so the department decided to have a pot luck to celebrate.  We hold a pot luck to celebrate almost anything. In fact one of the most important questions when interviewing for a position is "what is your speciality for pot lucks?"( Not really but it should be). I had said I was going to bring a salad, but  I was away on the weekend so I wanted to make something that would not take me very long and would hold well with out going soggy.

Originally I decided to make tabbouleh, but the only bulgher wheat I could find was very course and so I decided to make the same salad but substitute quinoa for the grain.

A close up of raw quinoa

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cassa Fabesso - A Port Moody treasure

I had heard of Casa Fabesso last summer when a friend of mine told me about this very authentic Italian Restaurant down at Reed Port Marina just off the Barnet Highway. But I had not got around to going and my Father had been saying that he was interested in going, so last week in the last throws of Summer the two of decided to go try it out.

We were greeted by Anna and shown to our table, we had declared at the time of booking that we would have the seafood dinner and seafood we had.  There are no menus and each course arrives with a quick explanation by Anna, but I did not feel that I was being talked down to, like I sometimes do in these circumstances.  The first course was bruschetta topped with a home cleaned and preserved anchovy.

This was just a couple of bites, but it was delicious and there were many more courses to come.  The next dish was perhaps my favourite tuna carpaccio.

Tuna carpaccio
We got a thin slice of tuna served with a wonderful fresh citrus dressing it was every bit as good as the tuna carpaccio I had in Sorrento last November.  Both of us loved this dish so simple but so fresh and good.

Halibut with peach salsa

Monday night of the long weekend found just two of us left at Pender harbour the remainder of  family and  friends had returned to Vancouver and Summerland so we decided we wanted to cook light and as we had not had fish all weekend halibut was on the menu.

We found a wonderful slab of halibut frozen at our favourite meat market at Pender Harbor The Oak tree market.  They also had some fresh looking rainbow chard and so we got some of that as well.

I made a peach salsa to go on the fish as we had all the ingredients in the house and peaches are abundent at the moment.

Peach salsa

2 large tomatoes chopped.
1 peach chopped
1/2 sweet onion chopped
1 jalapeno pepper chopped
Handful of chopped cilantro
Juice of one lime
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together and let the flavours blend while the fish cooks

While Nancy cooked the rice I got the halibut on the barbecue.

Just barbecued until cooked through, not dried out.  You could also pan fry in olive oil or grill under the  broiler, but as the weather was still like summer barbecue seemed the best option.

Whilst the fish was cooking I quickly stir fried some rainbow chard in a tablespoon of olive oil with a clove of garlic thinly sliced.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Turkey kofta

I am attempting to lose weight at the moment, this is very hard for me as I love food and I am not prepared to give up cooking, entertaining and eating out.  Therefore I have been going to the gym a little more, not something I really enjoy and trying cut down on calories.  So far 10lbs down, but 10lbs more to go. I have been eating less beef and more lean pork and chicken and trying new ways of cooking that use less olive oil and butter. This is a dish that I came up with last week that fits all the criteria and tastes good too.

Lamb kofta is something I love and make quite regularly, but ground lamb and beef for that matter are really not in the cards right now, so I tried making kofta with ground turkey.

1lb of lean ground turkey
1/2 onion chopped
1 garlic clove grated or finely chopped
2 sprigs of mint finely chopped
1 sprig of flat leaf parsley finely chopped
1 sprig of basil finely chopped
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of coriander
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

To make sure you have enough seasoning, I put a teaspoon of the mixture on a plate in the microwave for a few seconds and taste.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Garden Bay pub

The Garden Bay Pub is not very far as the crow flies from my friends place at Pender Harbor but a long way by road, but well worth the drive as it turned out.  Four of us decided to walk up Pender Hill on Saturday morning and then thought a pub lunch was in order.  The walk was straight up I do not know the height but it seemed like a long way, up the view was spectacular and the pub was at the bottom.

So at the bottom of the hill waited a cold drink and a good lunch on a patio over looking the marina, life doesn't get much better than that.

The deck of the Garden Bay pub

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Preserving summer - hot pickled green beans

We had got into a bit of canning frenzy on the Labour day weekend and looking for more things to can. We decided to do some hot pickled green beans, as Nancy's husband really likes them, and the local market had some wonderful fresh green and purple beans.

We decided to add some carrot as well for colour.  We had cooked some of the purple beans the night before and rather disappointingly they had turned green when cooked, so we were interested to see what happened when pickling them.

This is what happened they went a mottled half green half purple not the lovely vibrant purple they were before but I can attest that after the requisite week of pickling they tasted wonderful.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Roast rack of pork

The butcher at the Oak Tree market in Pender Harbour had some beautiful racks of pork on sale on the long weeken and Nancy bought an 8 bone rack for dinner.  She searched on for recipe and she came up with Roasted Double Rack of Pork with Morel Mushroom Pan Sauce

Of course we did not have any morel mushrooms, but we did not let that deter us. we bought some other dried mushrooms at the IGA and started to make the sauce, but I am afraid if you want to see how to make this sauce you will have to follow the above link, as instead of taking care it we were doing this.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Preserving summer - Blackberry Jam

I spent the Labour Day long weekend at my friends house up at Pender Harbour on the sunshine coast. The weather was the best we have had all summer and the blackberries were epic.

I have never seen so many, and another friend could not stop herself from picking for hours at a time with no thought to her own safety.  By the end of the weekend we had buckets and buckets of blackberries and she was covered in scratches all up her arms and legs.  Some were frozen but 12 cups were turned in to jam.

Into a large pot went 12 cups of blackberries after carefully washing and removing all the bits of blackberry bush.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

In my happy place

Enjoying a weekend at Pender harbour sun,food,walks and wine.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Rosemary roasted potatoes

On Sunday my husband dug out one of our potato plants to see how the potatoes were doing. Finally they have grown large enough to really use.

They are not quite as large as they look next to those carrots, those carrots are mini carrots really too small to be taken away from their mother.  But the potatoes were spectacular and enough to feed five for dinner and a couple of small ones for two of us another evening.