Monday, October 31, 2011

Granville Island

Every big city has a great market, Seattle has Pike Place Market London has Borough Market and Vancouver has Granville Island.  It truly is a world class market, and I am lucky enough to work with in walking distance to it.  But going at lunch time is bitter sweet as their really is not enough time to wander around and really enjoy it, and so it was a treat this Saturday to share hunting and gathering for dinner with my good friend Nancy.

The fruits and vegetables are beautifully displayed by all the vendors and really I do not have a favourite one for fresh produce, I just wander around and find which one has the best of what I want that day.  There is one who sells produce directly from the Okanagan, so the selection available varies by the time of year.  Right now there is an abundance of fresh crisp apples and on their stall this week they had these wonderful gourds which look for all the world like a pair of swans in love.

There are a couple of permanent stores that are my favourites, that I nearly always go to, one of those is Oyama Sausage

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pot Roast plain and simple

Sometimes it is good to keep things simple, and on the weekend I got a cross rib roast from Hopcott's and I decided to cook it with my home canned tomato puree. As these were both really good flavourful ingredients I decided to keep it really simple and not add a lot in the way of herbs or spices.

So the ingredients list is short.

4lb pot roast
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of hot pepper flakes
1 quart of home canned tomatoes (or a can of crushed tomatoes)
a handful of chopped parsley

Brown the beef on all sides in a large frying pan.

Then place it in a large casserole dish, or you could use a slow cooker. Then in the same frying pan that you browned the roast in saute the onion and garlic until soft and translucent.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Roast carrot Thai soup

I picked up some carrots at the farmers market this week and they were so fresh and bursting with flavour I decided to make a carrot soup.  I have made this soup (or something very similar) in the past and it always a favourite, roasting the carrots brings out their natural sweetness and really adds something to the taste of this soup.

1 bunch of carrots peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 clove of garlic sliced
2" of ginger peeled and sliced
1 hot pepper thinly sliced
1 tablespoon of cilantro chopped
2 cups of chicken stock
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
Juice of one lemon
1 cup of coconut milk or 1/3 cup of creamed coconut

Place the sliced carrots tossed in a  little olive in a shallow roasting tin

Roast at 350 for about 1/2 an hour.  While the carrots are roasting prepare the garlic, ginger and hot pepper.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Asparagus and pine nut salad

This salad was made by my friend from England Jacky, she had it a friend of hers' over there and thought it would go well with our Italian dinner.  And she was right it was the hit of the night.

Unfortunately I do not have any pictures of her making it as she did not take any and I was otherwise engaged. But anyway here goes.

1 bunch of Asparagus
3/4  cup of pine nuts (she said that she thoughts walnuts or pecans would work as well)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Container of baby arugula
Juice of one lemon.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Crisp refreshing salad

Before going to the movies a good friend invited me down for a quick home made soup dinner. To go with this I made a salad.  The soup was a cream of Brussels sprouts (delicious) and so I wanted a crisp light salad to counterpoint the richness of the soup. I perused my fridge and this is what I came up with.

3 small Lebanese cucumbers chopped
1 bunch of green onions chopped
1/2 container of grape tomatoes cut in half
2 heads of romaine (cos) lettuce cut or torn in to pieces
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.

1 garlic clove grated
Salt and pepper
1 handful of chopped parsley
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of olive oil.

First I mixed the dressing ingredients in the bottom of the salad bowl and then added the onion and cucumber.

I mixed thoroughly to coat the cucumber and I then added the tomato and gently stirred them in

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A duo of crostini appetizers

For our Italian dinner last week we decided to make two different crostini as an appetizer.  These were both ideas that I had seen at some time in the last week or so, though unfortunately I do not really remember where, but I had thought they would be a good idea to try.

They were both incredibly easy and can be thrown in the oven just as your guest arrive after being prepared ahead and only take a matter of minutes to heat up.

For both crostini prepare the bread ahead, even a day if you that organized which sadly I never am.  Slice a baguette fairly thinly and lay on a cookie sheet in a 350 oven for a couple of minutes until just turning golden brown.  Then turn over and cook again for a couple of more minutes to turn the other side golden brown.  This is not the time to take the garbage out or make a phone call as they can burn very quickly and really need to be watching,  I speak from experience here as I have burnt crostini more times than a care to remember.

Balsamic caramelized onion and Parmesan cheese crostini

For enough for 12 people

2 sweet onions (or regular if you can not get them) sliced very thinly
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 spring of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

Put the olive oil in a non stick pan add the onions and cook slowly for up to half an hour stirring occasionally until they start to turn golden brown.  (you could take the garbage out or phone a friend now) Add the fresh thyme and stir more often as they get darker as they can burn at this point.  When the onion is dark brown and has reduced down to about 1/4 its original size add the balsamic vinegar and stir in.  These are now ready to use and can sit around for several hours or longer in the fridge until you are ready to put them together.

About an hour before you are ready to cook them place a little onion on each crostini and top with a piece of shaved Parmesan, I used a potato peeler to to shave the Parmesan.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pork braised in milk Italian style

I saw this dish on a Jamie Oliver show several years ago, and when my friend from England who I have been cooking with since we were about 12, decided to cook an Italian meal we decided to try this.

We were having 14 friends over for dinner so we had to cook 2 pork loins and this served 14 with meat left over for a couple of care packages and dinner on Monday night.

2 pork loins
2 tablespoons of olive oil
A large handful of fresh sage
4 cloves of garlic sliced
4 cups of milk
grated rind from 2 lemons
juice of 2 lemons.

Brown the pork loins in olive oil on all sides.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Beef short ribs ala Bourginon

Fall is well underway now, and more and more I am cooking comfort foods and long slowly simmered dishes.  Up at Pender Harbour last weekend we found some wonderfully meaty short ribs at the Oak Tree Market, and the weather was rainy and miserable a great day for card games slow cooking, movies and red wine.

Feeds 8

6 rashers of bacon chopped
6 Beef short ribs
1 large onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic sliced
1 cup of red wine
2 cups of beef stock
fresh sage and thyme
2 tablespoon of butter
2 tablespoon of olive oil
box of pearl onions
2 cups of quarted button mushrooms

Cook the bacon in a large non stick frying pan until the fat has released and it is starting to crisp then brown the ribs in the bacon fat.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tomato and chickpea soup

We have been having beautiful fall weather for the last few days, cooler but sunny and crisp definitely soup weather. One day last week we had 1/2 an hour for lunch, so I threw together a very quick soup.

I did not have much in the fridge so I decided to use some of the tomato puree I canned this summer to make a quick soup.

1/2 onion chopped
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 clove of garlic sliced
1 can of tomato puree
1 cup of chicken stock
1 can of chickpeas
1 bunch of fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Alta Bistro Whistler

I spent 2 days in Whistler with the three friends that I had explored Florence with in May, a sort of reunion, though Whistler and Florence could not have been more different.  We were looking for a restaurant for dinner and a man who served us in the liquor store highly recommended Alta bistro, So Alta Bistro it would be.

They have two set menus both 3 courses, but that does not include dessert.  This suited us very well as I usually avoid set menus as I don't really want dessert. 3 of us chose the Flute Bowl Menu for  $29 and Nancy chose the Diamond Bowl Menu for $39.00

I started with the Fall Salad Tomatoes, walnuts, fresh grapes, green onions & mixed greens with a very light barely there dressing.

This picture and the description sound a little pedestrian, but in fact this was absolutely delicious, Id do not know what the dressing was, and I could barely discern it on the greens, but it was wonderful and light and the grapes made a great taste and texture counterpoint to the candied nuts.

Nancy ordered Pâté & Charcuterie Board this came with a homemade pâté with Nita Lake Lodge charcuterie selection, dry fig crostini, chutney & apple

The home made pate was very good as was the mixed charcuterie and the fig bread.  The chutney tasted for all the world like English Branstons pickle, this was a nice platter though I did prefer my salad.

Connie and Jacky had the soup of the day, which was a creamy pumpkin soup served with a brandy snap. Jacky can't quite remember all the flavours of the soup, but commented that it did not photograph well, but it was delicious.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Comfort food - Fish pie

Fish pie is a quintessential English dish that when it is done well is for me the ultimate comfort food.  Fish pie was almost ruined for me by the the diabolically bad fish pies they used to make at school.  In fact because of this I did not make it for years.  But watching a Jamie Oliver program a few years ago I decided to block out those bad school memories and make it my own.

I have an old school friend visiting from England this week and as we found ourselves down at Granville Island we decided to put the wonderful fresh fish to good use. I am giving the fish that we bought because it looked fresh that day, but really any mixture of seafood would do. You could use scallops, salmon or any other fish, but I really like it with a little smoked fish as this adds a wonderful slightly salty smoky addition.

Serves 3 to 4

1/2 onion chopped
1/4 cup of butter or margarine
1/4 cup of flour
1 1/2 to 2 cups of milk
handful of chopped parsley
6 large prawns (we used local spot prawns)
1/2 lb of smoked black cod
1/2 lb of halibut
1/2 cup of frozen peas.
4 large potatoes mashed with milk and butter.
2 oz of grated cheddar cheese

Monday, October 10, 2011

orange stewed prunes

I know what you are thinking stewed prunes! But actually I really like prunes and I was looking for some fruit to eat on my yogurt for breakfast.  I have committed to eat only local fruit in season for breakfast for a year, I have some stewed rhubarb in my freezer and also some whole blueberries that I froze in season.  But this will only last for so long and so stewed prunes are something I can make any time of year I just have to check on the package to see where they are from.

So all I did was put 1 cup of dried prunes in to a pot and added enough orange juice to almost cover them.

Then I added the grated rind from one orange and simmered together slowly for about 20 minutes until most of the orange juice had disappeared.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts

Roasting vegetables that are usually steamed or boiled seems to be every where these days and for good reason.  Asparagus, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts all seem to improve with a little caramelising.  Brussels sprouts are actually in my opinion the king of the green vegetable kingdom, and I would eat them much more often if it was up to me.  I am afraid the rest of my family does not necessarily agree, they are willing to put up with them with a Sunday roast but that is about it.

But with my husband and father in Chicago for a few days I find my self on my own for dinners, so I can cook what ever I want.  This will often be eggplant or liver but it is the season of the Brussels sprout and I had one last potato from my garden to eat so I decided to roast them together.

This could hardly be called a recipe really just a suggestion.  Toss Brussels sprouts and chopped potato together with a little olive oil and some salt . I used about 2/3 sprouts to 1/3 potato.

The potatoes need to be cut quite small so that the sprouts do not get over cooked before the potatoes are ready.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Mexican lettuce wraps - Mexican pot roast part 2

On the weekend I made Mexican pot roast and there was some leftover. Normally I would have made a type of fajita wrapping the heated up meat along with cheese salsa and peppers in a flour tortilla.  But I was on my own for dinner so I decided to make a take on one of my favourite Chinese dishes lettuce wraps, it is really the only time I like to eat iceberg lettuce.

I replaced the flour tortilla with an iceberg lettuce leaf, replaced the hoisin sauce with a fresh salsa and added cheese. You could of course use ground beef (or turkey) if you had no left over beef, but this is certainly a light refreshing way to use left over roast or pot roast beef.

For 2

For the filling
  • 6 oz left over beef pot roast chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder (or less to taste)
  • 1/2 cup of beef stock (or left over juices from the roast or even water)

Quick fresh Salsa
  • 1 tomatoes chopped
  • 1/2 a small onion chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh cilantro chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
  • Hot sauce to taste

1/2 an Iceberg lettuce with the leaves separated
1 cup of grated cheddar cheese.
Sour cream would also a good addition

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mexican pot roast part 1

The cooler weather has me thinking comfort foods and one of my favourites is beef pot roast.  Normally I would buy a nicely marbled chuck roast or some other rather fatty tough cut, but I am trying to cut down on the fat so I chose an inside round roast. As this can be rather dry I wanted to have a tasty sauce to serve with it.

In August I Made some Home made Salsa and canned it. The idea was so that I could use it in recipes that called for salsa.  So this seemed the perfect oportunity to use it for both flavour and moistness. I spent the afternoon at Ioco Ghost town days helping children decorate the cookies I had made, so I decided to cook my pot roast in the slow cooker.

I placed the beef roast in the slow cooker and poured one of my jars of home made salsa over it.  If you were not lucky enough to have some home made you could use a purchased one.

Then I turned the slow cooker on to high and went to decorate cookies and when I returned 5 hours later I had a cooked pot roast and a wonderful smell in the house.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

spinach soup

My roof has rotted to the point that part of it had to be taken off and it along with some rather important beams be replaced. My husband and brother in law have been working their butts off to get it back on before the monsoons and cold weather come in earnest.  I am useless as a handyman, so the least I could do was make a nutritional lunch for the workers.

I found some fresh local spinach at the store so I decided to make some spinach soup to for  their well deserved lunch.

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
1 large clove or garlic sliced
1 large bunch of fresh spinach washed and roughly chopped
1 medium potato chopped
3 cups of chicken stock
1/2 cup of milk or (if you were not on a diet) cream
1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground nutmeg.

Sweat off the onion and garlic in the olive in a large pot until the onion is transparent.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Turkey chili

In an ever more desperate attempt to find tasty food that is weight watchers friendly I have turned more than once to ground chicken or turkey.  This is something that in the past I have never used, but anything made with ground beef is very high in calories and therefore not on the menu right now.

This week the weather is really feeling like fall and on the way home from work on Wednesday I felt like chili, so I thought I would try it with some ground turkey that I had in the freezer. I added a fair bit of carrots as I was trying to make it as healthy as possible and due to the short time available I used canned beans, not usually my preference.

Serves 4

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 garlic clove sliced
  • 1lb of ground turkey or chicken
  • 1/2 tablespoon of chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of regular chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of ground coriander
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes chopped (or equivalent canned)
  • 1 can of red kidney beans (though any beans would do)

Sweat off the onion and garlic in the olive oil until they are transparent. Then add the ground turkey and stir until the meat is cooked through.