Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Planked salmon

I was lucky enough to have Friday dinner over at my friends who live in Summerland on the Okanagan lake.  It was a beautiful evening and we sat outside catching up and enjoying a glass of wine or two with Pat while her husband prepared dinner. The light on the hills behind their house was spectacular and I could not help but take some photographs.

My friend had picked up a beautiful fillet of sockeye salmon for dinner and her husband was going to cook it on the barbecue on a cedar plank.  He did this differently than I have in the passed, so I was interested to see how it turned out.

First he soaked the plank in water for about an hour then placed the fish on top and topped it with some lemon and capers.

Then he pre-heated the grill to 350 and placed the salmon on the top rack.  In the past I have always placed it on the bottom rack, which chars the plank and gives the salmon a smokey flavour.  But in cooking it further from the coals the plank will live to be used another day.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Suika West Broadway

I have actually been to this restaurant several times for lunch as it is close to work and very good.  This week it was a colleagues birthday, so 6 of us went for lunch to celebrate.  This is not your normal Japanese food that I am familiar with, so I struggle a little with menu not really knowing what things are.  But I have always been pleased with what I received even if sometimes as was the case this time a little surprised.

What ever you order the meal always starts with a green salad served family style in a big bowl.

This has a very tasty dressing, I have to say one of my favourite things to order in a Japanese restaurant is the green salad as the dressing is usually very good.

One member of our party ordered a sashimi rice bowl

This as the name would suggest was chopped up sashimi served on top of rice, I did not try any of this but he seemed very happy with it.

A couple of people ordered the spicy shrimp on rice.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Roast butterflied chicken and potatoes

I have seen recently this method of cooking a whole chicken several times in the last month or so and have been meaning to try it for a while.  I have seen it cooked on top of a bed of vegetables, as well just potatoes and on the barbecue.  Butterflying the chicken in this way allows it to cook much quicker, and my family decided because of this it kept the chicken moister.

The thought of the chicken roasting on a bed of potatoes appealed to me, I recently cooked a roast rack of lamb on potatoes and the potatoes were wonderful.  With all the juices that come out of a chicken this could only be better.

Butterflying (or spatchcocking) is quite easy to do, but you do need a good pair or kitchen shears.  I expect any decent butcher would do it for you.

Feeds 4

1 whole frying chicken
4 medium potatoes sliced
1 onion sliced
sprig of thyme
sprig of sage
Drizzle of olive oil

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Home made baked potato chips (crisps)

One of my biggest weaknesses is salty snacks, and right on top of the list of salty snacks is potato chips (or crisps as we called them in England).  This is not something I give in to very often, and only buy them when we are entertaining, and even then I often avoid them as might eat them before any guests arrive.

This weekend when wandering aimlessly around Gourmet Warehouse avoiding the rain, I came across something I have been wanting for a while, a mandolin.

This was not the fancy wooden (expensive) french mandolins, but a plastic smaller (cheaper) version.  I picked this up for less than $20.00 and I could not wait to use it.  So when we arrived home I decided to experiment with making baked chips to snack on with a glass of wine.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Vij's Cilantro mint chicken curry

Connie and I felt like cooking Indian food, and as I had recently been to  vijs restaurant I wanted to cook something out of his cook book.  So we chose this chicken curry dish as it sounded good and we had all the ingredients. Though of course I changed it a little cutting down on the oil a little and I did omit the asafoetida as that is one ingredient I did not have.

Feeds 6

2 tablespoons of oil
1 1/2 tablespoons of cumin seeds
1 tablespoon of coriander seeds
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 cup of plain yogurt
12 skinless chicken thighs bone in

Heat the oil in a deep sided frying pan, add the cumin and coriander seeds and sizzle them for about 30 seconds, add the garlic and some salt, turn off the heat and let it cool slightly then add the yogurt. Now add the chicken and stir in well turn the heat to medium, then cover and cook for about 25 minutes.

The yogurt had turned clear and created a very flavourful broth with the chicken juices.  At this point Vij instructs us to take the chicken off the bone, but we decided the diners could do that for themselves and so we skipped that step.  But if you are more accommodating hosts then go right ahead.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sweet potato fries with spicy lime salt

I saw this idea somewhere in the last week and I am afraid I cannot remember where, so I am unable to credit the originator.  But when I found I was having someone over who is unable to eat potatoes, but can eat sweet potatoes I decided to try this out.  The idea of lime and hot pepper in with the salt on with the sweetness of the yams really appealed to me.

For these I used the yellow sweet potatoes instead of the orange ones, which one is called yam?  I am not really sure but it seems to be interchangeable.

I cut the potato in to sticks simulating french fries and tossed in a little olive oil, then laid them out on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

satay with peanut sauce

I love satay with peanut sauce, but most sauce recipes call for using peanut butter, I am sure that they do not use peanut butter in Thailand.  Any way I searched on the Internet and combining several different recipes I came up with this, which though it was delicious, was really an accompaniment rather than a sauce.  But this could have been because I made it in my mini chopper which is not very powerful and therefore did not pulverise the peanuts in to a paste.

1/2 onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove sliced
1 inch of ginger grated
1 tablespoon of oil
1 red Thai chili pepper chopped
1 cup of roasted peanuts
juice of one lime
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
handful of cilantro
2 tablespoons of water.

Cook the onion garlic ginger and chili pepper in the oil until softened.

Add this along with the remaining ingredients into a food processor or mini chopper.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Thai Salad rolls

Thai was the theme for Sunday night poker last week, so I decided to take Thai style salad rolls. I avoided eating spring rolls for years as they just did not appeal to me for some reason. Any way I made some with a friend a couple of years ago and now I am a convert.

These are easy to make ahead and great for a take along pot luck or putting out at home for a get together.  I have made them in the past with seafood, but this was to be a Thai meal and when I researched on the Internet it appears that in Thailand they traditionally use chicken. You could also make them vegetarian replacing the chicken with tofu.

3 chicken breasts sliced into strips
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
Juice of one lime
1 red chili sliced or replace with hot sauce
1 package of large dried rice wrappers
1/2 package of thin dried rice noodles
1/2 cup of fresh basil roughly chopped
1/2 cup of fresh mint
1/2 cup of cilantro
1 red pepper sliced thinly
1 bunch of green onions sliced long ways
1 romaine lettuce sliced

Mix the brown sugar fish sauce and lime juice together and add the chicken and set aside. While you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Add the rice noodles to a pot of boiling water, then turn off the heat let the noodles cook in the hot water for a few minutes until they are soft and cooked through, then drain and rinse well in cold water to stop them from sticking.

This is what the noodles look like before cooking
Stir fry the marinaded chicken strips in a tablespoon of oil.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Nu restaurant

I work on South Granville in Vancouver. There are a plethora of good restaurants for lunch and dinner, from extremely expensive to extremely cheap, of almost every ethnicity that you can think of. Last Tuesday I had an appointment after work, that meant I had to grab a quick bite to eat before going.  I did not want to spend a lot of money or time, so I decided to go to Nu restaurant. This little hole in the wall take out is owned by the same people as the upscale "C" restaurant.

The interior is spare and simple as is the menu. They advertise that they provide modern, authentic homemade Greek food. The choices are basically souvlaki with a choice of several meats and seafood with a selection of 4 salads and 3 dips.

I ordered the lamb souvlaki with chickpea and mint salad along with greek salad.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Pinto beans with tomitillas

To go along with my pork carnitas on Saturday I wanted to serve beans. I find the normal re-fried beans served in restaurants a little runny and a little bland, so I decided to add some tomatillas to add a little spark of flavour.

2 cups of dried pinto beans
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic chopped
8 tomatillos chopped
2 tablespoons of ground cumin
2 tablespoons of ground coriander
2 cups of chicken stock

Soak the beans in boiling water for one hour.  Add the onion, garlic and olive oil to a large pot and cook until the onion is translucent.  Add the tomatillos and spices.

stir through to combine and cook for about a minute until the spices are giving off their aroma, now add the remaining ingredients.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Carnitas - Mexican pork

Saturday evening was May 5, or Cinco de Mayo, a big celebration in Mexico, so there was nothing for it but to have Mexican food for dinner.  I wanted to try something new, and I have visions of the carnitas that I had in Sausalito over 20 years ago. This was one of those meals that stands out in your mind as being perfect. It was beautiful sunny warm day, and we were sitting out on a deck over looking San Francisco bay, drinking margaritas and eating an enormous platter of long cooked pork with corn tortillas.

I could not replicate the sunny warm day in this cold damp spring that we are living through, and the view from my house though actually very nice, is not quite up to the standards of San Francisco Bay, but I could try to replicate the pork.

I stole ideas from several different recipes and this is what I came up with. This served 8 people with a little left over for fridge picking.

4lb pork shoulder roast
1 lemon halved
1/2 cup of orange juice
1 onion chopped
6 cloves of garlic peeled

If you are lucky enough to have skin on your pork remove it for later, then place the pork in a large pot with the remaining ingredients and almost cover with water.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Vij's Restaurant

I don't think that there is any doubt that Vij's is the best Indian restaurant in Vancouver, possibly North America.  When he first opened up 18 years a go, I would eat there a couple of times a week for lunch. The food was amazing and cheap and Vij was always there greeting and serving and generally making everyone welcome. I went to Vij's restaurant this week for the first time in a while and it was as good as ever, and Vij was as welcoming as ever. I am afraid I did not take many or very good pictures, due to not wanting to embarrass my son too much.

We arrived at 5:15 and there was already a long line up to get in, Vij opened the door at 5:30 precisely and we all filed in.  We got a table for three, but we were near to the last table seated, the remainder had to wait until we had finished!  You can not make reservations and this was on a Wednesday night, it only gets worse on the weekend, but if you are willing to eat early it is worth the 15 or 20 minute wait in line.

My Father and Son both ordered spiced duck breast with fennel seed curry.

This cost $28.00 but the duck breast was very large and meaty, in the picture above several pieces had already been taken off the plate.  The duck was char grilled and still rare inside with the most delicious curry sauce and potatoes underneath.  I was jealous as this was very delicious, but they shared with me.  The food comes in serving bowls and everyone is given a small plate, so sharing is definitely encouraged.