Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Barbecued pork tenderloin with herb butter

After a wonderful week at Naramata in the heart of the wine country in the Okanagan, we were lucky enough to prolong our vacation by one more night staying at my friends house in Summerland.  This is always an excuse to cook up a feast to enjoy sitting outside on a warm Okanagan evening enjoying old friends and wine picked up at the surrounding wineries.

This evening there was going to be 9 of us and I was picking up the food.  I chose pork tenderloin as they are lean and tasty and feed a crowd with out spending too much money.  The only drawback of pork tenderloin is that like chicken breasts it can be a little dry, so I decided to butterfly the tenderloins and smear with herb butter, to help keep them moist.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Monk McQueens

If I was going to give a prize for the best deck in Vancouver, Monk Mcqueens would come very high on the list. It is set over the water in False Creek and is extensive, my only complaint is that on a very hot sunny evening like the one that we were lucky enough to have there is no shade.  Even the umbrellas are not the kind that bend.  I really think they should invest in some bending umbrellas.

They advertise themselves as a fresh seafood and oyster bar and the menu is very heavy on the seafood with a few non fish choices. We had trouble choosing a wine, and when we finally chose one, we decided that we did not care for it. They very accommodatingly said that as this was one that they served by the glass we could pick another one at no cost. We wanted to order a couple of appetizers to share as a couple of party were not staying for dinner.  But there are not a lot of choices on the menu that lent them selves to this.  We decided on panko coated calamari $14.00 and tuna poke $15.00.

The calamari was crisp and fresh and served with tatziki.  This was good but nothing out of the ordinary.  The Tuna poke was in fact soy marinated tartar with avocado and won ton chips.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Grilled chicken marinated in yogurt

Marinating chicken breasts in yogurt helps keep them moist, and when you are cooking with skinless boneless chicken breasts you have to take all the help you can get to keep them from being dry. Since my husband is away for a week back east, I was cooking for myself and was trying to keep it lean, and so I bought two free range chicken breasts and had one for dinner and put the other in the freezer in the marinade for later.

I wanted to add some flavour as well as moistness so I used some garlic and herbs de provance.

For two chicken breasts.

2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons of herb de provence (or any other herbs you have on hand)
1 teaspoon of course salt
1/2 cup of plain yogurt
2 chicken breasts.

Combine the garlic, herbs and salt in a pestle and mortar or mini chopper.

Grind up to create a flavour paste.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Olympic mini cup cakes

At work we decided to celebrate the coming London Olympics by having our own mini Olympic games.  So what is more appropriate for a mini Olympics than mini cup cakes.

We organized 4 events, running relay, egg and spoon race, 3 legged race and shot put (with bean bags), there were six teams China, Romania, India, Philippines, Canada and of course Team Great Britain.

The event lasted about an hour and there was much hilarity as batons (bananas) were squashed, equipment failed (nylons tying legs together ripped) and sadly Canada and India failed to win even one medal. We put this down to Canada being really much better at the Winter Olympics and India's athletes were underfunded and lacked proper equipment (there nylons ripped). I am proud to say however that Team GB won the medal count, we can only hope the same is true at the larger games in London.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


For dessert for French Bastille Day day dinner clafouti was requested. Clafouti is a very traditional french dessert, usually made with cherries, but other fruit in season such as plums and blackberries can be used.  But we are in cherry season so we used cherries and in honour of Julia Child's 100th birthday on August 15 this year we stuck pretty close to Julia Child's original recipe.

Recipe for 6 servings

1 1/4 cups milk
2/3 cup sugar, divided
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour
3 cups cherries, pitted
powdered sugar, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350, combine the milk, 1/3 cup sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and flour. You could use a blender, but I used a whisk and a bowl.

Lightly butter deep pie plate or some other similar baking dish, and pour a 1/4-inch layer of the blended mixture over the bottom. Set remaining batter aside. Place dish into the oven for about 7-10 minutes, until a film of batter sets in the pan but the mixture is not baked through. Remove from oven (but don’t turn the oven off, yet).

Distribute the pitted cherries over the set batter in the pan. I have to say thank you to Helen for pitting all these cherries, we had to make two dishes and that was a lot of cherries.

Deconstructed ratatouille

To go along with the leg of lamb we decided to make ratatouille, but I wanted to use the barbecue to roast the vegetables rather than cooking them on the stove, so stopping me from slaving over a hot stove on a very hot day. I bought the mini peppers which are so prevalent here at the moment, they are so sweet and full of flavour, and I wanted to serve them whole. So we came up with the idea of just combining the ingredients that usually make up ratatouille and calling it deconstructed, which is very trendy these days.  Never let it be said that I am not on the cutting edge of food trends.

To feed 13

2 bags of mini peppers
1 large eggplant sliced
4 zucchini sliced
20 small tomatoes halved

First I roasted the mini peppers whole, until they were slightly charred but not too much.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

French style Barbecued leg of lamb

For the bastille day dinner, I had decided to cook lamb as the main protein and as there were going to be 13 of us I decided to cook leg of lamb rather than rack, for mainly financial reasons.  It was a very hot day, so having the oven on for any length of time was not on, so I cooked this on the barbecue.  As this is not a very French way of cooking, I used French flavourings and added a red wine sauce at the end, so that if fit the brief.

I deboned these legs myself, but you can buy them already deboned, or if you are lucky enough to be getting local lamb from a butcher, you could probably get the butcher to do this for you. I cooked to two legs and this fed 13 with a little barbecued chicken.

After deboning the legs I smeared the inside with a grainy dijon mustard and sprinkled on a thinly sliced garlic clove and a sprig of fresh rosemary and salt and pepper.

I folded the meat over itself enclosing the rosemary and garlic and trussed them up to hold it all together.

Frisée Salad with Lardons and coddled Eggs

Saturday was Bastille Day, so there was nothing else to do but throw on tablecloth from Provence and cook a french meal.  Helen from work and her husband were keen to have a traditional french meal with several courses including hors doeuvres, salad, soup, main, dessert and cheese.  So I tried to oblige, though due to the heat I nixed the soup. The first dish that we made was my favourite French salad, a warm salad with a poached egg on top.

We ended up being 13 for dinner, so poaching that many eggs all to be ready at the same time, seemed to be too hard, so we (Helen I think) came up with the idea of coddling in muffin tins instead.

This fed 13 but I will give ingredients for 4 as that seems like a more normal quantity. Traditionally this would have been done with just frisee lettuce which can stand up to the warm dressing, but we did add some other greens to stretch it out and that was fine too.

6 ounces salt pork or thick-cut bacon slices
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Butter to line the muffin tins
4 large eggs

1 head of Frisee lettuce

Cut the salt pork into small strips (lardons) and fry slowly until they have given off most of their fat and are crispy.

Just starting to cook the lardons
I am afraid I did not get a picture of the cooked lardons, but they were crispy and brown and swimming in the fat that they had given off.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Aroma Restaurant Port Moody

Aroma restaurant is my new favourite restaurant in Port Moody, and second only to Vj's as my favourite Indian restaurant.  It has taken over the space at 50 Spring Street in Old Port Moody that up to this point has been the home to one unsuccsesful restaurant after another.  Aroma has found the secret, serve really good food, friendly personal service and reasonable prices.  My Father and I went there a couple of weeks ago for dinner and I realised that though I have been there many times I have not posted about it, so I thought it was about time.

To start with we ordered shrimp pakora $11.95

These were lovely fresh plump shrimp marinated battered and deep fried they were very tasty, crisp and not greasy at all.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Garlic scapes

Garlic scapes are something that I have only been aware of for the last couple of years, previously I had them in a hummus that Connie made, where they were used very much like garlic.  They are in fact the tops of young garlic and are only available at this time of year.  when I arrived up at Pender Harbour for the long weekend, Nancy had already bought some and we were looking forward to experimenting with them.

On doing a little research I found that you could saute them like green beans, and so we decided to do this along with a little local spring green cabbage that Nancy had also bought.

1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
Bunch of garlic scapes, topped and chopped in to shorter lengths.
Bunch of beet tops, or spring greens or even spinach.

Heat the olive oil up in a large frying pan, add the garlic and just as it is starting to go golden throw in the scapes.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Egg baked in Tomato

I saw this idea on Katrina's Blog Daily unadventures in cooking and thought is was brilliant. I love eggs and there is not much better than roasted or fried tomatoes so the combination.  So on the long weekend we decided to make this for breakfast to replace or regular boiled egg.

This did make a brilliant breakfast dish, but actually I think it would make a good light dinner or lunch as well.

For 2
2 tomatoes
1 tablespoon grated cheese (we used Romano)
2 green onions chopped
salt and pepper
2 eggs

Hollow out the tomatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper, tomatoes really love salt and pepper, then place half the cheese in the bottom of each tomato.

Place the hollowed out tomatoes in to your baking dish and break an egg in to each one.

Sorry a bit blurry, but I can only blame the photographer

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sechelt botanical gardens

The Cottagers wife happened to be up on the Sunshine Coast on the long week end as well and suggested that we meet at the Sechelt Botanical Gardens for a guided tour.  Neither Nancy or I had heard of such a place But thought a guided tour would be great way to spend an afternoon.

When we arrived there was one other person waiting for the tour and so the 5 of us set out around the gardens.  The gardens are only a couple of years old, and still very much a work in progress, but interesting to walk around.  The land used to be a tree nursery and there were several trees left on the property some of them in rows as they were during the time of the nursery.  The trees have now grown up and in a couple of places created rather lovely avenues that they hope to utilize in the future.

 They have visions of wedding parties walking down the avenue to the Pavilion which is rented out for events and certainly would be a wonderful place for a wedding overlooking the gardens.

Inside the Pavilion

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Green and white salad for dinner on the deck

The first day of the July long weekend dawned with torrential rain and low clouds and I am ashamed to admit that we had breakfast at about 11:00 and did not get dressed until after noon.  We finally set out to the teeming metropolis of Maderia Park to hunt and gather for dinner and rent a movie for later.  At the liquor store they assured us that by 6:00 we would be able to enjoy a glass of wine outside on the deck.  Though at the time that seemed impossible her prediction came true.

At 6:00 we were indeed sitting out on the deck enjoying a glass of wine before dinner.  We had picked up some lovely baby back ribs from The Oaktree market and cooked them in a dry rub and finished them off on the barbecue.

Nancy made a delicious light salad with some spectacular local oak leaf lettuce also picked up at the Oakstreet market.

This made a salad for two.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Lemon Canada Cup cakes

When Nancy and I went go buy cup cake papers to use for the graduation cup cakes I spied Canada Day Cup Cake papers which came with little Canada flags.  Having made Jubilee Cup cakes in England, I thought it only fair that I should make Canada Cup Cakes for Canada's Birthday.

I like lemon cupcakes as the lemon flavour helps to counter the sweetness of cup cakes, and I really do not have a sweet tooth.  I made these to share with my department at work and so I made 18 exactly the right amount to give one to everybody and exactly what this recipe made.

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Zest of 1 large lemon (outer yellow skin)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup milk