November 2008


Food and Food: Home Cookin'18 Nov 2008 01:50 pm

I have never seen Meyer lemons in Edmonton. Traditionally a west coast fruit, Mike tells me they are very prevalent in southern California. Even in Vancouver at Granville market, we saw a stall selling them. I even bought a few to bring home, and Mike made an excellent lemon risotto with them.

Meyers are sweeter, less bitter and a bit more like oranges than lemons. Indeed, they are thought to be a hybridization of mandarin oranges and traditional lemons. They are a bit smaller than regular lemons, and their rind is a lot thinner.

Their sweeter, lighter flavour is better suited to baking; lemon tarts, lemon loaves and lemon dashed cookies, perhaps. Because I’m not sure when I’ll ever see them around these parts again, I bought a bag to squeeze the juice of out and freeze for later use. Perhaps lemon macarons.

Meyer lemons: $3.99 for a bag of 7 or so from Sobeys Urban Fresh. I got about 3/4 of a cup of juice from them, and they squeezed a lot easier than I thought they would (I once struggled with juicing tiny key limes for dessert bars.) I did let them sit for a few days, and warmed them up before squeezing in the microwave for a few seconds. This helps to coax any last drops of liquid from them.

I saved one lemon to enjoy with a San Pellegrino water. Although you can’t see it, I drank it out of a frosted monogrammed glass. My parents were going to get rid of some glasses engraved with the letter “Z”. I promptly rescued them and sip scotch or soda water out of them from time to time.

Another bonus to Meyer lemons:

…they make pleasant hats for kitchen frogs.

General and work (kinda)15 Nov 2008 10:47 pm

When I tell people where I work it’s natural for them to ask “oh, are you a writer?” I have no shame when I tell them I am not, but that I am “just” a desker and love my job.

The other day I really started to think about why I do not write and I think it’s two things; 1: I really dislike using the phone, and journalists are on the phone a lot. And, 2: This story, which I re-remembered after reading about it on my old blog archive (from 2003):

I had to interview the VP of Finance and Administration on the campus today about something I’m writing for our University newspaper. I get in early to see him, breeze through the interview, using the handy dandy tape recorder lent to me by the lovely News Editor, Jhen. I take the elevator up to the newspaper office, and as I step off the elevator, my papers and the tape recorder go flying.

The tape recorder sprung open, and THE TAPE WENT DOWN THE ELEVATOR SHAFT. I dropped to my knees and screamed NOOOOO! while shaking my fists at the sky and asking Maxellina, the patron saint of lost audio tapes, WHYYYYYY!

I was about to go all Matrix and retrieve it, but it just didn’t seem worth it.

No one lend me anything for the next few days. I’m gonna lose it. In other news, my toque is still MIA. Come home, little one!

I still miss that toque dearly every winter, by the way. The lost career in news journalism? Not so much.

General14 Nov 2008 01:00 pm

Does this look like a bear to you? It looked like a bear to me. Even though turns out it was not a bear, it was a llama, I still totally think it looked like a bear.

Let’s pretend it’s a bear, okay?

Food and Food: Home Cookin'12 Nov 2008 09:09 am

It’s November, so that means it’s hunting month. Every Saturday, Mike gets up before 4 to go out hunting. Or so he says. I think it’s just an excuse to eat Pringles and homemade baked goods.

This week, I made ginger cookies and dark and milk chocolate chip cookies for the guys.

In high school when people would bring beer to parties, I would bring chocolate chip cookies. And no one would laugh at me. I guess they were pretty good.

Turns out, they’re also considered pretty good around the newsroom.

Giant Soft Ginger Cookies

  • 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger, 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground cloves (freshly ground if possible)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup molasses (I used the highest grade fancy molasses)
  • 3/4 cup coarse sugar or granulated sugar, with cinnamon sprinkled in

Method

1 In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt; set aside.

2 In a large mixing bowl beat together butter with the 2 cups granulated sugar. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and molasses. Beat in the flour mixture, using a wooden spoon.

3 Shape dough into 2-inch balls using 1/4 cup dough. Roll balls in the 3/4 cup granulated sugar and cinnamon mixture. Place about 2-1/2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

4 Bake in a 350°F oven for 12 to 14 minutes or until cookies are light brown and puffed. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Store in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Makes two dozen 4-inch cookies.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (pictured here on the saucer beside a cup of chocolate dipped strawberry tea from Steeps)

Oh, who am I kidding. I’d never give that recipe away. 🙂

Food and Food: Edmonton and Food: Home Cookin' and General11 Nov 2008 09:30 am

These are some photos I’m not sure what to do with. Not enough for their own post, but still usable.

Worst shot ever of my brie sour cherry tart from Madison’s Grill. I always try to remember to take photos from review dinners, but always forget until dessert. Madison’s is a new favourite in town.

I tried to take a copy shot of some Halloween stuff for a giveaway at work. Sometimes I can do it with a point and shoot if our photogs are busy, but in this case not. Such cute stuff though! We gave it away to the best Halloween costume photo submitted.

Post-enchilada mess. I always try to take nice photos as I prepare a meal, especially if I intend on blogging it. This is sometimes at the cost of the food. I’ve burned vegetables, splattered sauces all over and overcooked pasta while taking a photos.  I also usually leave the post-meal mess around for an hour or so on the counter I’m not photographing on. When I take photos on the table, it’s because this kind of shit is on BOTH counters. Our kitchen is so small. 🙁

More unused review photos. We ate at The Hat, which is a hip burger bar that opened where the Silk Hat used to be. It’s owned by the conglomerate breathing life back into downtown, in the form of bars and pricey burgers.

Consensus: generally good. I’m sure I’ll like it until we eat at BLT or Stripburger in Vegas. Hudson’s is the fallback burger if my dad isn’t in town. His burgers are king. Hudson’s is merely the “champion.”

Looks like feathers, right? These are huge protea flowers. I intended to take a photo every day as they opened up, but they seem to be the worlds longest lasting flowers. A week later, and they’ve barely bloomed open. They’re still pretty though, and in today’s trendy colour combo: cameo & black.

Ugh. Finally one day last week I tried Sankyu for sushi after battling a craving for it. (Edmontonians take note, the west end location has closed due to a labour shortage) The sushi was amazing. So amazing, I woofed it down without taking photos.

I love udon noodle soup, and was hoping there may be a restaurant in town that makes it better than I can. This was their udon soup. It was promising; it came in two bowls, one for the noodle combo and the broth for dipping into.

Well, if you can call it broth; it was really just salty ‘miso’ broth (and a poor one at that.) Watery, thin and flavourless, other than heavy salt. A real disappointment. You can see I ate most of my bowl but touched none of the broth. I’ll return, but probably only for emergency sushi situations.

Food and Food: Home Cookin'10 Nov 2008 09:37 pm

I’ve been researching for the forthcoming trip to Vegas. Even after I said I wouldn’t. I guess the idea of going some place and missing out the best place for ____ item just drives me nuts. It’s kind of like wasting the airfare, actually.

Anyhow, I’m obsessed with Mexican cuisine. I think I’ve mentioned this once or twice before, actually. In any case, buoyed by Mike’s success at making enchilada sauce from scratch the week previous and armed with recipes from the Mexican menu maestro Rick Bayless (who provided recipes on his website free of charge, bless his soul) I decided it was high time for Mexican. Then maybe I could go back to reading reviews of taquerias in Vegas without drooling.

On the menu: Tortilla Soup, Pumpkin Seed dip (since Mike is always around scrounging while I cook, so I made this to keep him busy) and Tomatillo “Carpaccio.”

Yucatecan Pumpkin Seed Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of hulled pumpkin seeds (these are the plain green ones, no salt or shell)
  • 3 ripe plum tomatoes
  • ½ medium red onion, finely chopped (I used a cipollini)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 habanero chile, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
  • The juice of 1 lime (or ½ sour orange)
  • Salt

1. Toast and grind the pumpkin seeds. Set over medium heat and, when the first one pops, stir constantly until all have popped from flat to round, about 5 minutes.  Don’t let them darken past golden or the dip will taste bitter.  Pour into a food processor, let cool, then grind to as smooth a paste as possible, scraping down the sides several times to ensure even grinding.

2. Roast the tomatoes.  Spread the tomatoes on a baking sheet and place 4 inches below a very hot broiler.  Roast until splotchy-black and thoroughly soft, about 6 minutes per side.  Cool.  Peel and chop into ¼-inch pieces.

3. Finish the dip.  In a medium bowl, combine the pumpkin seeds, tomatoes, onion, cilantro and half of the chile. Stir in enough lime (or sour orange) juice to give the mixture a dip-like consistency.  Taste and season with salt (usually about a scant teaspoon) and more habanero if you wish.

Toasting the pumpkin seeds

Adding more smoky flavour by salting with “Just a Pinch” Salish red alderwood smoked sea salt, which I bought at Sobeys.

Classic Tortilla Soup

Ingredients

(serves 4-6)

  • 2-3 chipotle peppers (canned) in adobo. Rick Bayless suggests using 1 large dried pasilla (negro) chile, stemmed and seeded; I was lazy and did not want to stop at Sobeys for one pepper. The chipotle was a good substitution, but probably hotter than the original recipe.
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice (preferably fire-roasted)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 4-6 tomatillos
  • 1 roasted red pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 large epazote sprig (Bayless writes: “if you have one”. I have been storing some in my freezer for almost a year for such a use. I picked it up in Vancouver or Seattle, I cannot remember)
  • 4 (about 1 1/4 pounds total) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into ½ inch cubes (I used rotisserie chicken because I was lazy)
  • Salt
  • 1 large ripe avocado, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) Monterey Jack (Again, Bayless suggests cheese I have NEVER seen in Edmonton; Chihuahua, quesadilla or asadero)
  • A generous 4 cups (about 6 ounces) roughly broken tortilla chips (I toasted corn tortillas instead)
  • Large bunch of kale, washed and chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1 large lime, cut into 6 wedges, for serving

Directions

Since I did not collect my pasilla chile as I should have, I simply removed three chipotles from the adobo, and put them in a large bowl, using a hand blender to puree with the canned tomatoes. Three was probably a bit too many, next time I’m going to do two. This stuff was SPICY!

Heat the oil in a medium (4-quart) saucepan over medium-high. Add the tomatillos, roasted red pepper, onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 7 minutes. Scoop up the veggies with a slotted spoon, pressing them against the side of the pan to leave behind as much oil as possible, and transfer to the blender. Process until smooth.

Return the pan to medium-high heat. When quite hot, add the puree and stir nearly constantly, until thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, about 6 minutes. Add the broth (and epazote, if using.) Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt, usually about a generous teaspoon (depending on the saltiness of the broth).

Divide the avocado, cheese, kale and tortilla chips between serving bowls. I added the shredded rotisserie chicken at the last second, then ladled the soup into bowls. Pass the lime separately.

Rick Bayless has some other substitutions on his website that reinvents the dish into quick and easy, haute cuisine or vegetarian. Check out the original recipe above, linked in the recipe title. My changes include the chile used, and the addition of kale, roasted red pepper and tomatillos.

Cipollini onions, purple garlic and tomatillos being prepped.

Epazote

Pureeing the chiles and tomatoes.

While the soup simmered, I toasted corn tortillas. 20-30 seconds a side in a cast iron pan, turning four times. I liked them better than the packaged chips. Totally worth the effort.

And the smoky apartment!

Ladling into the bowls.

Yum!

Tomatillo and Tomato “Carpaccio”

This never got made after I realized how much freakin’ food I had actually made. I still have all the ingredients though, so maybe for lunch tomorrow.

Overall, the pumpkin dip was just okay. Superstore did not have any habeneros, and the pumpkin seeds never got really pasty; just more crumbly. Also, tomatoes suck anytime that is not July in Edmonton. I’d make this again…but only in Mexico. I prefer my guacamole recipe.

The tortilla soup was amazing. It was pretty easy to do, too. Rich, spicy and flavourful, with fresh ingredients layered in every spoonful. Tart lime, crunchy corn tortilla, creamy melty cheese with the added verdant vibrant kale.

I might go make myself a bowl right now.

General02 Nov 2008 11:09 pm

More from my Gran’s album.

I’m on the far left. I kind of wish there were more Polaroids.

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