Ah....the joys of the technologically semi-competent.
I FINALLY figured out how to make my blog wide enough to have larger pictures. Thank flickr for the hosting of the 500 pixel wide images. :)
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Friday, December 29, 2006
Woohoo! This is my fiftieth post on this blog! Thanks to everyone for all the comments and encouragement....I love that there are people from across the globe coming to visit here - in the last few weeks, I've seen that there are people from Australia, Madagascar, Turkey, all through Europe, Mexico, the US and of course fellow Canucks from coast to coast. There is nothing cooler than this. :)
SO thanks to all of you for visiting.
I actually have two posts worth of stuff, though I think I'll save half for tomorrow morning. :) Laziness, procrastination and all that, you know.
I've done so little this week that I'm almost ashamed of myself. I have spent so much time surfing the net, snoozing, drinking (yikes) and eating (even more yikes) and now I'm through almost an entire week of leisure with very very very little to show for it...
But it is lovely. And once things pick up again in January, I will at least have my week as a bonbon-crunching lady of leisure (à la Peggy Bundy, but minus the stirrup pants) to look back on with nostalgia.
I did at least make dinner tonight (for MPV type brothers) and it while it was a bit homey feeling, the taste was fabulous.
The first course was a very simple salad. I simply took baby spinach (gambling my life on US imported stuff...if I'm not back next week.....) and tossed it in my favourite purchased salad dressing - Renée's wellness balsamic fig dressing. This dressing actually tastes good and is relatively low in all the bad stuff. Two thumbs up. I then topped the salad with some thinly sliced pear (you could call me creative, but really they were just going to get too ripe and get moldy soon, so it was a choice of both strategy and desperation......). Drizzled with a little more dressing.
For the main course, I made my absolute favourite chicken pot pie recipe. In fact, before I tried this recipe, I actually hated chicken pot pie. To me, meat and pastry was just the most nasty match I could imagine. But then the Podleski sisters introduced me to an herbed biscuit crust. I was sold. You will be too. This recipe is that good. It's from Looneyspoons, which everyone should own. Several people have been kind enough to post this recipe on the net, so I invite you to check out "Starvin' Guy Chicken Pie." Yum. It's so full of flavour and so NOT gross...and it's relatively simple to make.
One thing I do try to do before I make any recipe is to have all the ingredients chopped and ready so I'm not scrambling like mad (though it still often happens). It makes for better pictures for you, less hectic kitchening for me and overall the only negative are the massive piles of prep bowls I end up with. I did the dishes tonight...eh...really....okay...maybehnoididntdothemyet...
I (as always) will confess to being lazy and just cooking it in my deep dish pan, but this recipe doubles easily, and once it's cooked, you can freeze it too. Once I've mixed in all the ingredients, I just flatten it down and roll out the crust to be best of my abilities. (my rolling abilities are minimal....perhaps even negative. No pics of the sad scraggly uneven edges for you!)
But at least I can flatten not too badly! Here's all the filling, just waiting for a crust.
Quick tip for those of you who don't think you have an oven-proof pan.....pretty much any pan can be made oven proof to 350F. All you have to do is cover the handles with foil. Don't cook at any higher than 350F, but for those times when you just really don't want to dirty yet another pan, this works quite well. Everyone should have a deep italian sauté pan with a lid. It's great for SO many things.
And here is the final tastiness, about 2 minutes before I scarfed it down. Yummmmmmah!
Enjoy. Have a lovely night, cook lots, and make sure you eat your fill before January 1!
It seems to run in my family that there is some deep down primeval force that makes us all big meat-eaters. Don't get me wrong, I love veg and vegan food and in fact, I'm planning a vegan week in the new year (in tribute to an awesome vegan blog - www.fatfreevegan.com) and as soon as I can get hubs to write me a little countdown script, I will plug 'er in here. :)
But in the meantime....it was a scrumptious roast last night. Sirloin tip roast is a very flavourful cut, but I think that had I planned ahead a little more, I could have cooked it much better.
I covered my roast in a yummy paste rub - 1 T olive oil, 1 T dijon mustard, 1 T brown sugar, 1 T bbq sauce, 1 T fresh rosemary, 1 T fresh thyme (sub 1/3 amount of dry spice if you don't have fresh), 3 minced cloves of garlic, 1.5 t sea salt and about 1.5 t crushed pepper (I just stuck it in a ziploc and whacked it with my meat mallet....too lazy to grind that much with my crappy pepper grinder).
This is the most heavenly smell - this paste roasting in the oven. Everyone should make this paste and put it on SOMETHING (grilled mushrooms, chicken, you name it!). It's that good. The smell as this roast cooks is absolutely intoxicating....I was practically drooling throughout the entire cooking time.
Which brings me to my next point. This recipe is shamelessly stolen from my fave book, Eat, Shrink and be Merry, "The Great Pretenderloin." I've never actually bought a full beef tenderloin, though I'm sure it would be delightful. At like $50-60 per kilo, it's just more than I'm willing to spend on a roast. My yummy sirloin tip was only $9 for 3 pounds (yay for sales!). So I followed the tenderloin cooking instructions (knowing, of course that my thicker roast would take longer).
But this cut is very particular - when it is cooked to medium or less, it is delightful. At well-done, it is shoe leather. I cooked this roast at a higher heat (like 400F after the initial browning at 450F). Initially, I had the roast uncovered, but once I turned down the temperature, I added about 3/4 c water and covered the roast to keep it from getting dry (is that smart? I'm not sure - I'm a total roastin' amateur!).
All this to say that roasting at a high heat will garner you rather uneven results (not necessarily a bad thing most of the time). So the outer ring of the roast will be pretty much well-done, while the inner part will be done to medium (it took probably about 55 minutes to cook to medium - I just used a thermometer and checked every 10 minutes after the half hour mark).
And it was good....but the medium "parts" of each slice were SO much more tender than the outer parts that I think the next time I cook this particular roast, I'll use a different technique. The previous technique (high heat) will be a good choice if you have people who vary in their preferences - i.e., people who like their meat well done (aka destroyed!) can have the outer slices, while those who prefer it more rare can have the inner slices.
BUT, if you cook the roast at a LOW heat for a longer time, you'll minimize the temperature difference between the inside and outside parts of the roasts - i.e., a greater proportion of your roast will be uber-tasty. From what I've read, I'd roast the whole thing at about 250F for a couple of hours (check after an hour, use a thermometer!) to get the whole shebang to the desired doneness. Yum. :) I'll do that next time I have that particular cut of roast - it's very flavourful, if a little bit tougher when it's more well cooked.
Gravy was super easy to make - I just used what was already in the pan (my thawed roast lost a hefty amount of water), added 3/4 c beef stock and about 1/3 c red wine, along with about 1 T of cornstarch and whisked away on the stove.
The potatoes were a HUGE hit with hubs, though a little less so with my little bro. I just love them - so pungent and unexpected with a roast - I did 7 yukon gold potatoes, boiled 'em, and drained. Then I added 2 T unsalted butter, 3/4 c. milk, about 1.5 tablespoons of wasabi powder, and about 1/2 t sea salt and whipped away.
As you can see from the photo below, I was completely and utterly lazy with my vegetables...yes, my friends, that is a frozen mix. I had broccoli and spinach, but just couldn't be bothered to actually cook them! So lazy....so sad....
WHat's worse though is that I kept on eating after dinner! The midnight hunger pangs sent me straight to the coffers of a pizza chain, who in turn went straight to my thighs. I don't even dare set foot on the scale. I can't even blame this on the holidays! It's just me being awful.
On the menu for tonight is a super tasty Chicken Pot Pie with a biscuit crust. Wish me luck in avoiding the midnight munchies. Thanks for reading! As always, feel freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee to leave me a comment - I love them! :)
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
But it's not working so well. Man, Christmas and the scale are just not good friends of mine right now! I really should just stop getting on the scale...my lovely hubby was so kind as to move it upstairs so I can now have the daily pleasure of seeing quantitative results of my overindulgence. Yikes.
In light of this new knowledge, I opted for a more healthy dinner attempt tonight - inspired from "Thai it! You'll like it!" from Looneyspoons - a peanutty shrimp pasta dish.
Here is my modified version....
1 pound package of rice noodles (I had medium width, about 5-6mm)
1 cup chicken stock
1 T sesame oil
1/4 c natural peanut butter
3 T low-sodium soy sauce
2 T rice vinegar
1/4 c sweet soy sauce (nam pla)
1 T hot pepper sauce
1/2 t hot pepper flakes
1 T fresh ginger, grated
2-3 garlic cloves, minced/pressed
1/2 t dried basil
1 large zucchini, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 carrot, sliced (was going to use 2, but got tired of chopping veggies, so passed it on to my two fat and happy rabbits)
1/2 c green onion, chopped
1.5 pounds cooked shrimp
1. Set hot water to boiling while you prep the sauce.
2. Combine the chicken stock, peanut butter, sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, hot sauce and pepper flakes in a bowl. Set aside. Chop/prep garlic, ginger and veggies.
3. Cook noodles according to package directions (usually about 4-5 minutes), drain and rinse twice in cold water to keep from sticking, esp. if your dinner guests are late like mine. ;) This comes together quickly so it's best if you have everything ready to go before you start throwing things on the stove!
4. Heat a dash of olive or sesame oil in a large large pan. Add the garlic, ginger and dried basil. Cook until fragrant (about 2-3 minutes). Add carrots and cook for another minute or two. Add the zucchini, green pepper and cook until desired softness.
5. Add green onion and shrimp - cook until shrimp are heated through, and then add your sauce. Bring to a boil.
6. Add noodles (I like to use tongs to add them in little piles throughout the pan - it's easier to mix this way than if you dump the whole lot in!)
To serve, garnish with some fresh coriander (or fresh basil). Yumminess. This was a little bit sweet, a little bit spicy and yummy peanutty goodness. Highly recommend.
I can only hope the orgy of Christmas consumption will end soon (all self-induced, I can assure you....as I sit here with my glass of 2001 vintage, a bag of skittles and a can of pirouline....)
So much for healthy dins, eh?
Anyway, my little bro is dropping by tomorrow so I'm planning a nice sirloin tip roast (um....yeah....hope it's tender-ish and not shoe leather-ish) and more wasabi mashed potatoes. Will update tomorrow with pics and reviews!
Thanks for reading! :)
Saturday, December 23, 2006
It's so sad that, while Christmas will often provide the best stories for a blog....it also leaves the least amount of time to actually write them!
I'm sneaking this entry in, because really I should be in the car again.....for another long drive!
I didn't actually cook much on my own this week - my dad's friend Pim kindly cooked for us 2 nights this week (yummy, yummy spicy Thai food!!!!!!!) and I joined my friends at a favourite restaurant the other night (Le Panaché on Somerset - highly recommend for classic French cuisine!).
On the upside, I finally got my tree decorated (with Pim) - here is a picture of one of the cutest ornaments. I love these little guys!
And I also survived my work hors d'oeuvres party.....have to say my stuff was a total hit! There was some tasty food there (including fabulous cheeses and pâté), but mine definitely stood up. ;)
I finally got to cook the cute little phyllo rolls I've been talking about and they practically vanished from the table. I had about 40 of them, and only 10 people at the party....there was only one left at the end! If you have the time to labour through the phyllo cruddiness, it's definitely worth it. :)
The other recipe that I guinea pigged my co-workers on was one for pumpkin pie wontons (posted in my recipe blog - check out my profile and click on the other blog - it's right at the top). These were very very easy to make (though the grocery store was out of actual wonton wrappers - so I made mine larger with egg roll wrappers). This kind of pastry gets two thumbs up - it's a lot more forgiving than the phyllo was.
They bake up nice and crispy (I brushed the tops with butter to give a richer flavour) and as far as baking goes, they are practically health food (a characteristic that I most likely negated through the use of copious amounts of spiced whipped cream......3/4 whipping cream, 2 T sugar, 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/4 t ground ginger - whip away and voila - everyone thinks you're a genius!).
Anyway, the filling just goes right onto the pastry
After which, you just moisten the edges and seal. Then, you brush the tops with melted butter, and add a sprinkler of cinnamon and sugar!
And then eat them all.....
I was lucky enough to finish work at noon yesterday, but do you think I could get home before 3? I actually ended up walking about 4 km of the 30 km trek, due to bussing crapiness. In high heels. With heavy Christmas purchases. I'm lucky I didn't break anything! We're actually approaching the one-year anniversary of when I destroyed my knee last year (in the same boots I wore yesterday).
For the courageous among you, click HERE to see what I did. If you're squeamish, don't click. There's still a nice scar.
Dinner last night was random pizza - I made whole wheat dough in my breadmaker, and then raided the fridge for potential toppings. :) We ended up with red onion, mushrooms, crispy bacon, old cheddar, parmesan and goat cheese. This was also quite tasty. Really, you can't screw up random pizza - you just add what you find in the fridge! It's a great way to use up remaining bits of peppers, onions or whatever you find. Even sliced baked potato is great on pizza!
Anyway, though I wish I could regale you with more stories, it sounds like hubby is almost done wrapping my prezzies (hehe - I'm banished to the home office in the meantime!).
Thanks for reading and a very Merry Christmas to everyone!!!!!!!!!! Give lots of hugs to everyone, call people you can't see in person and just celebrate!
Monday, December 18, 2006
I think it would be safe to declare the diasporic collaborative party effort a complete and total success. It honestly could not have gone a single bit better than it did. I mean, people could have eaten more food so I wouldn’t have as much still in my fridge, but overall, it was awesome!
After getting not-quite-enough sleep, I awoke early Saturday morning to make the trek down to TO. We actually left within 8 minutes of our scheduled departure time, which is both FABULOUS and very unusual and encountered almost no traffic, which was sweetness in itself over the four hour drive.
Since it was my mom’s 50th, we had a few surprises up our sleeves….the first of which was a photo shoot of the kids. So…..we had kids from O-town, Cornwall, Creemore, Burlington, Port Franks, etc. all gathering at a rather randomly selected park on the shores of Lake Ontario. Not only did almost everyone show up on time, but the pictures came out fabulous. My super talented hubby took about 120 pictures of us, almost all of which were great.
Now, the extra-fun challenge was getting nine of these pictures from RAW format into printed format, to be placed in the pre-purchased frame we wanted to give my mom later that day. While, hubby drove, I balanced the laptop (aka portable photostudio!) on my lap to both copy and go through pictures……in record time, my cute hubby adjusted and converted them (not while he was driving!) and we had them printed at the friendly neighbourhood Loblaws.
Slightly funny story – while we were sitting in the parking lot, trying to shield the laptop screen from the glaring sun (so we could actually SEE the pictures), we saw a rather unusual sight. There was a gaggle of Canada Geese (you know I’ve always wanted to use that word, eh?) kinda hanging out in the road leading into the parking lot. They seemed a rather conniving bunch….just standing there, watching traffic. I suspect conspiracy, because no sooner was there a break in traffic, when these fat fowl waddled their way across the road….effectively blocking traffic. They strolled and strutted their way across the road, oblivious to the honks and fists shaken in their direction. No sooner had they reached the other side, than they moseyed on back across the road, ticking off an entirely different group of drivers. The hilarious part was that one guy was obviously more into it than the others, because long after the others stopped, he continued to just hang out midroad, honking and hissing at those who dared question his presence.
So the answer to the question – why did the Canada Goose cross the road? Because he had nothing better to do and it seemed like a good idea at the time….for all I know, they’re still there, having a blast.
And for my non-Canadian readers (of which there are a surprising lot – super cool!), here is a picture of a reference Canada Goose….they are a very large bird and more like a pest than anything in cities. They take over parks and make a nasty mess of everything….
Anyway, hubs and I dropped off nine pictures, all of which you can actually check out on my flickr account here - PICTURE LINK!
THEN, we raced to the chosen restaurant to meet everyone else for an early dinner. Al Dente and their staff did a bang up job of serving the dinner. The food was wonderful (Italian style – not like you could have guessed it from the name…..) and I can’t say enough good things about how helpful and gracious and patient their staff was. Pickering readers – if you’re looking for a good option for a group dinner (or even a romantic evening), this place is great. As for prices….um…..I can’t comment, because I don’t know…..but the food was great! My brother’s girlfriend Megg did an amazing job putting together a slideshow full of pictures and after dinner we headed back to the house for food and prezzies (and of course, hubs had to deke out to go pick up our hopefully-printed photos and arrange them in the frame).
One of the funniest parts of the whole surprise was the food set-up. My mom, being a rather sharp cookie, knew that something was up. She didn’t know that hubs and I were coming up, and she didn’t know about all the people who would be at the restaurant, but she knew that such a great milestone could not pass by unnoticed. She also didn’t know that all these people were invited back to the house afterward (her house) for snacks and general good cheer. As soon as Megg and I got back to the house, we started ‘operation food bomb’. I brought in my cooler from the car and my mom’s jaw just dropped. As soon as I opened it and started pulling out tasty snack after tasty snack, she absolutely couldn’t believe that we had brought all the food you could conceivably imagine for a party. And if you think I’m bad….Megg was WORSE. My own jaw dropped when I saw what Megg brought up from the basement fridge (proclaimed off-limits to my mom the day before)……that girl probably baked like 7-8 different types of squares (in massive, massive pans), including two kinds of cheesecake, lemon squares, cookies, you name it, she had made it. I think we could have fed 50 people for a week.
So I also guess I don’t have to mention that we have just a *few* leftovers, and I’m quite bitter that people were so full that I didn’t even get to pop my little phyllo rolls in the oven! Ah well, I will freeze them and perhaps do something with them this week. ;)
We whipped back to O-town the next morning (not as early as we would have liked, due to somewhat over-imbibing on the aforementioned good cheer) and rushed around to clean the house for my dad’s arrival last night. Sadly, we discovered that our ailing thermostat had finally kicked the bucket and we couldn’t get the furnace to come on when we got home. Though the weather has been unseasonally warm, it also bears mention that my dad was accompanied by his lovely friend Pim, visiting Canada for the first time from Thailand. So the house REALLY needed to have heat. We zipped out and found a new programmable thermostat (so much for failed attempts to join the Peaksaver program and my (again) multi-talented guy got the house to a toasty temperature in record time.
Hubs made us his spaghetti creation for dinner (thoughtful sweetie that he is, letting me spend some time with my dad, whom I hadn't seen in months!), served with Caesar salad, garlic bread and red wine. Yummmy! Tonight, Pim is going to make some sort of thai creation for us, which I know will be awesome. Thai food totally rocks!!!!!!
Will chat with y'all later. Thanks for reading and I, in turn, love reading any thoughts or comments you have.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
(above - my fridge full of party food....)
I apologize loyal readers - I've been so busy lately that I haven't had a chance to do many things....cooking, cleaning and updating the blog right among them....
Today has been a REALLY long day, in every sense of the word....it's now nearly two am, and I'm still so wound up that sleep is seeming like a distant and shrinking horizon.
ANYWAY....the lowdown on the last few days....
1) Trip to Montreal. Tres cool. Enjoyed lovely dinners at both La Sauvagine (specializing in wild game - the lovely crispy confit de canard suited me to a tee!) and Vargas, where I enjoyed decent food, but mediocre group service.
2) Christmas extravaganzas and the like. Hubs' party was last night - loads of fun at Absinthe Cafe, where a brief encounter with the lovely green fairy resulted in me being a weeeee bit late stumbling into work this AM.
AND, of course, I am currently just relaxing a bit after finishing preparations for my mom's surprise birthday party tomorrow. Diasporic collaborative party planning is a bit of a new thing for me, but I'm so excited and grateful that there are others who are pitching in and organizing. I volunteered to do the savoury post-dinner munchies, and so that is why I am still awake at this ridiculous hour.....
I started planning my 'menu' long in advance, but apparently lack the foresight and drive to actually DO anything in advance....and of course, I start envisioning all of these crazy ass fancy things....only to realize at 1AM that I've absolutely had it and am on the verge of a second hiatus....(hence why I stopped in my tracks, and decided to relax in writing this entry).
So.....in the interest of keeping things relatively simple for me, I will be serving the following....
1) Cheese plate (with six types of cheese - danish blue, double crème brie, peppercorn chèvre, 2 year aged white cheddar, dill danish cream cheese and chocolate covered mocha cream cheese.....this will be served with kielbasa and calabrese sausage, as well as a selection of crackers and some antipasto.
2) Chips and salsa....MBR style. ;) You didn't think I was capable of just opening a jar and serving it, eh? Nah.....I made two types of fresh salsa - a pico de gallo and a tropical fruit salsa. (For Pico - drop a jalopeno in a running food processor, scrape sides. Add 4 oz of onion, quartered, and pulse a couple of times, to this add 1 pound of fresh tomatoes (cored and quartered), 1 T lime juice, sea salt, fresh pepper, garlic and a small handful of coriander leaveds....pulse 2-3 times to chop tomatoes). For the fruit salsa, similar - 1 cup chopped mango, 1 cup chopped pineapple, 1/4 c minced red pepper, green pepper and red onion, 1T lime juice, 1 t sugar, salt pepper and small handful of coriander. I have regular and blue corn chips for serving.
3) I made a balsamig fig chutney that will be served on baguette slices with goat cheese (another easy recipe - 1 small vidalia onion, 1 T EVOO, 2 cups finely chopped black mission figs, 1 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 cup water, 1/3 cup brown sugar, salt, pepper, 4-6 sprigs thyme. Saute onion in EVOO, add other ingredients. Let bubble for about 20 minutes (add water if it starts getting low during this time period) and then reduce liquid until it is almost gone. Chil)
4) And last, but certainly the most arduous pain in the butt of the bunch, I made phyllo tourtiere rolls, with a recipe that I stole from Chatelaine. Why do I think it's a good or fun idea to work with phyllo pastry? Sometimes, I really do question my logic....
Anyway, I made three dozen of the little suckers, but then was just too worn out to make more. I froze the rest of the filling and re-fridgefied my phyllo pastry. If they are actually tasty and edible (not too sure - hubs came up the stairs and proclaimed that it smelled like nasty spices....!) I will make them up to take to a work party next week. If they are awful, I will toss. :)
Here's a pic of how much fun I was having making up the little suckers....what a pain. "They" will tell you that phyllo is not a pain to work with. Do not believe this heartless propaganda.....working with phyllo will drive you mental. Just don't do it. ;)
Here is a pic of the pseudo-finished product (did I mention the party is 500km away, to be travelled tomorow at dawn? GAH.).
Because that's how much of a geek I am. Oh wait. I'm more of a geek than that. Seeing as it's my mom's party, and I wanted to try to make it a little bit fancier and nicer, I put my arts and craft skills to work (handicapped such as they are) and made these:
Actually, hubby informs me....HE made these. ;) I put him to work....all I did was cut. And uh, criticize....sometimes perfectionism can get the best of me....and I have to remind myself of the actual relative importance of what I'm doing (usually negligible) and just leave well enough alone. You know...the whole cooks/broth kind of thing....
On that note, I should probably haul my lazy, unmotivated butt off to bed. It's gonna be a looooooooooooooooooong weekend. And not in a good way. ;)
Saturday, December 09, 2006
So................I was all set to upload a pic I took of my kitchen's current state, but hubs wouldn't go for it. Something along the lines of airing dirty laundry and all that.
Though I argued that it was actually dishes and not laundry, it was to no avail. ;)
Most un-goddess-like tonight. I ordered in a massive pizza from Gabriel Pizza, drank nearly a litre of coke and did not clean a darn thing.
That said, Gabriel Pizza has, IMHO, the best darn north-american-style pizza in the city. If you want thick crust, tasty toppings, real ingredients, you can't beat Gabe's.
Will have to whip myself into shape tomorrow....I'm off to brave the insanity of the December mall. If I"m not back, it's because I've been arrested for going postal on my fellow Christmas shoppers.
Season's greetings, my butt.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
I admit it, I actually wrote this article for a class assignment, but I thought I would share, seeing as I am on a cooking hiatus.
Mageiricophobia, the intense fear of cooking, is not as rare as one might think. The bigger question is why, with the abundance of choice in grocery stores today, do so many people choose to gorge themselves on fast food. How is it that of males aged 19-30, only 37.9 per cent eat at home on an average day? And women aren’t much better, with only 43.1% opting to dine-in. Statistics Canada released a survey in July 2006 that revealed some rather shocking findings about the eating habits of Canadians.
Most of us eat too much fat, too much protein, way too much sodium and not enough veggies. But we all know that now – this isn’t exactly news.
As a nation, we are becoming nearly as wobbly and jiggly and lethargic as our southern neighbours. Is our addiction to fast food the root of all evil? Is the lack of food product labeling leading us astray?
I’d like to suggest neither.
Quite simply, our nation is getting “growing” because we don’t know how to cook. The sense of fear and panic faced by many in the kitchen is rivaled only by their total incomprehension of a standard recipe. The 19-30 demographic in particular is by far the generation that is the least ill-equipped to care for itself in modern history. Ask an average university student to make EasyMac, and you’ll probably be in luck. Ask the same student to make stovetop Kraft Dinner…and you might luck out with someone who has used a stove before. But ask the same student if they could make you some macaroni and cheese like mom did….and a blank stare is all you’ll get.
With out-of-control urban sprawl, by the time people get home from work, the last thing they want to do is make a healthy, wholesome dinner for themselves. These are people who don’t have the time or energy to cook, and even if they did have the inclination, they have zero skills in the kitchen. They are terrified!
Two sisters, Janet and Greta Podleski, have devised a delightfully clever solution to this problem. Their third cookbook, Eat, Shrink & Be Merry, is filled with jokes, wisdom, and very easy recipes. From start to finish, this cookbook runs the gamut of cuisines from Bangkok to Bangor. Filled with crazy monikers, ES&BM (as those in the know call it) is a no-nonsense, simple approach to healthy eating. ““If I can’t find the ingredients at my local grocery store, then I’m not putting them in the book,” says Greta, the inspirational genius behind the recipes. With such witty titles as “Lord of the Wings and “Flank ‘n’ Stein,” the cheesy sense of humour calms even the most apprehensive soul.
And her approach is winning over the mageiricophobics - so engaging that it has developed a cult-like following on the internet. One devoted thread on a popular message board boasts over 15 000 views and nearly 600 posts! Jess from London said “I don't really cook all that much and I found this very easy to follow.” Easy to follow indeed – the Podleskis are careful to gently introduce any unusual ingredients to the reader – from herbes de provence to making their own fresh bread crumbs – this book is a boon to the culinarily trepidatious. “I’m starting to think that this is the best $18 I have spent,” adds Jan from Milton, “I bought ES&BM last week and have honestly never been so excited about any one cookbook!”
Rarely has there been a cookbook so worthy of excitement. A valiant volley in the battle of the bulge, the Podleskis are to be congratulated for their dedication and absurdity when dealing with something that is no small matter. I can only suggest that you finish up with a decadent slice of “La Vida Mocha,” a decadent chocolate mocha mousse cake, that offers a mere 187 calories per generous slice. “Decadent and yummy” is the scrawled review in my own stained, sticky and well-evaluated copy.
You too can find decadence at any local bookstore, at a suggested price of $29.95 per copy (though it can be found for less if you hunt around).
Too much fun. Make your own here.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Italians totally have the most fun words for things. In English, we say shrimp. It's such an unpleasant word - on the one hand, you have this freakish looking sea creature that comes in all different sizes (from cocktail to jumbo). On the other hand, the human application conjures up images of short and stout people. Not a fun word at all. If you are trying to be posh, or have delusions of grandeur, you could always call them prawns.....but then everyone would just look at you like you were some kind of nut bar.
Anyway, I had a rather annoying day today (I seriously don't think I've ever been that annoyed before... and it was about the most ridiculous, tiny stupid little thing). I sense a lightbulb joke coming on.....gah. Anyway.
My annoyance stewed all afternoon, to the point where I knew that comfort food was most definitely in order tonight. I did a little brainstorming about my fridge/pantry contents and decided that pasta would definitely be the thing.
There is nothing quite so delightful as the perfect al dente pasta....the firmness of good pasta is one of my favourite things to eat. I find it very very frustrating to go out and eat pasta, because so many "restaurants" (yes, I'm talking to you East Side's) overcook it to the point of pointlessness and utter loss of texture. Yuck.
Anyway, I had to make a couple of quick stops on my way home (hungry bunnies and all that), and while I was at Bulk Barn (cheapest place for hay - who'da thunk?!?), I decided to treat myself to something new.
Aren't they beautiful? I've never actually bought real vanilla beans before, but I'm very excited to use them! That was my little treat to myself.....at $2/bean, they better be yummy! Or at least comparable to the real vanilla I smuggled through customs from Mexico.....
But on to dinner. WIth pasta, I decided that I wanted shrimp, and then it occured to me that we also had some bacon......and a plan started to form. The end result was absolutely delicious, though if I had more ingredients in my fridge, I would probably make sure to use things like fresh basil, and perhaps some green veggies for colour. But for an impromptu random dinner, this was pretty darn good.
Gamberetti Farfalle Carbonara
300 g farfalle pasta (bowties - and make sure to get decent pasta. Cheap pasta doesn't cook properly and skips the desirable al dente stage entirely. I like De Cecco or Barolli)
1 pound raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
4 slices bacon, chopped
2 shallots, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 red pepper, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes, drained (unless you want a really tomato-ey sauce)
1/3 c white wine
3/4 c chicken broth
1/2 t italian seasoning (I would sub about 1/4 c. fresh chopped basil if I had it)
parmesan, salt and pepper.
1. Fill a large pot with hot tap water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
2. Meanwhile, heat bacon in a large skillet on medium heat. After a couple of minutes (once bacon starts to sizzle), add shallots and garlic.
3. Add red pepper and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes.
4. Add drained diced tomatoes and italian seasoning, cook for a few more minutes. (at this point, your water is probably boiling - cook pasta according to package directions for al dente).
5. Add white wine, and chicken broth and bring to a boil.
6. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp is pink and opaque.
Serve sauce over drained hot pasta. Sauce is quite liquidy, so I recommend serving with a nice crusty bread to soak it up! Top with fresh grated parmesan (do not, I repeat, do NOT violate your food with canned Kraft stuff.....) and salt and pepper to taste.
I have so many leftovers in my fridge/freezer right now that I am now officially out of tupperware containers. Consider me on a cooking hiatus until the weekend.....
Thanks for reading!
The in-laws still love me. I think. :)
It turns out that sultry moroccan chicken, partnered with rich red wine and silky crème brulée are complete and total crowd-pleasers. I was still really apprehensive about the chicken last night, but it turned out to be super tasty. :)
My guess-timate of 40 minutes was perhaps a little bit long, so I would check it at 35 minutes in the future.....but I am actually really pleased with the final product. It looked aweosme, tasted awesome and totally blew them away.
I made up a couscous recipe to go with the chicken, and I thought it was a great compliment to the flavours and textures.
Orange almond couscous
2 cups whole wheat couscous
1 cup orange juice
1 cup chicken broth
1 T olive oil
1/4 c slivered almonds
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. raisins
1/3 c. chopped apricots
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. chopped coriander
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1. Bring juice and broth to a boil. Add couscous, stir, cover and set aside (away from heat). Couscous cooks instantly and is ready in five minutes.
2. In a large pan (or wok), heat oil over medium heat. Add almonds, and onion. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, add garlic, cook another couples of minutes.
3. Add raisins, apricot and fresh herbs.
4. Carefully stir in couscous (and make a huge mess on the stove in the process....or is it just me who has that talent....).
5. Stir in lemon juice, heat through. Voila!
Easy, quick, and would be great with many chicken recipes, as well as a lot of fish recipes. I can't really comment too much more on last night other than to say it went perfectly.
I know that one of these days, my guinea pig-esque experimentation is going to bite me in the ass, but seeing as the day has not yet come, I'll continue to whip up crazy concoctions on poor, unsuspecting guests. Muahahahahahaha.....
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
‘Twas not an easy task to drag my exhausted carcass out of bed this morning…..but I did it. And I also did a pretty decent job last night of getting things under control on the domestic front.
The house is in moderately presentable shape (could be better, but it has been, and usually is, so so so much worse) and as long as I can get home in time to do a little last-minute tidying, I think I’m safe.
To be honest though, I’m a little worried about dinner. I have no idea if my wacky pseudo-moroccan concoction will even be edible.
I’ll share photos and recipes, but I don’t advise running out to make this until I update with the results….it might be horrific!!!!!!!
Moroccan Chicken Wellington
6 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless (don’t accidentally almost buy the stupid ones with bones still in them – GAH hate when that happens!)
1.5 packages puff pastry (I advise PC Pre-rolled butter puff pastry – it’s both ‘pre-rolled’ and made with shortening – great on all fronts! You could always make your own but once you read how it’s done, you’ll probably want to buy it too)
6 oz log of soft goat cheese
¼ c mint leaves, chopped
¼ c coriander, chopped
2 T slivered almonds
2 T raisins
1/3 c tomato paste
1 T evoo
salt and pepper
½ t turmeric
½ t cumin
½ t dried coriander
1 t cinnamon
1 t balsamic vinegar
To make :
1. Thaw puff pastry.
2. Mix all filling ingredients.
3. Mix all paste ingredients.
4. Butterfly chicken breast (basically cut a slit you can spread filling into. It’s a little tricky and don’t worry if it’s not perfect. That’s why you wrap it in puff pastry!)
5. Spread filling on breast
6. Close breast, baste with tomato paste mixture. Place on ½ sheet of puff pastry (you may need to get a little creative with wrapping/rolling out puff pastry to make it all fit.
7. Wrap up breast in puff pastry, sealing edges as best you can. Brush with eggwhite
8. Here is where the guessing starts. In looking at other recipes, I probably should have browned my chicken beforehand…ah well. I’m thinking this will probably take about 40 minutes at 375F. Most other recipes call for 25 minutes at 400F, but since my chicken will be both cold and raw (though I will de-fridgify when I get home), I think a longer time at a lower temperature would be best to make sure the chicken is cooked and the pastry isn’t burned. I will start checking at 30 minutes, but I think it will take longer than that.
In addition to this Moroccan-inspired mess, I also made crème brulée yesterday. I didn’t end up going with the recipe I linked to, though I did get the rosemary sprig idea from them and shamelessly stole it……
Here is my recipe:
Ginger Rosemary Vanilla Crème Brulée
3 cups whipping cream
¾ c sugar
1-2 sprigs rosemary
2 T chopped fresh ginger
1 t real vanilla extract
7 egg yolks (I’m seeing an egg-white omelette in my future…..)
sugar for caramelizing
1. In a medium saucepan, combine cream, sugar, rosemary and fresh ginger. Just bring to a simmer, and then continue to just barely simmer for another 10 minutes to infuse flavours.
2. While cream is simmering, have a fabulous time separating the eggs (only lost one yolk!). Beat with a whisk until a teeny bit frothy and smooth.
3. Strain cream mixture into a measuring pitcher (normally I’m lazy, but you really do want to strain this).
4. SLOOOOOOWLY add some of the hot cream into the egg yolk. It’s very important to just add a little at a time, because if you give the yolks a blast of hot cream, they will immediately coagulate and you will have chunky, scrambled-eggy crème brulée. Yuck. (Been there, done that, for the record!). Slowly add a stream of the hot cream to the eggs, whisking the whole time.
5. Once you have added all the cream, stop whisking (bubbles are bad, though I still ended up with a whack of them).
6. Preheat your oven to 325F.
7. Place your ramekins in a glass pan (I use 9X13). Pour the cream into the ramekins (this will fill 8 smallish ramekins, or 6 bigger ones). If you are picky, skim off the bubbles. If not, add enough hot water to the pan to go halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
8. Bake for about 35 minutes – you want the outsides to be set, and the insides to jiggle like jello. Don’t overcook or the aforementioned scrambled-egg texture will appear.
9. Cool (out of the water) at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight, covered.
10. Before serving, take them out about a half hour before, to allow the custard to warm back up a bit. Sprinkle the tops of the crèmes with white sugar (about 1-2 teaspoons per).
11. Give each custard a blast with the blowtorch, until the sugar is lightly caramelized (but not dark brown – that is burnt!). The tops will become crispy, and allow your diners to do the delightful spoon-crack, à la Amélie
Anyway, I still have a lot of stuff to do tonight – I got lazy in my veggie choppin’ and only chopped the carrots. I still have peppers and zucchini to chop….hopefully this will be edible!!!!!!!
Wish me luck, and thanks for reading! :)
Monday, December 04, 2006
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, once again my slothly procrastination has come back to bite me in the behind. Whereas last night I really should have been busying myself with matters of domesticity, I didn’t.
I did not…
…make rice and beans for dinner (as I had planned)
…do the dishes
…fold my laundry
…clean the kitchen
…clean the rest of my house
…vacuum the bunny cage (they are starting to get pissed – nothing worse than an angry rabbit!)
…ordered Chinese (and accidentally ate a whole chili pepper from the crispy beef….good one MBR….)
…watched a movie (a stupid, but enjoyable one)
Therefore, I will now have a very busy night tonight because I have a kabillion things to do. I now have to clean the entire house (hubs has hockey and I owe him one because he gave me a drive this morning), plan tomorrow’s menu, prepare tomorrow’s menu…..yikes.
And this is all my own doing, the eternal domestic un-goddess. Must pull self together in best pseudo-goddess form for tomorrow. ;)
I think I have a menu in mind at least. Since the dinner I thought to have next week is not going to happen any time soon, I still wanted to bring in a Moroccan-inspired menu (to my meat, potato and vegetables inlaws….I’ll keep it mild).
What I’m thinking:
- boneless chicken breast, wrapped in puff pastry, stuffed with chevre and dried fruit and slivered almonds, and slathered in a Moroccan tomato paste. This is my own creation – I think it will involve tomato paste, fresh garlic and ginger and coriander, some turmeric, cinnamon, and cumin. Something about stuffed/pastry things is always impressive, even though it’s not terribly challenging.
- Couscous cooked in orange juice, with raisin, almond, apricot and OJ
- Stir-fried veggies with chick peas
- For dessert, I thought I would do a honey-rosemary crème brulée
The make-ahead tasks for tonight - stuffing and wrapping chicken, chopping veggies, making the crème (the brulée aspect is done tableside with a blowtorch - always impressive!). Tomorrow, I'll just have to throw the chicken in the oven, and cook the couscous. Not too shabby!
On hand, there will be wine, but I think I’ll skip the salad and just have something simple as an appie – veggies and dip I think. Any suggestions? Is this too wacky for m-p-v eaters?
Hopefully all goes well and I don’t faint from exhaustion because it’s definitely gonna be a late night tonight. Thanks for reading! Will update tomorrow….
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Yum, yum and more yum. Dinner last night turned out really well, with plenty of food and fun to go around. The now-infamous beet soup was even better than I could have imagined. I followed the recipe pretty much exactly as written, though I did add about a teaspoon of vegetable bouillon, because soup without salt is not really a soup worth enjoying. I doubled the recipe, and had more than a little “fun” in trying to peel the roasted beets – my fingers are still a bit purple, but last night, I actually looked like an accident victim….yikes. Apparently, roasting and peeling veggies is miserable regardless of what veggie you’re roasting.
I thought I would also share a few tips on cleaning leeks – these guys are a little bit pesky when it comes to cleaning. If you just wash the outside, you’re likely to end up with a gritty soup (and who know what that grit really is…..) because leeks are literally full of crap. A few years ago, I read this method of cleaning leeks and wanted to share….
1) Cut off the root, and cut off the dark green parts, so you’re left with just the white and pale green portion.
2) Cut this lengthwise, so you know have two long half-leeks.
3) Chop into ¼” wide pieces (give or take – most recipes call for chopped leeks like this).
4) Put the chopped leek in a strainer and give it a really, really good rinse.
This method gets rid of all the grit and crap and leaves you with tasty leeks, ready for consumption.
Another aspect of this recipe that I loved was the slightly unusual seasoning – rather than more typical Italian herbs, this recipe incoporated a little bit of exoticism by adding some allspice and ginger (I subbed fresh because I was out of dried, and I just prefer fresh for most applications – baking excluded). I also used marjoram instead of time (because I had it). And because I was just having way too much fun in the kitchen, I arranged it all and snapped a pic for y’all.
And last, I have to say that the colour and flavour and presentation of this recipe more than surpassed my expectations. It was a brilliant fuschia (you absolutely have to use whipping cream in this recipe – skim or other lower fat product wouldn’t have the whitening (pinkening?) power. It was so gorgeous in the bowl, I almost didn’t want to eat it. I used low-fat sour cream to drizzle over the top. I just put it in the corner of a plastic baggie and snipped a tiny little hole – the smallness of the hole, partnered with the velocity of the sour cream made a kinda fun squiggly effect. I garnished with a sprig of flat-leaf Italian parsley. The flavour was milder than I would have thought, given the rich colour. There was a definite beet flavour, but the creaminess and the celery balanced it nicely. I liked the hint of allspice, and might even consider adding a touch of cinnamon and cumin in the future. Very tasty. Hubs didn’t mind so much – he ate most of his little bowl. I wrote his name with the cream, and this had the desired effect of guilting him into at least trying the dreaded beets….
The main course was Hungarian beef goulash…..planning-wise, I’m sure I could have done a little better – this was more of a stew than I had anticipated, so the beet soup and goulash is not a combination I would serve to guests, though each dish on its own is pretty good. I loved the loads of paprika in this recipe, and thought it added a touch of fun to it. In retrospect, I would add some garlic, and also perhaps some parsnips to deepen and vary the flavour of the finished recipe. Perhaps using hot or smoked paprika would also change the depth of this.
Not so great, however, is the condition of my poor pot at the end of all this – not sure what I did wrong, but I ended up with a thick layer of burnt crustiness at the bottom of the pan. Going to have a TON of fun getting that crap off. Meh. My other issue with the recipe is the fact that it calls for 1 T of tomato paste….I know that technically this stuff is now available in tubes, but I’ve yet to find it. I really want it, because it felt so wasteful and ridiculous to throw out the remainder of the tin this morning (yeah, I know, Martha would have frozen the remainder in ice cube trays or some other nonsense, but keep in mind who’s writing this….hahahaha).
Anyway, here is the recipe for the Hungarian beef goulash, with my substitutions and suggestions in parentheses. Recipe modified from one-pot cooking, which is a british book, with wacky british names and measurements….tons of fun for the Canadian cook!
Hungarian beef (pork) goulash
100 g butter (I used 1 T olive oil….like I’m going to use a quarter pound of butter????!)
900 g beef topside, cut into cubes (not sure what top side is, but I used 2 pork tenderloins)
450 g onions, chopped (I used 2 large onions)
50 g paprika (I guess-timated 3 T)
50 g flour (again, guess-timation of ¼ c)
1 T tomato puree (which I’m assuming is the tomato paste that I ranted about in the previous paragraph)
2 L beef stock (I didn’t use quite 2 litres)
225 g carrots, peeled and cut into chunks (used half a package of baby carrots and halved them)
450 g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (didn’t peel – fibre is good for you!)
Chopped parsley for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400F. Heat the butter in a large heavy pot, season the meat and add to the dish. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Add the paprika and flour, mix well and place in the preheated oven, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and mix in the tomato purée. Reduce the oven temperature to 350F. Add enough of the stock to cover the meat. Bring to a boil on top of the stove and season.
Cover with a lid and return to the oven for 2 hours. After 1.5 hours, mix in the chopped carrots and potatoes and cook for another 30 minutes, or until the meat and vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with chopped parsley to serve.
Last, I just want to say that my photos will soon be getting much better – my lovely hubby has agreed to build me a light box, so I’ll soon be able to take much prettier pictures.
Now, I better get cleaning because my in-laws are coming for dinner on Tuesday, and I have a first-class messy disaster to be rid of…….I’ve even noticed my rabbits start to write “dust me” with their little paws on the floor of their pen…….yikes.
Thanks for reading!
Saturday, December 02, 2006
I had such grandiose visions of an incredible meal last night…but life being what it is, sometimes the best plans go a little bit awry.
No biggie though – we still had a great meal, somewhat according to plan, and we consumed so much tasty wine (and a little that wasn’t so tasty) that it really doesn’t matter.
The trip home was a mite more time consuming than anticipated….the snowy, rainy, pellet-ty insanity being what it was…..we finally sloshed our way through the door at close to seven.
Set to work on tidying the kitchen, but that lovely beet soup of which I spoke yesterday just didn’t quite appear…..I opened up the fridge to take out the beets (which I had been checking on regularly since I bought them a couple of months ago)….only to discover that they had finally come to their sad fuzzy end. Had to throw that bag out, and with it went all my hopes of purple soup.
Hubs was ecstatic. I was all set to make a potato leek soup instead, but he decided he didn’t actually want soup anyway. So I didn’t make soup (bought beets today, am making beet soup tonight – beets are in the oven as we speak…he doesn’t get off that easy).
We had shrimp ring instead….yum.
I did luck out at the store and they had Dungeness crabs in stock….it turns out that my shellfish squeamishness runs the gamut from lobster to crab (inclusively), so I gratefully took up the ‘fishmonger’ on the posted offer to pre-cook the little dudes (I just can’t handle killing my own food….you might make a veg out of me yet!). Anyway, we brought them home still warm. Cool.
Hubs kindly volunteered (or was he voluntold….) to crack and shell the crab (again a task I just cannot handle….) and I altered the recipe somewhat to suit our tastes. Rather than roasting crabs in shell, I made the sauce mostly as directed (it’s yummy – you should try!), and added the shelled crab meat right to it. I couldn’t find any fresh thyme at the grocery store, and so substituted marjoram, which was more than adequate. Yum! And last, we’re not big fans of orange flavour with any sort of savoury dish, so I just squeezed some lemon juice onto it. LOVED it!
This is what resulted
Hubs and I delighted in sharing this sweetly delicate dish over a round of sourdough bread. As is per our usual wine (mis)pairing, we enjoyed this dish with Jackson-Triggs Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc, a perennial favourite of ours. I think the taste was likely enhanced by the glasses, but it was awesome nonetheless. The subsequent bottle of Meritage from the same vintner was also excellent.
But onto the pièce de résistance…..the delicious chocolate pots de crème…..these were incredible. It is the richest, most decadent chocolate dessert you can imagine. I followed the directions pretty much to a tee (see previous post for link to recipe) and it was perfection. The ingredients are so simple, yet so insanely explosive in your mouth…..I used Lindt 70% dark chocolate bar, and would recommend a similar level of chocolatude to other fellow chocoholics.
It’s so rich that a small serving is more than enough (I made 3 pots instead of the 2 the recipe called for and could still only finish half of mine…reduced cooking time to 27 minutes and they were perfectly done). Whoever discovered chocolate must have envisioned that it would be worshipped in such a fashion. Yum. Looking forward to splitting the last little pot with hubs later tonight.
The last bottle of wine we opened (yeah, I know…2 people, 3 bottles….) was Naked Grape Cabernet….this was gross. After the other two bottles of J-T (which, while tasty, isn’t exactly pricey or overwhelming), this tasted like home-made half brewed piss. Gross. That’s how bad it was – after TWO bottles of wine (the point where you would normally bring out the plonk so that you don’t waste good stuff on drunkards), this still was unfit for MBR consumption. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. I poured the rest of it down the drain this morning, after I enjoyed my MUCH deserved cup of dark roast. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm….that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.
Dinner tonight will be the infamous beet soup (will try to recreate the heart in the epicurious picture….hopefully it goes better than previous attempts….), and then a paprika pork goulash….slowcooked in the oven with shallot, carrots and potatoes. Will be accompanied with salad (which I also didn’t make yesterday) and wine.
Will update tomorrow with recipes, if food is worth sharing….
Thanks for reading! Love the comments…….. ;)
Also - Happy Birthday Dad! :)
Friday, December 01, 2006
A momentary spark of light in my eternal domestic struggles has now been overshadowed by yesterday’s horrific transgressions against all that is real food and proper nutrition. The last couple of days have been terrible, food habit-wise, influenced in no small part by a busy spurt at work….it’s kind of a feast or famine job. When work is feasting, the workers are ‘famining’ and vice versa.
My system has been a bit wonky for the last few days, and that hasn’t helped either. Now, it’s also important to remember that I actually did have real food at my fingertips – on Wednesday, I had brought a bit container of homemade spicy chicken chow mein, so there was no excuse for the horror that was yesterday.
I skipped breakfast.
Lunch was two cookies (both white chocolate macadamia nut – the best cookie ever!).
Afternoon snack was two more cookies (one white chocolate macadamia nut and the other double chocolate).
Because I had a class after work yesterday, I couldn’t cook, but really, there is so much choice at the food court that I had no business eating what I did! I got an A&W teen burger, onion rings, chubby chicken strips (more like chubby thigh strips for me…..) and a diet coke. Which, of course, redeems the entire deep-fried, sodium laden artery blocking disaster.
Terrible. I would have been better off not eating! Okay…maybe not, I was getting woozy, but still. What makes people choose this fatty grossness instead of healthy alternatives????? I could have had a fresh sandwich, a nice salad, shawarma, teriyaki, etc. I could have had any number of things. But I didn’t.
I hope to redeem myself today. Brekkie was a relatively sane bagel with cheddar, lunch was the aforementioned prodigal chow mein and tonight is our romantic dinner à deux.
I browsed around through epicurious, looking for something that would be relatively quick to prepare. Also….I have to confess that I still have to do Wednesday’s dishes…..so dinner prep will be delayed by a few minutes while I clean (something I should have done Wednesday). The table is also a little worse for wear…..the flower arrangement from my dinner party two weeks ago has now come to a sad, yucky, fuzzy end (although the fuzz only came yesterday). Time for that to hit the dust.
Anyway, I happened upon a lovely Valentine’s menu for two. I know we’re nowhere close, but it sounded like it would be a nice treat for hubs and I. I was seduced by the amazing colour of the beet soup. Hubs hates beets. I bought beets a while ago. I’ve now convinced him that he won’t die if he tries to eat beets, so hopefully he will enjoy this soup! I love beets – the gorgeous fuschia colour of this soup is like nature’s middle finger to artificial colouring…(perhaps directed at me after the tomato soup incident two weeks ago….!) I’m excited. I’ll try to duplicate the heart, but we’ll see….I’m discovering that the key to having any shape stay is that the consistency of the drizzle must be congruent with the consistency of the soup. If it’s thicker, it sinks, and if it’s thinner….somehow it also disappears. Anyway, even if hubs doesn’t like it, the recipe only makes two servings, so I will lap up bowl 2 tomorrow.
The next course (the Dungeness crab) should be delicious. I’m going to follow their suggestion of a salad accompaniment….no tarragon in the dressing though. I despise tarragon for some reason or another. I just find it such an aggressive, icky flavour….though I know there are many who would say the same of coriander, which is one of my favourites! That said, I’m not sure we’ll be using Dungeness crab….as lovely as it would be, I might opt for something a little more economical….will have a looksee and figure it out then (perhaps scallops or jumbo shrimp would work). The bread will be a must, though I don’t have time to make my own tonight.
Last, the chocolate pots de crème sound delicious….very excited.
Will update tomorrow with pics. :)
* For the record, and before anyone points it out, I am fully aware that I stole this moniker from the brilliant folks at the Nutrition Action Healthletter - this is a great read, and one I should be forced to memorize after yesterday!