Thursday, July 17, 2008

the compromise

When it comes to deciding on a meal, I have to say, I have a hard time taking a decision... Give me a menu at the restaurant, and then wait. And wait. And wait.

Same thing goes for dinner. Every single day, to my boyfriend's grand despair, I ask: what would you like to eat? I can never choose or make a decision by myself.

(Just for the record, that is certainly not the case for the rest of my life! I know where I'm going... most of the time!)

Last night Simon said he wanted a big bowl of pasta. I felt like shrimp and scallops.
Et voilà, The Compromise!!

Very yummy pasta and watercress salad.

Fat spaghetti
Lot's of olive oil
1 Tbsp Sambal Olek
5 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 French shallot, finely minced
1 roasted red pepper (from last night's dinner!), diced
2 fresh tomatoes, diced
12-15 shrimp, cut in half lenghtwise
12 scallops
fresh basil and parsley

I started by softening the shallot in olive oil and Sambal Olek (adjust the seasoning to your liking... I put a very generous Tbsp, it was spicy!). Add the tomato and red pepper. cook for 2-3 minutes on med-high heat. Add the garlic. Make a well in the center of your saucepan, add more heat, let it heat, and drop in the shrimp and scallops. Cook for about 3 minutes, turning the seafood halfway. When seafood is cooked through, add basil.

I like to add my pasta to the sauce to be able to dose the sauce-pasta ratio better and I find it is nice to mix them on the heat. ( For some recipes I like to cook the pasta even more so that it is a bit crunchy.

Compromise is good.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

veggie bbq

I always complain about vegetarian stuff... but the reality is that we eat vegetarian a lot of the time. I believe I just often anticipate that it will be bland when I eat it elsewhere.

We were invited to an all veggie bbq not long ago, I actually thought I'd be blown away. But. No. Thank God we had no time to make food, we would have arrived there like aliens with our little fancy-schmancy creations!!!

I ate a quarter of a veggie dog. And starved until we got home. Blandness kingdom.


Tonight I did nice little polenta bites.
Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside.

Form little patties of polenta or buy that tube stuff. There is some nice organic one available and even some flavoured one (I bought plain to add my own seasonings...)

For a vinaigrette, I pureed with a hand blender some parsley, basil and oregano, garlic, sundried tomatoes, a bit of parmesan, pepper and olive oil.

I put the patties on the bbq, brushed them with the vinaigrette. Also put on the grill some roma tomatoes and portabello mushroom. Brushed those with the vinaigrette. Once one side of the polenta seems crispy, turn it over. Brush some more. Take out the mushroom and tomatoes, slice and put on top of the polenta patties. I then added some provolone and goat cheese. Yum.

We ate those with a nice chilled almond and cucumber soup.

And now, there is some strawberry rhubarb pie in the oven!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

red bean paste cakes

I have always had this fascination for red bean paste.
I guess some could call it an acquired taste.

Since I was about 4 years old, I've had deep cravings for gluten balls filled with the sweet paste.
Luckily, I live near the Chinese market and sometimes drop by groceries that sell some and indulge on the greasy little treasures.

I am preparing for a an event at work and there is a part that focuses on Asian bites. I wanted to do something with red bean paste, something a bit less heavy than gluten balls.

Thus, red bean paste cakes

Grease and flour a 9 inch ring mold.
Heat oven to 300F

250g red bean paste (about half a pocket)
a bit less than half a pound of butter, room temp
3.4 cup sugar
4 eggs
3.4 cup flour (I use pastry flour)
2 tsp baking powder
a bit of salt

In a stand-up mixer, beat red bean paste and butter until creamy.
Add sugar. beat until fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time until well incorporated.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt.
Fold in 3 part into the red bean paste mix.

Pour into the greased and floured ring mold.
Bake for about 50 minutes.

I cut little 'towers', but it can be served as slices too.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

tarte aux tomates

I think I did this tart for the first time about 10 years ago.

I remember applying for a job at this little hole in the woods...
It was far enough away from home, it took me a bit more than 1 hour to bike over.
When I got there for my interview, the chef was very surprised by my look; I didn't look a day past 16. It didn't match up with my experience.
She was very confused and admitted that she was just going to turn me down because I had too much experience for the job.

I begged for them to hire me.
I wanted to work in the country so bad, with nice produce that came from the field, not a truck.
So I had two jobs for awhile, working 7 days a week, city and country.
I did everything in this place - salty and sweets, breakfast, dinner, gardening, serving.
It closed down some years ago and when I saw the sign, my heart sunk.
I wanted to buy it so much...I was just short a couple hundred thousands!

I still do a lot of recipes from there. They served lovely salty tarts- mushroom, zucchini, tomato... They have lived on. A friend of mine has done this tomato tart in a restaurant where she worked too - it was a great hit. Her boss thought she was genius ;)

I did a tart this weekend for a meeting at work.
Bought nice heirloom tomatoes, fresh herbs, bread from art-is-in bakery.

Blind bake a salty tart shell.

Then, you will need:
fresh basil, parsley, bread (i use multi-grain), olive oil, garlic.
Pulse in a blender until you have a thick paste.

Shred some cheese:
I use mozzarella and sometimes a bit of goat cheese.
(in the zucchini tart, I love gruyere)

Cut your tomatoes in thick slices.
I like to slow roast them before I assemble the tart. Tastier and a less soggy tart.

To assemble the tart:
Rub the tomatoes in the herb mixture and layer with the cheeses. Hop into the oven until golden brown.


Monday, May 19, 2008

We're eating ribs baby!!!!

Oh so sorry, long time no post...
I've been blaming this on the yucky photographs.
It's not that I don't cook. I at least do lunch and dinner every day. Sometimes I even throw in muffins or cake in the morning.

Lately, I've been in test-mode.
Trying to actually measure out some things and this I will share.

But before I do, I just have to say, I did the most awesome little chorizo appetizer...
Dice and roast chorizo. Drain the fat. Mix the meaty bits with garlic, and an equal part mashed potatoes. Coat with panko bread crumbs. Fry.

Anyways, back to ribs. Boys like ribs.

I did not eat ribs when I was young. I did not eat much meat...Actually, I sucked the juices out and spit it back gently into my plate. Kinda gross. Then closed my eyes and wished for fruit.

My mind changed about ribs when I did some myself. Never was much impressed by what I ate elsewhere, and sometimes I closed my eyes when people ate them. Mom at Dim Sum, eating those tiny ginger ribs, ewwww. I think I was way less disgusted by chicken feet...

Ribs are on the menu for a thing at work in a few weeks. I am testing away.
This is test #3, and it is final. Heaven. Tears-in-the-eyes-of-the-boyfriend heaven.
One thing is for sure, Simon will marry me for food.

I marinate them the night before or the morning of.
Cook at 300F for 3 hours. Roast or BBQ at the end. Crunchy-soft goodness.
This is a lot of marinade, I bought a big big package of baby-back ribs.

3/4 cup broth (I mix beef and chicken)
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 hoisin sauce
1/4 cup premium dark soy sauce
2 Tbsp chili garlic sauce
1 Tbsp Chinese five spice (I grind it right before, use fresh, it tastes better!)
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped

Girls like ribs too.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Thursday's Lost Dinners

We had resisted the whole 'Lost' phenomenon for a long time. Then, we discovered surfthechannel and gobbled all the episodes at once, to our grand despair... Then, we bought a tv.

Our Thursday nights are now Lost Nights.
The purchase of this new tv coincided with the beginning of the 4th season.
A new ritual...The Feast.

I usually stop at a charcuterie and cheese shop near my work and load up on favorites and new discoveries... Then, go to the organic place and buy full of veggies. Our evening always starts with crudités and then we hop to the indulgence part.

The indulgence part this week was somewhat more healthy than cheese and meat...

Along with tzaziki, hummus and a lemon-green onion dip, we had lemony-garlic baby potatoes

Yummy yummy yummy parsnip bites

And spicy Chinese eggplant to roll in fresh pita.

The potato part is a must with Simon, just can't escape it. They take on a different for each week... This week was really straightforward: garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, lots of pepper.

Parnips were heaven. I've always been very fond of parsnip... When I was little, I asked my mum for 'carottes blanches' all the time (white carrots), I mostly ate them raw.

As I roasted the parsnip, I simmered some light cream with half a vanilla bean. Then mashed the parsnip with the cream and some butter, salt and pepper. Chilled it so that I could form little balls. Rolled them into bread crumbs and fried them. Yum.

The eggplant was sauteed with a lot of garlic and matchsticks of ginger, and sweet onions. Then I added yellow zucchini, mushroom, and orange sweet pepper. To finish, along with some vegetable broth, part of a chopped chili pepper, ginger-garlic sauce, chili garlic sauce and honey. It was so soft and perfect rolled in pita...

For the sweet ending: starfruit, fresh pineapple, blood oranges...baklava & maamoul.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

recreating a sinful risotto...

A couple of night ago, we were lucky enough to eat at one of the region's best tables. We also had THE best table, it was the one and only window table.

Since we had a gift certificate (from the best bosses in the world!!!), we decided to splurge and give in to the tasting menu, with the wine pairings. The third course was unforgettable. Butter poached lobster on risotto. Last night, I attempted to recreate a part of it...

I am not a fan of risotto. It has always been too mushy for me. Or too cheesy. Or bland. I've tried it many, many times to better understand why this has been a trend in the past few years... And now, I had to face it and could not escape. I will fear no more!

So here is my attempt. It was close!

1 1
/2 cup Carnaroli rice
1 cup white wine
3 cups chicken stock (I mixed with a bit of vegetable stock), hot
2 shallots, minced
3 Tbsp parmesan
1/4 cup finely diced celery
salt and pepper to season
good quality white truffle oil

In a shallow pan, sweat the shallots in oil (I used grapeseed, a habit from my workplace). Add the rice and toast lightly. Add the wine, let evaporate. Add the stock in small batches and let the rice absorb each time. When almost all is absorbed, add the celery, cook for 3-4 minutes, then add the parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with the white truffle oil.

We ate the risotto with speck and Sauvagine cheese stuffed chicken, golden beets, king Erinji mushroom and roasted fennel. The wine was Parallèle 45, a French Bordeaux. Yum.

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