Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Adopt A Blogger #4 and Sugar Bush



Kristen from Dine and Dish started an annual event called Adopt A Blogger. We're now in our 4th year (time flies doesn't it) and Psychgrad and I are happy to participate in this event again.

Psychgrad already introduced you to our adoptive blogger, Ed, and his tasty chili recipe here. Now, I'd like to take my turn to formally introduce you to our adoptive blogger. Ed of Detroit Eats is an accomplished chef so I'm already gathering that we'll have more to learn than to mentor. If you haven't yet visited his blog, please do so; you'll find it both educational and inviting. I guess the name Detroit Eats gives away where Ed's from. It's nice to have a blogger friend whose location is reasonably close to me - about a 4 hour drive and we both live around the Great Lakes.

Ed and I wanted to collaborate on something we have in common as well as something that one might consider unique. Given the time of year, sugar bush was not only timely, but fun. You may have seen our previous posts about sugar bush from both Quebec and Ontario As far as I know, maple syrup production is only found in Canada and the U.S. around the Great Lakes. We've both decided to write similar posts about maple syrup, where it comes from and some ways to use it.

While at Sugar Bush my friend "S" snapped this shot and I loved it so begged to include it in this post. (well...didn't really have to beg too much).


This year we went back to the same farm we previously visited (i.e. the one from Ontario). Can you imagine the smell of a wood burning fire coupled with the sweet smell of maple sugar. It's pretty hard to resist.

I had to get a light amber and a darker amber. The difference is in the boiling. Although the sweet factor is the same, the depth of maple flavour is more pronounced in the darker amber.

Either one is especially delicious when someone is making pancakes for you and adding a cup of maple coffee to the mix.


I had some Canadian salmon at home and what better way to celebrate sugar bush than to make a maple glazed salmon dish. The recipe is for approximately 1 lb (.5k) of fish - I halved mine.

1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup light soya sauce
1/4 cup dark rum
3-4 Tbsp Maple Syrup (some use 1 1/2 - I like more)
3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
salt and pepper to taste (I eliminate the salt)

1. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil
2. Marinate the fish for 2 hours.


3. Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes


For those interested in seeing some of what it takes to bottle maple syrup - enjoy.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Oatmeal Raisin Chews


I think Katharine from Girl About O-Town may be single-handedly responsible for turning me into a lucky person. A couple of months ago, I won free tickets to a premier showing of Creation. Then, just last week, I won another set of tickets from a contest she was running on her blog to go see Greenberg. When does luck turn into greed?

Here's the preview for the movie:



The movie stars Ben Stiller, who plays an emotionally unstable, self-centred guy, with little direction, empathy for others and social skills. The film was directed by Noah Baumbach, who also directed The Squid and the Whale (a movie I really enjoyed).

Despite finding Ben Stiller mildly annoying in a lot of movies, I actually thought he played his part pretty well. In the end, though, I think this movie would be just as interesting as a rental or torrent download. The plot is pretty flat (perhaps intentionally so) and I found myself feeling pretty depressed about the interactions in the movie (not a negative critique of the movie -- but perhaps a deterrent for those looking for a light-hearted film). The preview gives you a good sense of the tone of the movie.

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I realized, just last week, that I had not posted one of my favourite cookie recipes. Well, let me remedy that. I made this a batch of Oatmeal Raisin cookies for some colleagues at work. Based on their reactions, I think they either really liked the recipe and/or really liked that someone brought in homemade cookies.

Oatmeal Raisin Chews
Mrs. Fields


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup quick oats (not instant)
1 cup (packed) dark brownn sugar (I use light brown)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, softened
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
8 ounces raisins (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 ounced walnuts, chopped (about 1/2 cup) -- optional

Yield: About 2 1/2 dozen without walnut

Preheat oven to 300 F.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt and oats. Mix well with wire whisk and set aside.

In a large bowl, blend sugars with an electric mixer set at medium speed. Add butter and mix to form a grainy paste. Scrape down sides of bowl, then add honey, vanilla, and eggs. Mix at medium speed until light and fluffy.

Add the four mixture, raisins, and walnuts, if desired, and blend at low speed just until combined. Do not overmix.

Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or ntil cookies are light golden and brown. Immediately transfer cookes with a spatula to a cool, flat surface.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Passover Cake and Kugel


Here it is, the evening before the first night of Passover which will begin at sundown March 29th and I couldn't have said it more aptly than Happily Losin It of Words & Weigh . I think it went something like "somehow Jewish housewives were left out of the freedom from slavery part when it came to Passover".

We've blogged about Passover in previous years here and here and both of these previous posts have been extremely popular consistently.

Today I'm preparing for tomorrow night's dinner and finished a couple of recipes that I think will be equally as popular. I happened to find a recipe on the King Arthur Flour site that looked pretty interesting. The important thing to note with this recipe is that if you use the glaze there is cream in it and wouldn't be appropriate with a meat meal.

Flourless Chocolate Nut Cake



10 large eggs, room temperature, separated
3 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
1/2 cup chocolate chips
heaping 1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar, to mix with the egg yolks
2 cups diced pecans, finely ground; OR 2 cups pecan meal
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar, to mix with the egg whites

Glaze
1 cup chocolate chips
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp espresso powder
3 Tbsp heavy cream

1. Lightly grease a 10" tube pan or angel food pan. For best results, cut a piece of parchment or wax paper to fit the bottom of the pan and grease the paper. (I did this and it worked like a charm) Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. Separate the room-temperature eggs, putting the whites and yolks in separate large bowls.
3. Melt the two chocolates together, stirring till smooth and set aside. (note: best to do this over simmering water in a bowl to avoid burning the chocolate)
4. Beat the egg yolks till smooth and lemon-yellow. Add the salt and 2/3 cup sugar and beat again till thickened and lightened in colour.
5. Stir in the melted chocolate.
6. Stir in the nuts. They should be processed as fine as possible; they'll probably be a bit pasty.
7. Beat the egg whites and vanilla till foamy.
8. With the beater going, sprinkle in the 1/4 cup sugar, beating till soft peaks form.
9. With the mixer at low speed, gradually fold the whites into the yolk mixture, mixing gently till no streaks show.
10. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan.
11. Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes (mine took 45 minutes) till a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove it from the oven and set it on a rack. Loosen the edges and let it cool in the pan for 1 hour. Loosen the edges again.
12. Invert the cake onto the rack and prepare the glaze
13. To make the glaze, combine all of the ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl or saucepan and heat till the chips are very soft. Stir till smooth.
14. If the glaze isn't pourable, add more cream to thin it out. (I probably could have added more cream but as it's cooling and setting I can see it's smoothing out). Pour over the cake. It's OK if the cake is still warm when you glaze it.

Yield: 10" cake, about 16 servings.

My second find came from All Recipes . It's very quick and based on the reviews it should be a hit.

Matzo Apple Kugel



This dish can be served with either meat or dairy dinners. Can also be made ahead and cooked later.

4 matzo crackers, crushed
3 eggs beaten
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/3 cup applesauce (preferably unsweetened)
3 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries

For the topping:
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
(I used half of this amount)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C). Place the crumbled matzos in a medium bowl and add enough water to cover. Let stand for 2 minutes, then drain off excess water. Do not squeeze.
2. To the bowl of matzo, add eggs, 1/4 cup sugar, salt, lemon juice and applesauce. Stir to combine. Mix in the apples and dried cranberries. Spread the mixture evenly into a greased 2 quart casserole dish. Mix together the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top.
3. Bake for 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the top is golden and the apples are soft.

Enjoy!
To all our friends who celebrate this holiday - Chag Sameach!!! Next year in Jerusalem! StumbleUpon

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Roy's Restaurant in Rancho Mirage


I suspect most people have already heard of or even had the pleasure of eating at one of the 33 Roy's Restaurants . If you've watched Chef Masters on T.V. you may have seen him there as one of the contestants. If you've not heard of Roy Yamaguchi, pay attention to this post and make sure you create an opportunity to enjoy a dinner experience at one of his restaurants.



Born and raised in Japan, Roy moved to New York to attend the Culinary Institute of America, graduating at the age of 19. Roy was executive chef of several restaurants before opening his first restaurant in 1984.

Honored early in his career with the prestigious James Beard "Best Pacific Northwest Chef" Award, Yamaguchi has hosted six seasons of the PBS-TV show, Hawaii Cooks with Roy Yamaguchi seen on more than 300 stations in all 50 states, as well as in over 60 countries. Equally notable, he was a featured chef on the acclaimed TV Food Network program, My Country, My Kitchen which takes viewers back to his roots in Japan.

Yamaguchi has also published three cookbooks; Roy’s Fish and Seafood, Roy’s Feasts from Hawaii and Hawaii Cooks: Flavors from Roy’s Pacific Rim Kitche.

Since I'd already known about Roy Yamaguchi, how could I be there and not go for dinner. Our server, James, was charming, patient and had wonderful suggestions. Share my dinner experience with me.

One of my very favourite things that were packed with a punch. They lasted about 3 minutes in total.



Clever - now I definitely would like a martini... or two. I was moderately concerned about how sweet a Hawaiian martini would be but found myself pleasantly surprised that it wasn't over the top.



We perused the menu. You can have a look at it HERE

The Maui Wowie Shrimp Salad is wonderful as a starter salad and would be welcomed as a lunch entree.



Lobster Bisque was recommended by James (our attentive waiter). He told us it was his favourite. The bisque was flavourful and extremely light to the pallet. Again, I was surprised - my expectation was a heavier, creamy soup.



Have you tried Butterfish? I never had and now know how it gets it's name. The fish is entirely delicate and something you want to stay on your plate for a long time.




It was unfortunate that Roy wasn't at the location the night we were there. I mean, didn't someone tell him we were coming?? :) The atmosphere is low lighting with an open kitchen and fun interactive staff. At no time did we ever feel rushed to leave and our waiter made a point of making sure we were happy every step of the way. Top it all off with a really wonderful dining experience, I "get" why Roy's is a successful restaurant. StumbleUpon

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Quick Post About Knitting


I really don't know how I ended up being attracted to domestic activities. I almost want to find a hobbie to rebel against my domesticity.

domesticity [ˌdəʊmɛˈstɪsɪtɪ]
n pl -ties
1. home life
2. devotion to or familiarity with home life
3. (usually plural) a domestic duty, matter, or condition

Maybe it's time to plan a trip to a place that lacks familiarity with home life.

In the meantime, let me just give in and write about knitting.

Prior to taking a class at Workshop Studio and Boutique a couple of years ago, I was able to knit a basic scarf (not particularly well, mind you). Here are some the more basic patterns I've completed:



Since then, I've also taken on a few challenges (entrelac, colour work, button holes)



Probably the biggest challenge to date was taking on a Victorian lace design for my wedding shawl. It is always astonishing to me when I see people knitting lace shawls quickly and easily (like Wendy Knits). The shawl I knitted nearly killed me -- seriously, I was up until 4am finishing it the night of my wedding).



My most recent project was much less intense. This time, I learned my lesson -- when making baby clothes, make something that will fit the baby in a year. This time, I learned how to make pockets and pick up stitches for the collar.




It fits! With room to grow.



Update: No - this is not my baby. It's R's cousin's baby. StumbleUpon

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Restaurant Review: Molto Bistro & Cafe


I've recently read some articles critizing food bloggers who write restaurant reviews. I don't do a lot of restaurant write ups on here and now I feel even more hesitant to say anything about a restaurant. At the same time, I blog to capture subjective memories (good and bad) for my own keepsake. I also enjoy showing the world what there is to offer in my city (Ottawa) and the surrounding areas.

So - let me start with a disclaimer -- this is a post about my experience at a restaurant that I have visited once. I am your "average" restaurant goer who likes to cook and eat, but doesn't know much about food.

Having said that -- this is a positive review -- because I liked the restaurant.

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R and I went to Molto Bistro & Cafe recently. Molto is just a short drive across the Rideau River into Gatineau.

For those of you unfamiliar with the area, Gatineau is on the other side of the Rideau River from Ottawa, in the Province of Quebec (Ottawa is in the Province of Ontario). You can easily drive (or walk) across one of the many bridges that join the two cities. Many people live in Ottawa, but work in Gatineau (and vice versa). Here's a picture I took from just behind Parliament -- it'll give you a sense of the distance between the two cities.



Molto has a pretty hip vibe (do people say hip anymore?) with live jazz every Thursday and Saturday. Here's a view of part of the interior of the restaurant.


We shared a bruschetta and caesar salad to start (pretty traditional choices, I know...). I really enjoyed the tomato blend on top of the bruschetta. The balsamic reduction was an attractive addition to the plate.

I am a fan of their use of prosciutto in the caesar salad. Aside from that, the salad was pretty average.


R ordered the tagliatelle con pollo. After eating this dish, he reminded me that we should add peas to more of our dishes (the guy is crazy about peas for some reason). R often orders a cream-based pasta when at Italian restaurants because we never eat them at home (I'm moderately lactose intolerant, but cream is a killer for me). He was quite pleased with his dish.


I ordered seafood linguini (or linguini aux fruits de mer -- sounds better in French), which I really enjoyed. I would have preferred that the clam came in the shell, rather than de-shelled and mixed into the sauce. But, I was impressed with the ratio of seafood to pasta (lack of seafood in my pasta dish is a pet-peeve of mine).


We weren't aware that there would be live jazz. It was a nice addition, but being that it was a jazz-night, the restaurant was louder than we expected. Overall, we really enjoyed the meal. I would go back and recommend it to friends.



Molto Bistro Cafe on Urbanspoon StumbleUpon

Friday, March 19, 2010

Oven Roast Chicken al la Country Bob


One of the donors to the View and Review program with Bloggeraid-Changing the Face of Famine is Country Bob's . Based in the U.S. and distributed only in the U.S. I was itching to try this product. I was so excited when I found Country Bob's sauce in a local grocery store while in California so I wrapped them very carefully (you know I bought more than 1) and flew them back to Toronto.



I wanted my chicken dish to have somewhat of a bbq flavour to it without it being too spicy. Also, living in a condo has its restrictions, like firing up a propane or gas bar b que in the livingroom (fussy people), so the oven was going to be my friend.




Ingredients:

1 roasting chicken cut in 8ths
1/4 cup Country Bob's All-Purpose Sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup ball park mustard (dijon would be good too)
1/4 cup olive oil
3-4 Tbsp Soy Sauce
3-4 Tbsp Honey (I used buckwheat)
3-4 cloves minced garlic (more if you really really like garlic)
1-2 Tbsp spice of choice (I used Mrs. Dash which is an herbal mix or you could use 21 Salute)

1. Wash and dry chicken.
2. Place chicken in ziplock bag (large freezer size) and coat with 2/3 of the marinade. Let sit for 8 hours or overnight.
3. Prepare 9x11 or 9x13 pan; place chicken in pan.
4. On 350 F oven, bake for approximately 1 hour, turning half way to brown on both sides.

Verdict: I've made a similar oven style chicken before but the addition of Country Bob's Sauce absolutely took it to the next level. I won't be very happy when my sauce is all used up.



Rose of All About Cakes has shared this lovely fellowship award called Happy 101. I have to apologize that it's taken so long to acknowledge this award. Life just does get in the way sometimes.

So along with the award there are some rules.
1. Link to the blogger who sent you the award
2. List 10 things that make you happy
3. Pay it forward

10 Things that make me happy

1. My children Psychgrad and Actor Boy and their significant others.
2. The family I grew up in - my mom, 2 brothers and a sister and now my nieces and nephew.
3. My 2 dogs - my constant companions who love me anyways.
4. Picking apples in an orchard
5. Anything to do with markets
6. Charity work
7. Good theatre/movies
8. A day at the spa
9. the great friendships we've created and continue to cultivate in the blogging community.
10. no stress holidays

Who to share it with. Let me see. I think the maximum is 10 - how do I do that?

Psychgrad here (I'm butting in....) - I wanna play too. Here's my list of 10 things that make me happy:

1. Family (until they start to push my buttons) Note from Giz - those buttons are heat sensitive.
2. Exploring the world with R
3. Making things from scratch
4. Finding significant (and interesting) results when analyzing data
5. Connecting with friends (new and old)
6. Taking pictures and looking at old pictures
7. Making interesting/fun plans for the future
8. Helping people
9. A good workout
10. Learning new things

Ok - back to Giz's post...

In no real order and certainly not an exhaustive list;

1. Val from More Than Burnt Toast
2. Jeanne from Cook Sister
3. Ruth from Once Upon a Feast
4. Kate from Paved with Good Intentions
5. Ed from Detroit Easts
6. Happily Losin It from Words & Weigh
7. Joan from Foodalogue
8. Peter from Souvlaki for the Soul
9. Hopie from Hopie's Kitchen
10. Julie from A Little Bit of Everything

There are 3 newer bloggers in this list worthy of note and would love to have you visit their blogs.

Detroit Eats authored by Chef Ed is our adoptive blogger - you'll be hearing more about him but do check out his blog - packed with information.

Words & Weigh journalises and shares Weight Watcher tips and recipes. She's equipped to handle any questions you may have about the WW point system.

Julie from A Little Bit of Everything is Hopie's adoptive blogger which makes her our adoptive grand daughter. I'm sure you'll hear more about her and very soon. StumbleUpon

Monday, March 15, 2010

Scones




While away we called a friend who invited us for tea. She said "come over in half an hour". When we got there, there were fresh baked scones on the table. I couldn't figure it out - how did you get that done so quickly? She told me it's the easiest recipe ever and of course, I had to have it. From start to clean up - 1/2 hour.

What I particularly like about this recipe is that they're good second day - although I really doubt they'd last that long. Mine didn't even make it to a plate.

1 egg
3 Tbsp sugar
2/3 cup milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/2 cup oil
1 cup raisins

mix flour and baking powder together in one bowl

In second bowl mix all other ingredients; add dry ingredients to wet and mix together with a fork just until flour is incorporated.
(Don't over mix or they'll get rubbery)
Drop in heaping tablespoons to a prepared baking pan (I used non stick spray)

Bake in 400F oven for 15 min.

Note: You can add dried cranberries, blueberries, cherries or any combination. This is a fun recipe to make with kids - instant gratification.

Makes 1 dozen


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Friday, March 12, 2010

Chili


I recently had the opportunity to meet Don from foodiePrints, a local foodblogger. I've been following his blog for a while now and it has been a great source of information about food and the food scene in Ottawa.

It's ironic that I met him, since I was just thinking about his recent post on the "6 Classic Dishes Everyone Should Know How to Make", which orginated on Style Caster.

1.Chicken Noodle Soup
2.Meat Lasagna
3.Beef Stew
4.Roast Chicken
5.Chili
6.Chocolate Cake

I immediately started to think about my poor chili-making skills. Despite having resolved to include more beans in my diet, I still haven't developed a taste for beans (head hanging from defeat).

Then...things started to turn around. I got involved in Adopt-a-Blogger 4 (a hugely successful initiative by Kristen and Dine and Dish) and met my new adopted blogger!


Let me introduce you to Ed at Detroit Eats. Ed is a chef in Detroit who is passionate about good food. He recently started foodblogging and has hit the ground running.

Ed recently posted a Vegetarian Chili recipe that sounded interesting and seem like a good push for me to cook with beans.

Detroit Eat's Vegetarian Chili (or not so vegetarian if you add beef)


1 medium onion diced
2 stalks of celery diced
1 carrot diced
1 tablespoon on minced garlic
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 tablespoon Chili Powder
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 can diced tomato (14.5 oz)
3 cups vegetable stock or water
salt to taste
1 can kidney beans,drained and rinsed
1 can black beans,drained and rinsed
1 square bittersweet chocolate
3-4 tablespoon cornmeal


Sauté Onion,Celery,Carrot and garlic in vegetable oil for approx 2 minutes
Add Chili powder,cumin and Italian seasoning and continue sautéing until vegetable become translucent.
Add diced tomato, vegetable stock and bring to a boil.Then lower to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes.
Add both cans of bean and simmer for 15 minute longer.
Add chocolate square (for depth of flavour) and stir until melted.
Sprinkle cornmeal on the top of the Chili and then stir in well (used as a thickener and adds flavour).
Allow to simmer until thickened.
Serve with your favorite topping

PG's notes: I altered the recipe by adding 1 lb of ground beef. I also decided to use fresh beans rather than canned. I figure, go big or go home on the bean exploration. So, I soaked my beans overnight.


The chocolate does make for an interesting addition. Never would have thought of it.


Verdict: Good flavour, I probably will need to cook the beans longer next time. I'd like to try making this recipe again.

Pleast take a minute and go visit Ed to welcome him to the foodblogging community. StumbleUpon

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Experiences in Food


Whew!!! After being away for 5 weeks it's good to be home with a computer that actually works and the ability to download my pictures properly. A big thank you to Psychgrad who filled in during my absence. Psychgrad has already covered alot of the location and visuals - I'm looking at all the things I learned.

I saw a taco salad being served in one of the restaurants we stopped in to for lunch and decided that I would make one at home. While grocery shopping I found a handy box of soft tacos with a form to bake them on.



Worked like a charm - crispy, didn't go soggy and a snap to do. Sure, I could have made them from scratch but when company is coming for lunch in 45 minutes and you don't know what to serve, this is a winner. It can be any salad; it just makes it look more interesting.


While at the same grocery store I spotted something I'd never seen before - mini pineapples. They're about 1/4 the size of a regular pineapple and my head went immediately to how they would be a wonderful....number of things.


Canadians don't get to see citrus trees too often and it didn't take me long to feel like I was in a dream.


Not only were the lemon trees a huge big treat to see, the actual lemons are plentiful and HUGE!!!

Psychgrad's note: I hope the residents of Palm Springs didn't notice the lemons missing off of their trees. Apparently, Giz and Bugs Baba were on the loose.


The grapefuit, although you can't tell from the picture are both fine quality and double the size of anything we generally see in our local market.


On a day's excursion we went to see how dates grow. We found this delightful store that had everything dates.






We also got to watch a movie called "The Romance and Sex Life of the Date". No, I'm not kidding. To learn more check out Shields Date Garden. Yes, of course I had to buy the book :).

One of the nicest surprises for me was that Palm Springs is actually beautiful on both cloudy


and sunny days. It's just a different experience.

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