Saturday, December 25, 2010


so this is christmas...

when you're jewish, christmas is just like any other day of the year, but with a few inconveniences, like, everything is closed. 
since everyone else is sipping hot cocoa and opening presents under a fir tree, we have to make due with whatever is in the fridge and giftless shame.
here is the lunch my bro and i prepared for my dad as a belated bday. we're good, simple folk.
middle eastern treats like tahini, olives, and zaatar with greek feta and spanish onion salad and toasted rye bread is the kind of cultural mash-up you can expect when the grocery store isn't open.

pineapple carrot cake with coconut cream cheese frosting.
(my bro is totally "famous on my blog")

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! (and jesus).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

my fave things

coffee that's thick, without any sweetenin',
muffins with crunch, to sink your teeth in.
yellowy cornbread, jalapeño, green onion,
these are a few of my favourite things!

ground coffee. boiled water. french press.
cornmeal. whole wheat flour. oil. egg.
baking soda. baking powder.
salt. honey. yogurt. creamed corn.
green onion. jalapeño pepper.
muffin tin. 350 C.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

apt pupils

i think women should know how to cook.
there. i said it.
i think men should know how to cook too, so don't get all "that's so sexist" on me.
it just so happens that i have two very clever and amazing girlfriends who have little interest in cooking and fall well below standard kitchen competence levels for their age group.
if you ask me, they would do really well if they only applied themselves.
a little remedial cooking sesh at my house will have hopefully unearthed a new passion for these ladies, or at least taught them how to make 3 things.

1. fruit & nut baked brie in a puff pastry shell. 
it's a rich looking appetizer (or dessert, if you're that way inclined), and it really only requires assembling already made grocery store items. easiest.
under my watchful eyes, friend one and friend two rolled out a square of puff pastry and chopped up some pecans and apricots, placed a wheel of brie in the centre of the pastry, and covered in pecans, apricots, currants, brown sugar, and a dash of cayenne pepper. they then wrapped it up by folding the pastry over top and brushed all around with egg-wash. in the oven at 350o C for 25-ish minutes. i'm giving them an A. but how can you really go wrong with those ingredients? 

oh, nothing to see here...

2 & 3. for the main course we made gnocchi (that fun to pronounce potato dumpling pasta thing) and a creamy shrimp and asparagus sauce.
gnocchi from scratch is a bit of a process, but fun to do when there are a few other sets of hands around. we made ours with a combo of sweet potato and regular baking potatoes and with whole wheat flour. the potatoes need to be boiled or baked before, then skinned and mashed. add the flour, egg, salt and pepper and you have a very sticky situation on your hands.
with floured hands we rolled tablespoon-sized pieces of the dough into individual little football shaped dumplings and then scored them with a fork for authenticity. we then boiled them in salted water for about 3-4 minutes.
group mark: A-. there were complaints about sticky hands, and inconsistencies in dumpling size, but great effort nonetheless!

the cream sauce was easy as. fresh garlic, thyme, rosemary, chili flakes and ground nutmeg in a hot pan with olive oil. then chopped asparagus and shelled shrimp. finally, whipping cream (my favourite-and fattiest ingredient) and sim simmer, who's got the sauce for my dinner?
ladies scored an A+ for jumping right in to pull the shrimpy legs and tails off!

for an overall grade of A, these gals passed with flying flavours!

whole wheat gnocchi from scratch.
believe in yourself, and you can achieve anything!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

keep warm and carry on

i don't want to sound like a broken record, but i hate winter. 
not because i don't like fluffy snow, or frozen lakes, or sparkley icicles. those things are all pretty cute. 
it's because in order to make snow fall, and lakes freeze, and water turn to stalactites, the temperature apparently has to drop to -28celcius and stay that way for like, a hundred days. and this is upsetting.
my only weapons against weather of that barbaric magnitude are; warming foods, subcutaneous fat, and animal furs. they're all necessary i tell you, but i'll stick to the least controversial.

when skinning a rabit pelt...just kidding. food it is!

carrot soup is a good way to start raising your core temperature and defrosting your fingertips. make it with lots of garlic, and spices like cumin, and heat from chili flakes. it'll warm you better than an electric blanket.
for the garlic croustilles, slice a baguette or whatever bread you have, brush with olive oil and freshly pressed garlic, and bake in the oven for a few minutes.

animal flesh is also pretty warming. i got this organic/local/well-loved, etc. piece of steak at a nearby butcher where the helpful young man behind the counter recommended clodhammer steak (also known as 'mock tender').

what i wanted: 
-to grill the meat (rare).
-to flavour with garlic, salt, and pepper.
-not to have to chew so much.
what i got:
-all of the above, and a more flavourful steak than other tender cuts.
-the meat is super lean.
-the price is right. clodhammer is cut from the shoulder (chuck), so it's not considered as fancy-pants as a tenderloin steak.

served up with: 'sour cream and green onion mashed potatoes' (baked with a parmesan crust), steamed asparagus with lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper ALL OVER.
and a glass of red. 

winter can kiss my fur.

Friday, December 10, 2010

let me entertain you

entertaining can be broken down into 5 vital components (in english, et en français):
-appetizers/hors d'œuvre
-main/plate principal 
and the most important of all -the draannkss
wow them with gastronomical delights in any language (you pretend) you can speak, but if you want your guests to leave with a REALLY good taste in their mouth, get them drunk.

here's what went down last night. i had some ladies over and this was our pre-theatre dinner. in return for a warm meal, my dinner guests were forced into becoming my blog-tographers. (thanks! the pics look great!).
inspired by hanukkah, i call it: the 9th crazy night. crazy GOOD!
exhibit a: grapefruit vodka martini with mini cheese puffs (puff pastry rolled out and filled with olive tapenade, capers, crumbled feta and grated cheddar cheese - rolled sushi-style, cut into medallions, placed cut side down on a baking sheet and topped with a little egg wash *would have liked a sesame or caraway seed on top, but had none. oh well.)

exhibit b: baby spinach salad with pomegranate and toasted pine nuts. dressed in a simple balsamic vinaigrette. (switch to wine - lots of).

exhibit c: crispy yukon gold potato latkes with smoked rainbow trout mousse and seared scallops - those are chive flowers as garnish.
the latkes are standard issue, grated potato, onion, egg and flour, fried and then baked for extra crispness.
the mousse was an experiment which turned out not too shabby. i blended smoked trout, cream cheese, sour cream, whipping cream, spanish onion, and lemon juice.
scallops were pan seared in butter and fresh thyme. 

exhibit d: les beignets avec strawberry jam and a dusting of icing sugar. ya, jelly donuts.
oh. so you think you've eaten donuts before?
think again. these aren't the cakey crap you get at your local coffee shop dive. 
these are airy, yeast-risen, still hot from the deep fryer miracles of life! (and ya, yeast is alive, yo.)
because i love these so, and i want you to make them, i'm giving you the real live recipe, straight from my safta's kitchen!

activate some dry yeast (1/2 tsp) in lukewarm milk (3/4 cup), then make a dough with white flour (2½ cups), 1 egg, a touch of sugar (2 tbsp), salt (pinch), butter (1 tbsp), and cognac (1 tbsp for you, and a glass for me..)
mix in a bowl. make a ball. cover with a towel and let rise until it's doubled in size. punch it down and let it rise again. roll it out to about 1 inch thick. cut into circles with a glass. (use a small cup for minis like these. fry in 2 inches of oil (i used rice bran, but canola will do) for 10 seconds on each side (they turn brown reaaally quick, so be prepared to flip 'em over). let them cool for a moment on paper towel and then serve with your jam of choice!

got it?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

green salsa & ham

as a youngster, i never really appreciated mexican food. my only exposure to it was through taco bell, and that stuff's just nasty. even my one trip to mexico in my late teens didn't produce any memorable dining experiences. too much rice, huevos, and beans. not enough good.
i guess there is something to be said about all the wisdom that comes with old age. the switch has flipped and i now know; mexican food is sooo super yum! (sage words). 

pulled pork takes some pre-planning since it needs to cook for 5-6 hours. i bought my pork shoulder in the morning and readied it for the long shvitz in the crock pot. 
- brown the pork on all sides in a hot skillet, then throw it in the slow cooker (set to high). 
- in the same skillet add chopped onion, garlic, tomatoes, jalapeño pepper, tomato paste, brown sugar, cumin powder, worcestershire sauce, and fresh lime juice. cook a bit, then add it all to the pork in the crock poterino.
that's either steam, or i'm mighty fast at pulling pork.
also, check out the circa 1960's crocker.

a quick 6 hours later, that pork shoulder is relaxed to the t's. 
with a fork, flake apart the meat into tasty, melt-in-your-mouth shreds. mmmmm.

next! you can buy salsa verde in the store, but then i might point and laugh at you. just kidding, i don't care. but if you want to impress someone by telling them you made your own salsa verde, then go for it, because it's super easy to make (as long as you have the ingredients and a food processor).

you will need:
tomatillos!! aren't they cute!?
two l's make a y.
these can be found at latin food stores. they look and smell like a large green cape gooseberry but they're tomato all the way.
remove the papery outer layer, rinse, cut in half and place cut side down on a baking sheet. broil in oven for 10 minutes (until tops are brown).
combine with a bunch of fresh cilantro, garlic, white onion, lime juice, pinch of sugar and jalapeño and zap in the food processor. refrigerate.
voila! green salsa.

the finale. corn tortillas with pulled pork, salsa verde, re-fried beans and guacamole. 
not the prettiest of foods. but so very tasty.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

morning glory

not to be mean to pancakes, but they are no more than a vehicle for transporting maple syrup into my mouth. 
having said that, i can trickily make my pancakes out of healthy ingredients instead of the usual white flour fluff, and it doesn't make a difference to my breakfast enjoyment levels. i bet even particle board would taste ok were it doused in that sweet ol' tree nectar.
this morning i made p-cakes with rolled oats, half a grated carrot, an egg, cinnamon, and 2 spoons of chia slime. (ya, chia. of the ch-ch-ch-chia fame). you can get chia (a.k.a salvia) seeds at health food stores and the directions for making the slime are on the back of the package but basically add water to a bit of the dry seeds and 'watch them grow!'. not like in the commercials where they sprout into grass, they just expand and make a gel over-night. it's really good for you. i swear.

i spooned a med. sized pancake amount onto a hot non-stick pan then cooked for 3 or so minutes on each side or longer because the carrots needed to soften the @#$% up.
i also made a berry coulis by heating up some frozen berries in the same non-stick pan. easy clean-up.

needless to say, the maple syrup was scrumptious.

double your pannies and make a stack.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

soup'a dupa

'tis the season to be jolly. and by jolly, i mean rotund.
the amount of shameless gluttony that takes place around this time of year warms my little heart. but it also enlarges my fat ass, and since i'd rather taste soft doughy rolls than have them on my back, i try to take days off between festive meals and have lighter and healthier fare on my 'off days'.

i made some beef stock in my slow cooker a couple of weeks ago and now it's sitting in murky anticipation in my fridge. 
bouillon, today is your lucky day.
all i had to do was warm it up and then throw some chopped kale and mushies in there. healthy supreme.
to trick my idiot stomach into thinking it was eating carbs, i threw a whole bundle of shirataki noodles in there. these noodles are made out of some kind of fibre. 
sure, they have a mouth-feel akin to chewing on rubber bands, but they also have like, no calories.

a hearty meal that will let me get back to business tomorrow. 
i won't lie, my idiot stomach wanted ice cream after, and i obliged.
what the eff? it's the holidays, after all!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

move 'strich, get out the way!

i've been horrible. i know.
to the three and a half people that read my blog, i sincerely apologize for my prolonged absence. i hope no-one went hungry.

a couple weeks back i found myself feeling rich in st. lawrence market. this is never good. it's the kind of sentiment that leads to buying ridiculous things, like more gourmet mustard than any one human being would ever need. 
(in my defense, i had a hard time choosing between 'sweet and smoky' and 'amazing maple'-so i got them both along with some other flavours for good measure). 
with the kind of money that would easily feed 2-3 families were i shopping in chinatown, i had acquired some fancy cheese, fancy olives, fancy sausage, fancy mustards, and an ostrich steak (fancy, i know).

the fancy dinner i made looked like this:

i told the ostrich steak about the pan. rarrrrrre.

this was my first foray into cooking ostrich meat, and i went into it much like i do with everything else in my life; ill-prepared and overly confident. it's tough. 
seriously. i had to chew, spit out, and re-chew, like a careful mama bird. except i was doing it all for myself. and i was eating a really big bird. 
not really. 
but the post dinner, TMJ induced headache was enough to make me swear off ostrich for good. 
or at least look up a recipe next time.