Friday, December 31, 2010

Festive Vanilla Marshmallows

Hello wannafoodie readers! Caitlin here from northoftheforty-ninth.com. Some of you may recognize me from the wannafoodie header (I'm the one wiping my mouth in the stripes). I'm so excited to give you a peek into the marshmallow-making date I had with Christine last week! I wasn't sure we'd be able to get through making two batches of marshmallows in my teeny-tiny kitchen, but our mission was accomplished.

I was first inspired to make marshmallows when I was thinking of a Christmas gift to give the members of my book club. I wanted to make them something that they could drink or eat while curled up with a book on a cold winter night. Homemade hot cocoa and marshmallows seemed like my most adventurous bet. So, armed with my laptop, I set out to find the most manageable marshmallow recipe I could and I stumbled across this recipe from the Joy of Baking. The first batch went off without a hitch and I invited Christine over to make a second batch for stocking-stuffers. We decided to adapt the original recipe slightly using vanilla bean pods and food colouring for a more festive and flavourful feel.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Caramelized Banana French Toast


I loved making french toast when I was younger. It was wonderfully satisfying and delightfully simple to make. Something so decadent about it. That lovely custard sopped up by a previously forsaken slice of stale bread... vanilla and cinnamon... sometimes some nutmeg... some sort of fruit, if I was so inclined... otherwise a healthy smear of butter and dosing of maple syrup. Perfection.

The sheer simplicity of this breakfast favourite almost made (and makes) me giddy with excitement. It's almost laughable how stale bread, some eggs, cream and some seasonings can transform into a ~$15 brunch item at a restaurant. This past weekend's brunch at home reminded me how easily I could compete, not pay $2 a cup for my much-needed gallon of coffee and eat in my pajamas!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Poutine... (or gravy on the fly)

There are days when I feel completely less than virtuous as far as it comes to cooking... and certainly when it comes to eating. Oh yeah, these are the days where you just want to eat your stress. Or, eat your feelings as I joked to Amanda earlier today.

Ok ok... this is probably not how I should preface this little bit of tasty goodness. The truth is that eating broccoli doesn't always cut it. There are times when you need something unapologetically fatty or salty or sweet to satisfy that craving in your belly.

That said, I think that this is a slightly more virtuous version of one of my favourite stress-day indulgences... the glorious poutine. The fries are the baked fries from a few months ago... you can find those wonderfully squeeky cheese curds in any decent cheese market or deli section... and the gravy, while not laboured over while cooking a meaty chunk of something, is a step above a powdered version. Considering all of that, I will sit proudly, fork in hand, and enjoy every morsel of this satisfying treat.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Toothy-Grainy Brown Bread


When I said that I made a toothy bread and forecasted this post, I was asked -repeatedly- "what's a toothy bread?" It never even occurred to me that toothy would not immediately give images of a wonderful chewy, sink your teeth into it, dense, grainy bread. I mean, come on... why wouldn't you immediately follow that thought process?? 

I can't quite recall where I first heard the word "toothy" in relation to a bread of this sort but it was so apt, in my opinion, that I can't quite replace it.

Anyway, this whole bread-making escapade began when I was trying to figure out breakfast this past weekend. I've made bread and buns (cinnamon, mostly), so it wasn't a whole new path... but I wanted to make a nice, yes, toothy bread to have Eggies and Toast. I had no bread... I was sick and miserable... and winter had descended upon our fair city, so leaving my house seemed like an epic feat. I scanned the cupboard and saw that I had two packets of quick rise yeast. 

This is where you tell me that I'm crazy... when making bread seems to me to require less effort than taking the five minute journey to the market for a ready-to-eat, fresh made loaf. To which, I respond with, it doesn't require nearly the effort that you would think and that the smell of fresh baking (hell, even rising), bread perfuming your house makes it infinitely justifiable. Further, I abhor the cold and anything that I can do without leaving my house in a parka-scarf-mitts-hat-boots-combo (for something as simple as bread) will always be the easier option than the trek.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

wannafoodie at the Christmas Craft Sale!

In the few and far between free moments that I have had, I have been frantically baking and preparing for an annual Christmas Craft Sale. This Christmas Craft Sale is held over a Friday and Saturday in November in a lovely home in St Albert. And it just so happens that this sale is THIS WEEKEND!

(Pictured: wannafoodie doggie biscuits and training treats)

Here is a preview of some of the items that I will be selling at the Christmas Craft Sale (shared through the wannafoodie facebook page)! UPDATE: I just got home from the first phase of set-up and added photos of many of the other sale items. Even more items are to be added this morning! This really just 'isn't your typical craft sale,' as coined by Suz.

If you live in the Edmonton area, please do check out this sale. There are a great many talented artisans selling everything from crafted felt iPod holders to ceramics to crocheted wares to beautiful cards to natural cleaning products to jellies to beverage mixes and on and on and on and on... There is so much and it is all made by local craftspeople. Some items sell out on the first day, so try to be quick on the draw!

Here are the details:
Christmas Craft and Bake Sale
(click here for the facebook event and share with your friends!)
Friday, November 12, 2010 from 3:00pm - 9:00pm
and
Saturday, November 13, 2010 from 10:00am - 6:00pm

Located at 72 Greer Crescent in St Albert.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fries!!

Ummm... lots of potatoes around my house. And I'm addicted to fries.


Fries are awesome. But I can never bring myself to deep fry them in my house... that whole process is fussy and temperature specific and can be smelly and I can justify eating fries more often when if they are baked and not fried. (I probably just jinxed myself and will be writing something about deep frying in a few months... we shall see.)

BUT! They must be crispy! It is NOT worth eating a fry if it is a soggy mess... and these are not soggy messes of fries.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Super Duper Louise Potatoes


Look at that cutie. Yep, I am blatantly putting the most adorable, coyly smiling child in front of you in order to soften my absence. I'm not above that... not one bit. hahaha.

Really, I am sorry for being so AWOL. August was what August typically is - lots of drinks on the patio with friends (when we had nice evenings), movie nights, travel, dinners, walks, some bike rides after I bought my new bike (super functional with it's flower appliqués and white basket). With September came welcome house guests followed by overstay guests (a bathroom renovation gone long and a move to my mother's house), a wedding in Vancouver (big love to K&I), a fantastic holiday and celebration of my birthday and Rhi's (momma bear to this adorable little girl) in San Francisco and Las Vegas (big love to Dean, Jay and Rhi!), a move back to my house and an attempt to get back to my normal. And, all of a sudden, I found myself two months (+) later than the last time that I sat before you.

Ahhhh.... life..... how it gets in the way sometimes. And how I wouldn't change that one bit.

So, with the summer and the garden has come the abundance of potatoes and with that comes an abundance of potato eating... And the reason for the cute child at the beginning of this post. She was the Chef and we made "Super Duper Louise Potatoes."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Orange Chocolate Walnut Oatmeal Cookies

I tried to shrink the name of these cookies somewhat... but I certainly didn't shrink the ingredient list (though there was not one item on this list that required a special trip to the market). But, just like the Lemon Cranberry Pecan Oatmeal Cookies, these cookies have a lot going on.

I solicited a great deal of feedback before embarking on this next cookie attempt... and so many great suggestions came my way! The last batch of cookies was such a hit that I could not fathom producing a poorer version of cookie... or why not just make the first ones again and keep the taste-testers satisfied?! This cookie only changed slightly from what I had dreamed of in my mind (or my mental mouth as coined by Food Philosophy) but I'm already scheming on how the next one will taste. What do you think of a chocolate chocolate (cocoa plus chocolate chunks) cookie with chili heat?? Kirby and Cori seem to think it would be a good one... and I can't help but agree!

So, I go to share this wonderful cookie with you and discover that, in my reckless cookie making abandon, I completely neglected to take one photo of the finished product. I blame my excitement over getting this cookie into the hands, and mouths, of some important people. All hope was not lost though... apparently one lone cookie managed to escape all clutches and was squirreled away in a secret cache. Count yourself lucky that there are now photos of a cookie... and not a post-it note on a plate that reads, "a cookie was once here."

But before I get too far into this imaginary cookie-land where the possibilities are limitless, let's take a moment to enjoy this cookie... Orange Chocolate Walnut Oatmeal... yum.



Monday, July 19, 2010

Rhubarb Raspberry Syrup

A few weeks ago, I turned to the wannafoodie facebook page for suggestions on ingredients for which people wanted to see recipes. There were lots of suggestions... one of which was for rhubarb. As anyone who has a rhubarb plant can attest, it grows like a weed and often yields more than one family could ever imagine using. In fact, I only just finished using the last of the rhubarb, frozen from last year, a few months ago. I don't even have a rhubarb plant in my garden as I have four or five friends who would happily supply me with rhubarb anytime that it remotely crossed my mind... and sometimes completely unsolicited!

I was sitting in the backyard, enjoying an apple mint mojito, when it occurred to me that I should try a rhubarb syrup in place of that apple cider syrup that I had made. It seemed that I wasn't the only one thinking that way when I saw this beautiful dark purple blackberry verbena syrup. That sealed the deal! I had to have a pretty pink soda!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

#yyc bbq and #yeg dnr

Though the last few weeks have been filled with food and I haven't found myself in my kitchen as much as I would like, I wouldn't change a moment of it. There have been many great meals with many great people. I think this post is as much a homage to those great people as it is about some wonderful meals.
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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Grilled Pear and Mascarpone Tart

This actually started as an attempt at making mascarpone cheese (which was super easy and infinitely less expensive than the store-bought variety). There are few things in the world that cannot be made better with cheese. Alright, that may be a bit of an exaggeration but I'm okay with that. Cheese is awesome.

While I could sit with a bowl of mascarpone and a spoon and be a happy woman, I think that that would be a considerably boring post. I didn't want to make another risotto, so I wasn't going to use the mascarpone to thicken it. I wasn't in the mood for tiramisu. So, I went to the farmer's market in search of inspiration.

Inspiration came in the form of some beautiful red and green Anjou pears...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Cedar Plank Snapper

This is definitely not one of those meals that required sweat, tears and excessive labour over a hot stove on a hot day. Nope. Not one bit… well, there could have been tears (if things went worse than they did) but I’ll tell you about that later.

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The apple mint mojitos, grilled corn and this snapper come together in less than thirty minutes and seem wonderfully impressive. I guess this meal is here to remind me that I can eat tremendously well, even on the days when I stumble home from the office and my stomach is achingly empty.

The one thing that I apparently need to give a bit more than thirty minutes would be the cedar plank (despite the directions for thirty to sixty minute soak being ok). I soaked that thing for more than an hour. Either I had a ridiculously dry plank or someone decided to play a prank on me but I had one awesome fire! I was going to pretend as though that never happened and had already sworn my mother to culinary secrecy… but it was just too damn amusing!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Barbequed Corn

The simple way of putting this is to say, “here is some barbequed corn for you.” But it’s not just that.

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Grilled corn is the best. It’s sweet and savoury. It’s amusing and is something you eat with friends… otherwise you’ll end up humiliated as you ungracefully pick the bits of corn and seasoning that will inevitably lodge between your teeth.

So, instead of dropping this corn straight on the grill and letting it do its thing. Add three minutes to your prep and you will have an awesome flavour infused corn that will have you throwing caution to the wind and saying, “to hell with the bits between my teeth, I want a second cob!”

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Crab Salad... or Sandwich


It may have even been months ago now when the discussion of sandwiches came up on the wannafoodie facebook page. Sian described her favourite as crab-salad-on-fresh-crusty-bread. While it may not be your favourite, who's going to say that that doesn't sound appealing? Especially as the days grow warmer and longer, seafood seems to be in high rotation on many dinner circuits. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Solo Pancakes


Honestly, I call these my "single girl pancakes." hahah. I love a cozy Saturday morning filled with cup after cup of coffee and a plate of pancakes, butter and maple syrup. However, it seems like every pancake "recipe" yields about four trillion resentful pancakes that leaves you standing over the stove long after your love affair with that cozy morning has been abandoned. Alright... four trillion may be an exaggeration and, yes, you can freeze the pancakes but I don't need a bunch of sad pancakes hanging around in my freezer. I want about two pancakes or maybe four, if the night prior included one too many glasses of wine.

While a "recipe" for pancakes seems a bit unnecessary, I think that this is here to give you some smaller proportions. No math skills required to reduce a recipe, when your head is aching and stomach growling. Just a nice little portion for those cooking for one (or maybe two).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Quince de Mayo Macarons


I have been quite studious when it comes to learning and attempting to succeed (I'll work on mastering later) the art of macarons. I keep reading and scouring the net for resources, tips and tricks. These are such fantastically intriguing little sweets, I must say.

Here is my second attempt at macarons. This time, I had smoother caps and, again, feet! However a few of the macarons cracked... and I'm still trying to figure if they were overmixed (the ones that cracked were the last ones to be piped) or if they were too wet.

These macarons were made for the birthday of my sister, Beth. Coloured a bright green (her favourite), I named them "quince de mayo" as she was born on the 15th of May and filled them with dulce de leche, a further homage to Cinco de Mayo and Mexican independence. Small, sweet, decadent little treats.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Apple Mint Mojitos

Photo 018sm When I went to purchase the starter herbs for my little container garden, I could not find any regular mint! Pineapple mint, chocolate mint… ai ya. I wasn’t convinced. I just wanted regular mint. Then I stumbled upon apple mint and, while it still wasn’t quite right, I figured that that would be easier to use than something like chocolate mint.

As nine times out of ten, I seem to grab the mint for a mojito, I figured that this would be a good opportunity to try making an apple influenced mojito.



Friday, June 4, 2010

Marinated Beef Tenderloin

A few weeks ago, I decided that I was going to learn how to garden... well, sorta. I was going to learn how to grow herbs in pots. We all need to start somewhere and I figured that this would be a good place for, not to mention slightly more economical than buying packets of herbs at $3 and $4 every time a recipe demands.

I took an herb gardening course with my friend, Caitlin, which was decidedly unhelpful. The best part of that morning was the herb growing reference wheel (the take-away from the class) and the afternoon of coffee and rummage sale shopping (I snagged a beautiful old wooden chair for $5!) that followed.

Despite that, I was not deterred and purchased ten herb plants, two big bags of dirt and a pair of gardening gloves. I am now "not killing" golden sage, English thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, apple mint, tarragon, and English, French and fringed lavender. And, as of last Saturday morning, I added another fragrant (regular) mint plant to my brood.

All I seem to do is dream up ways of using these herbs that I am becoming exceedingly proud of. After catching a flash of Laura Calder making a marinated beef tenderloin, I couldn't help but think of doing the same.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lemon Cranberry Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

Or in short... this cookie has a lot going on. hahah. But each ingredient seems to enhance the other, as opposed to just muddying the whole taste.

I seem to crave certain things on dreary-rainy days... things with spice, a certain density and a bit of warmth. I dare you to put a sunny salad in front of me on these days. You would get a look. Forget it! I really shouldn't be so rigid... maybe my opinion would change with the right combination of ingredients and persuasion. In the interim, I turned to these cookies to add a reasonable amount of comfort to my day.

I am not without sunshine on these days though. The lemon and cranberry definitely brighten the nutty oatmeal base. Without these additions, I think this cookie would be much more dreary-snowy than dreary-rainy and that isn't the goal either.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Asian Marinated Chicken


Aside from a rudimentary stir-fry, I haven’t ventured far into the realm of Asian cooking. While not unfamiliar, the spices and flavours of Asian cooking are not quite so second nature for me when I hope for inspiration and spontaneous combinations. Maybe that is why it is equally fascinating… and daunting.

I have a cupboard full of Asian flavours that I have been collecting for a few years now and using sparingly, as I dabble but not jump into Asian culinary creativity. Sesame oil, fish sauce, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, tamari… and, as of recently, Chinese five spice. The arrival of the five spice on the scene was, apparently, enough to make me jump…

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dulce de Leche Buns


I have never experimented with bread recipes… I figured someone else configured those recipes because that is what works. And while that is true, it doesn’t mean that other combinations won’t work (or, hell, that these combinations haven’t been tried too). I wanted a slightly richer bread and I figured that using milk versus water would help… a bit of butter… and a bit of hope that it would all come together.

This dough rose perfectly. I was absolutely giddy when I peeked under the towel and saw a lovely puffy blob rising in the bowl. Forget waiting until after work to make these buns, I was going to be triumphantly carrying these into the office that same morning. Yep, I was beaming.

Dulce de Leche

I like simple things… and this is precisely that. For those who are unfamiliar, dulce de leche is a Latin American “milk caramel,” though there are other versions and other origins as well.


Bottom line is that this is simple and I like it. All you need is a can of sweetened condensed milk. While I was not so brave as to boil it unopened, it seems that I yielded the same ideal result from a slightly vented can.

Get ready to take notes! (Ummm… not at all, actually.) Take the label off of the can and open it just a crack. Put the can in a pot and fill with water, to about 1 inch from the top of the can. (It looked like the can was going to rust my pot, so I put the can on a bed of parchment paper.. you could probably also use a silicone can topper or an enameled pot. Just a thought.) Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and allow the water to simmer around the can for 2-4 hours (for a softer or harder caramel). I went with the middle ground of 3 hours.

You will need to top up the water throughout the process. And let the can cool (I just left it in the water until the next morning) before trying to handle it. Open the can and scoop out your beautiful caramel coloured confection. Give it a quick stir to remove any lumps but that is absolutely it. Presto: dulce de leche!

Now, what do you do with it?! I used it as a macaron filling and made dulce de leche buns (think cinnamon buns but with dulce de leche instead). You could make tarts. Or just use it as a sweety treaty spread on a piece of bread. Yum yum yum.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Baked Eggs

Last year, I went to Paris. I went to Paris to celebrate my good good friend’s 30th birthday. We walked and museumed and ate. So many of the highlights seemed to involve food, as seems to be the case with many trips. We had chocolat chaud and palmiers from Angelina (which means I brought back a bag of their chocolat chaud), we ate breads and fruits from the Marche (where I bought herbes de provence and chestnut paste). We ate pretty little cupcakes from Berko and many of my favourite crepes with calvados and apple compote. It was a dream.

In, what Parisians would probably liken to a cheap department store, I bought a pretty little ceramic tray for eggs and a cookbook, Petites Coquettes. My French lapsed after high school and seemed to have been overwritten by my Italian studies in University but I figured that food, as the universal language, would help guide me through this cookbook. The photos, the care and the simplicity of this bit of French food did… with a few toast “fingers,” baked eggs is one of my favourite morning rituals.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Works in Progress...

I have been toiling away in the kitchen. Rest assured. But, I've been enjoying a few of the simple things of late... and they don't really warrant recipes.

For interest's sake, I love a croissant. This last week, there were several toasted croissants with fresh ricotta and wildflower honey. And a nice espresso. Sometimes the simplest things are the most enjoyable. There have also been stacked sandwiches... full of real Italian mortadella, cucumbers, tomatoes and grainy dijon mustard. I'm also completely addicted to salads with toasted pecans, goats' cheese and either dried cranberries or plump blackberries.


I have also been working on a couple of recipes but I'm not quite ready to share them... here are the early stages of an awesome pizza...


 ...and a panko breaded buffalo chicken.



A few more tweaks and they will be yours!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Chocolate Macarons

I don’t know where the macaron craze came from but it seems like every blog that I stumble across has either recently or previously posted about these delightful little treats. I’ve always found macarons to be a stunning creation but, as with most fussy and complicated recipes, I was intimidated.

My strategy whenever I am faced with the unknown is to attack it with knowledge. I “hit the books”… or at least, the net. I read numerous blogs for tips, tricks and anecdotes (including one, MacTweets, dedicated to all things Mac). I read articles in food magazines. I watched youtube tutorials.

While I was certainly better equipped to deal with the macaron attempt, I was still quite nervous. However, there was little else that I could do but try… so try, I did.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Easy Peasy Turnovers

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Our plan was to make one of our old favourites, front stoop mussels, while drinking copious amounts of wine and eating nearly (if not completely) a loaf of bread while sopping up every last drop of the Cambozola infused wine sauce. It would have been awesome. Unfortunately, for Dean and I, the timing didn’t work out so well and front stoop mussels will have to have their shining moment another day.

So, instead of mussels, we opted for a simple and quick turnover. Something just slightly sweet but not too heavy. After all, Dean only comes to Edmonton once a year and needed his moment on the blog. :)

We’re not martyrs and did not make our own puff pastry, which I don’t feel is the end of the world. One day, I may attempt to make it… but at 9:00pm on a Friday night, it was not the time to try.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Asparagus Risotto

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Risotto is one of those things that is wonderfully malleable. You can take the basic risotto and add to it whatever ingredients you are seasonal… or are just plain being craved by you at that moment. Master the basic cooking process and you have a great launching pad for an impressive and satisfying meal.

Right now, asparagus is fresh, in season and available locally. You can’t beat asparagus in May. It’s not woody or tough but rather tender and bright. I will even eat it raw, sliced up into a salad. As such, this risotto is a homage to asparagus.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Lovecakes

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In this past week, I was faced with a tremendously important task. It was time for the preparation of a gift offered many many months ago. My dear friend Heather was married this weekend. For my gift to Heather and Marlon, I was going to make the “cake” for the wedding. Heather has always loved my baking and this just seemed like a natural extension of that… and such an exciting way to play a role in this special moment in her and Marlon’s new life together.

After much debate, we determined that cupcakes would be made and in the following flavours:
- Devil’s Food with Rich Chocolate Frosting
- Red Velvet with Buttercream Frosting
- Buttermilk with Maple Vanilla Frosting

The recipes for the Devil’s Food and Buttermilk cakes, as well as the chocolate frosting, came from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes book. (I just saw it at Costco today for $16… well worth purchasing.) The Red Velvet cake was written about previously when I did the first test run. The Maple Vanilla was a seven minute frosting to which I added maple and vanilla extracts. The buttercream is a recipe that I have been tweaking and enjoying for a few years now…

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Salted Caramel Fudgy Brownies

Photo 002smUmmmm…. speechless. Dubbed #sexonaplate… #foodporn… just plain good. My ever-obliging taste testers at the office swooned over these. “I would get fat for these.” “They’re rich… but not. I love the salt.” “…..mmmmm…..” Yeah.

Honestly, these started as an “I would like something sweet but not too sweet.” I love those salty-sweet combinations. It’s the best middle ground between the sweet and savoury war, which I wage internally on most every day. Yes, there are two distinct processes involved with this dessert but I promise that it is worth the effort. I made one 10”x10” tray of thin but still rich and gooey. I think that three times that many could have been eaten. The only things grateful, when the bottom of the container was reached and only a few crumbs remained, were our waistlines.

“I will make some man fat and happy one day.” Heads nod.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Foodie Crush: Last Night's Dinner

I have a crush... on Jennifer Hess and her blog, Last Night's Dinner. I only found her a few days ago after a twitter recommendation from @TOfoodie. Once again, I will praise twitter for adding another link to my #foodporn favourites.

Case and point would be her blog post today:
"I am a home cook. I’m not a writer or a culinary professional, I’m just a girl who works long days, comes home exhausted, and looks forward to sharing a meal with her husband. And whether he’s cooking dinner, or I am, or it’s a joint effort, by and large I want what we eat at home to be good, honest, real food, even if it’s just a simple bowl of pasta and vegetables."

It just seems so honest and wonderfully simple... as though what she is doing is the most obvious thing in the world. And it is just that - obvious.

Lots of photos... less on the recipes. While my own little bubble here is recipe after recipe, I truly appreciate (and subscribe equally) to her philosophy that there really isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to cook.

Anyway, add Last Night's Dinner to your own #foodporn list... or twitter @lastnightsdinnr

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Blue Carbonara

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If it isn’t obvious enough, some of my ingredients repeat themselves over several recipes for the simple reason of trying not to waste. This whole cooking enterprise could be infinitely more expensive if I were to be buying blue cheese or special cuts of meat or buttermilk or whatever else for each recipe individually. Instead, and more realistically, I made Blue Burgers, then crumbled blue cheese on a few salads, then decided to see if blue cheese could work in a carbonara in an attempt to use that last little bit. I hope that is ever so slightly reassuring… so that when you look at a recipe and want to try something out, you have another two or three recipe options to use up those ingredients. Waste not and all that jazz…

Ok. Back to the recipe at hand. Spaghetti carbonara. As long as you don’t have egg issues, you likely have had and enjoy this dish. I always found it to be a wonderful dose of #foodporn, in its slippery-salty-sweet decadentness (not a word, I know… but I like it anyway). In Feast, Nigella Lawson only reinforced it to me as food porn when she described it as being “so right for that chin-dripping, love soaked primal feast, the first time someone actually stays through the night.” You’re speechless too, aren’t you?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Greg’s Fresh Pasta

Photo 005smI can’t stop rubbing my hands. I can’t stop smelling my hands. They are silky soft from the olive oil and perfumed by tomato (and not in a de-skunking way… rather a sweet, fresh, lovely scent).

I love it when cooking makes you get your hands dirty. That a pasta fork is not sufficient to mush and meld and marry your ingredients. You have to unapologetically dig in, enjoying every squishy and slippery moment. It’s time for you to truly connect to your food.

This recipe came from my good friend Greg, who now gets his moment in the wannafoodie (lime)light. Technically, he’s jumping the queue of other recipes waiting for their moment but this was a great addition and I didn’t want to wait to share it. In reading his recipe, I see his food philosophies mirror my own in many ways… very little measuring, lots of feeling rather than thinking and ridiculously amusing analogies to his actions.

Since there is no cooking, aside from boiling that water, the resulting dish depends so much more on good ingredients. So, get the good stuff – ripe tomatoes, beautiful olive oil and a wedge of parmesan… or your attempt at this will only pale in comparison to how wonderful it COULD have been.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ridiculous Burgers – The Itali-Burger

The Blue Burgers are a hit in my books. But, if you’re not a blue cheese fan, these may be more up your alley.

Tomatoes, basil, red wine… hallmarks of that wonderful, comforting Italian food make these burgers equally wonderful and comforting.
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Left – Itali-Burgers ~ Right – Blue Burger

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ridiculous Burgers… The Blue Burger

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Who doesn’t like a good burger? I mean, really, who doesn’t like a good burger? I like a good burger. If you don’t, then move on… this isn’t for you.

I can picture the burgers that my dad used to make… ground beef, ketchup, sometimes worchestershire, onions, bread crumbs, egg, salt and pepper… Easy, simple, good. I have made those burgers without thinking. My mind following a recipe card that was never written.

These burgers are a bit different. I seem to get an idea for one thing (cook, enjoy, finish), then am left with bits and pieces of ingredients that I need to repurpose. I think that the launching pad for these burgers were bits of blue cheese and bits of basil left in my fridge, fast approaching their expirations. So, the blue cheese became the start of one burger… and the basil, the start of another.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Eggies

Photo 008smMomma Rogerson has her own personal vocabulary. Not quite English at times, not quite anything else though either… a unique blend of Ukie-Yiddish particular to her alone. I have appropriated some of these “isms” into my vocabulary because, really, it is impossible not to and, well, they amuse me every time I say them.

One of Momma Rogerson’s “isms” is her love of Eggies. Eggies is infinitely more amusing than Eggs. Capital E or lowercase e. That’s probably why I love the Eggies so much… and why I think that eggs for dinner is so amusingly decadent. Hmmm… maybe I’ll have Eggies for dinner later.

In the interim, lunch looms. Dinner will have to wait for now. Egg salad, it is. I have some great pagnotta (bread) from the Italian Centre and everything else that I needed to get my dose of Eggies.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pesto Halibut

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I am typically quite terrified of fish. In the past, I think I have rushed things. Maybe my pan was too hot. Or, I flipped a steak too soon. Or, I overseasoned. I don’t always know where I have gone wrong but I know that disappointment of a filet that fell apart or of drawing every bit of moisture out of something that was once completely engulfed in it. *tear*

I have pledged to become better at cooking fish. Slow it down. Think about things before I begin. Because once you put that fish to the fire, you really don’t have much time to fuss about and weigh your options before you’ve killed the fish a second time.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

An OMG Raspberry Souffle

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Well… this could have been a COMPLETE overly ambitious disaster. A souffle and I was making it with an audience… nothing like a good challenge. :)

The first time I ever attempted a souffle, I was around sixteen years old and was experimenting in my Food Studies class in high school. I had an incredibly supportive teacher who broke the financial restrictions on my “per student, per dish” budget and encouraged me to try more challenging and advanced recipes in every class.

I can’t quite remember what kind of souffle it was that I made. What I do remember was her coaching, my careful consideration of each step in the process, our excited anticipation and the complete thrill of a successful result.

So, just as with the fish, I just wanted to make something wonderful and didn’t want to over-think it.

Vodka-Marinated Steak

Photo 007smThis past weekend, I had two girlfriends over for a long overdue dinner and wiine dance party. Given that I had invited them over on the Friday, I needed to be able to get home from work (I work until 6pm) and turn something around relatively quickly for their arrival at 7pm. While time wasn’t necessarily on my side in terms of prep, I really didn’t want to just throw something together or, an even worse sin since starting this blog, order something in! They were so looking forward to something homemade.

So, this is what I came up with… Easy, fast and impressive enough for Friday night with the girls!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Home-rolled Sushi Fun

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I am no master… I love sushi and can’t always find a buddy to join me. I go alone sometimes but the challenge is choosing only a few things rather than the greater number of options that you can choose when you have someone to share the eating.

So, on one occasion, I decided that I was going to try my hand at rolling my own. Cue: Ominous music.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Chocolate Cloud Cake

This is Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Mousse Cake. It is unreal good and definitely needs to be part of your cake repetoire. In fact, you really should pick up, if you don’t already own it, Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess. From cakes to cookies to puddings extraordinaire, this is a fantastic cookbook.
So, in her book, you will find this recipe as “Chocolate Mousse Cake” but for me, it will always be a cloud.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mushroom Crostini

Photo 005smSometimes desperation leads you to the most wonderful discoveries. This little snack, which I needed to tide my Mom and I over while our dinner was cooking, was exactly that… perfect, desperation-fueled satisfaction.

You can put just about anything on a little piece of toast, pat yourself on the back and call it a “crostini.” (Some Italian nonna is ready to smack me for that comment, I’m sure.) I guess that the crostini is just a happy little snack for me and I don’t stress too much about what finds its way atop the bread. I don’t think you should either.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tortilla Soup

This is the last of the trio of soups aimed at making even the most enjoyable of leftovers more palatable in repetitious consumption. Forget boring, tired leftovers that you end up resenting as much as a relationship gone bad. These soups helped me to consume every last morsel of the one dinner... not to mention leaving me with an entirely virtuous feeling in not having thrown any bit of food away.

The tortilla soup was not my idea but rather that of one of my mini-tour-mates, Sheena, who requested a more brothy soup versus the tortilla soups of the North that seem to be pureed within an inch of their lives. The tortilla soup was the challenge... so I hit the books. I read a great number of recipes and decided on what I liked and didn't like about each of them. Then, I surveyed Sheena for her "key components."

Last thing, before I get down to business, I think that there is something fundamentally enjoyable about food that comes with all sorts of opportunities to personalize it. This soup is no exception. You can tweak it throughout the cooking process... but you can also tweak it when you go to eat. Any number of different additions - lime wedges, sour cream, guacamole, avocado chunks, cilantro... and so on - could adorn or not adorn that particular portion of soup. It almost seems to make each bowl a new experience... an adventure of sorts. And one with immediate belly-filling satisfaction.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Roasted Yam and Smoked Gouda Soup

When I was out and about on my little mini-tour a few weeks ago, I was graced with full spreads for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Despite the fact that I seldom eat a multi-course meal when I am at home, I found myself indulging in soups and salads, then mains, followed by desserts (and, yes, often in the plural sense).

In Winnipeg, I found myself stuck on the various soups that were coming out of the arena catering department. In particular, the Smoked Gouda and Sweet Potato soup caught my attention. A small bowl was more than enough, as this was more of a cheese soup than a vegetable one. Incredibly rich and unapologetically cheesy.

My soup definitely leans more to being a vegetable than a cheese soup... but I had three different taste-testers on this soup and they all raved.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Roasted Carrot, Carmelized Onion and Ginger Soup

Generally speaking, I can made it through one, maybe two, meals of leftovers before I am ready to pull my hair out. This soup, and the two that will follow, have made this one meal stretch through more than a week and have definitely eliminated that guilty task of ridding the refrigerator of the ghosts of dinners past.

This one is for Val, who has yet to test out one of these recipes on her own but pledges that she "could do this one." Fingers crossed. ;)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Roast chicken and veg...

More comfort food. Every time I leave my house on some sort of trip - business or otherwise - I become more and more fascinated with the simple comforts of food that reminds me of home. After this last little stint on the road, three cities in three days (while not the most arduous of trips... it was tiresome nonetheless), I arrived home with a list of recipe requests and a need for easy, simple comfort food.

I think everyone should be able to roast a chicken. As one of the easiest and most enjoyable of meals, it requires very little prep and fuss while satisfying a person completely. I'll get into roasting the whole chicken another time...

Now, this bit of roast chicken (pieces) and veg was a bit more calculated than simple satisfaction. One SKer friend wanted a simple, easy meal that would feed the family (this is for you, buddy!). Another wanted a tortilla soup. And I wanted a smoky soup. So, each component of this meal was to be first enjoyed, then repurposed into something a bit more than repetitive leftovers of days past.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Radicchio Crostini... and Smoky Mac

I am home now... for a brief snippet of time before heading back out on the road. My latest trip was a good time but left me sounding a bit more like Debbie Harry than as myself... too much rock and roll. As such, I have been exhausted yet happy to be home and have the option of cooking, even if I find myself too lazy to oblige. So, I needed to take it a bit easy and had two friends over for a 'let's cook together' gathering. Today's lesson was to be the Smoky Mac and Cheese.

While Erin was learning and navigating the land of Mac and Cheese, we snacked on Radicchio Crostini. My caveat here... I find radicchio to be something that I have to be in the mood for. It is really sharp in its flavour and if I'm not in the right state of mind, I will have nothing to do with this bit of veg. However, when I do get in the mood, it is a nice little snack. The sharpness takes the edge off any hunger pangs, so you can make it through the cooking process rather than reaching for the phone and calling for delivery.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Chiles Rellenos a Medano

I spent the week before last in Cabo for a good friend's wedding. Our routine, aside from tacos and margaritas, included daily, if not twice or three times daily, sojourns to our local bar/restaurant - the Medano. By the second day there, they knew most of us by name, or nickname, and welcomed us with big smiles. It was our Mexican Cheers. hahah.

After setting up shop one day, watching the Olympic curling and hockey games, and enjoying another great meal (and too many margaritas), I figured that I had nothing to lose and meandered into the kitchen. This likely could have gone badly... but they had all been so great that I hoped it wouldn't and crept in. The chef assistant's waved frantically to the chef... he looked up and came over to me.

I do not speak any Spanish aside from greetings and "dos cervezas." hahah. This was going to be interesting. I said that I wanted to learn how to make chiles rellenos. "Chiles Rellenos," he repeats. I pointed at him and said, "professore" then to myself and said, "studente." He laughed. I added, "a meñana." Lots of nodding and smiles... he replies, "a dos hora."

SUCCESS!! I had a cooking lesson!! I was so unbelievably excited that I immediately texted some friends to share my foodie-nerdy-news.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Can't-wait-for-the-good-tomatoes Bruschetta

Maybe because it was a "balmy" 6 C today... or maybe because I am so unbelievably over winter that I am trying to will it to be summer... I wanted something fresh for dinner. And that became the I-can't-wait-for-good-produce bruschetta.

Is there really a recipe for bruschetta?? Well.... I don't think so. A bit of this, a bit of that. Stir. Eat. Easy.

Recado Taco

I am going through withdrawal from the awesome tacos that I ate every single day that I was in Mexico. We frequented two places for the majority of our taco-quests - Javvo, just next to the Bahia Condos, and Gardenias, a few blocks away.

Javvo definitely had sophisticated spice blends/marinades and only had one or two taco options a day. Their chicharron was fantastic.

Gardenias was a favourite though. Much more option in terms of tacos - fish, shrimp, chicken, pork, chicharron, beef, etc. But my favourite part had to be the array of condiments that they served with the tacos. Using those serving units that we see at steak joints with the sour cream, chives and bacon bits destined for slathering on your mashed potato, they filled two units with pickled onion (likely softened in lime juice), charred chili peppers (whole), key limes, shredded lettuce, salsa (the pico de gallo variety), a more pureed salsa/chili blend, and an indescribable seemingly whipped avocado sauce that I loved on the fish taco. There were a few others but these were the highlights.

Obviously I've been thinking about these tacos... :) So, with the bastardized recado, I decided to make tacos. No recipe here... but it was a great second day dish. I warmed the meat in the sauce and topped with avocado slices, sour cream and hot sauce... with some beans and mixed veg, I was happy.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bastardized Tamarind Recado

Now... to say that this is a bastardized recado is probably putting it quite kindly. Honestly, this probably only merely resembles a recado if you were to tilt your head and squint at it. However, you can't fault where you find your ideas and I found this after becoming newly fascinated with tamarind but not quite sure what to do with it.

As such, into Epicurious, I typed "tamarind," hit enter and hoped for inspiration. It yielded this.

I should probably further qualify this recipe in that I just returned from a week in Mexico, followed by a flight delay in San Fran, an unexpected overnight stay, a reroute through Denver and a happy return home about 16 hours later than anticipated. Consequently, I had no groceries. At least nothing fresh (as sourly evidenced by the bit of buttermilk that I forgot about but was promptly reminded of when I opened the fridge to assess the situation). I also had no energy for a trip to the store but had *brilliantly* invited my Mom for dinner. All that aside, I do have a reasonably stocked pantry and a too full freezer... out comes a pork tenderloin and a can of crushed tomatoes.

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