Saturday, December 29, 2007
I carried a bit of a bias when I came to this restaurant because while it is called "Gold Wonton" in English to avoid litigation, the Chinese name of the restaurant is the same as the international hot pot chain, Little Sheep, which has a much cuter mascot to boot. Family members who have tried Gold Wonton said it just did not come close to the "real thing".
My family and I went on Christmas eve; we usually wouldn't drive 45 minutes to have dinner, but we were invited by family friends (the same people who were partying at our house the night before) and so we obliged. When we got there they didn't have a big enough table to seat all 11 of us, so my family sat in a separate booth. On one hand this made the 45 minute trip seem kind of pointless, but on the other it was nice that we could order what we liked and didn't have to worry about the politics of splitting the bill or anything.
For those who are uninitiated in the world of hot pot, it's similar to fondue in the sense that you have a boiling pot of broth in the middle (nowadays they're usually split in half so you can have two flavours; my dad chose a cilantro and hundred-year-old egg one which fortunately did not taste too strongly of the latter ingredient but unfortunately did not taste too strongly of anything, and we also got a spicy satay one) where you cook a variety of things like meat, seafood, fish balls, vegetables, tofu, noodles, etc. etc. It's a Chinese winter favourite, and many people (including my family) have their own hot pots at home. Hot pot restaurants are popular because it saves the work of having to buy (sometimes from a handful of stores) and prepare (i.e. slice, cut, etc.) all of the individual ingredients.
Slices of fatty beef are my family's favourite, because the meat is boiled, it doesn't taste greasy so you forget you're raising your blood cholesterol and clogging your arteries, and also because it is sliced so thinly it's literally cooked in seconds. That night we got some of our other favourites, like shrimp, a fish/meat ball combo, chicken, tofu, turnip, konjac noodles and udon noodles. It was really nothing out of the ordinary (my mom kept on saying that she could easily prepare hot pot at home for a much lower price, but just didn't want to after preparing food for a big Christmas party), but good and filling just the same.
After your food is cooked, you take it out of the broth and dip it into a sauce. One of the new trends in hot pot restaurants is that you mix your own sauces, or someone with a cart of different sauces and condiments mixes one for you, and this one was no different. My family has always just had soy sauce, and when we were younger and didn't know to fear things like Salmonella we also used to dip our food in raw egg to give it a smooth sort of texture. While satay sauce and peanut sauce were available, we mostly just stuck to the basic soy sauce with little additions like green onion, cilantro, minced garlic and ginger, and chili pepper.
There was one thing about our meal that was different from our "usual" hot pot meals, however. One of my mom's friends recommended the fried salmon skins, which were a crispy delight, with a slight hint of spice that reminded me of salt-and-pepper squid. I'm sure it was bad for me, but I have a penchant for any food that is crispy, so I loved them.
All in all, while the hot pot was fun and delicious, it wasn't really anything to write home about and we probably won't be travelling that far for hot pot again. It did inspire me to want to bring my parents to the "real" Little Sheep (I've been to one in Vancouver) when they come visit in Montreal in February. I'm excited.
Gold Wonton Restaurant
5441 Falsbridge Drive NE, Calgary, AB
(403) 285-8399/(403) 285-4388
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
I have a confession to make: I actually meant to write this entry for Canadian Thanksgiving in October, then that got pushed back to American Thanksgiving in November and now, here we are at Christmas.
Since we didn't have turkey dinner at my house, we have a different set of leftovers to deal with, but if you did, here are two recipes that can help you out: turkey stock and turkey salad pita.
I've already taught you how to make turkey giblet stock, and turkey stock is pretty much the same thing, except there is no browning of giblets. You basically throw everything in the pot, cover with water and let it simmer as long as you want, and then you can freeze portions of it and add it to soup recipes that'll warm you up in the new year. Back in October, this recipe turned out really well because the turkey added this wonderful smokiness to the broth. Totally worth it, and you're not wasting the carcass.
Turkey StockPita Break multigrain pitas. If you go on their site, they have a lovely selection of large and small pitas, as well as breakfast pitas that come in flavours like muesli or apple cinnamon and lavash crackers that come in a variety of flavours as well.
- Turkey carcass, with as much meat removed as possible (although leaving some hanging on adds a bit of flavour)
- 2 onions, peeled
- 2 carrots, peeled
- 2 celery stalks
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- Herbs that you stuffed your turkey with, if available
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place all ingredients into a stock pot, then add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, letting it simmer as long as possible so the flavours come together (minimum 45 minutes).
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Strain broth into a large, wide container and let cool (you might have to stir it a bit) before portioning and storing (for food safety reasons)
Turkey Salad Pita
- Cooked turkey meat, shredded
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- scant 15 mL (1 tbsp) Miracle Whip or mayo
- 1 pita, halved
- Lettuce or salad greens2 slices of tomato
- Cheddar cheese, grated
As with all sandwiches, you can get a little creative and add in your own favourite vegetables that you have on hand (for me, cucumbers, peppers and alfalfa sprouts come to mind), different types of cheeses, condiments, etc.
- First you make your turkey salad: Mix turkey meat, celery and Miracle Whip in a bowl. You may want more or less Miracle Whip depending on the consistency you want.
- Now you fill your pita halves: Place lettuce and tomato in pita, spoon in turkey salad to fill and top with cheddar cheese.
Monday, December 24, 2007
I originally wanted to embark on a version of ratatouille that people were "familiar" with; both Deb from Smitten Kitchen and Fanny from Foodbeam have made beautiful oven-baked ratatouilles that look just like the movie, and here in Calgary I have a mandolin at my disposal to boot! Unfortunately, I knew the oven was going to be taken over by the aforementioned prime rib and ham, so I went for a more traditional ratatouille--a "cheapened" version of the one prepared by Béa of La Tartine Gourmande.
By "cheapened" I mean I replaced her lovely, summery fresh herbs with dried ones, (remember because of their more "concentrated" flavour, you should always use ⅓ of the amount of dried herbs for fresh, so 1 tsp dried for 1 tbsp fresh) and I cut up an onion instead of using shallots. I also made the mistake of dicing the vegetables a bit too finely, so after these photos were taken and the ratatouille was left to simmer for an hour or so, the vegetables had turned duller and less attractive (but still tasty!) than Béa's photos, let alone the extravagant movie version of the dish!
Still, everyone was nice enough to try a bit of the ratatouille, although we still have some leftovers. Other than that, the party was a success and everyone had lots of fun!
Saturday, December 22, 2007
So yesterday I was invited to this Christmas party that my friend hosts every year, and it's always fun times because it's a chance to see a lot of my friends from high school and catch up on what they're up to. Although we're all in our fourth year of university, a lot of us aren't graduating (mine is a 4½ year program, while a lot of my friends in engineering are doing work terms, so won't be graduating until '09) while others had bigger news (one of my friends got into Harvard Law (!!!) but not surprisingly, none of us had engagement announcements yet although we joked about starting a "marriage pool").
I've always made cookies--one of my friends always requested this chocolate chip cookie recipe that I made, and I always felt it was a more creative "hostess" gift than a bottle of booze. Besides, this year they managed to buy $530 worth of alcohol (they're doing ENGINEERING (read: oilfields) work terms in ALBERTA, after all, so they have crazy disposable income) so if I did buy something it would've just been a drop in the bucket. Anyway, I decided to go more holiday this year and tackle some gingerbread-like spice cookies.
One thing I really admire about Dorie is that she didn't start cooking until she got married, and is now this crazy-amazing baker and cookbook writer. When I saw her entry for chocolate, vanilla and spice roll-out cookies I knew I had to try at least one recipe this holiday season. The reviews on Epicurious said that the spice recipe tasted a little mild, so I doubled all the spices (except ginger) in my recipe (at the bottom of this entry). Other than that, the dough was easy to put together (especially when you have an electric hand mixer, or better yet, one of those fancy KitchenAid stand mixers), and then I just threw it in the fridge to toughen up overnight.
I started the whole process of rolling, cutting, baking and icing at 1 pm the next day, and considering that this was the first time I made this recipe, it took me until about 4:30, so be forewarned that this is a whole afternoon-long activity.
Dorie has this really smart tip to roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper; you save yourself from flouring your counter and rolling pin (although in retrospect, the dough does get a little sticky, so a little flour wouldn't have hurt) and it's easier to lift the shapes from the dough because you can help it along underneath.
After a lot of re-rolling, cutting and baking, somehow, with the inconsistency of dough thickness and size of my cookies, I ended up with somewhere between 3 or 4 dozen cookies to decorate.
The one thing I love about Dorie's icing recipe is that it doesn't contain butter. However, while it's not high in fat and has the added protein of egg whites, it's still very high in sugar, although I'm too lazy to find a recipe for buttercream icing to compare the calories gram-for-gram, not to mention that high amounts of simple carbs (i.e. sugars) mess up your blood sugar levels and may play a role in the mechanism that causes heart disease. Oh, and sorry for putting everyone who ate these cookies at risk of Salmonella by not using pasteurized egg whites. Anyway, while Dorie's recipe tells you to use two eggs, for me, it took three to get the right texture. (Note: I now realize that I misread the recipe and put in ¼ cup extra of icing sugar. Ummm...)
Hannah, the amazing 18-year-old vegan with her own cookbook who bakes and knits like she doesn't have any assignments or exams, has some great decorating tips (and photos, she really is too modest) over at her blog, which I found to be really helpful. I did end up using a sandwich bag, which fortunately worked out fine (disposable pastry bags were nowhere to be found in Superstore--not so "super" now, are we?) and I'm blaming my crappy designs on a tip that was a touch too wide. I tried to be tricky by putting the ugliest cookies on the bottom of the tin that I gave to my friend, and then progressively layering the nicer ones on top, but who knew he'd end up being the last one at the cookies? (He made fun of my spade-shaped cookie that did not look like a spade.) Here are some of my nicer ones.
Sadly, my 10-year-old sister seems to be better at this than I am, so I let her do about a dozen or so.
But judging by how fast the box and the plate that I left at home for my family emptied themselves, these cookies were sure tastier than they looked and they just might become a holiday staple.
Spice Roll-out Cookies
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's recipe
Makes anywhere between 20 and 60 cookies
- 250 mL (1 cup) unsalted butter*
- 185 mL (¾ cup) golden brown sugar**
- 125 mL (½ cup) light molasses
- 1 egg
- 2 mL (½ tsp) vanilla
- 875 mL (3½ cups all-purpose flour)
- 10 mL (2 tsp) ground ginger
- 7 mL (1½ tsp) ground cinnamon
- 5 mL (1 tsp) baking soda
- 2 mL (½ tsp) salt
- 2 mL (½ tsp) ground allspice
- 2 mL (½ tsp) ground nutmeg
- 2 mL (½ tsp) dry mustard
- 1 mL (¼ tsp) ground cloves
*If you use salted butter, just omit the salt from the recipe.
- Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together, about 3 min. Add molasses, beat until fluffy, about 2 min. Add egg, beat until well blended, about 1 min. Reduce speed to low, beat in vanilla. Sift in dry ingredients, beat on low speed just to blend.
- Gather dough into a ball and divide in half. Form each half into a ball and flatten into disk. Wrap disks separately in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
- Position rack in centre of oven; preheat to 175°C (350°F). Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out dough between two sheets of waxed paper to ⅓ - ½ cm (⅛" - ¼") thickness for smaller and larger cookies, respectively. Space cookies 2 cm (1") apart on cookie sheet. Bake for 8 (for smaller, thinner cookies) - 12 (for larger, thicker cookies) min, until firm on top and slightly darker around edges. Cool completely on rack before decorating with Royal Icing.
**I used regular brown sugar and it was fine.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
As you probably gathered two entries ago, I'm back home in Calgary for the holidays. No matter how well I try to plan, I'm always stuck with a bunch of random food that needs to be eaten up before I leave; the morning of my flight, my boyfriend and I got up at 6 am so that he could have a breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast, and I had muesli with yogurt an apple. We both took an apple each for the road, and I also brought a tomato and a bag of carrot sticks with me on the plane (which were actually very welcome with the overpriced sandwich that I bought)
The rush to finish food welcomes some pretty crazy recipes, and when Blake Royer posted this recipe for Zucchini, Pine Nut and Golden Raisin Salad on Serious Eats, I knew it was the perfect way to finish my zucchini as it combined a lot of my favourite ingredients.
Royer does a great writeup on the site, including suggestions for sides like some fish or even tossing it with pasta (I had a salmon sausage) with mine. I tweaked the recipe a bit because I only had two zucchini (instead of three) and two tablespoons of olive oil was pretty excessive anyway. The combination of ingredients is simply amazing, and I love how the raisins just plump up when they're cooked.
Zucchini, Pine Nut and Golden Raisin Salad
Adapted from Tamasin Day-Lewis' recipe in Good Tempered Food
Makes 2 small—or 1 large—serving
- 15 mL (1 tbsp) olive oil
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced into rounds
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- Small handful golden raisins
- Small handful pine nuts
- Juice of ¼ lemon, or more to taste
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet (such as cast iron) or a wok over medium heat, and add the zucchini once the oil is hot, but not smoking. Sauté, stirring, until the zucchini have begun to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, pine nuts, raisins, and plenty of salt and black pepper. Continue cooking until the pine nuts begin to brown a bit and the garlic has softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice to taste, and stir well. Transfer to a plate for serving.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
To Donate and Enter the Menu for Hope Raffle 1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from our Menu for Hope above 2. Go to the donation site at Firstgiving and make a donation. 3. Please specify which prize you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize code. Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02 - 2xEU01, 3xEU02. 4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match. 5. Please check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone. Check back on Chez Pim on Wednesday, January 9 for the results of the raffle.
I just placed my bids for the Menu for Hope 4 hosted every year by Chez Pim. What it is is a raffle where food bloggers from around the world donate prizes for people to bid on. The prizes range from autographed cookbooks and food treats (so many chocolate prizes!) to free meals at fancy restaurants and a full-blown pizza tour of NYC. The proceeds go to the UN World Food Programme, with this year's money earmarked for a school lunch program in Lesotho. If you click through to Pim's site, there are a ton of links explaining Menu for Hope, a complete list of the prizes and some Lesotho-related entries.
I was hoping to team up with Jess to come up with a prize, but when we realized that one of the guidelines was that "each prize offered should have the potential to raise at least $200", we were stumped. Still, that definitely does not keep us from bidding!
So what did I bid on? Not to encourage you to decrease my chances or anything, but I'm going for a tray of yummy-sounding citrus olive oils and wine vinegars, a chocolate package that includes chocolate bars, "confections", cocoa nibs and sipping chocolate from Theo chocolates, two autographed copies of The Amateur Gourmet plus some random "souvenir", the aforementioned NYC pizza tour and dinner for two at Camaje, a French-American bistro in NYC.
Things that fell off my shortlist for one reason or another:
An autographed copy of Gluten-Free Girl plus a care package of gluten-free baked goods--This prize sounds oh-so-good and even though it came late in the game, it has managed to rack up 32 bids in just three days! I sadly dropped it for things that were a little easier to win.
An autographed copy of Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From my Home to Yours--As I was nerdily going through each page of donations and counting bids to do the final cut on my shortlist down from 8 to 5 (Yay for the "find" feature!), this was doing ok in terms of bids and then there was one post early in the game for 50 tickets.
An autographed copy of Michael Ruhlman's The Elements of Cooking--It ended up being a tossup between this and the pizza tour (both at 25 bids) and I figured if it came down to it, I could always buy the non-autographed book but I certainly can't afford a pizza tour!
An infrawave toaster oven--This prize sounded cool at first, but then I freaked out about the idea of having another large kitchen gadget in Montreal and decided against it.
Anyway, there are a lot more prizes and the raffle ends on FRIDAY. We're trying to beat last year's record of just over $60K (We're just nudging $50K right now), so bid, bid, bid!
Here's what you need to do:
To Donate and Enter the Menu for Hope Raffle
1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from our Menu for Hope above
2. Go to the donation site at Firstgiving and make a donation.
3. Please specify which prize you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize code.
Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02 - 2xEU01, 3xEU02.
4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.
5. Please check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.
Check back on Chez Pim on Wednesday, January 9 for the results of the raffle.
Aside from lacking in main dishes, I'm sure some people feel that this blog is lacking a bit in restaurant reviews. It's not that I don't go to restaurants (although that would've been a perfectly viable reason, seeing as how I'm a student and all), but it's just that most blogs have restaurant reviews that feature photos of every single dish, and I'm still a little shy when it comes to taking photos of food around other people (especially since many don't know that I blog), let alone taking a photo of EVERY dish, making sure that I get it right and not blurry and all that.
But then I thought, before the advent of food blogs, people were ok with restaurant reviews in papers that don't have any photos, and even the Chowhound boards are a great place for photoless opinions. So perhaps from now on I'll make an effort to do more reviews, but there will be no photos.
Speaking of reviews, I know I've already shared some of my work with the McGill Tribune with you. I don't think you understand (and probably shouldn't) how much my school life is absorbed by this publication, so just to give you a little hint, my good friend (and Editor-in-Chief) Tiffany and I decided just for fun we'd go to the Tribune, a bistro-type restaurant with a very extensive wine list in Calgary.
The Tribune is a nice, cozy space on Stephen Ave. (The swank, pedestrian-only part of downtown that is unfortunately starting to be swallowed up by development) The upstairs part (refer to photos on website) is very lounge-y, with low lighting and a slick bar in the middle. The downstairs (where we were) is well-lit, but cozy, with stone walls and a fireplace, plus a very impressive wine display on one of the walls--there was even a 9L bottle of wine behind Tiffany at the booth we were sitting in. We went all out for this lunch; although we didn't get appetizers, we each got a glass of wine and also shared a dessert.
Since I rarely go out to fancy restaurants myself and my parents aren't huge purveyors of "western food", I definitely was not used to being asked, "What kind of water would you like?" when our waiter first came to our table. Overall, the service was friendly yet efficient, although there was a bit of a snag at the beginning because we weren't greeted at the door. (Note: Although the restaurant doesn't seem very bustling/busy, you should make a reservation even for lunch--we were only squeezed in because one of the tables was a no-show.)
Tiffany, on the other hand, probably has a lot of experience being wined and dined as a management student, so she seemed to be completely unfazed. She even chose the wine - a lovely, fruity Australian Shiraz that I've forgotten the name of already because I'm no connoisseur/connoisseuse and it doesn't seem to be listed on their website. We put in our order and waited a while before the waiter came and set a crumbly, herb-y biscuit on our bread plate. They looked so flavourful (and felt so buttery) that I didn't think they needed to be dipped in the olive oil that was at the table, but when I had it by itself it seemed a little lacking inside. I was glad I dipped the bread, because the olive oil imparted a nice citrus-y flavour, and I also noticed little flecks of rosemary in the bowl, and you know how I feel about rosemary!
For mains, Tiffany ordered a roast lamb sandwich served with a side salad that contained julienned beets and rutabaga that I had coveted as well, but just to be different (and not really in the mood for a sandwich anyway) I ordered the Taglierini Capesante, which is a long pasta with a creamy asparagus pesto (although the taste of asparagus was quite muted), sea scallops (yummy) and toasted pine nuts. Tiffany seemed to enjoy her sandwich, and although my appetizer-sized portion of pasta was a little small, the noodles were cooked perfectly al dente and the scallops and pine nuts worked well with the dish. Plus, it left plenty of room for dessert (and a little bit more of the biscuit before the waiter took it away.)
For dessert, we deliberated over the Crème Brûlée and laughed at the idea of a "Flight of Scotch" (although I'm sure that's something my boyfriend would enjoy.) We finally decided to share the Tarte Tatin for Two, but I think it's just called that for the sake of alliteration--it's big enough to be a Tarte Tatin for Four. Still, it was very delicious; I'm sure there must've been at least 8 apples in the pie, which is topped with two balls of vanilla ice cream with flaming brandy poured over top at the table. Although it was very enjoyable, I wished that the pastry was a little flakier and that the apples could've been cooked just a little softer (although I'm sure they wanted to make sure that they'd hold their shape).
All in all, despite the mixed reviews that the Tribune has been getting in the Chowhound boards, Tiffany and I had a very good experience, and it was definitely worth the money we threw down for that lunch (and photo op!)
The Tribune Restaurant & Bar
100-118 8 Avenue SW
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
My friend Blair's birthday is five days after mine, and inspired by the success of the cake I made for my birthday, one of my favourite chocolate bars (Dolfin's dark chocolate with pink peppercorns) and his love of spicy food, I decided that I wanted to make him a spicy chocolate cake.
But where to start? Somehow I managed to stumble on this recipe by Clotilde of Chocolate and Zucchini, which served as the basis for my recipe. I then did a quick search online for mole (pronounced MOH-lay), which is a Mexican sauce that combines chili, chocolate and sometimes nuts and I also looked at other Mexican chocolate recipes. A lot of the recipes were overwhelming in terms of the ingredients, but I decided one thing I did need to go out and buy was ancho chili powder.
The ancho chili powder (left) was surprisingly easy to find; McCormick actually sells a bottled version, so it's available at virtually any grocery store. When compared to the chili powder I had at my house (right), the ancho chili powder tasted sweeter and smokier, and while it wasn't very spicy, the spice definitely hit quicker. (Although that may just be because the regular chili powder has been sitting in our kitchen for who knows how long) I also decided to add cinnamon to the cake.
The cake turned out really well; the near-lack of flour gave it an almost fudgy sort of texture. Unfortunately, I was a bit lighthanded with the spice, and although you can kind of taste it, I'm sure if I didn't know that it had spice in it I wouldn't have tasted it. I'll post the original recipe below, but make note that it's probably a good idea to up both the ancho chili powder and cinnamon.
Spicy Chocolate Cake
Largely based on Clotilde Dusoulier's Chocolate Chili Bites
Makes one round 8" cake
- 200 g (250 mL/1 cup) butter
- 200 g (7 oz) dark chocolate
- 250 g (300 mL/1¼ cup) sugar
- 5 eggs
- A rounded tbsp (20 mL) flour
- 10 mL (2 tsp) ancho chili powder*
- 5 mL (1 tsp) cinnamon*
*Increase to taste
- Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Line an 8" cake pan with parchment paper.
- Melt the butter with the chocolate in a large saucepan over low heat.
- Remove saucepan from heat and add in the sugar; mix with a wooden spoon and let cool a little. Add the eggs one by one, mixing well with the spoon after each addition. Add a rounded tablespoon of flour, the chili powder and the cinnamon and mix well.
- Bake for 25 minutes--it's ok if the centre is still trembling. Let cool a little before turning out onto a rack to cool completely (be careful, the cake is fragile!) Don't be surprised if the centre falls a little upon cooling.**
**Clotilde recommends that you wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap, refrigerate and take it out an hour prior to eating. What I actually did was let the cake cool as much as it could in a springform pan before covering the thing with foil, poking some holes in it (I hate condensation) then walked outside for about 20 minutes in fairly cold weather to my friend's house. I think it sat at room temperature while we gorged ourselves at The Keg before serving—it was fine.
Monday, December 17, 2007
I love fresh dill. I was introduced to the herb in freshman year by my roommate Jade, and have since fallen in love with serving it with fish with lemon juice squirted on top, chopping it up in salad or even making a mean tzatziki. The problem with dill, however, is it always comes in big bunches, but recipes always call for just a tablespoon here or a tablespoon there. Here is one of many ways that you can get rid of some of that dill, and of course, who does not like yet another soup recipe in the dead of winter?
Molly of Orangette has her own recipe for carrot soup, except her's is carrot fennel. In her entry, she talks about how she had made it upon her arrival to Paris. Her soup is a little more complicating--and probably a lot more delicious, we're talking about fennel and also orange juice here--than mine, but you can still conjure up Paris with the latter by serving it with a fresh baguette and your favourite soft cheese (I chose Camembert.)
Carrot Dill Soup
Adapted from AllRecipes.com
- 454 g (1 lb) carrots, sliced
- 10 mL (2 tsp) vegetable oil
- 10 mL (2 tsp) minced garlic
- 250 mL (1 cup) chopped onion
- 875 mL (3½ cups) chicken stock*
- 185 mL (¾ cup) milk (or cream, if you're feeling like something particularly rich/artery clogging--It's ok to use part milk, part cream too.)
- 30 mL (2 tbsp) chopped fresh dill
- 30 mL (2 tbsp) chopped fresh chives**
*Use vegetable stock to make this dish vegetarian!
- Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add carrots and cook just until tender. Drain.
- While the carrots are cooking, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté garlic and onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add cooked carrots, and pour in chicken stock. Turn heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 25 minutes to blend flavours.
- Purée the carrot mixture using a hand blender, then stir in milk, dill and chives. Cook just until heated through, and serve (preferably with a baguette and cheese).
**I didn't have any chives, so I just used a full ¼ cup of dill.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
It has come to my attention that I don't have nearly enough "mains" in this blog. It's not that I don't make main dishes (obviously), it's just that when you don't get home until after 6 pm and you're just cooking for yourself, you're not going to make this lavish main dish that's anywhere near blog-worthy. That's not to say I make a bunch of convenience foods, either--I recently impressed even myself by making a dinner of grilled salmon (with the George Foreman), sautéed zucchini and mushrooms and couscous in just about 15, 20 minutes.
Back when I did have more time in my evenings (and also when I bought potatoes and zucchini more frequently), I used to make this yogurt-based "curry" dish that was satisfying and relatively tasty. (I remember in first year I made it for a mini rez potluck once, and one of my friends just could not stop eating it!) Still, this recipe from Florence Albernhe, Chef-proprietor of Le Grain de Riz in Cooking with Foods that Fight Cancer totally knocks my recipe out of the water, and makes me want to buy cans and cans of coconut milk so I can keep on making this sweet curry dish.
I've already talked about the cancer-fighting ingredients in this recipe, garlic (and shallots) and turmeric, in my previous entry, so I'm not going to talk about it here. Let's talk a bit about coconut milk.
I'm truly convinced that it's the secret ingredient in this recipe; it just gives it so much body and interest that my blend of yogurt, curry powder, cumin and cinnamon (a wonderful secret ingredient) just can't live up to. A lot of people worry that coconut milk is high in saturated fat (there's 27 g--just over the daily recommended intake of saturated fat--just from the coconut milk in each serving of this dish), but the difference between the saturated fat in coconuts vs. animal sources is that in coconuts, most of these fats are medium-chain (meaning that the fat molecules are about 12 carbons long) while those from animal sources are long-chain (about 16-18 carbons long). It has been argued that medium-chain fats do not react with your body's environment in the same way that long-chain fats do, and therefore do not put you at the same risk for heart disease. I personally think that this makes sense, and one of my roommates is a big proponent of cooking with coconut oil (which makes our house smell like yummy coconut sometimes, even if she's just frying an egg) However, some people have taken this a bit overboard and have written books like The Coconut Diet, claiming that it could help you lose weight.
I personally haven't done enough research to figure out if I want to make the switch from cooking with canola oil to coconut oil (probably not), but you still have to remember even though you won't be at as high a risk for heart disease as if you ate the same amount of fat in something like butter, fat is fat and it will always be 9 calories per gram. So don't gorge yourself on the stuff, but savour the lovely flavour it brings to your cooking!
From Cooking with Foods that Fight Cancer by Dr. Richard Béliveau and Dr. Richard Gingras
Makes 4 servings
- 4 whole chicken breasts, 150 g (5 oz) each, fat and skin removed
- 30 mL (2 tbsp) olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves
- 4 shallots, sliced
- 10 mL (2 tsp) curry powder
- 5 mL (1 tsp) ground turmeric
- 30 mL (2 tbsp) fish sauce (nuoc-mâm or nam pla)
- 30 mL (2 tbsp) brown sugar
- 500 mL (2 cups) coconut milk
- Freshly ground pepper
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet/wok over medium heat. Sauté the garlic and shallots for 2 to 3 minutes. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Let simmer slowly for approximately 20 minutes.
- Remove cooked chicken from pan and slice into thin strips; serve immediately (preferably with basmati rice) with sauce poured over top.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
A while ago I posted the link to a review I did for the McGill Tribune on Cooking with Foods that Fight Cancer. Before and after that post I did go through the trouble of making some of those recipes, and I think it's due time that I share those results. Since we're still in the dead of winter and nothing is more comforting than a nice bowl of soup, I have TWO to share with you (although one of them is kind of a dud...)
The first soup (that beautiful orangeish-yellow one there) is NOT a squash soup. In fact, it is a Turmeric-scented Cauliflower Soup shared by François Rousseau, Chef-Instructor at the École hôtelière de la Capitale. Knowing that I'd be using turmeric in the recipe (and because I'm obsessed with oddly coloured vegetables), I gave it a punch of colour by choosing a head of orange/yellow (it's called "jaune" in Quebec) cauliflower.
Aside from being a cruciferous vegetable (which, according to the book, fights cancer with its high glucosinolate content—"Glucosinolates stimulate the natural activity of our defence mechanisms, accelerating the elimination of [particularly dangerous substances that can alter the cell's DNA.]" Did I mention that the book is really nicely dumbed down?), orange/yellow cauliflower has the added benefit of colour. The colour comes from ß-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. This is by no means a major source of vitamin A; if you believe Wikipedia's claim that orange cauliflower contains 25x more vitamin A than a regular cauliflower, then 100g of the raw stuff contains 475 IU of vitamin A, while the same amount of raw carrot contains 28,129 IU (the recommendation is 3000 IU and 2700 IU for men and women, respectively).
The other cancer-fighting ingredient in this soup is turmeric, which Dr. Béliveau is obsessed with. I think he just loves the story of how regular people "discovered" that adding black pepper dramatically increases the absorption of the spice because people who did use black pepper just lived longer or in better health, I guess. The book also says you need to stabilize the turmeric in oil before it can be absorbed in the body, so a lot of the recipes call for sautéing it with the onions and/or garlic (another cancer-fighting food!) before adding any liquid.
Anyway, back to the cooking side of things, one thing that I kind of do like about the book is that apparently French-Canadians (or maybe it's professional chefs, who knows) are still cooking the European way--with weight. Not only do I prefer the accuracy, but it also gives me an excuse to pull out my cute little scale. For those who don't have one, I recommend just picking one up (I got mine for $7 at Stokes, but you can always splurge on an Escali Primo digital scale, if only for the fact that it comes in 11 colours.
Turmeric-scented cauliflower soup
From Cooking with Foods that Fight Cancer, by Dr. Richard Béliveau and Dr. Denis Gingras
Makes 4 servings
- 15 mL (1 tbsp) vegetable oil
- 55 g (85 mL/⅓ cup) onions, chopped
- 200 g (250 mL/1 cup) celery, sliced
- 15 mL (1 tbsp) ground turmeric
- 30 mL (2 tbsp) flour
- 750 mL (3 cups) chicken stock*
- 600 g (1 L/4 cups) cauliflower, separated into small florets
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
*Replace with vegetable stock to make this dish vegetarian!
- In a saucepan, sweat the onions and celery slowly in the oil over medium-low heat. Add the turmeric and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the flour and stir well. Slowly pour in the stock, add the cauliflower, and bring to a boil.
- Season with salt and pepper (very important if you want to fight that cancer!) to taste. Let simmer 25 minutes.
- Purée using a mixer and serve immediately.
As I mentioned earlier in this post, I found the second soup to be a bit of dud. It's most likely my fault, but also maybe with a bit of tweaking it could be good.
Similar to the previous soup, this broccoli soup contains a cruciferous vegetable and turmeric, but it also has the added benefit of garlic and spice.
When garlic is crushed, enzymes convert alliin to allicin, which is what causes the distinctive smell of garlic. To gain the full benefit, however, you can't just chop/mince your garlic like a maniac (which I'm a fan of doing). You need to crush your garlic to release the alliin and let it sit for 10 minutes (say, while you're preparing your other vegetables) before chopping. Actual chefs like to tell you to crush and mince the garlic right before you cook it because then you retain the full flavour of the garlic, so I guess it's up to you to decide--fight cancer or full flavour?
So what does allicin do? Like glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables, allicin accelerates the elimination of toxic chemicals from our body and also helps to stop cancer cell growth, or even cause them to self-destruct (one of my favourite words: apoptosis). This actually applies to other vegetables in the garlic family, including onions (which are in both of these soups), green onions, chives and leek but the property is attributed to other compounds found in these vegetables.
The cancer-fighting properties of herbs in the lamiaceae family also come from its aromatic compounds. In this case, these are terpenes. They fight cancer by blocking the function of mutated genes that are involved in cancer cell growth. The individual members of the lamiaceae family each contain their own terpenes and possibly other cancer-fighting molecules. While the original recipe called for parsley (not a cancer-fighting herb), it's totally acceptable to sub in one of the lamiaceae spices--marjoram, oregano, basil, thyme; I must warn you however, that this may actually be the downfall of this soup.
Perhaps it's because I didn't have any dried parsley on hand and thought that oregano would be a fine substitute, but I think it's more the fact that this soup contains ONE WHOLE TABLESPOON of dried spice, plus another teaspoon of dried dill. I found the spice very overwhelming and it masked the taste of broccoli--toward the end of my week of eating this soup (I usually make the whole recipe, then bring it to school for lunch) it became an acquired taste, but I think some tinkering can be involved when it comes to the amount of spice and the type of spice (maybe a combination?)
So, here's the recipe; have a go at it if you like and let me know what you come up with!
Dr. Béliveau's Broccoli Soup
From Cooking with Foods that Fight Cancer, by Dr. Richard Béliveau and Dr. Denis Gingras
Makes 4 servings
- Olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 5 mL (1 tsp) ground turmeric
- 1 broccoli*, separated into florets (peel the stems and cut into segments)
- 1 potato**, quartered or cut into small pieces
- 1 L (4 cups) chicken stock
- 15 mL (1 tbsp) dried parsley***
- 5 mL (1 tsp) dried dill
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
*I am kind of unsure about what he means by 1 broccoli. Here when you buy broccoli, you get two heads bound together with elastic. Using only one of those heads seemed like very little broccoli (compared to all the other ingredients), so I used both as in 1 "package" of broccoli. Perhaps that's also why my soup tasted bad.
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Sauté the onions and garlic over medium-high heat until they are tender.
- Add the turmeric and stir for 2 minutes.
- Add the potatoes and the stock. Incorporate the parsley and dill. Season with salt and pper to taste. Let simmer for 30 minutes or until potato is tender (if you cut into smaller pieces, the time will be shorter), then add the broccoli, saving a couple florets for garnish. Cook for another 10 minutes and remove from heat.
- Let cool, and purée with a hand-blender until smooth and creamy.
**It's ok to leave the skin on because you will be puréeing everything anyway. Eating the skin of the potato ups the fibre content, as well as the amount of some vitamins and minerals.
***This is where you get to play! Decrease the amount of herb, swap herbs, do a combination of herbs--make the soup taste good and unique.
In closing, Dr. Béliveau says you only need THREE servings a WEEK of cruciferous vegetables (that includes cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, if you haven't caught on yet) to receive all of the wonderful cancer-fighting benefits. It doesn't have to be boring--there's soup, but you can obviously add broccoli florets to stir-frys or eat them raw. And, with so many Brussels sprouts recipes popping up all over the blogosphere lately, it's so easy to do three servings a week.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
No, no, I'm not late on the Thanksgiving train; that is just the name of the Dietitians of Canada Student Network newsletter, of which I am the editor. The first issue turned out really well (although I had to fix some kinks here and there, what with typos and all that fun stuff) and features recipes, a cookbook review, an article on celebrating Christmas in Argentina and an article on New Years resolutions. Of course, yours truly wrote an article too--on blogging. It's always a little surprising how approachable some "high profile" people are, although I guess the fact that they blog gives you a hint that they want to stay connected and have their voices heard. Thanks again to Andy, Elaine,Yoni and Marion for replying to my crazy questions!
You may view/download the newsletter here.
I made these cookies for a party because it was a couple nights after the beginning of Hanukkah, and I also wanted to impress my Jewish boyfriend (hehe) And luckily for me, without prompting, one of the other Jewish people at the party noticed the cookies on the table and was like, "Hey, who brought rugelach?" despite the fact that mine seem to look more like croissants than the photos you see on the Wikipedia page.
The most difficult part is definitely making the dough, which is a bit like making a pastry. I replaced half of the flour with whole-wheat, but only half just in case the high-protein content will keep the dough from forming. Now, it took adding a bit of water and turning a lot of it on the counter to finally make the ball, but the results were very rewarding.
After separating the dough into four balls and then putting them in the fridge for 4 hours, you then roll the dough out and spread some melted butter on it before you sprinkle on a filling of sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, walnuts and raisins, then you cut into 12 slices. It's like a Jewish pizza, if you will.
Finally, you put all the little cuties in the oven, and because of the high fat content, your house turns into a smokehouse and your roommates force you to open a window, even though it's -10 outside :( But the results are so very tasty!
Adapted from The 250 Best Cookie Recipes, by Esther Brody
Makes 4 dozen
- 250 mL (1 cup) whole-wheat flour
- 250 mL (1 cup) all-purpose flour
- 60 mL (¼ cup) sugar
- 250 mL (1 cup) butter, cut into cubes
- 1 (250 g/8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
- 125 mL (½ cup) sugar
- 10 mL (2 tsp) cinnamon
- 5 mL (1 tsp) nutmeg
- 175 mL (¾ cup) finely chopped walnuts
- 125 mL (½ cup) raisins
- 50 mL (¼ cup) melted butter*
*Here, melted margarine or even vegetable oil is ok for a heart-healthy choice. However, I'm more iffy about using margarine for the dough just because it is basically a pastry and you don't want to lose that texture.
- Preheat oven to 180°C (375°C). Line two cookie sheets with parchment or waxed paper.
- In a bowl, mix together flour and 60 mL sugar. Using your fingers, work the butter and cream cheese together to form the dough. (Alternately, if you have a food processor with large enough capacity, mix the butter and cream cheese together in there, and then add the flour/sugar mixture to form the dough.)
- Divide dough into four sections. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
- To make filling: in a bowl, mix together 125 mL sugar, cinnamon, walnuts and raisins.
- On a floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll one portion of dough into a 25 cm (10") circle (about the size of a dinner plate). Transfer the circle onto a cutting board (unless it's ok to use a knife on your counter). Brush with 15 mL (1 tbsp) melted butter*, then spread ¼ of the filling (about 125 mL/½ cup) of the filling evenly over circle.
- Using a knife or a pastry wheel, cut circle into 12 pie-shaped wedges. Beginning at the wide edge, with the filling inside, roll tightly, finishing with the point in the middle. Curve the rolls slightly to form a crescent and place, point side down on a prepared cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough--you should be able to fit 24 on each sheet.
- Bake in preheated oven for 25 - 30 min, until delicately browned.