Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Next Thursday, July 5, Rouge Restaurant will be hosting The Rouge & White Garden Party, benefitting the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. This cause is very dear to Chef/Owner Paul Rogalski's heart, as he recently lost two people who were close to him to Alzheimer's.
To celebrate the Calgary Stampede's 100th Anniversary, the party will be a "chic midway experience", featuring "a gourmet spin on carnival food" - I'm very excited to taste what Chef Rogalski will create (it wasn't named #60 in the world two years ago for nothing!) and also rub shoulders with some local personalities, including Dr. Sam Weiss from the Hotchkiss Brain Institute as well as local businessman and Stampede President George Brookman.
Guests are encouraged to wear "rouge" and white, and perhaps something a little more whimsical to fit with the carnival theme. I'm totally stoked to finally have the chance to wear the white dress I bought on a whim a few years ago. I will be pairing it with a pair of red TOMS wedges. My designer friend recommends a fascinator and a big chunky bangle. I guess I have to go shopping!
Interested in some good food, carnival fun and charity? Tickets are $125, available by calling Rouge at (403) 531-2767. See you there!
Full Disclosure: I have been invited to attend this event for free as media.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Cross-posted from Calgary is Awesome.
As I noted last week, I was super-stoked to be one of the food bloggers "cooking" for the 1st Annual Start from Scratch Summer Social last Thursday! The event, held at J. Webb Wine Merchant in Casel Marché, was a big hit, having sold out two days beforehand. There was good food, good wine and people bidding like crazy on all of the awesome silent auction items, which included many exclusive experiences like Top Chef Canada finalist Trevor Bird cooking a dinner in your home, or learning how to make sausage and charcuterie with Connie DeSousa of CHARCUT.
Many thanks to Dan and Jacinthe for inviting me to be a part of it!
Unfortunately because our schedules didn't mesh, I didn't end up cooking/collaborating with Chef Roy Oh of Anju, but instead he created and made the recipe, and I took all of the credit! ;) Some of the other bloggers did get to work - Michelle even whipped out her chef's whites and got to work piping Chicken Liver Mousse under the tutelage of Dominique Moussu of Cassis Bistro.
(Beside her is Grayson Sherman of Jelly Modern Doughnuts, slicing strawberries for his Strawberry Shortcake Doughnuts)
Stephanie E. told of how she helped to "butcher" some salmon for the Teriyaki Salmon with Cucumber, Edamame & Greek Yogurt Salad with Chef Kyle Groves from Catch.
Lori (aka The 10 Cent Designer) collaborated with Chef Drew Masterman of Blue Star Diner and Dairy Lane to create delicious gluten-free Spicy Lobster Tostadas!
The tostadas were one of the stars of the evening - everyone loved the combination of tender lobster, crispy tortillas, sweet mango salsa and spicy sambal oelek.
Despite not directly helping Chef Roy prepare his dish, I would say I did a pretty good job selling it -
"PEI mussels steamed in white wine, with a Korean-style sauce of black garlic, ginger, serrano chiles, sesame oil and soy sauce on Sidewalk Citizen sourdough crostinis."
Chef Roy wasn't sure if there would be burners available (some of the chefs ended up going up to one of Casel's show suites to do some prep), so he brought his own. Some marvelled at it, but we all know that all Asian people have one in their homes for hot pot ;)
I noticed that the sauce had a bit of sweetness to them, and when I noted that to Chef Roy he said that his palate tends to be on the sweeter side, so even his savoury dishes have a bit of sugar in them.
Later on in the evening, Chef Roy also rolled out a "vegan option" - an hors d'oeuvres version of the Grilled Japanese Eggplant with Gochugaru from his restaurant. We didn't have enough crostini to serve it on, so we ended up stealing crackers from the cheese plates posted around the event! :P
Other highlights... I loved the smoothness and richness of the Chicken Liver Mousse from Cassis, but they also did a lovely Raviole de Royans aux Trois Fromages avec Beurre Basilic which was B.'s favourite of the night. The ravioli was cooked to order before being topped with the basil butter and parmesan cheese, and the three-cheese filling of comté, goat cheese and gruyère was super-creamy and decadent.
For dessert, I loved the Lime Sugar Cookie & Chocolate Pistachio Ice Cream Sandwiches by Gwendolyn and Chef Geoff Rogers of Home Tasting Room. The hint of lime flavour in the cookies reminded me of summer cocktails, and there was a bit of a kick to the ice cream, thanks to the addition of chipotle (which is suspiciously missing from the recipe they gave to Start from Scratch...)
All in all, it was a fun night and I can't wait to see how much Start from Scratch raised. I wish I could comment on the wines too, but unfortunately I had a job interview the next day!
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
It seemed like we were still buzzing from the first Health Professionals' Culinary Club when we met to cook and eat again (though here, on the blog it seems like a longer span of time because I am inefficient when it comes to posting!)
This time, the focus was legumes. Again, Kristyn prepared a comprehensive resource on pulses and legumes. All the recipes we cooked were from Julie van Rosendaal and Sue Duncan's cookbook, Spilling the Beans.
It was one of those rainy spring days, so we warmed up with some Curried Sweet Potato, Carrot and Red Lentil Soup (which I've made before) as we talked about the nutritional benefits and preparation tips for different types of beans, before we got down to cook.
We were short a few members that day, so Kristyn was in the kitchen as well, which meant that unfortunately there are no photos of us prepping, chopping and cooking. Still, everything went quickly and smoothly, a nod to how well we are already working together as a group, and to how easy Julie and Sue's recipes are to follow!
M. tackled the Barley & Wheat Berry Salad with Chickpeas & Feta. M. eats mostly vegetarian (she says it's hard to convert her family) and has a wealth of knowledge on legumes, grains and vegetarian meals, but is very humble about it all. She actually soaked and cooked up a big batch of dried chickpeas for us to use in the recipes. The salad was hearty, full of nutty flavour from the grains, with some fresh flavour from the celery and lemon-based vinaigrette, and a touch of sweetness from the chopped dates.
The Stir-Fried Chickpeas & Asparagus with Barley (instead of rice) & Lemon-Tahini Dressing was definitely the crowd favourite, with its boldly flavoured dressing, and the contrasting texture of the barley, chickpeas, asparagus and almonds. I think it's intended to be served warm, but we ate it more as a salad and it was still delicious.
My favourite was the Hoisin Black Bean Wraps, which we made with shrimp. I loved the sweetness of the red peppers, water chestnuts and Hoisin sauce, and the crisp lettuce contrasting with the tender shrimp, beans and vegetables.
Last but not least, L. and I tackled the Spaghetti with Garlic, Chickpeas & Kale. L. got a little panicky when she read that the recipe calls for a whole head of garlic, but we persisted. The recipe does call for a range in the amount of pasta - we went on the higher end, and I thought it was a little too much. Still, I loved the bitter-sweet kale contrasting with the distinct, garlic flavour - yummy!
With all the dishes featuring pulses (that's a lot of protein and fibre!) we were much too full for dessert, but I am definitely eyeing the Sticky Cinnamon Buns, and Kristyn has successfully made the Banana Bread many times!
As usual, I will share the group's favourite recipe, the Stir-Fried Chickpeas & Asparagus with Barley & Lemon-Tahini Dressing.
Stir-Fried Chickpeas & Asparagus with Barley & Lemon-Tahini Dressing
Adapted from Spilling the Beans
Makes 4 servings
- ¼ cup (60 mL) tahini
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) hot water
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) canola oil, divided
- 1 x 19 oz (540 mL) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or 2 cups (500 mL) cooked chickpeas)
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 onion, chopped
- ½ bunch (about ½ lb/225 g) asparagus, cut into 2-3 cm (1-inch) pieces
- 2½ cups (625 mL) cooked barley (or rice to make it gluten-free), cold
- ½ cup (125 mL) sliced almonds, toasted
Nutrition Info (per serving): 595 calories, 32 g fat (4 g saturated, 0 g trans), 0 mg cholesterol, 63 g carbohydrate (15 g fibre, 8 g sugar), 17 g protein, 294 mg sodium. An excellent source of thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), folate (vitamin B9), vitamin E, vitamin K, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. A good source of niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin B6, and calcium.
- Prepare the dressing by shaking all the ingredients together in a jar or other small, covered container. Whisk together the ingredients in a small bowl if you're a little more civilized. Set aside.
- Heat 2 tsp (10 mL) oil in a heavy skillet set over medium-high heat; add the chickpeas and cook for a few minutes, until they start turning golden. Add the garlic and cook until the chickpeas are nicely golden and getting crispy. Transfer to a shallow bowl.
- Heat another 2 tsp (10 mL) oil in the skillet (if needed). Add onion and cook for 4-5 minutes, until golden. Add the asparagus and cook for another 1-2 minutes, covering if needed, to allow the asparagus to soften. Transfer to bowl with chickpeas.
- Heat remaining oil in skillet and cook the barley for a few minutes, allowing it to heat through and brown a little bit. Add the chickpeas, onion and asparagus back into the skillet and toss to heat through.
- To serve, separate into bowls and sprinkle with almonds. Drizzle with a bit of the tahini dressing and pass the rest around the table.Tip: If you're balking a little at the high calorie count, serve yourself smaller portions, use less fat when preparing the stir-fry and/or use less dressing.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
I am out of town right now so I don't have a photo of my calendar in front of me, but I can tell you right now there were no happy faces for the whole month of May :S Let's see how I did on my other goals...
Clear My Plate
In May, I got the news that part of my plate will be "cleared" after the month of June... It's not the way that I imagined my plate would be cleared but it has allowed me to think about what I'd like to do with my time. Part of me wants to chill out for the summer and start picking things back up in the fall, while another part of me has already picked up more things (naturally) We'll see what happens!
Be a tourist in my own city
B. and I went to see The Black Keys, which was a blast, and I tried some new restaurants. We also attended a wedding in Kelowna and we fell in love! We stayed at a very nice B & B, went to the farmers' market, visited Carmelis for goat cheese and goat gelato and ate our way back to Calgary. Oh, and of course the wedding was a lot of fun, held at the beautiful Summerhill Pyramid Winery. We are currently in the process of figuring out how to get back there for an extended August long weekend.
Drink at least 1 L on non-work days
Still struggling! At one point I lost my water bottle and B. kindly went to MEC and bought me one just like it within a day. Which reminds me, I should go fill it up...
Get at least 7.5 hours of sleep per night (i.e. 10:30-11 PM bedtime) at least two nights per week
Seeing as how I don't have any happy faces on my calendar for April and May (which worries me a little, as it may be contributing to my "quarter-life crisis"), unfortunately I think it's time to downgrade back to meeting this one night per week for June...
Looks like things are going slow and steady! Hope the second half of the year will be good for my goals!
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Cross-posted from Calgary is Awesome.
Start from Scratch (formerly Kick the KD) is a not-for-profit initiative by local food writer and blogger Dan Clapson to teach post-secondary students how to cook. Students from University of Calgary and Mount Royal University are hand-picked to participate in the 10-week program, which not only teaches participants to slice, dice, bake and broil, but gives them the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the city's top chefs and food writers. I know many non-university students who wishes they were still in school just for this!
So what does this have to do with me? SFS is having its 1st Annual Summer Social on Thursday, June 21 at Casel Marché to raise funds to expand the program to other universities and cities across Canada. Six food bloggers, including myself, will be paired with six chefs in the city to prepare special appetizers to serve at the event:
Calgary Herald food writer Gwendolyn Richards (Patent and the Pantry) is partnered with Geoff Rogers, Executive Chef at Home Tasting Room
Local food writer, Globe & Mail columnist and talented baker Stephanie Eddy (Clockwork Lemon) will be cooking with Catch's Executive Chef, Kyle Groves.
The multi-talented interior designer, photographer and foodie Lori Andrews (The 10 Cent Designer) will be making some gluten-free treats with Drew Masterman, owner of Dairy Lane Café and Blue Star Diner.
Michelle Maingat of yumyumyummers is teamed up with Dominique Moussu of L'Épicerie, Cassis Bistro and le Petit Mousse.
Food blogger and writer Stephanie Arsenault (Global Dish) will be making doughnuts with Chef Grayson Sherman of Jelly Modern Doughnuts.
Last, and hopefully not least, I am super-stoked to be cooking with Chef Roy Oh of Anju.
I say hopefully, because I still have no idea what we're making yet, and Dan has told me everyone else already knows...
Whatever it is, I'm sure it will be delicious! Tickets for the event are only $50, and there will also be a silent auction, with one of the prizes being Top Chef Canada finalist Trevor Bird cooking dinner for you and three others in the comfort of your own home!
Sunday, June 03, 2012
Cross-posted from Calgary is Awesome.
A lot of burger restaurants have been popping up around town lately - a few weeks ago I visited Smashburger and I still have yet to make it down to Clive Burger. Rounding out the trio is Black Betty Burger & Winebar, where Calgary is Awesome Managing Editor Irene and I found ourselves a couple nights ago.
Full disclosure: Irene's cousin Jen is doing some marketing there and got us set up with a free tasting.
Irene and I started with a couple malts - "grown up" milkshakes made with ice cream with different liqueurs and flavourings. Irene got the Vanilla Bean malt and I went for the Naughty Betty (both $11).
They don't look like much, but I'm sure with the ice cream and alcohol they were probably 500 calories each. Irene's malt had ice cream, vanilla, bourbon and caramel vodka - the caramel flavour was a little overpowering and the malt was quite sweet. The Naughty Betty, on the other hand, was ice cream with tequila, Kahlua and caramel. We liked the caramel-coffee flavour, and while the thought of having tequila in there may be off-putting, we could barely taste it... it was just an extra teeny little buzz at the end of each sip.
Instead of ordering from the menu, we got to try slider versions of five of their burgers, plus a side of fries and aioli for dipping: The Betty, Blue Elk and Lamb are part of the Betty Slider Trio ($15) on their appetizer menu. Our sampler was rounded out with a Chicken burger and Veggie Betty. All of the burgers were on toasted mini-brioches, except for the Chicken burger, which was on a ciabatta.
From our least favourite to most favourite...
I'm always excited to try veggie burgers - there are lots of varieties out there, and it's interesting to try the different flavours and textures. The Veggie Betty is a marinated portobello mushroom stuffed with herbed ricotta and roasted red pepper, topped with avocado, onion, lettuce and chipotle basil aioli. The combination of mushroom, ricotta and avocado, just made for a very soft, almost mushy sandwich, without the "resistance" that you'd usually get from a meat burger.
You have to like lamb to like the Lamb at Black Betty as it is quite gamey. The herbed ricotta, cranberry mint yogurt and cucumber give it a bit of a Mediterranean vibe, but we felt there was a little too much going on condiment-wise.
The Chicken burger is more of a sandwich, with thick, moist piece of grilled chicken between fluffy slices of herbed ciabatta. The sundried tomato pesto gives a subtle, herb flavour; sliced tomato and melted mozzarella complete the sandwich.
The Betty is Black Betty's take on a classic bacon cheeseburger, with a moist brisket patty, maple peppered bacon, mozzarella, fried onion, honey truffled Dijon and a touch of BBQ sauce. I loved the crisp bacon and onion in this, which contrasted nicely with the melted cheese and fresh tomato.
Our favourite burger was the Blue Elk. The elk patty was thick and juicy, and we loved the sweet, smoky Bourbon Black Betty sauce. If you're a blue cheese fan, you might be a little disappointed because we could barely taste it (perfect for a non-blue cheese fan like me!)
The fries were very lightly coated in baking soda or baking powder(?) making them extra crispy - just the way I like them! The aioli was smooth and creamy, but not too rich.
Still, the sliders were quite filling, which was too bad as despite being a burger bar, Black Betty actually has a pretty diversified menu, including appies, sandwiches, flatbreads and main entrées which Irene and I really wanted to try! Also, seeing what a full-sized burger looked like would've been good too :S
Even though we were pretty stuffed, there is always room for dessert! I was excited to hear that we would be served the Salted Caramel with Chocolate Ganache, as I'd been eyeing that on the menu since we'd arrived.
For me, it was a bit of a letdown - the salted caramel was a little too salty, and overpowered the chocolate ganache, which was not rich enough for me. Poor Irene couldn't even have any as it contains nuts!
I would definitely like to go back to Black Betty to try their other dishes (and grab another Naughty Betty Malt!) They offer live music on a little stage towards the back most nights, so I'm sure that'll be a great experience too!
Black Betty Burger & Winebar
606 1 St SW
Calgary AB T2P 1M6