Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Using the Force to Cook Vegetarian

            The wonderful and lovely people who work and run The Painted Lotus, a fantastic tattoo shop in my home town held a fundraiser for The BC Children’s Hospital. It was epically Star Wars themed and these hardworking folks raised $12000 for the cause. For my part, I made a little food to fuel their efforts. It was a small thing but I hope it was helpful. I put together some Brisket sandwiches which I have explained in earlier posts and I did some salads as well. I will give you the vegetarian option I came up with to hopefully quell the hunger of the non meat eaters in the group. This one goes out to the lovely people at The Painted Lotus for all of their hard work and generosity towards a great cause.

The Painted Lotus Veggie Sandwich to the tune of Duel of the Fates

1 eggplant sliced
Cherry tomatoes halfed
Feta cheese crumbled
Onion finely diced
Green olives quartered
Mint minced
Rice wine vinegar
Sesame oil
Olive oil
Good rolls

-So the proportions of the ingredients are really up to you to find the balance that you like. I will throw in little bits of advice as I go.

-We will start with the marinated vegetables: In a good sized jar, I use an old pickle jar, add your tomatoes, onion, olives, and mint. Then add in your oils and vinegar. I use the usual 2-1 oil to vinegar ratio, maybe a little bit more vinegar. I also mix the olive and sesame oils 1-1 otherwise all you will taste is the sesame oil. Once all of this is in your jar give it a good shake and let it sit in your fridge for at least a few hours to let all the flavours come together.

-As for the eggplant if you don’t draw some of the water out of it you will end up with a soggy and less than pleasant product. So give it some salt and let it sit for about an hour or so. Pat it dry. Add some oil to a sauté pan over medium heat. Add in your eggplant and cook until golden and slightly soft. Remove from the heat onto paper towel to absorb any excess oil.

-Split and toast your rolls and put your sandwiches together. And enjoy your sandwich.

Adam Shows You the Joy of a Sandwich

            A very quick post where my friend Adam shows you how to tell if the food you have made for others is successful. This is the reaction you are looking for and the reason that I cook as much as I do. Make people happy through the eating.
It starts as a want

Then a realization
Than the happy

'Nuff said

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Mussels a la Condor and Sparrow

            I have to give props on this one to the oft mentioned Toby Stubbs for the inspiration for this post. We have had many discussions about the glory of shellfish, specifically mussels. Now, the bummer of my friend Toby’s life is that he has found a wonderful and beautiful and simply amazing woman to spend the rest of his life with who is allergic to shellfish. I am regaled with stories about how Tiffany had a girls’ night out and Toby, with manic glee, wolfed down like 5 pounds of mussels while he could and then lapsed into a food coma. We have all been there, well I have been there. So here is a little bit of shellfish cookery in honor of Toby’s love of mussels.

            I also have to mention that my little sparrow friend was in on this one too as it was the appetizer to the halibut plate we put together in the last post. Jilly loved the broth so much that once we had eaten all of the mussels and shrimp she was digging in with a spoon. So I am going to say that it turned out pretty well. So here it is mussels and shrimp in a Thai inspired broth. It is super easy and crazy good. Enjoy.

Thai Inspired Mussels and Shrimp to the tune of Then Go On by The Old Canes

2lbs fresh mussels cleaned and beards removed
8-10 good sized tiger shrimp
1 can coconut milk
3 Thai green chili peppers chopped
The juice of one 1 lime
A splash of dark beer

-Over medium heat add the coconut milk, peppers, lime juice, and beer into a sauce pan and heat up for 5-8 minutes, allowing all of the ingredients to come together.

-Strain out the chunks of peppers and return to the heat.

-Add in your mussels first and then your shrimp cover and cook until the mussels open, this should take no more than a minute or two.

-Dump the whole mess into a bowl and serve with some nice bread and you are done son. Enjoy.
What you are left with... a bunch of shells and satisfaction

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Halibut with and for My People

            As I have said more than once before I love it when I get a call from my friend Jill. Jill has a huge passion for food and is always game to give something new a try. So Jill and I hit the market with no real plan in regards to what we were going to cook in an attempt to let the ingredients speak to us a little bit. We were not disappointed because the bounty of spring was upon us. We decided on a bit of a seafood feast because Halibut was starting to come in, fresh off the boat and looked fantastic. So Johnny and Jilly put together this little dish and it turned out fantastic. A little bit classic, a little bit, well, us. So here is what we came up with.

Halibut with Roasted Bell Pepper and Asparagus Salad to the tune of Closer by Joshua Radin

Fish Part
Halibut, 4 4-6oz portions
¼ cup butter
Some finely chopped dill
The juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper

Salad part
1 bunch of asparagus, bottoms trimmed off
2 red bell peppers
2 parts olive oil
1 part rice wine vinegar
The juice of ½ a lemon

We will take care of the salad first.

-Heat your oven to 400. Rub your peppers down with a little bit of oil and salt and pepper and toss them onto a sheet pan and into the oven for about 20 minutes turn every once and a while until the skin starts to char and peel away.

-While this is working cut your asparagus into bite sized pieces. Heat up a little bit of oil in a sauté pan and add your asparagus with a little salt and pepper. Let it work until al dente, remove from the heat and allow it to cool.

-Mix oil, vinegar, and lemon juice until it is emulsified.

-Yank out your peppers and allow them to cool in a covered bowl, this allows the skin to come off a little easier. Once cooled remove the skin and cores and chop into bite sized pieces. Toss with the asparagus. Dress right before serving.

Now for the fish.

-Heat up a sauté pan over medium high heat and add you butter and let it melt and heat up but not brown. Add in your lemon juice.

-Pop your fish in, skin side down and let it work for a couple of minutes, watch it closely. Once there is a nice sear flip it and add your dill. Give the fish a poke. It should be a little firm but not stiff. That is the only way I know how to describe it. Remove the fish and let it rest for a couple of minutes.

-Now plate up. We used Israeli couscous as a starch but you could use rice, a mashed potato or even pasta if that is all you had. This was a simple fish dish but it was so tasty. The rhythm section of our little band wolfed it down like we were going to try and take it away from him. That’s proof positive that it was pretty darn tasty. Give it a go.    

Monday, 18 March 2013

Shepherd's Pie

As all of my friends will attest St. Patrick’s Day is my holiday. It is the only one that I really celebrate, mostly because of my Grand who was fiercely Irish. Now I have spent most of these holidays in pubs drinking good Irish beer and questionable Irish whiskey with little to no thought to the food I could be eating. In recent years with the help of my friend Toby we have played with some Irish food, bacon and cabbage and Irish stew being the favorites. This year I wanted to do Shepherd’s Pie. This may not be the most authentic Irish thing but My Grand made it and in my mind that makes it more than Irish enough. There are many people that will make this with beef instead of lamb, this is cottage pie, and as good as it is, it is not Shepherd’s Pie. You have to use the lamb. I have added in some of my own touches such as the bacon and the beer but the taste is 100% from my Grand’s kitchen and 100% delicious. I hope that you get a feel for the Irishness of this dish and that you enjoy it. Erin Go Bragh.

Shepherd’s Pie to the Tune of Ode to Whiskey by The Chieftains

1lb ground lamb
6 slices thick cut bacon
2 onions medium dice
2 big carrots or 5 bunch carrots
4-6 mushrooms sliced
4-5 small potatoes cubed
¼ cup butter
1-2 tsp finely chopped winter savoury
1-2 tsp finely chopped rosemary
Salt and pepper
Beer, I used a Red Irish Ale about 350 ml

-In a large pot, over medium high heat add your oil, onions, garlic, ground lamb and bacon. Brown your meat. Drain off any fat or grease.

-Add in your carrots and your beer and herbs. Reduce heat and let simmer for around 45 minutes.

-In a large sauce pan add your potatoes and fill with water until they just float. Put it on high heat and bring to a boil. Boil until the spuds are soft. Drain the water and mash until they are semi smooth. Add your butter and a little salt and whisk them until they are light and fluffy.

-Back to your other pot. Add in your mushrooms and your peas and cook for another 5 Minutes or so. While this is happening heat your oven to 350 degrees.

-In a pie plate or a square baking pan spread out your meat and veggies. Spoon your spuds over the top and spread them out evenly over the top. 

-Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and Bam said the lady you got Johnny’s version of Shepherd’s Pie.