Szechuan

Mar. 17th, 2013 10:43 am
chickenfeet: (Default)
The lemur bought me a couple of books by Fuschia Dunlop about Szechuan cuisine so, as one does, I've been experimenting.  I'm particularly taken by the cold dishes because they make getting four or five dishes onto the table for a meal so much simpler.  They range from various ways of dressing peanuts to salads to a whole class of dishes where slices or chunks of chicken (or rabbit) are mixed with scallions and dressed with oily, spicy dressings of various kinds.  I particularly like the one I did last night which uses chilli oil and Szechuan pepper to create the flavour known as "hot and numbing".  It went rather well with a cold dish of green peppers, a dish of pork and bamboo shoots, a simple courgette dish and a rather good thing of pigs' kidneys.
chickenfeet: (Default)
Our local Chinese supermarket, T & T, currently has an Asian style outdoor night market going on in the parking lot. As one would expect it's mostly food vendors. We wandered down to take a look. There was seriously smelly smelly tofu, the usual range of "thing on stick", very odd looking BBQ whelk and something described as a "mussel omelette". We tried it despite it being one of the least appetising looking things I have ever put in my mouth. The "omelette" was made from sorched lettuce, mussels, eggs and a sort of sticky, glutinous batter, probably rice based. It was topped off with a lot of a bright pink, mildly chilli flavoured sauce. The whole thing looked like it had been run up by Baldrick on an off day.

It tasted OK if rather unremarkable and I wouldn't cross the street to eat another. We did have some very tasty northern Chinese style lamb on skewers though.
chickenfeet: (Default)
This is another slightly late post for [personal profile] commodorified's Cooking for People Who Don't carnival.

I do cook. I cook for two people most days and we eat quite well for not a ridiculous amount of money. I've been doing this one way or another, on and off (for lengthy periods I was on the road and ate out a lot) since I was a university student and herrings were 25p/lb.

My advice to someone who wants to eat reasonably well for not too much money or time is to look at what poorish people eat in countries that are noted for good food. What I notice when I do that is that people eat a lot of pulses and vegetables, sometimes with a little meat, sometimes not. Soup/stews of vegetables and pulses are very common in France, Italy and North Africa and can be very delicious. They also freeze very well and we pretty much always have a few one or two person containers of garbure, jota, harira or their siblings in the freezer. Although these kind of dishes require a bit of time to prepare they require next to no skill.

Here's recipe for the Moroccan dish, harira, that is often eaten at the end of the day during Ramadan. This works fine too if one leaves out the lamb and uses some extra chickpeas and lentils. I usually make double this quantity so as to have plenty to freeze.
chickenfeet: (Default)
Last Saturday I bought a four pound chunk of outside round with the intent of making Sauerbraten. To the best of my recollection this is a dish I have eaten precisely once; at a rather old fashioned German restaurant in Chicago. I cooked it on Wednesday after the required 72 hours marination. It turned out quite well. It's a very strongly flavoured dish that I wouldn't want to eat very often but interesting nonetheless. The sauce is also very thick. I might thicken it less if I do it again.
chickenfeet: (Default)
[personal profile] gale_storm asked for the recipes for the Thai meal I blogged about a couple of days ago. So here goes:

Salad of green mango and shrimp )

Pork stirfried with longbeans and roasted chilli paste )

Nam prik kapi )

Choo chee curry )

Gai lan with oyster sauce )

Serve all the dishes at the same time with steamed Thai rice.

chickenfeet: (Default)
It was free Wednesday at the ROM yesterday so we went for the first time in ages. In fact, I think the last time we went was when the Crystal first opened to the public but there were not yet any exhibits in it. Now, of course, it's fully kitted out and holds, inter alia, the South Asian and Middle Eastern collections. I have to say I was underwhelmed. The use of the space just isn't interesting. It's like being in a hospital with a few weird angles but there's no use of light and space. We did have one of those occasional museum epiphanies though. There's an object I either hadn't seen before or had somehow not grasped. It's a lion in glazed brick from Nebuchadnezzar's throne room. It's in fantastic shape. The blue glaze on the bricks is a bit faded but otherwise it looks pretty much as it must have done as it looked down on; well one can only imagine what it it looked down on.

Afterwards we headed to Volo for a beer. As usual there were some pleasant surprises; a really excellent dunkelbock from Beau's that seemed to have qualities of a weissbier and a Belgian ale all in one, a very well balanced pale ale from Junction (Conductors Pale) and a citrusy House Ale saison. We also tried a Churchkey Great Gatsbier but could not get past a first sip of horror and a second just to confirm the horror. It smelled and tasted of cheese and not very nice cheese at that. Both the lemur and I are no strangers to what the Chinese call "developed flavours" (i.e. like a rotting corpse but in a good way) but this was just plain vile. The saison was a complimentary replacement for it. The folks at Volo are good that way.

We finished off with a bowl of udon each at a Japanese place down the street. I wish I could remember what it was called because it was vry good. The noodles themselves were excellent. My tempura udon came with a generous serving of tempura on the side rather than a couple of pieces on top of the soup. The lemur's seafood udon was very seafoody with shrimp and razor clam and scallop. For less than $10 each it was a steal.

Ay ay ay

Aug. 11th, 2011 09:16 am
chickenfeet: (srscat)
There is a reason, besides the heat, why most Thai kitchens are away from the main house. I've just cooked a batch of pork with garlic, rice and chillis using a more authentic amount of chilli and garlic than last time. The kitchen is pretty hard to breathe in even with the extractor going full out.
chickenfeet: (Default)
Just the two of us so It's a one course lamb based extravaganza:

Roast leg of lamb larded with garlic and anchovy
Flageolets à la bretonne (cooked with onions, garlic and tomato)
Golden beets with walnut oil
Roasted fennel
Green beans splashed with olive oil and balsamic

I'm going to open a Hermitage "La Chapelle" 1979. I hope it's still OK. I shall be sorely disappointed if not. Currently sipping a glass of Bechtheimer Rosengarten Kabinett 2007. It's very nice.

ETA: I've just decanted the Hermitage. It's definitely fading but still very nice. Intriguing leather and spice notes and still some raspberry fruit.
chickenfeet: (fishy)
Yesterday I made harira. It was very good. Harira is a Moroccan soup traditionally eaten at sunset during Ramadan so it's designed to provide rapid nourishment for hungry, cranky people. It falls into the category of "meal soups" which is important to us as with our insane and ill matched schedules [livejournal.com profile] lemur_catta and I like to have such soups in the freezer to provide a quick and easy meal whatever time one of us comes in. There are probably at least as many recipes for harira as there are families in Morocco but this is the version I made.

It's pretty simple. Take 500g of lamb cut in cm cubes, two chopped onions, a small handful of chopped parsley and 250ml or so of chopped celery preferably including leaves. Also spices; itsp ground black pepper, 1tsp turmeric, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, pinch pulverised saffron. Cook this lot fairly gently in 30g of butter for about 5 minutes then add a 28oz can of diced tomatoes and cook for another 15 minutes. Now add 2L of water, 200g lentils and 125g dried chickpeas (soaked overnight) and salt lightly. Simmer for about two hours until lamb and chickpeas are tender. Meanwhile beat two eggs with the juice of half a lemon. When the soup is cooked check the seasoning, chuck in the egg mix and turn off the heat. Stir the soup so that the egg forms egg strands in the soup.

Serve in large bowls topped with a couple of thin slices of lemon and a dusting of ground cinnamon and accompany with crusty bread.
chickenfeet: (fishy)
[livejournal.com profile] lemur_catta saw a recipe the other day for skate with preserved lemon and olives which sounded good but she didn't have any details. I managed to find a recipe on line that sounded like it would work so i decided to give it a go. I cook skate quite often but I have always poached it on the "bone" (I know it's cartilage not bone but whatever). This recipe called for the skate to be filleted and skinned. This is actually quite tricky; certainly trickier than filleting your average fish owing to how the thick bit of cartilage that lies on the edge of the wing is configured. Still, it was doable and I turned 750g of skate into 500g of reasonably presentable filet with only a bit of swearing.

The rest was easy. I cut the fillet into serving pieces and dipped them in seasoned flour. I also prepared 20 green olives. I used the kind called "cracked green olives" and blanched and pitted them. I chopped half a preserved lime (because I have preserved limes in the fridge not lemons) and also chopped a small handful of flat leaf parsley. I melted 80g of butter in a small pan and kept that handy on the heat. I heated a skillet very hot and added a decent amount of olive oil. When that was smoking I added the skate, cooked it one minute on each side and transferred it to heated plates. Meanwhile I heated the butter to beurre noire stage and tossed in the olives and lime followed by the parsley. I spooned the sauce mixture over the skate and that was it. It was excellent. We had it with some crusty bread to sop up the sauce and followed with a red pepper and fennel salad. We drank an Argentinian Torrontes from Alamos with it. It was a very good match indeed. The flavours in the food brought out some Muscat notes in the wine I hadn't noticed on first tasting it.

I really like skate. It's one of the few fish that is reasonably priced here, it's delicious and it's one of the more sustainable fish catches.
chickenfeet: (fishy)
I've just put a big pot of lamb shanks in the oven. One of the butchers at the market this morning had local(1) lamb for a very good price so I bought half a dozen shanks. I'm cooking them using Jamie Oliver's recipe for slow cooked spiced lamb shanks, which is excellent. I love lamb. When and where I grew up it was much cheaper than beef so we ate it a lot. Due to absurd subsidies to the cow industry, it's not so relatively cheap but I still grock it. I've never understand the common Merkan aversion to sheep meat. Any way, it's one of those dishes that's probably even better if left to develop overnight so it will be dinner tomorrow. Tonight we shall feast on squid, another favourite. Also I have lamb kidneys which will be grilled with bacon for brunch tomorrow. [livejournal.com profile] lemur_catta is not sure if she likes lamb kidneys but (a) they may prove to be one of those things (long list) that she didn't like until she had them cooked properly or (b) more for me.

(1)As the ads say, 10,000 coyotes can't be wrong.
chickenfeet: (fishy)
Brunch today with [livejournal.com profile] lemur_catta and [livejournal.com profile] pigsnout000 at Globe Bistro. It's located at Broadview and Danforth so it's just a short streetcar ride for us which was nice given the weird weather. It was very good indeed. They gave us free taster size smoothies while we were looking at the menus. The coffee was very good. The food was excellent in concept and execution. I had the "Fry Up" which was yer classic of the kind with bacon, sausage, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, eggs, champ and toast. Every component was damn near perfect. The toast was a lovely sourdough, the beans were homemade and delicious, the bacon was from Cumbrae, the sausage and black pudding exemplary. Even the grilled tomatoes were good and I don't like grilled tomatoes! The lemur had chestnut pancakes with apple compote and a spiced up creme fraiche. They were delicious. D had a bacon melt made with the same sourdough as my toast. It came with excellent potato salad and green salad. Nothing was complicated but it was all very carefully done and beautifully presented. It's also a very nice room and the service was excellent. The bill, with tax and tip, came to $63. I can see us trying it for dinner in the not too distant future.
chickenfeet: (fishy)
Tonight:

Seared scallops served over spring mix, hazelnut vinaigrette
Angel's Gate Riesling 2006

Duck breast with duPuy lentils, green beans and a red wine pan sauce
Marynissen Lot 66 Cabernet Sauvignon 2000

Cheese *

Tomorrow:

Home cured Gravlax with the usual trimmings
13th Street Cuvée 13 Sparkling Pinot/Chardonnay 2005

Roast leg of pork with garlic/lime roasted potatoes, Brussel sprouts and maple glazed carrots
Chateau Kirwan 1999

Cheese*

*On the cheese front we have:
Mont d'Or
St. Maure
Red Leicester (the real farmhouse stuff)
Colston Bassett Stilton
Something from Montfort - soft ripened sheep's cheese coated with savory
chickenfeet: (Default)
Last night: Shrimp risotto. A simple risotto flavoured with white wine and saffron with a a couple of handfuls of shelled, raw medium shrimp and the zest of a lemon stirred in a few minutes before the end.

Tonight: Lamb shanks. This started life as a Jamie Oliver recipe but I'm not sure it really is anymore. Take six lamb shanks and brown in olive oil. Remove from pan and add two onions, six carrots and half a head of celery all diced and six crushed cloves of garlic. Cook until starting to caramelize. Deglaze witth a slug of balsamic vinegar and several glugs of white wine. Add six anchovies, a 28oz can of diced tomatoes and herbs of choice (fresh thyme today). Replace lamb shanks and simmer until the meat is falling off the bone. Adjust seasoning.

Yesterday we did our first serious looking for a new condo. We saw four places at various points along the lake but clearly one pays a lot for a lake view in a newer building and those buildings seem to be spending a lot on showy extras we don't really need like flashy lobbies. The one place we saw and like was in the Merchandise Lofts. This is a former Simpson's/Sears warehouse which has been really nicely converted. The whole place has a cool vibe and the unit we saw had lots of space and made good use of it. The building has a real gym which I would actually probably use. It's also the first condo building I've been in in ages where the average resident seemed to be younger than me! I think the search is going to refocus on lofts and give up on the lake.

Vacation

Sep. 2nd, 2008 07:53 am
chickenfeet: (srscat)
We are in Petaluma. The flight down was uneventful and the drive up from SFO was made decidedly less stressful by the GPS. Sunday was mostly spent settling in, buying supplies etc. The lemur's favourite market here is Wholefoods. I can see why [livejournal.com profile] panjianlien refers to it as Whole Paycheck.

Yesterday we headed off to Healdsburg and the delights of the Russian River Valley. We tasted at four wineries; Clos du Bois, Trentadue, Preston and Mazzocco. Clos du Bois was very good; excellent wines and informed, friendly staff. Actually they were all like that which reminds me why I like Sonoma so much more than Napa. Mazzocco is amazing. They make a Chardonnay and a couple of Cabs but their real raison d'etre is Zinfandel. They had fourteen Zins available. We tasted four aand all were quite excellent and very distinctive. It's just amazing how they bring out the character of each vineyard. Don't bother looking for their wines in stores. Like some of our Niagara faves they sell out through a combination of mailing list and cellar door.

We lunched at The Bear Republic Brewing Company in Healdsburg. We had brilliant burgers and I had fabulous garlic/parmesan fries with mine. The lemur had the very good lobster bisque. The star though was the beer. They do an IPA called Racer 5. It was amazing. When I described it as being "like Al's Cask on steroids" the lemur looked at me like I was nuts, until she tasted it. They also do a version with an extra hit of hops. It was good but essential balance seemed to have been lost. The Racer 5 definitely goes high on my best beer ever list.

All in all, the food and drink around here is amazing. The net thing to check out will be the seafood.

The only not so good is that, after months of behaving itself, my ankle is being a bugger. I ran yesterday in pain and I'm resting it today. We'll see where it is tomorrow.
chickenfeet: (canada)
It's the annual celebration of bad folk singers and fireworks and even the odd dude in kilt and baseball cap with bagpipes (WTF??). [livejournal.com profile] lemur_catta and I are not very good at Nationalism so we wen out for lunch instead. Today's choice was the Beer Bistro which we keep avoiding because it's a it pricey for a lunch/brunch spot. It's worth the money. The food is upscale gastropub and it works. Every plate i saw come out of the kitchen looked gorgeous and our food was delicious. I had the Wild Hog pizza; an excellent crust topped with pulled Berkshire pork, Berkshire bacon and roasted garlic on some sort of sweetish onion, tomato and beer reduction. The lemur had fettucine with rabbit, Berkshire bacon, mushrooms,tiny tomatoes and some sort of green herb. It was very good indeed. She also had a slice of flourless dark chocolate stout cake which came with cream and very good mixed berries. I drank Paulaner Salvator and Durham Hop Addict while the lemur had Affligem Blonde. All three were very good beers indeed.
chickenfeet: (fishy)
In the summer [livejournal.com profile] lemur_catta and I don't get to eat dinner together very often. Her dance and my rugby commitments mean that we maybe get to eat a home cooked dinner two or three times per week tops. Tonight was one of them. I thought it would be nice to have a proper meal. The freezer coughed up Massaman curry and long beans cooked with roasted chili paste plus some choo chee sauce. There was also some nam prik kapi in the fridge, I added some veggies and herbs, cucumber stirfried with bean curd and eggs, a pomelo and shrimp salad and some seared sea scallops for the choo chee sauce (giant sea scallops $8.88 per pound at T&T, FTW). That and some rice and we had a feast for not much work at all.
chickenfeet: (fishy)
Today I broke my poutine duck with, appropriately enough, duck poutine. This momentous event must be put in context. Poutine is, canonically, a dish consisting of French fries topped with fresh cheese curds, covered with brown BBQ chicken gravy. It is mostly only eaten by Quebeckers and, even then, mostly only when drunk. This explains why, in twenty five years in Canada, I have never so much as tasted the stuff. In recent years though, fancy chefs have started to offer fancy versions. I have even seen versions featuring foie gras. Therein lies the key to today's story.

The lemur and I decided to go out for lunch. We both felt like a change from our more frequented lunch spots. We thought of Kultura because they do a really good eggy brunch but it seems that's all they do at lunchtime and that didn't hit the spot. However, on the webpage where I was checking this info there was a list of other places in the neighbourhood and one of them, Gilead Cafe, was completely unknown to me, as indeed was the street it was located on, Gilead Place, which turns out to be a sort of back alley in the unpromising area between King and Front just east of Little Trinity Church. Anyway, we gave it a shot. The actual cafe is rather nice. It's part of the burgeoning Jamie Kennedy empire and is a combo cafe, fancy deli and bakery. I think the kitchen also supports JK's event catering operation. It had a decent list of blackboard specials, one of which was confit of duck poutine. I decided to risk it. I wasn't disappointed. It came in a deep bowl. A generous helping of Yukon Gold frites had been topped with shavings of mature cheddar and lots of shredded duck confit. The dish was doused with an incredibly intense duck jus and topped off with some snippets of chives. It was really good. The lemur had a very good open face croque madame made with home cured ham which was morw than satisfactory. Including a pot of darjeeling tea, the bill was under $25. Pretty good value in my book

In other news, yesterday was a day of squee. I saw a deer by the Don river while out riding my bike and then went to [livejournal.com profile] sabotabby's birthday bash at McVeigh's. This featured the awesome miss [livejournal.com profile] sabotabby herself (of course) plus quite a few of her friends who are excellent company and I even got to argue with a completely unreconstructed Stalinist which I haven't done for years. Later on we were 'entertained' by possibly the worst Irish band in the entire universe. Drowning in green beer with plastic shamrocks shoved up their arses would be too good for them. They really had that Ed Wood "so bad it comes round to good again" quality.

Fish

Apr. 7th, 2008 12:16 pm
chickenfeet: (fishy)
I don't know why it should be but the local T&T store (big Asian supermarket) has fish that's as good as and way cheaper than anywhere else around here. Yesterday, skate was half the pice I'd pay anywhere else and it was very good indeed. Similarly, salmon was about 2/3 what it was selling for elsewhere.

The upshot of this was that last night's dinner was raie au beurre noir which remains one of my all time favourite fish dishes. Long may skate continue cheap. (I probably shouldn't be saying this. It may do a monkfish on us).

There is also a decent sized batch of gravlax on the go because one can never have too much gravlax.

On a completely unrelated note, I was watching the Patrice Chéreau Rheingold (Bayreuth, 1990s) last night. It occurs to me that if you are going to cast a soprano as well endowed as the average Wagnerian soprano (in this case Carmen Reppel) as Freia and put her in a seriously low cut dress then the rest of the gods fixation on "Freia's ripe golden apples" takes on a whole new slant.
chickenfeet: (Default)

indianfood
Originally uploaded by jgilks@rogers.com

Last weekend I cooked up a bunch of Indian vegetarian food.

Clockwise starting at 9 0'clock we have cabbage cooked with onions, coriander, chilli and yoghourt chutney, potatoes with dill, curried beets and beet greens, rajma dal, cauliflower with carrots, eggplant bharta with Punjabi sag in the middle.

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