28 August 2008

Vij's at the Cottage.

Yes, I took a cookbook. And yes, I took the Vij's Restaurant cookbook. It's slightly intimidating. So what better to test it out then at the cottage when you have all day to cook...

I made the Vij's Lamb Popsicles with Fenucreek curry and Turmeric Potatoes.

Phew! That was not a crazy amount of work, but it was a crazy amount of cream!!!

I am not going to post the recipe because I followed it to the letter, and I don't want to get the copyright police after me (because the copyright police are just WAITING for me to slip up), but I have to say, there's a lot of cream in this recipe. But it's worth it for a special treat!

First start the potatoes...

The potatoes just slowly cook in a little water, covered, until they are cooked through. You don't stir them so much as you periodically turn them during the cooking process. It cooks in onion and seasonings. It's fantastic. A really nice side dish for any meal, but really good with the crazy four cups of whipping cream curry sauce that accompanies the lamb chops.

Then you start the curry, which is cream and seasonings that just slowly simmers away on the stove. You then season the lamb chop, and you grill it until it's to your liking. You put the potatoes and curry on the plate and throw the popsicles (gimmicky, sure) on the pile and tuck in.

A word on the lamb chop. I like lamb when it isn't crazy game-y and when it isn't crazy fatty. This was right on the line, and really enjoyable. But it was so incredibly heavy!

I recommend the cookbook if you like Indian food, though. It's amazing.

(PS, you may notice my Obama support on the side of the page. Yes, I live in Canada, but I am an American citizen and vote in every election from here. He just rocked the DNC, and while I was keen on Hillary, I feel that Obama has a lot to offer the country. I can't help but being reminded of the last season of the West Wing, though. It worked for Jimmy Smitts, and let's hope it now works for America.)

24 August 2008

Eating Lakeside.

This was the view from our dock. Just a beautiful expanse of freezing cold water. Lovely. G says it wasn't freezing cold, but to this girl, who was getting over a bitter cold, it was too cold for comfort.

But it did inspire lovely light lunches on the dock. I didn't take photos of most of them because they were just run of the mill incredibly delicious sandwiches and the like. BUT, I did take a picture of our lovely antipasto lunch...

We had bought some odds and ends at the St. Lawrence prior to heading up to the cottage, as well as a wonderful asiago cheese at the Gravenhurst farmer's market! (I was definitely glad that I had my wellies the day we went to the farmer's market. There had been an absolute killer of storm over-night and teh ground was quite muddy!) The cherry tomatoes were brilliant. The meats were lovely. The crackers crunchy. The eggplant skewer thing... grim grim grim. Blech.

For dinner, we wanted to stay away from the traditional hamburger, even though I am a hamburglar. Instead, we decided to make some beef keftas with brown rice (which I love) and fresh green beans and tomato with garlic aoili.

I even took a photo of the keftas grilling...


The keftas were spiced with some red pepper flakes, cumin, pepper, and whatnot. G made up that recipe, so I am at a loss as to what went into it. I made the brown rice which, as per usual, cooked up more like a risotto. I can't make it fluffy. It's lovely and I will eat tons of it, but it's always really creamy in consistency.

The garlic aioli was made with our very pungent Ontario garlic. I love it. Everything on our plate was local.

Vacation at the Cottage.

Spending a week at a cottage is in no way a bad vacation. In particular, spending a week at a cottage with beautiful sunny days, loads of books and magazines, and a well-planned menu is definitely not a bad way to spend a week. And we relished it.

You've already seen the steak... but what about the chickens? Oh yes. I absolutely HAD to make another Everybody Likes Sandwiches recipe for bbq chicken and coleslaw. And we had to have them as sandwiches. (As this is the second recipe of hers that I have blogged about in the past few days, I am feeling a bit like a stalker, but her stuff's good, man.

The downside? Only that the picture is total nonsense.

I was using G's camera because I completely forgot to bring my own, and I wasn't used to it at all. It's a proper camera, not like my lovely little Lumix, and I really was out of my league. You can't see the chicken, but believe me, you'd love this chicken dinner...

When you look at the link for the actual recipe, you will see that ELS's chicken is a bit more bbq-y looking. I did not bake the chicken in the oven, opting instead to utilize the grill outside since it was such a luxury. BUT! It turned out lovely on the grill and I took the marinade and cooked the absolute heck out of it (to kill any beasties) with some Sirachi sauce to make a thick sauce for the sandwiches. You just can't see that in the picture.

Here's my adapted recipe based on what was available:

bbq chicken sandwich topped with north carolina coleslaw

1 small green cabbage, shredded
1 large shredded carrot
1 onion, diced crazy small

1.5 c apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c ketchup

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs,
1 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp cumin
1 T olive oil

1. Combine the cabbage, carrot and the onion in a large bowl. Mix the dressing ingredients in a medium sized bowl and pour about 1/3 of it over the slaw. Refrigerate the slaw and keep the remainder of the dressing aside. (This is directly from ELS.)

2. Take the chicken and dust with chiptole, cumin, etc. Dump in the remaining sauce and marinate the chicken for a couple of hours or so. Turn it ever so often if it's not all fully covered.

3. Shake off the marinade and have your resident grill master (G, in our case) grill the chicks to perfection.

4. Take the remaining marinade and put in a small saucepan. DO NOT TASTE. Add some Sirachi sauce to taste, and let cook for AT LEAST half an hour or longer. It will thicken considerably, and eventually you should be able to kill in raw chicken badness.

5. Shred the chicken and place on white hamburger buns. Top with coleslaw and some of the cooked sauce. ENJOY!

This was really a very good thing. In fact, it was so good that I am going to make it for my Mom when she comes to visit in September. I really think she will like it. The chicken comes out slightly sweet and really flavourful. The coleslaw is tangy tangy tangy. (Actually, I made this again later in the week and used much less of the apple cider vinegar and it suited G's tastes much more.) The coleslaw is crunchy and sweet and spicy. It really fits on the sandwich and just adds another element.

We served this with exceptionally fresh Ontario corn. This corn was by far the best corn I have had this season. It's not been hot here (which is unusual) and it's been crazy rainy (which is also unusual) and so all the fruit and veg seem to taste slightly different this year. The corn has not been great, but we bought this one at a farm stand that sold only corn and wild blueberry's. Yeah to both.

23 August 2008


A cat who is clearly only barely tolerating my existence. Sheesh. Such disdain.

Macaroni Cheese, Please!

(I have posted a ton of things this morning... I am so behind... so keep reading...)

I have the best macaroni cheese recipe. I have adapted it from a Cooking Light recipe I read circa 1994, and have varied it over the years, but it's always been a favorite. And, it's light. Which means I can eat the whole pan. (Okay, it doesn't really mean that, but I love it anyway.)

For this version, I stole an idea from Otto's staff dinner, and used orecchiette pasta. And it was amazing.

The recipe I used is as follows:

Light Mac-n-Cheese

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 2/3 cup skim milk
1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese
some cheddar cheese, preferably old (this is a 'to taste' situation)
1 tbsp goat cheese
cooked pasta of your choosing
bread crumbs (I like the italian seasoned ones)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Pour one cup of milk into a measuring cup and add the flour. Whisk together.
Pour mixture into the saucepan, and add the remaining milk.
Whisk fairly continuously over medium heat for about 8-10 minutes until it's thickened.
Put in the cheese, and whisk whisk whisk until it's all melted.
Mix in the pasta and tip into a sprayed pan of your choosing. (This is where it gets tricky. I like to use a pan that is fairly deeper and not too wide because the mac stays creamier. But it's a personal preference sorta thing.)
Dust on the bread crumbs, bake for about 20 minutes or so, and then put under broiler for a few minutes to toast the crumbs. ENJOY!

You can vary this in a lot of different ways. You can add tomatoes with great success, turkey sausage, chorizo, chopped up cooked chicken or ham, and so on. You can also vary the cheese. But because you use skim milk, no butter for the bechamel, and stronger cheese, it stays pretty low-fat. I've also made this with spelt, rice or whole wheat pasta, and it's always great.

I hope you try it. It's really a delicious thing to make, and it makes amazing leftovers.

Everybody Likes Sandwiches' Pasta.

I love the food blog Everybody Likes Sandwiches. It's one of my favorites because she always makes lovely things that I would like to eat... and then I was moved to act by the tale of two pastas...

I made the creamy tomato pasta at the link above, and added some chicken (because we had just bought a new grill pan that afternoon and I needed to try it...).

It was AMAZING. The pasta we bought at the St. Jacob's Market and it was actually way way way too thick for this sauce, but the sauce was so tasty and really fresh and lovely. I enjoyed it.

I followed her recipe pretty closely, and then just grilled the chicken with salt and pepper. I have a massive weakness for pasta with chicken. This will definitely be made again...

Here's the recipe... I hope ELS's doesn't mind...

creamy spaghetti with 2 kinds of tomatoes
250 g spaghetti
3 fresh tomatoes, diced
4 sun dried tomatoes, diced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 heaping T basil pesto
salt & pepper
1 T olive oil
3 T goat cheese
zest & juice from 1 lemon
handful of fresh basil, torn

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, pesto, olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic together in a large bowl. Let the flavours meld as the pasta cooks. Add the drained pasta, goat cheese, basil, zest and lemon juice to the bowl, toss well so the pasta gets coated everything and serve. Mmmmmmm.

Cookout at G's Parents.

Before we left for vacation, G's parents invited us over for a little bbq. How could we say no?!

G's mom had marinated some steak, made a potato salad (or did we make that?), G made a zuke salad, and we brought some corn from the below mentioned St. Jacob's market.

Look at all that deliciousness!

The potato salad G's family makes is nothing like our potato salad. The potato salad my family makes is a mayo and mustard based one with eggs. G's family's is a lemony salad with olive oil and onion. It's really light and totally unlike ours that it's funny. Here's a close up of G's...

It's very tasty, though, and because it's so light, you eat too much. Okay, I eat too much, but whatever. :)

And here's a close-up of G's zuke salad...

Really good, and a nice way to spend an afternoon.


I left out two very important parts of the KW weekend in the post that you haven't read yet because it's now under this one...

We had an AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING raspberry custard pie that D bought from a bakery at the St. Jacob's Market.
Apparently, this pie is hard to find. The bakery only makes it for a couple of weeks a year, and they sell out pretty quickly. There was only one of them left, and D was telling us how amazing the pie was, and how rare it was, etc., and then G said, Why aren't we buying it then?! (She doesn't mince words!)

It was amazing. (Did I mention that?) I don't like pie all that much, but this was a definite score. I would gladly eat this again and again.

On the Sunday morning, P made waffles. P is a master waffle maker. They are the stuff of legend. So he treated us to delicious homemade waffles, and we gladly ate them up!

YUM! Thanks Guys!!!!!

Pazzo in Stratford.

Before heading off to see 'the Music Man', we settled down for dinner at Pazzo. This is a great place for dinner. It's fast, affordable, and delicious. But a word of warning... it was also very very hot in the downstairs restaurant. It was such a relief to leave the restaurant. You can't blame it for being hot, though. The pizza ovens are running full tilt.

Anyway! We sat down and immediately settled on the antipasto plate for two. We shared it between the four of us, which was really more than enough!!!

There were all kinds of antipasto meats, cheese, a little chickpea salad, olives, mushrooms, roasted garlic (yumyumyum), pesto, zuke salad, and artichokes, I think. It was phenomenal, and really a nice way to nibble on things prior to the main course of carbs.

G and I both ordered the calzone. About two years ago (I am too lazy to look for the post), we ate at Pazzo and G declared the calzone the best she'd ever had. I had to tuck into that to see if she was right...

It was really nice. I like a bit more sauce than this one had, but otherwise, the fillings were all very fresh tasting, the crust was firm and chewy at the same time, and overall it was a very fulfilling meal.

P had the lasagna and he just raved about it...

From this picture it looks more like a salad with a side of lasagna, but no, P said the lasagna was quite filling. Both P and D are vegetarian, and this was a spinach and cheese lasagna. P raved about the fresh tasting sauce, so we all tried it, and it was really amazing. Really home-made tasting, and perfectly seasoned. I know I was totally jealous of his order!

'The Music Man' was quite fun. I've seen the movie with Robert Preston a number of times, and P really wanted to see it, so off we went. It was a lot of fun. The crowd went CRAZY though. Except for the elderly gentleman in the back who had had enough and said quite loudly, "I want to go now" or something to that effect.

The Stratford Festival is a lot of fun, especially if you like theater. We've seen some really excellent things there, and I recommend it. Plus, on the way into town, there's an excellent English foods specialty shop in Shakespeare. Go go go.

Behind per Usual.

There are tons of vacation pictures to post, but I am going to back up a bit and cover our delightful trip to the lovely Kitchener/Waterloo area, and Stratford.

We have some excellent friends who live in KW, and we don't see them nearly enough, so we made a plan to go for a visit, hit the St. Jacob's Farmer's Market, and Smart car it over to Stratford to see 'the Music Man'. We had an excellent time.

G and I had a leisurely drive to KW. Once we arrived at our friend's house (which is just beautiful...I am quite envious), we chatted for a bit, I showed off my iPhone (because I have no shame), and then we set off to the St. Jacob's Market. It was brilliant. I am just going to post a hodgepodge of photos, so bear with me for a moment...

So you might be getting the impression that there are lots of veg at this market. You would be right!

However, it wasn't JUST fantastic veg. G had, what she called, the greatest pickle ever. And it was on a stick.

AND! There was a schnitzel wagon.

And no, gentle reader, I did not partake in the schnitzel wagon, despite my unbridled love for the schnitzel. Curses.

BUT! We did manage to get some corn, even thought it was almost all gone...

The corn was okay. It didn't rock my world, but it was good.

We bought tons of stuff, and filled up the Smart car...

If you are doing the math, you may be wondering how the four of us fit in that Smart car. We didn't. P and D have TWO! So we congo'ed to the market AND to Stratford. Good times.

18 August 2008

We're Baaacccckkkk!!!

Ahhhh. Vacation. How I love thee.

G took this picture while we were standing on our dock, watching the sun set. It was so beautiful. We had an absolutely terrific time. It was relaxing, calming, and it really gave us a chance to hang out together, read, swim, canoe, cook, cook and cook. Oh yeah, we cooked it up!

And our first night there, we had to take advantage of the bbq and grill the old standard, steak, corn and potatoes!!!

Look at that great dinner! The steak was fantastic, really tender and juicy. We bought the on the vine cherry tomatoes at the Farmer's Market on the way to the cottage. The corn was a teensy dry, but really nice.

We didn't do anything special to the steak. We just gave em some salt and pepper and grilled em up. For the potatoes, we cooked them in the microwave for a second (yeah, this cottage was decked out!), then put them in foil on the grill. So terribly delicious. And a great way to say "welcome to the cottage!"

As an aside to the odyssey of my stomach... I went to my family doctor to get the fix for the h.pylori. (Yes, I have to do it again, but this time for two weeks because my stomach is too full of the little buggers.) Apparently, when I discussed my stomach issues with the GI doctor, I failed to remember any of it. I can only imagine it was the extreme reaction to the sedatives I'd been given. So my doctor shows me the GI's report, and it was illuminating. He diagnosed me with IBS, told me to stay away from caffeine and sugary drinks, no fried foods, and made a note that I am lactose intolerant. LACTOSE INTOLERANT! Where did that come from?

So I started taking lactaid this past week. And I have to confess, I never realized how much dairy I ingest. But it's helped, there are noticeable differences that I won't go into here, but, I think some of that may have been the complete lack of stress! Anyway, we'll keep updating.

09 August 2008

Cottage Time.

While we have been away alot this summer, we really haven't had a vacation. Earlier in the year, when we chatted about where to go, what to do, and rattled off a list of great sounding locations, I turned to G and said, "I just want to go sit somewhere." It didn't matter to me if we sat on the beach or on the mountain, I just wanted to go somewhere and be calm.

So, we quickly decided to get ourselves a cottage. And we just happened to luck into one that is owned by a guy G works with who rents out his cottage for about two weeks a year. So we booked ourselves in and waited...and waited... and waited...

And now it's TIME!!!! We are really excited, even though the weather is supposed to be kind of crap. I have a bag of magazines (I have saved this month's Gourmet, etc) and a bag of books, and the will to just relax and sleep and forget the world for awhile.

But how is this food related?

I have planned the menu. I have scoured the magazines and the cookbooks, and we are stopping at the store tomorrow on the way to get the remaining items that we need. I am so excited!!!

05 August 2008

She's an Inspiration.

Our friends D & P have this delightful dog, Zoe. She had to have both her eyes removed, and I know that for D & P this was a very painful decision. But she was living in so much pain, it had to be done. And now, she's just the biggest inspiration ever. She's happy, she's brave, and she's a cuddler. She took lemons and made lemonade and sold it and made a million. She rules. And she's just beautiful. I think you'll agree!

Lahore Tikka House.

First thing you need to know about the Lahore Tikka House is that it's crazy. It's been under construction forever, and the seating has moved outside for summer on patio and park tables.

It's a bit surprising really that this lovely place is in the middle of Toronto!

Next thing you need to know about the Lahore Tikka House is that the food is amazing. Now really, that's probably the first thing you need to know, but really, it's just amazingly good food. Served hot and with a smile.

You order on a little card full of promising delights...

Then you just sit back and wait.

G ordered a mango juice...

And I ordered a diet coke. (No pic, you know what it looks like!)

First up was a grilled paneer tikka masala.

You can't really see the paneer, but it was there and it was dellllicious!

From there, we started getting our mains. I ordered a mixed grill, which was tandoori chicken and spicy meat. It was SO spicy, it was literally burning my mouth to eat it!!!

This was such a steal. Tons of rice, tons of meat, and beautifully grilled tomatoes and peppers, giving off a subtle juice to all the flavours. I took a few close-ups...

Here's the chicken...

The chicken was covered in spices and beautifully grilled. The meat was lovely, as well...

It had some sort of a soft coating on it, really spicy, and just mouth-wateringly good. I really enjoyed every bite of this, and was stunned to see that I couldn't finish it all (even though I can finish most dinners!!!).

G ordered lamb and chicken... but I only have photos of the chicken...

It was also really spicy.

This is my first real entry into Pakistani food. To be totally honest, we've eaten here twice before, and both times we have split a couple of curries. And both times before, we got really sick. I think the food is just tooo dang spicy for two girls with stomach problems. But this is a place well worth going to. It's absolutely fantastic!

Lahore Tikka House on Urbanspoon

04 August 2008

Last Week's Food.

G had her bike stolen fairly recently. The police have recently made a couple of arrests, and found over 3,000 stolen bikes, putting them in a giant warehouse for people to come in and claim their missing bikes. We were hopeful that G's would be among them.

But alas. No. G's bike was nowhere to be seen.

We had plans to make dinner that night, having bought some corn at the farmer's market over the past weekend. But blech. The corn was rank, and our spirits were low after not finding her bike, so off we went to Sneaky Dee's for some half-price fajita goodness! For those of you who read this blog, or know me at all, you know the Sneaky's is a favorite brunch place of mine. But half-price fajitas pretty much rule, too.

Just look at G's fajitas...

And you get all the fixin's, as well. Guac, sour cream, salsa. It's really pretty outrageous.

Where are my fajitas, you may be asking? Well, once I sat down and looked at the menu, I was drawn to the chicken burrito.

Yum. Yum Did I mention... YUM! Sneaky Dee's reminds me of the college town I lived in during school, and this just hit the spot totally. Lovely pieces of chicken, wrapped in a tortilla with beans, covered in red sauce and cheese and baked. Served with rice and a little salad. Oh boy. Sneaky Dee's is good, but it's not fancy.

There is a Chinese takeaway near my office that I eat at sometimes. I am in the middle of watching the first (and sadly only) season of JPod on my iPod, and I went over to get some takeaway and relax for about twenty minutes of JPod viewing. I ventured out of my roast pork and rice comfort zone and got food that, in retrospect, is oddly orange...

(I really mokeyed with the exposure on this one so as not to scare away any children who might read this blog.)

I had chicken terriyaki and meatballs. Meatballs. Weird. It was actually quite the leap of faith to try them, but they were fairly tasty. I always get steamed rice and just a tasting of noodles. I enjoyed this lunch, and laughed my way through JPod. I have to say, the person who plays John Doe is toooo cute for words.

We also revisited Vegetarian Night last week with our friends P and D from upstairs. It was our turn to cook, and since I knew that P has been training for a marathon, I thought I better make it carb heavy.

First up: Skilled Pizza from BBC Good Food Vegetarian Summer magazine.

This is a great and simple recipe! Do the following:

Mix 8oz of self-raising flour with 1 tsp of cayenne papper. Stir in about 2 oz of cheese. Add 3 tbsp of olive oil and 6-8 tbsp of water to form a soft dough. Roll out to the size of your large frying pan. Heat 1tbsp of oil in the frying pan, and add the dough circle, cooking slowly for about 5 minutes to let the base get golden. Flip it out onto a plate, and put it back in the pan so it can cook on the other side. While it's cooking, add some tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings to taste. (I added a little bit of dry packed sun-dried tomatoes.) Put under the broiler for a couple of minutes to brown the cheese and eat!

This was great and P & D seemed to really enjoy it!

I also made a made-up version of pasta fagioli soup.

I browned one onion with some garlic for a couple of minutes. I added the stock and some rosemary, bay leaf, and salt and pepper. I let that heat up and then I added some canned red kidney beans. After letting all of that meld together for about 10 minutes, I took out the rosemary stalks, lightly pureed some of the mixture so that it would thicken up, and dumped in a package of fresh cheese tortellini. Once it was all cooked, I served it up.

It looked like this:

Again, everyone seemed to enjoy it. It's really quite light despite the beans and pasta. Little did I know, but D loves tortellini, so he was quite pleased!

I also ventured into a wheat-free meal last week. I decided to make a bolognese type sauce with polenta.

This turned out remarkably well. We had gotten some ground meat at the market that was really amazingly tender. I added mushrooms, onion, garlic and shredded carrot, canned tomato sauce and a can of Italian cherry tomatoes. Cooked it all together with the browned meat for a bit, added a couple of swigs of Belazu balsamic, and we were ready for dinner! (The polenta was an instant polenta with parmesan cheese added.)

G really liked this dinner, and it gave us a nice wheat free alternative. I quite enjoyed it and will definitely be making it again down the road.

All in all, it was a good food week last week. With the long weekend upon us, we took off for an evening to the Kitchener Waterloo area, equipped with my new iPhone and a dream. More on that later....

Sneaky Dee's on Urbanspoon

Pancake Day at the Market.

The St. Lawrence Market had a HoeDown recently. And while we didn't partake in the dancing, we did of course indulge in the Toonie Pancake Breakfast!

That's right, folks. For $2 you got two lovely pancakes with butter and syrup and two grilled sausages! Grilled right before your very eyes and served up by the auxiliary police.

Ah. Bringing the community closer together...

They were going to have a food tasting thing later on, and you had to buy tickets...

And people were rarin' to go. We didn't stay for that part, but we did snap some shots of people milling about the crafts...

The market is really nice, and lots of fun. And by one of the cheese stalls, we found a visitor, who really stood out because he was making a spectacle of himself!

And, he was crazy blue!

(I guess this beemster cow was a she, since Beemster is a cheese company...and dairy comes from girl cows not boy cows... I did pay some attention in science class...)

I've said it before and I will say it again, the St. Lawrence is a fun market. But it's overly crowded some times and the prices can be a bit dear. We used to go almost every weekend, and in the summer, we do go more frequently, but it can be quite expensive.


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