Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Fettuccini alla Carbonara

Remember I said I like smoked stuff back in my previous post? Well, after a long foray away from it I have added a bit of back bacon into my diet. I can hear relatives fainting for miles around. I haven't touched any meat but seafood for at least twelve years or so since I got sick every time I ate something with too much mammal fat in it. But I have to admit that of all the things I gave up, bacon was the one thing I hated giving up the most. Streaked bacon does still do me in with nausea (Yes, Mom, I tried) but back bacon doesn't (it's not streaked with fat). So in the past I used it in my corn chowder recipe and last night I made a favourite of Frog's : Fettuccini alla Carbonara. According to him, this meal is to the French student what Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is to Canadian students.
I'd call it a breakfast on pasta because it basically entails eggs and bacon on fettuccini. I served it the way the French do, with a raw yolk on top. It is perhaps a bit risky with the eggs we get around here but it gets mixed right into the hot pasta so it cooks a bit before it is eaten. I would recommend it because it adds a really nice creaminess to the whole dish.

Fettuccini alla Carbonara
-my notes in brackets

3/4 lb uncooked fettuccini or spaghetti
4 oz pancetta (Italian bacon) or lean American bacon {I used Canadian back bacon}
3 garlic cloves cut in half
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup heavy cream or whipping cream
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Generous dash of ground white pepper
Fresh oregano leaves for garnish {never used it last night, nor do I have fresh}

1) Cook fettuccini in large pot of boiling, salted water until just al dente. Remove from heat. Drain well. Return to dry pot.

2) Meanwhile, cook pancetta and garlic in a large skillet over medium-low heat for 4 minutes or until pancetta turns a light brown. Reserve 2 tbsp drippings in skillet with pancetta. Discard garlic and any remaining drippings {I was lucky to get one tbsp --a drawback from non-streaky bacon perhaps}

3) Add wine to pancetta mix; cook on medium heat for 3 minutes or until wine is mostly evaporated. Stir in cream; cook and stir 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

4) Whisk egg and egg yolk in top of cold double boiler. Place top of double boiler over simmering water, adjusting heat to maintain a low simmer. Whisk in 1/3 cup of cheese and pepper into egg mix. Cook and stir until sauce slightly thickens. Remove from heat.

5) Pour pancetta mixture over fettucini in pasta pot. Toss to coat. Heat over medium-low heat until heated through. Stir in egg mixture. Toss to coat evenly. Remove from heat. Serve with remaining cheese {and an egg yolk in it's shell. Save egg white for other dish}. Garnish, if desired.

My Ten...errr... Eleven Favourite Foods

I was tagged by a fellow food blogger, Michele of Chef Michele's Adventures for this subject. I have to name my top ten favourite foods. Seems an awfully limited thing for us foodies out there, doesn't it? Fellow Canadian Ruth of Once Upon A Feast is credited for starting this this meme: You are what you eat.

I just couldn't pare it down to the ten foods. I had to add one more because I just couldn't leave it out. Here they are, in no particular order:

1)Ginger- any way : fresh, pickled, candied, jellied, you name it, I like it. All hail ginger!

2)Anything from the onion family: onions, shallots, leeks, green onions, garlic … ahhh how I love them all, cooked or raw.

3)Berries: I never met a sweet berry I didn’t like. Tomatoes don't count. I said sweet didn't I? ;-) Like with peas, these have some childhood memories attached to them. Part of childhood's summer was finding the berry bushes from which to gobble all you could eat of things like blackberries, raspberries, salmonberries, blueberries, thimbleberries. My newest love is pink currants (My future mother-in-law has some growing amongst her red currants). The pink are more sweet than the red.

4)Pickles: I love pickles and will try anything pickled in the hopes of finding new favourites. My current favourites are Vlasic dills and Bick's Pickled Banana Peppers

5)Sushi: life wouldn’t quite be the same without sushi…. *drool* My favourite place to go is a little shop in the mall, would you believe it? But they make the best sushi I can remember having. If you're in the area, try it out: Togo Sushi

6)Almonds: Any way. Any where. Especially almond paste.

7)Chocolate: Like I could leave this out? I don't count white chocolate though. Too sweet for me and not REAL chocolate anyways. ;)

8)Peas: I looooove peas! In the shell, out of shell, snow, snap, sugar, fresh, frozen, dried. I think this one has one of the closest associations with childhood because of my Mom's garden. She always grew peas. My sister and I were given the run of the garden for a between-meal snack. I headed to the pea patch a lot to slit open the emerald beauties, pop the peas in my mouth and then chew on the pods like it was gum. Ahhh....

9)Anything with a smoked taste: smoked salmon, smoked gouda, smoked cheddar, bacon, kippered herring, smoked oysters, smoked mussels, etc. I’ve even been known to put liquid smoke in things like mashed potatoes because I love the taste so much.

10)Potatoes: Mashed, baked in the jacket, fried, French fries, scalloped, hashed. Oh mighty starch, you call my name!

11)Goat milk products including the milk and the cheese. Yummers! Some people find the taste of the milk too strong for them but I like the tang it has. I absolutely fell in love with this when I first had it in France.

A perfect meal of mine entails something like this: an amuse-bouche of tuna sashimi, a starter of broiled chevre salad, followed by a main dish of hashed browns with fried onions, peas and a smoked fish, dill pickles on the side, followed by a dessert of chocolate covered almonds and chocolate-dipped candied ginger.

Okay Foodie psychologists, what does that say about ME?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

It wouldn't be Christmas without them

I think I always liked Christmas the best of all the holidays because there was so much more to prepare. For weeks you were shopping and baking and decorating. Since I was little I used to help my mom prepare Christmas treats: thumbprints, peanutbutter balls, mince tarts, butter tarts, fudge, cinnamon buns, carrot pudding.

It was a little bit of a Christmas spirit boost to have my kids in class make peanutbutter balls. Since none were allergic to nuts and it didn't involve cooking, it was one of those easier class projects to do. Now they are all begging me for the recipe. Of course I'll give them the recipe (and you too).

Peanutbutter Balls

Step 1

3 cups peanutbutter (I think we always used smooth but I think it really doesn't matter)

3 cups icing sugar

3 cups rice krispies

2.5 tbsp melted butter

1) Cream together peanutbutter and icing sugar until well mixed. Set aside.

2) Mix rice krispies and melted butter until rice krispies are well-coated.

3) Slowly fold rice krispies mix into peanut butter gently until thoroughly mixed in. Be sure not to be too hard on the mixing as it will crush the rice. Set aside

Step 2

Thin butter icing

2 1/2 cups icing sugar
4 tbsp soft butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
Milk to moisten

Cream butter until fluffy. Gradually blend in icing sugar and vanilla. Add milk until icing is thin enough to flow freely from mixing utensil but thick enough coat the untensil well.

Step 3

unsweetened fine flaked coconut
food dye

Drop several drops of food dye into coconut. Mix with a fork until well blended and evenly coated with the colour. The amount of colour and the colours used are up to you. Traditionally my mother used just red and green. I used more unorthodox but pretty pale green, blue, white and purple this time around.

Step 4

1) pick up a chunk of the peanutbutter mix about the size of your thumb and roll into a ball about one inch in diameter. Continue until all the peanutbutter mix is rolled up. Depending on the size of your cookies, this should be about 4 dozen.

2) Dip each ball into the icing, roll until covered. Then drop them into the coconut, rolling until completely covered. Put onto a cookie sheet with a waxed paper lining. Repeat until all done. Place in freezer to harden an hour or so. Place in wax paper lined cookie tins, layering with waxed paper if necessary.

Hmm... I think that does it. This is WAAAAAAAAAAY more detailed than my mother's recipe. I think there was just a general understanding of the way it worked.

My sister and I liked Step 4 the most, much to my mother's chagrin, because we always licked our fingers between the rollings. We'd always be washing our hands again and again because she'd catch us doing it. Afterwards we both be sick with the sugar we'd consume. Somehow she never really stopped us though. It was funny when I made this with my students on Tuesday as they had the same look of "Nirvana reached" that we must have had when they sucked the icing and coconut off their fingers.

The same night I also made butter tarts thought I must admit I cheated a bit on them because I used pre-made tart shells. Yes. I admit it. I am an untried and scared hand at pie/tart pastry. So what I am giving you here is just the filling recipe. I hope you have your own tart shell recipe. I can give you my mother's if you want. Let me know.

Butter Tarts

1 egg
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup currants
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp lemon extract

Mix all ingredients together until foamy. Fill tart shells 2/3 full. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Let cool. Store in wax paper lined cookie tins or well-sealed plastic containers.

The currants add a sour-sweet edge that raisins just don't have. They are far too sweet in such a dessert. The lemon is a beautiful touch too as it enhances the sour-sweet of the currants. I converted a confirmed buttertart hater with these kind because he says the currants were not too sweet.

Not too much to it, eh? That's the beauty of them.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Busy little chipmunk

Only in food blogger land...

Frog from the living room: "Dinner's ready, isn't it?"

Me, in kitchen: "Yes, how did you know?"

Frog: "I could hear the camera beeping"

* * *

I was a busy little chipmunk in the kitchen last night than I was in a long while. I made two different Thai curries and two kinds of Christmas cookies. And I even managed to watch most of "The Triangle", second installment. Aaaaaaaaah... It's so nice to have reporing period over.

I used my Thai green curry and my Thai red curry last night. I pretty much used the same method for both although the ingredients in the sauce were almost exactly the same. For the red (His) I cubed up chicken breast for the main food item. In the green (mine) I used a mostly vegetarian content. I really liked the green better than the red and HE liked the red better than the green. Wow... much better choice making than the weekend! Here's the recipe for mine:

Nerissa's Thai Green Curry

1 tbsp oil (I used olive)
1 small block super firm tofu, diced
1 large green pepper, seeded and diced into 1 inch squares
4 inches of broccoli stem, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup small broccoli florets
1/2 cup frozen cut green beans (I suppose you could use fresh... not that WE get any)
2 1/2 tbsp prepared green Thai curry ( I used Maejin brand)
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 cup coconut milk

Heat skillet over medium heat and add oil when warmed up. Once heated, add tofu. Stir constantly until browned around the edges (1-2 minutes). Add green pepper, broccoli stems and broccoli florets. Stirfry with toful until the vegetables are bright green (up to 5 minutes). Add frozen green beans. Stir into vegetable tofu mix for 1 minute. Add green curry paste and fish sauce. Stir into vegetable tofu mix for 1/2 a minute. Add coconut milk. Stir to mix in curry. Let come to a simmer and keep on lowered heat, bubbling, for 5-8 minutes. Serve. Good with freshly cooked hot Thai Jasmine rice.

Serves 4

This was oh so yummy! I found Frog's red curry to be too salty for my taste. But he loved it. That's the main thing. Here's his:

The two cookies types I made are butter tarts and peanut butter balls. Both are highly addictive, suger-laden treats I grew up with. They are ONLY for Christmas (What other time of year would you justify that much fat and sugar?) in my opinion. Kinda like my mom's cinnamon buns... but that's for another day...
As I have to close up this post soon, I'll leave you with the pictures but post the recipes later.

The oh-so-yummy (favourite phrase today) butter tarts, oozing with brown sugar and currants. I know most butter tarts I've encountered outside my family have raisins but currants are the only way to go with these puppies. I couldn't imagine them without the little sour edge to those little jewels.

Peanut Butter Balls (hopelessly unimaginative in name but a joy to peanut butter lovers). My kids made some with me yesterday afternoon. They are all clamoring for the recipe and as enamored of the butter icing on them as I was at their age. They went a little overboard on making the coloured coconut so my making them at night was a way of using up the leftovers.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Let me swim in the soup...

Next time they'll have red-carpet rolled out by the seabus. I swear I felt so loved and cosseted at Shearwater on Thursday to warrant that kind of thought. People at the seabus so glad to see us again after a two-week hiatus. Lots of new things at the Shearwater store (okay maybe that doesn't make YOU feel like a princess but it does for me). But then there was dinner...

It was nice to look at the shimmery tree right near our table as I sipped my hot chocolate with whipped cream on top. I'm not normally a whipped cream girl but this stuff was great. It wasn't long before our first course came and I met God. I mean it! The broccoli and cheese soup was SOOOOOOOO good. I was horridly sad when I'd finished wolfing it down. Frog loved it quite that much too. It was all yummy and creamy with cheese as an accent to the broccoli rather than a competitor. And soft luxurious bits of onion... ahh... If I could have had a hot pool of that stuff to live in, I would have been happy as could be.

We'd both chosen the specials of the day. Frog had the prime rib with Yorkshire pudding and mashed taters. He was particularly in love with the sauce which I think I heard was au jus with red wine and garlic. Sometimes the simplest sauces are the best as the French Frog is apt to say to me... again... and again... OK I GET IT! ;-)

I simply had to try out the other special of the day: Prawns cooked with sambuca. I was curious to see what anise tasted like with seafood. I'm not sure if it is the best pairing with prawns but it was still quite nice to eat paired with the cooked fresh tomatoes and parsley. I found the result a bit sweet for my taste. I really have come to believe I like something a little more savoury/vinegary for prawns than sweet. It was a nice experience because I'd never had sambuca before in ANY way. I know I'd like it (I like pastisse too) with maybe another kind of dish, probably dessert.

All this time we were attended to diligently and kindly. I think what really struck me was new habit of the chef coming out to talk to us. I don't think that's ever happened before. Frog laughed at my surprise because he said if you are frequenting a restaurant in France, the chef/owner will make special visits to your table. Well, even if it is understandable for him, I felt special because I come from a family that didn't do restaurants very often. Then, to top it all off we were unexpectely given a piece of chocolate cake to share. It was then we found out that the red wine that had poorly combined with Frog's dinner went REALLLLLLY well with the dark chocolate of the cake. Wolf Blass Eaglehawk is an Australian wine. When combined with the chocolate in your mouth, the wine tastes all amber-sweet. I was blown away by the pairing.

We hung about for an hour, played darts (well... we tried to), talked. When we went to catch the seabus the driver's second snapped up all our grocery bags and took them to the seabus for us... We were touched by that move until he did it again on our way up the ramp to the upper dock so "you can hold hands". Awwwww... now we're positively gushing at the sweetness of the act.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Mexican Eggrolls

*The quality is poor but we were hungry and I almost forgot to take pictures.

Sometimes when looking for something completely different you stumble upon a recipe that just begs to be tried out. That happens to be the case for this recipe--Mexican Eggrolls from Recipezaar. On the webpage it seemed this was given big thumbs up and it looked so easy. My only pout about it is that it makes no effort telling how long the chicken was supposed to be marinated. Mine only got about half an hour but I'm sure it would have been better with more. Not that His Froginess Eating Machine poohpooh'd it. He attempted to complain that I'd cooked it a bit too much for his taste in between wolfbites. LOL I made mine a vegetarian version, splitting up the rest of the ingredients in half before adding chicken to Frog's half. As I am chowing down on a cold leftover right now because I couldn't resist while writing about them, I guess you can say that I'm not poohpoohing it either.

Mexican Eggrolls (from Recipezaar): The comments in [...] brackets are mine

2 cups grilled boneless skinless chicken breasts ( marinade in 1 T oil, 2 cloves garlic, 1 t cummin, and the juice of one lime [for ONE hour or overnight])
2 cups monterey jack cheese or Mexican blend cheese, shredded
1 (15 ounce) can drained black beans
2 cups frozen sweet corn (unthawed and drained of liquid)
1/2 chopped sweet red pepper [used 3/4 of a red pepper]
4-5 diced green onions
2 minced fresh garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin (can put 1/2 t more if desired)[using more=nice smokey taste]
1 (16 ounce) package egg roll wraps [double happiness brand from Vancouver]

oil (for frying) [olive oil light was all I had on hand.]

[makes 12-14 with generous filling]
20 minutes 10 mins prep

1. Chop the chicken into small dices.
2. Mix all ingrediants together .
3. Moisten the edges of an eggroll wrap and put approx 2 T filling in the middle .
4. Fold like you would an eggroll (directions and picture are usually on the
eggroll wrapper container).
5. Make sure the flap is sealed to keep the filling inside.
6. Heat oil to 350 and cook just till golden browned (aprox 3-5 min) [I cooked in 4 batches].
7. Cut diagonally and serve w/guacamole and sour cream. [served mine with southwestern style salsa, hot pickled pepper relish and sour cream]

Notes: I added a dash of lime juice to the eggroll fill. What really would have made it nice was some cilantro(At least for me as the Frog has some misgivings about cilantro). As I have some frozen in the freezer I could use that next time.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


I wonder if some of you remember going home for lunch everyday during the school year when you were in elementary school. I do. I have the blessing to live a two minute walk from my workplace (school) so I get to go home for a warm, decent lunch if I so desire. And I DO desire. It's nice to have something prepped for lunch for me and my beloved frog coming in from his day of work (6am-12! Poor nightfrog ;} ). Sure it's been warmed-up leftovers or a sandwich with a salad many times but sometimes you want something special to fill your tummy for another round of teaching in the afternoon.

I made a chevre and roasted red pepper omlette yesterday for lunch. The peppers were jarred and the chevre still decent (a present from Beloved Friend's weekend trip a little while back) so with a bit of cutting and crumbling in the morning, I just had to whisk up the eggs, drop it in a warm pan, add the fillings and have a meal ready in ten minutes. 'Course I added a romaine salad with a homemade French vinagrette but that's so easy. It seemed like a restaurant meal from France. How nice is that? Here's the recipe:

Chevre and Red Pepper Omelette (Moosewood adaptation again*)

1/2 tbsp butter
4 large eggs
1 tbsp water
1 whole roasted red pepper, cut into 2x1 inch strips
2-3 ounces chevre, crumbled into tsp size bites
1 tbsp capers

Add butter to warm pan. In a small bowl, beat together the eggs and water with a fork and pour mixture into skillet. When the eggs begin to set, spread the roasted peppers, chevre and capers evenly over half the omlette. Add seasonings if desired. With a spatula, fold the plain half of the omelette over the pepper, chevre, caper mix and cook for about 2 more minutes while cheese melts. Cut omelette into two pieces and serve immediately.

So rich and gorgeous and so easy to make!!! If you're a chevre fan like me you HAVE to try this Mmmmmmmm!

NB: herbed chevre is fine to use too.

The Frog is really happy with the combo too. He said he'd never really thought chevre would go well in an omelette but that he was wrong. Happily wrong. :)

*I told you how well used that Moosewood is! THAT is why it has a duct-taped spine ;-).

Monday, November 28, 2005

...And he actually ate some tofu!

It's report card season and elaborate anything is the last thing I've wanted to do lately. But I still wanted to eat well. What was chosen at first seemed rather disparate but acutally pulled together into somewhat of a Thai-like dinner. Discussing T&T with Linda of kayaksoup, I realized there were a couple things I should use up in the freezer from there. Frog decided he was in the mood for squid. The other choice was frog legs. Yeah, you heard right--frog legs. Hey, you knew I was living with a Frenchman right? And it just so happens that T&T supermarket carried the ones we got for him.

Anyways, back to the squid. It's not easy to cook squid directly from frozen but it's not impossible. You just have to give yourself a lot of time. It will lose a lot of water but it helps steam them a bit. Once all the parts are separated you can pour off the extra water, add some butter and let it lightly saute on medium for about five minutes. The ones we had last night turned out to be extremely tender. All that was added was a tad of salt.

While I cooked the squid, I also made some packaged "Thai Kitchen" spicy Thai Rice. It wasn't bad, tastewise. Certainly better than the boxed Pad Thai they have. One of the nice things about having Shearwater across the way from here is that they carry different items at their store than ours does. One of them is a few of those "Thai Kitchen" items. The coconut milk is good, the rice is about a 6 and the Pad Thai is about a 2 on my scale. The box said the rice was spicy Thai chili. I'd rather say it was SPICED Thai because this chili-seared tongue has tasted hotter Thai food in many places.

The last-minute addition to this meal was some leftover frozen beans and carrots that needed using up. I decided quite quickly to try the tofu I got from Shearwater in it. I dunked the cubes in some Newman's Own Low Fat Sesame Thai dressing (actually that is a pretty good dressing for steamed veggies). I steamed the veggies in a pan along with some red pepper spears. Then I added the marinated tofu and some extra sauce and slowly simmered the mix. So easy and tasted very good.

I am very enamored now of Pete's Tofu--Super Firm, the tofu I tried. The texture and flavour were very nice. I even got the Frog to eat a tiny bit. He's had a horror of tofu since he came to North America. I finally convinced him to try a tiny bite of this, telling him it was better than any I'd ever had. He ate it and, either he was being polite or he actually thought it wasn't bad. That's a darn miracle as far as I'm concerned and should be advertisement alone for this company since it made a tofu that a tofu-hater allowed himself to swallow. ;-)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Greek Rice Pilaf

Can you imagine transporting 300 pieces of cooked KFC chicken in a plane? Believe it or not, it just happened yesterday. Fundraisers are a big thing here in the village. They fundraise for everything--plane fare to get to the hospital, school trips, basketball team trips, etc. Anyways, that's how KFC made it's way up here with some returning people from town. Someone was fundraising with plates of it. And that's how His Froginess got KFC for dinner (my treat for him). But it was a treat with a catch. I could make a dish I LOVE and he detests--GREEK RICE PILAF--and have it ALL to myself. And I wouldn't have to hear him heave a heavy sigh as he *gasp* had to make his own dinner! ;-)

Greek Rice Pilaf is one of those dishes I've made so often that I could probably do it in my sleep. And, thankfully, I have almost all the ingredients up here in nowheresville most of the time. I got the recipe from my beloved duct-taped copy of Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home but I don't think I use accurate measurements or methods anymore.

Greek Rice Pilaf (my tweaked version)

1 large onion, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (I use bottled stuff too --works fine for taste)
1 tbsp dried mint leaves
1/2 tsp ground pepper (or to taste)
1/3 cup roughly chopped canned black olives (pitted if necessary. I get pre-pitted)
4 cups chopped and washed spinach (We only get baby spinach so no chopping is necessary)
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice (bottled is fine too)
4 cups cooked rice
1 cup frozen peas
2 chopped tomatoes
1 cup drained cooked chickpeas
1 tbsp dried dill (or to taste. Original calls for fresh dill. Like I get THAT up here)
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

In a heavy skillet, saute onions in oil on medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the onions begin to become translucent. Add garlic, mint, pepper and black olives, and continue to saute for 2 minutes. Stir in the spinach and lemon juice, stirring for ~1 minute. Add rice, peas, tomatoes and chickpeas. Stir until spinach begins to wilt. Add dill. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When spinach has fully wilted and rice is hot, stir in feta until it just begins to get gooey and serve immediately.

If you like, you can take more crumbled feta to the table to season the dish to your taste.

I ate it with baked cod (y'know--the frozen breaded kind). Not a bad combo but a nice grilled fish would have been even better. I'll have to wait for that. My new fish source hasn't come back from the ocean yet.

Happy Thanksgiving, Americanos

To all my new American food buddies, a Happy Thanksgiving goes out to you today. I've been there. Our Thanksgiving was last month up here in Canada. May your dinner be less panic-attack inducing than mine. Cheers!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Mom's Corn Chowder

With all of these fallish and winterish soups running wild through the food blogs I thought I'd add a winter favourite with which I grew up. Of course it screams 1970s "perfect for busy moms" but hey... it's comfort food. One shouldn't have to wait for it ;-)

My tastebuds just danced with happiness because I haven't made it for two years... TWO YEARS?? Is that right? Hmm... Of course I have my own tweaks to mom's recipe but that's the beauty of it. It's so tweakable.

Mom's Corn Chowder

1 onion (how big? It doesn't stinkin' matter. I use the biggest I can find LOL)

4 slices bacon, chopped (strip, Canadian backbacon, vegetarian substitute)

4 potatoes, chopped and cooked (read: do this before frying onion-I forgot too often)

1 can whole kernel corn, not drained
(well, if you want a thicker soup you can drain)

1 can cream style corn
(All I can say is mmmmmm...)

1 can cream of chicken soup (Used cream of celery last night but cream of anything will do, even cheddar cheese soup)

1/2 tsp garlic powder
(I personally like to offend people and use up to a full tsp.)

2 cups milk (I used goat milk* last night and found it made no diff)

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
(this is a must. The mexi-mix I used last night was a tad pathetic)

At this point... COOK POTATOES while chopping onion and bacon. In large pot with a little oil if you like, cook chopped onion and bacon until onion is soft. Add cooked drained potatoes, whole kernel corn, cream corn, cream of ______ soup, garlic powder, milk. Salt to taste. Bring to boil. Turn down and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in cheese until melts. Serve.

makes 6 servings

I made some melted cheese wafer thingies... a.k.a "trying to look gourmet" ... to add to the dish. They ended up being more useful as the extra cheese flavour Tex-mex cheese mix in the soup didn't provide. Be wise, USE STRONG CHEDDAR in the soup.

Also I added 2/3 of a cup of finely diced red pepper last night. It was a nice addition. Red pepper goes so well with cheddar and corn.

* yeah, I know: GOAT MILK??? I like the taste. Still, it's odd to find something that seems so gourmet up here. Lot of lactose intolerant people up here I guess. I know I heard that somewhere--goat milk is more digestable. Now if they could only get some decent goat cheese up here. Mmmm... chevre... *drool*

Monday, November 21, 2005

Chicken and a lot of Whine

It's been one of those weekends that seem to suck no matter what. Now you remember that I live on an isolated rock off the west coast of Canada. Well, imagine how isolated that becomes when long distance connections don't work almost all weekend. Not only can you not make your calls to loved ones elsewhere, you can't email them either that you can't talk because THAT isn't working either and you can't then forget it by cooking. Why? Because the one thing you wanted to get this weekend to try out a new recipe isn't availabe (PEPPERMINT CANDIES!!!) and even if it was you couldn't pay for it because the debit card machine doesn't work (long distance lines again). Oh and you can't get money out of the ATM at the store because the machine is out of service. Sure it sounds like something one could handle but compounded with lots of other stressors in my life at the moment I felt ganged up upon and I just wanted to hide under a rock and mope.

I know I'm going to look back at this some day and say "what a whiner!" but I think every blogger is warranted at least a few whiney days.

At least one thing worked. On Friday, I made the Frog dinner from a recipe off the back of the dried mushroom package I got at the store. I was shocked to find this past week the same said dried mushrooms. Chanterelles too! It was one of those odd occasions when gourmet food actually shows up in the village store.

Horrid picture, I know, but the Frog wanted to eat.

Emperor Specialty Foods provided this recipe: Chicken Breasts with Chanterelle Sauce

3 tbsp vegetable oil (used olive oil)
2 boneless chicken breasts, skinned and halved
1 small onion
1 pkg Chanterelle Mushrooms, reconstituted (they said chopped but I didn't)
1/2 cup light cream
2 tsp Dijon mustard (I used whole grain Dijon)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a loarge heavy frying pan, heat 2 tsp oil over medium high heat. Add chicken , cook, covered, for 8-10 minutes or until no longer pink inside, turning once. Transfer chicken to serving platter. Add 1 tbsp oil to frying pan. Saute onion and mushrooms for about 5 minutes (I gave the onion a few minutes head start). Reduce heat to medium low. Add cream, mustard, salt, pepper; bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Add chicken and any juices on plate; cook for 2 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Now, here's the kicker... His Froginess had me try one of the chanterelles and I actually ate it! Having had a terror of mushrooms since childhood I've avoided them like the plague for years. I only found a couple years ago that I actually was eating black fungi in a Oriental dish during my stay in France. And I actually liked them. Hence I tried another sort, these Chanterelles, and actually found myself being okay with them too. I'm starting to believe that my dislike is more generalized than I thought to button mushrooms. Pooey... you'll still have to convince me on those.

Now the sauce, from what I tasted on the two mushrooms I actually ate was quite lovely! Everything balanced beautifully. H.F. said he was surprised how the onion in the sauce actually subdued the natural perfumes of the mushrooms. It was an altogether a well-recieved dish.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Put down the camera and eat! pretty much what I was told last night by His Froginess at Shearwater.

For the longest time it seemed we had the restaurant and bar at Shearwater to ourself. It was nice because I felt a bit spoiled rotten by the attentions it gave us. Last week you may recall I went on a date night with The Frog and my camera decided to be pouty and mean. Well, this time it tried to do the same but I had backup batteries. So there, camera! Ha!

Again it was a wet and miserable Thursday evening on the way over ( there a connection?Thurs = rain?) but the warmth of the bar and grill after our shopping spree was so very welcome. Since the only other major restaurant around here is in love with their deep fryer and rarely has seafood enough to last the week, Shearwater is a nice contrast. So here is what we had last night:

Frog started with the prawn cocktail (y'know, the one I had LAST week?). Gorgeous and pink as always :)

I had the Greek salad. A tad heavy on the feta but there were enough veggies to contrast the heady saltiness with cool juiciness. One thing I'm not sure about is why they use what seems to be an Italian dressing on it. I always forget and I should just ask for it sans dressing and with a few lemon wedges on the side. Remind me, would you?

For dinner His Froginess had the Steak au Poivre. It look very pretty and he pronounced it very good, especially as the chef remembered from their discussion last week to cook his steak European rare (read: practically mooing). The one thing that H.F. couldn't figure out is why North American steaks seem to spill out so many juices while you eat. We thought maybe that they butcher meat differently in the average North American store. Of course this was discussed after he devoured the plate of food so it couldn't be THAT much of a problem, eh Frogboy? ;-)

I chose the Hot Smoked Salmon dinner. Two pieces of salmon that (correct me if I'm wrong anyone) are smoked right there in Shearwater for the restaurant. So I guess I'm eating local fish. Hardly surprising since Shearwater is a fishing resort as well as a spreadout hamlet of people of various trades. It was served with a sundried tomato aioli, pesto-redolent zukes and tomatoes and rice on the side. Nice but way more than I could eat. I had to doggybag (blush blush).

Afterwards we had pretty much the run of the bar side and the pool table opened up so we could play for free (awwwww... that was so nice!). It's so rustic and charming in that room. The whalebones hanging from the rafters, the portholes on the doors to the outside, the pocketdoor that glitters like diamonds are all part of its beauty. We played two games (I lost both grrr!) and then off into the cold dark night to the seabus to chug back through the waves happily and contented.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Quick Pissaladiere

His Froginess' preferred way of pissaladiere: sans tomatoes, more cheese

I prefer mine with the tomatoes, less cheese

Sometimes the day just deserves quick, easy comfort food. You're tired. He's exhausted. One of those dishes that needs little attention to detail is my version of pissaladiere. Its basis comes from one of my favourite cookbooks: "Moosewood Restaurant Cooks At Home" How much of a favourite? Let's just say that the soft-covered book now has a duct-tape spine keeping the cover to the rest of the book.

Quick Pissaladiere

3 medium onions (yellow preferably but white will work). Cut into thin rings.
2 Tbsp olive oil
dash of salt

Saute onions in olive oil over medium-low heat for about 15-20 minutes until onions begin to brown.

While onions cook, roughly crush 10 canned Greek black olives (or more to taste), pitting if necessary. Prep up to 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Slice one tomato thinly. Rinse and drain one to two cans anchovies or sardines. Sardines may need to be cut to smaller pieces. Prep about one to two tablespoons of capers. Once these are cut, move up rack in oven and preheat broiler. (These are only possibly ingredients add or omit as you see fit)

When onions are golden-brown have prepared:

1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp cracked black pepper (or to taste)
2 Tbsp brandy

Add thyme and pepper. Stir in. Add brandy. Stir in for one minute. Remove from heat.

Premade garlic bread (store bought ideal for quick easy prep)

Open a packaged french-style loaf of garlic bread. Split in half. Lay on a cooking sheet. Spread hot onions on the buttered surface until well-covered. If using anchovies or sardines, lay them in a pattern across the surface of the bread (Lattice -wise is good). If using tomatoes lay them next across the surface of the bread. If using crushed black olives, sprinkle them evenly over bread surface. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the other ingredients as you see fit. Sprinkle capers over surface as you see fit. Save a few for on top. I don't like a lot of cheese on mine but, if you like strong salty cheese, you might want to put down the full cup of cheese. If preferred, sprinkle a few capers on top of the cheese as well (I like to do that) Place onion (and condiment) -covered bread in oven under broiler for about 5 minutes or until cheese on top melts and gets golden.

Very enjoyable with a green salad (a nice vinaigrette counters the saltiness of the olives, cheese and anchovies)

I know the pictures aren't the best but believe me, if you love comfort food or onions and other savories, this is the dish for you

Deetsa's Dining View

Well... Okay. It was yesterday's view from the dining room window but I'm still dreaming of it's beauty.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Braindead: The Crabcake Files

What are YOU staring at?
Okay it's not the best but I never said that the blog was only about the good... it'll probably include the bad and the ugly too.

I'm still not sure why it turned out so well even if I flubbed on so many parts of the recipe. In my haste to feed the growling tummy of His Froginess I mentally deleted many words in a recipe I pronounced the recipe to use up the three cold whole crabs lovingly donated by Surrogate Sister. I blithely went ahead and had to play by ear so many parts that it was a wonder it worked at all. but it was pronounced "a keeper" by the frog. He he he... I wonder if he'll still like it when I make it the proper way.

I started with excising the meat from the crab legs. HRH Frog helped. Thank god. Those little buggers have it right. Skeletons should go on the outside. They can be so hard to break if you have nothing resembling a nutcracker or its ilk. Then realized I didn't have enough meat. Blessings... I still have two cans of crab in the cupboard... phew. Blend in food processor... then read that the meat should remain chunky. Damn! Too late... Mince onions and celery. Cook in olive oil. Feel pretty superior again. Add cooked bits to crab meat. Add bread crumbs... Add parsley... Add chi... oh no... no chives! rush to use pathetic left over green onions in fridge... okay.. could be worse... still feel superior. Add mayo... mayo? what mayo? There's no reference to it in ingredient list! Thank go I have some ... Add to mix. Then I read: After forming crab cakes from scant 1/3 cup, chill for 1 hour. ACK! That can't happen! Why didn't I read this before? The roar of Frog tummy denotes no way to back out of this one gracefully... Fake it and dip cakes in flour, egg... err.. damn.. too soft! Bread crumbs.. Reform in hand. Phew... sticking together... Repeat again while oil heating up. Add moist cakes. Fail to read MEDIUM heat required. La dee dah dee dah... What do you mean it's ready to flip, Frog? It's not... oh crap! Flip them in the pan. Rush to finish others while the Frog happily flips away the next cakes, unknowing of my past half hour's stupidity. Plate them. Frog eats them and pronounces them so very good, so good to eat 6 of them. Thank my lucky stars.

Review old rule: do NOT, I repeat, do NOT choose a new recipe moments before your start it as brain comprehension levels at all time low before meals

Friday, November 11, 2005

Grease and Eggs

A few posts back I talked about ooligan grease. Well now I actually have a picture of some from our luncheon.
Yesterday we had a Professional Development Day. You know "Teach the teachers something and kids have a day off"day also know as Pro-Ds. Well in the midst of all this we had potluck luncheon where all the staff provided a dish for lunch. Anything can show up--spaghetti, cheesebread, crudite and dip, chocolate chip cake. That kind of thing.

What was cool was that one staff member offered more local flavour food: salmon with condiments of dried seaweed and ooligan grease. NUM!! I forked a nice bit of salmon on my dish, sprinkled it with seaweed and a bit of Kitimat grease drizzled on it. Let's face it, if you don't like the taste of the ocean then just stick with the salmon but with seaweed and grease it adds a totally new dimensions and depth to the rich meatiness of baked salmon.
Later on I took a tiny bit of grease in a spoon and ate it alone. Kitimat ooligan grease is very subtle. I tried to find a way to describe it and could only come up with congealed melted butter (sans salt) with a hint of fish in the undertone. I really do have to admit that I don't care for this grease nearly as much as Nass grease. I remember liking that much better because of the distinct fish taste it had. *giggle* You always remember your first ;-)

I also made an another attempt at the herring eggs also presented at the luncheon. It was yaga, herring eggs on string kelp. It was marinated in soy sauce. In my opinion yaga's much more edible than herring eggs on broadleaf kelp. But I had to grin and bear my way through the small selection I chose once again because I just can't figure out how to enjoy the rubbery nature of the eggs. Probably the same reason I don't like octopus. But at least I can say I try. It's such a loved treat around here that I don't want to pooh-pooh it altogether.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Kill the camera, love the food

It had to die. It couldn't wait. His Froginess says to just let it go but I can't. It's very embarassing to tell someone you're blogging his restaurant with pictures you're willing to letting him use and then,as you're about to snap the appy, the camera battery unexpectedly goes POOF! REPLACE ME!

... and you have no replacement... *sigh*

So here's my post about my date night dinner with His Froginess sans pictures.

We popped on the seabus to Shearwater later than usual. The jaunt down to the dock was a cold dank experience only brightened by My Frog's chatter. I hate how the winter is fast approaching with its dark evenings and socks sodden with unexpected puddle water. That's why it is always nice to crawl into the warm nook that is Fisherman's Bar & Grill. It's quieter around there in the winter, especially on Thursdays when The Frog and I head over for our weekly shop and date night. Well, almost quiet. It was hockey night in Canada after all. But I really didn't hear that much of the game as I was intent on blogging the food.

Alright, confession number one: I like Shirley Temples. It's probably because it's like a really sweet version of the "Mormon Alcohol" (orange juice and gingerale) I grew up with along with a blushingly admitted love of mine--maraschino cherries. So I had one to start while His Froginess had a Mission Hill Chardonnay.

To start I had the prawn cocktail to start with. I love how it comes in a martini glass with heaping amounts of seafood cocktail sauce. I'll admit that the seafood cocktail sauce is sometimes so hot that my nose tingles but ohhhh... I wouldn't change that for the world. That's another little confession of mine. I'm a hot food junkie. You know... the kind that orders the hottest rendition of a dish in the East Indian restaurant. The sauce goes so well with the cold pink prawns draped over the glass.

His Froginess had the Garlic Butter Prawns with Rice for an appy. I've had this before. It's so good that my foot did that thumper kinda foot dance in ecstasy. As H.F. polished his plate in record time I guess it was that good last night too.

I chose something last night that I didn't have before at the restaurant--steamed clams with a wine and saffron sauce. I really didn't know what to expect or, for that matter, if I would even like it that much. I mean I like clam chowder and I love the clam fritters that you can sometimes find at Waglisla's December fleamarkets. But I wasn't sure about this. How pleasantly surprised I was. A shallow bowl of little grey mouths cheeping at me to be eaten. And it came with such a cute little fork. And soft, buttery garlic bread. The first one I ate was a revelation. The briny taste of clam was coupled with a salty sauce, barely cooked red pepper and white onion confetti. It was a zen moment. I lost the fork in record time and took up my empty clamshell and used it in the pincers-style I was taught in France with mussels.
I barely remember how I got through all the little shells because it seems like one salt-redolent food dream. Plus, H.F. recommended, upon my asking what wine would go well with the dish, suggested the Mission Hill Chardonnay. Now I'm not a wine aficionada, but I'd have to say that the wine went SO well with the clams that I was surprised. They balanced each other perfectly.

H.F. had the Angus burger with fries. He does love that burger! It was recommended to him by one of the waitstaff a little while back and I think it is his new favourite on the menu. And how do I begin to explain the loveliness of the fries. Big, pale golden, full of flavour. One of better fries I've ever tasted in my life. And, since they are crispier and bigger, fast food places pale by comparison.

I promise I'll have pictures next time. I've learned my lesson to bring a fully-juiced extra battery with me next time so my silly little camera won't pull a fast one on me again.

H.F. bought me a port later that night and it was very very nice. I was even shocked to find out that I was comparing the port we had at home (Emu) unfavourably to the brand I was drinking only to find out from H.F. that it WAS the same brand. Or so he said.

PS: The picture at the top is the Seabus (blue and white with orange lifesavers on left hand side of pic) at the Shearwater dock

Monday, November 07, 2005

Why does it have to take so long?

I know a lot of work can go into some of the best foods in the world. But sometimes it really sucks that all that work can go down the gullet in such a short period of time. That's why I never take sushi for granted. Or make it regularly. Yesterday just happened to be one of those days that I succumbed to the temptation of my memories of pickled daikon or roasted asparagus wrapped up in sticky, vinegary-sweet rice and jet black organic nori. Which is why it sucked that the asparagus I invested in went so off it wasn't funny. Who knew that asparagus could stink like that. I suppose it's my fault for even trying to buy asparagus in late fall.

I had to think on my feet. The store is ruddy closed (never DID understand why the store is closed on Sundays in the winter when everyone is in town and open on Sundays in summer when most of the town migrates south to civilization). What do I have that can replace the asparagus that is now compost? I remembered the bag of prawns in the outside freezer. Check. Okay, now what? Frozen Japanese fried fish cakes. Check. Frozen fake crab stix. Check. Green onion. Check. Pickled Daikon... oooh! more than I remembered! CHECK! Smoked oysters. Check. Red pepper. Check. Soooo... based on this collection I made:

pickled daikon roll (yellow)
smoked oyster, red pepper, green onion roll (dark red/brown)
fish cake, crab stick, green onion (pinkred, tan)
split prawn on rice.

This is what innovation gets you. Nothing weird or gucky though I'm glad I put green onion with the fish cake crab combo. Too bland otherwise. Met with His Froginess's approval which is all the approval I need because I ain't gonna eat all of that sushi on my own!

All this leads me to comment on the sushi making possibilities here in the village. While the brands are limited you can find almost all the fixings here: pickled ginger, nori, sushi mats, soy sauce, wasabi paste, rice vinegar, one time even sushi mayonnaise, and sushi quality rice... and I do mean quality (it turns out well EVERY time). Even the sesame seeds if you want to actually buy it in small spice jars!!!!!! The only ingredient I regularly use that isn't here is toasted sesame oil. Have to stock up down south. I use it to make the sushi mayonnaise that lines the interior of my sushi. It comes from a recipe in "Sublime Vegetarian" by Bill Jones (I totally recommend his recipe of Charred Asparagus Roll.YUMMY!)

Sushi Mayonnaise

1 tsp sesame oil (I use toasted. I tend to be generous with this teaspoon)
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise (like I can get THAT here... I just use regular mayo)
2 Tbsp pickled ginger, minced
Salt and pepper to taste (I don't even add these all the time. Depends on you)

In small bowl combine sesame oil, sesame seeds, mayo and pickled ginger. Season well with salt and pepper, stirring to mix well.

Notes: the nutty quality of the sesame oil really adds a certain something to certain sushi rolls like the daikon. The flecks of pink pickled ginger are pretty too when the rolls are cut.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Rainy day Reminiscing

The Heiltsuk word for November refers to the washing out of the creeks by the constant rain. This morning is no exception. I'm just lingering over pictures of what it looked like from my dining area window less than a couple of weeks ago during the remnants of Indian Summer.

Or a month ago...


Friday's For Comfort Food

Sometimes I am just flat out tired during the week. Students can suck the energy right out of you at times. Especially post-Halloween. I hate that time more than any other post-holiday, even Easter's chocolate frenzy. That's why I was SOOOO ready to have Friday come and have the time to make something yummy.

I just got a new cookbook called "the food of france: a journey for food lovers" by Maria Villegas and Sarah Randell* and decided to try out a recipe style I haven't tried making from scratch since highschool: thick, creamy soup. I chose leek and potato soup which turned out quite nice if I do say so myself. I mean don't make it if you don't have a little bit of time on your hands but the result is wonderful and the recipe needed no tweaking to make it good. It was more-ish.

Also made some other things since His Froginess seems to think that you must eat meat at every meal. *sigh* How he hooked up with a nearly vegetarian like myself is still a mystery to me. It really MUST be love. ;-) Oh... what did I make? Some Skinless chicken breast with some cajun spices rubbed in for him and some of my mom's well-loved Rice-A-Roni style pilaf. It's very scrumptious and filling side dish for those who love comfort food. Since it's so simple I doubt the mom will mind my sharing it publically.

Mom's Rice-A-Roni

3 Tbsp butter
1 cup fine vermicelli (12 oz) broken into 1 inch pieces
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth

In a heavy frying pan, melt butter over moderate heat. Add vermicelli and stir frequently until lightly browned. Remove from heat, stir in rice well, coating with butter, then pour in chicken broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 min or until rice is tender and all liquids absorbed. Turn off heat, let rice-a-roni steam for 5-10 minutes. Stir and serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings

Notes: You can use fine 1 inch egg noodles if you're in a hurry. I've found that you really don't need to take the pan off the heat while stirring in the rice and broth--just be quick and have everything prepped. I used vegetable broth in the past because I didn't have the chicken broth. It makes the dish a tad sweeter.

His Froginess really really loves this dish. Or so he reminded me again last night. Good thing it's easy to make. THANKS MOM!

*That's what it says inside the book. I don't know why has a different author's name.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Prawn Curry and Cucumber-Onion Raita

Last night was Halloween. There were lots of kids coming to the door. Lots of running up and down stairs to treat them. Should have planned better next time. I should have cooked earlier. Supper ended up being much later than anticipated because His Froginess and I were up and down the stairs a lot. I'd wished he'd have taken up more of the slack but some he didn't hear because he was on the opposite end of the apartment, outside. During all this my curry in a hurry was anything but.

Earlier in the day we found that, much to our delight, prawns were for sale at the store. Since we'd not seen prawns around here or Shearwater for a while it was a happy happy joy joy moment. We've found that we really like prawns in the canned curry sauce that is sold at Shearwater. Hot and very spicy to boot, President's Choice Thai Yellow Curry Sauce (Extra Hot)is just the thing for people who love their hot curries. It works well on chicken, too, so my Frog says.

After slowly steaming up the frozen prawns in a covered pan over low heat, the sauce is poured over it to simmer and infuse the prawns. Unfortunately, the sauce is very watery but a bit of cornstarch added firms it up quite nicely. H.F. is very picky about the thickness of sauces. I served it up with some plain basmati rice (such a lovely flavour), some diamonds of red, yellow and green peppers (I think the green was a mistake) and some lovely raita I whipped up quickly. The recipe is very nice and restaurant quality, I think. Here's the recipe from my beloved "The Complete Indian Cookbook" by Mridula Baljekar:

Cucumber and Onion Raita

1 tsp. cumin seeds
2/3 cup plain yogurt
3 Tbsp finely chopped onion
1/2 cucumber
1/2 tsp salt or to taste

1. Heat a cast iron or other heavy-based skillet and dry-roast the cumin seeds until they release their aroma. Allow to cool and crush them lightly
2. Beat the yogurt with a fork until smooth, add the onions and crushed cumin seeds. Mix thoroughly. Cut three thin slices of cucumer and chop the rest (personal note: cut them small) Add to the yogurt.
3. Put the raita in a serving dish and arrange sliced cucumbers on top

Serves 4-6

Book suggests that it works well with any curry. It certainly worked with the prawn curry.

The picture didn't turn out well because my camera decided to lose juice just at that moment and the other battery was still juicing up in the wall. I wasn't about to wait for my food as I was hungry. I didn't even get a picture of the raita. Maybe next time.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sole that's good for the Soul

It was one of those Sundays that seem mellow and gentle, letting you drift through the day without thinking of the workweek. His Froginess and I spent a lovely day together just "being". It culminated in pumpkin-carving for Halloween, a nice dinner and "Rome" on HBO.

While I prepped for dinner, His Froginess cut the designs in the pumpkins we talked about earlier. We had a whole family: Papa Scary, Mama Happy, and Baby Sad. Simple designs but then H.F. has not had the years of experience carving that many North Americans have had. Being French, the whole Halloween thing was a little vague to him and he never really experienced it until he got here (Canada). As he is a big D&D/role-playing fan, the concept of dressing up and being someone different for the night is appealing to him. I think it is fast starting to be his favourite holiday. He takes great pride in carving pumpkins now. It's rather cute to see how enthused he gets.

While he scooped and cut, I created my first sole dish with some of the sole Beloved Friend bought for us in Port Hardy. Fishing village that this is, it's crazy how you can't always get fish at the store.

Anyways, I'd not only never cooked sole before but never anticipated what an art it is to cook it. I'll know better now how carefully to flip the fish and how delicately to get it out of the pan. My first attempts broke. Disappointing for the visuals I was going for but not like I destroyed the taste at least.

I created a French dish with the sole, as per the request of H.F. We had Sole with Lemon-Caper Brown Butter Sauce, boiled potatoes, and steamed zucchini ribbons. H.F. was very flattering when he said the food was good enough for a 2 star restaurant in France. I'd be glad for any star in France. The picture is not exactly top level food porn but it gives an idea. Hopefully my ability to present food on the plates will improve with time.

Here is the basic recipe for the Sole:

Petrale Sole with Lemon-Caper Brown Butter Sauce

* 8 pieces of Petrale sole
* Salt and freshly ground pepper
* 6 tablespoons olive oil
* Juice from 2 lemons
* 4 tablespoons butter
* 2 tablespoons capers (optional)
* Lemon wedges for garnish

1. Rinse fish and pat dry with paper towels. Season both sides of the fish with salt and a little finely ground black pepper.

2. Heat a non-stick frying pan on medium high heat. Add the olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. When oil is slightly smoking, add the fish to the pan. Cook 2 minutes on each side, until fish is brown and crispy. Turn the fish over with a spatula and cook another 2 minutes on the other side.

3. Pour lemon juice over the fish and remove from pan. Set aside. Add butter and capers to hot pan. Swirl butter until melted, scraping any bits off the bottom of the pan. Without overheating the butter, let the butter develop a light brown coloring to it. Remove from heat and spoon butter sauce and capers over the fish and serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Serves: 4

The recipe I worked from suggested pairing it with a riesling but H.F. and I drank ice cold Oceanspray white cranberry juice with it and it went quite well with it. It wasn't too overwhelming and it gently washed the tongue in its acid, getting you ready for more buttery fish and starchy potatoes.

A suggestion for this recipe: Don't use so much oil. I had to get rid of a lot of the oil. Sole is delicate and needs very little cooking. Trying to fry it as they suggest will only increased the fall apart issues.

[addendum Nov 2. : I have since learned that just recently a shipment of sole came north to our little backwater. It seems it was SENT BACK!!! because it wasn't ordered. Both myself and the informer were highly indignant that such a prize escaped our clutches. I start to wonder what other little treasures were lost to our town because of that mentality!]

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Recalling Thanksgiving

Thursday night (Oct 6 2005) His Froginess (aka my French Fiance) suggests we should do Thanksgiving this year so we can be in the habit for feast with future kidlets. 'Let's get a turkey and the other things for it. Let's invite our friends over' Cautiously agree, wondering what the heck I'm getting myself into.

Friday at school: Invite friends over for Monday. Enthusiastically embraced by friends. Try to hide look of turkey-fear in eyes. Wonder what the heck I'm getting myself into

Friday, after school (Oct 7 2005) Go with His Froginess to the little band-run store that is our main food source. He goes off in one direction. I make a B-line for the back where I know the frozen turkeys are. Open freezer lid. Blanch. Only two turkeys left and both of them look like linebackers. Assess the monetary damage on both. Opt for the smaller of the two. Nearly fall in trying to drag up 55 pounds of turkey. Hit head. His Froginess shows uncharacteristic timeliness and helps me drag the beast up into the cart. Eyeing him with a "are you sure?". See that he looks shocked. Also can see he has that determined look on face that means 'It may be stupid but we're doing it'. Sigh internally and begin shopping for rest of fixings. No potatoes left... Agh! Run to fake potato section. Have no roasting pan remotely big enough for toddler size turkey. Blanch as I take only option: a tin baking pan that bends if looked at. Is not supposed to hold turkey of the size currently in shopping cart. Know there is no other option. Wonder what the heck I'm getting myself into

Later that evening: Call mother and beg for help. Mother assured her daughter is crazy but talks calmly to her about thawing for Monday, making gravy, etc... Take all information in with a dazed conscience, wondering what the heck I'm getting myself into.

Saturday(October 8, 2005)Go to fridge, cocking head at the monster taking up most of the upper fridge. Poke it to feel for thaw. Nothing. Go away. Return to fridge. Repeat the above innumerable times. Get worried by the evening. Wonder what the heck I'm getting myself into

Sunday morning(October 9, 2005): Repeat poking procedure. Relieved that it squishes in a bit. Test other parts. No squish. Damn! Wonder what the heck I'm getting myself into

Sunday afternoon: Fill sink with cold water and ice cubes. Compare white monster to toddler in sink. Turn every hour. More squish with poke. Starting to lose heart palpitations somewhat. Return monster to fridge at night. Feel that insides still frozen. Heart palpitations begin again. Tin foil container catches metal fridge spoke. See tiny hole. Know store is closed tomorrow. Nearly faint. Patch hole with plastic. Hope for best. Wonder what the heck I'm getting myself into

Monday morning (October 10, 2005): Up early. Try to ignore turkey. Hoping it will cook itself. And find a new pan. Wonder what the heck I'm getting myself into

10:00am:Face reality. Call mom again for reassurances and to actually write down recipe for stuffing this time. Call neighbour. Beg for aluminum foil on pretense of needing tent for turkey. Dump turkey in sink again with water. Patch hole with tinfoil layers and tape. Say a few Hail Marys. Pour hotwater down throat of beast. Actually smile when can get giblet bag and neck out. Keep in sink with water. Make stuffing. His Froginess mentions good smell. Ignore him as bird butt being stuffed. Lay in tin bin. Pray. Put in preheated oven. Wonder what the heck I'm getting myself into
Later that morning: Begin basting beast with friggin' small spoon. Have no baster. Realize how friggin' unprepared for this I am. Pray. Wonder what the heck I'm getting myself into
Later that afternoon: Shocked to see the beast dripping off so much juice and browning slowly and nicely. Think my prayers have been answered. Even smells good.

Late afternoon: See that turkey is lovely but awash in juices. And hot. And suddenly realize it needs to get out of the oven. In one piece. Without spilling. Panic. Try and finish other food goods in good humor. Not succeeding well. Call mother in panic about gravy production again. Wonder what the heck I'm getting myself into

Friends arrive: Everyone has food. Table starting to groan. Turkey still not out. H.Froginess suggests taking it out himself know what klutziness follows in my wake. Ain't gonna happen. Panic. Decide to each take one side in both hands. Carefully lift from oven. Pray.Pray.Pray. Lands with quiet thud. Open eyes. Thank my lucky stars. Beloved friend helps remove beast and drain juice into 8 cup measuring cup. Thank my lucky stars I bought cup a month before. Turkey juice almost to the top. Alarmed. Turn to beloved friend who helps me make gravy as brain cells lose all conciousness, forgetting mommy's suggestions. Could nearly kiss friend as gravy and turkey get served in fairly ample time. Sit down. Eat. Laugh. Eat. Relax. Make mental note. Buy smaller turkey waaaaay ahead of Thanksgiving next time. Buy roasting pan. Buy baster. Buy brain.

All told, though, it was my first time turkey cooking and it went better than expected despite my long weekend panic attack. I will plan waaaaaaaaay ahead next time.