Tag: Cook

Turkey Lurkey: November Cover Recipe Challenge

Turkey Lurkey: November Cover Recipe Challenge

Happy uber belated Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas everyone! Yes, this is a post about my Thanksgiving meal, and this is another late posting for my Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge. For November’s issue there was a major focus on Thanksgiving meals because of the 

Lunch at Truly Tasty Ramen: Halifax

Lunch at Truly Tasty Ramen: Halifax

Do you need a fork? Sadly this is a phrase that I hear all too often at Asian restaurants. I must look very awkward while using chopsticks, because every time I sit down for a bowl of Pho, a heaping plate of Pad Thai, or 

27 and Cobless: July Cover Recipe Challenge

27 and Cobless: July Cover Recipe Challenge

I hated July’s Cover Recipe Challenge. Why? There are so many reasons.

First of all, it has to be said that I actually create the monthly challenge, choosing recipes from the issue of Food & Wine and centring the meal around the cover recipe. Therefore, one might ask: “How could you hate cooking food you have chosen to make?” Three words:

Creamed. Summer. Corn.

This is a late posting; usually I have the challenge and the post completed by the end of the month. I was actually going to pretend that I didn’t do July’s cover recipe, but once I set my mind to something I want to finish it. That being said, I was so annoyed with the result of the cooking that I did not even want to write about it… Well, here it goes.

Adam and I moved in June, and being the procrastinator I am, I neglected to change the address of my subscription to F&W, forcing me to buy July’s issue off the newstands. This is the copy I bought:

July Cover

This is the copy that I received in the mail a few days later once I finally retrieved my mail from my old apartment:

Other July Cover

The covers were different! The cover recipe for the first copy I got was Michael Symon’s Creamed Summer Corn with Bacon. I was not impressed. Creamed corn? Never liked it, and it always reminds me of hospital food. Ew. But, like the true cover recipe challenge warrior, I planned my meal around the dish, choosing to make Mussels with White Bean and Chorizo to start, followed by Triple Pork Burgers with Quick Cucumber Kimchi, the notorious corn, and roasted potatoes. Why didn’t I just forgo the newstands’ cover for the freedom of choosing whatever I wanted in the other copy? I do not know, I guess I am stubborn.

JULY COVER RECIPE CHALLENGE

Creamed Summer Corn with Bacon

Rating:  -1000 out of 5

To start the evening off, I choose the “7 Minutes” recipe feature for July: Michael Schlow’s Mussels with White Bean and Chorizo. I choose them because a) I love mussels and b) it looked like a simple recipe to start off an evening of complicated dishes.

And easy it was. All I had to do was combine the ingredients (cherry tomatoes, crushed red pepper, chorizo sausage, and white beans) in a pot and steam the mussels in the delicious smelling broth and bam! There is your appetizer, and a very delicious one at that!

Mussels

Everyone at the table enjoyed the mussels. Erin and Matt, who joined us once again for the challenge, taught Adam and I a little trick about eating mussels. They taught us to use an empty mussel shell to pinch the meat out! How, as a Newfoundlander and someone who eats mussels all the time, I didn’t know about this trick, I don’t know, but it has changed my life. I was amazed!

Mussel Eating

So, the appetizer went well. This is where it starts to get complicated. The main course for the evening was Triple Pork Burgers with Quick Cucumber Kimchi. Adam and I prepared the kimchi beforehand because it had to sit for 2 hours in order to turn into kimchi. Those vegetables pretty much turned themselves into kimchi with a little slicing and coaching from me.

Cucumbers

Basically all I had to do was slice up a crap load of cucumbers (2lbs in fact) and add garlic, ginger, salt, gorchugaru (Korean dried red peppers), sesame oil, and fish sauce and let it sit for two hours and VOILA! Cucumber kimchi!

Usually kimchi actually takes several days to ferment and become the delicious Korean condiment that we know and love, but this quick kimchi liquified before my eyes, and stirring occasionally for a few hours was enough to turn it into something delicious. I loved this recipe and will definitely use it again!

The pork burgers on the other hand were a different story. They were a big pain to make, and had a lot of ingredients. There were over fifteen ingredients in one pork burger patty…that is a lot! It took a very long time to slice and dice all the ingredients, but everyone rallied together and took turns chopping while we danced and sang around the kitchen. Note Adam in the corner singing his little heart out, and the delicious kimchi:

Erin chopping

And Matt’s protective gear while slicing onions:

Matt Chopping

Adam and Matt also really loved adding the fish sauce to the mix:

DSCF0073

Once all the ingredients were finally chopped. Adam and I made the patties. They were supposed to be done very thinly, which was really hard to do because of the thousand ingredients in the patty and the fact that there was no binder to keep the raw meat together. It was really frustrating, and took a long time to make them thin enough to be stacked but thick enough not to fall into the BBQ at the same time.

In the end the burgers actually tasted amazing. Despite how long they took to prepare, the cilantro, lime, and other thirteen ingredients in the patties were so flavourful and the kimchi was the perfect condiment. If I ever used this recipe again, I would probably tweak the patties to make them a little denser and easier to make.

Kimchi Pork Burger

And lastly, and certainly least, the creamed corn. I have to admit that I made a HUGE rookie error when buying the ingredients for Michael Symon’s Creamed Summer Corn with Bacon:

I didn’t read the recipe before I bought the ingredients. 

Because of this, I bought frozen corn instead of corn on the cob trying to shortcut the recipe so I wouldn’t have to cut the corn off the cob. Lazy. The result of this was not having the cobs reserved to make the broth for the creamed corn. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do not think that I completely sabotaged the recipe by being cobless, but I could not get the broth to thicken. Was it because of the lack of cob? I will never know. All I know is that the recipe had lots of yummy ingredients like bacon and sour cream so I thought it might turn out okay. But, like the other recipes that evening, it took a long time to make. An hour and twenty minutes to make creamed corn? You’re kidding me, right? I am sorry, but this is not a recipe that I will ever make again, not even to see if I can thicken the broth with those stupid cobs.

Creamed Corn

Granted, the corn actually did taste pretty good despite the lack of creamyness. Everyone enjoyed it, and I have to say, it probably was some of the best creamed corn I have ever had; the bacon, sour cream, and coriander made it rich and savoury. However, it will also probably be the last time that I make creamed corn.

To those reading this, you may think “Well that didn’t turn out so bad.” It is true that everyone at the dinner enjoyed the meal and the food was good, minus the not-so-creamy creamed corn. I just didn’t like making these particular recipes. The pork burgers were overly complicated, and though I was thrilled with how the kimchi turned out, I will never make them again, and don’t even get me started on the creamed corn. I love to cook and for some reason, none of these things were enjoyable to make. I really look forward to these challenges every month because I make things that aren’t in my usual repertoire and I really challenge myself into cooking and eating new things. This month felt average and just not fun. Hopefully August’s challenge will be better, I am cooking that next week. Stay tuned and wish me luck.

Dinner at The Salt Shaker Deli: Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Dinner at The Salt Shaker Deli: Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Back in April right after Adam finished his first year law exams, we decided to take a spontaneous mid- week vacation to Lunenburg. Being born and raised in Newfoundland, neither Adam nor I had ever been to Lunenburg, and after hearing countless Haliogonians going on 

Gabrese Salad a.k.a Caprese Quinoa Salad Recipe

Gabrese Salad a.k.a Caprese Quinoa Salad Recipe

With the recent creation of the Halifax Food Bloggers Facebook page (which is awesome, by the way, see for yourself here) came the idea for a monthly challenge to all willing bloggers. This month, the goal was to create a post around the concept FRESH 

Dinner at The Club | St. John’s (closed)

Dinner at The Club | St. John’s (closed)

*Note: Both The Club and Aqua closed in 2015. 

A few weeks ago I went home to St. John’s Newfoundland for a much needed visit with family and friends. After my brief and exhausting 3 day stopover at Christmas I felt cheated out of down time and girlie time, so I was excited to relax and enjoy my hometown. And, if you know me, relaxation involves eating, and of course trying the new restaurants that have opened in St. John’s since I moved away last summer. For our girls night out and to celebrate Rachel’s birthday, the girls decided that The Club on Duckworth street was the place to go.

So on my last evening in St. John’s I headed down to The Club. Owned by Chef Mark McCrowe who also owns the ever popular Aqua, The Club is a self-proclaimed Gastropub offering Steak, Oysters, and local beers on tap. When I arrived, I was greeted by Rebecca, an old-coworker and friend of Rachel’s, and she led me to a big corner booth in the back of the dimly lit restaurant.

Despite the masculine undertones of the decor (i.e dark colours and antlers), the restaurant feels trendy and metropolitan with its mix of rich woods, cool light fixtures, and kitschy nic nacs. I am very happy that the owner was able to overcome the fact that there have been a multitude of restaurants in this space before, and they have truly made it their own while highlighting the classic historic features of the space. The mason jar candles, the heavy antique silverware, and the clever use of tea towel napkins made the place feel comfortable and trendy and I was impressed with the attention to detail.

Club Collage

I ordered a Sangria and waited for the rest of girls to arrive. There weren’t too many people around on that chilly Monday evening, but that is not surprising for St. John’s, and soon I was distracted by the arrival of 4 of my nearest and dearest best friends: Sarah, Meghan, Vanessa, and of course, the birthday girl, Rachel!

Once all the girls had arrived, we ordered drinks and per usual, took awhile to get our order figured out. Rachel ordered a delicious looking drink called the Crispy Creme, and Sarah was intrigued by my beverage of choice and ordered the same. Vanessa ordered a pint of QV light; The Club only offers Quidi Vidi products on tap, the rest of the domestic and and imports are by the bottle.

Drinks

After we had ordered, we fell into our traditional non-stop girlie chatter while Rebecca brought over our drinks and some fresh sweet rolls served with molasses butter. I loved the twist on the Newfoundland classic bread with butter and molasses and the butter was oh so sweet and tasty!

To start, 4 of the 5 of us had the French Onion Soup Les Halles which was served piping hot. The soup had bone marrow and was topped with bread and local Swiss cheese, and it was amazing! The bone marrow made the broth extra flavourful and the cheese was so melty and delicious not one of us could wait until the soup cooled off before digging in.

French Onion Soup

Sarah ordered the Q.V 1892 Onion Rings from the ‘Table Snacks’ section of the menu, and the giant rings came out in a big basket for everyone to share. There was also a small spray bottle of malt vinegar which you could spritz on your rings, something that was fun to do, and even yummier to eat. I though that was neat!

Onion Rings

In addition to my French Onion Soup, I just had to order at least one oyster because for some reason I have developed a taste for them in recent months. My single slimy beauty was served with lemon and a smoke tomato-basil mignonette, which was tangy and delicious. The Club also offers a variety of other things on their raw bar, including NFLD Seafood Ceviche, Steak Tartare, and Smoked Salmon.

Oyster

For mains, Meghan and Vanessa both ordered the Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with garlic mashed potatoes. Though both ladies enjoyed the meal, they found it to be pretty unimpressive, and to be honest, it didn’t look that appetizing  Both Sarah and Rachel ordered The Club Burger, which has apparently become the favourite among regulars, and it looked awesome when it came out. Served on a plank of wood, the burger’s presentation was interesting and appetizing. Rachel and Sarah both enjoyed the burger, but felt it wasn’t anything worth writing home about.

The Club Burger

I ordered the Hanger Steak because I was craving steak and this option was only 8 ounces, the perfect amount to follow my filling apps. When it arrived, I was impressed by its size; it was definitely more than advertised! However, it lacked the flavour that I have come to expect in this particular cut of meat, although the frites that I ordered alongside were amazing.

Hanger Steak

Overall, the drinks, service, and ambience were great; the details and unique touches to the decor make it a real stand out in St. John’s. The appetizers were also quite impressive, but the mains were lacklustre  Though I do think there is most definitely a place for a Gastropub like The Club in St. John’s, there needs to be some improvement on the imagination and consistency in the mains. This is a perfect place for a night out with the girls (or the boys) for great beer on tap, great oysters and raw bar, and an all around relaxing evening, but it is not the place for a three course meal. The next time you are on Duckworth Street take a bet on The Club and Explore. Eat. Repeat some oysters.

The Girls

Things Worth Mentioning

Cost: Around 50$ per person for an app, main, side, drinks, tax and tip.

Things I liked: The atmosphere and decor, the French Onion Soup, the friendly service.

Things I didn’t: The pricey side dishes…and the uninspired mains. That Chelsea wasn’t there.

The Best Place to Sit: In the back of the restaurant in the booth, preferably with your best friends!!

What to Order Next Time: The Steak Tartare and more Oysters!

 

Not Your Ordinary Nonna: March Cover Recipe Challenge

Not Your Ordinary Nonna: March Cover Recipe Challenge

Well March has come and gone in the blink of an eye. I have to start this post with a sincere apology for the lack of posting in the past month; there has been a lot of travelling and eating going on in the world 

My Recipe for Turkey Soup 

My Recipe for Turkey Soup 

I have a confession to make. Though I claim to be a foodie, or at least someone who knows a decent amount about food (and even more about enjoying eating it) I have to confess that I did not know that you made turkey soup 

Dinner at The Bicycle Thief: Halifax

Dinner at The Bicycle Thief: Halifax

Over Thanksgiving weekend my parents came to stay with Adam and I. On Sunday we were lucky enough to enjoy an amazing turkey dinner that was cooked by yours truly and my mom…who am I kidding? I have to give pretty much all the credit to my mom, Cathy, because she did all food, other than my sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and pecans, which, I might add,  got rave revues (the recipe will be posted soon). Though I was thrilled with how the first Thanksgiving in my own place went down, I have to discuss the awesome dinner that we had just a few days before. That Friday, October 5th, was also my mom’s birthday, so we went out to The Bicycle Thief for dinner on that warm Fall evening to celebrate. As emphatic as my rant about French food in the last post was, I just have to say how much I love Italian as well: not just true Tuscan tortellini, but Mulberry Street’s Fettuccine Alfredo in NYC (did you know that Fettuccine Alfredo is not true Italian food, and derives from Little Italy, NYC? Click here for an interesting history), and even the crappy Spaghetti Bolognese from Vanelli’s in your local mall food court. I just love pasta! So when we entered the bustling restaurant on Friday night I was very excited to eat a fabulous bowl of carbohydrates.

Bicycle Thief Halifax

At 8:30 on a Friday evening, the restaurant was packed! I am talking full sections, busy waiters, and hungry people seated at the bar. We were taken to our table immediately and were presented with numerous cocktail, wine and food meues, that were big in both content and size (they were huge!).  The decor of the restaurant is cozy, vintage, and elegant all at the same time. The walls are covered in framed phtography and paintings, and all the antiques and nic nacs give it a comfortable, familiar feeling.The wooden chairs and tables are accented by big brown leather banquettes and elegant barstools, and the lighting was perfect for a celebratory Friday night meal, or a romantic dinner for two. The Bicycle Thief was busy and had a hip and trendy feel that reminded me of this amazing Italian restaurant that my friend Dana and I went to in NYC called Maialino.

Though The Bicycle Thief brands themselves as “North American Food. Italian Soul.” I was impressed with the selection of Italian dishes on the menu. The dinner menu is very large and is divided into three sections, or courses, which are cleverly labeled 1st, 2nd, and High Gears. A traditional Italian meal consists of five parts with Antipasti, Primo, Secondi, Contorni, and Dolce courses, but most restaurants present the menus in three courses, like The Bicycle Thief. I started our wonderful meal with the Tourchon Foie Gras, something we all  know that I cannot resist. Served with Stone fruit chutney and crostini, the foie gras was creamy and delicious and everything I wanted it to be. Adam thoroughly enjoyed his Sweet pepper studded pan seared Crab & Fish Cake with homemade Tartar sauce, and though Cathy thought there was a little too much tomato flavour in the sauce, really liked her mussels. My father, Dan, ordered the Sardines and was very impressed at their size. He loved them and the rest of the table loved that fresh Sardines did not come with the pungent odour that canned ones do. The three red wine drinkers at the table enjoyed a bottle of Côtes du Rhône from France, while I accompanied my appetizer with a glass of Tattinger, which I was very impressed about having on the menu by the glass. I love when real Champagne is on the menu by the glass!

 

The service was attentive and swift, with several different severs bringing our mains. Though you could tell that our server was very busy, with a packed section, he was still very personable and efficient. You could tell he knew how to do his job well. The wait between our mains was perfectly appropriate and I was so excited to see the presentation of my meal in front of me when it arrived. I ordered the Peppercorn crusted Beef Tenderloin Tagliata that was served with sea salted hand cut Frites, and was presented on a wooden cutting board! Both the presentation and the taste of the meal was awesome. The meat was cooked to the medium rare that I ordered, and though the Peppercorn crust was slightly overwhelming for my taste, was very enjoyable. Adam ordered the Veal Scaloppine Parmigiana, which to us seemed like the most recognizable Italian dish of the night. It was topped with prosciutto di San Daniele, smoked Provolone, and San Marzano tomato sauce and was delicious! Cathy ordered the Double smoked bacon wrapped Pork Tenderloin and loved it! She was astounded by the price of the tenderloin and raved about the Marsala wine reduction. Dan revelled in his Rabbit, and enjoyed the accompaniment of polenta with fresh herbs.

Bicycle Thief Halifax

Even though the 2nd Gear section, or Secondi,  looked amazing there was no way that any of us would have been able to eat all three courses! The portions were a great size and the ingredients were fresh and flavourful. The funny thing was that none of us ordered pasta because they were for the most part in the 2nd Gear section. However, despite the common assumption that Italian food is based around pasta, the main dishes presented authentic and innovative Italian options. We all decided that we were two full of food and wine for dessert and were completely satisfied with the meal; Mom even got a delicious birthday shot courtesy of our friendly server.

Overall I would recommend The Bicycle Thief to anyone who enjoys Italian food and a good time. It was a great place to celebrate my parents coming to visit and my mom’s birthday. The experience was awesome, and I am anxious to try it a second time, making sure to starve myself the whole day so that I can have five courses in the true Italian fashion and Explore. Eat. Repeat.

Things worth mentioning…

Cost: Around 450$ for four people, including tax, tip, THREE bottles of wine, and more than a few glasses of champagne.

Things I liked: The atmosphere and decor, authentic bubbles by the glass, AMAZING fries, and the washrooms…beautiful.

Things I didn’t: Very little…a little loud for those who appreciate intense dinner conversations, wine by the glass was slightly expensive.

Best place to sit: Anywhere! At the bar, on a banquette or by the window, all have their own ambience. Next time I want to sit outside; the view of the harbour is great, and they provide elegant red pashminas to keep you warm!

What to order next time: PASTA! In particular the BLT Fettuccine, with Pancetta, slow roasted cherry tomatoes, Arugula, and Pecorino cheese.

 

How (not) to Thai one on: Recipe for Pad Thai

How (not) to Thai one on: Recipe for Pad Thai

Through my recent revelations in the search for new food experiences, I have decided not only to eat in every restaurant possible, but also to expand my horizons in my own kitchen. I am a huge lover of Pad Thai and since, in the past