Just a super quick post today (snuck in at lunchtime at work!).
I wanted to alert Ottawa foodies to an event that's coming up on Thursday evening called Sip, Swirl, Savour & Selebrate (sic). It is a cocktail-style wine tasting that will be featuring Ontario wineries and catered by executive chef Scott Lucas of TRIO. And there will be jazz. I've never been, and can't make it this year, but if anyone DOES go, lemme know how it is! Sounds like a fun night and a chance to try wineries you don't necessarily see at the LCBO - particularly from Prince Edward County and Niagara.
So here are the deets....
Thursday, November 5, 2009, 7 pm
TRIO Restaurant at Novotel Ottawa, 33 Nicholas Avenue
Advance tickets ONLY - $55, inc. GST (4 people for $200). Tickets can be purchased online at www.savvycompany.ca or by calling 613-728-8926.
Dinner last night was courtesy of Bombay Masala - enjoyed a delicious platter of appies, superlative garlic naan, chicken korma, beef curry and channa masala (soooooooooo good). Lil Z couldn't get enough (and, in fact, hollered her enthusiasm for ALL to hear at the restaurant...oops). Anyway, love this spot. Great northern indian cuisine, served with a warm smile and as much spice as you ask for.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Just a super quick post today (snuck in at lunchtime at work!).
Monday, November 02, 2009
My meat-eating status can best be described as fragile. Normally an avid omnivore, I occasionally find myself confronted, affronted and appalled by standard factory farming practices. One week, I will be chowing down on hotdogs like nobody's business...and then the next, I am disgusted by mechanical separation, coloured vats of pink paste and all that nice stuff.
I do generally try to purchase more ethically farmed meat; from local butchers, farmers or boutique grocery stores. I would be lying if I said that this were always a successful venture, but I do try to do my part.
One particular critter that hadn't really entered my radar was the cornish hen. Like oh-so-many people right now, I don't actually deal with a lot of meat that's still on the bone. I tend to find it more labourious, fatty and icky than its boneless, skinless counterpart, so I just don't tend to purchase a lot of bone-in cuts.
Given the small size of the cornish hen, it's pretty hard for it to enter into boneless territory. But after having tried it again, I have to say, it's worth the extra work and ickiness because it's just SO delicious. It's a bit more flavourful than chicken and it's sooooooo juicy and yummy.
I found this recipe in Clean Eating (Sept/Oct edition) and while it's healthy, it's one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten. If you're too skeeved to skin and flatten a cornish hen, you could do this with boneless, skinless chicken breast, but it wouldn't be neeeeearly as delicious. So I encourage you to stretch your horizons, gird your loins, and give this a try. Cuz it's so good.
Cornish Hens with Grape and Pistachio Couscous
(modified from the Sept/Oct edition of Clean Eating magazine)
3 cornish game hens (2.25-2.5 lbs each)
2 t fresh ground black pepper
2 t cinnamon
2 t coriander, ground
2 t ginger, ground
3/4 t sea salt
1/2 t nutmeg, ground
4.5 T olive oil
1 c low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 c whole wheat couscous
1 c seedless grapes, halved
3 T unsalted, roasted pistachios, shelled and chopped
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1. (This is the icky part). First, using sturdy kitchen scissors, cut the backbone out of the cornish hen. Flatten the hen (yes, you will hear bones break). Next, remove the skin (it's gross, but not that difficult). I didn't bother skinning the wings because I knew I wouldn't eat them and it was too much effort.
2. In a small bowl, combine pepper, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, salt and nutmeg. Set aside 1 t spice mixture. Combine remaining spice mixture with the olive oil to make a paste. Rub the paste over the hens, dividing it evenly.
3. I bbq'd my hens. They were flattened on an oiled grill, and weighted down with a heavy cast-iron griddle. If you can't do this, you can bake them at 450F for about 30 minutes. Weighing the hen down is a really effective way to cook it - you could also use a cast iron skillet, or a cookie sheet weighed down with some bricks. It cooks fast and evenly this way. It's soooooooooo yummy.
4. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring broth and reserved 1 t spice mixture to a boil. Stir in the couscous, cover and turn off the heat. Set aside for 5 minutes (couscous is so fast and easy! love it!).
5. Stir grape, pistachios and green onions into couscous. Transfer couscous to a serving bowl or plates and serve alongside hens.
A cooked hen:
Technically, this will serve 6, but if you're big eaters, count on it serving 3 non-dieting types. It's yummy. The next time I went back to the grocery store after this, cornish hens were on sale, so I picked up a couple for my freezer. Yum!
Day 2 down. 28 to go.
Sunday, November 01, 2009
For years, I've been hearing about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), where participants attempt to write a 50 000 word novel during the month of November. Given that I suck at fiction (and also at lying...as hubs will attest, I am the world's WORST liar), I've never even given participation a second thought. Any novel I would write would be awful. The very idea reminds of the times where I took writing classes in high school. I love writing, but I'm just not all that creative when it comes to plot and character and all the schtuff. I could do description like nobody's business, but just didn't have the creativity to come up with plotlines, etc., that would captivate.
However, the latest thing, if you will, is NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), which is much more up my alley. As the archives of this blog will attest, I am, at best, an infrequent poster. It isn't to say that I don't want to post, or that I don't have anything to say, but I just seem to have a hard time getting stuff from table to web site, if you catch my drift. So I'm going to give this a try. I certainly won't promise that you'll have photos and lovely descriptions every day, because I don't really cook THAT often. But I'll keep you abreast on what I'm eating, where it came from, and whether or not I liked it. Tonight, I made a pot roast for dinner. It sucked. I'm not posting it.
But my dinner earlier this week was FANTASTIC. Like, you know my aversion to leftovers?
I ate this for lunch THREE days in a row (I stole it from hubs!). It was that good. It's so hearty and delicious and wonderful and yummy that you will all be rushing out to make it. I stole the recipe from Cooking Light, but modified it to make it better. It's awesome. Z loved it, hubs loved it and everyone who saw the pic on facebook demanded the recipe. MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM...yummy. I doubled the recipe and baked in a 13x9
Roasted Butternut Squash and Bacon Pasta
Yield: 5 servings
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (for a doubled recipe, I used 2 small squash and it worked just about perfectly)
6 sweet hickory-smoked bacon slices (raw)
1 cup thinly sliced shallots
8 ounces uncooked mini penne (tube-shaped pasta)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded sharp provolone cheese (I used 5-year-aged cheddar)
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 425°.
1. Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, rosemary, and pepper. Place squash on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with salt mixture. Bake at 425° for 45 minutes or until tender and lightly browned. Increase oven temperature to 450°. This will make your house smell AMAZING.
2. Cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 1/2 teaspoons drippings in pan; crumble bacon.
Increase heat to medium-high. Add shallots to pan; sauté 8 minutes or until tender. Don't throw out your bacon fat yet!!!
3. Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain well.
4. Add another 2 T of bacon fat to your shallots (yum!). Combine flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt and add to the shallots over medium-high heat. Let it cook for a couple of minutes. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add provolone (cheddar is better!!!), stirring until cheese melts. Add pasta to cheese mixture, tossing well to combine. Add bacon and squash and stir gently (or you will mash the squash) Spoon pasta mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown.
It's so good. YUM. The squash is so rich and with the savoury addition of the rosemary and the smokey bacony goodness...this is the PERFECT fall comfort food. You definitely want to make this ASAFP.
So, here's to day one of NaBloPoMo. Hope we have another fruitful 29 days.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Just got a heads-up about a pretty neat sounding event happening in Vankleek Hill.
On October 3rd, Beau's All Natural Brewing Company is having their 1st Annual Oktoberfest Celebration.
They've partnered with some pretty stellar restaurants (Allium, Domus, Murray Street Kitchen Wine & Charcuterie, Pascale's All Natural Ice Cream, The Piggy Market, Urban Pear and Whalesbone; and a few hidden gems from further out: Ballygiblins (Carleton Place), The Branch Organic Restaurant (Kemptville), Knox Fine Dining (Moose Creek) and Mary's Country Kitchen (Vankleek Hill)) so it sounds like it would be a good time
You can get more information here: http://www.beaus.ca/oktoberfest/ . But the gist is that there is food and beer and admission is $12 in advance, $15 at the door. You can get tickets at Bridgehead or at the Piggy Market.
Oh yeah, and Vankleek Hill is here, about an hour east of Ottawa. They've got a shuttle service from Saint Laurent if it's too far for you - $25, including your admission. Not a bad deal for a cheap ride home.
Will see if I can interest hubs and Lil Z. :) Thanks for reading!
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
...and ask questions later...
5-6 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups rice
1/2 cup white wine
6ish cups stock
1 teaspoon salt
Grated Parmesan cheese
1. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a heavy pan. When it is bubbling, add the onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes; do not allow the onion to brown.
Yield: Serves 4
3 medium shallots, roughly chopped
2 stalks fresh lemongrass (tough outer leaves removed) (I could only get jarred lemongrass....it was fine)
1 piece ginger (about 1 1/2 inches), peeled
1/4 cup plus 5 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
4 boneless, skinless organic chicken breasts (about 5 ounces each)
3/4 cup red quinoa
1 1/2 cups chicken broth (or stock)
Vegetable oil cooking spray
1 pound fresh sugar snap peas, strings removed
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1. Marinade: Puree shallots, lemongrass, ginger, 1/4 cup oil, lime juice, tamari, sugar, sea salt, pepper, and coriander in a blender until smooth.
2. Place chicken in a baking dish and spoon on marinade, rubbing it on all sides. Cover; chill 1/2 to 2 hours.
3. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook quinoa until toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Add broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until quinoa absorbs liquid, about 20 minutes. Turn off heat; let sit, covered, until ready to serve.
4. Heat a grill pan or skillet over high heat; coat with cooking spray. Cook chicken, turning once, for 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Cook, turning once, until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove chicken; let rest two minutes. (I cooked mine on the barbecue - highly recommended if you have one!!!!)
5. Slice each breast on the diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces.
6. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat (I added the leftover marinade). Cook sugar peas and peppers until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Turn off heat. Add mint and toss. Divide quinoa among 4 plates. Top each with 1 sliced chicken breast and 1/4 of the vegetables.
Our plates looked liked this:
Z's was a little different....she did like it though! Gobbled up the chicken like there was no tomorrow.