Thursday, June 30, 2011

THANK YOU Audrey Needs More Wooden Spoons!!

In case I haven't mentioned it before, my sister Melody has a pretty cool food blog named Audrey Needs More Wooden Spoons. And in case it isn't glaringly obvious, she is pretty much my biggest inspiration and for joining the food blogoshere.

For years and years I've been in awe of her fabulous food writing and photography and I'm constantly wondering..what will she cook up next? 

So I give a big THANK YOU to my big sis for writing such kind and generous words of me. It sure is nice to having a cheering squad and I'll always be your biggest fan Audrey!

xox Lorelei

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blueberry Muffins

Just in case you were wondering... no, it is not actually blueberry season yet here in BC. That wonderful time of year wont arrive for a few more weeks according to the BC Association of Farmer's Markets. Unfortunately I am too impatient to wait this long and so in order to satisfy my craving, yes I did in fact pay a little more than I would have liked for a basket of fresh blueberries that travelled all the way from California, GASP! What kind of person am I! Oh well, I'll make up for my awful carbon footprint in late July/August when blueberry season will be in full force here in BC. I would have bought frozen blueberries which isn't any better but the recipe clearly called for fresh blueberries and since I have a bad habit of improvising while baking with varying results, I thought I'd better bake the recipe exactly as written. And that is what I did.

This recipe is another gem from Gwyneth Paltrow's new cookbook named My Father's Daughter. I have not actually purchased the book (yet) but I seem to keep stumbling upon recipes from the book online.  I was blown away by her fantastic Peanut Butter Cookies and so I had nothing but high expectations for these muffins, and congrats again Gwyn. They are amazing; the perfect amount of sweetness and density that a proper muffin should have.

Gwyneth also offers a healthier version of this recipe where she substitutes white flour for spelt flour and whole milk for soy milk and maple syrup and agave nectar in place of white sugar. Next time I may try to make a healthier version but for now, these will do just fine.

Blueberry Muffins
from My Father's Daughter by Gwyneth Paltrow via SELF

1/2 cup unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
2 eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
21/2 cups fresh blueberries

Heat the oven to 370 degrees F and line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners, (probably not totally necessary but I did it anyway). Combine dry ingredients in one bowl and wet ingredients into another bowl and then combine wet and dry; fold in blueberries. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups; sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp of sugar. Bake until muffins are golden and a knife comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Serve warm.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer Salad Series: Carrot, Cilantro and Chile Slaw

Now that it is officially summer and warmer weather is FINALLY here to stay will be making an appearance from time to time in the lower mainland, I have the desire to eat lighter and fresher foods; those heavy stews and pastas can wait till the fall. And when I think of summer food, I think of sitting out on the patio with a cold drink, BBQ'd whatever with a side of fresh salad and good company. 

One of my very favourite summer salads is coleslaw; who doesn't love the tangy crunch of a fresh slaw served on the side of a juicy burger?. My only problem with it, and I admit I'm probably in the minority here is that I absolutely HATE mayonnaise with a passion to the point where I've been known to gag if I find it by surprise in a burger. Yes, I am that annoying person and I apologize to my husband for all the times that I've embarrassed you. Anyway, this aversion of mine rules out about 99% of all slaws and so when I see one that doesn't call for the offending condiment, I get excited. 

I stumbled upon this recipe in the latest issue of bon appetit and I couldn't resist it due to it's absence of mayonnaise and for the fact that it allowed me to pull out my beloved juli-peeler. The original recipe called for 2 deseeded jalapenos and when I added the first pepper it seemed plenty hot enough for me but feel free to added more jalapeno if you feel like it. We served our slaw on the side of chicken burgers and I ended up slapping a bunch of it into the burger which added a wonderful tangy crunch. 

I only had regular-joe orange carrots on hand but yellow carrots would really take the presentation of this salad to the next level if you happen to find some at a farmer's market or specialty store. 

Carrot, Cilantro and Chile Slaw (4-6 servings)
adapted slightly from bon appetit July 2011

4 cups carrots, peeled and julienned
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
11/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or more to taste
1 minced jalapeno, deseeded
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
3/4 tsp ground coriander
freshly ground black pepper

Toss carrots, oil, lime juice, sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt and jalapenos in a large bowl and let marinate for about 15 minutes, tossing occasionally. Add cilantro and coriander; toss to evenly incorporate. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lettuce Cups With Stir-Fried Turkey

Here is a tasty little meal that my husband Kelly made a few nights ago. He often  complains that I don't give him enough credit in my little blog and so I will admit that he prepared this whole thing himself. I sat on the sidelines and drank a beer, watched hockey, snapped a few photos and kept our super active baby from chewing on electrical wires and bumping his little head out of mischief.

This recipe is meant to be served as an appetizer but we found it made a super tasty, light dinner for two. The actual recipe called for ground chicken but Kelly used ground dark turkey meat which we both thought worked really well with the asian flavours. The taste of fresh shiitake mushrooms combined with ginger, roasted cashews and sweet chili sauce was absolutely to die for. Amazing job Kelly.

*Tip Use any extra marinated turkey mixture for a stir-fry the next night.

Lettuce Cups with Stir-Fried Turkey (8 appetizer servings or 2 meal servings)
adapted from bon appetit June 2011

16 large butter lettuce leaves
1/2 cup asian sweet chili sauce
1 lb ground dark turkey meat
2 scallions, minced
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. peanut oil
3 medium shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. peeled minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup unsalted, chopped roasted cashews

Arrange lettuce leaves on a large platter. Pour chili sauce into a small bowl. Mix turkey, scallions, soy sauce and cornstarch in a medium bowl; marinate for 10 minutes at room temperature, stirring occasionally. Heat oil in large non-stick skillet. Add mushrooms and stir-fry 15 seconds. Add garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Add turkey mixture and cook until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Spoon turkey mixture into lettuce leaves, dividing equally. Garnish with cashews. Roll leaves around filling and dip into chili sauce.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

EAT! Vancouver Food + Cooking Festival

This past weekend I was lucky enough to attend EAT! Vancouver food and cooking festival with my good friend Lena which took place at the new Vancouver Convention Centre. We had a fabulous day sampling from a smorgasbord of food and drink from local food and beverage companies and restaurants.

The two main highlights we saw were 1. a cooking demonstration by Dale MacKay from Top Chef Canada and 2. getting into a cocktail workshop for free by the Amy Elliott "mobile craft cocktail entertainment group".  I would describe this last group as basically a bunch of young, good looking guys dressed to kill making classic cocktails and cracking witty jokes. These guys would be great if I ever need to organize a stagette, note to self.

All in all we had a great time, and got a good buzz on at 11am thanks to the Amy Elliott guys but I have to say that I was fairly disappointed with the lack of "green thinking" that went into this event. Everywhere I looked I saw an overwhelming amount of packaging being discarded. The worse was when I saw one vender putting 1 chip each into a plastic cup, YIKES! In all fairness I did see some companies using bamboo and a few other more sustainable packaging options and kudos to them but still, I hope to see next years event a little greener.

Chef Dale MacKay cooking things up
Smokin Hot Drinks
Getting a buzz on at 11am is always a great way to start a weekend
Amy Elliott boys and no, its not Movember, just growing it for the Canucks
Me (left) and Lena (right) in front of Douglas Coupland's Digital Orca sculpture
Yummy lattes but not a fan of all the packaging

Friday, June 10, 2011

Juli Peeler: a great little gadget and a woman I'd like to know

I spent the better part of this past week in my home town of Sidney, B.C. catching up with my family and escaping the hustle and bustle of the lower mainland for a few days. One day, while poking around in one of the many cute little shops that Sidney has to offer, I came upon a Juli Peeler. The package of this little gadget boldly claimed to be able to cut vegetables into colorful little strips in seconds as well as julienne potatoes, lemon zest and pretty much anything else I wanted to. Since it is small and sleek looking and wouldn't require much in the way of annoying dish washing, which I have a constant pile of, I decided to give it a chance. 

Here is a recipe from my long time crush (yes, my husband is aware and seemingly okay with it) Jamie Oliver.  Go ahead and judge me if you want but I still say there's not much to dislike about the guy. Anyway, the moment I saw these labour intensive looking potatoes I knew it would be the perfect challenge for my little gadget.

All in all, these little potato straws were fairly easy to make. They ended up tasting bloody fantastic and we gobbled the whole plate up practically licking up the crumbs leftover on the plate vowing to make them again soon. 

We paired ours with a cold beer and a bunless beef burger topped with creamy blue cheese. A decadent meal for a quiet night in.

Jamie's tips for deep-frying

1. never leave the pan alone as it could catch fire
2. never leave kids alone in the room with a hot pan.

Rosemary Straw Potatoes with Lemon Salt
from Jamie Oliver

Since I have never done this type of frying before I followed the recipe fairly exactly, and so I will print the recipe verbatim.

for the lemon salt
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons sea salt
for the rosemary straw potatoes

  • sunflower oil
  • 800g potatoes peeled into fine matchsticks
  • a few sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked

To make your lemon salt, bash and mix together the lemon zest with the salt in a pestle and mortar until salt is fine. 

Heat 6-8cm of sunflower oil in a sturdy pan and bring to deep-frying temperature. You can do this by using a thermometer, or by placing a small chunk of potato into the cold oil before you begin to heat it. When the potato is floating and a dark golden brown, the temperature will have reached 180 degrees C/350 degrees F and you're ready to begin frying (remember to remove the piece of potato before you begin).

Pat the julienne strips dry with some kitchen paper to remove any excess starch. Make sure you've got a slotted spoon and some paper napkins nearby. Carefully place some of your potatoes into the pan of oil (don't overcrowd) for a couple of minutes until golden brown and crisp. Cook the potatoes like this, in batches until they are all used up. Add the rosemary for the last 30 seconds. Remove the chips and rosemary to the napkins to soak up any excess oil, and then dust with lemon salt.

Here is my new Juli Peeler

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner: the perfect omelette

One of my favourite meals to make since I've been home on mat leave is an omelette. It's the perfect meal for any time of the day with just enough protein to fill my belly and sustain me for hours and hours without an energy slump.

My love of omelettes comes from my dad who used to whip up custom made omelettes for my sisters and I when we were young. Although now that I think of it, I seem to recall mostly having them for dinner. In fact, many of my favourite meals growing up were breakfast for dinner meals. This list included but was not limited to: waffles with bacon mixed into the batter with maple syrup (better then you think!), crepes, scrambled eggs, french toast, hash browns and sausages with warm buttered toast and of course omelettes. I never thought this was unusual but whenever I suggest we make pancakes for supper Kelly makes a face and then says "why don't we just have spaghetti for breakfast?" NOT THE SAME THING!

To me it makes perfect sense to have breakfast for dinner, most people don't have time in the morning to make a big hearty breakfast so why not make it in the evening when everyone can gather around a table and take the time to enjoy the hearty meal and each others company.

I never follow a recipe when I make an omelette but I usually use 2 eggs and a splash of milk but other than that I just throw in whatever I have in the fridge. You basically cannot go wrong with any combo of veggies, deli meat, fresh herbs and cheese.

Omelette Recipe 
(serves 1 very hungry person) *

2 eggs
splash of milk, probably about 1/4 cup (I use 2%)
handful of chopped mushrooms
handful of roasted squash (leftovers from the night before)
handful graded cheddar cheese (put half into eggy mixture, save other half for the broiler stage)
sprinkling of chopped parsley
handful chopped cherry tomatoes
one chopped green onion
small amount of finely chopped white onion
3 slices gypsy salami, chopped into cubes
ground pepper to taste

1. Turn your oven broiler on HIGH.

2. Crack the 2 eggs into a bowl and beat for a few seconds with a fork, add a splash of milk. Next add all your veggies, cheese, meat and herbs and mix through.

3. Heat a pan on the stove, I use a cast iron pan with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once heated well, pour the eggy mixture into the pan and cook until the bottom appears cooked, about 3 minutes. You can usually visually see this from the top.

4. Now sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and slide the pan into the oven on Broil HIGH for about 2 minutes until the top starts to bubble. This is the most tricky part since it is very easy to quickly burn the whole thing. Leave the oven light on and check your omelette every 30 seconds, it should be cooked after about 2-3 minutes at the most.

5. Once cooked, pull it out of the oven to cool off for a few minutes and then serve.

*This is a sample recipe of what I used for the above picture but please use any combo of veggies, deli meat, cheese and fresh herbs that you have in the fridge.