31 December 2008

New Year's Eve dinners

An early New Year's Eve dinner after work at the Cactus Club: Rainforest Greens, not unlike Milestones's Spring Mix Salad, but much, much better.


A late New Year's Eve dinner of other people's homemade pizza. (Claudia Li photo)

And a late late extremely bad New Year's Eve choice of congee at a Chinese restaurant.

30 December 2008

Zucchini Vermicelli with Meatballs


It was my plan to do leftovers tonight but shortly after 1 o'clock this morning my neighbour and I ate the rest of the curry. So I decided to try these "low-carb" zucchini noodles from Recipe Zaar.

Zucchini Vermicelli

4 zucchini
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


Directions

Grate zucchini into long strands. Add olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Let the bowl sit out for 1 hour to temper the noodles, tossing once or twice. Because they are so thin, the noodles don't require cooking.

Note: I wasn't able to use the whole zucchinis because I kept accidentally grating my fingers as I got toward the middle... so I chopped up the rest and put them aside for some future meal (and/or to rot in my refrigerator). The vermicelli was OK... a lot lighter than pasta, but I'm not convinced that tomato sauce is the right companion. It might go better with pesto and/or as part of a pasta salad recipe.



The meatballs were adapted from Julie Van Rosendaal's meatloaf recipe in Starting Out. I changed it to use cilantro because I didn't have any parsley... I love cilantro, but in retrospect, it's probably not the best choice for a meatball accent. But overall the meatballs are good, though they taste perhaps a little too much like saltines. You can use bread crumbs or quick oats instead.

Julie's Meatballs

1 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, grated
1 1/2 lb extra lean ground beef
1 cup crushed saltine crackers
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 egg
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper


Directions

1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and sauté the onions and garlic for about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Set aside to cool slightly.

2. In a large bowl, combine the meat, sautéed onion and garlic, crushed crackers, yogurt, tomato sauce, egg, cilantro, Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper. Mix everything together with your hands until it's well blended. Shape into walnut-sized balls.

3. Cook as many as you like in a skillet with a little olive oil, rolling them around until they brown on all sides. Pour spaghetti sauce over the meatballs, and simmer them in the sauce until they've cooked through (If cooking without sauce, they should take about 15 minutes).

Raw meatballs can be frozen on a cookie sheet, then transferred to freezer bags to store for up to 4 months. Cook as directed straight from the freezer -- there's no need to thaw them first.

29 December 2008

Milestones

Tomato Basil soup. Spring mix salad.

27 December 2008

Dahaiwale Aloo Gobi



As promised, tonight I cooked from Atul Kochhar's Indian Essence.
I had all the spices needed for this curry in the India Pantry in a Box except for onion seeds, so since I still had some onion-related chives in the fridge, I threw those in instead. If you're going for authenticity, omit the chives and add 1 tsp onion seeds along with the cloves, cardamom, etc.

Dahaiwale Aloo Gobi (Cauliflower and Potato Curry)

2 medium potatoes, peeled
1 medium cauliflower, trimmed
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves
2 cardamom pods
1-inch piece cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp chopped chives
2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
3/4 plain yogurt, lightly whisked
1 Tbsp cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp garam masala


Directions

1. Cut the potatoes into wedges. Cut the cauliflower into small florets. Heat the oil in a sauté pan and lightly fry the potato wedges and cauliflower, turning, for 3–5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

2. Add the cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon and bay leaf to the oil remaining in the pan, and sauté for a minute or two until the spices crackle.

3. Return the potatoes and cauliflower to the pan and add the turmeric, chili powder, salt and sugar. Mix well and add 1 1/4 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are just cooked.

4. Add the chives, tomatoes and yogurt, bring to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the chopped cilantro and sprinkle with garam masala to serve.

Earls

I bought all the ingredients for my exciting first-ever authentic Indian curry! Except, I ate at Earls. Baby Calamari and Grilled Prawn Tacos.

For dessert: Lost Highway and Truffle Kisses.

26 December 2008

Leftovers and Ben & Jerry's on Mulholland Drive


My Lynchian holiday education included a late-night viewing of The Elephant Man last night, and continued this evening with Mulholland Drive, accompanied by the last of the leftover stuffed peppers, and some Ben & Jerry's Cheesecake Brownie ice cream. In fact I watched Mulholland Drive for the second time this morning, and following an afternoon of reading about it here and here, decided to make it a Mulholland Drive day and watch it one more time... If you've seen the movie just once before you'll know what it's like to almost get what's going on, but fall just short of that one little connecting idea that will piece it all together. Anyway there are about a million such ideas here.

I actually prefer to watch movies for the first time knowing as little as possible about them, but as a guideline to any subsequent MD viewing, consider David Lynch's 10 Clues to Unlocking This Thriller:

1. Pay particular attention in the beginning of the film: at least two clues are revealed before the credits.
2. Notice appearances of the red lampshade.
3. Can you hear the title of the film that Adam Kesher is auditioning actresses for? Is it mentioned again?
4. An accident is a terrible event... notice the location of the accident.
5. Who gives a key, and why?
6. Notice the robe, the ashtray, the coffee cup.
7. What is felt, realized and gathered at the club Silencio?
8. Did talent alone help Camilla?
9. Note the occurrences surrounding the man behind Winkies.
10. Where is Aunt Ruth?

25 December 2008

A Vancouver Christmas: Vietnamese Salad Rolls

So, my Christmas dinner was Vietnamese salad rolls at the Tinseltown food court. Followed by the newest addition to the holiday movie roster, Four Christmases. And, it's over! Christmas is done. Yay.


One of the photographers I work with gave me this India Pantry in a Box from South China Seas Trading Co for Christmas, which I'm pretty excited about; we put out two Indian cookbooks this past year, which were delicious to photograph, but which I was not likely to be cooking from because of all the spices required... But now I have them all at my disposal! Unfortunately I don't have the books at home with me over the holidays, but I do have this old Whitecap book Indian Essence, by Atul Kochhar. I'll see what I can come up with in the next few days.

24 December 2008

Christmas Eve Chocolavas


For dinner I had leftover stuffed peppers; started off with some Love Actually, and then tempered the Christmas spirit David Lynch-style with a little Inland Empire. Plenty of Baileys to set the tone, and some wasabi peas to offset it. And then I baked cookies.

I've eaten these Chocolavas several times; it's a favourite recipe among the girls at the office, from Julie Van Rosendaal's One Smart Cookie.It was my first time trying it myself, but the recipe's so simple it's impossible to screw it up. Unless you decide to satisfy your curiosity about whether or not one can use waxed paper to line a cookie sheet instead of greasing it, and then almost set the apartment on fire.

Here's Julie's recipe, revised to the baking time of my oven (whatever you do, DON'T overbake! Err on the side of underbaking), and to incorporate this exciting pink salt that I have:

Chocolava Cookies

1 1/3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp Himalayan pink salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 large egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
icing sugar for rolling


Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Stir in margarine until the mixture is well combined and crumbly. Add egg whites and vanilla and stir by hand just until the dough comes together.

3. Place a few heaping spoonfuls of icing sugar into a shallow dish. Roll dough into 1 1/2" balls and roll the balls in icing sugar to coat. Place 2" apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for ten minutes, until just set around the edges but still soft in the middle. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

23 December 2008

Delicious Meat Paste

err... pâté, rather. A Freybe fine liver sausage sandwich, to be exact. Later: polenta fries with curry mayo stolen from Taryn at The Cascade Room.

22 December 2008

Lentil-Stuffed Peppers


Until Saturday night I was hardcore Grinching it up, but finally somewhere around midnight, between the music and the snow, good times with friends and the friendliness of strangers, the Christmas spirit totally hit me over the head.

So after a beautiful walk in the endlessly falling snow on the seawall on Sunday I headed for the grocery store and began stocking up for some cooking adventures over the holidays, because what the Christmas spirit is really about is FOOD! Especially of the homemade variety. I'll have a week off over the holidays, and not being able to see my family this Christmas, I plan on staying in with the kitty, cooking as much as possible and letting him eat the leftovers. ("How come Peanut is so fat?" "He's just big-boned.")

The following is loosely based on a stuffed-pepper recipe posted on Facebook by my friend Jess Klug, who recently got married and immediately transformed into a bit of a young Martha Stewart. I added the lentils, and used cous cous because I was out of rice. I've tried just lentils in the past and it turned out too dry, so I thought I'd try lentil soup this time. The resulting cous cous is pretty mushy , even though the taste is so much better. I'll try to perfect the recipe next time, maybe by cooking the cous cous in the soup itself? Or, maybe I'll add an additional can of just lentils... Hmmmm...

Lentil-Stuffed Peppers

6 medium red bell peppers (one of them chopped)
2 cups cooked cous cous
1 cup mushrooms, sliced thick (about 9 mushrooms)
1/2 bunch chives, chopped
1 bundle broccoli florets, chopped
1 can lentil soup
1 cup old cheddar cheese, shredded


Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 300° F.

2. Remove the core and seeds of whole peppers and place into a saucepan containing 1/2 cup boiling water. Cover and allow to steam for 5 minutes. Remove and drain.

3. Cook broccoli, chopped pepper, mushrooms and chives.

4. Stir in lentil soup and drain off excess liquid.

5. Stir in cous cous and cheese.

6. Stuff the peppers and stand them up in a casserole dish. Bake for 15 minutes.


Aside: It is a good idea to not to leave cooking utensils, especially of the plastic variety, resting against the element.

The Calling


Dinner at The Calling (the Checkers kitchen was closed). Note the smiley face that the chef composed on the tomato of my bacon and gorgonzola burger.

20 December 2008

Rerun


Guess what was for dinner. (Hint: it wasn't Peanut.)

Christmas in Greek and Mexican

Lunch was pretty much my dinner, as it left me fairly incapacitated for the rest of the day. I started drinking at one in the afternoon at our office Christmas party and kept it going for the next eleven hours, never really attaining any kind of intoxication but at least maintaining a false sense of warmth to carry me through the bitter bitter cold. The Christmas party was at [a Greek restaurant] on Lonsdale in North Van. I was already full after the charbroiled calamari appetizer. There were pitas with hoummos and tzatziki, and then there was moussaka and greek salad and potato. A trail of barhopping with coworkers afterward finally led me to dessert at Zocalo on Main Street: some kind of hot Mexican chili-chocolate brownie with cinnamon ice cream.

19 December 2008

Ahi Tuna Tartar


Ahi Tuna Tartar at the Crime Lab.

18 December 2008

Sick

I slept all evening, then ate a red pepper and put a dent in the leftover chicken.

16 December 2008

Chicken marinade; Zakkushi II


Even though I didn't 'cook' yesterday, I did prepare a marinade for tonight's homemade chicken wings. I tried the recipe given to me at the Barbecue Secrets Deluxe! shoot... except I had no idea what measurements to use... I ended up guessing 1/8 cup sesame oil, 1/4 cup soy sauce, a few cloves of garlic and about the same amount of fresh chopped ginger. The result: too much oil; not enough ginger. I followed the cooking instructions from Julie's drumsticks for the wings. I meant to cut off all the fat, because as it turned out last time, chicken fat was a lot less exciting than I expected, but I was sick and did not have the patience to remove it.

All of this chicken-making was in vain, because then Hughie called me for round 2 at Zakkushi on Denman. Various grilled meats abounded again: more melt-in-your-mouth deep-fried chicken skin, some bacon-wrapped quail's eggs, gomae and yaki udon and some kind of cheese-covered molten rice skewer thing. Topped off with green tea-dusted ice cream with red bean pancakes and chocolate-covered banana gyozas, and two bottles of saké. Whew! It was as intense as it sounds.

15 December 2008

The old standby

Dinner with my best friend the old standby, President's Choice chicken & red pepper stone-baked pizza. Also some of these grape tomatoes, for added non-carbness.

14 December 2008

Pulled Pork; wings and coffee

Where does lunch end and dinner begin? Especially when you didn't really eat breakfast. Hmmm? Today I ate a pulled pork sandwich around dinnertime. Later I had dinner, ...after dinnertime. It was, yet again, honey garlic chicken wings from Checkers. I only really mention the pulled pork sandwich because it was infinitely more exciting than the wings. Also, there was this "Bayside Special" coffee.

Quesadillas; cupcakes; midnight snack

A day of crafting included the making of these cupcakes by Liz, which I then graciously helped to eat. Lunch/dinner was cheddar quesadillas and homemade salsa by Janos, and midnight snack while waiting an hour for a cab that never showed up was bread with olive oil & balsamic vinegar and goat cheese.

13 December 2008

MEAT

It was the kind of day that makes you proud to be a carnivore. Today was the final shoot for Barbecue Secrets Deluxe! It's been a pleasure to work with such talented people, and the BBQ has been without a doubt the best I've ever tasted. Today consisted of Grilled Oysters with Orange Walnut Vinaigrette, BBQ Chicken (note to self to try this easy marinade in the future: soy sauce, sesame oil, fresh ginger and garlic), Pepper-Grilled Tuna with Wasabi Mayo, Grilled Rice Cakes, Tuscan Grilled Game Hen (those flying angels pictured above) and Grilled Trout with oranges and onions.

11 December 2008

Weird Sandwich; Inland Empire


A weird, and not necessarily in a good way, sandwich with prosciutto, green pepper, butter and cranberry-pear-apple relish. With a slice of Inland Empire.

10 December 2008

Crudités

Leftovers tonight, followed by an assortment of crudités at the Xtra West Christmas party. We ate this much. With a creamy sauce that may or may not have been "ranch."

09 December 2008

Rotini; green peppers; eraser shavings

O Holidays! I couldn't think of a better time to immerse myself in the works of David Lynch. I stocked up on some of his movies this week and they have become my dinnertime entertainment. I am really glad I wasn't eating chicken during the scene in Eraserhead where Mary's father asks Henry to carve the meal.

It is quite clear from the last several posts that I need more vegetables in my life. But I don't really have the mental capacity this week to do any kind of cooking, so I chopped up some green peppers and mixed them in with tomato sauce and whole wheat rotini and sat back and watched a young Pete-from-Twin-Peaks's head turn into eraser shavings.

08 December 2008

Salsa. Nachos.

I've been too busy to do groceries, so wound up raiding the preserves props tonight for something to eat. "Salsa Fiesta!" with nachos. Hooray.

07 December 2008

Plum Butter; Pecan Fruit Bread

It was another day spent alternately photographing and eating preserves. There was kiwi jam, applesauce, raspberry and strawberry rhubarb jam, and yogurt with black & blue jam, but nothing approached the pure deliciousness of this plum butter, spread on pecan fruit bread from Capers.

06 December 2008

Checkers (Week of Chicken)

Honey Garlic Chicken Wings at Checkers.

Hoko's; Discorder cake


There wasn't really a "dinner" per se, tonight. Just two leftover drumsticks, a tiny piece of cake (with homemade fondant) and some of Hoko's yam tempuras stolen from Liv and Jackie. The cake, made by Darcie Omori, was in celebration of Discorder's 25th anniversary; Discorder, for which I've been a contributor since (gasp) 2001. Discorder cake photo by Duncan McHugh.

04 December 2008

Sandwich


A sandwich with roasted red pepper dip, goat cheese, prosciutto, and zucchini relish left over from this week's photo shoot.

03 December 2008

Leftovers


That's all.

02 December 2008

Julie's Drumsticks


Tonight's recipe comes from Julie Van Rosendaal, whose "reality cookbook" was the inspiration for this blog. Dinner with Julie is not only a kitchen diary of daily meals, but a handy archive of delicious recipes with useful tips for leftovers. I felt safe in her hands for my second foray into cooking chicken: Spicy, Sticky Drumsticks.

You can find the marinade recipe here. I went with dark maple syrup and balsamic vinegar, and made sure not to trim any of the fat or skin. As for the fearsome chicken-cooking, I broiled the drumsticks over the course of 20 minutes, taking them out twice to add more marinade and turn them over. Success! Quick, easy success. Served with roasted veggies. I was tempted to try the Roasted Chick Peas with Garlic and Chard as a side, but let's get real. The fact that I cooked at all is good enough for now.

Today is Day 337 of Julie's year in her kitchen. I've been an avid reader of the blog, and the internet will lose a bit of its lustre when it comes to an end in January. Never fear though, Michelle-Meals will still be going strong.

01 December 2008

Baguette; Pepper Jelly; Band-aid

Today I basically ate almost an entire sourdough baguette, with cream cheese and Urban Fare Chunky Red Chili Pepper Spread, for both lunch and dinner. In other food-related news, Peanut is currently trying to bite the band-aid off of my thumb, which I nearly severed while slicing said baguette.

30 November 2008

Red Pepper Salad


A few random veggies culled from the Capers salad bar, topped with tomatoes and red peppers, and roasted red pepper dip and goat cheese.

Dinner x 2

Last night's festivities were bookended by two dinners: Drunken Prawns at Vina Vietnamese Cuisine, and nachos at The Foundation.

28 November 2008

La Casita

Here is a mildly embarrassing photo of myself not knowing my photo was being taken, and also a testament to the horrendous quality of iPhone cameras. Tonight we dined at La Casita, and I ate what is usually the best thing on the menu: the Ceviche Tostada. This time they overdid it with the lime. It still remains delicious in my memory, from previous visits. Also consumed: mango peach margaritas, on "special." Photo by Janos Sitar.

27 November 2008

Week of Polenta

Basically the same ingredients as yesterday, but tossed together with abandon. Plus tomatoes. It was better the other way.

26 November 2008

Polenta Pepper-Rounds

So, this dish was basically invented to avoid the shame of posting, "Yeah, I just fried up some polenta slices again. Yum." The invention was inspired by a recipe I saw for polenta pizza (thanks to Janos for the polenta research). These were surprisingly delicious and easy.

Polenta Pepper-Rounds
pre-cooked polenta
roasted red pepper dip
spreadable goat cheese
red pepper
shiitake mushrooms
olive oil

1. Slice polenta into discs about 1/4 inch thick.

2. Fry in olive oil until crispy, and set aside on plate.

3. Chop red pepper and mushrooms into bite-size pieces.

4. Toss in the frying pan in olive oil. (Peppers first; they'll take about twice as long as the mushrooms.)

5. Meanwhile, spread red pepper dip on the slices, followed by a dollop of goat cheese.

6. Top with red pepper and mushrooms.

25 November 2008

Fried Polenta


I sliced up some of this polenta and fried it in sesame oil. I was feeling lazy and didn't bother with a recipe. Yep, just polenta fried in sesame oil. I think I am in love with sesame oil.

24 November 2008

Mahi mahi II

As evidenced by this week's frozen pizza, the best President's Choice items seem to come in twos. I tackled the second mahi mahi fillet this evening, this time pan-searing it in sesame oil with toasted sesame seeds and garlic. It was much quicker and tastier than the previous attempt. Note: sesame seeds like to jump around on high heat. My kitchen is now crawling with the little critters. A random walk also resulted in these mini-cupcakes, which I had planned to bring to the coffee station at the office tomorrow, but it's looking like that's not going to work out.
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