28 February 2009

Gorilla Food II

Today at Gorilla Food we ate the following:

Thai Fresh Wraps – Three collard leaf wraps filled with a sprouted sunflower seed and veggie pate, sesame seasoned coleslaw and served with a ginger raisin chutney.

Green Tacos – A romaine lettuce leaf taco wrap filled with a spicy chili walnut pate, fresh guacamole and salsa.

Cashew Alfredo Zucchini Linguini – Zucchini “Newdles” smothered in a rich white cashew cream. Served with a green leaf salad.

Also, this chocolate pie. The tacos were wonderful, as I generally think anything made with avocado is. The chili walnut pate had a satifsying meatlikeness to it, only better. The Thai wraps were delicious, especially smothered in the ginger raisin chutney. The linguini was just ok (definitely better than the zucchini noodles I tried to make). All in all, the food was both delicious and beautiful, but you can't see it, since once again, the photos all mysteriously disappeared from my memory card. So . . . yeah. Time to invest in a new card.

Edit: photos salvaged.

Kale & Avocado Salad II

Last night I made the kale and avocado salad again. It was really good this time. It was made of one bunch of kale, finely chopped (stalks removed first), about 3 Tbsp olive oil, Himalayan pink salt, two avocadoes, chopped sun-dried and grape tomatoes, chopped green onions (use the white ends), chick peas (rinsed), red pepper flakes and the juice of half a lemon. Part of what makes this salad so good is the way you make it. You massage the oil and salt into the kale to soften it. I was generous with the salt this time, and I spent quite a while on this step (ie. about five minutes). Then you add the avocado and massage it again, making sure the kale is coated with it, while leaving a few chunks here and there. Then you mix in the rest of the ingredients. The massaging part is quite messy, but it's worth it. This salad is so filling, and it's so good for you, especially after a day spent eating Timbits and mini meringues and fudge.

26 February 2009

Mexican Potluck

Mexican-y Potluck tonight. I had some terrible President's Choice green tomato salsa so I mixed in chopped up tomatoes and black olives and sour cream and made it a lot better. Also: leftover Oscars party cheeses, veggie fajitas and overblended Indian spinach guacamole with tortilla chips. All of this painstakingly photographed, but my card malfunctioned and everything was erased.

Edit: photos restored.

A note on the guacamole: The spinach gives it that fluorescent green hue. But next time I would blend the spinach on its own, and then mash in the avocados by hand, because I like guacamole to be chunky, not like soup. Also, I would leave out the garam masala altogether. I'm not so sure that Indian-Mexican fusion is a good idea. Next time I'd stick more along these lines (plus garlic of course).

25 February 2009

Spice-Poached Halibut with Roasted Red Veggies

I last made this using cod; the recipe is here. This time I thought I'd try adding wine, and so the broth was made of 2 cups of milk and 1 cup white wine. I simmered the broth for half an hour to intensify the flavour of the spices. And I pan-roasted (is that a cooking term?) red peppers and grape tomatoes on the side.

Result: The roasted peppers and tomatoes are amazing. I want to eat these all the time. I can't think of a better side to go with fish. Or chicken. Or beef . . . And the fish: Ok. The halibut itself was good (bought frozen from the butcher shop on Denman). I omitted the Pollo Asado chicken seasoning this time around, but it probably would have added that little extra needed kick. Also, I probably only needed one cup of milk; in any case, it curdled. How can this be prevented? Here is a random paragraph (concerning white wine sauce with mussels) via Google, that at least provides a little insight.

"Make sure the wine is used first while cooking the mussels so that it hits high heat and boils down a bit. Reduce heat to low at the end or turn off and add the 1/2&1/2. It should not curdle or break as long as you don't boil it or leave it on heat too long."

So, round three next time . . . does the milk even make that much of a difference? Maybe I should try it dairy-free. That way I can boil the spices in the broth even longer (the flavour, while nice and subtle, was still a little lacking in intensity for my tastes) without worry of curdling. Or . . . I could add everything but the milk and simmer and reduce, then turn the heat down and gradually stir in the milk. Maybe cream, this time. And less liquid for a creamier broth. Actually, I think the dairy is a more important ingredient than the wine, for this dish. The wine didn't have that intense of an effect (at least not in a 1:2 ratio with the milk).

Also tonight, dessert: an Easter Cream Egg, and the last of the Safeway meringues, which by the way I also spent all of last night eating. For the past two days I have been snacking while watching Rachel Getting Married, and now I automatically connect the movie with those lovely pastel-coloured meringues. Sort of like my own personal drug to help me make it through an overall unpleasant movie about an addict.

24 February 2009

Breaded Pork Cutlets & Spinach

Spinach cooked in (too much) sesame ginger vinaigrette (bad idea) and breaded pork cutlets from Save-On-Meats (only $1 each!) with veggie Bolognese sauce.

23 February 2009

Panago Tropical Chicken Pizza

Take-out tonight. Panago pizza, basically because it is almost right next door to my house. 'Tropical Chicken.' Note: you get one free dipping sauce; do not get 'Chipotle Cilantro.' It just tastes like smoke. Also: Copper Moon Cabernet Sauvignon. Cheap and delicious.

22 February 2009

Save-On-Blue Cheese Walnut Spread

A trip to the Save-On-Meats, whose days are numbered, resulted in a bounty of cheap meats and cheeses . . . and so I made a Blue Cheese Walnut spread for tonight's Oscars party. I mixed together this blue cheese and cream cheese (which was basically brie) with a few tablespoons of sour cream, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and salt and pepper, and served it on french bread, topped with D'Anjou pear slices.

Lentils & Eggs

This is a quick, brainless meal that my parents used to make . . . I was almost resigned to dining on a slice of 99-cent pizza tonight before heading out, when I realized I had all the ingredients I needed for this: lentils, eggs, onions and cooked egg noodles. Generally the eggs would be sunny-side-up on a bed of lentils, but I've never successfully cooked an egg that way, and I didn't have the time or patience to give it a try tonight, so I made them over-easy. And usually we ate it with rice, but actually, the noodles are much better.

20 February 2009

Salad; goulash

Pre-A.C. Newman: Caesar salad (ie. lettuce with dressing) and leftover goulash with egg noodles. 1:30am: Leftover kale & avocado salad.

19 February 2009

Kale and Avocado Salad

Tonight I made a salad from my friend Sonya's blog, who eats only raw foods (except that one time I forced her to dine at Checkers). I'm not going to bother writing out the recipe, since you can watch it here. It was a very tactile experience . . . it was my first time preparing a meal by giving it a massage. The salad consists of finely chopped kale with olive oil, sea salt and avocado massaged into it, and chopped onions, sun-dried tomatoes, sweet cocktail tomatoes and fresh lemon juice. Basically, this salad is an excuse to eat a bowl of guacamole by adding kale to it.

Salmon; chocolate chips

Salmon with lemon and dill, rice and salad and homemade dressing and red wine and ice cream, with chocolate chips!

17 February 2009

Leftoverz; Pocky

Leftover goulash with red pepper risotto. Also: expired Brazilian Pudding Pocky from Konbiniya. Mmmmm, expired Pocky.

16 February 2009

Beef Bourguignon Goulash

I had a lot of stew and a little beef left over from yesterday, so I sautéed some mushrooms and onions with olive oil and paprika, cubed the leftover meat, threw everything in a pot to simmer for a while, then stirred in some sour cream at the last minute before serving over egg noodles. This is pretty close to the goulash my parents used to make, which was one of my favourite dishes growing up. These meals the last two days have had the most home-cooked flavour I've ever made. It's very exciting.

15 February 2009

Braised Beef in Red Wine

My friend coached me on the technique of braising, and I consulted this recipe for ingredients. The wine store clerks recommended their new favourite "go-to wine" for cooking, cheapness and overall delicousness: Mon Ami Rascal Grenache Syrah Mouvedre. I used a smaller roast basically because I forgot how much I was supposed to buy, and I made some President's Choice "Splendido" Red Pepper Risotto (a delicious step above Kraft Dinner) to go with it, but the flavours were so different that I decided to have that as a "first course" and then the beef stew on its own.

Braised Beef in Red Wine

1 beef roast, about 1.3 pounds, tied into a compact shape
2 onions, diced
3 handfuls baby carrots, halved
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
4 garlic cloves, cut into slivers
1 lemon zest strip, about 3 inches long
1 cinnamon stick
5 cloves
bottle of red wine (minus a glass or two for the cook)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Braising instructions courtesy of Alex L:

"Braising is so easy. Sear whatever the meat is, set it aside, turn the heat down, fry the onions and veg, put in the liquid (wine, stock, etc), reduce it a bit, put the meat back in, and cover and put on med heat on the stove or med heat in the oven (325) for a few hours."

I used the stove top; simmering time was 2 1/2 hours. This is the best thing I've ever made. I would never have thought something that tastes like this could have been cooked by me.

Note: Contrary to the implications of the photo on the right, Peanut was not on the menu.

14 February 2009

Lobster heeeeeead

My dinner at the Boathouse was mildly psychologically damaging. I've had lobster tail in the past, but I guess that I've never eaten a whole, freshly killed lobster before, and now I know why. The insides of a lobster head are disturbing, I mean, it is what you would expect, and why would you think it would be otherwise. And if you can bring yourself to eat this part -- and are you supposed to? -- it does not even taste good anyway. The next few hours were filled with disturbing grey matter flashbacks.

Otherwise, the grilled asparagus with oven-dried tomatoes, crumbled goat cheese, mini croutons and Okanagan apple cider vinaigrette was really, really delicious. The mocha ice cream pie with chocolate ganache sauce and maple almonds was ok.

13 February 2009

Pickled Beans

Leftovers AGAIN. Banana. Americano. Ginger Molasses Cookie. And somewhere in the night: Brenda's amazing pickled beans.

12 February 2009

Leftovers; Munchies

Leftover pasta and peach crumble. Aaaaaand Munchies.

11 February 2009

Smoked Salmon Caesar Salad

Tonight I made Caesar salad with smoked salmon, using Newman's Own Creamy Caesar Dressing, some Lea & Perrins, fresh lemon juice, croutons, Parmesan, and cracked black pepper. Because Peanut has free rein of the house and was hanging out on the dinner table, I had to keep my salad on the kitchen counter and keep going back and forth whenever I wanted a bite. Peanut doesn't pussyfoot around when it comes to fish. It was the only way I could eat in peace.

10 February 2009

Fancy Sauce Fail; Peach Crumble Mistake

Tonight I had the last of the Eat Smart veggies and some sweet potato fries with Fancy Sauce (Step Brothers recipe -- see above clip). I have to side with Dale on this one . . . I tried to further fancify it with some curry powder and garam masala, but in the end, fries and Fancy Sauce were a disappointment.

I seem to be on a baking kick this week and why stop now, with canned peaches left over from the Well Preserved shoot waiting around to be eaten, and such a simple recipe at my disposal? And so I made peach crumble. Except I went ahead and complicated things by adding random ingredients, forgetting that a couple days of baking under my belt doesn't quite make me a pro:

Michelle's Peach Crumble Mistake

1 large can peach halves, drained

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup butter


Grease shallow dish with butter. Arrange peach halves in dish. Prepare crumble topping by mixing all ingredients . . .

The mixture was dry and since I have an abundance of eggs I figured it couldn't hurt to add one, mixed it all together and then spooned the topping evenly over the peaches. I baked it at 375°F for 20 minutes, and then to make the top crispy I broiled it for five minutes, which resulted in nine peach halves topped with mini burnt pancakes.

Determined to produce edible results, I peeled off the pancakes and threw them away, then scraped some of the remaining mixture from the bottom of the dish onto the peach halves and baked for another five minutes at 425°F.

Served with a small scoop of So Good Vanilla Frozen Dessert ("ice cream"), it really . . . wasn't . . . so bad. Really. It was ok.

To try next time: sticking a little closer to the original recipe.

09 February 2009

Leftover leftovers; giant "healthy" brownie

Leftover leftovers tonight. And then I baked one giant brownie, with some chopped meringue walnuts mixed in. I followed the "Decadent Brownies" recipe in Ultimate Foods for Ultimate Health, which is supposed to be healthy because it uses "high-flavanol" cocoa and whole wheat flour. Except I only had regular flour. However I guess I saved a couple calories (and some dish-washing time) by using parchment paper instead of greasing the pan.

08 February 2009

Freezer-Pasta Roundup; Meringue Walnuts

I cleaned out the freezer today, which included a baggie of frozen meatballs, some chopped green peppers and onions and leftover pasta. Leftover frozen pasta needs care to make it edible, but it's not impossible. I defrosted it and then let it slowly simmer and come to life in the sauce, which was made of President's Choice Roasted Red Pepper Sauce with the chopped peppers and onions, a can of diced tomatoes, and a few handfuls of sliced mushrooms. The meatballs were a bit freezer-burned, but I broke them down and basically made this into a really meaty meat sauce. Not bad, for leftovers.

Aaaaannd . . . another walnut recipe! After this, my walnut supply is depleted; I'll be able to make one more recipe from these babies, and it will probably be another attempt at Muhammara. This recipe is adapted from Julie Van Rosendaal's Grazing, a bounty of quick and easy recipes which is being rereleased this fall, and which I suspect I will be cooking from often.

Note: The original recipe's baking time is 30 minutes, but my oven seems to be hotter than Julie's, so I check it often. You can also use pecans, cashews, almonds and hazelnuts, or a mix thereof.

Meringue Walnuts

2 cups walnuts
1 egg white
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp Sambal Oelek
1 tsp salt


1. Preheat oven to 300°F.

2. In a large bowl, beat egg white into a foamy froth. Stir in nuts, sugar, cinnamon, Sambal Oelek and salt.

3. Spread mixture onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring often (or else they will burn, like mine did). Let cool on the baking sheet.

07 February 2009

Gorilla Food

Michelle-Meals and SonyaMeals unite to bring you: a day at Gorilla Food, a raw vegan restaurant. Featuring . . .

Maui Waui Pizza -- A sun-dried tomato and fresh tomato herb sauce topped with a mix of tenderized kale and seasonal greens then topped with fresh pineapple bits and a crumbly walnut “cheez”.

Guacamole and Crackers -- Creamy avocado goo served with house-dehydrated Sunny Ginger Nori crackers.

Water Wisdom Salad -- Three varieties of seaweed, tenderized kale leaves and tossed veggies marinated in a sweet apple ginger sesame dressing with sesame seeds and hazelnuts.

For dessert: a delicious cacao coconut mousse pie, which I devoured, despite already being completely stuffed. I have heard people talk about how a raw food diet leaves you feeling full after eating relatively little food, but never have I felt this full . . . so full from lunch that I didn't even need to eat dinner tonight!

Froot Loops

Froot Loops for dinner! Yes. Also: leftover muhammara and a spinach and artichoke salad.

05 February 2009


What? Did I just make an entire dinner? Yes I did: thanks to the magic of such things as leftovers, and an Eat Smart Fresh Cut Vegetable Medley (those little bags of pre-cut broccoli, carrots and cauliflower). Tonight I ate leftover cod (note the Peanut-shaped bokeh faking disinterest in the background, but don't be fooled. Peanut has proven that he is willing to sacrifice my love for him in order to obtain a mere morsel of cod. In fact he has his very own specialized war cry for the smell of fish), and veggies and toasted pita triangles with blue cheese and Muhammara dip.

Did you know that Syria has its own national dip? This blog says so, and so it must be true. One thing I know for sure is that Muhammara contains walnuts, and my freezer is still overflowing with them from way back in the day. And so a (fairly easy) recipe with walnuts is a recipe that I want to make. So I stopped at Konbiniya, the Japanese store on Robson, to get panko, and left with that and some waxy banana-flavoured Hello Kitty lip gloss.


1 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained
1 cup walnuts
1/3 cup panko
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper


1. Throw all ingredients in a blender, and blend! Until smooth.

2. Serve with toasted pita triangles or other breadlike things.

I only had about 1/8 tsp of cayenne pepper, so the dip wasn't spicy enough. I added 1 tsp peppercorns (courtesy of Amanda -- thanks!) and a dash of salt but it wasn't quite the same . . . Also: needs garlic! Maybe more lemon juice. Maybe even more peppers, to make it a bit sweeter. Next time I will roast my own.

04 February 2009

Spice-Poached Cod

Dinner was confusingly easy. I poached some cod, using this Washington Post recipe with a little help from this blog.

Spice-Poached Cod

The fish: one big fillet of cod, cut in half to make two servings (soak it in ice water while preparing the broth)

The liquid:
4 cups water, 2 cups milk

The spices: 3 Tbsp Pollo Asado chicken seasoning, a cinnamon stick, 2 bay leaves, a crushed cardamom pod, a star anise, a ton of cracked pepper from my beloved new cherry wood pepper mill and some Himalayan pink salt (added after boiling).

The poaching:
Bring to a boil, salt to taste; add the fish, turn off the heat, let sit for 20 minutes.

It was my first poaching experience, and it was over so fast I didn't know what to do with myself. I served the fish with Greek salad. It was nice . . . the milk, cinnamon, cardamom and star anise make the fish taste very . . . calm. I think next time I will boil the liquid longer to give the flavour a little more intensity, and try adding some white wine to the broth.

03 February 2009

Greek Salad; Ravioli II

Greek salad again. The distinguishing feature of any salad is the size and shape you choose to chop your vegetables. Some flavours and textures need wider distribution, while others need a larger mass to be fully appreciated. In tonight's salad for example, the cucumber and onions were finely chopped, while the grape tomatoes and olives were only halved. The resulting taste was far superior to Saturday's salad. Also again: this here ravioli.

02 February 2009

White Tower

For someone who romanticizes cooking so much, I really eat out a lot. Tonight was White Tower on Robson; I have some kind of love/hate relationship with the small-towny restaurants in my neighbourhood. White Tower is indeed Welland-style "Greek" food. I ate some saganaki and keftedes, aka fried cheese and meatballs. At home: the last of the Little Penguin Shiraz that Duncan and Liz bought me in Portland. Thanks, guys!

01 February 2009

Granville Island; Curry; PUMPKIN BUTTER!

I'd like to take this time to quote avant-garde filmmaker Peter Kubelka, who was quoted by psychotherapist Andrew Feldmar in a talk he gave about "Cooking from Memory" this evening at the Trampoline Hall lectures on Granville Island: "Cooking is performing art, and a meal is the ancestral sculpture of mankind. Cooking is the origin of culture, as the mother of all arts. Food, exactly like popular art, constitutes a means of communication. Prepared food is a medium to express thoughts and feelings."

Kubelka expands on this and other metaphors for cooking in his lecture, "The Edible Metaphor," here. Food isn't just fuel (though I have often treated it that way); what we put in our bodies is, basically, what we are made of. Kubelka speaks about the godlike nature of cooking, and considering this, when you eat what you create, you are essentially creating yourself.

It was my first visit to Granville Island in a year, and most definitely my first visit since starting this blog. This daily focus on food, cookbooks and recipes has transformed the way my eyes see marketplaces . . . for the first time it feels like every ingredient there is accessible to me. I had to fight myself to not spend money on several frivolous things like (real) truffles and wild rose petal syrup, but I did invest in some star anise, for when I finally get around to this poached cod recipe. Anyway. For dinner I ate at the Indian place in the market: butter chicken, yogurt vegetable curry (which tasted a lot like this -- though mine was better) and chicken curry.

On the walk home I discovered that the new Safeway on the corner is open until midnight! So I purchased some breakfast ingredients -- raisin English muffins and cream cheese -- to accompany the delicious delicious pumpkin pie-y Trader Joe's pumpkin butter that I photographed this afternoon. Intended for breakfast, but I made sure to test out the goods while writing this blog.
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