31 May 2009

Roasted Beet & Fennel Salad


I made this Roasted Beet and Fennel Salad today, to practice another recipe from my cooking class. It was, to quote Sonya, a rainbow of nutrients! Other key ingredients include orange, apple, walnuts (substituted for pecans), fresh dill and homemade lemon-dijon vinaigrette.

Note: When toasting nuts under the broiler, remember to . . . remember them. It really only takes a minute or two. Otherwise they will end up looking something like this.

Also in my belly: Gorilla Food and Marizipan and Lemon Cream gelato.

30 May 2009

Watermelon Salad; Shake 'n' Bake


Watermelon Salad and Shake 'n' Bake by Lynley; Spinach, Strawberry & Walnut Salad by me.

Baked Mac & Cheese


Best way to eat leftover mac & cheese: sprinkle with Parmesan and Panko and bake in the oven!

28 May 2009

So.Cial; Mac & Cheese; Salmon Rillettes


Afterwork drinks and bites with the Whitecapettes at So.Cial: a Fushia and a Dewberry martini, Housemade Potato Gnocchi with goat cheese & lemon browned butter, and Caribou Carpaccio with organic honey & horseradish dressing.

Devoted student that I am, I left early to come home and do my cooking homework. I recreated the Mac & Cheese and the Salmon Rillettes from this week's class. I couldn't find actual macaroni, so I used rigatoni. The Mac & Cheese recipe called for beer but I used Chardonnay, because I had it on hand and was using it in the rillettes as well. It was quite good despite my instructor's recommendation against it. (For cooking with white wine, he recommends vermouth.) Also in the Mac & Cheese: old cheddar, garlic, onion, red pepper, celery, rosé salami, paprika and cayenne pepper. The Salmon Rilettes were topped with a layer of guacamole and a layer of horseradish sour cream. I served it with President's Choice Swedish Whole Wheat Crisp Toasts, ie. rock-hard bread. I'd suggest using fresh bread instead.

27 May 2009

Spinach-Strawberry-Walnut Salad; Gypsy Soup


I kind of feel guilty for eating store-bought dressing after learning how to make vinaigrette in class on Monday (even if it is bought from Trader Joe's, which by association automatically makes things more special). On the other hand, I feel accomplished for eating salad at all. Tonight I made a spinach-strawberry-walnut salad with poppy seed dressing and crumbled goat cheese, to accompany the last of the Gypsy Soup leftovers. Chocolate-covered bing cherries for dessert.

Lemongrass Tofu; leftover stuff; POMELO


Leftovers from lunch became dinner at a neverending photo shoot: Lemongrass Tofu from a random vegetarian Phở restaurant in Burnaby. I asked them to make it very, very spicy. And it was very, very spicy. (That usually doesn't happen.)

At home I napped with abandon, finished off the Chocolate Lucky Charms, defrosted some Gypsy Soup and now I've been sitting here for the last hour or so eating Dried Pomelo from Trader Joe's. Before Friday I'd never heard of pomelo, and now I CAN'T STOP EATING IT. Pomelooooo. It's soo gooood.

26 May 2009

Trader Joe's; Cooking Class #2


Trader Joe's Haul
• Dark Chocolate-Covered Edamame Beans
• Lightly Sweetened Dried Pomelo
• Sweetened & Dried Mango
• Hot & Sweet Sesame Nuts
• Ginger Chips
• Sweet Poppy Seed Dressing
• Crumbled Goat Cheese
• Double Cream Brie
• Savory Thins
• Valencia Peanut Butter with Roasted Flaxseeds
• Harvest Grains Blend
• Multigrain Pilaf
• Roast Beef Hash
• Palak Paneer
• Rosé Salami
• Lightly Smoked Sardines in Olive Oil
• Green Olive Tapenade
• Viñas Chilenas Reserva Merlot


Yesterday I made it back in just enough time to shower and bus over to my second cooking class. Sadly, I forgot to bring my camera so these measly cell phone pics will have to do. We made: Beet, Apple & Fennel Salad, Mac & Cheese and Salmon Rillettes. The good news is that I have solved the mystery of how to cook a sauce that combines milk and alcohol without wrecking everything. Hopefully I'll have time to put this new knowledge to the test at home later this week.

Sasquatch Day 3: Quincy Mexicana


Sunday May 24 -- We drove into the town of Quincy and stopped at a little Mexican grocery store where I stocked up on enough Mexican pastries and dried chili lemon garbanzo beans to keep me fed til the end of our day at the festival. We dined at the store as well: I had a Carnitas plate with rice, beans, salsa and tortillas, and a glass bottle of Coca Cola. Claudia Li photo.

Sasquatch Day 2: More Corral Cafe; Festival Fare

Saturday May 23 --
To minimize on the consumption of horrendous and ridiculously priced festival food, we bookended our first day of the festival with visits to the Corral Cafe: a Portabello Mushroom Wrap at lunch and 1/2 a Chicken Burger for a midnight snack. It was a long day and I couldn't quite make it through, so at the show I had a Domino's Personal Pepperoni Pizza and a Coke. Claudia Li photos.


Trader Joe's Highlights
• Bavarian Style Hefeweizen for breakfast
• Hot & Sweet Sesame Nuts (Sesame Almonds, Praline Cashews and Chili Pistachios)
• Pinot Grigio Salami
• Jalapeño Monterey Jack

Sasquatch Day 1: Wildburgers at the Corral Cafe

Friday May 22 -- Unquestionably one of the best parts of Sasquatch takes place not at the festival itself but offsite at the Wildhorse Campground: it is the eating of a Wildburger at the Corral Cafe. The cafe's fare is essentially gourmet BBQ. Upon arrival at sundown, we made it our reward for getting the tents set up to dine on Wildburgers, Pinot Noir and Not-So-Short Strawberry Shortcake. We set those tents up fast. Claudia Li photos.

Trader Joe's Highlights
• Chocolate Bing Cherries
• Totally Tropical Trail Tucker (Dried Mango, Pomelo, Ginger & Hibiscus Flowers)
• Freeze-Dried Rambutan
• Caretaker Pinot Noir

21 May 2009

Pan-fried Chicken, Roasted Chickpeas & Brussels Sprouts, Chocolate Lucky Charms


For dinner: pan-fried chicken with BBQ sauce and roasted chickpeas and Brussels sprouts. For the record, and for the sake of honesty, I must say that I have also consumed almost an entire box of Chocolate Lucky Charms in the last 24 hours. But anyway.


I am slowly perfecting my pan-frying method. Sear first, then cook on low, covered. This week I learned that when chicken sticks to the pan, it is usually because the pan hasn't been properly heated. As it heats, the molecules of the pan start moving around, the way that molecules do. But once the pan reaches the ideal cooking temperature, they settle down and relax. (Like me sitting in a hot desert at a music festival, molecules too find relaxation at a certain intensity of heat.) So if the pan isn't hot enough yet, then proteins can get snagged by bustling molecules and chaos ensues.

About that hot desert: I will be at my ideal cooking temperature at Sasquatch this weekend, so this blog won't be seeing any more action until Monday or Tuesday.

20 May 2009

So.Cial



Afterwork dinner and drinks at So.Cial in Gastown. All martinis are $4.50 on weeknights! . . . just don't get the blueberry chamomile one.

19 May 2009

Soup vs. Soup


Gypsy Soup-from-Scratch leftovers vs. Bastardized Gypsy Soup leftovers. Bastardized Gypsy Soup's cumin seeds made it a close call, but the sweetness from the tomatoes, carrots and celery and the gentleness of the homemade stock made Gypsy Soup-from-Scratch the clear winner. For dessert I stole someone's Timbits at the softball game and then ran away.

18 May 2009

Bastardized Gypsy Soup

After yesterday's Gypsy Soup, I had most of the leftover ingredients for making . . . Gypsy Soup. I went ahead and made some non-homemade chicken broth, using the Pollo Asado seasoning I picked up in the little Mexican town in Washington on our trip to the Sasquatch music festival last year (which I am headed to once again this Friday!). I'm not even sure if that seasoning is supposed to be used to make chicken broth, but it has the word pollo in it so it will do. Stock made this way definitely has a harsher taste than from scratch, but all is forgiven once the vegetables and other seasonings begin to pile in. A half-homemade soup is still better than anything you will get from a can. The soup was missing carrots, celery and tomatoes, but it had the exciting new addition of a pinch of cumin seeds, which really enhanced the flavour and, I think, rounded out the edges of the Pollo Asado seasoning.


Also worth mentioning: the exceptional cheeseburger and fries at the race track today in the exceptional company of Kay Cee and Meesoo.

17 May 2009

Chicken Stock and Gypsy Soup


Tonight I recreated the chicken stock and Gyspy Soup that we made in class last week. To expand on the stock equation I mentioned here, I added cold water to a pot with a couple chicken legs, stirred in the mirepoix and bouquet garni, and simmered, periodically skimmed the froth that rose to the top and then strained. I was going to go into a long and metaphorical explanation of the above terms, but it's getting late so I'll just let Wikipedia links do the work for me. But basically, mirepoix is the mix of vegetables that form the base of a soup, and bouquet garni is the blend of herbs and spices used to accent the flavour.

The Gypsy Soup combines the chicken stock with another mirepoix, supporting mirepoix and bouquet garni, and shredded pieces of the chicken that was used to make the stock.

Post-softball BBQ

Following an arduous afternoon of softball practice in the hot hot sun yesterday, we got our BBQ on at Claudia & Liz's place, where I learned that you are not supposed to leave chicken on fire for long periods of time. Who knew?


We also barbecued these endives; I'm still not entirely sure what endives are.

16 May 2009

Sushi; Fleetwood Mac

Assorted sushi rolls for dinner; Fleetwood Mac for dessert.

14 May 2009

Sandwich


Kolbassa & Old Cheddar sandwich on a bun defrosted from the freezer. It tasted pretty soulless.

13 May 2009

stuff


Leftovers from yesterday; an apple; tofu curry; red wine; ice cream.

12 May 2009

Sardine Chickpea Sidekicks

I missed softball tonight in favour of eating and sleeping. This seems to not be such a bad thing, since every single time I don't play, my team wins. On the home front, ice cream was had. Season 3 of The Wire came to a head. To-do lists were crossed off. Etc. etc. Dinner was one of those special Sidekicks jambalayas, this time Creamy Garlic Rafaello with red peppers, garlic, chick peas and sardines. The special difference: the peppers and garlic were chopped professional-style. Yep. Soooo, I don't recommend mixing chick peas and sardines. It's fine, but the textures get kind of confused and it's just . . . a bit weird. Expect too much from a chick pea and it disappoints. You know?

11 May 2009

Cooking Class #1 -- Gypsy Soup


Back from my first cooking class, clad in a Northwest Culinary Academy apron and nametag. I can already tell this course is going to be amazing. Tonight's lesson was simple: knife skills (I chopped an onion and I chopped it good); simple chicken stock; Gypsy soup -- a chicken and vegetable soup with Mexican accents. The soup's flavour was unbelievable; something that can only be achieved from scratch.

As for chicken stock, the equation is simple and it goes like this:

Meat/bones + cold water + mirepoix + bouquet garni:
Simmer, skim, strain.


I'll go into it more later this week when I try to actually replicate what I learned in class at home.

10 May 2009

Banana Leaf


I was really glad to not eat chili tonight. We ate at Banana Leaf, a place I can't believe I've never eaten despite living right around the corner from it for the last four years. We split the Appetizer Sampler -- chicken satay, spring rolls, roti canai, calamari and papaya & pineapple green salad -- and I had Abundance of Seafood in Assam Curry Sauce. It was all very abundant.

09 May 2009

Leftover Chili

Luckily there was still chili leftover because after a visit to the dentist, that was all I could eat. That and ice cream.

08 May 2009

Beer Chili Beer Chili


Beer chili for lunch and beer chili for dinner. Currently I am made of beer chili.

07 May 2009

chicken coffee wine chocolate


Leftover chicken and veggies; bacon-flavoured coffee; red wine; chocolate SPORT power bar.

06 May 2009

Beer Chili

Hypothesis: Beer makes everything better. Tonight I made an enormous batch of chili. Recently I've eaten several foods that were rendered awesome by the addition of one secret ingredient: beer. I thought I would test that secret ingredient on chili. I pretty much just winged this recipe, but used the following:

1 giant yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, grated
1 red pepper, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1 can Okanagan Spring Pale Ale
1 package about .85 kg extra lean ground beef seasoned with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, Porcini Mushrooms & Parsley spice (which I will likely be using on everything, all the time, from now on) and browned
2 cans mixed beans
2 cans diced tomatoes

I let the veggies and beer simmer and reduce before adding the rest of the ingredients, which I simmered and reduced again. Delicious! Deliciooooooous.

Conclusion: Yep, beer really does make everything better.

The Lift


Dinner last night at The Lift on the Coal Harbour seawall: Calamari; Crab Nachos; Beet Salad.

@michellemeals

Last night's update to come later this afternoon. In the meantime you may continue your procrastination by following me on Twitter!

04 May 2009

HP Chicken and Roasted Veggies


Exclusive Michelle-Meals time-saving tip: nap while roasting veggies. It takes about 30 minutes to roast vegetables in the oven, and 20 of those can be spent in blissful cat-nap heaven. As soon as you wake up, toss the veggies to redistribute in the pan. In the last minute or two, put them under the broiler.

Today's veggies were some old dying peppers from the fridge, and broccoli, seasoned with salt and pepper and lemon pepper.

I pan-fried the chicken on medium heat -- a few minutes on each side, then covered and cooked on medium-low for another several minutes. It was the first time I've pan-fried chicken and it didn't turn out completely dry. The lid is the secret. The chicken was seasoned with salt and pepper and this Porcini Mushrooms & Parsley spice grinder that I picked up from the butcher along with my chicken and broccoli. I thought I had BBQ sauce but it turned out to be HP Sauce but I still threw it on at the end. And it was good.

Enough time between 5:30 and 7pm to cook, nap, eat, get ready and go out. It can be done! Of course the kitchen is a mess. You can't have everything.

03 May 2009

The Clubhouse

Dinner at The Clubhouse to celebrate a very close game between the CBC Radio 3 Buckys and the CiTR Re-Ups. This was probably my most exciting sushi experience to date: the Holy Beef Roll, a beef teriyaki roll that is deep-fried both inside and out. Also a miso soup and gomae, the only vegetable that I have eaten in forever. I really miss cooking. It's been so loooong . . .

P.S. Sorry about the poor photo quality lately. I keep forgetting my camera, and I finally, unfortunately, learned how to get the photos off my cell phone.
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