September 30, 2006

To market, to market, to buy a fat duck.

I adore food markets. I try to find them when I am traveling and I have enjoyed the ones in cities where I have lived. The Windsor Market is not bad. I have not yet been able to enjoy their summer extension in the Armouries building but I have heard good things about that as well.

This morning started out fairly dreary and cool. That inspired me to want to create something comforting and warm for dinner so I headed out to the market. It was packed for noon on a Saturday. I figured all the hardcore shoppers would have been done by then. It is nice to see so many people supporting local farmers and shopping for great quality food.

Once I got there I did get a bit excited and decided to buy a duck. A freakin' big duck. This guy was about 8lbs. The butcher at the stand did a fantastic job cutting the bird into pieces so that I could use the breasts immediately and save the legs and what not for a later date.

Walking around the rest of the market I took a gander at the cheese (always a fave), fresh honey, tomatoes, and abundance of squash. I decided to pick up a butternut as a side dish for dinner. As I left I had to make a pit stop at the Lebanese place that makes the yummy spinach pizza. They didn't have any pizza ready but I was able to pick up rice with lentils and carmelized onion and a spinach pie.

The duck, squash and Lebanese treats hit the spot. See dinner recipes below.

Duck with Port Cherry Sauce

Squash Brulee

Cooking Club

Since April 2006 I have been part of a Cooking Club, along with 4 other women. This past Thursday, we met for the last time with our original group. One of our members is moving to San Diego - she'll be sorely missed, but now we can just have a San Diego chapter to share recipes with!

Once our club is able to decide when to meet, a host is chosen. The host will usually have the club over to use their kitchen, while also choosing the theme for the meeting. Some themes that we have already done include: Favourite Family Recipes; South East Asian Food; Barbeque. The host is also in charge of providing drinks and assigning which course each person will cook. Each member each chooses their own recipe and then we get together and cook.

This months theme was "Fall Foods". My kitchen had lovely smells of spices and fall fruit for the entire evening. It was heavenly. In my opinion, this was one of our best menus yet. Our meal consisted of:
Port Roasted Pears with Gorgonzola and Hazelnuts on Arugala Crostini

Veal Saute with Apples

Cranberry Glazed Chicken

Hazelnut Stuffed Pears with Maple Glaze

We are looking forward to finding out what future meetings - and new members - will bring!

If you are truly Canadian...

September 17, 2006

50 Things Every Foodie Should Do...

I found an article about "50 Things Every Foodie Should Do" from The Observer - May 2005, while searching the Internet. I am pleasantly surprised to have completed some of them already! I'm not sure if this will be one of my life lists but I am proud to have done # 1, 6, 18, 20 (I'll count a dog from Coney Island in Detroit), 29, 40 and 44 (They were from Nova Scotia, instead of Nantucket which makes them even better).

How many have you completed?

September 16, 2006

Yes I am.

T.V. Dinner

Televised cooking shows have secured their place in pop culture. There are now celebrity chefs from all over North America that are loved not only for their cooking but for their talk shows, books, and cooking products. There are some more deserving of these spots than others. (Rachel Ray - is there a reason that you thought your annoying voice would be less like nails on a chalk board if you spread it over a full hour?)

Before there were people like Bobby Flay, Anthony Bourdain, Ina Garten or Christine Cushing there was
Wok with Yan . This was the first cooking show ever watched by me, and I remember waiting for it to come on CBC each morning. Stephen Yan was hilarious with his cute little aprons - "Wok around the clock"- and really gave me some of my first glimpses into Asian cooking. I'm sure that by 10 I knew that most good Asian dishes started with loads of minced garlic and ginger, stir fried in a wok. Unfortunately, in the late 80's and early 90's cooking shows were few and far between, especially when your parents didn't have cable - probably because cable wasn't invented yet.

CBC did not fail me though. The 1990's brought
The Urban Peasant with James Barber. This was the show that really started me cooking on a regular basis - that and because my parents said that I needed to contribute at least one meal a week. His recipes were usually fairly uncomplicated and focused on one ingredient. I remember attempting a few in my early teens when it was my night to make dinner. One of James' recipe books now has a place on my shelf, along with that of one of his researchers, Anik See.

Growing up in a city that so closely boarders the United States, we are inundated with American T.V. channels. Luckily one of those channels was PBS. This channel was able to present
"America's Test Kitchen" and Lydia Bastianich's show. From here I learned how to make the perfect burger and buy the best bacon. Lydia, who is obviously before her time, first sparked my interest in the slow food movement. Her recipes were made with high quality ingredients and were not fussy. They were dishes that took time and care and had amazing levels of flavour.

In the mid-nineties I finally purchased cable and along with that came
Food Network Canada . I think it changed me forever. I can now inundate myself with T.V. chefs that discuss the science of food, what to drink with your food, how to entertain, regional food, as well as how to make frozen and packaged food part of your regular meals (someone needs to fire the producer that came up with that one). They seem to give more confidence to us laypeople cookers. Food television has helped to create a new generation of foodies.

I, for one, am addicted. Desert island + FoodTV = contentment.

September 12, 2006

Why you should love broccoli.

Okay, so sometimes it smells like an egg leftover from Easter and the whole "looks like a tree" bit rarely works with children, but broccoli is a great vegetable. It has good texture - crisp when raw, a bit crunchy after steaming - and the flavour is fresh and sometimes has a bit of sweetness to it. It is extremely versatile and can be used in sauces, stir fries, pizzas, dips, quiches, breads and as part of a stuffing - just to name a few.

Another of broccoli's positive qualities is its nutritional value. It can kick other vegetable's butts on its fibre and Vitamin A content alone! Not to mention the fact that it has hardly any calories. These little florets are also known for their ability to
protect against rheumatoid arthritis, boost your immune system, fight birth defects, protect against ulcers, build stronger bones, prevent cataracts, prevent stomach cancer, fix sun damaged skin and reducing risk of heart disease.

If you still aren't convinced and are one of those people that will ONLY eat it doused in cheese sauce then I have a suggestion. The following is a recipe for a "Cheddar Vinaigrette" that my husband uses when we have steamed broccoli. It has much less fat and calories than the usual creamy sauce and much more flavour in my opinion.

Source: Gourmet Magazine

Cheddar Vinaigrette

Mix the following in a blender until smooth.

1T olive oil
1 1/2t white wine vinegar
1T water
1/2t Tabasco
1/2c grated old Cheddar cheese

Pour over steamed broccoli.

Makes 2 servings.

September 5, 2006

September 3, 2006

Restaurant Review - Mimi Gardens, Windsor ON.

Now that we are cooking more at home, it is quite rare that we go out for dinner. Last night though, after seeing "Little Miss Sunshine" (I highly recommend it), we decided to treat ourselves. We went to Mimi Gardens on Tecumseh Road - across from Catholic Central High School. It has been quite reliable in quality and taste over the years but our food last night was very disappointing.

The menu there is quite large and there are a few things that we almost always get: spring rolls, hot & sour soup, bbq chicken noodle salad, and black bean chicken or beef. Last summer I noticed that their hot& sour soup had changed. It was neither sour, nor hot and it had no cabbage or tofu and lots of uncooked white onion. Needless to say I did not finish that course and last night my husband realised that, once again, my opinions should be trusted when it comes to food.

For our first course last night, the spring rolls were light but tasty. The outside was crisp and the sauce was just sour enough to counteract with the filling in the roll. The other dishes we ordered included black bean chicken on noodles and bbq squid with fried rice. The bbq squid was nice. It was a bit chewy but not overdone . The rice was soft and had a subtle flavour and was not dried out and burned as I find many restaurants will do. The black bean chicken was another story. It had little flavour and the noodles added nothing to it. They were starchy and underdone.

The service at Mimi Gardens was fine. It was pretty empty for a Saturday night but the servers were as attentive as they needed to be.

I think next time we will stick with
Thai Pan. Boy do I miss Red Chillie in Burlington - mmmm, dumplings!