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  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on March 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Daring Cooks 23rd Challenge: ¡Me Encanta Perú! – Ceviche and Papas Rellenas 

    Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenges us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra. Ceviche, I’d done before, but the Papas Rellenas were a definite first. The recipe was straightforward and delicious. We do our frying outside, and as a tribute to the Andes, the Vancouver weather contributed some snow to make the whole experience even more relevant. Very nice challenge.

    Cheviche de Pescado (Fish Ceviche):

    Serves 6 as a “starter” or lunch portion. Serves 2 as a dinner.

    Ingredients

    2 lbs. (about 1 kg) firm white fish (scallops or other seafood may be substituted)*
    2 garlic cloves, mashed
    1 chili pepper, minced (I recommend Aji if you can find it, but Jalapeno or other peppers can sub)
    1 cup (240 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice (between 8-12 limes)
    Fresh juice only, no bottled. Can use lemons in lieu of limes.
    1 tablespoon (15 ml) (4 grams) (1/8 oz) fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
    1 red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
    Salt and pepper (to taste)

    Garnish:
    1 large sweet potato
    1 large ear of corn
    Lettuce leaves

    Directions:

    1. Boil sweet potato and corn (separately) if using for garnish. Allow to cool. (Can be done hours or even a day in advance)
    2. Wash and trim your fish. Slice into pieces between ½ inch (15 mm) cubes to 2 inch (50mm) pieces, depending on taste.**
    3. Place fish in a non-reactive, shallow pan in a thin layer. Season with salt and pepper.
    4. Combine lime juice, chili pepper, coriander and garlic. Pour mixture over fish. Stir lightly to expose all the fish to some of the lime juice mixture.
    5. Put sliced onion on top of fish as it “cooks”
    6. Let fish stand for 10 minutes.*** Lift fish out of the lime juice and plate individual portions ,**** garnishing with lettuce, slices of sweet potato and slices or kernels of corn if using.
    • It is important to use high quality, really fresh fish. You can use previously frozen (I’ve been using it because I am too cheap to buy this much sashimi grade fish), but it’s not as good. The better your fish, the better your ceviche.

    ** The fish is going to “cook” in the lime juice – how thick you make the pieces will determine how much the fish cooks, so keep your own preference in mind when you are cutting the fish up.

    Papas Rellenas (de carne):

    Makes 6

    Ingredients

    For the dough:
    2¼ lb (1 kg) russet potatoes
    1 large egg

    For the filling:
    2 tablespoon (30 ml) of a light flavored oil
    ½ lb (250 grams) ground (minced) beef
    6 black olives, pitted and chopped (use more if you love olives)
    3 hard boiled large eggs, chopped
    1 small onion, finely diced (about 1 cup (240 ml))
    ½ cup (120 ml) (90 gm) (3 oz) raisins, soaked in 1 cup (240 ml) boiling water for 10 minutes, then minced
    1 finely diced aji pepper (ok to sub jalapeño or other pepper – if you are shy about heat, use less)
    2 cloves garlic, minced or passed through a press (if you love garlic, add more)
    1 teaspoon (5 ml) (4 gm) (1/8 oz) ground cumin (use more if you like cumin)
    ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) (2 gm) (1/16 oz) sweet paprika
    ¼ c. white wine, water or beef stock for deglazing
    Salt and pepper to taste

    For the final preparation:
    1 large egg, beaten
    1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) all-purpose flour
    Dash cayenne pepper
    Dash salt
    1 cup dry (240 ml) (110 gm) (4 oz) or fresh (240 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) bread crumbs (you can use regular, panko, make your own or use store-bought)

    Oil for frying (enough for 2” (50 mm) in a heavy pan like a medium sized dutch oven)

    Directions:

    In order to save time, you can boil the potatoes, and while they are cooling, you can make the filling. While that is cooling, you can make the potato “dough.” In this way, little time is spent waiting for anything to cool.

    For the dough:

    1. Boil the potatoes until they pierce easily with a fork. Remove them from the water and cool.
    2. Once the potatoes have cooled, peel them and mash them with a potato masher or force them through a potato ricer (preferred).
    3. Add egg, salt and pepper and knead “dough” thoroughly to ensure that ingredients are well combined and uniformly distributed.

    While the potatoes cool down before finishing the dough, you can make the filling:

    1. Gently brown onion and garlic in oil (about 5 minutes).
    2. Add the chili pepper and sauté for a couple more minutes.
    3. Add ground beef and brown.
    4. Add raisins, cumin and paprika and cook briefly (a few seconds).
    5. Deglaze the pan with white wine.
    6. Add olives and cook for a few moments longer.
    7. Add hard boiled eggs and fold in off heat.
    8. Allow filling to cool before forming “papas.”

    Forming and frying the papas:

    1. Use three small bowls to prepare the papas. In one, combine flour, cayenne and salt. In the second, a beaten egg with a tiny bit of water. Put bread crumbs in the third
    2. Flour your hands and scoop up 1/6 of the total dough to make a round pancake with your hands. Make a slight indentation in the middle for the filling.
    3. Spoon a generous amount of filling into the center and then roll the potato closed, forming a smooth, potato-shaped casing around the filling. Repeat with all dough (you should have about 6 papas).
    4. Heat 1 ½ – 2 inches (4 – 5 cm) of oil in a pan to about 350 – 375° F (175 – 190°C).
    5. Dip each papa in the three bowls to coat: first roll in flour, then dip in egg, then roll in bread crumbs.
    6. Fry the papas (in batches if necessary) about 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Flip once in the middle of frying to brown both sides.
    7. Drain on paper towel and store in a 200ºF (95ºC) (gas mark ¼) oven if frying in batches.
    8. Serve with salsa criolla (or other sauce of preference) immediately.

    Salsa Criolla:

    Ingredients

    2 medium red onions, cut in half and very thinly sliced (as half-circles)
    1/2 chili pepper (your preference)
    1 tablespoon vinegar
    Juice from 1 lime
    Salt and pepper to taste

    1. Soak the onions in cold salt water for about 10 minutes to remove bitterness. Drain.
    2. In a medium bowl, combine the onions with the rest of the ingredients, season with salt and pepper.
    3. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for the onions to macerate and the flavors to combine
     
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  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on September 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: dosa, Indian, , vegan   

    Daring Cooks 5th Challenge: Indian Dosas 

    This month’s challenge was hosted by Debyi, of the The Healthy Vegan Kitchen. She chose a dish I recently discovered, the dosa. Dosas are crispy indian crepes, traditionally made of lentils and rice, stuffed with a savoury filling. Thanks to an important East Indian population in Vancouver, there is a fair amount of restaurants offering this dish. My mouth fell open the first time I saw one of those. They look huge, extending well beyond the plate. The filling however is usually just in the middle of it. We had our choice of filling for this challenge, so long as it remained vegan. I stayed with the one Debyi suggested, a curried garbanzo filling, accompanied by a coconut curry sauce. The pancake batter introduced me to a new ingredient: almond milk. Didn’t even know that existed and managed to find some in my favorite baking supplies store, Famous Foods. What don’t they carry?… The results were very flavourful and healthy. Very nice recipe. Thanks for the challenge!

    Indian Dosas
    This recipe comes in 3 parts, the dosas, the filling and the sauce. It does take awhile to make, but the filling and sauce can be made ahead and frozen if need be. You can serve them as a main course with rice and veggies, or as an appetizer. This does take a little planning ahead, so make sure you read the recipe through before starting (I forgot & didn’t start making the rice until everything was ready, oops).

    Serves 4

    Equipment needed:
    large bowl
    whisk
    griddle or skillet
    ladle (or large spoon)
    spatula
    vegetable peeler &/or knife
    large saucepan
    food processor or bean masher

    Dosa Pancakes
    1 cup (120gm/8oz) spelt flour (or all-purpose, gluten free flour)
    ½ tsp (2½ gm) salt
    ½ tsp (2½ gm) baking powder
    ½ tsp (2½ gm) curry powder
    ½ cup (125ml/4oz) almond milk (or soy, or rice, etc.)
    ¾ cup (175ml/6oz) water
    cooking spray, if needed

    Dosa Filling
    1 batch Curried Garbanzo Filling (see below), heated

    Dosa Toppings
    1 batch Coconut Curry Sauce (see below), heated
    ¼ cup (125gm) grated coconut
    ¼ cucumber, sliced

    Dosa Pancakes
    1.Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, slowly adding the almond milk and water, whisking until smooth.
    2.Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray your pan with a thin layer of cooking spray, if needed.
    3.Ladle 2 tablespoons of batter into the center of your pan in a circular motion until it is a thin, round pancake. When bubbles appear on the surface and it no longer looks wet, flip it over and cook for a few seconds. Remove from heat and repeat with remaining batter. Makes 8 pancakes.

    Curried Garbanzo Filling
    This filling works great as a rice bowl topping or as a wrap too, so don’t be afraid to make a full batch.

    5 cloves garlic
    1 onion, peeled and finely diced
    1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
    1 green pepper, finely diced (red, yellow or orange are fine too)
    2 medium hot banana chilies, minced
    2 TBSP (16gm) cumin, ground
    1 TBSP (8gm) oregano
    1 TBSP (8gm) sea salt (coarse)
    1 TBSP (8gm) turmeric
    4 cups (850gm/30oz) cooked or canned chick peas (about 2 cans)
    ½ cup (125gm/4oz) tomato paste

    1.Heat a large saucepan over medium to low heat. Add the garlic, veggies, and spices, cooking until soft, stirring occasionally.
    2.Mash the chickpeas by hand, or in a food processor. Add the chickpeas and tomato paste to the saucepan, stirring until heated through.

    Coconut Curry Sauce
    This makes a great sauce to just pour over rice as well. This does freeze well, but the texture will be a little different. The flavor is still the same though. My picture of this sauce is one that I had made, had to freeze, then thaw to use. It tastes great, but the texture is a little runnier, not quite as thick as it was before freezing.

    1 onion, peeled and chopped
    2 cloves garlic
    ½ (2½ gm) tsp cumin, ground
    ¾ (3¾ gm) tsp sea salt (coarse)
    3 TBSP (30gm) curry powder
    3 TBSP (30gm) spelt flour (or all-purpose GF flour)
    3 cups (750ml/24oz) vegetable broth
    2 cups (500ml/24oz) coconut milk
    3 large tomatoes, diced

    1.Heat a saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic, cooking for 5 minutes, or until soft.
    2.Add the spices, cooking for 1 minutes more. Add the flour and cook for 1 additional minute.
    3.Gradually stir in the vegetable broth to prevent lumps. Once the flour has been incorporated, add the coconut milk and tomatoes, stirring occasionally.
    4.Let it simmer for half an hour.

     
    • Simon 4:49 am on September 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I was new to almont milk as well. Don’t know if I’ll ever use it again but it was interesting while I did.

    • Lauren 7:25 am on September 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      my husband drinks almond milk because he is lactose intolerant. he loves it! —the recipe looks fantastic!

    • Mary 2:28 pm on September 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Your dosas look beautiful. I hope you enjoyed them. I loved the challenge but thought it was a lot of work.

    • Lauren 3:08 pm on September 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I’m glad you enjoyed the challenge!! Your dosas look amazing =D. I love almond milk, and have it from time to time as a treat (especially the vanilla kind =D)

    • Heather B 6:08 pm on September 18, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Great job on your dosas! They came out perfectly!

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on August 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: allioli cuttlefish, paella, rice   

    Daring Cooks 4th Challenge: Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes 

    Our hostess for this month’s challenge was Olga from Las Cosas de Olga and Olga’s Recipes. The recipe was a Spanish recipe, Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes by José Andrés. The recipe was from his US TV show Made in Spain.  I had never cooked cuttlefish before, but since I love calimari, I was more than up for this challenge.

    I had paella once before, made by a Spanish friend of mine, a long time ago. I remembered it as a spicy and homey dish. Unfortunately, I confess I found this particular version of paella, well, bland. 😦 (sorry, Olga…)

    I did use all the ingredients listed and used fresh artichokes, but there was definitely a need for some spices. I couldn’t find the real paella rice but, after reading around the web, settled on sushi rice. Seems to have worked ok. I made the allioli the traditional way, but I’m not sure I got it quite right, especially after reading Mark Bitten’s latest post on this key catalan ingredient. All in all, and interesting foray into spanish cuisine but next time I’ll definitely be throwing in a healthy dose of spicy chorizo.

    Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes
    Cooking time: 45 minutes
    Equipment:

    • 1 Chopping Board
    • 1 knife
    • 1 medium saucepan
    • 1 Paella pan (30 cm/11” is enough for 4 people. If not available, you may use a simple pan that size)
    • 1 Saucepan

    Ingredients (serves 4):

    • 4 Artichokes (you can use jarred or freezed if fresh are not available)
    • 12 Mushrooms (button or Portobello)
    • 1 or 2 Bay leaves (optional but highly recommended)
    • 1 glass of white wine
    • 2 Cuttlefish (you can use freezed cuttlefish or squid if you don’t find it fresh)
    • “Sofregit” (see recipe below)
    • 300 gr (2 cups) Short grain rice (Spanish types Calasparra or Montsant are preferred, but you can choose any other short grain. This kind of rice absorbs flavor very well) – about 75 gr per person ( ½ cup per person) Please read this for more info on suitable rices.
    • Water or Fish Stock (use 1 ½ cup of liquid per ½ cup of rice)
    • Saffron threads (if you can’t find it or afford to buy it, you can substitute it for turmeric or yellow coloring powder)
    • Allioli (olive oil and garlic sauce, similar to mayonnaise sauce) – optional

    Directions:

    1. Cut the cuttlefish in little strips.
    2. Add 1 or 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and put the cuttlefish in the pan.
    3. If you use fresh artichokes, clean them as shown in the video in tip #7. Cut artichokes in eights.
    4. Clean the mushrooms and cut them in fourths.
    5. Add a bay leaf to the cuttlefish and add also the artichokes and the mushrooms.
    6. Sauté until we get a golden color in the artichokes.
    7. Put a touch of white wine so all the solids in the bottom of the get mixed, getting a more flavorful dish.
    8. Add a couple or three tablespoons of sofregit and mix to make sure everything gets impregnated with the sofregit.
    9. Add all the liquid and bring it to boil.
    10. Add all the rice. Let boil for about 5 minutes in heavy heat.
    11. Add some saffron thread to enrich the dish with its flavor and color. Stir a little bit so the rice and the other ingredients get the entire flavor. If you’re using turmeric or yellow coloring, use only 1/4 teaspoon.
    12. Turn to low heat and boil for another 8 minutes (or until rice is a little softer than “al dente”)
    13. Put the pan away from heat and let the rice stand a couple of minutes.

    Sofregit (a well cooked and fragrant sauce made of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and onions, and may at times different vegetables such as peppers or mushrooms)-

    Cooking time: aprox. 1 hour

    Ingredients:

    • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
    • 5 big red ripe tomatoes, chopped
    • 2 small onions, chopped
    • 1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
    • 4 or 5 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1 cup of button or Portobello mushrooms, chopped (optional)
    • 1 Bay leaf
    • Salt
    • Touch of ground cumin
    • Touch of dried oregano

    Directions:

    1. Put all the ingredients together in a frying pan and sauté slowly until all vegetables are soft.
    2. Taste and salt if necessary (maybe it’s not!)

    Allioli is the optional part of the recipe. You must choose one of the two recipes given, even though I highly recommend you to try traditional one. Allioli is served together with the rice and it gives a very nice taste

    Allioli (Traditional recipe)
    Cooking time: 20 min aprox.
    Ingredients:

    • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
    • Pinch of salt
    • Fresh lemon juice (some drops)
    • Extra-virgin olive oil (Spanish preferred but not essential)

    Directions:

    1. Place the garlic in a mortar along with the salt.
    2. Using a pestle, smash the garlic cloves to a smooth paste. (The salt stops the garlic from slipping at the bottom of the mortar as you pound it down.)
    3. Add the lemon juice to the garlic.
    4. Drop by drop; pour the olive oil into the mortar slowly as you continue to crush the paste with your pestle.
    5. Keep turning your pestle in a slow, continuous circular motion in the mortar. The drip needs to be slow and steady. Make sure the paste soaks up the olive oil as you go.
    6. Keep adding the oil, drop by drop, until you have the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise. If your allioli gets too dense, add water to thin it out. This takes time—around 20 minutes of slow motion around the mortar—to create a dense, rich sauce.

    José’s tips for traditional recipe: It’s hard to think that, when you start crushing the garlic, it will ever turn into something as dense and smooth as allioli. But don’t give up. It’s worth the extra time and effort to see the oil and garlic come together before your eyes. Just make sure you’re adding the olive oil slowly, drop by drop. Keep moving the pestle around the mortar in a circular motion and keep dreaming of the thick, creamy sauce at the end of it all.

    Allioli a la moderna (Modern recipe)

    Cooking time: 3-4 minutes
    Ingredients:

    • 1 small egg
    • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (as above, Spanish oil is highly recommended)
    • 1 garlic clove, peeled
    • 1 Tbs. Spanish Sherry vinegar or lemon juice (if Sherry vinegar is not available, use can use cider or white vinegar)
    • Salt to taste

    Directions:

    1. Break the egg into a mixing bowl.
    2. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the garlic cloves, along with the vinegar or lemon juice.
    3. Using a hand blender, start mixing at high speed until the garlic is fully pureed into a loose paste.
    4. Little by little, add what’s left of the olive oil as you continue blending.
    5. If the mixture appears too thick as you begin pouring the oil, add 1 teaspoon of water to loosen the sauce.
    6. Continue adding the oil and blending until you have a rich, creamy allioli.
    7. The sauce will be a lovely yellow color.
    8. Add salt to taste.

    José’s tips for modern recipe:
    (1) If you do not have access to a hand blender, you can use a hand mixer (the kind with the two beaters) or a food processor. If you use a food processor, you must double the recipe or the amount will be too little for the blades to catch and emulsify.
    (2) What happens if the oil and egg separate? Don’t throw it out. You can do two things. One is to whisk it and use it as a side sauce for a fish or vegetable. But if you want to rescue the allioli, take 1 tablespoon of lukewarm water in another beaker and start adding to the mix little by little. Blend it again until you create the creamy sauce you wanted.

    Olga’s Tips:
    (1) In Spain, rice is not stired as often as it is when cooking Italian risotto. You must stir it once or twice maximum. This tip is valid for all Spanish rice dishes like paella, arròs negre, arròs a banda…
    (2) When cooking the alternative style you can change the cuttlefish or squid for diced potato.
    (3) If you can’t find cuttlefish or squid, or you’re not able to eat them because of allergies, you can try to substitute them for chicken or vegetables at your choice.
    (4) Sofregit can be done in advance. You can keep it in the fridge or even freeze it.
    (5) For more information on how to clean and remove the heart of artichokes, please watch this video
    (6) To watch how Jose Andres cooks this dish click here.
    (7) For more information on how to clean and remove the heart of artichokes, please watch this video
    (8) To tone down the taste when you do it by hand in a mortar, then add an egg yolk. If you want to tone it down in the alternative way use milk or soy milk. Anyway, the best alternative way is the original oil and garlic alone.
    (9) Allioli must be consumed during the preparation day and preserved in the fridge before using it.
    (10) For help on conversion on metric to imperial, visit this page.

     
    • climbhighak 1:49 pm on August 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for the Bittman link. His perspective is usally very informed.

    • Lauren 3:54 pm on August 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this dish very much. However, the fact that you know exactly how you’re going to modify it shows such spirit =D. Wonderful job with the challenge, regardless of the outcome!

    • Simon 10:30 pm on August 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Blandness seems to be a common thread for a number of posts I’ve been reading about the challenge. I thought it was just me until I started reading around. I put chorizo into mine (only because I had half of one lying around).

      Was there no final shot of the dish?

    • Audax Artifex 11:48 pm on August 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Sorry to hear it wasn’t spicy enough mine was very good though I added spicy chorizo with the very strong fish stock. I liked the pix in the forums you didn’t post them in this post??? Cheers from Audax in Australia

  • pixeltheatre 12:02 am on November 1, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Beef rendang, coconut milk, Malaysia,   

    Recipes to Rival – 1st Challenge: Beef Rendang 

    I’ve been looking for a savory version of the monthly Daring Bakers’ challenges for a while. Finally found it on, surprise, one of the DB’s forum threads. Founded by Temperance of High on the Hog and Lori of Lipsmacking Goodness, two DB members, Recipes to Rival launched in June 2008. The format is similar to DB challenges, with different hosts each month. October belonged to birthday girl, Rayrena, from Happy Cows. The inspiration came from a podcast she heard a couple of years ago on The Splendid Table that featured James Oseland, who is now the Editor in Chief of Saveur magazine.

    The recipe was straight forward and mostly involved a slow reduction of beef cubes in coconut milk infused with various traditional Malaysian ingredients: lemongrass, lime leaves, cloves, ginger, galangal, peppers. This gave me a good excuse to visit my favorite spice and exotic food store on Granville Island, South China Seas Trading Co.

    My dinner guest and I were very happy with the results. It was spicy yet creamy. I served it with some Thai sticky rice and pickled carrots and cucumbers. The recipe is available here.

    Looking forward to the November challenge!

     
  • pixeltheatre 10:57 pm on September 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , lavash   

    Daring Bakers 11th Challenge: Lavash Crackers 

    We got a reprieve from sweet stuff in this month’s Daring Bakers’ challenge. Our hosts this time around were Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and Shel, of Musings From the Fishbowl. The challenge was a flatbread called lavash. The additional challenge was to keep everything, including the dip, vegan. It was a nice change to read through the recipe and see I already had all the ingredienst already on hand. A nice change as well was being able to print this recipe on one (1) page!! Something I had yet to see with a DB challenge. 🙂

    The lavash recipe was from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Everything was pretty straightforward. I used zataar as a topping as well as kosher salt and poppy seeds. I used a roasted red pepper dip as an accompaniement. I was happy with the results. Another keeper!

     
    • Joy 12:44 pm on September 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I love the look of those crackers – really authentic.

    • Lynn 3:10 pm on September 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Great job! The dip sounds really tasty too!

    • teaandscones 6:25 pm on September 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I love the curly edges on these nice thin crackers. They look really good. Great job.

    • Jorge 10:34 pm on September 30, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Wish u good luck for that competition..

    • Apron Straightjacket 7:07 pm on October 2, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Wonderful job. I love the texture in the surface!

  • pixeltheatre 9:49 pm on June 26, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , cretons, french canadian, meat pie, , tourtiere   

    Invitation: Mmm…Canada – The Savory Edition 

    In early June I was invited by Jasmine (Confessions of a Cardamon Addict) to blog about “which savory dishes or drinks tastes like Canada to you?” This invitation was in anticipation of July 1st, Canada’s official birthday. It certainly was an interesting question, one I had often thought about, but usually in the context of: Does Canada really have a distinctive culture? Food is definitely part of a culture, I think. But as difficult it is to answer the culture question, the food angle is no easier.

    I was born and raised in Québec, predominantly in the french-canadian culture. I now live on the West Coast of Canada, in Vancouver, a city with distinct Asian and East-Asian culinary influences.  Though I absolutely love that cuisine, and consider it part of my heritage now, I have to admit the first thought and taste that came to me when I received the invitation was my mom’s meat pie (tourtière). I also “smelled” maple sap reducing in a cabane à sucre (sugar shack), and felt the soft, sweet texture of maple taffee on my tongue. All, really, childhood memories.

    Christmas time is a big cooking and baking period pretty much around the world. It’s no exception in Québec. Though my mom now lives in Toronto, I was really happy last Christmas to finally help her prepare a traditional dish, usually served in the winter: Ragoût de pâte de cochon (Pigs feet stew). I blogged about this here. Another traditional fare at that time of year is a type of quick paté called cretons.  It’s a nice little appetizer. Here’s the recipe:

    Cretons à l’ancienne

    Source : Jehane Benoît

    1 lb minced pork, lean
    1 cup milk
    1 cup bread crumbs (or dried bread, finely chopped)
    1 onion, finely chopped
    to taste, Salt
    to taste, Pepper
    to taste, cloves, grounded
    to taste, cinnamon, grounded

    Instructions :Mix all ingredients in a saucepan. Cover and cook for 1 hour on low heat. Stir once or twice during cooking time. Store in containers. Can be frozen.

    Thanks again, Jasmine, for this thought-provoking subject. Now, I wonder, to which cuisine will I turn to celebrate this July 1st?…

     
    • jasmine 4:24 pm on June 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Good post. I really enjoy reading about the treats that come from the Québecois kitchen.

      Thanks for participating!

      j

    • Joanne at Frutto della Passione 2:15 am on July 1, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      It is amazing how many of us have talked about childhood memories in our posts for this event. I have never had your dish, but it looks and sounds very tempting! Thanks for sharing.

    • Liliana 10:03 am on July 1, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Mmm…I love cretons although I have never made it. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

      Happy Canada Day!

    • Christine 11:07 am on July 1, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Aaahhh the “sugar shack” smell. I can smell it now. We took our daughter for the first time this year, and hope to do it every year for a long time. I can smell it now. Happy Canada Day!

    • Hélène 6:43 pm on July 3, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Moi aussi je suis née au Québec et j’aime bien les cretons. Que c’est bon.

  • pixeltheatre 6:40 pm on February 13, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Maria Liberati, ,   

    Maria Liberati and The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Visiting Second Life 

    Maria Liberati - SL Writers Club RoundtableMaria Liberati, former super-model, now celebrity chef, stopped by Athena Isle today, as guest speaker for the Writers Club weekly meeting. She has just launched her second book, The Basic Art of Italian Cooking, available in stores and online at Amazon.

    The format of a roundtable made this particularly enjoyable. Before long, there were quite a few of us sitting around Cybergrrl Oh’s magical table (a new chair appears every time someone sits on one). Maria proved to be very comfortable fielding questions and moving around. Considering this was her first time in Second  Life, I was impressed. We touched on various topics, from the use of fresh ingredients as the key to Italian cooking, to the Slow Food movement, very common in Europe, and now gaining a foothold in North America. Maria explained that her book is not so much a collection of recipes, as a story, or a collection of stories related to various dishes and foods in Italy.

    Maria has a few plans in store, including a podcast and a television series featuring celebrities talking about what they like to eat and favorite recipes. The full transcript of the chat will be available a little later this week on the Second Life Writers Club website. Maria is one of the latest author to make Second Life a stop on a book tour.

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  • pixeltheatre 6:00 am on January 7, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Hotel Chocolat, truffles   

    And the winner is… 

    Sometime in early December, as I was perusing the Daring Bakers website, I noticed an ad on the site for a Pink Champagne Truffleschocolate competition hosted by Hotel Chocolat, a UK-based purveyor of fine chocolates. The deal was simple: Submit your favorite chocolate-based recipe and their panel would pick a winner.

    My all-time favorite and most acclaimed recipe is for Santa Fe Brownies, an unctuous concoction of 12 ounces of chocolate (bittersweet and semi-sweet) and cream cheese. I can’t quite recall how I got hold of this recipe. I believe my mom gave it to me, but she can’t remember where she got it from. It took me all of 2 minutes to copy my recipe onto the site’s registration and to submit it. Needless to say, I was dumbfounded when I received an email, from the marketing company behind the contest, telling me I had won! :0

    Shortly after Christmas, I received my prizes: a box of Pink Champagne Truffles and a copy of the 101 Best Loved  Chocolate Recipes Book. The truffles are to die for, and the book is chock-full of scrumptious recipes (chocolate pasta anyone?…). Thank you Hotel Chocolat! It was a very nice after-Christmas present.

    I baked Santa Fe Brownies while at my mother’s over the holidays. Our guests at Christmas all got to take a slab home. That recipe is definitely a winner in everyone’s book. Here’s the recipe. It’s a little-time consuming, but well worth the effort.

    Santa Fe BrowniesSanta Fe Brownies
    1 cup plus 1 teaspoon butter
    6 squares (6 ounces) unsweetened chocolate coarsely chopped
    6 squares (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
    1 _ cups all-purpose flour
    1 _ teaspoons baking powder
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    5 large eggs
    1 _ cups firmly packed brown sugar
    1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    1 _ cups walnuts, broken into large pieces

    Cream Cheese Mixture
    12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
    6 tablespoons butter, softened (no substitutions)
    1 _ teaspoons vanilla extract
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    3 large eggs

    Instructions :
    1.Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 13x 9 inch baking pan with foil.   Melt 1 teaspoon of the
    butter and brush the bottom and sides of the pan with it.  Melt the unsweetened
    chocolate, semisweet chocolate, and the remaining 1 cup of butter in top of a double
    boiler over simmering water.  Set mixture aside and cool slightly.

    2.  Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Beat the eggs in a
    large mixing bowl at medium speed until just blended.  Add the brown sugar, granulated
    sugar, and vanilla: beat just until smooth.  Beat in the chocolate mixture, then flour
    mixture, at low speed just until combined.  Reserve 2 1/4 cups batter.  Stir the walnuts
    into remaining batter in the mixing bowl.  Spread the batter in the prepared pan.

    3.  For Cream Cheese Mixture, beat the cream cheese and butter in a clean mixing bowl
    at medium speed until smooth.  Gradually beat in the vanilla and sugar until light and
    fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and beat just until
    smooth.  Spoon the mixture over the chocolate batter in prepared pan, spreading to
    edges to the pan.

    4.Stir reserved chocolate batter to soften.  Spoon the batter over the cream cheese
    layer.  With a knife, cut through batters in a zigzag pattern to marbleize slightly.  Bake 1
    hour 15 minutes , until toothpick inserted in center comes out barely clean.  (If the top
    browns too quickly during baking, cover the pan loosely with foil.)  Cool completely in the
    pan on a wire rack.  Invert onto a cookie sheet; gently lift off pan and remove foil.  Invert
    again, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

    5.  With a long, sharp knife, cut brownies into squares, then cut each quarter into 8
    squares.  (Can also be cut into slabs and frozen.) Makes 32.

    Enjoy!

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    • Annemarie 2:59 am on February 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Oh, well done! I think it was me who posted the contest. I never learned who the winner was for this contest so I’m pleased to hear it went to a worth candidate!

    • naomi 2:54 am on March 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Fantastic, well done! Those brownies look incredible!

  • pixeltheatre 10:44 pm on November 30, 2007 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: chocoholic, , CSI: NY, foodie, Games, ,   

    Games for the connected chocoholics 

    I’ve never been much of a computer-based gamer. I’ll play the odd game of solitaire or backgammon. I doChocolatier wander the virtual landscape of Second Life, these days looking to solve the CSI:NY SL murder mystery. But I’ve never been into this whole Doom/DOD and other multiplayer computer-based games. The idea of destroying stuff to win never appealed to me. So when I came across the game of Chocolatier in an article on macnn, my curiosity was piqued.

    The game is the brainchild of PlayFirst games. According to Macnn, Chocolatier

    “…maintained a Top 20 position on several casual game sites for approximately five months.”

    PlayFrst was now releasing the sequel to that game, Chocolatier 2. I took a look at the first version of the game and liked what I saw:

    Chocolatier“Oh the gloriously rich and delectable life of a chocolatier! Constantly surrounded by mounds of chocolate bars and boxes of mouth-watering truffles! Become a master chocolatier one ingredient at a time as you travel the world to find the best prices and maximize production…but don’t forget about those conniving competitors who wish you poorly! Do you have what it takes to conquer the world through chocolate?”

    There was a 60-minute free trial you could download to test it. I did just that and became hooked. I’m not sure where those 60 minutes disappeared, but before I knew it I was frantically looking for my credit card and signing up for the registration key. Reasonably priced at $19.95, it has been my time sinkhole for the past couple of days. Despite its simple graphics, I have found myself totally submerged in the story and its environment. Dashing from city to city, buying ingredients, factories, retrofitting them for special recipes, discovering new recipes through a deep stable of characters around the globe, making new recipes, selling chocolates, the whirlwind never stops. You are sent on special assignments, delivering letters, special orders of chocolate bars or squares – I haven’t made it to the truffle level yet, all the while accumulating and spending money. You get special awards and titles as you move up the chocolatier ladder. You can then upload your high scores and awards to the FirstPlay website to see how you stack up against other players. I was ranked 167 last I looked. Still a ways to go for me…. 🙂Chocolatier 2

    Chocolatier 2 looks a little slicker than its predecessor, the UI a little cleaner. The PC format of both versions of the game also comes with the Together feature. Unfortunately, not so for the Mac version. There are also forums for players to interact on the FirstPlay website, with tips and tricks. I still have lots to do with Chocolatier before I will need to upgrade to Chocolatier 2. But, as I contemplate a 10-hour flight over the holidays, I may just give myself another small Christmas present before I board that plane… 😉

     
    • Sue 7:05 am on December 1, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Looks fun. I’m looking for a game for my PC. And i’m not into the guns and killing stuff either. I will download the free demo. Thanks for the tip !

    • pixeltheatre 3:22 pm on December 1, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      You’re welcome Sue! As chocolate, this game can be pretty addictive… 🙂

    • Julius 1:27 am on December 2, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Hi LizG,

      Yikes! Another form of chocolate addiction.

      Head’s up: Edible BC at the Granville Island Supermarket has this fabulous gift box of Thomas Haas chocolates. It would make a great gift… for one’s self. 🙂

      Also wanted to let you know, I named you as a meme successor in my blog. Totally optional of course.

      Hope your December is starting off on a good note.

      Julius from Occasional Baker

    • April 12:25 pm on December 6, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      I love this game!! It truly is addicting!

    • pixeltheatre 11:29 pm on December 6, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      @Julius: Thanks for the headsup, Julius! I’ll definitely check out Edible BC.

      @April: Yes, it definitely is. Time just slips away when you start playing…Thanks for posting! 🙂

    • home inspection Nassau County Long Island 11:31 pm on January 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Hello there! Do you know if they make any plugins to safeguard against hackers? I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard on. Any tips?

  • pixeltheatre 1:26 pm on November 25, 2007 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , cocktail, custom, gift, Singapore   

    Customized cocktail: the ultimate gift for that person who has it all… 

    CocktailRun out of gift ideas for that difficult-to-buy-for person on your list? Singapore-based Provocachic may just have the recipe you’re looking for: a custom-designed cocktail. Back in 2002 Damien Sim started designing cocktails for friends. Before long his flair for the art and science of mixology extended to companies looking to dazzle during special events and (well-to-do) couples looking for that special drink for their nuptials. Being based in Singapore, Sim often uses ingredients indigenous to that region. Custom glasses, best suited to impart the flavours of the drink. These concoctions don’t come cheap and will set you back $1,200 to $3,600, depending on the event. More details, and a recipe, can be found here. (Photo: REUTERS/PRNewsFoto/Pernod Ricard USA)

     
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