Crying While Cooking

Jean Poutine came for supper the other night before we went to see the movie Monsieur Lazhar, a lovely Canadian film that is an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film. I didn’t feel like going out for groceries, so I did what I often do in those circumstances: take a look to see what I have and Google the ingredients for a recipe.  I had onions and feta, and I found several intriguing recipes for onion and feta tarts. I based mine mainly on the recipe from A Pot of Tea and a Biscuit.

I used both red and yellow onions. They were pretty powerful and I had a pretty good crying jag going, when I heard my cat meowing from her regular perch on top of the fridge. She was shaking her head and had tears pouring from her eyes. The poor thing had been overtaken by onion fumes.

I wiped her tears and put her outside for some fresh air. I didn’t take a video of her crying – it seemed too mean – but if I had, I could have put it onto the Crying While Eating website. Although strictly speaking, we were crying while cooking.

I caramelised the onions with brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper using the recipe from A Pot of Tea… Mine took a couple of hours, and you really have to watch it near the end of the cooking time so they don’t burn.

I used a frozen store-bought crust instead of making my own and it turned out fine. I just thawed it in the fridge and then rolled it flat between two sheets of parchment paper, mending where needed with a bit of water and my fingers. I loaded some of the caramelised onions into the bottom of the tart and crumbled 150g of feta cheese on top along with some thyme.  For a rustic look I folded in the edges of the crust and brushed them with an egg wash. My baking time was shorter than the recipe – you just have to watch it. It’s done when the crust is browned and the cheese is melted.

I had some quinoa on hand so I made one of my favorite salads which is basically cooked quinoa with whatever you have in the fridge that seems like a good idea to throw in there. The secret is the dressing: 2 Tbsp of melted honey and 2 Tbsp of lemon or lime juice. This time it had arugula, red onion, avocado, roasted pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries. The cranberries were a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law.  They are from Cranberries Naturally in Fort Langley BC and they use orange to flavour them – delicious!

Both Jean Poutine and The Man With Whom I Keep Company gave the meal two thumbs up, so I’ll definitely be adding it into the rotation!

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Dinner at Home

Last night my co-blogger, Ms. Crabby, and her spousal unit came over for a midweek meal.

Menu

Bread Salad with Tomatoes
Linguine with Spinach & Walnut Pesto
Apple Pie

Bread salad with tomatoes

The first recipe I’ve made from this book my sister gave me for Christmas:

It’s a self-published cookbook with profiles of Edmonton area food producers who sell at farmers markets.

The recipe calls for heirloom tomatoes – not available this time of year, so I used some local hothouse tomatoes in various colours. You sprinkle with salt and set aside.

Then you rip up some “rustic” bread and toast it in the oven. Put in a bowl and liberally splash with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The recipe also calls for flax seed oil which I omitted. I didn’t want to buy it because it’s expensive and not something I see myself using much (have you noticed how flax is everywhere these days? Like chipotle. Or like oat bran used to be about 20 years ago but you hardly see anymore). Sorry, back on topic.

Toss in the salty tomatoes (and the tomato water that accumulates in the bowl) and let the bread soak everything up for about 15 minutes. Top with some shaved cheese and fresh basil.

I know you had issues with the soggy bread, Crabby. I liked the salad, but to tell you the truth, I’m not sure I would make this recipe again – at least not the same way. I think I might add the tomatoes just before serving so the bread is still crisp.

Linguine with spinach & walnut pesto

I had a lot spinach I needed to use (spinach salad just doesn’t use it up fast enough). The recipe was on-line.

Toast some walnut halves and whole cloves of garlic in a pan with a little bit of olive oil. Add salt. Save some of this mixture as a garnish (or just eat it all right now ’cause it’s so delicious and the smell of garlic sautéing is guaranteed to make you hungry).

Wilt fresh spinach in a skillet. Throw everything in the blender (the recipe says food processor but I’ve never owned one). Add some olive oil (and water if necessary) and whiz away. Stir in freshly grated parmesan.

Toss with Linguine (or spaghetti or whatever) and some reserved pasta water. Top with the walnuts you set aside if you didn’t eat them.

Apple Pie

Pretty standard recipe. Apples, white and brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, a generous squeeze of lemon juice and some grated rind. Let it sit in the bowl for a while to get all juicy before you put it in the crust.

Plenty of leftovers (I had pie for breakfast!).

Posted by Jean Poutine

Goodbye Foody Tuesday

KC, you know my niece, Vanessa, the musician from Montreal? She has a gig in town on Friday night but she arrived a few days early to hang with friends & family. We spent much of the day together yesterday and had some excellent food adventures (poor dear, I’m sure there’s nothing good to eat in Montreal).

I wanted to take her to the Terrace Cafe in the new art gallery for lunch – it finally opened and I haven’t been yet. Unfortunately, only gallery patrons have access to the cafe (unlike upscale Zinc which has its own street entrance). Admission to the gallery is $12 which would have made for a very expensive lunch indeed. I wonder how well the cafe will do with only gallery-goers to draw on?

Instead we crossed the street to City Hall and had lunch at Kids In The Hall Bistro. No relation to the comedy troupe – Hall refers to City Hall and the Kids are “at-risk” youth who are getting a chance to acquire work and life skills by staffing a restaurant (read about it here).

Lee joined us for lunch, as did Vanessa’s mom. Lee and I both had a Kids In The Hall Burger which is topped with back bacon, fried mushrooms and Cheddar cheese.

It was delicious – a hand-formed patty (I think), very juicy. I give it extra points for being crowned with a crispy onion ring.

Vanessa and her mom both had the Bistro Club Sandwich, which was a grilled chicken breast, tomato, lettuce, bacon and cheese on a kaiser bun. Vanessa seemed to like it.

For our sides, we all chose the soup of the day – red pepper and sausage. For me it was the highlight of the meal – spicy and chock full of sausage (not sure what kind).

Later Vanessa & I took a walk in the hood. On our way to the ravine we passed this lemonade stand:

The sign says “100% of our earnings go 2 help save endangered animals and their habitats.” When pressed, the kids couldn’t tell us which endangered animals were going to be saved with our 50¢ so I suspect they were going to use the money to buy beer and cigarettes. Beware.

For dinner, we went to Sofra (including V’s mom and the consort). I think you know it’s a Turkish restaurant (have you been?). All the good things I’ve heard about it are true. One of the best restaurant meals I’ve enjoyed in many a moon.

I’m not a big beer fan (I hardly ever drink beer unless it’s accompanied by food), but I really liked this Turkish pilsner (I had two).

They bake their own pita in a wood-fired oven so it’s fresh, fresh, fresh (and coated with sesame seeds). The humus was excellent and packed some heat. The chef wouldn’t tell us what made it so hot, but apparently it’s not cayenne or chili peppers. It definitely had a lot of garlic and black pepper.

Akdeniz salatasi – a salad topped with fried herb goat cheese and dried apricots. We didn’t really need to order a salad since our entrees came with salad, but I’m such a sucker for goat cheese.

The Turkish version of stuffed vine leaves are called dolmas and these ones had raisins and pine nuts in the rice which made them extra sweet and succulent.

My kuzu pirzola (grilled rack of lamb) was very tender and juicy. The seasoning was spicy but it didn’t overpower, and it was cooked the way I like it – medium rare, almost rare. Perfection. I thought the bulghar pilaf was a nice change from rice.

My sister had the kilik baligi kebab (swordfish kebab) which she also really enjoyed.

Sister’s consort

We were too full for desert so we ended with Turkish tea and coffee and the Turkish delight our waitress brought with the bill (hazelnut flavour).

KC, if you haven’t been, you really need to go.

Posted by Jean Poutine