January Favourites

January Favourites 1 - Three Wishes

Dear reader, I am ready to re-kindle our relationship. Though I took a break, I never cheated by picking up another hobby.

I still cook and might have even developed an ounce of patience. I still love coffee, though tea has been campaigning to win my attention. Recently, I have started drinking Three Wishes tea by David’s Tea. Every time I take a sip of this hot black flowery tea, I want to sink in my bed with a good book. I was introduced to this tea by Amir Serzhanov and have been in love since. With the tea Not Amir!
January Favourites2aJanuary was a month of road trips! I took the first week off and we drove down to NY. As always I make a pit stop at Dean and Deluca’s, Soho location. This time, while browsing for chocolates I came across Fran’s Caramels. I was first introduced to them in ’09 at a food tour in Seattle. The tour guide told us, that when Obama was campainging though Seattle, during an interview he mentioned Fran’s smoked salt caramels. Next day when Fran Bigelow came to work over a dozen voicemail messages were waiting for her, asking for Obama chocolate. Unaware of the interview, she started calling people back telling them that she doesn’t make that chocolate. Today the White House is stocked with them for their visitors. Needless to say, I bought 6 boxes of these and shared them with a few loved ones!
January Favourites3Once I returned from the trip, my friend Meghan and I hosted a pasta making night at Eastgate! It was my idea, but I had never made pasta before and had to do some extensive research to find a pasta maker, techniques, and recipes. I bought the Marcato Atlas Wellness 150 Pasta Maker and we made ricotta filled ravioli in pesto sauce, asparagus filled ravioli in tomato sauce, lemon basil linguine, and bow tie pasta. All thanks to LGO friends and a couple of bottles of wine.

January Favourites4a
Wait what was I talking about? Road trips!!! I drove down to Vermont with the girls for a ski trip, which turned into Heady Topper, a double India Pale Ale, hunt. This beer sells out within hours of being received by a retail store and I couldn’t get my hands on it. Technically, I can’t call it a favorite, if I haven’t tried it. Technicalities wouldn’t stop me from sharing a New England gem with you.

January Favourites5

Anyway, the real highlight of the trip was La Raclette that Evelene fed us. Raclette is the name of a cheese made with cow’s milk that is melted until it could be scraped and served with boiled potatoes and with fresh charcuterie. It was a delicious way to end a FOODLISH January!

Pssst – I stole Raclette pics of this beautiful blog. Now that I have confessed the internet police can’t do anything!!!

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Bye Bye East Coast

We have moved back to Vancouver! As a farewell to east coast, we decided to check out Lighthouse Picnics at Ferryland. Somehow we found the foggiest day of the season, I mean the only reservation available and drove down to Ferryland. I’ll leave you with a few pictures from the day.

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In St John’s: Lemon Basil Roasted Chicken

After eating South Indian food for weeks, I needed to cook something that would be a refreshing change. Naturally, I decided to roast a chicken. With this important decision behind me, I did what every home chef would do; go shopping.

Finding stuff in St John’s isn’t that easy. It took me two grocery stores to find basil. An hour later I found myself in front of a shelf full of roasting pans at Walmart. Overwhelmed, I followed my instinct and asked a women standing next to me. Diane, pointed to an oval shaped pot priced at $11.95 pan. She also gave me advice on what temperature to roast at, how long to roast for, and how to get the skin crispy. The advice was well worth it.

Next item on my list was kitchen string; Walmart didn’t have any, neither did Sobeys. My last resort was Dominian, they didn’t carry any kitchen string either but I figured I should ask the deli. The deli man, ripped a tray, and wrapped a fair amount of thread around it and just gave it to me.

Lemon Basil Roasted Chicken
1 full chicken
6 – 7 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
4 – 5 big basil leaves
4 – 5 sprigs of coriander
½ jalapeño pepper
2 lemons
1 tsp of salt
fresh ground pepper
1/8 cup of water

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF.
2. Clean the chicken with water and pat it dry. Place it in the roasting pan.
3. Peel garlic, zest both lemons, and juice one lemon. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, jalapeño, salt, and garlic to a blender. Blend to a fine paste.
4. Poke holes in the second lemon and put the lemon inside the chicken cavity. Smother the chicken with the blended garlic mixture.
5. Truss the chicken.
6. Finely chop basil and coriander leaves and coat the chicken with them. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil.
7. Add the water into the pan and cover the pan and place it into the oven.
8. Baste the chicken every 15 minutes.
9. After 45 minutes, remove the lid from the roasting pan. Set the oven to broil and its temperature to 375ºF. Let the chicken roast for another 15 – 45 minutes. Remember to keep basking the chicken every 15 minutes.
10. Stick a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. The chicken is done, when the thermometer reads 160ºF.
11. Remove the chicken from the oven and place on a plate. Cover the plate with foil and let the chicken rest for 15 minutes.
12. Carve the chicken and serve hot.

My verdict: It took me 3 hours to shop for the ingredients and it took 15 minutes to marinate the chicken and pop into the oven. Such is life in St John’s.

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Who Doesn’t Like Rice: Seafood Paella

From Boston I flew to London to single handedly take care of Arvind’s grandmother for a week. At 87 she knows exactly how she likes her food. She loves to have soft rice with Indian lentil soup for all her meals. At first I was nervous to take care of her because I don’t speak or understand Telugu. But Dadi’s (as I call her) smile after her first bite would tell me if my dish was a hit or a fail.

Even though she mostly eats Indian food, the one dish that brought a big smile to her face was the Seafood Paella. This authentic Spanish recipe was given to me by Lucy.

Seafood Paella
10 prawns
10 mussels
1 ½ cup of arborio rice
1 medium sized onion
1 L of chicken stock
½ red pepper
½ jalapeno
1/4 cup of peas
2 – 3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of white wine
1 big bay leaf
1 big pinch of saffron
2 cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste

1 lemon
a bunch of fresh parsley

1. Chop onion, jalapeno, red pepper, and garlic.
2. In a wok big enough to cook the entire dish, heat up the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, and jalapeno to the wok.
3. In a different pot bring the stock to a boil.
4. Once the onions turn translucent, then add the chopped red pepper, peas, and rice to the wok.
5. Then add the white wine to the wok and let the liquid evaporate.
6. Add the stock with saffron, bay leaf and, salt. Cover the wok with a tight fitting lid.
7. Bring it to a boil and then add the shrimp.
9. Once cooked, top with cloves and put the mussels into the rice and cover with the lid again. The mussels will cook and open up.
10. Serve warm with chopped parsley and wedges of lemon.

My verdict: At first I was really surprised that she liked Spanish Seafood Paella. Come to think of it, Paella is made of rice; well who doesn’t like rice!

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Straight from Edmonton: Tres Carnales

This past month I have been all over the place! First St John’s, then Vancouver, and, now I am on my way to Boston. I hate my life! Who wants to spend hours exploring new cities, new malls, and new airports? Wouldn’t you rather work behind a desk day after day? I am sure you have noticed that all this has taking a toll on my cooking. Lately, I have been forced to eat out.

Between all the traveling, Edmonton has become home. Last week Shipra gave me a copy of Avenue magazine. It had a picture of these fish tacos from Tres Carnales. After I saw this picture, all I thought about were fish tacos! The next day, I went to Tres Carnales and ordered them. They tasted better than they looked! I even went back to have them the next day. This time Daniel, one of the owners, convinced me try the Pollo Asado (chicken tacos).

Menu: Their menu is what I would call “Mexican finger food”. The entrée menu consists of 8 unique fillings that you can eat in a taco, quesadilla, or torta (sandwich). In addition, they offer appetizers and unique in-house made chilled teas.

Price: I had the chicken tacos and Agua de Jamaica (hibiscus tea) and it came up to $13.13 before tip.

Taste: The Pollo Asado is made up of shredded chicken on two corn tortillas topped with fresh white onions and cilantro. The tacos are served with a wedge of lime and salsa verde. Daniel described their salsa verde as a marriage between guacamole and the usual salsa verde. As for their hibiscus tea, Agua de Jamaica is now my favorite drink in Edmonton!

Size: I usually have my last taco packed up to go. Yes, as you know, I eat like a bird.

My verdict: The picture shown above was the table I sat at. My fellow diners were of Mexican origin. They said that Tres Carnales serves the best Mexican food in Edmonton. I agree with them.

Tres Carnales Taqueria on Urbanspoon

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Proud to smell like curry: Roasted Potatoes and Yams

I am always paranoid; do my friends think I smell like curry? I am bound to smell like the food I cook especially when it emanates a strong aroma. So last week at the movie theater, when a friend asked me, “Did you have Indian food for dinner?” I almost died of embarrassment. Instead of running out of the theater, I looked at my friend straight in the eye and said, “That’s right, I just finished cooking the most amazing Aloo Gobi.” He replied “Wow! Can I come over and have some?” For just that one minute, I felt proud. Yes, I smell like curry.

Anyways, the next day I decided to take a break from cooking Indian food. I opted to roast the potatoes and yams that were in my pantry. At first my instinct was to cook Potato Patties or Salmon Masala Cakes, but my new dish was a refreshing change in flavor.

Roasted Potatoes and Yams
1 large yam
1 large potato
1 ½ tbsp of Roasted Garlic & Peppers Club House seasoning
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp of olive oil
salt to taste

lemon wedge
chopped coriander

1. Peel the potato and yam and then cut them into small pieces of the same size. Ensure that the pieces are same size, else you will end up with a combination of under and over cooked pieces.
2. Set your oven to 400ºF. Line a large baking tray with aluminum foil. Ensure you have a baking tray big enough that you are able to spread the vegetables in one layer. If the vegetables overlap, they will end up steaming and not crisp up.
3. Toss all ingredients in a bowl, and mix them well. Pour the tossed potato-yam mixture onto the baking tray and spread them around.
4. Roast for 20 – 30 minutes.

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A trip to St John’s, NL: Rocket Bakery

A few months after we moved to St John’s, NL from Vancouver, the local newspapers were filled with stories about a local eatery, Auntie Crae’s, closing down. Rumor on the street was that a new bakery was opening in its place. A few weeks later unknowingly I walked into the new Rocket bakery to get a cup coffee and ended up spending hours there.

During a recent visit to Rocket Bakery, I was looking for the bathroom and somehow ended up in Kelly Mansell’s office. Kelly introduced herself as a part owner and I couldn’t stop myself from asking how it all began. Turns out she moved from downtown Toronto to St John’s, just to open Rocket. She has been a part of Comrags, Toronto based women’s clothing label, and has worked on projects such as Pepsi’s Junos/Refresh. I am glad I got to connect with Kelly as she is a vibrant entrepreneur and is full of ideas to take Rocket to a whole new level.

Menu: Rocket Bakery offers in house made soups, salads, sandwiches, jams, and baked goods ranging from breads to cakes. They also have an espresso bar served by a barista who even creates latte art. Arvind’s favorite Rocket food is the pulled pork sandwich.

Price: I got a spicy tomato & black bean soup and a chocolate covered profiterole for $11.80.

Taste: Even though I am not a big fan of cream filled pastries, I loved the profiterole. Rocket’s profiteroles are filled with pastry cream, which tasted like a cross between whipped cream and custard. The tomato soup was served with a cheesy slice of baguette. The soup was hot, spicy, and hearty. I’ll definitely have both of these again.

Size: After devouring the soup, I found the profiterole was too much for me. I made the mistake of taking the rest of profiterole home… As Arvind got to it before I did.

My verdict: Rocket Bakery is where taste of home cooking meets modern heritage style. I will definitely go back to Rocket Bakery to eat healthy meals, buy local bread, and enjoy fresh flowers on each table.

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Guest Post for Savour the Senses: Coriander Chili Chutney

My mom introduced me to her kitchen through washing dishes. Mom needed help and at 6 years of age I needed a reason to play with water. Slowly I graduated to cooking in my mom’s kitchen. Even then, when I would cook, mom would conveniently take care of the cleaning. Once I moved out I realized it takes a lot more to run a kitchen. My biggest challenge is to use ingredients that are about to go bad, without having to make a grocery trip. One such ingredient is coriander as it wilts soon. Thanks to Kosha now I know how to make quick Coriander Chili Chutney before my coriander starts to wilt. My mom would be so proud!

Last week Jenny from Savour the Senses kindly invited me to write a guest post. This was my first invitation to do so and I felt honored!! Hop over to Jenny’s blog for the Coriander Chili Chutney recipe.

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