Ten Things In The Last 2 Weeks…

Do you ever get the feeling that time has somehow slipped into overdrive and that each week is actually going even faster than the one before?   I do.  That’s the feeling I have right now.

I can’t believe how quickly time has passing and that it’s already April!

My plan to blog weekly with updates on what we’ve been cooking and eating, well frankly, it’s fallen a bit behind.   2 weeks behind to be exact.   We’ve had a lot of cooking adventures since then- but the time has passed in the blink of an eye!

I’ll try to summarise but so much tasty stuff has happened and I feel like I’ve conquered a few culinary mountains.

Continue reading

Advertisements

A New Feature for 2016: What We Ate This Week!

So in 2015, The Runner and I tried to keep a record of everything that we had for dinner all year. We were diligent (mostly) in the recording, however we never actually DID anything with the information.  We should have entered it into a database (or at least an excel spreadsheet) and analysed, rated, remembered or at least done something with the info.  But we didn’t.  So now, we have 12 Months of barely legible scrawl which once we decode it will be a record of what we ate in 2015.  If/when I make time to put it all into excel and make sense of it.

However, it’s a new year and in 2016, we’re going to be more organised and do this properly.  Every week, I’m going to post what we ate- where it came from, whether we ate out, and if we’d make it again.  I’m sure patterns will start to emerge (we don’t eat a lot of fish at home) and it might get boring. (tacos again!)   Whatever it works out to be, it’s going to be a time capsule for the year!

Continue reading

Doing the Double

This weekend we managed to pull off not one but two dinner parties- Friday night and Sunday night.  I’m not going to lie, I was a little tired on Monday morning.  I couldn’t have done it without the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.  More specifically, I couldn’t have done it without the Kale salad and the Strawberry Cheesecake Fool from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook—because I served both dishes at both dinner parties.  They were both THAT good!

For those of you don’t know, Smitten Kitchen is a food blog and the food blog was so popular that she created a cookbook.  This is probably my secret wish for when I grow up- I would love to write a cookbook.  I’ve looked into it, and it’s not easy- lots of creativity, lots of recipe writing, lots of recipe testing, and lots of time.  It’s currently in the “one day” pile but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook available on Amazon.com

Smitten Kitchen has been around for over 9 years- I thought it would have been one of the oldest/first food blogs but according to Saveur it’s not even close.  They date the first food blogs as starting around 1999 when Blogger and WordPress first were made publicly available.  Anyway, I digress— the blog has been around for a while, definitely check it out if you haven’t read it because her recipes are fantastic!  So good, that I served two of them twice over the weekend.

I’ve only cooked one or two dishes out of the cookbook previously (the Buttered popcorn cookies are delish!) but it’s definitely a book that’s worth picking up.  The recipes are easy to follow and well written- and they have pictures!

The Kale Salad with cherries and pecans is super straight forward as you would expect a salad recipe to be- I mean really, most salads are pretty easy and this one is no exception.  I love kale.  Yes, I know that makes me whatever the 2010s version of a yuppie is- a DINK, hipster, buppie? Who knows, it doesn’t matter because kale is delicious.  I don’t wear Kale t-shirts or sweatshirts, but I’m a big fan.  And this salad really lets the kale shine.  It’s just kale, pecans, cherries, goat’s cheese, and radish with a honey mustard dressing.

All hail the Kale!
All hail the Kale!
September 2015 Iphone photos 145
A berry nice dessert!

 

The Strawberry Cheesecake Fool is a more complicated proposition but it’s basically a deconstructed strawberry cheesecake served layered in a glass.  Think gooey strawberries, brown sugar cookie crumb layered together with a whipped cream/cream cheese creamy mixture.  There are quite a few steps involved and I did have to remove a refrigerator shelf in the process but it was well worth it.  P.S. I also made a Strawberry and Cointreau sorbet to have with it.  It was super easy- Strawberry, Strawberry liqueur, Cointreau, sugar, and ice into a blender and then into the freezer. It would have been better in an ice cream maker, but it was pretty good as it is!

September 2015 Iphone photos 146 September 2015 Iphone photos 147 September 2015 Iphone photos 148 September 2015 Iphone photos 149

September 2015 Iphone photos 155
Dukkah prawns with homemade wasabi mayo to start!

So, I have to say, two dinner parties in one weekend wasn’t the most relaxing way to spend a weekend, but it was great to entertain and hang out with friends and to share food and wine and time with them.  Serving two dishes (three if you count the sorbet) twice did make things a lot  easier—don’t be surprised if when you come over you wind up having one (or both) of the dishes—they are both so tasty and so easy- that they may become my new dinner party staples!

September 2015 Iphone photos 166
The Sunday night crew!
An inside joke from the Friday night girls!
An inside joke from the Friday night girls!

Of course, Smitten Kitchen doesn’t have the recipes on her website- she wants you to buy the book.   But A Life Well Lived has the recipe here for the Kale Salad and Chorizo and Thyme has the Strawberry Cheesecake Fool recipe here.

Mexicant

So it’s true confession time.  Sunday’s dinner was a disaster.  No, that’s not true.  Sunday I made a lovely meal of vegan tacos- three fillings and homemade tortillas.  Ok, no wait.  That’s not completely true either.

Sunday I had a bit of a disaster.  (ok, yes that’s true).   I proved the proverb that “a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

As you would have read, (or if you haven’t read yet, you can below) I did a Mexican Cooking Class over the weekend.  It was fantastic.  I loved it. The class was fantastic and I left inspired.

Those closest to me know  that for me inspiration often comes in the form of diving head first into a hobby- photography, scrapbooking, cupcake baking, clarinet playing.   So they wouldn’t be surprised that after the class I was inspired to buy a tortilla press, flat pan and masa harina flour because I just knew that making homemade tortillas was my destiny.  Well….. it’s not.

Apparently being half Belizean does not a tortilla maker make.   Or the tortilla gene may have skipped me.

It all started off well.  I came up with three delicious, healthy and vegan taco fillings- roasted purple sweet potato with pan fried kale, dry roasted tomato and garlic; roasted eggplant with sautéed Portobello mushroom; and sautéed corn and chili and garlic with zucchini (for me).  I also made guacamole with roasted garlic, tomato, and chili.  It was super yummy! 

So the fillings were all going ok.  It was time to tackle the tortillas.

I knew something was wrong right away.  I think the part of the class where he mixed the dough must have been the part that I was distracted by tasting the yummy roasted tomato salsa.

Sidenote/Salsa Disclaimer—my mother blessed me (or cursed me) with two food related passions—chips and salsa and ice cream.   If you put chips and salsa in front of us, it’s like watching a demonstration of two Dyson vacuum cleaners.  We just inhale it!  And ice cream, well, my favourite food is ice cream and I can only blame it on someone eating ice cream every day she was pregnant…. 

Anyway, obviously I was distracted by salsa when he was measuring the tortilla mix, because I wasn’t sure of the proportions.  The measurements on the masa harina pack were for 20 tortillas (way too many) and even my Mexican cookbook was to make 12 to 16.  I tried to half it but I could tell it wasn’t right.  So I added more masa and then more water and then more masa and then before I knew it I was in over my head and not quite sure of what I was doing.

Then I made things worse by involving Barbie. Barbie is my pink Kitchen Aid stand mixer that I was given for my 30th birthday- I use her for lots of things, but perhaps this shouldn’t have been one of them.  Barbie does wonders for many batters and doughs, however maybe tortillas should be done the old fashioned way with hands and moosh.

Of course it’s easy to look back and play Monday morning quarterback—just ask the Denver Broncos, but at the time when you’re down it’s hard to tell what went wrong and how to fix it.  Unlike the Broncos, I could have just thrown out the mix and started again- which would have been smarter.  But I didn’t.    I kept going.

In my defence, I did make 3 or even 4 ones that were ok.  But they took forever and it was frustrating and I let my frustrations get to me.   The worse the tortillas were, the more flustered I got.  The Runner walked into the kitchen to check on my progress—I was about 2 hours into making a 30 minute dinner—and he had his hungry face on.  And I nearly burst into tears with frustration.  I explained to him what was supposed to happen to make tortillas- ball, press, peel, cook.  And he looked at the 3 sad finished tortillas, and I couldn’t explain where I went wrong.   It seemed so simple and straightforward in Saturday’s class but in my own kitchen, making my own dinner.  It was not simple.  It was awful.  It was frustrating.  It was a disaster.

Although I’m not one to admit defeat, in this case I did.  And it wasn’t a pretty sight.  Covered in flour, dishevelled, sweaty, and defeated I left the house in a huff.  Thankfully, it’s my policy to never live more than two blocks from a Mexican Restaurant, because that’s where I wound up on Sunday afternoon.  Ordering two orders of tortillas which tasted a lot like humble pie and defeat.

I’m not defeated, as The Runner and The Mom reminded me that some things require practice.  The Runner did say that the tortillas were “tasty” and “rustic” which is a good sign—although I’m not sure if he was talking about the homemade ones or the store bought ones!!!  I’ll try again—at least until I use up the masa harina—after that, does anyone want to buy a tortilla press?