Thursday, October 28, 2010

Browned Butter Yam Gnocchi with Toasted Sage

After a delightful birthday celebration for my friend at Boneta in gastown I fell in love with Gnocchi and just had to make at home!
One day I will make it from scratch but for now I'm just going to take advantage of having convenient access to local granville island artisans.
I picked up about 300 grams of Yam Gnocchi and a stick of Parmesan from Zara's Deli as well as 2 marinated bocconcini cheese balls for my side salad.
This only took me about 15 mins to prepare and was oh so satisfying.

Yam Gnocchi
Butter (brown on low in a cast iron pan)
Sage (toast in toaster oven)
Yam Gnocchi (throw into boiling water for 5 mins, drain in colander, add to browned butter and stir)
Add sage--- Salt & Pepper --- garnish with slices of parmesan cheese & fresh sage
(I used the amazing Royal blend Pepper from local gourmet artesian JEAN-PIERRE COTE it's made with black & green pepper, all spice, clove, fennel seeds, cinnamon and rose petals)

Bocconcini Salad
Organic Heirloom tomatoes
Bocconcini Cheese
Fresh Basil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

This dish was perfectly complimented with the elegant Gehringer Brother's Merlot from Village Wines. Village Wines has a fantastic selection of VQA wines from BC and actually sell for the same price as the wineries! They also have tastings on weekends, yay! Click here for the schedule :)

I also recently picked up a herbal almanac from a garage sale and will start incorporating health benefits into my posts :)

Health Benefits of Sage
-aids in digestion
-helps settle stomach
-soothes and stimulates skin (ie. facial steam)

Sage contains hormone precursors useful for treating menopause & irregular menstruation

Dipping a cloth into the hot tea creates a sage compress which can be applied to the forehead to help relieve tension headaches & hot flashes...breathe deeply to inhale as well as absorb sage's aromatic benefits.

A compress applied to the diaphragm or abdominal areas can help soothe stomach cramps, flatulence and general intestinal/digestive discomfort. Whenever a compress is applied, also consider sipping a cup of the sage tea (honey may be added for flavor).

tea brewed from sage leaves (just add boiling water to a couple teaspoons of dried sage and let steep for 10 mins): serves as an antiseptic blood & nerve tonic; also works as an astringent agent for the body to dry up breast milk, night sweats & mucus congestion.

Historical Folklore
Hunters often slept with bundles of sage tucked ito each armpit. THe herb would help suppress perspiration, absorb human odors and impart a subtle leafy fragrance to the skin. Hunters would also chew the leaves to whiten their teeth and freshen breath.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The World Cup Paella

Fifty eight years after my Oma and Opa freshly arrived off the boat, I was cooking up a Paella in honor of my heritage.
In the semi-finals of the World Cup my boyfriend (whose team is England anyways) contested there was no way the Dutch would beat Germany but when they did it was on! He went with Spain believing they were the better team, had more interesting names to announce and had the best goalie in the world. Our wager began at $5 then he suggested that if Spain won I would have to make him Paella, since he still remembered the flavorful medley he experienced for the first time in 2001 with his brother in San Sebastian. I on the other hand whole-heatedly thought my tangerine team would win and I imagined my man in the kitchen with an apron cookin up croquettes for me. Guess not.... Soon after the game ended I ventured down to Granville Island to stock up on some essentials. I got approx. 100 grams of both prawns and mussels from Seafood City and 4 spicy sausages from Oyama Sasuage. The rest I collected from all over but they key ingredient (saffron) was from South China Seas.


Olive Oil
Chicken (cut in squares)
Spicy Sausage (sliced into cylindrical nuggets)
Prawns (leave the head on some for presentation)
Mussels (leave some on the half shell for presentation)

Red Peppers


Chicken Stock
Brown Rice
Salt and Pepper

The trick to this is having everything chopped up and ready to go before hand... Essentially you will have 3 elements going at once.
Element 1 - Get your brown rice going in the chicken stock.
Element 2 - Mussels. Rinse and wash your mussels then put them in a pot with water, heat them up until they are open. Make sure and discard the unopened ones since they could make you toss your cookies :( The mussels only take about 15 mins.
Element 3 - A big busy wok... Drizzle some olive oil in the wok with the onions and let them caramelize a bit. Then add the chicken for a few minutes followed by the sausage (this is your chance to start getting the majority of the steamed mussels out of their shell). Once those meats are nice and browned add in the garlic, peas, tomatoes, red peppers and a generous pinch of saffron. Fold together a few times and add your pot of rice to the mix along with fresh lemon and steamed mussel juices. You're almost there! Toss the peeled and bug eyed shrimp on top and cover with a lid so they can get comfortable... Once the shrimplets are warmed up start orchestrating the placement of the mussels, lemons and parsley. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and take delight in this challenging dish you have created. My guests were in heaven and my man said it was better than the one he had in Spain!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Canadian Prosciutto Pom Salad

For my grandmothers Canada Day BBQ she assigned me with salad duty. Instead of just whipping up something ordinary, I took this as an opportunity to create a dish reflecting a little Canadian pride!
I used a base of organic greens and arugula topped with sliced fennel, red onions and red peppers.
My next layer was comprised of mild Canadian prosciutto with creamy Okanagan Goat cheese
from Dussa's Ham and Cheese on Granville Island. I topped it off with a pile of juicy pomegranate
seeds and a drizzle of my favorite original Little Creek salad dressing.

***The secret to seeding a pomegranate is slicing it in half from top to bottom if the nub is ontop.
Then face the open part into a bowl and start banging the skin, then the seeds will fall out like shaking apples out of a tree.
Happy Canada Day!!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Rushed Rice Cake Gourmet

I whipped up this tasty treat tonight and couldn't help but share right away!
You know those nights when you hit the gym after work on an empty stomach and during your shavasana pose at the end of yoga you are warning your tummy not to wake up your neighbor?!?! Well thats exactly the kind of night I had, all I could think of was what am I gonna eat after? I knew I wanted to make something at home. It had to be healthy. Had to be quick and tasty too. During my exalted warrior pose I remembered I had some nice organic brown and buckwheat rice cakes in the cupboard so I started there. Hmmm, what next how bout some hummus... yeah! Then I'll add some tomato, basil and balsamic like that amazing appie at Earls! (I think I will always be addicted to the food there! lol). Unfortunately by the time I was starving, the Granville market was closed so I was forced to go to Price Smart yet again. Surprisingly they had Hot House Okanagan tomatoes that I snatched up in a jiffy, then I grabbed some organic chic peas and just behind me I was enticed by a bottle of spicy chipotle sauce, so I grabbed that along with an avocado and some sweet organic basil on the way out. When I walked into my place I turned on the tube to So You Think You Can Dance and began gabbin on the phone with a good ol' friend.
I tossed the chic peas in the blender along with a heaping table spoon of Tahini, juice of a fresh lime, 3 cloves of garlic, about a teaspoon of chipotle sauce and a substantial flow of olive oil. The blender was not moving the way it should so to thin the hummus up a bit I poured in some apple cider vinegar which worked like a charm and tasted delightful too.
Then I doused the rice cake with my hummus concoction and topped it off with chopped basil, avocado and Okanagan tomatoes. Lastly I drizzled with Norna Pia's Gourmet Strawberry Fig balsamic reduction and seasoned with tuxedo Maison Cote tuxedo pepper and black sea salt. To top it off I garnished with a 7 week old piece of fresh basil from my balcony garden! What a scrumptious treat!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Summer is for BBQ'n :)

With summer just around the corner you have probably already caught a waft of those tantalizing, smoky BBQ scents coming from your neighbors balcony! After a long day at work I just wanted to whip up something quick and delicious that would satisfy my craving for something on the grill.

I decided to make Stuffed Greek Chicken Breasts which were really easy to get prepped for the BBQ and turned out tender and tangy. I used my slap chop to make the filling, which consisted of green onion, garlic, red pepper, goat feta, cilantro, jalapeno and fresh squeezed lime. Then I placed the filing in the chicken breast and rolled it up, pinning the ends together with long toothpicks. I marinated the breasts in fresh lime juice with salt and pepper until my BBQ chef got home from work ;)

My salad consisted of organic spinach, red peppers, fresh mango chunks, cherry tomatoes and green onions with some goat feta crumbled on top. Lately, I have been hooked on goat products since goat milk is more easily digested than cow milk and that it contains more vitamin A, Calcium, Potassium and Magnesium! It is an excellent source of minerals and protein and low in fat. My grandmother has raised me to be very conscious about skin care so since I discovered mangos and red peppers are bursting with antioxidants that fight cell damage they have made their way into my most of my recipes...

I drizzled on my favorite dressing of all time Little Creek Original which is certified organic, made in the Okanagan and has NO added sugar :)

To complete the dish I sliced up some yams and brushed with Oddball Organics Garlic Nectar then stuck them on some skewers and placed on the top shelf of the BBQ. This was quick, easy, healthy and tasty! Give it a try!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Camplazens Pairing

Not only did Pierre from Liberty Wines recommend a delightful  Syrah to go with the aromatic Chambar dish I concocted, but he shared a historical legend to  go along with it. The legend goes "In 59 BC to 51 BC, Julius Caesar set up his headquarters at Narbonne in Lanquedoc, Southwest France, from where he launched his invasion of Gaul. During his tenure there he granted land to the retiring commanders of his legendary 10th legion on the nearby mountain of La Clape. With perfect winegrowing conditions the Romans planted the rich, full-bodied noble grape varieties of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan and, applying their winemaking skills, they produced the sumptuous red wines that, legend has it, became Caesar’s favourites. Today Chateau Camplazens (Latin for ‘Camp of Pleasure’) uses these same ancient grape varieties to craft today’s prestigious award-winning wines in the sub appellation of La Clape" (empwines). 
Pierre also mentioned that this Southwestern Camp in france favored Ceasar with an affluence of risqué pleasures as well. The metallic silver horse-drawn carriage is meant to represent the Road called Camplazens which was well traveled by the noblemen from one side of france to the other. 
They don't call Pierre a "Bon Vivant" for nothing!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Chambar Moroccan Lamb Shank & Couscous

What a pleasant surprise to open up the 24hour on my morning commute to find three-star-Michelin-trained chef Nico Schuermans Moroccan Lamb recipe! His restaurant Chambar is one of my favorite spots to dine in the city and I frequent this spot any chance I have an excuse to have an excellent night out. Menu items to live for include the sumptuous Spiced Foie gras terrine with Port reduction, Kriek granita & truffled brioche french toast; the mussels congolaise served in a steaming pot of tomato coconut cream sauces topped with chilies, lime and fresh cilantro, served with an elegant little side of fries to go along with the Belgian tradition; and the aromatic Morroccan braised lamb shank with honey, figs, cinnamon & cilantro, served with cous cous and zalouk.
My junket to replicate this dish began by picking up some tender lamb shanks from the acclaimed Armandos finest quality meats on Granville Island, then by garnering some fresh herbs from the market and obtaining all the dried ingriedents in bulk from Price Mart since they are more reasonably priced than anything you will get on island. I was especially excited to make this since there are so many healthy ingredients in the recipe including Turmeric particularly, which supports healthy joint function, promotes radiant skin and improves digestion.
The metric measurements published in the article were unfamiliar to me in the kitchen, so hollering over to my partner to keep looking up conversions for me as I went along was quite helpful. I was feeling pressed, since I didn't notice this dish had just over 2 hours of preparation and cooking time with my guests to arrive in an hour and a half. As the clock ticked and the preheat buzzer entreated Moroccan lamb aromas in the oven I ended up just throwing in whatever amounts I desired, which turned out to maintain a palate pleasing balance. 
This was my first time making cous cous and after making it I was wondering what had taken me so long, since it was so much easier to make than rice and added such a charming ethnic twist to the dish. 
Thinking it would be nice to have both a glass of wine with some sort of sparking beverage I grabbed some grapes and sparkling elderberry water from the regular grocery store and placed them in the freezer as I cooked. When dinner was served I simply poured the sparking elderberry water  into some lovely 80's cobalt blue goblets from grandma, then tossed in some frozen grapes and ripped mint leaves to tie it in with the meal.
This epicurean dish was surprisingly easier to make than I anticipated and the result was sensational! 

Chambar’s Moroccan

Lamb Shank

2 lbs 1 1/2-inch Lamb Shank

1 tbsp Vegetable Oil

2 tsp Coriander Seed, crushed

50g Red Onion, diced (1/2 cup)

40g Fresh Ginger, minced (1/3 cup)

30g Turmeric (1/4 cup)

2 Garlic Cloves, minced

100 ml Honey (just over 1/3 cup)

1 Cinnamon Stick

4 cups Water, use more if needed

Pinch Crushed Chilies

Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Heat vegetable oil in a two-quart saucepan over

medium-high heat.

Season the shanks with salt and pepper and then

place them in the saucepan, searing the

meat until they are evenly browned on all sides.

Reduce the heat to medium-low.

Add the onions, garlic, ginger, water, honey, and

the remaining spices.

Partially cover the lamb shanks and bring to a


Cover saucepan with a lid and place in the preheated

oven and cook until the lamb is very tender, about 2 hours.

Serve with couscous.

Making use of a tagine

adds an authentic

Moroccan touch to your


Moroccan Couscous

100g Couscous (1 cup)

160 ml Water (2/3 cup)

1 tbsp Sliced Almonds, toasted

2 tbsp Dried Apricot, cut into strips

2 tbsp Raisins

2 tsp Sunflower Seeds, toasted

2 tsp Turmeric

2 tsp Green Onion, sliced

2 tsp Mint, chopped

2 tsp Olive Oil

1 tsp Salt

Place the couscous, salt,olive oil, and turmeric into a bowl. 

Bring water to a boil and add the water to the couscous and tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Allow the mixture to rest for 5-10 minutes then stir

in the remaining ingredients.

Serve warm

Monday, January 18, 2010

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup with Crispy Tortillas

Inspired again by the fabulous Michael Smith off the food networks Chef at Home, this dish turned out to be delicious and was surprisingly easy to make. 
As usual I didn't follow the exact recipe and had to make a few modifications as I went along. 
There are 3 parts to this, the soup, the garnish and the tortilla topping. 

The Soup...
In a large soup pot saute 3 large yellow onions in 1/2 cup of olive oil.
Next add 4 cups of chicken stock (I was out so I used miso paste and water).
Add 1 yam & 1 sweet potato grated with the skin, many of the most beneficial nutrients are right under the skin. 
Add 1 chipotle pepper (you can find this in a can in your local grocery store in the isle near taco shells, salsa etc. They should be next to diced jalapenos).
A few dashes of cinnamon. 
Once the potatoes are soft and the soup is hot you can start to blend it up and it will be ready to serve, make sure and only fill your blender half way full at a time to get a nice consistency and avoid a hot mess all over your kitchen. 

The Garnish...
Simply chop up some delicious fresh cilantro and mix it with sour cream and put a dollop on the soup.

The Tortilla Topping... 
Preheat your oven to 350. Roll up a soft tortilla and cut into slices, slightly unravel and put on a baking sheet and fire in the oven for 15 mins, have fun with colour! 

Make sure and add some fresh ground pepper to the final product!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Easy & Healthy Mexicana Soup

This dish is inspired from a fitness magazine I picked up in the airport over the holidays. First I sautéed a large onion in organic chicken stock with just a dash of olive oil and unloaded them into my crock pot. I put a couple chicken breasts in the same cast iron pan i used for the onions and cooked them up while I chopped all the veggies. I threw 5 tomatoes into my  food processor (non-electric that my grandma got me off the shopping channel) and emptied into the crock pot, then added 4 cloves of chopped garlic, 1 jalapeno, 2 carrots, a couple cups of corn, a teaspoon of cumin, a teaspoon of coriander and a couple teaspoons of chili powder and filled the rest up with organic chicken stock. Lastly I shredded the cooked chicken breasts in my hand processor and added them to the crock pot and let it sit for a few hours. 
When dinner time rolled around and I finished getting my messy apartment in order I just scooped the delicious hearty soup into a bowl, garnished with purple tortillas, an avocado, mexican pre-shredded cheese and cilantro. This was a really tasty recipe and I will most definitely make this on a more regular basis!