Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rack of Lamb

Our last night in Calgary, S's mom cooked us a delicious dinner of rack of lamb, baba ganoush and taboulleh, pictured here with a pile of pita triangles. I've already blogged about the baba ganoush recipe. Here are the others:

Rack of Lamb
(serves 4)

2 racks of lamb
1/3 C balsamic vineagar
1/3 C red wine
1/3 C soy sauce
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced

Marinate the racks of lamb in all of the ingredients listed above except the peppercorns for one-and-a-half to two hours.

Grind some peppercorns and coat the racks of lamb with a peppercorn crust. In a 400 - 450 F oven roast the racks for about 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 140 F. Turn once after 10 minutres if you are broiling them (roasting them on the top shelf of the oven).

After the meat has rested for a few minutes, cut the racks into four equal pieces. We had four ribs each.

And now the taboulleh...


serves 6
Prep time: About 1 hour, but mostly waiting for bulgur to soak

1/2 C fine bulgur wheat
6 to 7 roma tomatoes,
6 small spring onions or 4 fat ones
2 bunches of parsely
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 C olive oil
1-2 Tbsp dried mint or fresh mint, chopped, to taste
salt and pepper to taste
a sprinkle of sugar

Rinse the bulgur wheat six times (or fewer if you are in a rush). More than cover with boiling water and let soak for 1/2 hour to one hour.

Prepare the vegetables: Quarter the tomatoes and seed them so the juices run out. Thinly slice the spring onions on the diagonal. Pinch off the florets on the parsley bunches, wash them and squeeze dry in a paper towel, then chop finely.

When the bulgur has soaked, combine all the ingredients and serve.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sushi Hibiki in Calgary

Sushi Hibiki is a tiny restaurant that has the best tempura in Calgary, according to S's parents, who are Japanese restaurant aficionados. But of course I opted for the ramen because it is one of my favourite Japanese foods and hard to find where I live. I finished this whole bowl and really enjoyed it. It was nice and light, and I really liked the addition of the hard-boiled egg (not all restaurants offer eggs with ramen). Another bonus: A bowl of ramen at Hibiki also comes with a three-piece side of sushi.
It's also very affordable — I forget how much this ramen was, but it was definately under $12, which is what I have to pay in Ottawa for ramen that, although with egg, is devoid of an interesting side.
Hibiki is very clean, quiet and newly renovated. Unfortunately, it doesn't have an interesting decor, and like many restaurants in Calgary, it lives in an anonymous strip mall. But it is cozy, the staff are friendly and the service is good, and the ramen is delish.

Sushi Hibiki

6-630 1 Avenue NE
Calgary, AB T2E 0B6

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Pizza Margherita

When it comes to cooking, S's specialty is pita pizzas. He bakes them on a flat, round baking stone from Superstore. According to Jamie Oliver, using a baking stone in your home oven is the closest substitute for a forno - the traditional wood-fired oven that Italians use for cooking pizza.

Pizza Margherita
serves two

2 naan-style pita breads
tomato paste
olive oil
garlic, 1 clove, chopped
dried thyme
chili flakes
fresh basil
1/2 tomato, thinly-sliced
salt and pepper
mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 190 C (375 F).

Take two naan-style pita breads from the freezer and spread tomato paste on them with the back of a spoon. Drop half a clove of chopped garlic on each pita, drizzle olive oil over, and spread the garlic and oil all around. Sprinkle on dried thyme. Add tomato slices and sprinkle with salt, pepper and some chili flakes. Add some fresh basil leaves - throw small leaves on whole or tear up bigger leaves. Scatter some chunks of mozzarella. Drizzle more olive oil. Take care to spread olive oil over the exposed edges of the pita.

Cook in the oven until the cheese starts to brown and bubble, about 10 minutes.

Lovely Cheese, Gromit!

Adventures in cheese at the Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Veal stew with cipollini onions

The Gastronati met again! This time we feasted on Italian fare. This stew, again from Giada De Laurentiis' Giada's Family Dinners, was my contribution to our sumptuous smorgasbord. Stay tuned for more on Italian Night - I am just waiting for Calimocho to send me the pics as S's camera was out of juice that night.

My favourite thing about this stew is that it's a one-pot meal - easy peasy and just one vessel to clean up. My second favourite thing is the cipollini onions. It's rare to get the chance to eat things as cute as cipollini onions. Plus I just like saying cheep-o-LINI! (I must find a way to work it into everyday conversation.)

Veal Stew with Cipollini Onions
(serves 6)

a bag of cipollini onions (about 28)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2.5 lb veal stew meat (you can substitute beef, lamb or chicken)
salt and pepper
1/3 C flour
3 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or however much you want)
1 1/4 C dry white wine
2.5 C chicken stock
7 or 8 oz can diced tomatoes in their juice
14 small red-skinned potatoes (or 4 big ones cut into eighths)
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 C fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

In a stock pot, cook the unpeeled cipollinis for 2 minutes. Drain and let cool. Peel them and cut off the root ends (this will take about 5 minutes).

Heat the oil in the stock pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the veal with salt and pepper and then coat with flour. Add veal to pot in batches and fry until browned on both sides (about 8 minutes per batch). Set aside.

Add garlic and thyme to the same pot and saute for about a minute. Add the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the crispy bits. Simmer over medium-high heat until reduced by half (about 3 minutes). Return the veal to the pot.

Add the broth and tomatoes with juice. Partially cover and simmer on low-medium heat for 15 minutes. Add the potatoes and carrots and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the onions and simmer uncovered for another 25 minutes, again stirring once in a while. Stir in parsley, season with salt and pepper and serve in bowls with thick wedges of crusty bread.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Kintaro in Vancouver

Kintaro is a ramen noodle house in Vancouver where I have made a yearly pilgrimmage for two summers now. S took me and again we have to thank BJ for enlightening us to its modest yet majical flavours. I always get the medium miso broth, and this summer I also chose the fatty pork. (I live large!) Medium refers to the fat content in the broth. Fatty pork means there is a fat strip around the pork medallion. This probably lends a good flavour to the broth, but next time I will get lean pork as I filled up fast on this ramen and couldn't finish it.

Kintaro seems to get mixed reviews. Some people say it's better than places in Tokyo, others are quickly turned off for many reasons. Personally I like it - the ramen is good and cheap, and I have a nostalgic attraction to hole-in-the-wall restaurants because my parents took me to these kinds of places I was young.

On the downside, there is always a lineup at Kintaro, and once you get in, the decor is non-existant and there is no air conditioning. You must eat in a cramped, very steamy and uncomfortably hot place, often next to people you don't know. There are other quirks, too, like the two very insistent signs outside that say "no public washroom," and yet once inside one can't help noticing that every customer disappears into rooms in the back that obviously are washrooms. I found out that if you wait too long for the women's line, they even usher you into the men's (and presumably vice versa). If you're bothered by these kinds of contradictions, Kintaro is not the place for you and you should stay tuned for my next ramen blog on location in Calgary :).

But Kintaro is always busy and I can see why. I still like you, Kintaro, and I'll be back for another medium lean soon ...

788 Denman St., corner Robson
Vancouver, BC

Monday, September 3, 2007

Chicken Vesuvio

Chicken vesuvio on Flickr by beFOODled.

Tonight S and I made chicken vesuvio. It's a recipe adapted from Giada's Family Dinners by Giada De Laurentiis. We used some of the chicken stock I made last week to make it. Chicken vesuvio smells divine when cooking in the oven. The sauce alone is a nectar for the gods. Plus it's a one-pot meal, which means cleanup's not so bad.

Chicken Vesuvio

olive oil
4 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
salt and pepper
4 large red-skinned potatoes, cubed
6 large garlic cloves, minced
3/4 C cooking sherry/mirin wine combination
3/4 C chicken stock
1 spring fresh rosemary
5 sprigs fresh thyme
6 marinated artichoke hearts
a couple of knobs of unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 C.

Brown both sides of the chicken in some olive oil in a saucepan (about 10 minutes). Drain the chicken and set aside.

Add some more olive oil and fry the potatoes in the same pan until golden and crispy on at least two sides.

Add the garlic and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the alcohol (I used a combo of sherry and wine, but you could also use white wine, which is what the recipe called for). Scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze any brown crispy bits. Add the stock and fresh herbs and stir. Return the chicken to the pan and bring back to a boil over medium-high heat.

Cover the pan with foil and then transfer to the oven. I transferred everything to a casserole dish at this point, because I don't yet own the kind of pot that can go from element to oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Take out the pan and add the artichoke hearts and the butter. Dissolve the butter around the pan. Serve the chicken and potatoes with the sauce and enjoy!

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