Friday, November 30, 2007

The Gastronati's French Feast

Mes amis sont merveilleux! We each cooked French food at home (Food Network Canada's Laura Calder would have been proud) and brought our delicious dishes to Squeaky and Calimocho's for a sumptuous French feast. I think it was the best Gastronati ever! There is a mounting fear that one day we won't be able to top ourselves, but it hasn't happened yet.

Squeaky and Calimocho made a wonderful tomato gratin appetizer, and rich cheesy potatoes that were both French and Québecoise. S made an amazing raspberry duck that was loved by all, and I made ratatouille and caramelized onions. PB and J made a savoury rabbit stew and silky, melt-in-your-mouth crème brulée. They even brought over a handheld butane torch so that we could toast our own golden sugary crust. Stay tuned for special recipe posts dedicated to these dishes, and a video tutorial on how to create J's crème brulée.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Caramelized Onions

I made these delicious, sweet caramelized onions for the Gastronati's French night. The sherry and worcestershire in the recipe give them an amber colour. They're really versatile. You can use them as a condiment or as building block in meat dishes, such as roasted chicken with garlicky yoghurt sauce. I've also eaten them with perogies and sour cream. I'm sure they'd taste great in a burger, too. And if you dice the onions instead of slicing them, they will also make a scrumptious topping for a baked brie cheese wheel. And they're only five ingredients! (Assuming you have butter, salt and pepper.)

Caramelized Onions

one large sweet onion, such as Spanish or vidalia, cut into half-moon slices
a pat of butter
thyme, fresh or dried
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 C cooking sherry
1 tsp worcestershire sauce

Fry the onions, thyme, salt and pepper in butter until they have turned translucent, about 10 minutes.
Add sugar and cook another 5 -10 minutes until the onions have browned a bit.
Add the sherry and worcestershire and reduce until the onions have absorbed most of the liquids.

Friday, November 23, 2007

S is a Pest

This is what happens when I spend too much time with beFOODled, and not enough with S.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Fusilli with Spinach, Tomatoes and Asiago Cheese

I'm starting a series of 5-ingredients-or-less recipes (not counting oil or seasonings like salt and pepper). This pasta goes into that category. It's another one by Giada de Laurentiis from her show Everyday Italian. It's meant to be a fast weekday dinner. The sauce literally takes five minutes, so you should start it after you've put the pasta on. The spinach and tomatoes make it very healthy as you can see in the photo. (Pay no attention to the iron in the background.)

Fusilli with Spinach, Tomatoes and Asiago Cheese

fusilli or another curly pasta of your choice, enough for two
1/4 C olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 bag baby spinach, washed and roughly chopped
cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 C grated asiago cheese (and/or grated Parmigiano Reggiano)

Cook the pasta according to package directions. As soon as you've put the pasta into boiling water, it's time to start the sauce.

Add the olive oil to a frying pan on low-medium heat. Add the garlic and fry until fragrant but not brown, about a minute or two. Wash the spinach, dry it in a tea towel or salad spinner, and roughly chop it. Add the spinach to the pan and stir for a minute or so or until wilted. Halve the cherry tomatoes and add to the sauce. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce in the frying pan. Toss to mix. Add one cup of grated asiago cheese. Toss again until the cheese has combined and becomes stringy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Star of India in San Diego

Some of my family and friends had been to this restaurant before on a previous trip to San Diego, and raved about it. The curries were great. I love it when they are served in metal platters like this. We had chickpeas, lamb, chicken and I ordered mutter paneer, my favourite vegetarian Indian curry. The food came all at once and we didn't have to wait long at all. It was all really tasty.

The bathroom was a bit scary. I had to ask the waiter about the light switch and he turned it clockwise with pliers, and then it seemed to be on some kind of a timer so you had to hurry up --- it was really very funny and just the kind of makeshift quirkiness you expect from hole-in-the-wall places such as these. It gives them character and that's why I like them!

Star of India
423 F Street
San Diego, California, U.S.A.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Harbor House in San Diego

We had really nice fresh fish in San Diego at the Harbor House restaurant in Seaport Village, which overlooks San Diego Bay. At the top is DM's ahi tuna, and below that is the planked salmon that JJ and I both had. They were delicious! Too bad I was sick and I couldn't finish mine.

Harbor House Restaurant
Seaport Village
831 West Harbor Drive, San Diego, California


Thursday, November 15, 2007


I made applesauce with all the ida reds that we picked last month. It's very easy, but be prepared to do a lot of chopping! I brought the cutting board in front of the TV and dropped all the slices into a crock pot every time they started to pile up.

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

6 to 10 cups apple slices
an inch of water in the pan
the juice of one lemon
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 C brown sugar (optional)

Peel, core and slice apples into slices, taking a break to squeeze lemon juice over them once you get a good pile of them. I cut them in half first, then quarters, peeled the quarters and cut each in half or in thirds.

Fill the pan with about an inch of water and cook uncovered over medium heat, stirring once in a while, for about 20 to 30 minutes or until the apples have fallen apart. Stir in the brown sugar if using. You can puree the applesauce at this point to make it extra smooth, but I just stirred it and it was the right consistency.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

One Vitamin D a Day Keeps Cancer at Bay

To all my fellow Canadians, this advice is for you:

he Canadian Cancer Society is recommending that Canadians should take one vitamin D pill of 1,000 international units every day during fall and winter. That's because the sunlight falling on our skin during these six months isn't strong enough to stimulate Vitamin D production in our bodies.

The recommendation is in response to a U.S. study that came out this summer, which reported that taking vitamin D supplements can cut the risk of many different kinds of cancer by a staggering 60 per cent!

So don't forget to take your pills every fall and winter, starting with this year!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Marion's Fish Market in San Diego

In San Diego, my mission was to eat Mexican and seafood, because those are the local specialties. I read in 944, one of the city's magazines, that "San Diego has the best fish tacos in the world, dammit!" and must agree that hole-in-the-wall Mexican fast food is one of the reasons why dining out in this city is so great.

Here's the clam chowder and fish taco combo (in triplicate since there were three of us - my cousin, our friend C and me - and we all ordered the same thing) from Marion's Fish Market in Seaport Village. It was the perfect size for lunch. The chowder was really tasty, although it was thicker the night before. This whole combo was $5.98!

This was my second time eating here. When we arrived from the airport, it was really late, so we found this place and had dinner at around 9:00. We ate in the dark because they were closing and had to turn off the patio lights.

This restaurant is on the edge of Seaport Village, which is a really quaint and pretty little shopping strip with a boardwalk next to the ocean that goes all the way to the convention centre. I bought some souvenirs at Seaport Village and was one American penny short once. I asked the vendor if he accepted Canadian pennies, of which I had lots, but he said no. I pointed out that they are worth more now than the American currency, but he didn't seem amused. Well, I thought it was funny! The Canadian dollar's a heavyweight now and I intend to flaunt it!

Marion's Fish Market
849 West Harbor Drive, Suite D
San Diego, CA 92101
Hours - 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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