Thursday, July 30, 2009

Canal charcuterie picnic

Canal picnic on Flickr by beFOODled.

S and I had an impromptu canal picnic after work with Squeaky and Calimocho and their chihuahuas, Webo and Mochi. We ate some deli meats that S brought back from a charcuterie specialty store in Calgary that he has raved about for months now. It was tasty stuff — a really nice prosciutto, a duck rillette and a cheese-and-truffle terrine. Squeaky and Calimocho brought the piri piri chips, and lots of cheese and wine. We brought everything there in backpacks and sat on this wonderfully ghetto tablecloth that Squeaky pilfered from her work and affectionately calls "French provincial." It was a fun way to spend a work night! Especially watching Webo and Mochi try to chase rabbits not much bigger than themselves.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Strawberry and marscapone tart

Strawberry marscapone tart on Flickr by beFOODled.

Strawberries, cheese and Grand Marnier. Who knew they would have such chemistry?

I made this for NU's pool party. It's a no-bake recipe with only eight ingredients. The original recipe cuts the dessert into bars, but my glaze never set, so I served it cobbler-style as shown in the photo below.

NU's kids ate the strawberry and marscapone layers, but didn't like the ginger-cookie crust. If I ever make it for them again, I'll make the crust out of biscotti instead.

Mmmm, so good. I think I've found my signature potluck dessert!

Strawberry and marscapone tart
Adapted from Food and Drink's Early Summer 2007 issue

1 package of ginger cookies
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup marscapone
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups strawberries
1/2 cup red currant jelly
1 Tbsp Grand Marnier

Line a 8 x 8-inch or 9 x 9-inch baking dish with parchment paper.

Blitz the ginger cookies to crumbs in food processor, or even better, put them in a bag and whack them into rubble with a rolling pin or similar blunt instrument. This is a particularly satisfying step if you've had a bad day or are royally peeved at someone.

Combine the ginger cookie crumbs with the melted butter and press them into a layer on the bottom of the baking dish. Refrigerate until firm.

Whisk together the marscapone, yogurt, sugar and vanilla. Add more marscapone and yogurt if you want this layer to be extra thick. Use a low-fat yogurt like 2 per cent so it thins out the marscapone. Spread over the crust layer.

Wash and dry the strawberries and cut into thin slices. Lay the slices over the marscapone layer in tight overlapping rows.

Heat the jelly and the liqueur in a saucepan until melted. Set aside to cool slightly.

Brush the cooled liqueur glaze over the strawberries to fill any cracks. Reserve any extra glaze in a tupperware. Cover the dessert with cellophane and refrigerate until the glaze is set and you are ready to serve.

Drizzle each serving with some of the extra glaze.

Strawberry marscapone dessert on Flickr by beFOODled.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Celebrity chef sighting: Jamie Stunt

Jamie Stunt, chef at Oz Kafe, on Flickr by beFOODled.

S, myself, and Squeaky and Calimocho went to Oz Kafe for dinner on Sunday night and guess who was taking five at the bar — the head chef, Jamie Stunt.

Chef Jamie Stunt at the Ottawa Wine and Food Show on Flickr by beFOODled.

The first time I saw Jamie was in November 2008 at the Ottawa Wine and Food Show's 100-mile cook-off.

Roasted lamb chop on Flickr by beFOODled.

In less than an hour, he made an appetizer, a main and a dessert. Above is a photo of his roasted lamb chop with a pumpkin and wild boar sausage hash, Brussels sprouts and a cranberry-apple chutney, and his appetizer in the background. For dessert, he made French toast with artisan bakery bread, apple butter and cheese.

Ryan, server extraordinaire, and Ozlem Balpinar, owner of Oz Kafe, on Flickr by beFOODled.

This is Jamie's employer, Ozlem Balpinar, and Ryan, one of her servers extraordinaire. Ozlem is originally from Turkey and has lived in Ottawa since she was 10.

Oz is consistently delicious and a neighbourhood favourite with many of my friends. The following photos are of dishes that S and I have had here in the past: freshly caught halibut with lobster salad, grilled asparagus and roasted potatoes, and bison with fiddleheads and garlic mashed potatoes. I have written a longer review of Oz Kafe on Food Network Canada.

The fish special at Oz Kafe, on Flickr by beFOODled.

Bison and fiddleheads at Oz Kafe, on Flickr by beFOODled.

Got to go because I am now officially dying of hunger. Note to self: no more blogging before dinner.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Celebrity chef sighting: Michael Smith

Celebrity chef Michael Smith at Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa on Flickr by beFOODled.

Last Friday, Michael Smith was in Ottawa and he made a quick visit to the Le Cordon Bleu culinary school. My friend works there and here she is posing with him in the school's demonstration kitchen. (Shady, this is how you should always roll.)

Unfortunately I was in Montreal (I would never say these words in any other circumstances), otherwise I would have been there, too, with bells on and a big cheesy grin.

Michael Smith is a Canadian celebrity chef who has starred in four cooking shows on Food Network Canada, the latest being Chef Abroad and Chef at Home. He is also a chef emeritus of The Inn At Bay Fortune, a restaurant on Prince Edward Island, where he lives.

That makes two friends now who have chilled with famous chefs (Squeaky and Gordon and now Em and Michael), but I am not jealous. I, too, have had a celebrity chef alert. Deets to follow so stay tuned...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Focaccia v. Pita: It's hip to be square if you don't care about flatware

It's hip to be square on Flickr by beFOODled.

We bought square, thin-crust focaccias at Farm Boy and tried them out as the base for pizza. The squareness looked cool; our pizzas had a modern, restaurant-worthy shape. They were tasty, but the crust was drier and denser than the pitas we usually use. It was also harder to slice through the focaccia with a fork and knife.

Focaccia, you get kudos for being good-looking, but humble Pita, you are still in the lead. Focaccia scores points for literally delivering a square meal, but Pita is an all rounder, regularly performing well at both taste and ease of handling.

Could there be a happy compromise in the form of a square pita? Does such a thing exist? This is food for thought worthy of a Sunday morning's contemplation...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sandwich melt with yellow tomatoes and olive tapenade

Sandwich melt with yellow tomatoes and olive tapenade on Flickr by beFOODled.

Last week S made trés haute cuisine ;) open-faced sandwich melts with yellow tomatoes I found at the grocery store. I think the colours are beautiful — chocolate brown, bright green and fresh, lemon yellow.

Yellow tomatoes and purple carrots are a few of my favourite things about summer, when the heirloom varieties of produce become available. Often these are the original colours from when the vegetable or fruit made its Old World debut.

This sandwich melt follows the same method as my previous recipe, but is layered with different ingredients — slices of old cheddar and yellow tomatoes under a sprinkling of chopped green onions and grated parmesan. The tomato slices are seasoned with salt and pepper and topped with a couple of dollops of olive tapenade and a drizzling of olive oil, which is a very tasty combo.

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