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Thursday, 31 March 2011

East Coast Dining - Night 2

How I hit the 7778.78 calories in 48 hours (see details in East Coast Dining - Night 1) was at a Thai/French fusion restaurant with huge portions.

Origin II
10 South Street
Morristown, NJ

While the restaurant describes itself as Thai, it has a series of French dishes including "steak au poivre with frittes". I stuck to the Thai options.

The appetizers are what they do best. The Vegetarian Imperial Roll with carrots, celery, shiitake mushroom and jicama was simple and tasty.

The Peking Duck Salad with roasted duck tossed with apples, pineapples and cashew nuts was delicious.
However, Origin II failed on the main dish.

I ordered a dish I have not heard of before - Gra Prow. The waiter explained that this is the Thai equivalent for stir fry. The combination of chicken, green beans, chili peppers made this option appealing for healthy and tasty reasons. 

The amount of chicken though could have fed all of Thailand; the chili peppers were in fact regular red peppers; and the rice serving was the equivalent of three tablespoons of rice. I may have lucked out better with the French options.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

East Coast Dining - Night 1

I travelled 7778.78 KM within 48 hours. Over the two nights of travel, I dined on the equivalent of that in calories.

Night #1 was at:

Rod's Steak & Seafood Grille
 One Convent Road
Morristown, NJ
Starter was an American portion of Baby Mesclun Greens with champagne mustard vinaigrette.

This was a delicious starter and a meal by itself given its size. But, in the big scheme of eating on the road, a pretty healthy option.
The main meal had to be the place's specialty - house aged USDA prime beef. The only issue is they came in a minimum of 9 oz, with options of 12, 16, 24 or 28 oz pieces. 

The filet mignon 9 oz, at $30, was the most manageable carnivorous indulgence option. But only two of the 9 side options were lent friendly - Roasted wild mushrooms with thyme and tarragon and the grilled asparagus.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

New Cabinets & Chinese Food Night

Yay! new cabinets are in - there is hope for somerville kitchen after all and for the cat to regain lost territories.

somerville camp suddenly looked very boring and I had no intention of cooking in it. Chinese food delivery from Mui Garden was in order.

But delivery is for a minimum of $35, and that is a lot of food. Well, two nights of dinner came out of this order.

No Chinese dinner is complete without plain congee (and not every restaurant has it nor does it well). This was a good congee, albeit a bit watery. The "large" order for $5.50 included three of those bowls you see in the picture.

The deep fried Wontons were very good and went well with the congee.

The restaurant's curry was highly recommended, and it was tasty. This was the chicken curry with a flavourful coconut milk-based sauce with red peppers and chunks of potatoes the size of a child's football.

Seasonal vegetables with sliced pork on rice. Somewhat plain (but I like it plain). The pork was a bit leathery and anyone would have mistaken it for chicken.

The "seasonal" vegetables included Chinese broccoli, four slices of carrots and some mushrooms. Maybe I won't order this dish again.

The beef with black bean chow mein was one of the nicest items ordered. The black bean sauce was not very strong, but the dish was spicy.

Handy place to order from, I hear the fish curry is excellent. Give it a try when your new cabinets are in and you are too excited to cook.

Mui Garden
4265 Main Street
Vancouver, BC

Monday, 28 March 2011

Quinoa With Grilled Vegetables Recipe

An easy, healthy vegetarian recipe that turned out great in somerville kitchen camp's toaster oven, so I thought I will share the recipe with you tonight.

1. Cook 1 cup of quinoa - cook it like rice, with 2 cups water to 1 cup of quinoa. 

2. Brush vegetables that grill well with olive oil and grill them until softened and lightly charred on both sides (I used zucchini, peppers, onions and tomatoes - eggplant would go well too).

3. Place cooked quinoa in a baking dish, add the grilled vegetables, 1.25 cup tomato sauce, 2 crushed garlic cloves and season with salt and pepper. Fold all together gently.

4. Arrange goat cheese on top of the mix. Cover with foil paper and bake about 35 minutes in a 375 oven.


Sunday, 27 March 2011

Safinet Nooh (a.k.a. Noah's Ark)

Now that the camp is upgraded, it was time to attempt making a stew. I found a plastic container in the freezer with what looked like frozen stew broth. It was so frozen that while you can see the logo of the container marked in the ice, you could not decipher what it really was.

The frozen chunk went into a pot that fit well on my new portable cooking range

I thought with the sauce ready, all I had to do was add some leftover cooked lamb and vegetables and a stew will be ready.

Challenge #1: Pot was too small to fit everything, so, just like Noah, I chose one piece of each of the different vegetables that I had on hand. Unused vegetables had to be left to fend for themselves.

Challenge #2: Little did I know that the frozen sauce already had cooked chicken in it. Well, it fit nicely with the Noah's Ark theme - one of each animal type (lamb & chicken) was included.

Named appropriately as Safinet Nooh (Arabic for Noah's Ark), the stew was heavy and ensured our species (as represented by moi) continued on.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

somerville Camp Upgrade

Two weeks into the somerville kitchen transition and this is the state of the kitchen. 

The cat and I are still wondering when will this all be completed, and we know it won't be anytime soon.

Time to upgrade somervillekitchen Camp with this brand new portable cooking range.

$30 at Canadian Tire, this two "high speed"  elements electric mini stove makes a great compliment to the existing two elements hot plate, giving me four elements to cook on in the camp, just like a regular stove.

The system was put to the test, simultaneously cooking Perogies (left front), heating store bought Borscht (right front) and simmering packaged sauerkraut (right back).

Add to this kobasa, mustard and yogurt, and end up with Ukranian style Saturday night camping at somerville kitchen.

Friday, 25 March 2011

From Worst to Best of San Francisco Dining

Boulevard Restaurant in San Francisco definitely lives up to its reputation and everything good written about it when it comes to food and service. 

But I enjoy it most for some of its peculiarities, like taking the elevator to the restrooms.

Or its lint discrimination policy - if you are wearing grey or light clothing, you get a white napkin; if you are wearing black or dark clothing, you get the black napkin.

With my grey suit and white napkin, I was enjoying a guava lemonade while one of my guests was enjoying an orange iced tea. The menu had many delicious options, but not all lent friendly (see somerville Lent).

Very quickly I knew this will be a far better dining experience than last night's dinner (see Tourist Trap Dinner in San Francisco).

The experience started with the Cara Cara Oranges & Medjool Dates - a very lightly dressed arugula salad served in between pieces of cara cara oranges (simply red navel oranges) and dates over a local farm's sheep ricotta.

Pistachios dressed the plate further, and all sprinkled with cocoa nib, coffee powder and tangerine syrup.

The vegetarian lunch option is a medley of accompaniments to main dishes: Gigante Beans with Mint, Green Garlic & Bean Puree; Fondant Fingerling Potatoes with Asparagus and a Dijon Mustard Dressing; a Rye Spaetzle & Rainbow Carrots with Arugula Salad; and two Potato Fritters with Buttermilk Dressing (which I resisted to respect my lent).

A highly recommended dining experience!

Boulevard Restaurant
1 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA

And you must take the elevator to the restrooms (a.k.a. washrooms). If you are a female reader who ended up visiting Boulevard, please take a picture of the female restroom and email to me. I will send you a copy of Boulevard the Cookbook in return (seriously).

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Tourist Trap Dinner in San Francisco

Kearny Street off Bush in San Francisco is a beautiful looking stretch of no-traffic restaurants with outdoor seating. Walking through there is like you are in a restaurant bazaar as hosts from the different restaurants try to convince you that theirs is your best choice. I have already tried three or four of those restaurants and, despite the ambiance, all are mediocre at best.

The charm of Petrino hostess worked and the combination of Italian and Greek food on the menu made it an easy choice for a group of three. At the end, all three of us skipped the Italian food options and ordered Greek food.

The Homemade Dolmas were on the tasteless side. Plus California grape leaves are always tougher than those from the Mediterranean.

The Adana Kebab was a different option promoted as "beef blended with red peppers, onions, paprika, and fresh herbs". They were alright but had a spiciness to them that comes more from Mexican chili peppers than from anything in the Mediterranean.

Check "places to eat" on this blog for better San Francisco options.

Petrino Mediterranean Cuisine
322 Kearny Street
San Francisco, CA

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Food Donation

Not only did yesterday's KFC posting create 14 hours of a very interesting, political and controversial discussion on Facebook, it also generated some pity for my state of eating that one dear person dropped off a full meal for me - Makloubeh!

This is a Lebanese vegetarian dish that is simply bulgur wheat, red beans, potatoes and lentils cooked with onions and olive oil and boiled till they become a thick delicious mush that is full of fiber and protein. Maybe I should order KFC more often to receive such wonderfully tasting food presents. 

Thank you Susan!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

It's Time For Finger Lickin' KFC

Drywallers dust everywhere, I just want to hide in my cave. I had enough of preparing food in batches, and no other invite to take somerville kitchen on the road (see s k On The Road).

Order-in it is! Indian food and pizza options eliminated due to lent food restriction, no good Chinese delivery around, which left me with one option...

To add some semblance of home-made dinner, I made my arugula salad (see Camping With Meat & Potatoes - Night 2) and set up the table with a fun tablecloth and fancy paper napkins to go with KFC.

At the end of the day, it is not that easy making KFC dinner feel elegant, but you have to give me credit for trying.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Janes & Alexia Fish & Chips

Okay, it is the first day of Spring, Mother's day in many countries, Norooz - the Iranian New Year, and what is somerville kitchen doing to celebrate? Nothing because the kitchen remains hostage to drywallers - annoying!

So time to resort to frozen food - fancy frozen packaged fish and chips done in batches in the one toaster oven in somerville camp.

The Canadian Janes' lemon pepper cod was cooked first and kept warm on top of the toaster oven. Fresh tasting, not very crunchy though, but had 0 trans fat.

The American Alexia's red potatoes, on the other hand, were less of a success. Described as "delicate and creamy with olive oil, robust Parmesan and roasted garlic" on the package; turned out mushy and not that delicate.

At the end of the night, it was a decent meal after all, extenuated by a store bought Greek Salad. 

Happy Mother's Day Mom! Happy Norooz Ahmed and Masi! And Happy Spring Everyone!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

somerville kitchen On The Road

Thank you TaM for inviting somerville kitchen to your home. It was such a pleasure to cook in a real kitchen again. Between all involved, we produced chicken and artichoke baked in somerville kitchen's own clay pot, roasted potatoes with jardin thyme, fried brussel sprouts, TaM's special vegetable kebabs, and home baked white Italian bread.

somerville kitchen's on the road bags arrived at 5:45. By 6:02, the clay pot has had its 15-minute soaking, the chicken was prepared and dipped in flour and thyme, but we could not get it into the stove until the hosting movie star cat, CF, made an appearance to check it out.

Once the chicken was safely in the stove, the work started on the vegetables. But our other independently wealthy feline hostess, ChM, had to inspect the products first prior to giving the nod to proceed with the meal preparation.

Of course, somerville kitchen will not go on the road with no dessert. By 9:00 pm, as the table was cleared, and the human and feline company were lounging and playing, dessert was served. 

The original plan was THE Banana Cake. I should have been wiser and cooked it at my hosts' kitchen, but instead I used my camp's toaster oven. The cake stuck to the pan, but was quickly turned into banana chocolate chips crumble, served with papaya and President's Choice pecan tart ice cream. Of course, due to my lent (see somerville kitchen Lent), the papaya solo was my personal dessert.

After three nights of burning plates and cutlery after dinner, we could not skip the ritual, albeit it was manifested in the burning of a vegetable kebab instead.

Thank you TaM for hosting somerville kitchen. 

Anyone else wants to host and have dinner along the way, drop me a note to, but hurry up, free cooking only available during the kitchen renovations period.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Camping with Meat & Potatoes - Night 3

Look at this feast - Who'd think one can produce such an elegant and tasty meal in a camp. Easy!

First, you find the smallest potatoes (those not used yesterday for Camping with Meat & Potatoes - Night 2). You boil them in the smallest pot you have that fits on the small hot plate.  

Add some lemon juice, olive oil, salt and the first stock  of jardin chives, and a potato salad is ready.

You then find your very old in-door electric grill, chop some beef tenderloins into cubes, marinate in sumac, salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil, arrange on skewers and grill.

But previous meat and potatoes nights had something extra, what would go well with tonight's meat?

Ready-made, store-bought Habibi's Humus and Baba Ganoush. The best store bought humus you can find, but only buy the Lebanese Style - all other permutations are not that tasty. 

Habibi's was an excellent Lebanese restaurant on Broadway which closed-down about three years ago. 

And the most fun about camping nights is the end of dinner ritual - throwing paper plates and disposable wooden fork and knife in the fire.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Camping with Meat & Potatoes - Night 2

When your kitchen is dismantled, no Vancouver rain is going to stop one from getting a BBQ going. The meat tonight was a nice steak - thick pieces of steak marinated in BBQ sauce for 24 hours and thrown on the BBQ.

But the real surprise were the toaster oven's roasted potatoes. Tonight I used small new potatoes, threw them in a plastic bag with a bit of olive oil, salt and thyme from le jardin and shook them until all were oiled. The convection toaster oven did its miracle and produced somerville kitchen's best ever roasted potatoes. Yum.

No dinner is complete without some greens. Arugula with chunks of lemon, lemon juice, olive oil and salt is all that was needed to fancy up the camp's dinner.

And in the spirit of the camp, once again the plate and disposable fork and knife were thrown in the fire.