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Sunday, 30 September 2012

Cooking Jardin Harvest

Now that I have all this jardin harvest (read Harvesting Jardin), time to make dinner out of them.

Zucchini, eggplant, green tomatoes; hmmm... go buy some cauliflower and deep fry them all.

I still needed to use the peppers, tomatoes, parsley and cucumbers.

Brainstorming session identified an opportunity - condiments to go with falafel (parsley is in tahini sauce).

One cannot fry eggplants, zucchini, cauliflower, green tomatoes, falafel and not potatoes.

And now there is way too much food but none cat friendly, so friends were called in for a harvest feast.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Harvesting Jardin

What's better to do on this nice fall day except harvest jardin.

The green pepper was sweet two weeks ago, wonder what it's like now.

Look at this beautiful cucumber.

Oops, wrong picture. Now look at this beautiful cucumber.

Eggplants make it once every three years it seems (coinciding with warm visitor in town). But always one eggplant only.

Last year, the zucchini was in abundance. This year, a lonely dried up zucchini showed up organically in the compost.

The moment we have all been waiting for, one (actually three) of the hundreds of jardin's green tomatoes turn red.

So I may as well make some use of green tomatoes along the way.

A surprise squash plant popped up, and popped one squash (no idea what kind).

But the fondest memory of the harvesting jardin day is the hazelnut that my new squirrel friend decided to leave me.

 Tune back tomorrow to read what I did with the harvest.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Eating in a Classroom

I am sure everyone in Vancouver passed by a nondescript building on Cambie and Pender with a big VCC (Vancouver Community College) sign at some point or another.

But I'm not sure if everyone knows about the great lunches and food shopping one can do there by simply tasting the Culinary Arts students' cooking.

Yes, among lockers and hallways, students are roaming around with their chef's outfits cooking, packing, serving. There is a sit down restaurant, a store and a cafeteria (or at least that is what I discovered today).

The cafeteria is where we landed. And just like any school cafeteria you pick up your tray and you line up for your food.

There is a sandwich and burgers station, but the real experience is trying whatever the student's whipped up today.

There are endless options - salmon, steak, chicken in fancy sauces; meat pies and stews; and many sides to choose from.

But when I heard that one of the specials was Goulash with spätzel, I just could not look at anything else.

A big bowl of Goulash, nicely sprinkled with parsley and a students' debate whether the spätzel should go on the side or in it (it ended on the side).

In addition (and all for less than $10), you have a choice of 3 out of 6 sides.

The potatoes (two options) looked amazing. But having enough carbs on the plate, I opted for:

- nicely steamed brussel sprouts
- baked squash
- breaded eggplants

VCC Cafeteria
250 West Pender Street
Vancouver, BC

VCC Cafeteria on Urbanspoon 

But wait, the adventure is not over.

Just around the corner of the cafeteria is the store - Seiffert Market where the student's baking goes for sale as well as pre-packed dinners and food.

And these students know that they are learning and the food may not be perfect.

But where else in the city can you buy braided bread for $1.95?

No wonder the line ups were so long.

VCC Steiffert Market
250 West Pender Street
Vancouver, BC

Seiffert Market (VCC) on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Cooking The Books

For the second time now, I register for this course at UBC continuing education called Cooking the Books. 

And for the second time it gets cancelled the last minute due to low registrations.

Given that I had booked the day off for the course, I thought I will take the time to spend with my cookbooks.

And given its Wacky Thursday, I decided to find my wackiest (and favourite) cookbooks and write about them.

So here you go...

The Centaur's Kitchen is entertaining in content, writing, and recipes with no real measurements or temperatures. And we cannot forget the caricatures throughout the book. (Read Dinner with Centaur and Centaur is Back).

Found Meals of the Lost Generation is a selection of recipes and anecdotes from the bohemian revolution in Paris. It includes meals prepared by different restaurants for famous types like James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway. (Read New Year in Paris).

I was gifted Fabulous Fondues a couple of years ago and I am yet to cook anything from it.  Why did it make it to my wackiest favourites? Just check that cover. Those kinds of pictures are throughout the book.

I walked the streets of Amsterdam for days looking for an authentic Dutch cookbook, but in English. The Flavour of Holland was an excellent choice - authentic Dutch and Indonesian recipes, including menu planning and easy instructions. Time to cook from this again.

I fell in love with Du Thé Plein La Toque at a bookstore. It is a bunch of recipes using different teas that all look delicious. A feast made with Shaktea teas from this book should be planned - would it be fillet de cheval au Darjeeling, couscous de légumes au thé Vert or effiloché d'aile de raie pochée å l'Earl Grey Smoky

Now that I practiced my French, time to work on my Deutsche with Österreichische Küche, a gift directly from Austria. Blutwurstgröstl looks good; Gefülltes Brathuhn looks better; and white and creamy Esterhazyscnitten is the best. Oktoberfest menu in the making.

On the extreme side of wacky is a beautiful gift I received from London, Indian - Jewish Cooking. I have used it once (read Diwali with a Twist) and loved it. Oh, so much to cook...

But my all time favourite is this one - a 1982 diary that my mother wrote in it recipes for me before I left home. One day soon, this will be a published cookbook, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Fresh Italian at Campagnolo

In the blooming Hastings Sunrise (or is it East Village now) is a blooming with freshness Italian restaurant - Campagnolo Roma.

While lunch menu is limited, the day's specials are varied. Sungolds (trendy tomatoes) and fennel seemed to be the theme, so a selection for two included:

... a mixed cucumber, fennel, sungold, basil and lime vinaigrette. Fresh, beautifully presented, tasty, expensive for the portion though.

... the Rigatoni with sungolds (again), garlic and chili had a good kick, a bit of olive oil brought out the flavours making it a light pasta lunch. (fennel sausage and sungold) they do well. Beautiful crust, light and flavourful. Campagnolo Roma has a variety of what they refer to as white pizza - no tomato sauce. Ours was a white pizza and the lightness was apparent.

... and as part of doing pizza well, they bring this mixture of peppers and herbs. It looks benign but it is hot, so careful how much you use. Great idea though, supporting that pizza is the winning game here.

Campagnolo Roma
2297 East Hastings
Vancouver, BC

Campagnolo Roma on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Sugar - A Smile in Every Bite

From an 8 years ritual of up to 30 girlfriends putting together baking parties came the idea of Sugar.

As of July 1 this year, the ritual turned into a business - Sugar  ( and the girlfriends are making and selling thousands of customized, beautifully decorated sugar cookies. For now, the production is out of the owner's kitchen. But the search is on for commercial kitchen space.

The recipe is basic - a sugar cookie made with real butter, real vanilla beans, elegance and lots of passion.

The presentation is not basic at all.

A sophisticated (yet manual) process of printing visuals on edible natural paper with vegetable dyes on a specialty food-safe approved printer. 

The visuals are then 'taped' on the cookies with meringue-based icing and sprinkled with sugar.

Meringue icing means shelf life close to a month, which means ideal corporate gifts for clients and events.

They don't have to be corporate gifts only. Customized or pre-made are all over Sugar's website for gifting to loved ones.

And a variety of online payment options and fast deliveries make them even more appealing gifts.

The kitchen is also experimenting with new flavours. A maple bacon recipe was a hit and a cheaper, healthier competitor to the fatty bacon doghnuts popping up everywhere.

A gluten-free version is also in lab development so stay tuned.

But meanwhile, it is the Halloween collection coming up soon to keep an eye on. I am so ordering those.

With 2 hours watching the operation in action and lured by baking smells, I bit into one.

The edible paper just melts in your mouth and all that is left is a taste of home-made, old fashioned sugar cookies.

Check them out...