Food + Wine: Chef Meets BC Grape

One of my favourite food/wine events is taking place this Thursday in Vancouver. Highlighting all things grown, crushed, raised and produced in British Columbia. Taste creations prepared by top chefs from Vancouver’s hottest restaurants, all perfectly paired with BC VQA wines to enhance the flavours of each dish and wine.

Tell me more…

It’s only the largest tasting of BC VQA wines in Western Canada.
Sip from 350+ BC wines and savour small plates from 15 top chefs.
Visit Chef Ned Bell’s Ocean Wise Bubbles & Seafood station.

One ticket. One amazing evening!

Thursday, May 25
7:00 pm
Vancouver Convention Centre East
999 Canada Place

Link for participating wineries:

https://www.chefmeetsbcgrape.com/wineries-vancouver/

Link for participating restaurants and chefs:

https://www.chefmeetsbcgrape.com/restaurants-vancouver/

Purchase tickets ($90.00 per person) here:

https://www.chefmeetsbcgrape.com/tickets/

Meet you there!

 

Recipe of the Week – Tuscan White Bean Dip

Party Pleaser

whitebeandip

Photo: d. king

Here’s a foolproof simple, healthy happy hour dip.  It’s a creamier and delicious alternative to hummus.

  • 1 (14-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • roughly 1/3 cup olive oil, plus a little extra to drizzle over top
  • 1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • Course Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (you can also use oregano – fresh or dried)
  • a little sprinkle of cayenne
  • *Zaatar (optional but worth it if you can find it)

Tip: if you want a thicker consistency you can always add some Tahini (sesame seed paste used for making hummus) or less olive oil.  Play around with it.  It will be great either way.

Place the beans, garlic, lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, and parsley in the food processor or blender. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the bean puree to a small bowl. Garnish with rosemary and/or other spice.

**ZAATAR (an exotic middle eastern spice mix made of sumac (from a flowering plant), thyme, roasted sesame seeds, marjoram, oregano, course salt. FYI: also great sprinkled over plain olive oil & balsamic for dipping.

Serve with pita, tortilla chips or fresh crusty french bread.

Sidenote: I have this thing for lazy susans.  My fridge is full of them – it makes life easier if you have lots of jars, condiments + such.  Now I bought a large round bamboo serving dish which I place overtop one of my lazy susans to place a variety of stuff on when company comes over.  People don’t have to reach over you to get another slice of cheese or whatever…they can just rotate the tray towards them.  I think it’s a better serving alternative.

Ocean Fresh: Spot Prawn Festival returns to Fishermen’s Wharf, Vancouver

Love Seafood?  Love Prawns?  Join me!

  Fresh off the Boat…

[Vancouver, BC] The Chefs’ Table Society of British Columbia celebrates 11 years of the Spot Prawn Festival at the False Creek Fishermen’s Wharf on Saturday May 13 from 11am-3pm. This event is generously supported by long-standing sponsor the Pacific Prawn Fishermen’s Association.

With the return of this free, family-friendly festival is also the return of the ticketed Spot Prawn Boil. The boil sells out every year and tickets are going fast. Get yours here.

Each Spot Prawn Boil ticket grants a wristband for a specific time slot, for access to a plate of three succulent BC spot prawns plus a selection of side dishes made with locally-sourced ingredients from Windset FarmsGrain, and freshly baked Terra Breads. Wristbands also include access to the drink tent for free samples from R&B Brewing , Evolve Cellars and Mogiana Coffee.

Just announced: these BC chefs will take the demo stage at the festival.

11:00 am – Dino Renaerts,  Bon Vivant Group

11:30 am – Taryn Wa, Savoury Chef Catering

12:00 pm – Andrew Shepherd, Vancouver Island Salt Co.

12:30 pm – Quang Dang, West Restaurant

01:00 pm – Matt Horn, Cowichan Pasta

01:30 pm – Isabel Chung,  Fairmont Whistler

02:00 pm – Ross Derrick, The Table at Codfathers and Jon Crofts, Codfathers Market

02:30 pm – Shelome Bouvette, Chicha Restaurant

About the Chefs’ Table Society

Chefs’ Table Society of British Columbia is a non-profit society comprised of BC’s leading chefs and culinary professionals. It is a chef-administered, province-wide collaborative dedicated to creating a foundation for the exchange of information between culinary professionals. The Society supports innovative and sustainable programs that will inspire, educate and nurture BC chefs, producers and the local food industry. The Chefs’ Table Society secures apprenticeships for and bestows bursaries to emerging local chefs and also finances culinary education programs in BC schools. For more information or to become a member visit chefstablesociety.com.

ALL ABOUT Spot Prawns (taken from the website):

Wild BC spot prawns are a delicacy known around the world for their sweet, delicate flavour and firm texture. They are most recognizable for their reddish brown colour, which turns bright pink when cooked, defining white spots on their tail and white horizontal bars on the carapace.

BC spot prawns are the largest of the seven commercial species of shrimp found on the west coast of Canada. They vary greatly in size, with some larger females exceeding 23 cm in total length. Prawns are hermaphrodites: for the first two years of their lives they are males, and then they change to females. Typically, spot prawns live a total of four years.

In BC, approximately 2,450 metric tonnes are harvested annually, with about 65% of the harvest coming from the waters between Vancouver Island and the mainland.

BC spot prawns are available live during the harvest season, which usually starts in May and lasts anywhere from six to eight weeks. Prawn fishermen spread baited traps along the rocky ocean floor at depths ranging from 40 to 100 metres. This method has minimal impact on ocean habitat and very low levels of by catch of other species.

BC spot prawns are very popular in Japan and the rest of Asia, with over 90% of BC’s commercial catch consumed there. Most of the prawns are frozen at sea by fishermen, and then packed and exported across the Pacific. The remaining few, however, are available to be enjoyed fresh in local BC restaurants and kitchens during the fishing season! Frozen spot prawns are also available in Canada year round.

Spot prawn stocks are carefully and sustainably managed to ensure that they remain available to enjoy for many years to come, including:

  1. Limiting the number of vessels that can commercially harvest spot prawns
  2. Limiting the number of traps that can be used
  3. Returning females with eggs live to the ocean

Interesting; No?

For more information please visit: https://spotprawnfestival.com/

Recipe of the Week: Seafood in Coconut Curry Broth

Last week I made this delicious flavorful dish for an important celebration

my 25 year wedding anniversary! And I might add that the time has flown by.

Who says you have to go out? An evening spent at home with good food, good company, good wine, conversation, music and candlelight cannot be beat by going out to a restaurant.  Add to that a glass or two of bubbly to start…a perfect evening!

We were craving seafood and I hadn’t made this in a very long time.  It’s quite simple as everything is made in one pot.  You can alter the seafood depending on what you like as it’s adaptable as long as you’re using a variety of fresh seafood.  I have to admit the mussels make a huge difference for added flavour & appearance.  Originally I followed a popular recipe from an Indo-American Bistro, but as per usual I changed it and did it my way and it turned out perfect.

1 Tbsp. butter

¼ cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 shallot, minced

2 green onions, chopped

1 large tomato, chopped

1-2 tsp. Madras curry powder

salt + pepper to taste

1 cup coconut milk

1 cup fish stock  (you can make from scratch by boiling bones in water or you can buy from your local seafood store).  I bought frozen halibut stock which dissolves quite easily).

Splash of dry white wine or more (or none)

¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Saffron threads

For Seafood: I used scallops, halibut, prawns & mussels

½  lb. sea scallops (if large, cut in half)

1 lb. white fish cut into chunks (halibut or cod)

1 ¼  lb. mussels (scrubbed + debearded)

8 large prawns (shelled + deveined)

Recipe serves 4 people

In a large saucepan, melt butter and sauté garlic, shallot and green onion for a few minutes over a low heat.   Add the olive oil and turn to medium high heat.  add tomato and sauté for 5-7 minutes, or until soft.

Stir in curry powder, salt and pepper.

Add coconut milk, stock and cilantro.  Cook for 5 minutes.

Add scallops, fish, mussels and prawns all together.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Discard any shellfish that have not opened.

Best served in large soup bowls with naan bread for dipping.  YUM!

Enjoy!

Photos: d. king

Food:  plated pretty   

It’s a feast for the eyesmaybe more so than the palate.  Not something to be wolfed down. But she’s a pretty good looking egg when she gets properly plated.

Free-range eggs on an Isabelle Poupinel plate at the Hotel Thoumieux.                           Credit: Alban Couturier

Sometimes a so-so dish can get an upgrade by an artful placement on a pretty plate.  You get to first admire what you are about to digest and by doing so and taking a bit more time, everything seemingly tastes better too.  At least in my opinion.  If you don’t believe me check this out:

The Chef & The Potter

At his eponymous restaurant inside Hotel Thoumieux near the Eiffel Tower, chef Sylvestre Wahid has earned two Michelin stars for his artful food — served on equally imaginative dishes. “The plate is like a canvas on which the dish and its colors are realized,” he says. The 300 handmade pieces in his collection were designed in collaboration with French potter Isabelle Poupinel. “I love the handcrafted aspect of her creations; the dimensions, the natural, mineral aspects to them,” Wahid says. “This parallelism between the content and the containers is really an interesting way to create harmony.” Poupinel, who has created ceramics by hand, on a wheel, for nine years, agrees — but claims that collaborating with chefs isn’t always so easy. “At first, he wanted the raw plates without enamel. I said, ‘no way!’ With sauce, or whatever, they’d get ruined. Sometimes, you have to control what chefs want in order to protect the work. They can be crazy!” she says with a laugh.

A Recipe From Paris’s Famous Poilâne Bakery

The following is brought to you (via me) by My Little Paris, a website that I’ve lately become addicted to for fun French musings on life, cooking and je ne sais quoi else.bakery1

3,451 miles. That’s how far Apollonia Poilâne used to go to get her bread every week.

Okay—technically, it was FedEx delivering the loaf from the Poilâne bakery in Paris to Apollonia’s mailbox in the US. But still. The woman clearly takes her bread seriously. She had to: when her parents died in a helicopter crash just months before she left France for college, 18-year-old Apollonia spent four years running the entire bakery from—no kidding—her Harvard dorm room. The following recipe is not for bread (it’s impossible to recreate a Poilâne loaf at home, trust us). But it’s one of Apollonia’s personal favorites, and involves chocolate, crushed butter cookies, and salted butter. Kind of hard to complain.

(Tip: they’re best made with Poilâne’s punition biscuits (which you can order here), but any old butter cookie will do.)
In Paris? Stop by Poilâne’s flagship bakery at 8 Rue du Cherche-Midi for breakfast (or lunch, or both). Not in Paris and desperate for a loaf? FedEx yourself Poilâne’s famous 4.5lb sourdough here.

Drink: Matcha

I’m going green in more ways than one.

PHOTO: Bourbon and Honey

It’s that Spring cleaning time again.  I’m going to start with my body…by drinking more Matcha. As a matter of fact I just made myself a delicious matcha latte while sitting down to write this post.

With over 4,000 years of history that’s steeped in ancient Chinese and Japanese tradition, matcha is also an untapped beauty and health resource.  That’s why for all of its many beneficial factors I love to incorporate the powder into different facets of my diet.  I like the taste but don’t get me wrong I’m hoping it will make me more beautiful on the inside and help to keep me strong and healthy too (along with a slew of other ingestibles).

Here are A FEW REASONS why it’s so good according to the experts (and me)!

GLOWING SKIN: Matcha powdered green tea has 137 more antioxidants, or EGCGs, than regularly brewed green tea. These antioxidants help protect your skin from ultraviolet radiation. They can even get rid of harmful free radicals that your body’s been holding onto. Additionally, they boost your blood flow, which can help give you that oh-so-coveted rosy, natural glow in your cheeks.

HELPS KEEP YOU RELAXED AND ALERT AT THE SAME TIME: Matcha is rich in L-theanine, a rare amino acid that actually promotes a state of relaxation and well-being within your brain’s functionality. While stress can induce beta waves (which lead to an excited and agitated state), L-theanine creates alpha waves (which lead to a state of relaxed alertness). And while L-theanine is common in all tea, matcha may contain up to five times more of this amino acid than your regular ol’ black and green varieties.

PHOTO: Sweet Sensations

IT HELPS YOU REMEMBER THINGS: The L-theanine in matcha also improves your memory (read: helps you remember where you put your cell phone and car keys). It can help you learn and perform better without all the usual negative side effects of caffeine. In fact, studies show that those drinking green tea filled with L-theanine were also less susceptible to “distracting information” that might hinder their tasks (i.e. less susceptible to scrolling through Instagram during the work day).

IT HELPS BOOST YOUR METABOLISM AND BURN FAT: the chemical components in matcha basically make up an internal gym for your body. Drinking matcha can help you burn more calories, while studies show it can also help you burn up to 25% more fat. Combined with a healthy diet and exercise, matcha can kick your weight loss into high gear.

IT KEEPS YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM HEALTHY: ECGCs help keep sickness-inducing microbodies and oxidative stress in check. Matcha is also great for the type of inflammation that occurs when you have allergies or a sinus infection. Swap out your coffee for matcha during cold and flu season to reap the holistic benefits of catechins and theanine.

IT MAY SLOW DOWN THE AGEING PROCESS: Okinawa, Japan, is what scientists and nutritionists call a Blue Zone, otherwise known as a geographic area of the world where people live longer. Because one of the most common beverages among Okinawans is matcha, Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones Solution ($16), attributed such long life spans to the daily consumption of the beverage and its cancer-fighting free radicals.

IT MAY HELP ALLEVIATE SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY: along with keeping you focused, relaxed, improving your immune system, and increasing your blood flow, matcha helps relieve depression and anxiety. The polyphenols found in matcha can heal you from the inside out, and therefore can make you feel happier and less stressed. Polyphenols are powerful plant-based antioxidants and micronutrients found in a lot of foods that typically bring you joy (like wine and chocolate).

The reasons listed are good enough for me to keep up this habit.  At the very least it’s nice and warming. But remember you will get the most benefits out of drinking pure matcha. But you have to be careful; you don’t want to be downing matcha lattes made with added sugar, so it’s best to either make it yourself so you know what’s in it or always ask. Just because something has “matcha” in it does not guarantee it is healthy.

Matcha la Vista baby!

New and nutritious: “pharmacy in a fruit”  

Cupuaçu

Have you heard of it?  

When I lived in Brazil I was introduced to an abundance of new (to me) super foods like Açaí, Guarana, Mangosteen & Acerola.  I was blending up these seeds and berries to make delicious smoothies long before they became known and popular in North America. As a matter of fact I never felt healthier than during the year I lived in Brazil. Now there’s a new fruit hitting the market.  It’s called Cupuaçu (pronounced koo-poo-ah-soo) and grows in the Amazon Rainforest drainage basin in northern parts of Brazil.

Some of the Benefits

Cupuacu contains vitamins B1, B2, B3 (niacin) fatty and amino acids, and at least nine antioxidants including vitamin A and C and minerals such as calcium, selenium and others.

Cupuacu’s primary health benefit is stimulating the immune system thus supporting the body’s ability to fight disease. Cupuacu has an energetic effect, but does not contain caffeine. It is one of the few cocoa relatives that does not.

Cupuacu’s benefits are synergistic. For example, the energy-boosting effect mentioned is a result of the fruit’s heightening of the immune system, lowering of blood pressure and the overall body-boosting effects of the fast-acting nutrients and vitamins from the fruit. Unlike most energy drinks or caffeine, though, there is no tired feeling afterwards.

Other synergistic effects include healthier skin and hair, lowered cholesterol levels and improved libido. In addition, many of the fruits nutrients are boosters for the gastro-intestinal system and the cardiovascular system.

Cupuaçu is wildly popular in Brazil as well as other parts of South America. For centuries, natives of the rainforest have used the fruit of the cupuaçu tree as a main source of food and it continues to be a delicacy in the more populated towns of South America.

Today, cupuaçu pulp is often used for making juice, ice cream, smoothies, mousse, jellies, chocolates called “cupualte” (the seeds used for producing this product have similar characteristics to chocolate, but contains nutritional value and is healthier.

The pulp of the fruit is frequently used in the cosmetic industry for shampoos, soaps, lotions and creams due to it being highly hydrating with its emollient power giving similar effects to your body as cocoa butter. I noticed it listed as one of the main ingredients in the jar of Suzanne Organics (by Suzanne Somers) body butter which by the way is amazing in itself.

Other common traditional uses for cupuaçu include:

  • To lower blood pressure
  • Healthy hair
  • To lower cholesterol levels
  • For Increasing libido
  • To improve brain functions
  • To boost gastro-intestinal (GI) systems
  • To stimulate skin rejuvenation
  • To achieve weight loss
  • For combating diabetes
  • To increase energy

The Amazon is so vast with its wealth of  flora and fauna that in time I’m sure we’ll be acquainted with many more amazing edibles to come.

Source: amafruits.com

 

Food: the forgotton few

Two things I picked up recently at the supermarket: Sunchokes & Watercress.I haven’t had watercress in ages mostly because I rarely find it other than farmers markets.  I almost forgot the nice peppery taste and how great it goes in salads either as the main leafy green or added to a mix of others.

Watercress Salad

One time in Jamaica I swam across an area of the wild cruciferous plant so I snapped off a bunch of the leaves and took it back and made watercress sandwiches (with thinly sliced onion on the advice of someone who swore how delicious & nutritious it was). It used to be a staple of the working class diet in England. It comes with good recommendation. The ancient green is said to have also been a staple in the diet of Roman soldiers with a long history of benefits like immunity boosting properties, a cancer preventative and support for thyroid. In fact, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, used watercress to treat his patients. What was good enough for the Romans & Hippocrates is good enough for me.

Sunchokes

Sunchokes are a different matter.

They are a vegetable formerly known as “Jerusalem Artichokes” and are neither from Jerusalem nor are they related to artichokes.  They are originally cultivated by Native Americans. I guess that’s all the history I’m getting or giving for now.  They look like large pieces of ginger but taste a bit nutty and sweet at the same time. It’s pretty weird sounding.

I am neither used to seeing them or cooking with them but since I’m always up for trying something new, I bought a package. I asked a supermarket employee in the vegetable department what to do with them.  He said “cook em up like you would a potatoe.  Peel, leave skin on, mash, bake or boil – they’re delish!” I decided to slice them fairly thin with skin on, drizzle olive oil over top, a little sea salt & fresh dill and bake them in the oven.  They baked in very little time and were quite yummy with more of a root vegetable taste.

Orange roughy with asian marinade, steamed broccoli & baked sunchokes.   Image: d. king

I will make them again and try different ways of serving them.

Have you tried them?

 

Food: Fish Tacos

Making fish tacos is the closest I feel to being at the beach in Mexico. 

fishtacos1 Because some of my best food memories is eating fish tacos on the beach in Mexico.

Somebody said that it’s not the food itself but all the bonds and memories the food represents.

But I never follow a set recipe for tacos because there are so many variations.  These are closest to typical baja style with a little twist and without the sauce. Okay, maybe they’re just my own version.

Buy small street tortillas (they’re easily found in many supermarkets now – I prefer corn to flour) and make pico de gallo from scratch.

Pico de Gallofishtacos2

  • Chopped fresh red + yellow grape tomatoes, jalapeño, sweet maui onion, handful of cilantro, sea salt + squeeze of fresh key lime.
  • Sprinkle chili/lime seasoning blend on both sides of fish (I used Mexican seabass but you can substitute any white fish). Grill until done – a couple minutes per side. Divide fish among warmed tortillas and add pico de gallo, shredded purple cabbage, extra salsa if you like, top with more cilantro, sliced avocado, squeeze of lime & fold in half.  Add a side of chopped mango for added sweetness.

Buen apetito!

They’re fairly fast and fun to make and definitely delish!

Photos: d. king