Delectable Desserts

There are desserts and then there are DESSERTS; know what I’m talking about?

A friend introduced me to a new not-your-run-of-the-mill bakery.  Definitely not!  I was really impressed by the quantity and quality of specialty treats found at Forêt Noire – a high end French patisserie located in Vancouver in an offbeat area considering the kind of establishment.  You would be more likely to expect running across something like this on South Granville or maybe Yaletown.

They say simplicity is their touch.  Maybe so; if fancy upscale works of art in the shape of tasty treats are your thing.  

We went in for the best double baked almond croissant in the city, but once there we also tried the cheese (filled with feta + riccotta) which was also excellent.  Then we left with 3 pastries (one hazelnut filled, a pistachio cake and a vanilla with fresh mango pudding).  All outstanding.

Packaged in a pink take-out box.

Think I’m in trouble.

Know what I’m talking about?

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Feel-good Friday: High Tea Time

Afternoon Tea

is high on my list of feel-good things to do in the Fall.  There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be diminished by a nice cup of Tea.

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High Tea is what happens between breakfast and lunch where you catch up with a good friend over a piping hot pot of earl grey and fancy little finger sandwiches, petite scones and petit fours.  I love the variety.  Yesterday I caught up with my friend Marion at Secret Garden Tea Company in Kerrisdale.  It was lovely and delicious.

october & november high tea menu

Your table awaits

From the gleaming china and linen napkins, to the charming tea cozy that nestles your selection of specially blended Secret Garden Tea, our High Tea experience is designed to delight. So settle in. Select your tea and savour your three tier tray of beautifully hand-crafted Signature Miniatures, including sweets, sandwiches, scones, jam and, of course, Devonshire Cream.

High Tea Menu is regularly updated with seasonal delicacies.

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I also left with a bag of chocolate cranberry shortbread cookies – the best!

Let’s do it again soon

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Food: Homemade Thai Yellow Curry

Fall calls for making a transition in cooking.  Going from lighter foods to more hearty and healthy meals.  The barbeque gets exchanged for the oven, slow-cooker and stove top.  After a long break I recently got the urge to make curries again.

Image: getinspiredeveryday.com

There is supposedly an art to making curry, however it’s really pretty easy to make a wonderful curry from scratch. Once you follow a basic recipe you can tweak it to your own liking.  A little bit more of this and a little less of that.  A few years ago I made Red, Green and Yellow curry pastes – the base for all Thai curries.  Then I ended up freezing them in 3 Tablespoon increments and thawing to use when the urge struck.  I find 3 Tablespoons is enough for a medium spice.

Image: d. king – blending the paste ingredients

Of the three, yellow is my favorite.  Yellow curry paste differs from the others not only in color but also ingredients.  It has ginger instead of the stronger galangal.  It also has cinnamon, more coriander, turmeric and curry powder.  When the dish is served, it is not garnished with kaffir lime leaves but with crispy fried shallots (optional).  You can also use parsley or cilantro.

Image: d. king – crisping the shallots

Image: d. king – tofu with added snow peas.  I gently fried with added turmeric + a little black pepper.

Image: d. king

Image: d. king – the paste being added to pan

This paste is enough for about 4 dishes (depending on how much heat you can handle – more is more) of beef, chicken, fish or veggies. This recipe comes courtesy of the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Bangkok – tweaked by me of course.

Ingredients:

7 dried hot red chilies (long ones of the cayenne variety).  You can find them everywhere now.

1 cup chopped shallots

1 Tablespoon *fresh lemongrass that has been thinly sliced, crosswise.

10 small or 5 large garlic cloves, chopped

1-inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

½ teaspoon white pepper powder

1 teaspoon Madras curry powder

½ teaspoon ground Cumin

1 teaspoon ground Coriander

½ teaspoon ground Cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground Turmeric

Original recipe calls for ½ teaspoon shrimp paste (or 3 anchovies from a can, chopped). I omitted this because I couldn’t stand the smell.  It was still excellent nonetheless.

Assembly:

Soak the chilies in 5 Tablespoons of hot water for 1 to 2 hours (or; if pressed for time, put in the microwave for 2 minutes and then let them sit for 20 to 30 minutes).

Combine chilies together with their soaking liquid, into a food processor or a blender along with all remaining ingredients in the order listed above.  Blend, pushing down with a rubber spatula as many times as necessary, until you have a smooth paste.

What you do not use immediately should be refrigerated or frozen and labeled.

For the Main Course:

14-once can coconut milk, left undisturbed for at least 3 hours.

2 Tablespoons peanut oil

3-5 Tablespoons (remember – 3 is medium heat) of curry paste

1 Tablespoon fish sauce (optional)

1 teaspoon thick Tamarind paste

1 teaspoon palm sugar (or brown sugar)

Carefully open the can of coconut milk, without disturbing it too much and remove 4 Tablespoons of the thick cream that will have accumulated at the top.  Stir the remaining contents of the can well and set aside.

Pour the oil into a large, non-stick frying pan over medium heat.

When the oil is hot, add the coconut cream and the curry paste.  Stir and fry until the oil separates and the paste is lightly browned.  Reduce the heat to low.  Add the fish sauce, tamarind paste, sugar, the reserved coconut milk, and 2 Tablespoons of water.  Stir and bring to a gentle simmer.  Taste for balance of flavors, adding more fish sauce, sugar, or tamarind paste if needed.

Add your already cooked chicken, beef or **vegetables to the pan and gently heat through for 2-3 minutes.

Garnish with the crispy fried shallots and torn up basil leaves. You can add chopped cashews too.

 

*To make it easier a lot of Asians now suggest using frozen lemongrass (Yes; it’s perfectly fine).  You buy it in a chunk and break off only what you need.

**For this recipe I used extra-firm tofu which I first sautéed on its own.  I crisped up shallots in another frypan.  The veggies were first oven roasted and then added to the pan at the end along with the tofu. Served over jasmine rice,  it was superb.

***I buy cumin and coriander seeds and coarsely chop them in a coffee grinder.

If you make it let me know what you think.  I know it’s a lot of chopping, etc. but totally worth the while.  I’m telling you It will taste better than any store bought version on the market.

XO

 

 

 

Grill Talk – a local recipe from a local gal

Angie Quaale is a champion for ALL things local.  She is a best-selling cookbook author (“Eating Local in the Fraser Valley,” Random House 2018), a chef and an entrepreneur. Angie lives in Langley, BC and has owned Well Seasoned Gourmet Foods Inc. since 2004. Well Seasoned (in Langley, BC) is a specialty food store, cooking school and catering company with a strong focus on supporting and promoting local producers and suppliers. Her recipes are tasty, straight forward and aim to share the importance of eating local.  Here’s a good one:

Mexican Sweet Potatoes with Black Beans

Ingredients:

1 lb. sweet potatoes (about 2 medium), peeled and cut into ½ inch chunks

2 tbsp. olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1 small cooking onion, finely chopped

2 tsp Mexican chili powder

½ tsp ground cumin

Kosher salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste

1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 ripe avocado, cubed

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

½ a lime

Tortilla chips or taco shells

Preparation:

Preheat your BBQ to medium high, about 400F.

Create a double layer, approx. 8-inch x 8-inch tin foil pouch.

In a large bowl, combine the cubed sweet potatoes, beans & onions. Drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder. Toss to combine. Transfer the potato mixture onto the foil in an even layer. Fold the top of your tin foil pouch over the mixture and seal the edges tightly. Place on grill and cook for 18 -22 minutes until your potatoes are fork tender. Remove from the heat and carefully open the foil pouch, garnish with fresh cilantro, avocado, a generous squeeze of fresh lime, crumbled feta and serve with taco chips or warm tortillas.

Angie Quaale Tip:

This can be served as a side dish, a salad or as a filling for some killer tacos.  Leave the cheese out to make the dish vegan and make extra. Transform the leftovers into a breakfast hash by adding a fried egg, guaranteed to cure even the most vicious hangover!

Angie Quaale is the 15-year owner of Well Seasoned Gourmet Food Store

 

 

 

August: a Berry Delicious month


 

Thought I’d tell you about two local Foodie events taking place this month in the Fraser Valley

From Field to Table:

Celebrate our local, fresh and juicy strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries in the best way possible: straight from the field!

It’s no surprise that BC berries right from the farm just taste so much better, therefore Well-Seasoned Gourmet Food Store has partnered up with traditional berry producer in the Fraser Valley, Driediger Farms, for a legendary and “berry” delicious Farm to Plate Dinner. This four-course, family style dinner will be prepared by Executive Chef Carl Sawatsky and Angie Quaale in the farm fields. Besides the food, guests will enjoy local drinks and live music. It’s going to be an evening to remember!

Details:

Thursday, August 8, 2019 at 6 PM (dinner served at 6:45 PM).

Enjoy a welcome drink, local cheese & charcuterie and one glass of beer or wine along with a delicious four-course menu prepared by Well-Seasoned Gourmet Food Store.  Cost: $150 per person + GST.  More BC Wine, craft beer and cider will be offered at a cash bar for guests 19+.

Buy tickets at wellseasoned.ca – HURRY, there are only 50 seats available!

Angie Quaale at the original Well Seasoned Gourmet teaching kitchen

Well-Seasoned Open House

From its humble beginnings on the Langley Bypass in 2004, Well Seasoned Gourmet Food Store has not only established itself as the go-to for foodies in the Fraser Valley, but it has also gained recognition across the country for its vision, trendy food creations, and championing the support of eating local.
 
From the start, owner Angie Quaale’s goal was to make Well Seasoned Gourmet Food Store a launch pad for small scale food producers and locally grown items. Over the last 15 years, Well Seasoned has supported hundreds of brands and even created many of its own. Now it’s time to celebrate all they have accomplished.
 
Well Seasoned Gourmet Food Store is celebrating its 15th birthday! Join the party during the Hot August Nights Open House tasting event on Tuesday, August 13 from 6-8 PM , at the Well Seasoned store (#117-20353 64 Ave, Langley BC).
 
This free, giant open house is where you will sample and shop tons of delicious local products, meet with the makers, and wish Well Seasoned a happy 15th birthday. The more the merrier!
Angie Quaale is the 15-year owner of Well Seasoned Gourmet Food Store
 
Check out the event on Facebook or visit http://www.wellseasoned.ca/happybirthday
 
Barbeque season is in full swing. I’ll be sharing some of Angie’s excellent recipes here on the blog in the upcoming days.  Stay tuned.  
 
Will you be participating in any local Foodie events in your area?  Care to share?
 
 

 

Slow roasted oven tomatoes

So easy to make,  roasting tomatoes enhances their natural sweetness, making them even more delicious.

roasted with feta & garlic

Use them to make a satisfyingly simple tomato sauce or add to sandwiches, salads, omelettes or bruschetta.  

Set oven to 250F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Cut tomatoes in half and place cut side up on sheet.  Sprinkle with a little olive oil. I like to add fresh rosemary and rock salt to half and garlic salt & lavender pepper to the rest.  However you can experiment with other herbs like thyme, basil or parsley.  Leave for a couple hours until they’re soft and bursting with flavor.

 Use whatever tomatoes you like except maybe the big beefsteak kind.  For this one I used roma tomatoes.  Romas are drier so won’t produce as much liquid as say the cocktail variety. The more ripe the tomato, the more liquid it will give off as it cooks. Under ripe tomatoes won’t yield much, if any, liquid.

Store oven roasted tomatoes in the fridge, in an air-tight container or mason jar with their juice, for 5-7 days.

Elevated tomato/basil pasta sauce:

Instead of rosemary, add torn basil leaves and peeled garlic cloves to baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Once they’re cool pour into a blender in batches. Pulse 2-3 times then blend until desired chunkiness. Pour into quart jars or pour into freezer bags to freeze flat.  Add whatever extras you want but you might find you don’t need to.  It’s a very fresh tasting sauce.

Will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week or 4 months in the freezer.

Enjoy!

 

Dressed Up – Asian Salad Dressing

This is a light, easy and flavorful salad dressing – perfect for Spring.

Photo Credit: The Creative Bite

Toss with greens of your choice and chopped cabbage, Add carrot slivers, crunchy chow mein noodles, mandarin orange slices and diced chicken (optional).

Ingredients (amount shown is for two people):

  1.    3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar.
  2.    3 tablespoons soy sauce, pref. low-sodium.
  3.    1 tablespoon ginger, freshly grated.
  4.    12 teaspoon fresh minced garlic.
  5.    2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil.
  6.    13 cup extra virgin olive or grape seed oil.
  7.    1 tablespoon sesame seeds, lightly toasted.
  8.    1 tablespoon scallion, chopped (green onions).

Assemble:

  1. Mix first 5 ingredients in a bowl or food processor.
  2. If using a bowl: SLOWLY drizzle in the sesame and olive, peanut or grapeseed oil, whisking constantly so that the dressing will emulsify.
  3. If using a food processor, leave it running while you drizzle in the oil.
  4. When dressing is well combined, add sesame seeds and scallions.
  5. Serve immediately or refrigerate and use within a week.

Place ingredients in a jar and shake well. Some like to add a little sugar for added sweetness. I prefer not to although you can also add a bit of honey if you like.

ENJOY!

A sweet recipe for both Easter and Passover

Happy Holidays!

I want to make sure you don’t Passover this recipe.  It’s a good one. Everybunny says so.  Sure; it’s got calories but we’re celebrating…always a good excuse to have a heavenly chocolate dessert.  Also, why cut corners with low-fat ingredients?  Just make it, eat it and enjoy it.  Just don’t do it again until next year. XO

Chocolate Pots de Crème

*Mexican chocolate, which is flavored with ingredients like cinnamon, almonds and vanilla, lends a distinct flavor to this recipe – which is a rich custard like delicious dessert from Food & Wine’s Stephanie Prida.  *Look for it at Mexican markets and specialty-food stores.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 6 ounces Mexican chocolate, preferably Ibarra, finely chopped
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, plus shavings for garnish
  • Unsweetened whipped cream, for serving

How to Make It

Step 1

In a medium saucepan, combine the whole milk with the heavy cream and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat.

Step 2

In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks until combined. Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of the hot milk, then transfer the mixture to the saucepan. Cook the custard over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until it is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Immediately add the finely chopped Mexican and bittersweet chocolate and remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted, then strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a large glass measuring cup or bowl. Pour the chocolate mixture into 6 small bowls and refrigerate until the pots de crème are chilled, at least 6 hours or overnight. Serve the pots de crème with unsweetened whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Make Ahead

The pots de crème can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
After that you can re-start your diet…..

Dead or Alive

Dead or Alive

is the name of a little local speakeasy I’ve walked by a million times but only during the day.  In the daytime from the outside you can’t tell exactly what it is unless you already know, and of course it was never open.

There is only one giveaway – a neon sign that says wine & beer.  I thought it was a discreet little hole in the wall after hours store that sells wine and beer.  In some sense that’s correct, but it’s a very cool hole in the wall.

Last night after dinner I decided to walk my dogs by there and for once and for all let go the mystery. And I’m glad I did.  Inside it’s very dark but the lighting is jazzy and there are little heart shaped keychains that light up so you can read the menu which by the way is surprisingly well curated.  Every second Friday Freddy from Broadstreet Oyster (in Los Angeles) has a pop-up with fresh shucked oysters & lobster rolls that rival the best one I had once in Kennebunkport, Maine.   Other Fridays they have live jazz.  It’s a comfy local hangout where you can easily talk to strangers.  And I can sit outside with my two.

The rest is taken from visitpalmsprings.com

Okay. Anyone who names a bar “Dead or Alive;” – and doesn’t put up any signage, so you don’t know where it is until you meet someone who’s been there – has to have a good reason, right?

It’s all for the love of wine, says Dead or Alive owner Christine Soto. As a Level 1 Sommelier, she’s on a mission to educate everyone about wine – and her choice of her wine bar name, and the lack of signage, is all part of her plan. “A name is not important. My bar is all about the experience; to give people the opportunity to make a discovery. I like to make it a surprise,” she told me, as she filled my glass with her “from the tank” house Chardonnay inside her cozy establishment.

Cheers!

FYI: I really liked the Tank House Chard from France.  And I like surprises….which only goes to mean I’ll be back!  Maybe even tonight for the lobster rolls.

Happy Weekend!

http://www.deadoralivebar.com/

 

Dips: Healthy Hummus

Hummus is an essential party pleasing dip.  You can buy it, however it’s pretty easy to make, plus it’s extremely healthy.  Hummus is rich in healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. The best thing is that it tastes soooo good.

Hummus Dip with oven baked Pita Chips & cut up veggies.  Cut up pieces of bought pita bread and bake in the oven at 350F for a few minutes to crisp up into chips.

Ingredients:

16 oz. can garbanzo beans (chickpeas, rinsed)

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. cumin

1 garlic clove

1 Tbsp. Tahini (sesame paste)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

sea salt to taste

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1/4 tsp. ground turmeric

Pinch of Cayenne (optional)

TIP: add a few tablespoons of water to mix (if too thick) and you prefer to avoid adding more oil.

Process:
This recipe really could not be any easier.  The key to smooth hummus is letting the food processor do all of the work. Throw the garbanzo beans, lemon juice, cumin, garlic, tahini, and rest into the food processor. Turn the food processor on for about 30 seconds and then slowly pour in the olive oil.  Add a few tbsp. of water if it looks like the hummus is too thick. The food processor really helps in creating that creamy texture we all love.

For toppings I love toasting some pine nuts in a pan.  Simmer some herbs in olive oil and pour over top.  Parsley is great too.

Store in the refrigerator in an air tight container. Homemade hummus usually lasts for about 7-10 days in the refrigerator.  But I can assure you it won’t last that long.