Wine + Dine in Canada’s Wine Capital

My friend and I experienced two exceptional wine country dining experiences.  

Wine Tasting at Tinhorn Creek. Photo: d. king

Burrowing Owl Tasting. Photo: d. king
Photo: d. king

The Sonora Room Restaurant at Burrowing Owl Winery is where Margeaux and I had dinner on the first of our two night stay in Oliver, B.C.  That was after wine sampling next door at the winery, and before finishing off our special bottle from the restaurant’s wine library.  The library holds exclusive wines with a list changed regularly that are no longer publicly available for sale.  And of course, they go along to compliment the menu.  They have a very talented culinary team.

We both had the chef’s specialty of the day –  Beef short rib – was phenomenal! Photo: d. king

From their website:

“The philosophy… is to embrace the
privilege and the opportunity to
showcase many of the local producers
with their array of local organic
produce, fresh, seasonal fruits and
artisan breads and cheeses.”

Instead of dessert we decided to go back to our luxury B+B “uncorked”  and polish off the leftover wine with a cheese assortment and “Hooray” decadent chocolate truffles  (the ones that are included in my gift packages – but more on this later).  Yes we indulged!

The views from Burrowing Owl – fyi you can book a room there too.

Photo: d. king
Photo: d king

The second night we chose Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek Winery on the advice of the maître d’ from the Sonora Room at Burrowing Owl.  There are many fine places to dine in Oliver but these two restaurants were highly recommended and we also wanted to do wine tasting at their wineries before dinner so it was perfect.

Photo: d. king

At Miradoro the locally sourced market cuisine menu has a Mediterranean influence, drawing inspiration from countries like Italy, Spain and Portugal – countries that know a thing or two about food and wine pairing.

When it comes to modern, local and sustainable cuisine, Chef Jeff Van Geest (check him out; he’s amazing) is one of British Columbia’s most celebrated chefs.

Not only were the wines superb but the panoramic views from the valley below were to die for!  Both restaurants have amazing outdoor seating however it was a bit chilly both nights so we decided to dine inside.

The view from our outdoor wine tasting looking over to Burrowing Owl. Photo; d. king
Photo: d. king Again; we ordered the exact same thing.  This time delicious stuffed wild salmon.

Both restaurants including their adjoining wineries require reservations.  We were very lucky the first night especially because we got in due to a cancellation – the room was booked a few weeks in advance.  And this is in September!

https://www.tinhorn.com/Restaurant

The Sonora Room

Next I’ll blog about the small lot wineries.  So many wines; so little time!

Next time we’re going here on the advice of a winery owner and others:

Come eat, drink and relax at Popolo Cafe! We’re located inside a beautifully renovated church. Choose from a variety of unique sitting areas and enjoy fresh homemade pasta dishes and more with a glass of local wine, beer, or an espresso beverage.

Poplolo Café Pasta Gelato

Local Dining: Dock Lunch

Your Window to Home Cooking starts here…

Photo: d. king

Well actually it starts at home.  However if you have an opportunity to have as good or better a meal in a restaurant that resembles your grandmother’s home, then look no further.  The owner appropriately refers to it  as “my apartment café” as the exact location was her home.

Our charcuterie starter included parma prosciutto and a whipped feta with olive oil. Photo: d. king

Noticed the heritage building with the inviting sign out front by accident during the summer when I was on Main Street. Unfortunately the restaurant was closed at the time.  A few of the surrounding business owners who were sitting out front raved about the regular lunches that are served only by RSVP and then received at the takeout window.  Elizabeth; the owner and chef, used to reside at what is now the restaurant, specializing in lunch and brunch menu.  I called to make a reservation and was told they were opening for dinner (and would continue to on occasion for private parties) starting September 10th.  Voilà!  Went with my friend Janice on a lovely evening where we sat outside.  The inside is very tiny with only a few tables that were already reserved.  Lucky for us the weather cooperated.  The food is local, sustainable, creative, comfort food.  Of course I had to check it out.

 

Photo: d. king  Autumn Salad with crispy Kale and homemade Spaetzle with local mushrooms.  Excellent!  Wish I had a bigger appetite for the Rib-Eye and Steelhead.
Photo: d. king
Elizabeth; the owner. This photo: Vancouver Sun

Our Menu

The cake was delicious.           

Text 604 655 7050 to make a reservation

Another review from none other than Bon Appetit:

https://www.bonappetit.com/city-guides/vancouver/venue/dock-lunch

Gluten-Free Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

These cookies are simply delicious!

I’ve never adhered to a totally gluten-free diet, however I’ve been experimenting with changing original recipes by trying to make them taste as good, or better by making them gluten-free.  That’s mainly because eating gluten-free foods makes me feel less full and less bloated.

This recipe originally called for 1 cup of all-purpose flour. *Oat flour gives baked goods more flavor than regular all purpose flour, though it may also give them a chewier and crumblier texture.

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened

1 ½ cups dark brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/3 cups oat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. ground cloves

½ tsp. allspice

2 cups gluten-free rolled oats

1-2 cups raisins

Preheat oven to 350F.  Cream butter until light and fluffy.  Gradually add sugar.  Add eggs, vanilla and 2 tsp. water and beat until smooth.

Sift dry ingredients together.  Add to the butter mixture and mix well.  Fold in oats and raisins.  Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet, leaving enough space for the cookies to spread out.  Bake approx. 10-15 minutes, until golden.

Makes about 2 dozen good size cookies

*Not only is oat flour packed with antioxidants, it also has more protein and fat than most traditional flours, and up to 8g of fiber per half-cup serving. One half-cup serving of oat flour contains: 191% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of manganese. 41% of the RDI of phosphorus.

The gluten conundrum

By now you’ve heard of gluten, and you probably even know it’s the wheat protein that gives bread and other foods their shape and texture. But going gluten-free when you don’t have a diagnosed wheat allergy or celiac disease doesn’t promise weight loss or better health, according to science. That hasn’t stopped millions of people from giving the diet a try. Experts recommend consulting your primary health-care provider before making any drastic changes to your diet. Check out some reasons you should not go gluten-free.


Debbie’s Delicious Carrot Cake

A heavenly-spiced, double-decker cake iced with cream cheese frosting.  Apple sauce makes it extra moist and delicious.   Makes 12 servings.

Photo: d. king

I’ve tried several carrot cake recipes including my mom’s (which included in the ingredients crushed pineapple and some mayo).  Sorry mom, it was always my favourite, however my carrot cake connoisseur boyfriend says this one knocks them all out of the park.  But we’ll let you be the judge. 

For the Cake:

1 ½ cups sugar (I always use organic cane sugar)

1 cup unsweetened apple sauce (if you have the time, making it yourself is best)

4 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups *flour

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. nutmeg

¼ tsp. ground cloves

3 cups grated carrot

1 cup walnut or pecan pieces

1 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Lightly grease and flour 2, 8-inch round cake pans.

To make doubly sure the cakes do not stick, cut 2 rounds of parchment  (I swear by parchment – it’s a baking life saver) the same size as the bottom of the pans and set them in.  Place the sugar, apple sauce, eggs and vanilla in a bowl and mix until well combined.  Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices into another bowl, and then mix into the wet mixture until just combined.  Fold in carrots, nuts and raisins.  Divide and spoon the batter among the pans.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the centre of each cake pulls out clean.  Cool the cake on a baking rack in their pans for 30 minutes, then un mould and cool to room temperature.

To frost and decorate

250 gram pkg. hard cream cheese, at room temperature (I use Philadelphia)

1 cup butter, at room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla

3 cups icing sugar (I used organic icing sugar for the fist time and while still sugar; it made me feel better about eating it – it was also easier to beat ).

Place the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until quite light.  Gradually beat in the icing sugar until fully incorporated.  Set 1 cake layer, crowned-side down, on your cake stand.  Spread a ¼ inch layer of frosting on it, and then set on the second cake, crowned-side down.  Frost the top and sides of the cake, doing so as neatly and smoothly as you can (not so much for me this time).

If desired, after frosting, you could also coat the sides or top of the cake with unsweetened shreds of coconut and/or walnuts or pecans.

The Added Touch

You could also decorate the top of the cake with small carrots made of marzipan.  To do so, color 100 grams of marzipan orange with **food color.  Divide it into 12 pieces and roll each one into a carrot shape.  Use the back of a pairing knife and make a few shallow, indentations on one side of each piece to give it a slightly wrinkled carrot-like look.

Arrange the carrots on top of the cake.  As you can see, I omitted this extra special step this time around.  

*You can easily make this gluten-free by substituting regular flour for gluten-free.  This time I used “Namaste gluten-free Perfect Flour Blend” and it was divine.  Having said that, I have to admit that using regular cake & pastry flour makes for a perfect tasting allover cake. I was quite pleased though with this gluten-free flour blend.  Make sure you read the package to see how easily adaptable it is for baking – not all are created equal.

**Juicing carrots will provide you with a natural dye alternative that will emit NO additional flavor when used moderately. For a more saturated color, reduce the liquid into a syrup.  This will produce a more vivid color, without changing the properties of the dish.

Enjoy!

Green Goddess Dressing (aka creamy avocado dressing)

Don’t remember the last time I bought a salad dressing.  It’s all too easy to make your own from scratch and so much tastier.  This creamy, versatile and delightful dressing is packed with vitamins and goes with almost any salad.  It’s a  healthy alternative to dairy or mayonnaise-based dressings.

Image: Simply Scratch

What you need:

  1. 1 whole large ripe avocado.
  2. 1 clove garlic, peeled.
  3. 1 tablespoon fresh lime or lemon juice.
  4. 3 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
  5. ¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro
  6. ¼ cup low-fat greek yogurt (optional)
  7. 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt.
  8. 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper.
  9. water, as needed

Directions:

  1. Place all the ingredients In a food processor or blender.
  2. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides a few times. Thin the salad dressing out with about 1/3 cup water (give or take) until it reaches a desired consistency.
  3. Keep in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks.

ENJOY

 

 

 

Food: Savoury Soufflé  

VALENTINES day is this coming Sunday so why not make something different and surprise him or her with a super tasting savoury spinach/cheese soufflé?

d. king
Photo: d. king

 You were probably thinking chocolate right?

A soufflé (I love the sound of the word – it rhymes with “to play”) is likely something you don’t make very often if at all, and most people love them.  A perfect soufflé is always crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.  This recipe comes courtesy of my friend Ruth who recently made it to rave reviews including mine.  Now I’m making it too.  I might even double the decadence and make *chocolate soufflé (my recipe below) for dessert.  Chocolate is good for the soul especially for Valentines Day.  Enjoy!

RECIPE

(serves 4 -6 with a side salad)

Set your oven to 375F

3 Tbsp. butter

3 Tbsp. flour

1 cup milk

dash cayenne

1/2 tsp. dry mustard

1/2 tsp. salt

1  cup grated cheddar cheese

4-5 eggs separated

1 bunch spinach

Make a *roux with the butter & flour 

*To make a roux heat the butter in a pan or skillet over medium heat until just melted.  Then add the flour.  Use a whisk and begin stirring the mixture constantly.  Break up any lumps with whisk and distribute mixture evenly.  If  you’ve never made a roux you might want to click on the link below – it’s pretty easy.

 blend in milk, cayenne, dry mustard + salt to the roux

Cook, stirring until thick.  Add the cheese and stir until melted.

Add de-stemmed, cooked, chopped spinach.  I prefer to steam it first.

Remove from heat and beat in egg yolks

Beat whites until they peak

Using a spatula, fold in egg whites, half at a time.  Do not stir!

Pour into buttered 1 1/2 quart soufflé  dish.  Draw a circle with knife an inch or so from rim

Place in middle of oven – Bake at 375F for about 35 minutes (I add 5-10 extra minutes so it’s well done in the middle)

How to make a Roux:  http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Roux

Chocolate Soufflé Recipe:  https://girlwhowouldbeking.com/2013/02/05/simple-satisfying-chocolate-souffle/

 

Food: Fresh is best but Freezing is fine

Good garnish...who uses plain ice cubes any more?
Who uses plain ice cubes any more?

YES, you CAN!
YES, you CAN!

Except when your freezer goes on the fritz and unfreezes everything which is what just happened to me. (I haven’t experienced a meltdown in a looong time). Not the one in my house but the extra one we keep in the garage, which is used for overflow and is usually chock full of vodka, meats and frozen fruit.  What to do with all that food? I don’t like to waste good food so last night I went to work and baked lots of ribs and chicken. Tonight it’s fish tacos.  There will also be crockpot stew and leftover ribs & chicken. Everyone’s invited!  The dogs get to have more variety than usual and hopefully none of us will pack on extra pounds on account of a few weeks days of over eating.  You know; waste not to waist got. How many of you have experienced this most annoying circumstance?  At least it was detected in time so that nothing spoiled.

I don’t know about you but in general my freezer is always more full in the winter months.

We tend to use more frozen goods in the winter and thaw them as needed for convenience.  Notice how even the quality seafood stores that we rely on to buy fresh fish in the summer now sell previously frozen fish? Things like wild salmon, halibut and sablefish.  If they’re out of season,  they are sold from having been frozen.  It doesn’t sound as inviting but if cooked properly the taste should remain.

Gosh...what a Good Garnish!
Gosh…what a Good Garnish!

I’ve also learned what to freeze, what not to.  Most of us are used to freezing meat, sauces, etc. but you might be surprised at some of the things that freeze well that you never thought to stick in the freezer before.  Things like butter (I buy in bulk when on sale & freeze it for making desserts mostly), milk (including almond milk), yogurt, guacamole, salsa (although it tends to come out more watery – but if you buy the family size say from Costco you can divvy it up and freeze it – take out what you think you’ll use as required), barbeque sauce, cheese (great for cooking purposes, adding to scrambles or sauces & a little gorgonzola is great for steak or pasta), lemons, limes (freeze the zest separately in another container).  Once the lemons/limes are at room temperature they will be softer but the juice will be as good and you’ll find them even easier to juice.  You can also freeze them in ice cube trays.  You can freeze wine too.  It won’t retain it’s original quality but will be great for cooking purposes.  That’s if you have any left over of course. FYI: a frozen grape at the bottom of a wine glass is a pleasant surprise – green for white, red for red.

I also freeze some spices and of course fruit for smoothies, crumbles and pies.   You can also freeze the whole pie.  I recently bought a large pumpkin pie, cut it into individual serving slices and froze them – they thaw out perfectly and good for when you just want a piece now and again and again.

I cannot over emphasize the importance of labelling frozen containers.  I freeze a lot of things and for the most part everything is properly labelled & dated.  Once in a while I skip labelling – but only when I’m certain that I really know the contents.  But here’s what also happened to me the other day:

I placed 2 frozen beef/veggie soup containers in the fridge overnight that I intended to serve for lunch the next day.  Next day:  left containers out on counter and got pot ready to warm up the soup.  Then I opened the first container and dumped the contents of it into the pot and turned on the element.    I was about to do the same with the second one but something didn’t smell quite right as it started to heat up.

Well….wouldn’t you know that I unfroze a chocolate/rocky road homemade ice cream container instead complete with little marshmallows & chocolate chips.  When frozen it looked dark like the soup so I didn’t even question it.  If I had paid more attention I would have noticed there was no orange colour to mark the carrots.

All the improvising in the world cannot improve the taste of ROCKY ROAD BEEF SOUP. Lesson learned!

Here’s a link for a previously posted recipe for a delicious winter crumble using frozen fruit:

Winter Fruit Crumble
Winter Fruit Crumble

https://girlwhowouldbeking.com/2013/11/25/simply-satisfying-winter-fruit-crumble/

What do you tend to freeze the most?