Beef, coated in batter, deep fried and tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce…yum! Ginger beef is one of my favorite dishes and a must have at least once a month (or twice!). Luckily, Chestermere has a fabulous restaurant that serves great ginger beef to satisfy me every time I get a craving. The restaurant is located in the plaza just behind the car wash. Usually, we get their dinner for 2 – soup, spring rolls, chicken fried rice, chicken with mixed vegetables and ginger beef. Their portions are generous, and we always have left overs. The staff at Jessica’s are very accomodating. When I have my son with me, they are happy to deliver the food to my car so I don’t have to take him out of his car seat – how sweet is that! If you live in the city, Jessica’s has a second location in Temple.
There is nothing better than freshly baked bread with melting butter and home made jam. Last summer, I had made loads of jam and was itching to make some bread at home to accompany it. I had asked my friend and fellow blogger Cheryl (Backseat Gourmet) to recommend something easy and she suggested a no-knead recipe posted on Julie’s website (Dinner with Julie). This is the easiest recipe ever and it makes the most delicious bread. All you need to do is mix it and forget about it – for 24 hours anyway. I have made this so many times, and it is one of those no-fail recipes. Try it – your friends will think you’re a star!
From Dinner with Julie
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon saltIn a large bowl stir together the flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a plate and let it rest on the countertop for 18-24 hours at room temperature.
The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice, then roughly shape into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour. Fold it over the bread or cover with another cotton towel and let it sit for another hour or two.
While the bread is resting, preheat the oven to 450°. Put a 6-8 quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When the dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and flip the dough over into the pot; it may look like a mess, but that’s OK. Cover and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake another 10-15 minutes, until it’s nice and golden.
It was quite the week last week, even though I had it off! My parents had gone away with the family for the week and since I had no childcare, I was lucky enough to spend the week with my toddler. I thought that I would be able to update this blog every couple of days, completely forgetting how much attention little ones need. We enjoyed our week with playdates and trips to the zoo and I even managed to do some experimenting in the kitchen.
This is a dish that I have eaten since childhood, called Chana Bateta. Literally, it translates to “Chickpeas and Potatoes”. I would consider this as more of a soup or a stew than a curry as it is not eaten with rice or a bread, like naan or chopati. It is eaten with a spoon, topped with the indian snack Chevdo, or what I prefer, potato chips! If you have some tamarind chutney, add a bit of that too. I couldn’t believe how easy this vegetarian recipe was to make, 20 minutes and it was ready to serve.
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
3 curry leaves
2 TB gram flour
1 large can of plum tomatoes, blended + 1 TB of its liquid
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 medium potatoes, boiled and cubed
1 large can of chick peas
1 cup water
3 TB lemon juice
Heat the oil in a pan and add mustard seeds and curry leaves. When the seeds start to pop, add the gram flour and cook for a few minutes. Add the tomotoes and cook for another five minutes. Add the turmeric and some red chili powder next. Mix and add the chickpeas, water, lemon juice and salt and cook for 10 minutes.
We finally had a fabulous hot weekend and it was the perfect weather to enjoy the Kensington Sun and Salsa Festival. We tried many different salsas – spicy, cool, red, green – but my favorite was Broken Plate’s greek salsa made with feta. It was delicious and I was inspired by the mediterranean flavours. I had thawed chicken breasts waiting for me at home for the next day’s dinner, the perfect canvas to play! A little of this and a little of that and I came up with this tasty marinade that left the chicken flavourful and juicy.
1 cup plain yogurt (Balkan style or homemade)
1/4 cup seasoned feta cheese
2 TB greek seasoning (I used Club House)
2 cloves of garlic
Zest of one lemon
Juice of half a lemon
3 chicken breasts, cubed
In a bowl, mix first 6 ingredients. Add the chicken and marinate overnight. Skewer the chicken and bbq. Perfect with salad and grilled smashed potatoes.
Avocados and milkshake? I know, a weird combination. When I heard of it, I was skeptical. I had a couple of avocados that were really ripe and needed to be used right away. I was going to make my usual guacomole, but then our painter who was over, started talking about how wonderful avocado milkshake was. I didn’t think it would be good, but I was up for an experiment. Boy was I wrong! This drink was delicious and Q couldn’t get enough. Thanks J for the suggestion!
2 scoops of vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup milkBlitz in a blender until combined.
While running errands in the south end of town this weekend, we stopped for lunch at one of my favorite sushi stops – Kinjo! Kinjo is located on Macleod Trail, just south of Chinook Centre.
Kinjo is one of those rare places that you consistently get great food and great service. As we entered the restaurant, we were greeted with many hellos and friendly faces. Luckily we missed the lunch rush and were seated right away.
Although the owner Peter wasn’t there, Henry came over and made us feel welcome and brought over a little orange head for Q. The staff made a conscious effort to take care of all of us, even our toddler, which was much appreciated. The waitress even brought over chopsticks wrapped in elastic for Q so that he could get an early start at learning how to use them.
We were brought a sampler sushi plate to devour while we ordered and our sushi came quick. The food was fantastic as always. The new thing we tried was the tempura avocado which was so good, we had to order a second plate.
I love that the staff at Kinjo are so accomodating. Other places, like Shibuya, could learn a lot from them. We went to Shibuya a couple weeks ago. Close to Centre Street on 16th Avenue, we ducked into the restaurant when Q showed signs of hunger. We knew the California Roll would do the trick and after peeling away the seaweed, he devoured the crab and avocado filling.
For the next round, we requested just the filling, no seaweed, which seemed to confuse the staff. Our waitress said that they wouldn’t know how to charge us so they couldn’t do it. When we told them that it was for Q, and that whatever filling they would use in a roll to just put in a bowl, they refused. The reluctance of the staff to accomodate us and the rolling eyes of the hostess definitely put Shibuya on the “stay away” list.
As for Kinjo, we will be back, many times over.
As much as I love cooking, sometimes after a long day at work, the last thing I want is to spend time in the kitchen. With a 20 month old though, its not always easy to grab some takeout that has the nutrition that is important in his diet. This is one of my favorite dishes and it’s a quick and easy dish to prepare. The starch from the orzo makes the dish creamy, like a faux risotto. Q can be moody about food, and things he likes one day can be something he doesn’t touch the next. This orzo is tasty and comforting and a dish that he never says no to. This dish is inspired by Ina Garten’s Baked Shrimp Scampi.
Garlic Lemon Shrimp Orzo
1 pound of peeled, deveined shrimp
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 green onions, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
grated lemon zest
juice of 1/2 lemon
4 TB butter
2/3 cup panko
1/2 cup orzo, cooked
Cook the shrimp in oil until almost cooked through. Add the garlic, onions, tomatoes, and lemon zest and stir. Add in the lemon juice, butter and panko and stir until mixture becomes thick. Add orzo and stir until combined.
It’s Stampede time in our beautiful city of Calgary, which means an abundance of pancakes, cowboy hats and country music. For 10 days, people come together to celebrate “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth“.
This past weekend, we attended the Ismaili Muslim Community Stampede Breakfast. Feeding nearly 5000, this is the 14th year of the annual breakfast. This year, the community partnered with the United Way of Calgary, and the Ismaili float was decorated to highlight the importance of high school completion for overall lifetime success
It was so great to have friends and co-workers join us at this event. Everyone enjoyed the pancakes, eggs and bharazi – an East African dish of pigeon peas in coconut curry. Since so many requested the recipe, I called up my aunt who is on the catering committee and she shared the recipe which is below. She is a genius at cooking and she was able to rattle the recipe off in seconds.
Bharazi (Pigeon Peas in Coconut Curry)
1 can of pigeon peas, drained
1 onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp green chilis, blended
1/4 tsp garlic
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 can of coconut milk
1/4 can of evaporated milk
Cook the onion in oil until softened. Add the tomatoes, spices and milk and cook until mixture starts boiling. Add peas and cook until curry thickens. Finish the dish off with a generous amount of cilantro.
Has it already been 2 weeks since my last post? The days just seem to be flying by and we are already in July! We are finally enjoying some wonderful summer weather and there’s no better time to do some grilling. Grilling at my house is a year round affair but nothing beats grilling fruit in the summer. My favorite is grilled pineapple, the bbq bringing out even more sweetness. While preparing Mahi Mahi burgers for dinner, I figured the best topping would be a grilled pineapple salsa. The combination of sweet pineapple, smoky roasted red peppers with a spicy kick was fresh and delicious.
And hey, if you have some extra grilled pineapple, spread some Nutella and sprinkle some nuts and you have yourself dessert!
Grilled Pineapple Salsa
Grilled pineapple, cubed
Roasted red peppers, chopped finely
Toss and serve!