Monthly Archives: May 2011

Summer fresh cocktail

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I’ve been on a bit of a margarita kick lately, and I was anticipating enjoying one on the deck today with the sun shining.

I started to get the ingredients out only to realize I was totally out of triple sec and cointreau. OK. Plan B.

6 ice cubes

1-2 tbsp elderflower concentrate

2 oz mandarin vodka

1 juicy lime

club soda

Add first 4 ingredients to shaker, shake and pour (including ice cubes) into large glass. Top with 1/2 can club soda and some mint sprigs.

It was clean, juicy and fresh tasting. Quite tart, it could be sweetened by adding some agave nectar to the shaker. I liked it this way though.

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Ruby Red Goodness

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I’ve been trying to find a balance between enjoying myself with food and drink and yet eating healthy and having plenty of detoxifying fruit and vegetables. Today I made a recipe from this interesting cookbook:
http://www.amazon.ca/reFresh-Contemporary-Recipes-Winning-Restaurants/dp/0470840846

Susar smoothie
serves 1
1 small beet
3 red apples
2 tbsp raspberries
ice

I used green apples instead of red since they were on sale and looked nice and hard.

There were 4 beets although this photo only shows 2.

Juice beet and apples. Crush ice in blender, add raspberries and beet and apple juice. I made about 4 servings, and we drank half with our leftover veggie soup from last night.

We loved it, but it did create a lot of clean up. Two appliances to clean instead of one. Jeff judged it the best juice we have ever made. Not sure I agree but it was very good.

Vibrant soup

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Vibrant soup

Serves 4-6

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, diced

2 garlic cloves minced

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced

most of 1 baggie tender carrots – I saved a few for snacking (for me and the dogs)

1 litre or 4 cups veggie or chicken broth (I always go organic on this)

1 large roasted red pepper

salt and pepper to taste

(leftover roasted jalapeno crema- recipe below from Bobby Flay’s Mesa Cookbook)

Heat olive oil in heavy pot, sweat onions for 5 minutes, add garlic, stir 30 second. Add sweet potato, carrots, broth. Cook 35 minutes or until tender. Add s&p, roasted red pepper, blend using immersion blender, potato masher, food processor, etc. Spoon into bowls, top with crema.

Note- I roasted jalapenos yesterday for a recipe from the Mesa cookbook and I had a red pepper in the fridge so I roasted that at the same time to justify the oven time. This recipe doesn’t really need the red pepper roasted, you could just add a raw chopped one at the same time as the carrots and sweet potato. Since I had leftover jalapeno crema I topped the soup with it when serving. Warning- 2 jalapeno makes a spicy crema. I also used the crema as a quick guac mashed with some avocado for blue chips later. I originally made it to accompany red chile honey glazed salmon I made for lunch yesterday.

Bobby Flay’s Jalapeno Crema – makes about 1/2 cup

1/2 cup crema, creme fraiche, or sour cream (I used fat free sour cream and it was still great)

1 or 2 jalapeno chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped

Combine in food processor. Season with salt and pepper. Can be made and refrigerated up to 1 day in advance.

Today’s kitchen soundtrack: Red Hot Chili Peppers and Ray LaMontagne. Why am I not a musician? Oh right, no talent. Good thing I married some.

Drink margaritas when the sun shines

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The sun came out for a while today and we opened the pool. The sun made me happy and that made me want a margarita.

Classic margarita – serves 1

The usual suspects

1.5 to 2 oz good quality blanco tequila

1 oz cointreau or triple sec

1 very juicy lime use more if you need to. I like an oz of lime juice in mine.

sea salt and fresh ice – I use about 6-8 cubes. (if your ice is freezer burned it will ruin your drink. If you have any doubts about the ice, make new stuff or thoroughly rinse your ice cubes with fresh cold water.)

In a stainless mixer, add ice cubes, tequila, cointreau, lime juice, and a pinch of salt. I prefer to add a little salt right in my shaker as opposed to rimming the glass with it, but go with whatever you prefer. For me, this guarantees the right amount of saltiness in every sip. Shake it up, and pour it into your glass, including the ice. I use the ice I shake it with and don’t normally add any extra. This way, no good tequila is left behind.

Notes and tips

– this will be a strong drink. Don’t plan on driving or handling breakables afterwards. It can be watered down slightly with soda water, diet 7 or even perrier. If you are going to water it down you may prefer to use a more affordable type of tequila. If you follow the recipe, only the first few sips will have a lot of kick, as the ice melts it mellow.

– Cointreau or triple sec? Well, I did a taste test and triple sec is slightly superior tasting. That said, it’s quite a bit more spendy and the price differential doesn’t justify the expense. Better to save on the Cointreau and spend the cash on the best quality tequila you can afford.

– If I wasn’t using high quality tequila I would adapt this recipe to include other mixers.

– If it’s hot you can cool the glass off before pouring your drink into it. Place the glass in the freezer for 10 minutes or fill it with ice cubes and water for 2 minutes.

Halifax escape

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My sister and I have been kicking around the idea of taking a trip together for weeks! We’ve spent hours on talking about it, researching trips, pricing flights, and we just stop short of actually booking anything. The month long cloudy rainy weather has us in a down mood.

So we decided to stop procrastinating and book a room in Halifax. I had a few places in mind to stay but I decided to take a chance on Hotwire.com and book a room at a mystery hotel. I’ve used Hotwire in the past and haven’t been disappointed so far. We ended up staying at http://www.atlanticahotelhalifax.com/ and it was great. The room was good, as was the location, and it was really clean. We didn’t use the hotel pool and sauna. The only complaint we had was the heat in the room seemed to be from the 1960s and didn’t work that well. We called and a service person came quickly and got it working.

We spent a little time shopping at Biscuit, then we headed over to the Prince George Hotel to eat at their restaurant Gio. I’ve stayed at the Prince George many times, and always enjoy Gio. Actually, for years we hosted our company’s Christmas party, as well as attending quite a few weddings there so I’m very familiar with the hotel and I love it!

We started with some lovely bread with dried fruit and salted butter. For drinks we went with a watermelon martini for Marcie and a anejo margarita for me. We shared the lobster crab cakes as an appetizer and we both loved everything. The cakes were tender inside, crunchy outside, and stuffed with lobster and crab. Here’s a pic of my pretty sister with our starter.

That was followed by a dirty french vodka martini for me, and a mango mojito for Marcie. I loved both my drinks, and Marcie enjoyed her watermelon martini but we thought the mango mojito wasn’t everything it could have been. For our main, I had bibimbap, which is a korean dish. It was good but I was surprised that there was no kim chee garnish, and I have had better elsewhere in the city. I wouldn’t reorder it although I enjoyed it. 

Marcie had pan fried haddock with oven roasted sweet potato cubes.

We skipped dessert and walked around Granville Mall and Privateers wharf for a while, visiting shops and trying to stay warm.

For dinner we ate at the hotel since we were tired of venturing out into the chilly day. I don’t have pics of our meals, but here we are over green apple martinis.

The martinis were not as good as what I could have made at home, and their cocktail list was disappointing. Marcie tried another drink called the exotic after this one, and we sent it back and each had a corona beer instead. Our food saved the day there, we shared a beet appetizer and a scallop and beef dish. Both were small but thoughtfully prepared. The beet appy included an interesting little beet sandwich that was wrapped in phyllo. Delicious!

We spent the evening drinking wine and snacking in the room while we read magazines, chatted, and watched a movie, “Hall Pass”. Lots of fun!

We spent Friday shopping and visiting the Halifax Farmers market. I can’t wait to do this again.

Strawberry Rhubarb Mojitos

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Still no sun to be found. Things are starting to grow here regardless, and this flowering quince is thriving.

What is coming up like crazy is my mint! I love mint and the day it starts to grow I am out cutting it to use in my teas, both cold and hot, and pitchers of water with cukes or lemons or cut up fruit. My favorite way by far to use it up is in mojitos. This week I saw fresh strawberries that smelled great, and a few weeks ago I spotted some rhubarb bitters in a specialty store and voila! A strawberry rhubarb mojito was born.

The ingredients

Makes one mohito

1 tsp agave nectar

1 juicy lime, squeezed into a glass- slice a few pieces off and throw into glass to get the rind oils in there for muddling

3 big sliced strawberries

large handful washed mint

muddle thoroughly using a good muddling tool- i like this one

It should look like this

Add 1 oz each of white and spiced rum

top with club soda (I’m out so I used Perrier- perfectly acceptable substitution)

toss in a few ice cubes and float the rhubarb bitters on top. I added 7 drops.

Hallelujah.

Change

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After 23 years in the same business, I’ve made a change.

Although a lot changed with that business and my role within it during that time, it was still a long time to spend anywhere and I welcome the freedom I now feel. I’m still figuring out what the change involves, and I’m going to take my time and enjoy the transition. Many things are in flux right now: our lifestyle, free time, fitness, relationships with friends and family, even our kitchen is undergoing a revitalization.

Tomorrow is my 21st wedding anniversary, it’s hard to believe we have been married that long. I feel grateful that I found such a great man to share my life with and I’m looking forward to the adventures that the coming years bring.