My Grandmother would make steak and kidney for my Father at least once during her visits to The Coast, much to my Father's utter delight. The only thing I remember about the experience is that at eight years of age I was far too young to appreciate the piquancy of kidney. I distinctly remember tucking the cubes of kidney firmly into my right cheek until I could be excused from the table and surreptitiously spit them into the cat's food bowl.
A pox on their houses! I can easily make quarts of the stuff for a small investment of bones from the butcher shop and a little time and energy.
I scrubbed and scrubbed the grill, plastering myself with cast-off grease and debris in the process, and then fired up the gas in the hope that a half hour of high burn would kill any remaining bowel twisting bacteria but what I didn't notice was the sorry state of the coals. All that was left of them was a few ghosts of BBQ's past and a whole lot of empty space. I threw the yogurt marinated chicken breasts on the scrubbed grill and hoped for the best. It soon became apparent that the lack of evenly distributed heat was impeding the cooking process and with thoughts of killing My Love before things ever really got started I plucked the chicken breasts off the grill onto a clean plate and finished them under the broiler.
The Beloved is still alive to talk about it and no adverse reactions have ever become evident so I think I made the right decision. Ever since then I've been looking at recipes for things that I can cook that will be unusual and can be safely transported without need of a catering truck housing a full refrigeration unit. I've begun to build up quite the repertoire. Now if only the weather would play ball.
This past weekend I wanted to have a dinner picnic on the beach with votive candles, warm blankets, fabulous food and Him but the weather didn't co-operate. So we ate indoors but it wasn't quite the same. I'm very happy with the toasted bulgar salad however.
Doctor Freud, oh dear Doctor Freud, how did I miss the closure of the best place in downtown Vancouver to have a latte, and almond croissant and an opportunity to gaze at the hustle and bustle of Georgia Street? Sen5es at the Hotel Georgia is no more.
Here's a tissue, tell me all about it.
I was there the first week with The Realtor on one of our Friday excursions and still remember the rich, full bodied latte. A revelation in taste compared to the wimpy, thin, bitter beverage that too often passes for coffee at the mega monoliths to complacent consistency dotted on every available street corner. Consistent they are but something to savour? Non.
Instead the concoction set before us spoke of the richness of soil, the technique of the master roaster and the sure, firm hand of a barista. Not to be confused with the kid who presses a button on the electronic, computerized espresso machine and jams the milk jug onto the steam spout before slopping the boiling hot milk into the cardboard cup and shoving the entire thing at you over the counter in a manner so fierce that you have to jump back before a tidal wave of liquid sloshes over the top and runs rapidly over the countertop and threatens to ruin your new boots that you've just forked over half a month's pay for.
Calm down and take a deep breath. It's only a cup of coffee. Now if you had been obsessing about something like a cigar.
A cigar? Pull yourself together Doctor. Are you insane? Smoking would dull my palate. Besides it wasn't only the coffee. It was the almond croissants. They had to be the best damn almond croissants that I've ever tasted. They didn't skimp on the almonds. Know what I mean? And you could taste real butter. They didn't use vegetable shortening to cut the butter content. Those babies were flaky, buttery and filled with lots and lots of real almonds. Not some disgusting almond flavoured Crisco with gritty sugar like I've had somewhere else that will remain nameless (may their pastry people fry in Hell). They were so damn good that if you didn't get there early you would have to battle coiffed matrons for the final croissant and let me tell you those rings they wear can really do a job on your hair once they've got a hold of you.
I think we are digressing here. Perhaps you will be glad to know that Sen5es hasn't disappeared completely from the Vancouver scene. You can still find your almond croissants at Thomas Haas Fine Chocolates & Patisserie at 998 Harbourside, Suite 128, North Vancouver.
Yes! Yes! I remember Mr. Haas. A genius with chocolate! A divine being who takes prosaic ingredients and turns them into items of culinary delight. He was there Doctor, that first time The Realtor and I were at Sen5es. He asked us how every thing was! His wife was behind the counter! They had just opened! But North Vancouver! Cross the Lions Gate Bridge! Before I've had coffee...(mumble, mumble, mumble)
Ah, lazy Sunday’s after you and your love have finally rolled out of bed and begin to contemplate the overwhelming need for coffee and sustenance. The choices of venue, the menu offerings, music, dress code, crowds, service quality --- so many things to take into consideration before the final decision can be reached.
Last Sunday found us at Ouisi Bistro although not for the first time. The reason? The fact that brunch was available until 3:00pm certainly factored into the equation. The fact that it was within walking distance was another. The fact that it was after 1:30 and we’d probably get a table right away was a bonus. But most importantly the food is very good and the prices reasonable.
Actually that's not quite right, I'm terribly busy with too many projects on too many burners. Therefore I've been neglecting my bread baking duties and restaurant reviews both of which I now intend to remedy.
Pizza, what can be said about that glorious food which can be so easily made inedible by so many in countless hole-in-the-wall shops around the city. Not that I'd even begin to contemplate setting foot in any of these establishments --- the high dirt/bacteria factor under the counter staffs' fingernails as they rake the greasy curtain of hair from their eyes is enough to put me off without having to look at the greasy specimens glistening sweatily under the heat lamps.
No, far better to search the city for places like Lombardo's or The Firewood Cafe.
There are times though when the urge to create and get down and dirty with flour takes over and in the interests of that I offer the following in round 2 of pizza dough at lotuslandeating.
As you can see in comparison from aseret_black's earlier photograph the consistency of the second dough was much different. This was not a mistake due to poor measuring. The dough was definitely wet, although by no means sloppy. Over the course of the three days it was in the fridge I did punch it back a couple of times to keep it under control. I had to. I had mis-measured the yeast. There, I admitted to it. It still worked out.
I've always used either traditional active dry yeast from Fleishchmann's or if I know that I'm in for a serious round of bread baking fresh yeast that I get from my friendly neighborhood baker. But now that my friendly neighborhood baker has pulled up shop and moved I've had to rely on the dried variety. I activated one tablespoon of the yeast in 1 /4 cup of warm (95 - 115F) water with some of the honey to feed it and then after it had been proofed I added it to all the liquid ingredients and the remainder of the honey and carried on.
The dough was fairly stiff to begin with but after the second rise it was elastic and flexible and a joy to work with. I like my crust fairly thin sometimes and so I found that Kevin's directions to roll half of the dough out into a 12inch diameter to be a little heavy for me. I could actually get 2 pizzas out of half of the dough.
Behind the cut you'll find the finished results and the pizza dough recipe
We've just subscribed to A Year in Bread
After all the first project is pizza dough and who in their right mind could resist that temptation. Pictures and stories to follow.
For some reason I've been thinking about pancakes today. Not just the regular fluffy buttermilk pancakes but something a little more exotic but still with a down home flavour. After all, how exotic can a pancake get and not become something pretentious and overdone. Pancakes should be all about Saturday and Sunday mornings with a pot of strong coffee, a crock of whipped butter and endless supplies of real maple syrup from
Oatmeal Pancakes with blueberries are sounding mighty good right now.
2 cups oats (regular or quick cooking, not steel-cut and not instant)
3 cups buttermilk
3 eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 Tbsp peanut oil
1 - 1 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or if frozen thawed and drained
Butter or extra vegetable oil for the griddle
1 Put oats into a large bowl, add the buttermilk. Let the oats soak in the buttermilk overnight.
2 Mix in the eggs, flour, baking powder, salt, and peanut oil.
3 Then proceed as with any pancake recipe. Heat a flat iron surface - griddle or large pan - to medium high heat. Oil the pan with either a Tbsp of butter or vegetable oil. Ladle the pancake batter onto the griddle to the desired size, usually about 5 or 6 inches wide. Drop some blueberries carefully over the top of the pancake but don't use too many. Less is more when it's a toss up between wet and soggy pancakes and just the right amount of fruit.
When air bubbles start to bubble up to the surface at the center of the pancakes (about 2-3 minutes), use a flat spatula to flip them over. When golden or darker golden brown, they are done. Note that cooking the second side takes only about half as long as the first side. And the second side doesn't brown as evenly as the first side. Serve immediately or keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.