YYC Pizza Week Food Bloggers Pizza Challenge – Please VOTE!

Hi All! YYC Pizza Week is officially upon us and to kick it off several Calgary Food Bloggers have made pizzas to be judged by family, friends, and YOU…the public!

I made my pizza the day my daughter turned 16 and she is definitely an inspiration to me! And so, may I present to you….

Sweet 16 pear chestnut pizza

 

An autumn style dessert pizza inspired by my ‘Sweet 16’ year old daughter. A little bit nutty, a little bit sweet, and a whole lotta cinnamon sass.

The SWEET 16 pizza begins with a chestnut flour base with just the right amount of chew. The ‘sauce’ features our core ingredient ‘chestnut purée’, mixed with dulce de leche and spiced with cinnamon. The sauce is topped with candied cinnamon pear slices and roasted hazelnuts. Finally, cinnamon chocolate is shaved over the top.

I would be absolutely thrilled if I would have YOUR vote. Please head to YYC Pizza Week Food Blogger Pizza Challenge to vote.

chestnutpizza

Bison and Sweet Potato Chili with Harissa and Sumac

I haven’t been ‘home’ in a good long while. I’m thinking of the place I grew up, a mixed farm in central Saskatchewan. Right now I can feel (and smell) the nip in the air and watch the leaves that are falling almost as if I were there. Tomatoes have been harvested (while still green) in anticipation of first frost and now lay in boxes beneath my mom’s bed. They ripen while she sleeps. Root veggies are the last to be harvested. I talked to my brother the other day and he was excited to tell me that he and his wife harvested their first crop of potatoes and the potato bin is filled and overflowing. The farmers are working night and day, except during the hours of dew fall, to get their crops off before snow fall.  The earth has given up its seasonal abundance and we are thankful.

The last time I was home it was cold enough to transport frozen Bison in a cooler for 10 hours. It was still frozen when I placed it in my freezer, where it stayed until the day I remembered to take it out to thaw. Today I had a craving for chili so I thought a pound of ground bison would be just the base to start with. I didn’t want to just make my usual version and I had some ‘more interesting’ spices that I wanted to use to change it up a bit. When I found sweet potatoes at a really great price at our local Co op store, I knew they would also be part of my ‘chili’. Back at home, I searched for chili recipes including sweet potatoes and got quite a few results. Then I tried to throw harissa and sumac into the search mix and got fewer results. I found a recipe for a North African soup and realized that I could add those flavours to my chili.

001Basic Ingredients minus the spices

I began by sauteing the onions with the spices until they were softened then I added the minced garlic, red peppers, and the ground bison. It took a while for the bison to brown but after that was done I added the tomato paste, peanut butter and chunks of sweet potato. I left it to cook on low for a bit, then added the tin of diced tomatoes, sriracha, and lemon juice. Once the sweet potatoes were softened enough I added the final ingredient, chickpeas. If you would like extra heat, serve with cilantro and more harissa.

bisonstew

Bison ‘Chili’ with Sweet Potato, Harissa and Sumac

Ingredients

1 TBS olive oil

1/2 large onion, diced small

1 1/2 tsp harissa

1 tsp sumac

1 TBS ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tiny bomb peppers; sliced into slivers

1 pound minced bison

1 ½ tbsp tomato paste

2 tbsp peanut butter

1 sweet potato; cut up into cubes

1 tbsp sriracha (garlic/chili paste)

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 (16 oz) can diced tomatoes

1 can chickpeas

Salt and pepper

cilantro


bisonstew2

Flanken Cut Beef Ribs Pulo Style- Sponsored Post

Lately, there’s been much ‘to do’ about sponsored posts in the blogosphere. Recent articles written by Marcy Massura ( How the Blogger Killed Herself Off) and Dianne Jacob (It’s Official: Readers Don’t like Sponsored Posts) have been at the forefront of the discussion and I agree with many of the things (against sponsored posting) that they say. For example, I don’t feel that many of these ‘regular reviewer’ bloggers disclose their actual opinions of the free products (they have reduced credibility to me) and often I do see these blogs as ‘sell outs’.  The reality is that these types of blogs do have a large following which is why they get chosen to promote products on a regular basis.  As a reader if I happen upon a blog that is nothing but product reviews or product placement and contests, it doesn’t take long before I’m out of there. Nobody likes commercials breaking up their favourite TV show so why would they want to read nothing but these ‘ads’ on a blog?

As a blogger I understand the temptation. Who doesn’t want to gain lots of followers and blog exposure? I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t feel anything when my follower count increases (it is thrilling to be recognized for something you enjoy doing) but I work really hard to make sure that I gain exposure for the right reasons. I may be a bit old fashioned but I still want to see people enjoying my food or going out to a restaurant because my blog post has led them there.  On the very odd chance that I do a product review you will know exactly what I think of it.

Is it interesting that I’ve chosen to begin this Pulo Cuisine product review with that introduction?

This is one of those rare times that I actually was sent something to try out and in this case everyone who applied via Food Bloggers of Canada was sent the product. I applied because I know absolutely nothing about Filipino cuisine and figured that this was a good chance to try out unknown flavours. I bought some of the sauces and marinades before receiving the shipment and  my daughter make meatballs with one of the marinades. They were okay, but I insisted that she added more ‘fresh’ ginger, garlic, and other ingredients to pep the sauce up a bit.

After I received the productss I wanted to use one of the marinades as intended as a baseline flavour test.  This gave me a chance to taste the flavours of the marinade in a simple, uncluttered way. These flanken style beef ribs were marinated for about 6 hours in the Lemongrass Atsuete sauce and I still had a difficult time distinguishing the marinade flavour. Maybe chicken would have been better but to be perfectly honest making a marinade is not all that difficult and a bottled sauce is never as good as fresh ingredients.

puloribs

This is definitely a case of me being excited to try a product and the product not meeting me expectations. The sauces were not horrible or repulsive, they were just okay.

puloribs2

I’m going to continue to try out the product but for now…the jury’s out on Pulo Cuisine sauces and marinades.
Afterthought: Everyone has the right to blog how they like and to find that niche that works for them. I only know what I like to read on a blog and what I am comfortable with as a blogger.

Herb Baked Chicken with Artichokes

There was a time when a package of chicken pieces in the fridge started to freak me out around 4:30 pm. I’d open the door and there they’d be; plain, unadorned chicken pieces just sitting there waiting to be marinated.  By the time dinner rolls around it’s too late to marinate and who likes to eat plain chicken anyway?

I seem to have hit upon a great solution for this procrastination dilemma. This herb baked chicken with artichokes tastes like I’ve been slaving in the kitchen all day. In reality I just shoved it all into the pan and baked it in the oven while we were at football practice. It’s super easy, hands off, and tastes great. 001Herb Baked Chicken with Artichokes

Ingredients

8 mixed chicken pieces (or more depending on your pan and size of your family)

1/4 cup dijon mustard

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 medium onion; chopped

1 large clove of garlic; minced

3/4 can of artichoke hearts in water; chopped

1 handful of fresh tarragon; divided by half

1 handful of fresh thyme; divided by half

salt and pepper

chicken stock

Method

Mix mustard, vinegar and herbs and massage into chicken pieces.

Sauté the onions until they are translucent. Add the garlic then the chopped artichoke hearts. If you have some white wine you can de glaze here. If not, arrange the chicken pieces over top of the veggies. Add the rest of the herbs, salt and pepper. Pour in enough stock so that the bottom halves of your chicken become submerged. Bake in 375 F oven until the chicken is done.artichokechicken

 

 

Workshop Kitchen + Culture

It’s late and I’m wired so there’s no way that I’m going to bed anytime soon. I’ve just returned back to my comfy suburban home, ripped my pants off, and started to type. Now, I may be wired because I ended my evening ‘friends and family’ sneak peek at Workshop Kitchen + Culture with an espresso but I think that it’s more likely because I have just eaten some of the best food that YYC has seen in a long time. Chef/Owner Kenny Kaechele has had a hand in quite a few restaurants in this town…from The Living Room and Divino to The Ranche, West, Ei8ht, Tango Bistro, and Rouge. He’s lent his special creative touch to so many places and finally he has a place to call his own. Chef Kenny’s excitement, positive, and creative energy echoes throughout the menu with bursts of flavour and combinations that really sing…or rather, scream.

Those creative touches don’t end at the menu…the dusky, but comfortable space withing the Grand Theater is welcoming while at the same time being trendy in it’s own special way. Large tartan booth seats line the back wall and serve two purposes; one, the ultimate in seated comfort and two, they also absorb a lot of the sound throughout the dining room. This is especially important when you consider the kitchen is fully open to the dining area. While the restaurant was not filled tonight, I was there while it was full in the section nearest the kitchen and I could comfortably hear the server and my dining companion, Linda Garson. A complicated array of ropes, chains, and pulleys along the back wall give the space a ‘Forty Shades’ sort of feel which goes hand in hand with the dark walls, floors, and current tables. The furniture will change soon as the new order comes in, tables in a lovely ash colour will fit right in.  The large space on the other side of the grand hall entrance is much of the same; a mixture of small tables for two, long tables meant for larger groups which is great for the ‘sharing’ concept, and a couple of really cool ‘train style’ tables…complete with luggage.

All this creativity could easily just fly right out the front door and it would all be for nothing if Chef Kenny Kaechele didn’t have an amazing team that he could trust. His has a young and equally ambitious Chef de cuisine, Chris Lorenz (previously sous chef at Charcut), delectable pastry chef Alex Hamilton, General Manager Conrad Sawatzky, and Bar Manager Aaron Huizinga. Moving immediately backward for a moment…the liquor licence had not arrived in time for this evening but we were still able to sample a couple of Aaron’s creations sans alcohol. In addition to having house made sodas, the cocktails are purely flavour forward. If they taste that great without alcohol in them, one can only imagine what they will be like fully stocked. I love the idea of having house made syrups, herbs and aromatics, as well as some fun combinations using bitters.

And now for the food. Can I begin with dessert? No? Too bad.

yuzutart

Yuzu Custard Tart with Basil Gelée and Foraged Berry Sorbet; in this case the foraged berries were Haskap Berries

This tart was everything we had hoped it would be. Fresh, tart, and toe curling. Ditto for the Sorbet though I would add that I thought it had an amazing texture. What really blew me away though, was that Basil Gelée. Phenomenal! We also had a small sampling of the Root Beer Panna Cotta, with ‘sparkling’ crumb…like pop rocks. I expected it to be much sweeter than it was and again, the flavour was outstanding.

Now back to the beginning. This pork belly was definitely en point. I could have sworn the ‘noodles’ were green apple but they turned out to be slightly pickled jicama.

porkbelly
Ancho and Sasparilla Glazed Pork Belly with Lime, Jicama and Peanuts 

Then I had a dish of this.

polentashrimp

Soft Polenta with Poblano Peppers, Shrimp, Salsa Verde, and Fried Egg

But I did share and because I shared, I got to try some of Linda’s starting dishes as well. Isn’t it great to share?

curedtrout

Gin and Juniper Cured Trout, Sweet Potato Croquette, Green Apple Remoulade

And if Chef Kenny can get me to eat cauliflower…well that IS something.

cauliflower

This ain’t no first date food. Spiced and Fried Cauliflower with a Garlic, Green Olive and Harissa Aioli.

Can you believe we still had room for a main? And two ‘little extras’, of course.

arancini

Arancini with Fior de latte (tallegio on the menu) and Savoy Cabbage

For our second ‘extra’ we had the Grilled Celery Root with Crispy Chicken Skin, Blue Cheese, and Charred Leek Purée. It was really like nothing I’ve ever had before but unfortunately it did not photograph well for me.

And finally what was probably the dish of the night for the two of us.

curedchar

Chickpea Miso Cured Sablefish with Bacon Compote, Celeriac two ways

Are you still with me? Now for some details. Workshop is expected to be fully open on Monday, September 22.  The plan is to have the à la carte menu as well as a 3, 5, or 7 course option for dinner and a 3 course lunchtime ‘business’ lunch which gets you fed and back to work in an hour. Eventually the top floor will be added with more of a lounge type vibe and they already have several catering jobs lined up for the very near future. Chef Kenny also mentioned that there may be a plan for a ‘midnight brunch’ seating for late night types and featuring local chefs and foodie gadabouts. He is looking forward to an always busy, thriving atmosphere and you know what? I think he’s going to get just that.

Workshop Kitchen + Culture

608 1 St SW, Calgary, AB

403-266-7062

workshopcalgary.com

Bourbon Peach Pie

Oh dear. I can’t believe I almost totally forgot to write a post for what was probably the best pie I have ever eaten. I got so excited that I shared it multiple times on any social media outlet that I could, in between bites of pie….until it was all gone. If you are following me on Facebook, it was there. If you follow me on Instagram, oh yeah it was definitely there. This pie even made it to Twitter (see what I did there?). But then I saw a post from ‘Rolling Spoon‘ blog and being that it was about bourbon peach hand pies…well I kind of got intimidated and forgot about posting this beauty all together.bourbonpeach

If you think about the seasons and all the produce available for pies you can appropriate each fruit/vegetable by order of availability throughout the season. Rhubarb is a popular Spring choice, followed by Strawberry, then Raspberry’s and any other berries. In mid-late summer we get the stone fruits: Apricots, Plums, Nectarines, and Peaches. Peach pie is one that I’ve made maybe one time but now that I know peaches pair so well with bourbon (and it was an Oprah ‘light bulb moment’)…this pie will become a yearly tradition.

I bought a bottle of Knobb Creek Bourbon shortly after we returned from New Orleans. There are quite a few Southern cocktails that involve the liquor and they are so delicious! Of course it all makes sense now; peaches are also considered a ‘Southern’ thing and I always say that a food’s natural proximity to another food often creates a natural pairing. Bourbon and Peaches. Do it!

Begin with the pastry. I used the same pastry recipe as I used in my Blueberry Lattice Pie with Lemon Zest and Spruce Tips because it works well for me. If you have your own favourite pastry recipe by all means use it!pastryThen pit the peaches and cut them up into relatively even pieces. Mix up the filling using this wonderful recipe from Gimme Some Oven. I swear, even looking at it today is making my mouth water.peachesAdd the filling to the pastry shell and seal it all up fancy like.peachpieThen devour. Make sure to tell the kids there’s booze in there so that you don’t have to share.097Just kidding! He’s 20 now so he can enjoy the awesomeness that is bourbon.

Make Peach Bourbon Pie Now (Gimme Some Oven)

Ingredients

  • 5 cups thinly sliced (and peeled, if desired) peaches (about 6 or 7 medium)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour (or thickener of your choice)
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 c bourbon
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • milk and sugar, for crust

Plus an empty pie shell, enough for a double crust. Use your own recipe or get one here.

How to do it:

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour (or thickener of your choice. I think I may use cornstarch next time), white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and lemon zest. Add the peaches and toss to combine. Add the lemon juice and bourbon, and toss until evenly coated.

Roll out the bottom half of the pie dough on a floured surface into a 12″ circle and put into a 9″ pie pan. Pour the peach filling into the pie crust and remember it’s okay to mound as the fruit will shrink slightly as it cooks. Cut the butter into small pieces and sprinkle evenly over the peaches (I forgot butter, it’s all good).

If using an upper crust, roll out the second half of the dough and place it on top of the pie for the upper crust. Pinch the edges of pie together, and shape into a ridge and scallop, if desired. Then brush the crust with a tablespoon or so of milk, and sprinkle with sugar. Use a knife to cut a few slits in the middle of the dough for baking. OR get all out fancy and make a lattice crust like I did on my Blueberry Lattice Pie.

Bake at 400 degree F oven for 30 min. Then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling. If the crust begins to brown too much, loosely cover it with aluminum foil while baking.

 

In My Kitchen September 2014

Sometimes things just don’t progress as you would expect them to; the way they’ve always happened year after year. I’m speaking right now about the seasons here in Canada, specifically Calgary. The kids have all gone back to school and the leaves were just beginning to turn yellow. We enjoyed a lovely weekend of football and outdoor activities….and then it was over. Calgary has already been placed into the icy grip of winter…with two weekends of summer still to pass. The green leaves on the trees have captured huge amounts of snow, causing the trees to bend then snap as the load becomes too much to bear. In word this early snow and absence of a proper fall is brutal. It is soul damaging. With 8 months of every year being winter and enduring freezing temperatures and darkness. Sound depressing? If you live in Canada you know exactly what I’m talking about.

We were just beginning to enjoy some autumn produce. I went for a purple theme here:veggiesA short hour later they were literally transformed into Borscht.

borschtSome lovely Kolrabi016Which got made into fritters.kohlrabifrittersA tasty Artichoke and Chicken Dish to help use up all those homegrown herbs.002A can of NED tuna signed by Ned Bell, a Vancouver Chef doing a cross Canada bike tour to raise awareness about sustainable seafood and Bob Blumer, Chef and Food Network Celebrity.005And to prove it’s not all about the food, some dark purple gladiolus to remind me of warmer days.002Thank goodness for Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. I know soon the weather will be heating up in Australia just as ours is cooling down here. I’m looking forward to hers and many more posts from the land down under so that I can live vicariously through them as the snow is blowing outside here in Calgary. If you would like to join us check out her September post of In My Kitchen.

 

 

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