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. Herb Baked Chicken with Artichokes
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
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.
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.
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.
Then I had a dish of this.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!Then 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.Add the filling to the pastry shell and seal it all up fancy like.Then devour. Make sure to tell the kids there’s booze in there so that you don’t have to share.Just kidding! He’s 20 now so he can enjoy the awesomeness that is bourbon.
Make Peach Bourbon Pie Now (Gimme Some Oven)
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.
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:A short hour later they were literally transformed into Borscht.
Some lovely KolrabiWhich got made into fritters.A tasty Artichoke and Chicken Dish to help use up all those homegrown herbs.A 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.And to prove it’s not all about the food, some dark purple gladiolus to remind me of warmer days.Thank 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.
Almost as soon as I began harvesting beets to eat from our garden, the kids started requesting home made borscht. They sat in silence as I explained that the beets I planted weren’t the dark red kind but striped or ‘candy cane’ beets. They are equally delicious and less messy than regular beets but would probably make one strange looking bowl of borscht. I finally gave in a bought a bag of red beets from the Market on MacLeod yesterday, along with lovely purple cabbage and some very new purple potatoes. Then I searched for fresh dill all over the market before I realized there was none to be had. There were bags of small cucumbers to make into pickles and some really nice fresh garlic but no dill. I ended up going to the grocery store in the end because borscht is just not the same without dill.
Last night was a very late dinner night, as most are during the week. Hubby and kid number two are busy at karate on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:45 to 8:30 and kid number one has football every night of the week. Both sports are very demanding and it is difficult for them to eat a large dinner before all that physical activity. So they just end up having a quick snack when they come home from school and we all eat much later, around 9 pm most nights. Having dinner so late in the late fall and winter complicates taking food photographs. Sigh. It’s almost time to set up the soft light box again.
I did alert everyone that tonight was borscht night so they were all looking forward to the treat when they got home. Apparently it was the subject of much discussion on the ride home. Kid number one had just ordered borscht in a restaurant on the weekend and was pretty happy with it although it was pureed, smooth, and creamy. They all agreed that they prefer their borscht chunky with a thin broth, just like I make it. Borscht doesn’t take much time at all to make so really it is something we should all enjoy more often.
There are so many charities and causes competing for our attention these days that it’s difficult to focus our attention on just one. In this social media driven world attention spans are short and ‘down time’ is a precious commodity. How many of us are so truly passionate about a cause that we can take the time to fully focus and share our passions with others? If you think about it, chefs do this all the time. Sure, they sometimes get lost in the daily monotony; the cycle of preparing and serving food on a grand scale, but there are also moments of passion when they can truly take a moment to wonder about, and appreciate the food sitting in front of them. The taste of grass fed beef, the freshness of local fior de latte, the sustainability of the ocean’s fisheries.
Wait. Fisheries? Do chefs really have time to think about fisheries? Chef Ned Bell, executive Chef at Yew Seafood & Bar (Four Seasons Hotel, Vancouver), does. He’s currently on a cross Canada cycling journey, the Chefs For Oceans tour to raise awareness and promote sustainable fish choices using Sea Choice and the Vancouver Aquarium’s ‘Ocean Wise‘ program. With the heavy volumes of fishes, bivalves, and crustaceans consumed across Canada (and the world) daily, both programs recognize the need to maintain current research on fisheries, manage consumption based on the same research, and educate the restaurant and retail industry to help them make sustainable fish choices.
What is this word ‘sustainable’? In regards to fisheries it means that the fish caught (or farmed) and consumed was of an abundant and resilient species and that it was caught in such a way as to have little or no effect on other species or the aquatic environment. That’s a pretty tall order. The Ocean Wise and Sea Choice programs make it easier for businesses and consumers to make informed decisions about which fish to cook for dinner and aim to ensure that we’ll have seafood for generations to come. As the executive chef of a West Coast seafood restaurant, Ned Bell’s passion for promoting sustainable fish choices is strong and definitely worth riding 8766 kilometers for.
Chef Ned Bell is not the only chef passionate about sustainable seafood. Here in Calgary we have over 21 restaurants taking part in the Ocean Wise program, that is not including Canada wide chain restaurants such as Ric’s Grill, Earls, Moxies, Joey’s, Milestones, and Original Joes. Think of the volumes of seafood these places go through and you have an idea at how successful the program is becoming.
Yesterday afternoon I had the privilege to attend the Chefs For Oceans Calgary media event held at River Café. We began by taking a group photo of some of the most passionate-about-sustainable-seafood chefs in Calgary, and then watched as Ned Bell got ‘white hatted’. Which means (keeping it short and sweet) that Calgary loves him.Then we all made our way to the River Café for an afternoon of discussion with great food and wine. Chef Kyle Groves (Catch Oyster Bar), Chef Paul Rogalski (Rouge) joined River Café chef, Andrew Winfield in a delicious Ocean Wise amuse bouche collaboration.
Ocean Wise Yellow Fin Tuna with Oranges and Paprika Gastrique from Chef GrovesLobster ‘Tea’ with pearls of dill and cream from Chef RogalskiMarinated and Grilled Humboldt Squid with Fennel Salad and Sea Urchin Roe Bottarga from Chef Winfield
The warm hospitality of River Café was welcomed on such a chilly day. If you’ve never been, it’s an experience like no other; kind of like heading to a cabin on a lake but with world class food and service. I was glad that Ned was getting a day of rest and that he didn’t have to ride in this chilly rain through the Rocky Mountains. He did leave Calgary this morning and has a few more stops and a whole mountain range ahead of him before he gets to enjoy his own bed again on September 12.
Good luck Ned!
Sometimes it’s difficult to get inspired. Sometimes I have so much food in the refrigerator and so many ideas for it floating around in my head that I just panic and end up procrastinating. Then I stop and think; is this a problem? How lucky am I that I have a refrigerator full of food to use however I chose? I do remember being a kid and being taught to clean my plate fully at each meal. It was hard not to argue with the ‘clean your plate or we’ll send it to the starving kids in Africa’ routine. It did teach me to be thankful for what I have and I hope that I’ve passed on this thankful attitude to my kids but in a different way, without the ‘Africa’ guilt trip. Certainly they’ve eaten many kinds of food from around the world in my kitchen and have been well adjusted and less picky because of it.
Summer’s bounty has made my refrigerator even more full. I’ve got all sorts of stone fruits, apples, melons, and berries just waiting to be eaten. Once this Summer Berry Galette with Lemon & Thyme showed up on my twitter feed I just couldn’t get it out of my head. At least now I knew what to do with the berries! A galette is much easier and way more forgiving to make than a pie. I find that the more rustic it looks, the better. So if you not a ‘pastry’ person this galette is perfect for you and how lucky that it tastes amazing too!
Summer Berry Galette (from Will Cook For Friends)
For the crust:
1 1/4 cups all-puprose flour, lightly measured, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup unsalted butter, thoroughly chilled and cut into cubes
1 TBSP turbinado sugar (or regular granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3-4 TBSP ice cold water, as needed
1/4 tsp. almond extract (optional)
1. Add the flour, sugar, and salt to the food processor, and pulse a couple of times to combine. Add the butter, and pulse until it is cut roughly into almond-sized pieces. Add 3 TBSP of water, and the almond extract, and pulse again to distribute the water evenly.
2. Dump the flour mixture into a bowl, and use your hands to press and squeeze the dough until it starts to hold together. If necessary, add the remaining TBSP of water.
3. Once the dough just holds together, shape it into a ball, and place on a sheet of plastic wrap. Flatten the dough into a disc, about 1 inch thick, and wrap it tightly. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Can be made up to a few days in advance.
For the filling:
1/4 cup almond flour (or whole almonds, toasted then ground in the food processor)
8 TBSP turbinado sugar (or regular granulated sugar), divided
1 pint each of fresh blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, or raspberries (or a mix of any other berry that is in season), to equal about 4 cups
zest of 1 lemon
1 TBSP corn starch
1 TBSP fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
1 egg, lightly beaten
For the galette:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the almond flour and 3 TBSP of the sugar. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine the berries (washed and dried, strawberries hulled and cut into quarters), lemon zest, corn starch, and remaining 5 TBSP of sugar. Remove the leaves from the thyme and chop finely, then toss in with the berries.
4. On a well floured surface, roll the dough to about 12-14 inches in diameter, and about 1/8th inch thick. Carefully transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
5. Spread the almond flour mixture evenly onto the center of the disc of dough, leaving a boarder of about 2 inches around the edge. Pile the berry mixture on top of this, then fold the edges of the dough over the berries.
6. Brush the edges of the dough with the beaten egg, and optionally, sprinkle with a little extra sugar.
7. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the berries are bubbly. Your time may vary so check on it periodically until the crust is a nice golden colour.
To be honest you could make this galette with any fruit and not be limited to just berries. I bet it would be great with apples, pears, or some peaches. You could experiment with using different herbs for those fruits or leave them out completely. I found that having that flour/sugar mixture lining the pastry was great for soaking up juices and keeping that crust nice and crispy. This galette didn’t last long in our kitchen…no food wastage in this case!
food lover, food maker, food dreamer