Wild About Mushrooms at Hayloft Restaurant

There are plenty of restaurants in Airdrie; a small (but steadily growing) town North of Calgary. Many are mediocre chain type places that serve quick, efficient, but not necessarily tasty dishes. In recent years, Airdrie has become a bit of a ‘hub’ for American chains like Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Nathan’s Hot Dogs but there are also some really outstanding ethnic restaurants such as Paros On Main, Sushi Haru, and Thai Charm. What the town was really missing was a comfortable yet upscale spot with a menu that features all the best seasonal produce and proteins from local farmers and producers. Hayloft Restaurant’s Owner/General Manager, James Hoan Nguyen, wanted to pay homage to the agricultural history of the area as well as recognizing the potential in Airdrie’s close proximity to prairie farmlands. He found a chef, Jason Barton-Browne, who has the ability to take these simple, yet top quality ingredients and transform them into uncomplicated dishes with world class flavours. Truly having an appreciation for quality and sustainability, coupled with cultivating relationships with local farmers and producers, are of utmost importance in giving diners the ultimate experience of regional cuisine.

Recently I had the great fortune to be invited to Hayloft for a special dinner involving wild foraged mushrooms. I didn’t have all the information (because I was actually a plus one) so when I heard this special dinner was the kick-off to an entire educational weekend (sponsored and mediated by The Lodgepole School of Wholistic Studies) that celebrated the world of Fungi, I was ecstatic!  All day Saturday, there were to be medicinal mushroom workshops led by the wonderful folks at the Light Cellar in Calgary and renowned Edmonton herbalist Robert Rogers. Sadly, I wasn’t able to attend the Saturday sessions, but hubby and I went on the Sunday mushroom foray led by Robert and we were amazed with the diversity and knowledge that was shared that day. I’m going to do a separate post on the forage, along with a recipe for mushroom hand pies just because there is so much information to share.

Here are (more than) a couple of my thoughts on Hayloft Restaurant. This being a special event, I cannot comment on the regular menu items, but I will say that the dinner we experienced has definitely left me wanting to return for more.
hayloftcollage
The restaurant is somewhat difficult to find as it’s located within a condo complex but once you’ve enjoyed your first meal at Hayloft,  you’ll be glad you didn’t give up. Throughout the restaurant, the gorgeous heavy wood features like the front door (with the iron cow’s head bell) and the re purposed barn wood which decorates the main bar and kitchen pass come from the family homestead. There are country touches throughout, like an old wood wash stand which has been given new life as a record player stand, vintage mismatched china, and prairie flower arrangements. It’s just enough to make you feel like you are visiting your gran on the farm, but without the kitschy candy dish filled with 2 year old humbugs.
morelaranciniDrawing on his executive chef experience at Teatro Restaurant, Jason Barton-Browne began the dinner with an Italian favourite, arancini. These glorious deep fried balls of rice and cheese were a perfect vehicle to showcase our first mushroom of the night, the morel. Nestled on top of crushed sweet peas and mint, they were surely a sign of good things to come.
brothtortelliniOur next dish consisted of handmade cauliflower and mushroom tortellini over which a light mushroom and onion broth was poured. Light green drops of cilantro oil dotted the surface of the dish, enlightening the dish visually and lending a bright finishing note to the the flavour.
2016-08-05 001 061The Lobster Mushroom salad was served ‘family style’ on a large platter. The perfectly sautéed mushrooms had an intense seafood flavour, which was heightened by the snowy white salt cod purée below. The fresh mizuna greens were lightly dressed and added a bit of bitterness to the dish. I think people often discount how much adding a bitter element to dishes can really make a dish spectacular. Some of our dining party used the puffed wild rice crisps to scoop up the salt cod purée, while others decided that licking the platter was more effective.
chanterelleporkraguOur second ‘family style’ platter was heaping full of JBB’s amazing hand cut pappardelle. This tomato-free pork ragu had so much flavour, I was sad that I had to share it with my table mates. Pork ragu can be so rich and intimidating…it definitely needs an acidic element such as tomatoes or, in this case an acidic, but fresh gremolata. We enjoyed the tiny Saskatchewan chanterelles with a generous amount of shaved Mountain Grana Padano, and fresh pea shoots.
2016-08-05 001 074With yet another large family style placed before us, I was starting to feel a bit overindulgent. However, I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to try braised Maitake ‘Chicken of the Woods’ mushrooms for the first time. They were so meaty and delicious; the perfect wild mushroom to serve with grilled garlic scapes, roasted carrots, and perfectly seared Alberta beef sirloin.
mushroomdessertOf course, it’s not the end of a great meal…until dessert is served. I bet you are wondering if our dessert contained mushrooms and how…that would taste. Well, I’m pleased to say that yes, our dessert did contain mushrooms and it was very tasty, indeed. Dried and ground porcini mushrooms were mixed into the layer of chocolate ganache which sat upon the layer of cheesecake semifreddo. This dessert was rich and surprisingly, I didn’t mind the rich umami flavour that the porcini provided. It was all really well balanced by the dark sour Okanagan cherries and the port.

Hayloft Restaurant may be a bit of a drive from the usual Calgary city core hangouts but getting out of the city and enjoying a this bit of country flavour is worth it.


Hayloft Restaurant – website

5101 – 403 Mackenzie Way SW; Airdrie AB; 403-980-8123

 

Fairmont Banff Springs – A Rocky Mountain Culinary Destination 2

Most Canadians never want summer to end. We see so few snow free days, that we really try to make the most of the season. Getting out and being active in the Rockies isn’t just for winter. The world class summertime hiking, golfing, rafting, and mountain biking have become a draw for locals and tourists from other countries as well. Summer season at The Fairmont Banff Springs is high season and while it’s often difficult to book a stay during the summer, the Banff Springs welcomes hungry and thirsty travellers to dine among the 13 on site restaurants, pubs, and lounges. There’s something for every appetite, whether you’re looking for a more substantial meal (see previous post), lighter fare, or just pre or post dinner cocktails. There are several summer menu culinary options available at Fairmont Banff Springs, where the ‘lighter fare’ is anything but boring, it’s specifically designed to take you on a flavour journey…a ‘staycation’, if you will.

The Lookout Patio – Pick a gorgeous sunny, summer’s day and have lunch on the Lookout Patio, so named for the gorgeous views of the mountain valley. Chef Kate Symes has taken her love of Mexican cuisine and created a tempting menu filled with the spices and flavours of Mexico. Don’t worry, there are tacos, guacamole, and nachos but you will be pleasantly surprised at the unique flavours chef has captured in these dishes. Some notable dishes to try are the Rocky Mountain Trout Ceviche made from locally caught trout ‘cooked’ in a tequila cilantro vinaigrette and served on a tortilla chip, Charred Sugar Cane Chicken Skewers served with pickled red onion and cabbage slaw with mint green chile vinegar sauce for dipping, Carnitas Tacos with slow braised pork shoulder on a tortilla with salsa, pickled onion, radish, crema, cilantro, lime, and jalapeno, and to finish a Spicy Lime Cucumber, and Coconut Paleta. (Open Daily – 11:00am to Sunset, Weather dependent)lookoutcollage

Upper Rundle Lounge Back by popular demand at the Upper Rundle Lounge is the tantalizing Indian Summer menu inspired Vancouver chef Vikram Vij. Delhi born Chef Gaurav Gaba has always been fascinated by the combinations of Indian spices and enjoys layering flavours in his dishes over time. The Indian summer menu includes appetizers such as spicy veggie Subz SamosasAchari Paneer Tikka (a beautiful dish of cottage cheese with peppers, onions, pickled spices), Murgh Tikka, and chef’s favourite, Dahi Papdhi Chat (savoury discs topped with yogurt, tomato, onion, mashed potato). Each dish is a feast for your eyes, as well as your soul! There’s a great selection of traditional curries and even some sweets to end your meal. Do try the Pistachio Kulfi and Gulab Jamun, they are most recommended! Adding to the menu’s authentic flavour experience is the well equipped table side ‘Chutney Cart’ which delivers the accompanying chutneys, cucumber raita, and spicy pickles that complete every Indian table. (Open daily from 6:00pm to 9:30pm)rundleloungecollage

 Grapes Wine Bar – There are some that have declared Grapes Wine Bar to have the most interesting and appetizing charcuterie board selection in Alberta. On most evenings, this tiny space is filled with enthusiastic nibblers and sippers, intent on demolishing every last morsel of meat and cheese placed before them. Chef Tyler Thompson makes almost every item on the famous charcuterie boards in house including all the pickles, jams, chutneys, and mustards that accompany the great selection of cured and smoked meats and cheeses. Wild Canadian ingredients play a starring role in many of the items, such as in the Wild Boar and Cranberry Terrine, Elk Salami, Hot Smoked Rocky Mountain Rainbow Trout and Smoked Bison, just to name a few. Be sure to try one of the very popular Truffle and Parmesan Cheese Sticks from the ‘Flour and Water’ portion of the menu as they are baked on site at the hotel’s main bakery. (Open daily from 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm) grapeswinebarcollage
A Word About Drinks & Cocktails at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
Each of the 13 restaurants, pubs, and lounges have their own beer, wine, and cocktail lists. While there are similar selections at several locations at the Castle, there are certain drinks that appear only on a cuisine specific menu. For instance, the non alchoholic Banff Springs House Made Ginger Ale can be enjoyed at Stanley’s Smokehouse, The Rundle Lounge, and Upper Rundle Lounge. Cuisine specific cocktails can be found at Upper Rundle Indian Summer (Mandarin Sting, Spice of Jaipur, Alphonso Spice), The Lookout Patio (Margaritas, Daiquiri’s and Sangria), Samurai Sushi Bar & Restaurant (sake) If you would like to enjoy a beer or two, head to the Waldhaus Pub, where you can enjoy 100 ounces of your favourite brew in ‘das boot’. 1888 Chop House, Castello Ristorante, Waldhaus Restaurant, and Grapes Wine Bar all have extensive wine lists, while Rundle and Ramsay Lounges are the best places to find great cocktails. For that special ‘in room’ celebration, you can pick up a bottle of Canadian made wine at The Authentically Local Wine Store. There are a couple of great places to enjoy a latte or cappuccino while, the famous Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel Afternoon Tea takes place in the Upper Rundle Lounge every day from 12 pm-3:30 pm.boozecollage

 

Lemon Cardamom Layer Cake with Strawberries and Mascarpone

I only just realized that my grandmother had never really loved cooking when she moved into the seniors home and breathed a sigh of relief. I’m still a bit shocked, but not entirely. Now that I think back, I remember her being very rushed, always trying to get the cooking done and ‘out of the way’. It was always basic, but delicious and hearty fare; the best kind for feeding a large growing, farm family. With all the bread baking, pickling, preserving, and gardening, I don’t think she had much time for kitchen experimenting or recipe development. Birthdays were celebrated with a simple sheet cake or home baked pie, and nothing more because that’s what was expected. Life was much simpler back in the days when my dad grew up, the oldest of 6 kids, on a farm in the middle of nowhere Saskatchewan.

That hard work ethic was passed on to my dad who, by the age of ten, was driving the small farm tractor and helping out with farm chores. To those that aren’t farmers, the hard work and dedication of farming life often goes by unnoticed. There were times during harvest when I barely saw my dad for weeks at a time while he combined into the wee morning hours until the dew fall-finally signalled bedtime.

Now that he is retired (to be honest, farmers never retire…) he and my mom have been able to visit us in Alberta more frequently. I was ecstatic that they could be with us to celebrate their granddaughter’s graduation, since it was also my dad’s birthday, pleased to be able to finally be able to bake my dad a well deserved cake. I really wanted to go all out because man, does this guy have a sweet tooth! When I took it out of the fridge, he was so tickled that I had baked him a cake. With a big smile, he marvelled, “It has FOUR layers!” and then I realized he had probably never had such a cake, ever. My mom, while an amazing bread baker, just could never manage to bake sweets including, cookies, pies, and cakes.

dadandcakeI barely got in a photo with him holding the cake before he had the knife out. It’s a good thing I took some photos before they arrived…
strawberrycake

Lemon Cardamom Layer Cake with Strawberries and Mascarpone

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (250 mL) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (500 mL) granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) grated lemon zest
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla
  • 3 cups (750 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
  • 1 tsp green cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 1-2/3 cups (400 mL) milk
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 (16 oz./475 g) tubs mascarpone cheese
  • 3 lbs strawberries (depending on how nice they are…always pick the best ones for the outside!)

Mascarpone Cream – Mix two tubs mascarpone cheese with 4 cups icing sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cardamom.

Method

  1. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). Grease two 9 inch cake pans and line the bottoms with a round of parchment paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Continue beating and add eggs one at a time, then add the lemon zest and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, and salt.
  4. Stir 1/3 dry mixture into wet mixture, then add 1/3 milk. Alternate until the remainder of the dry ingredients and milk are gone. Stir in lemon juice to make the batter slightly curdle.
  5. Divide evenly between the two cake pans, filling no more than 2/3 pan.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester come out clean. Let cool on wire racks, then remove from pans.
  7. Halve cakes horizontally to make 4 layers.
  8. Whip the icing sugar and cardamom into the mascarpone cream.
  9. Drop about 1 cup mascarpone cream mixture in the centre of each layer (except top) and spread outward, leaving a 2 inch space of cake surface between the cream and edge of the cake.
  10. Hull and slice strawberries lengthwise and place them snugly against each other on top of the mascarpone cream.
  11. Place the nicest strawberries on the bare cake surfaces with the tips facing outward and sticking out slightly. Add the next cake layer. Repeat strawberry steps for each layer (except the top).
  12. Spread the cake top with the remainder of the mascarpone cream and arrange uncut strawberries on top, or decorate with edible flowers, etc.

dadscake1

Some thoughts on baking the cake…2 cups of sugar is A LOT. I knew the cake would be quite sweet, so I didn’t want the toppings to add even more sweetness. The mascarpone cheese worked well in this respect and had enough integrity to keep it’s shape. The cake is even better the next day…as cakes usually are.

 

 

A French Celebration at Cassis Bistro

Stepping into Cassis Bistro is like stepping into another dimension of time and place. For me, that time and place is May 2013 and our family trip to France. For the most part, I had carefully researched many tiny bistros to ensure that we had as much of an authentic ‘French’ experience as was possible. I found, during the course of this research that the French, for whom complaining is an acceptable past time (yet another reason I believe I was meant to be French) are both quite vocal about the decline in traditional restaurants and quick to latch on to the newest thing at the same time. They staunchly mourn the loss of the traditional bistros while standing in line for le sandwich Grec (gyro). Here’s an interesting take on France’s ‘globalization’ by David Lebovitz who is, an American living in Paris. In modern days, it seems that change is inevitable, but upholding traditional roots is even more necessary.

On Bastille day, an invitation to join others at Cassis Bistro in celebration of all that is French was an honour. Not only does this day celebrate the storming of the Bastille (in 1789) leading to the abolition of feudalism, but one year later, made possible the unification of the French nation or Fête de la Fédération. The moment I heard about the terror attack in Nice at the Promenade des Anglais, I was hesitant to attend the celebration but I realized that the courage and spirit of the French people could not and will not be crushed by these acts of terrorism. Now, more than ever we must remember the sacrifices of those that have gone before us and celebrate those that yet remain. 

And so, I bring to you, our French feast from Bastille Day at Cassis Bistro. It began in the best way with cornichons, chicken liver pâté, baguettes, butter, and a Kir Royale. cassisbistroThen we shared some duck rilettes because I am a HUGE fan of rilettes. To ease our digestion, a soft jazz duo played sets of soothing live music out on the tiny patio while black and white French films were projected onto a nearby wall. The servers were lively and accommodating, but most important of all, quick to suggest their favourite wines and keep our glasses filled. duckrillettesAt this point I realized that Linda Garson, Editor in Chief and publisher of Culinaire Magazine; Canadian wine examiner, etc.) was dining by herself at the bar so I invited her over to share our table (and her olive tapenade!) Later we were glad to reciprocate by sharing our small plate starter, Ravioli aux petite pois (ravioli with garden peas, fresh morels, brown butter, pea shoots, tomato confit) because that meant that we had more room for dessert.morelravioli

When our mains arrived, we realized that both Linda and my hubby had ordered the special of the day, Lapin a la Moutarde. This Alberta farmed rabbit arrived with a lively mustard sauce that paired so nicely with the rich rabbit meat.

rabbitI wished in the worst possible way to recreate my favourite French dining experience at Chez Dumonet by ordering the Duck Confit. It also came with the mustard sauce as the rabbit and duck are very similar in taste and richness. Thankfully my dish did not arrive with zucchini, but some delicious sautéed haricot verts and sliced potatoes. I found the duck a bit on the salty side so it might have been a touch over brined before being confited.duckconfit

Any celebration dinner would not be complete without something sweet. My chocolate éclair was memorable but hubby’s special cherry dessert was absolutely outstanding. It consisted a crown of house made lady fingers filled with crème pâtissière and topped with seasonal fresh cherries. The cherry sorbet and braised sour cherries were perfection. 
cassisdessert

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little teaser of French cuisine on my blog and if you want to have your own French dining experience, I am more than happy to recommend Cassis Bistro.

Cassis Bistro 105 2505 17th avenue SW; 403-262-0036

 

Fingerling Potato Salad with Pesto Crème Fraîche

There are two ways to say ‘potato’ but oh-so-many ways of making potato salad. There’s what I call ‘classic’ potato salad; the kind that shows up at family picnics and potlucks, laden with mayonnaise and not much else. It walks the edge of ‘food safety’ once left out on the picnic table for hours at a time so it’s always best to eat it right when it arrives. You might find the odd chunk of celery or carrot, though the only necessary additions (in my humble opinion) are boiled eggs and green onions. For those that eschew the classics in favour of a ‘safer’ salad, the neo classic vinegar based potato salad is a popular option. Fry up some bacon rashers, caramelize some onions and for the best flavour, let this salad sit in the dressing over night. It’s always better the next day.

Then, there are what I call the ‘odd ball’ potato salads. These are the kind that you don’t see that often at picnics, even though change is good (and most often welcome). We enjoyed a warm potato salad recently that was unlike any I had ever had. The tiny potatoes were roasted in the oven, then coated in mayo and cheese. It was not the sort of dish that I would make again, but it was comforting and tummy filling and I have to give our host points for trying something new. If you do a quick search for ‘potato salad’ on pinterest, it seems there’s always a new way to invent potato salad, whether it’s with warm spices from the Middle East, a bacon ranch loaded potato salad, or a dill pickle lover’s potato salad. As a fan of the tuberous starch, I’m game to try them all, but first I want to create my own version of the perfect potato salad.potatosalad2Once I received my bags of Earth Fresh fingerling potatoes (thanks Earth Fresh!), I thought about what would make my ultimate potato salad. I already had a batch of crème fraîche in the fridge so I knew I would be using it instead of mayonnaise or sour cream as a base for the dressing. Then I bought a bunch of fresh basil that I made into a pesto. The combination of the two, with some spring onions and slices of fresh green bean for colour was quite delicious. I learned a new trick too…if you boil the potatoes with a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar, the potatoes get a nice sour flavour that gives another layer of flavour the final salad.potatosalad

Fingerling Potato Salad with Pesto Crème Fraîche

(serves 6-8 people)

Ingredients

  • 1 680 g (1.5lb) bag EarthFresh Fingerling Gourmet Potatoes
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • handful of fresh green beans
  • 2 green onions; sliced diagonally
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan Reggiano; finely shredded
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic; roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche*

Method

  1. Wash the potatoes and slice the larger ones lengthwise. Place in a medium sized pot, add apple cider vinegar, and water until the potatoes are covered. Salt the water and boil until the potatoes are slightly under fork tender. Cool until the potatoes are room temperature.
  2. Blanche the green beans in boiling water for two minutes. Remove and immediately plunge into ice cold water so they keep their vibrant green colour. Slice them into smaller sized pieces.
  3. Make the Pesto- Place pine nuts, fresh basil leaves, Parmesan, salt and pepper, lemon juice, and garlic into a small food processor. Pulse until ingredients begin to come together then drizzle in olive oil with the motor running. You will only need a heaping tablespoon of pesto for the salad, so scrape out the rest into a jar for later use.
  4. Place potatoes, green beans, and pesto in a large bowl. Cover and shake so that the pesto is evenly distributed around the potatoes. Add the crème fraîche and give it another good shake. Alternatively, you could just shake the potatoes with the pesto, then drizzle the crème fraîche over top.
  5. Plate the salad then scatter the green onions over top.

*crème fraîche – can be bought or home made. It’s surprisingly easy to make and very versatile, all it takes is a bit of time. To make it, shake 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk vigorously in a glass container. Cover and let stand at room temperature  (about 21°C or 70°F) from 8 to 24 hours, or until very thick. Refrigerate up to 10 days.

potatosalad1

Like I said, there are so many ways to make a great potato salad. I’d love to hear your favourite way to enjoy this summer classic salad.

A Tasty Evening with BC Blueberries

Blueberry season has been in full swing for at least a month now and even though I am buying two boxes per week, my family still can’t get enough of ‘nature’s candy’. Blueberries have a particular allure to them, they aren’t too sweet and when they have just a little sourness to them, they are perfection. We eat them by the handful, over yoghurt and with granola for breakfast, in muffins, in crumbles, and in many savoury dishes as well. Blueberries are not just tasty treats, they are so good for you too! They are regarded as being a ‘superfruit’ which is extremely high in anti oxidants and have been known to reduce cardiovascular disease and loss of brain function (bcblueberry.com).  Just a half cup serving of blueberries can be the equivalent of one serving of your daily fruit and vegetables.

This year I had the opportunity to enjoy a fun hands on cooking event at Cookbook Co. Cooks with the BC Blueberry Council. Did you know that British Columbia is one of the world’s largest producers of high bush blueberries, with over 77 million kilograms grown annually? I just can’t get over the fact that 77 million kilograms of blueberries are grown in a coast BC region that is only 11,300 hectares, about 20 kms by 80 kms. Cooking with a bunch of blogger friends is definitely a lot more fun than cooking by myself at home and our ultimate goal was to sit down and share a delicious blueberry themed dinner together. Once we were divided into groups of 3-4, we stood beside one of three cooking stations with pre arranged recipes and ingredients all sorted out. 
007I gravitated toward the baking station, where I helped Julie van Rosendaal and Gwendolyn Richards make Dark Chocolate and Blueberry Scones. Actually ‘helped’ is a pretty loose term, as I ended up just chopping the chocolate into large chunks. Julie naturally took over as head scone baker and had them ready for the oven in no time. I’m pretty sure she could probably make scones in her sleep by now. julievanr

Our finished Dark Chocolate and Blueberry Scones were paired with a delicious Warm Berry and Thyme Compote.blueberryscone

So now that I’ve covered dessert, here are the other dishes we made that night…

blueberrysaladSpring Salad with Blueberry Balsamic Dressing

blueberrychickenButterflied Chicken Breast stuffed with Blueberry and Goat Cheese and served with a Blueberry Maple Sauce. 

Some of the industrious and talented blogger chefs creating our blueberry themed dinner:

blueberrybloggers

Justine (JustineCelina), Aadil  (Beltline Bites), Michelle (Cooking with Mama Mui), Chef Melissa Gorsedin,

Kate (The Archives of Cool), Stephanie (Clockwork Lemon), Sarah (From Stork to Fork), Denise (Sweet Peas and Saffron)

Dark Chocolate and Blueberry Scones with Warm Berry Thyme Compote

(recipe by Chef Melissa Gorsedin, Cookbook Co. Cooks)

Scones

Ingredients

  • 2 cups AP Flour
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4  tsp salt
  • 1/4  cup butter; chilled
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half cream
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate; chopped
  • 1 egg

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Cut butter into mixture of flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add blueberries and chocolate and toss to mix.
  3. In separate bowl beat together cream and egg, and slowly pour into dry ingredients, stirring with rubber scraper until dough forms. Knead just until it comes together, 3 or 4 times. Don’t over handle.
  4. Roll the dough out 1 inch thick and cut out rounds. If you like, brush the tops with milk or cream and sprinkle with sugar.
  5. Bake on ungreased sheet about 20 minutes at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Serve warm!!

Warm Berry and Thyme Compote

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 1 12 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp chopped thyme
  • 1 cup raspberries

Method

  1. Melt butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Stir in blackberries, blueberries, sugar and lemon juice.
  2. Cook until juices are released from fruit, about 14 minutes.
  3. Stir in thyme, then raspberries. Add more sugar and lemon juice to taste, depending on sweetness of berries.
  4. Serve warm with scones.

Here are some of my favourite Dish ‘n’ the Kitchen blueberry themed blog posts:

grapesalsa2

 

Blueberry and Grape Salsa 

 

 

 

 

pie3

 


Blueberry Lattice Pie with Lemon Zest and Spruce Buds

 

 

 

blueberryribs2

 

Blueberry Balsamic Braised Beef Short Ribs

 

 

 

084

 

 

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

 

Grilled Peach Fruit Salad with Burrata and Lime Basil Vinaigrette

I hate to be the party pooper, but as of today, summer is half gone! Can you believe it? I sure can’t. We really haven’t done that much at all and I know that I’ll regret not getting out there and camping once summer is gone. So here’ my chance to turn that around and become more inspired, live life to the fullest right? YOLO and all that jazz. Even though we don’t have the extra cash to get out to top attractions, go camping, or even go on a road trip to visit our families, we can still make the most of summer right out in the back yard on our sunny deck. We’ve been spending the beautiful evenings sipping local craft brews on our deck, hanging out with friends, and definitely eating as much as we can out of all that delicious summer produce.

Since blueberries have come into season, I’ve been buying two cases per week and the kids are snacking on them in lieu of candy. That says a lot about the quality of produce we are getting this year and I’ve haven’t even gotten started on how amazing the cherry season has been this year. I bough record sized Rainier Cherries the size of toonies just last week and the Bings have also been outstanding. Even though cherry season is coming to an end (and plums, apricots, peaches, and nectarines are taking over) I am expecting a 10 pound crate tomorrow. I’ll be making my yearly batch of preserved cocktail cherries which I much prefer to the neon pink monstrosities you buy in the store. Are those still even cherries?! 2016-06-24 001 050

Grilled Peach Fruit Salad with Burrata and Lime Basil Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 2 firm fresh peaches; halved
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup fresh cherries; pitted and halved
  • 1 fresh burrata
  • zest of one lime
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup fresh torn basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Method

Pre-heat barbecue on med-high for five minutes and give the grate a good clean with your brush. Place peaches cut side down onto the hot grate and leave for about 10 minutes or until they have softened up a bit. Remove and cool. Place lime zest, lime juice, honey, basil leaves, and olive oil in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Arrange fruit around burrata and drizzle vinaigrette all around. Enjoy! peachsaladpin1

This Grilled Peach Fruit Salad with Burrata and Lime Basil Vinaigrette makes the most out of the end this year’s early summer fruits and the beginning of the mid summer fruits at the same time. I grilled a few of the first peaches that I bought because they are still quite firm and easy to slice in half. They soften right up on the barbecue, with the heat releasing all the sugars hidden within the stone fruit. Add some pitted and halved cherries, some blueberries and whatever other fruits you have. You might think that the burrata is not necessary for a great fruit salad (and with the lime vinaigrette it just may be) but if you pick one up, you won’t be sorry you did. The addition of the fresh creamy cheese really elevates this salad to another level. We actually ate this salad as a main dish one evening. YOLO.

Burgers and Beer at Azuridge Estate Hotel

Azuridge Estate Hotel was built in 1997 as a 13 acre private oasis in the gorgeous foothills west of Calgary but was converted to a hotel in 2012. The location is quite secluded and peaceful; it’s the perfect place to take in the fresh air and majestic views while still enjoying all the comforts of home, and more.  Built across from the Priddis Greens Golf and Country Club, the estate is popular with golfers (with complimentary golfing available during a stay at Azuridge), hikers, skiers (both alpine and cross country), and those wanting to take part in the world class equestrian events at nearby Spruce Meadows. The facility offers 13  comfortable suites, gorgeous manicured outdoor spaces, a wedding planner, butler service, and several outstanding dining options.

welcomecocktail No matter where you dine at Azuridge you are sure to be pampered

Executive Chef Yoshi Chubachi oversees main dining at the Opal Restaurant (including a personalized Chef’s Table experience), as well as dining the three Azuridge patios and the ‘Overnight Menu’. While the dining experience in the Opal restaurant is…opulent, the patios are much more casual and relaxed. Each has a slightly different menu, but all have stunning views of the estate and surrounding forests.

azuviewsOne view of many from the Gazebo Patio

This summer, the Gazebo Patio menu features ‘Burgers ‘n’ Beer Nights’ on weekday evenings from 6-10 pm. For $35 per person you order a choice of five burgers (Brant Lake Wagyu, local lamb, chicken, salmon, and portobello mushroom), two sides (truffle mac ‘n’ cheese, Caesar salad, Fruit Salad, or the artisan baby mixed salad), and beer. Sit back , enjoy the view, and listen to the tunes from the on site DJ. If dancing isn’t your thing, there are assorted lawn games to play on the well manicured lawns.

lamburgerThe Lamb Burger: Sliced tomatoes, house made mint relish, blue cheese, red onion, topped with smokey mustard and served on a brioche bun.

chickenburgerThe Chicken Burger: Grilled marinated chicken breast with
lettuce, sliced tomatoes, avocado, sliced onion, smoked cheddar, maple bacon and balsamic mayo on a brioche bun.

AzuteamThe staff at Azuridge are super friendly and you’re always well taken care of!

Fattoush – Cook the Book Fridays

Have you ever join a group or organization with the best of intentions, only to fizzle out of focus in grand glory? It seems I have done exactly that with the poor ladies at the Cook the Book Fridays cookbook group. The group is a tight knit and encouraging community, having previously cooked through the entire ‘Around My French Table’ by Dorie Greenspan. They’ve become fast friends through the discussion of this delicious cookbook, and having survived the trials and tribulations of cooking every single recipe from it. I watched their posts with interest, from afar, and when they finished we all wondered what would happen next. It turns out that ‘next’ is a similarly impressive feat; cooking each and every recipe from ‘My Paris Kitchen’ by David Lebovitz. Since I have the book and have met David in person, I felt it was a great opportunity to join in the fun.

Cooking an entire cookbook takes a lot of time and commitment. I need to cook for my family regardless, and what better way than to use David Lebovitz’s recipes? I’ve never hit upon a bad one so I didn’t have any concerns about whether or not this would be a challenge. The challenge, it turns out, is not in the cooking but the posting. I have managed to (mostly) keep up with the bi monthly recipes but writing about them and keeping up with the other participants requires a fair amount of time. I also find that, due to legalities, not being able to post the recipe on my blog is somewhat disappointing. I understand that since we are cooking the entire book, publishing each recipe is discourteous to Mr. Lebovitz, but this is (after all) a food blog.  All I can say to my readers is please go buy the book and follow along. Really, you won’t be disappointed! fattoush

Without further adieu, here is the beautiful and tasty Fattoush salad that was the featured recipe for June 3…on July 13th! This one was kind of a ‘no brainer’ because I had all of the ingredients on hand AND needed to use up some old pitas. It was also a really hot spring day (warmer than any day we’ve had so far in July) when I didn’t feel like cooking at all. The three of us demolished this whole salad for dinner, then had pie for dessert. You have to balance the good with the bad right?080This salad was really easy to make and assemble. I had romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers in the fridge all ready to go so all I had to do was toast the pitas and make the dressing. I finished the salad with fresh herbs from my garden and used up all the ground sumac that I had. Sumac is a spice that I really enjoy because it adds a certain ‘zest’ to whatever you add it to. It heightens the taste of lemons and makes your mouth water! Instead of plain black pepper I threw in some lemon pepper that had been given to me by a friend. She recently moved back to Canada after some time in Dubai and she bought me some of this lemon pepper from a real street side spice souk, a traditional market where people buy spices of all kinds.095
If you want to find more ‘up to date’ Cook the Book Friday posts visit this link here. Meanwhile, I shall keep plugging on…

 

Fairmont Banff Springs – A Rocky Mountain Culinary Destination

Visitors from around the world flock to Banff National Park to experience the gorgeous views of the Canadian Rockies and breathe in the pristine mountain air.  There are few places on earth that equal the rugged beauty of the mountains and in the midst of it all sits the majestic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Staying at the Fairmont Banff Springs is, in itself, an amazing experience. The rooms are comforting and relaxing, striking a fine balance between the charm of history and modern convenience. While the weekend summer peak season at the hotel is fully booked, exploring the Fairmont Banff Springs on your own is fully encouraged and worthwhile.  The “Castle in the Rockies” has been a Rocky Mountain destination for over 125 years and while most visitors come for the views and adventure, many more are pleasantly surprised when they find out that the Castle is also a notable culinary destination.

With 13 restaurants, pubs, and lounges, it’s safe to say that the Fairmont Banff Springs has a culinary experience for everyone. From fresh sushi to Charcuterie, fondue, and beyond…every appetite can be satisfied. The following are a few of the spots where you can enjoy more substantial fare after a long day of healthy mountain activity:

Samurai Sushi Bar – Walk into the Samurai Sushi Bar and be immediately greeted with a smile and a cheerful Japanese welcome, “Irasshaimase!” by Chefs Kaoru Ohsada and Masa Endo. From their stations behind the tiny sushi bar, they prepare the freshest sushi in a most traditional manner five days a week. Since the fish is flown in to the restaurant every second day, you can be sure to have an amazing culinary experience each time you visit. The menu includes standard favourites such as Tekka Maki (tuna roll) and Kappa Maki (cucumber roll) and even more unique items such as Ume Shiso Maki (pickled plum and perilla leaf roll) and Saikyoyaki (marinated and grilled sablefish). In addition to sushi and sashimi, Samurai Sushi Bar also offers several udon dishes and traditional hot pots. (Thursday to Monday from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm)

samuraicollageSalmon/Avocado Sushi\Maki, Tuna Tataki, Chef Kaoru Ohsada, Marinated & Grilled Sablefish, Fresh Norwegian Mackerel Sushi

1888 Chop House – Ontario born and raised Chef Richard McMillan moved west and fell in love with the beauty of the Canadian Rockies. He moved to Banff in 2013 and the quality of Alberta grown and raised ingredients are a huge reason he loves working at 1888 Chop House. The restaurant is located in a quiet, cozy corner and is the perfect spot to have a special fine dining experience within the walls of Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.  The seasonally driven menu offers a wide range of farm fresh, locally raised, and sustainable ingredients from Bison Tenderloin and Elk Rib Eye to West Coast Sockeye Salmon. After you have settled on a Prime Cut, the sky is the limit for delicious in house made accompaniments. I definitely recommend the Brown Butter Whipped Potatoes and Braised Carrots. Don’t forget to leave room for dessert; in fact, if you don’t feel like a large meal and want to skip straight on to the sweet stuff, 1888 Chop House is the place to go!  (open Tuesday-Sunday; 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm)

1888collageChef Richard McMillan, Bison Tenderloin at 1888 Chop House, Dark Chocolate Paté, Plank of sides.

Stanley’s Smokehouse – You don’t have to be a guest at the Fairmont Banff Springs to enjoy golfing at the gorgeous 18 hole Stanley Thompson or 9 hole Tunnel Mountain. Walk the pristine greens and load up your fitbit because the mouthwatering menu at Stanley’s Smokehouse awaits. Home to many a post-game beer, Stanley’s offers 360 degree views out onto the Stanley Thompson course and some of the best barbecue around. Chef Craig Parkinson uses cherry wood to smoke dry rubbed whole racks of ribs, beef brisket, chickens, and pork in the enormous kitchen smoker, then finishes them with the house made Jim Beam bourbon barbecue sauce. If the barbecue doesn’t get you salivating, there are so many other items on Stanley’s menu (salads, burgers, nachos, fish and chips, steaks, wings, and grilled fish) that you’ll be sure to find a dish to suit your appetite. (Open daily from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm)

StanleyscollageChef Craig with a plate of Smoked Brisket & Sweet Potato Fries; Smoked Rack of Ribs, Chicken, and pulled pork; Centre Fireplace at Stanley’s Smokehouse

Waldhaus Restaurant – In what used to be the original golf course club house lies one of the most unique restaurants on the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel grounds. Leave the main hotel and follow the wandering path down to the restaurant and you immediately find yourself transported to Bavaria. The menu is filled with German favourites such as veal bratwurst and schnitzel but the most popular item is the Waldhaus Fondue experience, which is not really German in origin at all. Still, you can imagine that you are surrounded by the Swiss Alps while you dip your way through the Cheese, Beef, and Toblerone Chocolate fondues.  Pick a rainy summer day and ask for a table in the sun room or visit on a gorgeous sunny day and choose the patio for the most unbelievable views. (Monday to Friday – 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday – 11:00 am to 11:00 pm)

waldhauscollage Chef Moshe Zalipski, Gorgeous patio view, Beef Fondue, Cheese Fondue

The above are just a few of the restaurants that operate independently or in conjunction with the main kitchens located in the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. They each have extensive menus that reflect the character or theme of each restaurant, while at the same time staying true to chef J.W. Foster’s (Fairmont Banff Spring’s Executive Chef) vision of a working culinary ecosystem. His vision includes highlighting the best of what Alberta can provide through agriculture, animal husbandry, and natural abundance to visitors from around the world.

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