Monthly Archives: March 2010

A Big Salad….it’s a salad, only bigger, with lots of stuff in it.

So anyone who knows me will tell you that i’m a big fan of Seinfeld and much to the chagrin of my family and friends, I often quote or refer to the show and here I go again.

One of my favorite scenes from the show is when the gang is forced to eat at Reggie’s Diner because George had a falling out with one of the waitress’ from their usual diner Monk’s and he forces them to eat elsewhere because he finds it uncomfortable. Elaine complains to George that Reggie’s doesn’t offer her favorite item as Monk’s as the waitress (Hilde) at Reggie’s takes their order…

Elaine: How about a Big Salad?

Hilde: A big salad?

Elaine: (to George) You see?

George: Just tell her what’cha want, they’ll make it for ya.

Elaine: It’s a salad, only bigger, with lots of stuff in it.

Hilde: I can bring you 2 small salads.

Elaine: Could you put it in a big bowl?

Hilde: We don’t have any big bowls.

Thank you for letting me go off topic a little bit there. Now on to the food!

In honor of this episode, I would like to talk about the concept of the Big Salad and pay tribute to my roommate.  For him, anyone can make a big salad and just put a lot of “stuff” in it, but he has perfected the spin-off to the Big Salad which he calls the Bachelor Salad. The salad is named for its insistance on not eating like the typical bachelor, which normally consists of Kraft Dinner, pizza, take-out/delivery or something that just isn’t very healthy.

Make no mistake about it, the Big Salad is a serious salad and can be a substitute for an appetizer, entree and dessert all in one big bowl, because if it isn’t overflowing with goodness, it ain’t a big salad.  It comes complete with lettuce, fruit, protein, oregano and a vinaigrette consisting of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Since it is a Big Salad, it takes time to prepare, but it is worth the wait. As for what goes into it, my roommate is a creature of habit and likes his Bachelor Salad a certain way, the beauty of it is that there are no rules, you just need an open mind and a big bowl!

The Big Salad (Original Bachelor Style)

  • Lettuce of your choice (romaine, red leaf, whatever)
  • Strawberries
  • Blackberries
  • Tuna
  • Avocado
  • Oregano
  • Olive oil and balsamic vinegar

The Bachelor Salad

The Big Salad (whatever happens to be in the kitchen on that particular day)

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Sliced McIntosh apple
  • Dried cranberries
  • Tuna
  • Sliced almonds
  • Oregano
  • Olive oil and balsamic vinegar

A Big Salad

Full transcript found at http://www.seinfeldscripts.com/TheSoup.html

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Filed under Apples, Avocado, Bachelor Salad, Balsamic Vinegar, Big Salad, Blackberries, Dried Cranberries, Monk's Diner, Olive Oil, Oregano, Reggie's Diner, Seinfeld, Strawberries, Tuna

Getting Creative with Homemade Pizza

With my lease ending at the end of April and my future whereabouts unknown, my goal is to be sustainable and use up everything I have in the kitchen. I bought some dry yeast back in December and made these little Greek donuts called loukoumades but haven’t used anymore since. The other day, I was in the mood for pizza, so I made pizza dough and with pizza dough comes pizza!

Sustainable homemade pizza

I looked around briefly and came across a great blog written by Suzyhomebaker and she had adapted a recipe for pizza dough in a book appropriately called My Bread by Jim Lahey. I had virtually everything in the recipe, so away I went. Her adaptation for the pizza dough is below and my comments are in brackets.

As for the toppings, I was inspired to see if I could make a delicious non-pizza pizza since my roommate is doing his annual Greek fast, meaning no dairy and no meat. Luckily, I had some vegetables that were waiting to be transformed into sweet goodness…onions and garlic. I love cooking down raw onions and roasting garlic, so I did just that!

Ingredients for pizza dough

  • 3-3/4 cups bread flour (I didn’t have bread flour, just all-purpose white flour, it seemed to do the trick!)
  • 2-1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3/4 tsp table salt
  • 3/4 tsp plus pinch of sugar
  • 1-1/3 cup room temp. water (72 degrees)
  • extra virgin olive oil

1. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until blended, at least 30 seconds. The dough is a bit stiff so I added a tiny bit more water to be sure all the ingredients were incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic and towel and let sit at room temperature until the dough has more than doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

(I also found the dough a bit stiff and all the ingredients weren’t incorporated yet, so I added just enough water to combine everything and I didn’t cover it with a towel, just the plastic wrap. It seemed to do the trick, but it definitely didn’t look like Suzy’s or anything i’ve seen on the Food Network. I was so unimpressed with my dough at the time, I couldn’t even bring myself to take a picture of it.)

2. Once all the toppings are ready to go (which are just below), oil up a baking sheet. Divide the dough in half and gently pull and stretch the dough across the surface of the pan, and use your hands to press it evenly out to the edges. If the dough sticks to your fingers, lightly dust it with flour or coat your hands with oil. It will be very thin all around and ready for the toppings.

Toppings

  • 2 onions
  • 3 heads of garlic
  • 10-12 spears of asparagus
  • BBQ Sauce

3. While waiting for the dough to rise, start prepping your toppings. Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the very top off an entire head of garlic, just enough to see the top of all the exposed cloves. Place the garlic bottom down on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle some olive oil over the top of the exposed garlic. Sprinkle some salt over the top and wrap it tightly and place it in the oven for approximately 35 minutes or until you can easily poke a knife through the aluminum foil (You’ll also smell the sweet garlic scent in the kitchen!) Once you remove the garlic, open up the foil and let them rest for a few minutes as it will be very hot! Once they cool, simply squeeze the bulbs out into a small bowl. (If you’ve never done it before, wait to be amazed!)

4. Chop up the onions and place aside. Heat up a frying pan with some olive oil over a medium heat. Place the onions into the pan and sprinkle with a couple pinches of salt. Don’t be alarmed if the onions are overflowing over the pan. Keep stirring the onions as they start breaking down and get brown. Keep stirring until they get soft and brown and look nothing how they started!

5. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F and begin dressing your pizza. Shmmmear the roasted garlic over the dough. Place the asparagus and caramelized onions over the garlic spread and finally drizzle the entire pizza with BBQ sauce. Place on the centre rack of the oven and let bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until the edges of the dough become golden brown.

6. Cut and enjoy!

I was pleasantly surprised with how the dough came out, it smelled like pizza dough and tasted like pizza dough, so I guess I made pizza dough! As for the toppings, everything is fair game to go onto a pizza, enjoy being creative and seeing what your kitchen has to offer. And in case you were curious, it wasn’t just me who liked it, my roommate thought it was great too.

Lastly, thank you for making it down all the way to the bottom for what is my longest post to date…I think!

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Filed under Asparagus, BBQ Sauce, Caramelized onions, Pizza, Roasted Garlic

Calamari at the Cactus Club Cafe is a winner!

When it comes to calamari (Italian for squid), some restaurants miss badly, sometimes it’s soggy and other times it’s over-battered. I’m happy to report that the calamari served at the Cactus Club Cafe are neither of those!

Calamari at Cactus Club

Cactus Club offers calamari that is lightly battered and perfectly cripsy, but that doesn’t apply to just the calamari. The twist Chef Rob Feenie (yes, that Chef Feenie) and his Test Kitchen chefs have mastered are accompanying deep fried red peppers and jalapenos that just explode with flavor as you eat them (I could eat a plate of the jalapenos alone!) The dish is served with a nice chipotle aioli and tzatziki (but not an overpowering garlic type). Enjoy it!

When I ate there for lunch, the appetizer calamari was large enough that an entree was not needed, but there is definitely a wide ranging selection of options, even though i’m reporting on one particular dish.

Enjoy the vibe of the place, as it’s a nice mix of “loungy” bar with a full menu. There are plenty of locations and plenty to choose from on the menu, bon appetit!

Calamari - check out the red peppers and jalapenos

588 Burrard Street (Flagship location)

Vancouver, BC

604.682.0933

http://www.cactusclubcafe.com/

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Filed under Cactus Club Cafe, calamari, jalapenos, Rob Feenie, Vancouver

The Arms Reach Bistro in Deep Cove is a must

I had always heard of Deep Cove, but hadn’t yet made the drive out there and i’ve definitely been missing out!  A friend from Montreal was visiting Vancouver and staying in Deep Cove so I took the 25 minute drive out to visit and have some dinner.

She suggested the Arms Reach Bistro, which is situated right beside the water and the Yacht Club. I couldn’t fully appreciate the view as it was dark, but from what I could see, it’s definitely worth going back on a sunny day. Now, when I eat beside the water, I expect the menu to offer fresh seafood and I was not disappointed. As I was perusing the menu, I started with a spicey Bloody Ceasar accompanied with a peppadew, which looks like a mix of a pepper and cherry tomato that is sweet, but with a kick.

Ceasar with peppadew

So to begin, I went with the Fresh Malaspina Mussels steamed in coconut milk, green curry, lime juice and cilantro served with fresh hand cut fries. The serving was enormous and the mussels were indeed fresh and perfectly done. The fries were indeed crips and nicely salted. As a bonus, the fresh bread was perfect for soaking up all the broth-goodness and I admit to using up most of the bread in the basket as my sponge for the broth.

Mussels steamed in coconut milk

I could have stopped at the mussels and have been happy, but I spotted an entree that was calling out to me, so I really had no choice. After the mussels being so delicious, how could I say no to the Seafood Linguine with mussels, Dungeness crab and prawn tossed in a fresh tomato and vermouth rose sauce!? I’m happy to report I made the right call.  The linguine was cooked right to al dente and they certainly did not skimp on the seafood. The dish had tons of mussels, prawns galore and huge chunks of melt in your mouth Dungeness crab.

Linguine with seafood glaore

Needless to say it was a great meal. Take a weekend drive out to Deep Cove with some friends and enjoy the food and the scenery.

http://www.armsreachbistro.com/frame.htm

107C – 4390 Gallant Avenue

North Vancouver, BC, V7G 1L2

Phone – 604-929-7442

Hours – 11am-11pm – 7 days a week

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Filed under Arms Reach Bistro, Bloody Ceasar, Deep Cover, Dungeness Crab, Friends, Mussels, North Vancouver, Peppadew, Vancouver

Please don’t judge me, but it’s breakfast like The King

When you have a few days off between working the Olympics and the Paralympics, you have time to sleep in, buy some groceries and cook breakfast at home rather than stopping at Tim Horton’s or Starbucks in your blue smurf uniform. I’m not sure why, maybe because I had some time and wanted to treat myself but I had this desire for an Elvis Presley type breakfast including eggs, meat, bananas and peanut butter. So with that said, I picked up the necessary components and went all out and even bought some pancetta.

Elvis Presley breakfast

Now please don’t judge me…for starters, I cut up the pancetta into strips and tossed them into the fry pan with a little bit of olive oil and maple syrup. Once they got nice and crispy, I removed them and placed them onto a paper towel to absorb some of the grease. With the smell of pancetta goodness filling the kitchen, I decided to do my eggs sunny-side up in my pancetta-greased pan. Even though the grease in the pan made the outer edges of the eggs dark, it just added more flavor to the eggs.

To finish it off, peanut butter and bananas were tossed on to the toast and since I was going all out, I drizzled some maple syrup over the entire plate…if you’re gonna do it, you might as well do it properly, right?

Pancetta goodness

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Filed under bananas, breakfast, eggs, Elvis Presley, maple syrup, Olympics, Pancetta, Paralympics, Peanut butter

Discovering Ravioli on the Drive

When you’re walking down Commercial Drive and see a place called The First Ravioli Store, you pretty much have to go in and check it out, right? So that’s what I did and guess what I found?

First Ravioli Store

Well, if you guessed “Ravioli”, you are right! At the counter, there is a cornucopia of ravioli ranging from sweet potato & yam to a whole bunch with all types of cheese stuffed inside, including gouda and asiago. The timing of my discover was perfect, since I had offered to cook dinner for some friends that evening.  I decided to go with something that everyone could enjoy…wild mushroom ravioli. I picked up enough for 4 people for about $8.00, which seemed like a great deal for some fresh homemade ravioli!

First Ravioli Store

As for dinner itself, the ravioli (or is it raviolis?) were a big hit! When I bought them, I asked their recommendation for cooking them and I was told 5 minutes in salted boiling water. As for the sauce, why use store bought when you can make a quick chunky homemade tomato sauce which consists of roma tomatoes, onions, garlic, salt, pepper and some tomato paste to bring it all together. For something that was put together quickly, it turned out pretty good, next time I make it, i’ll actually pay attention to what I threw in so I can write it down!

Since it was a wild mushroom ravioli, I thought it would be fun to pair it with some additional mushrooms around the plate as garnish. I chose to go the raw route, but in retrospect, I should have sauteed them, I think it would have gone better together and wouldn’t have stood out so much when I served it. But that just gives me a reason to go back and buy more ravioli, right?

Wild Mushroom ravioli with homemade chunky tomato sauce

The First Ravioli Store
1900 Commercial Dr.
Vancouver
604-255-8844

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Filed under Commercial Drive, First Ravioli Store, Friends, Ravioli, The Drive, tomatoes, Vancouver

Walking The Drive and catching some sun (my attempt at a clever title)

When you have a day off between the Olympics and Paralympics, you enjoy the free time by going out for brunch, right? Well, I took a walk with a friend down the Drive (Commercial Drive) and stumbled upon a cute little place called Cafe du Soleil. Now, just a couple of warnings before continuing…if you like sitting while ordering your meal, this isn’t the place for you. If you like meat at a restaurant, this isn’t the place for you either.

Whoops, better get up and order our meals!

Now, with that out of the way, we walked in and grabbed a table by the window only to realize we had to order at the counter since the menu was up on the chalkboard near the kitchen. When we checked out the menu, there was definitely a non-meat theme. Meat isn’t needed in every meal, right?

When we asked what type of veggies were in the breakfast burrito, the answer from the chef was “whatever looked good at the market when I went shopping this morning.” Ummm, perfect answer!

It was paired well with a chunky homemade salsa and judging by its consistency, sour cream (none of that fat free stuff). The tortilla was perfectly grilled and the market veggies had been mixed together to give it a nice filling. My only comment would have been to see a couple pieces of fresh fruit as a garnish. We usually take the fruit garnish for granted, but when it wasn’t there, I felt something was missing.

Breakfast Burrito

Inside the breakfast burrito and some hot sauce on the top

My friend had the pancakes (1 banana and 1 blueberry) which she said were delicious and the chef was kind enough to bring over a complimentary order of the breakfast potatoes since we had asked about them as well and yes, he was right, they are pretty good with a nice crunch! (We dove into them so quickly, I forgot to take a picture of them)

All in all, solid resto for some breakfast/brunch and you get the flavor of the Drive at the same time.

Cafe du Soleil

1393 Commercial Drive, Vancouver

(604) 254-1145

Welcome to Cafe du Soleil

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Filed under Breakfast Burrito, Cafe du Soleil, Commercial Drive, Olympics, Paralympics, The Drive, Vancouver, Vegetarian