Category Archives: Friends

Peanut Butter Crinkles & A Story…

As you all know, I’ve had a great time recently cooking from my grandmother’s recipe book. So imagine my excitement when I got a package in the mail from Kimmie over at Full Circle with a wonderful hand-written note (rare in itself these days) AND a copy of her great grandmother’s recipe book full of Southern Louisiana classics. After seeing all the fun I’d had of late making my grandmother’s meatloaf and cherry snowballs, Kimmie assumed (correctly) that I would love to catch a glimpse of her family’s history as told through food.

As soon as I saw Southern Louisiana, I knew I’d be encountering a lot of dishes that involved sugar and more sugar with a side of Southern hospitality and I was right. In her note to me, Kimmie wrote “There is nothing fancy or cutting edge about these recipes and most are sure to you give you a heart attack but they were made with soul and love throughout many generations in the South.” Now I don’t know about you, but that’s simply deep-fried music to my ears.

I knew I had to start by baking great grandmother Verda’s Peanut Butter Crinkles. I’m not sure why I had to begin with this recipe, maybe because it called for white sugar and brown sugar or maybe it was the jam in the middle or maybe I could just sense this was a perfect cookie for eating amongst friends.

These Peanut Butter Crinkles are absolutely wonderful. They are soft and crumbly with the slightest crunch that is neutralized by the jam in the middle. Accompanied with a cup of tea, they are perfect for an afternoon of catching up with old friends or sharing stories with new friends.

Peanut Butter Crinkles (From the Kitchen of Verda Baker)

My comments are in italics

  • 1 cup of margarine (I asked Kimmie why margarine was used rather than butter. Margarine was more commonly used because it was  less expensive)
  • 1 cup of peanut butter (I used chunky peanut butter. I figured it would give it some additional texture)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • sugar
  • nuts, chocolate kisses (I used walnuts and chocolate chips)
  • jam or jelly (I used mainly strawberry jam, but I did experiment with fig jam and lemon jelly and all three complimented the peanut butter exceptionally well)
  1. In bowl with mixer at medium speed, beat first 6 ingredients until fluffy.
  2. At low speed, beat in next 3 ingredients.
  3. Shape into 1″ balls; roll in sugar. (Makes approximately 48 cookies)
  4. Place 2″ apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  5. Bake in 350F oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until browned. (For me at least, 12 minutes was the perfect amount of time in the oven)
  6. Immediately press nuts or candies into cookies or press with thumb and fill with jam. (I put nuts in half of them and chocolate chips in the other half. As I mentioned earlier, I used mainly strawberry jam, but I’m convinced any jam would work wonders with these cookies, so experiment!)
  7. Cool.

Kimmie, thanks again for sharing your family’s treasure with me. Have a seat and let’s have a Peanut Butter Crinkle or three.

Advertisements

27 Comments

Filed under Friends, Louisiana, Peanut butter, Peanut Butter Crinkles

Happy Birthday to Tastes Better With Friends

I’m a proud papa today. Happy birthday to my first post on Tastes Better With Friends! When I think over the last year, I’ve had an incredible time. Through Tastes Better With Friends, I’ve had the chance to share my cooking, restaurants, the Olympics, my travels and my random thoughts with friends and family.

I had a feeling I’d have the chance to share my experiences through the blog. But what I wasn’t expecting was the opportunity to meet great people along the way in the online world. Not only that, but I’ve met some of these wonderful people in the “real” world and hopefully I’ll meet more along the way.

In honor of this day, I wanted to throw a virtual birthday party. I’ve been meaning to do a Blogroll for a while now and I figured today would be a perfect time. Come join me in welcoming a bunch of friends to the birthday table.

If you want to make some amazingly Stupid Simple Snacks – Amy Blogs Chow is your girl.

Check out Lora the Cake Duchess, as she combines Florida and Italy and does it with flair.

Susy is a newbie to the blogging world and is a Food Lover, she tells great stories and just needs a little more confidence, so stop by and say hi:)

David Lebovitz needs no introduction.

Ken, the Hungry Rabbit is passionate about food and it is very obvious!

Her name is Joy, she is a baker and she makes magic happen.

New York City Mama is exactly what you think she should be. Carol is no match for New York!

Aimee is documents what’s going on Under The Highchair. I’ll let you click, because the header alone is worth checking out.

Amy says it’s all about the food and it is over at Very Culinary.

Anytime you’re in Vancouver, read what Victoria has to say about the restaurant scene. Chances are she’s been there or is planning on going!

15 Comments

Filed under Friends

The Mitraillette makes an encore appearance

You were recently introduced to something I can only refer to as a monstrosity of a sandwich that is known to the country of Belgium as a mitraillette.

Simply put, the mitraillette was great. How great you ask, well, you know how sometimes you eat something and keep thinking about it? Well, since I’m not going to Brussels anytime soon, I was left to re-create it on my own, but I wanted to change it up a bit.

Homemade mitraillette

So let’s review the basics, I needed to come up with the following to make this happen.

  • Friends  – Thanks to Erin, Supriya, Cody (the dog) and Darwin (the cat) for allowing me to cook in their kitchen and eating this thing with me (well Cody and Darwin didn’t, although, I think Cody wanted to try) so I didn’t feel guilty eating a mitraillette by myself.
  • Baguette – The baguette was easy, we chose whole wheat to lessen the guilt just a little bit.
  • Meat – I had gone with the hamburger option in Brussels, but this time, we opted for an Italian spicy sausage.
  • French fries – Without access to a deep fryer and not wanting to stand in front of a pot of boiling oil, we were all in agreement that some baked sweet potato fries would be perfect.
  • Veggies – If nothing else, the veggies were a way to justify the eating of this sandwich. We went with caramelized onions.
  • Some type of sauce – More on my somewhat failed attempt at cheese sauce below.

All the fixin's

Recipe/Instructions

Sweet Potatoes

  • Wash four (4) sweet potatoes (awesome job on the washing Supriya!) and cut them into french fries form and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Lay them flat on a baking sheet and drizzle some olive oil over them and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes and then turn them with a spatula and let bake for another 10-15 minutes. Toss a little salt over the fries when they come out of the oven.
  • Ours did not come out as crispy as I had hoped, so next time, I’d leave them in a little longer.

Sausage

  • Slice the sausage lengthwise and place into a hot skillet with some oil. You can figure out the rest, right?

Onions

  • Slice an onion (try not to tear up) and place them in a hot skillet with oil and toss in some salt and pepper.
  • Don’t worry if the skillet is overflowing with onions, give it time and they will reduce into deliciousness.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and continue to stir them as they get softer and translucent, about 20 minutes, be patient.
  • After a while, the sugar in the onion will  caramelize and get dark, that’s what you’re looking for!

Assembled and ready to eat!

Cheese Sauce

  • Soooo, I’ve never made a cheese sauce before and after trying to make one, I’m still not sure I’ve actually made a proper cheese sauce. No, correction, I know for a fact it was not a proper cheese sauce. It had all the makings though, milk, flour, butter, swiss cheese and it tasted good, it was just a bit on the runny side.  I was missing some measuring spoons and a little patience. I’m going to work on that one again and I’ll likely have a post devoted to a kick-ass cheese sauce sometime soon!

Assembly

  • The fun part – After slicing the baguette and toasting it under the broiler, we threw on some sausage (slicing them lengthwise meant they could lay nice and flat on the baguette), some caramelized onions, a mound of sweet potato fries and a smothering of cheese sauce.
  • It was a two-hander for sure and it absolutely satisfied my craving.
  • It’s a sandwich that is definitely a meal all by itself.
  • It’s fun to prepare and can totally involve everyone helping out in the kitchen.

4 Comments

Filed under Baguette, Belgium, Caramelized onions, Cheese Sauce, Friends, Mitraillette, Sausage, Sweet Potato Fries

Saying Thank You With S’mores

I was at a cottage this weekend and I was working on some summer arithmetic, follow along with me…

campfire + chocolate + marshmallows + graham crackers + whipped cream = S’mores + smiles

(Quick definition of S’mores – a contraction from “Can I have some mores?”

I had the pleasure of being invited to a friend’s cottage this weekend. The family has opened their doors for me in the past to enjoy some of their cottage magic. This time, I wanted to thank them with something a little different, so I asked if I can contribute to dinner one night by making dessert.

So that’s where my arithmetic began.

Step 1 – Fire, I gathered the wood, I guess I sort of contributed to the actual fire.

Campfire

Step 2 – chocolate, marshmallows, graham crackers, whipped cream (not a prerequisite)

All the fixins

The smushier the better

A S'more ready to go

Step 3 – Smush and bite!

S'mores for everyone!

I’m happy to report they were a huge hit amongst all ages and if I keep producing desserts, I’m invited back anytime and really, who wouldn’t want to come back to this?

Cottage living

S’mores are pretty simple…

For approximately 25 people

  • 2 boxes of Graham crackers
  • 2 bags of chocolate chips melted down in a double boiler
  • 2 bags of marshmallows
  • 250 ml of whipped cream beaten with an electric mixer with a couple of spoonfuls of sugar once you’ve gotten your stiff peaks
  • skewers, hangars, something safe to roast the marshmallow

From there you’re good to go…

  • Roast the marshmallow
  • Smear some chocolate on the graham crackers
  • Squish the marshmallow
  • Add a dollop of whipped cream
  • Eat!

2 Comments

Filed under Campfire, chocolate, Cottage, Friends, Graham Crackers, Marshmallows, S'mores, Whipped cream

Bottomless Goodness at Galaxie Diner

Ever have bottomless hashbrowns? Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? So let me tell you about it. My first stop on my way back east was Calgary to visit some friends for a few days.

It was lunch time and we were hungry so the suggestion was made to check out a place called the Galaxie Diner.

Galaxie Diner

I love milkshakes, but I try not to have them too often, but when you’re sitting in a diner that makes them from scratch, well, you know how the story goes. I opted for the chocolate/coffee combo, it was sweet with the perfect hint of coffee. As you can see, it passed the all important straw test for thickness. And most importantly, I found a bit of ice cream left at the bottom that was happily eaten with a spoon.

Chocolate/Coffee Milkshake

Now, they do serve all day breakfast, breakfast burrito, omelettes, huevos rancheros (which my friend always orders), but I opted for the blue cheese burger. The burger was cooked perfectly, the blue cheese was in ideal oozing form and the hasbrowns were delicious. Once I was all done, the server came over and asked if I wanted more hashbrowns. I was full, but I’d never been asked that question before, so I had to say yes. Moments later, I was enjoying a few more hashbrowns. Bottomless hashbrowns…brilliant!

Blue Cheese Burger and Bottomless Hashbrowns

The Galaxie Diner is not huge, so prepare for a little bit of a wait, especially on weekends, but apparently they’ll pour you some coffee to make the wait more bearable.

Hours

Mon – Fri – 7AM – 3PM
Sat, Sun, Holidays – 7AM – 4PM

Address

1413 11th St. SW

Calgary, ABT

2R 1G7

Tel – 403-228-0001

galaxiediner.ca

2 Comments

Filed under Blue Cheese Burger, Calgary, Friends, Galaxie Diner, Hashbrowns, Milkshake

Bringing “Poulet en Vinaigre” to Canada

Have you ever been to a restaurant and had a meal so good that you had to try and replicate it at home? Well, if you caught my experience in Lyon, you know I had to try making “poulet en vinaigre” (chicken in vinegar) for myself.

I found a recipe on the Food Network site compliments of Emeril that seemed to be identical to what I had and even though it was listed as an “intermediate level” recipe, I gave it a go. Luckily, some friends of mine in Vancouver were willing to be the guinea pigs for my project. I was overall pretty happy with the result and I got a thumbs up from my friends and I’m pretty sure they were telling the truth, since they ate the leftover chicken the next day!

Chicken in Vinegar (Poulet en vinaigre)

From Emeril Lagasse on the Food Network

A quick side note, I tried to take pictures along the way as I was cooking, but I needed all my attention devoted to the task at hand, maybe next time!)

Chicken in vinegar - Lyon Style

Ingredients

  • 1 free-range chicken or fryer, 3 1/2 to 4 pounds, cut into 8 pieces, rinsed and patted dry
  • (I’m not ready to cut a raw chicken properly, so I went with 3 chicken thighs and 6 drumsticks)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 cup good-quality white wine vinegar
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, about 1 cup
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons creme fraiche or heavy cream (I used heavy cream)
  • Chopped parsley, garnish

Directions

  • Season the chicken evenly on both sides with the salt and pepper.
  • In a large Dutch oven, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter with the oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add the chicken and garlic cloves and cook until the chicken is well browned, turning once, about 8 to 10 minutes per side.
  • Add the vinegar and stir to loosen any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes, cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium.
  • Cook until the chicken is tender, about 25 minutes. Transfer the chicken pieces to a warmed platter and cover to keep warm.
  • Add the chicken stock to the pot and bring to a boil, scraping any browned bits that cling to the sides or bottom of the pan.
  • Cook until the sauce is reduced by 1/3 in volume, about 10 minutes.
  • Strain the sauce through a fine sieve and return to the pan, discarding the solids.
  • Reduce the heat to low. Add the remaining butter, a piece at a time, whisking constantly until all the butter has been added and the sauce is smooth and thick. Do not allow the sauce to boil and remove from the heat as necessary to prevent from breaking.
  • Add the creme fraiche and whisk to combine. Adjust the seasoning to taste. (I forgot to add the heavy cream at this point and remembered it only after I had plated the chicken, so I poured a little bit in to each plate. Not exactly as Emeril would do, but it seemed to be ok)
  • Ladle the sauce over the chicken and garnish with the parsley. (I was so excited that I had finished the dish, I totally forgot to garnish with the parsley!)

The broth is perfect for dipping, so make sure a really good baguette or loaf of crispy bread is nearby for dipping and soaking.

Bon appétit!

2 Comments

Filed under Chicken in vinegar, Emeril Lagasee, Food Network, France, Friends, Poulet en vinaigre

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

3 Comments

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