Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Posh Nosh

This is my first attempt at embedding video anywhere ever, so hopefully it'll work out (and even more hopefully, perhaps one day we'll have video of our own to post!).

I've been wanting to share this series for ages with the WeDine readership, as it's absolutely hilarious. Posh Nosh is a BBC cooking-show spoof consisting of eight 10-minute episodes starring Richard E. Grant and Arabella Weir as the Hon Simon and Minty Marchmont, respectively.

The premise involves Grant and Weir as the owners of a high-end restaurant trying to teach 'extraordinary' cookery to 'ordinary' people. The humour comes from their class divide – Minty desperately trying, despite her middle-class background, to match Simon's ridiculous upper class manners – and their subtle swipes at each other. Oh, and the hilarious food terminology they use. You'll see! If you like this one, do check out YouTube for some more.

Here is the first episode!

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Market Veggie Love, Part 2

I thought you might need a little more convincing about how the farmers market is the best thing around. Well, that and Darryl's working late this week and there's no one else here to listen to me say "I made the best dinner tonight! And last night too. I'm the best. No, wait – it's not me that's the best, it's these veggies!" So, I have a recipe for y'all, 'cause it's just too good to keep to myself.

Spicy Roasted Veggie and Bulger ______ [Casserole? Pilaf? Hot salad? One-pan thingy?... I kind of have an aversion to the words casserole and pilaf, but I'm at a loss as to what else to call this. Ideas?]

3 cups water
1 1/2 cups bulger
1 1/2 tsp salt

1 medium zucchini (or half a huge pretty heirloom one from the market), cut into large chunks
1/2 red onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 poblano peppers, diced
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Juice of 1 orange
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp New Mexican chili powder
2 tsp chipolte puree
1 tsp chopped fresh sage (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil (or 1 tsp dried)

1/2 bunch of chard, washed and roughly chopped

large block of feta, crumbled

3 tomatoes (crazy lookin' green heirloom ones are soooo tasty), sliced

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Boil Water. Remove from heat and add bulger and salt. Stir, cover, and let sit about 20 min (or longer – I let it sit for an hour and a half while I ran away to yoga, and it was perfect when I got back). Set cooked bulger aside for later.

3. Toss the zucchini, onion, garlic, poblanos, and chickpeas into a roasting pan with olive oil and salt and pepper. Stir to coat. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until zucchinis are beginning to soften a bit, giving them a quick stir half way through.

4. Meanwhile, whisk together orange juice, spices and fresh herbs. Pour this over the roasting veggies and then roast them a bit longer (about 10 more minutes).

5. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Toss chard in, along with a bit of orange juice or water. Stir while it steams, until it is softened to your liking.

6. Remove veggies from oven and add bulger, chard, and feta to the pan. Stir it all together. The feta will melt a bit and the bulger will heat. I was going to put it all back in the oven for a bit (making it a true casserole?) but it really didn't seem necessary.

7. Serve topped with fresh chopped tomatoes. Mmmm, mmmm, mmm.

I feel like with my fridge full of delicious, so so fresh, local tasty things, I can create anything in the world and it will be awesome. I don't even feel like opening a cookbook. The veggies just send my imagination running.

And even the most basic or classic things turn out wonderfully as well. Like the second photo above – last night's dinner. I had bought a bag of fresh chanterelle mushrooms and needed to use them up while they were at their delicate best. I started by frying half a sliced red onion and some chopped garlic in butter and olive oil. Then I added chicken slices and fried it all for a while. Then in went the chantrelles and some more butter (of course, butter and chanterelles = heaven!). I served this atop polenta, with a simple salad of greens and heirloom tomatoes from the market. For dressing I just squeezed half a lemon and whisked it with olive oil and fresh basil. A quick but rich and utterly delicious meal.

I'm beginning to believe that September's an alright month after all. What are your favourite September eats?

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Farmers Market – letting me down easy from the end of summer

I'm having a late summer love affair with my farmers market, and it's making me really really happy. The best parts: eggplants, cute pattypan squashes (Poach them in tomato sauce! Roast them 'til they're sweet like candy!), mix n' match heirloom cherry tomatoes, crisp asian pears, ugly-on-the-outside-spectacular-on-the-inside-nectarines, coronation grapes, fluffy bunches of chard, sticky pungent garlic. And my lunch today...

Returning from the market this afternoon, blissed out from all the wandering with friends in the sunshine slowly from stall to stall, I picked through my bounty and selected the things I most wanted to eat right now.

I poached two incredibly fresh eggs (for once I actually remembered to take them out soon enough to be deliciously runny). I heated some olive oil in a pan and threw in thick zucchini slices, tiny snacking peppers (it's driving me crazy that I can't remember what this variety is called, argh), green beans, and small heirloom tomatoes. This all went onto my plate along with a slice of fresh sourdough bread and some salad greens sprinkled with lemon juice (including a nasturtium flower!)

It was perfect. I really think this is one of the best eating experiences ever, when everything is so fresh that it tastes exactly like it should. I couldn't shut up about how amazing the egg tasted – it was just as you'd imagine the ultimate egg would taste. And the beans were so so yummy! Perfect delicious beans. Perfect juicy tomatoes.

Can you imagine living on a farm and eating this way all the time? It's so sad that we've gotten used to things not tasting the way they should. I really have to start getting a local green box delivery, because even I'll have to accept that summer's over sometime soon (and with it the market) and I don't want to stop eating like this!

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

I try my hand at the Omnivore's Hundred

And so should you! The Omnivore's Hundred is a list of one hundred food items (though some stretch the definition of 'food' a little) created by Brit blogger Andrew Wheeler over at his blog Very Good Taste. It's a list of things he thinks we should all try, cut down from a brainstorming session of about three hundred items that he and a select panel (ie. his friends) decided upon. He's been asked so often about his criteria for the list that he created a FAQ to explain his reasoning.

Since he created his list it has appeared on many a blog, including Chocolate and Zucchini, where Clothilde reports that she hasn't tried 37 of the 100 items on the list. How many have I had? You'll have to wait and see! My number appears at the end of this post. Meanwhile, whilst you peruse, you should keep a tally of your items consumed, and tell me how you did in the comments!

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros (I know it's odd, but I've never had them)
4. Steak tartare (absolutely delicious)
5. Crocodile (has anyone tried this?)
6. Black pudding (So rich. My latest was at the Oxo Tower restaurant in London)

My black pudding on the left, nestling next to the deliciously fatty pork belly.

7. Cheese fondue (definitely – if there's cheese involved I'm there!)
8. Carp (in gefilte fish, too)
9. Borscht (had some great borscht at Cafe SVP in Vancouver, home of the infamous avocado-banana milkshake!)
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari (yes, my brief period where I ceased eating calamari is thankfully over)
12. Phở (I like beef best)
13. PB&J sandwich (a classic, though not for the cooked-fruit impaired)
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart (also, pork sausage from a London street cart)
16. Epoisses (yes, at Lumiere. It was so runny it needed its own little vessel).

My securely-contained epoisses on the left at Lumiere

17. Black truffle (sniffle – a little, but not enough so I could really taste it)
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (blackberry wine in Ontario; Japanese plum wine)
19. Steamed pork buns (yes, dim sum is one of my most favourite things)
20. Pistachio ice cream (one of the best flavours – see my second scoop!)

Me and four scoops of ice cream (coconut, pistachio, dulce de leche and black sesame at Mondo Gelato in Vancouver)

21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries (see this post)
23. Foie gras (as often as I possibly can!)
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese (at Salt
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (not so far...)
27. Dulce de leche (and the fabulous manjar from Chile)
28. Oysters (again, whenever I can get my hands on them. Here are some from Wright Brothers oyster bar in Borough Market in London).

29. Baklava (had some great baklava and mint tea with Ben on Mill Road in Cambridge)

Various types of baklava in Borough Market in South London)

30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl (does it have to be in a sourdough bowl?)
33. Salted lassi (I've only ever had mango lassi, but I'd love to try this)
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float (the best, had a great one at Helen's diner during Diner Tour)
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (in Monte's in Kingston in my student days)
37. Clotted cream tea (yes, my parents live in Devon)
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo (No! But I'd love to try it)
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects (perhaps one day)
43. Phaal (Sounds like a challenge!)
44. Goat’s milk (and many other goaty products)
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/€80/$120 or more (suddenly got into whisky last Christmas at my brother's in Scotland )

Jon's ever-growing collection of whiskies

46. Fugu (don't think it'll happen)
47. Chicken tikka masala (yes, in East London)
48. Eel (not even in sushi, or an East London eel pie!)
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut (yes, but only the once, I swear)
50. Sea urchin (once had the opportunity at Kitto, but handed it over to brave Meg)
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal (far too frequently)
56. Spaetzle (yes, I think the dumplings I had at Country Style restaurant in Toronto are the same thing)
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV (just this past weekend)
59. Poutine (the perfect after-drinking food in Kingston, again in my student days)
60. Carob chips (what are these?)
61. S’mores (fantastic idea)
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian (isn't that the one banned on the Tokyo metro it's so horrid-smelling? Would try – it's supposed to taste fairly innocuous)
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (just had some great churros at the fair in the Tuilleries in Paris)
68. Haggis (eaten outdoors on the north tip of Loch Ness)
69. Fried plantain (sounds good, though)
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho (my Chilean-born aunt makes the best)
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost (Yes! Just this summer in Bath)

The Gjetost is the far one – a sort of delicious caramel cheese!

75. Roadkill (I suppose that would depend)
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie (no real desire to try)
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong (yes, but it's so strong and smelly it's not my favourite)
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict (I hadn't tried them until about 2 years ago, but now I think they're fantastic)
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant (if only!)
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare (no hare just rabbit)
87. Goulash
88. Flowers

Salad with edible flowers bought from Hali Farm in Victoria

89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa (have tried plain harissa a couple of times recently, and that's very tasty)
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox (I'm Jewish! It's a staple)
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Well, there it is. Of the one hundred, I've missed 34. But that means I've enjoyed 66! I am looking forward to trying more of them. Especially that tasting menu at a three-star Michelin rated restaurant!

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