Thursday, May 31, 2012

Spot Prawns on Toast... Just Doin' Some Good

There is just so much good in the world. 

Like when you are waiting to cross the street at an unmarked intersection and someone slows down to let you cross.

Or when you're sitting outside a cafe on your day off, sippin' back a london fog and a puppy comes up and starts jumping all over your feet wanting to play.... I might have known this particular puppy. But even if I didn't, I'd say that'd make for a pretty darn good evening.

And when a total stranger goes out of their way to do something nice for you and doesn't ask anything in return. Even refuses something in return. Just to be nice and helpful.

Or when someone simply smiles and says hello for no reason at all. It always catches us off guard but why should it? Say hello people!

And when you totally black out from too much gin, lose your wallet on the way home - which somehow still contains 50 bucks even though you were buying rounds of shots for all your friends - gets returned by a good Samaritan....with the money still in it.

Of course there's the crap. But why focus on the crap? It's easy to. Contagious, even. But it doesn't feel good. Not really. Oh, it might for a moment or two - but in the end the anger, frustration, sadness, alienation, poopy-pants feelings take over. I'm not saying don't vent if you feel upset - do it. Let it out. But then move on. Silver lining and all that bullshit, right? Right.

Something good right now? Spot prawns. 

Wild B.C. spot prawns come into season but for a couple of months a year, May - June. If you think you've had prawns before, you ain't seen nothing yet. These little babies are usually bought live, quickly prepared/cooked, and their meat is as succulent, tender and rich as lobster. They can also pinch your wallet like lobster but it's a seasonal treat that's well worth the pennies. Seriously. I am not joking. You want these prawns.

When buying spot prawns, look for nice pink crustaceans, with firm heads and tails that curl up under it. If you're lucky, they'll still be wiggling in the case. Watch your fingers after you get them home, they have a good poker at the end of their nose, and put them and their packaging in a bowl of ice in the refrigerator until ready to cook - preferably that day. They deteriorate rapidly and if their heads start to go black - it's a sign the meat is deteriorating. So cook em and eat em quick! If you aren't using them that day, immediately remove the heads - which can be frozen to make a future stock - and keep wrapped over ice for up to 3 days. Do NOT soak in water to clean them. These little babies are live shellfish and if you do that, you will kill them = not good to eat. You also don't have to worry about de-veining them either because they aren't the same category of fish as your ordinary prawns. Holla!

For more information on the spot prawn fishery as well as preparation information, click here

For succulent, simple, easy spot prawns on toast... Continue reading.

Spot Prawns on Toast

Serves 2 as an appetizer or 1 as a main protein.

12 Live Spot Prawns, (heads removed if desired)
2 Thick Slices Sourdough Bread (or carb of your choice).
1/4 C Dry White Wine.
1/4 C Butter, unsalted.
2 Cloves Garlic, thinly sliced.
Small Handful Flat Leaf Italian Parsley, finely chopped.
Kosher Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.
Lemon Wedge for garnish.

What to Do:

Turn your BBQ or Broiler to high. 

As that heats, place a large frying pan over medium heat with half the butter. Meanwhile season the prawns with salt and pepper. Once the butter starts to sizzle and brown slightly, toss in the garlic and prawns. Cover and cook about 30 seconds, flip, re-cover and cook another 30 seconds or so.

Remove the lid and and gently add the wine. Allow it to reduce for about a minute or so to allow the alcohol to cook off.

Add the parsley and other half of the butter, remove from the heat and toss well. Set aside until just cool enough to handle.

As those cool, place your bread on the grill and toast one side. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Remove the cooked prawns from the shells (and snap off heads if not eating) and place on prepared toast. Spoon the butter, garlic and parsley business that's left in the pan over the plated prawns, sprinkle lightly with salt and serve with a little lemon wedge if desired.


What kind of good do you see in the world? What kind of good do you give to the world? Do you try to focus on the positive? Or is that kind of thinking just annoying as crap?


This post is linked up with Whole Foods Wednesday; Cast Party Wednesday; Frugal Days & Sustainable Ways; Showcase Your Talent Thursday; Full Plate Thursday; Tastetastic Thursday; The Hearth & Soul Blog Hop; Tasty Tuesdays; Slightly Indulgent Tuesday; Tuesday Talent Show;

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Mashed Potatoes

The Lowdown:

Mike Bannon, 2012
Potatoes, as everyone knows, are the blue jeans of cooking. They can be as boring or out-there as you want. You can fry them, deep fry them, saute them, mash them, smash them, thrash them, mush them, stuff them, bake them, flake them. You can turn them into pies, fries, or chips, or dips. You can salt them, butter them, or coat them in any concoction. They can be served for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or any snack in between. Yes, they truly are easier than a drunk prom date.

Potatoes, to me, have grown old and boring. They are sort of stuck in the pub fare fries section of the culinary sphere. Perhaps even in the I'm to lazy to make dinner so I'll make peas and mashed potatoes with ground beef section. By now, I feel like I've explored every avenue of patatoville. However, that theory was blown to smithereens when I went on vacation. Very rarely do I get surprised by a meals deliciousness when I go out for dinner. I always feel like the three bears story. It's too cold, it's too salty, it's just too unsatisfactory. Period. I'm not picky, so to say, I just have high expectations when I'm spending money on a meal that I could cook much better. I'm pretty sure we've all been there.

On the flip side, there are those rare occasions where you find a diamond in the rough. A great meal that seems to be a gift from the gods, tailored just for you. For me, this was the apple cinnamon mashed potatoes. Well, to be honest, I have no clue if they actually were apple cinnamon mashed potatoes. The menu was in Spanish, which I don't speak, and they looked like regular mashed something-or-anothers. The point being, if they were potatoes, they opened up my mind to the possibilities of potatoes once again. Good bye pub fare, hello renewed love for potatoes! Also, make enough for left-overs, because these make excellent "hash browns" for breakfast the next day.

The Playlist:

3 Potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 Apple, peeled and finely cubed
1 Cinnamon stick, whole
1 Cinnamon stick, crushed (using a mortar & pestle)
1 tbsp Apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp Canola/Vegetable oil
1 tsp Brown sugar (or honey)
1/2 tsp Vanilla
2 tbsp Ranch (or sour cream)
2 tbsp Butter
Salt & Pepper, to taste

The Skinny:

  1. Boil potatoes and cinnamon stick in enough water to fully cover the potatoes. Cook until they are soft to the touch.
  2. While potatoes are boiling, saute apple cubes in the vinegar, brown sugar, crushed cinnamon stick, and oil. Cook until each side is browned then turn off the heat and cover.
  3. When potatoes are done, remove the cinnamon stick and add the ranch, butter, salt, and pepper. Mash until desired consistency, then add the apple cubes (which should be soft, but not mushy by now). Mix everything together.
  4. Serve warm and enjoy.

Featured on: Premediated Leftovers, 33 Shades of Green, Chef in Training, Food Renegade

Stay Rad - h

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Where did all the rum go? Oh yeah. In my face.

Happy post-a-recipe-from-another-blog post lovelies!

So this week I got to thinking... When it comes to food, where does inspiration come from? 

Is it ever possible to be inspired to create something anew?

Or has everything been done (and eaten) before us?

And if that is the case... Is there ever such thing as an original recipe? 

And in such, when - as food bloggers and cooks and food lovers alike - do we begin to plagiarize and/or steal others ideas?

Are we ever really unique? Or are we just thieving gluttons?

In light of this I decided to take a different spin on post-a-recipe-from-another-blog this week. Rather than just take someone else's ideas head on, I blurred it a bit.
Kristina @  Spa Bettie is a fabulous blogger and a terrific lady. She's always coming up with dishes that inspire me as well make my mouth water. She's got a talent for writing interesting posts while taking just gorgeous photographs.... Not to mention the fact that she makes me giddy with giggles.  And if there's one way to my heart it's with humour. And food. Of course. The dame's got both. 

Inspired by her Homemade Bailey's Irish Cream, Bottles in Ice, and Smores Shots in Chocolate Glasses, I decided to take on the world of booze myself. 

I discussed and debated with friends to create a truly collaborative - if not original - beverage. It was sweet yet sour, refreshing yet familiar. And ulimately tasty! And boozy! What else can one ask for to whet one's whistle? 

It was after much experimentation I had to ask, "where did all the rum go?"....and then inevitably answered myself, "oh right. In my face."....oops.

I present you with .... just in time for the warmer weather .... Summer Strawberry Mojitos. 

*Try to find strawberries and mint locally available to you. I received mint in my CSA this past week and still had frozen strawberries from them on hand. If not available, be patient. Summer will arrive and with it the strawberries. And where there's strawberries, oh. OH! There will be mojitos.

Summer Strawberry Mojitos

serves one drink

2-3 Oz White Rum.
10-15 Mint Leaves, depending on size.
2 Frozen Strawberries, thawed (Or sub 2 Fresh if seasonally available to you) + 1 Fresh.
1/2 Oz Organic Cane Sugar Simple Syrup (or sub agave nectar; local honey).
1/2 Can Soda Water (or if you want to get really crazy, ginger beer).
1 Lime for Juice with 1 Thin Round Cut Out.
Ice Cubes.

What to Do:

Place the mint, lime juice, simple syrup, strawberries, and rum in a martini shaker (or mason jar).

Taking a wooden pestle (or a wooden spoon) massage/muddle the mint into the bottom of the container up to 15 turns to release the oils from the mint.

Toss in some ice, cover and shake well to combine. Give it a good 15 seconds or so of hard vertical shaking action.

Pour into a chilled serving glass and top up with soda water or ginger beer.

Garnish with a straw, lime round and the last strawberry.

Drink baby drink.
What do you think about creating original dishes? Or being creative in general? Has it all been done before? When are we stepping on other people's toes? 


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Homemade Indian Pakora

The Lowdown:

In my world, pakoras are Saturdays - or at least, they used to be. During the summer months, on Saturdays, my parents would go to the farmer's market and pick up some homemade pakoras and samosas from a local vendor. I of course was 17 and too cool to be seen in public with them. However, upon their arrival back home, it was the perfect treat for a mini version of myself that was most likely a touch hungover. Actually, it's the perfect treat for anyone. These are some serious flavour bombs. Flavour nuclear warheads, to be exact. If you're particularly health conscious, you can always tell yourself that they are healthy because they are just vegetables. Or, if you're like me, you can just eat 400 of them and feel like a piece of shit for the rest of the day. After all, saturdays are a treat (until you work in the bar industry).

Little known fact, but my old stomping grounds Terrace, B.C. (oh man, still trying to forget about that) has one of the highest Sikh populations per capita. Being a fanatic of the South Asian cuisine, this was a blessing, because we had an assortment of great Indian restaurants. Okay, assortment is a bit of an overstatement. There were two of them. But in my defense, they were both amazing. If you need further convincing, I will have no problem using Jedi mind tricks... or back, back, B (if you're well versed in the Mortal Kombat series). Either way, since then I have only gone out for South Asian cuisine twice (once being a total disaster because we thought we could handle 7/10 on the spice scale. That would be great, except that south Asian spice and North American spice are two completely different realms of pain), so I have been craving these for some time now.

It's almost a shame that this is my first time cooking these for myself. Although part of growing older is understanding our capabilities. I, for one, have been cursed with the ability to get injured doing mundane tasks (pretty sure it's genetic... thanks G'pa). Hot oil = pain. 'Nuff said. However, this week is our blog/cookbook challenge. Challenge might be a bit overkill, but never the less, we are supposed to engage in a recipe from another blog or cookbook. So, as I was cruising through blogs hoping for some sort of inspiration I came across Majulas Kitchen. Up until this point, I would have never considered making pakora on my own, but in the spirit of giving everything the old fashioned college try... Cowabunga dudes.

The Playlist:

1 cup Besan (Chickpea flour)
1/4 cup Rice flour (Optional)
1 tsp Garam Marsala
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Coriander (dhania), coarsely ground
1 tsp Cumin (jeera), coarsely ground
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
3 cloves Garlic
1/2 tsp Salt
3/4 cup Water
 1/2 cup Cilantro (hara dhania), coarsely chopped

1 Sweet potato, small cubes
1/4 head Cauliflower, small florets
1 Onion, diced
**A variety of vegetables go great in pakora.

Oil (for frying)

The Lowdown:

  1. Combined 10 ingredients into a blender and mix until a pancake-like batter is formed. If it is too runny add more besan, if it is too thick add more water. Set aside for 30 minutes so flavours can mature.
  2. Boil potato for 5-10 minutes to allow to partially cook. Strain, then add to the rest of the vegetables. Combine the batter, vegetables, and cilantro and mix until every piece of vegetable is evenly coated.
  3. Bring 1.5 inches of oil in a large wok up to 350* (a small drip of batter should float and brown in 30-45 seconds). Using a tablespoon carefully place a dollop of the mixture into the oil (4-5 should fit into the wok at one time). Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until batter is brown.
  4. Remove from the oil and place on a plate with paper towel to soak up the unwanted oil. Serve immediately. Goes well with a variety of chutneys.

Featured on: Premeditated Leftovers, 33 Shades of Green, Chef in Training, Food Renegade, Lady Behind the Curtain,

Stay rad - h

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Homage to a 1980's Sweet Treat

Happy Thursday my sweets! 

This week Haydn brought you a treat for beer lovers and now I'm bringing you a treat for sweet lovers! 

Why you ask? Because you are my sweets and I love you so I figured why not give my sweets a sweet?

Sweets for sweets!

Now, I'm not a huge dessert fan (says the girl who posted a beet chocolate cake last week and this post this week) but I do like a little somethin' somethin' from time to time... And this little ditty fits that bill.

I'm talking chocolate covered strawberries. Ooooooh yeah.

But not in that cheesy 1980's seduce-your-flight-instructor-to-the-tune-of-Take My Breath Away kind of chocolate covered strawberries. No, wait. I do mean those kind of chocolate covered strawberries. Because strawberries dipped in chocolate is hot. And so were 1980's movies. Like this one... OR this one... OR this one!

The real kicker here though are the pistachios. They add a salty, crunchy texture to the mix. And who doesn't want to put something sweet and salty in their mouth? I do! I do! And I did...

Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries with Crunchy Pistachios


1 Pint Fresh, Organic Strawberries, washed and well dried & sliced into halves.
1 C Dark Chocolate Baking Disks (the higher quality, the better).
1/2 C Shelled Pistachios, roughly chopped.

What to Do:

In a double boiler - I set a glass bowl over a medium sized pot - bring 1-2 C of water to a boil. Make sure the water in the pot isn't touching the bowl. 

Reduce heat to a medium simmer and add the chocolate to the dry bowl. Stirring very regularly (almost constantly), gently melt the chocolate. Once melted, remove from the heat so the chocolate doesn't burn and set aside.

As the chocolate melts, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Now, holding onto the greens of the berries, gently dip the strawbs into the chocolate, followed by the pistachios. Set on parchment paper. Repeat until finished. Place in the refrigerator to cool for at least 30 minutes

Serve with a side of sexy... Or maybe some dark red wine.


What's your favourite bit of the 80's? Or do you think we should try to forget them as quickly as possible? (both answers are fair).


This post is linked up with Whole Foods Wednesday; Cast Party Wednesday; Simple Lives Thursday; Showcase Your Talent Thursday; Full Plate Thursday; Tastetastic Thursday; Fresh Bites Friday; Fight Back Friday; The Hearth & Soul Blog Hop via The 21st Century Housewife; Tasty Tuesdays; Slightly Indulgent Tuesday; Tuesday Talent Show;

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Strange Brew Diaries #1 - Driftwood Brewery

The Lowdown:

["This movie was shot in 3B - three beers - and it looks good, eh?" - Bob McKenzie.]

Remember being a kid in a candy store? All those choices. All those, seemingly, difficult decisions. Well, this same feeling can be recreated when you're 19+ in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia. I've heard a rumor on more than one occasion that we have more micro-breweries per capita than anywhere in the world. With a population of 344,000 for the greater Victoria region (a mere 80,000 for Victoria), we support five breweries, four brewpubs, and two cider houses. Needless to say, we love our local brew. I am no exception to this. 

Unlike a lot of cities that boast abnormally high amounts of beer-snobs, Victoria is fairly mellow. We know what we like and we have no desire to defend or push our opinions (at least while we are sober). That, and we don't have the urge to produce the hoppiest beer ever (that a lot of west coast American Breweries seem to do). Don't get me wrong, I love me a good IPA and the distinguished bite that it gives. But seriously, extremely hoppy does NOT always equal extremely good. I'm sick of going to beerfests and listening to people only talk about the hoppiest beer they've had. News flash, there are dozens of varieties of beers for a reason. So get off your high-horse, get rid of your pompous attitude, try thinking for yourself (aka not just following fads), and explore the amazing variety of craft beers that your local region has to offer.

[(To Pam in a beer tank that's being flooded with beer) " My brother and I used to say that drownin' in beer was like heaven, eh? Now he's not here, and I've got two soakers... this isn't heaven. This sucks" - Bob McKenzie.]

This, as the title kinda sorta states, is my first ode to one of my favourite local breweries and one of my favourite movies. This episode features three beers from the all-star line up that Driftwood Brewery offers. I personally love their desire to create west coast variations of traditional beers (excuse for for 5 minutes while I refresh my refreshments). Yup, that was good.

I've never cooked with beer before. I mean, how could you possibly have the will power to let a beer sit in the fridge all lonely, begging you to consume it, while it waits for the day that it can be used in some (hopefully) glorious experiment. Mmmmmmm beer. I mean, it's the only alcoholic beverage that is acceptable to drink for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Seriously, I'm sure Captain Crunch even has a beer pairing (although,that shit will still cut the roof of your mouth). Anyway, this is the first three course beer-oriented meal plan that I have produced. I hope you enjoy all, or one of these recipes, and that they maybe inspire you to try this with your local breweries. I will definitely be doing this with the remaining 10 local breweries so check out the Strange Brew Diaries periodically.

[(Bob Mckenzie to his dog) "Eh... Hosehead, once you get there you can have all the free beer and sausages you want" - Bob McKenzie.]

The Playlist:

Driftwood Ale Onion Soup

4 Red onions, sliced thinly
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 cup Butter
3 cups Driftwood Ale
4 cups Beef stock
3 tbsp Red wine
1 tbsp Grainy mustard
1 sprig Rosemary
Parsley, chopped for garnish

Driftwood Farmhand No-Knead Bread

4 cups Wholegrain flour
1/2 cup Wholegrain flour
1/2 cup Water (as hot as your tap goes)
12 oz Driftwood Farmhand Ale
2 1/2 tsp Yeast
1/2 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Salt

Driftwood White Bark & Lemongrass Muscles on Pappardelle Noodles 

2 lbs Salt Spring Island muscles
1 lb Manila Clams
2 cups Driftwood White Bark Belgian-Style Wit
3 Shallots, diced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 stalk Lemongrass, inner core only minced
1 tbsp Parsley, minced
2-4 tbsp Butter
1 tbsp Olive oil
1 tsp Red mustard seed, freshly ground
1 tsp Orange zest
1/2 tsp Chili flakes (optional)
1 box Pappardelle noodles
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Cornstarch & Water, to thicken sauce if desired.

Beat Caprise Insalata w/ Driftwood Ale Balsamic Reduction

3 Beats, boiled and pealed
250g Buffalo mozzarella*
3 Tomatoes, sliced in disks
10 - 15 Fresh basil leaves
10 - 15 slices, Spicy smoked meat**
1/2 cup Driftwood Ale
1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
2 tsp Orange zest
1-2 tbsp Honey, depending on sweetness desired

*I prefer a sharp cheddar though.
** Capicollo works well, or any spicy salami.

The Skinny:

 Driftwood Ale Onion Soup
  1. Melt butter in a large sauce pan. Add the onions and garlic and saute for about 40 minutes.
  2. Add wine to deglaze pan for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes. Remove rosemary sprig and serve warm. You may also serve with crusty bread and Gruyere cheese to make it a more authentic French onion soup.

Driftwood Farmhand No-Knead Bread
  1. Mix water, yeast, sugar, and 1/2 cup flour into a large bowl. Cover with a dampened cloth and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  2. Mix in Driftwood Farmhand ale. Once mixed in, add the remaining flour and salt and mix until a tacky ball forms. If it is too dry add more beer, and if it is too tacky (sticking to bowl and not forming a ball) add more flour. This is not a science.
  3. Cover with a warm damp cloth and allow to sit for 4 hours. If you want to speed up the process, place in an oven that is around 70*F for 2 hours. It works best if you turn on your oven and set it to 150* then turn it off for about 10 minutes (of course, every oven is different).
  4. Form dough into a ball by scraping the outside of the bowl with a non-stick rubber scraper and putting in towards the centre. Take this ball and place it on a well floured surface. Form it into the desired shape (I prefer the shape of a French loaf). Sprinkle flour on top.
  5. Put cornmeal on a heavy baking pan and place the loaf shaped dough onto the baking pan. Cover with a dry towel and allow to rise for another hour. Take a sharp knife and put a long slit down the centre of the loaf.
  6. Place an oven-safe dish half full of water on the lower oven rack and the baking pan (with the dough) on the middle oven rack. Bake at 425* for 35 minutes.
  7. Place bread on a cooling rack and allow to cool.

Driftwood White Bark & Lemongrass Muscles on Pappardelle Noodles
  1. Rinse and de-beard the muscles and clams under cold water. Discard any of the muscles or clams that do not close, as they are dead. Set aside.
  2. Cook the pasta as directed on the packaging. Set aside.
  3. In a large, shallow pot add the oil, shallots, garlic, salt & pepper, and lemon grass. Cook on medium heat until shallots start to become translucent (about 3 minutes). Add the Driftwood White Bark and bring to a rolling boil, then add the clams and muscles and cook until they open (about 5-10 minutes). After cooked, transfer the muscles and clams into a separate bowl.
  4. To the pot: add parsley, 2 tbsp of butter, chili flakes, orange zest, and mustard seed. Bring this to a boil and add more butter if desired (helps reduce the bitterness).
  5. Place the muscles and clams onto the noodles and drizzle sauce onto the pasta.
  6. Crusty bread can be used to soak up the remaining sauce.

Beat Caprise Insalata w/ Driftwood Ale Balsamic Reduction
  1.  Slice the beets, tomatoes, and cheese about 1/3 inch thick. Layer the salad so that equal amounts of each ingredient are present (IE: beat, tomato, salami, cheese, basil, etc.)
  2. In a large, shallow sauce pan combined the Driftwood Ale, honey, orange zest, and balsamic vinegar. On medium-high heat bring to a simmer and allow for the mixture to reduce to a syrupy texture (about half of the volume).
  3. Add 2 tbsp more Driftwood Ale to the reduction and mix well (this will make the beer's flavour more pronounced).
  4. Drizzle on the caprise insalata and enjoy.

Stay Rad - h