Now that fall is just around the corner, everyone is back and school and your workload is a bit more substantial (ok, a lot more substantial) than it was in August it can be hard to find extra time to put dinner on the table. While this is not quite a complete meal, both the meatballs and the pesto can be made ahead of time so when it comes to the 30 minutes between walking in the door and sitting down for supper, you’ll be ahead of the game.
Of course, these pork meatballs would also be fantastic in a variety of pasta sauces and the pesto makes a great spread for sandwiches when mixed with a little bit of greek yogurt or mayonnaise.
What you’ll need…
1 yellow onion (diced)
1 1/2 lb ground pork
1 bulb garlic (roasted, loosely chopped)
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 TBSP soy sauce
2 TSP grainy dijon mustard
1 TSP dried parsley
salt and pepper
1 clove garic
1 lemon (zested and juiced)
1 1/4 cup arugula (packed)
2/3 cup walnuts
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cook down the diced onion in a pan with a bit of canola oil on medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Place into large mixing bowl and allow to cool for a few minutes.
Next, add in remaining meatball ingredients, season generously with salt and pepper and mix with hands until well-incorporated. Roll out by hand into 20 small meatballs, approximately 1″ in diameter.
Heat some canola oil in a large pan on medium-high heat and brown the meatballs on all sides, working in two batches. Transfer to a large baking dish and let roast in the oven until completely cooked through, about 15 minutes. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.
For the pesto, place all ingredients into a blender or food processor and pulse while slowly adding some olive oil (should only need approximately 1/3 cup) until a chunky sauce forms. Scoop into a small bowl, season lightly with salt and pepper and give the pesto on final stir.
To serve, place small spoonfuls of the pesto onto a serving platter and top with the warm meatballs. The pesto will keep in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
Yields 20 meatballs, 2 cups pesto
Total cook time…30 min
1 baguette (1/4″ sliced)
1 bunch scallions (ends trimmed, halved)
1 bunch spinach (blanched, loosely chopped)
1 head raddichio (shredded)
1/2 cup sauerkraut (loosely chopped)
1 lemon (zest and juice)
1 TSP sugar
1/2 pound kielbasa sausage (tihnly sliced)
1 TBSP grainy dijon mustard
salt and pepper
So, I’ve been doing a series of events with Holt Renfrew in Calgary this month, highlighting some of the different gourmet preserves they have for the holiday season and using them in some simple, but delicious (obviously!) appetizer recipes. This past weekend, I used some of their specialty mustard with a crostini consisting of a little wilted greens salad, kielbasa sausage and roasted scallions.
Wow, it has been forever since I wrote up a little recap of our Monday Night Supper Club get-togethers. This past Monday, we all congregated at my friend Michelle’s house to have our second annual clambake. Last August, a mountain of seafood was feasted on by about fourteen of us and I’ve been craving a round two ever since.
We don’t have a traditional clambake, but, rather, use a one pot cooking method (last year’s clambake, pictured left).
Bon Appetit magazine rocks my life, so when I saw this amazing recipe for a one pot clambake in an issue last summer, I called my supper club friends and said: “That’s it! We’re going to have a god damn clambake!”
This recipe is super simple, it just involves layering the ingredients in a massive, leaving various lengths of cooking time in-between and within 45 minutes, you have the most gigantic seafood feast. Fit even for a king, perhaps…
My friend, Eric Giesbrecht, runs Meta4Foods which supplies top notch seafood to most of Calgary’s top restaurants, so I knew he could set me up with all of the shellfish I required.
I got ahold of some handsome looking oysters, mussels and manila clams from Eric. Since he flies most of his seafood in fresh the day of (thumbs up!), I was not lucky enough to land on one of his lobster delivery days so I grabbed a handful of lively lobsters from Boyd’s Seafood the afternoon of the clambake instead.
Once people started arriving for the dinner, I made everyone learn to shuck an oyster or two. I mean, I love my friends, but I don’t love them enough to shuck thirty six oysters all by myself! Does that make me a shucking asshole? Get it? I couldn’t help myself…
I also made a quick, mildly spicy mignonette made of balsamic vinegar, minced red onions and sambal oleok to top the oysters with which went over nicely.
When I’m serving oysters for a dinner party or gathering, I like to get a decent layer of ice in a large serving platter, then sprinkle some salt all over the ice to make it extra cool (like temperature-wise, not social status), then lay the shucked oysters on top.
I’ll admit it. When I first moved to Calgary six years ago, I thought this city was simply a meat and potatoes, oil and gas kind of a city. So, now, here we are. It’s 2012, Calgary is the cultural capital of Canada, the stampede is celebrating its 100th anniversary and I’ve turned into a cowboy. Ok, maybe one of those things aren’t true, but I definitely have come to appreciate my steak (and potatoes).
Actually, I love a good steak. Hell, I’d probably date a steak if it was legal (one day…), so you can imagine my excitement when Tourism Calgary invited myself and a few other Albertan food enthusiasts to experience some delicious steak-centric offerings around the city. To be more specific, five restaurants would dish out their ‘new take on steak’ to us over the course of two evenings. I’m not good at math, but I knew these two nights of eating would definitely equal one full stomach.
Attention Vegetarians: If you haven’t noticed yet, there will be many, many mentions of meat in this dining recollection. I apologize in advance and recommend that you close your eyes.
The beginning of this ‘New Take On Steak’ adventure started at Ox and Angela. Sister restaurant to Una Pizza, this establishment prides itself on a menu focusing on Latin American flavours.
Things started off with a simple bite of their feature pinxtos, a ‘CLT’, which was a skewer of house-made chorizo, cherry tomato and greens.
Inbetween the one bite starter and our servings of steak, we sampled some of their cocktails. Now, I don’t want to label myself as a lush, but I may of already been fairly familiar with their booze-related offerings.
My go-to here is definitely ‘The Ox’, a mix of rum, bitters-infused sugar and white grapes. Well, colour me thirst quenched!
Now, isn’t that a handsome drink?
It wasn’t long before we were presented with their grilled flat iron steak, which was served with a piquillo pepper confit and grilled lemons. On the side, there was a simple aioli for dipping as well as a mojo verde that had a predominant presence of cumin.
In regards to the verde, and somewhat similar to a five year old, I repeatedly asked ‘Is there cumin in this?’ until one of my table mates finally said ‘Yes.’. Also known as ‘Dan, please just eat your god damn dinner!’.
The steak also came with an array of sides like Ox and Angela’s signature ‘patatas bravas’ and ‘braised kale’, which were all delicious, but our dessert stole the show.
Served with a warm chocolate sauce for dipping, these little guys always remind me of being in Disney World as a child, eating a churro chasing after Snow White for a hug. Those were the days…
Once we were done fighting over the last bite of churro, we were whisked away to our second destination of the night. I was on my way to being full, but still had room for what Anju had prepared for us.
Anju is somewhat hidden in the downtown corner of 5th avenue and 10th street SW. Their Korean-fusion tapas offerings are unique and delicious. We had a few starter plates prior to the steak which included oysters with kimchi mignonette and ox tail tortellini, but the show starter/stopper was definitely the crispy tofu.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, this is one of the best applications of tofu that I have ever experienced. Even tofu nay-sayers will reluctantly agree. This tofu dish strikes the perfect balance between soft, crisp, sweet and savoury. Seriously, this is a tofu dish for meat-lovers. Which reminds me, why are we still talking about tofu? Back to the steak!
We washed the bold flavours back with soju, a Korean liquor that everyone should taste at least once in their lives.
And, thus, ends the first night of my tasty Tourism Calgary ‘New Take On Steak’ experience. This Friday, I’ll be sharing my second evening of steak adventures featuring bison heart, beef tartar and short rib crusted tenderloin. Stay hungry folks.
In the meantime, here are a few more pictures from dining at Ox And Angela and Anju to
drool enjoy looking at…
Patatas Bravas at Ox and Angela. Starchy goodness with just the right touch of lemon.
Ox and Angela’s grilled scallions with romesco sauce.
Ox tail tortellini topped with truffle oil at Anju.
Anju’s fresh oysters with a kimchi mignonette.
Who the hell stole my camera?
I love Calgary, I really do, but sometimes a quick trip to the mountains can clear your head and provide you with that feeling that is so rare to find in the hecticness that is downtown life: Relaxation.
Last month, Casel Marché and Cassis Bistro graciously hosted a Monday night potluck event for us last month, they also created a little contest to go along with the food. The group voted for their favourite dish of the evening and the creator of that dish would win a weekend stay in Canmore. Sweet! Sadly, I did not win, but luckily, the winner, Chelsea K., invited some of us to come enjoy the weekend in Canmore with her!
Since so many of us are used to hectic night lives, we decided to keep things low key, just staying in, talking, occasionally frequently laughing and playing board games.
One of the board games in particular, Settlers of Catan, which Mitchell brought, was new to most of the group. I could tell they were skeptical, Mike especially, about the game and how nerdy it might be, but everyone was soon paired up, plotting and strategizing against each other. Yes, it soon became a board game blood bath between teams of nerds.
On Saturday morning we went for brunch at Chez Francois, which was not the tastiest breakfast food I’ve ever had, but provided us with some much needed greasy fried goodness.
Next, we headed over to Communitea, which is probably the cutest little cafe that I’ve seen in a long time (sorry Higher Ground, I still love you too!).
They had a staggering selection of teas, about eighty I believe, and a food menu that was gluten-free and vegan friendly. Hippies rejoice!
Jokes aside, it was a really adorable space and I will definitely be making a point of coming back here next time I’m in Canmore. And, yes, this picture below is of myself, wearing a tea cozy…and Lori’s glasses…in Communitea…and, no, I had not been drinking.
I know, right? Nice moustache…
Once we’d had our caffeine fix, we strolled the main street, popping in and out of shops with names like ‘Arty Farty‘ and ‘Gingerella‘, but as charming as these places were, nothing could compare to a run-in with Santa Claus and his motorcycle.
Apparently the reindeer were too hungover to make a public appearance this weekend, so Santa was out buzzing around town on a two-wheeler. He graciously posed for a picture with Lori, then went on his merry way.
After heading back to the condo, we took a quick dip in the hot tub, did some yoga (lesson courtesy of Jacinthe) and went to buy some groceries for supper.
Jacinthe and I prepared dinner in the kitchen, while Chelsea K., Sarah, Mike and Jacqueline built a gingerbread house for dessert. It was a kit with instructions, so I knew they’d be fine unsupervised.
I have been on a few mountain getaway weekends before and I know that though the kitchens are generally well equipped with tools, they lack spices, oils, etc…that help make a great meal. Unlike my regular city self, I planned ahead and packed up a bag full of miscellaneous spices, vinegars, etc…to aid us in creating a feast fit for Sasquatch.
For starters, we dished out some lemon and white wine risotto topped with garlic butter shrimp.
For the main course, we served a simple roasted chicken (seasoned with Charcut’s top secret Alley Burger spice mix! Yes!), confit rutabagas, rosemary roasted butternut squash, braised kale and zucchini. A very rustic, hearty mountain feast indeed.
Following dinner, and demolition of freshly built gingerbread house (dessert), we busted out the board games for another night in. That evening’s game of Settlers of Catan took closer to three hours to complete. I think by the time winner had conquered, we were all too mentally exhausted to do anything else and just went to bed.
Sunday came so quickly and it was time to pack up and head back to Calgary. Feeling relaxed and refreshed, we grabbed one more drink to go from Communitea and got onto the highway. Every single time I drive away from the mountains I also think to myself that I don’t come visit them nearly enough as I should. This year, that shall change!
For now, I’m refuelled and ready to face another busy week. Can’t wait for the holiday parties to start, how about you?
(Note: All photos, aside from Lori with Santa, are courtesy of Mitchell and Chelsea K. Thank you both for capturing some great moments throughout the weekend!)
Twitter in attendance:
Ok, I just have to sneak these two shots in. If you can guess which ladies these are, you win a fantastic prize pack. (prize pack still TBD)
Let’s face it, Halloween is so last week. I love costumes (i.e. dressing up as a Spice Girl) as much as the next guy, but come the beginning of November I’m solely focused on my Christmas wish list…and perhaps my moustache too, but I digress…
If you have to buy a present for the ‘foodie’ in your life, don’t just settle for a steak and potatoes kind of a gift. Pardon the pun, but think outside of the box a little bit. I know cookbooks aren’t generally part of my aforementioned ‘outside of the box’ category, but these two picks I found at Indigo are anything but standard issue..
Odd Bits: How To Cook The Rest Of The Animal by Jennifer McLagan will transform any leftover brains, hooves, or eyeballs you may have hands into surprisingly delicious dishes. True lovers of all things culinary definitely have a sense of adventure!
The second book to is Domenica Marchetti’s The Glorious Pasta of Italy. Flip through the pages (Warning: food porn quality photos. NSFW) and there will be types of pasta that you’ve probably never heard of before. All the more reason to try them out!
Since you know a true foodie loves to host dinner parties, it’s impossible to go wrong with this Scrabble: Cooking edition board game. I found it in the seasonal Calendar Club Shop while searching for a Buffy The Vampire Slayer calendar. They don’t make those anymore apparently, but at least I got excited about the culinary-centric game!
Definitely boasting some of the best pizza in the downtown core, a gift card to Double Zero would definitely win the heart of any foodie. If you’re thinking of buying me this one, be sure to find me a date too. Hey! A guy’s got to try, right?
Sticking with the dining out present inspiration, nothing says ‘Let’s go for some charcuterie and cocktails at Charcut’ quite like a sharp Michael Kors sweater. Actually, just any nice article of clothing found in Harry Rosen would be welcomed under a foodie’s tree. I mean, we spend all our money on food, right?
No foodie’s life is complete without a camera. More specifically, an SLR. You should probably buy a witty food blog domain name to go with it. Everyone’s a critic, er, food blogger these days, and this Nikon D3100 on sale at Black’s Photogrsphy is a great one to get started with.
Ok Santa, let’s do this.
If YOU would like to get a kick start on your Christmas shopping, The CORE is giving away a $100 CORE gift card! All you have to do is tweet a link to this blog post to your followers. Be sure to tag @COREshopping in your tweet with the #TwasTheNight hashtag to be entered in the draw to win!
One final plug…The CORE is throwing a massive holiday shopping benefit called ‘T’was The Night’ on November 30 from 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. that will feature late night shopping and a performance by rad Canadian musician Chantal Kreviazuk! The tickets are just $15 and all of the proceeds to go to the BeCause Initiative of the United Way and the National Music Centre Project, two great Calgary charities. You can buy your tickets at www.coreshopping.ca to join me there!
- Roasted Garlic Pork Meatballs and Walnut Pesto
- Roasted Cauliflower and Bacon Soup
- Coconut and Acorn Squash Bisque
- Winter Squash, Tomato and Split Pea Stew
- Honey Roasted Chicken Thighs with Tomato and White Bean Cassoulet
- Appetizers & Co.
- Ask Dan
- Calgary & Area
- Season 2
- Season 3
- Something Sweet
- Top Chef Canada: Taking The Challenge Home
- United States