It’s hard to believe my ‘Chopped Canada Mystery Solved‘ blog series has already been going for eight weeks. I guess time flies when you’re trying to be creative with regular ingredients (or approachable with strange ones) in the kitchen. From kitchen staples like peanut butter and sriracha to the floral love-it-or-hate-it of rose water, here are the Chopped Canada-related recipes I came up with this month for Food Network Canada online.
Every year , I have a blast doing my ‘Top Chef Canada: Taking The Challenge Home‘ blog series for Food Network Canada online. When the finishing touches were being put on the inaugural season of Chopped Canada, I was lucky enough to get set to do corresponding series with the new hit show as well.
While I am slightly dreading the weeks where Chopped Canada will overlap with Top Chef Canada and I’ll be cooking twice weekly with some more unusual ingredients and combinations for Food Network Canada online, it will be good chance to spend some more time in the kitchen; something that I didn’t quite do enough of this fall.
What’s different with this current series of pieces as opposed to the Top Chef Canada-focused ones are the fact that it’s meant to make different basket items from episodes slightly more approachable (read: less bizarre) to the home cook. Trust me, there’s definitely a learning curve taking place for myself as well!
(Strolling through the Tate Modern in London)
This is part of The Canadian Food Experience Project, initiated by A Canadian Foodie, the monthly blog series encourages Canadian food writers and bloggers to embrace the Canadian culinary elements in their lives that make our country as delicious as it is!
It’s no secret that I travel a lot. I’m often away for 7-10 days of the month. Viewing from Twitter or Instagram, there’s often a misleading ‘playboy’ kind of lifestyle that I promote. My life is certainly not one big vacation. I just don’t post selfies of me getting writing done first thing in the morning, or transiting around to different chef/culinary professional interviews during the day. I mean, where’s the fun in that, right?
Like Alexandra Gill mentioned in my interview with her earlier this year, everyone’s palate gets tired. She was referring to something more short term, but nonetheless, whether it’s a week long trip where you’re hosted by a media board or have a string of events to go to, sometimes you just don’t want or care about having another bite.
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?
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