Alright, so not the best photo…but, what’s a guy to do when he’s cooking dinner at a friend’s house and doesn’t really feel like lugging his big camera over to snap a picture? I have to remind myself that it’s ok to resort to some iPhoetography once and awhile. I mean, after all, it’s the taste that matters, not the picture that I spend ten minutes taking while dinner gets cold! Ha, ha, ha.
After getting back into town from my worldly adventures, I had a lot of catching up to do with my friends. This past weekend, I made dinner with my friend Trina. Neither of us have had scallops for quite some time, so we decided to cook some up. The pea and jalapeño purée has a nice bit of heat, which I topped with some sautéed scallions and radishes, scallops and finished it all with a couple dollops of olive tapenade to cut the richness.
1 pork tenderloin (approx. 2 lb)
salt and pepper
Balsamic Fig Reduction:
2 shallots (thinly sliced)
1 garlic clove (minced)
3 mission figs (ends trimmed, loosely chopped)
1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
2 TSP white sugar
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cup white vinegar
3 TSP salt
2 TSP sugar
1 TSP pickling spice
1 cup fresh cherries (pitted and halved)
My Monday Night Supper Club had been on break for awhile during my Top Chef Canada ventures. Last week, we regrouped for our first potluck of the summer and had an enjoyable evening in Sandy Beach Park (which, I should note, has neither sand, nor beach…). In regards to the pickled cherries, I’m not sure why exactly I decided to quick pickle them, but I did and they were a tasty topping for the roast pork. Pork is so under-rated and always delicious! Make some this week! That is an order!
Start off by pre-heating your oven to 250 degrees. Rub the pork tenderloin with some olive oil and season all sides with salt and pepper. Pop it into a prepared baking dish and let cook in the oven for 1 hour, 15 minutes.
4 beef tenderloins
2 garlic cloves (chopped)
2 TSP freshly grated ginger
1 cup red wine
2 TBSP sirarcha
1 TBSP soy sauce
1 TBSP rice wine vinegar
1 TSP sugar
salt and pepper
5 cups chicken stock
1 13.5oz can coconut milk
1 lemongrass stalk (segmented into 2″ pieces)
1TSP freshly grated ginger
1 TSP chili flakes
1 yellow onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 cup green onions (finely chopped)
2 cups arborio rice (uncooked)
4 pieces Laughing Cow cheese (random, I know…In lieu, a 1/4 cup of cream cheese will do!)
salt and pepper
grape seed oil
I recently dined at Mercato here in Calgary for the first time ever. I know, I’m a terrible, terrible foodie. If you’ve eaten there, you know their red meat claim to fame is the ‘Bistecca’ a steak of epic proportions served with prosciutto-wrapped asparagus of equal delicious monstrosity. Perhaps I’ll share a picture of the dish at the bottom of the post (‘perhaps’ = ‘will’). Needless to say, steak has been the object of my affection ever since. Thus, this dinner recipe was born.
Before starting on the risotto, you’ll need to marinate the steaks for a few hours (at least two). Place all of the steak ingredients into a large ziploc bag, sprinkle with salt and pepper, seal and swish the bag around a few times to mix the marinade nicely. Pop the bag of steaks into the fridge for the next while. In the meantime, watch an episode of Dawson’s Creek.
When it’s getting closer to dinner time, you can start preparing the risotto. Mix the first 5 ingredients together in a medium-sized pot. Turn to medium-high heat and let cook until the liquid is just about to boil. Reduce to low heat to stay hot. Next, in a large pan on medium-high heat, cook down the onions and garlic in some olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the chopped green onions and rice to the pan, give everything a good stir and let cook for another 3-4 minutes.
At this point, start preheating your oven to 400 degrees (for finishing the steaks).
Now, start adding the hot liquid to the pan, ladle by ladle. Each time you add some liquid, stir occasionally until the rice has just about absorbed all of it, then add some more. Repeat until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is al dente, 20 minutes or so. Finally, add your Laughing Cow cheese (just because you had some in the fridge) and stir until it’s melted away into the risotto. Finish with some salt and pepper and reduce to low heat to stay warm while you cook the steaks.
Now to sear! Place a medium-sized pan (cast iron if you have one) on the stove with a bit of grape seed oil, and turn to high heat. Remove the steaks from their marinade and add to the hot pan. Let them cook for approximately 2-3 minutes on each side, then pop into the preheated oven for 6-8 minutes for a medium-rare cut. Remove and let sit for a few minutes on your cooking board before slicing.
When you’re ready to serve, portion out the risotto onto four plates followed by the (now) sliced steak. Everyone will definitely be full after this!
Total cook time…40 min (not including marinade time)
For the fifth installment of Monday Night Supper Club, we decided to head down to Sandy Beach Park for a potluck dinner. Sandy Beach Park is definitely a nice space, but I do have one mild bone to pick with it (listen up Nenshi!). It does not have any sand, nor a beach, which is generally comprised of sand. Nonetheless, ‘Sandy’ ‘Beach’ Park proved to be a great destination for our Monday night gathering. We’ve really been lucking out with the weather over the past few weeks (knock on wood) and this Monday was no different. There was nothing but sun in the sky!
We staked territory over a group of picnic tables and grills, then got to work unpacked and setting up all the food. As our dinner club has been growing in size, there’s always new individuals attending each week, so it’s always interesting to see how everyone interacts with each other. (Tammy, Jacinthe and Sarah pictured to the left)
Luckily, thus far, everyone seems to be getting along quite well, but I’m hoping for a massive Gossip Girl-esque cat fight soon. Nothing says ‘life of the party’ like some good old fashioned drama! Hopefully between the two Chelseas…Fingers crossed!
The dishes were nothing short of amazing tonight. Newcomer Mike (of Mike’s Bloggity Blog) brought some vodka soaked tomatoes (I liked to call them ‘deconstructed caesars’) and a balsamic watermelon and mint salad to the table. Funnily enough, I assumed I would also bring a watermelon and feta bites with a balsamic blueberry reduction, so we kind of had a watermelon overload on the table, but at least they weren’t exactly the same thing.
Continuing on the salad side of things, Jacinthe made an absolutely breathtaking salad using edible flowers, different greens and herbs all from her own home garden. The flowers, and their petals, were a little peppery and reminiscent of arugula. Her home-made vinaigrette was equally as impressive as the garden salad.
I just need to say salad a few more times…Sarah brought a green bean and potato salad, then Tym and Tammy both brought quinoa salads. Now the salad chapter of this story can finally come to a close.
For the main course offerings, Jacqueline brought some souvlaki chicken skewers, pitas, and appropriate toppings while Rob W barbecued some salmon. Although not pictured, Rob W seems to be growing a beard. He looked quite rugged and manly on this particular Monday.
The ‘gold star’ of the main dishes, would probably have to go to Mealan. She brought an array of sausages from a European meat shop near her home, as well as a platter of mustards, pickles, and sauces to accompany them. If the extensive lay-out of this wasn’t enough, she also made labels for each item on the tray. How Martha Stewart. I won’t lie, there may of been some phallic references/jokes happening during the barbecuing of these sausages, but that’s par for the course, right?
For desserts, Wendy (from Yelp!) brought some nanaimo bars, eclairs, and cream puffs. You know, healthy desserts! Rob M was too preoccupied ensuring that he had enough different colours of frisbees to make anything for the dinner, so he brought a pie from Safeway. Priorities Rob, priorities…
His pie was quickly put to shame, by Adria’s yogurt fruit cups made with baked wonton wrappers, and then, again, by Stephanie (fellow food blogger @globaldish) who created what was probably the most beautiful tart I have ever seen. Her blueberry buttermilk tart was really a work of art. I think everyone felt bad slicing into it, but it was equally as delicious, and simply had to be eaten. We should probably take a moment to look at it…
Amidst the prepping, grilling, eating, laughing, and talking, it seemed that we hardly noticed the sun swiftly disappearing from the sky. It’s funny, when summer begins there are so many long days, where the light lasts until after 10PM, but this Monday it was pretty much full-blown night by 9PM. Sigh, that means fall is approaching…So what do you do in the dark besides make s’mores (courtesy of Jacqueline)…No, not that! You play glow in the dark frisbee, of course!
Or maybe those are UFOs?
Here are some more pictures from our potluck night…
Digging into the food!
Sarah’s green bean and potato salad.
Mike’s vodka soaked tomatoes. I am trying this at home soon.
I’m pretty sure I told Jamie and Adria to pose casually…
Stephanie snapping a shot of the food. What can I say? It’s what we do.
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When we decided to start this Monday Night Supper Club, the point of it was not only for us to find a suitable life partners for Chelsea K and Alex, but also to seek out some great dining destinations in our city. It never ceases to amaze me the sheer number of fantastic establishments there are in Calgary, and I’m excited that these regular dining adventures are allowing us to have some delicious experiences week after week. This particular week of the supper club brought us to the restaurant Anju. Being tucked away on the corner of 5th Ave and 10th st SW, it is definitely a little off the radar. That being said, many of us had heard that this place boasted some of the best Korean fusion dishes in town. Anju actually means tapas or a dish eaten with alcohol. So, it was finally time to taste, drink and find out for ourselves!
(On a side note, we’re trying to decide on a supper club graphic, pictured above, which Chelsea K has been working on. Which one do you like? Let me know!)
For this dinner, we were offered a chef’s tasting menu to be cooked up by the chef/owner Roy Oh, so everything would be a surprise. I’m always cool with surprises, unless it’s a crazy man dressed up as a clown jumping out of my closet. That kind of surprise is not ok…
Anyway, the first dish that was brought out to us was some lobster sashimi. This was my (and I’m pretty sure everyone else’s) first time having raw lobster and it was interesting. Very fresh tasting, and seasoned nicely with a bit of after-heat.
Next, the table was served a plate of fried soft tofu bites with green onions and a tangy sauce. Oddly enough, this was one of the highlights of the dinner for me. It always manage to impress me when you can have tofu and actually enjoy it. I know you’re nodding your head in agreement.
Another great moment happened for us during the dinner when we were served some platters of chicken wings. For a moment, each person looked around the table, not knowing exactly what to think. I mean, this was a chef’s tasting after all, we thought we were being all ‘fancy‘. It was then that we were informed that these delicious wings were there only to serve as a reminder that ‘this was not fine dining’. Laughter ensued. I mean, who doesn’t like a good chicken wing? They were awesome.
Now, the time had come for the main course. We fought over pieces of marinated flat iron steak, a whole roasted Broek Acres pork shoulder (which had been brined, then slow-roasted), and also a mackeral dish. That one we left mostly for Chelsea K, since she’s the only pesco-vegetarian in the group. The meat was accompanied by butter lettuce, kimchi, and oyster kimchi so we could all make our own lettuce wraps (bo ssam in Korean)! Fun! As you can probably imagine, we all had our fair share of these. The pork was fall apart tender and I always like the heat from a good batch of kimchi.
Once we reached a point where we could eat no more, we were then served dessert. Unfortunately, my photo quality had been questionable at best throughout the night, and by the time this sweet (literally) asian pear pie with vanilla ice cream came around I was no longer the very average photographer I pride myself on being. In addition to sipping on my beloved Steam Whistle Pilsner (a beer which I will actually marry one day), the table was also served a korean drink called Soju. We had two versions, lychee flavoured and yogurt flavoured. They were refreshing and went down quite easily. I’m pretty sure I didn’t need to help myself to the Soju quite so freely…anyway…
The best part of dining Korean tapas style here at Anju was that it encouraged sharing, and conversation between everyone. This was the largest Monday Night Supper Club to date, where about half of the group did not know each other. Coupled with sitting in a comfortable atmosphere, it truly was an evening of great conversation, good jokes, and, perhaps, a couple inappropriate ones too! There’s nothing like breaking the ice over some Soju! Am I right people?
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Last week, we had been really lucky. Monday had boasted some amazing weather, which ended up being perfect for our second Monday Night Supper Club outing to Home Tasting Room. While we sat there in the early evening sun, the group decided that the following week’s dinner would simply have to involve a patio as well. Being moderately proud of my own patio, I suggested that we have the meal at my house, barbeque some pizzas, and have a grand ol’ time.
I have the bad habit of having people over for dinner parties and then trying out recipes that I have either a) never used before or b) am just experimenting with. For the most part, all ends well on the plate, but on my end, the majority of the afternoon is spent stressing out about everything and wondering why I chose to, more or less, wing it for the supper.
Luckily, my BBQ pizza potluck portion was limited to pizza sauces and the dough itself, so I didn’t go too crazy. I just threw some red wine and lemon zest into one of the sauces, because it’s summer-time and lemon zest makes everything taste better…except gravy…Except gravy.
Since this week’s potluck had a BBQ-ed pizza focus, most people brought various ingredients to serve as toppings. Tomatoes, zucchini, shrimp, arugula, basil, roasted peppers, carmelized onions, and more…oh, and different cheeses too (obviously)! Four of the group brought some appetizers to precede the pizzas.
Jacqueline brought a chilled vegetable flatbread (eaten too quickly to be photographed), Rob Waye made the women swoon with asparagus spears wrapped with brie and prosciutto…Oh Rob, you heart throb! Victoria made a nice, light carrot and radish salad with a fresh mint and honey dressing. The fourth appetizer came from Rob M. (yes, there were two Robs AND two Chelseas this night…oh my…) who was new to the Monday Night Supper Club experience. He brought a pretty solid macaroni salad. Let’s get real here, it’s not a true outdoor potluck without some macaroni salad!
So, as you would imagine, personalized pizza creation ensued. We weren’t being all too fancy this evening, so the pizza presentation was less ‘Una‘ and more ‘Hey Brie, did a six year old assemble your pizza?‘. Nonetheless, every combination that we grilled was delicious and fun was had by all! So far, everything was a success. Even the sky, which was teasing us with some dark rain clouds, decided not to rain on our
parade dinner party.
Yes, it appeared that nothing would go array on this Monday evening! That was, until someone tried to BBQ a calzone. I don’t want to name names or anything, so I’ll scramble up the letters of their (his) name and let you figure it out: ORB M.
The original goal was to make a pizza (like the one pictured). So, the calzone did start out harmless enough, but soon turned into a massive, doughy mistake. Ok, so maybe ‘massive, doughy mistake’ is a little harsh. Maybe it would be best to take a look for yourself and decide what you think of the…err…situation.
At least he ate it all…
Brie, Rachele, Chelsea K and, surprisingly, Jamie brought the desserts. Brie made a nice fruit salad with some greek yogurt, Rachele brought some tasty cheesecake squares (the kind of thing you know you shouldn’t really even eat one, but end up eating two), and Chelsea K brought an impressive fruit pie. Finally, Jamie made some chocolate cupcakes. He might look scary, but he’s really just a big, tattooed teddy bear!
Chelsea K’s pie, half-eaten.
Not to be left unmentioned, the majority of the pizza toppings were brought by Sarah, Adam, Chelsea W and Chelsea K. Without their contributions, our pizzas would of been just some cooked dough, tomato sauce, and a wish. So, I thank them for helping make that wish come true…
Thus, ends our third week of Monday Night Supper Club! For next week’s adventure, we’re headed to Anju for a chef’s table tasting menu. I have heard amazing things about this restaurant from friends, critics, food bloggers…Basically everyone in Calgary has told me that there is an amazing meal to be had there! Monday can’t come fast enough!
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