As I mentioned in my Top Chef Canada piece, I have come to really enjoy Mondays. The same goes for my friends, who frequently Charcut with me over the past few months. With the first season of Top Chef Canada now over, however, we didn’t know what to do…
Would we all go back to hating Mondays? How were we to fill the void?
So many painful questions that each of us were afraid to answer. Finally, we came to a solution. Why don’t we just keep having dinner together on Monday nights? Bam! It was that simple!
In an effort to be a tad more, well, fiscally responsible, we all agreed to follow a schedule of one week dining in and one week dining out. For our first week, we decided to stay in, and have a potluck at Chelsea’s house. There were no real restrictions on what we could bring as a dish (aside from my severe allergy to rhino meat, of course), so it was time to let kitchen creativity run its course.
Due to summer holiday plans and Calgary Stampede-ing obligations from some of the group, it was a smaller dinner, just six of us. That was ok with me because that meant less competition over the wine, as that is not a competition I like to lose. It was nice spending time together and having dinner in a casual home environment. More importantly, it was fun to cook (it’s always fun to cook) and it’s always more fun to cook and eat with friends.
Chelsea K. (we have two Chelseas, just in case things start sounding too Chelsea this, Chelsea that) bought what I think was the largest fresh salmon I had ever seen, and proceded to salt crust it, then let it roast in the oven. It smelt amazing the second I walked in the door.
Chelsea W. (pictured) prepared a nice salad with some fresh market greens, goat cheese, and, my current summer fling, fennel. Yes, things were shaping up to be quite delicious. Once Rob Waye arrived, he whipped together a couscous dish with yogurt and dill. Simple and fresh. One of Chelsea K’s friends, Kathryn, joined us for dinner as well. She brought some fresh linguine, that she had made from scratch. There are many keys to my heart, one being home-made pasta. I definitely had more than my fair share of this, I actually could not stop eating it.
Once all for food was prepped and plated, it was time to eat!
Rad table settings, as laid out by Chelsea K. I think Sarah would of been impressed had she been there!
Finally, time to eat…but first, a friendly ‘Cheers!’ before digging into the food. Yes, it seemed like the first official Monday Night Supper Club was going to be a success. The only thing that could go wrong now was dessert…
So, that’s where I came in. I had offered to bring the sweet course for the evening. Not being much of a baker, I don’t really know why I signed myself up for this one. That being said, I do make a mean pie. Well, not a pie that’s rude or anything…I mean a relatively tasty pie.
Since I like to be odd and put tea in many different dishes, I opted for an Apple Blackberry Rooibos Pie. The rooibos tea that I used had some lavendar in it, so I played that up a bit by adding some fresh lavendar, taken from my fledgling herb garden (it will get there…).
It definitely hit the spot at the end of my meal, and, much to my relief, my friends enjoyed it too. A good pie never let anyone down now did it? That being said, since I’m more or less a one trick pie pony kind of a guy, I think I’ll leave the dessert to someone else next time around! Oh, if you’ve been counting, I’ve only named five out of the six people in attendance. My friend Drew came along as well, she brought the wine. Bless her little heart.
And that folks, is the end of our inaugural Monday Night Supper Club! Next Monday, we are hitting the town and heading down to Home Tasting Room for some delicious fare. Executive chef Geoff Rogers has just updated the menu for the summer season, so we’re all super excited to see what he has in-store for us!
Not to get all ‘social media’ on you or anything, but our Monday Night Supper Club crew, and friendships within, blossomed via Twitter. We appreciate the fact that there are a lot of fantastic people out there, so we’re always looking for great individuals to come along for one of these dinner adventures, whether it’s at one of our houses, or out dining at one of the many amazing restaurants Calgary has to offer! Send one of us a tweet. Let’s do dinner!
Twitter in Attendance:
1 TBSP organic earl grey tea
1 TBSP organic rooibos tea
1 TBSP organic honey
2 TSP organic cane sugar
1 organic lime (zest and juice)
1 vintage jar or bottle (approx 1L, as vintage as possible)
lemon or lime slices for garnish (not optional)
1 pair Ray-Bans (not optional)
(Disclaimer: Slight sarcasm in the following sentences) In a world that has become so ingrained with a ‘the faster, the better’ mentality, it’s sometimes nice to just plain take your time. Whether that means riding a one speed bicycle through a hilly area of the city, or using a vintage typewriter to make some labels for your spice collection (Rob Waye), or just steeping some tea in the sun…Ok, with the exception of the tea steeping, maybe sometimes faster can be better…I’m surprised hipster culture has not yet embraced the refreshing drink that is sun tea, or maybe they have, but I just wouldn’t of heard about it…Regardless, it’s time to embrace your inner hipster. I strongly encourage a trip to your local antiques shop (with that faithful one speed, of course!) to find a totally awesome vintage jar. Then toss it in your bicycle basket, and head home to make the sun tea of your dreams.
This is pretty much as simple as it gets. Place all ingredients in jar (please tell me you did take a field trip to the antiques shop?), then fill with water. Stir until the sugar and honey have dissolved. Place on a window ledge in direct sunlight (placing jar outside in sun will work as well). Let stand for an hour and a half. Well the tea is steeping in the sun, feel free to pop in that new Bon Iver vinyl and just relax. You deserve it!
When it’s time, take the jar out of the sunlight and place in the refrigerator to cool. Once chilled, strain, serve over ice and garnish with a lemon or lime slice. Earl grey + rooibos tea = the best home-made iced tea ever. Trust me, I wouldn’t lie! Now pop on those Ray-Bans and get outside!
Yields 4 cups sun tea
Total tea time…1 1/2 hours (not including chill time)
4 cups baby potatoes (halved)
1/2 cup fresh dill (chopped)
1 lemon (juice and zest)
1/4 cup butter (melted)
salt and pepper
1 TBSP Indian spiced chai tea
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup yellow onion
1 lemon (zest, juice of 1/2)
1/2 chili powder
2 TSP cane sugar
1 TSP salt
1 TSP black pepper
4 salmon steaks
If you asked this salmon what food trend is ‘so last year’, it would probably say cedar planking! Now, these fish are all about getting a chai tea-based paste rubbed all over them. Trust me, I did a poll. The taste of these salmon steaks had me proclaim: ‘This salmon must have swam upstream in awesome before being caught!’. Yes, it was that good. I know a cook with tea a fair bit (examples A & B), and it may seem a bit odd to some of you, but I guarantee it is most often rewarding. Unless you do something really weird and add Earl Grey to a cream-based soup. That would be a disaster….or would it? I’ll try it and let you know.
First things first, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the potatoes, dill, lemon (even the lemon halves, post squeezing!), and butter in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Toss to combine. Season liberally the salt and pepper, place into a medium-sized prepared baking tray, cover, and let roast for 40 minutes. Take out once or twice to turn the potato halves.
While your potatoes are roasting away, it’s time to make your paste. You can quite easily take all of the salmon steak ingredients, aside from the salmon itself obviously, and use your food processor to combine. However, I much prefer using a mortar and pestle. It’s a good workout, and also works well if you need to get some anger out. Mash, bash, mash! Once you get the paste to a, well, paste-y consistency, rub it lovingly on each of your salmon steaks. Place into a prepared baking dish, top each steak with a slice of two of lemon as well. Cover, and place in the oven for 15 minutes.
(just in case it’s not clear, you can pop the salmon in while the the potatoes are still cooking, so both can finish up at around the same time.)
If you want to be a little bit fancier with the steaks, I like to sometimes uncover them a few minutes early, sprinkle some sugar on top of each and place under high broil to caramelize them on top. Feel free to try it out! As well, the rice-like item in the photo is kamut. It’s a cool grain! I’ve never used it before, but my mom decided to send me a bag of it? Anyway, place the salmon and potatoes on whatever type of grain/rice you please!
Dish out some salmon and potatoes to each plate, and enjoy!
Total cook time…50 min
6 cups whole milk
1/2 cup dark chocolate (chopped)
1 cup organic liquid chai concentrate
1 TSP cinnamon
vanilla whipped cream (optional)
(also optional, but cute for Valentine’s Day though!)
Super simple, super tasty, super warming. Could this be a hot beverage superhero? Sounds like it…The Chocolate Chai Lattes are a distant cousins of these guys.
In a medium-sized pot, bring the milk to a simmer. Add-in the dark chocolate, whisk until it has melted completely, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients. Whisk again, pour into mugs and enjoy! Topping with whipped cream (and sprinkles!), although perhaps slightly indulgent, is worth the few extra calories. You can always go to the gym later…
Wow, that was easy!
Total cook time…8 minutes
2 cups brewed earl grey tea
1/2 cup white sugar
3 cups soft tofu
1 10 oz can coconut milk
1 TSP vanilla
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 TBSP agar powder
*in lieu of agar, substitute with 1 cup of raw cashews, although the crème will not taste as ‘creamy’*
1/4 cup brown sugar (for topping)
Vegans will rejoice and meat-eaters shall be fooled. This recipe for vegan crème brulée is, dare I say, easier than the original version, and tastes just as delicious. I promise! Aside from the agar powder, all ingredients can be easily found at your local grocery store.
This one’s going to be nice and easy…Start off by placing the brewed tea in a small pot on the stove and add the white sugar, stirring until dissolved. Bring mixture to a simmer, and let bubble until it has reduced by half, about 15 minutes or so. In the meantime, place the tofu, coconut milk, vanilla, and icing sugar (and cashews if applicable) into a blender. Puree until smooth. Leave mixture in the blender for now.
Once the tea & sugar combo has reduced, add-in the agar powder and whisk until fully dissolved, about a 1 minute. Now, remove the lid cap of the blender, and pour the hot liquid in while ‘pulsing’. Once the liquid has blended with the puree, pour out into ramekins or small bowls, then into your refrigerator to chill until serving. The agar powder helps to thicken and set the mixture, to give it the same consistency as real crème brulée.
When you’re ready to serve, sprinkle some brown sugar on top of each ramekin, then torch (fun) or place under a broiler (not as fun) to caramelize the sugar. Serve and enjoy. Do me a favour and don’t even mention to your guests that it’s vegan until after they’ve devoured it. Good conversation topic.
Yields 6 desserts (approx. 8oz servings)
Total prep time…20 min (add at least 1 hour for chilling)
1 clove garlic
1 TSP dried oregano
1 TSP dried basil
1/3 cup chamomile tea (concentrated)
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
I’ve been going a little salad-crazy lately, but who says that’s a bad thing right? The chamomile adds a nice sweetness to the dressing, and it makes me think of summer. I made a salad of sprouts (alfafa & radish) with shallots, cucumbers, & grape tomatoes to go with it.
I concentrate the tea by steeping 1 cup of chamomile tea, removing the tea bag, and then simmering it in a small pot until it has reduced to 1/3 of it’s original volume (should take about 15 minutes).
While the tea is simmering away, feel free to zest & juice the orange, mince the garlic clove, and combine all remaining ingredients. Once the tea has cooled (pop it into the fridge to cool faster), add it to the mix. Salt & pepper to taste. Now you have a perfect dressing for your summer salad!
Serves 8-10 (depending on the size of your salad!)
Total cook time…45 min.
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