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Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Tea Cozies at Shaktea

Are you looking for a unique Christmas gift for a food lover? Look no further. Quincey Erin Tea Cozies at Shaktea are teapot warmers that are cute, functional, environmentally friendly, locally made, affordable and one of a kind.

Quincey Erin is a Vancouver "Maker of stuff". She makes these Tea Cozies from recycled sweaters - see 

Learn more about Tea Cozies at or see them in action at Shaktea warming their quality teas sipped with their on-site delicious freshly baked goodies.

 Sold Exclusively at Shaktea
3702 Main Street
Vancouver BC

Monday, 29 November 2010

Poutine Business Lunch

Who would have guessed that one of the better Poutines in Vancouver can be found at Glowbal Grill.

For non-Canadian readers who may not be familiar with Poutine, this is a French Canadian dish consisting of french fries topped with fresh cheese curds and covered with gravy. Decadent, delicious and definitely not the healthiest lunch.

Poutine is served at Glowbal Grill next to all their steak platters. Our waiter was nice enough to substitute poutine for the whipped potatoes that come with the grilled wild salmon (with lemon vermouth butter). Thank you, I really enjoyed it.

Glowbal Grill is one of the very few Yaletown restaurants that have not changed name, management or location since it first opened over a decade ago.

Glowbal Grill
1079 Mainland Street
Vancouver, BC

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Buffalo Meat Again

Once again, somerville kitchen served buffalo meat (see October 3 entry - Buffalo Stew). A buffalo roast made its way to somerville kitchen from someone who knows someone who hunts and gave her fresh buffalo meat. It was marinated and all I had to do was roast it.

Roast was served with a medley of steamed vegetables and mashed turnips and carrots.

One of the public somerville kitchen followers, Mr. Orange, joined the dinner party contributing a potato baby that turned very quickly into mashed potato to go with the meal.

 Mr. Orange was also a guest photographer of the platter and provided a kitchen tip.

Kitchen Tip
An easy way to warm up plates is to stack them up in hot water for a bit before serving the food in them (dry before serving). Easier and more energy efficient than using ovens or other means as plate warmers.

Thank you Mr. Orange.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Holiday Kebbeh

Followers of somerville kitchen would have seen Kebbeh referenced throughout the blog (see links at end of post). Kebbeh is always associated with holidays in Lebanon, mainly on Christmas and New Year's Day. So when challenged to bring a Lebanese holiday appetizer to a work party, Kebbeh "Tababish" first came to mind. These are Kebbeh patties deep fried and can be eaten hot, warm or cold - ideal for the party.

For the adventurous readers who want to experiment with this, here is the basic Kebbeh recipe.

- Rinse 3 cups of bulgur wheat, drain water, and sprinkle with 2 tsp salt
- In a food processor, grate one onion, sprinkle with salt, pepper and cinnamon
- Add 2 lbs extra lean ground beef, 1 tsp salt and 1/3 tsp baking soda
- Grind in the food processor until smooth

You can then make Kebbeh into any of endless variations. More on Kebbeh at:
- August 11 entry - Leftovers Mixed Buffet
- November 4 entry - Pumpkin Kebbeh
- November 18 entry - Yogurt Cooking With White Cat

Or participate in the contest and win a Kebbeh Dish (see November 13 entry - Lefett (Pickled Turnips)

Friday, 26 November 2010

Discovering Seb's Market Cafe

A very pleasant discovery for breakfast - Seb's Market Cafe hiding on Broadway between Fraser and Main. Freshly made breakfast and lunch options (and yes, there are many options). "Eggs Any Style" come with half a dozen of accompaniments options (my choice was the turkey sausage). And omlettes, benny's and scrambled eggs come in half a dozen versions each.

Add to this a variety of coffees, smoothies and freshly squeezed juices, not to mention a full bakery (all types of breads made with whole wheat) and retailing of kitchen ware, dips and preserves, and fruit wines, all in less than 700 square feet of elegant space. 

The freshly squeezed orange juice was the hit though. It came to the table almost foaming with freshness that I thought they mistaken my order for a smoothie. But no, it was a huge glass of delicious fresh organic oranges squeezed few seconds before serving.

And for the best value in the city - large glass for $3.95!

Check it out, worth the visit. I hear it gets busy for weekend brunch, but it is open at 6:30 on weekdays and 7:30 on weekends - this may be the only breakfast option open that early east of Main.

Seb's Market Cafe
592 East Broadway
Vancouver, BC

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Happy (American) Thanksgiving

Given that I spend almost one third of my life in the US these days, it is only appropriate that somerville kitchen celebrates the American thanksgiving. But, as per the Canadian thanksgiving (see October 11 entry - Happy Thanksgiving (Canada)), chicken is the somerville kitchen turkey.

Another twist to the traditional meal is serving it in tapas style portions.

The chicken was accompanied by:
- Turnips and carrots mashed with butter and lemon juice
- Brussels sprouts grilled in butter
- Croquettes de Farce - toasted stove top stuffing with nuts and dried cranberries
- Mashed potatoes and gravy
- somerville kitchen dried cranberry coleslaw (see October 21 entry for recipe - Soup & Salad)

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American followers.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Appliance Crisis at somerville kitchen

My gas oven stopped working and it is too old to invest in fixing it. A wonderful friend saved the day with a toaster oven until I buy a new gas stove (Thank you). The toaster oven was put into action with a home made croque monsieur snack tonight.

Talking about croque monsieur, keep an eye on the results of a taste test currently taking place of the varied croque monsieur served in the city. The winning one will be featured on somerville kitchen in the next two to three weeks.

Mini Contest
Everyone who sends me (to information on recommended gas range model, brand and where to buy it will win a small bag of home baked goodies once the new stove is in (and that is whether I buy what you recommended or not). 


Tuesday, 23 November 2010


Shishbarak does not mean anything in Lebanese, so I am assuming it is Turkish reference to this meal. Shishbarak are the Lebanese version of tortellini.

Lebanese housewives will make the dough, roll them into small tortellini pies stuffed with cooked minced meat with spices and parsley. These are then baked.

Shishbarak is then served over rice and covered with yogurt sauce (see November 18 entry - Yogurt Cooking with White Cat).

Heavy on carbs, but as a dinner guest says, carbs are better for you than meat. Enjoy.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Eat Your Cauliflowers

A healthy great tasting vegetable dish with cauliflower as the main star (yes, cauliflowers need more exposure given how tasty, healthy and versatile they are).

Boil cauliflower florets of a head of cauliflower in lightly salted water for 5 minutes. Add 500 grams of spinach and boil for another 2 minutes. Drain.

Put vegetables in a lightly buttered baking dish, mix in 1.5 cups of white sauce, 1 tsp mustard, 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, salt and pepper.

Sprinkle with 2 cups of breadcrumbs mixed with 1 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp paprika. Bake in 425 oven for 35 minutes.

Served at somerville kitchen with leftovers Spinach Stuffed Meatloaf (see November 14 entry - World Diabetes Day), mashed potatoes and home baked banana whole wheat bread.

Recipe from Reverse Diabetes Winter 2010 edition.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Dim Sum

Vancouver is packed with restaurants serving dim sum. Over the years, I have tried over a dozen dim sum places, but no place matches the freshness and elegance of Kirin Restaurant's dim sum.

Kirin has four locations in the city (Downtown, Vancouver West Side, Richmond and New Westminster). I am not sure if all locations serve dim sum (the website is not very clear on that), but the one I have dim sum at is the Vancouver West side restaurant (in City Square Mall).

The dim sum menu features monthly selections. Some are the regular items you find in many dim sum places, others are quiet unique and one may have to be adventurous to try. But no matter what you order, expect taste, nice presentation, little grease and efficient service. As a major carb lover, nothing beats the Chinese doughnuts wrapped with rice noodles.

Kirin Restaurant
201 City Square
555 West 12th Avenue
Vancouver, BC

Saturday, 20 November 2010

"Thank You My Friends For A Memorable Birthday"

Birthday Celebration Part 3

What happens when you ask few good people to bring fancy appetizers for their special friend's birthday, add some drinks, and throw in golden rules, balloons and Anita Cake? An amazing birthday party! Some samples from the evening...

Fancy Saenkanter Gouda cheese with olives, fig compote and grilled artichokes served in Thai hand painted cups.

Thickly sliced ham served with home made cherry pecan relish.

Designer baked bread baskets filled with lemon/dill cream cheese, salmon florets and cucumber.

And finish it off with an Anita classic strawberry shortbread cake made with freshly baked biscuits.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Les Faux Bourgeois Encore Une Fois

Birthday Celebration Part 2

Second time since the launch of somerville kitchen (see September 1 entry - Is Fraser the New Main), but this time for a special event, Les Faux Bourgeois did not disappoint. In fact, the experience was even more pleasant having been seated in the cafe side that becomes a private function room during the night - nice corner view, only 7 people in the room, plants all around us - very serene setting.

Tonight I opted for a seafood theme. The appetizer on special was Les Moules Mariniere but instead of their regular wine & garlic sauce, this was a spicy tomato sauce. And, of course, those came with Les Frites.

For the main meal it was Le Cabillaud - ling cod cooked over mushrooms and savoy cabbage, with manila clams and the most delicious cod and potato croquettes. 

The place remains the best value in the city for this kind of restaurant.

And given it is a birthday celebration, a cake was in order (but to share, it was quiet a bit of food already). The Nut Crusted Chocolate Silk Cake (perfect for some chocolate lovers that I know are reading this) was the choice, and brought out with a candle. Our waiter, most likely intrigued by all the photography of food during the meal, brought an extra long candle "so you can have more time taking pictures of the cake"...

Les Faux Bourgeois
663 E 15th 
Vancouver, BC

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Yogurt Cooking with White Cat

Cooking with yogurt is common in Lebanon. In those dishes, yogurt is the base sauce as opposed to just an ingredient in a sauce. While I am not good at mastering yogurt sauces, I know that this involves adding mashed garlic, chopped cilantro (or mint) and salt and boiled till it thickens (you may need the help of corn starch).

A few dishes are cooked in yogurt sauce. Most popular are Kebbeh (see November 4 entry - Pumpkin Kebbeh) or Mehshi (stuffed zuchinni) (see August 20 entry - Sheikh el Mehshi). 

Tonight's yogurt cat opted for mini zucchinis stuffed with rice and meat.

 Thank you Susan.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Happy Birthday Masi

Birthday Celebration Part 1

You may think I am being cheap making a Betty Crocker cake rather than, for example, ordering an Anita Cake for my best friend's birthday. But she specifically asked for this white cake, I swear.

In fact, it is not as simple as you'd think. You need to consider the design - double layer, flat, bunt, ensure that the cake does not stick to the pan, smooth out the edges, straighten the top so the second layer can go on right, and not to mention the process of icing and sparkling the cake.

 But it was all worth it seeing the smile on my friend's face as she got ready to blow the candle. Sana helwah ya gameel...

Kitchen Tip
Use parchment paper in the baking pan to make sure the cake does not stick to the pan. Put the cake in the fridge for few hours to have it cut into nice smooth sharp pieces.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Eid Moubarak With Molokhia

Today is 'Eid ul-Adha', a celebration in Islam marking the end of the Hajj which commemorates the Prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail as an act of obedience to God. And 'Molokhia' was the celebration meal at somerville kitchen.

Molokhia as a term means meal of the kings. In this case, though, it is a reference to Mallow leaves cooked as a thick soup. The base is chicken/meat broth that is mixed with mashed grilled onions, garlic and cilantro. The soup is served over rice, chicken and meat.

This meal is extremely popular in Egypt. In Lebanon, it is a meal for special occasions. Fresh mallow leaves are hard to come by in Canada, but they are available frozen, canned or dried. Tonight's meal was made from dried leaves brought over from Kuwait.

One of the most fun aspects of eating Molokhia is the order in which the different components are stacked on the plate - this order varies by individuals and personal tastes as opposed to by region. My personal order of choice follows the numbering on the picture below - (1) baked pita chips, (2) rice, (3) chicken and meat, (4) the stew and then a choice of onions and lemon juice (5a) or onions and vinegar (5b); but to each his/her own.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Muffinmania at somerville kitchen

Here are few muffins that were baked at somerville kitchen over the past three months. If you want to try any of those, please send me a muffins recipe to and I will send your muffins of choice recipe in return (it is only fair).

Blackberry Muffins

The original recipe was for blueberries, but I tried it with fresh blackberries. Very tasty, not too sweet, and something nice about biting into big chunks of blackberries through the dough. 

Apricot Muffins

These muffins were sure decadent. They tasted like an apricot cake, doughy and sweet, particularly with the icing sugar dusting at the end.

Cinnamon Blueberry Muffins

The more healthy variety with a bit of whole wheat flour, spices and cinnamon. Not too sweet and highly recommended for the calories conscious readers.

And a big thank you for my little helper - Thank you Kitty.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

World Diabetes Day

Today is the World Diabetes Day, a campaign led by the International Diabetes Foundation to raise awareness of and education about diabetes. somerville kitchen observed the day by cooking a diabetes friendly meal. All recipes are from Reverse Diabetes Winter 2010 edition. The dinner was amazingly tasty proving that healthy food can also be delicious food.


Dinner started with Mango & Greens Salad - a mix of greens, fresh herbs, mango and pecans.

The dressing had grated zest of lime, lime juice, grated ginger, mixed with canola oil, salt and pepper. I think I will be making this salad again and again.

The main dish was Spinach-Stuffed Meat Loaf - lean ground beef and ground turkey with all the goodness of celery, onions, rolled oats, milk and yogurt (along with mustard, salt and pepper to spice things up). Meat was layered with spinach/onion/garlic mix and baked as a loaf. Yummy!

Instead of mashed potatoes and gravy, the meat loaf was served along with Roasted Vegetables With Herbs. This included potatoes, carrots, parsnips and yams (I would have liked purple yams to colour the platter up). Veggies are simmered in boiling water briefly (5 minutes), then roasted with thyme (from le jardin), olive oil, salt and pepper.


Saturday, 13 November 2010

Lefett (Pickled Turnips)

Pickled turnips are a staple in Lebanese cuisine. They are served next to main dishes and/or as an appetizer. A Falafel sandwich is not complete without those.

Many of you reading this like them, so here is the recipe. But make sure you use the small white turnips, not the larger yellow turnips (rutabaga) nor parsnips.

 Step 1: Wash the turnips well and cut them into 1 inch cubes.

Step 2: Mix water and pickling salt. I use 1 Tbs salt for each cup of water.

Step 3: Pack the turnips in pickling jars and cover with the salted water. Throw in one small chunk of beets in each jar (for colouring).

Step 4: Cover jars lightly and leave in a cool place for 3 to 4 days.

Step 5: After that time, empty two-thirds of the water from each jar and keep aside. Fill a third with lemon juice then add the salt water to cover the remaining third.

Cover tightly, put in the fridge and start eating. They can last for months in the fridge. Enjoy.

PS: The first reader who successfully makes this can write me at to win a ready-to-bake meat Kebbeh dish (see November 4 entry Kebbeh ) and Humus platter - these pickles go very well with Kebbeh & Humus.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Knights and Maidens in Medieval Transylvania

Transylvania Flavour Restaurant - A beautiful gem of a restaurant hidden on Broadway west of Arbutus. Unless you are looking for it, you may pass it, so look hard, it is worth it.

The owners, who are from Sibiu, Transylvania where the Cistercian 13th Century monastery still stands, are there to welcome you, make excellent food recommendations, serve you and look after your needs for a fantastic dinner experience. The owner's mother actually made the cabbage rolls and custard cake we ate, while the owner's father made the sausages. How more authenticity can you ask for.

This dinner adventure began with the appetizer special; the Continental Platter.

Think of it as a Transylvania version of afternoon tea sandwiches: mini ham and butter sandwich, salmon and meat rolls, deviled egg, a tomato with eggplant caviar mix and seedless olives. 

We also tried the other appetizer special - pears wrapped with prosciutto in a cheese capers sauce.

For dinner, the two hungry knights and two hard working maidens opted for the regular platter for two and the owner designed an alternative platter for two that included other delicacies on the menu, allowing us to sample almost all of their offering.

Platter 1: The Meats

Shnitzel, Yam Perogies, Sarmale (cabbage rolls made by dad), Mititei (the Transylvanian sausages made by mom), and Kiftele (meatballs).

The platter also included Caesar salad, crunchy paprika dusted fresh cut fries and we doubled up on one of the maiden's favourites - Mamaliga, Polenta cheese croquettes that could be a dinner on their own.

Platter 2: The Meat Alternatives

Cascaval Pane - pan fried Provolone cheese bites best eaten hot. Vegetarian open faced stuffed peppers topped with Provolone cheese and creamy yogurt sauce. and mini fish fillets.

Those were served with mixed pickles, Zakuska (roasted mixed vegetables spread) and the delicious roasted beets and walnut spread.

Now you'd think the knights and maidens were stuffed and not able to get off their seats. But the uniqueness of the desserts and the owner's offer to provide a four-dessert sampler kept us in our seats. The dinner ended with, from left to right: Papanash (Transylvanian doughnuts freshly fried), La Vie en... Vert (a lemon & basil meringue cake), Sacher Torte (flourless Austrian chocolate torte) and my favourite, the custard cake made by the owner's mom.

"Fun company and a very pleasant dinner adventure"

Transylvania Flavour Restaurant
2120 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC

Transylvania Flavour on Urbanspoon