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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

September is Barter Month

First there was the sfoof for scarf barter.

Then, I gave away some cookies. In return I received two delicious items...

1. Saskatchewan own Rip-Roarin Raspberry fruit spread.
2. Saskatoon Berry, chokecherry jelly.

So I thought, why not? Let's barter all month. Ask for whatever you want me to cook from what I feature on the blog, and give me something in return.

And it does not have to be food items in return, I am happy bartering for anything you make, have in excess, or a service you provide.

Too bad I could not have gotten this gorgeous Saskatchewan kitty in return for the cookies. But no, the kitty wanted to stay and have all those cookies to itself.

Make your barter request and offer at

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Ramadan Kareem

My favourite memories of Ramadan in Lebanon are the sweets. And to celebrate the occasion, I attempted making my favourite Ramadan dessert - Katayef.

are basically those thicker-than-typical crepes that look bubbly on one side and smooth and brown on the other. They feel like raw dough, but they are actually cooked and edible as is. Please don't ask me for the recipe, I have no clue how to make them - I brought those with me from Toronto last week. If you happen to find them around, here is what you can do with them.

You can stuff them with Kashta - heavy cream product that you can find in middle eastern and Iranian stores (and that tastes very much like Devon cream but with creamier texture). Put one Tbsp of cream in the middle of the dough. Sprinkle with a touch of rose water and a dusting of crushed pistachio and roll the dough over it from both ends. This dough is designed to stick to itself, so, with your fingers, push the sides of the dough together and you have this nice looking Katayef bi Ashta (cream). Drizzle with Quater (Lebanese sugar syrup) and go into a sweet high.

Another version is Katayef bi Jowz (walnuts). Simply crush walnuts very fine, mix them with lots of sugar and orange blossom water and use this as stuffing. Of course, you need to drizzle the Quater on them.

Given we were celebrating both an upcoming wedding (see Almost a Wedding Night) and Ramadan, I made both the Katayef bi Ashta & the Katayef bi Jowz. Despite a full meal before, none were left (which is the way I like it).

Ramadan Kareem!

Monday, 29 August 2011

Almost a Wedding Night

somerville kitchen was honoured tonight to welcome a bride and groom to be, along with the vivacious wonderful bride's mother for an evening of food, wine, warm conversations and dance.

The mezza was spread with humus (decorated with jardin chives flower), Lebanese mixed nuts, home made pickled cucumber and jardin pickled thyme. Manakeesh were also served with jardin cucumbers.

Inspired by a combination of mom's, Croatian and Janice Wong's dinner on Saturday, a cabbage salad with vinegar and oil dressing; decorated with sweet pepper rounds filled with jardin mint and jardin celery leaves refreshed the palettes.

Bamieh bi zeit (okra cooked with onions, garlic, tomatoes and olive oil) was served in a jumbo jardin Lebanese zucchini-turned-serving platter.

Careful the guests are not too full for the main course, a round of calorie-burning dancing and Dabkeh (Lebanese dance) lessons took place.

The tired dancers gulped glasses of another Janice Wong's inspired invention - water flavoured with jardin offerings of mint, lemon balm, lemon and cucumber slices, lavendar and raspberries.

Based on the bride's special request, Kebbeh showed up for all to indulge, laugh, talk and dance some more. A very pleasant evening indeed.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Mom's Roasto

I was raised with "roasto" in Lebanon. I am not sure what the roots of the word is (probably a mixture of Italian "arrosto" or the English roast). It is typically a round piece of "meat loaf" that is stove cooked and cut into circles.

Craving it, a 10-minute call to mom got me the recipe and the cooking instructions.

You start with extra lean ground beef that you sprinkle with salt and pepper and put through the food processor to get it into a lean texture.

Using wet hands, you spread it out into a very thin layer of meat that you then roll over.

According to mom, and my childhood memory, you can have it plain, or you can throw stuff on the spread before rolling. I remember ones with sliced garlic, sliced boiled eggs, pine nuts, etc. Be adventurous.

Heat up 1Tbsp vegetable oil in a large pot. Brown the rolls on low heat as you turn them around until brown on all sides.

Now add an inch of water, bay leaf, pepper, salt, cinnamon stick if you want. Cover and simmer until water evaporates (about 1 hour).

The nicest part of this meal is that you can make a couple of rolls in one cooking session, then freeze them. They freeze extremely well and come in handy on a busy work day or to slice and add to a vegetable stew.

Mom would have served it with french fries and salad. However, tonight it was served North American style with mashed potato and gravy.

Thank you Mom!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Dining on Pieces of Art, Again

Dining at the talented artist Janice Wong is like dining on pieces of art.

And, as a big fan of somerville kitchen, an invite for a blogiversary has been pending since the beginning of the month, and it was arranged for tonight.

Well worth the wait and I am thrilled to share this dining journey with you all.

The Takeoff

(or nude gnocchi) are flourless balls made from goat ricotta mixed with parmesan cheese, egg, lemon peel and lemon juice. They are covered with semolina over night that drains the moisture out and turns them into balls ready to boil.

As the gnudi are cooking, fresh garden sage is fried with prosciutto - I have never tasted fried sage and I think I will make it a habit of eating it this way.

All are then served with mini greens and cherry tomatoes with a simple oil balsamic dressing - a smooth, tantalizing take off.


A beautiful jug of water infused with a chunk of ginger, a slice of lemon, and fresh garden lavender, lemon balm and rose petals. Amazing...

Since I grow all those ingredients in le jardin, I asked the artist if she has a patent for this creation. Luckily no, so I will have to try it soon.


Guests were then lead to the hosts' garden where lamb loin chops were BBQ'ed along with chunks of peaches and black figs. Those were served with boiled new potatoes drizzled with butter and lemon juice.

Side Trip

A side trip leading to a refreshing salad of baby greens, figs, sliced peaches, almonds and blueberry. All seasoned with olive oil and pear cinnamon balsamic - how inventive is that. Not much of that salad plate was left.

Eastern Diversion

Inspired by Croatian salads, this was a chopped cabbage and yellow peppers salad. Instead of the basic Croatian dressing of oil and vinegar, this salad was dressed by an adventurous mixture of oil, vinegar, mustard seeds, lemon juice, white balsamic and fennel pollen; and sprinkled with celery leafs and capers.

The Landing

A simple sponge cake with whipped cream and almonds and packed with fresh blueberries, blackberries, cherries and peach was served upon landing.

Thank you JaG!

More on Janice Wo
ng's inventive cooking and her cookbook Chow can be found under Janice Wong Chow within the labels section on the right.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Now This Is Sushi

Wow, an impressive sushi eating experience. This is definitely the place to go for Sushi, whether you live in east, west, north or south Vancouver.

Relaxing atmosphere, owner-operated, creative menu and great service.

The food itself, is something else. Here are three items I tried simply for their originality.

Triple Salmon Roll
Everything you see on the plate is edible, including the candle holder which is made out of some sort of radish. Putting the presentation aside, this roll, with fresh and smoked salmon along with salmon roe is heaven for salmon lovers.

Chicken Takikomi Gohan
A small appetizer plate for less than $5.00. It is a simple steamed chicken and rice dish (I can never resist any dish with this combination) but the flavours are amazing. Next time I am ordering two of those.

Salmon Oshi Sushi
This is what is going to send you back to Kishimoto. A pressed, then torched salmon roll, drizzled with lemon soya sauce and topped with chilli pepper. Order lots!

2054 Commercial Drive
Vancouver, BC

Kishimoto Japanese Kitchen on Urbanspoon 

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Rattlesnakes - Yum

If you received this package of beans' seeds as a gift, would you waste jardin space and plant it? If you plant it and it grows, would you eat it? The answer to both is yes. I am so glad I planted them and more glad I tried them.

Six seeds grew very quickly and the beans started appearing. Beautiful purple markings on grey green background, looking like beans from Mars.

Internet research set my mind at ease that those are natural. Tasting fresh one from the stalks was like eating a velvety sweet fruit. Time to pick them up.

Those beans become more magical when you cook them. I just threw a bit of water in a frying pan and added the beans. Within less than 10 seconds, the beautiful purple markings melted away off the beans, turning them into regular green beans colour but tastier.

They keep on growing, so you'd see them again; stay tuned.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Snacking My Way Across the Country

Three days of travel, two nights with friends, family and cats meant lots of snacking in between (well breakfast, appetizers, sweets, etc. are all lumped together as snacks). Here is a snacking preview, in no particular order, that is heavy on visuals and short on words.

Fresh white figs (my favourite) and sweet, delicious fresh date fruit (yes, when those fruit are dried, they become the dates you typically buy and eat/cook with).

- This delicious breakfast of baked cheese with semolina crust and eaten with sugar syrup in a special sesame seed soft bread (more details about this at Breakfast in Toronto entry).

Baked Lebanese Zucchini
(read more on those zucchinis) - a simple accompaniment or appetizer of those tiny white zucchinis sprinkled with thyme and olive oil and baked to perfection.

Atlantic salmon bagel breakfast served with fresh basil and tomato from the hosts' garden and fresh Ontario strawberries (we have not had such tasty strawberries this year in BC - those were delicious).

Bro Dessert of waffle biscuits, strawberries and blueberries covered with vanilla yogurt - yum.

Manakeesh - my favourite snack ever (but you have read about this before at Snacking Les Vacances Away). Briefly, this is a thyme/olive oil thin crust pizza that I can eat anytime (I have few frozen ones at home if you like to barter them for something or another).

Thank you M, R, M, L, R, V, S, B & P for lovely yummy snacks.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011


A surprising discovery in Peterborough, 38 Degrees is an unpretentious quality restaurant that partners with local farms and serves food that smells and tastes freshness.

We drooled listening to our waitress delivering the day's specials and ordering one of the specials was definitely the way to go.

So here is what we ate...

A Mediterranean salsa of tomatoes, olives, and scallions tossed in olive oil and covered with feta cheese, served with delicious baked basil olive foccacia, kicked off this pleasant eating experience.

Atlantic salmon drizzled with herb yogurt sauce, served over curry rice salad and fresh grilled vegetables was a healthy, tasty choice.

As for my guests, they opted for the chef's surprise grill - trout, lamb and beef grilled with a house-made vegetable ragout.

See how great this dessert looks. It tastes even better than it looks - chocolate raspberry ice-cream! Given my shrinking-the-waist project, I had a taster
that reminded me of le jardin's raspberries; only frozen.

Highly Recommended

38 Degrees Restaurant

375 Water Street
Peterborough, Ontario