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Monday, 31 October 2011

Halloween @ somerville kitchen

The activities started with carving a pumpkin. Once this was done, the entrance to the kitchen got decorated and was ready for close to 100 kids who made their way up the stairs.

The kids had their mini chocolate bars, but 5 lucky parents had a bag of treats too - plants for their jardins.

The event was hosted by Archie. 

Archie scared a lot of little kids, but was clearly an entertainment to the parents. One parent was so excited - "at last a character we know" - and asked for a picture with Archie.

Archie's scary look was balanced by the friendliness of "Merry Christmas" roaring from the early-to-arrive Santa and, the tea snobs, who, despite the name of the costume, were very friendly to the kids.

But a night at somerville kitchen without food does not qualify for the blog. 

Food was delivered by tea snobs - delicious piles of pizza from the recently opened Trilussa Pizza & Pane on 4363 Main Street.

The owner and chef, Alessandro Fonseca, made special pizzas for the party with all sorts of creative toppings including pancetta, potatoes, mozerella, pecorino, sausages and so on. It was a delicious way to munch our way through the evening. 

Archie made his way around the neighbourhood and threw his bounty on the table as dessert. But the bounty was overwhelmed very quickly by the somerville kitchen made Better Home & Gardens marbled chocolate pumpkin brownies (read more about this at Thanksgiving 2011 Part 1).

All had fun except for cats. He was surely not impressed with all those strange little creatures invading his territory and the ongoing neighbourly fireworks. 

Happy Halloween from somerville kitchen!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Halloween Pumpkin Scouse

Four beautiful jardin pumpkins, brought in from jardin last month and continued their colouring on the window sill.

Too small to carve, too few of them to make soup. It is Halloween so I better use them, but how?

Since receiving a Scouse recipe from JM (officially designated today as Scouse Ambassador), Scouse has been a regular Sunday feature at somerville kitchen (see Thanksgiving Part 2 & Cozy Sunday posts). So why not make a pumpkin Scouse tonight? 

It sure was orange, but as usual very delicious, and tonight I made enough to have lots of leftovers since, according to Scouse Ambassador, it is better the second day. Yum!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Orchids @ somerville kitchen

somerville orchids (see were somerville kitchen's guests tonight, bearing an orchid plant hand designed with bamboo sticks and pistachio shells - so beautiful, thank you!

The guests had dietary restrictions which made making the meal more fun for me and allowed the wonderful guests to experience many dishes from the land of the Phoenicians.

The guests were to arrive after sunset (somerville kitchen does not have clocks). So following my afternoon nap, production began with mezza preparation. 

Four mezza platters - Loubieh bi Zeit; Bamieh bi Zeit; Moudardara (with bulgur wheat instead of rice) and Fried Lettuce all required onions and garlic. 

Chopping many onions and garlic cloves, frying them in olive oil, not only got the cooking going but filled up the kitchen with Mediterranean aromas.  

somerville kitchen loves humus. But chickpeas cans are packed with sodium, which, if you watch this ad - Sodium City -, you know you should skip cans.

Therefore, somerville kitchen prepares chickpeas from scratch - soak overnight, boil for 20 minutes and freeze in plastic containers.

And of course jardin greens: lemon and oregano for lemon-oregano salad, mint for the tabouleh and lemon balm and lavender for flavouring the water jug.

Mixing this and that, simmering pots, chopping tomatoes, soaking bulgur wheat and the mezza spread was ready way before sunset.

The main meal was a Moroccan vegetarian stew. 

Last week, I wrote about Rick's Rub (see Rick's Rub). Well, this amazing versatile rub, with its cumin, peppers, paprika, star anise and salts, had everything you need in one Tbs to cook a tasty Moroccan stew (

The stew included jardin hot peppers, potatoes, carrots, Lebanese zucchinis, mini eggplants, tomatoes and chickpeas (add those last).

The slow simmering of all those vegetables in Rick's Rub spices made for a delicious stew eaten over healthy unprocessed organic quinoa.

Dessert, given guests' health restrictions on sugar and dairy, was fruit salad Lebanese style. 

I followed a recipe my mother and all my aunts made when I was a kid. Basic fruits of apples, pears, oranges, grapefruit and bananas.

You dice and chop the fruit and layer them in the order listed above. You then open a can of pineapple chunks and pour it all, with its juices over the fruit.

Cover and let sit as you are having dinner and you end up with a tasty healthy dessert. Lebanese add liquor to it too, so our liquor of choice tonight was Cointreau. 

A beautiful easy going evening, made more special by the electronic thank you card received right after the guests made it home. Thank you!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Live @ Green Lemongrass

I frequently take out food from Green Lemongrass (see Friday Food Delivery & More Blogiversary Celebrations). 

Tonight was a live at-restaurant experience and it was wonderful.

After being welcomed by the big fish, I ordered Fresh Lime Soda. I was skeptical of fresh lime after my experience at YYC (read details) but the pleasant waitress assured me it was good.

It was more than good - soda water mixed with lime juice, sugar syrup, a piece of lime. It tasted more refreshing than lemonade and sweeter than any soda. 

My initial skepticism must have been written all over my face since the waitress came back to check that I liked what I ordered, and I assured her so.  

Another interesting feature on the menu was an appetizer of grilled shrimps on sugar cane. Not as tasty as my drink, but definitely nice looking and the peanut sauce that came with it was delicious. At least it made for a nice blog picture.

Waiting for the food, I was fascinated by all the sauces on the table - soy, hot, and fish sauces, Maggi liquid "seasoning" (whatever that is), pickled hot peppers and something in a mustard container that smelled intriguing, but not intriguing enough to try it.

And dinner arrives...

A favourite item there and they do it so well: beef satay with Vietnamese spring rolls over noodles. The only difference versus take-out is the presentation on the platter. It also definitely tasted fresher and warmer having it within 2 seconds of leaving the kitchen.

Highly recommend this place if you are in the mood for Vietnamese food.

Green Lemongrass
1086 Kingsway
Vancouver, BC
Green Lemongrass on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Foodie Thursday

Today was one of those workdays that revolved around food. I am reporting it from 5 pm to 7 am. I know it is backwards, but that's the mood I am in tonight.

5 pm - Book Launch

Peter Ladner (who I would have loved to have been our mayor) launched his book, The Urban Food Revolution, at Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks. It was great to see Peter and pick up a signed copy of the book. It promises to be a great read.

2:30 pm - Roaming Dessert Platters

Today we had a Halloween Bake Sale as a fundraiser for four local charities - employees bake and donate, employees buy and pig out, and money goes to employee-chosen charities. Goodies were discounted in the pm and platters were roaming around the office to tempt those on diets.

12:30 pm - Pizza Foursome

In a team training session which means Mega Pizza deliveries. Four pizzas to choose from: sausage, steak, chicken pesto and olive spinach. I aimed for 2 slices, but missed my aim with 2 extra ones.

10:15 am - Bake Sale Invasion

All sorts of baked stuff; squares, cupcakes, cookies, snaps. Colours and flavours. I emptied my wallet and ended up with IOU.

7:00 am - Networking Breakfast

The usual hotel business function breakfast. Eggs and potatoes hidden under steal, five baked goods and lots of fruit, for a change. I ended up starting my day with fruit, for which I was glad given everything else you read so far about the day.


Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Diwali Celebration with a Twist

Last year, I celebrated Diwali, or festival of light, with conventional Indian food (see Diwali Weekend post). This year, I opted for something less conventional: Indian-Jewish Cooking.

The writer, Mavis Hyman, was born in Calcutta where her Iraqi-Jewish family has made India home over 200 years ago. Her recipes combine a lot of the traditional Indian cookies, but enhanced mainly with the basic spices of ginger, turmeric, garlic, onions and cilantro. Every now and then you see recipe that calls for cardamon or hot peppers. But rarely did I find any recipe calling for Masala or curries.

So I embarked on preparing a Diwali feast from this cookbook. The feast included:

1. Cabbage Bhaji (the book had recipes for over half a dozen vegetable Bhaji, but I had none of those vegetables, so used cabbage instead).

2. Chicken and (jardin) peas (yes, that is the name of the recipe in the book).

3. Beef Hurikebab (think of it as a beef and potato curry without the sauce).

Some rice, home made Raita, frozen naan and a celebration worthy of the day was underway.

The evening included Indian music and felt even more festive with the sounds of fireworks throughout the neighbourhood.

But one cannot have a Diwali celebration (or any Indian food meal in my world) without my favourite Mango Lassi, which today I made myself and dressed up with rose water a la East is East

Happy Diwali everyone.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Health Conscious Pasta Dinner

Let's start with the salad. A fresh lemon from the lemon tree that has moved indoors for the winter kicked it off.

I made a base of lettuce, jardin mint, tomatoes, red peppers and chopped lemon. Sprinkled with ground pepper and basil-flavoured olive oil and served.
The pasta was a brand I have not seen before - Duso's Linguine Duet (available at my favourite Buy-Low).

The package boasts of being low fat, trans fat free, low sodium and a source of both potassium and fiber. 

Tastes good enough, provided you are not sodium dependent. 

Buffalo meat has 70% to 90% less fat than beef (and twice as expensive unfortunately). I bought this from Windsor Quality Meats (4110 Main Street) and decided to experiment with it today. 

I added garlic, chopped mushrooms, a can of sodium-free tomatoes and jardin basil, rosemary and thyme. No one could tell it was not beef.

And finally, garlic bread using whole wheat buns! 

I feel so healthy now I may not be able to fall asleep. Good night anyways...


Monday, 24 October 2011

Eating with the Occupiers

Occupy Vancouver ( is, at the minimum, creating awareness of various issues in our country and around the world that are creating inequality, unfairness and disparity in distribution of wealth. 

Seeing so many people taking a stand,  sleeping in tents on those cold nights, is simply admirable. 

Even a minimal success of this action will mean a slightly better world to live in. If we cannot be there, we can at least support in small ways.

With food availability and sustainability as one of the issues this movement is raising, it was very appropriate for sommerville kitchen to provide a bit of help.

So yesterday, le jardin was transformed into a humus factory. 

Freshly boiled chickpeas were mixed with tahini sauce, lemon, garlic and water. The food processor was working overtime and as much humus as le jardin factory could handle was prepared.

Small containers that could be easily shared, passed along or sold at Occupy Vancouver were picked up.

And just like a factory, 18 containers were packed up with scoops of humus. Dozens of loafs of pita bread were also bought and the package was almost ready for delivery.
Realizing that going vegan was one of the issues promoted, humus was a great choice. 

But I needed to make sure people there are assured of what they are eating, so every container was labelled with the list of ingredients, date of packaging and 100% vegan certification.

Spending over an hour at Occupy Vancouver after dropping off the food there this afternoon was refreshing and touching.

I also heard a couple of speakers and got enlightened about some government bills that are being planned and their impact on our society and citizens. 

But the best was seeing this sign and hoping that the world will, one day, live by it.

To participate, learn, or contribute, see