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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Win Christmas Baked Goods Package

Last year, I ran a popular contest for someone to win a basket of cookies in exchange for a buffalo meat recipe (see Win This Basket entry).

This month, you can win a package of somerville kitchen home-baked Christmas goodies in return for Jerusalem artichoke recipes. For every recipe I end up deciding to use, the sender of the recipe will receive the goodies - shipped anywhere in the world.

What are Jerusalem artichokes? Just read on.

You have the recipe ready? Email to:

Jerusalem artichokes (also known as sunroot, sunchoke, or earth apple) are beautiful looking plants that are part of the sunflowers' family.

In fact, they grow as high as sunflowers and generate similar flowers.

I used some last year (see Palm Sunday Meal) and the peels seem to have survived the compost and popped up in le jardin this year.

Jardin expert advised that it is best to leave them till after the first frost, then dig them out. And, at last, we had our frost...

So in le jardin earth we went and there were tons of them. They were buried deep in the ground and came in all sorts of weird shapes and sizes.

A huge collection was extracted, washed, dried and is now waiting your recipes in the cellar.

Thank you and good luck.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Pasta with (Heavy) Garlic-Pepper Cream Sauce

This was a delicious, yet very heavy pasta dish - Pasta with chicken and garlic-pepper cream sauce. I won't bore you with the nightmares I had sleeping after such a meal, but will share the recipe with you. 

Step 1: Cut three carrots into matchsticks and simmer, for 5 minutes, in 1/2 cup chicken broth with 3 cloves garlic.

Step 2: Remove the carrots and put aside. Grill some chicken.

Step 3: Transfer the broth and garlic to a food processor. Add one 8 ounces package of cream cheese (wondering why it is heavy?), 2 Tbs Parmesan cheese, 2 Tbs milk, 1/2 tsp of each pepper and salt. Process until smooth.

Step 4: Chop off 6 - 8 shallots.

Step 5: Cook the pasta, mix all together and serve.

If I was to do it again, I would double the amount of pepper and cut the amount of cheese in half. But then again, I may be cutting the deliciousness factor exponentially. Well at least it had lots of carrots. Enjoy.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Lebanese Stews Series - Fasoulia Aarida (Large White Beans)

Fasoulia Aarida means literally wide beans and in Lebanon we love our beans' stews (see Fasoulia, Assasa & Loubieh stews entries).

The premise of this stew is identical to all Lebanese stews - see details at Lebanese Stews kick off entry.

You start with cooked large white beans.

You can use stewing beef or cooked chicken with this one. I personally prefer this stew with cooked chicken. 

You then add tomato sauce (for increased flavour, you can add 1/2 cup chicken broth as well).

Add the Alleyeh and simmer for 30 minutes.

In previous Lebanese Stews Series entries, I talked about how some go well with plain rice while others go better with rice prepared with vermicelli. This one is definitely a rice plus vermicelli kind of stew (and remember to use long grain rice, not Basmati rice).

Now I have to call my mom to remind me of an eighth Lebanese stew to feature.

Click on Lebanese Stews Series under label to the right hand side and see other Lebanese stews recipes.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sweet Sunday with Shaktea

Cats and I had our minds set to spend a leisurely morning in front of the fire today.

Off to the shed for wood we go. As typical of cats, mine marked his favourite chunks and we were set to start our day.

It was a perfect Mma Ramotswe moment (of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series) - she makes her Rooibos tea, cuts a piece of cake and enjoyes the moment.

So I pulled out my favourite Shaktea Rooibos - the Organic Cinnamon Swirl Rooibos - my Mma Ramotswe tea pot and mug, and a beautiful Anita Apple Cake (even though she calls it a loaf).

This cake was exceptional; sweet, moist, big chunks of apples. Like Mma Ramotswe, I helped myself to another piece as I read my Little Lulu (on Volume 4 now).

In the afternoon, a dear friend spontaneously invites me out for tea and off to Shaktea we go.

Many new teas to try and the choice was the new Ginger Pear Honeybush (click the name and read the ingredients).

To keep to an apple theme, the amazing blend of tea flavours matched well this deliciously freshly baked apple crumble.

Perfect crust, ideal sweetness, elegant platter design and high quality ice cream.
Back home, lounging around the fire after dinner and there, staring at me, is a gift of home-made apple strudel from an authentic Czechoslovakian recipe. 

This was enjoyed thoroughly with a perfect end of night Shaktea selection - Luna's Organic Karmic Peace tea.

Feeling very Karmicly peaceful now - good night.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Diner in the Loft

Last summer, there was Diner Dans Le Jardin Secret.

Tonight, the charming hosts of Home Suite Home, Vancouver's most unique vacation rental and guest house, opened their loft for an American thanksgiving inspired dinner.

Seeing the hanging chicken chandelier welcoming the guests, one very quickly realizes that the bird of choice tonight is chicken. While everything was delicious, the stuffing, made with chunks of ham, apples, mushrooms, celery and celery root, was the table's hit.

The mashed potato pot steaming on the stove promised and delivered decadence - as it was made with sour cream and cream cheese.

There was also trois-legumes gratin with brussel sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. But the taste buds were completely arrested by the home-made cranberry sauce.

A delicious combo of cranberries, maple syrup, orange juice and ginger made for a not-too-sweet nor too sour, but freshly out-of-this world cranberry sauce.

Platters were filled, refilled, and some refilled one more time given how tasty everything was.

But despite full stomachs and promises of nice long deep sleeps, there was still room for dessert.

A chocolate cake layered hazelnut butter cream was the production of the talented chef at Trafiq bakery and cafe @ 4216 Main Street.

This was thorougly enjoyed as diners wined, lounged, smoked, unwound and felt the warmth of a pleasant diner, charming loft and sincerely friendly company.

And Vancouver now looks forward to the largest display of Christmas decorations that began showing signs at Home Suite Home vacation rental and guest house (follow the action at blog).

Big Thank You FaP!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Not Mezza Night Again?

Three months ago or so, I sent out a survey to a random sample of followers about the blog. As a thank you for completing the survey, a random draw of two respondents to win a mezza dinner was done. 

Tonight, the winners and their guests showed up to this - platters of nuts, pickles, humus, foul moudamas waiting in front of the fire and enjoyed with a beautiful bottle of Chateau Musar 2002 award winning Lebanese wine.

And more mezza platters started showing up...

The usual mezza stars made their rounds - Halloom Sails, Mom's Baked Omelette, eggplant Fatteh, Moudardara and Loubieh bi Zeit (listed in order of how much each were liked by guests).

Nuba Restaurants (Lebanese restaurant chain in Vancouver that everyone raves about) offers a popular dish called Lamb Hushwie. Tonight's guests tried the version I was raised with at home - humus covered with cooked ground beef and pine nuts fried in olive oil. I am calling it Beef Hashwie (pronounced with "a" after the H, not "u" as per Nuba's spelling).

As the conversation was flowing, platters of Kebbeh, Spinach and Meat Fatayer, Tabouleh, Baba Ghanouj and a simple salad of tomatoes, cucumber, Akkawi Cheese with vinegar olive oil dressing wrapped up the feasting frenzy (click on highlighted terms for definitions, stories and recipes).

Mini break to clear the dishes and turn the oven on the feature dessert - Knefeh. Based on a suggestion from one of the guests, it was baked in individual dishes making for a beautiful presentation. But bakers beware, those small platters cook much faster than a large one, so keep an eye on the oven.

I just love making and hosting mezza nights. I hope the guests did too (I think so...).

Links to more mezza nights adventures at someville kitchen:\

Prize Feasting
Almost a Wedding Night
Lebanese Feast
Tete a Tete Wedding
Orchids @ somerville kitchen
Jardin Mezza Night

To order a mezza night feast for you and your guests, contact


Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Chicken That Almost Ran Away

I buy all my meat these days from Windsor Quality Meats at 4110 Main Street in Vancouver. 

But this chicken almost ran away last week. I went into Windsor Quality Meats, bought a lot of stuff and carried my bags and left.

A block away, I hear someone saying "excuse me" - it was the butcher. I left the chicken and he ran looking for me and found me. Now that is what I call service.

So this special chicken that almost ran away needed to be treated to a special dinner.

This dinner included roasting the chicken in my clay pot, and serving it with mashed potatoes, coleslaw, stuffing and my famous popovers (regular followers are probably bored of my popovers stories).

The low-in-sodium Kraft Stove Top stuffing was amazing (I never tried this brand before). I fried some finely chopped and diced onions, green peppers and carrots which added amazing taste and texture to the stuffing.

While the stuffing took five minutes, the chicken that almost ran away took 2 hours to roast. 

Isn't it a perfection?

Elegant platters were designed. Everything tasted really good and nicely cooked.

But the most fun was popover games - what combinations on this plate will work best as popover stuffing? Definitely not the mashed potatoes it seems, but all else is fair game.

Try it out and enjoy.

Happy Thanksgiving My American Followers

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Buffalo Invasion

Special dinner guest, looking to make a special meal, so what is more special than buffalo.

My freezer seems to always be carrying some buffalo meat. So I opted for a buffalo meatball sauce over spaghetti squash.

Buffalo meat, breadcrumbs, horseradish and roll...

For sauce, I used a Northern Italian milk and tomato sauce recipe (see recipe at Italiano Night feature). And no, it is not a rose sauce, it comes out deceivingly red.

As the sauce simmered, it was time for an appetizer. 

Now my firewood provider read my blog story about him (see story at Lumberjack Meal) two days ago. He so appreciated the reference and the fact that I enjoyed his eggs that he dropped off another flat yesterday. 

So what's better than to use those delicious fresh eggs to make mom's baked omelette (click for recipe). Look at the beautiful colour of this omelette. 

Then down to the cellar to pick up a jardin spaghetti squash; a big one given there are many hungry people around the table.

45 minutes later, dinner was served.

Keeping with the buffalo theme, the sauce was dressed with a Sovrano Parmesan Cheese made with a combination of cow and buffalo milk.

All contributed to a nice mellow evening with a delicious meal and great company.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

An easy vegetarian recipe from Cuisine of California by Diane Rossen Worthington.

First Layer, The Roots:

Chunks of squash, potatoes and carrots. I believe you can use any roots that you like. 

For flavour and colour, next time I make this, I may add some beets.

Second Layer, The Flavours:

In a separate pan, fry some chopped fennel in vegetable oil and add to the roots.

A sprinkle of pepper or any other spices, maybe even herbs, will sure enhance the flavour.

Third Layer, Decadence:

A layer of shredded cheese. I think any kind of cheese that melts well will work.

Here I used shredded mozzarella and cheddar, but swiss may be perfect too.

Finally, the Baking:

On a medium-heated oven, for 40 minutes or so and there you have it.

Great on its own as a simple vegetarian dish or perfect for accompaniment of a meat dish.