Search This Blog

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The Cross & The Pig

A snowy morning; a 9:00 am meeting that cannot be missed; 35 minute taxi wait; but glad I made it.

After the meeting, I talked a dear client and friend for a shopping and dining break in Yaletown.

Waiting for the restaurants to open, we visited The Cross.

As soon as we walked in, we were arrested by those beautiful bowls. Well, they are not really bowls - they are the cutest, somerville kitchen-matching measuring cups. We each walked out with a set.

The Cross
1198 Homer Street
Vancouver, BC

The next stop was lunch at:

The Flying Pig
1168 Hamilton
Vancouver, BC

The Flying Pig on Urbanspoon

I have never heard of this restaurant before. Once there, I assumed this is yet another overly priced, small portions-plates Yaletown restaurant.

But I was pleasantly surprised, let alone fully stuffed that I skipped dinner.

I opted for one of the lunch specials - pasta tubes with ragu sauce. Thick, meaty and tasty is the only way I can describe this sauce.

I ate and ate and still more to go. But I simply could not put my fork down until this very full and filling plate was devoured.

They also have a series of irresistible sides out of which we chose the Crispy Brussels Sprouts (with lemon and capers) and the Whole Roasted Mushrooms with herbs.

Delicious lunch. And so glad we resisted the wine since the rest of the day was jam packed with back-to-back meetings.

But it was all worth it to come home with a full stomach and the beautiful new kitchen gadgets.


Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Roast Beef Sandwiches

Nothing beats a simple dinner after a long day at work!

Leftovers roast beef slices from last week's Modern Family night came in handy.

All I had to do was pick up a loaf of nice multigrain bread on the way home and an instantaneous sandwich bar was ready.

The combination of home made horseradish and hot German mustard went really well with the meat.

But what went best were somerville kitchen's french fries - crunchy on the outside, buttery on the inside.


Monday, 27 February 2012

Mom's Delicious Rice Pudding

My mom makes delicious rice pudding which I never ever attempted to re-create. It was the ideal white and creamy food to eat just before lent (read Marfaa).

I pulled out the recipe but all it had was a list of four ingredients and measurements. Glad my mom was still awake to call and get the instructions.

You start with 3/4 cup Arborio rice (no other rice will work according to mom).

Soak it in some water, clean it, then put it in a pot with a thin layer of water to cover. Heat up and partially cook until the water starts to be absorbed by the rice.

Now add 7 cups milk.

I used 2% milk which was perfect. I don't recommend using less fat-content milk since it may not thicken properly for you.

Bring it to just before boiling level. Then simmer on low heat, stirring frequently.

You'd see a layer forming on top. Try to take it out if you can, but don't take out the rice that is stuck to it.

Keep simmering and stirring until the mixture thickens (this is not a fast process - it took almost two hours to thicken when I made it).

Once thickened, add 1 cup sugar and 2 Tbsp orange blossom water. The sugar will reduce the thickness of the pudding so let it cook with the sugar, stirring frequently, until it thickens again (almost another 15 minutes).

Turn off the heat. Pour into serving dishes and let cool at room temperature. Some sprinkle it with cinnamon. I like it plain. Enjoy this perfumed, Lebanese-style version of rice pudding.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Family Secret

She has a reputation for making the best hamburgers in town. She generously offered to make them as a Christmas gift.

Tonight she walked in with organic meat and her family's secret ingredient that makes her burgers so famous.

It is not only a secret ingredient, it is other secrets that I am not allowed to divulge.

They revolve around order of spicing, moistening of the meat, and the love pushed through the kneading.

Such beautiful moist burgers that fried well, did not burn the grill and tasted so good; no one figured out what made them come out the way they did.

Of course, somerville kitchen's french fries were on the menu.

Thank you thank you for such a delicious dinner. I am not sure I can replicate even though I now have your secrets and a sample of your secret ingredient.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

These Are A Few Of My Favourite...

....things, places, stores, brands, hangouts, etc. (Part A)

London Drugs (5639 Victoria Drive & 9 other Vancouver locations)

My favourite weekend shopping kick-off. Saturday mornings are so serene there where I stroll the store to nice music, friendly helpful staff and discover all sorts of special one-of-a-kind items.

Those baskets were on sale this weekend ($6.95) and look great in my cellar. Food discoveries included Nairn's Stem Ginger (lent friendly) oat cookies and Nature's Path new Crunchy Maple Sunrise (can't wait to try both discoveries).

And cats loves my London Drugs trips - treats, canned food and litter. Most of what is on my shopping list (and chores like pics and cables) ticked off.

Fratelli Italian Bakery (1795 Commercial Drive)

All you need from savoury to sweet baked goods under one roof. The seasonal Hot Cross Buns are baked fresh and are a great deal - try them while they last. Lent friendly whole wheat buns were bought there as well as, what experts claim, the best Copenhagens in the city.  Fratelli Bakery on Urbanspoon 

Front & Company (3772 Main Street)

Whether you need anything from Front or not, it is worth the visit. 

Two stores next to each other; one is mainly jewelry, accessories and consignment clothing. But right next door is my favourite section.

Unique cards, gifts, garden and kitchen items. The variety of notebooks (I just love collecting notebooks) are not matched anywhere in the city. The perfect gifts can be found, many items for under $15; even $10 dollars.

Nothing overly trendy, obnoxious or useless - simply elegant gifts and useful stuff.

Shaktea (3702 Main Street)

You simply cannot go to Front and not walk few feet down the block to Shaktea. Whether to relax with a cup of tea and delicious fare after all the shopping or to buy some tea and tea-related wares, Shaktea is not to be missed as part of a few of my favourites.

Look for Part B of These Are A Few Of My Favourite ... next Saturday.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Lent Birthday Story

A somerville kitchen challenge:

A birthday celebration where the host is on lent with no white and/or creamy foods and the guest is a vegetarian who does not eat sugar.

Read on.

You start with a vegetarian stuffed vine leaves with brown rice and a Greek salad with no feta cheese.

You add marinated artichoke hearts and some spinach and cheese pies (for not-on-lent ones).
You inject some fun by inviting all to a Falafel Sandwich Bar and Falafel Sandwich Building seminar that goes like this.

Put one side of a (whole wheat) pita loaf on a plate.

Cut the falafel in halves and line them up in the middle of the pita.

Add on top, in this order, tahini sauce, Leffet (pickled turnips), tomatoes and parsley.

Roll and eat.

Look for a made-from-scratch falafel experiment and recipe from somerville kitchen soon.

And rather than cake, a fresh fruit salad - Japanese pears, oranges, grapefruit, apples, bananas, kiwi and 100% natural pineapple juice.

Light a candle on it and the challenge is lived up to.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Modern Family

A celebration of new beginnings as 12 of this micro-family said goodbye to the one leaving the nest.

The party theme was eat, drink, have fun and...dress like our guest of honour.

Guests waiting for the 3.5 hours of roasting to finish were distracted by ham and cheese and a somerville kitchen original: cottage cheese red chili dip.

The roast beef was cooked to perfection using conventional slow cooking process. 

Thanks to a master carver, all had their choices of large or small, raw or well done.

The vegetarian minorities indulged on on-the-spot grilled peppers, roasted potatoes, green salad, home made horseradish and the somerville kitchen popovers.

But the highlight of the party was an Anita chocolate cake filled with buttercream, strawberries, strawberry mousse and passion fruit mousse. 

The cake, of course, dressed like our guest of honour.

The cake was thoroughly enjoyed with vanilla vodka and maple syrup shooters, which everyone partook in.

A great party where everyone kicked back their shoes...

...and where lots of empty bottles were left behind.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Monday Night with Nigel

Nigel Slater's tenderness returned to somerville kitchen on Monday night (read about his first visit at Sunday Night with Nigel). 

The timing of the visit was perfect - two days before lent started today... 

...since the meat of his affection was soaking in cream.

He said 2 glasses of white wine, I poured a shot of sherry.

He said a huge pie is less trouble than lasagna. 

But I still had to heat up three pots - the pasta, the creamy chicken and mushrooms, and the spinach.

How did it all end? 

It was all worth this more handsome-than-Nigel looking pie (could this be)?

A fine encounter indeed, despite a slight indiscretion - cheddar instead of Parmesan. Would you forgive me Nigel? 

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

It's All Pancakes

Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday, it is all pancakes.

And somerville kitchen, ready to give up any white and/or creamy food, indulged in pancakes tonight.

Creative thinking is always in abundance at somerville kitchen.

While the base is nothing than Aunt Jemima's mix, a beautiful apple turned into chunks and added to the mix made all the difference.

The grill got busy.

Pork sausages and steak chunks from Windsor Quality Meats (4110 Main St); eggs from my lumberjack; and the lovely apple-chunky pancakes.

Hunger overtook design. And to fit enough on the grill, pancake shapes went crazy.

Despite the shapes, all was tasty and indulging. 

So what I won't be able to eat from here the next 40 days? The eggs (white), the pancakes (white flour and milk); hmmm, guess it will be a high protein diet as I double up on sausages and steaks.

What are your lent stories? Leave comments or follow somerville kitchen on Twitter (@somervillektchn) and let's chat #lentstories.

Note to followers: While the next 40 days will mainly revolve around #lentstories, I will keep you entertained with the usual recipes, places to eat and places to try including the recipe for my mom's Lebanese-style rice pudding despite its whiteness and creaminess. Keep reading.