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Monday, 30 April 2012

The Art of Kaiss

For a week now, my readers would have seen at least five mentions of "Kaiss".

The word "Kaiss" means drinking glass. It also references having a drink with appetizers before dinner.

So time to share the art of laying out a "Kaiss".

First, put out some nuts and vegetables. Tonight's "Kaiss" included mixed nuts, dried okras, potato chips and carrots.

Then you add some more munchies, but still cold stuff - white cheeses, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives (bread can be added to the table at this point).

Now time for more substantial foods. Given this was a lazy day, those included some leftovers from the Yeller's Sendoff brunch


An important part of having a "Kaiss" is to raise a cheer and click glasses at least a dozen times during the evening.

And finally, some hot munchies show up. However, no respectable "Kaiss" will include what I added to mine tonight...(look closely, you'd figure it out, but don't follow my example with your "Kaiss").


Sunday, 29 April 2012

Mom's Riz-b-Tfeen

Riz-b-Tfeen is one of my favourite dishes that was on the top of the list for mom to make.

It is a stove-top rice and meat stew that is filled with spices and eaten with yogurt.

You start with the meat. Stewing beef is cooked slowly on stove top on low heat until all its liquid is absorbed.

Once the meat is ready, it is seasoned with all spice, cinnamon and salt.
The rest is easy. Add about 1.5 cups of cooked chickpeas to 1 lb of meat. Throw in a pealed onion and 5.5 cups of water.

Spicing is key - a generous amount of salt, cinnamon, and allspice

But most important is caraway powder (at least 1 Tbsp).

Bring all to boil. Add 2 cups of rice (medium grain is best) and cook until ready.

Eat warm with yogurt.

What goes great with Riz-b-Tfeen are full radishes with their greens.

Mom's radish cleaning process starts with soaking the radishes with their greens in water and a bit of white vinegar for 15 minutes. This rinses the dirt off the leaves.
You then soak them in Fruit & Vegetable Soap for 5 minutes. 

For a lower carb version (and probably the more authentic version) you can make this dish with bulgur wheat instead of rice. All else remains the same but we would call it Bulgher-b-Tfeen.

Which adventurous follower is going to try making this dish first? Let me know.


Saturday, 28 April 2012

Yellers' Sendoff

Yellers' Sendoff was a series of feedings. I think the Yellers enjoyed it.

First, there was yet another "Kaiss". This was served with the best white wine in my books - the BC Blue Mountain Pinot Blanc. 

Special "Kaiss" features tonight were cauliflower with dad's secret dip and dried okras.

For dinner, two chicken were roasted somerville kitchen style.

The dinner also included somerville kitchen roasted potatoes and the ever popular somerville kitchen coleslaw.

In addition to chicken, marshmallows were roasted in the fire place.

Dessert was a creamy sweet Diplomat cake from Notte's Bon Ton Bakery. It went well with the creamy marshmallows.

12 hours later, a pre-flight brunch was served with home made Manakeesh, mom's Lebanese omelette and all sorts of leftovers - savoury and sweet, fresh and cooked.

Thank you for the visit Yellers. Come back soon.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Salmon Feasting

Two summers ago, a neighbour of mine took out his boat and went fishing. He returned with fresh salmon that he was giving away. I am so glad to be his neighbour.

The salmon was fished two to three hours earlier, cleaned and ready to eat. But it was a big salmon and, other than cats, not many of my friends like salmon. So in the deep freeze it went.

I asked my fishing experts buddies at the Canadian Fishing Company how long one can freeze salmon. Their answer was years (if well wrapped).

Now that I have a household of guests from out of town, it was a perfect occasion to bring out this gigantic salmon out of its deep sleep.

The salmon defrosted well, rinsed inside and out and did not have any fishy smell (a sign of good fish according to my Canadian Fishing Company buddies). 

Now how to make the salmon? With 7 opinions it was difficult to decide. So the matter was dropped and an excellent bottle of Stag's Hollow Rosé wine was opened to help ponder the situation.

As per the past few nights at somerville kitchen, a drink is served as part of a "Kaiss" (drinks with munchies).

The "Kaiss" inspired mother and brother to go into somerville kitchen and simply chop the salmon in half, add lemon slices on top and bake, uncovered, on medium heat until cooked.

A perfect simple way to cook salmon and bring out a true taste of BC salmon. 

The salmon was served with Tahini sauce (a typical side to fish dishes in Lebanon). This is simply tahini paste mixed with salt, lemon juice and water until thinned. Tomatoes were added to it and dinner was served.

What a delicious salmon and dinner this turned out to be.

Despite its size, almost all of it was consumed by old and young, humans and cats. The only untouched part was the head.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Seafood in East Van

You couldn't get further away from the water in Vancouver for seafood, yet one can find a great relaxing, clean, tasty seafood restaurant - Pink Peppercorn.

The reviews were good. The location ideal for me. The parking easy. The atmosphere welcoming. The mood down to earth and relaxing. The service unrushed. The food good. The local wine selection is small but great choices. The prices reasonable. Why don't more people line up at Pink Peppercorn, I don't know.

The first thing that showed up on the table was the restaurant's signature lobster oil.

The San Francisco Style Mussels (20 for $13.95) were in a beautiful wine garlic sauce with leek, basil and black pepper.

Fresh for sure but the sauce made the dish, specially the nicely cooked leeks.

Litmus test of seafood restaurants is how well they make a Bouillabaisse. 

This was packed (seriously) with freshly tasting fish and shellfish.

The sauce was over saffron'd a bit; otherwise this was a pleasant experience to go back for.

Eddy, the charming owner and chef, came out and welcomed us all. The youngest guest on the table charmed him and she got herself complimentary ice-cream.

I am so glad I discovered this place, specially that it is within walking distance of somerville kitchen. There is a lot to try and I am sure it won't be disappointing. After all, Eddy was the chef brains behind the famous Cannery restaurant before it closed (or was closed by the city as I understand).

Thanks for opening in the neighbourhood and look forward to my next visit.

Pink Peppercorn Seafood Restaurant
1485 Kingsway Street
Vancouver, BC

Pink Peppercorn Seafood House on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

All Aboard to Steveston

All aboard the minivan to Steveston, in the rain. It was quiet, but I managed to find some new discoveries. Three stood out.

Discovery 1: The Sweet Spot Bakery (110 - 12000 1st Avenue)

Highly recommended by a fellow bakeress who said "best opera cake, kalamansi white chocolate mousse cake and awesome peanut butter cookies with dark chocolate ganache. To. Die. For."

Once you are in, the display is small but packed with beautiful delicacies with poetic names such as chocolate pot de créme and citrus cheesecake.

The owners added to the beauty of the place with their warmth and friendliness. I sure wish I lived closer, I could easily become both their best customer and buddy.

See what's in this picture on the side? That's what I came back home with.

The coconut macaroons were huge and buttery. The lemon and pistachio madeleines melted in the mouth and continued to be enjoyed for 24 hours at somerville kitchen.

Oh the pleasure of sweets!

The Sweet Spot Bakery on Urbanspoon

Discovery 2: Nikaido (150 - 3580 Moncton Street)
How could I resist a store that has Tintin and Milo running in its window?

Inside you find a selection of teas, stationary (I bought two neat notebooks - another irresistible object for me) and probably the best selection of Tintin gifts in the city. My choice of the latter was a small booklet - Hergé in His Own Words.
The tea selection was massive with at least five different brands of teas.

Given that I am well stocked up with Shaktea teas, I restrained. However, the Be Well Red Teas were tempting.

These seem to be mixes catering for different ailments, but what made them interesting are the names - get some zzz's, get passionate, get a grip - you've got the picture.

The highlight of Steveston usually is fresh fish off the boats. But alas, no fishermen nor fish were to be found. So we tried to fish by hand with no luck.

Discovery 3: Outpost Mini Donut Company (110 - 12240 2nd Avenue)

It is not Cartem's for sure, but worth the visit to take a look at the cuteness of those donuts, the way they are presented, the way the server dips them in sugar and the cones you can get them in.

The taste, on the other hand...

Outpost Mini Donut Co. on Urbanspoon

The original plan included lunch in Steveston, but 7 people agreeing on a restaurant is not an easy task, so lunch was replaced with dinner in the city (read all about that tomorrow). But I am going back to try this place for sure - one of the most interesting inventive seafood menus.

A good day; but I am glad I did not invite cats to join us.


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Mom's Kafta Recipe

As everyone was enjoying yet another "Kaiss" this week (drinks with small appetizers), mom was busy making Kafta.

I have already shared the recipe (read Kafta Lebanese Style). But more is learned from mom.

The ingredients are:

1.5 kg extra lean ground beef
1 small bunch parsley, chopped thin
1 small onion, grated
salt and pepper to taste

All are beaten together by hand until smooth.

With hands a bit wet with cold water, the meat is spread in the baking dishes. 

Best to spread them thin, about 1/4 inch thick. Bake in 400 degrees oven for about 30 minutes.

Before baking, see the picture below to how the meat is separated into pieces by making indents by hand within the meat so it is ready to cut into serving pieces when cooked.

Once baked, add a layer of tomato paste mixed with water to become a sauce.

Then add already-boiled potato slices (don't over boil the potatoes since they will be cooked further now).

Put the tray back in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes until the potatoes are browned on top.

Another version is with tahini sauce instead of the above topping.

This is tahini paste thinned with water and lemon juice until it has a syrup texture.

Spread over the meat and put back in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes until the sauce thickens.

Thank you mom for indulging us and making the two versions tonight. Both were perfect (albeit two completely different taste experiences).

And the evening was sealed with lemon tarts and éclaires from Trafiq (4216 Main Street).