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Friday, 31 August 2012

Blackberry Adventure

On a beautiful sunny day, pretend pails and gloves were packed into Joey, who took two adventurous types into the wilderness for blackberry picking.

No, destination was not a farm. It was the wilderness of Iona Island regional park.  
 A hidden natural gem between the airport and sewage treatment, the island is packed with blackberries.

Right North of the parking is a barricade. To the right of that, two ponds.
Unlike ducks in city parks, those duckies are not used to civilization and they ran away at the first sight of humans.

But ignore the ducks for now; we have to find the blackberries.
In between the two ponds you start seeing bushes and bushes of blackberries.

Blackberries, though, protect themselves well with their thorns. Wear thick jeans, boots and gloves and get into the bushes.
The blackberries are abundant. The picking is fun. 

The animals, snakes or zombies hiding within remained hiding. Even though hornets are supposed to be the real threat.

Hidden between all were a couple of blackberry bushes with different kind of leaves.

Maybe the original indigenous species, those berries are three times sweeter than the mass ones, even when not completely ripe. 
And the discoveries are not limited to the blackberries.

Those beautiful wild flowers were in season and popping up everywhere. More naturally fascinating was this green coloured bee on the flower; something I have never seen before.

Less than two hours of roaming the bushes generated a lot of blackberries. What to do with them (other than eat as many fresh as one can along the way)? Tune back next week and read about it. 

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Spaghetti Squash Birthday Party

A year ago, jardin produced 15 beautiful spaghetti squashes (read Invasion of Spaghetti Squash).

Some were gifted, others eaten, but one of them stayed in the cellar until today (picture taken today).

Wonder what the equivalent of 12 months in a squash life is to human life.

Should I eat it? Should I even risk it and invite people for dinner? 

One will never know until one tries. What's the worse that could happen other than a bit of tummy ache.

It showed its age a bit when cut open, but smelled fresh and the colour was right.

Preparation for this celebration begun.

A fresh potato bread was baked, salad was prepared, tomato meat sauce was made and all waited for the spaghetti squash to cook.

And to ease the non-believers in the room, regular spaghetti was boiled... just in case.

40 minutes later, beautiful cooked spaghetti squash was ready to serve.

And all survived to write about eating a 12 months old, cellar stored, spaghetti squash.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

That Jardin

This jardin chard seems to be growing all year round.

And I just love the Lebanese-style stuffed chard (click here for recipe). The dilemma though is not enough chard leaves for a full meal.
The solution was - what else can I stuff.

A nice zucchini from a friend's jardin, some peppers from a farmers' market and I had enough to prepare a major stuffed vegetables feast.
All was stuffed with rice, chickpeas, tomatoes, onions and parsley mix and put all together in a pot with lemon juice and water to cook.

A couple of hours later, a beautiful platter was served.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Mid Week Feasting

There are no written rules to say that major feasting is limited to the weekends. On a school night, and in celebration of a dear friend's visit, a major feast was in order.

The feasting began with a beautiful jardin tabouleh. This year's jardin parsley and mint are amazing and nothing better than turning them into this delicious appetizer; served with jardin grape vine leaves.

A delicious Molokhia prepared by Lady K followed.  Made with dried mallow leaves imported directly from the middle east and packed with aromatic chicken broth, garlic and coriander, a full tureen did not last long between three hungry Molokhia fans.

A key topping for Molokhia is chopped onion with vinegar. Lady K likes her onions and presented us with white and red vinegar and onion options, twinkling like crystals.

To go with the feasting theme, Eish El Sarayah was served with cafe blanc in the beautiful cup of Lady K's family.

Thank you Lady K. Click on highlighted links of dishes' names for recipes.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Rumpus Rumpus

Whether strolling or driving along Main Street, you cannot miss the colourful patio and hanging flamingos of The Rumpus Room.

Sitting on this colourful patio, you quickly get lost in a psychedelic eating experience that no matter how beautiful these people walking on Main Street are, you just don't notice anything or anyone once you are inside the mind manifesting Rumpus Room

But you will sure notice the friendly servers and the most interesting food presentation. I was so tempted to just walk away with this beautiful tray that the Vegetarian Platter was served on.

I skipped all the temptations of all-natural, hormone free burgers and opted for the classic veggie burger. I still don't know what I was biting into, but I know it was a multiple sensory stimulating eating experience.

All Two Handfulls as they call the sandwiches at The Rumpus Room come with choice of fries, yam fries, veggie chili, soup, coleslaw, side salad, side wedge salad, mashed potatoes or a waffle.

Waffle, you ask? Yup, they say, you can have a waffle with anything at The Rumpus Room.

I thought a waffle with a brioche bun on one plate may be too much, so I opted for the veggie chili which came in a bowl the size of what a main chili meal will come in at other diners.

Now I am intrigued about the side wedge salad. Next time.

And let's not forget about the sweet (yes very sweet, in a good way) house made lemonade.

What I was hallucinating about though was the seasonal fruit sundae with vanilla ice cream and real whip cream.

Well, next time I am on Main Street, you will see me lounging there with that Sundae on a mid-week sunny afternoon.

The Rumpus Room
2689 Main Street
Vancouver, BC

Rumpus Room on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Weekend with Reza

Some readers may remember previous articles about how much I enjoyed cooking from Reza Mahammad's first book Rice, Spice and All Things Nice (read Spicing Up somerville kitchen; Indian Cooking Extravaganza Part 1 & Part 2).

Last week I received Reza's new book - Reza's Indian Spice. A beautiful read, great recipes and the same enjoyment of cooking those recipes as I got used to with the first book.

The recipe I chose was prefect for a weekend given the time involved in putting it together.

On the menu was Royal Leg of Lamb (p. 43).

It is supposed to be a simplified version of a palace dish - shahi raan. If the simplified version took all weekend, wonder what is involved in the original.
The lamb was marinated in two different marinades. 

The first was a paste created of white poppy seeds (I used sesame seeds instead), and every ingredient you see in this picture.

3 hours later, the second (overnight) marinade went on.

This was blended yogurt, onions and saffron with home made spice mix from what you see in the picture (my simplified version of the spice mix).

Today, 4 hours of cooking presented diners with this delicious, beautiful Royal Leg of Lamb sprinkled with onions, toasted almonds and jardin mint.

Subtle flavours; excellent recipe Reza.

Reza suggested serving it with   Jeweled Rice.

I was craving potatoes and the book's Roast Potatoes with Chilli and Masala recipe seemed an appropriate side.

Perfect, but spicier than expected.
The spices were calmed down with Kachumbar, another recipe Reza. The Raita was all mine.

Reza, you did not disappoint with the new book. Cooking those recipes continue to be a culinary enjoyable experience.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Surprise Chef

Surprise Chef showed up in a Modo Coop car and filled up the street with bags of goodies.

Surprise Chef kicked all guests to jardin and took over somerville kitchen.

Within less than 45 minutes, jardin dining room had not a dinner, but a home made freshly put together fantastic buffet dinner.

Baguettes, BBQ chicken, Thai salad and the most beautiful, colourful and tasty mango and date chicken salad.

The just-created anti pesto were a dinner on their own: lox, greens and olive platter; feta cheese with garlic and olive oil over greens; and a selection of a half dozen cold cuts.

But the star of the buffet was the fettuccine SC - brie, camembert, basil, tomatoes and olive oil. I lost track of how many plates of this I had.

And a chef cannot create a buffet dinner with only one choice of dessert. There were carrot cake with cream cheese, carrot cake with cream cheese and walnuts, chocolate cake and mocha ice-cream.

By midnight, all was clear and Surprise Chef went back into the Modo Coop car, leaving beautiful memories behind.

 Thank you Surprise Chef, come back soon.

Friday, 24 August 2012

More and More Summer Snacking

A month ago I collected a series of snacking under Summer Snacking.

I enjoyed writing it so much that two weeks later, a second installment appeared under More Summer Snacking.

Today, I am enjoying a low pressure, little work day in the sun so another installment of this fun series was in order.

The following five snacks were not necessarily filling but were definitely fun to eat, and very much aligned with summer (or else why call the series summer snacking?).

First, a spread by Grand View Szechuan delivered right to the picnic table.

Then a mini mini snack on the two and only jardin blueberries of the season. Wish there were more (see that beautiful colour on them?).

A surprise gift shows up on my desk one day - POM pomegranate juice. The bottle is as sexy looking as the taste is fresh, natural and refreshing. And you can watch a great video on How to Open a Pomegranate by clicking HERE.

When one is hungry and wants a snack, skip the potato chips and try this ready-made red pepper humus with red corn tortillas - matches the red of POM.

Finally, towards the last days of raspberry season (read about its peak at Raspberry Forest) the stock dwindled, but the few picked up were ideal to brighten a yogurt and cream dessert.

Even cats had some summer snacking as a result.