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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Poor Pumpkins....

... you throw them in the car, you carve them, you cook them, you roast their seeds and you turn them into cat toys.

And their fate is the same at somerville kitchen.  First they grew in le jardin (read Wacky Pumpkin). Then they were carved. 

And as if that is not enough, more pumpkins were bought and their fate was slotted to be more cutting, carving, cooking and eating.

So what did I cook with the pumpkin this Halloween? somerville kitchen created an easy pumpkin stew.

Onions were fried in butter, beef chunks added, then chunks of pumpkins and potatoes. All were covered with beef broth and simmered for hours as the kids pounded on the door and showed their hunger-for-sweets games. It was delicious!

And let's not forget the artificial pumpkins - no Halloween is complete without them.

After all this pumpkin talk, cats settled for crows. Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

A Lesson in Black Bean Sauce Cooking

Six weeks ago, I attempted making a black bean sauce stir fry from a bit of home made black bean sauce that I received (read story at Wednesday's Stir Fry).

At the end of that story, I admitted failure and declared that I will have to invite the sauce maker to teach me what to do. 

And I did.

Learning 1:

Black bean sauce works well with tofu. Tofu does not have much flavour as is and the black bean can really enhance its taste.

Learning 2:

Cut vegetables small, don't have a lot of them, this will help absorb the flavours better and enjoy the taste of black bean sauce.

Learning 3:

Add Black Bean sauce at the end to make sure the flavours mix well.

Mix it first with water and then add to the stir fry.

Thank you teacher - here's the delicious and beautiful looking dinner.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Gingerbread .... Cake

As we get through Halloween, it will be time to start thinking gingerbread. In-between now and time to make the houses, here's a gingerbread cake recipe from Bon Appetit that is worth a try.

Mix in a medium bowl:

1.5 cups flour

1 Tsp ground ginger

0.75 Tsp ground cinnamon

0.5 Tsp baking powder

0.5 Tsp baking soda

In another large bowl place 0.5 cup butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces.

Pour 0.5 cup boiling water and whisk until butter melts. 

Whisk in 0.5 cup brown sugar.

Add to the butter mix:

0.5 cup molasses

1 beaten egg

2 Tsp grated peeled ginger

Now add the flour mix to the butter mix and you are ready to bake.

Line a baking dish with parchment paper and pour the batter into it.

Bake in a 350 oven for about 25 minutes (or until it is cooked).

Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then inverse and cool.

Excellent recipe.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Swedish Sunday

Swedish Sunday recipes are available in a pdf file - please send an email to for a copy of the recipes.

Two essentials of a Swedish meal are (a) Swedish Chef and (b) Swedish Meatballs.

And I lucked out with both; a visit from the chef and a perfect recipe from Bon Appetit

Many ingredients make those delicious Swedish Meatballs - beef, pork, bacon, onions, eggs and the most interesting trick: breadcrumbs soaked in beef broth.

If you are worried about your cholesterol, don't ask for the recipe.

Meatballs are fried in butter then simmered in a broth and sour cream sauce.

Excellent recipe.

Wonder if Swedish Chef's name is Jansson - there are simply no references to his name anywhere.

Either way, meatballs were served with Jansson's Frestelse - a baked potato concoction.

Thinly sliced potatoes and fried onions covered with cream, bread crumbs and butter and baked to perfection.

Again, not for the heart & stroke conscious but it is Sunday afterall.

God Aptit

Swedish Sunday recipes are available in a pdf file - please send an email to for a copy of the recipes.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

The Witch is In

While one may consider an earthquake and tsunami warnings as scary enough for tonight, those are nothing compared to a visit to a haunted house.

Welcomed by a ghost of a witch in white, your choice as you step in is to venture away from safety and be guided by a crow to a beer.

And if you don't happen to like beer, there are jars of bloody wine cocktails staring at you, begging you to take a sip and fall into the web of this haunting, memorable evening.

And yes, there was food, but we will get to that soon. The first order of the night was to evade creatures from all walks of life and beyond or beneath and get your hands on a cold icy glass of Sangria. 

But evading those creatures was not easy, particularly this nightmare.

However, once you were past this creature, with your glass of booze, you would have had a chance to sample some substance.

The vegetables and a delicious sweet dip, the dark wings (or were those rat thighs?), the generous selection of cheeses along with a sample of bloody cold cuts.

Dips, salads, crackers, breads, sweets; all made for an amazing evening witnessing men turning into vegetables, women turning into cats, men growing boobs, live beauties turning into dolls and hot sauce bottles.

Was there a way away from all those depictions of creatures?

Not really, you'd just have to get drunk and go with the flow. You may meet your sugar daddy, or see a painting come alive.

You may nibble on a corn, bite a carrot or fry a potato. But you won't escape the friends you have not seen for a while, the new friends you made, all the good company, good food, charming hostesses, making for a Halloween party like no other.

And yes there were games, and prizes, but the real winner is someone who tried those home-made chocolate salted caramel mini cupcakes.

Happy Halloween and remember if you trick or treat...

... your treat may be a potato or, even worse, a green tomato.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Eid Moubarak

Today, somerville kitchen celebrated 'Eid ul-Adha', a celebration in Islam marking the end of the Hajj which commemorates the Prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail as an act of obedience to God.

The fire was lit, chestnuts were roasted and a feast was served, starting with Lady K's world-famous lentil and vermicelli soup.

Dinner was also a Lady K's inspiration. 

Instead of somerville kitchen's typical feast-celebrating Chicken and Rice Cake, let's make it a Lamb and Rice Cake.

So lamb shanks simmered off their bones, rice made with the broth; a delicious invention was served.

But as we feasted, portions were controlled to keep space for dessert.

An Eid celebration is not authentic without Ashta, Lebanese-style cream that is the basis of all Eid desserts.

Tonight we kept it simple - freshly made Ashta covered with pistachios and drizzled with Quater.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Wacky Pumpkin

From a carefully selected two pumpkin seeds, one seed created life to a pumpkin plant.

Fearing jardin invasion, the plant was kept in a big pot that spurted endless compost-hibernated tomatoes.

Despite this, one pumpkin made it to life, on a branch climbing up the garage wall.

It grew into a beautiful, perfectly round pumpkin (was this a Martha Stewart's genetically modified seed I wonder?)

But, alas, the pumpkin was too heavy; the branch fell to the ground.

Left to its natural instincts, it held on its life branch and grew rounder, then started to change colour, maturing into a very handsome pumpkin.

And now it is Halloween, what to do with Pumpkin?

Some of you will recall last week's Wacky Thursday's story about the original Jack-ó-Lantern. This created a dilemma at somerville kitchen. 

Should this year's Jack-ó-Lanterns be all original, made of turnips or should a pumpkin be added to the mix.

So the pumkin was on display. New versus old world debates took place in front of the fire place. "It looks so beautiful on the window", "But it will get dry, and wither without completing the destiny it was born for".

We are in North America after all and the pumpkin is THE plant of choice for those lanterns. So, without further ado, let me introduce somerville kitchen's organically grown, traditionally carved, Pumpkin-ó-Lantern. 

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Happy Days, Happy Meals

Thanking the universe for all it is giving us, specially happy days and fun evenings, I emptied the fridge and started planning dinner.

There were leftover pasta that the red pepper, chilli pepper, onion and tomato can dress nicely in a simple sauce. Some jardin herbs added to the fun.

The potatoes and zucchinis were fated to the deep frying pan.

But vegetarian is not typically somerville kitchen style, so the chicken showed their breasts and rolled into some Iranian spices, ready to grill.

And a happy meal is happiest when presented as a happy looking plate. 

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Fancy Easy

Last month I cooked a wonderful Indian meal from Reza Mahammad's new book (Read Weekend with Reza).

Part of that was a yoghurt marinade that Reza mentioned can stay in the fridge for months.

And it did, until tonight when lamb kebabs were marinated in it overnight.

A perfect fall night brought out the indoor grill and the lamb kebabs slowly grilled on it, with beautiful aromas throughout somerville kitchen.

What to go with this meat?  I remembered  a package of Jennifer's Jiffies curry rice pilaf that I bought few weeks back and been waiting to try (read Sunday @ Kits Market).

Why not, it fits very well with the fancy easy theme of tonight's Indian-inspired dinner.

So pleasantly surprising how easy it was to turn this package into a tasty, spicy and beautiful looking platter.

More importantly, all from natural ingredients - the package included grains, dried vegetables, herbs and nuts; nothing else.

And a fancy easy dinner was served.