Quick Mayo

Homemade mayo. It’s become a bit of a staple in our house. I know not everyone loves mayonnaise, but I swear homemade is a game changer. It takes about 2 minutes to make & tastes significantly better than most store bought versions. & then you can quickly throw together a delicious crab salad or some spicy mayo dip. Trust me on this one – it’s really simple.

For this non-recipe, you’ll need an immersion blender & a tall mason jar. The jar should only just fit your blender, without a lot of extra space around it. Assemble the following ingredients in the mason jar to start. To make a little under a cup of mayo, you’ll need:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup of oil

I generally eyeball the ingredients & it turns out great, so don’t worry too much about exact measurements. If anything you want a little more oil than less. Use any mild-tasting oil for this. I generally use light olive oil because I find regular olive oil has too strong a flavour. Many people like avocado or macadamia nut oil too. Experiment & figure out what you like best (or just use the light olive oil – it’s great!).

Mayo Ingredients

Throw all your ingredients into your mason jar & put your immersion blender to the very bottom of the jar.

Fire up your blender! Keep it at the very bottom to start, & slowly raise it as it starts to emulsify. If it doesn’t seem to thicken to the right consistency (think thick, but spreadable), add more oil & repeat the process with the blender & the mason jar.

Halfway Mayo

Halfway

Fifteen seconds in, it should look like the photo above. You can still see a little bit of oil at the top, so you can slowly start to raise the blender so that it mixes with the rest.

Our finished product is always a little more on the yellow side because we use those Omega 3 eggs. It tastes delicious though. Add it to crab meat with a little hot sauce, celery, & dried seaweed for some quick midweek lettuce wraps – that’s my favourite use for this stuff!

30 sec mayo

Experiment with different oils – each will add a bit of a different flavour, so you may have to play a little to find the one you like the best. There’s some debate about how long this mayo keeps for. I usually keep mine a little over a week, since I make it in smaller batches as I need it, but I’ve also heard it’s good until the date on the egg you used.

I like it a lot better than most mayo’s I find in the stores (with one pricey exception I sometimes give in to) & it’s easy & cheap to make with ingredients you’re likely already buying. Have you ever made your own mayo? Is it something you’d try?

Advertisements

Braising

DSC01679

Totally profession plating here…

For the last few years, we’ve ordered an eighth of a cow from a coworker of N’s. His family has a smaller ranch called Grazed Right. Our beef order has since become something we look forward to every fall as the beef is some of the best I’ve ever had. (I am in no way affiliated with their ranch, btw – I truly love their beef & have recommended it to most of our close friends.) Ben & his family are really great people & I’m happy to support them in becoming successful full-time ranchers. I hope they’re well on their way to achieving that goal!

One of the unexpected perks of ordering a portion of an animal is learning to cook cuts that you may not have otherwise bought. I’m very rarely intimidated by any cut of beef anymore since every eighth has such a variety – from bone-in steaks to roasts to chuck steak & short ribs. It’s a great opportunity to get a little creative in the kitchen.

We were discussing our upcoming beef orders recently & comparing what we had left from the previous year. As N & I are on our third year, we’ve fared a bit better with our ground beef usage especially (when you order in bulk, you generally get a lot of ground beef – we turned some of ours into sausage which definitely helped!). A few people mentioned they still had chuck steaks leftover since they usually require a lengthy marinade. Personally, I marinating a bit tedious so I’ve turned to braising instead. While it is a slower method of cooking, it’s virtually foolproof & a delicious way to turn a tougher cut into something wonderful. I love that this method is back in popular rotation – I’m sure my grandparents would have a good chuckle over what was probably a common way to for them to cook.

I thought I’d share my favourite recipe on the blog today, in case you’re looking for a way to use this cheaper cut. I’m using the term recipe pretty loosely here – there’s really nothing groundbreaking here. For those of us who forgot about braising though, I hope it serves as a little inspiration to put it back into your weekday rotation.

You’re going to need:

  • 1 medium onion (white or yellow)
  • 1/2 cup of red wine (split in half, I used cab sauv)
  • Stock (Beef or Mushroom preferably, I think I had chicken on hand – whatever)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 T butter or fat
  • Pinch of thyme
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Get your chuck steak out. I usually let my meat come to room temperature before I throw it on the grill on in the oven. This is especially true with chicken, but I find it works well for keeping steak juicy too.

Next, grab a sharp knife & slice your onion. I like to do them a medium thickness. I find I get the best caramelization that way. While you’re slicing your onion, heat a large oven-proof dutch oven on medium heat. (I used my le Creuset for this recipe. It’s awesome, but you definitely do not need to use one. Any oven-safe dutch oven will work. Normally I would actually use my Staub because the lid is basically made for braising. There are a lot of options out there though & you don’t HAVE to splurge on either of these!)

DSC01650

Add the butter or fat to the dutch oven. I use a mix of bacon fat & butter. Once it has melted, you can add your onion & turn it down to low. You want to slowly cook the onion until it’s caramelized. While this is cooking, grab your steak.

DSC01654

You can admire her for a minute here if you like…

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Cube your steak & set aside in a bowl.

DSC01656

DSC01657

Keeping an eye on the onions, measure out the rest of your ingredients. Mince the garlic if you haven’t already. Measure out a cup of stock & 1/4 cup of wine.

DSC01659

When your onions are almost caramelized, add the garlic. Cook until fragrant.

DSC01663

Remove the onions & garlic & set aside. Add the steak to brown on all sides.

DSC01666

DSC01671

Once the beef has browned on all sides, add 1/4 cup of the wine to deglaze the pan. (You want those browned bits in your “sauce”!) It will cook off a bit & then you can add your onion & garlic back in. Add the stock, the rest of the wine, & the spices until the meat is covered. (My measurements aren’t an exact science so you may need a little more or a little less depending on the size of your dutch oven & how much steak you have.)

DSC01673

Cover & put in the oven. Set your timer for 30 minutes. I check it every 30 minutes or so until the sauce has reduced & the meat is tender. It usually takes about an hour & a half to two hours.

After an hour, I’ll usually start prepping my side dishes. We like to pair this with mashed faux-tatoes (cauliflower pretending to be mashed potato). It’s really simple & delicious. It would also go well with real mashed potatoes or even rice, if you’re like one of our friends who loves rice!

DSC01674

Mashed faux-tatoes in the vitamix

When it’s done, it will look like this. If you’d like to add a little flour to your sauce (or make a roux), that would probably be lovely. I sometimes add a tiny bit of tapioca flour to thicken it, while keeping everything gluten-free. I don’t think it needs it though if you don’t want.

DSC01675

I served it on top of the mash & added a bit of arugula. That’s it! It makes for a delicious meal!

DSC01678

So that’s how I make use of our chuck steaks. These are more guidelines than anything else – add your own twist (& let me know how it goes!) or keep it the same.

While braising is a bit of a slower process, I think it’s worthwhile. Your whole house will smell fantastic, it’s relatively hands off, & you end up with a fantastic, hearty meal at the end.

Eat Eat \\ Suzette Bistro

Parlement de Bretagne

Parlement de Bretagne (2009)

I’ve written at length about my love for Lyon, but my first French love was actually for Rennes. Ten years ago, I packed my comically large suitcase for a semester abroad in a small French city in the northwest region of Brittany. At twenty, I had no real clue what I was getting myself into or how the experience would change me.

Rennes (or Roazhon, if you speak Breton) felt like a small town to me, & I spent the next six months exploring every inch of it.The city is considered to be one of the most festive in France & I made every effort to take in as much of that as I could. It certainly lived up to its reputation – I can barely keep track of how many festivals & events took place during my stay.

One of the many festivals: Fest-Noz

One of the many festivals: Fest-Noz

Wandering the old streets of the beautiful historic center was by far one of my favourite pastimes during my stay. A picnic in one of the beautiful parks also isn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon, & thanks to the large student population, Rennes also boasts a vibrant nightlife. There’s even a street made up only of bars. Nicknamed “rue de la soif” (Street of Thirst), rue Saint-Michel is the place to be on a Thursday night during the school year.

3047_564543958427_3917138_n (1)

One of the beautiful squares

3047_564542536277_8192570_n (1)

Portes Mordelaises: the last remaining gate to Rennes from the middle ages.

3047_564542157037_3958786_n

Crêperies at St Anne

3047_564542326697_7134511_n

Parc du Thabor

DSC05106

Opéra at Christmas (2005)

DSC04444

A rare snowfall at Villejean Residences

If that wasn’t enough to make me fall in love, the local food certainly did. Brittany has many wonderful specialties including seafood, salted butter caramels, numerous pastries, cidre (hard apple cider), & half salted butter (for some reason, it’s unreal). You can find most of these at the weekly Saturday market, le marché des Lices. For my favourite traditional Breton delicacy though, you’ll want to head over to Crêperie St Anne & order a galette. Breton galettes are the crêpe’s savoury soulmate, made from buckwheat flour & filled with anything from smoked meats to vegetables & cheese.

DSC03833

Le marché des Lices

DSC03828

An having a galette jambon at the market

3047_564543978387_5822301_n

Galette Complète – jambon, œuf, frommage.

I thought I’d have to go back to Rennes for my galette cravings until Suzette Bistro opened this year. I could barely contain my excitement as I walked over to meet N for dinner last Friday. Reminiscing about my time in Brittany, I had high hopes for our meal.

A quick look through their drink menu & I decided on the cidre brut (dry cider) – a favourite from both times I lived in France & an easy choice for me. Their selection also included a decent assortment of beer & wines. I love that the cidre was served in a traditional ceramic mug like you would get in Brittany. Things were certainly off to a good start!

DSC01522

Cidre

For my main course, I chose the Complète, with French ham, Gruyère cheese, & egg (always my favourite variety in France!). N went with the Norvégienne, which should come as no surprise to anyone who’s eaten with him as it features smoked salmon. All galettes come with a a mixed green salad. Ours orders arrived quickly & that was the first thing I dug into. It doesn’t look like much, but this is exactly the same salad I’ve eaten in countless restaurants across France, & it is fantastic. The magic is in the perfect dressing. If that didn’t take me back to Bretagne, then my first bite of galette certainly did. It was perfect combination of ham, cheese, & egg in every bite! & the actual galette tasted exactly as I remembered. I tried a couple bites of N’s, & it was delicious too. A generous serving of smoked salmon paired nicely with the creamy leeks.

DSC01526

DSC01528

Despite barely having room for dessert, I convinced N to share a Bretonne crêpe with me. I couldn’t resist the idea of caramel beurre salé (can you blame me?!). I also ordered a cappuccino. It was the perfect way to cap off our meal.

DSC01532

A perfect crêpe, bigger than my face.

DSC01533

DSC01534

Suzette Bistro gets tops marks from me as authentically Breton & incredibly delicious. The prices are reasonable, the service was pleasant (you could even practice your French with some of the staff, if you wanted!), & the food was fantastic. It seems we aren’t the only fans of this new Mission addition either – the place was surprisingly busy despite our early reservation.

I highly recommend you check out Suzette Bistro – they do weekend brunch & weekday lunch & dinner (with the exception of Mondays). Thank you to Suzette for a wonderful meal & a fantastic trip down memory lane.

Suzette Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat Eat \\ Parc Brasserie

DSC00459

When N was back a few weeks ago, I took him out for an evening to celebrate his (then belated) birthday. It seems like there are so many new places opening up all over the city so we decided to check a couple of them out. We started the night at Proof, a new cocktail bar with an impressively extensive menu, grabbing one of the last tables on what was looking to be a pretty busy Friday night.

With so many cocktails to choose from, it took us a while to make a decision. I finally went for the Millionaire – a delicious combination of whisky, grand marnier, grenadine, & egg whites. I’m such a sucker for cocktails with egg whites so it was a bit of a no brainer for me. N went with Fire in the Pharmacy, which is a scotch float with lemon, ginger, honey, & mezcal. I’m not really a scotch fan, so I never would have ordered this, but I’m so glad he did. It is delicious – such a great surprise!

DSC00420

DSC00422

birthday boy

DSC00429

DSC00437

Unfortunately we only had time for the one drink before we had to head to dinner. I look forward to going back & tasting more cocktails. I also plan on trying some food off their menu next time too – everything coming out of the kitchen looked incredible.

The space itself is pretty cute, with high ceilings & big windows facing the street, but the wall of bottles behind the bar is probably the most impressive piece. It commands your attention, especially if someone has to hop on the ladder.

DSC00426

drinks

DSC00431

an impressive wall

In order to make our reservation, we hopped in a cab to Parc Brasserie for dinner. Walking in, the decor was exactly what you’d expect of a French Brasserie, with black & white checkered floors & simple design. We were seated at the back, by the kitchen, giving us a great view of the rest of the restaurant. I loved the art on the walls, especially the familiar photos of different landmarks across France. I spotted a few favourite spots in their gallery.

DSC00439

DSC00445

We decided to dive right in with a bottle of wine – a Côtes du Rhône we really enjoyed. We also shared two aperitifs: the Croquettes & the Rillette de Lapin. The croquettes were a perfectly fried combination of Emmental cheese, ham, & potatoes, topped with aioli & a little extra cheese for good measure. The rabbit rillette came with pickles, capers berries, mustard, & crostini. We enjoyed both thoroughly. Another nice touch was the fresh bread they came around with as we waited for our starters. It was some of the best bread I’ve had in this city (so I suggest you say yes if they ask – go for the country style).

DSC00441

DSC00442

DSC00444

DSC00448

Deciding on a main course was tough as everything sounded delicious. In the end I went with the classic choice: Steak Frites. Topped with roasted shallot butter, mushrooms, & peppercorn sauce, it was cooked perfectly & full of flavour. Pairing it with the accompanying arugula made for the perfect bite! The fries were generously portioned, crispy, & flavourful. I loved the aioli that came on the side.

N’s choice stole the show though. He went with the duck, which came with asparagus, lentils, & an orange sauce. It was incredible. We capped off the night with cheese – the perfect dessert, if you ask me. It came with three beautiful cheeses, crostini, & two jams. It was a great way to end the meal.

DSC00449

DSC00450

Steak

DSC00451

Frites

DSC00452

Canard

DSC00454

Cheese Course

Our experience at Parc was wonderful – our server was great, as were the others we interacted with throughout the night. They were attentive & helpful every step of the way.

I hope to head back for a repeat experience soon. I’m a sucker for a good french brasserie & I’ve been eyeing the Tuesday night moules special.

Thank you for a fantastic evening, Parc!

Parc Brasserie, 17th Ave:
Click to add a blog post for Parc Brasserie on Zomato

On part-time long distance (& a new favourite spot)

DSC00278

N has started a work rotation up north. Fourteen days on, seven days off. Good for his career, unfortunate for our lives.  We’re more than halfway through the longest span of him being away & I am eagerly anticipating his return – making belated birthday plans & thinking up fabulous meals to cook together. He was thrust into this new position pretty quickly with a week of training followed by a longer rotation. So when he gets back next week, he’ll have been away 21 of the last 24 days (Sink or swim!).

Luckily (or unluckily?) we’re no strangers to this long distance thing. In fact, until last year we’d probably spent more time living apart than we had together.I moved to Montreal for school four months after we started dating. We weren’t even sure where this new relationship was headed, but we decided to try to make it work anyway. We spent the next two years courting primarily over text message, skype, & occasional visits. Once I graduated, I moved home, thinking this was the end of this “style” of romance. Ironically, my cross-country move coincided with N’s work travel ramping up. An out of town project popped up nearly every time we made plans or bought concert tickets. The threat of having to reschedule or find a last minute friend to buy his ticket was never far from our thoughts.

Then, a couple years ago, he changed jobs. Deciding he wanted to get some different experience, he took a project engineer position that required fieldwork. We expected to go back to this quasi-long distance relationship, but dodged that (as well as the salary uplift) until now. So while I do miss him very much, it’s been almost two years in the making. We discussed the pros & cons & made a conscious decision to accept a rotation up North. That simple fact makes it a little bit easier to take, I think (at least for me, but I’m not the one working most of the summer).

Last time N was home, we took advantage of the gorgeous weather & headed over to Cannibale. This new addition to our neighbourhood (or neighbouring hood, anyway) already has me looking for excuses to grab a drink on their fabulous patio. More than just your average neighbourhood bar, Cannibale features creative cocktails, an excellent selection of wines, beers, & spirits, & a delightful take on bar food.

With two successful restaurants in Dairy Lane Cafe & Blue Star Diner, I had high hopes for their menu. & there’s been no disappointments so far! In fact, they’ve exceeded my expectations with their friendly & welcoming bar staff, killer design (think trendy speakeasy vibe), & inspiring menu.

DSC00275

The menu. I’m partial to the Santiago.

DSC00282

DSC00291

N & I shared the Foie Gras Parfait on our latest visit &, honestly, it was parfait. I’ve also tried their Peasant Cheese Board: a lovely selection of cheese, crostini, & honey. A bite of one of their sandwiches had me wishing I’d ordered my own. As for the cocktails, I personally love the delightfully sour Santiago, while N favours the Jungle Bird (& the Pimmy Gibbler is more than just a funny cocktail name). Although, the bartenders are always game to make suggestions if you’re unsure. My favourite craft beers round out the drink menu & I’m looking forward to making a dent in the wine list (if cocktails aren’t your thing).

DSC00283

DSC00288

DSC00286

DSC00285

With a full bar & a patio, what more could you ask for? A classic, full-service barbershop perhaps? That’s right, Cannibale also features an attached single-chair barbershop at the front. It reminds me of Blind Barber in NYC. I just love this concept! I’m looking forward to watching Cannibale become part of the neighbourhood.

DSC00290

The one perk to long distance is that you really take advantage of the days when you’re together & make the most of that time. Thank you, Cannibale, for giving us a great spot to do so. & welcome to the neighbourhood.

Click to add a blog post for Cannibale on Zomato

Holidays at the Lake

As I was packing to spend May Long weekend at the lake, I realized that I still hadn’t posted anything from my last two trips out there. We spent both Christmas & Easter with my family out at the lake & I took a few photos. I love spending time out there! Most of the weekend consisted of cooking & eating, but I captured a few moments from Christmas morning too. So here we go, a big old fashioned holiday photo dump!

DSC_0876

DSC_0877

DSC_0883

DSC_0885

DSC_0888

N & his giant stocking

DSC_0896

DSC_0903

It’s not Christmas without a little sparkle

DSC_0907

DSC_0916

DSC_0940

the freshest of figs

Dad decided to roast a couple ducks, which turned out incredible. You also get the added benefit of duck fat when you cook duck, which we proceeded to cook our potatoes in for the rest of the weekend. If you’ve never had potatoes fried in duck fat, I strongly suggest you get out there & try it.

DSC_0948

DSC_0949

Two sitting ducks

DSC_0953

DSC_0961

It turns out that carving a duck is completely different from carving a chicken, so unfortunately (ha!), we’re going to have to practice. More duck, please!

DSC_0963

The next morning, I took a turn in the kitchen. I’d made a paleo banana bread the week before, so I decided to make banana bread french toast. Seems impressive, but it’s actually a very simple breakfast. My favourite kind of cooking.

DSC_0965

I was also in charge of dinner on Saturday night. We didn’t have much planned that day so I decided to go with a slow braise. The leisurely pace of the prep for this type of meal is perfect for a quiet day at the lake.

I picked up a pork shoulder from my favourite butcher in Calgary, Bon Ton Meat Market. They’re a bit out of the way for us in their new location, but I know I can always trust them for specialty cuts (or any large roast, bone in). We also brought our extra large Staub out of storage at N’s parents. (We’re storing a lot of wedding gifts at both of our parents’ houses until we find a house.) I used that for this roast, since it was larger. I chose this Martha Stewart recipe,  & the only thing I’d have done differently is trust my gut on the amount of liquid. It got a little low since my Staub is so large. It still turned out delicious. Caramelized onions & bacon…need I say more? (I also thought it’d be funny to live tweet the process, so if you’re interested the hashtag was #deBoersmakedinner.)

DSC_0968

DSC_0974

DSC_0979

DSC_0984 \DSC_0985

DSC_0990

Look at that awesome sear!

DSC_1000

DSC_1001

The next time we were up at the lake was for Easter. I literally only took food photos with my DSLR, although we did more than just eat. We also discovered a new ATV route, got a couple good runs in, & played some games.

I seem to have great timing for when my parents chose to open some of the wines from their trip to France in 2006. They brought back some beauties & this Volnay Clos des Chênes was no exception! They also catered to me & served lamb again this year. I always joke that I don’t like ham, which isn’t entirely true. I love bacon & prosciutto, & I’d never turn down a slice of Iberico Ham. When you put a glazed ham up against lamb though, lamb wins every time for me. (& don’t talk to me about turkey at Easter. No.)

DSC_0234

DSC_0237

DSC_0241

Lamb > Ham, any day.

DSC_0242

DSC_0245

DSC_0249

So there you have it – all caught up on my holidays at the lake, always a very food-centric time for us. I assume if you’re reading this blog, you’re into that type of thing.

With N away for work right now, I’m bringing a couple girlfriends to the lake this weekend. There’s been talk of dad’s famous pizza, which should make it a little more difficult to focus through the final workday!

Calgary Poutine Crawl 2015

Someone needs to start a YYC Salad Week. Seriously. Now that poutine week has come & gone, my pants fit a little tighter & I’ve been craving vegetables. We tasted some delicious poutines though so I think it’s a fair trade off. I tried to implement my own personal salad week last week to balance things out. Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately?) it was Alberta Burger Fest. I spent far too much time ogling the delicious entries & gave in to Eats of Asia yesterday. The things I do for charity, right? (ha!)

This year I scored tickets to the Poutine Crawl again, taking place on the final day of Poutine Week. I wasn’t about to attempt much more than that (I’m no Kyle MacQuarrie – He ate 36 poutines over the course of 7 days!), however we did warm-up earlier in the week with Anju‘s Poutine for your Seoul. I’m always impressed with Roy Oh’s creativity & this poutine was no exception. It combined Kabayaki gravy with Kennebec fries, gochugaru salt, soft tofu, cheese curds, & dehydrated kimchi. The entire dish was a hit, but the gravy stood out as one of the best I’ve ever had. Well played, Anju.

Come Saturday, our little group met the rest of the Poutine Crawlers at Below Deck Tavern. We quickly ordered a few drinks as we waited for the event to begin. I went with a caesar since it felt a bit early for beer. Below Deck’s poutine was an East Coast Donair Poutine. The fries were perfectly crispy & flavourful,  the curds squeaky, & the donair sauce was an unusual, but delicious addition. I found myself wishing there were more curds & meat, but overall it was a great start to our crawl.

DSC_0250 DSC_0268

We didn’t have to crawl too far for our second poutine. We found ourselves across the street at Mango Shiva for our next poutine. I’ve been meaning to visit this beautifully decorated Indian restaurant for a while & I know I’ll definitely be back after tasting their delicious curry. Their poutine was a Rogan Josh lamb curry with cilantro, cheese, tomatoes, & fries. The flavour in the curry was unreal. I will absolutely be back to try more of their curries after that! Unfortunately, we thought the fries could have been a bit crispier & found ourselves wishing it was paired with naan or rice instead. I guess it wouldn’t have really been a poutine then, though!

DSC_0302DSC_0288 DSC_0292 DSC_0293

Full of delicious Indian spices, we wandered down Stephen Avenue to City Hall, where the Joey’s Double Decker Diner awaited. We lined up at the window for our enormous Greek Poutine. This thing was seriously huge, & full of amazing ingredients. Fries, gravy, tomatoes, tzatziki, cucumber, feta, & chicken may seem like an odd combination, but we all loved it. Imagine poutine topped with greek salad & tzatziki. Delicious!

DSC_0306 DSC_0308 DSC_0325 DSC_0331 DSC_0333 DSC_0337 DSC_0338 DSC_0339

Charcut has long held the title for my favourite poutine in the city so I was very excited to see it on the list. We arrived a bit earlier than expected – it was a bit chilly to continue hanging out outside the Joey’s bus. After three poutines, we welcomed the little break, & their delicious beer selection kept us occupied.

Before too long, they made the rounds with their contribution. Their take saw crispy fries topped with squeaky curds, a light gravy, & truffle oil. When used sparingly, truffle oil can take a dish to the next level, & this was certainly the case here. This was my favourite poutine of the day, & to top it all off, we chatted with one of the chef’s, Connie DeSousa. It was great to meet her & hear a little bit about their choice of flavours & ingredients.

DSC_0346 DSC_0347 DSC_0348 DSC_0350 DSC_0353 DSC_0359

We’d reached the fifth stop on our crawl & we were stuffed. I was ready for a break…& maybe a nap. But the Poutine Crawl soldiered on; it’s not for the faint of heart. Swine & Sow served up a fondue poutine. It consisted of house-cured ham, swiss fondue sauce, crisped pancetta, & a cabernet reduction. The flavours here were incredible, & incredibly rich. I could barely finish this poutine despite thoroughly enjoying the flavours.

DSC_0363 DSC_0366 DSC_0369 DSC_0385

Our last stop was Black Betty. By this point, we’d had a few beers & were understandably full. A few of us decided to try out their cocktails, on the recommendation of one of the guys. They had some unique options. The poutine itself was also interesting. The fries seemed to be battered & it reminded me a little bit of fried chicken. It wasn’t my favourite, but I was pretty full at that point & more interested in the upcoming Flames game.

DSC_0416DSC_0395 DSC_0412 DSC_0414  DSC_0421

Once again, the Poutine Crawl was a great event. Thank you to Karen Richards for organizing it again this year – it’s pretty incredible to have an event sell out when you can only buy tickets if you purchase a mealshare item & post it to Facebook.

The votes were tallied the next day & Charcut came out on top. A well-deserved win, if you ask me!

On Meal Planning

I love thinking about food – any & all food is fair game. I take pleasure in sharing my knowledge of Calgary’s food scene & delight in the ongoing search for delicious fare. You’d think this passion for eating would perhaps translate to my enjoyment of meal planning, but it truly does not. I don’t really believe anyone who tells me they love this task. Don’t get me wrong, I love thinking about new recipes & forming an unstructured plan of what we’ll eat, but I don’t enjoy sitting down to actually plan the week. I get much more enjoyment from flexible plans, but I personally don’t find them realistic for our everyday lives. For one, I hate throwing out food. It’s one of my pet peeves. Even if something I’ve made doesn’t quite turn out, I’ll usually eat it. There’s also the unfortunate fact that we need to be a little bit conscious what we’re spending. So every week, I sit down & make a meal plan.
I used to be quite diligent about this process, but lately I’ve been struggling with finding the motivation. Recipes I’ve pinned still look delicious, but I don’t always have time (or energy) for a weekday experiment. It’s just not always realistic to spend hours in the kitchen on a Tuesday night. Sometimes I just want something quick & easy, something that I already know will be delicious.
This is exactly why I’m grateful that I’ve been so organized with our meal plans. (Excuse me while I pat myself on the back for that one.) Thanks to my penchant for planning, I have a record of every single meal plan we ever made. Originally, I typed them up in word, printed them off, & stuck them on the fridge. At the end of the week, I’d put them in a binder. (How cute!)
A couple of years ago, we made the switch to online recording. We use an app called Evernote. It allows you to create lists that sync to multiple phones, making tracking, organising, & editing simple.When N picks up groceries, he checks off the items in the app as he goes so we know whether we’re missing anything.
a sample Evernote plan
I really like our system, but I still find my inspiration lacking from time to time. A few weeks ago, I was on Instagram & noticed how often I share our meals on my feed. Why not use these for inspiration?! There’s a good mix of tried & true recipes as well as some newer, exciting ones. I created a hashtag for these photos so they’re easy to find (one of the greatest features of instagram!). You can find them by searching #deBoerDinners.
Whenever I’ve used a recipe, I’ve tagged the owner or referenced it in some ways. There are some experiments & staples up there though that will not have recipes associated with them, but hopefully they all help to inspire your meal plans when you’re feeling a bit stuck. I plan to continue to add to it as we cook more too, so it will continue to grow.
Do you ever find yourself in a cooking rut? I’d love to hear about your tactics if you do! Happy Meal Planning!

Giving Thanks

Our one Turkey holiday of the year (at least for my parents) is over & done with. We roasted an impressively large bird for five people last weekend & now we’re into leftover season. I’ll definitely be trying to take advantage of all that turkey & stuffing (my mom’s turkey stuffing is off the charts).

We spent Thanksgiving out at the lake this year. My parents headed out Friday & then N, my brother, & I drove out on Saturday. The whole weekend was filled with delicious food & family time. N & I brought out a bottle of wine & Lemon honey from Cinque Terre & picked up a wedge of pecorino to pair with it. Mom set out our usual cheese & appies (including some pickled carrots I’d made a couple weeks ago) & we dug in. This is definitely a family tradition of ours & I love it. How can you not enjoy such a spread?

Dad had made homemade pappardelle & lamb ragu for dinner that night. It was fantastic. He makes great pasta homemade pasta that we are always happy to devour.

Saturday morning, the boys went golfing while Mom & I stayed home & prepared our friend Tom the Turkey. Yes, we name our turkey & yes, his name is always Tom. We’re weird like that. This meal is such an all day affair so I don’t blame my parents for keeping it for Thanksgiving. I always enjoy the meal & it’s great to get everyone together in the kitchen as it all comes together in the end, but it is truly an all day affair. Not to mention, I love trying new things so our plan to have duck for Christmas is right up my alley.

The next day, I prepared an Egg & Meatball Tagine for everyone for brunch. It was delicious, if I do say myself. While not the most conventional of breakfast dishes, the flavours will make you forget what that even means.  & sometimes it’s fun to break the rules, right?

Monday was the perfect fall day so N & I took a walk down to the lake before packing the car for home. We even ran into a few deer on our way down.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d share a few things I’m personally thankful for this year. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday & have many things on your list as well.

I am thankful for:

  • My family, my husband, & my friends. There isn’t much more to it really. We had a great weekend at the lake & returned to more family time with N’s parents. We also just received our wedding photos & they are a beautiful reminder of how lucky we are to be surrounded with the best people. 
  • You. Those of you who read this blog & keep me from feeling like I’m talking to myself. I’m grateful that I have this space to write & share & be creative. Thank you for reading! 
  • First World Problems. Yeah, I’m grateful that they are really the only problems we face on a regular basis. We both have good jobs, a roof over our heads, minimal debt, & our own cars. We’re lucky to be able to afford to do most of the things we want to do. 
  • Our health. N & I are both quite healthy people. That seems rare these days. 
I’m sure I could go on about the many other things I’m grateful for, but these are my big four. 
Happy Thanksgiving!

Eat \\ Anju’s Test Kitchen Takeover

It’s been decided. We’re part of the Roy Oh/Anju Fanclub, maybe even the founding members. Over the course of a month, I attended 3 dinners where Roy was either the chef or a contributor, and he doesn’t even currently have a restaurant right now!

H actually has me beat though as she attended four over the course of the month. If that’s not fan girl status, I don’t know what is.
Kidding aside, if you haven’t eaten Roy’s Korean Fusion fare, you’re missing out. I know I just said that he doesn’t currently have a restaurant, but that’s all about to change soon (stay tuned to their twitter – @AnjuRestaurant. I know I will be!). If you’re familiar with the Calgary restaurant scene, his new digs will fill the space that used to be Petite (at 17 avenue & 4 street SW).
For my second Anju experience in June, a YMCA co-worker invited H & I to check out his pop up at Test Kitchen. H was a bit hesitant as this would be Anju meal three for her, but in the end she couldn’t resist.

I love this pop-up series idea going on at Test Kitchen & really hope it continues. I think it’s great to have different chefs come in & have the opportunity to do something that is maybe a little different from the usual fair in their own establishments.

We started the evening with a soju strawberry, chili, & mint cocktail. As expected, it was delicious. The flavour combination was different in the best way. The hint of spice was a welcome surprise & I’m a sucker for any cocktail that features mint.

The first course was a spicy oyster shooter. We each got a little shot glass with a spicy oyster shot. I love oysters so it was a great way to kick off the meal.

Next we had a bone marrow risotto. Rich, creamy, & decadent are adjectives that spring to mind when I think of this dish. Bone marrow has such an amazing flavour on its own; the smooth & creamy risotto was a perfect pairing. Roy had also added some anchovies that reminded us of one our unexpected favourites at the Chinese Association dinner. I’m sure I made my happy face throughout this entire dish. It was that great.

Fish & Chips were next up on our menu. We discussed what possible spin Roy would put on it. Roy’s creativity shone through as we were presented with what looked like two spring rolls on a bed of tartar sauce.

We all decided to go with wine pairings for the meal. I wish I’d taken better note of the wines we tried. They were all lovely and mostly white wines, not something I usually pick myself since I know my taste in red better.

Our last savoury course was bibimbap. This was a new dish for me, but one I think I can get behind. As usual, Roy had a bit of a non-traditional take on this wonderful dish. As I’ve come to expect with
most dishes that come out of his kitchen, I loved the combination of different flavours in this dish. This time I think the different textures were what I most enjoyed though here.

Last came dessert – milk & cookies. The milk was a sesame milkshake & the cookies were warm chili chocolate. It was a delicious end to a fantastic meal & further cemented Anju in my mind as somewhere fantastic. I will definitely be very excited to see this restaurant back on the scene in Calgary & can’t recommend it enough.

Click to add a blog post for Anju Restaurant on Zomato