Thursday, 28 August 2014

All The Goings On...

Teachers are getting classrooms ready, the gardens are bursting (though not mine..not this year), and summer is winding down.

September always feels more like the beginning of a new year to me than the calendar turnings of January.  Maybe because life settles down into gentle routine after the chaos of summer, or maybe my love of the harvest and the coziness of "putting up" for the winter makes me feel centred at home?  The weather is usually warm, but not overly so, and the nights are cool enough to encourage snuggling. Whatever the reason it is a time of year I love.



This year the CSC calendar is blacked out for a while, as I need time to take of a few personal things. Don't worry.  This  is temporary and I am very much looking forward to a fun-filled winter.   In the mean time I hope this winter to share some great new recipes and maybe a new set-up as well.  It's very exciting!

Moving forward, I have been testing wine glasses and I am very happy to tell you about Schott Zwiesel.

I have been trying to find a wine glass that I liked; only one.  My house is so small that I have decided a single glass was going to have to stand for all wines.  I just don't have the room, or quite frankly the budget, to own more.  After settling on a Burgundy glass as "the one" I set out to find a glass that would not break easily.  I have spent the last ten years breaking at least a glass a month!




Schott Zwiesel glasses contain titanium!  Wow!  And when smacked against the corner of the counter don't crack, break, shatter or chip.  Fantastic.  They are also beautiful.  Wine Spectator agrees.  A little, tiny, bit more expensive than the glasses I have previously bought on a semi-annual basis, I hold hope these glasses will grace the table for a long time.

Not to be one to stick to the purely practical…I am lusting after these cocktail glasses as well….


Tell me about your favourite glasses and dishes?


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Holiday.

I've been on holiday for a wee bit now, and while on holiday I have been immensely enjoying trying new recipes.  In fact, the cooking seems to gather momentum as the days trail on, and I love it!  I am also very lucky to have friends that enjoy being in the kitchen as much as I do, and so there are many hands to knives.

We started with a burger-off, and I very happy to announce that finally our shark-like, self effacing "underdog" did not win.  My team won!  Hurrah!  We made an Indochine burger that totally rocked.  It was a hands down winner.  We have not stopped talking about this burger, and it will certainly be a favourite go to recipe for years to come.



Here's the winning recipe - Grilled Pork Burgers Indochine.  We served them on pretzel buns, and enjoyed very much the chew of the bun with the juicy pork.  I think the sturdy bun helped hold it all together.

Our competitors served Home-made Big Macs, and Sweet Sausage Burgers with blue cheese and sweet onions.















Beyond the usual BBQ and picnic fare, we have been enjoying Muffuletta sandwiches smeared with an olive salad.  I love the Muffuletta for it's ability to stand up to hours of neglect.  It is a sandwich that is pressed flat with weights, and so full of meat and cheese that it packs and travels well.









I am still in love with the recipes of Ottolenghi, and because I have good friends that will ship Middle Eastern spices and condiments to me, we have also been slowly making our way through his three cookbooks.  Last night we tried meatballs that reminded me of kibbeh, and a rose and pistachio rice pudding.



Though very tasty, the meatball dish was a bit forgettable, and I  think the fiffy-faffy work would keep me from making them again, but the rice pudding was lovely.

Tonight, a second attempt at crispy peking duck…and maybe by next week there will be a few new menu items.  I have also just learned that day lilies are completely edible, from flower to root….watch for daylily salads with candied walnuts...

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer!  The weather certainly is continuing to be wonderful.  

Cheers!  H

Saturday, 26 July 2014

The Great Bake-off(s)!

I love a bake-off, a pizza-off, a burger-off.

Why?

Well, it's a great excuse to get friends together before summer whips past.  But it is also a wonderful way to try new recipes en-masse.

I also like when we collect together for a bake-off most of all the prep and dishes are long clean, our proud creations being presented ready for consumption, and so the evening usually finishes without an enormous clean up being required.  Perfect!

This week we competed head to head over pies.

One thing you must understand about our "bake-offs" is that we have very few rules, and are generally very loosey-goosey about any parameters.  This can make for a more varied menu, which is nice if one is not too sure about an evening consuming only, say, sweet pies.  But some people have made the case that mixing sweet and savoury in competition against one and other is not a very fair way of going about things.

Personally, I think that it's not hard to judge a wide variety of pies.  I think about what I immediately hope there will be leftovers of or what I'd like the recipe for, savoury or sweet does not matter to me.    The winner is determined by a gentleman's ballot, with the bakers not being allowed to vote for their own pie.

What we have found, these past few weeks, is that there is a shark among us!   A cook/baker that falls about claiming she cannot cook or bake, that the competition is too great.  All week long we hear about how we should have low expectations, that the getting together is more important than the product, that we must "excuse" her terrible creations.  "Shark" has won the first two competitions!  (We will no longer be taken in, Shark!  Next week you will go down!)

Are you crazed wondering what Shark's winning pie was?  It's a marvel.

This weeks winner of the Great Bake-off was a Service Berry Pie baked in a shortbread cookie lattice shell.  It was great.  The shortbread pastry was sweet and so so so flaky.  And the service berries, picked, we are told, in the pouring rain with an infant on one hip and a wild dog running around Shark's feet, tasted as though they had been soaked in Amaretto, though they were only lightly sugared.  Incredible!  Congratulations, Shark!

Other competitors, one worth special mention, Ottolenghi's Herb Pie was a majority favourite, and a Chocolate Cream Pie.





















Wednesday, 16 July 2014

New Menu Item! Banoffee Pie. Yum.

While the dog days of  summer are encouraging lazy days on the beach, we at CSC are still plucking along, cooking, baking and candle stick making.  (Not really making candles)

All of this industry will lead to new items on the menu.  Today I bring to you, and the menu, Banoffee Pie!  Hurray!  Yum!  Double yum!


Do you know Banoffee Pie?  If you have not tried this pie before, prepare yourself for falling in love.

Love.

Some times the base of Banoffee is graham, sometimes it is pastry.  This I can take or leave, because the filling is the most wonderful delight.

Atop whatever is lining the tin is a layer of ripe banana covered with thick, sweet, luxurious caramel.  Wow!  And then…sweet cream.  Ahhhh…..

Welcome lovely Banoffee.  Welcome to the table!


Twenty years ago I was on a trip to NYC, at just about the time Haagen Das opened up sundae shops.  They had a sundae made with dulche de leche ice cream, sliced bananas and hot carmel.  It was one of the best things I had even eaten.  A few years later, in England, I was introduced to Banoffee Pie, and was reminded just how great bananas and caramel are together.

Why it took so long to bring it to the CSC table, I can't tell you….but I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I do!






Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day!

The weather couldn't be better.  After a long and cold winter, summer is most welcome, and this extended long weekend has been filled with summer weather at its best.

But with  heat warnings in New Brunswick and fire bans across the Maritimes this can be tricky weather to cook in, especially as heating a house at the end of the day is insanely unappealing.  What to do?  I find I crave the flavours of the places that embrace the heat of summer year round.

Beautiful, platters of salty, spicy cured meats and fresh melon with fresh cheese, maybe a few olives, can't be beat as the start to a wonderful meal, and so simple to set out for any number of guests.  Last week I served an amuse bouche that contained all the elements of a nice antipasti platter with proscutto wrapped melon, feta cheese, an olive and ginger mint.


Tomorrow I am planning a start the the meal that includes spicy Chorizo, Prosciutto & melon, spicy salami and fresh mozzarella as the start to our meal.  With luck there will be enough fresh basil in the garden to make a rustic bocconcini salad too.  Yum.  And no heat required.

What are your go to, no cook meals in the summer?


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Catching Up

Well….i think I may be catching up!  Wow!

Today I worked in the garden, and I planted some rapini.  Rapini?  Yup.

We have decided to plant more things that are not available in the local shop, and rapini is one of these.

Are you familiar with rapini?  It also goes by the name broccoli rabe.


It is a member of the mustard family, and is well known in Italian cooking.  With a slightly bitter taste rapini is wonderful paired with sweet sundried tomatoes and pine nuts atop pasta. 

iga

Or add some Italian  sausage to this recipe….Yum!

Look for rapini in the larger centres around Nova Scotia starting now.


Saturday, 14 June 2014

All That's Left! (6 Days Until October)

This is it...all that is left of open dates until October!


diy-enthusiasts

Monday, July 21
Thursday, July 24
Friday, August 1
Saturday, August 16
Monday, August 25

And...

Saturday, August 30.