Tuesday, June 28, 2011

ciabatta burgers

Yes, I overcooked the fries. Whoops! Let me tell you why.

I am one of those girls who squeals with delight when she passes a cat on the sidewalk and insists on stopping to pet it. There is another orange cat in our area and from time to time I see him passing through the back alley, in our landlord's back yard, or on the neighbour's balcony. This weekend, he was close enough to my balcony that I said "hello kitty!" and made kissy noises at him through the open window. He quickly bounded down the fire escape, crossed the roof of my landlord's shed, made his way up our fire escape, and attached himself to the windowsill.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

overnight french toast

I love French toast. I think it's amazing. I've always done it the standard way - one or two slices at a time in a sizzling, buttered pan. Once I saw Maggie's post on A Bitchin' Kitchen for this amazing deconstructed French toast bake, I immediately began waiting for the weekend in anticipation of making what, in my opinion, looked like a freaking masterpiece. The original idea for this (to my knowledge, anyways) comes from Ree, otherwise known as The Pioneer Woman.

Imagine my horror when, after bracing myself to endure the hideous weather conditions in Montreal yesterday, I found that my local grocery store was shut for the holiday (because only I deserve a long weekend, obviously!) In any case, refusing to be defeated, I found a market open on Mont Royal and was able to gather the supplies needed. And thank god I did too, because a masterpiece it was!

Monday, June 20, 2011

fruit salad with fresh mint

I used to make fruit salad by cutting up any fruit that I liked. You will get tasty fruit salads that way for sure - I don't think anyone's ever had a bad fruit salad except, perhaps, those fruit salads you get at cafeterias that taste like the plastic container they came in. You know the ones. They're generally made up of a few wedges of orange, some grapefruit and a couple of red grapes soaking in a rancid pool of ammonia. Delicious!

In order to take your fruit salad from tasty to exceptional, all you need to do is put a little thought into it. Don't go nuts adding whatever fruit you want. Think simple and understated. Restrain yourself and think about what flavours compliment each other. That's what I've started doing lately and the other day I came up with the idea for this (though Adam was good enough to prepare it while I was busy making something else for our esteemed guests of the day). It was the best fruit salad in the history of fruit salad. If I do say so myself.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

classic cheese and onion quiche

Quiche is perfect Fathers Day fare. It feels a little bit gourmet. It gives off the impression that one has slaved for hours in the kitchen. It's rich and tasty. It is full of things that everybody loves - butter, cheese, cream and eggs.  I'm going to let you in on a little secret: quiche is a snap. Even when you make the crust yourself. It's almost idiot proof.

In fact, it's so easy that I decided to bake a quiche for my dad because I knew I could pull it off in just over an hour, baking time included. This meant there would be plenty more time for me to create other delectables with which he would be suitably impressed. This was no small occasion. My dad lives 3700 kilometres from me, and if he's coming over for lunch on Fathers Day, it's kind of a big deal.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

chai-spiced almond cookies

I have a bit of a thing for cardamom. I'm a freak for chai tea and chai lattes, particularly those from the grillcheeserie, otherwise known as Le Lapin Pressé. Seriously - they are the best. They use actual teabags and not syrup a la Starbucks.  Go there and try one, then have a grilled cheese. And a cappuccino. And a little bunny rabbit cookie.

The first time I ever bought cardamom it was to make these cookies. Ever since then, I've put cardamom in everything - cheesecakes, frozen yogurt, fruit, coffee... you name it, I've eaten it with cardamom. Even more exciting are the little green cardamom pods you can get at Indian markets - often I boil them along with my water when making tea. In these cookies, however, I've used the standard ground cardamom that you can find at the grocery store. If you're near an Indian market, buy it there and save a few bucks. You can spend them on chai lattes!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

brown butter strawberry banana bread

What do baking brown butter strawberry banana bread and eastern Canada summer thunderstorms have in common? Only one thing: they both make my apartment very, very hot. It's even worse when you decide to bake brown butter strawberry banana bread during an eastern Canada summer thunderstorm. You might be questioning my sanity at the moment and I wouldn't blame you one bit. By the end of it all, my apartment was a sauna and my hair was sticking to my face, but I had some luxurious golden buttery banana bread to enjoy and a front row seat to some epic fork lightning - something we Vancouverites don't really get to experience.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

mini kalamata olive quesedillas with tzatziki

Olives and I have a tumultuous history. When I was little, I loved them more than any small child should. I ate my parents' boozy martini olives. I used to eat kalamatas straight out of the container. I loved them so much that I ate an entire container of them and it didn't end well. I couldn't bring myself to eat one for years after that. I must have been about 18 when I allowed these briney purple wonders back into my life, and boy did I ever. The intense love for them that I had as a child returned in full force. There is just something about them - their saltiness, their tang, their meaty texture... they taste like nothing else. I can't think of anything more quintessentially exotic in flavour than a kalamata olive.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

spaghettini with banana pepper arrabiata

Do you know that I was a hair's breadth from becoming a crazy cat lady? It's true. I love my cat. No... really. I really really love my cat.

Why am I taking this moment to introduce you to my favourite redhead? Because she's unwell. Not seriously unwell, only temporarily. I'll spare you the details because they're gross, but she has a bladder infection. She spent the day at the vet on Friday, undergoing a battery of (very expensive) tests. She was shaved, poked, drained, examined, manhandled and had a thermometer stuck up her bum. It was a lot for an old lady to handle. The technicians put a cone on her head for their own protection and wore elbow-length gloves.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

vij's ground beef curry

Do you ever feel like a cookbook "gets" you? Do you feel like you are totally on the same page as the chef? Do you have a cookbook that has never, not ever, failed you even once? I do, and it's Vij's Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine. Vij is consistent. So far, he has knocked every single recipe in this book out of the park for me, and I've made quite a few of them. I have learned to trust Vij. If he says to put whipping cream and beef in the same dish, I will do it. I will do just about anything the man tells me to do in a recipe, the only exception being that his salt content is astronomical. No average sized recipe should have a tablespoon of salt in it. Sodium aside, when it comes to the kitchen, Vij makes my toes curl. Who does that for you?