Archive for Author Rebecca Coleman

German Potato Salad

It was 1983. Adolf Kruger, recently of Germany, purchased 10 acres of land in the middle of the Okanagan Valley. There was nothing there. Sage, tumbleweeds, trees, desert. But Kruger wanted to make a winery–wanted to grow the grapes of his homeland–Reisling and Gewurztraminer. Wild Goose–so named because Kruger witnessed a flock of geese taking off one day while surveying his property–became only the 17th winery to receive a licence in the Okanagan, and were the first family-owned winery. Today, Wild Goose produces 12-14,000 cases of wine annually.

I got to have lunch with Adolf a couple weeks back, joined by his son, Roland, as well as Allison Markin and Marc Smith (you can read Marc’s account and see more photos from our lunch here). Although he’s mostly now retired, his sons now run the winery. On May 22 of this year, they opened The Smoke and Oak Bistro, serving traditional German favourites, and old-school BBQ.

The Smoke 'n' Oak platter from @smokeandoak at @wildgoosewines. Kind of like barbecue meets charcuterie, accompanied by great wines. #okanagan #explorebc #winecountry

Chef Sarren Wolfe utilizes old Pinot Gris vines and scraps from wine barrels in the smoker to give the meat an authentic winery twist. The menu consists of smoker favourites, like ribs, hen, brisket, and homemade sausage. Added to that are German foods–specifically the Spaetzle, which Chef Wolfe prepares traditionally, and then jazzes up with whatever is seasonal. The day I was there, it was finished with a zucchini mince and 4 types of oregano from his herb garden. There is also a gluten-free version available.

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Ribs & Spaetzle. The end.

Ribs & Spaetzle. The end.

Chef Wolfe's Traditional German Potato Salad. Based on Adolf's wife's recipe.

Chef Wolfe’s Traditional German Potato Salad. Based on Adolf’s wife’s recipe.

This is not your saucy Texan BBQ. Sauces are primarily vinegar-based, and Chef Wolfe integrates wine into his dishes wherever possible. The brisket, with a cocoa and cumin rub, is smoked for 4.5 hours, the ribs (which were among the best I’ve ever had in my life) are smoked for 3, and the hen, for 2.5.

Chef Wolfe also creates a daily salad with whatever fresh ingredients he has on hand (or has recently obtained at the Farmer’s Market), and there is always a traditional German Potato Salad.german potato salad

 

What makes this salad different from ones you may be used to is the absence of mayonnaise. This is a vinegar-based dressing, and it incorporates bacon fat (OMG yum) and chicken stock into the dressing, as well.

I added my own twist to this recipe by quick-pickling the onions before adding them to the salad. I’m not a fan of raw onions, this takes the edge off them.

Traditional German Potato Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs yellow potatoes (yukon golds or small, new potatoes)
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 4 strips bacon, cut into bacon bits
  • 2 dill pickles, minced & 1/3 cup pickle juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh herbs–parsley, flat leaf parsley, dill or chives
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock (homemade if you have it, otherwise, whatever you got)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar or maple syrup
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method

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  1. Pickle the onions. Cut the onions thinly into half-moons, using your knife or a mandolin. In a small pot, place 1 cup water, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt. Bring up to a boil, just until everything is dissolved together. Place the onions in a ceramic bowl or a mason jar, and pour the hot pickling liquid over. Allow to remain at room temperature while you make the rest of the recipe. 
  2. In a large pot, place the scrubbed potatoes. Add cold water enough to cover, plus an inch. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat. Allow to cook about 20 minutes, or until fork-tender. You want them to be done, but not mushy. Drain and allow to cool enough to slice into 1/4″ slices.
  3. In a frying pan, fry up the bacon. When it’s done, drain on paper towels, but reserve 2 tbsps of the bacon fat.
  4. Place the bacon fat, chicken stock, pickle juice, sugar, dijon and pepper in a mason jar, and shake well to combine. Add the dressing to the cooked and sliced potatoes, fried bacon bits, drained pickled onions, pickles, and fresh chopped herbs in a bowl and mix well. Taste and adjust for seasoning (salt and pepper) serve at room temperature, or cold.

 



Roasted Golden Plum and Sage Jam with Honey

Welcome to Okanagan week here at CBL! As you know, I recently returned from a whirlwind tour of the Okanagan, and I want to share some of those destinations with you this week, as well as recipes inspired by the places I visited. Today is inspired by breakfast, Wednesday’s will be inspired by lunch, and Friday’s will be inspired by dinner. 

We start in Pentiction, at the Lakeside Resort. Not only is it a hotel, it houses a private marina on Okanagan Lake, a conference centre, and three restaurants (I didn’t stay there, but Marc Smith did–you can read his review here). We got to have breakfast here, at the Hooded Mergancer Bar and Grill.

Chef Chris' Herb Garden--just steps from the kitchen!

Chef Chris’ Herb Garden–just steps from the kitchen!

The hotel is built right out over the water, so you can sit outside and watch the waves and boats and water skiers while you enjoy your meal.

Growing conditions in the Okanagan are so rich, that more restaurants than not have their own herb gardens. The Pentiction Lake Resort takes it one step further, however. They have their own farm to supply fresh produce to the hotel’s restaurants. They grow a huge variety of their own fruits and vegetables, and post what’s come in from the farm to be integrated into the menu that day on a blackboard.

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They also have an apiary and make their own honey. I had some of this liquid gold with my fruit, yogurt and granola for breakfast, and I loved it so much, I came home with some.

Breakfast of champions! Plus, the view...

Breakfast of champions! Plus, the view…

I halved and stoned some golden plums, and then drizzled them with the honey. I then laid some sage overtop (an homage to Chef Chris’ herb garden right outside the restaurant), and then roasted them in the oven until they were soft and a bit caramelized. The honey and the roasting helps to bring out the sweetness of the plums in these preserves, and the sage adds a subtle earthiness to the final product.

This jam would be great simply spread on toast, or served with a soft cheese and a baguette.

roasted golden plum and sage jam with honey

Roasted Golden Plum and Sage Jam with Honey

(adapted from Local Kitchen)

Ingredients: 

  • 12-15 golden plums
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh sage
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

roasted golden plums with sage and honeyMethod: 

  1. Wash the plums well, and halve them. Remove the pits.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the plum halves, cut side up, on the baking sheet. Drizzle honey all over them, using up about 2 tbsps of it. Save the rest for later in the recipe. Sprinkle with a little sea salt. Place the sage sprigs on top of the plums, and then roast in a 375 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes, until the edges are browning, and they look caramelized.
  3. Remove from the oven, and remove and discard the sage.
  4. Allow to cool slightly, then place the plums and the reserved juices in a blender, and pulse just once or twice. You want to break the plums up, but you don’t want to puree them, you want to leave some chunks of fruit in the jam.
  5. Add the plums back into a large pot, and add the rest of the honey, the water and the lemon juice. Bring to a boil, and allow to boil for about 10 minutes, or until the temperature registers 220 degrees on a candy thermometer.
  6. The jam is, at this point, done. If you want to preserve it, do so according to manufacturer’s recommendations. Otherwise, ladle into jars or plastic containers, and keep in the fridge until you can use it.

 

Rainbow Carrot Salad

I love the Farmer’s Market. I love seeing fresh ingredients you can’t get in the grocery store, and being inspired by the colours, flavours and textures.

I especially love Heirloom vegetables. The colours are so intense in the heirloom tomatoes, beets and carrots.

rainbow carrots

If you’ve never seen heirloom vegetables, get yourself down to the Farmer’s Market and check out rainbow carrots, golden beets, or easter egg radishes.

I bought these rainbow carrots from the Farmer’s Market in Kelowna a couple weekends ago, and decided to make them into a salad.

If you have picky kids who refuse to eat vegetables, I’d guess this would be a great thing to make for them. It’s fun and colourful.

rainbow ribbon carrot salad

Rainbow Ribbon Carrot Salad

  • 10 rainbow carrots
  • 5-10 leaves fresh basil
  • a handful of arugula
  • parmesian cheese
  • pine nuts (optional)

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (or sweeten to taste)
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped, or 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Place all the dressing ingredients in a mason jar, screw the top on, and shake well. Adjust sweetness or seasonings if needed.
  2. Peel the carrots. Stick a fork (I used a corn-cob holder) in the top of the carrot to anchor it, and then run your carrot peeler down the length of the carrot to create long ribbons. Repeat for all the carrots.
  3. Stack all of the basil leaves together, and then roll them up like a cigar. Cut the basil into ribbons or a chiffonade.
  4. Place the carrot ribbons, basil and the arugula in a large bowl, and toss with the dressing. Place a handful of salad on the plate, and then garnish with shaved (again using your carrot peeler) parmesan and pine nuts, if desired.

 

Roasted Peach and Spinach Salad

I love the element of surprise in a recipe. One tiny little thing that’s done differently–unexpectedly–that has a huge impact.

roasted peach and spinach salad

In this particular case, it’s not just including fruit on a salad (because fruits and veggies are cousins, and they taste great together), it’s grilling the fruit before putting it on the salad.

Roasting the peaches on the stove brings forth the natural sugars and gives them some lovely caramelization. They add a beautiful, sweet, rich element to this simple salad. You could, by the way, also do the peaches on the BBQ.

Roasted Peach and Spinach Salad

  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 2 peaches, halved and pitted
  • red onions, thinly sliced
  • feta cheese, crumbled
  • a handful of nuts–walnuts, silvered almonds, or pecans
  • Dressing: your favourite store-bought raspberry vinagrette or a homemade version

Method

  1. Over a medium heat in a cast-iron frying pan, heat a little olive oil. Place the peaches cut-side down in the hot oil, and allow them to fry until you get some nice brown caramelization. Remove to a plate until ready to serve.
  2. Wash and spin dry the spinach. Place in a large bowl and toss with the raspberry vinagrette.
  3. Place a handful of spinach on a plate. Top with a few onion slices. Cut the peach halves into slices, and distribute them on the plate. Sprinkle over some crumbled feta, and finish with a sprinkling of nuts.
  4. Serves 4 as an appetizer, or 2 as a main.

 

Simple and Accessible–French Food a Little Off the Left Bank

French Food. It is thought to be fussy, complex, small-portioned, full of butter and cream, and in general, delicious.

This might be the case for many Vancouver French restaurants. But Left Bank, open just a few weeks on Denman St, just below Robson, is setting out, much as its name implies, to do French food a little off the beaten path… or rather the beaten chemin (groan)

Left Bank comes with a pedigree. John Blakeley is a name synonymous with French food in this city. His Bistro Pastis on 4th Ave has long been the place to go for classic French cuisine. Left Bank Interior Blakeley previously worked at 752 Denman St (then called Cafe de Paris) in 1977 as youngster—it was one of his first jobs. The location has great sentimental value for the Frenchman. He’s tried to make a go of it in this location before, as Le Parisien, but he has now elected to shake it up again.

“I want Left Bank to be French without being French,” he says. Named for the La Rive Gauche neighbourhoods on the left bank of the Seine, Left Bank is an effort to create food that doesn’t always follow tradition, much like the artists that inhabited that part of Paris.

There are two menus: a tapas-y bar menu, much like you might expect to see in a café in Paris, and a simple bistro menu with a handful of starters and entrees, and three desserts.

Simplicity is the key here. The best kind of food is food that is done simply but well, using fresh ingredients, prepared with care. And Left Bank delivers. Chef Spencer Watts uses simplicity and detail, alongside French techniques and West Coast ingredients to create a menu that is casual, unfussy, and delicious. Grape truffles left bank The bar menu features French classics like charcuterie and cheeses, but also has ceviche, Asian-inspired sticky ribs, and a spicy albacore tuna cone. My favourite bite from this menu was the grape and goat cheese truffle. Looking like tiny speckled eggs, green grapes are rolled in chevre, then in spiced almond crumbs. They look delicate, but explode with sweetness and tang in your mouth.

Starters follow a similar pattern: again, you’ll find classics here like carpaccio, mussels, and a take on a caprese salad. But there’s also a dreamy crab roll–succulent, moist crab, enrobed in a crispy, nori shell, accompanied by a fingerling potato, and grapefruit sections. Chef Spencer describes it as “crab on a picnic.”

Moules are the yardstick upon which any French restaurant should be measured, and these mussels are plump and moist, swimming in a spicy-sweet coconut broth with a hint of red curry and lime.

Mains borrow some inspiration from Morocco, in the form of a lamb tagine. But there is also salmon, rustic, slow-cooked chicken, a nod to duck confit, and a ling cod served on a bed of light ricotta agnolotti. A great example of French-meets-simplicity is the hanger steak. Simply sliced and served with a Szechuan peppercorn sauce and frites, it looks deceptively simple, but is tender, and rollicking with the flavor of the peppercorns. The real star, however, are the frites. Properly cooked, these are no French Fries. First, they are hand cut, and then deep-fried, slowly. They are then cooled down, and fried again at a higher temperature. This makes them crispy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside. The finishing touch? A dusting of ground black sesame seeds and sea salt.

Pomme Frites with black sesame and horseradish aoli from @leftbankvan. Proper pomme frites--double cooked to be crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside. C'est bon! #yvrfood #eatlocal #westend #frenchfood #bistro #frenchfries

There are three desserts. The coconut panna cotta fell a bit flat for me. The black sesame cake creates a sense of drama, but didn’t quite deliver on flavour.  Skip the panna cotta and go straight for the Chocolate Marquise with the Green Tea Ice Cream.

There’s not a ton to be said about the décor. It is, I imagine, a little like what a Paris Metro station would look like in a dream world: tons of natural light bouncing off of gleaming white tiles, punctuated by shiny red accents in the banquettes and every second chair. It’s worth noting that Left Bank has obtained the first laneway patio permit in the West End. Sitting out there is very pleasant, with the exception of the Domino’s delivery guys that you see racing down the alley approximately every thirty seconds.

When I go to a French restaurant, I expect the service to be good, and Left Bank did not disappoint. Many of the servers were French, and they were friendly and attentive.

I’ve been to Left Bank twice, and both times, it was sparsely populated, which, quite honestly, is a shame. While j’adore Bistro Pastis the same as the next guy, Left Bank has a more casual, laid-back vibe that feels more accessible. It’s worth going for the pomme frites alone.

Left Bank

751 Denman Street, Vancouver BC

www.leftbankvancouver.com

Open:
Monday – Friday from 5:00pm

Saturday, Sunday and Holidays: from 10:30am for brunch through dinner

Okanagan Stone Fruit Galette

Galette.

I love the word. It’s elegant and French, and makes me think of patisseries in Paris. In reality, though, a galette is the opposite of elegant and refined. French, yes, but more French countryside rustic than fancy French pastries beside the Seine.

I recently got back from the Okanagan. It’s a region in BC known for a few things: desert, heat, wine, and many, many kinds of produce–including stone fruit. Pretty much everywhere you go, you’ll see apricot, plum, peach, and cherry trees.

stone fruit galette

When I was a kid, my parents would drive up there every summer and come home with a backseat full of boxes of stone fruit, and this year, I got to do the same.

Despite its fancy name, a galette is really just a lazy man’s (or gal’s), pie. Lazy, because you don’t need to form the crusts, cut them, flute them. You basically make a pie crust, roll it out, plop your pie filling in the middle, and fold the crust up to make a package to contain the fruit.

The end result is a kind of rustic-looking pie, perfect for taking on a picnic, because you only need a knife to cut it, and your hands to eat it with.

Given that it’s basically a pie, you can pretty much use any fruit pie filling that tickles your fancy. I reckon I’ll try my hand at a an apple on early in the fall. I, however, used my Okanagan booty for mine, and it turned out great.

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Okanagan Stone Fruit Galette

Ingredients: 

  • 2 peaches
  • 2 plums
  • 4 apricots
  • 3/4 cup cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • One pie crust (your fave recipe, or mine, even store-bought if you want to be extra lazy with this lazy pie)
  • One egg

Method:

  1. Make the pie crust in advance, and then wrap in plastic wrap and allow to sit in the fridge for a couple of hours. Remove from fridge and allow to warm up a little while you make the filling.
  2. Wash and pit all the fruit. You will want to peel the peaches, but the rest don’t need to be peeled. Or, you can sub nectarines for peaches, which won’t require peeling. Slice up the fruit and place it in a bowl. Toss well.
  3. Add the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and lemon juice, and toss to mix/coat.
  4. Roll out the pie crust on a piece of parchment or a silpat. You want to make it square or rectangular, and about 1/4″ thick. Place the fruit in a pile in the centre, then carefully begin folding up the sides until the pie makes a nice package (with a hole in the top).
  5. Beat the egg in a small bowl, and brush the pastry with it. Sprinkle sugar all over.
  6. Carefully lift the parchment or silpat with the pie on it onto a baking sheet, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven, and, again, carefully remove the pie from the baking sheet using the parchment or silpat, and allow to cool. Slice and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

How to Make the Perfect Sangria

I have been on the road almost constantly over the last few weeks. Destinations included Seattle, Kelowna and Penticton, and Whistler. On my travels, I ate at a lot of great places, and picked up tons of fresh ingredients, which I am now frantically turning into recipes for y’all. So, over the next couple of weeks, look for a deluge of summer bounty posts–and some travel ones, too.

Let’s start in wine country. I got to spend five days in the Okanagan, and during that time, I visited a ton of wineries, and a cidery, too! I came home with *ahem* several bottles of wine.

perfect sangria

Now, I tend to be a red wine drinker, but in the summer, I often switch to white, as it works better cool (although there are some varietals of red, like beaujolais, that are meant to be drunk cold). Sangria is the perfect way to drink white wine the summer. Infused with the flavours of the fruit, and topped off with sparkling water and tinkly ice, it’s awesome for sipping outside as you watch the sunset.

Some people like to use a cheaper wine to make sangria, and I’m fine with that, but the “never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink” rule applies here, as well. You can’t go wrong with any of these white blends I tasted and loved while in the Okanagan.

How to Make Perfect Sangria

The perfect sangria consists of six ingredients: 

Wine (one bottle), red or white.

Fruit 1-2 cups, washed and cut up. Let whatever’s seasonal guide you here. Also, let the colour of the wine help to choose what fruit you use; lighter fruits in white wine, darker fruits in red. In white sangria, for example, I’d use slices of peaches, apricots, apples, and fresh berries like raspberries or strawberries. For citrus, lime adds a little spank. In red wine sangria, I’d use slices of oranges, red plums, pitted and halved cherries, blueberries, and blackberries. At the end of the day, however, it’s about what you like, and what you have on hand.

Liqueur (1/4 cup). Again, let your choice of wine influence what kind of spirit you add to the sangria. If you are using a white wine, choose a clear or light-coloured spirit like Grand Marnier or Triple Sec, Brandy, or Peach Schnapps. If you are using a red, any of those will also do, but you could also add a tich of Port or Sherry.

Simple syrup (1/4 cup). Simple syrup helps to infuse your sangria with extra sweetness. I like to infuse mine with herbs and spices for an extra layer of flavour.

Sparkling water. Choose something neutral here, not something with flavour, so it won’t counteract the flavours of the sangria. Sparkling water adds fun and bubbles, but shouldn’t add flavour.

Ice. To keep ‘er cold.

Method: 

1. You’ll need a large vessel for this. I have a ginormous glass snap-top mason jar that I make my sangria in, but basically anything non-reactive and big will work. You can always transfer it to something pretty later on to serve it.

2. Make the simple syrup. Place 1 part sugar and two parts water in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil, until all the sugar’s dissolved. If you want to infuse your sangria with extra flavours, add them to the simple syrup ingredients (here, I used basil, a peach, and a touch of vanilla bean), and allow it to simmer longer–5-10 minutes. Strain into a jar or bottle, and place in the fridge to cool.

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3. Wash, cut up and place the fruit in the bottom of your large vessel. Pour the bottle of wine over. Add the simple syrup and the liqueur. Ideally, you want for all of your fruit to be submerged. Stir well, then place in the fridge overnight. Good sangria needs about 24 hours to really do its thing.

4. To serve: you can do this in a large jug or serving pitcher, or in individual glasses. Fill container 1/4-1/2 way with ice. Scoop up some of the fruit and place it in the container with the ice. Fill up about 1/2-2/3 way with sangria. Top with sparkling water, stir, and serve.

Voila! Perfect sangria!

 

Buttermilk-Beer Chicken and Waffles

Chicken and waffles.

It’s entirely likely you’ve never encountered this Amercian delicacy. It’s possible you might even be going “chicken and what???” right now.

Chicken and waffles is a dish born in the deep south. It’s the soulfullest kind of soul food you can possibly find.

buttermilk beer chicken and waffles

No one really knows the exact origins of this dish. I, however, for one, wish I could go back in time and shake the hand of the man or woman that invented it.

For the uninitiated, picture a buttermilk waffle, with a crispy exterior and a fluffy, white inside. This thing of beauty is a vessel for a crispy, thick-battered piece of warm fried chicken. The entire thing is finished with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey for sweetness.

It’s brunch done in a soul food, sweet-savoury way that is impossible to resist.

There’s just one thing that could take this already awesome dish and kick it up to the next level. And that thing is beer.

Beer adds two things to both batters. First off, it adds flavour. There is just a hint of hoppiness to these recipes that really adds a depth of flavour. Secondly, the carbonation of the beer helps to keep both batters light and fluffy.

Chicken and Waffles is an American tradition, so what better beer to include in the recipe than an American one? Here, I’m using Samuel Adams Boston Lager. It’s got a nice amber colour, and contributes flavour without being overpowering, which is important. Some types of beers would be way too much for the delicate batter, but this lager is perfect. Oh–and? You only need a cup or so in this recipe, so you get to drink the leftovers. Bonus.

These should be made to order, if at all possible, and served fresh and hot. Otherwise both the waffles and the chicken may get a bit soggy.

I don’t own a deep fryer, so I made the fried chicken in my cast iron skillet in about a half an inch or so of oil. Traditional recipes would have you deep fry the chicken, but this method works pretty well.

So–invite some folks over for brunch, pop open some beers, and get waffling!

Buttermilk-Beer Chicken and Waffles

buttermilk beer chicken and waffles

Beer-Buttermilk Waffle Ingredients:

(adapted from Serious Eats)

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour 
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda 
  • 2 tablespoons sugar 
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted 
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk  
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup Samuel Adams Boston Lager (reserve some to add to the batter if it gets stiff)
  • 2 large eggs

Beer-Buttermilk Chicken Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts

Marinade

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp parley flakes

Dredge

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Batter

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/4 cups Samuel Adams Boston Lager
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional–if you like it hot)
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

Chicken method:

  1. The night before, or earlier in the day, cut the chicken breasts up into tenders or fingers. You should get about 8 out of the two breasts.
  2. In a small bowl, place the buttermilk and the first 5 spices. Mix well. Place the chicken in the buttermilk mixture and stir it around. Place in the fridge for a few hours, or overnight. Take the chicken out of the fridge about an hour or 1/2 hour before you are ready to fry it.
  3. Pull each piece of chicken out of the buttermilk, and drain it on a paper towel.
  4. In a large, heavy frying pan (I like cast iron), pour about a 1/2″ of oil. You want a fairly neutral oil, like a vegetable oil, ideally one with a high smoking point. Allow the oil to heat up on medium-high heat until it shimmers in the pan.
  5. While the oil is heating, in a separate bowl, mix together the flour, onion, garlic, salt and pepper (plus cayenne if you like), and then slowly add the beer, whisking as you go, to make a thin batter.
  6. Mix the flour with the spices in a large, shallow bowl, for the dredging.
  7. To fry the chicken, take a piece of chicken, and dredge it in the flour mixture. Then place it in the beer batter until it’s well coated. Lift it out of the beer batter, and allow the excess batter to drip off. Place the chicken in the pan, carefully, away from you, and allow to fry on one side for about 4-5 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown. Flip and fry until crispy and golden brown on the other side. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.

Waffles Method:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
  2. In a smaller bowl, place the wet ingredients. Whisk the eggs into the wet ingredients.
  3. Make a well in the dry ingredients, and pour the wet into it. Whisk until everything is just blended.
  4. You can make the waffle batter quite a couple hours ahead, and let it sit on the counter. If it gets too thick right before you are about to make the waffles, just mix in some extra beer.
  5. Make waffles according to your waffle iron’s manufacturers instructions. I have a Cuisinart, and they take about 6-7 minutes in there.

To serve:

Place a waffle on a plate. Top with one or two pieces of crispy fried chicken. Drizzle over some maple syrup or honey. Serve piping hot.

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Branding and Buzzing. The recipe is my own.

Yum on a Papadum

For many people, cooking a food that belongs to a particular country or ethnicity can be really intimidating.

Latin, Asian, French, Spanish, Italian, German… they all have specific ingredients and methods of cooking. Can you find the ingredients? Where? Is it a trek across town, or is it a special aisle at your grocery store? And once you have the ingredients, what do you do with them? Do you need special equipment or cooking methods?

yum on a papadum

I love the challenge, and I love to cook other culture’s foods (although, to be fair, my British background isn’t one of the most exciting cuisines in the world). I love wondering through spice shops sniffing the brightly-coloured bins and imagining what I could make with the contents.

I’m lucky enough to have a very close family member who comes from a South Asian background, so she’s on speed dial every time I have a yen to cook some Indian food (aloo gobi is my fave). But if you, like me, still find this particular cuisine a bit intimidating, then help is at hand.

I recently got to try out a line of Indian shortcut sauces. Sharwood’s has been cooking up Indian sauces for over 100 years, so I’m going to assume they know what they’re doing.

This is a quick and easy appetizer idea you could whip up for a party, or as the beginning of a meal. It’s a play on a chutney–a simple, slightly spicy, flavourful dip that you can serve alongside papadums. If you’re not familiar with them, papadums are thin, crispy flatbreads, chip-like, usually made from lentil or chickpea flour. They’re great for scooping up this dip. Bonus–they are gluten free!

Instead of using some of the more traditional Indian spices in this recipe, like garam masala, cardamom, coriander, tamarind, chilis or fresh ginger, I took a shortcut and used a couple tablespoons of Sharwood’s Madras Cooking sauce. You can add more or less based on the amount of heat you want in your dip.

Yum on a Papadum

Ingredients: 

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium-sized onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 tbsps tomato paste
  • 2 tbsps Sharwood’s Madras Cooking Sauce
  • 2 tbsps lime juice
  • papadums
  • fresh coriander or chives

Method: 

  1. Cut the onion in half, length-wise, and then slice in thin half-rounds. You could use a mandolin for this. In a medium-sized pot, melt the butter over low heat, and then add the onions. Cook them slowly for about 15 minutes over low heat, until they are caramelized. They will release liquid as they cook, but if you get worried about the pot getting too dry, you can add a tablespoon of white wine.
  2. While the onions are caramelizing, deseed and chop up the bell pepper in to 1/2″ chunks. When the onions are soft, fragrant and golden, add the garlic and stir well. Then add the bell pepper. Stir well, and cook down for about another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the tomato paste and the madras sauce, stir well, and cook another 5 minutes. Lastly, add the lime juice, stir well, and cook for about a minute. Pour into a bowl, and garnish with chopped, fresh herbs.
  4. To make papadum: remove from package, and place in your microwave on a paper towel. Microwave for one minute, or until the papadum is puffed and crispy. Break into pieces and serve with the dip.

h/t to Eschelle for naming this one!

Blackberry Brownies

At this exact moment, I’m sitting on a deck in Okanagan Valley, high up, looking out over the valley below. Directly in front of me is a canyon–this is part of a wildlife reserve, so it’s untouched, and bears scraggly, sage-coloured pines. Beyond that, elegant rows of grapevines, the angle at which they are planted carefully chosen by the winemaker to maximize the amount of sun each side of the grapevine gets. Beyond that, there are hills, dotted with pines, dappled with early morning sun, and directly ahead, a winking blue lake.

My current view.

My current view.

I’m staying at Liquidity Winery in Okanagan Valley for a couple of days, to tour around, try wines, eat at local restaurants, and do research for upcoming pieces. The winery has a guest suite (reserved for special guests), and that’s where I’m staying. Honestly, it all feels a bit surreal.

In addition to the wine I’m sure I’m going to be bringing home, I’m excited to bring back a backseat full of Okanagan fruit. Cherries are almost finished here, but I’ll still be able to find lots. Peaches are just coming into season, and apricots should be in abundance. These will fuel future blog posts, no doubt! Blackberries are also very much in season right now, and I recently made these blackberry brownies and they were so good, I had to share.

This recipe comes from Don Genova’s new book, Food Artisans for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. This recipe is credited to Kathy Jerritt, from Tria Fine Catering and Gourmet Eats in Courtenay.

When I first made these, I was worried. The batter seemed stiff, and I was really concerned they would turn out to be dry. I checked the recipe a few times to make sure I’d not  left anything out. But the addition of the blackberries adds so much moisture. And the pairing of blackberries and dark chocolate… divine.

blackberry brownies

Blackberry Brownies

(recipe by Kathy Jerritt–published in Food Artisans of Vancouver Island)

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped, good quality dark chocolate (I used 72%)
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries (you can use frozen in the winter)

Method: 

  1. Whisk the melted butter and sugar together in a medium-sized bowl, and then gradually beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  2. Add the vanilla, and then stir in the cocoa powder. Add the dry ingredients, and mix just until combined.
  3. Fold in the chopped chocolate, and then, very carefully, the blackberries.
  4. Pour into a prepared, buttered 8″ x 8″ pan, and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Garnish with a dusting of powdered sugar, a dollop of whipped cream, and more fresh blackberries.

 

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