Wednesday, June 30, 2010

LCBO Food & Drink Magazine - Summer 2010

The Summer edition of the LCBO's Food & Drink Magazine was released today. When I showed up at the store this morning at Richmond and Kirkwood, just minutes before opening, I was impressed with the line-up outside waiting, I presumed, to snatch up the new magazine. Imagine my surprise when the store opened and they all darted for the shelves. I guess it is a liquor store after all.

In a show of support, I picked up a Strewn wine close to the magazine stand and headed to the cash. I just wanted to get home and read. The bottle of Strewn remains unopened, for those of you wondering what beverage accompanies a magazine read at 10:30 am!

Check out the Spicy Chicken Kebabs with Blue Cheese Dip in Sensational Skewers. You may not be able to resist the Roasted Garlic with Lemon & Chèvre in Al Fresco at last! And perhaps you will finish with Dulce de Leche Flan Alfajores in Argentine Cuisine. And the next day, well, you could easily move on to try a seafood theme of the Chili Napa Slaw with Lime Mint Scallops, Classic Crab Cakes with Lemon Mayo, Lobster Rolls with Belgian Baked Fries......

Any menu ideas for Canada Day yet? Perhaps you can start by getting out there to pick up the Summer issue of the LCBO's Food & Drink. You know they go in a flash.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Nachos! The Salad Chaser

Our 'beat the heat' salad with buttermilk dressing tonight was just not enough for the growing teenager. After we let the greens settle in, he went to town on making an addition to dinner that we don't often indulge in - nachos. It was a chance to put to use some leftover roast chicken and a half used cooking onion. The nacho chips he used were Tostitos Low Sodium Rounds. The reduction in salt did seem noticeable. Since they were tasty enough, it left me wondering why the full salt nachos really needed to be full salt.


Tostitos Low Sodium Rounds nachos

cheddar cheese

monterey jack cheese

medium chunky salsa


roast chicken

pickled jalapenos

After coming out from under the broiler, he garnished with small dollops of sour cream. Perhaps this 'snack plate' was just a plea for protein.

Parkdale Market - Green Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

My Roots and Shoots CSA delivery begins this week. I just can't wait! I have never done this kind of thing before and I am pretty primed by the whole mystery of what foods my share might contain, what new recipes I might try, and possibly even what new foods I might taste. Roots and Shoots is a small-scale, organic vegetable farm and a new CSA farm in the area. It is located on the Bakker Farm near Manotick Station. I am so craving fresh. I am so craving naturally grown. I am so craving seasonal.

Roots and Shoots also sells out of the Ottawa Farmers' Market at Lansdowne Park. But the Market is not open on Mondays. With a few days of waiting to go, I decided to go to the Parkdale Market this rainy, drizzly morning to feed my fix for fresh, naturally grown, seasonal produce. I picked up a bag of salad greens from Rochon Farms. Less than 48 hours until my Roots and Shoots CSA foods arrive in Westboro. It is like waiting for Christmas to arrive.


mixed greens
red onion
heirloom tomatoes
red peppers


dry mustard
fresh dill

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Party Food for the Potluck We Never Went To

Today we were to be heading off to a potluck dinner with some others of the Ottawa foodie set. As the week went by, the plans slowly started to unravel as life again interfered with life for some. But those that dropped off the guest list ended up where they needed to be today, including Paris, France! Preferring to gather as a more complete crowd, we decided to postpone. I was well stocked with my potluck ingredients at 'cancel time', so I quickly moved to my Plan B.

I was going to bring 3 dishes:
  • cedar-planked salmon on a baguette slice spread with a chipotle cream cheese mix and dolloped with red pepper jelly
  • duck breast on a baguette slice spread with foie gras butter and topped with a rhubarb compote [inspired by Chef John Leung at the British High Commission as served at Thursday, June 17 fundraiser at Earnscliffe for Ottawa Chamber Music Society]
  • strawberry rhubarb pie
The cedar-planked salmon that was headed towards an appetizer presentation, stayed in its fillet form. The duck breast appetizer was retired to the freezer. The strawberry rhubarb pie went ahead as planned (any other idea would have been criminal, I was told) and took on an added communal role of reaching out to others that have lesser mobility for venturing out.


For this traditional East Coast aboriginal way of cooking fish adapted to a modern barbecue, choose a cedar plank at your local lumberyard. They are also available at Loblaws at the seafood counter. Get one a little larger than the fish and soak it in cold water for at least four hours or overnight before using.

1 1/2 lb salmon fillets, with skin

1/4 cups olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated

1 teaspoon orange zest, grated

1/8 cup lemon juice

1/8 cup orange juice

1 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp salt

Place salmon, skin side down, in large glass dish. Whisk together oil, lemon rind and juice, basil,pepper and salt; pour over salmon. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or for up to 8 hours.

Discarding marinade, place salmon, skin side down, on soaked cedar plank. Place plank on grill over medium-high heat; close lid and cook for about 20 minutes or until fish is opaque, bronze-coloured and flakes easily when tested with fork. Makes 6 servings.


We really like having a red pepper jelly with our cedar-planked salmon. Sometimes we are lucky to find a red pepper and peach jelly combination. The heat from a red pepper jelly with chili works very well too.

The salad was not on my potluck list but it sure helped to fill a spot on our plate. And it's certainly a nod to best-selling author, Mark Bittman of Food Matters fame, who promotes eliminating processed foods, eating whole foods and consuming more fruits and vegetables.


mixed greens

heirloom tomatoes


sweet red bell pepper

red onion



feta cheese


extra virgin olive oil

orange juice

balsamic vinegar

very small garlic clove

freshly ground black pepper

pinch of sugar


This is the second time I have made a strawberry rhubarb pie this season! I just love the zing that comes from the tartness of fresh rhubarb. Here is the previous post that contains the recipe for the pie.

Father's Day was very peaceful from start to end. Father's Day was also a good eating day from start to end. [As evidenced here with a sneak peak at breakfast in bed, made by the young chef.]

Taylor's Genuine Food and Wine Bar - Opening Night Menu

Asparagus Bisque..and with a cheddar cheese scone...lardon.... white truffle oil.....Mmmmmmm!

I was able to get a copy of the dinner menu from the opening night (Thursday, June 17) of Taylor's Genuine Food and Wine Bar! You may want to get there as soon as possible. And the big question is, how will you ever decide? Good luck with it all!

What catches your fancy? I would love hear what you might pick.


Asparagus Bisque
Cheddar cheese scone, lardon, white truffle oil

Roasted Tomato & eggplant soup
Goat cheese, fried basil, reduced sherry vinegar

Sun-tech Tomato Salad
Crispy pigs cheeks, Celtic blue cheese, buttermilk and chive dressing, Crazy Dave's greens

Asparagus Salad
Asparagus, Glenngarry Figaro cheese, candied lemon zest, arugula, lemon truffle and honey emulsion


Pan-seared soy marinated Bavette, baby carrots, asparagus, mushrooms, smoked mash, Jus

Pan-seared, wilted greens, chorizo polenta cakes, Crazy Dave's sugar snap peas, radish

Lamb sirloin
Roasted Sun-tech cherry tomatoes, licorice paint, lemon Israeli couscous risotto, parsley oil

Guinea Fowl
Pancetta wrapped pan roasted breast, mustard spaetzle, asparagus, Le Coprin mushrooms, bacon, wilted spinach, Jus

June 21st update: Taylor's Genuine plans to have a vegetarian main on the menu by the end of the week. Before then, if you tell them when you call with your reservation that you are interested in a vegetarian main, then they will do up a vegetarian pasta dish.

Taylor's Genuine Food and Wine Bar
1091 Bank Street at Sunnyside in
Old Ottawa South

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Afternoon Delight - Fresh Strawberries, Grapes and Banana Bran Muffins

It is another beautiful June day and I planned to relax for a few moments out on the deck with a late afternoon snack and lemon water. I had made some more brain food for the student and this time it was banana bran muffins.

The Shouldice Berry Farm & Market's roadside stand is quite close to us so I popped over to Woodroffe and Richmond to get a 2-litre basket of berries to round out the plate. The basket sold for $9. I have not priced local berries so I am not sure if this is typical but it did motivate me to consider Pick Your Own the next time I get the craving. I have to say though, they were so juicy and flavourful.

Once we had assembled our goodies we headed outside as the backyard was so inviting.

The student came, snacked and went. Pretty much as quick as my many resident squirrels.


3 eggs
1 cup brown sugar, scant
3/4 cup sugar, scant
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 cups bananas, whole, ripe and mashed (3 large)
3 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon salt
3 cups bran, natural
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts

In a mixing bowl, add starter ingredients in order given. Beat.

Mix dry ingredients together.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix only until blended. Fill 48 medium or 36 large muffin tins lined with baking cups. Let stand on counter 30 minutes. Bake at 350ºF for 20 minutes or until done.

Canvas Resto-Bar - Way Too Long On My Wish List

Canvas Resto-Bar is located at 65 Holland Avenue, between Wellington and Scott Street. A perfect spot for catching the theatre crowd that enjoy the GCTC just 2 blocks south. In fact, they participate in a ThEATre Restaurant Partnership Program together.

Yesterday afternoon I drove downtown to rescue my mister from the late afternoon downpour. No umbrella, no coat and a number of sighs as he announced the end of his day. I weakened and made the offer that was quickly accepted. The two things that I naively failed to realize was, that downpours do pass (that is SO obvious) and Ottawa really, really struggles with any kind of precipitation. I felt like I was stuck in the traffic for a Sens game. Finally, with passenger in tow, we began the return route, experiencing equal strengths of traffic gridlock pain. Taking the back roads from downtown to Westboro, had us going by restaurant after restaurant. I finally buckled to the constant suggestions to eat out that night, instead of continuing the pilgrimage home. Being the driver, I had control of the pick. On my wish list for so long has been Canvas Resto-Bar on Holland. And so it was, that Canvas Resto-Bar became our impromptu dinner out last night.

It is cozy in size with about 32 seats at tables, 7 spots at the bar and a small outdoor patio that stayed empty last night.

The mister predictably had a Beau's LUGTREAD lagered ale and I did my standard Ottawa water routine. Like many places, we started with slices of baguette but with their added touch of chilled browned butter to complement. A great nutty flavour as it slowly softened over the warmth of the bread.

I started with pan-seared scallops. They were served with a foie gras emulsion and some fresh, fresh microgreen pea shoots. The presentation was inviting. Although they were a bit cool (and I can't blame that all on picture taking time), I quite enjoyed their creamy, sweet texture as they really were seared to perfection. I was left wanting more emulsion though.

My date went for the soup of the day, which was a mushroom soup with truffle oil and chives. Our thoughtful waiter also provided me with a spoon, in case I felt compelled to gain 'product knowledge'. The soup was fantastic. Although it was loosely puréed, I loved that they added back in so many pieces of mushroom, which came up aplenty with each skim.

I stayed on seafood for my main (probably all this rain was making me think of the ocean) and went for their signature seafood fettuccini. As you can see, it came with 6 mussels and 3 reasonably sized shrimp. With the richness of seafood, that amount served me well. Their fettuccini is homemade and thus so tender and delicate. The rosé sauce was laced with sautéed red and orange sweet bell peppers, as well as onions.

My mister was pretty happy with his British Columbia albacore tuna. Cooked to the appropriate doneness. The portion size seemed handsome to me. The fingerling potatoes were just potatoes, he said. He quite enjoyed the beets. However, the asparagus as just too woody. The splash of red wine vinaigrette kept it all bright-eyed. He made no comment on the crème fraiche, but I guess all was good since he continually applied it to the bites of tuna.

Of the four dishes, I would say the highlight was definitely the soup. As usual, when we do two courses, there never seems to be room for dessert. We didn't get a peek at the menu so we don't know what we were missing. Probably a safe thing.

The service was very attentive, and helpful with the details. He saw my indecision and handily convinced me of the seafood fettuccini. I liked that he waited until we had a taste of our food before offering us a spin on the pepper grinder.

By the time we left shortly after 7, the place had a couple of dozen people in it, which meant not a lot of spots left. I thought that wasn't bad for a rainy, drizzly Wednesday evening. Clearly a local following.

This place is easy to get to and it seems that street parking is readily available.

Overall, I enjoyed Canvas, though the interior isn't as polished as nearby, Allium or Wellington Gastropub - two top favourites for me in the area. It appears that the kitchen is well in hand and the neighbourhood is better for it.

Canvas Resto-Bar

65 Holland Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario

Sun: 10 - 2:30 pm; 5 - 9 pm
Mon to Wed: 11:30 to 2 pm; 5 - 9 pm
Thurs to Fri: 11:30 to 2 pm; 5 - 109 pm
Sat: 10 to 2:30 pm; 5 - 9 pm

Canvas Resto-Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Taylor's Genuine Food and Wine Bar - Hot News!!!

Taylor's Genuine Food and Wine Bar will be opening this Friday! I was looking at the Domus Café website this evening and saw that they had put a new update today on their Announcement Details page, indicating their other new venture in town, Taylor's Genuine Food and Wine Bar is opening this Friday. (There appears to be a typo because is says Friday, June 15th - the 15th is today - so likely not!)

To read a bit more, feel free to go back to my May 8th post on the Taylors' new place.

I for one can't wait! Are you making plans to check it out?

Update on June 17th: I called today and they started dinner service today. Will not be doing lunchtime until Monday. Good luck getting in!

Taylor's Genuine Food and Wine Bar
1091 Bank Street at Sunnyside in
Old Ottawa South

Monday, June 14, 2010

When is Dinner Actually Lunch and When is Dinner Actually Supper?

When is dinner actually lunch and when is dinner actually supper?

Dinner is the chief meal of the day, eaten in the evening or at midday. Supper is a light evening meal when dinner is taken at midday. Lunch is a meal eaten at midday; the regular midday meal between breakfast and dinner. Sounds pretty straight forward.

This afternoon my student's brain was going off to do 3 3/4 hours of an English final. Last high school English final ever! He was just a tad excited at the prospect of being able to say 'Done!'.

With an unexplained energy burst on a morning that had a thickness of humidity that might send you for a nap, I decided that the student brain was going to have dinner for lunch.

Sizing up the leftover chicken from the roast on the weekend, my plan went right to Mexican. Chicken Enchiladas, Mexican Rice, Refried Beans and Mexican Salad.

The brain went to school primed with protein, carbs, dairy and vegetables. All reports are positive and a suggestion that he even found a level of creativity that allowed him to sprinkle in a little bit of wit and humour. Clearly firing on all cylinders!

What are you making for your student's brain this week as they work their way through finals?


1/2 lb cooked and shredded chicken
3/4 cups chopped onions
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
10 oz salsa
1/2 cups water
6 or 8 6-inch flour tortillas

Combine the chicken, onion and half the shredded cheese in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Combine the salsa and water in a skillet.. Heat to boiling. Dip a tortilla into the sauce. When the tortilla is limp, remove it to a platter, letting the excess sauce drain back into the skillet.

Spoon a generous 1/4 cup of chicken-cheese filling across the diameter of the tortilla.

Roll up the tortilla and set it seam side down in a baking pan or shallow casserole. Repeat this procedure with the remaining tortillas, one by one, arranging them in a pan in a single layer.

Pour the remaining sauce over the rolled tortillas. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over them.Cover the pan or casserole with foil.

Bake in a preheated 350ºF oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil. Bake 5 minutes or until heated through and lightly browned.


Modified from the cookbook Fajita Fiesta

2 cups long-grain rice
14 oz tomato sauce
3 1/2 cups water
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 dash cumin
1/2 onion chopped
1/2 bell pepper
1 jalapeno pepper
1/4 cups cooking oil

In a skillet brown rice thoroughly in cooking oil. When rice is brown, mix in bell pepper, onion jalapeno, minced garlic. Sauté well. Add water, tomato sauce and spices.

Let rice come to a boil; cover and simmer at a moderate temperature for about 15 to 20 minutes or until water is gone.



romaine lettuce, shredded thinly
heirloom tomatoes
red onion
green pepper

The dressing is made with olive oil, lime juice, balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Classic Roast Chicken - Exam Food For The Brain

Last night I was called upon reasonably last minute to come up with exam food for the brain for a study buddy group going deep into World Issues for the last time. How do you feed a group of people that may have tastes that range from cautious to 'out there'? I went for the safety of 'comfort' food and the classics.

A quick trip to the store found me whole chickens on sale. So I started with that and secured what I needed for a basic multi-veg green salad and then potatoes for mashing.

In the salad I included Lebanese cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, avocado, and red pepper, along with mixed greens. My dressing is a combo of extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon, balsamic vinegar, a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper.

For my mashed potatoes, I tend to go for the red potatoes because I find them so creamy. I use a masher or ricer as not to over work the potatoes. A little bit of butter and milk makes them light and fluffy. Light in the fluffy sense, not calories.

With all of that, how can you not do gravy. I start with a roux of chicken fat from the roast and flour. I make sure I cook that mix for a good minute to take away the raw flour flavour. If I am lucky I will have chicken stock in the freezer I can use; otherwise, I go with the flavourful potato water from boiling the potatoes.

By now you probably know that we finished this meal with strawberry rhubarb pie. I am hoping for big results come exam day on Tuesday.

Author: Daphna Rabinovitch
Source: Canadian Living Cooks Step by Step
Servings: 6

1 roasting chicken, about 5 lbs.
1/2 onion
4 cloves garlic
1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil, or butter
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Remove giblets and neck, if present, from chicken. Rinse chicken inside and out; pat dry.

Place onion and garlic in chicken cavity. Squeeze juice from lemon and set aside to use in gravy; add lemon skin to cavity.

Tuck wings under back of chicken; tie legs together with kitchen string. Brush all over with oil; sprinkle with thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Try to use fresh herbs if you can! Place, breast side up, on rack in roasting pan. Roast, uncovered, in 325ºF oven for 1 1/2 hours.

Baste chicken with pan juices. Roast, basting occasionally, for about 1 1/2 hours longer or until juices run clear when thigh is pierced and meat thermometer inserted in thigh registers 185ºF. Transfer chicken to platter and tent with foil; let stand for 10 minutes before carving.

It's always preferable to cook a chicken on a rack in a shallow roasting pan so that the heat can circulate evenly around the bird. Roasting at 325ºF keeps both the white and dark meat moist and tender. The duel tests of juices running clear when the thigh is pierced and an internal temperature of 185ºF are both necessary to guarantee that the chicken is cooked through.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie -'Tis the Season

Being huge lover of rhubarb, I just couldn't go through this season without some sort of a fix. When I picked up the rhubarb I was fully intending on doing my 'oh-you-can-count-on-it' Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp. But for some reason the idea of doing pie took over once the fruit was in the kitchen. In some ways the presentation seems more fancy and I think that may have been what I thought I needed for company's dessert last night.

My pie crust is tried and true but I had never done this particular filling before. Tapioca did pull it together and the tartness that I so love came through in every bite. Pie is big calories so it is something that I reserve for full treat status. I have included the nutritional analysis calculated by Mastercook V9.0 below for those wanting to make a fully informed treat choice.

I have to say that anything rhubarb for me pretty much makes it a favourite summertime dessert. When you think favourite, what do you head to the kitchen to make?

Modified from recipe in Joy of Cooking

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cups water
3/4 cups Tenderflake lard

Sift flour and salt together in a bowl. Remove 1/3 cup of this mixture and place it in a small bowl or cup. Stir water into it to form a smooth paste.

Cut lard into the flour mixture in the first bowl with a pastry blender until the grain is the size of small peas.

Stir the flour paste into the dough. Work it with your hand until well incorporated and the dough forms a ball. To bake, see individual recipes. Makes a 9-inch double crust.


Modified from recipe in Canadian Living's Desserts by Elizabeth Baird

For extra-juicy fruit like this, quick-cooking tapioca makes the ideal thickener.

pie dough for a 9-inch double crust
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons tapioca
3 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
3 cups rhubarb, sliced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter

Roll out half of the pastry; fit into 9-inch (23 cm) pie plate. [I roll out my pastry between two pieces of waxed paper that is very lightly floured.]

In bowl, stir sugar with tapioca; add strawberries, rhubarb and lemon juice, tossing to coat. Spoon into pie crust; dot with butter.

Roll out remaining pastry and fit over top of pie; trim and flute edge. Cut vents in top for steam to escape. Bake on baking sheet in 425ºF oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375ºF; bake for 35 to 45 minutes longer or until golden and filling is bubbly.

Nutritional Analysis calculated from Mastercook V9.0

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 411 Calories; 21g Fat (46.2% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 52g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 22mg Cholesterol; 285mg Sodium. Exchanges: 2 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Fruit; 4 Fat; 1 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Barbecued Baby Back Ribs - The Battle of the Tutors

Tonight was one of those nights that is becoming increasingly more rare, where all of us would be together for dinner time. I took it as an opportunity to be celebratory, as the month of June signals the end of another school year, and in the case of our house, the end of high school FOREVER. So I left it to the soon-to-be-unshackled student to pick the menu. Here is where I confess that I was wholly influenced by today's blog entry by Rachelle Eats Food called Best.Day.Ever. It IS entirely possible that I did utter the words 'So how about ribs?', as he was formulating his thoughts. Being mid-afternoon, there was no way I could source the exotic things on Rachelle's dinner plate from last night (like wild boar spare ribs), but hopefully I could do a decent knock-off.

I have a relatively fast and easy way of doing my barbecued baby back ribs but a blog entry by Ron Eade (food editor for the Ottawa Citizen) from last summer called A Very Canadian Event left me feeling a bit lacking. Ron often shares his dedication to his outdoor cooking craft as he has made a number of references to his Big Green Egg (oh how I want one) and his Traeger smoker. That equipment is in addition to his Napoleon grill. His miles and experience at the grill are far, far greater than mine. I could learn from the master.

I couldn't remember all the suggestions Ron had from that write-up so I went back to take a look, hoping there was something I could incorporate to kick my ribs up a notch.

I don't usually remove the membrane. I just score it excessively in a diamond pattern. (I always thought the membrane helped engineering-wise to keep super tender ribs from totally disintegrating.)

I don't season the ribs overnight with a dry rub. I do it following the membrane scoring and just before I braise them.

I don't smoke them for 4 hours at 215ºF. I braise them in the oven in about 2 cups of water (once the rib's membrane side has been covered in very thin slices of fresh lemon) for 2.5 hours at 325ºF. Covered of course.

I don't triple wrap them in foil, once painted in sauce, and hold them in a 200°F oven until dinner (up to 6 hours!). I finish them on the barbecue at a not too high heat by slathering them with sauce and turning regularly for about 10 minutes and then right to the plate.

Wow, I felt pretty stuck, considering the short window to dinner time. I then went to the books of the zany grill master and barbecue aficionado, Ted Reader. Ted seems to be a very good friend of Ron's so his word would be gospel too. My luck! His 2001 cookbook Sticky Fingers and Tenderloins, detailed a number of cooking methods and also his particular favourite.

Ted likes to first braise his ribs in the oven for 2 to 2.5 hours at 325ºF! I felt redeemed. His prep includes scoring the membrane in a diamond pattern! Then rubbing the ribs with his favourite Bone Dust BBQ Spice. He also lays 3 or 4 slices of lemon on the back of each rib! Now I am feeling really, really good. However, his braising bath is more sophisticated than my water bath. He likes to use such things as lemon juice and ginger ale. Even beer. My kitchen was lacking such basic ingredients in any large quantity so I just stuck with the water this time. Ted's finishing is also a continual grill, baste and turn technique for about 10 minutes until the barbecue sauce is nicely caramelized.

With just a few hours to make this meal happen, I fell under Ted's tutelage and went for the 'fast' method of making barbecued baby back ribs. Someday I may see a Big Green Egg on my back deck or perhaps even a Traeger smoker. And if I can really get some serious planning going, the process of 'rib rub love' could start the day before and it could possibly include well-sourced wild boar ribs. It is nice to have things to look forward to.

How do you do your barbecued baby back ribs?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Morning Owl Coffeehouse - I'm Living on the Edge

Recently I came across a blog entry for the Morning Owl Coffeehouse and Sandwich Bar by Girl About Town. It was an entry from August 2009. Katharine Cornfield of Girl About Town did a super job with her entry getting to know the co-owners and operators, Sarah and Jordan O’Leary, and their cozy locale 538 Rochester Street, just north of Carling.

I had been to the Morning Owl once before on a tip from my walking buddy. That day was just to sample the legendary latte at the crack of dawn. Girl About Town re-peaked my curiousity about this place, which seems to have become an instant success since Day 1. I was in the neighbourhood around Noon today, so I did an impromptu visit, knowing that continuing on towards home would have me greeted with a fairly empty fridge.

I was on a maiden voyage and wholly intimidated as I was shoehorned into a crazy, busy line-up of regulars who knew the lingo and knew the drill. The place is located right in the heart of a government campus setting where Federal buildings line the streets. These busy people needed to be in and out. No lingering lunches here. "Decisive. Be decisive." This was my mantra as I approached the counter for my turn. Wow. The sandwiches were made with Art-is-in Bakery bread. Score one. The selection was endless. I picked the vegetarian sandwich made on Fennel Multi-grain baguette bread. It came with grilled zucchini, grilled asparagus, roasted red peppers, and provolone cheese. Jordan gave it a warm up and a squeeze with the panini maker. I then had it dressed with lettuce, sliced tomatoes, hot peppers, pickled eggplant, and pesto mayonnaise. Score two.

Everybody seemed to be getting a container of the tomato salad, so ‘me too’. Grape tomatoes halved, cubes of cucumber and bocconcini cheese with a light dressing in a 500 mL container. That was going to be more than plenty.

Then on to the cash. Somewhere in my memory banks I recalled hearing that Sarah was quite a baking fiend and that she made almost all of the baked goods for the store. I asked for a bar of the carrot cake. Score three. So impulsive. What on earth was I thinking??? I make carrot cake and I know it is blistering with calories. I don’t need extra calories and I don’t need carrot cake. Sarah didn’t hear any of that though, as my lips actually didn’t move. She handed it to me. Committed now. Oh why not, let’s get a small latte too. Have I mentioned how great their lattes are?

$15.90 later (plus 75 cents in the parking meter for a rich 15 minutes of Ottawa street parking) I had a lunch fit for a construction worker. Gah! What was I thinking? I can only guess that this happens fairly often as temptation reigns supreme here. It all looks so good. I definitely planned on having the latte ASAP, but the rest could be consumed in stages through the day (or days).

As I approached the front of the store to make my exit, I was lured to the bar stools perched by the front counter. Eating my sandwich with a street view! How good. And as it turned out, not so much a street view but more like a parade. The place was streaming with bodies coming and going. What a place. Making sandwiches, making coffee, making baked goods, making money. I can see why co-owners, Jordan and Sarah are so chipper! The setting was just too intimate to get my camera out and document the whole event, so I am leaving it to my prose to carry the day. There is a reason they say that a pictures is worth a thousand words. Stay with me.

So I worked away at the sandwich in all its glory. It was a 10 out of 10. And had it been goat cheese instead of provolone, I am sure I would have moaned out loud. I took great pride in having the foresight to pick vegetarian, considering the bounty I finally purchased. The tomato salad came home, but the taste test at the counter suggests that there is a reason EVERYBODY picks one up.

Now for the carrot cake. The icing was already sticking to the sleeve it was packaged in. I gave it a try too just because fresh seemed important in making any kind of gastronomical assessment. Then it could come home too. Many will say that one taste is never enough for a conclusive evaluation of carrot cake. It is all about assessing the cake, then the icing and if it is an end piece, it is important to know if that detracts in any way from the overall experience. Well, by then it was all gone.

One advantage of the counter bar seat is that it gave me a bird’s eye view of my car across the road. On the last bite of the carrot cake, a Green Hornet zoomed by and did a quick 180 to drift in behind my car! I grabbed my purse, latte and tomato salad, then bolted. And man I bolted. Just in time to do an intervention. My meter was blinking zeros. Before his fingers could touch that high tech wireless device, I had my story out. 3 quarters gave 15 minutes, long line-up, crazy busy store, half eaten lunch. He smiled and moved on. Bless him.

Now how had all of that taken more than 15 minutes? I already knew. It was the savouring bites of that perfectly exquisite sandwich. Long lingering chews. Dreamy sips at my near perfect latte (a small gets you 10 ounces). I don't know Jordan and Sarah but I have to say they have great style and it shows in their service, their product and the joie de vivre of this quaint but hip setting. This may be one of my best Mondays in an awfully long time.

[For the record, I popped another quarter in the meter just to zip back to the store to clean up my hastily abandoned mess. How utterly Canadian.]

Morning Owl Coffeehouse
538 Rochester Street
Ottawa, Ontario

Mon - Fri: 7 am to 3 pm

Morning Owl on Urbanspoon

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Quick Caesar Salad - Pre 'Oliver Jones' Snack

Last night we attended the Thirteen Strings Gala Concert at the National Gallery of Canada. This evening was the debut for Kevin Mallon as their new conductor and Artistic Director. Joining the orchestra for the gala performance was the Oliver Jones Trio, starring the legendary jazz pianist, Oliver Jones, Eric Lagacé on bass and Jim Doxas on drums.

The programme was a fusion of Jazz and Classical and they delivered flawlessly on pieces by Holst, Gershwin, Jones himself and Oscar Peterson. Mallon's Irish charm (born in the US but raised in Belfast) shone through as he engaged in a tête-à-tête regularly with Jones throughout the evening. Jones aptly returned Mallon's volley of disclosing questions with heartfelt stories of his life. We were given an insight into Oliver the musician, Oliver the man, Oliver the Canadian and good friend to Oscar Peterson. Their comfortable dialogue made you feel like you were sitting with them in your living room. A treat to be included in their presence.

The encore was a repeat of the opening piece, Embraceable You, a George & Ira Gershwin favourite. A repeat for an encore? Who does that? Well this time around, the Trio performed with Thirteen Strings and Kevin Mallon let his vocal chords loose, breaking into song! The crowd was not only surprised,but downright delighted. More of that living room feeling coming through again.

Legendary jazz pianist, Oliver Jones (a young 75 years old); a special person in my life; my special person's friend!; Kevin Mallon, new conductor and Artistic Director of the Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra.

So what does any of this have to do with Quick Caesar Salad? Well, we knew that there would be some pre- and post-show nibbles in the Gallery's Water Court Foyer, but it would not be too classy to go at the buffet with the intent of filling a suppertime hunger, especially with young people in tow. So we took a pause in the late afternoon to have our version of Quick Caesar Salad. It did the trick and kept us on our best behaviour!


head of romaine lettuce
caesar salad dressing
lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper

To make croutons (which we did last night), we cut up bread into cubes (I had a stash of slices of whole wheat baguette in the freezer), drizzled with olive oil to coat, fresh minced garlic and a wee, wee pinch of salt. They only take 15 minutes in a 350ºF oven, stirring once halfway.

Meanwhile we prepared the head of lettuce (a great looking head that we found at Produce Depot earlier in the week). We also have cooked bacon in the freezer on hand when the need arises. We took 3 slices and crumbled and sprinkled on top.

When we do a 'quick' caesar and there is no time for a homemade dressing, we use a store bought variety like Ren
ée's. But we find the consistency is way too thick so we really thin it out with lemon juice and then we bump up the garlic factor by adding a big freshly minced clove of garlic.

The dish was then rounded out with a handsome contribution of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese and freshly ground black pepper.

We are quite lucky to have the Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra here in town. Consider coming out to one of their 6 performances in their upcoming season.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Eat Breakfast Like a King, Lunch Like a Prince, and Dinner Like a Pauper

Adelle Davis is credited with the well known quote "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper." She was born at the turn of the 20th century and lived for 70 years. Wikipedia states that she "was an American author and a pioneer in the fledgling field of nutrition during the mid-20th century. She advocated whole unprocessed foods, criticized food additives, and claimed that dietary supplements and other nutrients play a dominant role in maintaining health, preventing disease, and restoring health after the onset of disease."

This past Monday it was 36 years since her passing and her strong beliefs on nutrition are still being echoed today by the likes of food advocates Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman to name a few. We did a lot of bad things with food and food products in the past 36 years. Adelle was right on a number of fronts and maybe it is time we acknowledge that.

So in honour of the great Adelle Davis, who would have been some 106 years old if she was alive today, I decided to have breakfast like a king. Well, queen actually.


2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 small onion, diced
1/4 red pepper, diced
1/4 cup diced ham
1 cup spinach
1 1/2 tablespoon goat cheese
1 1/2 tablespoon Gruyère cheese

I topped the omelette with some of Catherine's Original Antipasto. It was an unopened jar in the fridge and it was time to give it a try. A Christmas gift from a friend. Good stuff!

And what is not on screen is the sliced pear and glass of water. What a nice way to start the day.

What did you have for breakfast today? What do you have when you are eating breakfast like a king?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pickled Ramps - A Season Coming To Its End

We brought home a very full grocery bag of ramps from the 3rd Annual Rampfest in May. And we are feeling pretty proud of ourselves for seeing each one put to good use. We made ramp risotto, scrambled eggs with ramps and cheese, ramp pesto, two batches of pull apart dinner rolls with ramps and cheese, and finally the remainder went to pickled ramps.

Our ramp friends, Fred and Catherine, so kindly shared their own recipe for pickled ramps. The ramps have been 'pickling' for two weeks now. We tried them after one week and they were still a little young. But today I could taste the age coming on. They are are their way! Until next season.


2 cup white vinegar
1 cup rice vinegar
1 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
10 whole allspice
3 medium bay leaves, crumpled
4 whole cloves
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorn
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
4 cup ramp bulbs, with our without greens (about 1 lb.)

Bring all ingredients, except ramps, to boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Add ramps. Once everything comes back to full boil take off heat and put into ice bath to cool rapidly. Ramps should be 'al dente'. If boiled more than 15 seconds they will get too soft and mushy, especially if they are small.

Put into clean, boiled sealer jars, ensuring liquid covers ramps. Let marinate at least a week. They will store in sealer jars for a year (improving with age, like a good wine!)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sterling Steakhouse and Seafood Restaurant - Birthday Destination

When you turn 18 in Ottawa, where you have your birthday dinner matters. Last night we headed to Sterling Steakhouse and Seafood Restaurant at 835 Jacques Cartier Road in Gatineau. The operative word being Gatineau.

The location is picturesque as the very large heritage home is located directly across the road from the Outaouais River. And as the evening sun was coming down, we could see the Ottawa Rowing Club out for a practice on the water.

It was not a busy night and we were brought upstairs to a table nestled in by a large window with an arched architectural detail. The ceilings are tin and high. Large modern chandeliers lit the room. This large room also has a showy raised fireplace. No need to be near that last night. To one end of the second floor, there is a room separated from the main area by a wall of windows and french doors. It was occupied by a large group for a dinner and work meeting. It looks like the perfect place for a private reception.

Marc was our server and he was attentive to every detail. It was on his suggestion that we started off with a celebratory 'James Bond' vodka martini!

We were first served some slices of warm, delicious baguette with butter. Great bread at dinner is always a problem. It is so hard to stop once you have had that first bite!

Those having the table d'hôte started with a white turnip and asparagus soup. The taste of the asparagus was tucked in behind the bold turnip flavour and everyone agreed that it was excellent.

We then followed with the Sterling Caesar Salad which had very fresh romaine lettuce, warm lardons, a Parmesan cheese crisp and a garlic crouton roll. It was a tasty salad. No objections. I personally like mine with more garlic and more lemon.

This night we were going to be eating the highest quality of beef in Canada. Sterling Silver, grilled over maple wood. The meat is aged from 21 to 40 days. Only 2% of the meat raised in Canada is classified as Sterling Silver.

Those doing the table d'hôte had a beef tenderloin that was about 8 ounces. It was served with a two peppercorn sauce (a mix of green and pink), a baked potato with herbed sour cream and then some steamed vegetables. I love getting bok choy. I prefer my beet and carrot just a bit softer. As I was filling up, I found the potato didn't grab my attention enough to keep going and so I left it.

The Papa's Cut was 20 ounces. The sauce was called Perigourdine a mix of smooth truffle and foie gras. The Yukon gold mousseline potatoes had a hint of garlic. So fluffy. I stole a taste and wanted for more. Again, the same steamed vegetables.

The wine list is extensive. I wasn't involved in the actual wine decision but I have to say that those who were got it bang on, despite missing out on our first and second choices. Somehow that seems to speak well to the depth of their selection. Our final pick - a 2006 Cuvaison Syrah from the Napa Valley. I loved every sip. Unfortunately, I won't be finding it at the LCBO.

The chocolate dessert that came with the table d'hôte came home with us to augment our offerings for our 'after party'.

As we headed out, Marc kindly took us into the wine cellar for a look and an introduction to some of their finest wines.

We aren't regular steakhouse people, but last night we needed one to serve a birthday wish. The birthday guest said it was the best steak he ever had. Mission accomplished. The setting is lovely. It is clear that attention to service is their motto and Marc was memorable.

So if it is a steakhouse you are after, you will find what you are looking for at Sterling's. An easy trip over the river.

Sterling Steakhouse and Seafood Restaurant
835 Jacques Cartier Road
Gatineau, Quebec

Mon - Fri: 11 am to 11 pm
Sat - Sun: 5 pm to 11 pm

Sterling Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Frozen Lemon Meringue Torte - Pucker Up!

Although the plan was to go out for birthday dinner last night, the post steak experience would be a larger gathering at home with dessert (homemade of course), candles, presents and friends. Doing a birthday dessert for an 18 year old of the male persuasion can have its complications. Gone are the days of theme cakes shaped like cars and castles. Whatever I created couldn't be so attractive that it looked like it was a show piece from The Cake Boss. Being 18 does demand some level of sophistication though and one must be careful to not make it with so much detail that it looks downright girly.

An unaccounted for memory flashback had me giving consideration to a frozen torte that I first made almost 20 years ago. I love Bonnie Stern. As I cruised through my bookshelf dedicated to Bonnie Stern and Canadian Living cookbooks, I did manage to come across the 'Holy Grail'. There tucked away on sugar splattered pages was the recipe I was looking for. Frozen Lemon Meringue Torte. Now Bonnie had it frilled up with candied violets, perhaps a sprinkle of lavender and some green leaves. I knew that this would be optional and the rougher I was with the precision of the construction, the better.

This cake is not a cake but a torte. Torte says European flair. Sophistication point number one. Chocolate is classic but lemon says 'individual'. Sophistication point number two. Loose layering of meringue and semi-freddo mixture, topped with crumbled meringue says 'shabby-chic' to a female but 'deconstruction' to a male. Sophistication point number three.

The punch of lemon was perfect. Although, technically a fairly rich dessert, the lemon pow really cuts through that. The bites of meringue were like soft crunches of candy. Whoever served us tea knew it was to be a better match than coffee.

The birthday started well and ended well and was lemony in-between.

Author: Bonnie Stern
Source: Canadian Living's Desserts
Servings: 12

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 cup lemon juice
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
6 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Trace four 8-inch (20 cm) circles on parchment paper; place on baking sheets.

MERINGUES: Combine 3/4 cup of the sugar, cornstarch and rind; set aside.

In bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form; gradually beat in remaining sugar until stiff peaks
form. Add vanilla; fold in reserved sugar mixture. Spoon meringue onto circles, smoothing tops. Bake in 300ºF (150ºC) oven for 1 hour or until dry and lightly golden. Let cool. (Meringues can be stored in cool, dry place for up to 3 days.)

FILLING: In saucepan over medium-high heat, heat sugar, butter, lemon rind and juice, stirring, until sugar dissolves.

In bowl, beat eggs; whisk in lemon mixture. Return to saucepan and cook, stirring, just until boiling; simmer for 1 minute. Pour into bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on surface; chill in refrigerator to room temperature. (Mixture can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.) Whip cream; fold into lemon mixture.

ASSEMBLY: Crumble least-attractive meringue for garnish; set aside. Fit one meringue into 9-inch (2.5 L) spring-form pan. Pour one-third of the lemon mixture over top. Repeat layers twice. Sprinkle crumbled meringue over top. Freeze for at least 8 hours. (Torte can be removed from pan, wrapped well and frozen for up to 1 week.) Let soften in refrigerator for 45 minutes before serving. Makes 12 servings.

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 382 Calories; 19g Fat (42.8% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 50g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 161mg Cholesterol; 126mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Fruit; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 3 1/2 Fat; 3 Other Carbohydrates.
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