NO SOUP FOR YOU!!

I recently had the opportunity to participate in the Campbell’s Summer of Super Grains contest. Basically the idea is to put together a dish which prominently features a SUPER SUMMER GRAIN using Campbell’s soup or broth. I didn’t have a lot of time to think about what I was going to make and submit it before the deadline, so I just decided to “recreate” one of the 6 recipes suggested on the Facebook page: the “Farro Caprese Salad”. Just to give it a wee bit of originality, I gave it a half-assed twist by substituting quinoa instead of using farro.

This is my awesome submission photo:

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What makes this worthwhile, you ask? Why, the grand prize of course, which consists of:

      • One $1,000 (CAD) cheque;

      • Fifty 900 mL cartons of Campbell’s No Salt Added Vegetable Broth;

      • One Campbell’s branded tote bag;

      • One Campbell’s branded tea towel;

      • One Campbell’s branded apron.

 

Here are some of the amazing things I would do with fifty cartons of broth:

       make a giant pot of gourmet soup for a homeless shelter and donate an additional 25 cartons of broth (aren’t I awesome?).

       drop a few pounds of chicken bones into the vegetable broth and make chicken broth! In other words, TASTY broth.

       give a few cartons to my foodie friends who acknowledge my greatness.

 

Doesn’t that sound great? I just needed a bunch of people to go online and vote for my photo submission, to which I provided a link on my Facebook page. However, the awesomeness of my photo seems to have clouded everyone’s judgement—rather than actually voting, most people merely “liked” the photo or made comments like “OMG! Looks super yummy! Hope you win!”

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Bloody Good Jam!

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Fun fact: Oranges most likely arose as a hybrid between the pomelo and the tangerine in Southeast Asia sometime thousands of years ago. Much later, blood oranges appeared as a random mutation of the common orange, either in China or in the Mediterranean. The red colour – due to the presence of anthocyanin pigments, which normally occur in blackberries, cranberries, etc. – was interesting enough for someone to say “This looks profitable!” The rest is history. Thanks, Wikipedia.

Today we have a recipe for blood orange jam, a much more palatable alternative to marmalade. Why? 1. It’s red, and red is a more appetizing colour than orange, and 2. NO RINDS. I’m sorry if I offend any rind-loving marmalade fans reading this, but, in my humble opinion, RINDS SUCK. Do I eat the rind when I peel an orange? No. That’s why I peeled it: to get rid of the nasty, horribly bitter rind. I remember once finding bits of orange peel under the couch cushions at my Grandmother’s house. When I asked her why, she told me that she had recently had an ant infestation and orange peels were a natural way to repel the bothersome insects. That’s right: ants are repelled by orange rinds. The same bugs that eat decaying plant matter and other nasty bugs are put off by orange peels. And you put this into MY marmalade?? I’ll make my own, thank you very much. Here’s how:

Ingredients

4 lbs blood oranges
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cups of granulated sugar
1 Certo liquid pectin pouch (170 ml)
**makes about 7 jars, ½ pint each

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 Method

Cut the oranges by creating orange segments. Slice the top and bottom of the orange to create a flat surface. Run the sharp knife down to peel the outside skin strip by strip. Place the orange in the palm of one hand and run the blade down the inside of each segment in a V-shape ensuring you keep separation between the segment and membrane. Continue to separate each segment. Remember to remove any seeds from the oranges.

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In a 4-quart saucepan, place segmented oranges, lemon juice, and sugar. On medium high heat, stir frequently until boiling. Once reached boiling, reduce heat to medium. Simmer about 45 minutes until temperature has reached 225°F on candy thermometer. Remove from heat and let stand for 1 hour. Skim bubbles if necessary and pour in Certo pouch.

Ladle jam into sterilized jars!

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Make me some SAMMICHES!!

There’s just something about a meal wrapped in bread that keeps people coming back – if you’re a normal human being, you get the occasional craving for a sandwich. If you don’t, then what the hell is wrong with you? Seriously, get some help. One great place in Toronto where you non-sandwich eaters can obtain this much-needed therapy is the Clubhouse Sandwich Shop. Follow Clubhouse on twitter for updates on some specials!

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The Clubhouse caters to a variety of people at its College and Spadina location, but mainly hungry students who are sick and tired of Subway slop. Master sandwich ninja chef Doan Nguyen (say Dwahn Ngwee-yen. . or Ngoo-yen. . Noo-yin.? Forget it, just Dwahn) makes every sandwich fresh to order and uses top-notch ingredients. Some popular selections from the menu are shown below.

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Beer battered halibut
Doan’s homemade beer battered halibut is made with house tartar sauce, smoky mayo, lettuce and tomatoes. Get it with an order of his fresh-cut fries (soaked in salt water, dried overnight, fried in peanut oil, dried again, then fried in peanut oil AGAIN—just heavenly) for a great fish ‘n chips experience.

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Grilled flank steak – Braised red cabbage, cashew pesto & “Carlos” spiced trail mix (in case you’re wondering, Carlos is chained up in the back of the store – he’s the one cutting potatos for your fries).

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Marinated grilled pork chop is marinated overnight and sizzles on the grill until juicy doneness. It is topped with pork cracklin’ (I don’t know what that is, but it’s great), herb aioli and smothered in sweet carmelized onion spread.

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Smoked chicken
My personal favourite is chicken smoked for 6 hours on low. I’m all about textures when eating – this godly creation incorporates the crispiness of the pork cracklin’ and deep fried avocado pieces combined with the pickled chili mop sauce and smoky chicken.

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Basil Marinated Fried Tomato
The best vegetarian sandwich I’ve come across. Okay, fine: the ONLY good vegetarian sandwich I’ve come across. How could even the most ardent meat lover not enjoy roasted eggplant & creamy avocado spread, goat cheese, arugula and red onions with the crispy fried tomato? I usually feel sorry for vegetarians, but this time is an exception.

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Holy guacamole, Batman! Everything tastes better wrapped in bacon. . . Even avocados.

Recently, a friend suggested (actually, demanded) that I participate in a contest on Appehtite. It’s a brand new Canadian social food site for foodies (get it? App-“eh”-tite? No? Don’t worry, it’s not worth getting). Basically, the only rule is that you GOTTA USE BACON. My recipe is posted here. The prize: one year’s supply of Maple Leaf bacon! BACON! BACON! BACON! I’m just not too sure how they determine how much bacon makes one year’s supply. . . What if I use it all up in a month? Do I get another truckload delivered to my front door? Or do they just give me a Platinum Bacon Club Member card that I can use at any fine grocer to grab some salty strips of pig whenever I feel like it? The only way to find out is to crush my opponents.
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What would I do with free bacon for a whole year?

–     grind it up and make bacon-burger patties
–     blend it into bacon smoothies
–     bacon pie (you know you wanna try it)
–     have bacon themed parties, as suggested (actually, demanded) by my friend
–     make plates out of bacon – after breakfast, clean up by eating your plate
–     bacon frisbees – now you have a reason to catch it with your mouth

Take a look at my contest entry below:

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Prep Time: 10 minutes                   Total Time: 15 mins                   Servings: 4

 Ingredients

5 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 large avocados, mashed
1 lime, juice
1 roma tomato
2 tbsp red onion, diced
3 tbsp cilantro, loosely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Method

Cook the bacon until crispy and drain the oil with paper towel. Roughly chop. Mix everything together. Serve with tortilla chips!

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Ice to see you. . . . Again.

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During the ice storm over the Christmas holidays, my friend’s backyard deck got coated with over an inch of ice. This all seemed normal and boring until one of us put our hand on one of the globe finials (or ball-shaped things, in layman’s terms) which cap the deck posts. Since the weather had started to warm up at that point, the ice coating the finial slipped off and “OMG, idea!!” And history was thus made.

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How to make the most of an ice storm

Unless you’ve been living in a cave on Mars with potatoes stuffed in your ears, you’ve likely heard about a certain recent ice storm which covered large parts of Canada and the US with an inch or more of ice. As a result, a lot of power lines were taken out by falling branches, leaving people such as myself without power for. . . . a long time. I’m so cold. . . .

Anyways, the gas was still working (my condolences to those of you with electric stoves!), so I was able to make myself a nice little breakfast last Monday when my workplace announced that they too did not have power (Hooray!!). I racked my brain for about 2 seconds to try and think of a good way to make a tasty morning meal while using up some of the many ingredients in my refrigerator that would otherwise soon be spoiled. One word echoed in my head: OMELETTE. Oh yeah.

I found cooked crispy bacon, tomatoes, green onions, eggs and of course, and cheese that was already shredded. Step One….make the damn omelette (seriously, you all know how to make an omelette!).

Here are some pictures for inspiration.

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…..Best natural disaster EVER!

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