Archive | February, 2011

Let’s All Go To The Lobby

24 Feb

oscar intermissino
How could we have missed this?

Oscar night at home = buffet of dancing hot dogs, soda, popcorn and ice cream bars?

UPDATE: the cutest mini dogs!


It’s the ultimate homage to the motion picture show tradition. Although we’ve never partaken in a Paramount Theatre’s snack bar weenie, we’re partial to that cartoon frankfurter and bun — cue the Wurlitzer.

Surely a selection of premium sausages with dreamy gourmet toppings and oozing cheese is the perfect Oscar movie night snack for two or a crowd.

768030CB-3CA1-46DC-82AE-9DCA8D888B288A53A789-403E-41BC-9D0F-AF5053235AD9Wolfgang Puck has an Oscar party worthy take on dogs. He calls them wiener wurstchen: splits all beef hot dogs, fills them with gruyere and wraps them in bacon. after baking at 425F until crisp (about 15 minutes) he tops them with this dreamy horseradish cream.

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup drained prepared horseradish
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Some more inspiration from our fave hot dog joint: Tubby Dog.
The Starlet, Action Hero, Red Carpet, Golden Guy — they’re yours for the inventing.

Some hilarious homemade coasters featuring dancing cartoon concession snacks would be the crowning glory for any Oscar night.

Flicks and Picks

23 Feb

Thoroughly looking forward to Oscar night on the couch for a change instead of working.

Some gourmet popcorn and nibbles are in order. popcorn

Although chef Wolfgang Puck’s signature smoked salmon pizza with dill cream and caviar is an elegant Academy Awards night menu idea, we are more interested in his mini prime burgers.

To keep things easy, we’re using sirloin meatballs on baguette rounds slathered with remoulade. Or to really go Hollywood, a tangy In ‘n’ Out burger sauce clone.



Recipe from Wolfgang Puck
3/4 pound premium ground beef
Pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
aged cheddar cheese, sliced
6 brioche buns or other airy bread, cut out with a 2-inch ring cutter
Remoulade Sauce (recipe follows)
Arugula leaves
cherry tomatoes, sliced
cornichons, sliced

2 cups heavy cream
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 tablespoons peanut oil
3/4 cup onion, brunoised
1/2 cup each of red & yellow bell peppers, brunoised

In-n-Out clone sauce
1/2 cup mayo
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp sweet pickle relish
1 tsp finely minced white onion
1/8 tsp salt
dash pepper

Smaller scale: 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

Preheat a grill or grill pan.
Put the ground beef in a bowl and season with the salt and pepper. Mix together with your hands to combine.

Take 2 tablespoons of the beef and shape it like a meatball. Flatten slightly and drizzle the burgers with oil.

Season both sides with salt and pepper.
Cook patties for 3 minutes, then flip. Top with cheese and let melt. Toast buns slightly on both sides, about 2 minutes.
Top each bun half with sauce. Add burger, arugula leaf, tomato slice and cornichon.
For sauce: In a saucepan, combine cream, garlic, rosemary and paprika. Reduce by half. Cool to room temperature. Saute onions, red and yellow bell pepper until glossy.

Transfer to a plate and allow to cool to room temperature before adding to saucepan mixture.


Serve with small cooked new potatoes, crudite and pita wedges.
Servings: 2-1/2 cups (625 mL)

2 slices bacon, chopped
1 large leek (white and light green parts) or small onion, minced
1 cup (250 mL) shredded extra-old cheddar cheese
1 cup (250 mL) sour cream
1/2 cup (125 mL) cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp (2 mL) pepper

In large nonstick skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until beginning to crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Add leek; cook until softened and bacon is crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer to 3-cup (750 mL) ovenproof serving dish.

Stir in 1/2 cup (125 mL) of the Cheddar cheese, the sour cream, cream cheese and pepper; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake in 425°F (220°C) oven until cheese is melted, 10 to 12 minutes.

Sugar shock

14 Feb

Our teeth hurt so much from these. Here’s why: dig the icing — made with strawberry Kool-Aid.

Vintage Valentine’s

11 Feb


More vintage Seventeen magazine, circa 1985, I think…

just.the.2.of us.2

Chopin and Chevre

9 Feb

Scene: Fancy classical piano concert reception.

Close your eyes. Take a bite. Creamy marinated chevre swimming in a pool of sweet balsamic/roasted garlic olive oil, topped with strips of sundried tomato and aromatic basil. Scooped onto thin slices of fresh baguette with a crackly crust.

After a few thoughtful chews, a revelation: we should be snacking on this more often. With a glass of wine after work on the deck.

Also, hunks of aged cheddar sitting on a slice of pear or green apple, drizzled with honey and fresh thyme.
Or our current favourites: Saint-André triple creme and Le Rustique camembert.

This is from our beloved GR’s Patent and the Pantry.

Goat Cheese with Herbed Olive Oil
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, January 1994

1 small bay leaf
4 garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
1 tbsp. (15 mL) fresh rosemary leaves
¼ tsp. (1 mL) coriander seeds, crushed lightly
¼ tsp. (1 mL) fennel seeds, crushed lightly
10 whole black peppercorns
¼ cup (50 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
½ pound (250g) log of soft mild goat cheese
Sliced bread as an accompaniment

In a small saucepan simmer bay leaf, garlic, rosemary, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and peppercorns in oil for 5 minutes. Arrange goat cheese on a platter and spoon oil mixture over. Serve goat cheese with bread.

Pastis marinated Chevre
1 log (10 oz.) fresh chèvre (goat) cheese
5 teaspoons herbes de provence
2 tablespoons pastis
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Cut 1 log (10 oz.) fresh chèvre (goat) cheese crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
Fit slices into a 2-cup jar with an airtight lid. Add 5 teaspoons herbes de provence (or 1 teaspoon each fennel seed and dried basil, rosemary, sage, and thyme), 2 tablespoons pastis, and 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Close jar tightly and tilt to mix herbs and oil. Chill at least 24 hours or up to 1 month (oil thickens when chilled but liquefies at room temperature).

Bring to room temperature to serve. Spread cheese and a little oil onto toasted bread or crackers. Save leftover oil for salad dressings.

Herb garden dreams

8 Feb

One day, when there is an actual backyard, there will be potted herbs. That day, this will happen to fruit salad:

Low-Fat Yogurt Honey Mint Dressing
3/4 cup (175 mL) plain low-fat yogurt

1 tbsp (15 mL) honey

1 tbsp (15 mL) canned unsweetened pineapple juice

2 tbsp (25 mL) fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients until the honey is dissolved. Dressing keeps, covered and chilled, 1 week. Serve dressing drizzled on fruit salad.

Makes about 1 cup (250 mL).


8 Feb

Secret shame No. 38: We used to have a lil’ cookie cutter addiction. Vintage metal and copper ones are classics, but we also fell under the spell of colourful Hallmark cutters in the mid-1980s.

They’re sturdy and substanial, not flimsy. The lips one, above, is circa 1984, the heart with the arrow through it is ’85.

We are hankering for some old-fashioned sugar cookies. Seventeen magazine circa 1980-something.

We are thinking of making chocolate cinnamon Xs and vanilla Os with strawberry icing.
This icing features strawberry Kool-Aid.

Frosting [strawberry]
1/3 cup butter, softened
2 T strawberry drink mix
1/8 teas salt
3 cups powdered sugar
3-5 T milk

And this vintage Seventeen jello cookie sounds… not at all good.

Seventeen Magazine

3/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 small box strawberry Jell-O
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar

In large bowl, cream shortening and 1/2 cup sugar together with electric mixer. Add eggs, vanilla extract and Jell-O; mix well. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place on greased cooking sheet and flatten with bottom of glass dipped in (1 cup) sugar. Bake at 400 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes.

Gung Hay Fat Choy

3 Feb

We’ve posted a ton of hoarded Chinese New Year recipes.

And still, there’s no shortage of exotic dishes we’d like to tackle this year.

We’d like to use more tea to poach fish and steam chicken.

Other goals: make sticky rice stuffing for a small roasted chicken.
Throw another dumpling party.
Try our hand at some sweets: ginger, almond or peanut cookies, pear and ginger pound cake. Or these five-spice cookies with candied orange.
Master our favourite cold noodles — two more highly regarded recipes below.

Peanut Pesto Over Pasta
The New Basics Cookbook. (Russo & Lukins) 8 ounces spaghetti

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup honey

1/3 cup hot water

3 cloves garlic

1/2 cup sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 bunch green onions, sliced

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 teaspoon white sugar

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Directions: Mix peanut butter with ingredients in a food processor, toss pesto with hot pasta and garnish with chopped scallions or cilantro.

China Moon’s Dragon Noodles
1/4 cup sesame oil

1 tablespoon Chinese chili sauce

2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons juice from pickled ginger

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 1/2 tablespoons Japanese rice vinegar

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 pound very thin fresh Chinese egg noodles

Grated rind of l lemon

2 tablespoons black sesame seeds, toasted in a dry, heavy skillet until fragrant

3/4 cup thinly sliced scallions

For the garnish:

Grated red radish

Julienne of scallions (both green and white)

Toasted black sesame seeds

In a bowl combine the oil, chili sauce, soy sauce, pickled ginger juice, lemon juice, rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Whisk to blend and set the bowl aside.

In a colander fluff the noodles to separate and untangle the strands. Bring a large saucepan of water to a rolling boil. Add the noodles and swish them gently with chopsticks. Let them cook for 2 minutes or until the noodles are tender but still have some bite. Drain them, plunge them briefly into ice water, then drain again. Shake the colander to remove excess moisture and transfer the noodles to a bowl.

Whisk the dressing again to combine it. Toss the noodles with just enough of the dressing to moisten them well, using your fingers to coat and separate the strands. Let the noodles sit for 10 minutes.

Taste the noodles. If they seem dry, add a bit more dressing and toss again. Add the lemon rind, black sesame seeds and scallion rings and toss well.

Taste the noodles again. They should be bright and sparkly. Cover them tightly and refrigerate up to one day.

To serve: Bring the noodles to room temperature. Mound the noodles in a bowl or twirl them in individual bowls. Garnish each dish with grated red radish, scallion and black sesame seeds.

Serves 2 or 3 as a main course; 4 to 6 as part of a multicourse meal.

Chinese Five-Spice Cookies with Candied Mandarin Oranges
Makes about 24 round cookies or 18 rectangles
This recipe is adapted from the shortbread recipe in Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe by Joanne Chang

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, separated
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
zest of two mandarin oranges (about 2 teaspoons)
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Powdered sugar for rolling out the dough
Muscavado sugar for sprinkling on the cookies
roughly 24 slices of candied mandarin oranges (see recipe below)

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer, cream the butter until it is light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the sugar and continue creaming another 3-4 minutes. Mix in the egg yolk (reserve the white), five-spice, vanilla, and zest until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the sides as needed while mixing.

Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl. With the mixer on low speed, mix the flour into the butter mixture. Scrape down the sides occasionally and mix just until the dough comes together and the flour is incorporated.

Press the dough into a disk and wrap with plastic. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Heat the oven to 325°F and line two baking sheets with parchment.

Dust the work surface with powdered sugar and lay the disk of dough on top. Sprinkle more powdered sugar on top and rub some into the rolling pin. Roll the dough out to about 1/4″ thick. Cut the dough into circles or rectangles, as desired. Gather and re-roll the scraps until all the dough is used. (If the dough becomes too soft, refrigerate it for a few minutes before rolling it out again).

Transfer all the cookies to the baking sheets and place them about an inch apart. Brush the surface of the cookies with a thin layer of egg white and sprinkle with muscavado sugar. Place one candied orange in the middle of each cookie.

Bake one sheet of cookies at a time for 18-20 minutes, until the edges start turning golden. Remove from oven and allow the cookies to cool for 10 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining sheets of cookies.

Store cookies between layers of wax paper in a sealed container. They will stay crisp for the first 24 hours, but begin to soften after a few days. (Softened shortbread is still a mighty delicious cookie, FYI!)

Candied Oranges
Makes 25-30 candied orange slices

3-4 mandarin oranges or clementines
1 cup granulated white sugar
3/4 cup water

Scrub the oranges thoroughly to remove as much of the wax coating as possible. Use a very sharp knife to slice them crossways into slices 1/8″ thick.

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat to medium and slip the orange slices into the liquid. Use a spoon to make sure all the slices are submerged.

Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice during. Take the pan off the heat, remove the lid, and let the oranges cool in the syrup for about ten minutes. Transfer the oranges to a wire cooling rack to finishing cooling and drying. They are ready to use immediately or can be kept refrigerated for several days.

Wok This Way

3 Feb

wok this way

Chinese New Year’s Eve

2 Feb

To celebrate the eve of Chinese New Year, here are two more unusual dumplings to greet the Year of the Rabbit. No bunnies were harmed…

While we honour har gow and traditional pork and shrimp shui mei, we can’t resist these twists: a peanut and pork mix with sour plum sauce, and an aromatic coconut curry sauce. Shanghai pork and peanut dumplings are scrumptious.


175g ground pork

2 scallions, finely chopped

2 tbsp peanut butter

2 tsp oyster sauce (optional)

salt and pepper

1 packet wonton skins

2 tbsp flour paste

vegetable oil, for deep frying

Plum Sauce
225g dark plum jam (jelly)

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp dark soy sauce

1/2 tsp chili sauce

Combine the pork, scallions, peanut butter, oyster sauce and seasoning and set aside.

For the plum sauce, combine the plum jam (jelly), vinegar, soy and chili sauces in a serving bowl and set aside.

To fill the wonton skins, place 8 wrappers at a time on a wok surface, moisten the edges with the flour paste and place 1/2 tsp of the pork mixture on each one.

Fold in half, corner to corner, and twist.

Fill a wok or deep frying pan one third with vegetable oil and heat to 385F.

Have ready a wire strainer or frying basket and a tray lined with kitchen paper. Drop the wontons, 8 at a time, in the hot fat and fry until golden, for about 1-2 minutes. Lift out onto the paper lined tray and sprinkle with fine salt.

Place the plum sauce on serving plate and surround with the crispy wontons.


Dave Fogelman/Hugh Carpenter

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup orange juice (optional. substitute 1/2 tsp sugar)
1 tablespoon minced Thai basil leaves
1 or 2 small green onions, minced
1/2 teaspoon Indian curry powder
1/4 cup mirin or rice wine
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon Asian chili sauce or sriracha
1 tablespoon freshly minced mint leaves or cilantro

1 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon freshly minced cilantro leaves
1 green onion, minced
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon finely minced ginger
40 round gyoza wrappers
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons canola oil

Combine all the sauce ingredients in a non-metallic bowl and mix well.

Cover and refrigerate.

Combine filling ingredients.

Fill the wrapper with nearly one tablespoon of meat mixture and pleat to close. When finished, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Add the canola oil to a large 12-inch nonstick skillet. Brown the bottom of

the dumplings, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add the sauce, cover the pan and steam for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, uncover the pan and turn over all the dumplings to coat with the sauce. Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy.