Saturday, January 22, 2011

Family Dinners

What do I miss the most about home? Family dinners. Hangin out with the fam and sitting around the kitchen table. I absolutely love cooking for my family just about as much as I love when they (well really my Ma or sis-in-law!) cook for me. So how do I not miss out on a part of this? SKYPE! Okay it's not exactly the same since I can't actually eat their delicious meals but don't feel too sorry for me because as I'm sure you can see, I don't eat too shabby myself :)
If I happen to be at my place eating and their sitting down for dinner at the same time, they'll prop their laptop where I would normally sit and we'll eat together. Yea yea go ahead, insert your (aww) here!

Speaking of family dinners, my family has always loved MEAT. Good ol' Alberta beef. This meal from a summer back consisted of bbq steak, beef ribs and kielbasa sausage (see that salad in the background? That would be my contribution!). However now that I've ingrained in them what their diet should consist of, they've cut back on their consumption of red meat.What's that bottle there? Bromelain. Bromelain is an enzyme that is extracted from pineapple and helps as a digestive aid when you consume things such as these protein rich caveman meals. Taking one of these pills and chewing my food (more on that another time) is how I don't walk (or roll) away feeling like I've eaten a rock!

Watching my mom blow out her birthday candles! Skype is genius. Now if only you could teleport cake through the computer...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with White Truffle Oil

Just before the holidays I made my weekend trip to the Farmer's Market and came across something that was completely new to me - Jerusalem Artichokes, to be exact. Earth-toned in color, knobby and covered in dirt (the way REAL food should be!), it was definitely not the prettiest vegetable I'd ever seen. Curiosity (as usual) got the best of me as I approached the farmer selling them to ask my 21 questions (What are these!? How long is the season for them? How do you like to cook them and what do you like to eat with them!?). If I can give you one tip, it's to never be afraid to talk to the farmers and ask them any questions you have about their products (okay maybe don't actually ask them 21 questions as I'm sure they are tired enough from getting up at 5am to load their trucks and get to the market on time!). Guaranteed though, they'll be more than happy to answer your questions. Their product is like their art - hard work, time and skill brought together to produce something that they're so proud of.

So as the farmer’s telling me how he likes to eat them (raw!) the lady standing next to me was shovelling 2 lbs worth of jerusalem artichokes into her bag and enthusiastically said to us "I like to scrub em, leave the skins on and roast them with salt and pepper, they're delicious!" Somebody that excited about a tuber? That's all I needed to know. Also known as sunchokes they are a good source of iron, phosphorus and potassium. In its raw state I found them similar in texture to water chestnuts and potatoes. When cooked they have an incredible flavour I can't even describe with hints of sweetness and nuttiness. I thought anise type flavours would pair well with them so I incorporated fresh fennel and tarragon into my recipe.

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with White Truffle Oil
Makes 3 litres

1 1/2 pounds Jerusalem Artichokes, peeled and sliced
1 cup leeks, small diced
l large shallot (1/4 cup), small diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cup fennel, small diced (reserve fennel fronds for garnish)
¼ cup butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1L vegetable stock
1L chicken stock
1 tbsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped
sea salt t.t (to taste)
fresh cracked black pepper t.t (to taste)
1 cup cream (optional)
white truffle oil to finish (optional)

1. Melt butter in a large pot, add olive oil.
2. Add leeks and shallot and sweat until softened (do not allow to color/caramelize).
3. Add garlic and sweat until softened. Add jerusalem artichokes and cover with vegetable stock and chicken stock. Bring to a boil then simmer until jerusalem artichokes are
soft. Add tarragon.
4. Using a hand blender puree until smooth or puree in a blender in small batches.
5. If using cream, add, return to a boil and remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.
6. Ladle soup into bowls, add a few drops of truffle oil and a sprig of tarragon or fennel fronds to garnish.

*Tip* Before serving, pour hot water into bowls to warm, it makes all the difference!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


*Picture taken circa 2004 after our black box final exam (random box of ingredients where you have 1 hr to complete a dish with specific requirements such as turning a potato *see #5)

I have come to the conclusion:

1.There's a good chance Nat and Lil Mam are going to kill me for putting this picture up.

2. There's a good chance I'm going to wake up tomorrow morning, look at this and think what was I thinking putting this picture up.

3. I realize I look like I'm 12, that was 6 years ago so in actuality I was 20 at the time.

4. Why am I the only one out of the three of us wearing that darn neck tie.

5. Who would ever want to eat a potato or mushroom that I handled for a good 5 minutes. (Hand carved into a swirl pattern or barrel shape)

6. Why did they make us wear checkered pants that rode up so high and were so tight I had to leave them unbottoned. It's culinary school, it's a given you'll gain 10lbs, who makes pants so small?

Culinary Tour through Spain

Toledo, Spain

Banff Snowboard Trip

Christmas 2011- My nickname from the girls is Lola, when Nat traveled through Thailand she found a shirt in an outdoor market that said "Lola is turning 5, come celebrate, cake included!".

I met Amanda and Natasha in Culinary School and they are still two of my greatest friends. Though we all live in different cities whenever we get together there's not a second to breathe as we catch up on life and talk about anything and everything to do with food. (Usually over a couple bottles of wine and good food). Can't wait for our next adventure!