A Modern Salad

A Modern Salad

Our homie, Colin, received a “modern salad” cookbook and it has been an ongoing source of amusement. I’m not sure if this salad qualifies as “modern” but a variation of it is currently available at everyone’s favourite national restaurant chain. Easy to prepare and lovely to look at, this roast beet salad is a certified banger.

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King Trumpet Mushrooms

King Trumpet Mushrooms

As a young vegetarian I realized that if I wanted to enjoy chewy food textures I would have to get over my aversion to mushrooms. I slowly integrated fungi into my diet and ten years later I guess I qualify as a mushroom fan. That said, I must confess that I’ve only encountered the regular grocery store varieties – buttons and browns, portabella, shitake, oyster and the like. When I stumbled on a package of King Trumpet mushrooms at Chinese grocery store, I took the plunge.

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Roasted Oyster Mushrooms with Caramelized Onions and Celeriac puree (or the other way around)

Roasted Oyster Mushrooms with Caramelized Onions and Celeriac puree (or the other way around)

I spent most of my summer foraging for food. Not in the romantic way – there were no morels or Saskatoon berries to be had – but rather in the manner accustomed to college students and bachelors. Having sustained myself on méli-mélo and salty, smoke injected veggie dogs (the love affair re-ignited by a spicy Trinidadian condiment, Geeta Green Seasoning), the change of seasons seems to have spurred some primordial urge to cook. This was my first experience with celery root and I was very pleased with the slightly sweet, light and aromatic mash. I paired the puree with my favourite mushroom for roasting and caramelized onions.

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Cousin’s Deli, Winnipeg

Cousin's Deli, Winnipeg

Most who labour in the independent music world can attest that compensation is frequently of the intrinsic variety. It’s a rationalization I’m comfortable with. As a borderline not unsuccessful touring musician, I’ve had the opportunity to visit some unfamiliar places and meet some incredible people. Friendships are forged over countless suppers and beers and greasy breakfasts. Winnipeg has been one of my more regular music-related destinations and my hospitable rap homies have introduced me to most of the notorious local haunts. There are spots numerous and memorable including the Falafel and Pancake House, Massawa, The Nook, Toad in the Hole and the really dope bakery/restaurant that Gruff used to work at. There is one place however, that I make a point of visiting every time I’m in the Peg — a neighbourhood fixture and popular destination, Cousins Deli.

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Oh Lutefisk!

Oh Lutefisk!

With the same particularly Canadian impulses that have preserved and celebrated archaic forms of Ukrainian dance, my family has retained some cultural remnants from a long forgotten past.  Year after year, my mostly Scandanavian family comes together on December 24th to share a traditional Norwegian Christmas meal. Although I am not familiar with the origin or significance of the dishes they seem sufficiently unusual to warrant documentation.

The star of the meal is a jelly-like fishy substance called Lutefisk.  The fish (usually cod) is treated with lye and salt, packaged, frozen and distributed to lusty Norwegians all over the place. It is boiled and consumed with a generous drizzle of melted butter, salt and pepper. Due to its unappealing appearance and off-putting texture, eating lutefisk has become a rite of passage of sorts. Our dates and partners capable of swallowing the stuff are heaped with praise and are fast tracked for family approval.

 

The dish never fails to please is a flat bread of sorts.  Lefse is a distant relative of the crepe/tortilla family, and is prepared by mixing cold mashed potatoes with flour, cream and (depending who you talk to) shortening. The dough is then rolled into thin rounds and cooked on a griddle. It is a time consuming, labour intensive process, wrought with hazards for the first time lefse maker. The end product however is tender and delicious, usually eated with butter and sugar.

Yum.

My favourite of the Norwegian Christmas delicacies is Potato Sausage. Every year without fail, my aunt and uncle make a big batch of these sausages, working to perfect their recipe. I am told the sausage mixture contains half potato with equal parts beef and pork and seasoning. It is baked in the oven until the skins provide that delightful pop when you bite into them. After ten years of maintaing quite a diligent vegetarian diet, I compromised it all for the seductive Potatoe Sausage.

I regret nothing.

equal parts curiosity and skepticism: part deux

equal parts curiosity and skepticism: part deux

A busy shift at the sushi bar is one of a handful of environmental and social triggers that stoke my beer lust. It’s not unusual for me to finish up my shift with a beer or two at work, followed by pints at O’sheas or Flint or some other hospitable locale.  If there are beers in the fridge when I get home, chances are I’ll drink them too. That said, keeping a few of the de-alcoholised variety on hand seems like a rather prudent idea. 

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best biscuits and The Purity Cookbook

best biscuits and The Purity Cookbook

We’ve been making this recipe since forever. Sourced from my mom’s original high school home-economics cookbook — stained, tattered and busting out from its coil binding — these biscuits evoke fond memories of home and grandparents (remind me to track down that recipe for orange raisin muffins as well). 

The Purity Cookbook originally published in 1917 has been revamped over the decades with the 1967 Centennial edition re-issued by Whitecap Books in 2001.  The re-issue has an endorsement from Jean Paré — the Canadian cooking equivelant of Glen Scrimshaw — but don’t let that deter you. It is full of old timey recipes and quaint (and at times humourous) tips.  Cop that shit. Most often referred to for traditional cookie, biscuit, bread and butter tart recipes… here is the biscuit recipe ver batim:

A tea biscuit dough should be soft but not sticky. A little kneading improves the quality of the biscuits, but should be done with a gentle touch as too much handling tends to make them tough.

Tea Biscuits, BASIC RECIPE

Preheat oven to 450F
Blend or sift together
     2 cups Pre-Sifted PURITY All-Purpose Flour
     4 teaspoons baking powder
     1 teaspoon salt
Cut in finely
     1/3 cup shortening
Add
     3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
Stir with a fork to make a soft dough.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently 8 to 10 times. Roll or pat to desired thickness, (biscuits will be doubled in height when baked). Cut out with a floured cutter.

Place biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet, close together for soft-sided biscuits or about 1″ apart for crusty-sided biscuits.
Bake in preheated 450F oven for 12 to 15 minutes.
Yield: 18 to 20 – 1 3/4″ biscuits.

Roasted Mushrooms with Braised Lentils

Roasted Mushrooms with Braised Lentils

This lentil recipe was hijacked from food tv and has been tweaked to eliminate meat (I’m sure the original version prepared with bacon is delicious). This was a tasty, winter inspired meal, but  rather monochromatic. Next time I make it I might try to accompany it with a vegetable of some sort.

Roasting Mushrooms:
Toss mushrooms in a shallow baking pan with olive oil, thyme, garlic and salt and pepper. Roast in a 450 degree F oven until brown, around 15 minutes.

Pre-Cooking Lentils:
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed and drained
1/2 small onion
1 stalk celery
1 carrot
2 bay leaves
sprigs of thyme

Braising Lentils:
olive oil
1 finely diced carrot
1/2 finely diced onion
1 clove garlic, finely minced
maple syrup
veggie stock
butter
cream
chopped parsley
thyme

Pre-Cooking Lentils
Combine lentils, onion, celery, carrot, and bay leaves in a medium saucepot. Cover with cold water to measure 1 inch above level of lentils. Simmer, uncovered until lentils are cooked and liquid has mostly evaporated, about 20-25min. Season with salt and pepper.

Braising Lentils
Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add carrots, onion, thyme and garlic and sweat for a few minutes. Add some of the stock and lentils; bring to simmer and reduce until liquid reaches a light sauce consistency. Add more stock as required. To finish, gently stir in butter, cream, maple syrup and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

equal parts curiosity and skepticism

equal parts curiosity and skepticism

I drink a lot of beer.  It is one of my preferred social activities and has become a fixture of my daily routine.  I am fully aware of its full menu of detrimental health affects and associated social ills, yet find an unsettling comfort in this cool, brassy liquid.  

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