Friday, June 29, 2012

spicy ranch shrimp kebabs

This is another recipe that I will be submitting for the Hidden Valley Ranch Recipe Challenge.  With it being bbq season, I had to do something that I could just throw on the grill.  My first attempt with these were with regular Ranch dressing but hubby thought the spice of the Spicy Ranch would be the perfect kick.  He was right!  The heat was just enough, not overpowering at all, and even Q was able to eat it.  Out of all the recipes that I had come up with, this was unanimously the favourite amongst my family and friends.  Hope it's a winner!

Spicy Ranch Shrimp Kebabs

1 pound shrimp, chopped
1/4 cup spicy ranch dressing
1 TB garlic
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 onion, diced OR 2 green onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups panko

Mix together shrimp with all the ingredients.  Shape into kebabs using the end of a wooden spoon.  Place on a grill until the shrimp are cooked.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

cherry tomato ranch meatballs

Here is one of the recipes that I will be submitting for the Hidden Valley Ranch Recipe Challenge.  I had loads of cherry tomatoes in the fridge and wanted to incorporate them somehow with ground turkey.   I love the idea of stuffed anything, it's just such a great surprise for the person enjoying the food.  I added the regular ranch dressing to the meatballs and it added a creaminess to the meat that you can't get with soaked bread or milk.  This was a favourite amongst most of my taste testers.  I would love to know what you think!

Cherry Tomato Ranch Meatballs

1 pound ground turkey
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/4 cup ranch dressing
bunch cilantro, chopped
12 cherry tomatoes

Mix together the turkey and spices until well combined.  Divide the meat into 12 balls and shape them around the tomatoes.  Place on a greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

cheesy ranch fried pickles

Earlier this month, I was contacted to participate in the Hidden Valley Ranch Recipe Challenge.   This involves creating a recipe using the signature ranch dressing or the two new flavours, cheesy and spicy.  This contest is against 15 Canadian food bloggers and besides a prize of a Kitchen Aid mixer or gift certificates to Williams Sonoma, the winning recipe will be demoed live by Chef Ned Bell at the Calgary Stampede.  The Stampede is one of my favourite events so to win would be pretty awesome.

Over the next few days, I will be blogging about a few of my creations.  I would love to know what you think!

The first is fried pickles, completely inspired by my visit to Calgary's second Smashburger location.  I loved them the first time I went there, and when I took Q to the newest location, he loved them more than I did.

Instead of dipping the pickles in eggs, I used the Cheesy Ranch dressing as the binder for the panko breading.  This added a great flavour and the dressing doubled as a dip for the crispy bites.

Cheesy Ranch Fried Pickles

4 large pickles, sliced
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup Hidden Valley Ranch, cheddar flavour
1 cup panko

Place the sliced pickles between two pieces of paper towel and pat them dry.  Place the flour, dressing and panko in three separate bowls.  Dredge the pickles in flour, then the dressing and then panko.  Fry until golden brown. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

sole meuniere for jc100

Culinary icon Julia Child would have turned 100 years old this year in August.  To honour her, a national campaign, JC100 was launched with bloggers, chefs and many others participating as part of a community and paying tribute to Julia.
Every week, a new recipe from Julia's collection is released and redone by the JC100 community.  I have been meaning to participate but haven't been able to until this week, with Sole Meuniere. 

Sole Meuniere was Julia's first meal in Paris and inspired her love affair with food.  This is the perfect recipe outlining the French cooking philosophy of simplicity.  This dish was a hit in our house, especially with hubby.  It didn't take long to make, was easy and tasted delicious!
Fillets of Sole Meuniere
(Fillets of sole sauteed in butter)
Excerpted from The Way to Cook by Julia Child. Copyright © 1989 by Julia Child. Reprinted with permission from the publisher Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

For 6 servings

6 skinless and boneless sole, 4 to 6 ounces each and 3/8" thick
salt and pepper
1/2 cup or so flour in a plate
4 TB clarified butter
2 TB minced fresh parsley
4 to 6 TB unsalted butter
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Dust the fillets lightly on each side with salt and pepper.  The moment before sauteeing, rapidly drop each into the flour to coat both sides, and shake off the excess.  Set the frying pan over high heat and film with 1/16 inch of clarified butter.  When the butter is very hot but not browning, rapidly lay in as many fillets as will fit easitly, leaving a little space between each.  Saute a minute or two on each side.  The fish is done when just springy rather than squashy to the touch of your finger.  Immediately remove from the pan to warm plates or a platter.

Sprinkle each fillet with parsley.  Wipe the frying pan clean, set over high heath, and add the fresh butter; heat until bubbling and pour over the fillets - the parsley will bubble up nicely.  Decorate with lemon wedges, and serve at once.

Friday, June 22, 2012

gravity espresso and wine bar

With most of my cousins in town last week following my sister's wedding in Vancouver, we decided to do a quick get together, sans kids.

Someone suggested Gravity Espresso and Wine Bar and after hearing all the great things on twitter and food blogs, I was happy to go check it out.
Located in Inglewood, this is a cute little place.  We went on a Thursday and found it quiet, perfect for the eleven of us to be a little rowdy.  The art on the wall was great, and inspired conversation.
Not really in the mood for coffee, I tried out the hot chocolate, made with chocolate from Papa Chocolat.  It was a good hot chocolate, not too sweet and decorated beautifully.
The best part of the night was the flourless chocolate cake.  Decadent, rich and so satisfying, I would go back just for that!
Other desserts that they had were the carrot cake and cheesecake in jars.  I was really hoping to try the coconut cake but they didn't have any that day.

I loved that the owner, Andy, came over to make sure we were doing okay.  That personal touch is always appreciated.  His attention to detail in creating ambiance for the restaurant was noted when the quiet place that we had walked into filled with music after he arrived.

That chocolate cake?  I think it will be calling me back!

Gravity Espresso & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 17, 2012

bbq beef ribs - happy father's day!

Happy Father's Day!  Hope all the wonderful loving fathers got spoiled today!  We spoiled our dads with a bbq.  When Barbecues Galore sent me this gift basket a little while ago, hubby was itching to grill.  We cracked open the basket and did our usual short ribs and chicken. 
I saved the barbecue sauce (Gopher Guts and Dr. McGrill's) though, planning to make those huge beef ribs like the ones from Tony Roma's.  If we were going to do ribs, Father's Day was the day to do it.

We wanted to have the meat just fall off the bone so we had them in the oven early.  Once the meat was nice and soft, we slathered them with barbecue sauce and put them on the bbq.  The result was a tender, saucy, finger-licking piece of meat. 

Barbecued Beef Ribs

Beef ribs
Your favourite bbq sauce

Cut the ribs into pieces and season with salt and pepper.  Brush with barbecue sauce, wrap with foil and place in a roasting pan.  Cook in a 275 degree oven for 3.5 to 4 hours.  Once the meat looks like it is cooked and falling off the bone, place on bbq basting with the bbq sauce.  Enjoy!

Friday, June 15, 2012

burfi for my sister's wedding

It was so busy and crazy last week as we spent some time in Vancouver for my sister's wedding.  It was kind of a reunion of sorts, people flying in from Calgary, Toronto, Austin, Dubai.... We also spent time with our Vancouver family and I got to meet nieces and nephews I hadn't met before.  It was nice getting to know our lovely new family as well, my sister's husband's.  I still can't believe she's married!

You cannot have an indian wedding without sweets, and boy, did we have a lot!  Everyone contributed in making something.  From carrot cake to nan khatai, we had something to please every palate.
My contribution was burfi.  Burfi is a sweet confection made from milk and sugar, reminiscent of fudge.  Hubby's aunt made a really tasty batch last year for my sister-in-laws wedding and she was happy to show me how to make it.  Thank you N!
To my sister and her husband, my wish for you is loads of love and happiness!  I'm so happy you found each other.  Love you lots!

500 grams milk powder
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 cup water
1/2 pound of unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 can of evaporated milk
red food colouring
nuts, optional

Combine the sugar with 1 cup of water and allow it to boil for about half an hour, until it gets to the soft ball stage.

Remove the pot from the stove and add the butter, mixing until it has melted.  Add the milk powder and mix well.  Add 1/2 can of evaporated milk. The mixture should be like a thick batter.

In a 9" x 13" parchment-line pan, pour in half the mixture and push it to the corners so that it covers the entire dish.  Add a few drops of food colouring to the other half until you have a nice pink hue.  Pour this pink mixture onto the white layer.  At this point, you can sprinkle some nuts.

Refrigerate for one day before you cut it into pieces.  Do not cover while refrigerated to ensure that the burfi dries well.  Makes 40 to 50 pieces depending on the size.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

famoso pizza - mckenzie towne

One of our favourite pizza places is Famoso Pizzeria.  We frequent the location in Mission often so I was really excited to check out their newest location in McKenzie Towne.  Hubby, Q and I checked out the place before their launch on May 31st.  Upon being seated, appetizers of Roasted Kalamata Olives were brought to the table.  I'm not a fan of olives but hubby really enjoyed these.  The olives were topped with feta cheese and a spicy olive oil.

So that we could try out a few different pizzas, we ordered pizzettas, which were half the size of their regular 11" pizzas.  We knew that Q would love the San Andreas since it was topped with avocados and we were right!  The pizza was topped with chili-lime chicken, tomatoes, onions and those creamy avocados.  The drizzle of sour cream was the perfect touch.
Hubby's favourite was the Sweet BBQ Chicken, one we had tried previously.  The pizza was topped with tomatoes and red onions and had a really nice sweet and tangy bbq sauce. 
My new favourite pizza at Famoso's is the Smoked Salmon. This, along with the San Andreas is part of their Spring / Summer feature.  It's the perfect summer dish with the fresh tasting salmon and the dill sauce.
The meal was amazing and just when we thought it couldn't get any better, we had dessert.  We were all blown away by the Dolce and Banana.  The bananas were oven roasted and topped with caramel sauce, gelato and pecans.  Hubby doesn't have much of a sweet tooth but he loved this dish and we polished it off.  Q loved his Fiasco Gelato, so much so that he didn't want to share.  We also tried the nutella pizza - nutella in fresh pizza dough, so good!  We ended the meal with Affogato, a shot of espresso with a scoop of gelato.  I really enjoyed the contrast of the hot coffee with the cold gelato.

With all of the great offerings, I am sure that their newest location will be a hit!  Now if only I could get one closer to where I live...

Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria - McKenzie Towne on Urbanspoon
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