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Spooning and Forking

Archive for September, 2011

Beer Part 1

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Beer lovers always seemed like a strange breed to me.  There are so many foods that initially repelled which I came to love through the right experience and acquired taste, but beer remained stubbornly unappealing to me.  I could drink a glass when called upon for social necessity (you learn early that glasses of wine, busy bars, and pretty dresses don’t mix) but would never choose it.  Then I was introduced to my friend and beer mentor Mat Sander.  I know Mat through his girlfriend, who I went on a food trip with where I also met Naddine.  It’s probably true that most of my social life and finances revolve around food.  He seemed like an ideal person to interview for our beer episode because not only did he introduce me to beer, but he knows more about beer than most people know about anything.

The trigger that started my love for beer was Matt’s philosophy that beer can be such an accessible luxury good; you can drink the best beer in the world and the cost will be on par with a lower quality wine. This immediately appealed to my shallow human nature that wants the best of everything, but once I started tasting craft beers I realized how right he was.  Although more expensive than the beer you may be used to, craft beers are still very affordable and well, well, well worth the price.  I’ve always found it difficult to quantify a $5 or $10 difference in a bottle of wine, but with beer it blows you away!

This week, I interviewed Mat to learn more about his home brewing practice.  If you missed the episode, you can download it from our iTunes store!

Additionally, we had Al Yule speak to us about Brew Brothers Brewery, a brand I was familiar with from their partnership with The District.  To learn more about their brews and where you can drink them, visit their website.

Do you drink craft beer?  Tell us how you were introduced to this better brew and what your favourite beer is!

Beer is not just useful for being delicious and getting you feeling good, it’s also good for cooking!  The cold weather is starting to move on in, so I finally feel justified turning on my oven for things other than fruit pies.  In honor of this, I’ve chosen beer BBQ chicken.

Crockpot BBQ Beer Chicken from how Sweet it is

serves about 8-10

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 large)

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

8 ounces of beer (I used a classic amber)

32 ounces of barbecue sauce

Season chicken with onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Add to crockpot, then add beer and 24 ounces of barbecue sauce. Cook on low for 8 hours, tossing once or twice if desired. After 8 hours, shred and add remaining barbecue sauce. Serve as desired.

Food Trucks

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

I heard the first rumours of food trucks in Calgary like the faint bells of a neighbourhood ice cream truck.  Remember as a kid you knew the truck was nearby and you only had so long to beg your mom for $5 for an ice cream?  Then once you had that hot $5 bill in hand you would go crazy hearing the sounds of ice cream and not knowing how far away it was.  That was my state of mind for a week after hearing Calgary was soon to be home to portable perogies.  Naturally I wanted to share this news with the entire city, since everyone I’d spoken to in the last year had been complaining about our lack of food trucks.  Although Calgarians refuse to leave their houses for anything between January and April, hoards of us were begging for portable food that would require we do just that.  It made me beam with pride over Calgary’s love for food.

To learn about food trucks I spoke to the owner of Fiasco Gelato, James Boettcher.  Along with owning the gelateria on wheels, James has become somewhat of a spokesperson for the YYC Food Trucks movement.  Check out their twitter page to learn about where the trucks are going to be next, or download their app!

Alongside the YYC Food Truck revolution was the founding of Phil and Sebastian’s pop-up coffee cart.  Brodie Thomas, our tour guide of Phil and Sebastian’s roasting plant during our coffee episode, came in to talk about to-go coffee.

If you missed the episode, go to our iTunes page to hear our podcast!  And, to hear about each of the food trucks, check out their twitters:

Alley Burger

Blam! Wich

Fiaso Gelatto

Fries and Dolls

Jojo’s BBQ

Los Compadres MX

The Noodle Bus

Perogy Boys

Pimentos Mobile Pizzeria

 

For those of you haven’t ventured out to the food trucks yes, I took some pictures so you know what you’re missing.

 

I ordered duck perogies to suit my dieting profile of never choosing against duck, and my friend had cheese and potato.  My second Food Truck experience was with the Alley Burger, just as good as when I first ate it in a back alley, but a much better overall expeirence because it wasn’t -20 this time.

Have you had some snacks from the food trucks?  Share your thoughts and photos here, or on our twitter!

For this week’s recipe I choose a companion for the goodies you can get at the food trucks: vegetables!  That’s right, try as I may to prove this wrong, man cannot live on deep-fry and burgers alone.  Fear not, I’ve found a way to make fruits and veggies portable and delicious.

Smoothies are a great way to eat your daily fruit and veg even if you’re busy and culinarily challenged!  We’re at the height of harvest season so there are tons of tasty vegetables out there and it’s easy peasy to add them into a shake and be on your way.  This recipe is highly adaptable based on your preference and availability of ingredients, so go crazy!

Chatelaine has a great guide for building smoothies, my take on their basic recipe is as follows:

Green Smoothie

Ingredients

2 cups plain yogurt

2 cups frozen blueberries

1 tbsp lime juice

1 handful of kale

1 tbsp raw honey

½ cup ice cubes

 Directions

Place all the ingredients into a high-powered blender and blend until smooth. Serves two.

Late Night Eats in Calgary

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

We’ve all eyed that lone hot dog, floating in some curiously tinged water at a vendor outside a bar. Conventional knowledge dictates that it’s important to eat something to soak up any libations you may have enjoyed through the night, but it’s difficult to trust that this questionable hot dog is going to serve as any kind of cure. Fear not Calgarians, we have it covered!

Through a course of thorough research we identified the top five Late Night Eats in Calgary. We based our choice on how well it satisfied the following criteria:

1. Open past 2pm on Friday and Saturday
2. In an area close in proximity to public transportation or availability of cabs
3. Items under $10
4. Vegetarian options
5. Portability

We took to the streets and found the following options for midnight dining!

The Big Cheese for the Notorious P.IG.
Jimmy’s A&A for chicken schwarma
CPU for a slice of pepperoni
Thai Thai for a beef satay sub (banh mai)
Tubby Dog for an A-Bomb
Chicken on the Way for the 3-piece sampler

Listen in on iTunes to learn which cuisine ranks the highest on our tasty tour!

What’s your favorite late night eats? Did we miss something?

Out of respect for our listeners safety, we’re foregoing a Late Night recipe, and recommend instead a next day recipe:

Take a box of your favorite mac and cheese. Mine is Annie’s Organic Shells & White Cheddar, maybe yours comes in a blue box, either way start boiling the noodles. Prepare as per the directions on the box. I personally like to replace milk with whole fat plain yogurt and in addition to butter, I mix in a liberal amount of blue cheese. If I’m concerned about nutrients I can mix in a small handful of leafy greens.

Pour two or three large glasses of water to enjoy with.

Thanks for tuning in! Remember to send our ATE team all your quirky curiosities about the Calgary food scene at questions@spooningandforking.ca or leave a comment or send a tweet @spooningforking.

Food Blogs

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Blogs have come to be one of the most argued over topics when it comes to discussing whether the Internet is a valid source of information. Anyone with a basic understanding of language and computers can start a blog to share their views and experiences. While this is a great outlet for the writers, how do readers know how credible the writing is?

This is especially true of food blogs because taste is so subjective. If I read a restaurant review in a newspaper, I can reasonably assume that the reviewer is working for me, the reader, and is adjusting his opinions to suit the people he is writing for and is aware of larger considerations than his own palate. With a blog, the person is probably just writing for himself, which makes it more candid but also less reliable.

I wanted to find out what resources Calgarians have besides those offered up by the major newspapers. Are food blogs a helpful source of information when seeking out new places to eat, and would I be able to afford the places they recommended?

Two blogs that piqued our interests were Calgary Foodies and Creative Juices and Solids. Calgary Foodies is ranked number one on Urban Spoon and covers a wide spectrum of restaurants in terms of style of price. The website, run by Jen Mikla and Nolan Matthias, occasionally delves into social issues and offers up some recipes as well. Their interview offered some interesting insights as to the responsibility of food bloggers and helpful hints for nervous diners.

We invited John Manzo, a professor at the University of Calgary, to speak about his blog Creative Juices and Other Solids. With the benefit of his academic background, John offers a unique outlook on Calgary’s restaurant and café scene.

If you missed the episode and want to hear these great interviews, as well as a choice quote form Anthony Bourdain, visit our iTunes page.

For aspiring food writers, we spoke about some of the guidelines that all food reviewers should follow. These rules are suggested by the Association of Food Journalists, a website I found in the book Will Write for Food, which of course is another great resource for those wishing to start food writing.

What are your favourite food blogs? Do you find them to be a reliable source for cooking and eating out, or are you loyal to print media?

For this week’s recipe I couldn’t resist taking from Smitten Kitchen. Although it is one of the best known food blogs out there and hardly needs publicity, it deserves this status. The author emphasizes two important things : seasonanlity of ingredients and ease of preparation. There are no tomatoes in January, and no truffle oil ever (unless you’re like me and think it should just maybe be slipped into most things…). She uses the medium to full advantage by suggesting all kinds of adaptations and welcomes discussion amoungst her readers. My favourite recipe I’ve made all summer is her tomatoe and corn pie, and we’re just within the season, so if you go to the farmers market right now you can have this by dinner. You will be most pleased you did.

Tomato and Corn Pie from Smitten Kitchen

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 3/4 teaspoons salt, divided
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons or 3 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus 2 teaspoons melted
3/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 3/4 pounds beefsteak tomatoes
1 1/2 cups corn (from about 3 ears), coarsely chopped by hand (my preference) or lightly puréed in a food processor, divided
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil, divided (skipped this, no harm was done)
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
7ounces coarsely grated sharp Cheddar (1 3/4 cups), divided

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 3/4 tsp salt in a bowl, then blend in cold butter (3/4 stick) with your fingertips or a pastry blender until it resembles coarse meal. Add milk, stirring until mixture just forms a dough, then gather into a ball.

Divide dough in half and roll out one piece on a well-floured counter (my choice) or between two sheets of plastic wrap (the recipe’s suggestion, but I imagined it would annoyingly stick to the plastic) into a 12-inch round (1/8 inch thick). Either fold the round gently in quarters, lift it into a 9-inch pie plate and gently unfold and center it or, if you’re using the plastic warp method, remove top sheet of plastic wrap, then lift dough using bottom sheet of plastic wrap and invert into pie plate. Pat the dough in with your fingers trim any overhang.

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. If your kitchen is excessively warm, as ours is, go ahead and put the second half of the dough in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Whisk together mayonnaise and lemon juice.

Cut an X in bottom of each tomato and blanch in a large pot of boiling water 10 seconds. Immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to cool. Peel tomatoes, then slice crosswise 1/4 inch thick and, if desired (see Notes above recipe), gently remove seeds and extra juices. Arrange half of tomatoes in crust, overlapping, and sprinkle with half of corn, one tablespoon basil, 1/2 tablespoon chives, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and one cup of grated cheese. Repeat layering with remaining tomatoes, corn, basil, chives, salt, and pepper. Pour lemon mayonnaise over filling and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Roll out remaining piece of dough into a 12-inch round in same manner, then fit over filling, folding overhang under edge of bottom crust and pinching edge to seal. Cut 4 steam vents in top crust and brush crust with melted butter (2 teaspoons). Bake pie until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes, then cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Do ahead: Pie can be baked 1 day ahead and chilled. Reheat in a 350°F oven until warm, about 30 minutes.

Meat

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

I just got back from a fairly lengthy sojourn in Spain. Two years ago, I had the best oranges of my life while in Spain and couldn’t get them out of my mind until I went back this summer. This time, each orange was met with disappointment. I stopped buying oranges a couple weeks in. One week before we left Barcelona, my husband asks me, “what is the first thing you want to eat when we get back?” My answer: “one of those dry-aged steaks from Second to None”.

We have the great luxury of living in a place where our meat is some of the best in the world. Up until my first trip to Spain 2 years ago, I went through life taking for granted the quality of the meat I had access to. Then I started consciously evaluating the meat I eat. What a difference. We started shopping at Second to None Meats. What I love so much about going in there is that you can have a conversation about the meat, about cooking, about traveling, about the weather, about Calgary, about Toronto, about local restaurants…and then you walk out with the most supremely tasty product. One day, for example, we go in to get some steaks to BBQ. We chose these sirloin steaks. Eric, a trained high-end chef who has worked in some of the most exclusive places in Canada, suggested we try the dry-aged version instead. He told us they were a little bit more in cost, but worth it. We tried them. Oh dear. They were amazing. We went back at least monthly for them, but of course they are dry-aged and so when they are gone they are gone until the next batch.

Well, the next batch happened to be when I got back from Spain. Hubby goes in and gets these steaks. I BBQ’ed them with just a light dusting of our own mixed up steak rub. It was perfection. Utter perfection. So much so that I cannot remember the side vegetables I prepared to go along with the steak, and this was two nights ago.

I understand that not everyone can afford to buy their meat exclusively from Second to None Meats, but the thing about their product is that not only is it of the highest quality, you can be sure that it is ethically and morally raised from the beginning to the end. And you can actually taste it. If you are not a red meat eater, try their Maple Hill chicken. Seriously, the best chicken ever. I was in there yesterday, and another customer commented on how it is the best chicken.

If you simply cannot afford naturally raised meats bought from butchers and small shops, ask your grocers why they don’t have naturally raised meats at an affordable price. The more people demand this quality at an accessible cost, the more likely it is to happen. Always be inquisitive about where your food comes from, especially your meat. After all, these are animals and although we eat them that doesn’t mean they have to endure suffering and hardship.

Check out our Meat episode on iTunes. Shane from Second to None Meats chats about where their product comes from and why it is so good.

Recipe

Veal & Beef Goat Cheese Pistachio Burgers

1 lb. ground veal
1/2 lb. ground lean beef
2 eggs Maple Hill or Vita-Egg
1 small pkg. plain goat cheese
1/2 cup crushed pistachios
salt & pepper to taste

Mix the meat, pistachios and eggs together. Once this is mixed well, fold in chunks of the goat cheese into the meat mixture. Form hamburger patties and BBQ.

Suggested toppings include caramelized onions and some shredded beets.

I was going to post a rib marinade but thought I would post what I made last night instead.