Friday, July 30, 2010

Cafe World Challenge Week 21

I had bumper week with three recipes completed. It was almost four, I wanted to make a fruit salad, but every time I opened the fridge or looked in the fruit bowl my supply had been obliterated. I suppose I shouldn't complain that my family likes fruit.

So recipes this week were for Super Sliders, Spicy Devil Eggs and Ice Cream Sundae using homemade ice cream.

Super Sliders

If you live in Canada, you can find the cute little sliders buns and burgers at Presidents Choice stores.
I really love their brand and am always impressed with the PC products.

This dish seems to disappear and return in the Cafe World Cookbook. I'll included it, it was in the cookbook when I made it over the weekend and its gone again now.

I used the PC slider buns and burgers with lettuce and cheddar cheese. I added a dollop of my homemade tomato sauce, which made them delish. So I'll share that recipe quickly. I use it with pasta, mixed with veg or on top of fish. I made a big batch and it is always a crowd pleaser and super simple.

Versatile Tomato Sauce

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 tomatoes chopped
1 tsp salt
Dried herbs to taste.

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook about 10 minutes, until tender. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add tomatoes, salt and herbs and cook until tomatoes break down and sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.

I used a marinara herb blend this time, but like basil or oregano too. I've also added fresh basil when I make a smaller batch that will get used up in one meal.

Spicy Devil Eggs

I translated this as Devilled Eggs, which I love. I make these every month or two, usually as a lunch or as part of a casual family dinner. They are also great for pot luck. I made mine with diced deli meat that was in the fridge and added some pickles too. Its so simple you just make hard boiled eggs, scoop out the yolk, mix with mayo and Dijon mustard and anything else that tickles your fancy and pipe into the egg white halves. I use a plastic bag with the corner snipped off for my piping.
I found this recipe that seems to resemble my eggs I made for a lunch with the kids. I forgot I was sharing these with you all, else I would've made them prettier, Sorry!!!!

Ice Cream Sundae

The showpiece for this week, my homemade ice cream. I like making ice cream if I can play with the flavours and make something you can't get in the store. This time I made a Praline ice cream. It should have been praline and ice wine, but I didn't add enough ice wine to affect the flavour. It was an ice wine and brandy blend that I thought would be good. I made the sundae with dark chocolate dessert topping and sprinkled with praline mixed nuts.

Praline Ice Cream


Use equal weights of chopped blanched almonds and sugar
I had 120 g of nuts so I used 120 g of sugar
lemon juice

Heat sugar and some lemon juice in a small saucepan until the mixture develops a deep caramel colour. Add the almonds and stir until they are browned. Pour the mixture onto a greased baking sheet (I used a thin layer of oil) and allow to cool. When cold and brittle, grind up with a mortar and pestle or bash into smaller pieces using whatever implements you have on hand.

Ice cream:

500 ml milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
1 egg, beaten
800ml whipping/double cream
5 ml vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
prepared praline
liqueur or brandy to taste (optional)

Heat the milk in a saucepan. Combine the sugar and cornflour and add to the milk, stirring constantly.
Boil, uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and cool slightly. Carefully add the egg while whisking constantly. Add the salt and praline.
Cool the mixture completely and stir in 500 ml of the cream and the vanilla. Place the ice cream in the freezer to start freezing. After about 30 minutes to 1 hour, remove the ice cream and break up any ice crystals with a fork. Stiffly whip the remaining 300 ml of cream and fold into the ice cream with the liqueur, if using. Freeze again until stiff.

Cafe World Cookbook

It seems they added Escargot right at the back last week and I didn't notice it. This will be made for hubbie, don't think I'd want some...or they could remove it before I ever have to consider it. HINT, HINT!!!!!

Up Next: My beef will be done corning, I'll cook that up and hopefully make some fresh healthy fruit salad to offset those unhealthy jelly donuts.

Progress: 42/74

Disclaimer: Image owned by Zynga. This site is not owned by Zynga. This site is not the owner of the intellectual property

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Body Armour Alteration

I've just completed a really fun and interesting project....altering body armour for a friend.

He has two vests which he uses for work and he needed help mending one with a ripped seam and altering another that was two small. He was close to a fire and the thread melted along one side (the blue vest) and the nylon fabric shredded, so I had to make a repair that would be strong and not compromise fit. He'd bought some rubber backed nylon, upholstery thread and Velcro, so the projects just cost me a few jean needles, which were on my machine anyway.

I moved the side straps on the brown vest and the vest fit again through the middle. After a fitting, he mentioned that he's always hated his lower stomach being exposed when wearing his vests, not too safe. I extended the shoulder straps and applied extra Velcro and he now has better coverage.

It is clear that the vests are not his size, but hopefully they now fit his 6'6" (I think??) frame much better. Since I don't have an industrial machine, some of the stitching isn't too pretty, but I reinforced all seams and I've been assured its the strength that counts.

A fun job and I've been promised a fun barbecue and night out as reward.

Extended shoulder straps

Moved the side strap

Extended shoulder straps

Friday, July 23, 2010

Cafe World Challenge Week 20

This has been my Japanese week. I attended a cooking class called "Made in Japan" and thoroughly enjoyed it and I made one of Cafe World's Japanese theme dishes.

The class was at my local LCBO, the liquor stores here in Ontario. You can see on their website that only a limited number of their stores offer the classes, so I'm lucky that my closest store is on the list. I would seriously recommend these classes to readers in Ontario, I can't speak for the other locations, but I was impressed with the class and had tons of fun. This class wasn't hands-on, you got to sit back, watch, ask lots of questions and then enjoy the food and also the wine and beer pairings. It was enough food for a meal. I will do this again, but bring my husband or a friend for a fun night out. The other benefit of such a class is being able to ask about ingredients and where to find them. I was able to discover an Asian market that was cheaper and bigger than the one I'd been shopping at. My original intention was to learn about sushi making, so I feel I can now confidently take on this challenge. The instructor and LCBO hosts suggested that they might have a hands-on sushi making and design class in the winter sometime, so I will definitely look out for that one.
Here is the full menu of dishes prepared at the class:
-Salmon Sushi Roll with cream cheese
-California Roll with crab
-Shrimp dumplings with butter sauce (not prepared at class)
-Spring salad with ginger dressing
-Miso Soup
-Teriyaki Chicken
-Steamed sushi rice with coconut flakes

Chashu Ramen

Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup served with various toppings. In this instance the major topping is Chashu, simmered pork. In the above picture you can see that the Cafe World version has the pork, some fish, nori, bamboo shoot, scallion and egg topping, so they pretty much went Full Monty. I chose to stick to basics and only used the pork, bamboo shoots and green onion. I used a great book for all the recipes, The Japanese Kitchen by Hiroko Shimbo. I got this book from the library and did some web searches and found this blog, Tess's Japanese Kitchen, she is learning to cook Japanese food by cooking her way through the book. So you can find the recipes from the book on her blog. It is also worth reading through some of the comments as you get tips about finding ingredients and alternatives.

This was a multi part dish and allowed me to cook the broth the day before, then make the pork the next morning and then cook the noodles and heat the broth and enjoy that night. If you were to follow the recipes in the book and make all components from scratch, you'd be following five of the recipes (click the link to be taken to the recipe on the blog):
-Basic stock for ramen noodles (Ramen Sutokku)
-Simmered Pork for Ramen (Chashu)
-Sweet simmered bamboo shoots (Menma)
-Garlic paste (Ninniku-dare)
-Ramen broth flavoured with soy sauce (Shoyu Ramen)

That last recipe is basically the master recipe that brings all the others together and gives you the final dish. Since I don't have endless time and was only making this for my little family, I used commercial bamboo shoots and garlic paste, so I skipped the 3rd and 4th recipes.

If you're not interested in reading through the recipes, this is a summary. The noodles are served in a tasty broth with garlic paste and the soy sauce pork liquids added and then topped with sliced simmered pork, bamboo shoots and scallions.

A very tasty meal. You can see good pictures of all the components and ingredients on Tess's blog and below is my result.

Cafe World Cookbook Changes

Vampire/Werewolf theme, so Vampire Staked Steak. In line with my weekend plans...going to see Twilight Eclipse, hopefully I've given it enough time since the release to avoid a screaming mob of tween girls. Watching New Moon a day after release is not an experience I want to repeat. But I'm a sucker for the Twilight Saga so will have to see it on the big screen.

Next Up: I'm feeling like some sweet treats, so some homemade ice cream and I might try my luck at donut making. I'll be able to cook up my corned beef the week after.

Progress: 39/72

Disclaimer: Image owned by Zynga. This site is not owned by Zynga. This site is not the owner of the intellectual property

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cafe World Challenge Week 19

I finally made the lobster, I've been planning this for 6 weeks, but since I didn't want the shells in the garbage in this heat, it left me with one day in the week it could be made. The stars and our schedule finally aligned. I also made a yummy chicken recipe this week.

I'm also making corned beef from scratch. My husband thinks I'm crazy, but I had a brisket to use and I would've needed to specially order corned beef and it doesn't come cheap. So my fridge has a big crock pot with a hunk of meat brining, unfortunately my whole fridge now also smells of the garlic in the brine. The meat should be done in 2.5 weeks and I'll cook it up then. I'll share the brining process in another post.

I also have my sushi class coming up next week, which also includes other Japanese cuisine. Mmmm should be good.

Lemon Butter Lobster

I took my son shopping for the lobsters and he had a blast, the lady at the seafood counter was a little grouchy, so didn't appreciate my 4 year old telling her the ins and outs of lobsters. He gets a "Lobstering" DVD from the library at least once a month and has all the info stored in his little, yet huge, brain. Unfortunately he has a seafood sensitivity so couldn't eat any, but he did get to choose the alternative and was happy with pizza.

When it came to actually putting the lobsters in the boiling water, I left that to my hubbie, not that I'm squeamish about doing it, but I didn't trust myself with wriggling things with big claws and boiling water. I have some rather serious clumsiness issues.

I can't remember how long I cooked the bugs, maybe 5-7 minutes, but they turned out just great.

I'll share the recipe for the Lemon Butter dipping sauce, which is great with all forms of seafood or fish, but not so great for the figure.

Lemon Garlic Butter for Seafood

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
5 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
fresh parsley

Melt the butter, add the garlic and lightly saute. Squeeze in the lemon juice and add the olive oil. Turn the heat to low and simmer until the lobster is ready. Add salt to taste and chopped fresh parsley. I serve mine in a little ramekin for dipping, but it would also work for baking fish or seafood.

BBQ Chicken

I saw this recipe in an email from Kraft Kitchens and since I had some of their BBQ sauce in the fridge, I tried it out. I grilled mine in the oven since we don't own a barbecue (not my decision) and it turned out great. The flavour was awesome and the chicken was tender. I think I also did a good job of jointing a whole chicken. That was kinda fun!!!

Find the recipe here.

Cafe World Cookbook Changes

Super Sliders are out.....Vegetarian Tamales are in.

Up Next: Sushi Class and Beef still corning.

Progress: 38/71

Disclaimer: Image owned by Zynga. This site is not owned by Zynga. This site is not the owner of the intellectual property

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cafe World Challenge Week 18

I've been trying to eat a little better this week, so lots of steamed veggies and small pieces of meat or fish. So I figured I should choose a vegetarian Cafe World dish this week and I had some fun creating it.

Overstuffed Peppers

I've made stuffed peppers a number of times before. I've used couscous, rice and millet with various other yummy additions. The Cafe World version uses couscous, so couscous it'll be.

I was raiding my fridge and cupboards while I cooked, using up some of the stuff I had on hand. I planned to use up some fresh thyme in the fridge, but changed my mind and used parsley from my garden. The reason: It started raining while I was cooking, which under normal circumstances wouldn't be remarkable, but we've had a heat wave this last week, it's been hot and humid and I've usually been bathed in sweat in my kitchen, so I grabbed my scissors and ran outside in the rain to pick some parsley and cool down. People in my neighbourhood sit in their open garages on lawn chairs in the late afternoon/evening and I was witnessed by many and got a few laughs. I suppose I'll now be known as the crazy rain dancer or something.

So enough chit chat, on to my recipe. I noted the quantities I used, but my recipe is only enough to stuff about 3 peppers, so increase the amounts if needed. The couscous also makes a wonderful side dish on its own.


2 tsp vegetable oil
1 small carrot diced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch each last and dried thyme
1 1/2 cups (2 handfuls) chopped mushroom
1/2 cup couscous
1 cup sodium reduced chicken stock
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
3 medium sized peppers of any colour

Preheat oven to 375F (190C)
In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Cook carrot, onion, garlic, salt, thyme and mushrooms. Cook until carrot is softened. About 5 minutes.
Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add couscous, remove from heat and cover until the liquid has been absorbed by the couscous.
Stir in the pine nuts and parsley.
Cut tops off peppers, and place in a baking dish. Stuff peppers with the couscous mixture and replace pepper tops. Bake uncovered until the peppers start to brown, about 25 minutes.

Cafe World Cookbook changes

The Raspberry Cheesecake has been removed, a pity, and there are now Super Sliders (mini burgers) and BBQ Chicken. It seems the Super Sliders are only temporary though.

Progress: 36/71

Next Up: I'm thinking Corned Beef, but I'll have to figure out how to make it first.

Disclaimer: Image owned by Zynga. This site is not owned by Zynga. This site is not the owner of the intellectual property

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Look at Laureen

As promised I've found a selection of fashions recently worn by Laureen Harper, Canada's First Lady.

First off, my favourite, worn at the opening dinner of the G8/G20 Summit last month. I love the departure from the somber coloured suits seen in previous years. She's shown with the lovely Michelle O who looks stunning in white again.

An outfit she wore a few years back in Japan at another G20 Summit. She has a great figure and this light blue paisley silk shows it off perfectly. I also love the green and blue colour combo.

Classic black and white for The Queen's arrival in Halifax. I like Governor-General, Michaelle Jean's outfit on the left, a little groovier.

In black and red with a great hat for the International Fleet Review in Halifax.

Both front and back views of her Canada Day dress, a belted red number with another great hat.

A very cool hot pink and black dress. I really liked this look, a bit edgy but still suitable for the occasion.

Then finally the dress she wore to The Official Dinner with The Queen. It was really difficult to find a photo that showed off the dress better, so a partial view will have to do.

So what do you think? I know I've been watching the news and remarking on Laureen's wardrobe, I think she's really stepped it up and is looking great. Also who doesn't love a lady that can look great in heels and silk and then hop onto a dirt bike the next day.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Fashionable Royal Visit

With Her Majesty The Queen's visit to Canada ending today, I thought I'd show her fashion choices for the visit. I was surprised by the vibrant colour and just loved her hats.

It seems she has some rules when it comes to her hats:
- They must give her an aura of formality
- They mustn't muss her hair
- They must have an upturned brim so that people and photographers can see her face
- They must be colourful so that she stands out and people can see her

Click below to take you to a Maclean's photo slideshow of her ensembles.
Canadian Tour Royal Fashion

Which are your favourites??

I see the dress she wore last night to the State Dinner was not included. Apparently she "recycled" this dress, by having the bead work on the right sleeve changed. The gown was originally worn to a state dinner in Trinidad and Tobago last autumn and had been decorated with the country's national birds, the scarlet ibis and cocrico. The original design used sea pearls and sequins. These were removed and replaced by Swarovski crystals to form a maple leaf design.

As I'd previously mentioned, my husband attended the State Dinner last night. I saw him on TV a few times and found this very poor photo with him in it. I hope to see the official photos soon. Lucky guy!!

In the last few weeks during The Queen's visit as well as the G20/G8, I've noticed Laureen Harper's excellent fashion choices. She's Canada's First Lady. I think I'll scour the web for the outfits I've seen recently and share.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cafe World Challenge Week 17

I had a more productive week, finishing 3 more dishes. I would have done four, but had a last minute visitor the night I wanted to do lobster, so I will try and do it this weekend.
I think I must give my hubbie some royal treatment with lobster, before he attends the Official Dinner with The Queen on Monday, he's among the group of servicemen (and women) being honoured for their service in Afghanistan. I'm very proud of my Navy man.

Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian readers...hope you all had a fun and relaxing day yesterday. To my friends south of the border, Happy Independence Day also.

Herbed Halibut

Lets start by saying that wow, Halibut is expensive. I haven't bought any in a while and forked out $31 for the two pieces. So this recipe would work with any fish. I actually used a similar technique in this previous post. I love making fish in a foil package in the oven. You're basically steaming the fish and you can add all sorts of lovely flavours. It's healthy too, as you're not frying or breading.


2 large halibut or other fish fillets
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp white wine
3 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley, chive and dill)
1 clove garlic, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, sliced

Preheat oven to 180C/ 350F
Brush fish with the olive oil.
Put the fish on a sheet of aluminum foil.
Cover fillets with remaining ingredients and surround with lemon slices.
Fold over foil and seal to form a parcel. Bake until fish is no longer glossy and flakes easily.


For those who haven't had this before, it is a Middle Eastern fried ball made from ground chickpeas.

I've made them often, but found a dry "falafel mix" which you just add water to and fry, it was really easy. The falafels batter recipes I've used before are often too liquid and didn't work well. So I experimented a little and came up with a recipe that seems to work.

I like serving mine in a wholewheat pita bread with hummus or tahini and sometimes add tabbouleh. I mentioned my problems with salsa in my last post, well I have the same issue with hummus. I had 3 half used containers in my fridge and just loaded my pita with hummus and falafel, I know a chickpea overload, but a delicious one.


540 ml (19oz) can of chickpeas, drained
1 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 egg beaten
2 tbsp fresh coriander
2 tbsp fresh parsley
1 pinch cumin
1/2 tsp baking powder
salt and pepper to taste.

Combine all ingredients in a blender.
Shape into small balls. Deep-fry for about 3 minutes or brush with olive oil and bake at 350F/180C for 15 minutes.

I used both cooking methods in my experiment, in the photo below you can see that the upper falafel were fried and the lower ones were baked. I'm not a fan of excess oiliness, so I preferred the baked version, but traditionally they are fried.

Chocolate Cream Pie

I admit, the above heading should be in air quotes. The version I made didn't have real cream or possibly even real chocolate (you never know). I completely buckled to consumerism and made Cool Whip Pudding Pie.
I re-organized my baking supplies and had a box of Oreo crumbs make its way to the front and this recipe is on the box staring at me every time I open the cupboard. So what the hell, its close isn't it? For now I'll count it, I might make a real version at another time and I'll post the pic. For what its worth, it was okay, but not as good as the real thing.

Up next: I'm hoping I can finally get my lobster done

Progress: 35/70, halfway, for now at least.

Disclaimer: Image owned by Zynga. This site is not owned by Zynga. This site is not the owner of the intellectual property