Media Outings: Je t’aime en Chococlat & Wafu on Dragon’s Den

One fun perk about running a food blog is getting the occasional media event invite. After a while they sort of all blend together. Well this time I got 2 really original invitations I could not pass up: one by Je t’aime en Chocolat, the 3rd annual chocolate fair the weekend before St-Valentines Day, and Wafu, a Montreal company that specializes in Japanese dressings and mayonnaise, which recently appeared on Dragon’s Den.

The Je t’aime en Chococlat event is brimming with artisan chocolates from all over the Province of Quebec. I was spoiled with so many sample and the 5 friends that came with me enjoyed the wonderful treats each kiosk gave away. Ganache and flavored caramels seemed to be quite in fashion. Some of the artisans present were:

chocolate loot 3

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Burnt Eggplant Salad with Green Tahini Dressing

Are you like me right now, trying to catch my breath, running around getting the last gifts, ingredients, baking and getting everything ready by tomorrow? Deep breath, it will all work out. If you are expected to bring a dish to a pot-luck in the next days and are still at a loss of what to make may I suggest this Burnt Eggplant Salad with Green Tahini Dressing. In the last months I have brought this dish to 2 parties and it was a huge hit both times. And visually it is simply stunning.

Burnt Eggplant Salad with Green Tahini Dressing

May Peace, Joy, Hope and Happiness be yours during this Holiday Season and throughout the New Year

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Blackberries Three Ways: a main course

Pick one fruit or vegetable and prepare it three ways. These were the directives we were given for this month’s Creative Cooking Crew challenge. Since it is summer there is no shortage of options. The tough part is actually picking that one ingredient.

My original idea was blueberries but I could not find nice ones in my neighborhood (I am embarrased to say) but I saw some lovely blackberries. I have always found them to be so mysterious and I would say they picked me! For an extra challenge my three recipes componse the main course. No desserts here. My menu consists of a pizza, a salad and of course a refreshing cocktail.

blackberry 042

blackberry 021

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Jiro Dreams of Sushi and the Shogun sauce

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For some reason my title makes me think of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (rolls off the tongue the same way). But this post is not related and and I will be jumping from one topic to another. You are warned, just go with the flow hi hi.

I am so happy to share my second post and participation with a new monthly group I have discovered called Food ‘n Flix. Once a month a ‘host’ picks a movie of their choice that pertains to food. Everyone watches the movie and then makes a recipe which the film inspired. It can be any recipe. This month’s pick is hosted by Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla. She picked a documentary style movie called Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Fried Eggplant Garlic Parsley Dressing

Happy Sunday everyone! I am so very excited today to talk to you about a cookbook that is about to hit the shelves in November 2012. I was very lucky to get an advanced copy by the author, my dear friend and fellow food blogger Faith of the blog An Edible Mosaic. Faith’s cookbook is an absolutely wonderful collection of traditional Middle Eastern dishes. I was so honored to receive a copy of the book because I think the message Faith wants to convey is very close to my blog’s purpose: it is for food lovers, restaurant goers and home cooks who would like to explore a more exotic palate in their plate.

Giveaway: I have a copy of the An Edible Mosaic Cookbook to give away. Check out the end of the post to learn how to enter the draw.

I have been lucky to have made friends over the last 20 years with people from various parts of the Middle East so I have been exposed to classic Lebanese, Syrian, Iranian, Palestinian and so forth dishes. The cuisine has nothing to do with your local Shish Taouk sandwich shop. Faith did not grow up accustomed to these dishes either, not until she met her now husband Mike who is Middle Eastern. She learned to cook these fabulous dishes during the first 6 months of her marriage in her mother-in-law’s kitchen. Faith brought back this treasure of recipes to North America.

In this cookbook you will find such classics as hummus, kebabs and pistachio drenched sweets. But you will discover a whole plethora of delectable flavors which I hope you will try like tabbouleh, saffron rice, stuffed squash with yogurt sauce, beautiful lamb dishes and scented milk puddings. The recipe I prepared is an unusual choice for me: Fried Eggplant with Garlic and Parsley Dressing. I have never been a fan unless it has been cooked and drenched in tomato sauce but made the effort to turn into a now acquired taste. Faith’s husband, Mike, also hates eggplants. His mother always hoped he would one day marry a girl who liked this vegetable. When Faith tasted and fell in love with this recipe she also got her mother-in-law’s blessing. So it just goes to show you never know what can come out of keeping an open mind and trying new foods!

 

Fried Eggplant with Garlic and Parsley Dressing (BATINJAN MEKLEH)
Recipe courtesy of An Edible Mosaic:  Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky (Tuttle Publishing; Nov. 2012); reprinted with permission.

Serves 4 to 6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes, plus 30 minutes for the eggplant to drain
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

1 large or 2 small globe eggplants (about 2 lb/900 g)
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 bunch fresh parsley, minced
Oil, for shallow frying

  1. Fully or partially peel the eggplant if desired. (To partially peel it, peel one strip off down the length of the vegetable, then leave the next strip in place and peel the next strip off, and so on). Slice into 1/4 to 1/2 inch (6 mm to 1.25 cm) thick slices (lengthwise or crosswise is fine if you’re using baby eggplant, but if you’re using a large eggplant slice it crosswise).
  2. Sprinkle the salt on both sides of each slice and transfer to a colander; put the colander in the sink and let it sit for 30 minutes. Rinse the eggplant under cold running water, then gently wring out any excess water and pat dry.
  3. Combine the vinegar, water, garlic, and parsley in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Coat the bottom of a large skillet over moderately high heat with oil. Fry the eggplant in batches (so the pan isn’t overcrowded) until golden brown, about 2 to 4 minutes per side. (You can add more oil to the pan if necessary.) Transfer the cooked eggplant to a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil.
  5. Serve the eggplant warm or at room temperature, along with the dressing to drizzle on top.

Want to win a copy of this cookbook?

3 ways to enter the contest, each way counts as a separate entry so more chances to win!

– Leave a comment in the post!
Share this giveaway on Facebook and leave separate comment
Tweet: I just entered the Edible Mosaic #cookbook #giveaway with @cethniceatz at http://cultureatz.com/a-sneak-peek-at-the-edible-mosaic-cookbook-fried-eggplant-with-garlic-and-parsley-dressing/

This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE. You have till November 4th, 2012, 23h59 EST to enter. GOOD LUCK!

Maple Apple Brussels Sprout Salad

So Mother’s Day was the push I needed apparently to really get me back in the kitchen. After 8 weeks I finally made real recipes, 3 of them actually. Well I will admit I chose very elegant dishes that were easy enough to prepare to give my wrist a break. I’ll blog about all 3 recipes in the next days but the first I want to show you is the salad.

My mom loves Brussels sprouts. My father and I hate them. Well I hate the boiled bitter ones I associate with my childhood. I now know you can prepare them minus the bitterness. So to make Mom happy I used her loved veggie in a raw green salad very reminiscent of a slaw. I found an intriguing recipe at Kitchen of Health and I knew this was the one for me, adapted of course. It was a hit all around. I had my dad taste it too, asked what he though t and only told him after it was Brussels sprouts…to his disbelief.

Ξ Maple Apple Brussels Sprout Salad Ξ

3 cups Brussels sprouts, shredded
1/2 onion, sliced finely
3/4 red apple, julienned with skin
chopped walnuts or pecans to taste, optional.

Although you can prepare your veggies with a good knife, if you have a Mandoline it will make your life that easier. Add  Brussels sprouts, the apple, the onion and a sprinkle of chopped nuts to a salad bowl (of course I forgot to add them before the photo shoot). Toss with Maple Citrus Dressing before serving.

Ξ Maple Citrus Dressing Ξ
1/4 c orange juice
1/4 c olive oil
1/8 c apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp nutmeg
dash of salt and pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk well.

The weather as so wonderful, we enjoyed our meal on my balcony. Yes I am high up, 18th floor.

Kraft going Ethnic with Sizzling Salads

I was recently asked to try out Kraft’s new Sizzling Salads collect. These packages contain each 1 dressing for the salad and 1 marinade for the meat. They are all four ethnic flavored:Greek, Asian, Southwest and Caesar. I was sent the first 3 to test. Let me take a break here and let you read Kraft’s “schpeel” on their Sizzling Salads….

Kraft is inspiring Canadians to turn over a new leaf and change the way they enjoy salads.  As a leading salad expert, Kraft is sharing its fresh thinking with delicious new ways to dress up your greens:  restaurant-inspired Kraft Sizzling Salads entrée salad kits are an innovative addition to the grocery aisle; pure Kraft Refrigerated Dressings offer unique recipes and premium ingredients; and the entire Kraft dressing line-up has been reinvented to offer only natural flavours.  Finally, your greens are getting the attention they deserve!

Available in the salad dressing aisle, each Kraft Sizzling Salads kit (SRP $4.29) perfectly pairs a cooking sauce for your chicken with a complementary dressing for your greens. Take your salad beyond a simple side with these delicious choices:

  • Kraft Asian Chicken Sizzling Salads kit pairs Teriyaki Ginger cooking sauce with Toasted Sesame Dressing
  • Kraft Chicken Caesar Sizzling Salads kit pairs Cracked Black Pepper Cooking Sauce with Classic Caesar Dressing
  • Kraft Southwest Chicken Sizzling Salads kit pairs Spicy Fajita Cooking Sauce with Barbecue Ranch Dressing
  • Kraft Greek Chicken Sizzling Salads kit pairs Lemon Oregano Cooking Sauce with Mediterranean Feta Dressing

That is all nice but are they any good?  To find out I put them to the test. There are of course suggested recipes for each pairing and I used one for inspiration but I took it wayyyy out of the comfort zone boundary. I knew I was making this for Sunday dinner and I happened to be in Chinatown on Saturday afternoon. I picked up a few unusual items for my version….

(Really) Asian Chicken Sizzling Salads
makes 2 servings of 2 cups each

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp oil
¼ cup Kraft Sizzling Salads Teriyaki Ginger Cooking Sauce
400 gr pre-cooked udon noodles package
6 cups baby spinach leaves
1 cup shredded carrot, red cabbage, brocoli stem, leek (or what you like)
¼ cup Kraft Sizzling Salads Toasted Sesame Dressing
1 clementine, segmented
10 chestnuts, quartered
handful logans, shelled
4 lotus rootlets, diced
paper thin slivers of fresh ginger

  1. Marinate chicken breasts 30 min before cooking.
  2. In a pan heat 1/2 tsp oil and lightly cook the shredded veggies. Set aside in a bowl.
  3. Heat 1/2 tsp oil in pan and cook chicken completely (15-20 min)
  4. In the mean time arrange udon noodles on two plates and divide spinach over noodles.
  5. On top add the cooked shredded veggies.
  6. Pour dressing over salad.
  7. When chicken is ready remove from pan and cut into strips. Place cut chicken on top of salad.
  8. Arrange remaining ingredients decoratively on top, finishing with the ginger.

So how was the salad with the Kraft Sizzling Salads combo? Honestly, really really good. I thought the chicken had a wonderful flavor and found the dressing very tangy, tasty and refreshing. I have not tried the other two flavors yet but if they follow the quality of the Asian kit I would recommend it without hesitation. And how was my salad ingredient mix…awesome except for the logans.  They really had no business being there.  Hey its trial and error right?