Foodie Readings

Seems like a post about favorite food related books is of “rigueurs”, I have seen many lately popping up. I have had this post in the making for months so I guess this is a good time as any to join the flock. I think cookbooks are just gorgeous works of art that provide leisurely hours of perusing and salivating. Unfortunately the moment they enter my house they sit on a shelf collecting dust. It seems most of my inspirations come from online. I do enjoy reading fiction and non fiction books about food.

Here is a little list of my favorites – cookbooks with less dust and some great food readings.

I COOKED


The Taste of Africa by Rosamund Grant and Josephine Bacon

African food mystifies me. Not only does it fall into my ethnic radar, it is also a much less common cuisine to come across. There are a few African restaurants out there but I hardly believe them to be truly authentic. I had to get this book and explore real African food. Seventy five recipes cover traditional dishes from several African countries. See the recipe for Gambian Beef in Aubergine Sauce I made.


The Asian Grill by Corinne Trang

I got this book for $2 on a side walk sale. What got my attention in this book was not even the grilling, it was the chapter on condiments filled with many basic sauces and marinades we see in all Asian recipes. I also loved the chapter devoted on how best to stock a pantry for Asian cooking.


The Classico Pasta Sauce by Antigone Dallas

I have a tendency to fall into a pasts sauces rut often by making the same sauces over and over again. I like the variety here on the basicred, Alfredo and pesto sauces.

I READ


Salt by Mark Kurlansky

A long and at times heavy and frustrating to read factual book on the history of salt. But it was worth the entire read. Salt is essential to our existence, shaped civilizations, served as currency, was the reason why wars were declared, gave people the ultimate power of control and was the only way to preserve food for about 8,000 years.  Did you know salt was the reason behind Ghandi leading the Indian people to protest against the British Empire? Read the book to find out why?


My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’Homme

The book on which the movie Julie and Julia was inspired from. This book covers so much more about life starting with her arrival in Paris in 1948. You can feel her lively spirit and positive attitude she has always had. She tells us about her first grocery shopping experiences, her time at the Cordon Bleu, the saga of finally publishing Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Really great read and you can even get some great traditional French recipes in there.


A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

I read this book years ago and I would love to read ti again. It is sort of a comical food memoir of the English author’s first year culinary woes and discoveries in Provence. Stories of hunting for mushrooms, goat races and foie gras adventures. . A book to be savored and devoured. read his other books too.


What Einstein Told His Cook by Robert L Wolke

I got this book when I was getting interested in molecular gastronomy. We are told this fancy cooking style is all about chemistry. Well it turns out ALL cooking is a form of chemistry. This is an easy book to read with incredible dry humor. The author is a foodie, a columnist (Washington Post column Food 101) and a chemist. I loved this book and I learned a lot about food chemistry which I could apply in my everyday cooking, like when to use baking powder or baking soda in baking.


On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee

I have it but I have yet to read it. It is suppose to be the Bible on how and why things happen in recipes. After reading What Einstein Told his Cook i knew I wanted to learn more about the chemistry of cooking. It covers a lot more too like why certain spices work together or solutions to recipe failures. I have not read it yet because it is a big reference book so not sure how to go about it.

I AM IN

Backpacker Recipes HostelBookers Approved

Backpacker Recipe Guide

A small cookbook of the ten most popular recipes submitted to Hosletbookers.com in a contest. Guess who is one of the ten winners, yes it would be me! Download the .pdf recipe guide by clicking the photo above.

I WANT

Rice & Curry: Sri Lankan Home Cooking by S H Fernando

Unusual ethnic food alert! I saw this book on a fellow foodie blog and I have desperately wanted to get my hands on this cookbook since then. In Sri Lanka a meal is typically referred to as ‘rice & curry’ – and curries can vary from main dish offerings (meat, chicken, fish, or mutton) to an assortment of vegetable and even fruit curries. Indian, Malay, Arab, Portuguese, Dutch and British influences all left their mark on the cuisine, but indigenous Sinhalese dishes have remained popular in villages for centuries. Fernando takes readers on an unforgettable culinary journey through Sri Lanka: demystifying ingredients, spices, and flavours and proving that Sri Lankan food is an easy-to-prepare, healthy option for modern lifestyles. It includes over 100 recipes, an introduction to Sri Lankan history, culture and cuisine, and stunning colour photographs throughout.

200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes: From Cheddar and Brie to Butter and Yogurt by Debra Amrein-Boyes

Another fellow foodie blogged about this book. In the last years I have made mascarpone and ricotta from scratch. I am a cheese addict. If I can make more at home easily I am sold! Homemade cheeses can easily surpass any commercially made cheese. In fact, the techniques used in home brewing, canning, pickling and wine making are quite similar to those needed to make cheese. More than ever, home cheese-making supplies and equipment are easy to find, and the only other requirement is a kitchen. The recipes in this book feature step-by-step instructions that eliminate all the guesswork. From cleaning to sterilization, every technique and process is explained clearly so that even a novice can create artisanal-quality cheeses. The book describes all cheese types and families, ripening and aging techniques and the kinds of milk and other components needed. Recipes for yogurts, kefirs, butters and buttermilk round out the collection.

Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

I came across several recipes by Yotam Ottolenghi on the internet and they are all mouthwatering, even if vegetarian for a carnivore like me. Not a vegetarian himself, his approach to vegetable dishes is wholly original and innovative, based on strong flavours and stunning, fresh combinations. With sections devoted to cooking greens, aubergines, brassicas, rice and cereals, pasta and couscous, pulses, roots, squashes, onions, fruit, mushrooms and tomatoes, the breadth of colours, tastes and textures is extraordinary.

My Year Of Meats by Ruth L Ozeki

This novel is the interlocking story of two women. Jane Takagi-Little is a Japanese American journalist who is hired by Beef-Ex to work for a Japanese production company. Jane works as the host and creative producer and every week an American wife is shown living “her life” and cooking meat. Parallel to Jane’s story is the life of Akiko Ueno, reluctantly married to a man working for Beef-Ex. Her husband cares only that Akiko has a baby and forces her to watch “My American Wife” and cook the recipes, believing that it will allow her to conceive. The novel goes on to show just how manipulative the production company and meat industry are. (wiki)

Cheap Ethnic Eatz food film marathon in 12 days

I am getting really pumped and trying to get organized for the upcoming event on Oct 15th, the…

1st annual Cheap Ethnic Eatz food film marathon and pot luck

A day of movies about food…with food, starting at noon and running for 12 hours. This is a private on-invitation only event as it is at a private location. Fingers crossed for a public venue next year!

 

The 2011 Playbill

12 pm – Babette’s Feast
2pm – Ratatouille
4pm – Coffee and Cigarettes
6pm – Tampopo
8pm – Chocolat
10pm – The Cook, his Wife and her Lover

 

 

 

Food and Fundraising:

This is a perfect opportunity to help out a local charity and I chose the NDG Food Depot, a place that strives to eliminate hunger in a manner that ensures dignity, community engagement and the development of human potential since 1986. The NDG Food Depot provides:

  • 700 emergency food baskets EACH WEEK
  • help and resources for immigration, employment and housing assistance
  • the Boomer Cafe, a weekly drop-in is for anyone aged 50-64
  • the Good Food Box, a bi-monthly produce-buying group collective
  • food rescue through the Zero Food Waste Network
  • 2 employability programs, BIL Project and ACTION, in partnership with Emploi Quebec
  • cooking classes, movie nights and skill-sharing workshops
  • a huge Holiday Food Drive (need 500+ volunteers on Dec 3rd 2011)

Guests are asked to bring non perishable items (need ideas?) and there will be a raffle with 3 prizes! 1$ for a ticket, 3$ for 5 and 5$ for 10. Prizes will be raffled off the day of the event.  Tax receipts will be issued for donations of $20 +. All proceeds will be donated to the NDG Food Depot. I want to send out a BIG Thank You to our sponsors! The prizes are:

♥ 2 cookbooks: Good Food to Go , donated by My Cookbook Addiction and Les Carnivores Infidèles, donated by me.

An artist’s materials and family movies gift package – donated by the NDG Food Depot

1 free consultation with Pierre Black, Health and Lifestyle Strategies – donated by Pierre Black

Not in Montreal or cannot attend? Want to make a donation to show you support, just click the button!

 

Will let you know how the event goes and see you next year for the 2nd annual edition!

Major Rant and I have officially lost my mind

Yes those are 2 different statements lol.

First, why I may have officially lost my mind?

Recent events and talks made a project take shape in my head. I just officially announced and invited today 67 of my closest foodie/blogger/movie friends to my large but still 1 bedroom apartment for the 1st annual Cheap Ethnic Eatz food film marathon and pot luck. It will take place in mid October for 12 hours and for sure you will be reading about it, before and after the event.

I am toying with the idea of a small contribution fund raising effort too for some food related Montreal organization and maybe get a few sponsors to donate food or cookbooks/ingredients/items for prizes during the marathon. Would you like to donate something? contact me at worldethnicfood at hotmail dot com.

And yes these are all friends, remember I had a dinner group for 4 years where 500 ish members came and went so I made lots of real friends in there. Look I even have a logo ha ha:

1st annual Cheap Ethnic Eatz food film marathon and pot luck

And now for my Major Rant:

This related to a group on facebook I belong to. I need to BITCH.

So this group was started by a food blogger and is exclusively for food bloggers in Montreal city. Fantastic! Except that like 80% of them work in marketing/media/promotion, etc…aside from their personal blog. So most of them get invited to all the media events and I mean all of them. I call them the elite club. I get plenty of invites and I don’t need to be invited to everything…but they seem to be rubbing it in everyone’s face in a subtle way at times. Most topics there start off with: Who got invited to….But then things took a weird turn this week.

– Chef Gordon Ramsy bought, revamped and opened up a restaurant in Montreal this week called Laurier Gordon Ramsy. I got my reservation with friends coming soon! Anyways in this facebook group someone posted a link to an article in Montreal’s major french newspaper where the journalist wrote about why do we all of a sudden have a few international chefs come here, put their cooking paw in a resto and claim that Montreal has been put now on the International food map. Hello, we are on of the top food cities! This got a huge debate going in the group.

– A few weeks ago some people founded an association for Quebec food bloggers with an actual statement and everything. Like an official association for food bloggers? Ok fine why not, I have a rough estimate that there are about 100 food bloggers in Montreal alone. But again more then half the comity who have their own blog…..work in PR, communications, media, etc. Oh so very objective…NOT.

– And the last straw that broke the camel’s back: a big discussion was started after someone suggested we should establish a comity that would review Montreal food blogs and give them a stamp of approval (perhaps a logo) that WE ARE AUTHENTIC AND HAVE INTEGRITY in our blogs.

W———-T———-F ???????????? Have they all completely lost their freaking minds? We are hobby food bloggers! I may get in trouble for my next statement: most of these bloggers in this group REVIEW food, they don’t post recipes they make AND most of them are francophone….the anglophone bloggers kind of take a back seat. Why? There has to be a psychological angle here somewhere (which I have my opinions on but this is not the place for it…and let me precise I am Francophone first, Anglophone second)

I broke down and really gave my opinion today in that group and wrote the following (translated…of course I wrote it in French there):

I write ​​my blog because I am passionate in my interest for great food. I rarely do restaurant or product critiques now, very occasionally but there is nothing wrong with it either. I mostly cook and I share my recipes. I get the occasional invite to a food media event or launch. I never feel compelled to make a follow-up afterwards, only if I want to. I do not want to know anything about being in a milieu where I could be judged for it. I find the PR houses could open their doors a little wider for those who are invited to events since it is always the same people who are invited…an elite few, no? There are at least 30 (60) other bloggers in Montreal which are never invited. I do not care really what the world media writes on Montreal or our view of food….. it lasts 5 minutes and people forget.

I do not want to bitch so grandiosely, a gift I have sometimes and now I am pumped (sorry nothing personal), but there are a number of members in this group who never speak yet chat with me…right now we are speechless.

If you are one of the few who make your livelihood with your blog … set up your rules of etiquette but under a RECOGNIZED professional order only, I have no problem with that.

But if your blog is a hobby that creates a little mad money…..can we please take ourselves a little less seriously?

Am I exaggerating, am I overly emotional about this or do you see a problem here to? Do you have such issues in your home city with fellow food bloggers?

Toronto with friends & dodging Niagara’s tourist traps

Here is one of 2 food posts dedicated to the food we enjoyed on our New Year’s escapade. This one will cover most of what we ate but the second post will be a restaurant review….and just you wait and see this place ha!

Now if you expected a gourmet blog post on Niagara here, well sorry to say you will be sorely disappointed. As I have mentioned before Niagara Falls has the Falls and then a fake tourist trap town filled with cheesy attractions. Now don’t get me wrong….go with the right attitude and you will have a blast. We played a round of glow in the dark mini golf, did a haunted house, went on a moving theater ride, played amusement park type games to win tickets in exchange for trinkets.

Food was tricky though: either you get fast food or you pay an arm an a leg. The middle ground is almost non existent and forget finding a quaint little family run restaurant, it is mostly chains. But we managed pretty well and ate well enough with a few awesome surprises. From the falling apart decor and rickety tables to the nice sophisticated places with modern dining room furniture here is my photo essay on some of what we ate.

First place I MUST mention is Tim Hortons. It is in fact the quintessential road trip food. In Canada this is where you get your coffee and sugar rush. They also serve the cheapest lunch I can think of if you take the chicken salad sandwich combo with coffee and a doughnut…like $5.02 tax in. BUT they are everywhere. They plague the scenery I could not handle seeing one more Tim Horton sign. OK its a chip on my shoulder lol.

Our first dinner was at Tony Romas. Nice place, super friendly staff, house wine is from the Niagara region. We had the all you can eat Beef short ribs for $15.99, a rather unbeatable price in Niagara for the meal we had. I did find the short ribs dry but they are short ribs so hard to keep moist.

Remember how gaudy I said Niagara Falls can be on my vineyard touring post? We here is quite the ultimate expression of it. Next to Burger King is the Frankenstein Haunted house….and the birth of a perfect marketing ploy. I LOVE it!

At the Fudge Factory you can watch the guy prepare the fudge before it is packed into molds. Yes (sorry for this bad joke a head of time) he is a fudge packer! We tried a piece of the Bailey’s fudge, yumm!

And now for the breakfast of champions! I insisted kindly not to be dragged to a chain place for breakfast. We eventually stopped at the Continental Pancake House. This is an unpretentious family style restaurant where everything is made from scratch. The pancakes are HUGE and fluffy, Stef loved the sausages. We we very pleased and the service was so friendly. Though there is a limited all you can eat breakfast for like 7$ since we ordered à la carte it somehow ended up costing about $40 for breakfast. A bit steep!

Our second night here was our fancy dinner. I was not told where we were going as it was a surprise. Where did we go? Red Lobster. Wait I know what you are thinking, but remember this is a tourist town and this is a middle ground price restaurant. I mean our main plates were still like $25 each. We are traveling on a budget here. Red Lobsters left Quebec a while back so for us this is a treat. We each had a triple seafood combo plate, coconut shrimp appetizer, and a MASSIVE pina colada for 2. The shrimps were all excellent but my lobster tale, meh, OK.

Our last morning in Niagara was a late departure and we decided on coffee and a doughnut and just have lunch later. Today we would drive to Toronto for New Year’s Eve to my friend’s place. Of wineries were part of the expedition. But back to breakfast. So we ended up stopping at a place called Country Fresh Donuts on the outskirts of town. A really odd ball place apparently specialized in donuts and Asian sop bowls…and popular and run by Asians. Apparently this is a real local gem. And the doughnuts…the BEST EVER. This was a cinnamon twist I shot in the car. So light and so good. I wish we had bought like a dozen.

Ah, finally made it to my friend Susan’s place were we would welcome the New Year over a home meal. She and her roomie prepared a great cheese themed dinner with homemade macaroni and cheese, a lovely phyllo cup filled with goat cheese, garlic shrimps and a cheese cake. Let me tell you around 3 or 4 am the macaroni and cheese came were back out for second helpings!

And we had lots to drink! Some bubbly with the meal, some bubbly at midnight, a bit of wine and a few cocktails. The last shot on the right is bubbly with a strawberry and a Lindt Chocolate. Sounds weird but is was good. Want to try a new cocktail? This is my new fave:

RedHeaded Slut (I swear it’s the official name)

Mix in a glass 1 ounce of Peach Schnapps, 1 ounce of Jagermeister and top off with cranberry juice.

On our final night we all went for a last dinner before our return home the next day. Toronto’s Chinatown was our destination. Our host would not stop talking about Kom Jug Yuen on Spadina as the best place for Chinese with incredible BBQ pork. Very low key decor and simple place. You MUST have the BBQ Pork. This was the best Chinese food I have ever eaten and it cost 60$ with the tip and tax for 5 people.

I hope you enjoyed the little tour of some of the food I enjoyed over the holiday trip. I will have one more Toronto food post coming, a restaurant review, that you will not want to miss so come back soon. A hint: this place has been called Toronto’s least healthy restaurant.

Confucius Food

Is it food or is it something else?

Truffled Tomato Tarte Tatin

A great online gourmet store got in touch with me recently and offered me a product to review. How cannot I not say yes to such an offer. And the best part too about this online gourmet food shop is that they are right in my own backyard of the world. O Gourmet is based right here in Montreal, Quebec.

They really offer up a nice variety of hard to find local and high quality import products. The menu even offers up a Wild, Organic and Shop by Region section which is great for someone looking for a specific ethnic ingredient. O Gourmet graciously offered me a bottle of Balsamic Vinegar with Black Truffles to try out, imported by  a German company called A. Viani Importe. Most of A. Viani Importe products come from small local European producers, such as this Italian vinegar.

I did a little straight forward taste test and found this vinegar to be quite sweet and full bodied. I could not say I specifically notice a truffle taste but you can tell there is a hardy woody extra flavor in there.  It is great with  caramelized fruits, on roasted potatoes or spring vegetables and salads. And it took me quite a bit of time to come up with a fitting recipe to try it out on. Finally I made a savory tarte tatin with tomatoes and Thai eggplants (another one of those Asian grocery finds). The result was just exquisite. This is truly a recipe worthy of a fine epicurean meal.

Truffled Tomato Tarte Tatin

2 large tomatoes, sliced
1 small eggplant or a bunch of Thai eggplants
1 onion, thinly sliced
5 tbsp butter
2tbsp Balsamic Vinegar with Black Truffles
salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp herbes de Provence
1 sheet sheet of puff pastry

optional: goat cheese, 1/4 tsp truffle oil

Directions:

  1. In an oven proof large skillet caramelize the onions with 2 tbsp of melted butter and a pinch of salt over a medium-high.
  2. Add 2 tbsp of water to lift any bits from the bottom of the pan for about 30 seconds, transfer to a bowl.
  3. In the same skillet melt the remaining over a medium-low heat until it turns golden.
  4. Add the balsamic vinegar and leave for a few seconds on burner until the harsh vinegar smell disappears.
  5. Remove from heat. Place prettily the sliced tomatoes and eggplants, salt and pepper, then top with the onions.
  6. Roll out the puff pastry a little bit larger then the size of the skillet. Cover with the puff pastry, tuck the edges under and cut several long vents in the pastry to allow the steam to escape.
  7. Bake for around 30 minutes in a  preheated oven at 425 F until golden.
  8. Let stand a few minute and then run a knife around the edges of the pastry before you flip the tart onto a serving platter. Serve immediately.

I sprinkled a few roasted pumpkin seeds I had and I also fluffed up some room temperature goat cheese with a for and a little bit of truffle oil. The goat cheese and truffle oil alone is absolutely incredible, with the tart is was just phenomenal worthy of any 5 star restaurant.

Thai Eggplants, the latest exotic find!

5 à 7 at Biron

This Tuesday the blogger, columnist and journalist foodie world was all gathered at Restaurant  Biron for delightful bites, copious punch and lively conversation. Congratulations to Charlotte for this event! Pictures are each worth my thousand words for this post. Much more was served there is only so much I can do with a drink in one hand and food in the other.

Great open concept kitchen

Iceberg lettuce with panko salad


Kobe beef tongue and calamari

Oyster bar for Oyster Shootres

Melon Shooter

Mackerel Maki Rolls

Clean, modern yet warm décor