Sunday, May 31, 2009

beer can chicken

I've often wondered how the beer can chicken came about. Was it during some camping trip or the result of a backyard (albeit drunken) epiphany Did a BBQ expert have this tucked away for years, or maybe it was the imagination of a Michelin starred chef. Either way the idea is great. As long as you follow some simple steps, you'll end up with a delicious and moist bird.

I've learned that you should definitely put a rub on. The trick during this step is to rub both the outside and inside. If you can, try to put some spice under the skin as well. It will add to the overall flavor.

I can't say for sure if one beer is that much better than the next, but as a fan of Guinness, its always been my go to. As well, the cans are taller than your average beer which makes for a better base in my experience. Drink half the beer and cut the inside ring of the top out. Add a good amount (1/4 cup - 1/2 cup) of rub to the beer. Remember we are trying to get flavor everywhere!

Sit your friendly bird down on top of the beer can and head to the BBQ. Crank the heat on one side of the BBQ to high and place the bird on the opposite side. You want to cook this bird with indirect heat, with a rotation half way into cooking.

Even with that dark crust, the chicken came off perfectly. The meat, even the breasts, were super moist and finger lickin' good. I'd definitely recommend trying your hand at beer can chicken. Not only is it a fun way to cook your meal, the left overs make for excellent salads!

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

bagels - bread baker's apprentice challenge #3

Bagels. Oh what sweet memories I have and how jaded I've become. When the family picked up and moved to Orleans in the 80's, I really had no idea about most of our countries culinary tastes. Bagels I would soon find out, weren't the 'buns with holes' we were used to having out West. They are individually shaped and fired in a wood oven with a healthy dose of kosher love. Eating these bagels for the first time was like an explosion of carbohydrate goodness. Truly, if you haven't had Montreal style is a must.

The hardest part of this recipe was tracking down barley malt powder. I've encountered quite a few recipes over the past few years that ask for this ingredient and I've always strayed away from them; not having any in the pantry. The house was left in gloom as, I couldn't locate any at the grocery stores or health food stores on day one. But, day two of the search lead me to the Bosch Kitchen Center and it was here I found my malt powder unicorn.

The bagels mix together like any other recipe; the hydration level being the biggest difference. The drier dough is needed to give that dense bagel texture. The KA mixer was brought into service and even the 325 watts of pure KA power didn't like the recipe. So I ended up kneading some of the dough by hand and some in the mixer. These are a serious workout.

Left to hang out for a few hours and relax, the next step was to shape 4.5 oz balls and rest again. After 30 minutes, I pushed my thumb through and rotated until I had the requisite 2 1/2 inch opening. Sprayed with oil and resting yet once again, the bagels stay this way until they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into luke warm water. For me, this was another 20 minutes. The bagels then get wrapped and spend a night in the refrigerator. I just happen to have room, but I can picture those small apartment fridges just not up to the task, so think about space before attempting the recipe.

Peter mentions boiling them for 1 - 2 minutes aside, depending how chewy you like your bagel. Doing 6 at 1, and 6 at 2, I'll be sure to stay on the quicker side next time. The taste almost identical when fresh, but once cooled and rested for a night the chewiness really develops. I topped half of the batch with poppy seeds and sea salt, with the other half getting black and white roasted sesame seeds along with the sea salt. Finally after two days and all of these steps; we are finally ready to bake!

The bagels are good. They are the best bagels I've ever made, although I've never attempted such an elaborate recipe. I know they went over well, because Pops devoured most of these before I could make a sandwich, or my child hood favorite, with melted cheese. They definitely have a great texture and if they didn't require so much time, I would consider putting these into regular rotation. Now if only I could sneak in some wood flavoring...but first I have to find a place where I could hide them! ^--^

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Friday, May 29, 2009

fuss cupcakes - edmonton, ab

fuss cupcakes
10441 82 ave

I finally made my way down to Fuss Cupcakes this past Sunday. While I had snuck by on a few previous jaunts down the Ave, I was always without my camera. The store is located below a bar and beside a pizza joint which almost creates a perfect eating trifecta - pizza, beer, cupcakes!

Fuss Cupcakes is the second shop of its kind to open on Whyte Ave this year, with Flirt Cupcakes opening on Valentines Day. The store is deep with most of the space dominated by seating. This is quite a contrast to Flirt's more shallow setup and made me wonder how they could fill such a big space with cupcake eaters. I remembered Sharon's post when I looked at the menu board, and realized how they may fill the space. Along with 16 different cupcake options, they server specialty coffees, teas, gelatos, and 'fussy floats'.

Fuss, while appearing new, is actually The Cupcake Bakeshoppe & Cafe reinvented. The new name and branding seems to be a play on their 'attitude'. The back of the menu card states they are 'fussy' about everything they do. From the 'world class ingredients' to their fussy about nuts statement (100% nut free), they ask you to taste what all the fuss is about.

A few tables were occupied when I arrived and as I looked around for 10 minutes before ordering, I noticed they did steady counter service. The staff was helpful, even offering to fill the trays with more cupcakes for my pictures. What a crazy offer no? And speaking of cupcakes, there was plenty. Where Flirt has smaller, albeit more beautiful displays, Fuss is definitely going through a serious amount of cupcakes. Along with the counter supply you see in the pictures, they were making more which I think could easily fill the display once over again.

On my visits to Flirt I usually end up getting a couple of treats each time; feeling the need for cupcake overload I decided to just get a bulk purchase from the get go. So with so many options, what did I get?

Clock wise from the top left;
Cherry Cheescake - cherry cake with cherry cream cheese icing. Cake was good with a red tint but the icing was average.
Purple Haze - chocolate cake with Madagascar bourbon vanilla icing. This cupcake lasted through the night and was still delicious the day after. The chocolate cake was dense and the icing had a perfect sweetness. I don't know what I should have been looking for with regards to the Madagascar bourbon though. Anyone?
Scarlet O'Hara - red velvet cake with cream cheese icing. A big fan of red velvet cake, I was delighted with this offering. It was dense with a rich cocoa flavor and topped beautifully with cream cheese.
Jungle Fever - marble cake with marble icing. The icing was sweeter than Lemon Aid and the mix of chocolate and vanilla batters created a really light base.
The Diva - vanilla cake with strawberry icing. The sweetest icing of the group but it delivered a strong strawberry flavor.
Lemon Aid - vanilla cake with lemon icing. Moist and dense like the Purple haze, with nice tart/sweet icing mix.

After consulting with the staff, this selection gave me a good idea of what they offer. It incorporated 4 different flavor bases (chocolate, vanilla, marble, and red velvet) and 3 icings (marble, cream cheese, buttercream). I found the icing at Fuss to be in a more realistic proportion with the cupcake, as well as infused with more flavor. I'm not a big fan of over the top icing, something I find with most cupcakes on the market. I find the shorter iced cupcakes allow you to take a bite of your treat without getting icing all over your nose or having to come at it from a crazy angle. All the cupcake bases were good with some slight differences among the group, and they didn't suffer from 'crunchy' top like Flirt. But really, like comparing many things on different days and at different times, there is no straight winner. Some like Coke, some like Pepsi.

Being on the Ave the night before my visit I noticed they were open quite late. I think these 'extended' hours, along with their coffee and ice cream options will entice more than a few evening diners for a post-meal snack. With, in my opinion, a better location than Flirt, an open and more welcoming store front, and a wider array of cupcakes, Fuss is definitely throwing down a serious challenge to Flirts early domination.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

moroccan camel tagine

Well I don't even know where to begin with this dish. Yes I found some camel meat and yes it was delicious. But let me skip back one step. My long winded search for harissa came to an abrupt end when after a morning of driving all over the city I found a good supply. Seeing as I'd already used my Alberta lamb up (the original reason I wanted this sauce), I decided to pick up a few cans in case I wanted to attempt my original dish again one day.

Now the camel, which was a surprise as I originally stopped in to check on a delivery of python. The disappointment caused by the lack of snake meat was wiped away by the sight of camel. I've never had camel, or personally know anyone who has eaten it, so I figured a little iron chef challenge was called for. The meat itself is seemed closer to pork in texture, but beefier in taste it that makes sense. Definitely something you don't want to throw on the BBQ for quick steak-like grilling, as it would probably dry out quickly.

With my stash of harissa, I knew I could finally put together the Moroccan dish I saw at Closet Cooking. The dish was straight forward. I cut the camel into bite sized pieces and marinated overnight in a delicious spice blend. After browning and removing the camel, I cooked onions then garlic and ginger. I put in the tomato paste, beef stock and returned the camel meat. After bringing to a boil, then lowering to a simmer it cooked for a few hours. I added a good amount of raisins and dried apricots before letting it simmer for another 40 minutes or so. Right at the end I added honey and harissa before plating on some brown rice. For garnish; some cilantro.

The meal was delicious, although a few pieces of camel were tougher than I would have liked (needed more simmering), it was the spice blend that stuck out. It was fantastic, fragrant, and something I've never used before. It made me think about what it would feel like to go back in time and hear your favorite song again for the first time. I just loved these spices from the start. The rice sucked up all the extra sauce and made for an even tastier side.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

frittata - my first crack

I've always wondered about frittata's. Is it better or easier than an omelet? The logic behind it is fairly straight forward, but I find myself usually flipping the egg or scrambling it all together. It's so much quicker when you are hungry. Well..after years of pondering.

I spent a good hour searching the Internet and looking thru cookbooks. It seemed like almost everyone had a tip or trick that made their version better. Hot pan, medium pan, stir egg, flip edges on egg, stir in vegetables, saute first and leave vegetables in, cook stove top, cook then broil. The list just kept going, even including the additions of pasta! Where do I begin.

Well I kept it simple and discovered what I figured is a fail safe method. Searching the chowhound boards, I would occasionally see a mention of Marcella Hazen. Her basic idea revolved around completely baking the frittata; no stove top or anything. Hmmmm! Would this be a trick? Turns out it was a perfect method for a first time like me. I didn't have worry about setting the bottom or broiling it to finish.

EVOO in a non stick pan over medium heat.
Add diced onion and red bell pepper - 5-8 mins.
Add shredded zucchini, 1/2 diced tomato, and 5 diced mushrooms - cook out moisture.
Remove veggies and let cool.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Crack 6 eggs in a large pyrex bowl and whisk with 2 or 3 tbls of milk
Add freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano and cheddar (3/4 of a cup or so)
Mix in vegetables.
* Key secret stage*
Butter a 9 inch round cake pan.
Give everything a final mix before pouring in pan.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake for 20-30 minutes (mine took around 26) until everything is set.
*Optional step - place under broiler for a minute or two to brown the top (although apparently this isn't very accurate, as I discovered a browned frittata is just wrong!)
Remove from oven and either flip onto a large plate or cut like a pie and serve.

**I also added some cumin, coriander, and paprika while cooking the veggies.

Now before anyone asks about the pictures, or lack there of. My Canon may be starting to see its finally weeks, after taking nearly 8000 photos and traveling around Central America, it decided to take the photos but not actually store any weird...I know.  So really, there is no evidence I actually accomplished this....

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the week that was and is - may 27th, 2009

I don't really know where to begin with the weather situation. We had hail, snow, rain, and finally some sunshine. I hope it's finally summertime! Cue the DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince CD.

  • I didn't realize that the President is 25. Loblaws' sure hit on something back in the day and they keep branching out every time I stop in Superstore.
  • While I've never had the luxury of eating a Choco Taco, I'm sure it would be good and fall under - timeless summer treats.
  • And who thought a McNugget was really chicken.
  • "When food is free, logic is discarded like a Vienna sausageless toothpick". Interesting thoughts about all the free food handed out lately by restaurants and chains.
  • Finally, to finish on more free stuff; Orange Julius is giving away 20oz light smoothies on June 19th.
Laurel's whole wheat raisin bread - my new favorite whole wheat raisin bread recipe.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

coney island candy - edmonton, ab

coney island candy
10345 82 avenue

Waiting to turn left on the Ave a few weeks back, I looked out my window and noticed a new candy store. The first thing I thought was; with the economy and all, isn't this a bad time for a novelty store. Either way, I made a mental note to stop in but it kept slipping my mind. Not being a big candy fan, and with Only Here for the Food blogging about it, I was in no hurry.

Being on Whyte Ave to check out Fuss Cupcakes, it seemed only logical to stop at Coney Island Candy as well. The store is deceiving large. From the outside I didn't realize how long the store is. Coney Island is bright and colorful, like a candy shop should be. They even have popcorn shopping baskets if you plan on picking up a lot of goodies. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was playing on the flat screens, which I think must be like putting the hockey game on at the bar..but how many more candy movies are there to show?

There are a ton of treats here. Candy of every kind it seems, from bulk taffy to American chocolate bars. They even have my beloved Boston Baked Beans. Once you are all jacked up on sugar, you can take a closer look at some pretty neat novelty items. This would definitely be the place to stock up for a children's birthday party or a gourmet home-made sundae bar!

The two staff members were apparently too busy eating their Wok Box, as they didn't acknowledge or talk with any of the stores potential customers. I realized this is a self serve setup, but I wish the 'fun atmosphere' of the store was also portrayed by the staff. Either way, after a stop at Fuss, I wasn't particular in the mood for a sugar induced coma so I left with nothing but some pictures.

Big League Chew - a childhood favorite

Fried Egg - a new encounter for me. You?

Must everything be called "old fashioned"

Bins of treats

They have a soft serve machine at the back of the store, but I really wonder what kind of workout the machine will get with better ice cream options only steps away. Either way, I'll be curious to see the staying power of this store because I imagine rent isn't that cheap in this prime location. Oh..I forgot to get bacon mints...looks like I'll be going back!

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

sunday morning - bread and chicken

Prepping for the work week ahead, my usual Sunday morning revolves around baking bread and roasting off some chicken for lunches. While it may take a bit of dedication, it makes the week plan a little easier.

Step one is too wake up and starting mixing dough. If I sit down and pour a coffee or mix my breakfast smoothie, who knows when I'll get the dough going. After the bread is kneaded, espresso is quickly pulled, while I put in some laundry and make breakfast.

Step two is to pull out some marinated chicken pieces; this morning was 3 chicken breasts I had put in a bourbon spice mix, and fire up the BBQ. Even at 9 or 10 in the morning, the BBQ can somehow make me crave a beer. I imagine it would seem strange to the neighbors if they could see me in my pj's standing guard at the grill!

Step three is bake, bake, and bake.

Oh how good the house smells on a Sunday. Now it's time to slice the bread, shred the meat and maybe have another shot of espresso!

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

artos: greek celebration breads - bread baker's apprentice challenge #2

With the success of bread one out of the way and around fifty more to go, here is bread challenge number two. It seems Artos is the generic name for Greek celebration breads with more specific names and baking twists dependent on the festival. Peter gives an example of Easter and Christmas versions which contain different colored fruit. The bread was historically made with a wild yeast starter and were often brought to the church by locals who then had the bread blessed by priests. In turn, the loaves were then given out to the needy. The version below is the straight master recipe. With minor changes (most notably the addition of fruits) the bread can become Christopsomos or Lambropsomo.

The dough was stickier than originally intended, so I ended up adding more flour through out the kneading process. This wasn't really a problem, because the smells emitting from the spices at 8:30 in the morning were like heaven. I almost wanted to wrap my head in the proofing bowl just to stay surrounded by them. The loaf had a good amount of spring in the oven, but took quite a bit longer to reach 190 degrees. I decided not to glaze it (actually I forgot) but it doesn't matter. The loaf is soft, and although it's quite heavy (2 1/2 pounds) it isn't dense. I'm definitely impressed with this and will add some diced up fruit (apricots!) next time. This version is like a hot cross bun with out the fruit.

adapted from The Bread Baker's Apprentice

  1. Prepare 1 cup of barm or poolish (the night before) and allow one hour at room temperature.
  2. Mix together 16 ounces of bread flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons of yeast,1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon of allspice, and 1/2 teaspoon of cloves in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the barm or poolish, 2 large eggs, 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup olive oil, 3/4 cup lukewarm milk (90 -100f), and 1 teaspoon of both lemon and almond extract.
  4. Knead the dough, adding flour as necessary to create a tacky and very supple dough, for 10 minutes or so until able to pass the windowpane test.
  5. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and allow to double - around 90 minutes.
  6. Take out the dough and shape in a boule
  7. Place on a parchment lined sheet pan and allow to double in size - 60 to 90 minutes
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  9. Place sheet pan on middle shelf and bake for 20 minutes
  10. Rotate the pan and continue baking for 20 - 25 minutes (internal temp 190)
  11. Either glaze loaf right away or transfer to a rack and cool one hour before cutting.
If you need any more reason to buy the book and attempt the recipe it would be this - french toast. While french toast can be used to make your everyday breakfast a little more special, this bread makes it super duper special. The spices really shine through and it's like your taste buds winning the french toast lottery!

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Friday, May 22, 2009

tonight's pizza dinner

When the bread baker's apprentice challenge reaches pizza dough, it will be like a drop in the hat. I've made and baked my fair share of Peter Reinhart's pizza dough recipes, and tonight was no exception.

Usually his recipes make 4-6 servings, so I'm always able to freeze some for future suppers. Last night I pulled out a chunk and let it thaw in the fridge. A few hours before baking, I tossed it on the counter and rolled it flour so it would come to room temp and I could heat the oven to 550 degrees. This pizza received some sauteed yellow onion, thinly sliced fresh mushroom, baby bocconcini and a drizzle of EVOO. I also utilized my new herb garden; picking a bit of spicy oregano for the sauce and some tiny basil leaves for when the pizza came out. Oh delicious homemade pizza!

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

furusato japanese restaurant - edmonton,ab

furusato japanese restaurant (take 2)
10012 82 ave

After my first, and highly successful, visit, it was only a matter of time or should I say days before I went back. Stopping in on a friday night at 5:30, we found the restaurant just over half full with a few groups walking in at the same time. Before you know it, the place was jammed up with a single lonely table left. It's a good thing there was just two of us, as it was a two person table. A line up was soon started and it got me thinking; I wonder if restaurants like Sushi Wasabi and Furusato fill up so quickly, because along with great food, their hours are so short.

We were positioned at the back of the restaurant, so while it gave me a better look of the place, the light was so poor my pictures turned out pretty bad. The wait staff were great and the only hiccup was the timing of dishes. Speaking of which, my dining companion ordered the chefs sushi selection ($14.95). The plate was simple and delicious. The one thing I loved was how the sushi chef split both the scallop and the clam, so they formed around the ball of rice. I've never seen that before.

While I ordered one of my favorite selections; chirashi bowl ($17.95). It was definitely worth the slightly higher price as it was jammed with sashimi, including 3 large pieces of both tuna and salmon. The bowl did have a small section of egg, but no vegetables, unlike the gorgeous version served at Sushi Wasabi.

And we split a spider roll ($12.95). I really wanted to try this dish again, and while it doesn't take much of an arm pull to eat soft shell crab, I still don't know if I'm sold on their breading. I'll be really surprised the day I find someone who doesn't enjoy this dish.

Another great sushi experience, leaving me with one last mission. With Furusato and Sushi Wasabi both closed on Mondays (I have actually written "NO SUSHI MONDAYS" on my calendar) where will I go if I get smacked with a craving?

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

the week that was and is - may 20th, 2009

Snow Snow Snow. Where the heck did this come from. I have a feeling my first garden is quickly committing suicide........

  • Check out todays Edmonton Journal Bistro section for a break down of our very own Little Lebanon.
  • The back page of the May/June City Palate is all about Slow Food Edmonton's presentation of Indulgence. I remember hearing and/or reading about this before...but any local peeps want to fill me in with any details. Is this something to partake in?
  • I also just recently discovered chomparoundalberta. What a great idea to discover out of the ways locations, eateries, fresh produce and more They even have itineraries for you to follow with lodgings and everything!
  • Our local Technical Institute, NAIT, has started advertising for their epicurean boot camps. I would love be 'sponsored' for a class like this, as the price point ($2,295 for 5 days) will hold back many home cooks. I mean really; that's almost a semester of University. If you do have that kind of change hiding out in your couch, NAIT is offering 3 camps - Culinary Boot Camp Level 1, Level 2, and Pastry Boot Camp.
  • I've always wondered why we can't get great street food in Canada and I think the government has some crazy legislation to do with it. Even with all the hoops they had to in Toronto, the first day doesn't sound promising.
  • The Evolution of TV Cooking via Time.
  • Eat the Head! Pretty funny T-Mobile commercial with shrimp.
  • KFC is running a halal trial in a limited number of UK stores - "We have worked with the Halal Food Authority to understand the requirements involved in supplying and producing halal approved products. We are delighted that the HFA have certified KFC's products in these stores, and the store environments, as halal."
  • Bacon, bacon everywhere. I've heard of bacon ice cream, but never bacon and egg ice cream or bacon and beer happy hour! I smell road trip!
  • Cheerios, the new drug in town. I wonder if the hipsters are hiding boxes and creating a black market. ^-^!
  • Another reminder, Harvey's Free Hamburger Dayis fast approaching. Sunday May 24th, from 10:30 AM to 3:00 PM, you can stop by and eat lunch for nothing. And, if that isn't enough, why not try the new Tim Hortons iced coffee for free on May 21st between 12 PM and 5 PM; apparently it's "a creamy, sweet blend of Tim Hortons coffee on ice."
  • Right before this silly cold weather I picked my first tomato. I didn't realize what I bought was a cherry tomato know the whole being new to gardening thing. It doesn't matter however, because the tomato was delicious and I'm looking forward to more!

  • I was the recipient of a few samples of Starbucks Via instant coffee. I haven't cracked one yet, but I enjoy the last checked box (Anywhere). Anyone sample yet?
Lets all collectively cross our fingers for warmer weather!

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Monday, May 18, 2009

elk, muskox, and bison burger mania.

As a regular regular of I’m Only Here for the Food, you would be pretty hard pressed not to notice all the burger shacks lately. The main problem with being enticed out to a restaurant, at least these restaurants, is that I don't live anyway close. If I lived in Vancouver I would definitely be out sampling the goods, but living 1400 or so kilometers away I'm left to drool on my keyboard.

Instead of sampling a few local establishments I decided to purchase some ground meat from Buffalo Valley. With a nice selection of game to choose from, I decided on bison, elk, and muskox.

Bison has always been fairly regular meat for me and it wasn’t out of the norm to make some bison burgers. I’ve prepared elk meat a few times but never as burgers, so that would be new. Musk Ox was new from the start, and I didn’t have any idea what taste to expect or how it would work in a burger.

It is quite easy to overcook these with their low fat content and almost every cook would say medium rare is the farthest you should go*. I find that on more occasions than not, people dry out their beef burgers, so with even less forgiving meat it's nice to BBQ my own to a nice juicy pink center.

I think I ended up cooking 16 burgers (not all for me ^--^) over a week-long period. Most of the meat was treated very simply with salt and pepper, but a few were stuffed with various cheeses (a la Diners, Drive Ins and Dives) while a couple were spiced up with garam masala. The elk and bison burgers were the least gamey of all and I have a feeling that many diners wouldn’t even wonder or speculate they weren’t eating beef. The muskox was a different story; it was so different that it is hard to explain. It was the best of all three and I can only describe it as rich; I will buy this again.

I almost always put a toppings platter together that includes; mushrooms, onions, pickles, lettuce, and tomato. With so many burgers made I started some serious deviations, like the first picture in todays post which received some fresh cilantro and salsa. Unfortunately I was not always on the ball with my camera and a few pictures didn't turn out. :(

* I realize the canadian government recommends you should cook ground beef until no pink is left and the juices run clear, but I like a juicy and tender burger which typically means a little pink. Plus I personally like to believe that with better processed meats, the possibility of contamination goes down. I've also eaten my share of street meats in Latin America with no ill affects. So please, don't follow my lead and cook your burgers until the juices run clear. :)

** One last thing - does it seem strange I remove some of the 'bun' so that I can sit toppings and/or the patty in the bun with greater ease. For some reason, I like a pocket for toppings and it keeps a loaded burger in check without the ingredients sliding out down your arm. Am I strange?

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

anadama bread - bread baker's apprentice challenge is a go

This past week while surfing a bread feed, I stumbled across a bread baking adventure. It seems over at PinchMySalt, a bread baking idea was hatched. The key concept - work through the entire The Bread Baker's Apprentice cookbook by Peter Reinhart. I was instantly inspired as I've learned a ton from Peter, but the group of willing bakers had already grown to the 200 person cut off. Missing my chance to join in, I mentally decided that I will try and follow the same rules - a new bread recipe every week, and blog about my experiences on my own.

The first bread, which is to be finished by today, is called Anadama Bread. Peter talks about the bread being a 'great New England' bread with many versions and a conflicting story about the origin of it's name. The key in Peter's version is to soak the cornmeal the night before baking. With that said and only a few days to complete the task, I soaked my corn on Friday night and put everything into action on Saturday. The bread was so different from anything I've ever encountered. It is extremely soft (like baby bottom soft), moist and had the most delicious molasses and corn flavor. I've only made a roast beef sandwich so far, but it was magnificent. I'll definitely revisit this loaf in the future.

Anadama Bread
adapted from Bread Bakers Apprentice.

  1. Soak 3 ounces of cornmeal in 4 ounces of room temperature water (leave overnight)
  2. In the morning mix 5.1 ounces of AP flour, with 1 teaspoon of yeast, 4 ounces of water, along with the corn soaker. Let sit for one hour until bubbly.
  3. Add 5.1 ounces of flour, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, 3 tablespoons of molasses, and 1 tablespoon of room temperature unsalted batter. Mix to combine.
  4. Knead, either by hand or machine for 6-10 minutes, until able to pass the windowpane test.
  5. Let proof in an oiled bowl until double (around 90 minutes)
  6. Remove from the bowl and shape into a loaf.
  7. Place in a lightly sprayed loaf pan and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
  8. Once dough has crested the loaf pan, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  9. Bake for 20 mins, rotate pan, and bake for 20 - 30 more minutes (final bread temp 185-190)
  10. Remove immediately from pan and cool for one hour before cutting.
I now have a week to prepare for bread challenge two which is labeled Artos: Greek Celebration Breads.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

scream doritos

A little while back I picked up a bag of mystery flavored doritos. Attached to the mystery flavor was a contest. The contest was pretty straight forward; if the name you submit gets picked, you would receive $25,000 and 1% of all future sales. Unfortunately I didn't make a submission in time. :(

Somehow we ended up talking about these doritios a few days back but couldn't find anything about them. So it was a surprise when I visited Wal-Mart this past Thursday and discovered the chips. Scream Doritos, a name submitted by a Ryan Coopersmith out of Montreal.

The chips, well they taste like I remembered yetI think the spicing was more evenly balanced. Too bad I'm not sold on the name. I think my Santa Fe Cheese would have been a better choice!

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Friday, May 15, 2009

golden fork awards

Well it's that time of year; Vue Weekly has published their Golden Fork Awards. The GFA's are reader submitted suggestions for the best epicurean items around Edmonton. I think, like many publications which ask for reader suggestions, these awards may be somewhat biased by the demographics that Vue Weekly reaches. Either way with almost 10,000 votes, here are some highlights.

I was happy to see best sushi (furusato), best takeout (la shish taouk), best pizza (famoso) all of which I have enjoyed. On the other side of things, I was surprised to see best overall chain (earl's), best chinese (lingnan), best thai (king & i) and best steaks (von's). It's no surprise I suppose, but I've noticed quite a few establishments advertising their accomplishments on sign boards outside/on their properties. It was also a pleasant surprise to see Sharon, Only Here for the Food, with I believe her first cover story. Congratulations are due I think!

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

harvey's - edmonton, ab

10350 34 ave

I figure if you are hungry and crave a fast food burger, one of your better options is Harvey's. You get a freshly grilled burger and your choice of garnishes. All of which is put together right in front of you. It is a simple deviation from your average fast food burger yet I think it puts them all alone at in this category. Is there any other burger made like this?

They are currently promoting the Angus Mushroom Melt, and I just happened to have a 2 for 1 coupon so I figured it was a perfect time to visit. It's funny how simple the options are when you get to make the burger. You have a choice of a regular patty (with cheese, bacon) or a angus patty (with cheese, bacon). Pretty simple right. So what makes the Mushroom Melt distinct is the addition of mushrooms (obviously) and a slice of swiss cheese.

Here are the two creations in all their glory. The first has mustard, relish, ketchup, mayo, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, and onion.

The second has cheddar subbed in for the swiss, along with banana peppers, mustard, mayo, lettuce, onions and pickles on the side.

I have to say the presentation is great. While it may suffer from take out, unwrapping these two burgers in house did nothing to detract from their great looks. If I didn't explain that right, check out this website that compares the advertised vs actual product. The toppings were fresh, and I think the angus patty adds a nice touch. I also happen to really enjoy both poppy seeds and sesame seeds, so to have both on the bun was great. Speaking of the bun, it had a slight yellow hue to it; does anyone know if they use more of an egg dough for their buns? The biggest let down on this occasion were the sides. The fries were barely seasoned, if at all it seemed, and the onion rings were just ok - nothing like the A&W version. Overall, I think this might be a real option for your burger craving if you are in a rush and can't take the time to sit down.

Oh and don't forget, Harvey's Free Hamburger Day is fast approaching. Sunday May 24th, from 10:30 AM to 3:00 PM, you can stop by and eat lunch for nothing!

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