Thursday, April 8, 2010

buttermilk pancakes w/ strawberry sauce

oh easter sunday.
memories of bright turquoise dresses, church, chocolate and brunch at newland's golf course in langley, bc. i remember three very distinct things about these brunches: easter hats worn by stuffy women smelling of moth balls and red door (its a perfume, it actually smells good...accept when mixed with moth balls), the guy that made belgian waffles directly in front of me, and then put whatever i wanted on top of them, and the very first time i tried eggs benedict.
my mom always made us dress up for such an occasion. she would even use her hot rollers on my hair. i suppose it was to impress the moth ball ladies who of course ended up turning their noses up at us anyway due to at least one of the three of us children spilling something on ourselves, fighting, crying, screaming or fidgeting. i think i can even recall my parents taking two separate cars in case of something horribly embarrassing happening. needless to say, easter brunch is quite the tradition on our family.
i am from vancouver originally, but have been living here for a little over 5 years. my younger brother also lives here in toronto. hes a great kid and i always cherish the time we spend together which is rare due to his very demanding schedule with the national ballet company (yes, yes i most definitely am bragging about him).
so easter came around again this year and my bro and i decided not to negate on the brunch tradition our family upholds with such pride. he has a great pancake recipe and i don't like maple syrup (yes i know, such a blasphemous canadian) so i prefer to eat them with fruit.
so what did we make? delicious buttermilk pancakes with strawberry syrup. we also added bacon and eggs with a side of blackberries and blueberries. it was pretty much heaven. especially since we were able to eat outside for (my) first time this year.
so easy and delicious, you don't need a special occasion to make it.

for the pancakes: (makes about 6 or 7 cd sized pancakes)


  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • 3 tbs white sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk (you can use regular 2% milk as long as you add 2 tbs white vinegar with that)
  • 2 tbs veg oil
mix dry ingredients in large mixing bow. use a whisk to ensure there are no lumps. in a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring constantly. whisk together until mixture is thick and smooth. use a non-stick pan at medium-low heat. take a ladle and fill with the pancake mixture. slowly pour at the center of the pan. as it takes shape make circular motions with the ladle to create a larger circle. let cook in pan for a minute or so. as you start to see bubbles rise to the surface of the pancake. when that happens, flip it over. the cooked side should be a smooth, nice golden brown. the pancake will be almost cooked through at this point, so it won't take long to cook the other side. look that the flattest part of the pancake is golden brown, and it should be perfect and delicious. stack high and enjoy!
*note: serve with the side you cooked first facing up, just for presentation's sake.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

rediculously delicious pan seared pork cutlet wrapped pineapple

days like today remind me of how lucky i am to live with a chef. a recipe i would never think of myself, and that is so spontaneous and creative, that it blatantly reminds me once again that i am definitely not a chef, i am just some one who likes to cook.
only someone who really and truthfully has a real understanding of food would whip this up on a whim. but luckily for you, (but especially me cuz i get to eat it), i am here to tell you the recipe. give it a try, because i am telling you right now, this is what i would call a keeper (kinda like my man).

like every good chef or at home cook, it is very important to understand that experimentation is the mother of perfection. with every dish you will more than likely have something you want to change about it. here at qsk (oh yeah, that's right, i threw out the abbreviated version of our site, and so early on in the game!), we really want to tell you what we did, and let you know what we would do to change it. the recipes we give will always be the ones that we wish we did, if there was anything we would have liked to change about them. but we really want to let you know why we are telling you to do it differently. we just want you to learn with us in this c-c-crazy world of food.

this recipe, although truthfully delicious, there were a few thi
ngs that could have been changed. for instance, the pork cutlet wasn't pounded out, which should have been done. pounding out the cutlet would have made it easier to wrap, and couldRemove Formatting from selection have also ultimately changed the texture of the meat to something a little less tough. to pound down the meat you can pound it with a mallet on a cutting board or if you don't have a mallet, leave it in the zip-lock you marinated it in and use any hard flat surface like a rolling pin. (i hope i don't have to tell you to make sure all the air is out of the zip-lock first...i can only assume the quality of intellect my readers posses is at par with mine. the expectation of which really isn't that high in this case).
also, we put it in the oven first, and then seared it, when it should have been the other way around. searing the pork first would have really sealed in those juices and fantastic flavors, and would have helped in keeping the pork a slightly more moist.
but i really have to say, despite it's very slight flaws, one of my favorite meals so far this year.

the following recipe is an original, but with a tweak or two for optimum enjoyment.

for the marinade (make this first)

you will need:

  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 lime, juice and zest*
  • 1 1/2 tbs ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk lemon grass
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbs shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tbs sugar (white)
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • salt (pinch)
  • pepper (pinch)
combine all of these ingredients in a zip-lock bag, add pork cutlets and marinade for 2-3 hours at most.
*it is very important that you don't marinate this longer that that because the acidity of lime juice actually cooks the meat. marinating for any longer than that can effect the texture and flavor of the meat. if you wanted the marinate the cutlets over night, you can use the same recipe, sans lime juice/zest and add it a couple hours before you cook.

for hot sauce (while the pork is marinating, make this hot sauce. i would recommend serving it cold anyway, so you can make it whenever and use it from the fridge. this hot sauce can go with any number of things and really has a fantastic depth in flavor. i am going to try and keep this on hand from now on.)
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbs ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • zest and juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tbs sriracha chili sauce
  • 1/2 tbs honey
  • splash or two rice vinegar
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • splash beer
in a sauce pan at medium heat, cook the shallots, garlic and ginger in vegetable oil. cook until translucent. add a splash of the beer (that you should be enjoying while you cook, of course, i would recommend an ale like zywiec or becks, a couple of my personal favorites), simmer for a minute or two, allowing the beer to de-glaze the pan. de-glazing will take the really intense caramelized flavors that could be sitting on the bottom of the pan and infuses them into whatever else is in it. de-glazing makes things delicious.
add the lime juice, zest and vinegar vinegar, saute for a minute or even less, then add the ketchup, chili sauce. cook for around 5 minutes. use either an immersion blender, food processor or regular blender. blend until smooth. serve hot or cold.

for the pineapple glaze
  • 1 inch thick sliced pineapple, halved
  • 2 tbs honey
  • cinnamon (pinch)
  • salt (pinch)
  • pepper (pinch)
  • cayenne (pinch)
mix these ingredients in a bowl and brush the pineapple with the glaze. remove pork cutlets from marinade and place on flat surface. place glazed pineapple on one end of cutlet. roll. like a piggy in a blanket. if you want you can secure the blanket with a toothpick. sear in each side in a pan over medium heat. bake in oven at 350 (F) for 20 minutes.

for mango salad
  • whole mango, julienne/match stick
  • 1/2 red pepper, julienne/match stick
  • whole large carrot, julienne/match stick
  • 1/4 red onion, julienne/match stick
  • equal parts arugula/mango and red pepper
  • 1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts
mix all these ingredients, leaving out the peanuts, in a medium sized bowl. wait until ready to serve to add following dressing:

for mango salad dressing

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup rice win vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1/8 of a cup mint
  • 1 clove garlic
  • salt (pinch)
  • pepper (pinch)
  • 1 lime, juice and zest
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (white)
  • 1/4 tsp fish sauce
add dressing to mango salad right before serving to ensure that the arugula doesn't wilt, and the mango doesn't go to soggy. also if you let a dressing sit on a salad for too long, the vinegars, being the strong flavor they are, can over power the more subtle flavors or the red pepper and mango. top with crushed honey roasted peanuts. serve next to pork cutlet rolled pineapple.
add hot sauce.
and again.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

eezy-peezy mango salsa

i make this all the time.
pretty much every time i have a dinner party i am putting this on the table for snacks even if it doesn't go with the theme of the dinner. why? because its freaking delicious. and so easy.
i actually thought of this recipe whilst slightly intoxicated at a dinner party my dear friend toni was having. i have had a lot of food epiphanies when i am slightly intoxicated, some of them brilliant, but lets face it, everything is a good idea after 4 glasses of wine, like wielding a large knife and chopping up tomatoes. (don't drink and chop)
luckily this is one of those rare occasions where my good sense has shone through my wine/beer-fog.
incidentally, this recipe goes great with white wine or beer.

this recipe will serve a group of 4-6 on an appetizer level. i would recommend you also try an eezy-peezy guacamole to serve along side it for optimum snacking potential.

you will need

  • 1 whole ripe mango, chopped
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped (you can seed them if you like the texture a little thicker or to avoid a runny salsa)
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 of a jalapeno, seeded, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tbs of olive oil
  • salt (to taste)
  • pepper (to taste)
  • hot sauce (to taste)

so basically you throw all of this in a bowl and mix together.
i suggest serving this with tostitos whole grain chips, because they are shockingly good for the money. if you don't mind spending a little more, blue corn chips compliment this really well.
in this recipe, its really important to make sure the onion in chopped very finely. if its in larger chunks the onion can really overpower the other flavors.
if you don't like spicy then i would suggest on nixing either the hot sauce or jalapeno. always taste your food as you're making it. if you like it, chances are other people will too.
you can substitute more tomato if you would rather a less sweet salsa, but i personally like to keep the mango/tomato ratio on a pretty even keel.

pictures will be provided later

Monday, March 29, 2010

lessons learned?

i had a lot of fun making chili for the first time.
probably because like i pointed out in the previous post, its really hard to screw up.
the great thing about this dish if you're making it with bread bowls is that you can hollow out the buns while the chili is simmering. use the excess bread and dip it into the chili as it cooks, testing the flavor. you can also use some olive oil and balsamic as a snack to tide you over while you wait salivating for the chili to reduce.
if you wanted to add an extra little kick to the recipe you could melt the cheese on top of the chili before you topped it with tomatoes. bake around 350 until cheese bubbles. .
the buns i used in this instance were a little bit too big i think. there was no way that greg or i could have finished the whole thing.
chili always tastes better after it sits for a little while. if you want to freeze it i would suggest cooling it in the fridge first. chili can apparently last up to 6 months in the freezer. i always finish my chili before then, so i couldn't tell you from experience, but you are definitely good for at least a month.
never be afraid to experiment with chili. this is why its one of the funnest and most carefree things to make. it can be a medley of so many different things that you can feel totally uninhibited in your creating. add some different spices. substitute different veggies. try going totally vegetarian. every spice, every kind of fish, beef, poultry, veggie, it all tastes good when simmered on low heat served with sour cream, cheese, or garlic toast.
next time i think i will try making chili with a different kind of meat. maybe turkey?
more to follow soon...

mexican chili (sans authenticity)

welcome to the first entry!
seeing as i want to make a good impression i thought i would do something that was a challenge for me, in that i had not done it before, but easy in that you can't really screw this one up.
i thought i would just let everyone know that i love mexican food. if ever given the opportunity to put a mexican swing on a dish, i will probably do it. cilantro, avocado, chipotle = amazing. home made salsa and guacamole recipes soon to follow.
so i took a classic beef chili recipe, spiced it up...and it really turned out pretty amazing.

this recipe serves 8 with possible leftovers....but leftovers are best so make it for 2 or four and throw it in the fridge or freezer to really let the flavors marinate.

you will need:

  • 3lbs ground beef
  • 2 large green peppers, chopped
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1 19 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed(you can use black beans or kidney beans if you prefer)
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes, in their juices
  • 1 14 oz can tomato sauce
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 12 oz can corn, drained and rinsed
  • 7 cloves garlic
  • 3 tbs ancho chili powder
  • 3 tbs chili powder
  • 3 tbs cumin
  • 1 tbs sugar (cane or white)
  • 1 tbs ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried/1tbs fresh chopped thyme
  • 1 tsp dried/1tbs fresh chopped oregano
  • 1 tbs red wine or cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of seeded tomato, chopped
  • 2 tbs copped fresh cilantro
  • 3 cup grated marble or monterrey jack cheese
  • 4 avocado, sliced
  • bread bowl, (as many as you are serving). this can be any type of bun, preferably with a thicker crust, to hold in moisture. it should be relatively deep so it can hold a hearty portion of chili. i am not actually sure of the kind of bread i used in this instance, but i think it is a kind of portuguese bun.
  • 2-4 chipotle peppers, canned in adobo sauce. i used 4. i thought it was awesome, but then i like spicy. i will say however, that when topped with the avocado and cheese, i think any heat was really nicely cut with their creamy textures. you can find these at any mexican food mart in kensington, or even larger chain grocery stores like price choppers, no frills or metro.
things like garlic, oregano, thyme, pepper, can all be adjusted to taste. this recipe doesn't call for any salt because of the other spices containing a lot of it, but that's whats great about chili, you can pretty much make it to any taste you like.

  • in a large pot (and you will need a large pot), brown the ground beef. try not to break up the beef too loosely. larger chunks of beef makes for a savory, thick texture. drain fat. you can leave the fat in if you like for flavor, but you may need to skim it off after it has cooled and been refrigerated for a day or two.
  • add onion and green pepper. cook until onion is soft and translucent. really make it sweat. stir it often to mix flavors.
  • add garlic, ancho chili powder, chili powder, cumin, sugar, thyme, oregano, and pepper. cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring often.
  • add beef broth, corn, diced tomatoes (in their juice), beans, tomato paste, tomato sauce, vinegar, chipotle peppers. stir.
  • take a whiff, cuz it smells amazing.
  • let the flavors hang out and get to know eachother, simmer for 2 to 3 hours, until thick. stirring often.
  • if you can, refrigerate overnight.
  • take buns and cut a small portion off the top, which can act as a "lid". using a knife or (clean) hands, hollow out the buns until they can fit a substantial amount of chili.
  • halve avocado and remove pit. slice avocado vertically, not piercing skin. scoop out with spoon.
  • fill bowls with chili and place avocado on top. you can make it fancy if you want, but it will taste the same either way.
  • top with grated cheese and seeded, chopped tomatoes.
  • throw some cilantro on top for extra flavor if desired.
  • eat. be happy.