Friday, January 30, 2009

Winter Root Vegetable Salad

I'm all about using the internet for any food recipes I may need, but sometimes it is nice to have a coordinated selection of recipes to browse through. So last week I finally broke down and bought my second vegetarian cook book.

For the past few years I've been living out of "The Clueless Vegetarian" by Evelyn Raab. It's a great starter book: it explains the different types of vegetarians, introduces you to alternative protein and iron rich foods gently (lots of beans, tofu, seitan, tempeh, etc.), helps you and your family work with your vegetarian-ness so you can all eat peacfully, and helps out with lots of other necessities otherwise lost on someone new to the diet.

I thought it was finally time to purchase another veggie book, and I ended up selecting "The Vegetarian Cook's Bible" by Pat Crocker. I'm really enjoying the book: there is a ton of information about different fruits, veggies and herbs, including nutritional info, when they are in season, how to store them and what to do with them. She also includes recipes to create your own spice mixtures, such as red and green curries, Cajun and Ethiopian Hot Pepper as well as tea blends. Best of all, her recipes are seasonal (she must be Canadian), and often she includes suggestions on how to make a summer dish with what's available during the cold months and vice-versa.

This is the second recipe I've tried from the book (the first was a mushroom-barley soup with chocolate) and both turned out well.

Warm Root Vegetable Salad with Winter Vegetable Dressing

2 beets; trimmed and quartered (I didn't have beets handy so left them out)
2 small turnips; trimmed and quartered (I grabbed rutabaga instead)
2 carrots cut into large chunks
1 parsnip cut into large chunks
(I added one small sweet potato as well)
1/2 onion chopped into large chunks (I used red)
1 can (10 oz/300 g) water chestnuts; drained and chopped (I omitted these)
1/3 cup Winter Vegetable Dressing (recipe below)

In a small saucepan, cover beets with water. Cover and bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and let cool slightly, then slip skins off.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, cover turnips, carrots and parsnip with water. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and cool slightly (I cooked everything a bit less, drained it, then through it all into the oven with the onion chunks, olive oil, salt and pepper to roast everything slightly).

In a large bowl, toss the cooked veggies, onion and water chestnuts with the Winter Vegetable Dressing, Serve warm or at room temperature.

Winter Vegetable Dressing

3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp curry; home-made or store-bought (I used store bought)
2 tsp organic can sugar (I used some Agave nectar)

In a jar with a lid or small bowl, combine oil, orange juice, vinegar, curry and sugar. Shake or whisk well to mix.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

U of A's International Week 2009: Hungry for Change

I noticed that Sharon from Only Here for the Food is off to the Food: Today, Tomorrow, Together Conference this weekend and I'm really looking forward to her posts on the topic of food security (also I hope that she feels better!).

On the topic of food conferences, it seems like a good time to mention U of A's International Week (which is loosely tied to the Food Security Conference happening this weekend) beginning on Monday, February 2nd and running through Friday, February 6th. This year's topic is "Hungry for Change: Transcending Feast, Famine and Frenzy".

Lectures, debates, film and photography will look at food disparity and food security issues and the impact of political, economic, environmental and other factors at local, national and international levels.

My favourite part of International Week each year (other than the actual events/lectures) is that everything is free of charge (with the exception of the finale concert on Friday evening). You can find information on International Week (aka iWeek) as well as a program guide at this link.

I'm hoping to catch "Deconstructing Dinner (based on a weekly radio show from Nelson BC)" from 11-12:30pm (on Tuesday the 3rd) in the Timms Centre Lobby, where Joe Steinman will be deconstructing a plate of food made with products from a food supply corporation that has taken over a large amount of food production globally. Later from 2-3:20pm that afternoon (Timms Centre), Joe Steinman will also discuss Community Supported Agriculture, and a project in Nelson and Creston BC, where residents were given different grains to grow in an effort to make their food production more sustainable. This is followed by tips and ideas on how to start your own sustainable agricultural project.

Also, on Friday the 6th in the Dinwoodie Lounge (second floor, SUB) at noon, a community working on their own local food security issues will share the successes and mistakes they experienced while creating community gardens, school food learning programs, cooking classes and other initiatives in their community.

**Lectures around noon always fill up fast, so arrive early to grab a seat!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

All about the Apple Strudel (and Beef Goulash) at Accent European Lounge

Last night Zed and I decided to find a $20 Fork Fest menu to sample. Our first instinct was to head to Blue Plate where they are offering their $20 vegetarian menu (an appetizer and entree) this week. However we thought we should go somewhere a little less familiar, and Accent European Lounge, a newer Original Fare member, turned out to be the destination of choice.

We had visited Accent sometime last year on a dessert craze, where we ventured to restaurants simply for dessert and coffee (ie. Cafe Select Southside (now closed), High Level, Leva, etc.). We had ordered the apple strudel and fell in love with it, so we thought trying their entrees would be fitting.

The Lounge had not changed at all since last we had last visited - a small but fair size, dark wood everywhere and a small shortage of lighting (there are some dark pictures below). There were three other couples who seemed to be on dessert when we arrived so there was a healthy choice of seating (we chose a high table close to the window). Our server brought us menus and a wine/beer list, pointing out the Fork Fest features on the back. A few minutes later she was back to see if we were in need of drinks - I went for an Alley Kat Amber Brown Ale and Zed for a Keith's.

Accent's Fork Fest menu (their selections from the regular menu) consisted of a choice of House or Greek Salad, entree choices of Weiner Schnitzel, Beef Goulash, Steak Tartar or Grilled Veg Stack with Bocconcini and Basil Pesto, and for dessert a choice of Apple Strudel or Crepes. I went for the Greek Salad, Vegetable stack and Strudel, and Zed opted for the House Salad, Beef Goulash and also for the Strudel.

A couple minutes after placing our orders our server appeared again to inform me that they would be unable to make the Veg stack as they were out of the portobello mushrooms. She offered to replace the Vegetable stack with their Vegetable Pasta - because the other three Fork Fest options were meat, it was an offer that I really couldn't turn down.

The salads came out quickly. My Greek salad was a good combination of red onion, Feta, Olives and lots of peppery Arugala. Zed on the other hand didn't care for his House Salad. I have to admit that after a small sample the sweet-earthy dressing didn't quite agree with me either, but as Zed is not at all a fan of salads, it would have taken something incredible to win him over.

The House Salad

The Greek Salad

Our entrees arrived soon after. Zed's Goulash looked good - a deep rich brown colour, it was full of red and green peppers and lots of beef and Paprika. On the wet snowy evening it was definitely fitting, and Zed really enjoyed it. While my Vegetable Pasta was good, it was nothing too special - chunks of zucchini, red pepper, onion, broccoli and cauliflower were tossed in a sauce that reminded me of Bruschetta, along with linguine (I'm no good with raw tomatoes, so the dish already put me off a bit). In the end there was nothing really wrong with the dish, maybe it just needs a bit of an update.

Beef Goulash

Vegetable Pasta

I was glad to finish with the Apple Strudel, as it almost made up for my entree. Two nice sized slices of Strudel arrived with a pleasant aroma of walnuts and cinnamon. The outside layer of dough was lovely and crispy, while the inside was full of soft apples and lots of finely ground walnuts.

Apple Strudel

While Accent was good, it definitely wasn't the best meal we've had in the city. But although the lounge was a bit darker than we normally prefer, the casual service meant that we could linger and talk as long as we wanted (preferably with some of the strudel), something we both appreciated; because of this we will likely return (plus, I really want to return to try the vegetable stack...).

Accent European Lounge
8223 104 Street

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Our Best Loved Day Starters

Every morning from Monday through Friday Zed heads off at 7AM to work, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays, for a reason I cannot remember, I scheduled myself in for an 8AM Macroeconomics lecture. There are a few choice indulgences we feel are necessary to start these mornings off, and here they are:

When it comes to Zed, he needs one thing in the morning - a latte. For convenience sake, he often ends up at the Second Cup in Oliver Square, where a latte is in process as soon as he walks through the door. Not only do they carry (in Zed's words) a "ginormous latte," but Second Cup always seems to have a well stocked supply of soft, jumbo sized Ginger Snap cookies, and one of these means happy snacking for the rest of the day.

In my case, the trek to and from class is peppered with several cafes that are either on my route or just a few blocks away. If I am fortunate to wake up and get ready early enough, a Chai awaits me at Leva (they open at 7AM). Today though, I slipped into class with only a couple minutes to spare and no hot drink to sip as I listened to the professor speak of productivity and economic growth. So afterwards I decided to make my way over to Sugarbowl to get one of their giant cinnamon buns to go. I got there early enough that they were still warm (I suppose this is one of the perks of being up so early), and carried it home.

A Sugarbowl Cinnamon Bun

Half of the cinnamon filled goodness went to me to enjoy as I dove into my textbook, and the other half is neatly wrapped and safely tucked away on a high shelf for Zed to eat this evening.

Although all of these stops are open during the evening (often late into it), we are both very glad they open their doors in the morning to help start our days off right.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Fantastic Fork Fest offerings at the Red Ox Inn

Worried that Zed and I would not be able to get a reservation at Red Ox Inn during Fork Fest, I called yesterday to inquire whether or not any seats were available for this Thursday evening. Luckily they had a table for two at either 8 or 8:45, so I happily took the 8PM seating, which ended up working well with the bus schedule.

We walked through the door and immediately found that we had arrived in a tiny (but tastefully decorated in a contemporary style) dining room. I had heard Red Ox was small, but I was still expecting somewhat of a larger space (the tight space worked out well until a louder group of six arrived, who also ended up taking lots of flash photography. I think they almost blinded the woman next to them, and we thought they would have been asked to turn the flash off, but...). At any rate, we were greeted at the door by one of two servers who took our coats, seated us, and immediately provided us with water.

A lengthy wine list was already laid out on the table, but after taking a glance I think Zed and I both knew we needed a beer. Our server appeared again with both the Fork Fest menu as well as the regular menu (he mentioned that he was aware we were down for Fork Fest (I asked them to note it when making the reservation), but just wanted to let us know the regular menu was still available). He inquired about drinks and in return we asked about our beloved beer. I was glad to find that Anchor Steam and Alley Kat were a part of the lengthy list, so I went for the Anchor Steam and Zed for a Keith's (apparently the last in the house).

The second server appeared to ask whether or not we had any questions about the menu, which I did - I was in for the Wild Mushroom Soup with Madeira and Gruyere-Mushroom rye crostini, but found out it included chicken broth (not unexpected). But he did mention that holding the bacon in the Warm Goat Cheese, spinach, almond and cranberry-port dressed salad was an option, so I took it. I also chose the Seared Arctic Char with ratatouille and mashed potatoes with a garlic-butter sauce and the warm chocolate cake for dessert. Zed did take the Mushroom soup, then also opted for the Char and chocolate cake.

Our meal started off with the soup and salad shortly after placing our orders. This was the first time Zed had ever looked at me and said, "Wow, that's really good," after taking a bite of any food, especially soup. My salad was also very well done: the tart cranberries mixed well with the sweet port and coated the spinach and almonds nicely. A warm round of soft goat cheese crusted with Panko bread crumbs sat on top of the salad and provided a nice fresh and tangy side to the dish.

The char followed soon after. This was a great entree - the meaty fish was nicely lightened by its crispy skin, and the slightly spicy ratatouille set it off well. I was really glad to see the crispy skin on the fish; ever since I saw Jamie Oliver do this with a piece of salmon skin I have wanted to try it. (Also, in the middle of our mains Sharon Yeo of Only Here for the Food arrived with Mack and was seated next to us, so a review of Red Ox will be coming from her shortly. I was really glad to meet Sharon, however brief, as her blog was the first I stumbled on about food in Edmonton. And although I know taking pictures of our restaurant fare is important, I haven't quite worked up the confidence yet to do this at each place, and I know Sharon will have some nice shots of their meals.)

The evening finished off nicely with the warm chocolate cake and a scoop of vanilla bean. The cake was full of a deep rich chocolate, and the warmth met nicely with the coldness of the ice cream.

I also have to mention the service - Zed and I both agreed the service was some of the best we've found in Edmonton. From taking our coats upon entry to the knowledge and help they provided with drinks and food, it helped make the evening really fantastic. The two dining room servers sort of tagged teamed it throughout the evening, not because the other one didn't have time, but more because it looked like we were ready to order, we were finished our meals or were in need of a cup of coffee. We both enjoyed this approach and thought we received the perfect amount of attention.

At the end of the evening Zed and I were really impressed with Red Ox Inn - the food was fantastic and the service really matched and made the evening. Fork Fest provided a great introduction to the restaurant and Zed and I will definitely be returning for more.

Red Ox Inn
9420 91 Street
Open for dinner only Tuesday - Sunday beginning at 5PM

Lots of Bloggers have hit up Red Ox in the last little while; check out some of these write ups: from Take it and Like it, from Foodie Suz, from Brulee Blog

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

$8.00 Po-Boys... Budget Friendly at DaDeO on Mondays or Tuesdays (or any day really)

Zed and I headed to our Tuesday night yoga class, after work and classes, already hungry. After an hour and a half of rumbling stomachs, we decided to stop for something quick on the way home. I know Fork Fest is going on right now, but seriously, nothing beats the $8.00 Po-Boy bargain offered up by DaDeO on Mondays and Tuesdays.

We arrived around 8:30, and the restaurant was packed (as usual), but luckily a couple was just leaving and a booth was quickly prepared for us. I love the tables at DaDeO: they are cozy but still roomy enough to store a back pack and the massive amount of winter attire we all carry around with us at this time of year; plus, every two-seater booth is set up with its own juke-box, complete with old tunes from the 50s. The vibe of the restaurant, in general, is one of the best on the Whyte Ave strip, with relaxed and friendly staff, an eclectic mix of customers and a constant supply of "old-time blues" (I love blues, especially the old, soulful, acoustic stuff...).

Our drink orders were up first, and we didn't deviate from our favourites - I went with a Cherry Coke and Zed for the classic version. We were quickly supplied with a miniature biscuit each, and a small helping of jalapeño jelly. For entrees we of course chose Po-Boys. I think I have tried every fish or veggie version of the sandwich, and last night I went with the blackened catfish. Zed went for the blackened chicken, his favourite version of any of the options. A Po-Boy comes with your choice of Potato Hash or Veggie Jambalaya and a small helping of coleslaw. Zed went for nothing but coleslaw (they gave him a bunch extra though), and I upgraded to Sweet Potato Fries (an extra $1... you really can't go to DaDeO without trying these things!).

Once the sandwiches arrived the Cajun dry spice peppering my fries and catfish hit me square in the nose, and I couldn't wait to dig in. The catfish was set out on the salsa and lettuced bun in thick chunks, blackened for a crispy, smoky outer layer that left the sweet meatiness of the fish intact. The famous Sweet Potato Fries lived up to their title once again, with a crispy battered outside and sweet soft inside, sprinkled with more seasoning, I haven't had any better in the city. Zed reported his blackened chicken to be just as good as always, with the darkened seasoned outside providing a nice tickle in the back of his throat, while still leaving the chicken moist and tender.

Blackened Chicken w/ Slaw (sorry it's so blurry)

Blackened Catfish w/ Sweet Potato Fries

As if the deep fried goodness wasn't enough, we decided to share a dessert (we scored on the sandwiches so we had to). We had sampled the pecan pie once before, so this time we settled on the in-house made coconut pie with whipped cream. A large piece of pie arrived a couple minutes later, and we dug in. The pie was pure shredded coconut on top of a thin pie crust at the bottom - I love coconut and found out this was a great way to eat it.

Coconut Pie w/ lots of whip

One of the best parts of the evening was the bill - the two of us got out of the place for under $30 (not including tip). Dessert ($6) could have probably have been left for an even better bargain.

The Monday and Tuesday Po-Boy special will always keep us going back for more, but if you are strolling down (or up) Whyte Ave., check out DaDeO for some eats that are guaranteed filling and budget friendly.

DaDeO Diner and Bar
10548A 82 (Whyte) Ave
**Dadeo is a licensed bar, and you need to be 18 to go in**

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Study hard at Muddy Waters Cafe

Zed and I were in need of a coffee last night, so around nine we decided to head over to Muddy Waters.

Just across the street from us, we had passed the cafe many times but never gone in. However we had purposely stopped at the door to check their hours this past weekend and discovered they were open until midnight on weekdays and Saturdays, and until 11PM on Sundays - I love cafes that are open late. As more of a night person than morning, I love going to have a tea/coffee before turning in.

We arrived in the brightly lit cafe and placed our orders: a chai latte for me (my favourite tea drink is really a London Fog, but I've decided to compare the Chai, readily available/offered at any cafe in the area), and a cafe latte for Zed. We took our seats, as the server who took our orders at the till promised to bring out our drinks when they were ready - Zed and I both appreciated this.

In addition to coffee and tea, the cafe also offers bagel sandwiches, wraps, soups and other nibbles (ie. hummus and pita, veggies and dip, etc.). They also had what were advertised as "homemade desserts," which included cakes, cookies and other treats (I didn't inquire whether these were actually made in house, but they all looked fairly true to the title). Full catering services of the above are also available.

Our drinks arrived just as I had stuck my nose in an Art History textbook and Zed a novel. As I sipped my chai, I found it had a nice addition of nutmeg but otherwise it wasn't really comparable to those found at Leva or Remedy, just a few blocks away. Zed's latte was good, but again nothing to write home about.

The Chai

Compared to other University cafes open during the evening, Muddy Waters was bright and well lit, which had attracted many students. The whole place had a bit of a Bohemian vibe, something like Remedy; although they seem to have struck a cord with studying students more than anything.

In the end, we both found Muddy Waters bright light and soft music to be a great place to sit and study/read, but if we are in need of a good coffee/chai and simply want to sit and enjoy them, we will most likely head down the street to Leva or Remedy (Leva is now open until 11PM Wednesday through Saturday; Remedy until ~midnight every evening).

Muddy Waters Cafe (Liscensed coffee bar and catering)
8211 111 Street

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A return to Padmanadi's

Zed and I ended up eating at Padmanadi's on Saturday night with a friend that we had promised to take there.

After our evening of Curry "Chicken" and Potatoes, Ginger "Mutton" and other lovely treats, Zed and I agreed that our conclusions about Oriental Veggie House the night before were still correct: while the food was good, it didn't quite reach the level of Padmanadi's rich, colourful and flavourful dishes.

Our friend, a hardcore carnivore (this was her first encounter with "fake meat"), really enjoyed all the dishes... but like most, she found it creepy how the "wheat-gluten" could so successfully masquerade as chicken, pork, shrimp and mutton/beef.

I always get questioned about "fake meat": why don't you just eat the real thing? And if you don't, why would you want anything reminiscent of meat?

I can't explain it. I enjoy the chewy, satisfying texture of the wheat-gluten products offered at Padmanadi's, but this still doesn't mean I want to eat the real thing...

In the end, a trip to Padmanadi's is wonderful; and as the lines and long waits for a table have shown, other vegetarians and carnivores think it is too. With a whole menu guaranteed non-meat to choose from (whether you like meat or not), their flavourful dishes are a treat for everyone.

Padmanadi Vegetarian Restaurant
10626 97 Street

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mmmm... Veggie "Meat" at The Oriental Veggie House

Yesterday evening Zed and I decided to head downtown to check out The Oriental Veggie House. After passing the sketchy pub on the corner of 105th Ave. and 101 Street, we headed east to find the restaurant tucked away on 100 Street.

It was about 8PM and I was expecting the place to be full (I was thinking of Padmanadi's). Instead though, we arrived at an empty restaurant and an owner ready to seat us. He provided us with menus and tea, and went back to whatever work he was doing on his laptop while we decided what to order.

A friend who frequents the restaurant suggested trying the Curried Veggie Lamb Hot Pot, so that was already on the list; Zed added an order of spring rolls and the Veggie Beef and Vegetables with Black Bean Sauce, and we topped everything off with an order of steamed rice.

Although we arrived in an apparently empty place, another party of two arrived shortly after us and people wandered in and out throughout our meal to pick up their take out orders - I was glad to see there were more customers than initially encountered.

Our spring rolls arrived about 5 minutes after our order was taken, and they were fantastic - with a filling comprised primarily of cabbage, they were completely original. These were followed quickly by the Lamb Hot Pot and Black Bean dish. As our server set down the lamb dish, I could hear the sauce sizzling away, and before leaving, he dramatically removed the lid and left us with the still sizzling wonders inside.

Spring Rolls (2 of 4)

The Hot Pot was just as our friend described: lots of chewy "lamb" (I've never tried the real thing before, so I'm not sure what the texture is supposed to be like...), carrots, bean sprouts and potatoes swimming in a spicy yellow sauce. While I can't say I enjoyed it as much as Padmanadi's Chicken Curry and Potatoes, it was definitely a close second. The "beef" dish was just as good: lots of broccoli, carrots, celery and thin slices of "beef" encased in a thick, dark and slightly spicy black bean sauce.

"Lamb" Hot Pot

"Beef" and Vegetables with Black Bean sauce

While paying, Zed inquired whether or not they make all the veggie meat in house, and apparently it is shipped in from Taiwan. Extra is also brought in to sell "as is" in the restaurant, which I thought was a real plus.

Although neither of us can say we enjoyed the dishes quite as much as Padmanadi's versions, we will definitely be back to Oriental Veggie House to further explore their extensive menu (I really want to try the "shark fin" and "veggie duck" dishes...).

Oriental Veggie House
10586 100 Street

Friday, January 16, 2009

Fork Fest!!!

Original Fare's Fork Fest begins next week, running from January 19-22, and again from January 26-29.

We're always excited about this event... there are a few pricier Original Fare Restaurants we still haven't visited, and the $20 or $35 three course dinners make them more within our reach.

I think we've settled on the Red Ox Inn, although the Blue Pear just published their menu today, and it is very tempting. And while we've been before, the thought of Accent Lounge's wonderful Apple Strudel is incredibly luring.

Published menus for this edition of Fork Fest can be viewed here. And the list of participating restaurants can be found here.

Eggs, eggs, eggs: Cheese Soufflé

Last week I spotted the January issue of City Palate at the Movie Store, so I snagged it for a quick read in between studying. The theme on the cover stated "Cheap Eats," and with me returning to school once again and our relocation to a new neighborhood, Zed and I are definitely on the hunt for some of those.

Upon closer inspection the cheap eats turned out to be eggs and left over turkey. The turkey was out for me, but we had somehow accumulated a couple dozen eggs over the holidays (baking that never happened, pancakes never made, etc.) that needed to be used before they reached their end. Two recipes appealed to me and seemed well within my grasp: the Cheese Soufflé and the Barefoot Contessa's (aka. Ina Garten's) baked eggs (the latter I have made before... they are amazing).

I don't have an 8" soufflé dish and figured purchasing one would make the dish less of a "cheap eat," so instead I divided the cheesy batter into 6 smaller ramekins - this seemed to work out well. I also added about an inch of water to the bottom of the tray to keep them from drying out.


The soufflé turned out fairly well: they actually rose, which I doubted they would at first and they had a nice cheesy, crusty top layer with lots of soft egg beneath. If I made this again though, I think I might add some onion, or even a vinegary salad on the side to cut through the richness of the milk and cheese, otherwise, they were lovely.


CHEESE SOUFFLÉ (from City Palate)

Tips (from City Palate): Have a light hand when folding in the egg whites, and don't open the oven door when they are cooking. Make sure you serve them as soon as the come out of the oven, as they will fall shortly afterwards.

3 T butter, plus extra to grease the dish
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano, and a bit extra for sprinkling
3 T flour
1 cup Milk; scalded (I used 2%)
Sea salt and fresh-cracked black pepper
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
Pinch of Nutmeg
5 extra large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/2 cup cheese, crumbled (Roquefort, extra-old Gouda, or aged cheddar - I used Cheddar)
5 extra large egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 t cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 400 °F. Butter the inside of an 8 inch soufflé dish and lightly sprinkle with Parmigiano.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Take off heat and whisk in hot milk, salt, pepper, cayenne, and nutmeg. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, for 1 minute until smooth and thick.

Whisk in the egg yolks one at a time. Stir in cheese and the remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano, then transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Put egg whites, cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (I did this by hand with an old fashioned whisk for a fantastic upper arm workout). Beat on low speed for 1 minute, on medium speed for 1 minute, then finally on high speed until firm, glossy peaks form.

Whisk 1/4 of the egg whites into the cheese sauce to lighten, then fold in the rest. Pour into the soufflé dish and smooth the top. Take a knife or spatula and draw a large circle along the top as this helps the soufflé rise evenly. Place in the middle of the oven. Turn the temperature down to 375 °F. Bake for 30-35 minutes (less if in ramekins; I over did mine a bit) until puffed and golden brown. Serve Immediately. Serves 4.

Monday, January 12, 2009

HUB Mall eats: Motherly's Bakery

I was on my way to meet a friend for lunch today in HUB, and decided to stop for a Tuna salad sandwich at Motherly's (towards the south end of the mall). To my knowledge there are only three other outlets (in HUB Mall) where I can acquire a tuna fish sandwich: Subway (not happening), Java Jive (not quite enough fixings and too salty) and The Lunch Box (similar to Java Jive's option).

Of all the choices, I quite enjoy Motherly's sandwiches: there is a simple choice of homemade white or brown bread, your choice of veggies (just plenty of lettuce and onion for me) and a pickle on the side. All this mid-day loveliness puts you back about $6.50 or so, but it's well worth it.

More on Campus eats to follow soon...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Lazy Saturday lunch at Leva

After an early jaunt to the Strathcona Farmers' Market this morning, Zed and I came home to nap and enjoy our delectable purchases (Happy Camel Pita bread and hummus, Maple Walnut Fudge and carrots... also a savory vegetable pie for later). Once our breakfast of fudge had worn off, we decided to head over to Leva for a late lunch.

It appeared that many others had experienced a similar brainwave, as the cafe was packed. We successfully made it past the gelati and dessert coolers without a glimpse to place our orders of a chai latte for me, along with a margherita pizza, and a cafe latte and chicken pizza for Zed. We snagged a table for two just as a couple was leaving, and sat down to sip our drinks and await our pizzas.

I love Leva's chai lattes - they are creamy and smooth with a mild chai flavour (although I quite enjoy the strength of Remedy's as well). Zed equally enjoyed his latte - artfully prepared with freshly ground beans, this drink continually remains his favourite.

Neither of us have stopped by the cafe in about a year (we used to frequent once or twice a week during weekday evenings for a coffee and dessert, but I believe they have slightly shortened their hours now), but the place really hadn't changed. Still the sleek, modern decor, the marble tables and countertops and beautiful art. The only thing different was the crowd - on this Saturday afternoon the place was packed with families, happily munching on pizza and desserts.

Our pizzas arrived and were just like we remembered - a perfectly thin crunchy crust and well dispersed toppings, wisely placed to keep the crust from becoming overloaded. Zed thoroughly enjoyed his chicken pizza, and gobbled it up in no time. My margherita pizza was just as good, with a sweet tomato base, a satisfying amount of boccocini and mozzerella cheeses, and some fresh basil to finish it off.

Full of pizza, we made the very odd move of skipping dessert (although the cream puffs came close to pushing us the opposite way), opting to head straight to our next destination, the movie store.

While we missed dessert today, we know another trip to Leva is most definitely in the near future.

Leva Cafe and Bar
11053 86 Avenue

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"Hot Lemonade"

Zed was feeling particularly ill this morning, so on my way home from an early class I stopped at the College Plaza Sobey's to grab a couple lemons for a "Hot Lemonade" - this is another of Zed's Mom's brilliant recipes.

We still had some Coal Lake honey left from the downtown Farmers' Market, so a heaping tablespoon of this, one lemon (with the pulp) and boiling water went into a mug for a sweet, healthy and comforting treat.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back to the grind

It is always strange to venture back to normal life after the holidays, and today Zed headed off to work and I was attending my first day of Winter Semester classes (the latter was definitely a shock after taking Fall off of school). We decided to "celebrate" with pasta, and since we needed a new bottle of olive oil, it was the perfect evening to head over to the Italian Center for the necessary ingredients.

So, after first-day-of-semester errands, I headed downtown to meet Zed. We hopped the number three over to the Shop, grabbed a couple baskets (we are careful not to grab a cart here, since its filling automatically means we will need a new mode of transportation home - we have experienced this at other food locations before), and began to peruse.

We grabbed a number of tasty treats: maple waffle cookies, lots of dried and frozen pastas, a couple loaves of bread, mushrooms, garlic, basil, a few cans of roma tomatoes and our much needed bottle of olive oil.

Dinner this evening was a rich tomato sauce, full of onion, garlic, basil and spinach, served over Gnocchi, with a loaf of fresh bread and butter.

Our main was followed by a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some of the maple wafers we purchased earlier this evening.

Lunch with the Rutherford's at The Arbour Restaurant

This past Saturday, Zed and I decided to take my Nanny (Grandma) for lunch at The Arbour Restaurant.

Zed nor I had ever been into the 98 year old mansion, although I have spent many days sitting in the Hub Mall-Humanities ped-way, staring at the red brick loveliness and longing for tea. My Nanny, it turned out, had been to the restaurant about 10 years prior, and when we arrived in the dining room she commented that it had not changed at all.

Our reservation had been made for 1:15 that afternoon, and as we arrived awhile before our reservation we were invited to sit in the library at the front of the house to wait for our table. As my stomach began to growl we were shown to our table next to the window of the sun room. Although the room warmed up once more patrons entered (and once we obtained a pot of tea), the -30 chill had squeezed its way through the very old windows, providing an uncomfortable draft during the first bit of our visit. If we were to return in the winter again, I would probably make an attempt to request a table in the other room.

We began our lunch with a few pots of tea: Zed chose the Earl Grey, while my Nanny and I shared a pot of The Rutherford House Blend, an Earl Grey with hints of Jasmine. The tea was lovely, and we really did enjoy The House blend. Although I neglected to pick up a package that day, The House blend as well as The Rutherford Rose teas are available for purchase downstairs in the gift shop.

Our mains included the The Chancellor's Chili for Zed, the Turkey Pot Pie for my Nanny and the Roasted Vegetable Strudel for me, along with the "Soup of the Moment," a Tomato and Cheddar Cheese. We sipped our cups of tea and waited for our meals for a good time, however when they did arrive it was well worth the wait.

Zed's Chili was full of beef and vegetables, and was thick and warming on the very cold day. My Nanny's Turkey Pot Pie looked divine: baked in what I will always think of as a French Onion Soup bowl and topped with a crispy layer of puff pastry, she thoroughly enjoyed the time old classic. The Vegetable Strudel was also lovely. A generous amount of green pepper, egg plant, zucchini, onion and mushroom was cradled in a boat shaped square of puff pastry, with the perfect amount of goat cheese crumbled over its top.

As we refilled our tea pots, we decided to order some dessert. Zed chose a Chocolate Mousse, which had taken over the spot that day for the Pot de Creme. While I would have stolen more of the Pot de Creme, the Mousse was light and airy, and definitely full of chocolate. Plenty full after our entrees, my Nanny and I opted to share a helping of the Bread Pudding. We both enjoyed this immensely: full of raisins and served over a warm pool of a caramel style sauce, it was perfect with our final cup of tea.

We were all surprisingly pleased with our meals, and all agreed we would have to head back soon, maybe to try the high tea (something that greatly intrigued my English Nanny... along with their offering of a glass of Sherry with afternoon tea). And for my part, I've decided that instead of staring out of a window, the odd cup of tea (and maybe a scone with raspberry butter) will accompany this semester's studies perfectly.

The Arbour Restaurant at Rutherford House

11153 Saskatchewan Drive, University of Alberta Campus
Lunch and High Tea from 11am - 3pm; tea plates and dessert until 4pm (reservations are highly recommended)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A last visit with Pharo's Pizza and Spaghetti House

Zed and I spent this past New Year's Eve moving out of our downtown space to a more convenient Garneau location. A few friends from Folk Fest corralled to help us out, so we decided to treat them to pizza at Pharo's on 109th after our things were relocated.

We have been to Pharo's numerous times... after putting up tents on campus, moving other friends in the area or to have a meal in general. At any rate, I decided to check out the reviews at Restaurant Thing on Friday to see what others had thought of Pharo's pizza. I discovered in some of the reviews that Pharo's was planning on closing its doors after a lawyer who recently purchased the Garneau theatre property raised rent. The reviews claimed the neighbourhood landmark would be retiring some time in January of 2009, so we thought we'd stop one last time before the closure.

Walking into Pharo's is reminiscent of your grandparents 1970s, wood panelled basement that will never change. The paintings, jukebox and other "vintage" items provide a constant supply of nostalgia... my Edmontonian dad explained this to me the first time we ventured to "his old pizza hang out".

The restaurant was packed, but then it was New Year's Eve so this was expected. Unfortunately, the tiny pizza joint hadn't planned for the extra visits, and this left one staff member prepping pizza and one server taking care of each table.

Either way, we all ordered our drinks, as well as a Popeye Pizza (Spinach, Garlic and Feta) on whole wheat crust for me, a Pepperoni Pizza for two of our friends and two baked lasagnas with meat balls, one for Zed and one for another fellow diner.

Considering the staff-patron ratio, service was fairly prompt... our orders were taken quickly, the food arrived in good time with our drinks being refilled periodically throughout our meal. Although I have developed a love for thinly crusted pizza over the past couple years, I will always enjoy the slightly thicker slices at Pharo's. Thickly covered with a layer of spinach and cheese, the pizza was fantastic and the crust seemed to possess the perfect level of crispness. Zed also favoured his lasagna - baked in a shallow dish that looked as though it had been around since the restaurant's initiation, the lasagna featured a crispy, cheesy topping, with soft noodles, a tangy tomato sauce and plenty of meatballs beneath to satisfy any craving.

As I payed for our meals, I asked our server about the rumors I had seen on the review website earlier that day. Sadly, she had to confirm the rumors - after 30 some-odd years of creating pizza and spaghetti, the owner has decided to retire. And while the restaurant won't be closing as early as January, the official closing date has now been set for June.

Whether it's a bite to eat before a movie, or a pizza with friends, Pharo's will be greatly missed.

Pharo's Pizza and Spaghetti
8708 109 Street