August 06, 2006

The Culinary Week in Review

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My brother, sister in law and nephew have been visiting for the week so I’ve been fairly busy, but still cooking. Or maybe lazy, but still cooking would be more accurate, I’m not really ever that busy, am I? Potato, pot-ah-to. We decided to have an Asian inspired dinner one night, the Quiggies were invited too. Everyone got in on the cooking for this meal. Appetizers were pork and shrimp dumplings from the Quiggies and cold rolls courtesy of me because Dad likes those. I had debated making sushi because I hadn’t done that in a while, but you can’t get good ingredients for that here. There’s definitely no sashimi grade fish in my grocery store, so cold rolls it was they never disappoint. Main dishes included spicy shrimp stir fry, chicken chow mein, ginger beans, bbq ribs and honey and soy glazed chicken wings. My mom, sister in law and I started chopping up all the veggies and organizing each dish so that it would be ready to go when we wanted to cook it. We were going to the beach before dinner so we wanted to have everything ready for when we came back. Dad and my brother were in charge of the bbq, all they had to do before dinner was grill some chicken for the chicken chow mein. Well, they got as far as putting the chicken on the bbq and then we left for the beach. Without removing the chicken from the bbq. Blackened chicken was not on the menu. That chicken was tossed when we finally returned home a couple hours later and they started over with a fresh piece. The second time around garnered much better results. The spicy shrimp stir fry was originally supposed to be chicken but considering the fate of the first chicken, shrimp was definitely the way to go. The chicken chow mein ended up being good despite the slow start, we added in shiitake mushrooms from the mushroom man, (we also picked up some Lion’s Mane mushies and pink oysters while we were there, we’re frying those up with some bbq’d steak tonight). Ginger beans weren’t part of the original plan, but we had a whole lot of them, so there you go. The honey and soy glazed chicken wings were popular, but I’m losing my love of chicken wings, ribs are more substantial. And these ribs were high quality. I added a habanero pepper to the marinade so they had some nice heat to them. Dad and I are already planning a strictly ribs night in the near future. For some reason Dad was fretting about not having enough food, maybe we should make a fried rice dish he said. Clearly that was not even a possibility as we will be eating leftovers for days and an extra dish would have been overkill. Dad relented and accepted that we wouldn’t be making anything else only because 1- Mom said he would have to make it, (thus relinquishing his roll as bbq master) and 2- The bbq, oven, and all 4 stove burners were already in use. For dessert I made coconut ice cream which my sister in law diligently churned for me every ten minutes after I put it in the freezer. I always forget to churn the ice cream and it ends up with the paddle frozen in place and I have to hack away at it to free the paddle which is a largely frustrating ordeal and I don’t like it. With her help it turned out very well. The coconut ice cream turned out rich, very rich, but there were no complaints, (except from my sister in law, who complained my brother was stealing all of her ice cream). I would have liked to add ginger and lime to my ice cream, but decided plain was more of a surefire success when feeding a crowd. All in all, the whole meal was well received and I’ve decided I need to figure out how to get on the new TLC show Dinner Takes All, best dinner party each week wins a thousand bucks, who doesn’t love that?

Besides the Asian inspired dinner, here’s a random rundown of some other dishes I’ve been up to in the past week:

Corn chowder- because Dad bought a dozen corn and then bought another dozen before finishing the first one. I searched for a recipe and ended up combining 3 of theirs to create one of my own because I didn’t have all of the ingredients for any single recipe and I didn’t particular like any one of their methods used. Luckily the chowder was especially good (bacon and sweet potato contributed their best assets) and I’ve made it twice now.

Pizza grilled on the bbq- because if it can’t be done on the bbq, why do it at all? I made the dough, (remembering to put in the yeast this time, pure genius), and then grilled one side of the dough, flipped it over, put all of the sauce, toppings and cheese on the grilled side, and then put it back on the bbq to finish it off. I highly recommend it. I suspect I’ll try smoking a pizza sooner or later.

Quiche- because I had a leftover pie shell after making a peach, blueberry and gooseberry pie, and I didn’t feel like making another one so I made quiche for lunch one day. The original recipe was for a straight cheese quiche, but I decided I would add veggies. Of course, I didn’t account for all the extra space that onions, zucchini (the garden is exploding with them) and peppers would take up. This meant that I had extra egg, cream, cheese and milk mixture that wouldn’t fit in the pie shell. The whole point of making the quiche was to use up leftovers, not create more of them. I decided to make a second, smaller, quiche to avoid another leftover situation. I tore up some stale bread (getting rid of more excess) and covered the bottom of a small pie plate with it to make a crust of sorts and then filled it up with the dairy mixture. It worked out fairly well as a lighter and faster version of quiche. It was also a decent way to use up the ends of bread loaves that accumulate on the counter because Dad always buys and starts a new loaf before finishing the old one.

Gelato- because… well no reason really, I just like gelato. This one was peach, apricot, lime and ginger, (if I couldn’t put it in the coconut ice cream, it was going somewhere!). The peaches were fresh from Niagara. You can’t really go wrong with gelato… of course I forgot to churn it, but these things happen to the best of us.

In other news my new favourite drink is Jamaican ginger beer. I love it. It’s especially good with fresh squeezed lime and dark rum. There’s that lime and ginger combination again, lately I want to put it in everything. Eventually I’ll run this flavour into the ground and get hooked on something else… Until that time it will be lime and ginger for everyone!

Today's pictures are: at top- a chocolate cheesecake with raspberry and mango topping (made for Dad on the day the sailboat went in the water), and below- a black forest cake with chocolate ganache and cherry ice cream for Mom's birthday.

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