Cooking With Daniel Costa and Tavola

This week was a busy week for me.  On the first day of my new job I was invited to attend a special event and even though I was tired I was excited to go.  Renowned Edmonton Chef Daniel Costa left his restaurant, Corso 32 and came to visit Calgary to launch his new Tavola app.

The evening was casual, set up very much like a cocktail party.  We were welcomed into the backyard/garden oasis and congregated around a very large table as we waited for the delicious food to be delivered. 

While we waited we were able to check out the app on the iPads provided. On a side note, the app is only available on iTunes currently but the developers hope to expand to android soon.  What you find on the app are mouthwatering and spectacular photos of Chef Costa’s amazing food.  Then there are ingredient lists and recipes that instruct you how to make all this food at home.  There is even a tab to let you know suggested wine pairings.

Tavola App Calgary Launch Party

Then the food came to the table and I knew that I would be using this app at home.  My favourite dish of the night was the Fava Bean and Sweat Pea Crostini.  But I also enjoyed the Parmigiano with Black Truffle Honey and the Bucatini All Amatriciana.  It was nice to end the day with friends drinking good wine and eating excellent food.

Tavola Fava Bean and Spring Pea Crostini

Tavola Bucatini All Amatriciana

Fast forward to the weekend.  On Friday night I still had the launch party on my mind so I had to try the app for myself.  The first thing to do was download the app from iTunes, sorry android users.  The app is free and when you download it there are some free recipes available.  If you would like to see more there are some additional recipes available for purchase from the store.  One of the recipes I wanted to make was free and then the other I had to find (which was easy) and purchased in a set of recipes for $1.99.

Once I had the recipes I looked at the simple ingredient lists and used the export feature provided to copy the ingredients into my notes app.  Then Saturday I was off to the Italian Supermarket with an easy to find grocery list at hand.

Later in the day I got to cooking using the easy to follow instructions.  Once I started I decided to try the cool in feature app that allows you to listen to the chef’s playlist while cooking.  There was a bit of a glitch as I couldn’t get the music playing properly but I tweeted about it later and the guys immediately asked for the info to look at making improvements.

In less than an hour I had dinner on the table and we were enjoying wonderful Italian food.  The dishes I made were not as good as Chef Costa’s but I have to tell you it was pretty tasty.  As we ate the Parmigiano with Black Truffle Honey and Bucatini All Amatriciana I was quite happy with the results.  The beauty of this entire thing is you can make good food with simple ingredients, pairing the right things together.  And for this self professed non-cook I was pleased I was able to make this meal in my own home.

Parmigiano with Honey

My Tavolo Bucatini All Amatriciana

And what about my boys?  Well, hubby loved it and the wee man surprised me.  He went right for the Parmigiano and couldn’t get enough of it.  The pasta was too spicy for him so after dinner I used the in app feature to ask Chef Costa what his suggestions would be for next time.  Your question gets tweeted out and the next morning I had an answer to my question waiting for me.

Do I recommend using the Tavola app, I think you already know the answer to that question.  If you have an iPhone or iPad get on over to iTunes and give it a try.  And hopefully you android users will be able to try all these great recipes soon. 

Tavola App Dinner

The Food of Barbados

Hello my friends.  Some of you may have thought I forgot about the food blog but I haven’t.  I have just been working on another project.  Back at the end of May I found myself unexpectedly looking for work.  Now don’t get me wrong, it’s been nice having the last couple of months off but I have to tell you that looking for a job is almost like a full time job.  But after lots of reflection, and a little bit of hard work I am pleased to say that I have found a home for my next adventure. 

Now that I have that very important part of my life settled it is time for me to get back to my hobby.  I have missed talking to you all about food and what I have been eating.  I have had a lot of fun in the last couple of months with some great eating adventures.  The highlight was at the beginning of June when my husband and I travelled to Barbados for our tenth wedding anniversary.  So even though I have had some wonderful meals so far this summer I think Barbados is a great place to start for my first post back in a while.

The great thing about Barbados is that we were able to stay with our very dear friend who grew up in Barbados.  It was a joy to tour around the island with him for the first couple of days seeing all of his childhood haunts and then renting a car to explore a little on our own.  In this land of breathtaking beaches and super friendly people we ate some amazing food and drank a lot of rum punch.

So where to eat?  If you have a some extra cash to spend you can eat some really fine meals.  We celebrated our anniversary at The Tides in Holetown, one of the nicest restaurants on the island.  My only complaint with this meal is we were there after the sun set so we weren’t able to fully enjoy the ocean view and we had to get creative to light my food photos.  Here were some of the highlights.

Tides Holetown Barbados

Seared Scallops & Chilean Sea Bass Tides Barbados

Seared Scallops with Chilean Sea Bass

Assiette of Bajan Banana Tides Barbados

Assiette of Bajan Banana with Banana Milkshake, Homemade Banana Ice Cream and Caramelized Banana Tart

Anniversary wishes Tides Barbados

Even though that was a pretty fancy meal there are a lot of other affordable treats to be found on the island.  Like the next day when we headed to Pebble Beach for the afternoon.  Right there is the ultimate street food experience, Cuz’s Fish Shack.  It was so good I had two fish cutters.  Oh yes, that’s what they call sandwiches in Barbados, cutters.

Cuz's Fish Shack Barbados

Fish Cutter Cuz's Fish Shack Barbados

Also, one of the things I noticed as we were driving around is that there are no McDonalds!  Our friend mentioned that they did have some on the island however people didn’t go to them so they closed up shop.  I was so thrilled to hear this.  The fast food restaurant of choice in Barbados is Chefette.  The yellow and purple signs pull you in to enjoy chicken, hamburgers, fries and of course my favourite, rotis.

Chefette Barbados

I also discovered Cou Cou about half way through the trip.  I couldn’t get enough of this cornmeal mush mixed with fried okra.  It tastes really good with fish stew and I think I ate it four days in row.  Here is the plate I had at Carib, which is close to St. Lawrence Gap, with fried flying fish and mixed veggies.

Fried Flying Fish and Cou Cou Carib Barbados

And here is the plate I had at Mustor’s in Bridgetown with fried flying fish and another popular Bajan side, macaroni pie.  This is the place to eat in Barbados, I highly suggest a trip to Mustor’s.

Mustors Bridgetown Barbados

There was of course rum punch everyday.  We were handed one directly on tour of St. Nicholas Abbey and on our submarine tour.  I enjoyed the beach view when I drank one at L’Attitude in Speightstown.  But my absolute favourite was the homemade rum punch my friend’s uncle served us after our swim looking over the beach from his vacation rental on Brighton Beach.

St. Nicholas Abbey Barbados

Rum Punch L'Atitude Speightstown Barbados

Brighton Beach Barbados

On Friday nights the place to be in Barbados is Oistins for the fish fry.  There is lots of cheap, delicious food, cheap beer and entertainment.  At one end is the older crowd waltzing the night away with the granny’s sitting on the side waiting their turn.  And further down is the big bandstand where all the popular music is played and everyone is dancing and enjoying themselves.  Of course their are souvenir tents and lots of people sneaking onto the beach to get their feet wet.  Because it was dark I didn’t get a lot of photos but trust me, the food was great.  And for us this was our last night on the island and a very fitting way to end our week in Barbados.

Oistins Fish Fry Barbados

This holiday came at the perfect time.  It was a great chance to recharge and I really hope we get back to visit some time soon because these kind of sites take my breath away.

Crescent Beach Barbados

Carib Beach Barbados

Red Lentil Challenge – Pumpkin Pie

I know May is just about over but did you know that May is lentil month? And I have a confession; I have never cooked with lentils. For regular readers to this blog that won’t be a surprise. Even though I am adventurous with my eating I am not really that adventurous with my cooking. But since writing this blog I have decided to take on new cooking adventures. So don’t ask me what I was thinking when I was walking through the grocery store last week and I saw this bag of lentils.

Red Lentil Bag

Yes, I bought this huge bag of lentils, I am crazy! I gave myself a challenge alright; I’m going to be cooking with red lentils for a very long time. So now I have all these lentils sitting in my cupboard, what do I do with them? My first step was to start looking through my cookbooks to find an easy recipe to work with.

This was a no brainer. I pulled out my Spilling the Beans cookbook by Julie Van Rosendaal and Sue Duncan. I have had great success with this book. I was pleasantly surprised to find there was a recipe for my favourite pie, pumpkin. That sealed the deal and when I looked through my cupboards I had most of the ingredients on hand. So of course, I made the pie.

Spilling the Beans

The recipe is below but here are a few observations based on my experience. I don’t have a food processor so I used my blender to mix all the ingredients together. I don’t know if it was because of this but I ended up with a lot of pie filling left over. I might have been able to pull two pies out of this recipe instead of one. Also, I didn’t use the optional molasses but after tasting I decided to add a couple of sprinkles of pumpkin pie spice before I poured it into the pie shell.

Red Lentils Rinsed

Red Lentil Pumpkin Pie Pre Oven

And what was the response at my house? My husband enjoyed it, he said you could tell there was a little something added because of the texture but he liked the taste. He even went so far to say he would like it if I used this recipe for my Thanksgiving pies. My son, the picky eater, loved it. He gobbled it up and immediately asked for another piece. I was shocked. And me, well I was happy with the end result. I had my piece with a scoop of Coconut Sorbetto from Fiasco Gelato which paired very nicely together. I will definitely be making this again.

Red Lentil Pumpkin Pie with Fiasco Gelato Coconut Sorbetto

This is good because I have a feeling I will still have those bag of lentils in my cupboard by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. But stay tuned, I will post more of my red lentil recipe adventures. I’ll try something savory next.

Red Lentil Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:

1/3 cup (80 mL) dry red lentils

14 oz (398 mL) can pureed pumpkin

3/4 cup (185 mL) half and half, evaporated 2% milk, or whipping cream

1/2 cup (125 mL) sugar

1/2 cup (125mL) packed brown sugar

3 large eggs

1 Tbsp (15mL) molasses (optional)

1 Tbsp (15mL) grated fresh ginger, or 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) ground ginger

1 tsp (5mL) vanilla

1 tsp (5mL) ground cinnamon or more to taste

1/4 tsp (1mL) ground allspice

Pinch of Salt

1 Unbaked 9-inch pie shell

Instructions:

In a small sauce pan, cover the lentils with water and bring to a boil; cook for 20 minutes, or until very soft.  Drain.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Put the lentils into the bowl of a food processor with the remaining ingredients (except the crust, of course) and pulse until well blended and smooth.  Pour into the crust.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the filling is set but still just a little wobbly in the middle and the crust is golden.  If the crust is browning too quickly, cover the pie lightly with a sheet of tin foil as it bakes.  Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.  Serve at room temperature with whipped cream sweetened with a little sugar or maple syrup and spiked with a few drops of vanilla.

Makes 1 pie.

Treat of the Week – Burgers

Last week I talked about YYC Burger Week.  When the event started I was really excited and was going to try to eat as many burgers as possible.  I am sad to say that I did not do as well as I wanted and there were many burgers left untouched for me.  I missed out on Blowfish Sushi’s entry with the Ramen Noodle Bun and Yellow Door Bistro’s Beef Cheek Burger.

Even though I did not try some of those higher dollar burger competitors, I did the best that I could with the time that I had.  I started out strong, not much going on in the middle and went out with a bang.  Here is the story of my burger week adventures.

Friday, May 2 – Naina’s Kitchen

My husband and I decided we would take our son to go try Naina’s, last year’s winner.  A lot of people were saying that they were out-of-the-way but for us it was the closet restaurant.  We had never been there before and we were pretty happy we went.  There was no way my kid would eat the special but he was very happy with his cheeseburger.  As for us, we were really glad to eat the Pepper Steak Stuffed Burger.  The ooey gooey Sirloin burger was stuffed with sautéed onions, peppers, Stilton and Mozzarella.  This burger was very tasty and I especially appreciated that they let me order salad as my side.  As a family we will definitely be back to try the regular menu.

Naina's Kitchen Pepper Steak Stuffed Burger

Saturday, May 3 – Kingsland Farmers Market

Ok, the great thing about Kingsland Farmers Market is that there are two burgers side by side, so if you came hungry you could do two of the entries at once.  I had some errands to do and my husband watched our son so I could go stuff my face in peace.  I am a regular visitor to Kingsland so it was my pleasure to visit two places I love.

The first stop was Eats of Asia where Jay fixed me up their Busan Bao.  I love the Bao here, so light and fluffy, so I was excited for this.  What you get is a Bulgogi Beef Patty, Korean BBQ Sauce and Chopped Green Onions all on Steamed Bao.  True to form the Bao were like tasty little pillows and the burger was extremely flavourful.  I was not disappointed.

Eats of Asia Busan Bao

And just as I was finishing up Margaret from Primal Soup Company brought me her Comfort Burger.  Now this was not your traditional kind of burger but what a great sandwich, truly living up to its name.  Made as you like,the basics are Mac’N’Cheese, caramelized onions and bacon served on a home-baked bun.  On that snowy Calgary day in May it hit the spot, delicious.

Primal Soup Company Comfort Burger

May 4 to 9 – Salads and lots of other boring stuff

May 10 – Let the burger coma begin

At this point I didn’t know if I would get any more burger eating in.  My husband must love me.  He gave me the afternoon and sent me on my merry way.  The goal, to eat burgers until I could eat no more.

At my friend Wanda’s suggestion I decided to go to Flippn’ Burgers in Kensington.  She is a YYC Burger Week ambassador after all so she should know right?  Well she sure did.  This feature burger had a feature I particularly am fond of, an egg.  So I was really happy to try the Sunnyside Flipp. This is it, 6oz burger, melted smoked gouda, sautéed mushrooms and peppers, frizzled onions, and baby spinach on a fresh white Kaiser with melted garlic butter, topped with Provencal mustard an egg and a smoke sauce.  Yes that is a lot of goodness and it lived up to Wanda’s suggestion.  I came for the egg but they had me with the fresh sautéed mushrooms and peppers.

Flippn' Burgers Sunnyside Flipp

As I sat eating my yummy, messy burger I looked at my YYC Burger Week passport to contemplate my next stop. Just down the street was an intriguing option that I had heard a lot of good things about.  Next stop Oak Tree Tavern.

YYC Burger Week Passport

I hope my cousin up north would be proud, I went for the Klondike Burger!  What a thing of beauty this was.  An elk burger served on bannock bread with cranberries and sage.  And yes, this is just as good as it all sounds, maybe better.  The balance between sweet and savoury was perfect.  I knew this burger was made with love.  Now even though it had a gamey taste, it is elk after all, I completely was taken.  I ate every bite.  I really hope they put this back on the menu after burger week because this was amazing.  Oh, a side note, they had one of my favourite ciders, Sea Cider Rumrunner, what a treat!

Oak Tree Tavern Klondike Burger

So did I have one more in me after all that?  Yes I did. Well, after a little stroll through Kensington and a drive to my next destination.

I haven’t eaten at Billingsgate Seafood Market before but my Mom loves to eat here.  I also had heard good things about this special so I thought I would try it.  Another non-traditional burger awaited my taste buds.  The Samurai Ahi Tuna Burger is 5oz of Ahi Tuna Steak Seared with Soy and Sesame Oil, Topped with Crispy Fried Dulse, Salmon Ikura Roe & a Wasbi Aioli Between A Baked Fresh Daily Cobs Breads Bun.  The tuna was cooked perfectly and was a nice light option for my third burger in three hours.  Yes, I’m crazy.  I also liked the texture with the dulse and really liked the wasabi and roe.  It was like eating sushi, on a bun.  I was pretty happy I decided to stop by.

Billingsgate Market Samurai Ahi Tuna Burger

Out of 30 restaurants I got to six.  I know that others were able to get to much more but all in all I’m pretty happy with what I accomplished.  I know that each burger I ate was contributing to a local charity and I think Made by Momma made a little from me this week.  And the best thing, I got to try some new places that I would definitely go to again.

And who was the best?  They were all so good so don’t make me choose but I think the Klondike Burger tops my list. Thanks for putting together such a great event YYC Burger Week! 

Last note, yes I borrowed the ingredients list for all these burgers from the YYC Burger Week website, I didn’t want to miss anything.

A Little Bit of Everything

I have so much I want to talk about so I am just going to get started.

First, some of you may be wondering about Project 40 for 40.  I’m going to be honest with you, it is not really happening right now. Last month I decided to take a week off for my birthday and the week off never really stopped.  In the back of my head I still think about it so I’m attempting to eat salads and get healthy food in me but I am not tracking.  And I haven’t stepped on the scale in a month so I don’t know where I am at.  The 40 for 40 journey will continue as soon as I get my head back in the game which will hopefully be soon.

But in the meantime, there is a fun event happening in Calgary that started this week, YYC Burger Week.  I have tasted some of the offerings so far and I will post more about that next weekend.  I encourage you to get out and try some burgers.  The money raised goes to three great local charities so it’s not all about the food.  But the burgers are awesome too.

YYC Burger Week

But that isn’t all I wanted to talk to you about. This past week my son’s school held it’s first ever Cultural Night.  I was really excited that they decided to do this and was looking forward to the evening.  The response was amazing and we had 300 people indicate they would come with about 30 different countries represented!

When I walked into the gym that night it was so cool to see kids dressed up in the costumes from their cultures and performing dances they have learned.  But the highlight for me were tables with artifacts from the cultures and of course full of all kinds of food.  I was helping with a table outside of the gym so I didn’t quite get to see all the festivities.  And I definitely didn’t get a chance to eat as much as I wanted but I was really happy with what I tried.

Egypt Table

Lebanon

Philippines

My favourite thing of the night was this guy.  While I was watching my table outside he walked by holding this treat.  I asked him what it was and he said it was Raisin White Rice Cake.  That then sparked a conversation that he was from South Korea and his Mom made this treat that he loved.  I immediately sent my husband in to get me one and they were so good.

Korean Raisin White Rice Cake

Now I didn’t sign up for a country because we are Canadian.  Even though our family originates from Scotland I don’t make haggis and I’m very sad to say I don’t have any kilts in the house.  But my fellow country men, both Canadian and Scots had me covered.  The United Kingdom table had a representative from MacEwan’s Meats with a crockpot full of haggis, carrots, and turnip.  I hadn’t had haggis since I was last in Scotland quite a while ago so this was a nice treat.

Haggis

Not to be forgotten my fellow Canadians represented us well.  In a hallway away from the gym they set up a mini hockey game where all the kids were able to get their energy out.  And of course the Canadian table was full of butter tarts, maple leaf cookies and Timbits.

Canada Table

What a fun night, and my son even tried some new food which for us is an accomplishment.  I can’t wait until we do it again next year.

40 for 40 Update – March 1

I am a little behind but I must tell you even though I haven’t been writing, good things have been happening.  The weight loss continues and I was pleasantly surprised when I stepped on the scale this morning.  Today, I am at a total of 23 pounds down.  Yes 23 pounds!

I haven’t been at this weight for at least five years and it feels good.  I also met one of my goals today.  When my husband and I were in Las Vegas five years ago I bought this really great jacket.  The problem was when we got back I was on the verge of gaining all my weight back and pretty soon the jacket didn’t fit anymore.

Two years ago when I started this journey it was one of my goals to fit back into that jacket.  It is pretty much one of the first things in my closet and I see it everyday.  Some days I look at it and say forget it, and some days I look at it with a smile knowing I will get to wear it again soon.

Today I tried it on for the first time in a very long time.  And it fit!  And it didn’t just fit, it fit properly.  I am so excited and happy.  Now I am hoping that I won’t shrink out of it by the time spring rolls around when I want to wear it.  These are good problems to have.

So here is a motivational tip I learned from Weight Watchers that paid off today.  Put your goal somewhere where you can see it, look at and remind you of what you are working for.  Some people put a photo on their fridge or on their desk to remind them everyday what their goal is.  I hung a jacket in my closet where I would see it everyday.  It’s a gentle reminder of what you are working towards and in my case it also had an achievable result.

So that was my week and today is splurge day. And for the food people in my life who haven’t already seen these, here is what I have been noshing on today to celebrate.  I’ll be back to the business of losing weight tomorrow.

Scones

Candied Ginger Chocolate and Garden Herb Cheddar Scones, recipe from http://www.patentandthepantry.com

Donair Grill

Mixed Combo with Tzatziki combined with Siracha from Donair Grill.

Donair Grill Baklava

Baklava from Donair Grill.

40 for 40 Update – February 8

What a difference a week makes.  I wasn’t sure what to expect with my results this week.  It was so cold I couldn’t even drag myself to the treadmill on Monday.  Instead I found comfort under my fuzzy warm blanket.  Then mid-week I started to feel ill and activity was definitely out.  It was hard enough even getting a balanced food day in.  I tried my best, that is all I could have done.

And to my surprise when I weighed myself this morning, I lost weight.  And I just didn’t lose a little weight, I lost a lot.  As of this morning I am 19.5 pounds down.  I really couldn’t believe it.  And that has been the highlight of the week, knowing that I am almost half way there.  I also think it’s been about five years since I have last been at this weight so I am pretty happy.

I did want to give a quick mention to my friends at SPUD (Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery) Calgary.  They really have been a godsend.  I order food from them every week and they deliver to my house on Thursday.  Because I am so busy right now I don’t always get a chance to do a proper shopping trip.  When I order with them, I know I will get healthy, delicious produce delivered to my door and it really keeps me going through the week.  And you know those pomelos and avocados you have been seeing on the blog?  Well, that’s from them.  And this week I wanted to give a shout out to their peppers.  In this gloomy, white weather it sure is nice to get a shock of colour in the diet.

So stay tuned, who knows what next week has in store for me.

SPUD Calgary Peppers