Friday, August 30, 2013


Wales! It was the best choice (we thought) of the "W" countries. I know, technically Wales is part of the UK and therefore does not appear as a country unto it's own...but those grumpy, old Welshman I know would take issue with me not separating it from it's "ugly" sisters.

Our other choices were Western Sahara (we've already been on the continent of Africa. See our Nigeria post), Wallis and Futuna and Western Samoa. So, Wales it was.

Didn't get any photos of the Welsh Rarebit (pronounced "rabbit") but it sure tasted good! The recipe used is found at

Caws-Wedi-Pobi or Welsh Rarebit

·  half a pound of cheese, grated
·  1 tsp. dry mustard
·  4 tbsp. milk
·  4 slices of fairly thickly sliced bread
·  1 tsp. butter
·  2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
·  salt and pepper to taste
·  2 tsp. flour
·  2 tbsp beer (optional)
·  tomato wedges and parsley, to garnish (optional)
Cooking Instructions:
1.     After toasting the bread, heat the grated cheese gently in a saucepan until it melts
2.    Stir in the other ingredients
3.    A little beer can be added to the sauce if desired
4.    Pour the cheese sauce over the toast and place under a grill until a golden brown

5.    Garnish with tomato wedges and parsley.
Leek with mustard and chevre on garlic toast

Leek with Mustard and Mascarpone on Garlic Toast

Serves 4
2 Medium Leeks, trimmed, washed, cut in half lengthways and cut into 1/4inch half moons and washed again
30g Unsalted Butter
100ml Whipping Cream
150g Mascarpone Cheese (or Goats Cheese - this is what we used)
2 Tablespoons of English Parsley Finely Chopped
1 Teaspoon of Tewkesbury Mustard (optional)
Twist of Milled Pepper
4 slices of crusty bread
1 Peeled Clove Garlic

Melt the butter in a saucepan on a gentle heat and then add the leeks. Simmer gently for 5 minutes until the leeks are tender then turn the heat up slightly to reduce any moisture in the pan. Turn the heat down again and add the cream. Boil for about 1 minute – or until the mixture looks nice and thick. Add the Mascarpone or Goats Cheese and beat it well into the mixture until melted and bound together. Season with pepper, parsley and the mustard.
Toast the bread. Then rub the slices with the garlic, place the leeks on top and serve. You can glaze this mixture under the grill until golden and to gain a better glaze beat a fresh egg yolk into the mix before glazing. Garnish with Watercress leaves.

Creamy Leek Soup

·       8 medium leeks (3 pound), trimmed, leaving white and pale green parts only, and chopped
·       1 medium onion, chopped
·       1 large carrot, chopped
·       2 celery ribs, chopped
·       1 teaspoon salt
·       1/2 teaspoon black pepper
·       1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
·       1 small boiling potato (6 ounces)
·       1/2 cup dry white wine
·       3 cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth (24 fluid ounces)
·       3 cups water
·       1 Turkish bay leaf or 1/2 California
·       1 1/2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
·       1/4 cup all-purpose flour
·       1/2 cup chilled heavy cream (only if you really want it!)

1. Wash sliced leeks in a large bowl of cold water, agitating them, then lift out and drain well in a colander.
2. Cook leeks, onion, carrot, celery, salt, and pepper in 4 tablespoons butter in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Peel potato and cut into 1/2-inch cubes, then add to onion mixture along with wine, stock, water, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Stir in parsley and simmer soup, uncovered, 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf and keep soup at a bare simmer.
4. Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a 1-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, then add flour and cook roux, whisking, until golden, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 cups simmering stock (from soup), whisking vigorously (mixture will be thick), then whisk mixture into remaining soup and return to a simmer, whisking.
5. Blend soup in 4 batches in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids), about 1 minute per batch, transferring to a 3- to 4-quart saucepan. Reheat if necessary, then season with salt and pepper.
6. Beat cream in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until it almost forms soft peaks. 7. Serve soup topped with cream. There is really no need to add this as the soup is creamy enough without!
Creamy leek soup
Roast lamb, yams, squash and potato

Molasses cake

Monday, July 29, 2013

V is for Venuzeula

Well, visiting Venezuela was a welcome treat in the blahs of February! Delicious, lightly spiced food, great apps and drinks and a terrific desert!

The drink of the evening was a pineapple themed drink from the LCBO that looked like it might be complimentary to the Spanish/Mexican type tapas that we started with. It's the Lime Vodka Sunset ( and is made of:

1 oz Lime Twist Vodka
1/2 oz Coconut Run
4-5 oz pineapple juice

Mix all together and garnish with a wedge of lime.

Venezuelan Appetizers:

Chunky-style Guasacaca

·3-4 large ripe avocados
·1 large onion
·1 green pepper
·1 red pepper
·1/2 cup chopped tomato
·3-4 cloves garlic
·1/3 cup olive oil
·1/4 cup vinegar
·1/4 cup chopped parsley
·Salt and pepper to taste
·Tobasco or hot pepper sauce to taste
1.     Mash one of the avocados. Chop the other avocados and mix them with the mashed avocado in a bowl. Stir in the vinegar and olive oil. 
2.     Finely chop the red and green peppers, tomato, and the onion and add to the avocado. 
3.     Mince the garlic and add to the mixture. 

4.     Season the guasacaca with salt, pepper, and tobasco sauce to taste. Makes approximately 2 cups

Chunky-style Guasacaca -

Pico de Gallo Venezuelan style

Tequeños - Venezuelan Fried Cheese Sticks (no photo)

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter, chilled
1 egg
1/2 cup water
12 ounces queso blanco cheese, farmers cheese, or other firm, salty cheese that melts
Vegetable oil for frying

Prepare the dough: Place the flour in a medium bowl along with the sugar and the salt and whisk together. Cut the butter into 1/2 inch pieces and place them in the bowl with the flour. Add the egg. Use your fingers to mix the egg and butter into the flour until the mixture is sandy and crumbly, and the butter is in very small pieces. Stir 1/4 cup of water into the flour/butter mixture using a fork. Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture starts to come together as a dough. Knead the dough in the bowl several times, adding more water if it is overly crumbly. The dough should be soft and kneadable but will appear somewhat shaggy and not perfectly blended. Cover with saran wrap and let rest for 20-30 minutes (Dough can be prepared ahead of time and chilled in the refrigerator until ready to use).
Choose a firm, salty white cheese that does not turn completely gooey when melted. Queso blanco cheese, Salvadoran quesillo, and farmers cheese work well. Cut the cheese into 3-4 inch long sticks, about 1/2 inch square. Depending on the size of the cheese block you start with, you should have about 24 sticks.

Dough for the seafood yumminess (pupusas)

Seafood yumminess

Frying the pupusas
Unfortunately, we can't seem to find the recipe for these little, delicious yummy things. However, it was just a chickpea flour basic dough with chopped shrimp, parsley, tomato and chicken stock and salt/pepper. You reduce the seafood with the stock and then fill the dough. Then deep fry in coconut oil (or vegetable oil if you like).

The arepas are a staple of Veneuzelan cooking and I would make them again in a heartbeat! Below the recipes follows from

Reina Pepiada Arepas

Arepas define Venezuelan cooking. These thick cornmeal patties are griddled, then baked, and then stuffed while warm with anything from white cheese to this zesty chicken salad with avocado mayonnaise (Johan Santana’s first choice). The salad is named in honor of Susana Duijm, Miss World in 1955 and a popular Venezuelan celebrity. (Reina means "queen" in Spanish, and pepiada is perhaps most politely translated as "curvy.") 

·2 6-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breasts
·1/2 small onion, sliced
·Salt and freshly ground black pepper
·1 ripe Hass avocado, pitted, peeled, and coarsely chopped
·1/4 cup mayonnaise
·1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar, plus more to taste
·2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
·2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
·1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced
·2 garlic cloves, minced
·1/2 cup seeded and diced (1/4-inch) red bell pepper
·2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
·1 scallion, white and green parts, finely chopped
·3 cups lukewarm water, or as needed
·1 1/4 teaspoons salt
·3 cups Venezuelan cornmeal, or as needed *
·2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon canola or vegetable oil, plus more for the griddle


1 To make the filling, place the chicken breasts and onion in a medium saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the saucepan and let cool completely. Tear the chicken into shreds.

2 Mash the avocado, mayonnaise, and vinegar together in a medium bowl with an immersion blender or large fork until smooth. Stir in the cilantro, parsley, jalapeno, and garlic. Add the chicken, red pepper, red onion, and scallion and mix together. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and add more vinegar to give the filling a pleasant, but not sour, tang. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
3 To make the arepas, stir 3 cups lukewarm water and the salt together in a large bowl to dissolve the salt. Gradually add 3 cups cornmeal, mixing with your fingers to dissolve any lumps, adding enough to make a soft dough that holds its shape without cracking when molded. Set dough aside to rest for 3 minutes. Add the oil and work it in with your hands, adding cornmeal or water to return the dough to the proper consistency.
4 Divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Shape each into a 4-inch diameter disk, about 1 inch thick. Transfer to a baking sheet.
5 Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a large nonstick skillet or griddle and heat over medium heat.
6 In batches, place the arepas in the skillet. Cook until the underside is a splotchy golden brown, about 4 minutes. Turn and brown the other side. Return arepas to the baking sheet.
7 When all of the arepas are browned, transfer them directly to the oven rack (without the baking sheet). Bake until the surfaces of the arepas have formed a taut skin—if you rap your fingers on one, it will feel and sound like a drum. Return arepas to the baking sheet and let cool slightly. Split each arepa in half and fill with the chicken mixture. Serve warm.

 Venezuelan Beef Stew

All sorts of flavours abound in this stew since there are so many types of meat. Do yourself a favour and hit up the butcher shop before making this so you can buy in the exact quantity...otherwise you'll have lots of different meats left. Or, just make a double batch with the extra! It would be worth it and would freeze well also.

5 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
1 lb round steak
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cooked ham, cubed
2 1/2 ounces chorizo sausage, halved lengthwise then sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 (4 ounce) package pepperoni, sliced
1 (15 ounce) can tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1 cup beef broth
1/4 cup sherry wine
1 1/2 teaspoons cilantro, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons steak sauce (A1 sauce preferred)
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups potatoes, peeled cubed
1 cup white pearl onion
1/2 cup carrot, sliced
1 cup frozen peas
1 In a dutch oven, cook bacon until crispy. Set aside but reserve drippings.
2 Trim fatty edges from round steak and then cube steak into 1 inch pieces. Toss beef meat with flour to coat.
3 Brown beef in the drippings. Drain fat and then stir in next 13 ingredients. Bring to a boil then reduce heat.
4 Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Add potatoes, onions and carrots. Cover and cook for 35 more minutes. Stir in the peas the last 5 minutes.
5 Sprinkle with bacon.

Venezuelan beef stew
 Dessert was a coconut flan that while appearing finicky was surprisingly easy to make. I also wanted to do baked plantain but figured that we always have too much food on our hands so we probably didn't need an extra dessert. Here's a link to a recipe for them anyway:

The coconut flan (picured below) is from
The Venezualan name is Quesillo de Coco.
For caramel
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
For flan
3 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3 large eggs
1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
3 tablespoons dark rum
Equipment: 12 (4-ounce) ramekins

Make caramel:
Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then wash down any sugar crystals from side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Boil, without stirring, swirling pan occasionally so caramel colors evenly, until dark amber.
Immediately pour into ramekins and swirl so caramel coats bottom of each, then put ramekins in a large roasting pan.

Make flan:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
Blend 2 cups milk with remaining flan ingredients in a blender until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl and stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups milk, then divide among ramekins.
Bake flan in a water bath until just set but still wobbly in center, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
Remove ramekins from water bath and cool slightly on a rack, at least 15 minutes (flan will continue to set as it cools).

Just before serving, run a thin knife around each flan, then invert onto plates.
Coconut flan
 Also notable...and not so Venezuelan...

YUM! Hope you try some of these recipes!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

USA - exactly one year ago and somewhat forgotten...

Hi folks,

We're back online now and digging into the memory banks for our trip to the United States of America.  Since one of our gang is a true American, the meal was All-American as Apple Pie (which we did have for desert). However, since this happened so long ago, there are a few blank spots. There aren't really any recipes for these as many were just done off the cuff but we didn't want to leave "U" out of the alphabet. This is what we can piece together so far:

Appetizers - Beer, ribs, beer, potato skins, beer bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers, beer and more beer. There may have been some Californian reds mixed in there in the beverage department, too....

Potato Skins
Stuffed jalapenos (with cream cheese) 
The end of the ribs...they went fast!

 Main course - Ribs (different recipe, not pictured) and chicken wings, white hots (from Wegman's), potato salad.
Close up of chunky potato salad

Desert - Good Ol' Fashioned Apple Pie

Unfortunately, the only pictures I took were in the making of the pie, not once it was complete!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Steve & Abby's Thai food blog entry

Friends who are travelling in Thailand by bike write a hilarious blog entry on street food in the country. Just makes me a tiny bit jealous!


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Thai feature drink and dessert

After giving ourselves some time to recover and digest the Thai apps, we moved on to dinner! Forgive me, but I can't for the life of me remember what wine we had to drink. As I recall, there aren't too many Thai wines around so I'm guessing there were a bunch of reds that went with spicy food.

On the other hand, the feature drink of the evening was rather more-ish. I would totally make it another time and likely double the recipe. Six people can go through it quickly!

Lemongrass-Lime Leaf Sparkler 

(with gin added) from

  • 1/4 cup lemon zest (from 6 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup lime zest (from 8 limes)
  • 20 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup Simple Syrup, divided (1 cup sugar, 1 cup water)
  • 6 cups soda water, divided

  • Directions:Combine citrus zest, lime leaves, lemongrass, and 2 cups water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain lemongrass mixture into a jar and chill. Fill a 12 ounce glass with ice cubes. Add 2 tablespoons lemongrass mixture and 1 tablespoon simple syrup. Top with soda water (about 1/2 cup) and stir to combine. Repeat to make 11 more sodas.

    Or, just double the recipe and enjoy...

    Mango and Sticky Rice 

    Friday, March 1, 2013

    Thai entrees

    We're carefully catching up on the meal from Thailand and now is the time for the entrees. I'll post the feature drink and the dessert in a separate post. The internet was a wonderful resource here since there are a plethora of Thai recipes available. However, one should always wonder if each part is exactly authentic. Or not. The Curried Beef Stew is not exactly authentic, but the Thai spice influence is unmistakable. And I would totally make it again, just as a weeknight dinner. Also, just a reminder that I have cut and pasted these recipes and then have added my own comments within - if you want the unadulterated version, please use the link provided at the end of each recipe.

    We also had Tom Yum Goong soup (sweet and sour) to start off the entree menu. This is my "go to" in many Thai restaurants. The local Kingston restaurant called Ly's Place (run by Ly and his family - Ly had worked previously for Chez Piggy restaurant which is featured in the Where to Eat in Canada food guide) has a KILLER version of this soup. It's simply amazing and even has little spheres of Thai sausage in it. If you ever come to YGK, you have to check our Ly's!

    FYI, when I've made it in the past I've frozen the surplus. It has tasted just fine out of the freezer, too, when reheated gently on the stove.

    Anyway, the Tom Yum Goong looked like this:

    Tom Yum Goong Soup

    And you can make it by following these instructions:

    Tom Yum Goong - Sour & Spicy Lemongrass Shrimp Soup Recipe

    • 4 cups of water
    • 2 stalks fresh lemongrass, trim off the very end of the root and smash with the side of a cleaver of chef's knife; cut into 1 inch pieces; or 2 pc dried
    • 3 slices fresh galangal root (smashed) or 2 pc dried
    • 3 fresh kaffir lime leave or 4 pc dried
    • 1 tbsp. tamarind paste, with or without seeds
    • 1 tbsp. fish sauceGolden Boy preferred
    • 3/4 lb shrimps, medium to large size, shelled and de-veined; butterfly if desired
    • 12 fresh Thai chili peppers, whole or 2 medium sized jalepenos, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips.
    • 1/2 small white onion, cut 1/4 inch slices
    • 2 tbsp. roasted chili paste (nam prik pao)
    • 1 (16 oz.) can straw mushrooms, drained and rinsed
    • 1 small ripe tomato, cut into wedges 1/4 inch thick
    • 1 small lime, squeezed
    • 2 sprigs fresh cilantro


    Bring water to boil over high heat in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the lemon grass, galangal, kaffir lime leaf, fish sauce and tamarind paste (break apart the tamarind paste with your fingers as you add it). Add the shrimp, bring to a boil and cook 3 minutes. Add the onion, nam prik pao and straw mushrooms. Boil for another 7 minutes until the shrimp is cooked through. Add the chile peppers and tomatoes. Turn off the heat. Add the lime juice. Taste to adjust the seasoning, adding fish sauce to taste. Garnish with cilatantro if desired and serve.
    Serves 3 to 4 (but we stretched it to 6).

    Chicken Curry - Gang Gai แกงไก่

    • 1 chicken breast
      1 cup coconut milk
      1 tablespoon red curry paste
      1/2 lb eggplant
      2 tablespoons fish sauce
      4-5 kaffir lime leaves Optional, but you really SHOULD put them in!
      3-5 sprigs Thai basil Also, optional but necessary in my opinion...
      3 cups water
      Cut up the chicken into bite size pieces. If you have this dish in Thailand, you will see that the chicken comes with bones. All parts such as legs and thighs can be used. The bones make the curry more flavourful. I could only find regular eggplant but Thai eggplant is usually called for in this recipe.
      Pour half of the coconut milk into a large pot, over low to medium low heat. Add the red curry paste. Break up the paste and mix it with coconut milk. Stir constantly. Lower the heat if it splatters too much. Add chicken when you see red oil bubbling on top. Stir and coat chicken with curry sauce. Add the eggplant when chicken starts to turn white. Add the rest of thecoconut milk and water and the fish sauce. Let it boil until all the eggplant pieces turn dark and tender. The longer you boil the curry, the thicker the curry becomes because the eggplant disintegrates and thickens the sauce. Pull the center stem off from the kaffir lime leaves and add them to the curry. Add the basilleaves just before you serve and make sure the leaves are submerged quickly in the curry to preserve the color.
      Serve hot with rice. If you prefer, use rice noodles.

    Chicken Curry

    Curried Beef Stew

    Curry paste:
    • 6 dried puya or 3 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 lemongrass stalk, bottom 4" only, tough outer layer removed, cut into 1" pieces
    • 2 tablespoons sliced peeled fresh galangal
    • 2 tablespoons sliced peeled fresh turmeric
    • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
    • 1/4 cup halved garlic cloves
    • 1 tablespoon Thai shrimp paste


    • 2 pounds trimmed beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2"–2" cubes
    • 3 tablespoons soy sauce, preferably Thai thin soy sauce (such as Healthy Boy)
    • 2 tablespoons ground dried Thai chiles
    • 9 cups beef broth, preferably low-salt
    • 1 cup halved shallots
    • 3 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick half-moons (about 1 cup)
    • 6 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves
    • Chopped fresh cilantro
    • Thinly sliced Thai basil


    For curry paste:
    In a mortar, pound chiles and salt with a pestle until pulverized, about 5 minutes. Add ingredients one by one in order listed, fully pulverizing each before adding the next, about 15 minutes total. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 week ahead; cover and chill.
    For stew: 
    Combine curry paste, beef, soy sauce, and ground dried chiles in a pot; stir to evenly coat beef. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beef is tender but not falling apart, 2–2 1/2 hours.
    Stir in shallots, carrots, and lime leaves. Simmer until vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes. If broth is too salty, add water a few tablespoonfuls at a time.
    Garnish with cilantro and basil.
    Check the webpage for wine pairing suggestions!

    Curried Beef Stew