Sunday, October 11, 2009

Shrimp and Artichokes with Rouille

Sunday 4 Oct.

Saturday’s farmers’ market had yielded some lovely Shepherd’s peppers and as the shepherd wasn’t using them, we roasted them, and then turned them into a rouille with some Ontario garlic, dry toast crumbs (actually samples from zehr's bread counter, see below), and olive oil (from Italy, judging by its accent).
But there was also a supermarket find: Zehr's actually carries fresh little artichokes for only 3 for 99 cents. so we boiled up these tender little marvels, and they went wonderfully with the rouille as well.


Saturday 3 Oct.

The evening banquet for the conference, held at “Alphie's Trough,”* a Brock faculty club of sorts, which is desperately trying to “rebrand” itself as "Alphie's Bistro."

Good appetizers (especially the swedish meatballs and spring rolls) circulated.

Dinner started with a refreshing salad with raspberry vinaigrette. A dry-ishbanquet chicken, but actually a rather good cream and mushroom sauce to go with it. And pleasant fruit tarts and pleasant staff.

*Named for Sir Isaac Brock’s horse.


Friday 2 Oct.

After a successful day of giving papers at the Greenscapes Conference at Brock (Holt’s was about dirty English gardens. What else?), we felt the need for some refreshment. We two, our former student at Caesarea Jennifer (who teaches at Rochester), Kathy, and her two students, Kate and Toby, went to Tôi on Fanny’s recommendation (“Go fast.”) Sort of a French-Asian-fusion-Vietnamese (Tôi means “I”, 1st person sing.) tapas bar. You know, the usual.

From the headings “grow” “swim” “fly” and roam” (and we are getting a mite tired of this particular whimsy on menus) we picked:
· sweet potato frites, with a sambal soya dip: a big hit
· fresh sweet potato rolls with cucumber, cilantro, daikon and baby cress: not as successful, maybe too close a repetition of flavors.
· grilled quails with tamarind glaze: mighty good mouthful
· jerk-style spiced chicken with coconut sticky rice: just the right amount of stick.
· lamb with prunes on couscous.
And we got a skewerful of shrimp, apparently by accident.

Service was a tad chaotic: somehow the whole second round of dishes got lost in or on their way to the kitchen, but our nice waiter (from Melbourne, if you please —“Sidney’s rubbish”) tracked them down and hauled them forth. All very tasty. A good wine list, too

Trout in orange sauce

Thursday 1 Oct

For Holt’s first night back in Canada, he expressed a desire for a fishy requisite. Barbara caught two nice trout at the fish counter in Sobeys. Flavored with rosemary, fried up in butter, and then the pan deglazed with a little wine and a splash of orange juice. With roasted asparagus on the side.
We also learned the dangers of using a cheap-ass aluminum foil for roasting asparagus: it fused to the broiler pan and had to be removed by force and/or violence.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Thursday September 17
Holt had to go back to Cincinnati. Waaaahhhh.

"Oktoberfest" sausage

Wednesday September 16
Antipastos' "Oktoberfest" sausage, which, since Oktoberfest is always held in September was appropriate. It tasted rather corned-beefy, so went well with mustard, fried with slivered onion and fennel, and steamed in white wine.

Salade Niçoise

Tuesday September 15
Got a jump on today's Salade Niçoise yesterday by boiling extra wax beans and potatoes, and letting them and 2 cans of cheap (ha!) tuna soak in olive oil and lemon juice. Today, added chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and black olives, re-seasoned, and tossed.

Veal Scaloppine al limone, wax beans.

Monday September 14

A trip to Antipasto's where the best cut today were the little scaloppine slices. Treated with the delicacy they deserve: a nano-second of sauté, shot of lemon, wine and capers in the pan. Crisp, tender beans from the market by way of the pan.

Roast beef and Tuscan beans

Sunday September 13

A final outing for the roasted beast, but we wanted a warm and comforting side dish. Actually, the beans were the soul of it and the beast merely the limbs and outward flourishes. So Borlotti (which the blog refuses to acknowledge in its index, but happened like this:
simmered closed with salt and 4 cloves whole garlic for 1 1/2 hours, then chopped fresh sage and rosemary, more salt and pepper added, simmered rapidly open until sauce condensed. Best beans ever.

Cat's Caboose

Friday September 11
For the first of the year Department meet & greet.
Fish & chips with overdone chips and tartar sauce and cole slaw; overdone hamburger with "buffalo chips." Katharine passed around the deep fried sour pickles (truly an experience) and potato skins. Beer.

Quicky sausages with the usual suspects

Thursday September 10
Antipastos "mild" fennel sausage and paprika, with onions and shepherds' peppers.

Beef & zukes

Wednesday September 9
Leftover thin-sliced roast beef (cold) and zucchini sautéed with garlic (hot). A côtes-du-Rhône that we'd had in storage since last year.

Chicken Shepherd's Potted Pie

Tuesday September 8

Thursday's chicken and leftover vedge, reworked by Holt - in only one pot! - into a chicken pot pie covered with a mashed potato crust.
We boiled the potatoes in the big sauce pan and turned them out on one of the plates, dotting with butter. Then a quick sautee of onions, celery, thyme and bay. Added a sprinkle of flour to the fat, made a béchamel with white wine & a bit of milk. added the chicken. Turn that out into a baking dish, returned it to the pot. Mashed it up with the business end of a whisk (all we had), with more butter, cream, white pepper, and some grated parmesan. Scooped that 'taties on the chix mix, baked for 30 min. at 350 º and then 10 minutes under the broiler. The chicken shepherds all loved it.

Labour Day Dinner

Monday September 7

Kind family friends JoAnne and Dave organized a holiday dinner and get-together, so we drove up through lush cornfields and vineyards to their house above Beamsville. There we had a little reunion with more friends, Ben, Patti, Michael, and Sandy, and reminisced about the time when Holt's Dad and Mom, Harold and Linda, lived here in Grimsby.
JoAnne had set a beautiful table, with cobalt-blue glasses, blue-patterned placemats, and a length of white tulle thrown over it, a bit of practicality that nonetheless made a very elegant picture. And the sight of it brought back a story about the first Christmas that Holt brought Barbara out to Albuquerque to meet his parents. Of course, everyone was a bit uncertain, wondering what the unknown person(s) would be like, but as it was Christmas, there had to be an exchange of gifts. So Linda presented Barbara with... a potato masher and a little white tulle canopy for keeping the flies off a picnic dish, with the explanation, "I thought it was so romantic," and that tiny glint of a joke in her eye. Needless to say, we liked each other from that moment (and a few others) on.
After the tulle was removed for business, JoAnne's table hardly had room for all the platters and bowls, so we passed to the left and heaped our plates with all sorts of fresh, local, summer foods: succulent oven-roasted chicken, red-skinned potatoes, fried okra, Patti's sweet potato casserole with pecans, baked yellow squash, sweet corn, green beans, thick slices of beefsteak tomato fresh from Sandy's garden, and corn bread in sticks and muffins; and then around again for seconds. And at the end, when no one thought they could eat a bite more, JoAnne put the ultimate persuasion on the table: home-baked peach and pecan pies, and who could resist just a slice of each?
Good food, good conversation, good people - a heart-warming and memorable evening. So thanks, JoAnne and Dave! (And pssst - JoAnne - we want your piecrust recipe!)

Picnic and peppers (and ribs)

Saturday September 5
Day 2 of our Noël Coward festival at Shaw, 4 plays broken by a picnic lunch of cold roast chicken, yellow and red tomatoes, and mirabelles, looking out at the sailboats on NOTL's eponymous lake.
So as we weren't very hungry that evening, made a version of James Beard's "Italian flag" pasta: red "shepherd's" peppers and zucchini, cut into matchsticks, sautéed with red roma tomatoes, over spaghetti.
We thought we were full but for a non-traditional dessert our nice downstairs neighbor Lauren invited us to join a backyard barbecue, and Allen produced a heaping platter of tasty ribs. We had a great time - thanks, Lauren and Allen!

Stone Road Grille (Rest), Niagara on the Lake

Friday September 4

After 3 Noël Coward plays and a frozen peach daiquiri at the Prince of Wales Hotel, we went back to one of our favorite places, the Stone Road Grille.

For wine, we took our waitron's recommendation and had the new Cattail Creek Rosé - at first seemed too uncomplicated, but was wonderful with the food.
Then we had 2 cold followed by 2 hot appetizers -
The cold were:
Chef Salad: bibb lettuce, house cured bresaola, Niagara gold cheese and confit duck with a little quail egg, nicoise olives, and tomato raisins in lemony herb vinaigrette;
and smoked salmon salad - a layer of smoked salmon on a layer of creamy cheese and a bottom layer of salmon tartare; topped with a haystack of sprouts that were actually tasty.
Then came the hot:
Mussels Steamed in verjus and fines herbes with chorizo, served with AMAZING Frites and aioli.
and Lobster triangolini, but last time we had them with lobster bisque sauce - this time in a meaty ragú. Odd, but pleasant.
And since we had room for desserts:
Cloudberry creme brulée with walnut shortbread cookies;
and the "Rest" Sundae - a circle of chocolate mousse enclosing (very) salty caramel ice cream and chocolate sauce, sandwiched between two meringues and garnished with more chocolate sauce and nuts. It becomes clear that Rest has a taste for ice creams that are just that touch beyond creative, and toward peculiar. But we still love the place.

Shabbat Chicken on Thursday

Thursday September 3
Antipasto's giant roast chicken, with rosemary and sage under the crispy skin, and roast onions, parsnips, and carrots.

Emergency Veal Chops

Wednesday September 2
After a day of unpacking and exhaustion, Antipasto's veal chops with rosemary, thyme, butter and shot of anchovy oil (because we thought we had olive oil, and we so didn't; but this tasted fabulous) on boiled yellow potatoes.

The Keg

Tuesday September 1
The Big Drive to St. Catharines. We stopped at The Keg for dinner - had a grilled sirloin Oscar, topped with shrimp, scallops, asparagus and Bearnaise sauce; and three mushroom top sirloin with sautéed portabello, shiitake and button mushrooms in a balsamic cream sauce. Red wine, of course. And then on to our new apartment...