dinner party [!]

I was in cooking mode since my first cup of coffee last Friday; it was grand. In fact, I went to bed the night before with purple hands. Beets!

The beauty of Montreal was having semi-regular dinner parties. Pretty much two of my favourite things in the world combined: good company and good food. In any case, between the boy's multiple church gigs and us being stuck on duty [i.e., functionally handcuffed to our apartment], I figured the best way to enjoy the long weekend was snag friends who did not have family turkey/chocolate egg hunt/etc obligations elsewhere. I was unreasonably gleeful at the number of friends who were also in town and wanting to partake in yummy eats. All of the food that was brought and shared was wonderful: cheese & crackers! pierogis! homemade oreo cookies! a salad of greens! zucchini bread! banana muffins! We even had a traditional Polish Easter cake (I believe it's called "mazurek") all the way from Milton.

I made my second ever roasted duck using the prick & flip method: low heat (325 deg F) and long cooking (almost 5hrs), pricking and flipping the bird every 60 minutes. The goal is to let as much fat escape, essentially self-basting the duck in its own goodness. I'm quite sure Jennifer Mclagan, author of Fat: an Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, would approve that I saved the extra skin and fat to render. Duck fat is delicious to use in cooking. [on a sidenote: I have yet finished reading the (cook)book, but I'm enjoying her inclusion of fat related trivia despite her preachy tone. I'm assuming most people who own it aren't afraid of lard.]

Using leftover turkey from our freezer (strategic fridge-emptying menu planning), I made a cheddar biscuit turkey pie loosely based on this recipe. The parsnips and pork stock worked wonderfully with the standard mix of peas, carrots and celery. Also on the menu, the boy's wonderful (garlic & onion) focaccia and (mushroom and cheddar laden) scalloped potatoes.

As for my beet salad, here's a general breakdown:

  • 1 lb beets
  • 2 medium sized carrots
  • 1/2 of a medium sized head of fennel (keeping the green tops)
  • 3 apples (we had Spartans on hand), peeled
Julienne the beets finely and place them in a bowl with some apple cider vinegar, a few dashes of cinammon, a dallop or two of honey and some salt and pepper. Mix well and let this sit overnight. For my rendition, the carrots were an afterthought thrown in the morning after (a delicious decision) - they could have just as easily been tossed in with the beets overnight. Immediately prior to serving, jullienne the fennel and apple and throw them into the bowl with some (1 or 2 cloves) minced garlic. If necessary, add more cider vinegar to taste, and a splash of good oil. Mix the salad well with your fingers and enjoy!


never again [bangkok pad thai]

I was warned against this place before moving to London, but I figured I had nothing to lose - the restaurant's close to my yoga studio, and I only had an hour to nourish my belly and get back to campus for a friend's recital.

Oh so wrong.

I called the restaurant from the yoga studio, ordering shrimp rolls and pad thai. Two very standard (and difficult to mess up) items, that should be at least average at any Thai restaurant (or restaurant claiming to be Thai). I was ravenous after my yoga class, and pulled out my stuffed-to-the-brim clam shell of pad thai. With my splintery disposable chopsticks, I shoveled a few steaming bites into my mouth. My mouth was burning 12 seconds later - not because of the steam, but the excessive sambal (which is an Indonesian chili paste, no?). Yes, that's right - burning. And I can take spice, usually even from authentic Asian restaurants. Even worse, the sweet-salty-bitter-spicy balance was off: too bitter (see note about spice), too salty (excessive fish sauce).

No saving grace with the ridiculously priced (6.95$ for two!) shrimp rolls. I had originally thought that splurging the extra 1.45$ extra for shrimp would be worth it and that I had nothing to lose. Oooooh dear. I was wrong to expect a Montreal-pho-house quality of spring roll, but I had a little bit of hope that maybe, just maybe, it would be at least mediocre-to-average quality. Nope. No herbs (?!). Piddly amount of cucumber. One piece of shrimp. Something that vaguely resembled white noodles. Tiny serving. And the peanut sauce was not peanut sauce: it was a dollop of peanut butter in a lot of way-too-sweet coconut milk. Of course, the extremely large and topped to the brim container of condiment that comes with a takeout order never makes sense either, but that's a tangentially related rant.

Bangkok Pad Thai
0 of 5
735 Richmond Street