Battle of Ingredients #9: BBQ 2018 – Take 2!

Battle of Ingredients

Welcome to the next Battle of Ingredients! July was a busy month (you must be sick of me saying this if you follow all the different topics here) but we came back in August for another BBQ. Its almost tradition now that summer months are focused around more BBQ oriented meals. Its easy and fun and we can enjoy the weather. You have to live in Montreal (or the majority of Canada with the exception of maybe British Columbia or Vancouver, I’m not sure) to understand that we live half the year in winter and then another 3 months in rainy spring and autumn and then just like 3 months of warm/hot/unbearable weather. We did get a heat wave which also stopped a lot of the normal activities (notice the lack of hiking posts…). Anyways, we are back and the weather luckily after July’s heatwave is also cooling down a little.

Let’s just jump right in and see what Phoebe (aka Starry Traveler) and I came up for this battle!

Drinks

Sangria

Beringer

  • Pepito White Sangria
  • Beringer Rose – White Zinfandel

A sweet wine and a delicious white sangria that matched perfectly with the season and the event.

Dinner

Inspiration: http://moneysavingsisters.com/3-ingredient-soy-sauce-coca-cola-chicken-drumsticks-slow-cooker-meal/

Phoebe’s husband loves veggies so she added in some asparagus, corn and peppers to grill.

Aside from that,she found inspiration to make chicken that she used to have as a child and the recipe above was the one she used to change a crock-pot version to a BBQ version with this first platter of drumsticks. Normally, its easier with chicken wings but we have friends who don’t eat wings so she accommodated this one.

The drumsticks didn’t get the flavor quite so well. I would imagine that the crock pot would work better when doing drumsticks to get the flavor in it. It wasn’t not tasty by any means. To be honest, I love soy sauce chicken drumsticks. Its one of my fave things to eat. Simple but very yummy. My mom still holds the crown (because I’m biased) but Phoebe’s was pretty awesome also. Everyone enjoyed it. However, the goal was to have the cola flavor pop out and in that sense, it didn’t quite make happen.

Chicken Wings (left): Normal Biftheque spiced wings
Chicken Wings (right) inspiration: https://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/betty-whites-chicken-wings-13707

Phoebe decided to do chicken wings anyways for everyone else. We made one normal variety with some typical steakhouse spices. It was delicious and a guaranteed success. For her second inspiration, it was to do the recipe above but adding in a fourth ingredient, white sugar. The recipe she saw above asks for brown sugar but she didn’t have any on hand. Chicken wings work better for BBQ and for this recipe, the cola flavor definitely did pop out much more. This recipe is an absolute hit. There may some freestyling with how the recipes are as most of the recipes here were inspirations and added in our own flair.

Chard Rolls

Inspiration for Chard Rolls: http://vegdept.com/asian-style-rainbow-chard-wraps/

My contribution was luckily a lot of my own harvests. I found this chard roll idea and decided to work with what I had. I scrapped the Asian way and didn’t simmer the leaves either but on the grill, they cooked everything through as it wrapped in aluminum foil. My version ended up looking like that and the size varied to the size of the leave. Inside, there were homegrown cucumbers, bell peppers and store bought carrots. I didn’t season it but let everyone add what they wanted. Chard leaves were a little overcooked so it was slightly bitter, bit still the whole tasted fairly good.

Dessert

Campfire Cones

Campfire Cones

Campfire Cone recipe: https://hip2save.com/2015/06/25/campfire-cones-fun-easy-summer-dessert/

When figuring out dessert, I searched up what we could do on the grill and it was this easy and fun idea. Mine had blueberries instead red berries because of allergy issues (not me but others). The cook time should have been longer so it would turn into a gooey delicious mess but still, it was a pretty good one. One that can be replicated in the oven, I would think also. I would do this one again with some raspberries and I’d imagine that it would turn out fantastic. Let’s face it..these are s’mores cones with a twist, right? How can you hate on that…well, unless you hate dark chocolate or marshmallows, I guess. You can see the ingredients that I used on the top. I used a local dark chocolate maker, Rochef and it had sea salt so added a different layer of taste.

And..this wraps up this Battle of Ingredients!
We are back to monthly editions for a little bit and see how things go from there.
September’s edition is still BBQ themed with some more look at what else to cook..seasonal and whatnot.
If you have any suggestions, go ahead and suggest away in the comments and we’ll take a look at what we could do next time.

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Goodfood Recap #26

Goodfood

We are back for some more Goodfood cooking adventures! Let’s check it out!

Haddock
with Fresh Chickpeas, Summer Vegetable & Mint Salad over Freekeh

Haddock Goodfood

Simple meals like this one always takes my heart. Its easy to put together and very straight forward in terms of dialing things back to the basic. Some carb or something like that, some easy veggies to make and then some type of meat. Its really a great time to just dial back to everyday things and eat a meal like this. We don’t eat a lot of fish but haddock does come around in these boxes fairly frequently and we almost always enjoy it a lot. This one was no exception.

Shiitake Mushroom Tempura
with Sugar Snap Peas & Snow Pea Tips Over Sushi Rice & Wafu Sauce

Shiitake Mushroom Goodfood

The way I thought about this one was a little different from how it turned out. On one hand, Sushi Rice and Wafu Sauce is a winner. However, I can’t figure out if we waited too long (which is weird since we cooked this box really quickly) but the snap peas and snow pea tips (which I ended up cooking) was a little older so cooking it actually made it very tough to eat. It is not the fault of the meal itself but of the bad timing in ingredients. To be honest, the tempura actually turned out the most disappointing. The tempura batter was a little disappointing and really thick and I wondered whether it was my issues with it since I don’t do meals with batter frequently. The batter is what made the mushrooms not so good. I actually would do this meal straight the way it is with or without wafu sauce.

Grilled Sirloin Steaks
with Lemon-Garlic Butter & Sesame Roasted Vegetables

Grilled Sirloin Steaks Goodfood

This is a pretty interesting dish in general. The beef was really good, the spices worked well. The cauliflower and the potatoes were so easy to cook in the oven. Its a really nice and easy to sync up all the steps also making it very on point with the amount of time that they have allotted to make this meal. It does taste pretty good also. The butter works pretty well but I still like it as a simple meal with all these ingredients together.

Pork Meatballs in Thai Coconut Curry
with Kaffir, Lime & Mixed Vegetables over Jasmine Rice

Pork Meatballs Curry Goodfood

Ever since we swapped over to Goodfood, we’ve actually purposefully avoided curry meals because of the previous meal subscription box experience. This meal looked so good and actually ours turned it fairly different from what it looked like but it still tastes absolutely fantastic. The meal that pleasantly surprised us for sure. The pork meatballs are delicious. The vegetable mix was awesome and the curry was just spicy and tasty enough. There’s so much to love about this one.

That’s it for this Goodfood recap!
Any of these meals that draw you in?

Restaurant: Congee Queen (Thornhill, Ontario, Canada)

I always talk about Asian cuisine after going to Toronto. Its usually the closest place with good Chinese cuisine in particular since to be honest, Montreal has a lot of great restaurants but Chinese cuisine itself is a bit lacking. Its why I tend to avoid it whenever given the option. Sad, because I do truly love Chinese food. I mean, its not hard to imagine seeing as I am Chinese and my mom makes about the best Chinese food in town or its my best friend who also is a master in the kitchen.

Not surprising that the rare time that we all end up in Toronto for a wedding, we meet up for a dinner the night before to hang out. We never do double dates much seeing as we all have funky work schedules and commitments so this was a great time to catch up and have fun.

We lived at the Courtyard Marriott in Thornhill and right next door was the flagship store of Congee Queen. Let’s check it out!

Congee Queen

Congee Queen

Dinner Selections

Congee Queen

Crab Meat & Vegetarian Shark Fin served with Conpoy Rice in Chicken Broth

My best friend was the one who ordered this meal. She wanted to give this a try mostly for the vegetarian shark fin. It actually had a really  nice flavor. The textures are all there and the chicken broth was nice. I was originally worried that it would be too strong like on the salty side as broth sometimes tends to be, but it wasn’t like that.

Congee Queen

General Tao Chicken Rice

My husband mostly focused on eating this meal. General Tao is very much non-traditional Chinese food however, I don’t usually fuss over these things. My husband thought it was good although he did end up not eating all the huge pieces of chili peppers because those were really intense.

Congee Queen

Snow Pea Leaves with King Mushroom

One of my choices for the evening was this snow pea tips with oyster mushrooms. I think my description is the correct one but the one in the description is the one that is shown on the menu in case you ever want to get it at this restaurant. The season for snow pea tips is a little bit past so it was expected that they were more old in texture so it was more stiff and chewy. The mushrooms are always a nice alternative. I actually eat more of these types of mushrooms in Goodfood boxes and I really like them a lot. This veggie plate is a win. If we had it back in April when the snow pea tips were in season, then it would have been perfect.

Congee Queen

Pork Rib with Onion on Sizzling Hot Plate

The second dish that I picked was pork ribs. This is a pretty traditional dish at least for myself when we went to Chinese restaurants when I was younger. I don’t go to Chinese restaurants as much mostly because Montreal cuisine isn’t great but Toronto is a different story so I was excited to see how they would prepare this. This one was okay. I think we all agreed that it tasted okay but it was nothing too fancy and felt a little overpriced.

Congee Queen

Fried Eggplant, Minced Pork with Spicy Sauce

My best friend’s second choice was this dish which is an uber traditional Chinese dish. I was pretty full so I didn’t eat a whole lot of this one but it was fairly good. I’m not a huge eggplant eater but I do appreciate its health properties so I try to eat it more often and learn to appreciate it. This one was slightly spicy also.

Congee Queen had some pretty delicious meal. It does some cool dishes and sometime switches up some traditional meals to something of of a fusion of sorts. I do think that for the experience, it is a little bit more pricier than I would want to pay. I don’t mind so much paying for good food if there is something original but for the portion size and the price of some of the very common dishes, it definitely felt not exactly equal. Luckily, I am visiting and I don’t like Montreal chinese food so I didn’t mind it so much.

With that said, I am aware that for a congee restaurant, I didn’t have congee. We did have dinner but next time, if I was going for brunch or lunch, then that would absolutely make an appearance. Suffice to say, despite little things, Congee Queen is a place that I would go again when I head down to Toronto again.

Wine Recap – July 2018

Wine Recap

July was a big month in terms of events and event coverage. In case you don’t follow any of the other stuff, you will know that when I do event coverage, I tend to lower my drinking in general. My tolerance isn’t incredibly high so I need to limit more to just keep a clear head for all the writing that needs to be done. However, we did get some lighter stuff to enjoy on the off days to relax during the heat wave month that we had. Montreal broke some temperature records so it was quite the experience.

Rekorderlig Wild Berries Cider

Rekorderlig Wild Berries Cider

Producer: Ab Abro Bryggeri
Alcohol Content: 4.5%
Location: Sweden
Taste Tag: Sweet & Fruity

We had quite a debate over this one. On one hand, I thought it tasted really nice. The berry blend worked so well and the alcohol was just enough and not too strong. It was fruity and crisp which works so well as a cider. However, my husband didn’t like it and thought it tasted it funky. I think it all comes down to the fact that whenever anything alcoholized has berries in the mix, its always a toss-up on how it will taste. It did taste a little like a light version of cherry-flavored cough medicine but then, I thought it was more pleasant than that which is great. I think for its lightness and fruitiness, this one works really well as long as you like berry flavored drinks.

Radio Boka Rosé

Radio Boka Rose

Producer: Hammeken Cellars S.L.
Alcohol Content: 13%
Location: La Mancha, Spain
Taste Tag: Easygoing & Fruity

I swore that I thought I had taken a picture of this one but its gone MIA so there’s the stock photo from LCBO. Regardless, Radio Boka Rose is one that wasn’t really our cup of tea. While it is fruity, its one of those one that also linger in the weird aftertaste moment. A lot of the ones we’ve drank before actually had depth in the sense that it started out a little dry or acidic and then would have this pleasant moment when it went down our throat. This one was the exact opposite.

Big House The Birdman Pinot Grigio

Big House White Wine

Producer: Big House Wine Co.
Alcohol Content: 12.5%
Location: California, USA
Taste Tag: Light & Crisp

Big House comes in both cans and bottles. While I never talked about the canned ones, we actually did get one that my husband had drank and I took a sip or two of. The can version is definitely very dry and actually not too good. It was what made this bottled one sit on our shelves for a little while longer than we intended. However, it was a pleasant surprise because the bottled one seemed to round out the flavors more. Maybe its the bottle or how it gets to air out a little or maybe its the fact that its being drank from a glass and not a can. I’ve been reading up on wine appreciation a little and it seems like all these things make a difference to the experience. Big House isn’t exactly as light and crisp as it describes it. It lingers in the semi-dry zone for ourselves and has this rather acidic taste. However, its expected with a pinot grigio. The bottle version definitely worked out much better than the can so if you do want to give this a go, shell out the money for the bigger glass format than the cans.

Muscat des Papes

Muscat des papes

Producer: Vignerons de Beaumes de Venise
Alcohol Content: 15%
Location: Vallee de Rhone, France

Phoebe aka Starry Traveler is the one who introduced us to Muscat des Papes which is in stock for her at the restaurant Fuschia in Montreal because its the one wine that she loves the absolute most. She is a little more selective of alcohol so this one tickles her fancy quite a bit. It says a lot about the quality of this one. To be fair, this one is very smooth. It has this lovely texture and is very light and sweet. It is also a little bit between a fruity and floral sort of aroma. It has that sweetness that we love from Moscatos.

Milton Star Sparkling Cider

Milton Star

Producer: Les Vergers de la Colline
Alcohol Content: 4.5%
Location: Quebec
Taste Tag: Fruity and Sweet

Its very significant of how my month of “wines” went when it starts and ends with ciders. Milton Star is a sparkling cider that I’ve only ever seen around a lot but never tried. And boy, do I feel like I missed out! This is a really lovely one. Its actually very light and suitable for a casual setting of drinking to relax but never feeling like its going to feel heavy in the alcohol department. Very cider description to be honest but this one is also very nice level of crispness for the apple element to pop. They have a few other varieties that I’m going to try next time I drop by to pick up some more wine.

That’s it for this July recap!
Some ciders and some wines. A pretty decent mix and way more international than previous months.
Have you tried any interesting wines/ciders/cocktails lately?

Goodfood Recap #25

goodfood

Time for the next Goodfood recap! Its been a while that we’re doing something non-movie related. I’m sorry for it all. Fantasia Festival and work combined simply ended up ruling my life despite wanting to do other posts. Anyways, Fantasia is over and while I still have some little things left to wrap up, we’re back to normal programming!

This was last week’s box and it was a tough one to go through because of the fatigue and scheduling and overtime all combined together. Luckily I did two of the recipes and my husband helped me out with the other ones and we managed to get it done.

Let’s check it out!

Togarashi Chicken
with Blistered Shishito Peppers & Crispy Rice

Togarashi Chicken Goodfood

If you like spicy food, this Togarashi Chicken is right up your alley. Luckily, we’ve been getting in the hang of having some delicious spicy seasonings and I was really excited to try out this recipe. I’ve never had shishito peppers but it was pretty good and it had to lovely balance of textures and flavors with the crispy rice and the chicken. I have to say that we’ve had a few meals with the crispy rice and its a great way to make it. Its fairly decent to make also so that helps. Although to be honest, I would get some normal bell pepper pieces or some sweet peppers instead since it can get a little overwhelming.

Grilled Steaks & Sherry-Mustard Sauce
with Fresh English Peas, Baby Kale & Barley

Grilled Steaks Goodfood

We don’t eat steak a whole lot so this is a treat. We did end up replacing the baby kale with our own homegrown kale because it wasn’t looking too nice. We don’t usually have a lot of issues with the freshness and the weather has been really hot so even our garden isn’t doing great so it was nice that we had some backup. It was kind of our fault to have waited 2 days before using it, which usually is fine. Either way, just a point and not really a complaint. However, the meal itself did turn out really well. Barley is one of those ingredients we don’t have our house so whenever we get these boxes, we learn a little more how to use it. With the flavors here and everything, it blended very well together. it was an easy meal to put together, the shortest in this box if I’m not mistaken and it worked well for the busy and crazy week that I had gone through.

General Tao Cauliflower
with Spinach Chips & Garlic Rice

General Tao Cauliflower

Starting these next two, my husband was the one who stepped up and took over to cook because I was just swamped with everything. Lucky because especially this one, it was quite technical and I’m not great with any flour batter and fried sort of meals. However, I honestly loved this meal a lot because of the cauliflower and how it was done. Combining that with the sauce (which was the only part I made along with the spinach chips), it actually was so delicious. It worked with some delicious jasmine rice and a crispy spinach chip along with a tasty cauliflower to just have enough crunch to make it so great together. It a tie between this meal and the chicken for my fave in this box for sure.

Spice-rubbed Pork Chops
with Plum Chutney, Charred Kale & Black Rice

Grilled Pork Chops

Last up is the spice-rubbed pork chops. Its kind of weird to think of plum chutney and I only eat black rice when my mom uses it in this special sweet congee that she makes. Suffice to say that I’m not skilled at eating it. This one was a little toss in the air to just fill up the last meal and it turned out as a pleasant surprise. I can’t say that I’d want to make it again but the plum chutney came out really great. The charred kale is good as always and keeps it healthy. Black rice has a different texture and is a bit more chewy but it also has a nice flavor. This one does come together well enough.

Overall, that is our recap of the Goodfood from 2 weeks ago!
A little behinds schedule but better late than never!
We have a new box coming in this week so things will be back on track..in probably a non-movie related way as I take a little break (after two more Fantasia reviews).

Goodfood Recap #24

Goodfood

Back to back weeks going on. Sorry for the delay. We’ve actually been really behind in cooking in general but we finally did finish up this box.

Do note that due to various reasons, we are again decreasing the frequency of Goodfood boxes. With our schedule, its actually becoming more of an inconvenience plus, we just can’t seem to decide on some of the recipes so we altogether decided to let some weeks by. It all works for the better financially also since these boxes are convenient but as we all know, convenience usually comes at a price. And well, July and August have been quite taxing on the wallet so we have to make our necessary cuts.

Without further ado, lets check out last week’s box!

Salmon Burgers
with Remoulade, Red Cabbage Slaw & Roasted Potato Fries

salmon burgers

My husband is a burger fan and we usually tend to try out the burger recipes. I can tell you that salmon burgers aren’t quite our cup of tea. We love salmon but as burgers and with this remoulade, it just wasn’t up our alley. The best part of all this was the roasted potato fries and well, you will see that its quite a frequent appearance in the meals we have been choosing. I’m sure salmon burgers are good for some people but a mix of factors here just didn’t work for us.

Spiced Chicken
with Bell Pepper & Cucumber Coucous Salad

spiced chicken

You can’t go wrong with chicken. Over and over its been proved to be right. It has been a while since we’ve had a couscous meal so this was really fresh to have the bell pepper and the cucumber with the salad. The chicken spices were really good. Its a simple meal but very delicious.

Grilled Greek Chicken
with Prune & Cerignola Olive Sauce, Roasted Potatoes & Arugula-Almond Salad

grilled greek chicken

When I first looked at this recipe, I was starting to worry about the prunes and olives and the taste that it would give. Surprisingly, it works really well. The potatoes were good, The chicken spices were simple and the prune and olive sauce worked so well with everything. My only issue is that it had arugula and I’m just not a big fan. Luckily, whatever was left over, my husband cooked the salad and paired it with another meal afterwards.

Pork-Lemongrass Skewers
with Crispy Rice & Bok Choy Salad

pork lemongrass skewers

The highlight of this box for sure goes to these pork-lemongrass skewers. It caught my eye when I was choosing this as one of the recipes. All the cooking goes to my husband as I’ve been busy with Fantasia Festival so he’s been taking care of a lot of these things for me. Crispy rice has appeared a few times in recipes and they are really good. The skewers and pork lemongrass is really tasty and there’s ginger in there that subtly was setting my mouth on fire and I couldn’t pinpoint what it was. My husband cooked the salad instead of leaving it raw which I love because while I’m slowly getting back to eating raw vegetables, I do like it cooked.

Overall, a pretty decent box. There was some surprises like the prune and olive sauce for the chicken.
Some things delivered like the pork-lemongrass skewers but of course, there was also the disappointing salmon burger. 

Which meal caught your eye in this box?

Goodfood Recap #23

goodfood

It sure feels like a while since the last time I wrote a Goodfood recap. The only reason is that the recipes weren’t quite to our liking so we decided to just skip 2 weeks. Now its back generally to a schedule that we like. Without further ado, here’s the recap for last week’s meals!

Shrimp Boil
with Summer Corn, Roasted Potatoes and Green Salad

Sorry for the scattered look on this one. We kind of had this one in a scattered manner as well. This was a pretty summer themed meal and I loved the making the shrimps and corns and potatoes together. The spices were delicious. I didn’t get the salad but my husband did. I believe the dressing smelled pretty good.

Grilled Vegetable Bowls
with Ginger-Soy Sauce & Edamame Rice

grilled vegetables

I’m going to admit right now that last week was hell and we’ve had a whole lot of delays on cooking and just had a ton of leftovers and stuff. Its re-adapting to some things in life that has surfaced. It changed the routine I had and who knew that it would be delayed like this. When we got around to making the vegetable bowl, the zucchini was already done for, making this bowl slightly sad. However, the edamame rice was delicious. The veggies and the spices were really great as well. Its all very lovely along with the ginger-soy sauce also. Maybe we will remake this one day with the yellow zucchini.

Soy-Maple Chicken
with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Grilled Zucchini & Charred Scallion Salad

soy-maple chicken goodfood

The soy-maple sauce was quite tasty here. The oven-roasted sweet potatoes also had a great recipe. Simple and easy. I’m not much for scallion so I didn’t go and eat a whole scallion stalk. Well, surprisingly the zucchini here didn’t go bad so the grilling it turned out great. Of course, the grilled stuff is all my husband’s hard work. This meal does come together quite well.

Herbed Pork Chops
with Pistachio-Mint Salmuera, Grilled Peppers & Roasted Baby Potatoes

herbed pork chops goodfood

The last meal of this box is the herbed pork chops. The spices for the pork chop was absolutely delicious. I’m starting to see a theme in the spice blends and how good they are while all being quite different. My husband handled this meal. The potatoes turned out quite well. The grilled peppers was also quite good. Simple stuff is always the best method in my book. While I liked the idea of the pistachio=mint salmuera, I liked the pork chops without that topping.  I didn’t mind it much but the spices already had enough balance in flavor to make it all work. But then, I refer back to the simple things for myself that always work best that I mentioned before.

Overall…

It was a pretty decent box. Anything that didn’t go well was because of my procrastination. The spice blends in the meals were very good and gave these meals their own distinction. There are some simple elements here that worked very well too.

With that said, we have a new box this week and its already having its delays with all the events happening in town. 
I’ll be back with that recap next week!