Battle of Ingredients #4 BBQ Edition

battle of ingredients

We’re back from our (previously unannounced summer hiatus). Due to all kinds of busy life things going on, we couldn’t find time to get together so we took a two month break. We still have a bit of mild weather here and there so we decided to get a dose of BBQ in there, all thanks to my co-host of this segment, Phoebe from Starry Traveler’s Road who offered up somewhere to do this, also giving us a little break from holding the event at our place. The evening was nice and we each brought our own unique take and Phoebe did all the BBQ along with the event help from my husband. With friends in place, husbands there and a toddler in tow, we all got together for the next Battle of Ingredients, we present the Summer BBQ Edition!

Drinks (courtesy of our friends)
Drinks

Pfaff was a light white wine that worked well as we had chicken for the most part. It was quite good. Nothing beats summer like having a sangria and Pepito is a decent choice. I’ve never had the Sangria Blanc of this brand but it turned out really well, especially as it was used to end the evening and added in some summer fruits like watermelon and raspberries. We’ll show this in order we had it, so it’ll be a little later.

Cooking & Evening View

Downtown Montreal is a beauty especially when you can’t see the orange cones everywhere. The sunset and everything made it a beautiful night to BBQ with friends. Phoebe made the Chicken Wings marinated in Chinese Spices and grilled Bok Choy. I had the foil packets, portioned already for each person. In the foil packets were home grown zucchini and cucumbers along with chicken bacon and Mild Italian Sausages and spiced with Herbes de Provences, paprika and ground pepper. My packet was a little different because fancy sausages now all are made with milk so I picked up a pack of Lester’s Jumbo Sausages lactose-free. The extras were grilling on the top with the extra chicken bacon for the little toddler.

The Results

Battle of Ingredients

Chicken Wings & Grilled Bok Choy

Battle of Ingredients

Chicken Wings with Chinese Spices

Battle of  Ingredients

Foil Packets

Everything turned out great. The chicken wings were marinated well. The Chinese spices gave it a nice flavor. Grilled Bok Choy is a nice way to keep the Asian theme we had and it worked well although took a little longer to cook through. My foil packets went in for about 20-30 minutes. The lesson was to make sure that the cucumbers were not sliced so thin because they cooked to a very mushy texture. however, the flavors that I chose worked well. I was pretty pleased with them and I believe the general feedback for everything was very positive.

Dessert & Sangria & Fresh Fruits

S’mores Kit – Laura Secord

S'Mores

S’Mores

First part of dessert was the S’mores. Phoebe picked up the Laura Secord S’mores kit to give it a go. I had to bring my own dark chocolate to make sure it was lactose free. We used the remaining heat of the BBQ to warm it up. It took a little longer but during that time we sat down and chatted while finishing our wines and whipping together our sangria. The fresh fruit was cleverly used in the sangria (as it should). Watermelons and raspberries from our garden. We let soak while the s’mores were heating up.

White Sangria with Fruits

White Sangria with Fruits

The perfect way to end off the night. S’mores was like camping and BBQ and it was an awesome way to get back into the Battle of Ingredients. As hectic as it was (on my part) to get it all together, everything worked out really well.

And we got to enjoy it with a beautiful city lights of Downtown Montreal!

This wraps up this edition of Battle of Ingredients!
Our question to you: What do you like to BBQ?
What meals are particularly summer-y for you?

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Battle of Ingredients #3: Farmers’ Market Edition

Battle of Ingredients

The next Battle of Ingredients happened this past weekend.

Here in Canada, we had our Victoria Day long weekend. Montreal was also full of festivities as the city celebrated its 375th birthday. A lot more festivities are on the way as Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday as well. If you do want to ask about the 375th birthday in a 150 year country, Montreal was a French colony and established before Canada was was formed under confederation. That is the short form of the explanation. Since I do get asked that question once in a while, so just in case you are curious 🙂

This edition is all about Farmer’s Market. A fantastic idea from my collaborator for this series, Phoebe from Starry Traveler’s Road who also happened to have written a great post on the Montreal celebrations. Montreal has a few markets strewn both on the island and in the suburban areas. As some of you may have gathered, we do venture frequently in the suburban surrounding cities of Montreal and this edition’s highlight will be some of the items we bought and the local businesses from Le Marche des Jardiniers located in La Prairie, Quebec. It also happens to be Lobster season so we made a pretty last minute decision to pick up two lobsters at the supermarket and try our hand at it.

Let’s check out our menu for the evening!

Our Wine of the Evening

Appetizer
Bread from L’Amour du Pain

L'Amour du Pain

Main Meal

Phoebe: Oven-Baked Sausages & Portobello Mushrooms

Sausages & Portobello Mushrooms

Sausages are from Charcuterie Frick

Sausages here are 4 flavors:
– Herbes de Provences
– Blueberry Maple Syrup
– Smoked Meat
– Shallots & White Wine

Being a mother of a toddler, Phoebe’s learnt the concept of efficient cooking. Fast and easy to put together. She had done this dish before a few months ago. The concept is to use the oil/fat in the sausages to also give flavor to the mushrooms at the bottom.

My tie for sausages are the blueberry and maple and shallots and white wine. They all tasted great just a preference to those two flavors. Mushrooms turned out perfect as well.

Kim & Phoebe: Roasted Honey-Thyme Endives

Endives were bought at Le Petit Marché de Johanne

Roasted Honey-Thyme Endives

 Recipe via Pinterest: http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Honey-Roasted-Belgian-Endives-and-Parsnips

I have only made endives once before (same applies to fiddleheads below). My memory was blurry on how I made it in general. Pinterest gave a simple recipe on putting this together: salt, pepper, honey, fresh thyme and oil/butter for marinade which had to be warmed first then drizzled on the endives before popping it in the oven.

For this dish, I have to do some reading on how to cut endives and prepare them. There was still some bitterness left in it and it has to do with what to remove to prevent it. However, the sauce was pretty good. I did have to modify it to a lower portion because we had less than what the recipe asked for.

Kim: Roasted Fiddlehead

Fiddleheads were bought at Le Petit Marché de Johanne

Roasted Fiddlehead

Recipe via Pinterest: http://homemadeandyummy.com/roasted-fiddlehead-ferns/

Fiddlehead ferns are in season right now. They also happen to be a pain to prepare because of all the washing and cleaning that it takes. With the said, this called for a simple recipe to compensate.

When things get crazy, my mind runs off. This is what happened to the roasted fiddleheads. They ended up being forgotten in the oven a few minutes more and got crispy. It was like fiddlehead crisps which because of the simple salt and pepper worked for myself however, might not be for everyone.

Kim & Phoebe: Boiled Lobster

Boiled Lobster

Lobsters probably aren’t supposed to be the star of the night but it was because it took almost everyone and a few recruits to help us with chopping and cleaning and cooking and plating. Phoebe ate these with garlic butter however, I ate them just like that and it was delicious. Most of the credit goes to her in completing this lobster cooking task.

Dessert

Kim: Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Recipe via Pinterest: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/strawberry_rhubarb_pie/

Finally, my forte! Fresh rhubarb from the garden and frozen strawberries yielded this pie. I did use store bought pie shells and this somehow felt a little defective as it had a fold in the shell before going into the freezer so there was a gigantic side opening and that is where the juices and excess water leaked out. While this seemed pretty watery, this recipe is solid. I was worried that the rhubarb wouldn’t be ripe enough and be too tart but turns out it worked out pretty great.

That is a wrap for Battle of Ingredients!
A huge meal and great teamwork got this done and ready for everyone. Plus, it highlighted some of our local vendors which is always important.

Battle of Ingredients #2: Maple Syrup

Welcome to Round 2 of Battle of Ingredients!
If you missed the first round, you can find it here. I will be putting something on the side or above so that it’ll be easier to track soon.

This month’s Battle of Ingredients is all about maple syrup! Why? Because here in our lovely province of Quebec, we have the cabane a sucre (aka sugar shack) tradition. Maple syrup is a big deal around this parts (and apparently also in Riverdale according to the new TV series). It was a no brainer for myself and Phoebe that it would be our choice ingredient as well as trying out a new formula of doing a collaborated full course meal. All our dishes had maple syrup so lets just say, we were in for a sugar rush.

Let’s check out our menu, along with the wines we used to pair with it (although one of them we didn’t end up drinking…yet).

Wine

Wine

We drank the Kung Fu Girl which is one of my favorite wines. Apparently, it has somewhat of a sour taste which I never really thought about but always found it smooth. Regardless, hopefully we’ll keep the Fetzer in our fridge till the next Battle.

Appetizer – Kim

Bourbon Maple Glazed Chicken Wings

Bourbon Maple Glazed Chicken Wings

Recipe via Pinterest: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/bourbon_maple_glazed_chicken_wings/

A very simple recipe to put together in general although you do need to simmer the sauce before putting it on the chicken wings and then have to simmer again to thicken it. I somehow managed to get it thicker the first time so that it wasn’t necessary to simmer again. I did have extra sauce however it was covered enough so I put it to the side in case anyone wanted anymore. This one was delicious and definitely a hit. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that I used our good bourbon without knowing it. Whatever the reason, these turned out much better than I expected and honestly, I kind of want to make another batch already.

From our friends: Not dry at all with the sauce, and it matched well. No extra sauce needed for me!

Main Meal + Side – Phoebe

Prosciutto Maple Salmon

Prosciutto Maple Salmon

Recipe via Pinterest: http://gardeninthekitchen.com/prosciutto-maple-salmon/

Phoebe chose this recipe off Pinterest. We don’t usually get the chance to use prosciutto frequently and never had thought to use to wrap around fish and yet, it came together really nicely. She hadn’t worked with dill before and I haven’t been a fan either, however we do have dill lovers at the table. This came together really nicely. Phoebe was a little nervous about the whole grilling part before baking it and we timed it all very nice to serve this and the sides, which we will talk about below.

From our friends: I personally find the dill to match well with the fish. Again, not dry the way it was made, the only slight annoyance was that the prociutto is hard to cut through, so putting any sort of pressure would crush the salmon under… But with patience of sliding your knife back and forth, it’s perfect.

Maple Syrup Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Maple Syrup Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Recipe via Pinterest: http://www.thewholesomedish.com/maple-syrup-roasted-brussels-sprouts/

Huge fan of brussel sprouts here, I found this recipe for Phoebe and she was totally into it, which is great. I’ve always wondered how maple syrup in Brussel Sprouts would work and actually it was the one the absorbed the maple syrup enough to actually taste it the most. It was much more subtle in the salmon for example. However, in the balance of the meal, it worked well.

Dessert

Chewy Maple Cookies

Chewy Maple Cookies

Recipe via Pinterest: http://www.cleverlysimple.com/chewy-maple-cookies/

I decided on making these cookies very last minute. Like an hour before our cooking meet-up. Fact is, I was going to make Maple Ice but that needed Maple Water and Ice Cream Maker, both things that I don’t have or haven’t figured out how to use yet. Then there was the idea of making little maple syrup tarts but that was really complex with heating the pizza stone plate in the oven beforehand and the worry that it would just fail because I was changing this complicated tart recipe from a pie pan to little tarts. Anyways, point is cookies are the safe bet and thankfully, it worked well to not hog up the oven and we were able to get everything we needed done and ready on track.

From our friends: Cookies were good! Wasn’t dry, but wasn’t butter fest either! Maybe it would be even better with some nut in it like cashew, but then again, might alter the taste… But it was great.

Maple Flavored Popcorn (Bad Monkey)

Bad Monkey Maple Flavored Popcorn

In addition, Phoebe brought this Bad Monkey brand Maple Syrup flavored popcorn to match with the theme. I don’t eat a lot of popcorn for health issues but I did try a few and it was pretty delicious. Phoebe did find it a little on the sweet side however our friends did like this one as well. they actually put the popcorn and the cookie together and apparently, it went well together particularly because of the contrast in textures.

That’s it for this Battle!
Maple Syrup was a fun adventure and on all fronts this was a win.
We learned some new recipes and had a great time with friends.
Next month’s Battle is still deciding what will be the star(s) of the show! 

Perhaps this will be the structure from now on as it is easier to get together an acceptable meal but we will shift the courses around to who is responsible next time.
We will see…like I said in the first round, a work in progress. If you have any suggestions, do share with us. 🙂

Battle of Ingredients #1: Carrots and Noodles

It is finally here!
A new segment with Phoebe from Starry Traveler’s Road!
Thanks so much for joining us!

Battle of Ingredients

INTRODUCTION – What is Battle of Ingredients?

Battle of Ingredients (name subject to future change maybe) is the brainchild of myself and Phoebe who really love to talk about tons of things but our families have somewhat become foodie buddies. We talk food a lot and go to restaurants even more but we each have our food restrictions and our habits and with this Battle of Ingredients, we have two goals.

One: we want to learn more about the Quebec foods through different seasons which will be a huge focus on how we pick our ingredients.
Two: To expand and explore new recipes and ways to cook as well as try out new ingredients.

However, we do also want to say that this is a battle of ingredients but we use the word ‘battle’ loosely because we aren’t actually battling each other. Our judges are family and close friends and they offer us suggestions on how to improve our recipes. Its more the challenge of figuring out a good way to incorporate the selected ingredients. There will be times, like the next one, where we will be working together to put together a meal with the next selected seasonal ingredients which will be announced at the end of this post.

Battle of Ingredients #1: Carrots & Noodles

The first challenge is a simple one. We wanted something that we could use readily, plus carrots are about the best looking vegetable available at our supermarkets now. The meat is free to our choosing and noodles is for a nice carbs base that everyone gets a good energy boost. Two noodle dishes are heavy so we served them in moderate portions.

PHOEBE’S MENU
Homey Osso Bucco with Udon

Osso Bucco

Homey Osso Bucco with Udon

I know Kim wanted to try osso bucco and it is freezing outside thanks to Canadian winter, so I decided to cook this dish as part of the cook-off. This is one of my mom’s thermal cooker recipes that I managed to replicate with some adaptations over the years.

Given I had to prepare more portions than usual, I had a hard time putting numbers on the quantities of ingredients.

  • Osso bucco
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Sweet onions (normal onions are okay, but I prefer sweet ones)
  • Bay leaves
  • Chicken stock (powder)
  • Water
  • Udon

Instructions:

1. Wash the osso bucco and put in the inner pot.
2. Wash and chop all the veggies to your desired size (please note if it is too little, veggies will disintegrate into the soup). Put in the inner pot on top of the meat (I usually cut carrots first because they are bulky when compared to celery and onions).
3. Wash the bay leaf and put into the inner pot (I always prefer 2-3 in my cooking).
4. Pour water into the inner pot and make sure it covers the meat and veggies.
5. Boil it until it starts bubbling and add chicken powder to taste (One thing that I noticed if you are cooking more portions than usual, you may need to reboil to ensure the osso bucco is thoroughly cooked).
6. Boil it a bit longer and put the inner pot into the vacuum insulated cooker.
7. Let it cook over night.

While my family usually eat this with rice, I prefer udon after doing a lot of testing in dorms. My mom used to vacuum seal some with veggies so I can enjoy it while doing my assignments. I remember trying rice vermicelli, egg noodles, pasta and udon. Rice vermicelli got soggy really quickly while egg noodles held themselves a little better. Pasta was okay, but udon stood out for remaining bouncy when it took me a little while to finish dinner.

That is pretty much it for my recipe. Hope you enjoy it! 😊

KIM’S MENU
Chicken Rice Noodles with Carrots and Cucumbers

Chicken Rice Noodles

Chicken Rice Noodles with Carrots and Cucumbers

Unlike Phoebe, my recipe is somewhat of a combination of a few things I like making. I did end up forgetting something in this one and our judges definitely did realize even if I don’t honestly mind that much.  Here are the ingredients I used:

  • Rice Noodles
  • Nantes Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Eggs
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Chicken Thighs
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Green onions
  • Soy Sauce
  • Sesame Oil

How to make it:

1. In a bowl, mix together sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar and garlic. Set aside.
2. Prepare the chicken. Cut the chicken lengthwise and mix with the marinade above.
3. Boil water in a saucer. When it starts to boil, put in the rice noodles to cook. Place in for few minutes. Remove and put in strainer. Rinse with cold water. Rest strainer on a bowl to let water drain.
4. Peel the carrots and cucumbers and chop them lengthwise (or however you like them that makes it easier to cook). Mince the garlic and chop the ginger.
5. Heat up the wok on medium-high heat. Put in some oil (sesame, olive, whichever you use; I used avocado oil) and let it heat up.
6. Put in some garlic and ginger into the wok. Afterwards, add the carrots and cucumbers. Let them cook through and remove on plate.
7. If you need, add a little bit of oil to the wok and cook the scrambled eggs.
8. Next, cook the chicken with marinade as sauce.
9. Once its cooked through, add back the eggs, carrots and cucumbers. Let it cook a little more and add the noodles to heat everything back up.
10. Remove from heat and put in plate.

COMMENTS FROM FRIENDS (AKA TASTERS)

Phoebe’s Osso Bucco was cooked thoroughly and enough time. The only comment was on the choice of using the Udon noodles and that dials down to a personal preference.

Kim’s Chicken Rice Noodles was cooked well however it was on the more bland side. Something that Kim suspected out of her eating habits and the fact that she forgot to use broth. The suggestion was to use chicken broth to add some natural flavor instead of using salt and it would help infuse the meal overall.

This concludes our first BATTLE OF INGREDIENTS!
Hope you enjoyed it!

The next battle will be held next month as a collaborated full course meal featuring MAPLE SYRUP!
Right in time for cabane a sucre season!