Battle of Ingredients: New Year’s Eve Hot Pot

BATTLE OF INGREDIENTS

It seems we do about 6 Battles a year looking at things to land on our 12th session for NYE Hot Pot in our second year of Battle of Ingredients. We are definitely getting more organized, I can tell you that much. Most of the time, things don’t happen because we are busy with one thing or another with life. 2018 wrapped up in style with ourselves doing a New Year’s Eve Hot Pot session. There isn’t really much to talk about usually but here’s a little sharing on the stuff I put together and other vegetables and noodles we used.

Wines

Wines

We actually only got to drinking the J.P. Chenet Rose Sparkling Wine. It was a nice match for the meal. We mixed up some drinks for the rest of the evening with some people spiking their soda with tequila or Rum and Coke and myself, I had some Cranberry Ginger Ale spiked with Irish Whiskey or Apricot Brandy.

Hot Pot

Hot Pot

Our division of tasks for this battle of ingredients were Phoebe with the vegetables, fruits and other things necessary like noodles and she prepared a soup base (which we didn’t end up using because of technical difficulties she is still thinking about).

Hot Pot

She brought:

  • Bok Choy
  • Chinese Broccoli
  • Enoki Mushrooms
  • Udon Noodles
  • Konnyaku Noodles
  • Egg Tofu
  • Apples and Oranges

I took care of meats and dessert. I forgot to take a picture of everything so forgive the incomplete bits.

Dumplings Pork Balls

  • Pork Balls (Homemade with minced lean ground pork and garlic seasoned with salt and pepper)
  • Dumplings (Homemade with the same as the previous and store-bought wonton wrappers)
  • Sliced Chicken breast seasoned with sesame oil, salt and pepper
  • Store bought Frozen fondue beef slices
  • Fish Tofu (from my mom)

Pumpkin Cookies

As for dessert, I had some dough left from the previous potluck so made some more Pumpkin Cookies.

Also bought:

  • Marshmallows
  • Lindt Dark Chocolate
    • 70% Madagascar
    • Swiss Dark

For soup bases, we had a divided pot borrowed from my mom. One side was with water and all the flavoring was from the ingredients added in while the other part was diluted Chicken Broth.

The hot pot went really well. Phoebe and I did most of the cooking and allocated food to everyone around the table. There’s always the worry of not having enough food and it all worked out. We even had leftovers. Definitely something to consider for the winter months to do as it makes it a lot simpler and actually quite nice to explore what ingredients to use and soup bases to make and such. It is an idea that we can discuss further to change things up just like how we slot in BBQ during the summer.

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Recap: Goodfood #27

goodfood

Welcome to the next recap of Goodfood for last week’s box! One repeat and a few that sounded pretty good. Bowls usually are surprisimg winners, burgers always have a nice twist and well, sometimes meatballs and couscous are the simple combo that we need.

Grilled Tofu Dragon Bowls
with multicolored carrots, snow peas & red rice

grilled tofu dragon bowl

Tofu isn’t our cooking specialty so a lot of it is either at my mom’s or when we get a Goodfood box. My husband isn’t a huge fan of it either. We ended up getting this because we have loves past meals in bowls. Granted, usually it is something I have generally tried before and this one, I haven’t. However, the tofu and the red rice is super nice. The sauce here is amazing. My only issue was the raw veggies which I went ahead to cook because I had a part of it raw and honestly didn’t enjoy it at all. I’ve always liked my vegetables cooked so that is honestly a personal preference.

Chicken Yakitori
with roasted carrots, chinese broccoli & miso butter

Chicken Yakitori

The repeat here is this chicken yakitori which still remains as delicious as what I remember. On top of that, I always forget to do it for the Battle of Ingredients but the recipe calls for roasting chinese broccoli in the oven and the leaves turns out like making kale chips. It comes out some delicious flavors and its mostly seasons with salt and pepper which is all very awesome. Plus, Jasmine rice is my favorite variety of rice so everything here really justifies why I like this meal a lot and enjoy making it also.

Paprika-Garlic Chicken Sandwiches on Pretzel Buns
with horseradish mayonnaise & green salad

paprika-garlic chicken sandwich

The husband took care of this meal and the next. Its been a crazy week for us so these meals had a lot of it just being myself eating it and him only tasting it. I’m not going to lie that I ended up skipping most of the salad because of the horseradish. They gave a warning of the spiciness of it and washing hands afterwards. Luckily, my husband put together only a little bit of horseradish so it worked really well without burning my mouth. The chicken spicing with the paprika and garlic is really delicious. I’m adding this recipe to my chicken burgers ideas whenever we ever think about it and want to change up from beef.

Pork Meatballs & Roasted Vegetables
with wild jungle peanuts & lemon balm couscous

pork meatballs & roasted vegetables

Finally, we wrap up with the pork meatballs and roasted vegetables on couscous. I have to say that the entire meal here is pretty well balanced. The tomatoes add a more acidic taste as tomatoes usually do with their more sour flavor but it works to give a lot of balance with the other vegetables added in here. The highlight here is the wild jungle peanuts which are specially picked from some region (Amazon, maybe? I can’t remember…) but taste pretty much like a peanut. The couscous is my issue as I had to pick out  the lemon balm because it was just too much in it and was so strong. Other than that, this was a pretty decent meal. I just need to remember to cut the onions into smaller pieces so the meatballs don’t have such coarse onions, making it stand out a ton. However, the spices are quite delish.

Overall, this was a pretty decent box. I liked everything fairly well. There were some issues here and there that makes me say that I love it with the obvious exception of the Chicken Yakitori. One more box next week and then we made the decision to drop the meal boxes to monthly basis for a while so we clear up some of our frozen meats in the freezer and eat some garden veggies from our garden and my mom’s garden, which she’s been sharing with us.

Recap: Goodfood #6

Don’t worry! No slacking off on the horror marathon. Regular programming resumes later today (or at least it should since I’m writing this one before the next one).

Goodfood update again. This box is one of those boxes that really caught our eyes as it uses some great ingredients and everyday stuff and just twists on the sauce and stuff. A lot of untreaded territory here so its fun to try out. Most of it worked out really well, except for one that really might not be to our tastes so much.

Chef Garnier’s Sesame-Crusted Chicken with Sweet & Sour Veggies & Matcha Rice

Goodfood

First up was the Sesame-Crusted Chicken. Its pretty cool because I’ve always had an issue with breading things and this recipe let me learn how to figure that part out. This meal turned out quite good. Actually, everything here worked great for the chicken and the veggies. The sweet chili sauce for the veggies was a good balance to the meal. However, the matcha rice wasn’t doing it for us. I already had a suspicion about it since I’m not  a fan of matcha tea in general however, my husband is very picky with the teas that he likes so it was a hit and miss. However, matcha is a powder so it was used for the rice and it was okay. Can’t say that we’ll ever make the rice again but the chicken and veggies are a hit.

Tofu & Shiitake Mushroom Dumplings with Cucumber Salad

Goodfood

Next up is the vegetarian dumplings. This was an all around win for us. We don’t use tofu ever at home although I like it when my  mom makes it. However, I’ve never really figured out how to incorporate it into our meals and my husband isn’t a fan of the texture in general. These dumplings were really cool as it blends the mushrooms and the tofu together for the filling and the sauce is quite easy to make. I let my husband have the cucumber salad which he liked a lot as well. We are slowly trying to eat healthier and possibly seeing the potential having the occasional vegetarian meal and this one is definitely one we’ll keep on our minds especially since I love dumplings so much!

Spiced Pork Chops with Roasted Delicata Squash, Brussel Sprouts & Hazelnut Vinaigrette

Goodfood

Pork chops are a frequent appearance in our house. Mostly because meats are overall quite expensive and pork chops are usually the most cost efficient option. This one was so great. It had brussel sprouts and the vinaigrette was delicious especially since we’ve never used hazelnut to put together a dressing like that. There was a hint of sweetness from the maple syrup (I believe). I’m a fan of squashes in general but my husband is quite picky with them. However, he loved the delicata squash which is the first time I’ve ever made them and they are a win for us both. We loved them so much that I went ahead to the grocery store a few days ago and picked up some more.

Tourtiere-Spiced Meatballs with Mushroom Sauce & Roasted Veggies

Goodfood

Finally, the last choice were tourtiere-spiced meatballs. I’m usually on the fence with the meatballs meals. It always feel odd to use meatballs without spaghetti. Another thing to note here is that I replaced the green beans with brussel sprouts. I guess I could file it under a slight complaint is that when Friday night came around (which is about 5 days since we received the box), the green beans weren’t looking too good. I’m guessing if I waited another day, mold would have happened. Anyways, to be safe, I threw them out and replaced the veggies with what I had on hand. However, the meal was really great. Beef is not my first choice however the meatballs tasted good and the tourtiere flavors are definitely there. The mushroom sauce turned out a little too thick for us however the taste was also on point. The veggies were good also.

Overall…the last week’s box was pretty good. It was a win on all fronts. Sure, the matcha rice didn’t work with us quite so much but everything else was pretty awesome. My fave meal of this box (and its hard to choose) would probably be the pork chops although the dumplings are quite close behind.

Erabliere Charbonneau…

Sugar shacks are a huge thing in Quebec.  I haven’t been since…I was really young.  Young enough that I don’t quite remember much from it.  I think it was somewhere around Grade 1 or 2.  But then, I remember going to apple picking in Grade 1 and Granby Zoo in Grade 2 so maybe its in kindergarten?

Sorry, thinking out loud again (Ed Sheeran song pops in my head for a little).

Gosh, I really don’t want to write this, eh? It’s just going off on tangents.  You’ll see why in just a little bit.

Me, my boyfriend and some good friends all came for this little trip to Erabliere Charbonneau at the end of season sugar shack dining.  Before we start, if you live in Montreal, chances are you know about the highly reputable Erabliere Charbonneau.  Everyone goes there and its fantastic and all that jazz…today, I’m going to tell you why I will never go again.  Our experience was not too pleasant.  As most of you know, I’m a pretty chill person and I don’t criticize all that much but thinking about this experience makes my blood boil just a little (well, today its just a little).  But I like to start on a positive note so let’s do this!

The Food!

Starters

Erabliere Charbonneau

Homemade Ketchup

Erabliere Charbonneau

Pea Soup

The “marinade” starters included bread and pea soup.  Maybe there was something else but I don’t remember.

Main course

Erabliere Charbonneau

Maple flavored Sausages, meatballs and Tourtiere

Erbaliere Charbonneau

Ham, Eggs and Potatoes

Think breakfast/brunch with lots of sweetness added in 😉 Thats what all this was.  To be fair, the sausages and meatballs were pretty delish.  You can order seconds if you so desired.

Dessert

Erabliere Charbonneau

Mini pancakes

Erabliere Charbonneau

Sugar Pastries

Erabliere Charbonneau

Sugar Pie

Last group is desserts.  Although who knows when dessert starts when everything is all about being rather sweet with maple syrup. I didn’t have anything in this because of the lactose intolerant issue.  From what I gathered, it was over the top sweet for some and alright for others…I guess it all depends on how much sweet is too much for you.

The Reason Why I Won’t Go Back Here

First up, remember that pretty much everyone in our group hasn’t gone to a sugar shack in a while and we don’t quite know how it all works.  As customers, you’d expect to have the benefit of the doubt and even then, one of my friends does quite a bit of research in advance so we knew that we could ask for seconds but from what we understood, we could have it after our dessert portion.  Sure, that seems a little out of order and unconventional, that’s okay.

So, we decided after it finished that we wanted to have another serving of sausages, meatballs and potatoes and the waitress looks at us like we’re crazy but she still does it.  A few minutes later, the manager comes out and starts literally scolding us in front of everyone about how she’s been working there for 20 years and this has never happened.  We explained our side rather calmly but still she kept raising her voice about how this was not how its done.

We’re not an unreasonable group.  My issue isn’t even with how we made an unconventional request and she seemed to want to refuse (even if she did end up serving it to us after our scolding), it was the way she handled it that got me pretty angry. For one, the kitchen is still running and our reservations are only up at noon.  We asked at 11:30am.  But also the point that, as a business, you don’t go up to your customers and yell at them in front of a room full of other customers.  We’re all adults.  She could have explained calmly so we understood and not belittle or be all condescending.  Even if she refused and was explaining nicely to us, I’d have probably been less pissed.  Because what this shows me is that she doesn’t want our business and to be honest, I don’t really want to come back here to be insulted.

Its a pity because the food here is good.  They have a good thing going but sometimes, good (even great) food doesn’t make bad service feel better.  Maybe we had fault by asking for something out of their normal routine but they also had fault because our assigned waitress was not clear about the details of how this works and when we could ask for our second rounds before clearing our table.  Plus, its not exactly proper customer service to have a manager yell a table of adults instead of explaining calmly.  Her attitude bothered me so much.

Still, if you do decide to give this a shot, the perks of this place is that you get a free sampling of one cider/wine at their orchard and it includes the “tir de glace” which is the maple syrup on ice thing.  I don’t know the proper term for it.

Have you been to somewhere like this? Where was it? Did you enjoy the experience?