Battle of Ingredients: Moon Festival & Autumn BBQ

Battle of Ingredients

Welcome to the next round of Battle of Ingredients hosted together with Phoebe over at Starry Traveler’s Road. This month’s get together was a slightly belated Moon Festival celebration as well as the last BBQ of the season.

Its a packed one this time so let’s see what we came up with. A lot of the food was really thought up simply by our brains so if we have recipes references, we’ll share it, if not, we can list some ingredients or whatnot. this time seems mostly to be checking out spices and such. Nothing too complex as we were both fairly busy with our personal lives.

Wines

Wine

The two wines offered by our friends this time were these two rose wines

  • Listel
  • Cote des roses

I will talk about both of these wine in the upcoming wine recap. I had already tasted Cote des Roses before but realized that I hadn’t shared it in any wine recaps before (oops..).

Main Courses

BBQ

We went fairly simple this time. Phoebe took care of most of the food. She had some vegetables from various types of cauliflowers to peppers and more. She also had corn. There was also steaks which she had two types of seasoning for. The first was a gourmet steak spice blend and the second was a innovative herb type which was a mix of oregano and thyme with salt.

BBQ

My contribution for dinner were kabobs. It had sausages, zucchini, peppers, mini portobello mushrooms and onions. The sausages were the IGA supermarket brands. One kabob had the honey-garlic flavor and the other one was wine and chives. There was no additional seasoning added to anything. We just put it on the skewer and barbecued it.

Results

I’m sorry that I didn’t take more of the veggies pic. However, everything turned out really good. The steaks had two different flavors. The one with the spices had more of the flavor as the spices were on the steaks itself. While the herbs and salt was more subtle, which is normal since it was just on top. As for the kabobs, I thought they turned out fairly well. It was fairly packed but cooked quickly so was good. The sausage flavors were also quite delicious.

Dessert

 

king's pastry

Dessert was obviously the highlight here and that’s moon cakes. Just like last year, we went for a more local brand. This one is a Canadian brand, King’s Pastry. It was a variety pack (like last year as well). The flavors were the following:

  • Date paste
  • Red Bean paste with melon bits
  • Traditional one egg yolk lotus paste
  • Five nuts

To be honest, they were okay. The five nuts had the citrus peel which was a bit intense. My husband and Phoebe was not a fan of it to say the least. The traditional was a bit too sweet. The date paste turned out better than expected. The same applied for the red bean paste.

We also had a fruit bowl that I put together with apples, clementines and grapes but I forgot to take a picture so we’ll leave that out since no one really ate any of it with the amount of sweets we already had.

Overall, a simple but lovely meal together!
This is a wrap for this Battle of Ingredients!
Back to the indoor kitchen for us as we figure out our next battle!
Nothing settled just yet..we’ll be back in a few weeks!

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?

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 ūüôā

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.

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 ūüėČ 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?