Preview: Why I hate eating out!

Hey everyone!

So im giving you a little sneak peek as to what I’m gonna post tomorrow!

It’s all about what I hate about going to restaurants! It may sound weird for someone who loves food, but you’ll have to check back tomorrow to find out what it’s all about!

Thanks for checking out my blog!

Sicilian street salad

Hey everyone!

Hope you have enjoyed all the recipes that I have posted over the last few days! I’ve got lots more to come, and I’ve even got a restaurant review that I will be posting next week! But let’s get to the reason I’m posting today! I was feeling like a break from the heavy dinners I usually cook at this time of year and decided to go with something nice and light! So I thought, why not make a salad? Usually I don’t think like this, my brain instantly blocks salad from my conscious thoughts, but today I broke through that barrier! This recipe was inspired by a Jamie Oliver recipe from many years ago on his trip to Italy. He called it a Street salad (Insalata di strada), with the inspiration from a street market in Sicily.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sicilian street salad

Salad ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound new potatoes
  • 1/2 pound purple new potatoes
  • 4 handfuls mixed salad leaves (green lettuce, arugula, romaine)
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, sliced paper-thin with mandoline, reserve tops for garnish
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, slice thin but not paper-thin, reserve for cooking
  • 1/4 Meyer lemon, sliced paper-thin on the mandoline
  • Salt and pepper

Tangerine dressing ingredients:

Preparations/cooking:

  1. Wash the potatoes and add to a lightly salted pot of boiling water, boil until they are soft but still hold their shape. While the potatoes are boiling, heat a small pan on medium with a splash of olive oil, add the reserved half of the sliced fennel and fry until slightly golden.
  2. While the potatoes and fennel are cooking, wash the greens and fennel, toss in a large bowl.
  3. For the dressing, Mix the tangerine juice, wine and balsamic vinegar, and about twice as much oil (equal parts olive and grapeseed oil). Add the mustard, capers, and oregano and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix everything together.
  4. When the fennel is browned, remove from heat and set aside. Once the potatoes are tender, drain and let them steam in the colander for a few minutes. Slice them in half and throw them into the salad along with the grilled fennel. Dress and serve immediately.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did, it was a nice change from the regular green salad with bottled dressing!

Don’t forget to like this page and share it with all your friends!

Quick tip: Balsamic glaze

So I was recently in the grocery store and I saw a bottle of balsamic glaze. When I looked at the price, I was astonished that they could charge so much for a tiny bottle of balsamic that wasn’t even made in Italy! So I thought, why not make it myself! So here it is!

Balsamic Glaze

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Balsamic vinegar

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot, add the balsamic vinegar, turn onto medium high heat. Allow the vinegar to come up to a full boil, and then turn down to medium low heat. Reduce the vinegar to a point where it has the consistency of thin syrup. this should take between 4-10 minutes depending on the balsamic you’re using.
  2. Remove from heat and immediately pour into a jar. Let the balsamic cool and it will make a thick syrup like balsamic glaze that goes perfect with fruit, ice cream, risotto, or just about anything you can think of!

 

Thanks for checking this post out everyone! I will be posting another recipe later today, so come and check that out to! Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on WordPress!

 

 

Restaurant Review: The Spice Jammers

Hey everyone!

So its time for that restaurant review that I have been promising! The Spice Jammers, is a small east indian restaurant only minutes from downtown victoria BC. They serve up all sorts of east Indian and east African dishes in a small but cozy establishment. If you want to find out more about The Spice Jammers keep reading!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Review:

So, The Spice Jammers is a small east Indian/east African restaurant right by downtown Victoria, BC. I had never heard of this restaurant before, but it has been around for quite a few years. In 1996 they gained some great reviews from the Times Colonist, but they have been very quite ever since. I would love to give more history about the restaurant, but there is very little info about them, not even a website! But let’s get past all the jibber jabber and get to the review!

Ambience:

When you first walk through the door, you are greeted by a lounge of sorts, it’s actually very nice, makes you feel like you should be drinking a martini. Seeing as I don’t drink, I didn’t pay too much attention to this part of the restaurant, but it was a nice way to enter the building. As you walk further into the restaurant, I was a little bit confused, I wasn’t sure if the lounge was were I should be waited to be seated or not. There wasn’t anybody there so I kept walking into the back of the restaurant where I was helped by one of their very friendly staff.

I was brought to my table where the atmosphere was quite cozy, a little outdated with all the plants, but it was still very nice. Now the only complaint I had about the area we were in was how dark it was! The lighting seemed to be quite uneven, some areas bright, and as my luck had it, I got the dark area, making it very hard to get a great shot of the food!

The staff member introduced herself very quickly and took our drink orders, I was very happy at how quickly they came and took our drink orders, I really don’t like it when I go to a restaurant and I have to track someone down just to order my drinks! So this was a big plus in my books!

When it came to ordering, the staff were very helpful! About half of the dishes I recognized, but there were quite a number that I didn’t! Our server answered all of our questions about what the different dishes were, I got the impression that she had tasted each and every one of them!

The Food:

With the help of our server we decided on 2 curries, rice, Naan and an appetizer:

Appetizer:

  • Fried Mogo paired with tamarind chutney $4.75

The appetizer was a dish that I had never heard of. Mogo is a cross between a potato and a sweet potato, and originates from east Africa. It was lightly fried until it was nice and crisp, and it was served with a tamarind chutney. The dish was tasty, I quite enjoyed it. The mogo itself was kinda plain, but they put a spicy salt mixture on top of it which added a kick to it, and punched up the flavour. The tamarin chutney was a good pairing with it as well because it helped cool down the hot Mogo. Overall it was a very successful appetizer, and I would order it again!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Mains:

  • Naan $4.25
  • Basmati rice $3.25
  • Kuku Paka $16.95
  • Creamy masala prawns $18.95

The mains were 2 very different dishes, both were served family style so everybody can get a taste, and you can choose how spicy you want the dish! We decided to go for a mild spice since I can’t handle much heat, but you can always get a side of homemade hot sauce to help spice things up! The first, Kuku Paka was a traditional east African curry that has a coconut based sauce with chicken and potatoes. If you like coconut, this is the dish for you! Now I’m not a huge fan of coconut, but this dish was pretty tasty! It had a coconut aroma, but the flavour wasn’t overpowering. I found that the chicken was cooked very well, but the potatoes were slightly overcooked, kinda mushy, but still quite tasty. When you serve this over the aromatic basmati rice it is a great combo of flavours.

The second dish was the creamy Masala prawns. This dish was something that I had made myself before, and I quite liked, but I probably butchered the dish in the eyes of anyone who knows indian food! So I figured that I might as well give it a try and see if I liked it. It was very different from the way that I prepared it, more creamy and spicy with less emphasis on the prawns, and vegetables, and more emphasis on the sauce. I really did enjoy this dish! With less emphasis on the prawns, you got all sorts of flavours that are missing from north american versions of the dish. This dish is something I will go back for again!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I am going to go off on a little tangent here about the Naan and the basmati rice! I was really confused when they didn’t serve the curries with rice and naan included. I asked myself, who would eat curry without rice and naan? Its kinda like having a burger without the bun, it just doesn’t work. Now I didn’t mind paying extra for the Naan because it was pretty tasty! But I didn’t really like paying for the rice, especially since it was kinda dry! I found this whole thing a little strange, but it’s really a minor flaw in a great meal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Conclusion:

The Spice Jammers really impressed me. The flavours were great, the service was excellent, and the price was not to bad, it would be a great place for a date night, or to go out with some friends and share a few great plates of food! Aside from the few minor flaws which is the only reason I didn’t give them 4 out of 4, it was a near perfect meal. This restaurant actually managed to get me to tip 20% which I have never done before!

I will be visiting The Spice Jammers again in the near future and I hope you will go and give them a try as well!

3.5 out of 4 stars

Please let me know what you think about my review, and tell me your experiences as well!

Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and share with all your friends!

Thanks for reading

Bacon is a Veg

Hungarian Paprika Chicken served over Basmati rice

Hey everybody!

So for our dinner tonight we decided to make a great recipe, Hungarian Paprika Chicken. It combines a few simple ingredients into a simple dinner for 4-5 people, or plenty of leftovers for all you students!

Hungarian Paprika Chicken recipe

Ingredients:

5 skinless chicken breast
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp paprika
1 bay leaf
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
1 can (540 mL) tomatoes (chopped or pureed)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 green pepper, diced
sour cream for garnish

Basmati rice recipe

Ingredients:

2 cups Basmati rice
4 cups water
1 bay leaf
pinch of salt

Basmati rice Instructions

Step 1:

In a medium pot, add the rice, water, salt, and bay leaf. Heat on medium until boiling, remove from heat and cover. Allow rice to sit for 15-20 minutes, or until rice has absorbed all the liquid. Fluff rice with fork once cooked.

Hungarian Paprika Chicken Instructions:

Step 1:

Cut the chicken breasts into 1″ cubes, heat a large frying pan on medium high and add 1 tbsp oil. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until browned. Transfer the chicken to a plate and clean the pan.

Step 2:

Heat the pan on medium heat, add 1 tbsp of oil. Add onions, garlic, paprika, bay leaf, salt and pepper to pan and cook until onions are softened, about 5-7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low and add tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring often to scrape off any of the brown bits from the pan. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 8 minutes.

Step 3:

Return the chicken to the pan, add the green peppers, cover the pan and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Step 4:

Serve over rice with a dollop of sour cream

Thanks for reading and please let me know how it turns out for you. Also put any personal touches of yours in the comments!

Don’t forget to click the share link if you like the recipe!

Artichoke Risotto and Bruschetta

Hey everyone!

So tonight I decided to post 2 great recipes that are cheap and easy to make! The whole dinner cost less than $15 and will serve 4 people. It will take about 45 minutes to make start to finish, but with some practice you can get it down to under 30 minutes.

Bruschetta

Ingredients:

1 large globe (regular red) tomato (chopped)
1 small yellow tomato (chopped)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon capers (rough chop)
1 tablespoon caper brine
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped basil
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
6 slices of artisan bread (toasted with oil)
freshly shaved parmesan
drizzled olive oil (the good stuff)

Step 1:

Remove the stems of the tomatoes and chop them so they are in 1/4″ cubes, rough chop the drained capers. In a large bowl add the capers, tomatoes, oil, vinegar, caper brine, salt, pepper, and chopped basil to the bowl and mix. Let the mixture sit for at least ten minutes so that the flavours meld (you can let it sit in the fridge for up to 24 hours). When you are ready to serve, drizzle the bread with good olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake 400 degrees for 5-7 minutes, just until the bread starts to crisp up.

Step 2:

As soon as your ready to serve, pile the tomato mixture evenly onto the bread. Top with shaved parmesan cheese, and a drizzle of your best olive oil. Serve right away, don’t let it sit or it will get soggy!

The Risotto

Ingredients:

2 tablespoon olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 pinch of salt
1 strip thick cut bacon (sliced thinly)
1 large yellow onion (peeled, finely chopped)
3 cloves of garlic (peeled, finely chopped)
1 cup Basmati rice
1/3 cup apple juice or white wine
3 cups chicken stock
170ml jar of artichoke hearts in oil (roughly chopped)
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Step 1:

Heat the chicken stock in a small pot until it is simmering, turn off and cover with lid. Heat a large deep saucepan and add the bacon, cook until fat is rendered. Without draining the fat, add the onion, garlic, bay leaves, and the salt, cook on medium low for 10 minutes without browning.

Step 2:

Turn the heat up to medium and add the olive oil and the rice, cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly so the rice does not burn. The rice will start to become translucent on the edges, add the apple juice or white wine. Allow all the liquid to be absorbed into the rice, leaving it with a light fruity taste.

Step 3:

Slowly start to add the heated chicken stock, one ladle at a time. After you add one ladle full, let the rice  cook until the rice begins to absorb the chicken stock. You will know its time to add another ladle full of chicken stock when the chicken stock is completely absorbed into the rice. Repeat this process until the rice is cooked and you have one ladle full of stock left. Add the chopped artichoke hearts to the rice and stir in. Add the last ladle full of stock and remove from the heat.

Step 4:

Stir in the parmesan cheese, cover the risotto and let it sit for 2-3 minutes.

Serve as soon as it is ready so that you keep the great texture!

Smokin Bones Cookshack

Hey everyone!

So this is our first actual food related post so please let us know what you think, and pass it to everyone you know!

Smoking bones cookshack is a restaurant that started out in Victoria a few years ago. It was the word of the town and had some pretty decent BBQ. For quite a while it was one of our favorite places to go and get a good rack of ribs, or a good burger, but something changed. Sometime last year, they moved to a new location, and it just hasn’t been the same, I can honestly say I’m really disappointed.

We have been back twice since they moved, and I think it will be our last.

So lets get to it!

When we first walked in, we waited! Earlier in the day I made my reservation for 7:30, but we had to wait for 2 other tables to be seated before us, so we stood around until 7:45. Not the greatest way to start a meal, but it wasn’t the end of the world! The ambiance is what you would expect from this type of restaurant, busy, bustling and a fun place to be! Maybe a bit pretentious for this type of establishment, but overall quite nice. The waiters and waitresses we friendly and we were quickly asked what we would like to to drink. And soon after that we were ready to order our food.

We ordered the BBQ taster for $50 and the Bacon ice cream for $6.50.

The BBQ platter includes pork ribs, beef ribs, pulled pork, brisket, and for sides we ordered hand-cut fries, yam fries and candied carrots. It is a huge plate of food! I mean massive, enough for at least 3 people (which we had) but maybe even 4 people. Now I apologise for not having any photos, but the food is just not that pretty! Its BBQ so I’m not expecting it to be pretty, just as long as it tastes darn good!

We started by grabbing a bunch of fries and pulled pork off of the plate, and to be honest the fries were great! Lots of flavor, just the right amount of crunch. And the pulled pork was pretty good as well, it had a good solid smokey flavour, and a sweet, tangy sauce, but a word of warning, this amazing tasting exterior leads to a dry and flavorless interior which leads us to believe that they only cover the pulled pork in sauce once it is plated and not mix it through.

Next we grabbed some yam fries, they were disappointing to say the least, no flavor, no crunch, just a baked yam. Don’t put yam fries on the menu if you can’t cook them, leave it to somebody who knows how!

The ribs, now the plate came with 2 different ribs, the beef and the pork, and they were on 2 totally different levels, so lets start with the pork ribs. One word for these ribs, DRY!!!!! I hate dry ribs, everything about them, why serve them if they are dry, dunk them in something, anything! The meat was to tough, didn’t fall of the bone, and they need to take a good look at how they make them, maybe mop them a little more while they are smoking to get the moisture back and maybe a few more hours in the smoker to really get a good bark on them. But this is all beside the fact that they were disappointing.

The Beef ribs on the other hand were pretty good, lots of flavour, moist, with lots of sauce, the only flaw was they were a little tough. Now some people like beef ribs that way and these sit right on the edge of being tough. But if I am to go back to Smokin bones, I would order these.

Now I have left brisket to last for a reason, it was gross. I like brisket, no I love brisket. When done right it can be amazing, but when done wrong it can be like eating blubber, and this was like eating blubber. There was no meat, just chunks of fat with no flavor or texture, disappointing.

Dessert! The highlight of our otherwise disappointing meal! The bacon ice cream was great, it was weird but great. Now you may have guessed by the name that we love bacon and this plate was one that we will remember. They take bacon chunks and coat them in a hard carmel and then grind the brittle of sorts up and coat a big ball of vanilla ice cream in it. This ice cream also has chunks of bacon in it and a whip cream with carmel sauce on top. This combo of the plain ice cream and the hint of bacon in the crispy coating were great! The bacon chunks may have been a little much since they took some chewing to get down, but they just added to the experience.

Overall Smokin Bones has changed. They started out strong, a place to go and get a good rack of ribs and not worry about anyone judging you as you pig down your rack of ribs and bacon ice cream. But these days are over, it has become a bit to pretentious.

2 out of 4 stars

Don’t forget to press the share with your friends and leave comments as well!

Thanks everyone!