Food Hero

Happy Hour – Blood and Sand
June 19, 2009, 5:00 am
Filed under: cocktails, happy hour, Katy K | Tags: , , , ,

photo-2I tried this tasty retro drink a few months ago when I was out and about on the town in Vancouver B.C. with an old friend.  After skimming the Georgia Straight she chose a hip new Belgian restaurant, Chambar, for us to try. This cocktail, they called “Sang et Sable”, caught my eye because of it’s name (I’m a fan of the vampire genre) and because it is a whiskey cocktail (I’m a fan of whiskey cocktails).  

photoI was quite pleased to find that Chambar’s drink menu was full of variations of vintage cocktails which are very much in vogue at the moment. This delicious trend seems to be presided over in the Pacific Northwest by Jamie Boudreau, a bartender from Vancouver who now practices his art in Seattle (and happens to have a blog on I am personally grateful for such an agreeable diversion as fashionable cocktail-making.

photo-1I really enjoyed the Sang et Sable (as well as the Hughes’s Libation, and a selection of delicious edibles from the food menu) and wanted to try to make it myself.  Upon returning to Seattle and discussing this drink with a bartender at Cantinetta, I found out that “Blood and Sand” is a classic cocktail named for an old movie (Blood and Sand, a 1922 silent movie, about a toreador, starring Rudolph Valentino, as it turns out).  I then consulted one of my most prized possessions, the Esquire Drink Book (1956).  There it was on page 275 – Equal parts of: Scotch, Cherry brandy, Orange juice, Sweet vermouth. I tried this mixture with a Rainier Cherry-flavored vodka (44oNorth) but the cherry flavour was too, perhaps, medicinal…yet interesting in a certain way… but I decided to experiment with the ingredients listed  on the Chambar menu.  I settled on the ingredients and proportions listed below.

The Blood and Sand cocktail is refreshing, with a cool round juicy note imparted by the sherry. For a whiskey cocktail the flavour is surprising – yet just right.  It’s a welcome addition to my repertoire. 

 Per Drink

1     oz  fresh-squeezed orange juice (or tangelo, or minneola…)
1     oz  whiskey (a lighter Canadian-style rye like Seagram’s 7 is good)
1     oz  sweet vermouth
1/2  oz  sherry (I’ve been using Manzanilla, La Gitana, Hidalgo) 

Pour ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker and shake, shake.  Strain into a cocktail glass and, for dramatic effect, garnish by floating a blood orange chip on the surface. To make the chips, slice a blood orange as thinly as possible and dry on a rack in a F 150 oven for many hours (6 or more). After drying the slices I’ve stored them in the freezer until needed.

A votre sante!


Sweet Potato Hash with Poached Eggs
May 15, 2009, 2:05 pm
Filed under: Breakfast/Brunch, Katy K | Tags: , ,

IMG_2642I love to cook this for brunch when I have time on a weekend morning or for a light dinner in the summer.  I think I like it so much because it combines some of my favourite vegetables – onions, sweet potatoes, and red pepper with one of my favourite ways to eat potatoes – breakfast hash. The garlic and thyme are a nice addition to the flavors of the sauteed vegetables and sausage. I found this recipe in the January 2006 issue of Shape magazine in an article about lowfat and easy breakfasts.

Serves 2

1/2 Tblsp olive oil
1/2 a medium onion, diced
1/2 a cooked sweet potato, diced 
1/2 a red bell pepper, diced
1 precooked chicken sausage
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
2 poached eggs

Peel a sweet potato and slice crosswise into 1/2 inch slices. Cook a little in simmering water until they can be pierced by a fork but aren’t thoroughly cooked, about 10 minutes. Cool off and dice. Heat some water and allow to simmer for poaching the eggs a little later.  Heat olive oil a frying pan over medium heat, cook diced onion, red pepper, sweet potato, and sausage over medium heat until starting to crisp and brown.  I let the veggies and sausage sit and cook for a while and then toss a bit  with a spatula instead of stirring them frequently. A lot of steam has to be released from them before they start to brown so patience is the key.  

When the veggies are close to being the way you like them slip the eggs into the simmering water and turn off the heat. Allow the eggs to poach for 5 to 10 minutes depending on how well you like them done. I put the eggs in the water directly from the eggshell but you can put the egg into a cup or a large spoon and lower into the water gently. While the eggs are cooking, add the garlic and thyme to the hash and stir to cook for a few minutes. Divide the hash between the two plates. Remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon, drain, and place on top of the hash. Season salt and pepper and garnish with some chopped parsley. Obviously you can double this recipe and then you won’t even have to use fractions of vegetables.  The only thing is that I’ve never done the 4 serving version and I wonder if the hash would cook better in 2 batches – I’m not sure.  Any way you slice it, this is a pretty sweet way to start your day.

Happy Hour – Mint Daiquiri
April 7, 2009, 5:22 am
Filed under: cocktails, happy hour, Katy K | Tags: , ,

mint-daiquiri-iphotoI found this recipe in one of this year’s Christmas gifts, a cookbook called Cesar, Recipes from a Tapas Bar. It’s written by some people from the hip Tapas restaurant in Berkeley, California. I’ve been reading this cookbook from the beginning, like it’s a novel.  I’m still in the cocktail section at the moment and I’ve been lingering over this drink. It’s delightful and fun. I served a couple of these babies outside last Saturday which made the day seem summery – even though reclining on lawn furniture in my duffel coat was making it a little hard to sip from a cocktail glass. Now I see why you need highball glasses and straws, poolside.  This Mint Daiquiri is like a more expedient Mojito – there’s no club soda getting in the way. It has the essential nature of the Mojito without all that distracting ice and fizz. This recipe has some Cointreau which is not usual in either a Daiquiri or Mojito. I’ve also tweaked the recipe little to make it a smidge sweeter than my usual concoctions. Now that I’ve done the research and testing – why don’t you pick up some mint at the farmer’s market this weekend and enjoy this refreshing drink to help you usher in the summer sun!

Per drink

2     tsp   superfine sugar
1/2          a lime (cut into quarters)
3             sprigs of mint (a total of about 30 leaves of various sizes) or a handful
1/2   oz   Cointreau
2      oz    rum , 10 Cane is nice 

Put the 2 teaspoons of sugar into the bottom of a cocktail shaker glass, drop the lime pieces on top of the sugar, and crush with a muddler to release the juices and incorporate the sugar. Wash and pull the leaves off of at least 3 sprigs of mint and toss into the shaker.  Add ice and pour the Cointreau and rum over it. Close the cocktail shaker and shake until chilly. The mint gets bruised and releases its flavour during the shaking. Strain into a martini glass and serve with a mint garnish. For the picture above I strained the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. But if you strain the daiquiri through the usual larger-holed strainer that is part of the cocktail shaker, the result is a drink sprinkled with a confetti of little mint pieces, which is kind of festive and maybe even a little more delicious…

Stir-Fried Eggs with Shiitake Mushrooms
February 24, 2009, 1:50 am
Filed under: Breakfast/Brunch, Katy K, quick fix | Tags: ,


The next time you are in the mood for something a little different at breakfast time try Stir-Fried Eggs with Shiitake Mushrooms. This dish is delicious and a little exotic. The aroma is wonderful. It is a slight modification of a recipe in Low Carb 1-2-3 by Rozanne Gold. This interesting cookbook consists entirely of three-ingredient recipes for all times of a day but I added a fourth ingredient to this breakfast. Stir-frying shiitake mushrooms in toasted sesame oil lends a more substantial “meaty” element to simple scrambled eggs. I top it all with some sliced Canadian bacon because I think the tang complements the flavours and makes it more of a meal – but you can always keep it vegetarian if that’s what you like. Rozanne Gold calls this dish suave.  According to the dictionary this adjective means “having a sophisticated charm”. I quite agree.

Ingredients (per serving)

2            eggs
1/2 tsp   toasted sesame oil
3            big shiitake mushrooms
1            slice of Canadian bacon 

img_2581Slice the mushrooms. Fry some Canadian bacon until turning golden and a little crispy in places. Slice the bacon into batons (a little bigger than matchsticks which are a little bigger than a julienne). Mix eggs with a splash of water using a fork or whisk. I think adding a little water to scrambled eggs makes them more tender when they are cooked (more tender than when you use milk, I find). Heat the sesame oil over medium heat in a nonstick pan, add mushrooms and cook until they soften a little, about 2-3 minutes, add some salt and pepper, and continue to cook until soft.  Add the whisked eggs and cook, stirring, until scrambled to the right consistency. Serve on a warm plate with the sliced bacon scattered on top.

Happy Hour – Lemon Drop
February 11, 2009, 3:19 am
Filed under: cocktails, happy hour, Katy K | Tags: , ,

photoI had my first Lemon Drop at the same establishment that served me my first Cosmopolitan – the once funky, and now defunct, Seattle Catch Bistro in Fremont. This restaurant had a nice atmosphere, it was fun to sit at the bar, and they had a delicious linguine with clams and white wine that they made with a roux and served in the saucepan at the table.  I asked our cute and charming waitress for some suggestions because I wasn’t in the mood for a Manhattan, or a gin and tonic, or a Margarita. She suggested a Cosmopolitan, which was awesome, and then she brought me a Lemon Drop, which was too sweet.  I commenced my years-long affair with the Cosmpolitan that night. More recently I have had some delicious, not too sweet, Lemon Drops out and about on the town, and so I have been trying to make them at home.  I was using lemon-flavoured vodka but they tasted awful! Last Friday night I had a conversation with my new favourite bartender at the fun and delicious brand-new restaurant in my neighbourhood, Cantinetta.  As a result of this consultation I made some good Lemon Drops this weekend. No flavoured vodka was involved. He told me how to infuse my own lemon vodka if I really wanted flavoured vodka. He said to slice lemons, spread them on a baking sheet, put them in the oven to heat them up, and then cover them with vodka and allow to cool. Pour the vodka off the lemon slices, and you have your lemon-infused vodka.  He said that heat was the key but I would have believed anything he said, he has the the most distracting dimple…I’ll try infusing vodka some day, but until then, the recipe I came up with this weekend is delicious…

Ingredients per drink

1                    tsp  sugar (superfine)
1/4 to 1/2       a lemon (depending on the size of the lemon)
1  1/2             oz   vodka (Ketel One)
1/2                 oz   Cointreau 

This is like a Cosmopolitan with lemon instead of lime (I guess that’s why I like it). Put a teaspoon of superfine sugar into a glass, put pieces of lemon into glass and crush with a muddler. Add ice and pour the vodka and Cointreau over it. Invert a cocktail shaker into the glass and shake, shake, shake. Strain the Lemon Drop into a cocktail glass rimmed with superfine sugar. Lately I’ve been straining my Cosmos, and now Lemon Drops, through a tea strainer – it results in a more…refined…sip of vodka.

Cumin-Flavoured Carrot Salad
February 2, 2009, 3:29 am
Filed under: Katy K, Salads, Side Dish | Tags:

img_2546I made this salad for the first time several years ago when I prepared a Spanish-themed Christmas dinner for the family. I made paella and a selection of tapas instead of turkey. The recipe is from the great cookbook Tapas by Penelope Casas. This preparation of carrots tastes surprisingly exotic to me. For some reason, the glow of carrots with paprika and the taste and smell of the smoke and cumin make me  fancy that I am eating carrots in a much warmer place…perhaps at a table outside, with a slight breeze coming off the ocean,  resting my shoulder against a Moorish wall…
Yes, I like this salad. I have made it as a side for potlucks and, most recently, I brought it to a Spanish wine-tasting party.  It always elicits pleasantly surprised and complimentary remarks. I think it surprises people because it looks like it’s just a cold carrot salad but it’s really so much more.

Ingredients (serves 4)

1/2     lb         carrots (about 4 medium)
2        Tblsp   white wine vinegar 
1 1/2  Tblsp   water
1        clove    garlic, pressed
1/4     tsp        oregano
1/4     tsp        cumin, freshly ground
1/4     tsp        paprika, Spanish, smoked, sweet 

Peel carrots, place in a saucepan, whole, and fill with broth until carrots are just covered.  I use a broth made from vegetable bouillon cubes. The original recipe calls for chicken broth, which is probably delicious, but I’ve never tried it. I don’t keep chicken broth on hand.  I keep vegetable bouillon cubes in my freezer to use when I’m not making a stock or a court bouillon.  Bring to a boil and simmer carrots until just done but slightly crisp, about 10 minutes, depending on the size of the carrots.  I have trouble getting this just right. The carrots keep cooking a little after you take them out of the broth because they’re still hot, so it’s kind of tricky. After they cool, slice into 1/4-inch slices. Mix the vinegar, water, garlic, oregano, cumin, paprika, and a pinch of salt. Toss carrots in this dressing and allow to marinate in the fridge for several hours or overnight.  The salad in my pictures was made with some multicoloured rainbow carrots – aren’t they pretty?

Stir-Fried Cabbage and Onions with Cumin Seeds
January 14, 2009, 1:42 am
Filed under: Katy K, Side Dish


Stir-Fried Cabbage and Onion with Cumin Seeds

I found this recipe in a newspaper article full of suggestions for putting some pizzazz into winter vegetable side dishes for the holidays (New York Times, November 15, 2006). Cabbage is a good-for-you vegetable that is sturdy, filling, and an excellent canvas for all sorts of pizzazz. This particular recipe was adapted from a Madhur Jaffrey cookbook. Essentially, cumin seeds and fresh lemon juice are added to stir-fried cabbage and onions – so sweet and delicious. Since I first made this dish, it has become a standby recipe for nights when I am making myself a square meal of meat and vegetables.  Stir-Fried Cabbage and Onions with Cumin Seeds goes especially well with bratwurst and I also serve it with pork chops.  Why not spice up some cabbage tonight?



Cabbage, green   1/2 a head, cored, and sliced crosswise into strips
Onion                    1 large, halved, and sliced crosswise into strips
Olive oil                 3 Tblsp
Cumin seeds        1/2 tsp 
Cayenne               1/16 tsp
Salt                        1 tsp
Lemon juice           fresh squeezed  

A helpful hint I learned in this recipe is to cut the cabbage with a bread knife.  It works really well.  

In the beginning...


Heat olive oil in a big skillet over medium high heat, add the cumin seeds and allow them to cook for a minute or so. Add the sliced onions and stir until turning golden, about 5 minutes.  Add the sliced cabbage and stir until cooked through and also turning golden, 7-10 minutes. Add the salt and cayenne, and just before serving squeeze plenty of fresh lemon over it all. Adding the fresh lemon juice after the cooking is done really brightens up the flavors. Enjoy!