Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chai Tiramisu

Have I mentioned that I loved dinner parties? Now, if I could only meet more dinner party lovers, my life would be complete. This was the finale for a simple meal we held at the Eder-Laughren compound last week. Love that this dish needs to be made in advance, but I was also keen on this unusual twist to an old classic.  My sister-in-law made the original tiramisu over Christmas and it blew my mind. All that cream, liquor and indulgence in one no-bake dish. Devine.  With 65% of lactose intolerance among adults, I'd suggest you pound back your Lactaid before you dig in.


Serves 12

Chai Spice Blend
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 2 black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 cups mascarpone cheese
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 3/4 cup berry sugar
  • 2 T coffee liqueur
  • 2 t chai spice blend
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 t chai spice blend
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 packages of chocolate wafer cookies
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • cocoa for dusting each serving


For the spice blend: grind cinnamon stick in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Add remaining spices and grind into a powder.

For the filling: Whip cream into medium peaks. Add vanilla and chill until ready to use. Beat mascarpone with sugar until smooth. Stir in spice blend and coffee liqueur. Fold in whipped cream and chill until ready to assemble. 

For the assembly: Heat water, sugar and chai spice blend until sugar is dissolved. Stir in vanilla and remove from heat. Dip wafers in syrup and use them to line an 8" dish. Spoon a 1/4 of the filling over the wafers evenly and top with another layer of wafers and filling until all of the filling is used. I opted to top of the dish with the wafers, but the recipe suggests the filling. When ready to serve, top with whipping cream (I chose not to sweeten my cream) and a dusting of cocoa. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Glug, glug, glug

Praise the beer! We love our beer, and we love that other Edmontonians love beer too. This gives us a few options such as Sugarbowl or Public House and since Public House is the newest kid on the block, it was time for a visit. Actually this was my second trip, but I was pleased to see favorites like Erdinger Dunkel, Leffe and Hoegaarden make an appearance. These beers are by no means difficult to find anymore, but finding them on tap is a real treat. Combine this with a plate of shibs aka shank ribs and you've got yourself a merry little Friday.

It's also time to throw a belated shout out to Devine Wines for their superb wine tasting events. I typically like my wines cheap and easy (ahem), but Devine Wines has done a fabulous job of educating us average joes of the merits of all wines. Their charcuterie and wine event this past Thursday exposed guests to the combination of dry sherry, Riesling and neutral reds with cured meats. I can only assume you plan on butchering, salting and drying them yourself.  Check out Devine's upcoming list of tastings from the very exotic to the very affordable:

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tuna Cakes with Fresh Tomato Salsa

Lunch, lunch, lunch, luncheon, lunchy, luncher, luncherson. Sandwiches and frozen entrees just don't do it for me these days, so I'm on the hunt again for fun and portable meal ideas. Enter the tuna cake! Another self-contained, protein-packed centrepiece. I'm thinking that I could break up the cakes and serve them on crackers or melba toast. Stuffing it into a pita is an idea...alternatively, they look like they'd be good on their own. Ideas??

Adapted from:

Serves 4-6

Tuna Cakes
  • 3, 5oz cans Tuna in water, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/3 cup crushed Rye crackers (appx 4 crackers)
  • 2 T freshly minced parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 T dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 T Tabasco sauce
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 large egg, whisked
  • 2 T olive oil

Tomato Salsa
  • 4 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallot
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 2 T minced cilantro
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 t olive oil
  • 1/4 t garlic salt
  • fresh ground pepper to taste

For the Tomato Salsa
Toss together all ingredients and set aside while combining the tuna cakes to allow the flavours time to mingle. 

For the Tuna Cakes
In a large bowl, mix together tuna, onion, crackers, parsley, garlic, lime juice, mustard, and Tabasco. Add a little salt and pepper while stirring to suit your tastes. Once you have reached your desired seasonings, stir in the egg. Pat tuna mixture into patties using 1/2 cup packed tuna for each patty. Set on wax paper. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large non-stick sauté pan over medium heat. Add two tuna cakes to the pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove from pan and set on a paper towel-covered plate to drain off any excess oil. Repeat entire process (including adding a second tablespoon of olive oil) to cook the remaining cakes.Top tuna cakes with dollops of the tomato salsa and serve immediately!

Tamale Pie

I had the most flavourless Shepherd's pie on Friday night. So dull in fact, that it shook my confidence in all things pie-related. I need to restore my faith in meat and dough. I can't say Anglo-meat pies are known for their flavour, but they do have some dimension to them. That said, I figured a Mexican twist would truly liven this classic, so I jumped on this recipe as soon as I saw it.  That and our afternoon plans consist of climbing so I wanted dinner to be ready upon our return. 

Serves 6

  • Tamale Dough

  • 2 cups instant Masa Harina (Mexican corn flour!)
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • Filling

  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 (10 oz.) can red enchilada sauce
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 3/4 t ground cumin
  • 1 cup beef broth
Whisk together masa, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add broth and oil and stir to combine until dough becomes soft paste. Cover bowl let dough rest for at least 15 minutes at room temperature.
In the meantime, preheat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add ground beef and onions. Cook until meat is no longer pink, being sure to break up any large chunks. Add minced garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in enchilada sauce.
In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water. Stir in chili powder, cumin, and broth. Add mixture to meat and stir to combine. To assemble, spread meat in an even layer over the bottom of the bottom of a slow cooker. Gently spread tamale dough over the top of the meat mixture. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours until dough is set.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Shrimp & Tofu Pad Thai

I just keep going back to Asian food. The appeal of the one-pot dish is universal, but the Asian dish just draws me in. Perhaps that, and an aversion to making the same dish twice. I have been to Thailand and sampled a few variations of Pad Thai, but I can't say that I was sold on it at the time. Must have been over time that I began to appreciate the combination of flavours. This particular one is a goodie and an easy dish to prepare all elements of in advance. I did just that and then passed the torch on to Ruedi who cleverly assembled the ingredients in a frying pan. The bean sprouts should have been added with the other vegetables, but got forgotten and were eventually added fresh to our serving bowls. Honestly, I'm not sure whether that was a mistake or pure genius. They added a crunchiness to the dish that was lovely.

While most of the ingredients in this dish can be bought at your local grocer, tamarind paste is a little tricky to source. If you can't find any, some sources claim that Worchestershire or HP sauce may work in a pinch. I would suggest buying a pad thai sauce and supplementing any absent flavours. So for example, the sauce we found included tamarind, soy sauce, sugar and vinegar. Adding half the lime juice and the fish sauce would round out this sauce quite nicely.

Adapted from:

Serves 4


  • 8 oz package of wide, flat rice noodles
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from about 3-4 limes, plus one whole lime for garnish)
  • 1 T tamarind paste 
  • 4 T soy sauce
  • 4 T fish sauce 
  • 1-2 T Sriracha or other hot spicy chili garlic sauce you like. Adjust heat accordingly!
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 package (14 ounces) firm or extra firm tofu, drained, thinly sliced and patted dry
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 green onions, thinly sliced (save some for garnishing plates in the end)
  • coarse salt
  • 12 -14 large shrimp, raw, deveined and peeled 
  • 4 T roasted, salted peanuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves


In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, soy and fish sauce, Sriracha and brown sugar.  Set aside.  In a large non-stick skillet or wok, heat 1 tsp canola oil over med-high heat, tilting to coat the pan.  Add egg and swirl to coat bottom, and cook just until set, about 1 minute.  Transfer egg to cutting board and slice into thin strips.  Set aside.  Add 4 tsp of canola oil to wok and add tofu in a single layer.  Brown on both sides, about 7 minutes.  Transfer to bowl and set aside.  At this point, pour boiling water over your rice noodles, and let stand about 8 minutes until soft.  Drain.
Add 2 tbsp oil to wok and cook the carrots, sprouts, garlic, green onion until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the lime juice mixture and bring to a simmer.  Add the shrimp, cook until shrimp pink, about 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add egg and tofu and cooked noodles.  Toss gently until all is warmed through.  Season to taste with more salt, Sriracha, if needed.  Divide among  plates and garnish with lime wedges, peanuts, cilantro and more green onions.