some dishes…

Here’s a quicky for everyone.

Here are pictures of 5 dishes. 2 are dishes I made at home and 3 are from Lawrence restaurant where I work.

chanterelle pasta

A local chanterelle and small zuchini linguini I made with a yolk from a “Les Fermes Valens” egg. Lots of olive oil, parsley and parmesan. The pasta was store bought unfortunately; had it been homemade this dish would have been a homerun.

Roasted beets, radishes, zucchini, Feta, parsley, olive oil and salted lemon rind-served with a warm baguette… yum

Lawrence Restaurant pics:

local chicken breast on cherry tomatoes, radishes, borlotti beans, with radish greens and verjus
Wreck fish from the South Carolina coast, sustainably caught, served with restaurant smoked and made sausages, potatoes, cabbage, radish and nice dollop of dijon mustard- this dish is sooo good
Poached lobster- a great choice to make if you’re looking for sustainable seafood, with potatoes, arugula and a Bearnaise sauce. Decadence defined.

A delicious meal from a few weeks ago and some other stuff

First thing’s first: a satisfying meal I made early this summer with green pea couscous, a thyme roasted tomato, some creamy humus, and an awesome seared fennel dish with radishes, olives, red onion, feta cheese, raisins, fresh parsley and lemon juice. I served this with a nigella seed pita bread, which is so good. I need to learn how to make different breads…

I’m currently listening to Michael Pollan, of The Omnivore’s Dilemma fame on Heritage Radio Network, a great radio station that focuses on “the full breadth of the food industry.” Their shows hosts range from chefs, to critics, to farmers, to influential food and agriculture advocates; it’s amazing.
Check it out: http://www.heritageradionetwork.com/

A bit of culture:

Last night I watched the Polanski film Carnage. The film is based on a play that was written by the writer Yasmina Reza, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Polanski.

I was going to add a link to the trailer but I think it reveals too much. It’s better to watch it without any knowledge of what the movie is about. The acting and script are phenomenal. It might not pack quite the punch it would like to, but it’s nonetheless a well developed satire about 2 deliriously entertaining couples trying to arrive at a mutual understanding over a violent even that took place between their sons. I, personally, was mesmerized by the unfolding action and the actors. Jodie Foster in particular is a knock out. It’s fun, short and unlike anything I’ve watched recently.

What I’m eating

I really need to take my camera out of the cupboard… Having an Iphone has made me lazy about my food photography. Apologies for the following lackluster pictures. I thought I’d post a few pictures of meals I’ve made recently. Nothing too complicated, nothing heavy-it is the summer after all-and mostly locally sourced ingredients.

I’m becoming less moderate about my eating choices. I can’t continue learning about the food industry without make personal changes to what and how I feed myself. I’ll be elaborating on some of these thoughts over the coming weeks and months: suffice to say, it ain’t pretty. Environmental degradation, animal abuse, increased risks of viruses and diseases, waste, corruption, profit over human rights; the list goes on and on.

I’m taking a serious step in reducing my meat intake(including fish). I plan on only buying from sources I know provide acceptable living standards for their animals, and I will do my best to only frequent restaurants that do the same, unfortunately, there aren’t many. I will occasionally make exceptions, but my hope is that within a few months I won’t have to do that anymore. We’ll see how it goes. To a certain extent, to anyone who knows me, I’m reverting to my vegetarianism. Oh boy… I guess I’ll be cooking more than I already do. Hosting parties will have to be more frequent as well.

I bought porc and beef sausages from Valens farms, a cooperative of smaller farms that is doing its best to provide Quebecers with healthier and ethically superior food options. There were 3 small sausages, but that was enough to last me for 3 meals. One advice I always give to people who are considering cutting down on their meat intake is to prepare dishes where less is needed.

Here are a few things you can easily make at home:

1. A peach, arugula and goat cheese salad. We’re getting Ontario peaches in Québec at the moment and they’re wonderful. Mixing them with peppery arugula, adding a few crunchy and spicy slices of radish, and a tart goat cheese and you’ve got something that’s absolutely delicious. There are some toasted almonds in there too, for extra protein, and the full bodied nutty flavor it adds.

peaches, arugula, goat cheese, radishes

2. I bought these corn tortillas at the supermarket last week. They come in packs of about 30 and I’ve had to eat at bunch of different kinds of tortillas recently. The corn that they’re made of is also problematic, as it’s most likely a GMO crop… I’d rather avoid supporting the companies that produce such products, but I succumbed to my desire for something I hadn’t eaten in a long time. Anyways, these tortillas were filled with brown rice mixed with fresh organic corn I bought from a small farm just outside of Montreal, black beans, the above mentioned sausages, tomatoes and some coriander. The spicy paste I made with dried chipotle peppers I had that I soaked in rhum, and blended with tomatoes, roasted garlic, coriander and cumin seeds and some other things that escape me now. Tasty.

tortillas with spicy paste, and a filling of sausages, corn, black beans, tomatoes and coriander

3. This is a salad I was very pleased with. Simple but the ingredients worked very well together and its acidity provided the refreshing quality I was looking for after a sweltering day biking around town. I sliced apples, let them soak in a bit of lemon juice, added redcurrants, olive oil sauteed pieces of bread, sauteed slices of the sausages, sliced Parmesan and mixed all of it with an arugula and endive lettuce blend I prepared. The dressing was a mix of lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, honey, grain mustard, and sunflower oil.

I was quite pleased with this one: arugula, endive, redcurrants, apples, homemade breadcrumbs, Parmesan and sauteed sausages

4. I wish I had had more Feta for the following dish. It was a quick take on a greek salad: dried oregano, tomatoes, olive oil sauteed bread, red onion slices, kalamata olives, capers and the last remaining feta.

Wish I had had more Feta… pretty good anyways

exercising vs. dieting

Is this really what’s important?

An interesting article to make you think about what the effects of dieting and exercise are on your weight. Worth reading. Now, I am not particularly interested in weight gain or weight loss. I don’t think that health is measured by how much one weighs. However, I do think that obesity is a symptom of unhealthy eating, and as the article briefly mentions, the diet the feeds most of us in the west will both increase our weigh and lead to unhealthy lives. Do you want to feel better about yourself? My answer is simple: eat less processed foods, avoid sugar and its derivatives, eat more fiber and vegetables, take pleasure in cooking your own food, and reduce your meat intake. Additionally one must maintain a base level of physical activity that will help with the stabilizing of mental and emotional processes in the brain. Sounds complicated? To a certain extent it’s not. It’s about being informed and willing to change some of your habits. What’s at stake is more than just YOUR health, but that of the environment and society in general. Those of you who live near good grocery stores, where good produce is widely available have less excuses and justifications to make. Where the social danger lies is in communities where the options for healthy food are few and far between, a problem that is more common than we think. And while society bares a lot of the blame on health and weight issues, as consumers we remain active citizens that vote every time we buy a food item. You want change in your local grocery store? Speak up, buy healthier food and avoid the shit that’s marketed to you. Don’t fall for the claims on processed foods. Consume wisely…

Found this picture on the following site: nutritiontranslator.wordpress.com
Check it out, I think it might be a good one


Here’s the article:

well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/01/dieting-vs-exercise-for-weight-loss/

Seasonal eating

I have learned a great deal about the food industry over the last year. Over that time, I’ve taken a more proactive approach to cooking for myself following a moderate set of ethical guidelines that I’ve established in accordance to my new knowledge. There were some difficult moments and meals where I blankly ignored what I knew. The summer however has brought on a wealth of new flavors and ingredients that have provided me the means to easily follow a diet that is both more sustainable and healthier.

One issue I face during the year that affects my eating habits is the desire for diversity. In North America, with the annually available products from around the world in the grocery stores, this is not so hard to do. But doing so means sacrificing your appreciation for fresh ingredients. So often, you pick up a fruit or vegetable that has traveled (literally)thousands of miles to be there, was picked before being ripe and was grown on massive industrial farms where artificial fertilizers provided the necessary nutrients for their flavor profile… Fresh produce, in season, from locally sourced farms that practice sustainable agriculture taste vastly different from what we are used to seeing at the grocery store. Over the last weeks I’ve enjoyed a plethora of wonderful foods both colorful and nutritious that have helped me try new things in the kitchen. Much of that experimenting has been simple; fresh produce doesn’t need much work to taste good, and one thing I’ve noticed is that I’ve become creative again. I had gotten bored during the winter months and seemed to use produce redundantly, without any attempt at trying new things. Of course, the summer also provides a great deal more to work with.

Here are some dishes I quickly put together over the last 2 weeks that I enjoyed. You’ll find that there are reoccurring ingredients in these dishes… The fresh produce I’ve used the most recently has been green peas, broad beans, carrots, radishes, fresh leafy greens, herbs and tomatoes. Last weekend, at the Jean-Talon market, I learned that the corn season had just started

local arugula, carrots, green peas, radishes, sun dried tomatoes, humus and olive bread
corn, green pea risotto with poached lobster.. oh yes, and a lovely Sicilian white wine by Arianna Occhipinti

mizuna, amaranth greens, tomatoes, radishes, peas, sunflower seeds, and a creamy québec goat cheese

polenta, hard boiled eggs, broad beans, carrots, zucchini, celeri, onions

A weekend of eating

Wow, 10 days since my last post… Time sure flies! I’m in the middle of re-orienting my life right now and I’ve got a number of things on the go. I didn’t realize it had been so long though: my apologies.

It was cool Monday here in Montreal, with temperatures hovering around 20 degrees with large clouds providing a dramatic skyline and a healthy breeze. I had a decadent weekend of eating and celebrating with my mother and her beau who were in town for the weekend from Toronto. They had a delicious meal at Lawrence on Friday that I offered her for her birthday. They shared oysters, a pig’s cheek asparagus and mostarda appetizer(one of the best dishes ever…) and a poached duck leg with puy lentils, kale and radishes, as well as sea bream with zucchini flowers, chanterelles and mussels. For dessert they shared a strawberry tart, and a ginger rhubarb layered ice cream cake they make. I’ve tried and savored each one of those dishes and I can declare with confidence that it made for a great evening of eating.

Just found this impressionistic painting of Lawrence.
Check out the artist’s site at http://jermin.wordpress.com/

The duck was from a farm called Au goût d’autrefois on l’Île d’Orléans, an island near Québec city. The owner, Jacques Legros and his wife, work tirelessly to provide what must be one of the most ethically admirable animal products in all of North America. Not only are their ducks, geese and turkeys well treated and loved, but they taste fantastic, due to a healthy and varied diet of different high quality grains.

Jaques Legros feeding his animals

After eating what some refer to as neo-rustic english cuisine at Lawrence on Friday night, Carolina(my wife) and I joined my mom and her partner for an evening of fancy Turkish food at Su, a restaurant on Wellington in Verdun, Montreal, where Fisun Ercan, the chef and owner, plates aromatic and colorful dishes from the country that bridges Europe and Asia.

Chef and owner of Su, Fisun Ercan

It was a first time at the restaurant and we had a very good meal. I was very pleased to see them serving lamb from Kamouraska, a Québec lamb that I particularly enjoy. They live by the mouth of the St-Lawrence and the feed they graze is slightly salty due to the sea water mixing with the river and the sea winds bringing with them some of its flavor. The meat is fantastic, and SU did the lamb justice. Here’s what I ate:

Kuzu pirzola
Grilled fresh lamb chops marinated with mountain herbs, mint, sumac and pomegranate infused olive oil, bulgur and seasonal vegetables

I sucked on those chop bones in an attempt to get at every last bite of meat. Fantastic. Thank you Kamouraska, and thank you Fisun and Su!

I recommend the restaurant and urge people to explore what Verdun has to offer. I was very pleasantly surprised by how charming it is.

Following a night of lamb infused sleep, the four of us woke up for another round of food: this time, some Montreal bagels, smoked meat, cream cheese, sun dried tomatoes, and a rhubarb and almond loaf from the pastry shop Rhubarbe. All of this we enjoyed sitting on a picnic table in parc Laurier near one of Montreal’s cutest neighborhoods. Picnicking is something I don’t do enough!

Pastry Chef and owner Stephanie
Now THAT’s a bagel!
Parc Laurier

It was a great weekend. Eating brings us together.

Protein rich salad with Gizzards(optional ;) )

Lunch!

Ingredients:

Mixed salad greens: ideally something peppery and bitter
Sliced cherry tomatoes: seasoned with capers, salt and pepper, thinly sliced onions and olive oil
Boiled and butter and fresh rosemary sauteed cauliflower pieces
Large Parmesan slices: the bigger the better!
Toasted almonds
Boiled quinoa
Hard boiled egg

Option: thinly sliced confit gizzard. I highly recommend this but they’re not always easy to find, so an alternative of confit duck legs, sauteed chicken livers, braised lamb would work. A rich, full flavored and aromatic meat is best; especially if you find some nice bitter greens like dandelion leaves…

Vinaigrette:
Teaspoon dijon mustard
A bit of fresh thyme
About a tbls of sherry vinegar
About a tbls of olive oil
About 2 tbls of sunflower seed oil

This is a fresh but nutrient rich salad. Even without the meat, there’s more than enough protein in here to please your appetite. I’ve been exercising a lot lately and am looking for simple and fresher alternatives to heavier foods. This was a perfect lunch.

Gizzards:
Part of the digestive system in fowl, it’s an organ that’s not very common but seriously tasty. For those who’ve never tried it, the confit gizzards that I added to my salad bore no organ flavor that might dissuade some from enjoying them. There was none of that metallic and farmy flavor that’s sometimes found in kidneys and livers. They’re a richly flavored meat that’s nicely textured. Explore!

Picture taken from Paprikahead site. Thanks.