The Magic Touch

2 09 2009

Cute boys make my heart flutter, but pasta is what makes me weak in the knees.

The perfect vessel for any seasonal ingredient, cheap enough to feed an army but sexy enough for a dressed up meal, bathed in tomatoes or cream or a simple olive oil coating, from your childhood Alphaghetti to a five star restaurant’s gnocchi — unlike those cute boys, pasta will never leave you hangin’ on a cold Saturday night.

Though Italy has claimed the crown of lokshen heritage, history states that the true Pasta Patriarch is China. 

So it didn’t surprise me when I saw this YouTube video a couple nights ago featuring a talented chef at a prominent U.S. chinese restaurant showing off his pasta making skills.

Take a peek and tell me that what you see is not ridiculous!





Gone Fishin’

22 08 2009

From the grazing fields of summer camp, I really should be plucked and put out to pasture.

I’m almost 22, and one of these days I’ll have to face the real world with its summers void of docks on still lakes, sweaty mess hall meals, and cheering children. But not quite yet. After my graduation, I procrastinated organizing my future for just a wee little bit longer by escaping to work at a sleep-away camp nestled in Mount Tremblant — an 8 hour trek from home and a world away from all my cares.

So, loyal readers, that’s where I have disappeared to for these summer months. And now… I’m back (insert long, heavy, slightly bitter “Sigh” here). 

And I’m 10 pounds heavier (insert longer, heavier, extremely bitter “Sigh” here). 

I know that Australia overtook the States as the globe’s fattest nation a couple years ago, but I would contest that summer camps should be thrown into that race.

I do believe a camp’s is the only dining room where you’ll find weekly lunch menus consisting of:

Monday -pizza

Tuesday – pizza bagels

Wednesday -pizza pasta

Thursday – pizza tacos (ok…maybe that’s a stretch) 

At one point it felt like I was handcuffed to a low-end children’s menu… and I didn’t even get the crayons!

While I always appreciated the time and effort invested in preparing such… ummm…  ‘childhood delicacies’, my pizza regimen left me desperately craving my favourite summer main — fish. Just when I thought the succulent meat of a scaly sea creature would have to wait weeks to meet my lips, a wonderful could-only-happen-on-a-magical-July-day thing happened!

As I lay out on the docks increasing my Vitamin D intake, my co-staff (and co-foodie) started screaming with excitement and waving something attached to a stick.

A fish! A fish! A not-pizza FISH!

Fresh from the lake, we knew it deserved a camp-style treatment. So under a blanket of stars we cooked our catch in a could-only-happen-on-a-magical-July-night way: grilled over a roaring camp fire.

A drizzle of oil, a dusting of salt and pepper and a splash of lemon juice later… and we were in heaven!

Our campers thought we were nuts (and so did some of our co-staff), but for just one late night bite, we embraced our mature palates and briefly returned to the real world — or at least its menu options!

I suppose the grass is always greener on the other side of the grazing field’s fence!





Stuff it Like it’s Hot

28 06 2009

My new favourite roasted tomato “sauce”… 

Whatchya need:

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

1 Tomato per person

1 Garlic clove per tomato

1 Bunch of fresh sage leaves

1 Lemon – halved

Red wine

Salt and pepper

Spaghetti

Whatchya do:

 Turn on broiler to high setting

 As that heats up, use a paring knife to remove the stem of the tomato creating a small cavity. Stuff a garlic clove in the hole. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and pepper. Place in an oven proof pan, and put sage leaves and lemon halves around the tomatoes. Drizzle everything with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

 Pop the pan into the oven.

 After 2-3 minutes, remove the sage leaves and reserve, and replace the pan in the oven for about 8-10 minutes — or until the tomatoes are starting to burst, and the garlic has softened a bit.

 Take the pan out of the oven and place on stove top. Remove the lemon halves and reserve. Smash the tomatoes and garlic so that they are chunky. Pour in 1-2 cups of red wine (or more if you’re in that kind of mood), allow that to simmer and reduce to your liking. 

Once reduced, squeeze in the roasted lemon juice, drizzle with extra olive oil, crumble in the crisped sage leaves, and toss the sauce with spaghetti.

 




Polenta Fries

15 06 2009


My foodie fantasies have never found me frolicking through Homer Simpson’s chocolate avenues or swimming in Willy Wonka’s river.

No, dessert has never really been my thang.

I have always been – and forever will be – a carb and starch girl. 

If I had it my way, the world would be fried. 

French fried. 

Consequently, I found myself wandering through the hallways of my workplace a couple weeks ago dreaming up the best way to go about revamping my fave side.

Here’s what I came up with — Polenta fries!

I did it with parmesean and basil… more Italian fried than French… but still equally as delicious!

Bon appetit!





Let’s Get Physical…

8 06 2009

I have always loved going to see my doctor.

For the duration of the appointment you get to be the centre of attention and you leave with a loot bag – once filled with lollies and stickers, now overflowing with prescription slips and free samples!

I have never understood the crazy people who avoid making an appointment at any cost. Until now.

Last week I skipped up to the reception desk to check in for my annual physical. The collection of my urine sample went quite smoothly, and I thought the new royal blue examination gowns really complemented my skin tone. Then my doctor, who is notoriously decades late for these things, arrived within seconds!

Everything was comin’ up Millhouse.

We laughed, we sighed, she updated me on the latest prescription fads, I did some bends and stretches, she copped a feel, yadda yadda yadda, my physical came to a close.

And just when I thought I was home free…

“I’m going to have them do some blood work after they take your height and weight. Just some routine stuff. Probably not necessary, but it never hurts to check!”

I should have heard them then. The evil, pitchy organs ringing out from the soundtrack of my mind declaring in three droning notes that this would bring my doom: BUHM, BUHM, BUUUUUUUUHM.

Too bad I have the hearing of a 90 year old who spent her childhood with her head in a roaring tuba.

The technician was a lovely lady, who was obviously as new to the clinic as she was to North America. Struggling with her English, it took her about 10 minutes to figure out how to read my height. 

Then she sat me down to take my blood.

She tied up my arm with the mini-Pilates stretch elastic, and smacked at my veins as if to say: There’s no wake up call like a good bitch-slapping ladies!

I winced at the unnecessary physical violence, but knew it would be over soon.

“I have very small veins, so usually technicians use baby needles on me.”

“Oh yes yes. Velly good meeess.” She was smiling and nodding like a Kim Jong Il bobble head; ignoring what the Westerner was saying while unassumingly becoming a nuclear-sized threat to my well-being.

“Look it’s really important that you use the smaller needles or else you’ll have trouble drawing blood from the vein.“

“Okay meeeess, yes yes!”

[stab!]

Crap! You could have told me you were about to start!”

“Oooooh no meeeesss. Eeees no wohking.”

“Well you need the smaller nee–”

[Stab!!]

Shit! Can you please warn me when you are going to –”

[STAB!!! STAB!!! STAB!!!]

JESUS CHRIST!!!”

“Oooooh no no no. I no know why eees not wohking.” 

My eye fell from the confused technician, to my bleeding, limp arm. That was about the time I decided that I needed to leave my doctor’s office immediately.

“So…I think I’m going to come back another day to have my tests done.” I tried to keep my voice calm so as not to hurt the incapable technician’s feelings, but the room started to spin and I can’t quite recall if I was my politest self.

“You take this paypaaa, and when you readeeeey, you come back and see meee!”

Don’t think so Guantanamo Bay.

Thus ended my love affair with my medical practitioner. 

Thus ended an era. 

Thus ended my link to all things over-the-counter. 

Now I am left wondering, what ever is this pill-popping hypochondriac to do?





Caramelized Onion and Sage Grilled Cheese

31 05 2009

You may have thought that shrimp and the subway was a strange combination, but here’s another unconventional match that I love…

Grilled cheese dipped in Maple Syrup.

It may be because I’m Canadian.

Or it may be because it’s delicious.

Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

In order to encourage tasting something new, I have provided my newest grilled cheese variation below.

The crisped sage adds a salty bite that makes this savory-sweet combination all the more delicious!

Make it, make it, MAKE IT!!!

Whatchya need:

Butter

Sage – fresh whole leaves

Onions – thinly sliced

Cheese (I made it with Provolone)

Bread

 

Whatchya do:

Melt butter in a pan and place the sage leaves in the butter. Cook until crisped, and remove from pan and reserve.

 In the same pan, and the same melted butter, place the sliced onions. Cook on a low-med heat slowly, until cooked down and caramelized. Be patient… this can take a little while. But it’s worth it!!!

 Once they are caramelized, crumble the crisped sage leaves into the onions (or you can crumble the leaves onto the cheese when layering the sandwich).

 Butter your two slices of bread and start to assemble your sandwich. Layer the cheese, onions and bread. Place the sandwich back in the pan and cook until the bread is golden brown. Flip and do the same to the other side.

 EAT! And don’t forget a side of Maple syrup for dipping!!!

  





A Gussied Up Galavant

25 05 2009

The New York subway system and I have a complicated relationship.

 Sometimes she will be my Monday morning hero, halted patiently and without reason on the tracks of the 77th street station, just waiting for me to dash through the turnstiles and spare me a fifteen minute delay, when I’m already running late.

But other days, and there have been many more of those, she forces me to journey through her urine drenched, garbage stinking, rat infested stations, only to have me wait twenty minutes for her arrival, in which I must busy myself by figuring out the best way to avoid the beggar making his inevitable way to my side.

 A sassy minx she is indeed. But like any good woman, I have to accept that in New York City, even though you can’t live with her, there’s no way you could live without her.

 This weekend my brother came to visit me in the Big Apple. It was his first time in the city, and his first time crawling its public transit web. It’s amazing to me how a fresh pair of eyes brings new light to something used and abused by someone else every day.

 Before we boarded the underground rocket for his first time, I took him through Grand Central Market – a small but impressive showcase space of gourmet delights located in Grand Central Station (Torontonian translation: NYC’s Union Station). Whenever I am required to take a subway ride for work, I pass through here to take in the colors and smells and cool my nerves… it’s basically my more delicious version of yoga.

 We passed by the seafood stand, where he stopped. He looked at the display, and then he looked at me with an invisible lightbulb flashing above his head.

“I have an idea.” He grinned.

“Really? Sometimes I wonder what that’s like…. does it hurt?”

Oh if looks could kill.

I humored him, “What’s your idea?”

“What would you think of making this subway ride special?”

He stuck his hand into the iced case and withdrew a plastic container.

You don’t have to say fancy snack to me twice!

 A few minutes later, the subway car bounced towards its downtown destination, and inside the Gryfe siblings sat happily nibbling away on shrimp cocktail… and attracting a nice collection of confused and amused onlookers.

 You see, while it may seem silly, it did turn a simple subway ride into something special. And though I ride the metro daily, and I do recognize that she is a woman with whom I (and the rest of Manhattan) share a unique love-hate relationship, for just a few stops and just a few bites, my metal maydele became a fancy lady.

 Now I’m not proposing that you go sit in a dog house and eat a filet mignon…nor should you take this as an invitation to feast on caviar beside your toilet.

It’s just some food for thought on how a little treat in an unconventional setting can transform something like a subway into a royal carriage!

Editor’s Note:

The reader should know that approximately 5 minutes after consuming the traif treat and exiting the subway car, our noble explorers walked through the halls of the Bleeker St. station and encountered a lovely gift from the subway system they had just treated so well…

a large puddle of vomit blocking the exit.

I told you…it’s complicated.