Narayanni’s

Tucked off Whyte Avenue at 10131 81 Avenue is Narayanni’s, serving gourmet South African Indian cuisine made by the Naidoo family.

The restaurant is located on a street with plenty of free angle parking. The building was built over 70 years ago as Adndt’s Machine Shop. From the outside, it has that classic Old Strathcona feel about it, but once you step inside you are greeted with a sparkling clean, tasteful and subtly designed space with nice sized tables, sturdy chairs and room to breathe.

In the centre of the room is a circular serving area where the buffet is displayed. Michael and I visited Narayanni’s on Wednesday night for the Wednesday Night Buffet at the unbeatable price of $15.00 per person.

As this was our first visit, we did a tour of the buffet before making selections. On this night, the buffet featured:

Papadams
Cucumber Raita (yogurt dip)
A colourful mixed salad
Basmati rice
Vegetable Curry Soup
Grilled Chicken Masala
Curried Potatoes with Peas and Green Beans
Chana (Chickpeas) with Mushrooms
Chicken Curry
Tofu CurryRice Pudding

Warm, delicious roti was also available and was brought to the table to us.

We started with the vegetable curry soup. The flavours in the soup brought my tastebuds to life. Michael and I both exclaimed if that is all we ate that night, we would have left happy campers. But we didn’t stop there, of course. We got up again and filled our fresh plates (emptied plates were swiftly taken away).

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I sampled all the food on the buffet. The potatoes with peas and green beans, the chana with mushrooms, the chicken curry, the grilled chicken masala, and the roti, ohhhhh that roti, was so delicious. There was good strong level of spicy heat in the curries.  A bit more and I’d be fanning my mouth, but it just took us to the edge, still allowing all those beautiful flavours through.

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I did learn this evening that South African Indian cooking does not have the cream sauces I’ve become used to seeing in Edmonton. For someone like me with an intolerance to dairy, it was very special to be able to eat virtually anything on the menu without having to ask “does this have dairy?”. There was the raita (yogurt), but that was easily identifiable. The post-dinner chai tea and rice pudding were made with almond and coconut milk on request.

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Narayanni’s food is all made fresh, no preservatives. They source local, organic, free range, and in season food. They have a large assortment of gluten and vegan menu items, and feature a Tuesday Vegan Night Buffet for $15.00 per person (cash only). There are a variety of different buffets for different nights of the week. There is also a lunch buffet for the seemingly impossible price of $12.00 per person. Please check their website for times, prices, and when cash is only accepted as this changes throughout the week.

If you are looking for an indulgent, flavourful, healthy, feel-good to toes your meal, I highly recommend trying Narayanni’s. You will be made to feel welcome and at home.

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Dixie Lee Chicken

This post has two purposes. One, to introduce you a new fried chicken place. Two, to tell you what I did to do to make this blog post happen – from conception, to research, to testing, to sitting in front of the computer Googling “how much water will I need to drink to remove all the exceess salt in my body”. It all starts innocently enough.

I’m sitting at my desk at work, toiling away, ensuring I am giving tax payers value for their money. In walks a co-worker, opening the conversation with this:

“Hey Cath, can I talk to you? I have a non-work question”.

“Sure!” I say. I have sufficiently toiled, I can take a five-minute break.

“What’s that new chicken place called on Whyte?” is the gist of the question.

“What new chicken place”, asks I.

“On Whyte, where the Cheese Factory is”, is the answer.

I had no idea, but being the helpful sort of person I am and because I have a network of Foodies on my Twitter feed, threw out the question to the Twitterverse. No one responded within .5 seconds, so we resumed our conversation.

We had a short chat about Korean fried chicken, fried chicken in general, and by this point, the craving for fried chicken was firmly planted. I know me. These cravings don’t go away until fed. I haven’t quite mastered the deep breathing, go for a walk, drink green tea and meditate to stop these cravings in their tracks. No, instead, I do research on all things fried chicken. I dreamt of fried chicken last night. But then, the night previous I had a dream that K.D. Lang stopped by to talk to me while at an open air concert and she told me that I am a lesbian….

….. anyway, my point is, just because I dream of fried chicken, doesn’t mean I need to eat fried chicken. I just finished watching Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food which was interesting, and left me with these simple words that will help eat healthy: “If it’s advertised on TV, don’t eat it”.

As it is, I have never seen an ad on TV for Dixie Lee Chicken. (I will always find a loophole).

This morning I received rescue from Sharon Yeo of Only Here for Food. She suggested the place we were looking for was Dixie Lee Chicken.

With my husband home sick with a  bug, after some basic nursing and cooing, I went into to work to complete a project. A project tax payers would be proud of. We’ll not mention the Facebook post while I was at the office, expressing my pleasure of being able to still stick the Bugles I found in our staff lunchroom on the ends of my fingers….

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…. I decided I’d indulge in some fried chicken for lunch. Off to Dixie Lee I went.IMG_5122

Dixie Lee Chicken is located at 8943 82 Avenue Edmonton. It is in the same strip mall The Cheese Factory was, and continues, to be part of (although they are now just a retail shop).

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Dixie Lee Chicken opened in Bonnie Doon one month and one week ago. There is plenty of angle parking in the front of the building and adjacent side street. The shop is clean, has a comfortable amount of open space, and plenty of seating.

I was greeted by a friendly person. I placed my order and was told to wait about five minutes. In those five minutes, I observed that the seating area was clean, and busy. There were a few tables still available had I decided to eat in. The Cheese Factory etched window is visible inside Dixie’s space.

I was delighted when a couple who arrived after me were speaking fluent French with the lady at the counter. I love Bonnie Doon for that reason. Although I don’t speak French, I love that our country is bilingual and love hearing it.

There was lots of interest in Dixie Lee. As I was waiting a number of people came in to check out the menu and the space.

I had ordered the five-piece fried chicken (no fries thanks), and a small coleslaw. Just as my order was due, a fellow came out from the back and asked if I would mind legs and wings – he’d give me more of those if I did. I happily accepted because those are my favourite pieces anyway, and left with a box of 8 juicy pieces, plus one plump breast.IMG_5120.jpg

After a meandering drive home, and a peek to check on Michael’s vitals, I sat myself down with my box of chicken and tub of coleslaw.

The chicken was still crispy and juicy. My only experience previous to this was Kentucky Fried Chicken, Chicken-on-the-Way in Calgary, and Mary Brown‘s. I match this closest to Mary Brown’s. But better. Mind you, when I had Mary Brown’s, I was also following the Jenny Craig diet, and had just spent $120 for Jenny Craig food for a week, and decided to buy Mary Brown’s chicken that same evening on my way home. That supper was laden with guilt and shame.

*melancholy sigh*

The coleslaw. Dixie Lee’s coleslaw is sweet, has a nice crunch, and tastes delicious. A bit more liquidy than I’m used to, but completely edible and enjoyable.

Dixie Lee will cure all your cravings for fat, salt, and sugar in one fell swoop. If you are going to blow your diet, do it right, and do it big. I recommend Dixie Lee’s in Bonnie Doon.

 

 

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Hotel Kitchenette Cooking

Fellow travelers, this post is for you. Especially those of you who frequently travel for business.

Back in the day I traveled away from home at least one or two nights a week. Nowadays I’m lucky if I travel twice a year for work.

Some people love traveling to try new food. Of course I do too, but not every meal, every day. I like to make sure my diet has ample fresh fruit and vegetables, something that can be a challenge when on the road.

This is made easier if choosing a room with at least a refrigerator. A microwave is a bonus. A room with a kitchenette is complete luxury, and this is what I selected on my last work-visit to Victoria BC. I chose to stay at the Oswego Hotel a gem of a hotel, one block away from the inner harbour, and a reasonable walking distance to the 24 hour James Bay Thrifty’s Grocery store.

I got a studio suite with well stocked kitchenette: refrigerator, microwave, stove-top, pots and pans, utensils, toaster, blender, proper kettle, tea-pot, coffee maker, French press, sink and dishwasher. No need to make grilled cheese using the iron and ironing board here.

I brought a few things along with me from home. Some dried beans and rice, pre-measured into single serving zip bags. I also brought along some dried garlic granules and lemon pepper spice. I also tucked in a small one-cup serving reusable plastic tub with lid. These took up no room in my bag, and saved me spending ridiculous amounts on money on spices at my destination. When I arrived at the hotel, I dropped off my bags and headed over to the grocery store. There I picked up six eggs, milk, a stick of butter, a loaf of bread, yogurt, and frozen blueberries. My favourite go-to fruit is apples, but the hotel provided lovely Granny Smiths at the front desk and in the room.

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On the first night after settling in, which means opening all the cupboards, sniffing the soap, checking the bed for bugs, hanging up my clothes and calling home I decided to make toast and tea, one of my quick go to snacks when needing to relax and feel comfy.

I pulled out the toaster. I noticed the dial was set to Level 11, so thought it might be one of those  toasters that has a tough time getting hot and toasting the toast. Indeed, it took two cycles to get to a glorious golden brown. Golden, not burnt. But what happens? The smoke alarm goes off!IMG_4837.jpgThe smoke alarm is strategically placed above the kitchenette. Clearly, it is a smoke alarm on the ready, determined to save the lives of the inhabitants in the hotel, because honest to god, there was NO SMOKE. I mean, look at the picture! The butter isn’t even melting!

Quite contrary to my regular behaviour, I calmly continued to butter my toast through the ear-splitting alarm. I could hear doors opening the hallway. I could visualize my neighbours standing around in their pyjamas and sweats wondering where the fire is. I didn’t even open a window. I figured once I finished buttering my toast, I’d flap one arm in the general vicinity of the alarm to help circulate the air.

As it is, the alarm silenced when it was satisfied there was no fire.

The next morning I was woken by seagulls and gurgling float planes and breakfast was the first thing on my mind. I decided with confidence to make a poached egg, and have it on toast. Feeling a little anxious about setting the smoke alarm off at 6:30 a.m. I took some preventative steps. The first, open the patio door. The second, turn on the ceiling fan to High. With the ceiling fan twirling around so fast it looked like it was ready to come off its moorings, I felt safe to make toast.

The toast was made, again using two cycles, but this time I stood guard with tea towel in hand and flapped the air around, just to make sure. Toast was made, no alarm. Meanwhile, my simmering water produced the most beautiful and perfect of poached eggs. I admired it as it sat atop my buttery toast, took the picture, and enjoyed my breakfast with a most amazing view.

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For work, I scooped out some yogurt and frozen blueberries in my handy container, and packed a granola bar.

IMG_4859This is a regular work-day snack I have, and was quite pleased with myself to continue the tradition while away from home.

For supper, I was feeling ambitious when I left home and had visions of making rice and beans and taking in left overs for lunch. This didn’t happen for two reasons. The first is cooking up an onion in a studio room gave me visions of sleeping in onion vapours the rest of the visit, and smelling up my clothes. The second is the simple social dynamic of traveling. My natural self desires to be in my PJs by 7 pm, under the covers watching Netflix shows and eating Cheezies.  But I am easily swept up in the “let’s go for a drink after work” thing, and next thing I know I am finishing my second pint of beer, sipping my first glass of wine, and ordering Thai prawns. My ankles swell thinking of it.

However, a night of booze and salty-high fat restaurant food is quickly remedied by drinking glasses of water, starting the next day with cups of tea and eating a bowl of heart and artery soothing oatmeal.

Traveling can be hard on some people, especially those with delicate dispositions if you know what I mean. At the minimum, a kettle or microwave to heat up water to make oatmeal for breakfast is a sure way to keep things moving along. A fridge to keep berries frozen and yogurt cool is a must. It doesn’t take much to eat healthy while on the road.

Don’t forget to enjoy the people you are with too. Don’t get so hung up on healthy eating that you miss out on nights out on the town. A few beers with co-workers can begat friendships and memories to last a life time.

 

 

Posted in A Night Out, Breakfast, Dining Out, Dinner, Eating Healthy, Snack, Supper | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Easy Tomato Sauce for Pasta and Picky Eaters

Every person knows one. A picky eater. I used to be one (except overripe bananas, oysters, octopus and Marmite are still problematic).  I’m married to a picky eater (no nuts in his food). I am friends with one (no onions except red onions). I work with one (tomato sauce without bits of things in it).

It’s my co-worker who has inspired this post for a simple pasta sauce that doesn’t have chunks or bits. I thought posting this might help suffering spouses, parents, and friends of picky eaters create a homemade pasta sauce bursting with flavour but without scary chunky bits that will terrorize the picky eater.

This recipe also happens to be my regular week-night go to for its simplicity, flexibility and speed. Once you have the ingredients on hand, you can whip this tomato sauce up in the time it takes to open a store-bought jar and heat it up.

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What You Will Need:

1 can (28 fl oz) Italian peeled tomatoes
1 – 2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp garlic granules or powder
1 tsp onion powder
1.5 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp chili flakes
1/4 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste

To make the sauce:

Glug the olive oil in a pot or pan. Add the can of tomatoes. Add the rest of the ingredients. Heat it up until it bubbles. I whiz it up until it is smooth using an immersion blender. You can do the whizzing when the sauce is still cold, or when it’s hot. It just doesn’t matter.

Too easy, right?

The joy of this recipe is you can change it however you like. Don’t like fennel? Don’t put it in. Like more heat? Add more chili flakes! Looking for low fat? Eliminate the olive oil. Looking for a rose sauce? Add a few glugs of cream. Wants something more rustic? Don’t blend it. Don’t have Italian Seasoning? Add dried basil and oregano.

The sauce works well with any pasta and protein. My favourite is Italian Sausage. While the sauce is burbling on the stove, I’ll cook up a package of Italian sausage. When it’s done, I slice it thinly, mix it in with the tomato sauce and the cooked pasta, and cover generously in grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Our other protein favourite is chicken breasts. While the sauce is burbling, put chicken breasts in a big bowl. Add about a tbsp of olive oil, juice of half a lemon, a generous sprinkling of Italian seasoning. Toss till covered. Set oven to 350F. When the oven is ready, place the chicken breasts on a piece of parchment paper in a pan (I use an old Corning casserole dish) and place in the oven for 30 minutes. When it’s done, take it out and serve the breast whole, or sliced thinly. It just doesn’t matter.

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The important thing to take away from this post, is that this is The Most Flexible Tomato Sauce In the World.

If you can’t find Italian peeled tomatoes use any can of whole, strained or diced tomatoes.

If you poo-poo spices from the cupboard, go right ahead and chop and saute an onion and smashed garlic. Roll and julienne that fresh basil. Pick and rub that fresh thyme, marjoram and oregano.

Add good music, a few candles and a bottle of wine, and instantly you go from hurried weeknight dinner to a super cool, laid back evening.

I hope you give this recipe a try. I’d like to hear about your experience and/or your favourite tomato sauces!

 

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Gin and a Preview

Michael and I received an invitation to the Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen to taste some gin.

How long do you think it took me to respond to that invitation dear readers? If you said milliseconds, you are correct. However, to appear to be sophisticated and blasé about such matters, I delayed my response by a respectful two days. Michael and I were squealing with excitement the whole time we were waiting for November 24 to roll around.

The evening was two-fold – it introduced us to the beautiful Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen which opened some weeks ago. It is located in the historic Alberta Hotel building at 9802 Jasper Avenue. It also introduced us to the Eau Claire Distillery, which is located RIGHT HERE IN ALBERTA, in one of the most beautiful places on earth, Turner Valley.

The gin was terrific. Although a gin and tonic girl, I managed to find it within me to try two different gins straight up. The first, Gin Rummy! I play gin rummy, but never drank it. I asked what made it rummy. It turns Eau Claire Distillery creates booze from locally sourced sources (Alberta only thank you) and since we don’t grow sugar cane in these here hills, Eau Claire did use what we have, molasses. Hence, gin rummy as opposed to rum.

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Angel Chai-mes!

Second up was the seasonal Christmas gin. Well Merry Christmas to you and you, this gin makes even the non-believer feel they are in touch with their biblical roots. This gin is flavoured with frankincense and myrrh. It is delicious and smooth. If a person imbibed in a few more samples of this seasonal gin, it had the promise of providing the stage to have a conversation with a wee little baby in a manger under a brilliant star surrounded by a bewildered mother, concerned father, three clever men, and some farm animals.

The food service at the Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen was spot on. We tried oxtail croquettes. Beef sliders. Another oxtail croquette. Stuff on melted Parmigiano Reggiano cheese crackers. Let’s be honest, yet another oxtail croquette and another beef slider. I really am a crappy food blogger, because I enjoy the food, I don’t ask about the details. There were several other samples, and I was too busy eating them to take pictures or notes.  I can tell you this. The samples were fresh and delicious. As a preview, the Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen has proved they can supply delicious food to a noisy crowded room of food bloggers, media and assorted VIPs. If they can do that successfully (which they did), it deserves a second look.

Michael and I look forward to visiting the Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen as regular schmos. We are hoping they are as exactly as they describe on their websitehonest, transparent and authentic as Edmonton itself.

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Rostizado

I’m not saying this is correct, and I mean no disrespect if I got it wrong, but I pronounce it Roast-eee-zah-dough. It does mean roast, as in roast chicken, or roast pork, or roast beef. All served with a side of roasted potatoes… wait for it… in pork fat. Oh my god, those very words create a sort of climactic vibe, complete with curled toes, and a deeply satisfied sigh.

Rostizado is a year old, and belongs to the same delicious food geniuses who brought Edmonton Tres Carnarles, which I wrote about in 2011.

The menu at Rostizado will be explained by your server much better than I will, but if you are uncertain about what you see when you visit their beautiful website, here’s the main point:

Spit Roasted Meat
Roasted Potatoes
Authentic Mexican Yumminess

IMG_4644My friends and I opted to each have our own 1/4 lb of roasted pork with roasted potatoes. It was served with hand made flour tortillas and salsa. It’s not Date Night food. To eat this means you dig in, use your fingers, have no fear of pork fat, and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. The serving, for $20, was enormous. I ate the entire plate because there are starving people in the world, but my friends who do not think about the starving people, had left overs.

Rostizado is located in a very cool part of Edmonton, at 10359 – 104 Street. Try not to focus on the construction in the neighbourhood as Edmonton builds the Ice District. Parking is not easy or cheap before 6 pm, but after 6 pm there are a number of free street parking options. For a real treat, plan your dinner after dark, and enjoy the nostalgic Neon Museum (Canada’s first!!!) across the street from Rostizado.

When you arrive at Rostizado, you will be greeted by FIRE on either side of the doors. This does help draw attention to your destination, because from the street, it’s not so easy to see. You will face about 10 steps or so to enter the restaurant. Those with limited mobility will have to enter the restaurant from the rear of the building where there is elevator access. Or, opt to stay on the street and admire the Neon Museum and have your food to go (they do offer Take-Out Service).

Rostizado is located in the historic Mercer Building. A beautiful brick, high ceiling, large wood beamed building that has managed to NOT get burned down. This building is a real treasure to Edmonton, and Rostizado has respected the building’s history to a T. And speaking of history, I was absolutely thrilled to see the music for the restaurant was provided by a turntable, with frequent changes of LP. My table mates and I were particularly thrilled when the needle skipped – it brought back memories for us, and placing a penny on the head shell to prevent skipping.

IMG_4640 (1)Music is a big deal to me, and the sound-system and choice of music in Rostizado is perfect. A bit chill, retro, and laid back. There’s no irritating twang or deep bass that stir the intestines.

My friends and I arrived fairly early by most people’s standards, so we had the place to ourselves for quite a while. As our experience was ending, the place began to fill with an assortment of young hipsters that go “sssswwhhaaa ssssshhwaaaa” a thousand times (I am serious, I could not figure out WHAT they were saying or doing – but it did involve some jumping away from the table and standing alone and looking at their belt buckles), happy couples holding hands, and single, middle aged men sitting at the bar-style seat over looking 104th Street. I am most delighted when there is a group of people meeting for dinner, particularly, when the first people arrive and try to strategically place themselves at the table. To the neurotic, such as myself, it is life affirming to know I am not alone in believing seat placement is everything.

IMG_4643The ambiance in Rostizado will suit everyone. It’s relaxed. The service is friendly. There  is not an ounce of pretentiousness here. It is a haven for those who enjoy food that is meticulously prepared to give you flavour, enjoyment, and memories. Go.

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Penuche

It all started with a solid block of brown sugar.

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Here’s a link to the Kitchn’s site to read the article, A Simple Way to Soften Hard Brown Sugar in a Hurry.

A few spoons of the softened brown sugar were used for our morning bowls of oatmeal. You see, it’s getting chilly outside, and when the weather changes, we have the urge to eat hot, fortifying breakfasts like porridge…. and sweet things….

Which brings us to penuche. With having learned how to soften our old bag of brown sugar, we now had just shy of 2 kg of brown sugar. Friend Darlene mentioned on my post how her family uses up their sugar by making penuche (can’t pronounce it? think Italian, and say pannuchi! Say it loud and joyfully, with open hand gestures, tossing your head to one side).

Armed with Darlene’s family recipe, and a few internet searches gathered around me, I set out to make a batch of penuche. And no better day to make penuche, when it’s blustering outside, and my husband has become linked at a molecular level to the television to watch Ireland beat France (24-9) in the Rugby World Cup 2015.

As Darlene promised, the recipe is easy. The most important thing I learned from Darlene, is that there is no steadfast rule about how to make it. I love recipes like that, because it takes the pressure off. Don’t have vanilla? Don’t put it in. Don’t have cream? Use evaporated milk. Lactose intolerant? Use lactose free 35% cream (yes this exists, and you cannot believe how excited I was to find it – even though I seem to be able tolerate regular cream just fine, why risk it?).

The second most important thing I learned from Darlene is to use a cast iron pan. Honestly! I would have never thought of that, and used it today, and it worked great. Yes, there were moments I had concerns my boiling burbling mass of sugary goo would overflow the pan like lava and burn a hole to the floor below us, but that did not happen!

I used principles that I learned in a bunch of recipes. I don’t have exact measurements, and encourage you to look at the web yourself. The main ingredients are:

Brown sugar (2 – 3 cups)
Cream (or evaporated milk) (1/2 to 3/4 cup)
Butter (2 – 3 tbsp)
Dash of salt (a dash, to me, is two shakes of the salt shaker)
Little bit of vanilla (less than a 1/4 tsp)

The internet will tell you different things. For instance, add white sugar, corn syrup, cream of tartar, nuts, less butter, more butter, less sugar, more sugar, no vanilla, more vanilla…. go with whatever you like.

Where things are the same is when it comes to the method:

Put your butter, cream, sugar and salt in a pot / pan on the stove.

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Stir:

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Bring to a boil.

IMG_4593Reduce heat and continue to boil until it reaches the soft ball stage. This potentially is the trickiest part of the process. If you have a candy thermometer, that would be 235F. However, if like me you don’t have a candy thermometer, learn how to tell your sugary mass has reached the soft ball stage by watching this video:  https://youtu.be/lchea5BHbgs

Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 11.57.22 AMWhen this occurs, then carefully remove the pan, and pour the molten mass into a heat proof bowl, add your vanilla if you are adding vanilla (or nuts, or whatever) and stir.

IMG_4596Stir some more. Keep stirring….. no a little more, keep going… Stir for about 15 minutes, until the stuff thickens and loses its gloss.

Then pour out into a buttered (or parchment lined pan).

IMG_4599Allow to cool, and then cut into tiny pieces:

IMG_4602As I write this, I have the jitters from sampling so many of those little pieces.😀

Penuche is sweet and delicious. It is also used to ice cakes, but I am of the camp that thinks cake is overrated. Let’s get right to the icing!

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Gin and Tonic

My dear readers, Facebook followers, friends and family know that I have a pretty tight relationship with my gins and tonics, especially through the summer months. They have refreshed me for years, but not once in those years have I ventured far from my usual Schwepps Tonic.

Then one day David Lebovitz appeared in my Facebook feed with this intriguing article, Homemade Tonic Water. Now, although my blog title is Walsh Cooks, it should be subtitled Walsh Likes to Delegate Cooking to Others. So I think to myself, “Who will actually do this?”, and without much hesitation my brain offers me Edmonton foodie Keith Perron’s name. I shared the article with Keith via Facebook, and asked if he ever tried making his own tonic. Keith you see, has one of those adventurous souls who will try anything in the kitchen.

Happily, within a day or so of sharing Lebovitz’s article with Keith, I was tagged in this post:

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Within a few weeks of this, the following pictures appeared in his Google account:

Tonic Goods

Photo: Keith Perron

Cardamon Star Anise

Photo: Keith Perron

Lavendar

Photo: Keith Perron

Bark Stuff

Photo: Keith Perron

Lemon Grass

Photo: Keith Perron

Citrus

Photo: Keith Perron

In Hot Water

Photo: Keith Perron

For the list of ingredients and the method, I ask that you check out David Lebovitz’s article, Homemade Tonic Water so credit can be given where credit is due.

Keith and I arranged for a Tonic Tasting Day. In addition to the homemade tonic Keith provided, we also had the “control” my loyal Schwepps, as well as a fancy commercial tonic called Fever-Tree Premium Tonic Water. The bottle of club soda was on hand to dilute the homemade tonic.

Here, you can see that Keith created two different tonics. One had  lavender undertones, the other spicy with the star anise and cardamon.

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Our first G & T was made with the lavender based tonic. It did not resemble tonic water as I know it, at all. But if not comparing this delicacy to a two litre bottle of Schwepps, on its own it is a beautiful accompaniment to gin. The flowery lavender gives it a delicateness which offset the sweetness of simple syrup. It definitely needed to be diluted with soda, which also provided the necessary fizzy to the drink.

The second G & T of the afternoon was the spicy tonic version. Again the soda is a requirement to give it the necessary fizz and dilution, and it was a level 12 on the 10 level flavour scale.

The third G & T sampled the commercial Fever-Tree. It was like crawling into bed after being away from home for a few days. It was comfortable and felt like home. Closest to Schwepps, but a little more upscale. Upscale in that it costs more, and is delivered in tiny, single serve glass bottles. I did not notice a huge flavour difference from my traditional tonic, but it was an enormous difference from the flavourful homemade tonic Keith made.

The fourth G & T was our “control” G & T, and truth is, we never got to it. Three G & Ts in short succession was enough. Scientists we are not.

Am I a convert? No. My regular old G & T’s will do just fine.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of trying homemade tonic.  I send my grateful thanks to Keith for taking on this challenge, and David Lebovitz for posting his experience and inspiration. It made for a fun afternoon.

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Little Brick Cafe

I’ve been aching to try out Little Brick Cafe, tucked in among the pretty homes in the beautiful community of Riverdale, an almost secret community tucked in the bend of the North Saskatchewan river.

Today, we were heading downtown for the street party on 104th street, by got bamboozled off our trail by marathon festivities blocking our way. We turned the car around and were heading towards a Starbucks in Capilano as a consolation prize, when, as we were descending Rowland Road, I remembered at the last possible second about Little Brick Cafe, and did a speedy, but rather impressive right turn down 92 Street.

After a few, “go this way, no that way, no not there, down here’s”, we found it. There is plenty of street parking, and was pleased to see that Little Brick is aware of their impact to the neighbourhood and have put up signs asking people to keep some parking space clear for residents. This impresses me down to my toes.

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Entering the gate I was immediately smitten with the large garden, with tables and chairs set up on the lawn. Reminded me of proper English pubs you see on Masterpiece Theatre where people take their pints outside and sit at tables on lawns, under trees.

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The shop itself was nice and tidy. Our order was taken and we took our number and found ourselves a sunny table for two. Shortly thereafter our coffees, and a tomato ricotta tartine arrived.

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The coffee was delicious, Michael’s cappuccino done in the perfect classical way, and the tartine was fresh and delicious. Our bill was $16.54.

As we always do, the question was, “would you come here again?”.  Michael wasn’t as smitten as me. He didn’t think he’d make it a destination place, but thought if he were wandering in the valley and came upon it, he certainly would. I on the other hand think its the perfect destination place! I can see meeting friends here for coffee regularly, and think how lucky the neighbourhood is to have such a delightful place right on their doorstep. I was also delighted to see people purchasing beer and wine, which gave it another impressive nod from me.

Other_Random_Stuff_Hippie_Parking_Only_Street_SignAfter coffee, we took a stroll through the neighbourhood. I fell in love with the community. We had some fun guessing the price of the homes, and after a MLS search, most of the homes are a bit out of our league. However, we did fall upon the Riverdale Cooperative Housing, and between the woman walking her cat on a leash, the Hippie Parking Only, All Others Will Be Stoned sign, abundant vegetation and the overall homey feel, we thought this might be a viable option for us.

Highly recommend Little Brick Cafe. It’s a treasure.

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Huma Mexican Food

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Found on the northeast corner of 99th Street and Argyle (63rd Avenue), Huma is located on the north end of this busy little strip mall, also home of Tienda Latina, Edmonton’s favourite Mexican grocery store.

The restaurant is spacious, colourful, and welcoming. Service was immediate (after a 30 minute wait to get a table), and the food took no time to reach us.

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We started with ceviches for $9 – think salsa with a bit of white fish, along with tortillas. Fresh and delicious, it was a great start to our meal.

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Next up came the chicken tacos dorados for $14. They were good, but needed some spicy oomph from the salsas provided at the table.

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Last of the meal was pork quesadillas for $14. These were generous and porkie, but again, needed the assistance of the salsa to spice things up.

Dessert was a torte with caramel sauce for $4.50. I’m indifferent about desserts, but Michael seemed to like it enough.

Prices seemed reasonable at the beginning of the meal, but when we paid the bill, just shy of $100, we felt it a bit much for what we ordered. Mind you, with margaritas at $10 each, it adds up quickly.

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