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March 2013

Polish Vegetable Salad

March 29, 2013

Polish Vegetable Salad

This salad might very well be my favourite food on the planet. Strong statement, I know. And there’s not even any meat in it. Or chocolate for that matter! How could my fave food be vegetarian? And not a dessert? *shrug* It kind of just is. For me, it’s the ultimate comfort food – I grew up eating this salad, which is typically only made during holidays (it’s a staple for Easter brunch) or other festive occasions. That’s probably due to the fact that it’s a little labour intensive to prepare (there’s a lot of chopping involved). But I have fond memories of everyone sitting around the kitchen table, chatting away while we chopped. To make it worth our while, we would typically make a large batch (at least double this recipe). I’ve happily eaten bowlfuls of this salad, countless days in a row. I just can’t seem to get enough of it.

This vegetable salad is very much a traditional Polish dish (“salatka jarzynowa”), and variations of it can sometimes be spotted at Polish delis. This particular recipe is the paleo-fied version of my family’s recipe. It’s traditionally made with regular potatoes – but luckily, it works just as well (if not better) with sweet potatoes. And, of course, I’ve subbed in home made olive oil mayonnaise for the store bought canola kind. If you’re squeamish about the paleo-ness of peas, save yourself some angst and just leave them out.

This salad is great by itself, or with any sort of meat or charcuterie – it also makes a great BBQ side. Although this creamy salad is similar to potato salad, the emphasis is more on the other ingredients, not just the potatoes. It’s a wonderful medley of vegetable flavours and textures. The apples and pickles add some crunch and acidity. I personally prefer to go a little heavy on the mustard, but season it to suit your tastes. It’s a colorful addition to any meal, and I now make it year round.

Happy Easter, everyone! :)

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Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie Lotus Root

I tend to shy away from Asian food. I tried going to Kirin once, which is one of Vancouver’s nicest Chinese restaurants. I left before being seated because they readily admitted to using MSG. So, between the MSG and the heavy use of soy, I generally opt out. But, I’ve been eyeing Bao Bei for a while.  It’s a modern take on Chinese cuisine, influenced by Taiwan and Shanghai, as well as the Sichuan province. Food is served family-style – small plates meant to be shared. What makes this restaurant different for me, and much more inviting, is something quite simple: their FAQ page. There they address my two main concerns: 1) they don’t use MSG, ever; and 2) they have a few dishes that they are able to make gluten and soy free. In a world of “modifications politely declined”, I appreciate this gesture of hospitality.

My experience at Bao Bei was fantastic. And the night started with an almost obligatory stop at the Keefer Bar, practically next door…

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Batch Cooking 3-24-13

Classic “pizza and pasta” for dinnerThin crust meatza with caramelized onions, mushrooms, chicken chorizo sausage, pineapple, and mozzarella. Along with a side of garlic and goat cheese spaghetti squash. Nom.

And for lunch, I’ll be assembling a salad daily: lettuce + steak + pear + avocado + bocconcini + pecans + olive oil.

Breakfast will be my usual – either soft-boiled eggs or sausage, along with some sauerkraut.

And snack-wise, some homemade macaroons and dark chocolate.

Now I have food for most of the week – such is the joy of batch cooking :)

What are you eating this week?

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Creme Fraiche

Crème fraîche is rocking my world. To say that I’m excited about it would  be an understatement. Making crème fraîche has been a revelation. It’s rare for so little effort to yield such outstanding results. I’ve known for ages that you can make it yourself from scratch. I even made it once back in my teens during a baking phase. But that was before I knew enough to appreciate what I had created. This time around, I was looking to spruce up some chocolate pots de crème. Since my local Whole Foods doesn’t sell crème fraîche, I decided to make my own.

I still can’t believe how well it turned out and how easy it is to make! If you’ve never had crème fraîche before, it tastes divine – similar to heavy cream, but more buttery, with a pleasant, mild, tanginess and a hint of nuttiness. Its thick, creamy texture is similar to yogurt or whipped sour cream.

The detailed instructions are below, but you literally put a cup of heavy cream in a jar, add about 2 tablespoons of buttermilk and stir. Then you simply leave it alone, and after 12-24 hours you’ll be raving about your very own crème fraîche.

Creme Fraiche on Pot de Creme

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Rangoli Beef Short Ribs in Kalonji Curry

My recent lunch at Rangoli exceeded my expectations. I knew it’d be good – I had been there several years ago, and I love Vij’s next door, as well as Vij’s Railway Express food truck. But I I was surprised at just how great it was.

Rangoli is the bistro equivalent of Vij’s. It has a smaller, less expensive menu, but just as much flavour and quality. If I could change one thing, it’d be to lower the price point slightly, but the food is definitely worth it.

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