Blondie Crumble

Blondie crumble

We’ve had a jar of sorrel jam as one of our souvenirs from our time in Jamaica. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to use it in a dish, and I finally got a chance this week when I came up with the idea for a dessert after thinking of what I could combine from what was already in the pantry. This blondie crumble is sweet and addictive; perfect for any time of day, on its own or served with ice cream.

Ingredients:

1.5 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 jar sorrel jam (or any other jam you prefer)
1/4 cup chocolate chunks
1/3 cup peanut butter (or three heaping tablespoons)
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Brush canola or coconut oil on the bottom of a baking dish.

Mix all ingredients together thoroughly by hand in a large bowl until it becomes a big ball of dough. Spread the dough into the baking dish using a spatula. Cook in oven for 20 min., then turn off the heat and leave in the oven for another 5 min. Take out and let cool. Store at room temperature.

Enjoy!

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Roast Duck

Roast duck

We had a lovely, quiet Christmas; a relaxing and joyful day. The big feast was reserved for dinner, when we made roast duck with homemade gravy and roasted veggies on the side, paired with beer from the local Storm brewery. Props to Storm for knocking it out of the park with their Christmas brainstorm brews; “Mrs. Claus” was a citrusy beverage that tasted like Kombucha and went down lightly, despite a high alcohol content.

Roasting duck is simple, but it does require patience. Preheat the oven to 350 deg. F. Remove the giblets, liver and neck that’s usually in the duck cavity, then cut a slit in the skin on the breast side and stuff pats of butter underneath. Rub salt, pepper and olive oil all over the outside of the duck, and place sprigs of rosemary on top (or rub in dried rosemary). Place breast side up in a roasting pan that has a grill on top and a tray on the bottom to capture the juices that will drip from the duck. Cook until the internal temperature of the duck is 180 deg. F. It takes 30 min. to cook each pound of duck, so it will take about 2.5 hr. for a 5-lb. duck.

Place chopped carrots, celery and potatoes on a baking pan and sprinkle salt and pepper on top. About an hour before the duck will be ready, take out the duck and pour some of the juices that have dripped into the bottom tray onto the veggies. Cook the veggies in the oven for about an hour.

You can make the gravy when the duck and veggies are done cooking. Pour some of the duck fat into a skillet, add desired amount of chicken broth, desired amount of milk or cream (optional), about a tablespoon of flour to thicken, and salt to taste.

The best part of this meal: the duck skin–crispy, fatty, delicious goodness.

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Homemade Sushi

Homemade sushi

We made nigiri sushi on Friday evening, and it turned out beautifully. We actually made too much and gave ourselves a sushi hangover the next day.

It’s easy to make your own sushi at home–and much less expensive than ordering it at a restaurant–as long as you have access to sashimi-grade fish. We have a nice little fish market just up the street, staffed with bros who are really into seafood, so it’s helpful to ask for their opinions.

We picked up fresh sockeye salmon, tuna, and oysters and sliced them into pieces big enough to cover a little oblong ball of rice each. A couple notes: the salmon has bones that need to be removed, and the tuna has gristle that you need to slice off or slice strategically so you don’t get chewy pieces.

We also picked up two small bowls of rice from a local sushi restaurant and used that to make the rice balls with. We shaped the balls with our fingers, spread a dab of wasabi on top of each, then laid on the fish and oysters. We had a few pieces of fish as sashimi, and served the whole spread with soy sauce on the side.

I must admit: the salmon won hands-down over the tuna and oysters at this meal for it’s fatty, buttery flavor.

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La Taqueria

La Taqueria

La Taqueria on Cambie in Vancouver, Canada was a welcome discovery on a recent Saturday while we were out doing errands. This small taco shop happened to be in the neighborhood, and we wandered in just a few minutes after opening time for an early lunch.

The bright interior is decorated like a hipster Mexican cafeteria, with subdued mint green paint and a wall of beer. You can order soft tacos or quesadillas, made traditional Mexican style. I recommend getting a De Lengua quesadilla, filled with braised beef tongue. The meat is tender, juicy and delicious (tastes like brisket) when combined with cheese and a topping of sour cream. You won’t be disappointed.

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Lamb Kebabs

Lamb kebabs

We like to visit our local butcher from time to time. Robson Gourmet Butcher in the Robson Public Market is a great little place to pick up hormone-free meats from local farms. Manzar, a young man we often chat with at the counter, has given us good advice on prep techniques and even spent time sharpening out sadly dull knife.

We picked up lamb cubes recently and gave them a simple treatment, marinating them for several hours in cumin and a few other spices (try a mix of olive oil, salt, spritzes of lime for a hit of tang, and crushed red pepper flakes). When we were ready to cook, we put them on skewers and grilled them until done (tip: soak skewers in water before putting on meat to avoid the wood catching fire). The tender morsels go well with a dipping sauce of Greek yogurt.

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Offroading in Mission, BC, Canada

Jeep Rally Mission

We did our first offroad rally in Canada this past weekend in the mountains of Mission, BC. We hadn’t been offroading since Jamaica, when we did a very fun adventure race/obstacle course earlier this year.

We made a full weekend out of it, driving east to Mission on Saturday. There’s not much to the town, though we enjoyed lunch at Mission Springs Brewing Company, where we had a surprisingly delicious burger layered with lobster mac n cheese and a crispy onion ring. We also filled the growler with one of the house brews to bring back home.

For dinner, we drove out to the historic Dewdney Pub, housed in a former church. The place was packed, and we listened to a three-man band playing classic rock covers. The food was, again, surprisingly good. We ordered perfectly breaded fried zucchini sticks and classic pierogies with bacon and caramelized onion. For bonus entertainment, we watched the town drunk dancing like a wild man in front of us and pretending to surf.

On Sunday, after a filling breakfast sandwich of egg, ham, and cheese in an English muffin, courtesy of the Best Western, we set off to what the 4WD Association of BC called the Kenyon Run, about half an hour drive from downtown Mission. A substantial amount of cars showed up, and we were excited to try offroading again. Being newbies, we asked one of the more experienced members of the club for advice, and he suggested we take our tire pressure down between 15 and 20 to enable better grip. We heeded his advice, and it served us well on the tough spots of the trail.

I must admit I was expecting an easy trail, but the run took us through very rough, steep, and at times dangerous terrain. It reminded me of the treacherous drive through Jamaica’s Blue Mountains, where there are no guardrails and practically nothing between you and a long tumble to the valley below. I was definitely nervous in certain spots when the trail was very narrow and the elevation was high. I had to wipe the sweat off the front handle bar I was gripping. Fortunately, my husband did well at the wheel and pretty much aced it, even when he was uncomfortable. We’re still learning how to use the 4WD on the Jeep, and this was definitely a learning experience. With each challenge notched, we grew more comfortable. The group made stops throughout the rally, and we were able to enjoy the views and chat with club members. Ours was the only stock truck in the bunch, and they were impressed at how the basic Jeep handled the challenging terrain. My husband was able to turn the vehicle around in a tight spot and was able to drive through rocky water without getting stuck. We felt the satisfaction of accomplishment sink in as we drove back home to Vancouver.

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Smoked Salmon Pizza

smoked salmon pizzaWe made pizza Friday evening to chow on while watching the Mets play the Dodgers. We used fluffy, thin, pre-made crust, and mixed it up with one pie based on red sauce and the other on pesto. I’ve posted a recipe on sausage pizza before, so I’ll just post the recipe for the smoked salmon pizza here. The verdict: Absolutely delicious. So good, the slices will go quickly.

Ingredients:

1 pre-made thin pizza pie crust
1 jar of pesto, desired amount
1-2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella
goat cheese, desired amount
1 pack of smoked salmon
baby spinach and/or arugula for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Slather the pesto onto the pie crust (you’ll likely use most, if not all, of the jar). Distribute the mozzarella, tomato, goat cheese crumbles, and smoked salmon on top, and garnish with baby spinach and/or arugula. Cook in oven for about 15 min.; longer if you want a crunchier crust.

Enjoy!

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