A Peachy Day

I was notified by a colleague that a friend of hers recently lost her foot to cancer and that a campaign to support her and create was awareness was on.  I was inspired by the website and decided to join the cause. Her name is Beth and her nickname is “Peachy”,  so my daughter and I hit the streets and kitchen with our “Team Peachy” sign.

Stop 1 was Merla Mae in North London.  Among  numerous creations, this iconic ice cream shop has a great peach sundae which we both ordered.

Stop 2 was at Moxie’s to have a famous peach bellini. I know why I don’t drink these normally.  I was a sickly mix of syrup and booze. My daughter laughed hysterically as I tried to down this rather large drink.

   Once we got home, I proceeded to make a meal with a focus on peaches.  The first was to create a peach salsa for cod fish tacos. Here’s the recipe:

Peach Salsa

4 peaches, peeled and chopped

1/2 red pepper, chopped

1/2 cup of chopped onion (sweet or vidalia is best)

1/2-1 jalapeno pepper (depending on preferred level of heat)

2 tbsp of chopped mint (or cilantro if you prefer)

Juice of one lime

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and let sit for at least an hour.

With the salsa made, I prepared a grilled cod taco. The fish was marinated in oil, some chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.  It was grilled on the BBQ  and served with Avacado and the peach salsa.

Dessert was a twist on a peach melba which I aptly named “Peach Beth”. I added fresh mango and mango ice cream instead of vanilla.

Peach Beth

4 peaches, preferably free stone

Water

1/2 cup of sugar

1.5 cups of raspberries, fresh or frozen

1 tbsp of mint (optional)

2 tbsp of sugar or maple syrup

1 fresh mango

Mango or Vanilla ice cream

mint sprigs and fresh rapberries for garnish

waffle bowls (optional)

Procedure

1.  Place peaches in a saucepan and cover with water. Add 1/2 cup of sugar, bring to a boil and simmer for 8 min. Cool quickly, peel and cut into quarters. Peel and slice the fresh mango.

2.  In another saucepan, add raspberries and sugar or maple syrup and mint (optional).  Bring to a boil and simmer until mixture is uniform.

 3. In a waffle bowl or ice cream bowl, place a scoop of ice cream.  Surround with 3 or 4 peach quarters and 3 slides of mango.  Top with 2 tbsp of sauce and garnish with mint and fresh raspberries.

I wish Beth the best in the future.  I believe food is healing and can send an incredible message to the world.  I’m grateful that I  have a palate, beautiful ingredients available and the ability to prepare/enjoy food on a daily basis.

Spoon me ’til I yelp….

Years ago, Zagat set the bar for rating food.  It employed a novel concept…let diners decide what food is best. Before the electronic information age, paper copies of the Zagat guide were the bible of dining.  Since then, Zagat has been swallowed by Google but still continues to be a useful source of information.  In fact, a goggle search of any Zagat restaurant willl give you the famed mark out of 30.  

With the advent of the internet, food sites are as competitive as restaurants themselves. So, if you want to be seen  beyond a blog nobody reads, you gotta choose.  The front runners are yelp and urbanspoon. So which one?

Yelp  

An independent out of San Fransisco and has a massive following. Like facebook,  you can collect friends. You vote out of 5 and make any comments you want.  Others can tell you that you’re useful, funny or cool.  Yelp goes beyond restaurants and allows you to rate anything from mechanics to hair dressers. 

Urbanspoon

 Urbanspoon is a subsidiary of IAC (the same company who owns dictionary.com and ask.com among others).  Urbanspoon itself  is based out of Seattle and has decent followings in Australia, the UK and Canada.  They are attempting to compete with open table in the reservation market and therefore have reservation software available to restaurants as well. You can vote “like or not like” without comment.  I love the upload picture option on urbanspoon since it had a drop-down menus to match your pic to the food item.  Brilliant!

Yelp vs Urbanspoon

Like Big Turk bars, Red Rose tea and Buckley’s cough syrup, urbanspoon is more Canadian.  For example, close to 80% of votes for Sassafras  in Toronto comes from Urbanspoon. On the other hand, if you look at WD-50 in the New York, almost 70% of the votes come from Yelp.  This is trend that is fairly consistent depending on what side of the border the eatery is.

The Verdict

I’m not one to pledge allegiance to one rating site. When I search for a restaurant I look at them all.   I live in Canada but travel periodically to the US.  I will likely use Urbanspoon for Canadian restaurants and Yelp for American restaurants.  I won’t,  however, cut and paste the same review in both to work toward elite status (it’s not an airline afterall). I will, however, like or dislike and upload photos to urbanspoon whenever possible.

Follow me on yelp and urbanspoon!!!! My handle is spennyrd.

Nuts for Canada Cranberry Walnut Slaw

Canada Day is a great BBQ and slaw day!  If you are going to have the salads outside for a long period of time, avoid the heavy mayo slaws and use an oil and vinegar base instead.

I decided to try my own slaw as a tribute to Canada Day. I wanted to create a bit of the red and white colour and stay true to Canadian ingredients whenever I could.  Cranberries, maple syrup, apple cider and even walnuts are essential Canadian ingredients. The walnuts add a good mix of healthy fatty acids (omega-3), a breadth of vitamins and minerals (thiamin, folate, B6, manganese) and the cranberries add dietary fibre.

I suggest using any kind of cabbage but in the fall green cabbage will be in season and very flavourful.  If you don’t have walnut oil, substitute the oil you normally use for salads (olive, canola).

Ingredients:

Salad

1/2 small-medium cabbage (about 4 cups)- Use fresh Ontario green cabbage if you can.  Napa cabbage will also work

3/4 cup of dried cranberries

3/4 cup of chopped walnuts

Dressing:

1 tbsp of maple syrup

2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp of walnut oil (or your favorite salad oil)

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Mix cabbage, cranberries and walnuts in a medium bowl.

2.  In small bowl, whisk vingear, oil and maple syrup. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3.  Add dressing to cabbage mixture. 

Chill for at least an hour if possible and enjoy with any BBQ food.

 

Napa Cabbage Slaw

Napa cabbage is a mild, subtle cabbage that works great in a slaw.  It has a bit of Calcium, Potassium and Vitamin A as well as some trace minerals. This slaw is light, so pairing with a heavy steak is ideal.  The dressing is the same used to season sushi rice, so it has a bit of an Asian flare.

This recipe comes from Epicurious (originally from Bon Appetite). I modified it slightly since I did not have red jalapenos so I used green jalapenos and added some sweet red bell peppers for colour and texture.

Ingredients

2 tsp of ginger

I clove of garlic, pressed

3 tbsp of seasoned rice vinegar

3 tbsp of sugar

1-2 jalapenos (depending on taste)

5 cups of napa cabbage (shredded or chopped)

1/2 medium red bell pepper (julienned)

3/4 cup of chopped green onions

Preparation

Stir sugar and vinegar in a small sauce pan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.Add jalapenos and ginger to the dressing and let sit.

In a medium bowl, mix cabbage,1/2 cup of onions and peppers.

Pour vinegar mixture over cabbage, mix and let stand for at least 30 min. Use remaining onions as a garnish.

 

 

Tall T”Ales”

I’ve had my share of beer. Probably a bit too much.  Booze as part of a meal is an fundamental as food itself.  I enjoy following the cocktail, wine and beer trends.  Each season brings in a new concept. Since I’ve become of age, I’ve seen numerous trends in beer including the dry, ice, copper, clear, genuine draft, steam and more recently fruit and ice tea additions.  

There are four types of beer drinkers:

1. The Loyalist– Adheres to the same brand regardless of trend or price.  They wear the hat and shirt (in many cases half their weekend garb consists of some kind of beer shirt, often teamed with their favorite professiosnal sports team) and a disagreement (ie. my beer is better) or empty cooler would result in fisticuffs.  This group often becomes a collector, attempting to collect all 32 NFL T-shirts or 30 Stanley cup figurines.   

2. The Bargain Hunter– Enters the beer store with the intent of pursuing the best value.  Will default to Carling or Lucky lager in many cases.  However, may be tempted to purchase a case of brand name beer using the logic “Ya, it’s only an extra 4 bucks but I get a t-shirt which would cost me at least 15 in the store” or “It’s only 5 dollars more but I do need a flashlight”.  

 3.  The Trendy Drinker– Waits for the TV or tabletop ad to tell them what to drink.  Willing to pay and extra dollar or two to have lime or ice tea added.  If one of these beer are not available, an overpriced extention of a big brand (Rickard’s red or Alexander Keith’s…more on this later) will suffice.

4.  The Aficionado– This person knows the four main ingredients of beer, the meaning of IBU, the difference between an ale and a lager, matches beer to food and  is not afraid to let everybody know it as they scoff at Bud drinkers and complain that their pint was served in the wrong glass.  These consumers will gladly pay extra for a beer, citing  “I need to support the local craft brewer” or “I’m willing to pay for a better quality product”.  Tends to dislike the previous three groups.

Admittingly, I’m number 4 but I’ve been known to drink a Bud Light when necessary (I draw the line at Coors light however).