Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Sweet Summer

This summer has been full of simple pleasures, and I can't wait to see what else the rest of summer will bring.

Last week we walked over to our friends' house for a casual Monday evening visit, and some snacks on their deck.

It was so nice to spend time with Matt and Alissa, and the eats were delicious.  We love having friends so close.

Today is our niece Elizabeth's birthday.  We celebrated with family on the weekend.

Another niece, Remi, had a birthday yesterday, and we'll be celebrating with family tomorrow.  Since many of the little people in our lives have summer birthdays, it means we get a lot of family time in the summer, which is really nice.

Another sweet thing about this summer was finding these guys on the patio one morning:

Christopher's parents gave us some rhubarb, which we froze for use at a later date, and these Juliet cherries from their yard.  I had never worked with these before, and couldn't find any recipes for this type of cherry, but I love a challenge.  The first thing I made was a galette.

I had about 3/4 of a cup of cherries left, so I thought I'd make BBQ sauce with them.  We had picked up wild boar ribs from the farmer's market, and I think fruit pairs well with pork, so I went with it. 

This is the recipe I came up with:

Juliet Cherry BBQ Sauce

- 3/4 cup pitted Juliet cherries
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 2 T Worcestershire sauce
- 2 T brown sugar
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- dash or two hot sauce
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp mustard powder
- a few dashes of liquid smoke

Blend the cherries until smooth.  Combine them with the rest of the ingredients.  Simmer for a minute or two, then cool.

It tasted great on the ribs!

Other tasty summery eats have included farmer's market peas and carrots:

And a tomato burrata salad:

One of the sweetest days of all was this past Saturday.  We sat in the yard all afternoon and evening.  We read, visited, had a fire, made s'mores, and soaked in the most beautiful day.  I hope for a few more days like that before summer is over.

What is something "summery" that you did recently?

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Supper in the Orchard

On Friday we took Christopher's parents to Supper in the Orchard, at Over the Hill Orchards, about 20 minutes out of town.  We had been before, and loved the experience, so we were really excited to go back.

For this meal, the chef was Kelsey Sheppard from Victoria's Tavern in Regina.  Each Friday and Saturday there is a different local chef who cooks at the Orchard.  They use mostly local ingredients, from the farmer's market and the orchard, to create the multi-course meal.

Since we can't predict the weather, it's difficult to know the best day to book, so we chose the date based on the chef, and then hoped for the best.  It was very windy on Friday - too windy to sit outside when we arrived, but there is always next time.  Fortunately we were seated right by the windows which overlook the valley.

The first course was a fresh cucumber salad with red onion, red peppers, green onion, beet sprouts, and carrots, with a cask 18 balsamic vinegar and butter oil dressing.

This was a simple, refreshing course, and a nice, light start to the meal. 

Next we had grilled peaches, with cream cheese mousse, beet and goat cheese terrine, parmesan "bread" crumbs, beet powder, and crispy prosciutto.

I am a huge fan of beets, and they pair so well with goat cheese, so this was a standout dish for me.  I would never have thought to combine those flavours with peaches, but it really worked, and the parmesan was a nice textural component.

After this dish, Dean (he and his wife Sylvia own and operate the orchard and winery) took everyone on a little tour of the orchard, explaining how they grow grapes, cherries, strawberries, numerous vegetables, Georgia peaches (in Saskatchewan of all places), etc.  It's an engaging and interesting tour, and also quite inspiring.  It takes an incredible amount of hard work and innovation to accomplish what they have, and I'm excited to see what else they'll come up with in the coming years. 

Once back inside, we enjoyed the main course, which was a scalloped potato cake, garlic mushrooms, carrot puree, prairie cherry sauce, lemon garlic chicken thigh, and pea shoots.

The scalloped potato cake was flavourful and perfectly cooked, and the carrot puree was simple, so it let the delicious farmer's market carrots stand out.  I love garlic, so I'm glad it was in both the mushrooms and the chicken.  There wasn't a speck of food left on any of our plates.

The final course was a cinnamon vanilla cheesecake, with black bean brownie crumble, Saskatoon berry compote, viola, Saskatoon berry coulis, and meringues.

This was a fabulous dessert!  Every element went so well together, and the little meringues added such a beautiful crunch to the softness of the cheesecake and berries.  I don't think I had ever had a cinnamon cheesecake before, but it was excellent, and of course cinnamon pairs nicely with fruit.  It sounded like this course was a favourite of manyI would order this in a restaurant, and I never order dessert.

Supper in the Orchard runs into October, and there is still time to book.  You can see the dates and chefs for each date, as well as pricing, and all other information here.  There is an optional wine pairing with each course, which is a nice touch, or you can order wine by the glass.

The sun was setting as we were leaving to head home after this lovely meal.

If the weather cooperates next time, we will sit out on this patio and take in the scenery before supper.

Check out Over the Hill Orchards on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram @overthehillorchards or on their website.  Most of the proceeds from these dinners goes back to the Culinary Federation to help send members for training and competitions, which makes this not only a wonderful dining experience, but also a way to contribute to the growth and development of our local culinary scene.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Out on Town & Weekend Things

Christopher was off on Thursday and Friday, and our plan for these days was to get out and about in our city, so we started his holidays out by going out for dinner on Wednesday evening.  We went to Wann Izakaya.

To start we shared the scallops:

I ordered spicy tonkotsu ramen, and Christopher ordered a poke bowl.  He thought his dish was alright, and I loved mine!

I am a sucker for ramen, and this one had the right amount of spice.

On Thursday morning we had a bank appointment downtown, and then we stopped at Starbucks to use a gift card and visit over a coffee.

We went to Avenue for lunch.  Last summer we visited this restaurant three times for dinner, and really enjoyed it, so we thought we'd give the work-week lunch a try.

We shared the chicken wings and the hotdog, with a house-made beef weiner, and fries.

The hotdog was impressive, and the fries were delicious!  We liked the tangy wings, and they were nice and crisp, which I really enjoy.

As usual, the service was excellent.

Our next stop on our Thursday adventure was checking out The Cure downtown.  It's a gorgeous new pub/ restaurant.  Then we stopped off at O'Hanlons, and ended up running into a friend and her mom, who we hadn't seen in a long time.  We had a nice visit with Patricia and Susan for a couple hours, and then went on our way to Market Under the Stars.  There we shared pulled beef with coleslaw and beans:

There wasn't too much catching our eye at the market, so we made our way to The Lobby where we shared a little pizza, and then we walked home.

On Friday we enjoyed a pan scramble for breakfast, before heading out to run a few errands.

Dinner that evening was at Over the Hill Orchards with Christopher's parents (more about our experience tomorrow).

On Saturday morning we hit the farmer's market, where we got all of our groceries for the week.

We didn't have breakfast, so by 1:00 we were really hungry, and stopped at Prairie Donair for a yummy lunch.  I had the east coast donair, as I got hooked on the sweet sauce in Halifax a few summers ago.  In my opinion donairs are best with the traditional sweet sauce.

We made Afghan food for dinner - kebab, qubuli pulao (rice with raisins, carrots, and spices), grilled tomatoes, and zaatar pita:


Sunday evening we used the meat and veggies from the farmer's market to make buttermilk fried chicken, cucumber and pea salad, and potatoes and carrots cooked in dill butter.


It was a tasty end to the weekend.

How is your week going so far?

Monday, July 22, 2019

Cooking Last Week

We started last week out with a couple of Italian dishes.

I thought it would be nice to have bread with our meals, so I made some baguettes on Monday afternoon.


On Monday evening we had rosemary polenta with eggplant and smoked cheese.

So satisfying!  You can find the recipe in this post.

The next day we tried this recipe for linguine with green olive sauce and zesty breadcrumbs.  The description of the recipe is correct when it says it's a "pasta sauce [that] isn't afraid to bite back."

We LOVED it.  We'll be making it again very soon.

I was a bit unsure about the anchovies in the recipe, so we only used two this time, although we couldn't detect them at all, so we'll put the full four in next time.  It may seem like the recipe will be too salty, but it's not.  We didn't salt anything at all (just pepper), as the ingredients, and salted pasta water add all the salt needed.  If you are an olive fan, I highly recommend this recipe.

Dessert throughout the week was a simple white cake (a sprinkle of dried, edible rose petals on top):

And breakfasts looked something like this most days:

Christopher's car was in the shop Tuesday/Wednesday (a bit of a story, but there was nothing wrong with his car in the end, which is great), so he had my car, and I stayed close to home.  It was a short week for him though, as he had Thursday and Friday off!  More about our adventures during those days in the next two posts.

What have you been cooking?  
Do you have a favourite pasta recipe?
How was your week last week?  Your weekend?

Sunday, July 21, 2019

2 Meh Meals in Saskatoon, and 1 Great One

Last weekend we were in Saskatoon to see my mom.  For dinner on Friday evening we tried a new-to-us restaurant, Primal Pasta.  We were pretty excited to go to this place, as they make all the pasta in-house, and had good reviews.  Unfortunately, we were disappointed in our meal.

To start we had the caponata with buffalo mozzarella and bread:

It was decent, although for the price, we expected more (both in amount of mozzarella, and quality of the dish).  The bread was soft, and pretty good.

I ordered the rigatoni with goat cheese, mushrooms, tomatoes, greens and truffle oil:

And Christopher had the squid ink puttanesca conchiglie bottarga, with olives and capers:

Mine was alright, but not worth the price, as we could easily make this dish at home for a couple of dollars; it was was very basic.  Christopher's pasta was really under cooked; the shells were crunchy!  He is a puttanesca lover, but this one just didn't cut it.  We would have mentioned something to the server if it wasn't 20 minutes before closing time.  Since it was late and we were tired, we just ate quickly so we could get to our hotel to sleep.

Next time we want fresh pasta in Saskatoon, we'll go back to Little Grouse on the Prairie.

Unfortunately we had another mediocre meal the next morning, this time at Park Cafe.  It's hard to screw up an omelette and hashbrowns, but this place just doesn't have it down yet ...

The eggs were super dry, and the potatoes were bland.

The next day we had an excellent meal though!  We picked up a pizza from a newer place called Thirteen Pies.  My brother-in-law Riley recommended this restaurant to us.  The pizza is made with a sourdough crust - mmm!

We went inside to order the pizza to-go, and then sat and enjoyed a beverage while waiting for it.  The service was wonderful, and when the pizza came out it smelled amazing!  We couldn't wait to get it back to our hotel room to dig in.

If the pizzas have the same base (tomato sauce, or white sauce), you can get 1/2 and 1/2 to try two kinds.  We had The Killer Cheese (fior de latte, mozza, provolone, truffle honey, leeks, white sauce), and The White Walker (roasted mushrooms, provolone, mozzerela, ricotta, white sauce, truffle oil), and we couldn't pick a favourite of the two.  Both were fantastic!  It's Brooklyn-style pizza, but I think it is better than any pizza I've ever had in Brooklyn.

The sourdough crust was excellent.  We're looking forward to going back to Thirteen Pies many, many more times in the future.

The photo isn't great as it was dark, but the pizza is well worth a visit.

Our server at Thirteen Pies was surprised that we had a bad meal at Primal Pasta, and he encouraged us to give it another try sometime, so we might head back to Primal Pasta to see if they can impress us on a second visit.

Have you tried any new restaurants lately?  
Where is the best pizza in your city?