Nova Scotian Nightlife: Ginger Plum Daiquiri

I’m sure many of you would assume that the nightlife of rural Nova Scotia is close to nonexistent and you would be right.  But my adaptive relatives have found a way around this problem.  Allow me to welcome you to Seafield Farm’s exclusive bar, aptly named The Bar and Grill.

Signage

A former bunkhouse, The Bar and Grill was transported from its original home next to the farmhouse and was relocated closer to the water.  After a few “rustic” alterations to it’s design, namely the removal of a few walls, The Bar and Grill was opened for business and it has been serving the residence of Seafield Farm ever since.  It is also the first and only BYOB bar I’ve ever come across.

The view from the porch

Sure it may not have any running water and the only methods of cooking are a homemade fire pit and a wood stove, but it has a view that can’t be beat and the traces of its previous life are quite endearing.

My cousin's contribution to the decor

This is a rather “imaginative’ take on pollen collection.  Note the menacing butterfly and the owned flower.  I’m going to go out on a limb and guess one of my male cousins drew this.

The top bunk now houses empties

Evidently the top bunk was for boys only; no girls allowed.  Obviously equality was not on our agenda.

Side porch

As you can see the bunks have been put to better use.  Instead of housing children, they now house our family’s empties.  Please note it has taken us several years to amass such a collection.  Skyy vodka, you can repay me for the free publicity with a few cases, I don’t mind.

Plum

The Bar and Grill rarely sees much beyond a martini or a vodka tonic, but here’s the fanciest drink to ever grace this legendary deck.  I give you the Ginger Plum Daiquiri, made of course with vodka…  I’m all for pushing the envelope, but I can’t completely abandon tradition.

Vodka

This little number is wonderfully sweet, tart and vaguely spicy.  You may be ridiculed for the pinkness of the drink ‘round these parts, but I’ve never let that stop me from celebrating my girly side.

Plum and Lime

Though it may look a little frou frou this ain’t no fruity girl drink.  The spiciness of the ginger carries it far from the candy-like concoctions that fill the glasses of Carrie Bradshaw wannabes.  Grown up, sophisticated, complex and yes intoxicating, this drink will give you all you need this summer.  So, ditch the Cosmo and indulge in this seductive and heady cocktail.

Ginger Plum Daiquiri

With time it may become an east coast classic but I won’t hold my breath.  After all it’s not beer, whisky or scotch.

Ginger Plum Daiquiri: Serves 2

1 plum, diced

1/8 cup lime juice

1 cup ice

1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced

1 tsp sugar

2 oz vodka

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a blender.

Blend until smooth.

Pour into frosted glasses and garnish with a slice of plum.

Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

A week ago I took a spontaneous trip to Prince Edward Island.  I hadn’t been to the island in nearly fifteen years and I was keen to a do a little beach hopping, so I seized the opportunity to go.  With no plans in sight and little expectation, we managed to have one of the best getaways I’ve had in a longtime.  I am now determined to never plan a vacation again.  When nothing is expected everything is a wonderful surprise, much like today’s recipe, which is courtesy of the island.

Dates and Ginger

On one of the few sunny days I’ve had since arriving on the East Coast (I seem to curse this area of the world with rain every time I visit), we happened upon Dalvay House located just east of Charlottetown.  Built in 1896, the resort was at one time the summer home of the former president of Standard Oil, Alexander MacDonald.  Recently, Dalvay House became the host hotel to the Royals during their tour of the PEI countryside and to commemorate the happy event, the staff of Dalvay House placed a giant cardboard cutout of Will and Kate on the front porch.

Foamy Dates

I know… It was kind of weird, but I was totally digging Kate’s hat.

Dry Ingredients

If getting a picture with the 2D couple is not enough for you, the adjacent gift shop is happy to supply you with an entire tea set bearing the same priceless shot of the happy couple.  But if you would rather get the full scoop, locate any member of the staff and they’ll be happy to give a full play by play of the royal visit.  I got the details at least half a dozen times in the course of 24 hours and I didn’t even have to ask.

Sticky Date Pudding

But enough about the royals, I’m sure you’d much rather hear about the food.  Dalvay House boasts one of the best restaurants on the island.  They make a point of showcasing the best local produce and seafood in a relaxed, cheerful atmosphere.  Everything was amazing, but this Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce captured my heart completely.  The wait staff must have pick up on this intense bond (perhaps I was smacking my lips a touch too loudly), because they kindly offered me the recipe.  I was so taken aback by this gesture that I very nearly fell off my chair.  This would never ever have happened in Toronto, but in PEI, I suppose anything is possible.

Toffee Sauce

I replicated the recipe a few days after returning home and here it is in all its glory.  It wasn’t quite as good as the piece I had at Dalvay House, but it was pretty damn close and that’s good enough for me.  I followed the recipe quite faithfully, but I did swap in a little fresh ginger instead of the powdered.   I’m madly in love with in ginger, in case you were wondering.

Please make this!  Please, please, please!  Would it help if I told you Prince William ate it?

Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

Honestly, its so moist and delicious; so wonderfully naughty that it’s well worth the effort.  I have a feeling this pudding is going to be a very cozy companion come fall.  Oh, and word to the wise, this dessert was made to be enjoyed with a good single malt scotch.   They go together so well that I added a little scotch to the sauce.  Shhh, don’t tell!

Enjoy!

Dalvay’s Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce: Serves 12 if you have sense, 8 if you are senseless

For Pudding:

1 ¾ cups packed pitted dates, coarsely chopped

2 cups water

1 ½ tsp baking soda

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp fresh ginger, pureed

½ tsp salt

¾ cup unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

For Sauce:

¾ cup unsalted butter

1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar

1 cup heavy cream

2 tsp single malt scotch (I used Redbreast)

Directions:

Pudding – Preheat oven to 375°.

Butter and flour an 8-inch square pan.

Place dates, water, and ginger in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat uncovered for 5 minutes.

Remove heat from pan and stir in baking soda.  Mixture will foam.

Let mixture stand for 20 minutes.

While you’re waiting, sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Beat in eggs one at a time.

Mix in the flour mixture in three batches, beating after each addition until just combined.

Add date mixture and stir until combined.

Pour batter into baking pan and set inside a larger baking pan.  Add enough hot water to the large baking pan to reach half way up the sides of the smaller baking pan.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 35-40 minutes.

When done, remove pudding from water bath to cool.

Serve with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream.

Toffee Sauce – In a 2 quart saucepan, melt butter over moderate heat.

Add brown sugar and bring mixture to a boil stirring occasionally.

Add cream and scotch and reduce heat.

Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened.  About five minutes.

Cool sauce slightly and pour over squares of pudding.

Avocado and Cantaloupe Salad

Avocado Cantaloupe Salad

Once upon a time I won a melon baller at my cousin’s baby shower and I was embarrassingly happy.  But I never got to use my coveted melon baller.   I lost it instead.  I know this is by far the most tragic story you’ve heard all week, but try to keep it together it gets better.  Yesterday I came across a melon baller at the dollar store and I bought it.  The End.

Limes

Now that I’ve wowed you with my bard-like story-telling skills, I give you the recipe for melon baller enthusiasts everywhere.  I’m usually against kitchen gadgets that seem to have only one purpose.  I don’t need the clutter.  I have a tiny kitchen, the last thing I want to do is cram one more cooking utensil into my kitchen drawers.  But as a child I had a fascination with melon ballers that I don’t completely understand.  Maybe it was because my mother never owned one and it was a simple case of wanting what I did not have… I dunno, it’s weird!  Whatever the reason I concocted this recipe for the sole purpose of getting use out of my new melon baller and I’m not sorry I did it.

Jalapeno

I am in love with the color combination of this salad.  The bright orange of the cantaloupe pops so beautifully against the various shades of green. I chose to use avocado, because we’re in the midst of steamy summer time affair and I don’t care who knows it.  Seriously, look back at the posts I’ve made since the heat hit, I guarantee there are a ridiculous number of recipes that include avocado…

Also I wanted to see what would happen if I used a melon baller on an avocado… yeah… I’m a dork.

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I added some mint, which was left over from the mojitos and jalapeno to add some interest.  I topped the salad with unsalted cashews for a little nuttiness and crunch and drizzled the whole lot with lime juice and flax seed oil.

Cashews

I mixed this salad when I got home from a run and it was the perfect pick-me-up.  I’m positive this is not the last time we’ll see this salad this summer, I’m dying to find out how it would partner with some BBQ shrimp.  I’ll keep you posted!

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Give this salad a whirl!  It’s oh so refreshing and satisfying even on a day with 94% humidity (please send help, my hair can’t take it).  So, find that melon baller you thought you’d never use and get ready to enjoy yourself more than you’ll care to admit.

Avocado and Cantaloupe Salad

Avocado and Cantaloupe Salad: Serves 4

½ cantaloupe

1 avocado

Juice of one lime

1 jalapeno, deseeded and diced

¼ cup unsalted cashew, roughly chopped

2 tbsp flax seed oil

1/8 cup fresh mint, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Using a melon baller scoop out individual balls of avocado and cantaloupe.

Place avocado and cantaloupe in a large bowl and drizzle with lime juice to keep the avocado from browning.

Add jalapeno, mint, cashews and flax seed oil and toss to combine.

Serve immediately with a fresh sprig of mint.

Cilantro Lime Coleslaw

Purple and White Cabbage

Today’s recipe made an appearance at my brother’s birthday bash this past weekend and while it can certainly stand alone as a perfectly seductive side, I choose to used it as a topping for a saucy pulled pork sandwich.  Sadly, you won’t find the pulled pork recipe in this post; I’m saving that for later.   I thought I’d get the less interesting component out of the way first and wow you with the sandwich later.

Shredded Carrots

I’m trying to build hype.  Is it working?

I also thought you might like a break from the boozy decadence that has recently invaded my blog, much to the chagrin of my waistband.   I thought this might be a good way to illustrate that I do still possess a small amount of will power and I’m still as health conscious as ever… just ignore the fact that this coleslaw dressing is mayonnaise based.  Okay?

Green Onions

Look!  Green things!  Aren’t you proud?!

I apologize for pulling the whole annoying cliffhanger thing on you, but I promise you’ll get closure eventually.  This won’t be anything like the last episode of My So Called Life. I promise I will not leave you with endless questions that wind up haunting you for an embarrassingly long time.

Seriously!  Did she choose Jordan or Brian?!  Someone has to tell me!

Cilantro Lime Dressing

Not only does this zippy little coleslaw contain all the makings of a damn good slaw, it has a few finer details.  The dressing contains jalapenos and cilantro, the slaw itself is studded with pepitas and the dish is accented with a splash of lime juice that brightens the overall flavor.  The pepitas deliver a different kind of crunch than the cabbage, making for a very satisfying contrast of textures.  I’ve never put nuts or seeds in any of my coleslaws before, but I can guarantee you this will not be the last time I do.  The jalapenos deliver a hint of spiciness, while the cilantro is savory and cooling.  All in all this taste profile makes for a very interesting slaw, one that I will no doubt be repeating over and over again.

Pepitas

This coleslaw was made for the summer and with the summer days threatening to leave us for another whole year, I suggest you strike while the iron is hot (believe me, it really is hot, my air conditioner is broken) and whip this little number up for you and your lucky dinner guests.

Pulled Pork Sandwich with Cilantro Lime Coleslaw

Give it a try!

Cilantro Lime Coleslaw: Serves 12

½ purple cabbage, chopped

½ white cabbage, chopped

2 cups carrots, shredded

½ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

12 stalks green onion, sliced

2 jalapenos, diced

1 cup unsalted pepitas

1 cup of buttermilk

½ cup mayonnaise (I used Hellman’s Olive Oil Mayo)

3 tbsp sweet relish

1 tbsp vinegar

Juice of one lime

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

In a large bowl toss cabbage, carrots, green onions and pepitas together until combined. Set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together, mayonnaise, buttermilk, jalapenos, cilantro, lime juice, relish and vinegar until combined.

Pour dressing over the vegetables and toss to combine.

Taste and season with salt and pepper according to preference.

Chill until ready to serve.

Epic Wonton Soup

Wonton Soup

Finally, I am back to share the rest of that epic recipe I hinted at in my previous post.  Thank you for your patience.

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I’ve been playing hooky all week.

I realize that most of the recipes I post on this blog reference some fond childhood memory.  Now, either I didn’t frown until I was fourteen or I have a tendency to glaze over the less desirable parts of my early years.  Since I photographic proof that I was an excellent pouter before the age of two, I’ll blame it on rosy nostalgia.  But this soup is my childhood, or it at least occupies a very happy corner of it.

Mushrooms steaming

Whenever my mother and I miraculously found ourselves home alone we would steal away to a little hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant up the street from my childhood home.  There we would indulge in an order of Shanghai Noodles and a bowl of wonton soup.  Their wontons were deliciously meaty, bursting with filling and flavored to perfection.  Sadly, their food has gone downhill.  Instead of providing their costumers with amazing food on the cheap, they are now, quite simply cheap.  But that’s okay, because now that I can conduct myself in the kitchen without trying to sample raw meat (I was a weird child) I can make it myself.  So my mother and I rolled up our sleeves and set about making this rather epic wonton soup.

Mushrooms

Now, it’s difficult to provide an accurate recipe, as my mother does not measure or weight any of her ingredients.  The magic of her cooking is in her intuition.  To my mother cooking is a creative endeavor and who has time to be bogged down by numbers when you’re in the midst of creating a masterpiece?

This may be why my mother has never been much of a baker.

Black Fungus (More delicious than it sounds)

Also, my mother has an extensive collection of fancy dried fungi.  This is black fungus. You don’t have to use all the varieties I have listed.  A medley of dried mushrooms, which you can find easily in your local supermarket, should do the trick.

Wonton Filling

Anyway, here’s the recipe as best I can recall.  Follow these steps and I’m sure you’ll get something delicious.  The broth is a hybrid of several different Asian soups, so if you want something authentic please look elsewhere.

Wonton

It may look like a lot of work, but if you’re smart about it (we weren’t) it’s not so bad.  Make the wontons several days before, freeze them and you’ll be miles ahead of the pack.  We garnished our soups with slices of this tenderloin and steamed Chinese broccoli, but feel free to change them up.  I think bok choy would be lovely.

Epic Wonton Soup

Enjoy our zippy little concoction.

Epic Wonton Soup: Serves 8-12 or a small army

For The Wontons:

800g wonton wrappers

¼ pound ground pork

¼ pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 stalks green onion, cut into thirds

½ cup of water chestnuts

2 eggs, divided

1 tbsp water

2 tbsp ginger

4 cloves garlic

2 tbsp cornstarch

1 ½ tsp five spice powder

2 tbsp sherry

¼ cup soy sauce

4 tsp sesame oil

For the Broth:

2 cups boiling water

1 cup dried mushroom medley (try to get one with shitake mushrooms)

25g black fungus (more delicious than it sounds)

25g yellow fungus

1 medium onion, diced

4 cloves garlic

2 tbsp ginger, minced

1 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp peanut oil

1 1/2 tsp sriracha sauce

1 cup dry white wine

2 tbsp soy sauce or to taste

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

8 cups chicken stock

1 red sweet pepper

2 stalks green onion, sliced

1 cup water chestnuts

1 egg, beaten

Directions:

WONTONS:

Place pork, shrimp, onion, water chestnuts, one egg, cornstarch, ginger, garlic, five-spice-powder, sherry, soy sauce and sesame oil in a food processor.

Pulse until all ingredients come together and are evenly distributed throughout.

In a small bowl whisk together the remaining egg and water and set aside.

Place a wonton wrapper on a dry, clean cutting board.

Dip you finger in the egg mixture and trace one corner of the wonton.

Place one teaspoon of the filling in the center of the wrapper.

Fold wrapper corner to corner so it forms a triangle.

Seal wonton by pressing the edges.  Be sure to remove as much air from the center of the wonton as possible.

Place a small amount of the egg mixture on the bottom corners of your wrapper and fold the corners toward the center, hugging the encased filling.

Repeat until you run out of wrappers.  Set aside until ready to cook.

BROTH:

In a large bowl place dried mushrooms and black and yellow fungi.

Douse with boiling water.  Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.

While you’re waiting, heat peanut and sesame oil over medium high heat in a large stockpot.

Once the oil begins to shimmer, add onion, ginger, and garlic.  Sauté until the onion is slightly translucent.  About five minutes.

Add white wine, sriracha sauce, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar.

Bring mixture to a boil then add chicken stock.

Once the mushrooms are soft, drain them using a fine mesh strainer.  Reserve the water.

Add mushroom broth to the chicken stock and bring mixture to a boil.

Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 -20 minutes.

Chop reserved mushrooms and add them to the broth along with the water chestnuts.

Bring the soup back up to a boil and slowly pour beaten egg into the soup.  Add wontons.

Once the wontons start to rise to the top, add green onions and red pepper.

Cook for three minutes, then remove from heat and serve.

Garnish with steamed Chinese broccoli and slices of Asian BBQ pork tenderloin.

*Be sure not to over cook the wontons or you’ll never forgive yourself.