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.

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.

IMG_3970

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.

Asian BBQ Pork Tenderloin

BBQ'd Pork Tenderloin

I’ve been back in Nova Scotia for a week now and I am happy to report I have been cooking up a storm. We’ve been in Halifax for just a few days and my mother and I have already developed a lovely daily ritual. It starts with a run in the morning (to combat all we’ve been eating), shopping in the afternoon (consequently, I’m broke) and an evening of white wine and cooking. The success of our cooking is often dependent on the amount of wine we drink, but for the most part our culinary exploits have yielded some amazing results. I’m sorry to keep so many wonderful recipes from you, but I’ve been too busy catching up and bonding with my mom to be incessantly snapping photos. My ravenous family also seems to object to waiting for their food while I try to get a glamour shot out of it.
Ginger, garlic, green onion

This pork tenderloin, on the other hand, was just too good! I felt obligated to share it with you. It’s actually apart of a much larger recipe but, you’ll have to wait on that, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.

Marinade

My mother cooked a lot of Asian-inspired dishes while I was growing up. How a woman from PEI managed to accumulate such an impressive repertoire of Asian recipes is beyond me, but this book may have something to do with it.

Many of my childhood favorites were adapted from this book and I’m pretty sure this picture is responsible for my melon ball obsession.

 

My mother never strove for authenticity, she strove for flavor. I’ve never seen someone so fearless in the kitchen. A quick taste and she knows exactly what to do. There is no second-guessing or thinking out loud, just a swift movement to the fridge or cabinet to track down exactly what the recipe needs.
Marinaded Pork Tenderloin

This pork tenderloin was intended to be char sui, despite being the wrong cut of meat for such an occupation. That intent quickly went out the window. My mother’s fridge is always stocked with any Asian condiment you could think of, so like a kid in candy store I let my taste be my guide and this is what I came up with. My mother ensured it was BBQ’d to perfection and it was easily the most beautifully cooked piece of pork I’ve had in a long time.
Asian BBQ'd Pork Tenderloin

While it’s certainly not authentic Chinese fare, it’s exactly like most of the food I grew up on. It’s no wonder I have such a love for fusion cuisine. Be sure to give it a try before BBQ season is over.
BBQ'd Pork Tenderloin

Enjoy!

Asian Inspired BBQ Pork Tenderloin: Serves 4
1 ¼ pound pork tenderloin
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1/4 cup green onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp sriracha sauce

Directions:
Combine all ingredients except pork in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
Place tenderloin in a large zip-lock bag and pour marinade over the meat.
Let it marinate in the fridge for at least an hour. Overnight is better.
When ready to cook turn your BBQ to high heat.
Remove pork from marinade and pat dry.
Reserve the marinade for basting.
Sear the tenderloin on all sides. About three minutes a side for a total of 12 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and cook for an additional 12 minutes. Continue to rotate the meat every three minutes, basting often.
Remove meat from heat and tent with tin foil and leave to rest for ten minutes.
Slice and serve.

Everyday Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad

Life on the farm can sometimes feel like a marathon, an incredibly pleasant marathon, but I marathon none-the-less.  Several of my family members have cottages on the property and, since this place is considered to be party central, my social calendar is more active here in the boonies, than it is in the fast paced city.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Yesterday I was subjected to an afternoon of Caesars in the sun, followed by a lobster dinner!  This morning I woke up early to make pastry for a birthday brunch for my cousin, I’m told there’s an epic card game on the horizon and, of course, we must take advantage of high tide.

Fresh Veggies

My life is so hard!

It’s lovely visiting various branches of the family and staying this active, but I can’t help but feel slightly frazzled.  I don’t like to neglect my blog duties, but unfortunately the Internet up here is shoddy at best and my cell phone is currently about as useful as a paperweight.  It’s nice to throw off the shackles of the modern world, but it can be detrimental when you’re cyber life is so active. I’m not one to complain, I’m extremely happy to be here, but if I seem slightly distracted you’ll have to forgive me, I’ve made plans with eight different relatives today.

Feta

Somehow I managed to throw together this pasta salad together yesterday and I’m so glad I found the time.  It’s a bit of a fusion dish; vaguely Italian with Asian undertones.  I know it’s strange but, yes, the two can coexist.  Oh, and I guess the feta makes a little bit Greek, so this salad is a mutt, just like me.  Since Mutt Pasta Salad doesn’t have such a good ring to it, I feel Everyday Pasta Salad is just as fitting a title and a whole lot more appetizing.

Crumbled Feta

Pasta salad is among my favorite summertime dishes.  It’s easy to make, it improves after sitting over night, and it’s easily the most refreshing solution to even your most dire summertime food emergencies.

Pasta Salad

So, throw this together this weekend, just in time for the eight BBQs you agreed to attend.

Enjoy!

Everyday Pasta Salad: Serves 6-8

4 cups uncooked pasta

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

1 green pepper, diced

½ red onion, diced

1 cup feta, crumbled

1 cup heirloom tomatoes, halved

1/4 cucumber, diced

½ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

4 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar

Juice of one lime

4 tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp fresh ginger, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Bring six cups of water to a boil over medium high heat.

Salt the water and add the pasta.

Cook for 9-12 minutes until tender.

Drain and coat pasta with olive oil and garlic.

Set aside to cool.

When pasta is cool, place  it in a large bowl and add veggies, cheese and cilantro.

Add lime, ginger, and balsamic vinegar.  Toss to coat.

Chill until ready to serve.

Curried Cauliflower and Ginger Soup

This week Toronto felt the brisk wind of fall and, although I’m a huge fan of summer, I have to admit I felt somewhat relied.  I’m ready for the humidity to leave and stop wreaking havoc with my hair, I’m ready to not sweat my makeup off while I’m waiting or the bus in the morning and, first and foremost, I’m ready to leave heat stroke behind.

Chickpeas

This summer was like enduring the torments of hell.  I am having trouble recollecting a hotter summer.

Seasoned Chickpeas

Looking back at the recipes I posted over the past four months, I realized how little I actually used the stove.  Fresh produce is glorious and I certainly made the most of nature’s bounty this summer, but I’m ready to get reacquainted with my stove and my always-hilarious bipolar oven (it really keeps me on my toes).

Cauliflower

I’m ready to walk into my apartment with cheeks stinging from the cold and plunk myself down in front of a steaming bowl of soup.  Oh, and I can’t wait to make casseroles again, I adore comfort food and we’re finally approaching its peak season.

Cauliflower Florets

But as with most things I lack patience and yesterday is was a balmy 27° and I still made soup.

Roasted Chickpeas

This Curried Cauliflower and Ginger soup was made for runny noses and numb toes, but, of course, yesterday I suffered from neither affliction.  I may have jumped the gun, but its good to know I have an excellent recipe in my back pocket once ski season hits.  This soup is spicy, aromatic and über comforting.  I have never encountered a soup so capable of warming you from the inside out.  So, as you start to bundle up for the coming bleak months, remember this soup.  Nothing will warm your bones quite like a bowl of this fantastically simple and inexpensive Curried Cauliflower and Ginger soup.

Curried Cauliflower and Ginger Soup

Curried Cauliflower and Ginger Soup: Serves 6

1 head of Cauliflower, cut into florets

1 medium-sized onion, diced

4 tbsp fresh ginger, minced

3 tbsp butter

3 tbsp garam marsala

½ tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cumin

1/8 tsp dried chili flakes

1 pinch of cloves

2 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth

1 cup milk (I used 1%)

Salt and pepper to taste

Batch of Curried Roasted Chickpeas

Directions:

Melt butter in a medium-sized dutch oven over medium-high heat.

Add onions and ginger and sauté until the onion is translucent.

Pour in the spices and sauté until fragrant.

Next, place the cauliflower in the pot and add the chicken stock.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 15 minuets or until the cauliflower is tender.

Remove from heat and puree using an immersion blender.

Return to heat and add milk and simmer until heated through.

Taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper.

Serve with crushed roasted chickpeas.

 

Curried Roasted Chickpeas: Serves 4

540 ml can of chickpeas

2 tbsp peanut oil

2 tsp sugar

2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp garam marsala

1 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp cumin

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°

Drain and rinse chickpeas and leave to dry for 10-15 minutes.

While chickpeas are draining place all the spices in a small bowl and stir to combine.

Roll chickpeas in paper towel to remove excess moisture.

Place dried chickpeas in a large bowl.

Drizzle the chickpeas with peanut oil and toss with salt, pepper and spices.

Place on a dry cookie sheet and bake for thirty minutes, shaking the pan every ten.

Remove from oven and leave to cool.