Monday, November 24, 2014

Solyanka

The photo caught my eye in last week's Globe, along with the description:  "a soup that eats like a sandwich."

 

When I read the ingredients, I was skeptical.

 

Smoked meat and pickle soup? Absolutely delicious, especially with the dollop of sour cream and dressing of dill.

 

Definitely tastes better once it has time to sit. 

 

The recipe is from Lucy Waverman, who first tried  the soup on a cold winter's day in St. Petersburg, Russia.  Hearty enough for a cold and blustery day!

 

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 oz (75 g) pancetta, chopped
3 1/2 oz (100 g) chorizo, chopped
4 oz (115 g) smoked meat, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
6 cups beef or chicken stock
1 tsp allspice berries
1 tbsp peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 large potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
3 large pickled cucumbers, finely chopped
1/2 cup pickle brine
2 tsp capers, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Garnish
1/2 large lemon, sliced
2 tbsp chopped dill
1/3 cup sour cream or more to taste

 

Method

Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta, chorizo and smoked meat. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes or until the meat begins to produce fat. Add onion and carrot and sauté for 2 minutes or until tender. Remove meat and vegetables to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Discard fat.
Place stock into a large pot over medium heat. Put allspice, peppercorn and bay leaf into a tea egg or tie together in cheese cloth to form a pouch and place in stock. Add the cubed potato, tomato paste and paprika. Bring to boil and then simmer for 5 minutes over medium heat. Stir in sautéed meats, onions and carrots, then add pickles, brine and capers. Simmer soup for 15 minutes or until all vegetables are tender. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for several hours or overnight to blend the flavours. Taste for seasoning, adding salt if needed and plenty of black pepper. Remove the bag of spices.

Serve, reheated, with a thin slice of lemon, chopped dill and a dollop of sour cream in every bowl. Taste for seasoning again.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Joons


We took Alex and Penny out to celebrate his birthday, offering to treat at the restaurant of their choice. That's how Rob and I ended up at Joons in Koreatown.

I've sat at cooking tables before, but this is the first time I've tried Dak Galbi, a tasty marinated chicken dish that is prepared by the waitstaff at your table. A pungent mix of salty, spicy, sweet, cooked and fresh, crunchy and soft, hot and cold. Surprisingly for an Asian dish, mozarella cheese is added just before you dip your chopsticks in. Tasty!

Penny ordered the vegetarian bimimbap, which arrived in a very warm bowl that continued to cook ingredients once it was at the table. Very colourful.

The restaurant has mixed reviews on yelp, but our experience was great! Most of the other diners were Korean, and the meal was definitely value-priced.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Cocktails

I raided the liquor cabinet for Rob's 60th and propped a copy of  'Old Man Drinks' at the bar, but it turned out the most popular cocktails were the most popular cocktails. Namely, martinis, gin and tonics, mohitos, and white wine spritzers.

We also had ingredients on hand for classics like Manhattans, Whiskey Sours, and even Gin and Milk.  I never did get around to trying the Monkey Gland, but love the backstory:
They say W.B. Yeats had monkey glands implanted in his scrotum when he was an old man, to help restore his sexual potency. That revolutionary procedure, which was all the rage in the 1920s, provided the inspiration for this cocktail, first mixed up by Harry MacElhone, owner of Harry's Bar in New York and Paris. The Washington Post pronounced it the smash hit of the 1923 tourist season, and it was later adjudged to be one of the quintessential cocktails of the Prohibition era. No representations are implied regarding this drinks - ahem - rejuvenating powers, although it is a fact that Yeats got his groove back soon after undergoing the procedure.

The Old Fashioned "may be the quintessential old man drink. It's so old, it was being called old-fashioned back in 1890. It's so old, one of the glasses we drink cocktails in is named after it. It's so old, some scholars believe it was the first drink to be called a cocktail."
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I must get myself a decent muddler so I can try some of these at home.

We also had some absinthe, and near the end of the night some of us were pouring Green Fairies, although I don't think we had quite the same knack as some famous devotees, well practised in the art.

I was secretly hoping to use up some of the liqueurs and mixers that get picked up for parties and never get quite finished, but those bottles came home again, to be poured into coffees and on top of ice cream for the coming holiday season.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Wasn't that a party!

Rob 60? Unbelievable! After a bit of arm-twisting I persuaded Rob into having a party to celebrate. What a fabulous time! It turned out Alex and Penny's party room was available, a fabulous space with comfortable leather couches, a billiard table, shuffleboard, and a great bar.  All of Rob's siblings & their spouses were able to make it: Gord & Linda from Oakville; Brenda and Bill from Caledon; Lois and Mark from Matewatchen, and Sheila from Victoria BC.  Sheila's coming was truly a surprise, you could tell from Rob's reaction it took a millisecond to sink in that yes, that was Sheila coming through the door. Kathy, Al, my Mom, Penny's mom, Jeff, Sue. And nieces (Tina and Sarah) and nephews (Spencer and Ryan). Liz and Darcy. Ross and Virginia. Friends from BPYC, too... Grace, Kaarina, Dick, Maureen, Annika, Dino, Wendy and Raymond. It was wonderful to see everyone together enjoying each others' company.

There was lots of food (definitely too much, so many leftovers!) and copious cocktails (just a little too much), and a red velvet cake with cream cheese.

Best of all though, were the toasts. People shared funny stories and happy memories about Rob. And rather than just listening, Rob responded, so it was more like a mutual reminiscence. A great celebration for a wonderful person, husband, father & friend!