Monday, January 31, 2011

Girl's night at Murrieta's

It's been a while since all four of my girlfriends met up. Everyone has such busy schedules so it seems so difficult nowadays to even plan a dinner for an evening. With schedules permitting, we all decided to go to Murrieta's on a Monday evening (brilliant idea because Mondays are sometimes drab). I've never been to Murrieta's before (I did try to make reservations one night, but they got too busy so we went to Homefire instead). I've heard some good things about it but never actually tried it until tonight.

The atmosphere is quite sophisticated; high ceilings with pretty light fixtures and dim lighting. The far wall has stones all the way up to the ceiling. Table settings are typical of a fancy restaurant-white tablecloths with large wine glasses and place settings.

I scanned the menu and everything sounded very appealing to me; most of which was all seafood. Ever since my trip to PEI last summer, I crave seafood (not that I didn't before, but I just love it more!). I was going to try the Seafood curry, but one of my friends got it so I decided to get something else. For starters, I opted for the Westcoast Seafood Chowder with sweet potato, smoked bacon, arugula pesto. 

Westcoast Seafood Chowder

 For my main entree, I decided to get the Chicken & Chorizo Pappardelle with roasted tomato, zucchini, spinach, goat cheese, white wine butter sauce.
Chicken & chorizo pappardelle

To be honest, I wasn't really impressed with the Seafood Chowder because it was too starchy for my liking. I prefer seafood chowders with a tomato base-that way it doesn't get me full too fast and it isn't as rich. The entree, however was tasty. Although it was a bit too greasy for my liking (that's why I don't like eating out too often), the thick pasta noodles seemed homemade and the flavour was slightly unique. I tried my friend's seafood curry which was tasty, and one of my other girlfriend's homemade gnocchi which was delicious.

Overall, the dining experience at Murrieta's was a nice one because it sure livened up a somewhat drab Monday evening. If you ask me about the food-I might need to think twice about going because the food isn't cheap.

Verdict: slightly scrumptious

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Let's do Indian for Supper!

Everytime one of my girlfriend's and myself meet up, we always somehow end up eating Indian food. I like Indian food-well, specifically butter chicken, saag paneer (or palak paneer depending where you go) beef/lamb vindaloo, coconut rice and naan bread. Other than that, I'm not too fond of the exotic spices because it leaves my throat and stomach burning.

I've been meaning to try Zaika for quite some time now. They've been open since November 2009. I guess I don't really have a good excuse for not trying Zaika other than just simply forgetting. It's a 6 minute drive from my place and last summer, one of my girlfriend's asked me to go but I had to work till late. I figured Tuesday night was the night to go and my friend agreed to go!

A very sleek and contemporary atmosphere, this isn't your typical family friendly Indian restaurant. It's very modern with black upholestered booster seats, dim lighting and oversized lighting fixtures. I was seated right behind the large picture of an eye-talk about "eye-catching"(okay, I'll stop). But the atomosphere seemed more fitting for a younger, under 30 crowd. 

I forgot to take pictures before we ate because we were too busy chatting! Here's what we had as leftovers, baingan bhartha (l), vindaloo (c) and paneer (r) and basmati rice.
My friend and I couldn't decide if we should order off the menu, or go for the dinner buffet. Buffet's are usually the way to go, but I just can't eat that much Indian food at once. We scoped up the dinner buffet and it was lacking one of our favourite dishes (yes, I say "our" because we both love the same dishes!) saag/palak paneer (creamed spinach with homemade Indian cheese for those of you who aren't familiar with Indian food). We then decided to order off the menu so we can take leftovers home for lunch the next day. We opted for the palak paneer, beef vindaloo, and baingan bhartha (minced eggplant with spices). Each main dish came with basmati rice and naan bread. Since we ordered 3 mains, we were given a large dish of basmati rice, and 6 pieces of naan bread. When the portions came, it didn't seem like a lot, but once we started chowing down, I could feel my stomach filling up quickly as Indian cuisine is very creamy and oily. My friend and I both agreed on the dishes, that they weren't as good as New Asian Village. The vindaloo dish, which typically consists of a tomato/tamarind sauce that gives it a distinct tang, didn't even come close to the one at the Village. As we both said, it simply tasted like "Frank's Hot Sauce".... That being said, the palak paneer was tasty and so was the baingan bhartha (eggplant) dish. I also ordered mango lassi on the side to help with the heat (water is not good to have with Indian food because it just sits on top of the food in your stomach-so I've heard anyway).

I will come back to this restaurant to give the dinner buffet a try and since I got a $16 for $40 worth of cuisine, thanks to, I can make good use of my money.

Verdict: scrumptious

Monday, January 24, 2011

Macaron fail...

I've contemplated for quite some time now on when I will attempt to make the masterful macaron. I've googled several recipes, looked at A Canadian Foodie's attempt and mentioned the word 'macaron' so many times, even my boyfriend is tired of hearing it from me. So yesterday evening, I alloted time to make "the macaron".

I had visions in my head of how great it will turn out; or how horrible. Boy, was I correct on the latter one. How did Chuck Hughes from Food Network Canada make it look so darn easy? That's where I got the recipe from (I even watched the video). I know the most difficult part was the "macaronnage", so the professionals call it. It's the process of blending the meringue mixture with the ground almond flour (I was already running into problems grounding the flour because I didn't know how to use my new food processor properly..haha). You must be extremely careful though. Folding the meringue into the almond mixture can just cause it to just kaput. And so there was my problem. I was whipping the egg whites, but for some reason I didn't get nice, stiff peaks that I usually do. But I just went with it, because they eventually had more consistency. I then incorporated the hot syrup 1/4 cup at a time, and that's probably where I messed up;it turned all watery. After incorporating it with the ground almond mixture, I began to build some hope that these little things will turn out. Well, I was wrong. By the time I piped them on parchment and put them in the oven, they were spreading out like regular-sized cookies.

Surprisingly, they tasted very good. Even my boyfriend agreed that they were delicious, despite the fact that they were supposed to look like macarons. Instead, they tasted like those Italian amaretto cookies.

My attempt next time, which I'm not sure when this will be, I will have to make sure that the egg whites whip properly and that my almond mixture is more finely ground. My motto: you never until you try! And that's what I did.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

New Dumplings restaurant open-anyone tried it yet?

Has anyone tried Dumplings the Restaurant yet? I read about it in Avenue Edmonton , and checked out their website. They offer a variety of Asian Fusion food such as spring rolls, green onion cakes, rice bowls, bubble tea and of course dumplings. I'll have to put this on my "to try" list!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Michael Smith's new web series

I receive regular emails from Tourism PEI (ever since I went there last summer, I've been changed) and most recently, received one about Michael Smith's new online web series called Food Country. What a great feat on his site! I read about him wanting to do a series like this in the commemorative issue of TV Guide celebrating Food Network's 10 years presence in Canada. Instead of exposing part of his personal life on television (in case you didn't know, Chef at Home features his wife Rachael, and son Gabriel) this may be his new show on the Food Network. The series showcases the abundant food and seafood of Prince Edward Island, from farm to plate. I love it!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Making cheese on my own?!

My homemade Paneer!

Thanks to A Canadian Foodie (and Bal Arneson of The Spice Goddess on The Food Network), I made paneer cheese on my day off this past Monday and she was right. It was so easy! My cheese, however low fat, was a little too low in fat. I used 1% milk, but next time I make it I'll use homo milk or perhaps even cream instead, though I imagine it'll burn faster than milk given the much higher milk fat content. I boiled my 2 litres of milk at medium-low, and even though keeping a firm eye on it, still managed to slightly burn the bottom of the pot (I got a good workout from scrubbing the pan). If you are interested in making your own paneer,  Chef Michael Smith also has a recipe for paneer (from the Wilted Spinach with Indian Paneer cheese recipe):

Wilted Spinach with Indian Paneer Cheese
Yield: 4


Wilted Spinach with Indian Paneer Cheese
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon cumin seed
1 onion peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds baby spinach, washed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 disc paneer cheese

Indian Paneer Cheese

8 cups milk, full fat
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed


Wilted Spinach with Indian Paneer Cheese

1.Melt butter and add the cumin seed. Toast for a minute or two then add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft and fragrant. Add the spinach, season with salt and stir until wilted.
2.Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat and add paneer. Fry on one side until golden, about 2-3 minutes and then flip and brown the other side. Toss with the wilted spinach until the paneer breaks into bite-sized pieces.

Indian Paneer Cheese

1.Bring the milk and salt to a gentle simmer, just as it boils turn off the heat and stir in the lemon. Rest for 15 minutes or so. Fashion a cloth bag with multiple layers of cheesecloth, line a strainer with it and pour the mixture into the cloth. Tie it off and suspend it over a bowl to drain for several hours.
2.Untie the bag but keep the cheese loosely covered. Place it on a plate and cover with another plate. Place in your refrigerator and weigh down with a jar or two of something relatively heavy. Press for several hours or overnight.
3.Remove from the press and the bag and enjoy your own homemade cheese!

(courtesy of