Meatless Monday: Corn & Zucchini Cakes

I am such a sucker for fall! As much as I love the summer months in YEG there is something about September, it’s like a fresh start for the year. But what I love MOST about this time of year is the harvest; the markets are just packed with veggies, the colours so vibrant and fresh – I’m getting a major foodie boner just thinking about it!

Fall is the best time to think about cooking with local ingredients because there are a butt load of them! One of my favorite things to eat this time of year is corn, specifically Alberta Taber corn – which you can literally buy on the side of the road. I was trying to think of something unique to do with corn for a recent Gastropost Challenge but I wanted something  that tip-toed along the line between summer and fall flavours and that’s when I was inspired by a recipe from Damn Delicious. With a few tweaks my Corn & Zucchini Cakes were born.

Corn and Zucchini Cakes

Here’s what you need to whip of a batch of these crispy and sweet cakes tonight:

  • 2-3 Medium Zucchini, grated
  • 2½ Cups of fresh Taber corn (frozen or canned would work as well)
  • 4 Eggs, beaten
  • ¾ Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • ¼ Cup of Cheddar Cheese, grated (feta would also be delicious)
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 2-3 Heaping Tbsp of Fresh Basil
  • 2-3 Heaping Tbsp of Chives
  • Zest and Juice of Half a Lemon
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste (I go heavy on the pepper, I love black pepper and corn)
  • EVOO for Frying
  • Small Container of Ricotta

First things first, get your grated zucchini into a colander (placed in the sink) with a healthy pinch of salt. Stir, and let that hang out while you prep the rest of the ingredients.  Mix together all the ingredients EXPECT the zucchini, EVOO, and ricotta.

Heat a skillet coated with a thin layer of EVOO over medium heat.

Using a clean kitchen towel or some cheese cloth if you have that handy squeeze all of the liquid from the zucchini by placing the zucs onto the cloth and kind of ringing it out like you would a towel (or the neck of your next door neighbour who insists on beginning any and all construction projects at 7AM on a Saturday) – once you have most of the liquid out mix the zucchini into the batter.

Your EVOO should be hot by now (you’ll see ripples in the oil when it’s ready) so go ahead and drop blobs of the batter down to fry – I didn’t measure mine but I’d say each cake is about 1/3 cup of batter. Press down on them gently with a flipper and give them 2-3 minutes per side to brown up and heat through. Transfer the cakes to a plate lined with paper towel and begin the next batch (I did about 4 cakes at a time as that is all my pan would hold).

Your Corn & Zucchini Cakes are ready to eat! These make a great Meatless Monday option or a side to any dish you like. You could also make them smaller and serve them as appies. I topped mine with a spoonful of ricotta and a sprinkle of chives.

Corn and Zucchini Cakes2

Cheers!

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The Last of Summer Peachy Keen Salad Rolls & Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

I know it’s officially September which means that it’s time for warm, homey flavours; flavours that make you picture yellow leaves gently falling to the grass as the cool fall wind blows across your face and you snuggle in a little deeper to your cozy knit scarf…well FUCK THAT, that’s what I say!

I’m not letting summer go without a fight my friends! Hold on to these last few moments of summer bliss with all your might, smell the fresh cut grass, let your toes enjoy a few more days of freedom in your flip flops, and for the love of God eat as much summer fruit as you can fit in your face.

Too melodramatic? Perhaps. Regardless, here is my suggestion to help you use up some of that summer deliciousness:

The Last of Summer Peachy Keen Salad Rolls & Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

Makes 15 – 20 Rolls

Salad Rolls

*Not the best picture, they were very pretty in person

For the Peachy Keen Salad Rolls:

  • 1 Package of Rice Paper (find in the Asian food aisle of any grocery store)
  • 2-3 Peaches, Thinly Sliced
  • Mint Leaves
  • Basil Leaves
  • 2 Lg. Carrots, Shredded
  • ½ Head of Purple Cabbage,Thinly Sliced
  • 1 Red Pepper,Thinly Sliced
  • 1 Yellow Pepper, Thinly Sliced
  • 5 Green Onions, Sliced
  • Anything else you like! Cucumber, bean sprouts, avocado, radish, ANYTHING!

For the Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce:

  • 2 Heaping Tbsp on Peanut Butter (I like to use natural PB)
  • 2 Tbsp. Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • ½ tsp. Sesame Oil
  • Zest and Juice of ½ an Orange
  • 1 tsp. Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Honey
  • Sriracha – as much as you think you can handle

The easiest way to hammer out these salad rolls is to make a bit of an assembly line so first prep all the veggies; shred the carrot (on a box grater or with a food processor), thinly slice the peaches, purple cabbage, peppers, and green onions.

Once you have all the veggies ready to go get yourself a clean work surface/cutting board and lay out on that a clean dish towel. Fill a baking dish with warm (closer to hot) water and it’s GO TIME! Place a sheet of rice paper in the water and let it soak for 10-20 seconds, ensure all of the paper is submerged – you’ll feel it become pliable but don’t let it get too soft.

Lay your softened rice paper on the clean dish towel and begin stuffing! For these I started with 2 slices of peach alternating with a mint leaf and then a basil leaf (start the roll in the first 3rd of the paper – closest to you) then layer in the cabbage, carrots, peppers, and green onion (and any other ingredients you feel like tossing in).

Now you just have to roll these bastards and that will be the tricky part! You have to be a little gentle with rice paper but if it tears it’s not a biggie! So pull the end closet to you up and over the stuffings and then take the sides and fold then in towards the middle tucking in any stray toppings as you go – then you just roll the bundle away from you to complete the wrap – just like a burrito!

To make the Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce I just blend (or whisk) all ingredients until smooth – bada bing bada boom – you’re done!

Enjoy these immediately or store in the fridge for up to 2 days and don’t forget to savour these last few bites of summer because pumpkin spice season is now upon us!

Adventures in Sweden: Stockholm Food Tour

You know what I love more than eating and drinking in my beloved YEG; eating and drinking in my new favorite city, Stockholm! (Just jokes YEG, you’re still my fave!)

The Ol’ Ball & Chain and I had the opportunity to travel to Sweden for a wedding and although prior to our adventure neither of us had any particular inclination to visit Stockholm, it fit perfectly with our itinerary and boy am I glad it did!

Stockholm is an amazing city full of life, with vibrant cityscapes that highlight both the old and new of the area. I fell in love almost instantly! It also helped that we stayed in an incredible apartment in an amazing location – thanks again Johanna & Moa for hosting us!

Stockholm

Obviously I wasn’t about to go half way around the world and not dive head first into the food culture so  I looked into food tours in the area and purchased tickets with Food Tours Stockholm and let me tell you that food tour was one of the highlights of our trip! We were lucky enough to have THREE fabulous guides and we visited several incredible locations during the 4 hour walking tour. The only unfortunate thing is that I did not take very detailed notes while we were actually on the tour and now a few weeks later some of the details escape me but here is a recap of the day as I remember it.

Ostermalm Market

We started off meeting at Östermalm’s Food Hall, which is a very high end food market (and one of Jamie Oliver’s favourite places to shop) that is practically overflowing with artisan treats. In the market we visited Husmans Deli for a sampling of cheeses (although cheese for breakfast is a little unusual for Canadians, it’s actually very common in Sweden and Europe in general)

Cheese

and then moved on to Fågel og vilt specialisten, the markets bird and game specialists to try out some cured meats, including elk and reindeer, oh and a beer, because why not.

Meat

Our last stop at the market was a fresh fruit and veggie stand where we tried Swedish strawberries. I know what you’re thinking, “Swedish strawberries? So, normal, exactly the same as Canadian strawberries, right?”, WRONG! These strawberries grow in nearly 24 hours on sunlight (in the Northern region of Sweden) and therefore have incredible sweetness and…strawberry-ness. Trust me, they are unbelievable and now eating ‘normal’ strawberries just isn’t as good

FruitVeg

Next we wandered the streets of Östermalm until we arrived at our next destination Ingelsta Kalkon, which I’m told in English roughly translates to ‘happy turkey’. Turns out turkey is really taking off with the Swedes, who are notorious health fiends. During our visit we were treated to their take on Swedish meatballs made with ground turkey, delicious!

Meatball

Off we went again in search of our lunch venue, Restaurant K25 a very unique style of restaurant. K25 is like a hybrid of a food court and high end restaurant. Inside K25 there are several restaurants that serve up gourmet food cafeteria style for dine-in or take away. Our lunch was a very traditional plate of saffron seafood soup (LOADED with a variety of seafood), an open faced shrimp sandwich with boiled egg, delicious gravlax, boiled potatoes in béchamel (the Swedes love them some béchamel!), and a glass of wine or beer to wash it all down with!

Lunch

This also provided us a great opportunity to chat a little more with one of our guides, Gunilla Blixt, a chef, accomplished food writer, and all around lovely human being. Gunilla told us all about traditional Swedish foods and our new favorite tradition, fika, which is basically a coffee break that can occur at any time simply because you want to have a break or a visit with friends – how cool is that!

After an incredible (and filling) lunch we continued our tour, walking through the bustling city streets and stopping to wander through markets, historical squares, and to discuss some of Stockholm’s landmarks. We entered another food hall, this one I can’t recall the name of but we stopped in at a speciality store called P&B Delikatesser to try their Cloudberry Jam and check out their incredible assortment of oil, spices, and liquorice (turns out black liquorice is a big deal in Sweden, who knew?!). After walking a little further we soon made it to our next destination, Chokladfabriken. Chokladfabriken is a bakery/chocolate shop/ice cream bar so needless to say it smelled heavenly and on a 27 degree day we happily devoured some of their delicious ice cream (every single flavour had an element of chocolate in it (they’re famous for their chocolate), think white chocolate raspberry ice cream…oh yeah!).

Dessert

You might think at this point that the tour would wrap up and we could go on our merry way, but you would be wrong, AGAIN! Man, twice in one blog post…  how embarrassing for you!

We forged on with full bellies towards the streets of the old town, Galma Stan, where the streets are cobblestone and narrow and lined with cafes and bars just begging you join them for fika. Our first stop in Galma Stan was a candy factory called, Polkapojkarna famous for its peppermint candy. Apparently candy canes or peppermint sticks were invented in Sweden by a woman trying to help her ill daughter feel better (don’t quote me on these details OK, if you want to know the whole story you’ll have to hop on a plane to Stockholm and take the tour yourself!). And at Polkapojkarna the candies are still made the traditional way – by hand. Although, now they make a variety of flavours, including the one we got to try: American Cola (ironic?).

Candy

Our final location brought us to a beautiful square in the heart of Galma Stan where a local musician was playing a beautiful piece of music on a keyboard set up just under a lush chestnut tree. Under Kastanjen (literally Under the Chestnut Tree) was our last stop where we were invited in for an afternoon fika. We enjoyed coffee, tea, and some pastries as we recapped our day with the guides and other tourist and although we were totally stuffed we couldn’t help but start thinking about where we might want to go for dinner…and that is how you know you have a severe and likely irreversible addiction to/passion for food.

 Under_kastanjen_i_Gamla_Stan_i_Stockholm_i_Sverige

Thank you again to Food Tours Stockholm for a truly memorable day! I am now deeply in love with Stockholm and all of its’ food offerings!

Cheers!

Cooking for Cocktail’s Must Have Kitchen Gadgets

Hello Treasured Readers (Mom),

My apologies for my hiatus! I have been off travelling the world and eating ALL of the béchamel. For the past couple of weeks the Ol’ Ball and Chain and I have been enjoying the sights, sounds, and flavours of Sweden (Stockholm and Gothenburg) and Iceland (Reykjavík). Now believe me I have A LOT to tell you about all of the deliciousness that befell me during this time but in the midst of my jet lag I have not yet found the energy to write a blog that captures the magnitude of the noms that were had SO in the meantime I have a bit of a musing for you…

I had a conversation with a friend the other day about the frustrations of cooking and all of the tools necessary to prepare a meal – grinders, slicers/dicers, strawberry hullers etc. and I thought to myself, “well that’s just bullshit!”. To make tasty, easy, beautiful food you really don’t need all these fancy bells and whistles. There are some kitchen basics (pots, pans, sharp knives) and some handy electronic tools that really make life easier (blender, food processor, slow cooker) but a lot of the other kitchen gadgets although kinda cool are really just toys to play with in kitchen. Here are my ‘Must-Haves’ when it comes to kitchen gadgets:

  • Microplane to zest citrus – I would say I use my Mircoplane at least once a week, citrus zest adds amazing flavour to food and cocktails and you can use the zest as a fancy garish.

microplane-zester-grater-40020

  • Citrus Juicer – I absolutely love this gadget! You can get a crap ton of juice out of your citrus this way and you’re not trying to capture seeds in your hands (and this will save your life if, God forbid, you have a paper cut when you go to squeeze a lemon!).

citrus-juicer

  • Garlic Press – I hate when my hands smell like garlic for 17 days after cooking with it so I love my garlic press. Invest in a really good one and you don’t even have to peel the garlic just pop the whole clove into the press and away you go!

Garlic pres

Now I know there are some folks out there who love them some kitchen gadgets, in which case check out this article on the 7 Best New Kitchen Gadgets and please let me know how often you plan to use your “Yoker” in the next 3 months.

Cheers!

The Unofficial Edmonton Downtown Patio Guide Part III, Downtown

It’s finally Friday, and you know what that means…PATIO DRANKS!

For the third and final installment of the Unofficial Edmonton Downtown Patio Guide I take you through the one and only YEGDT. I classify ‘downtown’ as anything East of 109 Street until you hit Chinatown and/or you start to feel like you probably should have packed your pepper spray. So much has changed in the downtown and it has been so cool to watch our downtown grow and thrive. As of late there is no shortage of amazing patios to enjoy and there are so many options for patio dining downtown, all kinds of cuisines and styles.

Don’t forget to check out the Downtown Edmonton Community League for all the exciting goings on this summer!

I hope you’ve enjoyed all the patio goodness and perhaps even found some new options for the beautiful summer months ahead. For your convenience I have compiled ALL of the patios listed in this series into one handy document. The Unofficial Edmonton Downtown Patio Guide (you’re welcome!). But first, here we are with the (Unofficial) Downtown Area Patio Guide!

Downtown Edmonton

The Downtown Area:

Tres Carnales

If you are lucky enough to score a spot of the Tres Carnales patio then you stay there ALL night! ALL NIGHT!

Blue Plate Diner

I think the Blue Plate is practically an institution on 104 Street and its patio is extra special if you can get a table during the City Market on Saturdays – that is some good brunchin’!

Kelly’s 

This is another notable patio on 104 Street that boasts a variety of weekly drink specials and a casual pub atmosphere.

Tzin

Tzin has a small outdoor space but it is incredible if you can swing it, al fresco dining at its best!

The Marc

The Marc is one of my favorite places to go for a ‘fancy’ dinner and enjoying a steak frites on their adorable patio makes it taste even better!

Sabor Divino/Bodega Wine and Tapas Bar

This isn’t so much of a patio as it is an open air dining kind of thing. Bodega is the small lounge area at the front of the Sabor space; it has doors that open onto the street as well as a vast menu of amazing tapas.

The Common

I seriously love the Common’s patio, it’s a great space with great food and service; you can’t go wrong! Oh, and if you haven’t tried their chicken and waffles you better get with the program!

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock’s is a downtown staple in the summer months, that patio is almost always full so cut off work early and get yourself a spot!

Tavern 1903

This is a great spot right in the heart of downtown; love the space and the cocktail list!

Allegro

Unfortunately, I’ve never actually eaten on the Allegro patio so I can’t really speak to how amazing it is but it sure looks great during the summer months and is another one I’m going to make of point of visiting soon.

The Free Press Bistro

This is another patio I have yet to visit but it seems like they would make a mean sammie. Although their proximity to the Greyhound stop gives my pause for concern.

Select

I’ve visited Select a couple of times over the last year or so but I have yet to take their patio for a test drive, I’ll put it on the list.

Confederation Lounge at the Hotel Mac

I love this place! The patio has one of the most amazing views of Edmonton and you don’t have to spend a fortune, I often go and just enjoy a glass of wine and the view.

Cask & Barrel

The neighbourhood feel of Cask & Barrel is what has always kept me coming back and their patio is a great place to grab a drink and a light bite after the City Market.

Three Bananas in Churchill Square

I haven’t hung out at the Three Bananas for ages but I hear they make a great pizza and who wouldn’t love being right in the middle of all the action in Churchill Square.

Hundred Bar and Kitchen

This is a great patio right in the thick of it, just off Rice Howard Way. The patio is always bumping with hip beats AND they have a killer Ladies Night special on Thursdays.

Craft Rooftop

The newly opened Craft Rooftop Patio will be the place to be this summer! It’s a great space surrounded by all the amazingness that is the #yegdt.

The PINT

The ever popular PINT patio continues to be an awesome spot to catch some rays, perhaps a Stanley cup playoffs game, and a cold beer.

Central Social Hall

I love the chill vibe Central has during the day (although nighttime is a different story!) and the relaxed patio space. I also think their Social Hour special is a damn good deal.

The Parlour Italian Kitchen & Bar

One of the Century Groups newer concepts is the very trendy Parlour. I have yet to actually see their patio but I know it’s there and I’ve heard it’s delightful.

Mercer Tavern

Yes, I know Mercer doesn’t really have a patio but they do have a great open air feel in the summer time when they open up all their windows and that’s good enough for me!

The Riverside Bistro at the Courtyard Marriott

Oh I hesitate with this one, I have gone a couple of times and although it is one of the best views in the city the food is really not up to par. I would recommend it for drinks only on a sunny day.

Cheers!

The Unofficial Edmonton Downtown Patio Guide Part II, Oliver

The next up on the docket for the Unofficial Edmonton Downtown Patio Guide is the beautiful Oliver community.

I kind of define Oliver as the area spanning from 118 Street to 109 Street  and 104 Avenue to…well the river basically. Let me tell you, this area is PACKED with super cool outdoor spaces. There is a patio for every mood in this neck of the woods, whether you are looking for an intimate date night or a lively evening of sweet beats (I don’t know what “sweet beats” are but it sounds cool no?) you’ll find your patio soul mate in Oliver.

But wait! There’s more! Coming up on the blog later this week, the third and final installment of the Unofficial Edmonton Downtown Patio Guide is none other than the exciting Downtown community, and if you missed it check out the 124 Street Patio Guide.

Now hold on to your hats you sun basking, back porch lemonade guzzling, patio lovers – here we go!

Oliver

The Oliver Area:

Il Pasticcio Trattoria

I love that this patio is a little off the beaten path, there’s still lots of hustle with Victoria Promenade just up the street but it’s got a nice low key kind of vibe. A great place to have a glass of wine…or two.

Beer Revolution

This is kind of a no brainer, awesome sunny patio and beer.

Hudsons Canadian Tap House Downtown

This is actually a really lovely patio with good foliage to keep the busy 104 Ave traffic out of sight and out of mind. If you’re looking for a livelier crowd then head over on Friday or Saturday evening.

Cibo

Cibo serves up amazing Italian eats and they have a great courtyard space dotted with a few tables from which you can enjoy a leisurely meal or a quick lunch.

Iconoclast Koffiehuis

In fairness this is probably less of a patio and more of an open air kind of space but it’s a great place to enjoy an unreal cappuccino and some friendly conversation.

Earls Tin Palace

Love it or hate it, Earls is a great standby and with their newly renovated patio a great place to enjoy a cocktail on a sunny summer afternoon.

Japonais Bistro

The Japonais patio is one I’ve often overlooked but after recently having lunch there with a girlfriend I think it is highly recommendable! It gets great sun and the sushi is da bomb!

Famoso Jasper Ave

This is a great covered and heated patio to check out on an overcast kind of evening when you’d still like to get some fresh air but not bear the elements. And come on, Famoso is a crowd pleaser!

Elm Cafe

Such a great place to grab a tasty breakfast or lunch and a kick ass cuppa joe! I love the chill vibe of this patio.

Co Co Di

Right on Jasper Ave, this patio is always bumping and a great place to people watch while smoking some herbal shisha (and don’t forget to order my favorite hommus with beef and pine nuts).

Louisiana Purchase

This is one of the few places to go in Edmonton when you’re having a Cajun craving and although I’ve never eaten on the patio it looks like a great place to enjoy lunch or dinner.

Indian Fusion

Those who know me know that this is one of the first places I’ll suggest when the “where should we go for dinner” question arises. This is my favorite Indian place in town and they have a great casual patio space on which you can enjoy the BEST butter chicken and coconut naan.

Sicilian PK

I’m always surprised to drive by the Sicilian PK patio and see tables available! This is an underrated patio in my humble opinion; it’s a great spot to enjoy some sunshine and a limoncello.

JOEY Jasper

Another great standby, I have spent many Saturday afternoons (often turning into evenings) enjoying Super Stoked Vodka Cokes on this patio.

Cactus Club

I have to give the new kids on the block credit; I love the year round patio! It’s great to get to enjoy that patio feel even when the weather isn’t cooperating.

Zuppa

This is one of Grandin’s hidden gems. It’s a  great place to grab a quick lunch or hang out for a casual dinner. I love their Mediterranean salad and their focaccia bread is to die for!

Cheers!

The Unofficial Edmonton Downtown Patio Guide Part I, 124 Street

One of my favorite things about Edmontonians is our love for dining outdoors. Even when conditions are less than favourable you’ll see patios packed with folks, we are clearly a hearty breed! And we sure are lucky because there are some amazing patios and open air dining options in Edmonton for us to chose from.

On the blog in the coming week I’ll have a three part series highlighting all/most of the notable patios in the greater yegdt area (holla at me if there are any I forgot!). For the first installment we’ll start off in my hood, the beautiful and booming 124 Street. I’ve loved watching 124 Street start to turn into one of the ‘up and coming’ neighborhoods in Edmonton. If it’s not somewhere you’ve visit recently I highly recommend you stop by! Also, check out the 124 Street website for information about all the great business and restaurants (even ones without patios) in the area.

124st

Without further ado here is the Unofficial Downtown Patio Guide Part I, 124 Street.

The 124 Street Area Patios:

Café Tiramisu

The patio is located just off the bustling 124 Street, stop in for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack. And check out their awesome specials, Tuesday is BOGO pizza and $5 draught beer.

Duchess

Patio may not be the right word to describe the outdoor eating area at the Duchess but I think it’s worth honorable mention. Enjoy your latte and croissant at one of the coveted bistro tables just outside the store front.

The Dish’s Secret Garden Patio

I almost don’t want to include this amazing patio space for fear that the secret will be out and then I won’t be able to get a table on the Dish’s amazing Secret Garden Patio. This is hands down the best patio for a relaxing evening with friends, it’s beautifully decorated with hanging flower baskets and the food is always perfect.

Dahlia’s Mediterrian Bistro

Enjoy a delicious shawarma on Dahlia’s sunny patio, open for lunch, coffee, and wine.

Original Joe’s

Affectionately known as OJ’s around my household, this is one of my go-to patios. It’s a cozy space and I love the addition of heaters for the chillier summer nights.

Violino Ristorante

Sadly I’ve never actually eaten on Violino’s patio but I’m 100% certain it would be worth a trip to visit “Edmonton’s only outdoor pizza oven”, situated right smack dab in the middle of the outdoor dining space.

The Manor Casual Bistro

Another patio I have yet to dine on but with its discreet locale I imagine it would be a peaceful place to grab a casual lunch/brunch or nice dinner.

Urban Diner

The Urban Diner on 124 Street is one of my favorite breakfast spots (I LOVE the Diner Hash) and when the patio is up and running in the summer months I just can’t stay away! They’re also open for lunch and dinner.

Cococo Chocolatiers

I think this is a bit of a hidden gem even though it’s right on the corner of 124 Street and Jasper Ave it’s just far enough removed that you almost don’t notice their beautiful patio set up. Stop by and enjoy a chocolaty treat or one of my faves, an affogato (delicious gelato dosed with a shot of hot espresso).

The Bothy

The Bothy patio is a great spot to have some wine and cheese or test out a scotch from their vast selection.

Vi’s for Pie

OK so Vi’s isn’t exactly on or around 124 Street BUT this Glenora gem has such a cute and sunny patio that I just couldn’t leave them out! It’s a great place to enjoy a sweet treat and a sunset.

Cheers!