Monday, December 26, 2011

#29: red & green - December 2011

Our holiday themed red & green cookoff was held on the 14th of December at Flatland. The sad part of this cookoff was that it was the last one that Jeff Downer would be able to attend for at least a year, as he is in Boston for photography as of the 23rd. Thus, he wanted to host and of course compete before leaving town. Also notable that Iain was finally in town and not busy on cookoff night, and was thrilled to be able to attend. The wine was flowing and everyone was in good holiday spirits.

Nina: "please your beans with beets" bean & mushroom sauté with beet-cashew butter and spinach-oregano tofu cream, topped with sesame seeds & parsley
mushroom-bean sauté
Laryssa: "Christmas in Japan" red rice (beet-dyed) sushi with asparagus, yam & beet served on a bed of wasabi avocado
red rice sushi
Jen: "pesto change-o" campari tomato halves topped with pesto, mozza, and onions & mushrooms fried in port
broiled tomato pizzas
Tim: "that's my rich substance!" cilantro polenta with red bean tomato sauce, fried green onion, and cilantro lime zest
cilantro polenta
Malloreigh: "gnocchi di rosso e verde della inverno" beet and basil gnocchi with roasted tomato sauce, button mushrooms, and basil chiffonade garnish
homemade gnocchi
Jeff D: "Pacman piroshki" beet buns stuffed with potato, carrot, sage & leek, served with a dill-lemon mayo dipping sauce
Pacman piroshki
Justine: "stoplight pudding" chocolate pudding with cherries and mint
cherry-mint chocolate pudding
Amanda: "triangle tiredness" chocolate cranberry tarts with basil, almond, and sea salt in a gluten-free pastry
chocolate-cranberry tarts

Justine competed for the first time. Also in attendance were Iain, Dave, two friends of Amanda's & Laryssa's whose names I forget, and Kaylie towards the end of things.

seconds: Jeff
presentation: Jen
colour: Laryssa
creativity: Jeff
overall favourite: Malloreigh/Jeff

overall winner: Jeff D

best name: (unscored category) Amanda

candles taken from a set that said 'MERRY CHRISTMAS'
Jeff's piroshki on the cooling rack, with a compass for some reason

Sunday, November 27, 2011

#28: cooking with tea - November 2011

Tea cookoff was held on the 22nd of November at Veronica's lovely Kitsilano apartment. Definitely one of the nicer kitchens most of us have had the chance to use for cookoff purposes. Her husband Frederic was quite hospitable as well, gathering dishes, pouring wine for everyone, making sure we could find things we needed. We had a fair number of people in the house, too, 17 or 18 I think, and more than enough wine to make sure everyone was very happy.

Amanda: "Chinese garden in spring" oolong-smoked tofu and steeped dandelion greens in a sweet broth with candied tea leaves and orange rind
Chinese garden in spring
Jen: "AHH! CHAMOMILE!" creamy potato leek chamomile soup with nutmeg sour cream
Kate: "green stuff" kale, pear, nettles and cilantro blended with green tea and lemon
green stuff
Malloreigh: "miso teabagged" green tea miso broth with shiitake mushrooms, green beans, bok choy, and rooibos-poached tofu
miso teabagged
Laryssa: "teapots de crème" coconut-pumpkin chai custard topped with chai apricots & cranberries and citrus-candied almonds
coconut-pumpkin chai custard
Sarah: "cuppa cake" earl grey spelt cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting
cuppa cake
Dan: "apple mountain pie" coconut chai apple pie with gingerbread black tea ice cream, garnished with star anise
apple mountain pie
Veronica: "banana blue-tea" banana rooibos raw ice cream with blueberry rooibos compote
banana blue-tea

Both Sarah and Kate were competing for the first time. Also in attendance were Jeff Downer, Justine, Frederic, Yaara, Marina, Dan's roommate Brandy, and three other friends of Dan's whose names I can't recall.

seconds: Jen
presentation: Amanda
creativity: Amanda/Kate/Dan
tea-nacity: Dan
overall: Jen

overall winner: Jen

we also forgot to vote for the best name category, so maybe leave your favourite dish name in the comments!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

#27: beets - October 2011

The Beet-Off was held at Yaara & Adriana's house near Oak and Broadway on the 19th of October. It was rainy and cold so being in their small, homey living room with wine & music was very cosy, although the awkwardly-shaped kitchen made it good that not many people needed to actually cook their dishes. This was a smaller cookoff, only nine people in attendance.

Geoff: "beet 3-way" beet nachos — a beet chip topped with beet & tomato salsa, beet chutney, and shredded coconut
beet nachos
Adriana: "b33t str33t manif3st0" spinach, roasted marinated beet & portobello mushroom in balsamic dressing with port sauce
portobello-beet salad
Veronica: "oh my darling, you are sinful..." roasted beet, garlic, & cream cheese in a gluten free peppered pastry, topped with balsamic reduction
savoury beet tart
Jen: "bordello of beet" red velvet spelt & beet cupcakes with a blackberry centre, topped with cream cheese icing and a fresh blackberry
bordello of beet
Emilie: "beet bolognese" beet & portobello mushroom pasta sauce over buckwheat pasta with lemon
beet bolognese
Yaara: "real men eat pink hummus" beet & garlic hummus with golden and red beet chips
real men eat pink hummus
Marina: "come on baby, beet me!" gluten-free cupcake with beet purée and beet juice icing
gluten-free beet cakes

Also in attendance were Jeff Z and Sarah. Geoff, a friend of Adriana's, and Emilie, a friend of Amanda's, both competed for the first time.

seconds: Veronica
presentation: Adriana
creativity: Geoff
beetiness: Emilie
overall favourite: Veronica

overall winner: Veronica

best name: (unscored category) Yaara

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

#26: foods you used to hate - September 2011

Former least favourite foods cookoff was held at Blühaus (Jen & Jeff's) on the 15th of September. It was beginning to feel like fall, with earlier sunsets and rainy days, so everyone was pleased to be inside with lots of food and wine.

Amanda: "I dunno, gimme a sec... fuck!" salt & pepper sautéed asparagus with lemon, in a parsley-blackberry dipping sauce
lemon-sautéed asparagus
Dave & Anya: "wet fungus" steamed kale & spinach salad with garlic, portobello mushrooms, apples, basil, pumpkin seeds and almonds
warm kale & spinach salad
Jen: "I cuss, you cuss" asparagus & oyster mushroom with applewood smoked salt & roasted garlic cream cheese in a filo pastry tart
asparagus & oyster mushroom pastry
Adriana "I ♥ ur sw33t yamz" sweet potato & yam baked with soy cheese, caramelized apples, cardamom, and green olives
sweet potato pie
Yaara: "broccoli squish with pink stuff on top" broccoli-tahini cheesy casserole with strawberry gravy
cheesy broccoli-tahini casserole
Jeff D: "hummingbird's breast & chrochrownds" grits with sweet & savoury collard greens featuring shiitake & portobello mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, raisins, and onions
bits & grits
Veronica: "what the fuck is a chickpea?" hummus quesadilla with maple garlic black beans, roasted green pepper, and chipotle sour cream
hummus quesadilla
Marina: "better than sex tarts" chocolate peanut butter filling in a gluten-free pretzel crust
chocolate peanut butter tarts

Also in attendance were Jeff Z, Jesse, Krystyna, Sarah, Onur, Dan, Laryssa, and Nina.

creativity: Yaara
seconds: Jen
presentation: Amanda
overall favourite: Adriana

overall winner: Adriana

best name: (unscored category) Dave & Anya

Sunday, September 4, 2011

#25: seasonal local fruit - August 2011

Seasonal fruit cookoff was held on the 29th of August at Mischief Manor (Mal & Kaylie's) shortly before they vacate the place. This cookoff was also gluten-free. Malloreigh wanted to host before they moved out, but did concede that their place is really too small (I think we were all expecting a smaller cookoff than it turned out to be). Nevertheless, we all ate loads of delicious food and polished off several bottles of wine. And although we missed Amanda at this cookoff, it was sort of a good thing she didn't come because there were nuts abound!

Malloreigh: "wild sage advice" savoury strawberry-balsamic red onion tart with baked tofu and topped with cherry sage jam
savoury strawberry tart
Jen: "picokanagan de gallo" nectarine, blueberry & tomato salsa with cilantro & lime basil, served with chili-cornmeal crusted fried tofu and garnished with pea shoots
crispy fried tofu and fruit salsa
Bronwen: "sex on the peach tacos" roasted peaches, pico de gallo, cashew cream & lime in a corn tortilla
sex on the peach tacos
Kaylie: "I love Canadian melons" potato croquette atop fig jam served with watermelon and cucumber-fennel salad, topped with basil oil
I love Canadian melons
Arinn: "she taste so good" cherry-almond mini pies
she's my cherry pie
Veronica: "bloody drunken pears" cinnamon poached pears in sour cherry & blueberry sauce, topped with cashew cream
bloody drunken pears
Marina: "berry sinful crispy devils" chocolate rice krispie squares with fresh blackberries & strawberries
chocolate rice krispie squares
Jeff Z: "nebulous strawberry soup" strawberry, red wine, and wine vinegar soup with sour cream and mint
nebulous strawberry soup

Also in attendance were Yaara, Adriana, George, Shawna, Jeff D, and Janna.

seconds: Malloreigh
presentation: Jen
creativity: Malloreigh
best use of ingredient: Malloreigh/Jeff
overall: Bronwen

overall winner: Malloreigh/Bronwen

best name: (unscored category) Bronwen

Monday, July 18, 2011

recipe: sweet balsamic & sage grilled peaches

sweet balsamic grilled white peaches
As usual, I tossed this together without really checking the proportions so all measurements are approximate.

In addition to the recipe ingredients below, you will also need:
-ripe but not overly soft white peaches (the quantities below will make enough for about 6 peaches)
-3 or 4 chopped sage leaves, plus whole leaves for garnish
-1 tbsp lemon zest

balsamic glaze:
-1 cup balsamic vinegar
-3 or 4 tbsp agave nectar
-1 tbsp vanilla
-1/4 cup water

Whisk everything together, tasting to check if it's too sweet or thin (add more agave if you want it thicker, add more water & balsamic if it's too sweet). Re-whisk it before using.

crème fraîche:
-1/2 cup tofu sour cream
-2 tbsp soy creamer
-1-2 tbsp soy cream cheese
-1 tbsp agave nectar
-1 tsp lemon juice
-1/2 tsp arrowroot powder

Whisk the creamer, lemon juice, and arrowroot powder together, then add everything else. If it's too runny, add a bit more cream cheese. If it's too thick, add a bit more creamer. Refrigerate the mixture at least half an hour, and re-whisk it before using.
peaches on the grill
Slice all the peaches in half lengthwise and remove the stone. Generously brush the glaze over all sides and place them face-down on a hot grill. Grill them about 10 minutes, until they are warm throughout and relatively soft. After taking them off the grill, brush them again with glaze and put about a tablespoon of the crème fraîche in each hole from the stone. Sprinkle with lemon zest and chopped sage and add the garnish leaf.
These can be served as a dessert, but I think they would also be good as a side for a spicy or smoky protein dish.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

#24: barbecue - July 2011

BBQ cookoff was held on the 12th of June at Nina's beautiful house in Mt. Pleasant. We had two grills set up so that it wouldn't take all night to cook everything, and sat at the big wooden table on the deck. It was clear and warm until after 10, when it started raining lightly, but we had all finished serving by then. There were a number of attendants who were not competing, so the booze was plentiful: two giant bottles of red wine plus a case of beer and a giant bottle of champagne! Nina and Mart made several bowls of delicious sangria and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely. If only all cookoffs could be held outside.

Amanda: "psychedelic cattails" bannock wrapped around spiced mango, served with roasted red pepper sauce
spiced mango wrapped in bannock
Malloreigh: "char siu me" sticky rice and char siu seitan cooked in banana leaves, served with chive buds
char siu seitan & sticky rice
Laryssa: "summer fruit skewers" seitan, onion, garlic & nectarine in bbq sauce, rolled in cornflake crumbs
summer fruit skewers
Tim: "jerking seitan's cookoff" seitan jerky smoked with hickory and red wine
seitan jerky
Jen: "honeyed sage advice" agave-balsamic glazed white peaches with crème fraîche, lemon, and sage
sweet balsamic grilled white peaches
Jeff D: "Boston butt podunk" pulled pork-style sandwiches made with jackfruit, sauerkraut, root beer, onion, and pepper
pulled pork style jackfruit sandwiches
Yaara: "skewed reality" beer & chipotle-marinated skewers of tofu, tempeh, and shiitake mushrooms in a maple bbq sauce
beer & chipotle marinated skewers
Nina: "the Eurasian singe" peri-peri tofu and sesame mango salsa on a ginger-garlic crostini, topped with tahini sauce
sesame mango salsa & peri-peri tofu

Also in attendance were Mart, Jeff Z, Sarah, Tim's friend Eliot, Adriana, Luc, Dan, and a couple of other friends who weren't there the whole time and thus did not participate in the voting.

seconds: Jeff
presentation: Malloreigh/Jen
creativity: Jeff
best use of theme: Laryssa/Yaara
overall favourite: Jen/Jeff

overall winner: Jeff

best name: (unscored category) Tim

sticks of bannock
Amanda's entry on the grill.
peaches on the grill
Jen's entry on the grill.
beer & sangria
Sangria. What a beautiful evening.