Low Fat Whole Wheat Yogurt Pancakes

>> Wednesday, March 30, 2011



Lately I’ve been on a breakfast kick. Especially on the weekends when I have a bit more time to prep my breakfast, then I sit back with a nice cup of americano and enjoy each and every bite of it. Nothing is quite like starting out the day right with something special and to me pancakes are one of those things.

Pancakes have always been special to me. Growing up in a Chinese Canadian home, pancakes weren’t exactly served all the time. It wasn’t until I grew a bit older and started introducing my parents to North American foods did they start embracing french toast or muffins in the morning, but even then it was never considered a true breakfast, but more so of a snack, a pre-breakfast prior to the real deal.

So when I finally got the chance to decide on what my daily meals were going to be, which is still very much Chinese influenced, pancakes along with other “treats” started popping up a bit more. How could I resist? Ok, so you’d probably say “because it’s not the healthiest thing” would be one, but I figured why not aim to make it healthier! So began the whole breakfast saga.

I found that the traditional pancake batter to be quite heavy, especially when you’re eating 3-4 of them in one sitting first thing in the morning. No amount of coffee is going to wash down all that syrupy sugar and dough. So after a little digging around I found a few recipes that used yogurt instead of buttermilk. The yogurt made the batter fluffier, moist and most importantly, lighter. Something about removing the fatty buttermilk (you could use low fat if you prefer the traditional version just to lighten it up that way) and replacing it with low fat yogurt caused the pancakes to melt in your mouth, plus what a great way to get a serving of your recommended daily intake of dairy products.



Nutritional Tidbit: Low fat yogurt (especially the Greek kind) is a great substitution for many different baking recipes. You can cut back on butter or oil in certain recipes and add in yogurt for the same creamy effect. Yogurt can also be used instead of buttermilk or full fat milk. As everyone knows, each 1/2 cup serving contains roughly 5 grams of protein and 15-20% of your daily calcium requirements.

Since I don’t have a really big sweet tooth, swapping out the syrup for a fruit compote made the whole meal even lighter while providing more nutrients and filling fiber. If you prefer to use syrup on your pancakes like 99.99% of all people out there including my husband (he’ll scoop some compote on his and then add additional syrup, I don’t know how he does it), make sure you use maple syrup and not plastic bottle kind which is pretty much pure high fructose corn syrup. Maple syrup provides you with additional nutrients like iron and B-vitamins that you wouldn’t normally get if you used the processed syrups.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoy these pancakes as much as I did! Actually I know you will and won’t even miss the typical ones. You can find the original recipe and a step by step instructional guide here. I’ve added comments next to the ingredients that I’ve made changes to below as well as added the reasons why.


Low Fat Whole Wheat Yogurt Pancake Recipe

Ingredients:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (to up the fibre content a bit in the pancakes I opted to use whole wheat flour instead of all purpose. I’ve also removed the sugar added to the batter, I don’t even taste the difference)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs (I prefer to use omega-3 eggs)
1 cup low fat Greek yogurt (Greek yogurt is higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates, it’s also creamier which is perfect for this recipe)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Optional: 1 cup fruit (you can add in blueberries, strawberries or any type of fruit you prefer to change up the recipe)

Preparation:
In a mixing bowl, add in whole wheat flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Stir until dry ingredients are well blended.

Whisk eggs, yogurt and vanilla extract. If using fruit, fold it in to the batter. Do not over mix the batter. Instead let the batter sit for up to 5 minutes so it can rise.

Meanwhile, warm up the skillet with a bit of oil over medium heat.

Pour in roughly 1/4 cup of the batter and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side (once bubbles start to form on one side you can flip the pancake over). You might have to turn the heat down to prevent the pancake from over browning on the outside.

Serve with your favourite topping!

Makes about 8-10 pancakes.

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Restaurant Review: Boxwood Cafe

>> Friday, March 25, 2011


Sides

One evening, as I was driving home from my friends condo, I happened to pass by Central Memorial Park and noticed how different the park looked compared to a couple years ago. Even a couple months ago. All the usual “residents” of the park seemed to have disappeared and replaced by wonderful pathways, beautiful lighting and a few new buildings. I was quite shocked since the city had neglected that area of town for quite some time now. It was really nice to see that they have invested more money in to restoring our downtown parks. When I got home, I did a few quick searches and found out that one of those new buildings that I saw also housed a new restaurant. So knowing me, first thing I did was rally up some company to join me in an evening of exploring: food and locale.

Atmosphere: Relaxed romantic surroundings reminiscent of the woodsy-ness of River Café (its sister restaurant) while facing the beautifully restored Central Memorial Park.

Price Range: Mid $10s+

Roasted Chicken
Food and Wine: When deciding on what to eat at Boxwood, you’ll notice that they’ve kept to a smaller more organic menu featuring local sustainable food paired with some great rotisserie items. My friend has never tried faro or lentils before and was intrigued by all the grains and legumes featured on their menu. Fortunately it wasn’t very hard to talk her in to wanting to try something different. We ended up ordering the Bowden Farm Naturally Raised Roasted Chicken, the Spragg Farm Roast Pork Rack and of course the Warm Lemon Lentils and Farro Salad.

The chicken came with equal portions of white and dark meat, which was perfect since I enjoy dark meat more and my friend likes the white. I had a chance to try some of the white meat as well and it was moist, tender and very flavorful when paired with the accompanying fennel and celery slaw. It’s rare to be able to get white meat that isn’t dry at a restaurant, so this was a nice start to the meal.

Pork Chop
The pork chop, with a wonderful outer layer of crispy skin, was served in a sweet buttery apple gastrique. It was the perfect topping for the squash and roasted apples that were served with the chop. We found it really hard not wanting to scoop up all the sauce with every bite of the pork because it paired so well and really made the dish.

Our sides of Lentils and Farro were equally as tasty. The warm lentils reminded me of Indian daal, due to the aromatic spices of cumin and coriander. It was topped with creamy crème fraiche, which worked in my opinion. The farro salad was a new item which the server suggested and wasn’t on the menu yet(the creamy farro on the menu was unavailable that night). We decided on it anyhow since my friend was interested in trying something new and unique. The texture of farro isn’t for everyone, but if you like chewier grains like barley, then I recommend trying it. The farro was mixed with olive oil, what tasted like swiss chard and topped with parmesan cheese. Let’s just say my friend is now a farro lover.

Sticky Toffee Pudding
All the dishes were of a good portion size and worked well for sharing. It also helped us save some room for dessert, which I was already eyeing before we even started our evening. The first item on the list was sticky toffee pudding, anybody want to guess what I ordered? The pudding was moist, not too sweet and was served with a scoop of maple walnut ice cream. I usually find that maple tends to overwhelm the toffee but this one was light enough to compliment all the toffee caramel sauce. The roasted apples on the side was a nice touch, but since I was so in to the pudding itself I wouldn’t have noticed the apples not being there (but that’s just me). My friend equally enjoyed her Mint Ice Cream Sandwich and literally “bit in” to it, who needs utensils when digging in to what literally was a big mouthwatering cookie.

My Picks: Spragg Farm Roast Pork Rack and Farro Salad


Menu

Overall: No longer a stranger to the upgraded Central Memorial Park and Boxwood, I feel more in tune with what’s going on in the city. Especially after dining on some wonderful locally grown cuisine. I can’t wait to see what else Boxwood has to offer in the future. With an amazing view and friendly service, I know it definitely won’t be long before I head back, but this time I won’t be surprised by the differences in the park. Maybe just anticipation of what the menu has in store for me.

Boxwood Cafe
340 13 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 265-4006
Website: www.boxwoodcafe.ca

Boxwood on Urbanspoon

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Ricotta Stuffed Crepes with Mango Compote for Breakfast

>> Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Mango Ricotta Crepe


My husband has eaten the exact same breakfast for as long as I can remember, 2 fried eggs sandwiched between two pieces of flax bread, sometimes with some pesto or cheese for some extra flavour and protein. It might change a bit in form, where the eggs might be hard boiled instead of fried and the bread will be eaten as toast instead of being used as a serving platter to hold his eggs. None the less, it always boils down to eggs and bread, its all so he can get enough protein in the mornings.

It has long been a goal of mine to make changes to his daily breakfast, but he refuses. He enjoys the eggs and bread routine, plus it’s simple to make the night before and with his work schedule, he prefers everything fast (even though I often end up preparing his breakfasts, he still doesn’t like it when I spend too much time on them, odd but I’m not going to start complaining about that). So when the weekend rolls around and I’m usually the first one up and about in the kitchen prepping breakfast, I try to change his daily ritual as much as possible while still providing him the much needed protein that he craves.

Since he eats eggs and bread on a daily basis without much excitement, I usually try to throw in a few blueberry yogurt pancakes, savoury whole wheat French toasts or more recently ricotta stuffed crepes which sound more unhealthy and decadent then they really are. Mixing things up while still using the main ingredients of his daily breakfast (in a total different form) has had some delectable results, so when I saw this recipe while flipping through a local magazine, I didn’t have to think twice before I started heating up the skillet on the stove (even though they didn’t have bread in them per se, but you can definitely use whole wheat flour instead). I really enjoyed the ricotta stuffed crepes because the crepes themselves are made with eggs and provide a good amount of protein. The ricotta adds even more of the appetite filling protein whereas the mangoes give it the extra vitamin packed sugar kick, so that when I removed the added sugar from the recipe, my husband didn’t even really notice the difference.

So after some tinkering around in the kitchen whipping up eggs and cheese, another weekend breakfast has gone down in the books and my husband started off another day happy as can be. Especially because he ended up getting a good amount of protein without having to result to his daily eggs and bread, but between you and me, I think it was also because he didn’t have to cook it himself.

Crepes
Nutritional Tidbit: When buying ricotta make sure to choose the low fat kind, so you can get the same amount of protein and calcium without the fat. You won’t be able to taste the difference between the full fat and low fat versions. Ricotta is actually higher in calcium content then cottage cheese and also provides a good amount of phosphorus and riboflavin which both aids in energy metabolism. Plus who could forget all that important protein, 8 grams of it per 100 gram portion to be exact, which helps rebuild and maintain muscle.

As per usual I made a few adjustments to the original recipe found here, in order to make it a bit healthier. I’ve made notes of what I’ve changed below and why, hopefully you enjoy them and please let me know if you’ve tried it differently!

Ricotta Stuffed Crepes with Mango Compote
Crepe Ingredients:
6 Large eggs
2 1/2 cups cold water
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups all purpose flour (or 1 cup all purpose and 1 cup whole wheat flour)
2 1/2 cups low fat ricotta, drained
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp sugar (can be omitted, I didn’t notice a big difference)

Crepes
Crepe Preparation:
Separate two eggs, reserving the yolks. Whisk the 2 egg whites with the remaining eggs, 1/2 cup of the cold water and salt in a bowl.

Slowly add the flour while whisking until combined. Add in the remaining water and whisk until smooth.

Place a skillet on medium heat, spray on a bit of cooking oil and pour about 1/4 cup of the batter in to the pan. Tip the pan so that a thin layer of the batter is spread evenly around the bottom of the pan. Cook until the crepe pulls away from the pan (roughly 2-3 mins).

Remove the crepe and repeat for the rest of the batter.

Meanwhile, blend the ricotta, reserved yolks, lemon zest and juice, vanilla together in a small bowl.

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Grease a 9 X 13 inch baking dish. Place a tbsp of the ricotta mixture in a crepe, fold up the sides and roll up the crepe until it forms a log and place in baking dish. Repeat for each crepe.

Once all crepes are rolled, cook in oven for 20-25 mins or until heated through. Remove and serve with mango compote (recipe below).

Mango Compote Ingredients: (different from original recipe)
1 Mango cubed or 1 cup of frozen mango chunks
1 cup water

Compote Preparation:
Place a small sauce pan over medium to high heat, add in mango chunks and water and let it come to a boil. Turn the temperature down so that the compote starts to simmer, allow it to do so for roughly 20 mins. Serve with your crepes. If your family likes it a bit sweeter, you can add a bit of maple syrup to your compote or over the crepes before adding the compote on top.

Makes roughly 16 9” crepes.

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Restaurant Review: Sonoma Market Cafe

>> Friday, March 18, 2011



One thing I never understood about the North American work day was how people managed to fit an eat-out-sit-down lunch in an hour (and why do the Europeans get a two hour lunch and a siesta?). Seriously, who is able to leave their office, get to the restaurant, eat while conversing and not just shoveling food down their gullets, pay and walk back to the office all within an hour? For those of you that claim that you can do this, please enlighten me because usually by the time I walk to the elevator and meet up with my lunch buddy I’m already 10 minutes in. So with 40 minutes left (excluding the 10 minutes to get back up the elevator and to my desk), I might as well just settle for a light snack, a quick chat and head back where I can then resume my lunching.

Luckily I’m in a situation where my company isn’t a stickler about the exact 1 hour lunch timeframe or else I’d either have to start learning to eat faster (I’m a painfully slow eater, painfully slow) or just result to eating in front of my computer screen and avoid all social contact (ok it might not be that extreme, but I’m trying to make a point so let me roll with it). So I have to take advantage of this lunching situation because there are so many amazing lunch places that aren’t necessarily open Saturdays and Sundays, one of these places being Sonoma Market Café located in the +15s.

Atmosphere: Casual market café as the name states, with “outdoor” +15 seating to enjoy those bright sunny Calgary days.

Price: Mid $10s


Food: After first looking at the inspiring menu at Sonoma Market, I couldn’t wait to try their drool worthy sounding sandwiches, with items on the menu like Strawberry, Turkey and Brie on Sourdough or the Tuna Melt. But sandwiches and wraps aren’t the only things on their menu. They also offer a bunch of different entrees including Butter Chicken and Pasta dishes through to Thin Crust Pizzas.

I settle on the BBQ Chicken and Mango Wrap consisting of moist chunks of chicken breast, cubes of juicy sweet mango with a light cream cheese dressing, fresh tomatoes and lettuce all rolled up in a chewy flour tortilla. I personally love mango, so anything with mango in it couldn’t go wrong in my books. The size of the dish was perfect for lunch and it was also served with a choice of side salads (Sonoma salad, spinach or Caesar). I opted for the spinach salad, which had almonds, shredded egg and cheese with a tangy vinaigrette.

Sonoma Market also offers a dessert for those looking for a little something sweet to start their afternoons and they have weekly specials so remember to ask your server if you’re that somebody! They’re also open daily for breakfast as well and have an amazing sounding menu for that too. I guess one of these days I’m going to have to try that breakfast menu myself!

My Pick: BBQ Chicken and Mango Wrap

Overall: For the amount of time that I had to walk, wait, order, eat and pay at Sonoma. I would say it was well worth it! The dish was fresh and filling, definitely something I’d leave my office for again in the near future and for those that enjoy sticking to the 1 hour lunch. I’m sure Sonoma is more than willing to accommodate your timeframe.

Sonoma Market Café
240 – 520 5th Ave SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 233-0111
Website: www.sonomamarketcafe.com

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Butternut Squash Quinoa Risotto and Hot Yoga

>> Wednesday, March 16, 2011



There’s only five weeks left until the half marathon and my training has started to ramp up. However, I’ve found that with the increase in mileage that I’m running on a daily basis, my body is finding it tough to recover before the next long distance run. So lately I’ve opted out of the weight lifting exercises and looked to something that would help me maintain my strength while allowing my muscles to heal (plus I got sick of rolling off the bed in the morning since my muscles no longer responded to me). I didn’t have to look far to rediscover yoga. I’ve been practicing yoga for roughly 8 years now, off and on, mostly due to my constantly changing workout routines and how easily I get distracted when I see something new and exciting that I’d like to try. But I somehow always end up with yoga again and this time is no different.

The only difference would be my shift to hot yoga, where the yoga studio is normally heated up to a balmy 105ºF with a humidity of roughly 50%. It’s essentially like working out in the tropics. Each class can range from vinyasa flows to a series of 26 asanas or poses meant to really bump up the heart rate (since your body isn’t use to the heat).

The benefits of yoga are amazing, especially hot yoga. It helps me maintain my muscle mass while gaining strength in areas that aren’t normally targeted with traditional weight lifting routines. The stretching of each muscle group also helps in my running, especially in hot yoga since your muscles tend to stretch further when your body is warm. I find that my calves aren’t as tight (especially with us women wearing heels all the time), quads, hamstrings and ankles all get a good stretch. When you stretch during yoga, you’re building long and lean muscle fibers as opposed to the short bulky muscles you get when weightlifting. (Don’t get me wrong, I am a true believer of weight training as well, but it really depends on your overall workout program. Plus, if you’re planning on running long distances, the toned lean muscle is what all runners try to aim for.)

One thing to remember when doing hot yoga is to maintain a high level of water intake. You don’t want to get to the point where you body is dehydrated and the headaches start. Drink plenty of water 2-3 hours before your yoga class and continue to do so throughout. After your workout I suggest a nice meal which is high in natural sugars, salts and protein to ensure that your body gets all the fuel it requires to rebuild muscle. Even though you’re stretching and now weight lifting, stretching still creating tears in the muscle fibers that require repair.

Here’s a recipe that is high in all the above and best of all, tastes great.


Butternut Squash Quinoa Risotto

The quinoa provides a high source of complete protein (which is rare unless you eat meat, since most beans and legumes are incomplete proteins that require you to pair it with other sources to make a complete protein), butternut squash for sugars (restore your glycogen), salts (potassium) and antioxidants such as beta carotene.

Ingredients:
1 tbsp canola oil
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup arborio rice
1/3 cup quinoa
3-4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tsp dried sage
Salt and pepper
Parsley for garnish

Preparation:
Place a pot on medium to high heat, pour in the canola oil. Stir in the onions and cook for roughly 3 mins.

Add in the butternut squash and cook for another 5 mins.

Pour in the arborio rice and quinoa. Toast both the rice and quinoa for 2-3 mins until each grain is separated. Add in the white wine and simmer until evaporated.

Stir in half of the broth, turn down the temperature of the stove and let it simmer for 20-25 mins, occasionally adding in more broth and stirring to prevent the rice and quinoa from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

When the rice is al dente, add in the dried sage, salt and pepper and taste.

Once ready, scoop in to serving dish and garnish with parsley.

Enjoy!

Makes about 4 servings.

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Restaurant Review: Open Range

>> Friday, March 11, 2011


Ice Cream Trio

I’m usually pretty good about carrying my camera with me at all times in case there’s a moment in life I would like to capture, which apparently is quite often especially if I know it’s either lunch or dinner time. I love to take photos of everything and of course food rates pretty high up there on the list. Unfortunately I don’t usually carry around the big SLR cameras (which would take amazing photos, but I can’t fit that in my bag or else I’d get stopped all the time and asked to have my bag searched) since they’re really not that inconspicuous and I’d prefer not to bother other people around me when I’m taking a photo, especially if I’m at a restaurant. I can’t imagine it would be that much fun seeing things flash in the distance while trying to enjoy a romantic dinner out. So I tend to carry a small point and shoot camera in my purse in case I do feel the need to take and an impromptu photo.

However, sometimes I even forget my point and shoot camera because like all other women out there, I have more than one handbag and tend to like to change them now and again. The only problem with that is, sometimes my handbags doesn’t really have extra room for a camera (I’d be lucky if I can fit my wallet in some of them). So I’ve got to work with what I have, which ends up being the last resort camera that I own and carry with me at all times, the camera on my iphone 3GS. Unlike the new iphone 4, the 3GS photos really don’t look all that great and you can imagine by looking at the photos below what happened to me that night we decided to go for dinner at Open Range so I apologize in advance (photoshop can only do so much).

Atmosphere: Rustic comfort which takes you far away from any resemblance of urban city life.
Price Range: Mid $20s - $30s

Duck Breast
Food and Wine: Shortly after realizing that I didn’t have my camera on me, I proceeded to order some food to eat away my misery. Like most of my meals amongst friends, we tend to order several different mains so we can all try a little of everything. Since Open Range is known for its meat dishes, we ended up ordering the Venison Osso Buco, Buffalo Short Ribs and Duck Breast. The venison was braised in a tomato red wine sauce and very tender served with cilantro and fennel which added a nice flavour profile to the dish. The buffalo short ribs had an amazing ancho chili BBQ sauce and were falling of the bone tender. The duck breast was a nice contrast to the other gamier meats, covered in a cider glaze and accompanied with braised apples which made the dish nice and light.

For dessert, we ended up with the Flourless Chocolate Cake and the House Made Ice Cream Trio. The cake was tender and moist without being overly sweet. It was served with a rich dark chocolate ice cream and lavender poached pears. The ice cream came with three different flavours, eggnog (it was around Christmas season when we were there), cookie dough and strawberry cheesecake (my favourite). Each flavour was unique and the restaurant changes them fairly often so each time you order it, it’ll be a surprise!

I was quite surprised that they carried Portuguese wine, since there are very few restaurants in Calgary that do. It’s even hard pressed to find local liquor stores that carry Portuguese wine and I’ve become partial to it since tasting them in Portugal last year, so we decided to order a bottle of the Casa Do Conego from Lisboa. It was a mixed varietal wine and since it came from the Lisbon area, it probably contained some Cabernet Sauvignon. It was a medium bodied wine and paired well with the heavier game meat that we had for dinner and the chocolate cake dessert. If you haven’t tried Portuguese wine, I do highly recommend them.

Chocolate Cake
My Picks: Buffalo Short Ribs

Overall: Although I was sadden at the fact that I forgot my camera (yet again). The food and the atmosphere at Open Range quickly made me forget about my forgotten camera which allowed me to sit back relax, enjoy my delightful meal and a lovely evening amongst good company and great wine.

Open Range
1114 Edmonton Trail NE
Calgary, AB
(403) 277-3408
Website: http://www.open-range.ca/

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Restaurant Review: Fuze on Fourth

>> Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Tartar Trio

I don’t know when and how it happened, but social media seems to have taken over my life. I can barely recall a time where I didn’t need a quick fix from my phone to update me on all the goings on around me. Twitter, facebook, blogs and my new found pinterest, can almost define me as a person, ok, maybe not entirely, but a good portion of the foodie side of me. People who follow me on any of those sites will realize that I love food, I workout so I can eat said food, and that I love all nutritional facts and other random health info, so basically…food related things.

It’s really no wonder that I enjoy getting all the up to date information on all the food related events happening in my little piece of the world. So I was pretty ecstatic when I found out that there were a few more new restaurants opening in Calgary and one of them happened to Fuze on Fourth, which I just so happened to make some time to sample a couple of weeks ago (amongst my busy social media life).

Atmosphere: A casual but chic dining area with a great glass ceiling, while also featuring a cozy lounge area.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $30+

Fettucine
Food and Wine: It was very tempting to want to order everything off of the globally inspired menu since all the dishes all sounded so unique and different, but we ended up settling on the Classic Trio of Tartar to start. The dish came with scallop, tuna and salmon, each with a unique twist to feature the fish in a different style. My favourite was the salmon tartar but my dining companions all seemed to enjoy the tuna.

Next we all decided to share our entrée plates and ordered the Thai Style Risotto of Shellfish, Fettucine of Tiger Prawns and the chef’s feature of Braised Bison Short Ribs. The risotto was served with scallops, tiger prawns and lobster over risotto style basmati rice in a creamy curry sauce. The shellfish were very fresh and the rice was velvety and smooth, the only complaint around the table was that there wasn’t enough risotto for an entrée sized portion, aside from that; it was an exquisite dish and definitely the crowd favourite.

Risotto
The fettucine and the short ribs weren’t as much of a hit around the table. Both were seasoned very well and the flavour of the ribs came through the sauce nicely. Except the pasta was cooked beyond al dente, which is how I prefer my pasta done and the short ribs could have used a little more braising. However, that being said, the overall tastes of both dishes were still appetizing and nothing was left after everyone was done.

Sticky Toffee Pudding
For dessert, we decided to share the Sticky Toffee Pudding (my favorite dessert ever!) and the Pineapple Ravioli. The pudding was soft and fluffy as all sticky toffee puddings should be, it was served with vanilla ice cream and an amazing caramel toffee sauce which wasn’t overly sweet. The pineapple ravioli was refreshing and a nice contrast to the pudding. I thought the pineapple ravioli was pineapple stuffed in a dough like shell, but quite the contrary, the pineapple itself was the shell with a mango mousse on the inside and the two flavours melded together wonderfully, again I just wished it was bigger since it was so tasty. I would even try making it at home since it was so light and fresh.

Pineapple Ravioli
As for the wine, Fuze has introduced what they call Wine Flights, which are sets of 2oz wines, ranging from light to bold red and white wines. Each flight will take you from a lighter bodied wine to a fuller bodied wine, which will flow nicely with your meal (if you enjoy any particular wine, they also offer full bottles of any flight wines). There a several different wine flights to choose from and a great way to taste many different wines throughout your meal. Fuze also carries a good selection of wines from all over the world and are very well priced. We ended up with the Satellite Pinot Noir, which was a rather light bodied Pinot but was a nice pairing to our shellfish heavy meal.

My Picks: Trio of Tartar, Sticky Toffee Pudding

Fuze Menu
Overall: It’s always nice to be the first to sample something new and different and I believe that Fuze has an interesting menu with the global / international theme. I can’t wait to come back and to try other items off of their menu and maybe even some of the lunch or dinner specials they’re tweeting about through social media.

Fuze on Fourth
2116 4th Street SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 457-4481
Website: Facebook Fanpage

Fuze on Fourth on Urbanspoon

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Big Taste Calgary

>> Friday, March 4, 2011


Chef Meets Grape Plates

It’s Big Taste Calgary (formerly known as Dine Out Calgary) time again! Where for 10 days all participating restaurants get to showcase their food in a preset menu style. Most restaurants offer different lunch and dinner options, with certain ones also presenting a gourmet menu with wine pairings. As you can tell it’s a pretty exciting time for me because I can try an array of plates from different restaurants, where some are special features that can’t be found on their regular restaurant menus. When you throw in what a great price everything is, you just can’t lose.

Me and my girlfriend even lucked out this year because we were planning our get together his past Wednesday and found out that it also happened to be the Big Taste Calgary kickoff event! I knew that Big Taste was just around the corner (starting Mar 4th-14th) but didn’t realize that this year they were introducing a new kickoff event held at Hotel Arts, called Chef Meets Grape. It was the first time this event has been held and when we found out, being the winos and foodies that we are, we really couldn’t miss it. So after a very last minute change of plans, we found ourselves pulling up to Hotel Arts at little past 6:30 pm on Wednesday to prep ourselves mentally for the amazing food and wine that evening.

Chef Meets Grape Plates
Chef Meets Grape is sponsored by Wines of British Columbia and showcased 25 different unique wines from local BC wineries paired with different local restaurant favourites. Guests got to sample a special dish from each participating restaurant paired with a specially chosen BC wine, then at the end of the night everyone got to vote for their favourite (or stare at me, the crazy one who pulled out her camera and took photos of everything even though I was salivating, but still had to try and get a shot in). This year the restaurants that were involved included (in no particular order): River Café, Home Tasting Room, Ric’s Grill, Saint Germain, Raw Bar, Olives, The District and Catch. Each featured amazing dishes which ranged from succulent Braised short ribs (Home Tasting Room), Herbed profiterole with steel headed trout (River Café) to the people’s choice of Red currants and spice rubbed smoked beef (Olives).

Chef Meets Grape Plates
All in all it definitely set the tone for the upcoming 10 days, which officially starts today! If you feel like you’ve missed out on the Chef Meets Grape event, there are additional Big Taste Calgary feature events held throughout the next week or so and that information can be found on the Downtown Calgary website along with all participating Calgary restaurants. Now the only difficult part is picking and choosing which restaurants to try before the event ends (then putting on my running shoes and pounding out a couple of miles before the next planned dinner date)!

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Butternut Squash Soup and Old Man Winter

>> Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Butternut Squash Soup

Ok winter, I get it, you win. I surrender to your all encompassing power of being able to kill any and all of my desire to go out and socialize because I’m too busy sitting at home trying to tend to my cold. But now that I am sick is it possible for you to just take a small vacation or even just hibernate for 10 months or so? I’m sure you’re probably all worked out anyhow, with having to try so hard to be cold for oh-so-long this year.

Phew, I had to get that out of my system…I really just don’t know what else to say anymore. It’s been so cold and I’m so tired of being sick. The weather people did say that it was going to be cold winter, but they never mentioned anything about it lasting for 4 months. Well here’s hoping that this is the last cold spell and it only gets better from here on out (it's Calgary, who am I kidding, maybe my cold is making me delusional as well).

As for this particular -40ºC (with windchill, yay!) moment (and what it looks like, the rest of this week based on the weather channel), just try to stay warm and what better way to do that then with a great soup recipe. This recipe is quick and easy to make plus it is chalk full of vitamins to help beat the cold bug.

Nutritional Tidbit: Butternut squash is packed full of fiber, which most adult Canadians and Americans do not get enough of daily. But that’s not all the orange color provides super high levels of beta-carotene which is good for your eyes, carotenoids which prevents against heart disease and a good amount of vitamin C, perfect for fighting all the cold bugs out there this winter. Its’ sweetness lends well to both savoury (tagines, soups, risottos) and sugary (Asian syrupy desserts) dishes, so don’t be afraid to try new things with this amazing squash!

Butternut Squash Soup
Butternut Squash Soup
You can really change up the soup by using different garnishes on top. I really enjoy cilantro and truffle oil, but definitely try parsley, green onion and others! If you're interested the original recipe can be found here.

Ingredients:
4 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 cups onion, chopped
2-3 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
Nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro for garnish
Truffle oil

Preparation:
In a pot over medium heat, put in 1 tbsp of canola oil and sautee the onions until translucent.

Add in the butternut squash and chicken broth.

Pour in the water until it just covers the squash, allow everything to simmer for 15-20 mins.

Once the squash is tender, you can either remove all the ingredients with a slotted spoon and puree them in a food processor and add it back in to the broth or you can puree the ingredients with an immersion hand blender (which is what I prefer, saves time from having to remove the ingredients and add them back in)

Add in the nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon in to a bowl and garnish with chopped cilantro and a drizzle of truffle oil (both are optional). Enjoy!

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