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Experiment: Crostini with Pesto, Prosciutto and Provolone

After my post featuring Steak with Lemon-Cumin Pesto, I had about a quarter cup of the pesto left. That amount wasn’t enough to use to make another whole meal (like using it for a pasta sauce, for example), so I decided to whip up some sort of appetizer, finally settling on the Crostini you see pictured above.

Crostini, if you haven’t come across them before, are an Italian treat consisting of slices of grilled bread with various toppings, and they are a close relative of the more common Bruschetta. I had some slices of Provolone in the fridge I needed to use and I went out and bought a package of Prosciutto and some cherry tomatoes to go along with it. To be honest, there really isn’t anything terribly special about this little appetizer (and I really hadn’t planned to feature it in a post), but then I thought that you might like to see it and maybe use it as a starting point for your own creations… Read more

Nunavut: Return from Qikiqtarjuaq

As I mentioned in my recent post, Prague vs. Qikiqtarjuaq, I was scheduled to be away all this week on Court circuit. The plan was to visit both Qikiqtarjuaq, a little island community just above the Arctic Circle, and then travel on to Clyde River a bit further north. I made it into Qikiqtarjuaq on Monday, as planned, but the Clyde River portion of the trip ended up being cancelled due to bad weather. Accordingly, much to the pleasure of all involved, we made it home a day early… Read more

Review: The Indian Spice Kitchen

by Monisha Bharadwaj

2000, Hippocrene Books, ISBN-13: 978-0781808019

Although this book contains over 200 recipes (as noted on the cover) it is less a cookery book than it is an introduction to the spices and other essential ingredients in Indian cookery. It is very nicely illustrated, provides a lot of interesting information, and is one of the gems of my collection… Read more

Foodstuff: Patak’s Brand Frozen Naan

I have tried a number of commercially made pre-cooked Naan products in the past, both frozen and otherwise, and I have to say that thus far I have not been terribly impressed. Patak’s, as readers of my Foodstuff’s will know, make quite a few very good Indian food products and I am hoping that they will be able to achieve a similar quality with their Naan… Read more

Recipe: My Father’s Shrimp Cocktail

In my ‘Foodstuffs’ featuring Heinz Salad Cream , I promised I would post two family recipes that use the product. The first, which I posted a little while ago, was a Potato Salad I learned from my mother and the second, which I will be sharing with you here, is for my father’s Shrimp Cocktail. Actually, although the way I now make potato salad is pretty much exactly the way my mother does, I have changed my father’s recipe slightly over the years. It is still very tasty though, and very easy to make… Read more

Foodstuffs: Drumstick (Saijan)

The curious looking vegetables you see above are, for fairly obvious reasons, popularly known, in English, as drumsticks. Over the years I have come across many recipes for them but, to date, I have not paid much attention to these, as the vegetable has always been unavailable to me. That all changed just a few days ago, however, when I came across several bags of them at a local store, thus giving me an interesting new foodstuff to investigate… Read more

Experiment: Jellyfish and Cabbage Salad

Although I have made salads with jellyfish before, the first time I ever had one in a restaurant was in Ottawa at Ju Xiang Yuan  almost a year ago. That version consisted of jellyfish and shredded Chinese cabbage along with some slivered cucumber. It was dressed with something that the menu described as ‘Chef’s sauce’ but which, as far as I could tell, consisted only of sesame oil. All in all, it was pretty good and, for this experiment, I thought I would do something along the same lines except for using regular green cabbage and scallion along with a little Sichuan Pepper oil to augment the sesame flavor… Read more

Foodstuff: Patel Brand Peas Pulav

Greetings folks… not a wildly exciting post today, but my wife and I decided to try a few of some pre-cooked Indian dishes by the Patel company that recently appeared in one of our stores. Although both of us prefer cooking Indian food from scratch, we were rather curious about these and wanted to see what they were like. Some have been excellent and some were, not to put too fine a point on it, quite terrible, so I thought I might share our experiences so you can decide whether you want to try them for yourselves… Read more

Travels: Prague vs. Qikiqtarjuaq

In about three hours from now, my wife will be winging her way south to Ottawa to make a connecting flight that will eventually see her arrive in Prague for ten days. I, on the other hand, get the weekend at home but will then be travelling north on yet another Court circuit to Qikiqtarjuaq early on Monday morning.

Oh, the picture, by the way, is a view from Qikiqtarjuaq *not* Prague, in case you were wondering…

Each year, my wife travels on business to Vancouver (a place I love) and also to two exotic overseas destinations to boot. People always ask me what she does on these business trips and I am ashamed to admit that I’m not totally clear on the whole thing myself… it has something to do with a Committee on Internet protocols and assigning domain names (or so she tells me), but I am actually leaning towards the theory that she is, in reality, an international assassin.

Anyway, in the last few years, to name a few places, she has visited Delhi, Cairo, Singapore and, now, Prague in the Czech Republic. I have repeatedly told her how lucky she is and she has just responded by saying ‘Well… you get to travel too, don’t you?’

True… but when I think of her sipping a Pilsner whilst enjoying the beautiful architecture of an old-world city I can’t help but feel a little envious. The barren emptiness of a remote Arctic island may have its own beauty, but I also face the very real prospect of having to share a tiny hotel room with a 300lb construction worker who snores like or a chainsaw or (even worse) ‘just wants to cuddle’… Somehow, the comparison seems a bit uneven, it seems to me.

Well, moaning aside, I come to the point of this post, which is to ask my readers for a little help:

On each trip my wife takes, I usually ask her to try out some delicacy native to her destination and then report back to me (ideally with pictures). I also often get her to try and buy some foodstuff or other that is unavailable here in Canada. For this trip, however, I am at a loss, as I know almost nothing about Czech cuisine…

Can any of my well-travelled readers suggest some special Czech foods that my wife should try and enjoy whilst she is in Prague and (even better) let us know about any particular native delicacies that might survive the trip back to Canada? Please let me know of anything you can think of over the next few days so that I can ‘skype’ the suggestions to her directly.

Oh, finally… the Qikiqtarjuaq picture is an old one taken just a few hundred yards away from the local hotel. I will take some more current pictures on my upcoming trip so I can properly introduce the place to you all once I return…

Comfort Food: Cottage Pie

Back in April, I posted a recipe for a traditional Shepherd’s Pie using some lovely minced lamb leftover from a Sunday Roast. These days, what most people call Shepherd’s Pie is usually made using ground beef but, to be strictly accurate, this sort of preparation is more properly called ‘Cottage Pie’.  As with the more traditional shepherd’s dish, a Cottage Pie is essentially ground meat baked casserole style with a topping of mashed potatoes but, again like the lamb variety, there are countless variations.

Onions are a fairly standard addition but, beyond that, carrots, peas and tomatoes are often included, and some even add cheese to the topping (although this is a variation I really don’t care for). Years ago, my mother came up with a modification that I have long since adopted and which uses the unusual addition applesauce to enrich the mix with a lovely tangy sweetness. This is how I will be preparing the dish for this post…  Read more

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