I came across Gwenyth Paltrow’s recipe for Brown Rice Pasta with Tuna and decided to make it because it sounded yummy and healthier than the version at my local italian joint. Now given that it called for 1/3 cup of olive oil and tuna packed in oil I should have known it wasn’t low in calories or fat. But since the title of Gwenyth’s cookbook says the recipes will make you look and feel good I let the wool get pulled over my eyes. When I Googled the recipe to get the nutritional information I was surprised at the calorie count and fat content - Brown Rice Pasta With Tuna, Olives, Fried Capers: Recipes: Self.com.
If you couldn’t tell by the amount of steak and wine I consume and that I refuse to date vegetarians or vegans, I will confirm that I am not an expert in healthy eating. However I do know that I shouldn’t get half of my calories and three quarters of my fat intake from one dish. I don’t even want to think about the sodium and I LOVE salt.
The premise of the dish is spot on – if you have a gluten allergy (or any food allergy for that matter) it does suck to miss out on certain types of foods. But a few things were forgotten when it was being put together.
Brown rice pasta has about 33% more calories per serving than wheat based pasta. So to enjoy gluten free pasta without additional calories you need to reduce the serving size.
Whether it’s made from wheat or brown rice or artichoke flour, quality pasta has good flavor and doesn’t need additional fat or salt to make you feel like you aren’t missing out. I love the combination of tuna, anchovies and capers – but when I make this again I will cut back on how much I put in so the puttanesca doesn’t overpower the nuttiness of the pasta.
So to balance out the number of food apps I have I have wanted to get a wine app and was told the LCBO app was the one to get.
In Ontario the government controls all alcohol sales (yeah, we saw how well that went in America with Prohibition). Including the official app of the LCBO (only place to buy wine and liquor). And as expected from something developed and executed by bureaucrats it takes forever to get what you need.
It does what it says it does. I can find stores, search for products by type and region, search by keyword and even scan a bar code (without a special scanner!) and get a quick overview of what the wine pairs well with.
The big issue is that it takes too long to long to get the info that most people want – does it go with chicken or fish or pasta or grilled cheese. It starts with the wine nerd info and then takes several clicks to get through to the basics.
It is a testament to the level of people working in government that they start with the nerdy stuff (P.J. O’Rourke once lamented that the best automotive people work for the DOT and not in the private sector), But when it’s 8:45 and the store closes in 15 minutes all I want to know is whether the Fat Bastard Shiraz will pair with my tuna pasta. The answer was yes, but it was just a guess on my part.
Addendum: Went to use the app last night when I needed to get some dry sake for making stir fry. According to the app there were only three kinds of Japanese sake sold and none of them matched the seven kinds I saw on the shelf.
While ideally we all have every single kitchen pot and pan and utensil, unless you work in a professional kitchen chances are you don’t. With all of my things in storage I am making do with a basic pot and utensil set. And depending on space or budget it’s not always practical to buy a piece of equipment for just one recipe. Which is why I am a big proponent of finding double uses for what you have in your kitchen. Make sure your pots are oven safe, a heavy measuring cup can be used as meat mallet, wine glasses can easily be used for juice and water. Just think about all the Top Chef episodes where they only have a hot-pot or Reynolds Wrap to cook with.
Being able to do this means that you have to read the recipe ahead of time. And in the case of the Spaghetti with Fontina Cream and Chili Oil from LCBO’s Spring Issue of Food & Drink I made last night, make sure the recipe has the right equipment listed to begin with.
Although I read the recipe ahead of time and thought about what equipment I needed to find a double use for, I didn’t think through whether the equipment in the recipe was right based on the directions.
Step one was to combine garlic, shallots, white wine and stock in a large pot, bring to a boil and reduce to 1.5 cups. Makes sense, until you get to step two – puree using a stick blender in the same large pot. Even with holding the large pot and tipping it so all the contents are in a smaller area it’s not deep enough for the stick blender to do its job. If you have a blender take the time and effort to puree the stock in the blender, or pour the stock into the mixing cup that came with the stick blender so you can fully immerse the stick blender.
The other disconnect was between steps five and six. The recipe called for sauteeing pancetta in a saucepan in step five and then adding the cooked pasta and fontina sauce to the same saucepan and stir until coated in step six. This is where the large pot or a large saute pan would have come in handy. When you need to coat pasta (or rice or anything that has volume) in a sauce you want space in the pot/pan to be able to stir without having everything falling out of the pan. It’s also better to have a wider pot/pan for more even heating of the pasta.
At the end of the day the pasta was still delicious and having made the full recipe and not pared it down for one I am looking forward to leftovers tonight!
A few weeks ago I was invited by a co-worker to cheer her and another colleague on in a Top Chef competition being put on by Shaw and the Food Network. In my mind I pictured something laid back with specific direction on what dishes to cook.
I was disabused of that notion once I saw the instructions – this was going to be a real deal Top Chef competition. Each team got a list of available pantry items and the two proteins they would need to create a dish from ahead of time. There was the need to strategize and think ahead, including what secret ingredient each team member would bring from home.
The cooking space was tight, even for someone who has cooked in a NYC kitchen so small my fridge was underneath the kitchen counter, and these guys did a much better job than any Top Chef contestant I have seen weaving in and out to get pantry items and hot pans from the oven.
That’s not to say there weren’t some curve balls thrown – with only a convection oven some well thought out dishes either needed to be reworked or in the case of our team improvised. And just like the real deal sometimes directions weren’t followed exactly and points were docked.
Now, just to be clear those of us who came to support our co-workers were keeping busy and not just on the sidelines watching the action. It was our duty to do some wine and beer tasting and see how they paired with the different hors d’oeuvres. I certainly wasn’t going to let my colleagues down and have them be the only ones doing the heavy lifting.
It was time for Judges’ Table. Given how much we talk about food at work and with partner agencies I was not suprised at the creativity and quality of dishes that came out of the kitchen. Led by Mark McEwan, the judges went team by team to taste the dishes and give feedback. Everyone stopped to pay attention – anything to get an edge for next year’s competition.
Although our team wasn’t in the top three, they did come up with some fabulous dishes and we’re scheduling regular status meetings to talk approach for next year.
Thank you Shaw and the Food Network for a fabulous night!
So there have been a number of articles about working someplace other than your office or a desk such as The Case For Working From A Park Bench | Fast Company. And I have definitely found that when I have advertising block it’s best to get away from my desk.
My place of choice for a long term break from my desk is someplace that serves food (and the occasional glass of wine). Similar to a coffee shop or park bench you’re away from the distractions and interruptions of the office, but I find that being in a place of eating prevents other distractions or excuses to take a break. Which for me falls in the form of needing a glass of water, a piece of cheese to nosh on, cold leftovers, another piece of cheese and an adult juice box – can you imagine how much fun I was at bedtime for my parents.
In a food establishment you can set up space at the bar or a table. I prefer the bar as it’s more okay to take up two spaces (one for the laptop and one for the food) since people usually keep a barstool between themselves. Having a laptop next to you also helps set up boundaries (see below).
I also find fewer diversions than coffee shops – I don’t have to get up to get another latte, or park benches – I don’t have to shoo away pigeons. Almost anything I need or would use as an excuse in my office to get up and get away from my work goes away. Need a lgass of water? The bartender keeps the glass full at all times, Time for a full meal? Takes 30 seconds to order – you will be at a place where you know the menu by heart and only ever order one of three things anytime you go in. Need a snack? See time for a full meal, just order something smaller.
That’s not to say that there will be zero distractions. Avoid the place where you have the crush on the not quite jailbait, but definitely too young for you server. And lose the fantasy, he “mam’d” you last week. In some cases the distractions will help you focus on your work. The guy with one (or three) too many buttons undone. You have never been so motivated to finish that POV on your client’s cousin’s ex-boyfriend’s blog that has 28 followers.
I can say that the most productive I have ever been was on an Amtrak train ftom NYC to DC where I was one car away from the bar car and had two seats to myself. Plenty of room for nourishment and work, it gave me the appropriate breaks without allowing me to walk too far away from work and the landscape passing by helped keep me focused. So find what gives you that work-office balance and get out of the office.
Unless you work for me, than your ass better be in the office and glued to your chair.
I went in with an open mind. There is always a little truth stretching on dating sites. Even after 6′ turned out to be 5′ 7″ I kept an open mind. But boys beware, there are definitely some conversation topics that will have a girl insisting that she wants to split the check.
You should not be telling me about all the other chicks you’ve been chatting up who suddenly became busy with work or went on a long vacation – in my mother’s day they called it “washing my hair”.
Yes, it’s good for me to know that we can’t split the spring rolls because you’re allergic to nuts. I do not need to know the details of your acid reflux when you eat nuts.
And hearing about acid reflux isn’t good when I am trying to eat Pad Thai that I am pretty sure had marinara sauce mixed in. In comparison to the food, my date was George Clooney. There are places that you go knowing that the food is basic, but good solid and exactly what you’re craving. There are also places that are camp on purpose and make a burrito with American cheese hip. This place I don’t think the cook even cared, which is shameful.
After eating out or grabbing take out everyday last week (which I am not complaining about because every meal was delicious) I decided to get back into cooking.
I printed out the shrimp and grits recipe that Food & Wine sent me today and headed to Loblaws. I was a bit worried about finding grits since I once had someone at Whole Foods try and pass off corn meal as grits, but I figured that Bobby Flay has enough global presence to get a corn product wide distribution.
I checked every single aisle with possibilities – baking needs, cereal, international. There was every other type of ground corn product, but no grits.
I actually thought I was going to be writing about cooking on an electric stove (ack!). But instead I am curled up on the couch with delicious lamb korma from Agra Fine Indian Cuisine (corner of King and Peter if you have a craving).
I like being pleasantly surprised and I am always okay with plan B or C.
Some background. Work has moved me to Toronto. I flew in yesterday, unpacked my overweight suitcase and when getting ready to go out and explore and immediately became confused because the temperature here is in Celcius so I didn’t know which jacket to wear.
Being hungry and not about to order from the list of recommended places supplied by my temporary housing company (they had Pizza Hut on the list) I was not deterred. I looked out my window, checked out what everyone else was wearing and opted for the puffy coat. This is a ubiquitous coat in cold areas, my friend Lindsay says it makes everyone look like catepillars. She’s right about this. She is also very right about food and you should check out her blog www.thelunchbelle.com.
I went out with a destination in mind – Bannock – because I thought it would be very fitting to have Canadian comfort food on my first night in Toronto where I wasn’t heading back to NYC in 2-3 days. Unfortunately for me it closes at 4 p.m. on Sundays so I had to tell my taste buds they would not be awash in poutine for dinner.
Toronto is not a one trick pony city, I had passed plenty of places on my walk over. I made my way back “home” and came across Elephant and Castle which was advertising Sheppard’s Pie on its outside chalkboard. There were other places with flashier signs, but Canada was once part of the English Empire so if I couldn’t have Canadian comfort food maybe I could have some English comfort food. I knew it would be a solid meal, but was more than pleasantly surprised with the Fat Bastard Cabernet and my beans and steak.
Today was my first day on the job and I brought my laptop home with the goal of getting Chinese take out and logging into work via wifi while watching Barney make fun of Robin being Canadian on HIMYM. Unfortunately the wifi network given to me by temporary housing doesn’t seem to exist. The hotel next door happens to have free wifi in the lobby which also extends into the bar which serves dinner. So I went with plan B again and am eating pork belly with chopsticks, writing this and enjoying another lovely glass of Cabernet at sen5es.
Looking forward to what plan B is tomorrow.
Monday night I participated in a ritual that as a shiksa New Yorker I have wanted to do since I moved here after college. Chinese food for Christmas (in this case Eve) dinner.
Now I live within walking distance of Manhattan Chinatown and thanks to Chef DeKoven I have been expertly guided through Queens Chinatown, so this isn’t a cuisine that I don’t order/eat as part of a group on a regular basis. Yes I still order the fried crispy shredded beef (Joe’s Shanghai) but it’s good dammit!
Unless you are eating by yourself in a Chinese restaurant you order and eat fammily style for which there are some ground rules:
- Get consensus on what to order. It won’t be perfect, there’s always on holdout who wants the healthy steamed veggie dish with no sauce, but within your first seven minutes get alignment on appetizers and entrees.
- Order across the menu. It’s the same concept as Oprah’s “Eat the Rainbow”, except that it’s less about health and more about maximizing the different tastes you get in your meal.
- The more the merrier eating. There is nothing wrong with ordering 11 dishes for 3 people and taking leftovers home, but then you have to fight over who gets to take the Chinese style steak and who gets stuck with the steamed veggies without sauce. The more people you have the more you can order and create your own tasting menu. It’s not against the rules to grab random strangers in from the street.
- You don’t get dibs. Yes you were the one who suggested the Hunan bouillabasse (Shun Lee West & Shun Lee Palace), but the joy is not in hogging the whole damn thing it’s in sharing it and getting the credit for ordering it.
- Share, just like in kindergarten. Similar to the rule above, when the dishes come you can’t just grab for what you want. Take whatever dish is placed in front of you, spoon some (not all of it) onto your plate and pass the dish to the person next to you. Bigger tables will have lazy susans to make this really easy. Once everything has gone around the table once then you can start mad grabbing for the dishes you like best. But if there is only one spoonful left be polite and ask if anyone else had their eye on it, and if so then share.
- Yes, you can have more. If someone did take the last bite without sharing then you are allowed to order more, chances are other people want more too.
- Just take one bite. How do you know you don’t like the jellyfish if you don’t try it? It’s delish by the way.
- There is always a winner. Whoever did the best ordering is the winner. This is not specific to Chinese restaurants, it is true for all dining out.
In addition to the places listed in parentheses above I would also recommend Big Wong, 456 Shanghai, Nom Wah, Phoenix Garden, Bo Ky, Amazing 66, Nan Xiang, Fu Run, Lam Zhou, Fuleen Seafood, XO Kitchen, Jing Fong, Oriental Garden, Yee Li and Szechuan Garden.