Monday, January 31, 2011

The Best Alley Burgers in the West!

Calgary's best kept secret was let out of the bag when CBC did a brief expose on Charcut's Alley Burgers this weekend. Fans of this hip restaurant will line up in a dark alley in downtown Calgary to taste these delicious, freshly made burgers-no frozen patties at this place! Fans on Charcut's facebook page are notified of the date and time they will be sold and get in line an hour beforehand - with no thoughts of the freezing cold and snow! And it is well worth the wait if you can get your mittens on one!

Click Here to see photos of cbc's expose for more information on this fabulous place!

Some of my favourite menu items include the shaved pig's head mortadella, the 90z+ share burger (you need to share it for a reason), and a great side is the duck fat poutine. Bring a hefty appetite, you will leave full!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Best Wines I Can Find Almost Anywhere

Tonight I was in a liquor store to buy a Cave Springs Riesling to pair with Friday night's dinner. I know that the 2007 is sold in Alberta in select stores. Unfortunately, my local liquor store was not one of those vendors. Having to look for a new substitute passed me by some old "friends", wines I know I can always find in a pinch that taste great. Here's the list:

Whites: Cave Spring Cellars

Ok, I know that I couldn't find this one tonight, but I've seen it pretty much everywhere else I've looked. And it's always selling at a low price for when you can't break your budget. The very first white I ever remember tasting was at Cave Springs winery while in college. At the time, my goal was to get drunk on a school trip. But I do remember how light & fresh that Riesling tasted, easy drinking! Wine Spectator rated their 2008 Riesling CSV a 90, their 2008 Riesling Estate a 90 and their 2008 Riesling an 88! Try it for yourself!

Reds: Robert Mondavi

Whenever I am in a restaurant and have trouble deciding on a wine, a Mondavi is usually in consideration. All the reds I've ever tasted have been flavorful and paired well with the dish I'm eating when I need a good red. I've seen Mondavi wines in almost every liquor store I've ever been in, and they are usually priced moderately. A good, reliable pick but try it for yourself.

All Types: Sumac Ridge

We toured this winery, and played it's golf course, over Easter weekend 2010. Although I got really frustrated and walked off the course (it's a tough par 3 9 holes!), the wines inside were phenomenal. Sumac Ridge was one of the official sponsors for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and supplied gold and silver medalists with their Tribute and Pinnacle bubblies. I myself have a bottle of the Tribute here at home just waiting for a good celebration to pop it open! Here in Calgary one can find their wines on almost every restaurant menu, as well as in every liquor store, all reasonably priced. Some of my personal favorites are the bubbly, and the 2007 Gewurztraminer. The reds are good as well.

A Good Almost Anywhere Wine: Australia's Jacob's Creek

I first found them through one of my iPhone apps-their 2005 Reserve Shiraz got a rating of 89 and I thought "If I can find them, I have to try them!" I can usually find at least one bottle of their wines in a liquor store, tasted and liked some later year Shiraz blends, and even picked up their 2009 Chardonnay in place of the Riesling I couldn't find (it's a very sweet Chardonnay with fruity notes, not like a regular oaky Chard). Take a look at their website to see how many awards they've won and then try one yourself!

Now that I've spent the last hour or so writing and thinking about wine, it's time for a glass for myself! If you have any other easily accessible wineries that you know about, please leave a comment! :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Slow Cooker Sunday, Jan 16: Easy Does It!

Right now I am watching the Social Network win best picture at the Golden Globes while waiting for my last batch of peanut butter cookies to finish cooking in the oven for a friend's birthday. Lesson learned: sometimes simple recipes can be just as good as the more involved ones!

Once again, today was a great day to stay in while Alberta is still in this deep freeze, and since I was hungover from ribs & beer with great friends last night, I wanted to do something easy that would still taste good and make the house smell great. So I did a pot roast that cooked for 8 hours on low. When it was done the meat literally fell apart as my husband cut it, and it tasted amazing! We paired it with a Bordeaux Merlot from a winery called Chateau Timberlay, that was surprisingly light-it reminded me of a Pinot Noir. This is just my personal taste, but if I am going to drink a Merlot, I prefer it to be robust, full bodied and will hold up to the dish it's being paired with. However, I knew going in that there was a chance it would not pair well, and decided to try it anyways. Can't win them all! Here's the recipe for the pot roast:

I added garlic powder but would have rather used a clove or 2 of fresh garlic. I also forgot to add the Worcestershire sauce.

The recipe for the peanut butter cookies I am baking comes straight off the back of a Kraft Smooth Peanut Butter jar, with a healthier version on their website:


Friday, January 14, 2011

Yes-Soup For You!

I found a great recipe for Mulligatawny soup and made it on Thursday night. Here is my version of it, with vegetarian options listed in green:

1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, sliced (vegetarians use more)
1 cup baby carrots, sliced
2tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tsp curry powder - or to your liking
4 cups chicken stock (or veggie broth)
1 medium apple, peeled, cored & chopped
1/4 cup rice or 1 cup potatoes
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into cubes, cooked if you like (or omit)
Pinch thyme leaves
Salt & Pepper to taste

  1. Saute onions, celery, carrot, and butter in a large soup pot. Add flour and curry, and cook 5 more minutes. Add chicken stock, mix well, and bring to a boil. Simmer about 1/2 hour.
  2. Add apple, rice/potato, chicken, salt, pepper, and thyme. Simmer 15-20 minutes, or until rice/potato is done.

A few other ways to enjoy:
-Thicken soup with heavy cream and heat thoroughly
-Play around with the ingredients
-With Wine!

We paired it with Summerhill Ehrenfelser 2008, which I consider "the sister of Gewurtz" and my 2nd fave white of all time. Other great whites that would go with this are Viognier, Riesling, Vidal, and of course, Gewurztraminer.

This is a super healthy recipe (depending on sodium levels in the broth) that will make your kitchen smell good the day after. This soup is also good reheated as leftovers. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Peanut Butter & Jam on a Hot Dog?!? YES! And it's GOOD!

Guess what I ate for dinner tonight?!? And the first 2 don't count! Believe it or not, but there's a funky hot dog place in Calgary where you can have peanut butter & jam (and cap'n crunch cereal topping too!) on a hot dog! Tubby Dog in Calgary does up weird & wonderful concoctions of hot dog toppings right on 17th Ave. Matt got the A-bomb, which has ketchup chips, bacon, cheese sauce, mayo and mustard on it. D "chose her own adventure" and piled on items like a pickle wedge, coleslaw, and possibly chili or sauerkraut underneath that. Here are the pics of our dinner:

Nothing like good old PB&J-the PB melted underneath the dog, perfect for sopping up leftover bun!

The A-Bomb! Matt loved the crushed ketchup chips on top the best, I think!

D's concoction. Mmm, pickle...

They are also licensed so you can chase that dog down with a beer.
We'll be back again to try the rest of the menu, hopefully on a monthly basis!

Monday, January 10, 2011

NFL Playoffs in a Snack

The Snackadium

I wonder how long it took the creator to make this?!?
*Warning: Some of the other pictures on the website may cause nausea, drooling & extreme hunger. Vegetarians might be grossed out by some meaty items!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Xmas Presents that Keep on Giving! Starting 2011 in the Kitchen!

So due to the lack of popularity on my golf blog-and my lack of my motivation to write anything in it-I've decided to try something new for this year. This Christmas I was extremely blessed and received a LOT of cookbooks. It turns out one of my hobbies is collecting recipes :S I figured this would be a great way to keep track of what I've made each week, as well as my reviews of each recipe I tried out.

First Weekend of January-The Weather Outside is Frightful...

This weekend saw the first snow event in Calgary for 2011. We didn't receive a ton of snow, but the winds were high and blowing snow was the big problem, keeping Matt and I inside all weekend. As we also are at the beginning of the annual Calgary January deep-freeze, I decided to spend the weekend in the kitchen, with the oven going quite a bit to help warm up the house. I started Friday morning by throwing chicken breasts into the slow cooker. I found a recipe similar to my Nana's "floating chicken" on my fave recipe website, and thought I'd give it a try. The main difference between my version and Nana's tried and true recipe was that I added 1/4 cup of Hernder Vidal (Niagara white wine) to the mix in substitution for mushrooms, which Matt dislikes. 8 hours on low = a wonderfully fragrant house to walk into at the end of a work week! Paired it with Hernder Vidal to bring out the new flavor, and sides were garlic bread from M&M meat shops and a salad of green leaf lettuce, cucumbers, feta & bottled vinaigrette. Matt's review: he loved it! Super delicious and I think this one's going to go into regular rotation-as much of one as I have! I modified the recipe and added onions, garlic powder (will use minced cloves next time) and paprika sprinkled on the breasts. Special thanks to my Nana R for being such a great cook & inspiration; I only hope that one day I can be as good in the kitchen as you are! Both the chicken recipe & wine pairing are an A+, but still not as good as Nana's original!

Saturday night I decided to make my version of Cornflake Chicken, another Nana-inspired recipe. I found a great version of it on my fave recipe website (again), that incorporates cheddar & parmesan cheese into the cornflake mixture. I tried a few things different this time, including poking holes in the chicken while dredging in margarine to increase juiciness, and topping the cornflake mix with the shredded cheddar instead of mixing it with the cornflakes and herbs, and it was a winner! Matt's review: best version I've made to date, and I've made it quite a few times already. Slow cooker Sunday is a weekly event in the Holyantle household, but this time I decided to get it out on Saturday and made Maple-Glazed Sweet Potatoes & Carrots in it. The recipe came from a cookbook binder given to me by my godmother a few Christmases ago. I made a modification to the recipe as I didn't have any OJ in the house (I don't like it), and used Grand Marnier for the orange flavor in it's place. It worked out great! I'll definitely make that one again. Paired again with the Hernder Vidal to finish off the bottle (I consider it "crack wine" in my world!), I rate both recipes A+ and the wine pairing an A.

Sunday morning I made the first recipe from my loot of 2010 Xmas & birthday cookbooks, which was from The Food Network Kitchens given to me from my "seestor" Ang! The recipe: Potato Pancakes with Pink Applesauce. I made the applesauce the night before. WOW! I plan to make this again and again, it was sweet without having a lot of sugar in it (only 3 tbsp for 2lbs of apples), and brought out the flavor of the gala apples I used wonderfully! I might even try sweetening it with honey in the future too! I made the potato pancakes this morning, and despite the messiness and the 2 cooking wounds I sustained (grated my finger & burnt a knuckle on the skillet) they turned out great, albeit a bit bland for our tastes. The few modifications I will personally make in the recipe are to add some chopped garlic and more seasonings (salt, pepper & nutmeg) to the "batter", and will always pair it with the applesauce. I rate the applesauce an A+, and the potatoes a B due to the modifications and stickiness of the wax potatoes - although they held together well in the skillet.
*Note to my vegetarian family: if you come out to visit us in Alberta, I WILL make this for you for breakfast!

This afternoon for lunch I am making Holiday Spinach Pinwheels, something I made while spending time with my mother-in-law when in Ottawa for Christmas. A great simple recipe that yields yummy results! The recipe:
-mix cream cheese with sweetened dried cranberries, green onions, and a bit of feta cheese.
-mix together in a bowl, and then
-spread evenly on spinach tortillas - to add to holiday ambiance!
-roll up tortillas and refrigerate for about an hour
-slice them into pinwheels-I use a diagonal cut.
-eat & enjoy!
Thank you for the recipe Nancy :)

After this I won't be in the kitchen much as the work week begins again, and I will have my first "Tubby Dog" experience on Wednesday with a friend. To see what I'm getting myself into:

Thursday night is my estimated next cooking experience, and I am planning to make Mulligatawny Soup-another one from my fave recipe website! I tried good curry for the first time 2 years ago, and love to cook and experiment with it now. More on that later! Thanks for reading!