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Christmas Turkey Enchiladas - spicy leftover delight · 5.01.16 by colin newell

I am a huge fan of authentic Mexican cuisine – can’t get enough of it but I am humble enough to admit that, apart from nachos, I have never learned to cook very much of it at home. Now admittedly, some of the cuisine is pretty complicated and filled with steps – but many, if not all, of the ingredients are readily available locally. So, get out there and give this one a whirl. You can use chicken, beef, pork, some kinds of fish I would imagine, or beans for a vegetarian approach. Let’s get busy.

Ingredients

2 cups cooked shredded Turkey (I have used leftover Christmas turkey breast meat)
1 large red onion, chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup lo-fat sour cream
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 small (284ml) cans enchilada sauce (La Victoria is my go to)
3 cups shredded cheese (tex-mexican blend)
1 small tin mild green chiles (diced)
Tablespoon of Cumin
Tablespoon of Chile powder
10 flour tortillas

Prepping Turkey Enchiladas

Preparing your ingredients

Chop the onion and parsley, and shred the Turkey.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Step One Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, stirring all the while.

Step Two Add the turkey to the onions in the frying pan. Add Cumin and Chile powder and stir until combined.

Step Three Pour about 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce over the turkey and onion mixture.

Step Four Add sour cream and parsley. Add diced chiles – stir until combined.

Step Five Once all the ingredients are fully combined, turn off the heat. now add the shredded cheese. I usually add 2 heaping cups. Mix to combine.

Once the cheese is melted and combined with the Turkey sour cream mixture, taste it, and see if it needs anything else – like additionally seasoning or more sauce.

Step Six Now it is time to fill the tortillas and make the enchiladas. pour just enough sauce in a baking dish to cover the bottom of the dish.

Step Seven Take each tortilla and spoon some sauce on the tortilla coating the entire side that will hold the turkey mixture. Then spoon on some of the turkey mixture.

Step Eight Roll up the tortilla and place it in the baking dish.

Repeat steps to make enough tortillas to fill your baking dish, or until the Turkey mixture is all used up.

Step 9 Pour enchilada sauce over the completed enchiladas. spread it evenly over the top.

Step 10 Top with more shredded cheese and garnish with chopped parsley.

Hot out of the oven! Turkey enchiladas.

Now they are ready to place in the oven. cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking. Since the turkey is pre-cooked, you only need to bake them long enough for the sauce to start bubbling, tortilla edges are slightly crisp, and the cheese is melted.

We serve with homemade guacamole and a suitable salsa – you can make the salsa yourself if you are so inclined. These yummy enchiladas are great with your favourite strong beer!
This dish can make 10 to 12 single serve enchiladas. Plenty for leftovers!

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Butternut squash soup with vegan option · 3.01.16 by colin newell

Hearty Butternut Squash Soup

Winter is the best time of the year for hearty vegetarian soup with the option of adding some animal protein if you are so inclined – either way, these are filling and healthy soups during the winter months – here is how we brew up one of our favourites.

Dice 1 medium butternut squash
Dice 1 red pepper
Dice 1 medium onion

Toss together and split between two baking sheets.
Cover each sheet with parchment paper. Divide the veg between the two equally.

Sprinkle tablespoon of Olive oil over each pan and then salt and pepper to your
own preferences.

Mix together elements on each pan.

Get 4 slices of double smoked bacon (optional) sliced into lardons
and then sprinkle over top of the mixture.

Take one garlic, break it into cloves, leaving in their own paper
and divide them equally between the two pans.

Put into 400 degree oven for 30 minutes, toss at half way point.

Get out a big dutch oven bringing it up to medium heat.

Take the two pans out of the oven, removing cloves of garlic and set aside.

Take both veg mixtures less the parchment paper and dump into dutch oven.
Put in a couple of tablespoons of fresh thyme.

Squeeze out the garlic from their bulb into the dutch oven.

Add 2 1/2 to 3 cup of Chicken or Vegetable broth – stirring occasionally
while bringing to boil. Once it reaches the boil, turn off heat and get out your
immersion blender and blend it to your desired consistency.

Add more stock if you want a thinner soup. Return to heat and
take to boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Serve with bread.

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Katie and her World of beautiful cards for all occasions · 15.12.15 by colin newell

Cards by Katie - Victoria B.C. Canada Festive cards!

Katie is a lovely 19 year old girl who has Cerebral Palsy. Together with her mom, Sue, they have been making stamped cards since 2007. Prior to receiving assistive technology, Sue used to help her daughter stamp the images on the cards.

Katie has a head controlled stamping machine made for her four years ago by CanAssist. She is now able to stamp the images for her cards through a switch control using her head.

Card making is Katie’s thing and it brings her great joy. She loves making cards and sharing them. Making and selling cards has given her a unique way to connect with people in the community. Additionally, this also allows Katie to give back to the community with the profits from her cards. This year, Katie’s cards accounted for 100% of the festive seasonal cards that we sent out – and as you can see in the photo above, they are beautiful.

Katie had hip surgery a year ago which took her out of card making commission. Her story was featured on Global-TV and she was an instant hit – it put a smile on her face and to this day she is still very busy putting smiles on our faces.

At the time, her Mom, Sue and some of the neighbors put their heads together to see if they could come up with a plan to brighten her recovery. Sue suggested, “Since Katie will not be making cards for a couple weeks, I thought that it would be amazing if bright, beautiful cards made their way to her. Near and Far.”

Custom made cards from Katie

“We have a world map up. Her sisters will open up the cards and we can mark on the map were they have come from. We have also created a box of inspiration. When someone sends a card if they could put in a single button or piece of ribbon – something cute that Katie can put on a card… That would be great. Once she got back to making her cards she had hundreds of pieces of inspiration from everyone around the globe to put on her cards.”

At the time the message was – “Please mark on the back of the cards were they are from. I know that Katie will want to look at each and every one for years to come. We are going to put the world map up in her room so she can always see it.”

If you feel like sending a card (or getting an incredible custom card for any and all seasons) from Katie, send your own card or a request for a price list to:

Katie Philip
6898 Central Saanich Rd.,
Victoria B.C.
V8Z 5V2
Canada

Katie has a website and point-of-sale PayPal thing for her cards over here

Katie thanks you!

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Michael Kaeshammer and his band in concert - Victoria B.C. · 28.11.15 by colin newell

Michael Kaeshammer in Concert - Victoria - 2015

When Michael Kaeshammer sits down at a grand piano worthy of his dynamic range, the genuflection towards the likes of Albert Ammons, Meade Lux Lewis, Big Joe Turner and Pete Johnson (the Grand masters and caretakers of the Boogie Woogie music genre of the 30’s and 40’s…) is immediate, respectful and unmistakeable.

Born in Germany, but relocated to Canada as a young adult, Michael Kaeshammer has toured and recorded tirelessly and brings an energetic show to virtually every stage. His visit to the McPherson Playhouse on a crisp night on November 27th, 2015 was no exception. With 6 Juno nominations to his credit and numerous music awards, Michael is a veteran of several classic musical idioms including but not restricted to boogie-woogie, Fats Waller inspiring stride piano, Chicago blues, straight ahead Jazz and The Great American Song book.

This was my third time at a Michael Kaeshammer concert and if one thing is assured, it is a sudden release of musical energy that is off the charts. Michael Kaeshammer does not simply play the piano as much as he pushes it to the outer reaches of the instruments spectrum. A Michael Kaeshammer show is a tribute to 20th Century piano history and within the realm of Michael’s humility, he makes the 88 key piano the actual star of the show with his seemingly limitless mastery of the instrument taking the piano places it has never been.

Michael Kaeshammer also leaves his ego in the dressing room as band members, Nick La Riviere on trombone, Paul Pigat on Fender Telecaster guitar, Devon Henderson on acoustic and electric bass, a nuclear powered Roger Travassos on drums, a hirsute and Miles Davis inspired William Sperandei on trumpet, and an endlessly soulful Eli Bennett on tenor saxophone take turns raising us to the stratosphere.

In an almost 3 hour show, Michael Kaeshammer and his band seamlessly cross the boundaries of a more formal tribute to a classic American musical genre into the realm of a piano masterclass. What’s quite apparent early in the 1st set is that Michael is so giddy to be back home among friends that the audience is treated to a first class jam session where there is no play list or expectations – it’s just all fun from the word go. And the McPherson audience is the sole beneficiary at this house party. By the second set the band has settled into a groove somewhat reminiscent of a New Orleans Mardi Gras street party. At one point the horn section leaves the stage with Michael on tambourine to go “walk-about” ending up in the Upper Balcony entertaining a surprised and appreciative audience, the rhythm section below never missing a beat.

In another section of the 2nd set, Michael Kaeshammer and guitarist Paul Pigat are “cutting heads” duking it out between piano and Fender guitar. To his credit, Pigat takes the classic country-rock Telecaster guitar to places normally unexplored for this 6-string, squeezing out riffs generally more suited to a Gibson or Gretsch -and doing it with experience and aplomb.

Overall, this was the most spirited outing from Michael Kaeshammer that I have seen proving again that he is an exceptional performer, a true master of the piano and a great bandleader that brings out the very best in his musical team members. Bravo Michael Kaeshammer! Good show.

You can find out more about Michael Kaeshammer at his website Kaeshammer.Com

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A great big slice of Italian passion in Victoria B.C. - Il Covo Trattoria · 18.09.15 by colin newell

Il Covo Trattoria James Bay - Italian spirit in Victoria B.C. Canada

My wife and I have a few go-to places for celebrating special occasions – like Fridays, or a Wedding Anniversary, a successful shopping trip or the first rainy day in September after a long drought.

And considering that Victoria B.C. is a city flush with imaginative restaurants, there are really only a handful (in my estimation) of food places that consistently deliver passion, authenticity, love and great taste in equal measure.

Il Covo Trattoria at 106 Superior Street in James Bay near Fishermans Wharf is one of those places. I have a soft spot for Italian cuisine (my mother grew up in an Italian enclave in Montreal in the 30’s and 40’s…) and I was raised on rustic interpretations of Northern Italian classics. So, it’s in my blood and in my memories. And if your momma cooked Italian, getting that experience in a restaurant is a tall order.

Il Covo Trattoria seems to make it effortless. Their location in historic James Bay – Victoria, not far from Fishermen’s Wharf and a short walk from the Inner Harbour and some of the cities finest hotels could be just as easily located in the heart of New York City, Rome or Montreal. Passing through the grand entrance into the care of the hostess, one is transformed into another time and place. A big part of a restaurants charm is unquestionably its ambiance and Il Covo has certainly nailed the European experience.

Ii Covo is large enough for expansive families and intimate enough for couples on an important or romantic date. Service is attentive, informed and engaged without being worrisome. What I love about the eating experience here is the dedication to authenticity and focus on regional ingredients – all impeccably fresh and balanced according to the season.

Andrea and I started our culinary adventure with a martini and one of Il Covo’s brilliant Northern Italian inspired cocktails.

Il Covo - James Bay - Victoria - click on IMAGE for large view

Our opener from Chef was a salad of rare tuna, chick peas and arugula – perfectly tart and balanced to set the palate up for our mains.

Click on Map Photo for the Big View

This evening my wife had the signature Lasagna – which she rates as the best in North America – and trust me, she has sampled this straight forward dish from coast to coast. I had the Papardelle pasta with Prawns and fresh asparagus in a Pernod sauce – delicious, fresh and so satisfying.

If you have room for any dessert, the cakes, creme brulee, panna cotta and tiramisu are amazing – I know. I have had them all. Coffee is great too!

Il Covo, for us, is a place filled with love of family, friends and dedication to the most positive food experience – it is as close to eating in an Italian village as you can get without actually being there. Top marks to the Il Covo team! Bravo!

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Victoria home cooking - Slow roasted garlic and tomato marinara · 30.08.15 by colin newell

Home cooking Victoria B.C. Marinara sauce

As Fall and harvest comes upon us, it is time to start making some of those tasty sauces that we will start enjoying throughout the fall.

Most of our best tomatoes are now ready and they are being converted to sauce for pasta dishes in the future. One of our favourite building block sauces: Marinara – it cannot be beat. It scales up well and you can add nothing to it or your favourite protein.

Let’s go!

Necessary ingredients: Tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt and ground black pepper, 1 medium onion,
2 medium celery ribs, 1 medium green bell pepper, basil, oregano, fennel seeds, chili flakes, 1/2 cup red wine or vegetable stock,2 bay leaves, 2 Tablespoon tomato paste, bunch of fresh parsley…

Take 3 pounds of Roma tomatoes.

Boil some water. Trim the stem end of each tomato and then cut a 1/4” X at the blossom/stem end.
Drop the tomatoes a few at a time into the boiling water for 60 to 90 seconds OR until the skin starts to loosen. Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes to a bowl to cool for a few minutes.

Pull the skin off of each tomato.

Preheat your oven to 225 degrees (F).
Line one or more large baking pans with parchment paper.

Cut all of the tomatoes in half. Set a fine sieve over a bowl. Squeeze out all the seeds over on and onto the sieve. Keep the juice that comes out! We will use this later.

Place these tomatoes onto the parchment paper.
Mix together 1/4 cup of olive oil and 3 to 5 garlic cloves crushed and minced.
Paint this oil/garlic mixture onto the tomatoes. Put a twist of fresh ground pepper and salt onto each of the tomatoes.
Roast the tomatoes on the parchment paper in the oven for 2 hours.

Put all of these roast tomatoes into a bowl and add the reserve juice from the earlier seed removal.
Puree this mix with a hand mixer to medium fine puree eliminating all the lumps and clumps. Personal preference kicks in around here.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot. Add onion (diced), celery (diced) and bell pepper (diced).
Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.
Add 1 teaspoon or more of basil (fresh or dried) and oregano (fresh if you have it), a 1/4 teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds (use a rolling pin — releases the aromatics), a pinch of chili flakes and cook for another minute.

Added the pureed tomatoes, wine or stock, bay leaf and tomato paste and simmer, stirring occasionally for 35 minutes or so.

Discard Bay leaves and add chopped parsley (1/4 cup chopped)

Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Makes around 10 cups of sauce.

Bon apetit! This is one of our favourites and mirrors one of our all time favourite sauces from Victoria restaurant Zambri’s. Original recipe by Eric Akis of the Times Colonist.

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