French toast in the comfort of your country kitchen · 26.10.14 by colin newell
I have this thing… about French toast… and I am not even French.
I have searched nation wide and out into the Pacific for the perfect serving of French toast – and I have found it in places like Hawaii, on the Big Island… like the Holualoa Cafe .
But here in Victoria? Not so much. There are promises of a great French toast. Hints of a French toast. I have been promised French toast, but the truth is, it is rarely delivered. I feel that on some menus here in the city, that they should have a French toast offered at one price… as is… and $5 more for French toast prepared lovingly or with a little passion. Because that is what it takes. It’s not rocket science but you need to pay attention to get this item right.
Normally what I get around town is French toast prepared by people clearly angry with the French people for some inexplicable reason. I don’t get it.
All I want is French toast prepared well and tasting like it should; fluffy like a cumulus cloud or a souffle and not drier and chewier than the soles of an army boot.
So here is Andrea’s and my home country kitchen French toast recipe.
Buy one loaf of braided egg bread or a loaf of Challah bread from your local bakery.
It should be bread on the white side – fluffy and fresh to begin with with enough density to absorb the egg batter thoroughly.
Anyway – here goes…
Mix together your egg mixture which consists of:
2/3 Cup milk (which would be a blend of 1/4 cup half-half and the rest skim)
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla
Put a frying pan onto medium-high heat.
Pour your egg mixture into a shallow pan (like a lasagna pan…)
Take 6 thickly sliced pieces of the bread and place them in the egg mixture – for 10 minutes soaking on each side… that is 20 minutes of soaking!
Put a large dollop of butter into the hot frying – about a tablespoon (heaping)
Put three of the soaked slices of bread into the pan.
Cover loosely with a lid that is slightly ajar – and cook for around 2 minutes each side… until each side is golden brown.
Note: Using a pan cover helps keep the toast from being undercooked or soggy in the middle.
Served with butter, maple syrup, Hawaiian coconut syrup, fresh fruit or sauteed apples in simple syrup – only limited by your imagination!
Oh yes. This toast goes great with a darn fine cup of hot black coffee!
8 years ago I wrote this blog about dairy free waffles. It turned out to be the most popular blog entry here. You can find that recipe over here – enjoy.
Cuban influenced BBQ Rotisserie Chicken · 3.09.14 by colin newell
My wife’s gal-pal Sheila A. got us a Weber Rotisserie attachment as a house warming gift.
A suitable grilling recipe seemed in order — and to have her over to treat her to the dish.So off to the Weber recipe guide – which is very expansive. Original link here
The Dry Brine
Finely grated zest of 2 large oranges (around 3 tablespoons of zest)
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
2½ teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon Old Bay® Seasoning
1 whole free-range chicken, about 4 pounds, neck, giblets, wing tips, and excess fat removed
Extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl combine the dry brine ingredients. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Brush the chicken all over with olive oil and season evenly, inside and outside, with the dry brine.
Refrigerate, uncovered, for 24 to 36 hours.
Next day – Rinse the chicken briefly under cold running water to remove most of the dry brine.
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with the pepper.
Prepare your grill for indirect cooking over medium heat (350° to 450°F).
Truss the chicken: Slide a four-foot length of butcher’s twine under the legs and back. Lift both ends of the twine and cross them between the legs. Then run one end under one drumstick. Run the other end under the other drumstick and pull both ends to draw the drumsticks together. Bring the twine along both sides of the chicken so that it holds the legs and wings against the body.
Tie a knot in the ends between the neck and the top of the breast. If necessary, push the breast down a little to expose more of the neck.
Following the grill’s instructions, secure the chicken in the middle of a rotisserie spit, put the spit in place, and turn on the motor.
Place a large disposable foil pan underneath the chicken to catch the drippings.
Cook the chicken over indirect medium heat, with the lid closed, until the surface is a deep golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 160° to 165°F in the thickest part of the thigh (not touching the bone), abut 1¼ to 1½ hours. Make sure you use a digital thermometer – and make sure you achieve these internal temperatures! Food safety!
When the chicken is fully cooked, turn off the rotisserie motor and remove the spit from the grill.
Tilt the chicken upright over the foil pan so that the liquid that has accumulated in the chicken’s cavity pours into the pan. Transfer the chicken to a platter and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes (the internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees during this time).
The chicken was melt-in-your-mouth tender, juicy and gently fragrant with the sublime influence of the spice rub and brine. We served this wonderful chicken dish with pasta salad and BBQ corn on the cob (about 10 minutes on the grill while the chicken rested) – apply a garlic butter mix to the cobs while turning every two minutes. Serve with the beverage of your choice; beer, wine, fruit juice, tropical cocktails, or whatever you like.
And Enjoy! This chicken could have easily served 6 – 8 people with various sides.
Coming to Cobble Hill - Amazing Pizza - chef and name sought · 24.03.14 by colin newell
Who doesn’t love a good pizza place in the neighborhood? You know the kind of home grown, mom and pop operation that makes their dough in house from genuine Italian pizza flour…
and bakes the pizza in a 500-650 degree oven… in and out of the oven in 3 minutes or less.
To be savored in a comfortable pizzeria or taken home to enjoy…
Where the pizza recipes are not your standard multiple toppings, but healthy and fresh ingredients from a menu designed by an actual award winning chef and food expert?
Well, there is one such place only weeks from opening on the Cowichan Bay turn-off on the Island Highway – in the Valley View Mall – where the Country Grocer and Drumroaster Coffee are located…
They need two things:
They need a name.
And they need a Pizza chef!
The name needs to be short, catchy and original – and they are putting out a little contest to reward the person that comes up with a name that sticks.
And they need a passionate and motivated self-starter Pizza chef that is going to love the rural life in the Cowichan Valley as well as the upscale vibe of this new pizza joint.
Jump in with your ideas in the comment field or send me a note!
Book release - Deerholme Farm Foraging. · 14.03.14 by colin newell
The Deerholme Foraging Book
We are pleased to announce the publication of Bill’s new cookbook The Deerholme Foraging Book. It is an exploration of the wild foods of the Pacific Northwest and includes products from the forests, fields and ocean shores of the region. The book brings you into the world of the forager, drawing on 10,000 years of experience that have allowed us to evolve from the foraging society we once all belonged to.
These ancient lessons are modernized to create delicious recipes and allow you to build a knowledge base, create items for the pantry and to capitalize on the delicious and health promoting foods from the wild.
From the back cover:
Open your door to the wild foods of the Pacific Northwest with the Deerholme Foraging Book. In this comprehensive cookbook, award winning writer, chef and experienced forager Bill Jones shares his foraging tips and more than 110 unique and delicious recipes, each featuring a type of wild food. Global in influence, these recipes use simple techniques woven in with expert processes to create good, homemade food.
Learn to identify, source, and preserve local mushrooms, edible plants, sea vegetables, and shellfish. And gain knowledge of the traditional uses for wild foods as well as future possibilities for a healthy diet, while enhancing your appreciation for the natural environment. In The Deerholme Foraaging Book, food lovers will experience the joy of uncovering the bounty of the wild.
Excerpt from the Introduction:
“How can foraging help? First of all foraging is about acquiring and using knowledge. Secondly, it is all about respect. Acquiring this knowledge may empower you to look at your world with a more questioning glance. Who made up the rule that all safe food must be grown in industrial controlled production? When did we decide if you pay nothing for an item it is worthless? Why are we obsessed with controlling nature? You may end up seeing the world as more than black and white—it may be tinged with seaweed green and chanterelle yellow.”
Advance Praise for The Deerholme Foraging Book:
It’s rare to find an expert forager who is also an inspired chef. But from Weed Pie to Smoked Salmon with Honey and Grand Fir, Bill Jones reveals a trove of wild delights with recipes easy enough to whip up at home but that would also dazzle if served at a great restaurant.
—Ron Zimmerman, Proprietor, The Herbfarm Restaurant
I have seldom felt more connected to food, than foraging the Cowichan Valley with Bill. A meal he made ranks as one of my most memorable, foraged food prepared with skill and creativity. This book will inspire you to get off the couch and jump into the forest.
—Rob Clark, Chef/Owner of The Fish Counter
Bill Jones is THE authority on foraging and mushrooms in British Columbia. Deerholme Farm is a mecca for culinarians who love the outdoors and Bill captures the beauty and essence of the Vancouver Island wilderness in his recipes and writing. A must have book for anyone who delves into the wild!
—Eric Pateman, Chef/Owner of Edible Canada
Bill Jones is one of those rare chef-foragers who combines the skills of an excellent chef and teacher with an extensive expertise in the foods of field and forest. This is an exceptional combination and that is why you must add this book to your library.
—Dr. Sinclair Philip, Co-Owner of Sooke Harbour House
About Deerholme Farm
Deerholme Farm is a culinary destination in the Cowichan Valley of Vancouver Island. We offer local food experiences that introduce you to the wild and untamed side of Vancouver Island’s food system.
We are famous for our unique and often spectacular local food events based on seasonal themes and local foraged foods. Our work has been profiled in the New York Times, Bon Appetite, Saveur, Travel and Leisure, Harrowsmith, the Globe and Mail and many prominent publications.
We host guests from all over the world, so be sure to book in advance if you would like to join us for a delightful evening of Cowichan Valley cuisine. We live in one of the more amazing places on the planet, where climate, geography and community come together in a unique and delicious way. Please visit us on the web or through social media. You can contact Bill directly:
4830 Stelfox Rd
Saaz Indian restaurant first impressions · 7.03.14 by colin newell
Andrea and I have been on the prowl for a great Indian restaurant for a long, long time. I will admit it – we both love the intense flavors and aroma of a great curry – and Victoria B.C. although having pretty comprehensive coverage of many a cuisine, Indian food is not something that we seem to do very well.
Well, that all changed with the arrival of Saaz Restaurant at 535 Yates St. in the lower part of Old Town in Victoria. Tucked in an unassuming old office building is an inviting, old school and rustic space that belies the incredible food within. Sure, we had read a few reviews on Urban Spoon and Trip Adviser – reviews I often take with a grain of salt – but in this case, all of the reviews were overwhelmingly positive and blindingly glowing. OK. We are in.
But let’s back up a step. It was our new Canadian English friends that suggested Saaz, because they, more than us really miss a great curry, the likes of which was pretty commonplace in the old country.
Anyway – after an quick e-mail to Gurpreet, director of operations and affable host – and getting a bit of a background on what the Saaz concept is all about – it became pretty clear that the potential for great food was here. So off we went tonight.
Saaz is a pretty rustic space – that once could have been an old school English pub in another life. The decor is pretty simple, clean lines in dark wood and brick. There are 3 distinct rooms in the space – 2 on the main, 1 upstairs – so there is an option for private parties. It is not all that much to look at – but what the heck. It is not so much about the layout as it is about the food, right? Well everything about the food shone bright. So onto that then!
We started with Mustard masala jackfruit with tomatoes, Curried brussels sprouts, onions and tomatoes, Prawns with garlic, coconut and spices, and Vegetables pakoras… there was 4 of us after all!
The Jackfruit (never had it before) is a cross between chicken and artichoke in texture in a mustard masala that is just hot enough but not overpowering. The pakoras were sublime and the lentil daal that came with the pakoras was immensely satisfying – could have eaten a bowl of this alone. The brussels sprouts would have been right at home with a Christmas Turkey dinner – but here they were on an Indian menu! Perfectly cooked with a little bit of crunch left over – but not overwhelmed by spice and a delightful nutty flavor remaining. The prawns were prepared perfectly, impeccably fresh and well spiced — with a bit more of a bite.
For mains, our team of diners tackled Lamb with garam masala and raw brown sugar (for Andrea) – Chicken Tikka , Chicken in yogurt, ginger, garlic cooked in the traditional clay oven for Sharon, Chicken in Kalonji seeds and spices for Steve and Butter Chicken for me. The rice pilaf served with each main is impeccably prepared, fluffy and light – rice that I cannot reproduce at home. I appreciated the portion sizes – by the time we got to the mains, we were pretty full from sampling appetizers – so it all worked!
I was playing it pretty safe with the Chicken but it was well balanced, presented in a, for me, a perfect portion size – with lots of flavor and authenticity.
Steve’s Chicken in Kalonji was very, very interesting – like most of the night, I was experiencing lots of new flavors. Between the 4 of us we also shared a plate of perfect and warm garlic Naan bread… the perfect compliment to everything else that was in front of us.
For dessert: Rose & Mango Kulfi (Ice Cream) – divine, a luscious and sensuous creaminess and fragrant botanical flavor spectrum that you have never had in a frozen bowl! We also had Gulab Jabun (Indian Doughnuts) in a simple cardamom infused sugar sauce. I would happily die eating these little morsels.
Service was professional, engaged and informative – we loved everything and look forward to coming back for more exploration.
Our friends, Steve and Sharon – who are sticklers for a good Indian feast were 100% satisfied – and that was a relief – because we have been at some of those other places in Victoria that left us somewhat heartbroken.
I wish Saaz and the team the very best and hope they succeed – this is a place that I would encourage everyone to try… and soon!
Saaz is located at 535 Yates St #103, Victoria, BC V8W 1K7 – (778) 433-7229
and their website is – Saaz Restaurant
Padella Bistro - great food in Estevan Village Oak Bay · 14.02.14 by colin newell
On a blustery Valentine’s eve (the night before Valentine’s Day…) Chef Kyle Gignac warmly greets us at our table as we share a delightful dessert of fruit crumble (arguably one of the best I have ever tasted.). We have just concluded a wonderful meal of pasta – I had the spaghetti and clams – Denman Island clams, leek, garlic, white wine, cherry tomato, and parsley. Andrea picked the Funghi & Pappardelle of roasted oyster & button mushrooms, gorgonzola cheese, peas & cream.
Kyle and his wife Zoe O’Doherty, specialize in classic Italian cuisine prepared with the freshest local and seasonal ingredients. And as Kyle proudly points out, everything is prepared from scratch in the kitchen apart from the charcuterie and cheeses. Yes, they have fresh pasta! And what a treat that is.
On the days leading up to the “most romantic day of the year”, Kyle and crew were kept busy prepping over 1000 ravioli available on the Valentine’s Day menu — a menu we had access to on the night before.
Padella (formerly Paprika Bistro) is an intimate combo of rooms suited to very private dining, slightly more formal family style eating or even a private party or event – It is like 5 restaurants in one – they even have a single table room, called the wine room – perfectly suited for a couples privacy or even dining with a small child or two.
The first thing I noticed was the impeccable balance of flavors on the plate – no one component overwhelming any other – where subtlety, often lost in many other places around Victoria – balance and flavor, a more gentle approach to locally sourced components is the star here. Andrea commented on the sweetness of the peas in her pasta – and the contribution that fresh pasta makes to a dish like this.
We actually opened with the Antipasti Plate of assorted cured meats, Island cheese, marinated olives, cornichon, rosemary-apricot mustard – and several bowls of lightly salted focaccia bread. Main portions (for me) are perfectly sized – certainly not overwhelming, I like to be left a bit wanting for something else (like dessert or a glass of port) after a right-sized plate of pasta. And Padella bistro nails it in this regard.
Our host/server, Vincent Vanderheide is also a recently graduated sommelier – and we put him entirely in charge of the wine pairing; Pasqua ‘Villa Borghetti Passimento’, Veneto IGT, IT 2010 for the Charcuterie – a turbo-charged Valpolicella, this wine is pressed from grapes that were partially dried to concentrate flavors before fermentation. Unlike a single Valpolicella, it contains some Merlot in addition to the indigenous Corvina and Croatina, giving it added smoothness within its umbrella of fruitiness and medium body.
For our mains Vincent picked out a Bench 1775 ‘unoaked’ Chardonnay, Okanagan VQA, 2011 – a crisp wine suited to pasta with not overly aggressive sauces.
Dessert was the fruit crumble of seasonal fruits, grains and fresh gelato – served piping hot and sized well for two.
Padella Bistro is not just for lovers on Valentine’s day – but great for any date night anytime of the year – Solo, with a date or friends, I would highly suggest giving this comfortable little bistro a look see. This was the first visit of what I think will be many happy returns (with friends) – who really need to check this place out.
Visit this wonderful bistro on the web at Padella Bistro
Padella Bistro is located at 2524 Estevan Ave. Victoria BC V8R 2S7 250.592.7424