Author Archives: boscar

BETTINWICHES! (aka Brie, Chocolate, & Basil Sandwiches)

brie

basilchoc-chips

I know, it sounds gross – brie, chocolate, and basil? Together? On a sandwich? I was skeptical right up until the first bite. Interestingly, it tastes exactly how you would think, yet somehow this taste translates into tasty (if you don’t believe me read the reviews).  

Giada

Giada

After some Internet searching it appears this recipe is from Giada De Laurentiis, host of several Food Network cooking shows. She even made these sandwiches on Oprah. But it wasn’t Giada or Oprah that taught me the recipe. Truth be told, if I had heard about it from either these ladies I would have passed.

It was my friend Bettina who convinced me this recipe was worth trying. And no one loves sandwiches more than Bettina so if she says somethings good I’m inclined to believe her. They were so delicious we decided to name them after her – from then on BCB sandwiches were known as Bettinwiches.

They key to making these h’orderves delicious is to use the ingredients with moderation. You can brie it up as much as you like, but be spareing with the chocolate and basil. They’re accents to the dish – not the main ingredient.

Other than selective placement of leaves and chips, making Bettinwiches is just like making a grilled cheese sandwich. Cut it into quarters and serve it as an interesting appetizer or make a whole one for yourself. Either way they’re worth a try.

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BETTINWICHES:

Ingredients:

French or sourdough bread, sliced

Brie cheese, sliced

Semi-sweet chocolate chips

Fresh basil leaves, washed

Butter or olive oil

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Directions:

Butter or drizzle olive oil on one side of each slice of bread

On inside of sandwich place brie slices to cover, sprinkle a few chocolate chips evenly, and place 2 – 4 basil leaves spread out. Don’t overdo it on the chocolate & basil – a little goes a long way.

Put sandwich together and grill over medium heat until bread turns golden brown and cheese and chocolate melts.

Serve immediately.  

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Brownie & Ice Cream Pie

complete-bp

I’m usually the person who brings the dessert to the party. There are probably several reasons for this. For starters, cooking for groups of people is scary and desserts are hard to screw up (sugar = tasty). Secondly, everyone likes dessert so you know it will be a hit (sugar = opioid addiction). And I’m sure psychology factors into this as well – it’s satisfying to watch others dig in to a dessert you’ve created. Living vicariously through others’ plates so to speak.

This week at Digitally Delicious we are going to enter the world of baking. You can certainly get pretty fancy with your desserts. For instance, if you want to really impress, check out these fantastical cakes via notmartha.

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But if you don’t have that kind of time, a super easy but incredibly delicious dessert is Brownie Pie with ice cream and fresh fruit. In theory it’s no different than regular brownies and ice cream except for that it is all in one dish. Thus, it gives the impression that much more effort was involved. Also, I am a firm believer that adding fresh fruit to anything automatically makes it good for you – this is a dessert with vitamins folks.

I got the idea for Brownie Pie a few months back when I had to make something for a potluck lunch. I set about making brownies but found when I tried to cut them into squares they crumbled into very messy looking pieces. Feeling that I really couldn’t present these sad and oddly shaped food stuffs to others I was in a pinch. But then inspiration struck and Brownie Pie was born (admittedly, not as inspired as spider cakes but waaaaaay faster and cheap).

The majority of time spent on this recipe is waiting for the brownies to cook and then to cool. Making the brownies the day before will save time. If possible, it is best to keep the ingredients separate and assemble shortly before serving.

Ingredients:

– 1 Box of Brownie Mix (usually requires eggs and cooking oil – check your box)

– Ice cream (choose your fav)

– Fresh fruit (again, totally up to you but strawberries and bananas are a nice combo).  

Directions (in no particular order):

Bake the brownies according to package directions. Let cool.

ice-cream

Scoop ice cream into a separate baking dish (as much as you like, just make sure to leave room for the brownies & fruit on top). Remember making ice cream soup as a kid? Work on that principle while you spread the ice cream along the bottom of the dish, approx. 1 – 2 ” thick. Cover and place in freezer until ready to serve.

 

add-brownies

Cut up your brownies into small servings.

Be as messy as you like – It doesn’t matter!

Spread brownie pieces evenly over top of the ice cream base.

 

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Top off brownies and ice cream with sliced fruit.

Here I’ve used bananas and raspberries.

For added flare drizzle chocolate sauce on top.

 

 

Sorry, I couldn’t resist – looks like sugar isn’t the only bad thing in brownies …

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Off to Borough Market

One of the highlights of travel is experiencing new foods and cultural cuisines, so this week Digitally Delicious will bring you tasty fares from around the globe. This summer I had the chance to visit Borough Market in London, England.

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The Market itself has been located on this exact spot for approximately 250 years, but has been in existence for much longer than that. First mention of the Borough Market was in 1276 and it’s believed that the market dates back to the time of the Romans (over 2000 years!). The proposed Thameslink project (a railway line) is currently threatening to demolish this historic site. Those of you who’d like the chance to visit, please consider signing the online petition to save this area.

A Traditional English Breakfast - served at pretty much every place I've stayed in England

A Traditional English Breakfast

Now England is not exactly renowned for it’s delicious dishes. At its best it’s chippies and beer, at it’s worst, images spring forth of bangers and mash or kidney pie. And there’s nothing like a full English breakfast to make you heave a little after a night of too much beer.

England’s bad food is a stereotype of course and Borough Market proves this without a doubt. It had everything you would expect to find at a food market – fresh fruits and veggies, breads, all sorts of cheeses. But it also had desserts, fresh baked veggie pies, meats, fish, wines, olive oils, prepared salads, flowers, and so much more. We bought enough food and wine to feed five and proceeded to have a lovely picnic on a friend’s barge.

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The market is open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and is not for the clausterphobic. Be prepared to join the throngs of people and slowly make your way from stall to stall. But fighting the crowds is worth the effort. You won’t find fare like this anywhere else. Plus, you can visit one of the many drink vendors and enjoy a tasty (alcoholic no less!) beverage while you shop. I can’t think of anything more civilized than that.

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With summer behind us here’s a recipe for Sangria to bring a little sunshine into your November. It is inspired by the one I enjoyed last July at Borough Market. The recipe calls for 2 shots of Malibu or Brandy but I’ve made it without and it tastes just as good. Also, if your serving this to guests, consider leaving the slices of oranges and lemon out until right before serving. If left overnight they tend to get stained by the wine and don’t look as pretty.

Red Wine Sangria with fresh fruit

Ingredients:
1 bottle of red wine – any kind you like
1 lemon
2 oranges (one for garnish)
1/2 cup berries or other chopped fruit (optional – blueberries and strawberries work nicely)
Few sprigs of fresh mint leaves (optional – for garnish)
2 tbs sugar
2 shots Malibu or Brandy
2 cups Club Soda or Ginger Ale

– Wash all fruit well.
– Cut lemon and ONE orange in half
– Squeeze juice from each into large jug.
– Thinly slice remaining halves

– Wash and quarter any additional fruit (berries) you want in your drink

In same jug add
• All cut fruit (possibly leaving out orange/lemon slices until next day)
• 2 tbs of sugar to jugp8100432
• 2 shots of Malibu
• Wine
Chill overnight.

Before serving add 2 cups of club soda to the wine and fruit mixture.

Add in orange/lemon slices if they were not already included.

Slice and halve remaining orange to use as garnish. p8100433

For an extra special touch you can use one of the orange slices like a ‘stamp pad’ to wet the rim of your wine glasses.

 Then dip the rim in sugar.

Add a sprig of mint and slice of orange to each glass before serving.

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The Vegans are Coming!

cow

Veganism isn’t just a diet but is a lifestyle choice that prohibits the use of animal products of any kind (food, clothing, products test on animals). If you’re a meat (or cheese) lover, having the vegans over for supper can be a scary proposition.

Depending on the person, vegans can be relatively relaxed about other people’s eating habits while maintaining their own personal choices. I have a friend who is vegan is delighted when we include vegan choices for supper. She’s known for traveling with her own snacks just in case, and is happy to graze the kitchen, piecing together her own meal. But if you’re inviting someone for dinner it’s only polite to make sure you can offer foods they will actually eat.

There are lots of ingredient substitutions that help to make regular recipes into vegan friendly dishes. For example, 1 egg can be substituted with Ener-G Egg Replacer, or 1 banana (cake recipes), or 2 Tbsp corn starch (these and others via Vegan Action).

moosewood

Below is a recipe for vegan chili (adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen). It can be served with hearty bread or baked potatoes.

If your animal-loving friend is comfortable with other’s food choices then grated cheese or burgers can be served on the side (just make sure the vegan & non-vegan dishes are kept separate from start to finish). If you have lots of people to please at your table then this compromise may be necessary. Pasta dishes can also easily be made vegan (and give you the option of serving meatballs on the side).

But planning a full vegan meal can be easy. This chili is hearty enough you won’t even miss the beef. The Vegan Chef also has tons of delicious recipes you can try and combine to make a completely vegan meal.

Vegan Chili (adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook)

Preparation Time: 1 ¾ hours. Serves 6

Ingredients
3 or 4 19 oz. cans of kidney beans (drained and washed)
1 cup tomato juice
1 cup uncooked bulgur wheat
2 tbs. Olive Oil
2 cups chopped onion
6 to 8 large cloves garlic, minced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 medium stalk of celery, diced
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp basil
2 tsp. chili powder (or more to taste)
1.5 tsp. salt
Black pepper and cayenne, to taste
1 medium bell pepper, chopped,
1 – 14 oz. can tomatoes
3 tbs. Tomato paste
Finely minced parsley (optional)

Heat the tomato juice to boiling. Add it to the bulgur wheat in a small bowl, cover, and let chilistand 15 minutes.

In a large pot heat olive oil, add onion, half the garlic, carrot, celery, and seasonings. Sauté over medium heat about five minutes, add bell pepper, and sauté until all the vegetables are tender.

Add tomato juice and bulgur wheat and drained kidney beans to pot. Simmer over lowest possible heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes or longer. After about 15 minutes, add remaining garlic.

Taste to adjust seasonings, and serve hot.

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Eating Out At Home

There’s nothing better than having someone else cook for you while you enjoy a cocktail or two. Even better is when they clean up after you as well. This is why I’m guilty of eating out – a lot. This week the author’s of Digitally Delicious will be hard at work, enjoying beverages and letting others do the cooking for us.

One of my favorite dishes is the Santa Fe Chicken Salad from Earl’s. It has Cajun grilled chicken on a bed of mixed greens, tossed with a peanut lime dressing, complimented by black beans, corn, avocados, feta cheese, fresh dates, and corn tortillas.

It’s what I order every time we go to Earl’s, and we go to Earl’s a lot so I can have it. It’s really, really good. But eating out takes a toll on the wallet the salad costs about $16, factor in drinks and well, you know… it adds up. So, I’ve decided to see if this is something I can make at home. After scouring the Internet I found a recipe (via kitchenlink.com )and with a few minor modifications I tried my hand at recreating this salad…

Right off the bat I was not impressed with this decision. ‘I should have just gone out’ I thought, ‘and have someone make it for me’.

First off, I didn’t have most of the ingredients on hand. This meant a specific shopping trip that totalled about $40. Not the cheapest salad to make and it didn’t even come with wine. But, the recipe promises to feed four so in the grand scheme of things it’s potentially a money saver.  Plus, I drew the line at buying fresh dates. At $10 for a package I decided to use some dried cranberries instead (what would I possibly do with 2 pounds of leftover dates?).

Then I found a calorie listing for the Earl’s salad (via dailyplate.com ). Holy crap! At 900 calories and 58.1 grams of fat it rivals a fast food combo! This can no longer be my favorite thing to order. I feel duped. Salad is supposed to be good for you. Granted, much of it comes from good fats (avocados, peanuts, feta? No? Feta’s no good?) it’s still hard to justify getting 89% of your daily fat intake from one salad.

It also took a long time to make. About an hour in total (excluding, I should add, the shopping trip which was very time consuming – who knew black beans were only located in the organic isle?). Time I could have spent relaxing in the lounge. Plus, there was the cleanup after. I have to admit, preparing the salad myself did take away some of its glamour. No cocktails, no wait staff, no dishwashers…

Ok, but complaining aside the salad was actually good and tasted pretty much like the restaurant version. Most of the dish (chicken, dressing, beans, and corn) can be made in advance or tucked away for next day leftovers. The recipe looks daunting for a salad but there are a few shortcuts that can be taken.

Since I can no longer order this in good conscience I may be able to tweak the recipe at home to make it a little easier on the waistline. Plus, all the shopping, cooking and cleaning no doubt burns off some of the feta. Overall, I have to recommend the at home recipe over the restaurant version.

SANTA FE CHICKEN SALAD AND PEANUT LIME VINAIGRETTE
(source: kitchenlink.com but adapted by me)

FOR THE CAJUN CHICKEN:
2 whole chicken breasts
favourite Cajun seasoning

FOR THE PEANUT LIME VINAIGRETTE:
1/4 cup each: fresh peanuts, vegetable or peanut oil and fresh lime juice (2 limes)
1/2 Tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp each sugar and soy sauce
1 small clove garlic, pressed or finely chopped
2 Tbsp lime zest (2 limes)
FOR THE SALAD:
1/2 cup fresh dates, chopped into 1/4″ pieces (OR 1/8 cup dried cranberries)
1 cup boiling water (only if you are using fresh dates)
2 small corn tortillas (OR crumbled red nacho chips)
vegetable oil for deep frying (only if you are frying fresh tortillas)
4 to 5 cups mixed lettuce
2 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
1 cob corn (OR 1 can of corn kernels)
vegetable oil
14 oz can black beans, well rinsed and well drained
1 avocado
1/2 cup feta cheese

TO MAKE THE CAJUN CHICKEN:
Sprinkle Cajun seasoning liberally on both sides of chicken. Grill over medium-high heat or broil until done. Set aside. Slice diagonally into 1/4″ wide slices.

TO MAKE THE PEANUT LIME VINAIGRETTE:
Process ingredients in a small food processor until almost smooth. There should be tiny chunks of peanut and lime.

TO MAKE THE SALAD:
a) Prepare date mixture – pour boiling water over dates; soak for 1/2 hour; drain well and mash (chill until using). OR, skip this step and add dried cranberries to salad.

b) Prepare deep fried tortilla pieces: slice tortillas into pieces 1/8″ wide and 1″ long. Heat oil in a small pot or skillet to 375 degrees F. Drop tortilla pieces in batches; drain on paper towel; sprinkle on salt (may be kept loosely covered at room temperature for 1 day). OR, crumble a few nacho chips into salad

c) Grill corn: rub corn with vegetable oil; place over medium-high grill. Cook, rotating until lightly brown tinged. Remove kernels. (May be chilled until using). OR, pan-fry canned corn kernels in skillet with a little bit of peanut oil until they start to brown slightly.

TO ASSEMBLE SALAD:
Place lettuces in a large bowl. Toss with enough dressing to lightly coat. In a separate small bowl stir together mashed dates or cranberries, corn and drained black beans. Add black bean mixture into lettuces; gently toss. Divide lettuce mixture between 4 dinner plates. Thinly slice avocado and divide between 4 plates, placing on the side. Top each salad with crumbled feta cheese, tortilla pieces, and chicken pieces.

Makes 4 meal servings

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Happy Cows Make Happy Steaks…

Don't they look happy?

Don't they look happy?

As Digitally Delicious takes a look at organic foods this week, I’m going to use this as an opportunity for a worthy ‘product placement’ so to speak for some local ranchers and friends of the family.

Trail’s End Ranch is a family-run business in Nanton, Alberta that has recently decided to make the switch to producing ethically raised, hormone-free, grass-fed beef.

Grass (cows’ natural food stuff) is easier for cows to digest than grain. This reduces the risk of e-coli development. Further, grass-fed beef contains twice the amount of beta carotene (an anti-carcinogen) and has 70% less fat (total and saturated) than the grain-fed varieties. Plainly put, grass-fed beef is a much healthier choice.

CBC News looked into grain vs. grass-fed beef and asked Keith Froggett, an internationally acclaimed chef to taste test between the two. In the end, Froggett determined that while the grain-fed variety was more tender (because of the extra fat), the grass-fed beef was not only healthier, but tasted better too.

Grass-fed cows don’t just make for a healthier supper, the process is also better for the environment. Grain farming takes a large tool on the ecosystem, while the natural ecology of southern Alberta IS grasslands. Further, Trail’s End Ranch grazes their cows on pastures instead of confining them in feedlots. Feedlots concentrate large amounts of manure into a small area and this has damaging effects on the environment and water supplies.

Plus, feedlots are not happy places for the cows themselves. I won’t delve into the gory detailsfor fear you’ll lose your appetites but some unsightly things happen at feedlots that are simply unacceptable and unnecessary. While cows are certainly not keen on becoming somebody’s dinner, up until they reach our plates Trail’s End Ranch endeavours to make sure they are treated humanely from start to finish.

They sell their beef whole, in halves, or quarters. It is government inspected and locally cut and wrapped. For more information on buying ethically produced, local grass-fed beef you can contact Trail’s End Ranch by phone at 403-646-2550.

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Still Crazy – Fad Diets Throughout History

I’ve never had much to do with fad diets. This is not to say I haven’t been intrigued by them. I just generally lack the willpower required to actually follow through, let alone go to the grocery store to buy all the ingredients. In high school I did try the cabbage soup diet. I got my mom to make a whole pot and vowed it was all I was going to ingest for the week. Overall, the soup was not inedible (my mom’s a really good cook), but it certainly did not leave one begging for seconds. Needless to say it was the only bowl of cabbage soup I ate.

Fad diets aren’t new. Despite our nostalgia for the good old days when a little chub signified health and wealth, diets go back farther then you probably think. As we look at fad diets this week on Digitally Delicious, I’ll start off your week with a little history lesson on dieting through the ages…

100 B.C. The ancient Romans – perhaps civilization’s first bulimics: History tells of the Romans purging between courses to make room for seconds. Even Julius Caesar was documented in taking part in this gluttonous tradition. Contrary to modern day bulimics, it doesn’t appear they were concerned so much about weight as they were about consuming as much food as humanly possible. It is often mistaken that Roman Vomitoriums were the site of these less than savoury actions, but the name is more of a coincidence. Vomitoriums were really just large doorways in public buildings that allowed mobs to be ‘vomited’ into the streets after events.

1087: The Alcohol Diet: If you are thinking this sounds too good to be true you are right. England’s William the Conqueror took to consuming nothing but alcohol in an effort to lose weight. The logic followed that it was food that made you fat, and what better way to curb your appetite for food than with bevvies? Apparently this diet did not work for William who was noted as being too fat to fit in his own coffin. I don’t think it’s worked for many people since either. None the less, 1950’s books such as ‘The Drinking Man’s Diet’ and ‘Drink, Eat, and be Thin’ encouraged people to drink alcohol to lose weight.

Early 1900’s: The Tapeworm Diet. This one is pretty straightforward. Ingest a tapeworm, eat all the food you want, let your new parasitic friend do what it does best, and most importantly – enjoy your fabulous new figure! Never mind the more unpleasant side effects of diarrhea, meningitis, and dementia. As crazy as it sounds, the Tapeworm Diet keeps resurfacing. In the 1950’s rumours swirled that opera star Maria Callas had lost 65 pounds by purposely eating a tapeworm. Turns out that while the tapeworm part is true, she probably ate it by accident. Like a parasite you can’t shed, some fads just keep coming back. The Tapeworm diet was even featured on this year’s opening episode of The Office

Kelly Kapoor: “I swallowed a tapeworm last night. It’s going to grow up to three feet inside of me, and then it eats all of my food so that I don’t get fat. And then after three months, I take some medicine, and then I pass it. Creed solid it to me. it’s from Mexico.”

1925: The Cigarette Diet. Still popular with models and Hollywood celebrities, cigarettes were originally advertised as a way to curb your appetite. In fact, doctors actually endorsed cigarettes for a variety of ‘benefits’ until the 1950’s. Today, the ‘Cigarette Diet‘ has taken on a new form and is a way to gradually stop smoking – not eating.

As crazy as these fad diets sound, we shouldn’t feel too superior when comparing ourselves to the pioneers of fad diets. While it’s true we know more today about how to maintain a healthy weight than in years past, many people are still desperate for that  ‘quick fix’. Eating disorders, weight loss pills, liposuction, eating nothing but grapefruit / hotdogs / cabbage soup / bacon – the list goes on and on. In my opinion, if it sounds to good to be true – it probably is. Moderation is the key to most things in life and a reasonably good diet paired with a little exercise really isn’t asking too much is it? I’ll leave you with a little food for thought – a quote on the matter from the official ‘Tapeworm Diet‘ website and you can be the judge…

“The best “solution” we have is the message of diet and exercise, while a noble message it is also an abject failure… Does anyone not know they should be eating a healthy diet and exercising? The tapeworm diet is an all natural technology that provides a welcomed relief from the manufactured, high-tech and potentially toxic therapies available”

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