Friday, September 24, 2010

Quebec City Restaurant: le Saint-Amour

Restaurant le Saint-Amour is a pretty fancy restaurant by night (Sir Paul McCartney dined there!), but for lunch simpletons like me and the husband can dine for about $20 each. The focus is on creative, innovative cuisine using fresh, local ingredients. Lucky for them (an those who dine there) Quebec is full of wonderful vegetable farms, animal farms, dairy farms and other local terroir. I would love to try the inspiration menu or the discovery menu sometime!

The lunch menu is a 3-course meal, with coffee or tea. I can't remember what the husband started with, but it was red quinoa, with some chopped vegetables. I remember it was a clean tasting dish, perfect to whet the appetite for the richness of the main course!

I started with the aspargus and cheese melt, with candied tomato, and parma ham. This starter was quite rich because of the cheese, but if you love cheese then this would be perfect for you! Even though it was cheesy richness, it felt good to be getting some veggies!

The husband's main meal was veal with a port wine sauce. I can't remember if it came with rice or potatoes... one or the other... The husband made sure to save some bread to mop up some of that beautiful port wine sauce!

For my main, I chose the omelette. It, like the aspargus, came with a layer of melted cheese on it (but it was a different cheese). The eggs were fluffy and light (not dense and overcooked like the ones I make), and had a creaminess to them. It balanced very nicely with the melted cheese.

Now for dessert! I ordered a chocolate cake (with raspberry and mango sauce), and the husband ordered a blueberry creme brulee. I don't think I need to tell you how these tasted. Just look at them!

Quebec City Restaurant: Le Lapin Saute

This review comes over a month late, but I remember this meal as if it were yesterday! We read about this place in our guidebook, and it sounded delicious. I had never really had a piece of rabbit meat before, so I didn't really know what to expect. For those of you who can't bring yourselves to eat cute fluffy animals, there are other items on the menu like burgers and such.

The restaurant itself is very charming. The lovely summer weather allowed us to sit outside where little birds flitted around from tree to tree, and curious squirrels would scurry up and down tree trunks. Even though it's in the middle of a major pedestrian street, with people staring at you while you eat, it does have a "country" feel.
The husband (savoury pie lover that he is) ordered the rabbit pie. It came with a fruit ketchup that he devoured! He doesn't usually like fruit with his meals (like chutneys, etc) but something about that fruit ketchup made the rabbit pie even better!

I ordered the cassoulet. It came with rabbit leg (confit), bacon, and rabbit sausage. The rabbit leg was tender and the meat came away from the bone with a gentle tug of the fork. It kind of tastes like chicken, but is much more flavourful (like dark meat). I could taste more of a gamey-ness in the sausage, but the seasonings made it so hard for me to stop eating it!

We had a pretty boring breakfast that day of fake croissants and costco muffins, so this rich, satisfying lunch was just what we needed! If we are ever lucky enough to return to Quebec City, this restaurant will definitely be our first stop.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Masala Salmon

I'm a sucker for a good deal. Especially when it comes to food. I will buy 10 avocados when I only need 2, if it saves me a few measly cents. When I saw a whole, wild caught salmon at Uwajimaya for $4.99/pound, I knew I had to get it the whole thing. $25 for a five-pound fish! I knew it would make at least four meals for us. Fortunately, the fish monger cut it up into four large fillets. One fillet is enough for the husband and I, plus a bit leftover for his lunch.

I'm also a sucker for freezing food. As soon as I got home, those fillets were tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in the freezer. I've used three out of four fillets so far. The first one was poached in a green curry and coconut milk sauce, the second one was baked after being marinated in a soy, garlic, ginger mixture. Although both of those were quite good, the third time was the charm. I got the idea from Route 79. I only ended up using half of the spice mixture, and I added some garlic ginger paste I made and keep in the freezer.

When it comes to salmon, I'm usually hesitant to use anything more than salt, pepper and lemon because salmon already packs enough flavour on its own. I'm usually afraid that using too many spices will cover up the awesome richness of the fish. Fortunately, these spices didn't overpower the salmon at all. The outside had a nice fragrant flavour, but the inside was still salmon-y, even though I let it sit in the marinade for about 2 hours.

Paired with brown rice and roasted green beans and broccoli, this made a great dinner for us. Route 79 pan-fried the salmon, but I baked mine in the oven at 475 F for 12 minutes.

Masala Salmon
from Route 79 (serves 2)


1 salmon fillet (about 1/4 of the salmon), cut into 4 pieces
oil to coat fillet and baking sheet
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp garam masala
salt for seasoning the fish

Pat fillet dry with a paper towel. Season with salt. Place in a shallow dish (like a pyrex) and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle spices evenly over the fish (I only ended up using about half of the spice mix), and using your hands, flip the fish over and move around the dish so that the spices and oil create a paste and coat the fish evenly.

Place the pieces skin-side up in the marinade, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 475 F. Place the fish pieces skin-side down on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove fish from pan, and place on paper towels to absorb the oil.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Thai-inspired Eggplant Stirfry

There is a seasonal eggplant dish I absolutely love at Mae Nam in Vancouver. On their menu, it says that the eggplant is fried with fermented bean paste (I'm assuming with something like miso). Doing a quick internet search didn't turn up anything, so I decided to give it a try using one of many recipes without the bean paste.

I had globe eggplants on hand. Some websites said globe eggplants would be fine in this dish, other said the skin would be too thick, or that the texture wouldn't be very good. I found that using globe eggplants didn't affect the texture much, but the skin was noticeable. The skin wasn't too hard or tough, but it was just... there. I definitely think I'll use the skinny eggplants next time.

The original recipe didn't call for ginger, but I added it in, and I think it gave the dish an extra something. I also added dried red chili flakes because I forgot to grab fresh chilies at the market earlier today.

I also added some fresh red bell pepper (it was starting to get a bit wrinkly) and some blanched green beans, too. The result was a fragrant dish that was slightly salty, zingy from the ginger, a little fiery from the chilies, and just overall tasty!

So here it is!

Eggplant Stirfry (Pud Makua Yow)
Adapted from

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 bunch thai basil
1 tbsp sugar
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 asian eggplants
2 chili peppers

I added:
3/4 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
1/4 red bell pepper, sliced
1 handful blanched green beans

Slice the eggplants into irregular shapes for easy turning in the pan. When it's sliced into a small disk, it tends to stick to the bottom of the pan and makes it difficult to flip or turn.

Chop garlic (and ginger, if using) and slice chili peppers. Pick the leaves from the stem of the Thai basil.

Heat a pan or wok over high or medium high. Add oil, chili peppers and garlic. Stir until the garlic turns golden brown. Add eggplant and stir to coat. Add 3/4 cup of water and cover the pan or wok with a lid. Keep the lid close until the eggplant is cooked. It should take about 5-7 minutes before the eggplant is done. The eggplant turns from white to translucent when it is done. Almost all of the water should have been evaporated at this point. If the eggplant is still not cooked, add a little bit more water and keep lid closed until the eggplant is ready. Add fish sauce and sugar and stir. Add Thai basil and quickly stir to heat the basil, so that it retains it color. Turn off heat immediately.

Serve hot with rice.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Italian sausage, leek, and potato soup

This is one of those I-bought-more-veggies than-I-know-what-to-do-with meals. The one veggie I didn't know what to do with? Leeks. I'm not even sure which is the usable part. A lot of recipes say to chop off the dark green part, and then go on to tell you that they can be used for something else. Well, I ended up removing most of the green part. I chose to puree the soup with a hand blender, but if you chop the veggies smaller, it can be left unblended.

I think the sausage I used must've been pretty salty because I didn't need to season it much. Even though there is no milk or cream in this soup, it comes out very rich-tasting and creamy-feeling. I will definitely be making this again!

Makes 4 large bowls of thick soup.

2 tbsp of olive oil
Leeks, 3, thoroughly rinsed and chopped
3 italian sausage links, removed from casing
1 large yukon gold potato, peeled, rinsed and chopped
1/4 head of cabbage, chopped
4 cups chicken stock

Heat the a large saucepan on medium-high heat. Heat up the olive oil, and add the sausages, crumbling with a wooden spoon as they cook. Once the sausages have cooked, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the potatoes, leeks and cabbage and cook until all vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

If you are using a hand blender, turn off the heat, and puree the soup until it reaches the desired consistency. I left mine just a little chunky. Add the cooked sausage bits from before and stir. If you would like a thinner soup, add more chicken stock or water, and reheat before serving.