Turkey has been the staple in our family for the past many Christmas dinners so we figured it was time to try something different. We decided on a tender standing prime rib roast seasoned simply with salt, pepper and rosemary.  The flavour of the beef is perfectly complemented with a sour cream horseradish sauce.
I remember when I was six, excitedly biting into a gingerbread cookie I received at school and losing a baby tooth.  For the longest time I avoided gingerbread, thinking they were all unpleasant and hard as rocks.  Thankfully, when I decided to begin making my own, I found this recipe that yields soft cookies that hold their shape with just the right amount of spice.  No gingerbread house walls or tree ornaments here- unless you wait four weeks for them to dry out!

I suggest making the dough and icing the night before since the dough takes some time to chill.
Although Christmas trees, snowmen and snowflake shapes are what the season calls for, this recipe can be used on almost any occasion (i.e. hearts for Valentine's Day).  Easy and fool proof, this sugar cookie recipe will please both children and adults alike at your next holiday party.

The flavours from a fillet-o-fish sandwich from Macdonalds are truly classic. This might explain why whenever we eat out with my mother, she will invariably order a side of tartar sauce to go with her fish no matter where we happen to be eating.  As strange as it might be to ask for tartar sauce at a fancy restaurant, I can understand where she's coming from. The rich and briny condiment really does go perfectly with any type of fish. In my version the brightness of lemon and parsley is a great match with the salty and briny capers. 
Often called beef "flank" in restaurants, stewed beef brisket is Chinese comfort food at its best.  The tenderness of the beef is only made better with the aromatic star anise, ginger and garlic sauce.  Excellent served over rice or egg noodles, it is the perfect meal for a cold winter's night.

Banana pancakes.  What more can I say?  Simple, easy, scrumptious and the perfect way to start your Saturday morning.

Having been to numerous chinatowns throughout the world from New York to Honolulu the common denominators always seems to include cheap eats and stores selling knock-off merchandise. Where ever we end up going though the chinatown here in Calgary continues to be a place where we always return feeling at home and comfortable. Call it nostalgia but having spent the majority of my weekends growing up visiting the many restaurants, bakeries and one of a kind boutiques; no glitzy, ultra modern asian supermarket can seem to replace that yearning to wander the slightly grimy streets of our chinatown.

In the next little while we'll be sharing a few of our favourite spots to grab a bowl of noodles, side of BBQ pork or the best egg tarts in town. Let us know where your favourites are because I'm sure even after years of exploring those 3 tiny blocks there are spots we've yet to try. 

Hoisin sauce is sweet chinese dipping sauce that often comes along side Peking duck. Although it can be quite sweet it is well balanced by the savoury flavours of soy, garlic and chilli. We have a jar on hand in our refrigerator at all times and find it makes a great impromptu marinade for any type of meat from pork chops to fish. In this recipe the sugar and salt in the Hoisin sauce help to cure the salmon making the flesh moist and juicy while complimenting the natural flavours of the fish. The addition of a buttery panko breadcrumb crust on top of the salmon adds a great crunch to the final dish.
You may have noticed from our previous posts that our favourite cut of beef has to be the ribeye steak. No other cut can seem to match up to the sheer tenderness and intense beefy flavour. The debate that rages in our house though is how to prepare the perfect steak. My wife favours  the simple flavours of the beef highlighted only with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper while I prefer my ribeye with a homemade smokey chilli and brown sugar rub. Take a look and let us know which ribeye you think should come out on top!

Pad Thai is basically a stir fry of rice noodles with eggs, tofu, bean sprouts and any other vegetables you wish to add.  In our recipe, we used what we had on hand including carrots, onions and Chinese sausage.  Although our sauce does not use the traditional tamarind paste, the flavour is quite similar and dare I say tastier than what we've had in Thai restaurants.

Tofu is one of those staple foods in Asian cuisine and if you grew up eating it, you know just how amazing tofu can taste.  Tofu is made the same way cheese is made; soybean milk is coagulated and pressed to form the blocks of different firmness you can find in your grocery store.  Tofu, being very mild tasting, can take on any flavour you choose whether you steam, deep fry or stir fry it.  One of my favourite ways to enjoy soft tofu is in dessert form.  You can find dessert tofu in Chinese restaurants and in grocery stores.  The tofu is submerged in a sweet syrup, my personal favourite being coconut flavoured syrup.  

Mapo tofu is traditionally made with ground pork, but here we've used ground beef.  Variations of this popular Chinese recipe are common, ours is just a guideline.  The main thing to remember in order to achieve that spicy flavour is the combination of chili oil, oyster sauce and XO sauce.

Recently we had the pleasure of having some relatives visiting from England over to our house for dinner. We decided to make a roasted  tenderloin of  beef accompanied by a rich and savoury caramelized onion gravy that was fortified with a red wine reduction. This dish is great for any special occasion including thanksgiving or christmas instead of the traditional turkey and serves upwards of eight people with big appetites.

When we were young we would always look forward to the weekend when my dad would make his special honey garlic chicken wings. It was a deliciously sweet, savoury and garlic flavoured sauce that would perfectly coat each chicken wing. This is my version of my dad's classic dish using a whole chicken instead of just the wings. The harshness of the garlic is taken down by first frying until golden brown, while the soy sauce and honey add both savouriness and sweetness to the chicken.

As we still had a lot of heirloom tomatoes left from our harvest we were looking for a dish that really showcases their sweet and intense tomato flavour. This pasta salad fits the bill and is an easy take on the traditional Puttanesca pasta that includes the briny flavours of capers, olives and anchovy. If you're an anchovy hater, this recipe might be the perfect recipe to change your mind as the fillets are blended into a paste and when combined with the sweet and sour balsamic vinegar and fruity olive oil really leaves a gentle hum of delicious anchovy flavour that permeates the dish. 

As the Thanksgiving weekend is upon us the time to think about a good stuffing to go with our turkey has been on our minds. Instead of the classic cornbread stuffing we made last year we decided to try something different but nonetheless tasty. This year the stuffing to accompany our bird will be an Italian 'strata' which is essentially a savoury bread pudding flavoured with cheese, bacon, mushrooms and caramelized onions. Although not traditional, this side is the perfect blend of earthiness from the mushrooms and caramelized onions and richness from the cream and smoky bacon. 

Overall - 7.5/10
Food - 7.5/10
Service - 8/10
Ambiance - 7/10

Snow Palace on Urbanspoon

After a slow start to the growing season, the first of our heirloom tomatoes finally ripened this week.  We decided to celebrate with a recipe that is simple, requires no cooking and features the fresh flavours of the tomatoes.   Insalata caprese or "Salad of Capri" makes an excellent appetizer and can be personalized with your own additions.  Traditionally made of sliced buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and olive oil, we like to add balsamic vinegar and top it off with thin slices of Serrano ham or prosciutto.  

Recently we had a big carrot harvest from our garden. After having our fill of carrot sticks and roasted carrots, we decided to make soup with the remainder. The following is essentially a cream of carrot soup that is flavoured with indian spices and coconut milk instead of heavy cream. The result is a hearty dish that really highlights the earthiness of carrots with the aromatic flavours of garam masala (an indian spice mix), coriander, mustard seed and fennel seed. Served along side some garlic croutons and sausage this is a complete fall meal.

Overall - 7.5/10
Food - 9/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 7/10

Sun's BBQ Restaruant on Urbanspoon

The last few days or so Calgary has been suffering through a bit of a cold snap with temperatures feeling more like fall than summer. With the cooler temperatures I can't help but crave something hearty and filling. This braised cabbage with apple, bacon and sausage is a great fall weather dish that is also easy to make. What really makes this cabbage dish so delicious is the meaty flavour of the bacon, the almost licoricey flavour of the fennel seed and the sage.  Topped with sausage and a side of mashed garlic potatoes, you cannot go wrong!

Recently we had the pleasure of having some good friends over for dinner during the Labour Day long weekend. As the forecast was for hot weather and lots of sun BBQ was the only option. Normally when it comes to BBQ we're like everyone else and are happy to just quickly grill some burgers and hot dogs under the sun, however on this weekend low, slow and smoke was the way to go.

Here is our recipe for a slow cooked pulled pork rubbed with a delicious dry rub and flavoured with apple wood smoke. If you think its too much work, once you bite into the tender chunks of pork infused with the aroma of fruit wood you'll never be satisfied with 'regular' BBQ ever again.

Overall - 9/10
Food -  8/10
Service - 9/10
Ambiance- 9/10
22 North on Urbanspoon

Every so often you end up eating meat for so many days on end that you actually crave something lighter and vegetarian. Here is a recipe that takes advantage of the nice weather we've been having with grilled vegetables combined with a hearty black olive and sun dried tomato tapenade. This is a healthy vegetarian recipe that can be enjoyed alone or as a side dish. Feel free to experiment with whatever vegetables or herbs look good at the market that day including eggplant, corn, basil or even sage.
I have not met a person who likes his pho (Vietnamese beef soup noodles) more than my brother. He once almost missed his train out of Paris while travelling through Europe for a month, for a bowl of pho.  In Paris, the city of cheese, wine, pastries, steak frites, foie gras, escargot etc.....   Anyway, the point is, this man loves his pho.  Besides the pho, he is an avid mixed martial arts enthusiast and I'm pretty certain he is in way better shape than 99% of us. Friends usually don't believe me when I tell them that he used to work out for 6 hours straight in between graduating university and his current job.  (Six hours of personal gym time and MMA classes combined)  He also has a blog, Spartan Training, based on fitness, training and diet.  Check it out!

Here I'm featuring his "Baked Lemon Herb Chicken" post, which I hear is a great post-workout meal and delicious as that!   

Overall:  7.5/10

Food: 7.5/10
Service: 8/10
Ambiance: 7/10
River Cafe on Urbanspoon
Steelhead trout
We knew it was only a matter of time before we would decide to make bone marrow at home. Since having it a few years ago for the first time in Lyon, France at Brasserie Georges, we fell in love.  Beef bone marrow roasted and simply garnished tastes remarkably similar to an intensely beef flavoured butter- if such thing were to exist.  It's creamy smooth texture happens to be perfect for spreading on slices of a baguette or any toasty bread for that matter.  Cheap and easy to make at home, why would you go to a restaurant and order one serving for upwards of $12?  All you carnivores out there this is for you!

This cake is a variation of the basic sponge seen previously in the Strawberry Sponge Cake post.  Inspired by our recent trip to Hawaii, I decided to try a coconut and banana filling with shredded coconut in the sponge itself.  I experimented with orange zest this time around, it was delicious, but the flavour reminded me too much of carrot cake, so no orange zest next time.  Maybe lemon zest might be alright?  Let me know if you decide to try this out!

I think flank steak is an under appreciated cut of beef. Often you see it in the beef section labeled as either flank steak or marinating steak. As long as you cook it to medium rare and slice it thinly against the grain its more flavourful and tender than other more expensive cuts. Served with this tarragon tomato relish you have an great dish for those hot summer days. The tomato relish actually taken from Gordon Ramsay's 'Healthy Appetite' and goes well with any cut of beef. The only difference is that I add a touch of honey to balance all the acidic ingredients.

Overall - 9/10
Food -  9.5/10
Service - 9/10
Ambiance- 9/10

Merriman's Poipu on Urbanspoon

Overall - 9/10
Food -  9/10
Service - 9/10
Ambiance- 8/10

The Eastside on Urbanspoon

Overall - 8/10
Food -  9/10
Service - 9/10
Ambiance- 6/10

Fish Express on Urbanspoon

Yes, you saw that right.  Fast Food aka Mall Cuisine.  You have to admit that there are times when we all give into the convenience and the primal urge to satisfy ones hunger with some greasy deep-fried-anything.  Here are some reviews of three fast food restaurants we've eaten at in the last few weeks (ones where picture evidence was taken!).   What's your favourite fast food indulgence?  Let us know!

Butter Chicken Poutine

Every so often you have to give into your fried chicken craving. After having tried pretty much every fried chicken joint from KFC to Chicken on the Way we have always been a bit disappointed by the soggy skin and greasiness. If you decide to fry your own chicken you can be guaranteed crispy skin and fresh flavorfull chicken. This is an easy recipe that takes no time to make and the honey drizzle right before you bite into it is like nothing you've ever tried before! 
Salmon cakes are a great alternative to your typical pan fry or BBQ cooked salmon.  The result is crispy and flavourful and ranks high even with those whose favourite may not be fish.  You could choose to serve it as a main alongside a summery salad or as an appetizer.  This recipe is quite basic, meaning you can add other seasonings to personalize the flavour.  If you have the time, you could make it a day in advance since chilling the fish cakes prior to cooking does take at least an hour.  A little patience goes a long way!

Salmon cakes with butter garlic shrimp, bok choy on rice

Overall - 9/10
Food -  8.5/10
Service - 9/10
Ambiance- 9/10
Blink Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

If you're looking for some quick and delicious appetizers to make when you have friends coming over or just a nice simple dinner for two, these two crostini toppings won't disappoint. Remember to enjoy with a bottle of your favorite beer or wine!

Baking this cake is like bringing alittle sunshine into your kitchen.  The strawberries,whipped cream on this light and airy sponge cake are hard to resist.  This recipe is adapted from "Cook with Jamie".  He uses jam and fresh berries (blueberries, blackberries and raspberries), however, I enjoy making my own strawberry compote and controlling the amount of sugar in the filling.

The traditional Lions head stew gets its name from the mane-like appearance of the ribs of the cabbage as they slowly braise over deep fried pork meatballls. My version is a bit different. Instead of shaping the pork into meatballs and laying the cabbage over top to braise, I stuff the filling into the leaves and reconstruct the head of cabbage.

Ah France, how I miss thee. Two summers in a row in the land of decadent cheeses, delicious 4 euro wines, exquisite pastries, daily fresh food markets (the list goes on and on), was not enough.  As of late, I find myself pining for the 8 euro bone marrow, the ever-ubiquitous buttery goodness that is escargot and the ability to have dinner at 11:30 pm on a packed patio. As our travels will bring us elsewhere this summer, I have been gravitating towards anything that will remind me of those fond memories in Lyon and Paris.

Madeleines are French miniature sponge-like cakes in the shape of seashells. Besides looking pretty, they are delicious and go well with a nice cup of tea. Taken from a recipe book I have forgotten the name of years ago, this blueberry version is simple to make. All that you require that is out of the ordinary is the madeleine pan, which you can find quite readily if you look.

Do you or someone you know dislike the traditional tomato sauces that often are watery, too sour and lacking in flavor? A great way to get a really intensely flavored sauce that is thick and coats your pasta well is to first roast all of the normal veggies you would put in your sauce to concentrate their flavors.

I don't know if it's just me, but fake crab meat is one of those products that even though is completely different from what it's supposed to emulate, still tastes really good. Simulated bacon bits and ketchup flavored potato chips both fall into this category of food. Here is a recipe that is great if you need a quick, tasty and filling dish that's easy to put together.

Served on rice
On a Friday night, after a long work week nothing is easier to make or more satisfying to eat than a herb roasted chicken dinner.