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Meal Prep Tips and Tricks – Video

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Watch the video below to see my 5 favourite foods and tools for keeping meal prep easy breezy:

Top Five Foods for Meal Prep:

  1. Mixed Greens – in the fridge for salads and in the freezer for smoothies
  2. Organic Dried Beans – cook in slow cooker, pressure cooker or on the stove
  3. Vanilla Optimum Vegan Protein Blend – in oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt and baking
  4. Salad Dressings: Miso Ginger and Balsamic
  5. Toppings:  Garlic Onion and Tutti Fruity

Top Five Tools for Meal Prep:

  1. Mason Jars with plastic lids: for storing and transporting
  2. Silicone Muffin Tray: for baking and freezing
  3. Portion Scoops: for prepping nourish bowls and individual meals
  4. Immersion Blender: for pureeing soups, dressings, pudding and smoothies
  5. Sheet Pan and Liner: for sheet pan dinners, cookings and jelly rolls!

What are your meal prep tips?

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Burdock and Co

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Cherry Leaf Cured Scallops, shiso rice crackers, cracked cherry pit ice

Fresh Oysters, finger lime caviar, fresh breakfast radish, chickweed, apple & verbena sorbet, kasu emulsion

Trying a brand new restaurant is just about our family’s favourite thing to do and when the chef/owner happens to be Andrea Carlson (Sooke Harbour House, Raincity Grill, Bishop’s, etc), who is not only an a fantastic cook but a long time friend, we get downright excited! So, we made sure the three of us were at the corner of Main and E 11th Ave for the very first public service of Burdock & Co.

2702 Main Street

2702 Main Street

After admiring the space (the former home of Cafeteria), we sat down and ordered some drinks. I had one of the two non-alcoholic cocktails, from a list designed by Lauren Mote of Kale and Nori Culinary Designs, the Cascadian Cooler.

Apple & Fenugreek, Lime, Mint, Denman Bitters, Gingerbeer

Apple & Fenugreek, Lime, Mint, Denman Bitters, Gingerbeer

The menu featured dishes showcasing local and seasonal ingredients in imaginative combinations that made it difficult to narrow down our selections, so we ordered almost the whole menu to share family style!

Cherry Leaf Cured Scallops, shiso rice crackers, cracked cherry pit ice

Cherry Leaf Cured Scallops, shiso rice crackers, cracked cherry pit ice

We started with the scallops and oysters (both requested by our 10-year-old son, Young Fresh Chef) which were delicate and delicious like a cool spring morning on the West Coast. We even nibbled on the cherry blossoms as instructed by our charmer of a server.

Urban Digs Egg, wild cress, hazelnut & blue cheese granola, brown butter & potato vinaigrette

Urban Digs Egg, wild cress, hazelnut & blue cheese granola, brown butter & potato vinaigrette

The flavour and textural combination of the poached egg and the savoury granola was my favourite of the night and I may have Mmmmmmmed out loud more than once! The peppery wild cress presented a nice contrast to the luxuriousness of the rest of the plate.

Fire Roasted Green Farro, spruce tips, black garlic, sorrel

Fire Roasted Green Farro, spruce tips, black garlic, sorrel

The vegan farro dish was my meat-loving husband’s top pick of the meal and the plate was scraped down to the ceramic glaze. The depth of flavour from the black garlic was earthy and sweet adding a soulful umami element to the farro.

Fried Chicken & Pickles, crispy skin, charred chili vinegar

Fried Chicken & Pickles, crispy skin, charred chili vinegar

Our son most enjoyed the fried chicken and he said that he could taste the love that was put into the preparation. The crispy skin was like chicken bacon and the accompanying pickled vegetables helped cut the richness of this dish.

Harvest Pork Belly Ramen, Candied Bacon, nori, fried egg

My husband and I were slowing down at this point, but the boy went full boar (pun intended) into the bowl of ramen.

Wheat Berry Risotto, sunroot, mustard greens, castelvetrano olives, Farmhouse 'Fermiere', smoked crema

Wheat Berry Risotto, sunroot, mustard greens, castelvetrano olives, Farmhouse ‘Fermiere’, smoked crema

The risotto was delicious and since the smoked crema would be good with almost anything, it just made the dish that much better. While this was a vegetarian dish, the dairy components gave it a rich taste and mouth feel.

Halibut, braised spring radish and hop shoots, pine mushroom and burdock tea, fried burdock, hop salt

While we should have been getting full after so much deliciousness, my fellas had their forks into the halibut before I could take a single photo! Like everything we tried, the dish was a tantalizing combination of ingredients with an excellent balance of flavours and was seasoned to perfection.

Gluten Free Cookies

Gluten Free Cookies

We still had a bit of room for dessert and we really enjoyed the gluten-free cookie selection by the soft glow of candlelight.

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We left with full bellies and hearts already plotting our return.

 

Burdock & Co

Open 7 days a week

from 5pm for dinner

no reservations

2702 Main Street

Vancouver, BC V5T 3E8

604-879-0077

email: eat@burdockandco.com

twitter: @burdockandco

website: www.burdockandco.com

Which dish pictured appeals most to your taste buds?

Happy Pi Day!

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The Perils of Peach Pie

The Perils of Peach Pie

March 14th is Pi day (3.14), I hope you are celebrating with real pie, I’m just sticking with pictures of pie. Up top is my Perfect Peach Pie and below is Not So Sour Cherry Pie. Enjoy!

Cherry Pie Serenade

Kitchenette’s Kitchen

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View from a fridge

View from a fridge

While pieces of my kitchen have appeared in the background of pictures of food, I thought it was time to put the work space front and centre. We redid the kitchen JUST in time to host our families for Christmas 2011. I wouldn’t recommend cutting it as close as we did, wee bit stressful. We replaced the stove and fridge, added a dishwasher, recovered the existing cabinets and added more counter space and open shelves.

The reno is sinking in

The reno is sinking in

We kept the sink and counters, as we were trying to keep the budget down. The faucet is new can be pulled out to fill large pots. By leaving the counter we saved a bundle and figured it would be easy to do later if we changed our minds.

Our sexy stove

Our sleek stove

We were going to get a glass top stove, but the sales rep basically talked us out of it. Our dream stove would be gas, but this isn’t our forever house so we kept it electric.

The cosy fridge nook

The cosy fridge nook

The fridge was the fanciest upgrade in the kitchen, with side by side compartments, ice machine and filtered water. It was larger than our previous refrigerator, but just by removing a bit of moulding and a dusty shelf it fit like it was custom-made.

Let there be light and a light breeze

Let there be light and a light breeze

The light fixture with fan is the priciest light fixture in our house, with all the rest coming from Home Depot, but it’s also the prettiest! Combined with the new hood any smells and smoke are whisked away in a quiet gust.

Stove top with pretty pots

Stove top with pretty pots

We added some butcher block counter top to the right of the stove to give us a larger work space. It was really a one person kitchen before, now it’s a 2 adult and a growing chef space.

Dishwasher that replaced me

Dishwasher that replaced me

The butcher block is in an L shape and covers the dishwasher and some open shelves for small appliances and bakeware. The Pacojet has since found a new home, where it will be used more than once a month.

Dry goods shelves and produce corner

Dry goods shelves & produce

My husband, Exec Chef designed these floating shelves that hold my spice jars, grains, beans and other dry goods. We always have a fruit bowl on the counter for quick snacks and garlic and onions out for easy access since we use them daily.

Shelves next to the stove

Shelves next to the stove

We also added two small floating shelves, of the same design, to the right of the stove. The lower shelf holds our kosher salt-cellar, pepper grinder and butter bell. On the upper shelf, I displayed some orange themed implements.

KitchenAid in the Corner

KitchenAid in the Corner

To the left of the sink, we have our knife block (away from little visiting hands) and my beautiful KitchenAid mixer, which I may not use everyday but it does make me smile.

Breakfast Central

Breakfast Central

To the right of the sink, we have our DJ station, bread box, toaster and blender. Which covers breakfast in our house on many mornings! The bottle matches my spice jars and is full of fantastic olive oil.

Thanks for taking a virtual tour of my shiny kitchen, it will never look this tidy again!

What is the one thing you wish you could most change about your kitchen?

Bay Leaf Bonanza

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Kitchenette Finds Bay Laurel Leaf

My favourite part of our kitchen, since our renovation, is the shelf that cradles my collection of spices and herbs. I can travel the world just by inhaling the heady aromas enclosed in the purple apothecary jars that preserve the flavourful treasures within. I’d like to share some of these seasonings and why they make me so giddy!

My tasty collection

My tasty collection

The scent of Bay Leaf always takes me back to the California coast where groves of California Bay Laurel trees fill the air with a heady scent as the trees sway in the constant ocean breeze. My other strong scent associated memories of California are the night-blooming jasmine in Napa and the ever-present scent of Ranch Dressing in the capital city of garlic, Gilroy. While the leaves of the California Bay Laurel can be used for seasoning dishes, the more subtly flavoured Bay Laurel that is native to the Mediterranean is more commonly used in cooking and more widely available. There are also other varieties of Laurel trees outside of Europe that are used in local cuisines, including: Indian Bay Leaf, Indonesian Bay Leaf, West Indian Bay Leaf and Mexican Bay Leaf. Each has a different flavour profile, but they all have a similar appearance.

Bay Laurel Leaves

While dried Bay Leaf can be purchased at any grocery store, it’s always better to dry the fresh leaves yourself for maximum flavour. While I have never been lucky enough to have my own Bay Laurel, I have been the recipient of branches from generous friends and neighbours who have. My most recent bough was overflow from a bushel given to my mother. The fresh leaves are quite mild and need to be dried for several weeks to reach their full flavour capacity. I like to use the newly dried leaves as I find the flavour is more buttery and rich. In the photo below, the leaf on top is one from the branch above and the bottom leaf was purchased.

Bay Laurel Leaf

I use Bay Leaf in almost every soup and sauce that I make (including Cranberry Sauce), as it works well with most other spices and herbs adding a slightly floral complexity. I always use whole leaves and fish them out near the end as they are inedible unless ground to a fine powder. You can also place the smaller pieces in a tea ball or muslin bag, which can also be improvised with cheese cloth. As with many herbs and spices, bay leaves have long been used for their medicinal properties, but the leaves of the laurel tree are most often associated with the laurel wreaths worn by Olympians in Ancient Greece and victors of war in Ancient Rome. Bay Leaf is always a winner in my books and I will continue to rest on my laurels when I’m looking to create a more complex flavour.

Bay Laurel BranchWhat dishes just wouldn’t be the same without a hint of bay leaf?

Olive Greek Salad Dressing

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IMG_2089

Cooks always start by mastering the Garde Manger station, our home kitchen is no exception. I started my son, Young Fresh Chef, on salads and appetizers. My mother, Momette, has always made salad dressings from scratch and I’ve continued the tradition. Years ago, when I was making a vinaigrette with my son, he couldn’t have been any older than 6, he asked why I didn’t add some of the olive juice from the bottle of Kalamata olives that I was using from the salad. I’d never considered adding the brine as an acidic element, so I splashed some into the dressing and it was fantastic!

Olive Salad Dressing Ingredients

Later, when we told his dad, Exec Chef about our latest creation there was a glint in his eye that a new menu item was about to appear at his restaurant. It was the first time that our son had inspired a dish and he was as proud as physically possible to be a part of the creative process.

Lately, I’ve been trying to healthify (this is now a word) our food at home and one way is by cooking with fats from whole foods (nuts, seeds, avocados, etc) rather than using extracted fats (butter, oil, shortening, etc). When trying to make a new type of salad dressing, I thought back to the flavours that I loved to put together and, of course, I thought of the olive juice salad dressing. Why not use whole olives instead of olive oil?

I decided to go with a Greek flavour profile, based around Kalamata olives. So, I threw together some fresh squeezed lemon juice, Dijon mustard, a bit of feta cheese, some Kalamata olives, salt and pepper in a little jar and blended it together with my immersion blender.

Blended Olive Salad DressingI topped a salad of romaine lettuce, purple cabbage, shredded carrot and celery with some of the dressing and I couldn’t believe the amazing olive and feta flavour that was delivered with every bite. Usually, when I add whole olives to a salad I try to space them out to get maximum enjoyment. With the blended olive dressing, I felt like every forkful was filled with salty tang of Greece.

Enjoying Olive Greek Dressing

Hilltop Diner Cafe

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Family Lunch Order at Hilltop Diner Cafe in Langley, BC

Family Lunch Order at Hilltop Diner Cafe in Langley, BC

Sometimes you just want the classics: a clubhouse sandwich with roasted turkey, a juicy burger or a straight up breakfast. On a lazy Sunday, when this mood strikes us, we pile into the car as a family and take a leisurely drive to the Hilltop Diner Cafe in the middle of nowhere part of Langley. Picture perfect enough to be a constant shooting location for TV shows and movies, they even have a scrap-book that they love to pull out and show off, the food is just as authentic. But it’s the service that makes it the real deal, it’s casual but caring. They are a busy bunch being open 7 days a week from 8:00 to 2:30 since 1946. Their full breakfast menu is served until 11am and then they still have a small list of morning staples available, as well as their crazy mega burgers (with names like Everest burger and Anarchist burger they are ridonkulous) until they close.

Eggs, Farmer's Sausage & Toast at the Hilltop Diner Cafe

Eggs, Sausage & Toast at Hilltop Diner Cafe

Since it is a bit of a drive for us, and it’s hard to hurry on Sundays, we haven’t made it for the full breakfast menu yet. I think I’m stuck on the clubhouse because of the in-house oven-roasted turkey that is so thinly sliced and nestled in the lightly toasted bread with the perfect amount of lettuce and tomatoes and beautifully crisped bacon. I switch between the excellent french fries  and the impressively fresh side salad.   All the sandwiches and burgers that we’ve tried have been exactly as we would want them to be. Their milkshakes and floats are fantastic and big enough to share and share and share. My other regret about the menu is that we STILL haven’t tried any of their amazing looking pies as we are always too full after our sandwich and burger feast. I guess we’ll have to keep going and keep trying things, it’s a tough life!

Hot Turkey Sandwich with Gravy and Cranberry Relish at the Hilltop Diner Cafe

Hilltop Diner Cafe

23904 Fraser Highway

Langley, BC

(604) 514-9424

Open Daily from 8:00 to 2:30

Full Breakfast Menu served until 11am

Closed on Holiday Mondays

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