Similkameen Valley Wine Trip

My birthday was in May and my husband decided that instead of buying me a present as per the usual tradition, he was going to plan a trip for me. Just a small weekend getaway! So he planned a little trip to the Similkameen Valley, which is prime vineyard country. We stayed in the quaint little town of Keremeos. It was a really nice trip and I was plesantly surprised with the quality of the food and the caliber of the wineries we visited. I will post about the wineries later… for now, I’m just going to post about some of the food.

On Saturday afternoon, we wandered over to Sanderson farm market, who we had heard sold awesome pakoras and samosas. The pakoras were far from the best I’ve ever had – I found them a bit tough and lacking flavour. The samosas however were AMAZING! I am pretty sure they were the best samosas I’ve ever had. They were just veggie samosas, but the spices were so perfectly balanced and the filling was amazing! The outer shell of the samosa was crisp and delicious! They could have used a bit more heat, but I guess in the market they’re catering to, they probably don’t get a lot of people requesting spicier ethnic food!

At the farm we also purchased some lovely cherries! They were so juicy and sweet! I think cherries are one of my favorite fruits.

That afternoon we went for a scenic drive – we took a back road that my husband found on google earth and proceeded to 4x4 over the mountain to Oliver, BC rather than take the highway like everyone else does. Luckily for us, we have a nice big truck that didn’t have any trouble getting over the mountain. While it was a very bumpy ride, it was also a very pretty ride and it gave us the chance to do some wildlife viewing. In Oliver we took in a couple of wineries then drove back through Osoyoos to Keremeos. It was a really nice drive with lovely weather.
For dinner that night we went to Benja Thai in Keremeos. I had my doubts about eating Thai food in a small town, but I read a few very good reviews to calm my nerves. Honestly, I had NOTHING to worry about. The food was fantastic! Here are a few pictures of the menu items we ordered:

We started with the Por Pia Todd (vegetable spring rolls):

For our meal we ordered two other dishes and rice. The first dish was Panang Curry with chicken. It was declicious – spicy and flavourful (sorry for the quality of this photo – husband was in a hurry to eat and didn’t let me get a good shot, but I wasn’t really mad about it, because honestly I was in a hurry to eat this delicious food too):

Now I cannot remember what the last dish was called… it may have been Pad Priew Waan (we ordered it with pork), but this could be the wrong name! Either way it was delicious and flavourful too and very spicy! Loved it.

For dessert I ordered thai coffee. It was declicious, sweet and creamy. I looked up a recipe later and it is made up of really strong coffee (about ¾ of the glass), lots of ice, and sweetened condensed milk. Sounds gross, but actually really lovely. I didn’t take any pictures, but it also looked very pretty – coffee stays at the bottom of the glass while the creamy mixture at the top floats without mixing much with the coffee. Stir before consuming!

Overall it was a fantastic weekend! I should also mention the bakery in Keremeos – while I didn’t take any pictures of the goods, I should have because they were fantastic. We had breakfast there one morning – we both had lemon-cheese turnovers. They were amazing! The people who run the bakery are also very kind. I forgot my purse and they put it behind the counter and had it ready for me when I realized I had left it behind! The bakery was called the Crowsnest Bakery and was owned by one of our favorite vineyards of the weekend – Crowsnest Vineyards! Annnddd they had a brand new espresso machine delivered to the bakery while we were eating our breakfast – so I would imagine that by now, they are selling lattes and cappuccinos! Yum! If you ever get the chance, do stop in – its worth it!


Proscuitto Wrapped Salmon

While my mom was still visiting, I thought I would experiment on her again with but another new recipe! This time I made Proscuitto Wrapped Salmon (Chef at Home), roasted baby potatoes and ceasar salad with a homemade dressing. All of it turned out very nicely and the presentation was lovely. The recipes were quite simple and used very straight forward and easy to find ingredients.

For the salmon - take 4 filets and season with salt and pepper. Smear approximately 1/2 -1 tbsp of grainy mustard (experiment to see what you like best) and then wrap with one strip of proscuitto. Broil in the oven til flakes when checked with a fork.

Salmon prior to going into the oven:

My cousin came to visit me in May and shared her recipe for ceasar salad dressing with me! I'm so thankful to her for sharing because I think it is one of the best ceasar salad dressing's I've ever tasted! Here is the recipe:

Whisk the following ingredients together in a small bowl:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed (or more to taste)

  • 1 1/2 tsp worscestshire sauce

  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

  • 1 1/2 tsp red wine vinnegar

  • 1/8 cup olive oil

  • 1/4 cup parmessan

Thanks for taking the time to check out my post! Hope you enjoyed this one. Let me know if you try it out and what you think!


Sesame Ginger Chicken

Last Saturday night I made a nice dinner for me, hubby, sister and mom. It was a great dinner! On the menu were Sesame Ginger Chicken (Girl Can’t Cook by Cinda Chavich), All that Jasmine (Eat, Shrink & Be Merry) and Honey Roasted Carrots (also from Girl Can’t Cook).

The Sesame Ginger chicken was to die for! Heavy asian influences including loads of ginger and some lovely toasted sesame oil. I didn’t prepare very well for this recipe since it was supposed to be marinated a minimum of 2 hours but up to 24 hours. I only marinated it for 1 hour. One hour was sufficient – chicken tasted great, but 2 hours definitely would have been even better! Chicken was really easy to make, but I cooked at a hotter temperature and for longer than the recipe said to. Here is the recipe for the chicken:
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup liquid honey
  • 1 tbsp peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 dried red chili pepper, crushed
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • juice of 1/2 lemon (approx 2tbsp)
  • chopped cilantro to garnish

Microwave sesame oil, honey, orange juice, soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic, ginger and red chili until honey is melted. Stir well and set aside to cool. Marinade chicken for 2hrs to overnight. Bake at 375F for approximately 45 minutes, basting a couple of times with pan juices.

Remove chicken and tent with foil to keep it warm. Pour cooking juices into small pan and boil for about 10 minutes until sauce is reduced into a thick glaze.

Slice chicken, spoon sauce over chicken and garnish with cilantro. Enjoy!

All that Jasmine was a jasmine rice cooked with coconut milk and chicken broth.
Add in currants, sautéed onions and spices for a fantastic accompaniment to the chicken.

Honey roasted carrots were great – instead of roasting in the oven I pan fried them since I didn’t have enough room in the oven to roast them. They still turned out fantastic though I would like to try the recipe again when I am able to roast them just to see about the difference in taste.

All of the recipes were easy to do and something most people would enjoy to eat while still being exotic enough to appeal to those who like ethnic food! Here is a picture of the plated dinner (minus the carrots since my mom ate the rest of them!):


Golden Kiwi

So apparently I have been out of the loop in the fruit world. I was at a friend's house about a week ago and noticed something that looked like a kiwi sitting on her counter, but it was clearly not a kiwi - not nearly hairy enough. Upon asking her what this was, she informed me that it was a Golden Kiwi. Looks similar to a regular kiwi, but lighter in colour and far less hairy. She informed me that you can even eat the skin (you can eat the skin of regular kiwis, but the texture is rather hairy and most people don't find it all that pleasurable!).

So I looked the Golden Kiwi up on Wikipedia and they noted the following:

"Gold Kiwifruit or "Hinabelle", with yellow flesh and a sweeter, less
acidic flavour resembling a tropical fruit salad...Gold Kiwifruit have a smooth, bronze skin, a pointed cap at one end and distinctive golden yellow flesh with a less tart and more tropical flavour than green kiwifruit. It has a higher market price than green kiwifruit. It is less hairy than the green cultivars, so can be eaten whole after rubbing off the thin, fluffy coat."
Here are some pictures of this yummy fruit!


Easy Appetizer

I have a few items kicking around my kitchen that I picked up on a recent trip to a Fraser Valley winery called Vista D’oro Farms. They make some awesome artisanal spreads and preserves in their on-site kitchen along with lots of other yummy goodies! I purchased a jar of Turkish Fig with Walnut Wine preserves. SO GOOD! But there was quite a lot of it and I wasn’t sure what to do with the rest...

So I came up with the brilliant idea to make a little appetizer with it. I took some poppy & sesame crackers, one log of cracked pepper goat cheese and combined them with the preserves to make a pretty and easy appy. I think I may try this a few different ways in the future including first topping the cracker with the goat cheese and broiling til warm and then topping with the preserves. I am also tossing around the idea of doing the broiling thing but instead of using crackers using a fresh baguette! It would also be lovely to whip the goat cheese with the preserves and top the crackers or baguettes with the mixture and garnish with some pretty cilantro. If you think of any other ideas, let me know! Here are pictures of making the appy:

Hope you enjoyed these as much as I did! Check out the Vista D'oro website - they have some new wines being released in the next couple of weeks - they will definitely be worth the wait! :)


Weekend Wines

I tried a few new wines this weekend... two that are worth mentioning! First one was on Friday night and man was it tasty. It was a 2008 Gewurztraminer from the Okanagan winery Gray Monk. I found the wine to be quite sweet and very smooth to drink. The finish was very nice with little to no bitterness. We served the wine on its own before dinner. The Gray Monk winery has the following tasting notes on their webpage:

"Yellow green in hue, this wine has distinctive and powerful aromas of herbal
spice, fresh melon and ripe peaches. The flavours are exceptionally complex,
showing notes of lichee, melon, tropical fruits and even a suggestion of Earl
Grey tea. The finish is crisp and fresh, with notes of spice that linger on the
palate. Served chilled, this wine is appealing on its own, with salads or Asian
Here are a couple pictures of the bottle and label in case you decide you want to try it. It was about $17 per bottle at the government liquor store.

Another feature wine of the weekend was Dr. Loosen 2008 Reisling from Germany. I tasted this wine about 2 months ago at a beginner’s wine tasting class and wanted to try it on my own at home. The wine is fantastic – it is an off dry wine that pairs extremely well with smoky cheeses such as applewood smoked cheddar. I would recommend this wine for new wine drinkers particularly those who have trouble finding a wine that is not too dry for their tastes. Here are a couple of pics of the labels in case you decide you want to try it out:

Both of these wines are really reasonably priced and can be found in most government liquor stores... if you can find them in stock! :) Hope you enjoy as much as I did. Check back soon - I still have a few meals I cooked on the weekend to write about!


Chocolatey Goodness!

June 8th was my sister's birthday and I promised I would make her a dessert of her choice. She chose Mississippi Mud Cake. The recipe came from the Food Network courtesy of Paula Deen. Once I started baking I realized that the recipe seemed a little strange...

I should have taken pictures as the recipe progressed because the recipe was quite different from anything I’ve ever seen. Initially you combine butter, oil, cocoa powder and get this – WATER! In a saucepan and melt them all together. The mixture comes together initially but separates and becomes quite chunky as it comes to a boil (as per recipe instructions). I started panicking a little at this point but my mom convinced me to keep going and just follow the instructions (thank goodness for mom’s!!!). Once I took it off the heat and mixed it with the flour, sugar and salt it came together much nicer and began to resemble something edible though it was still quite crumbly. Then added the buttermilk, vanilla, eggs and baking soda and it looked heavenly.

Baked the recipe in a 9x13 inch pan, but should have used a deeper pan since once the brownie rose up a bit there wasn’t much room left for the marshmallows and chocolate icing! Definitely looked decadent once it was assembled. Here are some pics of the finished product:

More posts to follow this weekend... I have three types of wine to try out and will be sure to share the details with you!


First time Bread Making Adventure

So here we go - my first ever posting to my very own blog! Last night I attempted to bake bread for the very first time ever! I'm quite excited about this progression since one of my good friends seems to be quite good at baking bread and has vast amounts of knowledge about anything bread related. I found the easiest recipe I could find in any of my cookbooks which happened to be a loaf of "City Bread" from Chef Michael Smith's cookbook "Chef at Home".

The ingredients were really simple - flour, salt, yeast and water. Simple is good! I didn't follow the instructions exactly since I wanted to use quick rise yeast (not sure if this is a bad thing) because I didn't want to wait 12-14 hours for my dough to rise (instant gratification much?!)! Soooo it seems to have worked out alright... the dough rose up so nicely in my big bowl and was very light and fluffy.

After minimal kneading the next step was to put this dough into the pan I would be baking it in... well, I only have one loaf pan, which turned out to be much too small... so I have a VERY tall loaf of bread on my hands! I will be investing in a larger loaf pan shortly so I can continue experimenting with bread. First pic is of my dough in my small loaf pan - looking so nice before being put into a hot oven:

I baked the loaf in the oven for about 35 minutes until doing the "knock test" to see if the bread was done resulted in a nice hollow sound indicating that the bread was in fact done.

Here are a few pictures of the finished product - it was late at night, so no exciting presentation here... just plain and simple pictures. :)

If anyone has any bread making wisdom to impart, please by all means share by commenting on this post! The end result of this recipe was far from perfect, but tasted pretty fantastic if I do say so myself!

Thanks for taking the time to read this post (or even just look at the pictures)! More culinary adventures to follow this weekend.