Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Recipe! Greek inspired roast lamb shoulder or leg of lamb with new potatoes, garlic, white wine, rosemary and lemons

Its almost Easter, and folks usually love roasting a turkey in their ovens around this time.  Since I've made a few turkeys over Christmas (easy brine and roast a turkey recipe here), I wanted something different.  So, in February, I started experimenting with lamb.  I love tender melt in your mouth lamb with most of its gaminess masked by fresh herbs. I absolutely adore slow roasted lamb, especially if its done with Greek flavors. My preference is to eat lamb at a rare to medium rare.  And though I'm usually pretty patient, I didn't feel like waiting while the roast sloooooow roasted for 3+hours every single time I craved a lamb roast.  We all have better things to do than babysit a roast for hours. So, I tweaked a 3hours+ slow roasted recipe lamb shoulder roast to be done in (much more reasonable) 1 hour of roasting time.  I wanted lots of flavor, so solved that by marinating the roast overnight to infuse it with plenty of fresh herbs, garlic and to tenderize in olive oil.  I also wanted a one pan meal (less mess and I'm lazy/efficient!), so tossed in potatoes, and a pan of carrots on the side (Next time I'll remember to use a huge pan and then you can do everything in one single pan).  The result... it takes a bit of planning as the roast needs to marinate overnight in the fridge, come to temperature for about 30min, BUT then you can kick back as the lamb roasts and fills your house with the delicious scent of roasted herbed lamb for the next hour!  If you prefer slow roasted lamb and have 3+ hours, you can use the same recipe, just remember to wrap the entire roast and pan with foil to seal in the steam and juices and up the roasting time to well... 3 hours.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Harvest Room, Fairmont Hotel MacDonald, Edmonton, AB - Delectable ostrich entrée and great service

Last month, back during Downtown Dining Week, we hit up the Harvest Room to try out ostrich!  Yup, ostrich - cartoon versions of large birds magically jamming their heads into the sand are transformed into a delicious lean (and healthy) entrée at the venerable Hotel Mac.  My boyfriend's never tried this lean, moist meat that is reminiscent of dark turkey meat, and heading to dinner was the highlight of our day after a very long workday!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

How to make 100% butter buttercream and icing a fondant covered LEGO minifigure head cake from start to finish Part 2!

So, you've made your cakes and they're nice and cool and ready to frost them before popping fondant on it (if you're feeling adventurous).  I baked 3 pineapple sheet cakes the night before... I only needed two, but I baked a third one for good luck. (Recipe and part 1 with baking/storing cake tips here).  I'm scribbling down my lessons learned from trial cakes and the actual cake I served my friends so when I get old, crotchety and can't remember a darn thing, at least I can bake a cake, ice it and eat it too hahahaha!

Monday, 7 April 2014

The River House St. Albert, AB - Tasty casual fine dining

A few months ago, we went to The River House in St Albert for his birthday dinner.  The River House is a little hard to find if you're not familiar with St Albert - you sort of have to drive past it and loop back in order to get to if off St Albert Trail. You'll hit the historic Mission district and the restaurant looks like a quaint Victorian style house and overlooks the the scenic Sturgeon River. They also have private dining rooms that accommodate 10-60, but we sat in the main dining area.  You're greeted at the main doors by a gorgeous sweeping circular staircase and massive chandelier, and the seating area has a mix of dark woods, red panels and burnished fixtures.  On to the food!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Pineapple sheet cake recipe and tips for baking, making, buttercream and icing a fondant covered LEGO minifigure head cake from start to finish Part 1!

My boyfriend adores pineapple.  So a few months prior to his birthday, I thought, hey - lets make him a pineapple cake, maybe use some butter cream and then fondant the sucker to look like something nice (and hopefully not a ridiculously expensive mess!).  So I started the hunt for sheet cakes or pound cakes that had pineapple in them.. something preferably light and fluffy with a good cake crumb, something that tasted good, and most importantly had both the physical properties of being dense enough to be stacked in multiple layers without collapsing or being carved, plus ability to stay moist for a few days.  Well, there really isn't any sheet cakes out there period that have pineapple in it! Doh! So after lots of reading up on cake baking, 4 trial cakes later (the first one I discarded cuz it literally was a pound cake frisbee!) and plenty of mistakes and lessons learned... here's the recipe that fits the bill!  There was a lot of conflicting info out there regarding do you or don't you do/not refrigerate/freeze fresh/iced/fondant'ed cake and in the next multi-part blog series, I'll let you know what really really does work vs what doesn't.. mainly cuz I used the trial cakes to test and air out most of the "tips" out there.  The end result wasn't perfect since it was my first attempt, but if you have time to bake and experiment with trial cakes - I'd highly recommend it... or follow these tested tips in this series!