Tag Archives: calgary

Calgary Stampede 2013 – Midway Food!

Stampede 2013 with The Aimless Cook

The Calgary Stampede is back and so is all the excitement that comes with it. I was on the Stampede midway last night and sampled some of the latest offerings that the food vendors had to offer. Among the classics, like corndogs, tacos, flautas, mini-donuts, and ginormous turkey legs, the bar was raised once again with the typical deep-fried shock-fest of offerings such as deep-fried Oreos, cheesecakes, Philly Cheesesteaks, and butter. Yeah…deep-fried butter. Here are a few of the items I had the pleasure (or displeasure) of sampling…

The classic corndog

This is my favourite food item under the “meat-on-a-stick” category. Whenever I visit the Stampede, this is one thing I cannot leave without having. Crunchy battered exterior, yielding to a perfectly cooked mystery meat in tube form underneath. This is street food genius on a stick. Just mustard, please!

Eggroll-on-a-stick

This is basically exactly what it says it is, and as a result of eating this, I ask the simple question…why? Eggrolls are finger food, meant to be eaten with your hands. They’re already made into a form that promotes portability and ease of consumption. Why complicate things by adding a stick? Now grab some wontons, make them super-sized, fry them up and put 4 on a skewer. There’s something I can enjoy on the midway!

Chocolate-dipped Jalapenos

I honestly thought I would enjoy these. The heat of the peppers in play with the dark chocolate sound intriguing, but I was dead wrong. Since the jalapenos are fresh, they emit that raw, very powerful heat that just overwhelms the palate in a way that the chocolate just can’t compete with. Another one of those snacks for late night drinking challenges when it’s time for truth or dare.

Deep-fried Butter

This just sounds wrong on a lot of levels, unless you’re a huge fan of Paula Deen’s cooking. Chunks of cold butter are wrapped in pie dough and deep-fried. As a result, what you end up with is a pile of deceptive little morsels of molten-hot, artery clogging pastry bites. Since the butter inside is melted, you get this crispy on the outside, raw dough inside bite that’s just not appetizing at all. They’re a little better dipped in ice cream, but if you want a better experience for your buck, just get churros and ice cream.

Naaco TNT

Calgary food truck, The Naaco Truck, brings their unique spin on Indian cuisine to the streets, and at this year’s Stampede, they have brought the Naaco TNT. The TNT is chef and owner, Aman Adatia’s take on the famous Indian street snack, Jhal muri which features a colourful and refreshing mix of local produce, puffed rice, fried chickpeas, cornflakes, cilantro, lime and a tangy tamarind dresssing. Put that mix into a paper cone, add a stick (in this case, a tongue depressor) to scoop it all up, and go hard. I love this dish. Unlike all the other fried offerings that are constantly trying to out-shock each other, the Naaco TNT is fresh, healthy and incredibly delicious. The textures of the dry ingredients interplay with the crisp cucumbers and sweet corn to give your mouth a very pleasant experience.

The flavour profile focuses on the fresh, local vegetables and are a nice complement to the tang of tamarind and lime juice in the dressing. The pineapple also adds a nice hit of sweetness to round things out. Beautiful.

There are a lot of foods on the midway that are out to challenge your perception and tastebuds. Some are way out there while there are still the good old classics. What are some of your favourite midway foods?

Hold the Mustard! – The Market

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Though it was a ridiculous weekend weatherwise, it was a busy and bustling time at Kingsland Farmers Market. Margaret Nemeth of Primal Soup Company, has been busy for months developing recipes and flavour combinations in her kitchen. The result – Calgary’s newest gourmet hot dog destination, Hold the Mustard.

Margaret offers 8 kinds of delicious hot dogs and sausages with a choice of 37 fresh, homemade toppings made from local ingredients. With this much to choose from, there’s always reason to keep coming back for more!

My Farmers Market Show

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A lot of you probably don’t know that I have done work with my local Farmers Market for about a year. I produce video content for Kingsland Farmers Market with a weekly show called “The Market”. In this week’s episode, I met with chef and author, dee Hobsbawn-Smith who was at the Market promoting her new book, “Foodshed: An Edible Alberta Alphabet”. This fun, but informative look at Alberta local food covers 76 local growers and producers and includes 26 inspired recipes. Do you have a farmers market where you live?

Eggs, St. Patrick’s Day and My First ChefHangout

Eggs

There is a world of potential inside that perfect shell waiting to be tapped and utilized by someone with loving hands and an inspiration. On the other hand, there are people that want to be reassured that they can crack open a couple of these beauties on a Sunday morning and cook up a familiar favourite with their bacon and coffee. No matter how you look at it, eggs are such a fundamental and necessary ingredient in our daily lives, that is, unless you’re a vegan or something.

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The Momofuku 5:10 egg. Seriously, 5 minutes and 10 seconds. Go figure.

Since my son, Josh had his own omelette episode on The Aimless Cook, I have been thinking about the possibility of doing a mini-series on the subject of eggs. Since then, I have made the scrambled egg episode and I have another omelette show waiting to be edited (the country vs. the classic French style). Personally, my favourite is poached and slow cooked. Since eggs are so prevalent in Asian cooking, I love my yolks soft and runny. There is nothing like digging into bibimbap and experiencing the first breaking of the soft yolk. It’s mesmerizing.

So stay tuned for another great egg episode in the days to come. In that episode, I will be showing you my method of making a slow cooked ‘onsen tamago’ style egg that’s perfect for ramen, juk or just with some dashi, soy and green onion. Simple food is the best, isn’t it? 

St. Patrick’s Day

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This past weekend, we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by volunteering at the Kingsland Farmers Market pancake breakfast to raise cash and donations for the local Food Bank. I was cooking up a slew of fluffy, delicious pancakes for the masses as our special guests from the Calgary Stampeders served breakfast, signed autographs and had their pictures taken with the fans. It was a great way to spend the morning and we raised over $500 cash and a huge pile of food donations. Thanks to all who volunteered and special thanks to the Calgary Stampeders Football Club for stopping by. Most of all, thanks to you Calgarians for coming to Kingsland Farmers Market, supporting a great cause and sharing a wonderful day with us!

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My First ChefHangout

I have always thought about doing a live version of the show. For many months, I have been thinking of some type of format that would make it different. Would I do a cooking demo? Should I have a live broadcast of Q&A? What would make this compelling? Then one day, I met Joe Saad. 

Joe Saad approached me one day on Google+ and told me about a new site he was starting up called ChefHangout.com. He said it was a new way to experience learning and he was looking for chefs to take part in an inaugural group to launch this venture. Online cooking class via Google Hangouts. I thought, “Why not?”

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Chicken Adobo v2

A couple months later and there I was, teaching my first class to one of my friends from work with her daughter, son-in-law and friend. I wanted my first class to be a simple, tried and true recipe that I couldn’t screw up, so I picked my Chicken Adobo v2 that I did not too long ago for YouTube’s Next Chef. The class went splendidly. I took her through the steps and the technology worked flawlessly, and as we cooked, it was like being in the kitchen with her. We cooked, we drank and in the end, had a wonderful Filipino dinner. 

adobo class

As I write this post, I am thinking about future classes. I have gotten a lot of requests for Thai cooking as well as some tutorials on basic sauces and general knife skills. As time goes on, I’m sure I will have a little somethin somethin for everyone. Visit the site to see what classes I will be hosting in the near future, as well as to check out some of the other great classes hosted by some really talented chefs at ChefHangout.com.

An Evening at Bolero – Brazilian Steakhouse

Imagine if you will a place where you can get an endless supply of succulent, mouthwatering meat, slow roasted over hot glowing coals to juicy perfection. Prime rib, pork tenderloin, chicken legs, even pineapple, lovingly prepared and brought to your table. As long as you got the “green light” on, the passadores (meat waiters) with the giant skewers full of meat keep on coming til you can’t take anymore. Bolero is a meat lover’s paradise. This type of cooking style, reminiscent of the gaucho fireside cookout is called churrasco and is becoming a popular restaurant trend.

Though Bolero has been around for years, I had never had the opportunity to visit until last weekend. I had always heard that Bolero is the premiere destination for this type of dining, so it was inevitable that I would be sampling their rodizio (full service) menu. Basically, dinner works like this: You have a little wooden token at your table with one end painted green and one end painted red. As long as the green end is up, the passadores will come bearing meat gifts on giant skewers until you’ve had enough and turn over your token to red. 

In addition to the glorious trademark South American style barbecue (which they do very well) which includes such signature selections as picanha (beef top sirloin cap), filet mignon and a simple, but sublime grilled pineapple, Bolero also has an incredible buffet of sides and salads. Though they’re all delicious, don’t forget to save room for the meat! Dessert is done just as well and when you’re just about ready to tap out, make sure you try the tres leches, a delicious cake made with 3 types of milk. Unbelievable.

To sum up the experience, it was a nice and quiet evening out. Great spot for a date or a small get together, though I’m sure big groups will have fun as well. I don’t have other words to say about this place. You’ll just have to watch the video.

Haloumi Salad

I love goat. It’s just beyond words. There’s that subtle savoury essence that is reminiscent of a spring lamb in the meat that I have enjoyed in many curries and palutan. The milk has a distinct taste that many are not too fond of, but I have found that the fresher the milk, the less gamey it is. That same distinctness lends itself well to cheese and as I have found, there are some great cheeses that can be made with goat’s milk. In this recipe, I will use a goat milk Haloumi cheese. Haloumi is a Cypriot cheese that has a high melting point, making it the perfect cheese for frying and grilling. What you get is a crispy slice of cheese with a smooth and slightly salty center. It’s simply simple. Let’s cook.

You will need:

  • 250 g Haloumi, cut into 8 slices
  • 4 strawberries
  • 1 lemon
  • fresh basil leaves
  • mixed greens
  • 1 cup crispy bacon, chopped
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • S&P

This is a very easy salad to put together. Start by taking some nice basil leaves and pressing them into the Haloumi slices (1 per slice). You’re looking to make them pretty, like edible dominos. Heat up a skillet with a little olive oil and fry the haloumi slices, basil side down on medium high heat until golden brown. Flip and cook until both sides are done. Remove from the skillet and set on paper towels to drain.

Zest and juice the lemon and put into a large mixing bowl. We’re gonna make a simple dressing. Add extra virgin olive oil, whisk to combine and finally season with some S&P to taste. With salad dressing, you want to achieve an oil to acid ratio of about 3:1. Add your favourite mixed greens, a little of the julienned carrot for some colour and the bacon for texture. Toss together and set aside. Plate the salad with a couple slices of haloumi on a bed of greens. Accent with some sliced strawberry and serve. Of course, you can use whatever greens are in season. I have done this salad with ribbons of zucchini and prosciutto and it’s delicious. Be creative and fear nothing. Stay hungry everyone!

Special thanks to Harvey and Carolyn of Noble Meadows Farm for their incredibly fresh and delicious goat milk, cheeses and Heritage eggs. Be sure to visit them on Facebook! 

J

Goat Cheese Frittata

With Mother’s Day coming up, it’s the perfect opportunity to impress with this simple recipe. Thanks to our friends at Noble Meadows Farms at the Kingsland Farmers Market for these spectacular Heritage chicken eggs and fresh goat’s feta cheese. This is a frittata that I know you will enjoy!

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  • 8 large eggs, beaten
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • ½ cup bacon, chopped
  • ½ cup red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup potatoes, boiled and diced
  • ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • salt and pepper to taste

 Start with a hot cast iron skillet and add about a Tablespoon of butter. On medium heat, toss in the onion and bacon and cook until the bacon is cooked through. Add the red bell pepper and continue cooking for about one minute.
 
Next, add the eggs and cook on medium heat until the bottom is cooked. You will know by looking at the edges. As the eggs cook, add the feta and distribute evenly. Place the skillet under a high broiler on the middle rack and cook until the top is finished.
 
When your frittata is finished cooking, let stand for a few minutes before serving.

2000 Subscribers!

Hello everyone. I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season and enjoying this time with your friends and loved ones. My mother recently visited from Texas and brought me a couple gadgets for the kitchen. I got a beautiful cast iron tortilla press and a pasta machine! The first night she arrived, I put that machine to use and cranked out some of that wonderfully hearty and nutty spelt flour pasta. The pasta machine is the perfect addition to the cherry wood rolling pin I got from my friend, Jenny for my birthday, that I celebrated recently.

It’s been a great year and I only hope that the next year will be just as full of adventures and rewarding experiences. I feel truly blessed that I can create this wonderful life and share some of my recipes with all of you.

On that note, I am proud to announce that The Aimless Cook YouTube channel has just hit 2000 subscribers! As the channel gains momentum, I am anxious to get to work on the many projects ahead. There’s so much to do and I believe that 2011 will be a busy year. Thank you so much. Stay tuned for a special Xmas episode where Sue will be making some truly decadent (and healthy) chocolate truffles! Yes, I said healthy.

If you haven’t subscribed to The Aimless Cook on YouTube, go there today and subscribe! You will be automatically updated on all the new recipes, vlogs and food info. Best of all, it’s free. So what are you waiting for? Again, thank you very much for your continued support. You have blown away all my expectations and I am looking forward to the coming year.

Have fun in the kitchen and Merry Christmas!

J

Chinese Chicken Soup – Making do

I am often moved whenever I get to be part of a family gathering, whether it be a holiday or something as simple as an Saturday afternoon meal. This past weekend, I visited a friend’s place in the country for some farm fresh chicken and a meal I wouldn’t soon forget.

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It started with a one hour drive north of Calgary. My friend, Jenny has a wonderful place out in the middle of some of the most serene and beautiful countryside in Southern Alberta. Our first stop was her sister, Patsy’s place. As we pulled up, the family was hard at work getting the birds ready for processing. We immediately changed into our overalls and pitched in to help.

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I always say it’s a good idea to see where our food comes from. We are often disconnected from the process that brings it to us, whether it be the lettuce for our salad or the grilled chicken in the yakitori. It’s easy to pick up a pre-portioned, neatly wrapped polystyrene tray of whatever at the supermarket without a second thought. I love talking to local food producers at the farmer’s market and hearing the stories behind their food and in turn, they love to talk about it. There’s a real pride that people still have in being able to provide something good for others. I felt that getting involved in the chicken processing would give me a little insight into the work that goes into producing our food.

That morning, the family each played their part, Dad feeding the fire, sisters Patsy and Van getting the birds ready for Mom, who was standing ready with the knife. Jenny and I were on plucking duty. Throughout the process, I would switch and try some of the other tasks, including Mom’s task of dispatching the birds. As we were nearing the completion of our jobs, Van announced she was taking one of the finished birds to the house to make lunch. I grabbed the camera to follow.

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The recipe that followed was one of the most simple, unpretentious meals I have eaten in a long time. Using what was on hand, Van made a great soup with the chicken meat, gizzards, eggs, ginger, tomatoes and a bit of salt. And with that one chicken, we fed the entire house.

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It was a good day. Mom talked about making do with what they had, remembering times when people would be lucky if they had one chicken in a month. We talked about how we would use parts of the animal that westerners normally throw away. I listened to great stories about sustainability, old traditions and family.

Family time can be something truly priceless, even when it’s not your own.

J

The CSN Stores Giveaway Part II and November Update

I am pleased to announce that The Aimless Cook has been chosen by CSN stores to be part of the Preferred Blogger Program! That means I will be giving away another $35 gift certificate to a lucky viewer. CSN Stores has over 200 online stores where you can find everything from contemporary coffee tables to fantastic fitness equipment to cookware! A big thanks to CSN for giving us the opportunity to give back to you.

The first thing I would like to do is thank all the viewers and subscribers that have been watching and leaving comments on the show. We hit 1800 subscriptions this past weekend and I am extremely happy and grateful for your continued support. Let’s spread the word, enjoy home cooking and create a beautiful life for our friends and families.


As you may have noticed in recent videos, The Aimless Cook has new face. Yes, let me introduce you to Sue. She has been part of the project for a few months now, sharing her knowledge and experience in health related topics in addition to her creativity and love for life. I am blessed to have her on board, as I believe she is a perfect fit for what The Aimless Cook is trying to accomplish which is focus on slow food, family and creating a positive and healthy reality. Welcome, Sue.

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We have been very busy recently with Thanksgiving and Halloween. It’s been a warm and wonderful autumn here in Calgary with lots of sunshine. We have savored every opportunity to get outside and enjoy life. 

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Here we are enjoying Thanksgiving 2010 on the ridge overlooking beautiful Fish Creek Park on a beautiful autumn day. We got together with some neighbors on the block, with whom have been celebrating Thanksgiving this way for a few years now.

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Baby Taya getting a hug from her little friend, Cooks.

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The children are carving Jack O’ Lanterns for Halloween.

We have heaps of delicious new recipes coming your way in addition to some great info on flu season, talks with local food producers and trips to the farmer’s market. Have a great day and remember that you have the power to create your reality. Have fun in the kitchen and take care!


J