Monthly Archives: September 2010

In Search Of A Cup Of Joe

Coffee from a drive-thru Tepee?! Huh?! Read my article to find out more about this local landmark that serves up organic free trade coffee:

The Source Newspaper (September 28)

Past articles are now available online

In Search Of Family Friendly Dining

Too often family friendly restaurants fail to offer standout food, but this is not the case with Big Ridge Brewing Company where I would be happy to eat with or without my kids. Read my entire article:

The Source Newspaper (September 21)

Past articles are now available online

In Search Of Raspberry Muffins

Read all about Holly’s Poultry in Motion breakfast joint and the amazing raspberry muffins they serve up each day. In fact, they are the “Best In The World Raspberry Muffins.”

The Source Newspaper (September 14)

Past articles are now available online

In Search Of Quintessential Fall Flavours

Read about my recent dining experience at Tap Restaurant, where I savoured every bite of their Duo of Moulard Duck. The duck is served two ways, with the leg confit and breast seared. Served with a fresh English pea ragu, the dish was full of rich flavours and a level of earthiness that for me defines the approaching fall season.

The Source Newspaper (September 7)

Past articles are now available online

In Search Of Pad Thai Rolls

Pad Thai Rolls – never heard of them? That’s because they are an original creation of Moon Sarai, a Thai Chef extraordinaire. Read all about his fabulous twist on authentic Thai cuisine.

The Source Newspaper (August 31)

Past articles are now available online

In Search of Summer Cocktails

Summer may be officially over but that shouldn’t stop you from making the fabulous recipe included in my article! Pearl on the Rock were kind enough to spill the beans and tell readers how to make their signature Kind of Blue Cocktail. So go ahead – whip up a batch this weekend, close your eyes and pretend we’re still months away from the onslaught of cold and rain (and in some cases…snow!)

The Source Newspaper (August 24)

Past articles are now available online

The True Flavour of Garlic

The first time I paid a visit to Missing Goat Farm, was on a research trip for my article on their heavenly Blueberry Lavender Jam (click here to read the article). It is an organic blueberry farm located in South Surrey (British Columbia), and all of their products are made with fruit grown on their land. Everything is free of artificial preservatives and additives, and owner Heather Cameron and her husband are in the middle of ‘officially’ becoming a fully certified organic operation.

Missing Goat Farm serves up wonderful jams, chutneys, homemade granola and fresh fruit pies. But this past year Heather also started selling garlic. Just as I was leaving, she presented me with some of her few remaining bulbs of garlic.

“Have you ever tried organic garlic,” she asked.

“Oh I’m sure I have at some point or another,” I answered casually.

“No – I mean have you ever really tried organic garlic.”

Struck by the earnestness in her voice, I looked closer at the garlic in my hands. They had the same papery outside as regular commercial varieties, but upon closer examination I noticed that the cloves themselves were much larger in size and had a glorious dark purple tint. Heather informed me that these particular bulbs were a Red Russian variety. And then she proceeded to present me with a culinary challenge.

“Go home, roast this garlic along with a bulb of regular commercial garlic, do a taste comparison and if you think there’s a difference write a post for your blog.”

And that’s exactly what I did.

I carefully sliced a small portion off of the tops of both bulbs of garlic, drizzled some extra virgin olive oil over each, sprinkled some salt and pepper on top and wrapped them in foil. I roasted the garlic in a 350F degree oven for an hour and let them cool before serving with bread and cheese.

Visually there was quite a bit of difference between the two bulbs of garlic: Heather’s organic variety loomed over the smaller commercial type, and the beautiful colour streaked across the cloves of the Red Russian was much more exciting than the rather dull looking cloves of the commercial variety. And in terms of taste? There was no comparison to the full, intense flavour of the organic garlic. I felt like I was trying garlic for the first time! The store-bought variety tasted flat, like a poor carbon copy of how garlic should taste. How will I ever go back to eating regular garlic? I don’t know if I will be able to do that now that my senses have been spoilt by the amazing flavour of organic garlic.

Heather – there was a difference. You were right. Here’s that blog post I owe you.

Garlic is in season right now, so take advantage and stock up on some good quality product. If stored properly (i.e. NOT in your fridge) garlic can last for months. Make sure the garlic you purchase is not discoloured or falling apart, as both are indicators that it is no longer fresh.

Foodbuzz Challenge #2: The Classics

NOTE: you can vote for this entry here

As stated on my Project Food Blog profile, the best way to describe my foodie heritage is a combination of corned beef and cabbage along with callaloo and macaroni pie. Any guesses? I come from a mix of Irish and Trinidadian heritage. So when I read the second challenge put forth to us food bloggers, I knew I wanted to make one of Trinidad’s most popular national dishes: curry chicken and dal puri roti.

Having been born and raised in Vancouver (Canada), I was not overly exposed to this particular cuisine. There has never been a large population of Trinidadians living in my neck of the woods, especially in comparison to cities like Toronto, Montreal or Brooklyn. This made finding authentic curry powders and other Trini ingredients a challenge. Most often we would have to wait until my father would come back from a visit to Trinidad, armed with a suitcase full of the latest calypso tracks, West Indian curry, sorrel leaves, split pea powder, and even roti made fresh by my grandmother along with her famous black cake which we always saved and served at Christmas. Come to think of it, I’m not sure how my father managed to get through customs! Each time he returned home he brought with him a suitcase full of Caribbean culture and flavour.

With the majority of my Trinidadian relatives living a world away, I grew up watching my mother make dishes like curry chicken as it had been taught to her by my grandmother. There were times she would attempt to make dal puri roti from scratch, but each time it only ended in tears and a steady stream of curses. I think she is being polite when she describes the process as “heartbreaking”. The challenge with this type of roti is in being able to roll it out and avoid having the filling break through the dough. If you were lucky enough to overcome this hurdle, the next obstacle was getting the roti to puff beautifully on the griddle or ‘tawa’ in order to produce an end result that was light and fluffy. My mother’s frustrations taught me at an early age that it was best to avoid making roti. Eventually even she stopped trying.

So for the purpose of this challenge, Mr. Spock and I decided to make our own curry powder and dal puri roti from scratch. The first thing I did was dust off a cookbook. Surprised?! Didn’t think so! The particular book I chose as my guide was Sweet Hands: Island Cooking from Trinidad & Tobago by Ramin Ganeshram (available online here).

Curry is a staple in Trinidadian kitchens. Locals will often say that in their country people will curry anything given a chance! But the important thing to note is the difference in flavour to East Indian curry. I find the curry powders from Trinidad tend to be milder, their flavour more rounded and slightly sweet due to the absence of hot peppers. This omission is due to the preference of most Trinidadians for adding fresh hot peppers and hot pepper sauce to taste, using heat more as a condiment as opposed to an ingredient.

The results of our efforts was amazing.

Nothing was missing. The aromas were all there just as I remembered! I’m thinking that what made the difference were the ingredients left out from a typical East Indian Madras style curry powder, including cinnamon, allspice, ginger, garlic powder and saffron. (If you have any thoughts or suggestions on the topic of curry powder, I would love to hear your comments!)

My grandmother always used to tell my mother that the most important thing to do when making curry chicken is to marinate the meat beforehand, at least 24 hours. So we found a recipe for green seasoning in Ramin Ganeshram’s cookbook and let the chicken rest overnight. Rather than a liquid marinade, green seasoning consists of a thick paste of fresh herbs and garlic.

Cooking the chicken was straightforward, most of the work having been done the day before when making the curry powder and green seasoning.

We made a curry powder paste and cooked it in some oil with chopped onion before adding the chicken, covering with chicken stock and simmering for an hour. Easy. Simple. And the taste? Devine. This was hands down the best chicken curry I have ever tasted. It was full of robust flavours, the freshness of the green seasoning in no way getting lost in the spices from the curry powder. Every flavour worked together in harmony.

There are different types of Trinidadian roti, but dal puri is the most popular by far. It just so happens to be the most difficult to make. If done properly, the roti will inflate with steam during the cooking process.

At the end of the day I’m proud to say that my initial foray into the world of homemade roti was a success! It tasted great, although there was definitely room for improvement on my technique. Next time I would like the roti to be thinner and lighter in texture. But I guess the point is that there will be a next time; because there definitely will!

I hope this post has given you an insight into the rich culinary culture and flavours Trinidad has to offer!

Follow Project Food Blog at for contest updates and to find out who will be the next Food Blog Star! Oh and remember to vote. Preferably for me! (NOTE: you will need to create a Foodbuzz profile in order to vote. This just takes a minute so please don’t be deterred!) Voting begins September 27th and ends September 30th.

Foodbuzz Challenge #1: Ready, Set, Blog!

Things are definitely starting to heat up over in the Foodbuzz community as thousands of food bloggers prepare to participate in the first-ever Project Food Blog, an interactive competition comprised of a series of culinary related blogging challenges. At the end of the 12 week competition one blogger will emerge victorious and be crowned the next food blog star, winning the coveted grand prize of $10,000 as well as a yearlong feature on the Foodbuzz website.

Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with myself and chat about my participation in this exciting contest:

Jasmine, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to me!
My pleasure.

So tell me, what made you decide to throw your hat in the ring for Project Food Blog?
I knew as soon as I saw the info for Project Food Blog that the competition would be fierce and challenge me to go outside of my blogging comfort zone, but I also knew it would be a wonderful way to meet new food bloggers and discover some great foodie websites. The idea of pushing myself and taking on blogging challenges that I might not necessarily have done on my own (a video post – yikes!) was instantly appealing. And let’s be honest – the grand prize up for grabs ain’t too shabby!


Many blogs don’t survive their first year. Often people will start out strong with the best intentions, lose momentum, and then taper off completely. Your blog on the other hand seems to be growing exponentially! How do you manage? One person can only do so much. You seem at times over committed, under resourced and on the brink of insanity with the amount you have on the go.
Wow – I don’t think I could have positioned that any better! Yes I find it challenging to keep up to date on my blog while working on various freelance assignments, mothering two small children and trying to have a life of my own on top of it all. Yes there are days when I just sit and sob into my coffee wondering how I’m going to get it all done. What grounds me is remembering that I started this blog for me because food and cooking are my passions and where my interest lies. It also helps that I have a supportive husband who after a long day at the office doesn’t mind playing photographer, editor, and recipe tester!

An important part of my blog are the celebrity and professional chef interviews. Pictured above are my interview essentials.

There are so many food blogs! In your own words, what sets you apart and why should you be the next food blog star?
Because of the vast number of food blogs in existence, I think it is imperative to have your site be a true and honest reflection of who you are as a person. What you see on my blog is who I really am, not a carbon copy of someone else. The things that define me as a food blogger are my passion for food, love for cooking, and obsession with cookbooks. I am committed to providing readers with honest accounts of my culinary attempts in the kitchen when testing cookbooks, even if that means having to include humbling confessions of user error! I also try and include interviews with professional chefs and cookbook authors as often as possible. This is an extremely popular aspect of my blog, and is one that provides interesting insights into the food industry.

At the end of the day I would love to build my website to the point where it becomes a true dialogue; a place to exchange ideas, share passions, laugh at culinary mistakes and celebrate the successes.

Here are some of the cookbooks that have made it to my VIP Kitchen Shelf; a limited space reserved for my favourites.

You have been a big inspiration for me in my kitchen. What was your motivation for creating a food blog?
My out of control cookbook collection was the original impetus! With two small children at home I found myself searching for a project that went beyond my roles as wife and mother – something just for me. One night I found myself staring at my cookbook collection, thinking about how the majority of my obsession had never been used. It was at that point I decided to create a food blog as a means of actually doing something with my cookbooks besides simply collecting them. They needed a purpose in life! As a result, I came up with the idea of starting a blog dedicated entirely to the review of cookbooks. One by one I would make my way through the stacks of books taking over my house, testing three recipes from each book, recording the results and providing an overall review to share with others.

Mr. Spock (a.k.a. your husband) really wants a commercial grade meat grinder. Don’t you think that’s creepy?

In your blog you say cookbook reviews are from the perspective of an average home cook. Do you have any formal food training?
I am by no means a professional chef nor do I consider myself to be a culinary expert of any sort. Simply put, I am a stay at home mother of two who happens to be a food groupie!

How many cookbooks do you actually own?!
That’s a good question! While I have never done an official count, I somehow seem to keep having to buy additional shelving to house them all! It’s ironic because initially I thought my blog would force me to cull from my cookbook collection but instead it seems to just keep multiplying.

Voting for entries on the first challenge will kick off September 20th, and contestants will be whittled down over the next 12 weeks via exciting challenges related to food blogging. Follow Project Food Blog at for contest updates and to find out who will be the next Food Blog Star! Oh and remember to vote. Preferably for me! (NOTE: you will need to create a Foodbuzz profile in order to vote. This just takes a minute so please don’t be deterred!)

Bon Appétit Magazine: August Cover Recipe

Blackberry, Lemon, & Gingersnap Cheesecake Pudding

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (great flavours, needs some tweaking)

Initial Thoughts:
Finally – a dessert!

The Test:
When I first saw the cover recipe for August I got pretty excited, as I have been waiting all year for an outrageous dessert that I would be ‘forced’ to make and therefore would lessen my caloric guilt at indulging.

I made the lemon curd and blackberry compote a day ahead, both of which were super simple to put together. The lemon curd tasted heavenly, resulting in my needing to be forcibly separated from the bowl in order to stop me from devouring the entire batch. It was finger licking good!

For the gingersnap cookies I opted to use Anna’s Thins, which happens to be one of my favourite brands. After reading the comments of other bloggers who made this recipe and found the gingersnap flavour to be too overpowering, I am glad I chose to use this particular brand as the cookies hold a subtle flavour that is well rounded without being too intense.

Overall I would say that this is an easy dessert to throw together, making it perfect for entertaining as the majority of the work can be done ahead of time. It also looks impressive to serve to guests.

The Results:
With a few changes this dessert has the potential to be ridiculously good, but as far as my initial attempt is concerned I would have to chalk it up as disappointing. And judging by the comments on the Bon Appétit website, I am not alone in this conclusion.

The robust citrus flavour from the curd dominated the dish, and resulted in the mascarpone whipped cream being completely lost. I also found that in terms of quantities, there was not enough of the mascarpone mixture in comparison to the curd. Next time I would double up on the mascarpone. The other chief complaint from people was that there was not enough cheesecake flavour to warrant this being titled as a cheesecake pudding. My suggestion? Add chunks of crumbled cheesecake to the mascarpone mixture. Now that’s what I’m talking about!

(For a copy of August’s cover recipe, please click here)

As part of my culinary new years resolutions, I have committed to creating each month’s cover recipe from Bon Appétit Magazine. Inspired by a New York restaurant owner who has been making the magazine’s cover recipes each month for the last 25 years, I decided to attempt to do the same while blogging about my monthly experiences along the way.

NOTE: If any of you would like to follow along with me and join in on the fun, I’d love to compare notes! So pick-up a copy of the latest issue of Bon Appétit and get cooking. Be sure to send your comments and photos to

Bon Appétit celebrates the world of great food and the pleasure of sharing it with others. Every issue invites readers into a hands-on experience, engaging them in all aspects of the epicurean lifestyle—cooking, dining, travel, entertaining, shopping and design. For more information please visit