Ok, what is the deal? I had a whole mussels meal planned for Canada Day dinner and I went all over town (well, to all the big grocery stores anyways) and was thwarted at every turn. I saw plenty in tanks just the day before (and had been planning the meal every since) but what the feck happened today? Did I get there too late? Or is Vancouver just out of mussels? Plenty of clams, lobster and fish, but where are my fresh mussels?!?
What do you get when you put together six people, two takoyaki machines and shochu? A room full of very happily sated friends.
Our takoyaki were made with eggs, baby octopus, cabbage, pickled red ginger, green onion, drizzled with kewpie mayo, ottogi sauce (Japanese pork cutlet sauce), and topped off with a sprinkling of bonito flakes and strips of nori.
Ideally, Osaka-style takoyaki are grilled crisp on the outside, but not overdone, with a slightly mushy center that's supposed to melt in your mouth. Takoyaki can also be consumed dipped in miso soup.
While at Granville Island, I spotted some lovely frisee and decided to make a lighter version of a classic lyonnaise salad. Torn frisee, dried cranberries, sliced roasted almonds and an easy vinaigrette made with olive oil, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard and a bit of anchovy paste.
Those who know me probably think I'm crazy to forgo the bacon and egg, but really this was very refreshing and I didn't miss them at all.
Ok, I'm obsessed. I made them again last night, this time with more coriander in the lamb patties. I paired the burgers this time with some Irish Porter cheese instead of swiss, but I think I prefer the swiss after all. I also tossed together a light herb salad with baby spinach, baby arugula, rosemary and pea shoots in a basic vinaigrette. I think the spiciness of the pea shoots and rosemary complimented the lamb burgers better. I also think I'm just trying to evoke summertime when right now, the long-range weather forecast for Vancouver says rain and below-average temperatures until at least mid-June. Le sigh.
May was a particularly bad month for cooking...too many birthday meals out, too many late nights at work spent scarfing down microwaveables. Ugh.
Last night I had some company over and finally made a meal that wasn't a one-pot dish. Mini lamb burgers with a pear & goat cheese salad, along with shoestring fries and lemon garlic aioli dip.
For the mini burgers, I picked up some of Safeway's artisan dinner rolls and cut out the middle when slicing to remove extraneous bread. Ground lamb spiced with cumin (I love cumin), coriander, turmeric, salt and pepper. I was too cautious with the coriander this time; next time I'll be more generous with the spices. Oh, and breadcrumbs of course. Fried the mini-patties with olive oil, top with tomato, swiss cheese, baby lettuce, mustard. The side salads were boxed greens with buttery Packham pears, Saltspring Island truffled goat cheese, and a basic vinaigrette.
The fries were McCain's frozen "Xtracrispy" shoestring fries. Yes, I know! All my previous attempts at frying/roasting fries from scratch yielded mix results, so I figured this would save me some time and grief that night. Well shiver me timers, these were actually very good and very crispy. It was also the only frozen kind that I could find without any hydrogenated oils.
As for the lemon garlic aioli, it's one of those super easy dips that anyone can make in 5 minutes. Mayo, clove of garlic, chopped fresh parsley and a generous squeeze of lemon juice. I personally never use a garlic press; I have a little ceramic grater that I use for garlic and ginger. This dip is impossible to mess up, and it's so good I always tend to make extra so I can dip veggies and pita chips for snacking.