Archive for February, 2011

Araxi

I’ve wanted to try Araxi restaurant in Whistler since we moved to Vancouver and we visited it recently during a long-weekend getaway for our friends’ wedding and my birthday. I’d heard lots of great things about Araxi, and I was also familiar with it due to the many hours I’ve wasted watching Hell’s Kitchen on TV (a chef job at Araxi was the big prize a couple of seasons ago). The restaurant is located in the heart of Whistler Village and focuses on innovative regional cuisine.  It was full the night we ate there with a mix of Canadian and international guests, and also a surprising number of kids – the little American boy at the table next to ours somehow convinced his parents to let him order the market-price crab legs, which must have cost a pretty penny!

I was really impressed with Araxi. Thanks to my husband’s job in the wine industry we have the privilege of trying a lot of good restaurants in many different places, and I thought Araxi delivered on the hype. The service was great; the atmosphere was relaxed and upscale in a way that felt very Whistler; and the food showcased Pacific Northwest regionality with local ingredients brought together in an innovative way that reflects the confluence of Canadian, Asian and European culture and cuisine that is unique to this area of the world.  It was also refreshing to eat at a fine-dining restaurant where the menu is not dominated by meat. Lots of fresh, Oceanwise-certified fish, good vegetarian options and I loved the raw bar with its focus on sushi and sashimi-inspired dishes.

Araxi chefs at work assembling food from the Raw Bar menu.

Fresh bread hot from the oven served with a Tuscan bean spread, olive oil and sea salt

We had champagne with dinner – a special birthday treat.

Seared tuna with micro-greens and ponzu pearls

Roasted Pemberton beets with blue cheese, spiced pecans, pink lady apple and rosemary vinaigrette, frisee and baby sorrel

Wild mushroom risotto with grilled prawns

No dessert was required after all that!

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February 26, 2011 at 10:43 pm 1 comment

Roasted tomato and basil pesto pasta

Oven-roasted tomatoes are something I see all the time in cookbooks and on food blogs and I’ve been meaning to try them for awhile now. I think this dish would be amazing with the abundant, ripe tomatoes that are harvested garden-fresh in late summer and early fall, but for now this is a good way to use up those poor grocery store tomatoes that have been lingering too long in the fruit bowl.

Roasted tomato and basil pesto pasta
Makes 2 servings (double or triple for a bigger crowd)

3 cups of dried pasta
3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
3 tablespoons basil pesto*
1-2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
Fresh ground pepper and grated parmesan cheese

Combine tomatoes, pesto and garlic in a glass pie plate or other oven-safe dish. Cook for 15-20 minutes at 400F. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a pot of boiling, salted water. Drain the pasta and pull the tomatoes out of the oven. Stir the drained pasta into the tomato mixture and serve on plates. Sprinkle with fresh pepper and parmesan cheese and enjoy with a salad and red wine.

*I used store-bought pesto but should really try to make it myself someday. As a substitute for pesto, you can also try 3 tablespoons of olive oil plus a squeeze of lemon juice and some chopped fresh herbs.

February 23, 2011 at 9:45 pm 4 comments

Happy Birthday

What a nice birthday I’ve had this year: time off from work; a long weekend away in Whistler with perfect weather and a great group of friends; and cards, cash, flowers, champagne, cake, dancing, phone calls, emails and Facebook messages. Thank you all for leaving me feeling so well-loved and thoroughly spoiled as I turn another year older and wiser.

February 21, 2011 at 6:26 pm Leave a comment

Tomatoes


I planted a handful of tomato seeds about 10 days ago after being inspired by Gayla Trail’s recent post “Tomato Plants Offer Cheap Therapy.” She’s absolutely right about this. Scent is a powerful provoker of memories and emotions, and that smell of warm tomato vines is a such a happy place. (more…)

February 16, 2011 at 8:16 pm 2 comments

Raspberry chocolate scones

In honour of Valentine’s Day, here is the recipe for my husband’s favourite breakfast scones – raspberry with bittersweet chocolate. Gluten-free, of course, and best paired with a steamy hot chocolate. What a good wife I am for making these for breakfast today.

1-1/2 cups flour*
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup flaxseed meal or ground flaxseed
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used bittersweet)
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together flour (and xanthan gum for gluten-free), sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and flaxseed. Stir in raspberries and chocolate chips, and then add yogurt and vanilla. Stir together only until the dry ingredients are well-mixed with the yogurt. Spoon onto a greased baking sheet and bake at 375F for 20 minutes or until scones are lightly browned.

*I use Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour mix. For gluten-free, also add 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum.

February 14, 2011 at 12:18 am 3 comments

Gnocchi with spinach & sun-dried tomato cream sauce


I love gnocchi as an alternative to pasta. Like pasta it will happily swim in an endless variety of sauces and flavours and I also like that it feels a bit fancy even though it is actually easier to make than pasta. The dish pictured here is a spinach and sun-dried tomato cream sauce with fresh tomatoes on top; a spicy tomato sauce swirled with fresh herbs and a bit of goat cheese is also delicious.

Tackling homemade gnocchi is on my list of cooking adventures to try someday, but for now I just use the packaged variety from the pasta aisle at the grocery store.

Gnocchi with spinach and sun-dried tomato cream sauce
Serves 2 for dinner

1 package of gnocchi
1 tablespoon of olive or canola oil
1/2 of a medium sized onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine (or vegetable stock if you’d rather drink the wine)
1 cup of cream (if you’re calorie-minded you can also use non-fat evaporated milk)***
1 tablespoon of basil pesto
2-3 handfuls of baby spinach leaves
1-2 chopped fresh tomatoes
parmesan cheese & fresh ground pepper

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the gnocchi. Add onions and oil to another pan and cook on medium until the onions soften and start to brown. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes and add the wine (or stock) to deglaze the pan. Cook for a few minutes until the wine has reduced a bit and stir in the cream, pesto and spinach. Turn down the heat to low and allow the sauce to warm for a few minutes while you’re cooking the gnocchi.

Drop the gnocchi in the boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes – just until the gnocchi are bobbing at the surface of the water. Drain well and return to the pot.

Pour the sauce over the drained gnocchi and then dish it into plates. Top with fresh tomatoes, grated parmesan cheese and fresh pepper. Serve with a salad and whatever is left of the wine you used for cooking.

*** I am cooking with cream these days. Life is short.

February 3, 2011 at 11:47 pm 2 comments


Flickr Photos


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