Monday, July 29, 2013

PUMPKIN SEED OIL



Having grown up in a family with roots in Styria, a southern province in Austria, Pumpkin seed oil was a staple on our salads and to this day I try to get some wherever I live. Mostly on visits back home we carefully wrap a bottle and use it not nearly as often as Olive oil. Hard to find outside of Austria.

Besides some tremendous health benefits (not my primary concern when cooking), I love the deep nutty flavor this oil has. Salads are a given, but one of my favorite dishes is a cold "Rindfleichsalad", basically a boiled beef salad served cold with Pumpkin oil. 
Creative Chefs have used it for many other dishes as well. Wolfgang Puck brought some popularity to the oil in the US and if you visit SPAGO, you are bound to find a salad with Pumpkin seed oil on the menu.
A lot has changed since my years in Austria, neighboring provinces and countries have jumped on the bandwagon and produce the same oil today. Cannot really blame them for it, the current retail price per litre is 19.00 Euros or almost 25.00 USD. That's lofty, even for EVOO. But worth it, considering the much smaller harvest and production time.

If you talk to locals in that region of Austria, who since have protected their "black gold" with an AOC seal of origin, no one else can produce such a good oil as they can. Of course not. Let's not burst their bubble. 
When something in business goes well, scandals usually are not too far off and a couple of years ago, some smart producers in Styria started to import seeds from the Ukraine and as far away as China and still sold the product as Styrian pumpkin seed oil.....not nice. But they did get busted. Damage was done for a while, sadly for the honest farmers, but today it seems the consumers have forgotten and forgiven.

Though the Austrian very much love to add raw onions to their salad dressing (and many other dishes), I think pumpkin oil needs almost no vinegar or other over powering flavors. All I add besides sea salt and pepper is a dash of lemon juice to make a great salad with my favorite oil.






PUMPKIN SEEDS AND OIL

PUMPKINS ARE LEFT ON THE FIELDS AS FERTILIZER

AT THE MILL

LOOKS LIKE WELL USED ENGINE OIL

WE ONLY ADD A SPLASH OF LEMON

A HIGH QUALITY OIL DISPLAYS A GREAT NUTTY FLAVOR

LE LUNCH SALAD

Sunday, July 21, 2013

TABAK TRAFIK (213)


While I have decided long time ago to go on the road and see the world, my sister had a different plan for her life. 30 years ago, she took over the local smoke shop in our home village and has been at it ever since. Three decades, it floored me when she told me how long it's been. 

Maybe 20m2 in size with some extra storage, her business is not only selling cigarettes but every square inch is designed to produce revenue. From the daily papers, weekly magazines, the very important Lottery tickets, souvenirs and postcards for tourists to many other things you may or may not need. 

While smoking overall has been in retreat all over the world, Austria is holding steady at #22 of global tobacco consumption. In Western Europe only the Spaniards and the Swiss (really?) smoke more per capita than Austrians. Safe to say my sister's job is recession proof until her retirement. 


MY SISTER'S SHOP


IN A PRIME LOCATION, RIGHT AT THE END OF THE SKI HILL

 SMOKE!

CIGARETTES, NEWSPAPERS, 

KID'S GAMES, BOOKS

SOUVENIRS

NOT CHEAP

LOTTO

POST CARDS

CAN I HAVE YOUR NUMBER?

HOW ABOUT A DRINK WHILE YOU HIKE....

Thursday, July 11, 2013

DINNER FOR ONE



Victoria is on her way back from Les Etats Unis after one week and it is a good thing. Isabella marches to her own beat when it comes to food, so more than once, I found myself cooking for myself this week. 
Not entirely a bad thing, I can prepare a dish or two that my ladies do not like all that much. 

Veal being one of them. I love it. If you ever tried a Wiener Schnitzel with a good veal cut, you know what I am talking about. Both Victoria and Isabella don't enjoy the flavor. Fair enough. 

While I shopped for more Mache salad,  I spotted a special on some Grillades de Veau. Not wanting to start up the BBQ, I just used a cast iron skillet to prepare myself some veal, right after I made some chicken for the picky eater. How much chicken can a kid eat? 

Anyway. There were some herbs that came with the meats, but growing our own, I did not use them. Instead on high heat I quick seared the veal in  nice browned butter, poured a dash of very old Pineau (fortified wine) over the cast iron and turned down the heat before I added some cream and let the whole thing reduce down to a nice creamy sauce. 
Not the best cut of veal, but it did the trick.  Some rice or fresh potatoes would have been nice, but my patience when cooking for one does not extend to sides all that much. More Mache Salad. 

Why is it that we get so much veal in Europe, whereas in North America it gets harder and harder to find? Not enough money in it? Aversion to eating baby cow? Judging by veal prices in Europe, there seems to be a nice margin left to be had. 


ENOUGH FOR FOUR


BROWN SOME BUTTER

QUICK FRY


NO NEED FOR THESE.....


IF YOU GROW YOUR OWN

MAKES A NICE, SWEETISH GRAVY

ADD PINEAU FIRST, REDUCE IT

35% CREAM MAKES THE BEST THICKENER

BETTER WITH RICE



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

MACHE SALAD


Two salad posts in a row. Must be summer. I have not gone off the deep end to forego all good stuff and eat salads only. But it is high summer here and salads feel right.

Mache. Corn or Lamb salad. small, buttery leaves, a bit harder to find in Canada, but since the origins are french, we can get it here all year round. They grow it low to the ground, so even if you buy it pre washed, I'd recommend to wash it again and spin it hard to get all the sand off the leaves.

There are plenty of french vinaigrette recipes out there, ours is simpler than buying a ready made one at Wal Mart. And tastier.  One original ingredient missing in our dressing would be shallots, so if you have some, chop them in.
Have you ever bought one of those stacking Tupper ware sets? Most of the containers in that set are usable  but unless you have an Elf living with you, what do you do with that tiny little one? I finally started to use one of the thimble sized ones to make my dressing. I am using it as a shaker. A bit bigger and I could make my Gin Fizz with it too.....

A half spoon of Dijon, salt, pepper, EVOO and a dash of vinegar, shake it a lot and you get your money's worth from that piece of plastic. Finally.
Just top the salad with some chicken or other things you like on your salad and that  summer meal doesn't get any better.



FEEDS THREE

I RECOMMEND A SPINNER

MY FRENCH DRESSING


SOME DECENT DIJON AND SALT

OLIVE OIL DASH OF VINEGAR, PEPPER


SHAKE IT CREAMY

 DON'T NEED MUCH DRESSING

ADD STRIPED OF CHICKEN BREAST


Sunday, July 07, 2013

PEA SHOOTS SALAD



When you don't have a garden, your harvest is limited. Mostly herbs, maybe the odd pot of something and in Victoria's case pea shoots. They grow fast, so in a climate as the one we are in, you can have a few quick harvests.

This planter box makes for about three generous starter size salads, which suits us fine.  You can eat them as salad, or some Asian restaurants I have been to, flash heat them with some garlic and soy sauce. 
I just added a very small amount of oil and vinegar, which leaves the true flavor bomb of the pea taste and does not get covered up by some rich creamy ranch dressing.

A SMALL HARVEST

ALMOST NO CLEANING NEEDED

LIGHT ON THE DRESSING

A GOOD SALAD

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

GLUTEN FREE SANDWICH



I eat a lot of sandwiches. More than salads or soups for sure.  No matter where I lived or live, I always search for a good place that can make a good sandwich.  
Even at home, before Victoria started GF PATISSERIE, I would eat a lot of them. There is just something about good bread that's used as the  delivery vehicle for great meats and condiments.

I just went back through my blog and found a lot of  posts about gluten free sandwiches. So here are some, but for sure not all, of my favorite eats. All made with gluten free breads, which means, that if GF bread is good, you can serve it to non Celiacs as well. Me for example. 



GREAT GF BREADS  ARE THE FOUNDATION FOR GREAT SANDWICHES

THIS ONE FROM BEAU MONDE IS EXCELLENT FOR PANINIS

 GF BRIOCHE FOR A MONTE CHRISTO!

GF ITALIAN FLATBREAD, MY PERSONAL FAVORITE

DOES ANYONE REMEMBER THESE FROM GF PATISSERIE?

OPEN FACE EGG SALAD, VICTORIA'S FAVORITE

MORTADELLA, BRIE, FIG JAM.......

SPICY MERGUEZ IN A GF HAMBURGER BUN

PLAIN TASTY TOMATO, VICTORIA MADE THESE IN AUSTRIA

AVOCADO, TOMATO AND BACON!

MORTADELLA SEEMS TO BE MY FAVORITE


 SALAMI & CHEESE ON ITALIAN FLAT BREAD

MONTREAL SMOKED MEAT AND DIJON MUSTARD WITH A GIANT PICKLE

LOOK AT IT

A DUCK CONFIT ON GF FLAT BREAD IN INGLEWOOD

ANOTHER FAMILY FAVORITE. PULLED PORK SANDWICH

SHE IS RAISED ON SANDWICHES

ROAST BEEF & PROVOLONE


THE BEST GLUTEN FREE MONTE CHRISTO SANDWICH 


THE VEGETARIAN. GRILLED EGGPLANT, MOZZARELLA, TOMATO AND LETTUCE