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restaurants: the mac shack

ever since i first heard whisperings on twitter about the mac shack, i’ve been planning a visit.
in fact as one of their first followers, i even earned myself a free meal (sadly, it expired before i could use it)
and as a life long mac & cheese addict, this just seemed like the best restaurant ever.

all they serve pretty much is mac & cheese.
this, my friends, is a magical idea.

i snatched up a groupon for this place that was soon set to expire, so on sunday, my husband and i made the almost 1 hour drive to kerrisdale to chow down.

the upside of this drive is that it allowed time to contemplate the menu offerings and decide on a mac & cheese.
i was happy to see a gluten free option on the menu, but wasn’t sure i was going to order it until i found out what they used… i’m not a massive lover of the rice pasta, which tends to be mushy and corn pasta is pretty good, but can sometimes have a texture issue too.
but then when i arrived, i was rewarded with quinoa pasta. a most excellent choice.

i went with the quinoa pasta with goat cheese and double-smoked bacon added.
my husband decided to stick with a more traditional offering for his first go and ordered the 4 cheese with good old fashioned white flour pasta.

the results were the following:

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and yes, it was as good as it looked.
both dishes had pasta cooked to perfection and velvety cream sauce and enough cheese for add good flavour and gooey goodness, but not enough to make it too heavy.

my bacon was nicely cooked, not crunchy and cooked to all hell.
and the goat cheese on top was lovely.

we ordered the ultimate size, which it says feeds 1-2 people and thats about right.
i got to this point and then packed it up for leftovers.

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and i gotta say, it was even better the next day.
my husband agreed that his was better as well.

so, i paid $21 for my groupon and ended up shelling out an extra $2.48 upon ordering.
we had 2 meals each out of it plus a salad and a boylan’s root beer each.
and also “bread dippers” which i could have definitely lived without, but we were short by $1 to make our groupon value, so we figured, why not.

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fine work mac shack.
i’ll be back most definitely.

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food: epic nachos

i think i’ve said this before, but yes, it has occurred to me that if i’m going to have a food blog, i should probably take proper pictures.
you know, staged and taken with a real camera and artfully arranged.
but then the other side of me says, fuck it.  it’s my dinner.

maybe one day soon i’ll get a new iphone and then my pictures can be lazy and still quality.
in the meantime, you must suffer through poor lighting and low quality.

last week, this is how lazy/hungover i was on sunday.
dinner was epic nachos.
ya, i know… nachos?  terrible/delicious dinner.

we started with the intention of tacos… i made the beef and was ready to rock… and then i thought… what if my tacos were nachos instead?  (this is also the point where i realized i forgot to buy taco shells)

so we laid out a pile of chips and loaded on cheese, beef, tomatoes, yellow peppers, green onions and jalapenos.

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and into the oven it went… until the smell was enticing and the cheese golden brown…

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and then, in the name of health, we loaded them up with shredded iceberg lettuce.
you know, so that it had greens on it.

we paired it with some delicious sioux city root beer and epic nachos were consumed.
note to my husband – i told you that was waaaay too many nachos for 2 people.
just under half ended up hitting the bin.
but the ones we ate were perfection.
three cheers for epic nachos for lazy sunday dinner!

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food: fajita soup

for some reason, vancouver regressed back into winter this week.
its been cold and rainy and miserable outside… which can only mean one thing; soup!

making soup is one of the easiest things on the planet… since you literally just dump stuff into a pot and make it go.

although, there is a slight order that must be followed.

we had fajitas for dinner the other day… and had loads of peppers, onions and chicken breast fajita seasoned left over in the fridge.
so, we invented fajita soup!

we sauteed some carrots & celery in bacon fat (yes, see what i did there?) and then added the leftover fajita stuff, some sliced cherry tomatoes and some extra spices; cumin, s&p, chipotle ect.  and a habenero.
we made it extra spicy because i’ve been sick with a cold and spicy soup will cure what ails you.

then we added some good quality chicken stock, frozen corn & chopped local kale.  and simmered until we couldn’t stand the delightful smell any longer.

we topped it with chopped cilantro, green onions and a dollop of creme fraiche that we made in our cheese making class.
(there’s no picture of the finished bowl because i was too hungry – sorry)

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food: jerk chicken

believe me when i say i’ve eaten some jerk chicken in my time.
i’m a spicy food fiend and i’ve been to jamaica twice.
trust.

this here that i’m about to share is THE BEST jerk chicken i’ve ever had.

it comes from a jamie oliver recipe that my husband saw him cook on tv and he decided to make it for us on monday.
and WOW.

here’s the thing.  i could wax poetic over the deliciousness of this meal, but you’ll either try it for yourself, or you won’t.

and i really suggest you do.

here’s the whole recipe.
we didn’t make the rice & beans or corn, instead we did kale and roasted potatoes & sweet potatoes.

‘Jamie Oliver’s Meals In Minutes’

killer jerk chicken, rice & beans, refreshing chopped salad, chargrilled corn
main courses | serves 4

CHICKEN
• 4 x 180g chicken breasts, skin on
• 1 tablespoon runny honey
• a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
• a few sprigs of fresh coriander

CORN
• 4 large corn on the cob, husks removed

RICE & BEANS
• 2 spring onions
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 250g long-grain rice
• 600ml organic chicken stock
• 1 x 400g carton of black beans

JERK SAUCE
• 4 spring onions
• a small bunch of fresh thyme
• 3 fresh bay leaves
• ground cloves
• ground nutmeg
• ground allspice
• 6 tablespoons golden rum
• 6 tablespoons white wine vinegar
• 1 tablespoon runny honey
• 1 Scotch bonnet chilli
• 4 cloves of garlic

SEASONINGS
• olive oil
• extra virgin olive oil
• sea salt & black pepper

SALAD
• 1 red pepper
• 1 red chicory
• 1 cos or romaine lettuce
• 2 limes
• 1/4 of a red onion
• a small bunch of fresh coriander
• 1 punnet of cress

YOGHURT
• 1 x 250g pot of natural yoghurt
• a few sprigs of fresh coriander
• 1 lime

TO SERVE
• cold beer

TO START Get all your ingredients and equipment ready. Fill and boil the kettle. Put a large griddle pan and a large saucepan on a high heat. Turn the oven on to 220°C/425°F/gas 7.

CHICKEN Put the chicken breasts on a plastic board and halve each one, leaving them joined at the top of the breast. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper, then rub all over both sides of the chicken. Put into the hot griddle pan, skin side down, and leave to cook. Clear away the board and wash the knife and your hands.

CORN Put the corn into the saucepan with a good pinch of salt and cover with boiling water. Put the lid on.

JERK SAUCE Trim and roughly chop the onions and put into the liquidizer with the leaves from most of the bunch of thyme, 3 bay leaves (stalks removed), a large pinch each of ground cloves, nutmeg and allspice, 6 tablespoons each of rum and vinegar, 1 tablespoon of honey and 2 teaspoons of salt. Remove the stalks and seeds from the Scotch bonnet chilli and add the chilli to the liquidizer, then quickly crush in 4 unpeeled cloves of garlic and blitz with the lid on until you have a really smooth paste. Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to loosen, if needed.

CHICKEN The undersides should be golden now, so turn the chicken over. Pour the jerk sauce into a snug-fitting baking dish and use tongs to lay the chicken on top, skin side up. Drizzle over 1 tablespoon of runny honey and scatter over a few sprigs of rosemary and the remaining thyme sprigs. Put on the top shelf of the oven and cook for 15minutes, or until cooked through. Carefully pour away the oil from the griddle pan and wipe clean with kitchen paper, then put back on a high heat.

RICE & BEANS Put a large wide saucepan with a lid on a medium heat. Trim and finely slice the spring onions and put in the saucepan with the cinnamon stick, a good lug of olive oil and a big pinch of salt & pepper. Stir and let soften for a minute or so, then add the rice and chicken stock. Drain and rinse the beans, then add to the pan. Stir gently. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a medium heat. Pop the lid on and leave for 12 minutes.

YOGHURT Tip the yoghurt into a small serving bowl. Finely chop a few sprigs of coriander and add to the bowl with a pinch of salt and a good lug of extra virgin olive oil. Finely grate over the zest of 1/2 the lime and squeeze in the juice. Stir in, then take to the table with the other lime half for squeezing over.

CORN Use tongs to move the corn to the hot griddle pan and drizzle over a little olive oil. Cook and turn frequently until charred. Once ready, put on a platter and take to the table.

SALAD Get a very large board that you’re happy to serve on. Deseed and roughly chop the red pepper. Put the red chicory and cos lettuce on top and keep chopping until everything is fairly fine. Make a well in the centre. Pour in a few lugs of extra virgin olive oil and squeeze in the juice of 2 limes. Finely grate over the red onion quarter, season to taste, then toss everything together. Tear over the coriander, snip over the cress and take to the table.

RICE & BEANS Take the lid off the rice after 12 minutes and give it a stir. All the liquid should have been absorbed. Taste and correct the seasoning if need be, then take to the table.

TO SERVE Take the chicken out of the oven, sprinkle over some coriander leaves and take straight to the table. When serving, spoon over the jerk sauce from the bottom of the baking dish. Crack open a few cold bottles of beer and enjoy.

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food: bacon chipotle meatloaf

on the weekend, my husband and i came across a fantastic deal for ground beef.
our local farm market where we buy our premium meats from was having a “case lot” sale of sorts with 10lbs of ground beef at a great price.
so we did the sensible thing and bought one.
we figured, hey, we’re coming up to burger season…
plus, high quality beef at a grocery store price can not be refused.
also the girl behind the counter had me sold at “you’ll have to wait a minute, they’re just grinding it now…”

okay.

but here’s the thing… when you’re brainstorming ground beef ideas, its easy to get in a rut.
there’s meatballs and spaghetti sauce and shepherds pie and of course burgers… but what else?
meatloaf of course.
delicious delicious meatloafs.

sooooo… we may have done a bit of other case-lot shopping this weekend…
like, i also have 5lbs of sweet onions… and 5 avocados… and 5lbs of potatoes…
so i’ve been in prep mode.

yesterday i thinly sliced 3 onions and caramelized them down and stowed them in the fridge for future use.
nothing in particular in mind, but i know my husband loves them, so i figured they’d be useful to have ready… and boy was i right.

if you’ve never put caramelized onions into a meatloaf, you should.

Bacon Chipotle Meatloaf with Caramelized Onions

  • 1.5lbs of ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp chipotle seasoning (i use paul prudhomme’s)
  • 1 tsp dried chipotle peppers
  • 1/2 cup of caramelized onions
  • salt & pepper
  • 3 slices of bacon – par cooked (i microwaved for 1.5 minutes)
  • some delicious bbq sauce for topping (i used House of Q Apple Butter BBQ sauce)
  1. preheat oven to 400
  2. mix beef, onions & seasoning.  press into loaf pan – i line mine with parchment for easy removal
  3. top with bacon and slather with bbq sauce
  4. cook for about 20 minutes, drain fat off and cook for another 15 minutes or so or until internal temp reaches 145F

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food: lamb shank

yesterday i had a lamb craving.
it’s been a while since i’ve had lamb and i was due.  in specific i wanted lamb shanks.  because it’s cheap and delicious.

so, off to thrifty’s to collect 2 shanks for the low low price of $13.50 and considering that feeds two people, i feel pretty good about that price.  sure there’s cheaper meats to eat… but as far as lamb goes, shanks are the best way to stretch your dollar.

i made a paste in the mortal & pestle with garlic cloves, fresh rosemary, salt & pepper, a little olive oil and dijon mustard.  and rubbed that into the shanks and let it sit while i chopped everything else.
then i seared off the shanks  until brown, removed from the pan and sauteed 1 chopped onion, 2 chopped carrots and a couple whole garlic cloves.  when the veggies were soft, i hit it with some red wine and beef stock.  also added a few sticks of fresh rosemary & thyme.
the shanks went back in and it simmered with the lid on for 2 hours.

after about 2 hours, i took the shanks out and set them on a plate to rest (and tented with foil) and pulled out the sticks from the herbs and whizzed the remains with the immersion blender to make a thick sauce of deliciousness.

i served it with mashed new potatoes for the husband and nappa cabbage in apple cider vinegar as a side dish.
yes, lamb, potatoes and cabbage.  it seems so irish, lol.

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we ended up with some of the sauce left over and it was just too delicious to throw down the drain, so this morning when i put some short ribs in the slow cooker, i added the leftover sauce to the mix to make the flavour richer.  i felt pretty smart with that one.  yey for recycling!

food: roast chicken with meyer lemons

the best part of roasting a chicken is how it always looks super impressive, even though it’s like the easiest thing ever to make.
i’m not joking.  you literally give it a little rub down with oil/butter/whatever and salt & pepper it… pop it in the oven, forget about it and when the timer goes; perfection comes out.

just to shake things up a little… and because i have a bazillion meyer lemons, i decided to roast some lemons in with the chicken and potatoes.
it worked magically.

i greased up the chicken, salt & peppered it and stuffed it with a lemon cut in half with the juice squeezed into the cavity.
then i popped it in the oven at 450 for 20 minutes to crisp the outside instantly.

i took it out, turned down the heat to 350 and added the veggies to the pan.  this time it was just potatoes, onions and 2 meyer lemons cut in half.
back into the oven to roast for another hour.  (it was a big chicken)

after the temperature told me it was done (love that meat thermometer) we let it rest.

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here’s a quick shot of the finished product…
don’t worry, something green did make it onto the plate.  we had kale chips as a side dish.
the lemons were really tasty and we squeezed them over the meat as an almost-sauce.  yum yum.

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