tropical tamilnadu – photo – Karen Anderson
Mahabalipuram lies about an hour south of Chennai in the state of Tamilnadu in South India. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site because of the sixth to eighth century temples carved in great detail from rock and sand. They’ve withstood time. They’ve withstood Tsunamis.
The beach here is long, curved and cascaded upon by never-ending wave chasing wave. They’ve arrived in this little crook in the Bay of Bengal in a chaotic but somehow predetermined rhythm. They seem to collapse exhausted on the shore after realizing the futility of racing each other across the breadth of the Indian Ocean. Plunging into them at dawn you feel the strength the moon lends them in tidal force. They want to pull you to the ocean’s depths with them but just in time a bigger stronger wiser wave floats you safely to shore.
Temples and beaches are impressive attractions but my reason for being in Tamilnadu was to see a dear friend and meet and cook with his family. Read on for a crispy Tamilnadu lamb fritter recipe and a few photos from my recent visit.
She’s so sweet – Calgary Hyatt Regency Executive Pastry Chef Sabine Gradauer – photo – Karen Anderson
chef Sabine Gradauer’s cake pop centrepiece – photo – Karen Anderson
chef Gradauer is getting ready to welcome 800 guests to the Calgary Hyatt Regency’s Christmas Day brunch – photo – Karen Anderson
A little while ago an invitation to meet the executive pastry chef at Calgary’s Hyatt Regency hotel crossed my desk. I had to delay that meeting until after my annual trip to India and since I knew I would be jet-lagged on my return and that I would have a column for CBC Radio One’s Alberta at Noon due shortly after my return, I thought it would be a great idea to have this profession chef help me with a recipe to share with Albertans this Christmas.
I knew that in the two weeks I would spend in South India I would see coconuts everywhere so I asked if chef might be willing to create a great Christmas inspired coconut dessert.
I specifically mentioned that the recipe should be fairly easy.
Here’s something I learned from this experience; what a classically trained executive pastry chef from Austria whose lived and worked all over the world thinks of as easy, might not be as easy for you and me.
Ah well, it was a delight to meet chef Sabine Gradauer and if you read on you’ll see how I fared in translating her professional chef’s notes on this recipe for Coconut Snowball Cake-pops into something you can make at home. Hopefully all was not lost in translation.
There’s so many reasons Calgary is Canada’s Chowtown.
The fact that our chefs can access Japanese knives at Knifewear to make all the chopping they do easier – and therefore make the long hours they spend cooking for us more enjoyable – must surely be one of the reasons the food in this town rocks.
The motto of Knifewear is “sharp knives rocks”. I think the chefs using them and their food also ROCKS.
If you live in Calgary – come out tonight and see Knifewear’s Springhammer documentary about the Japanese blacksmiths that hand forge the knives they sell. Details are here.
SAIT Polytechnic Culinary School Alumnus Kevin Kent cut his cooking teeth with Fergus Henderson at St. John in London, England and at River Cafe in Calgary. He started selling knives to chefs in Calgary from his backpack and now owns five Knifewear stores across Canada. He’s one of Calgary’s culinary mavericks.
Japanese knives help me savour it all. Right now I’m savouring the idea of … buying myself another one.
paella on my plate
photo – Karen Anderson
I’m just back from Spain. It was my first time there and the whole time I explored my new surroundings Elton John’s song Daniel kept playing in my mind. I’d find myself humming it or singing a few lines…
Daniel is flying tonight on a plane
I can see the red tail lights heading to Spain
(and a bit further on)
They say Spain is pretty though I’ve never been
Daniel says it’s the best place he’s ever seen
and he should know he’s been there enough…
Spain is pretty and its filled with justifiably proud people and that wonderfully (when it’s done right) ubiquitous dish called paella.
This post will tell the story of my chance to cook paella in San Sebastian with a Basque country native. Keep reading and I’ll share his great recipe with you.
photo – Karen Anderson
I don’t know how it came up. I think I asked my friend Gail Norton for a new recipe for a summer dessert. I was bored with my usual repertoire.
Apricots, she said.
Make a Tatin. I’ll send you a recipe.
She did and that’s where this story starts.
the setting for Joy Road Catering’s al fresco “cuisine de terroir” Okanagan dinners
photo – Karen Anderson
Last week I made my annual summer pilgrimage to Penticton in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. It’s year 15 and each year gets better and brings more joy.
We have rituals that make this place a haven for our family.
Early morning cycling with friends, time for a coffee and chat, a dip in the lake when the notion strikes or if it is really hot – a chance to float lazily down the channel that cuts through this isthmus; this city lodged like a too tight belt between two very curvy lakes.
We shop at farmers’ markets, lunch at vineyards and dine on the patio. The air is soft and caresses the skin. Lavender, roses, Ponderosa pine and the smell of fresh fruit drift to the brain’s memory bank of scents and deliver a sigh and a smile in recognition. Blue sky meets blue water with pale faced clay banks lined with grapevines sloping to their steep cliffs. Life is grand and then it gets even better.
We go to an alfresco dinner with Joy Road Catering at a retreat called God’s Mountain and life feels quite complete. I’ve written about the very talented owners Dana Ewart and Cameron Smith and you can learn more about why I’m a fan of theirs here.
Read on to see what was on the menu this year, who the winery was and what it all looked like with the few photos I thought to snap here and there as the dinner progressed. I’m sorry there aren’t more. I was enchanted by the evening.
Pan Seared BC Halibut with Morel, English Pea and Chorizo Ragout
photo – Karen Anderson
In this week where sustainable fisheries are on my mind, it’s nice to receive inspiring news that a leader in Calgary’s restaurant scene has firmly anchored his seafood restaurant in the mostly unchartered waters of promoting sustainable fish consumption. I wrote about Catch restaurant’s new buycatch seafood market here. Many thanks to chef Kyle Groves for sharing this beautiful recipe and now we know where to get the “Jet Fresh” halibut we need to make this palate pleaser.
Pan Seared BC Halibut with Morel, English Pea, and Chorizo Ragout
courtesy of Chef Kyle Groves, Catch and The Oyster Bar, Calgary, Alberta
4 X 6 oz. Pieces of Wild BC Halibut Fillet
4 oz. Morel Mushrooms – washed and patted dry
8 oz. English peas – out of the shell and blanched
8 oz. Boiled ratte or fingerling potatoes – peeled and cut into ½” thick disks
6 oz. Chorizo meat – chopped into small pieces
½ oz. Fresh thyme – leaves only
4 oz. Fresh cold butter
1 oz. shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 oz. chives, minced
3 oz. Dry white wine
Salt / Pepper / Lemon juice to taste
1. In a cast iron pan sear the halibut fillets on one side until golden brown
2. Transfer to a 400*F oven and cook until the fish reaches 135*F
3. When the fish comes out of the oven, add a few thyme leaves and cook for one minute
4. Meanwhile, in a sauté pan cook the chorizo until the fat has rendered out of it
5. Add the minced shallot and garlic and cook in the chorizo fat until softened
6. Add the Morel mushrooms and sauté until softened
7. Add the fresh thyme leaves and cook until they “pop”
8. Add a splash of dry white wine to cool the pan slightly
9. Add the cooked potato disks and the English peas
10. Bring mixture to a boil and add the cold butter cubes slowly
11. When mixture is thick, season with salt pepper and lemon juice
12. Divide onto 4 warm plates and sprinkle with fresh chopped chives
13. Top with the halibut and serve right away