Scream Cheese Doritos

Scream Cheese Doritos

Look at what finally hit the stores! The Doritos guru has been chosen. Ryan Coopersmith from Montreal won the Doritos Guru Contest. If you recall, Doritos held a contest back in March asking Canadians to help name their new Doritos flavor.

To be eligible, you had to come up with a clever name for their new Doritos flavor, plus a 30 second advertising idea for the dudes at Frito Lay.

Ryan Coopersmith came up with "Scream Cheese" and his advertising video idea is below. I'm not a big fan of the name, but the ad idea was pretty good. Overall, the two came nicely together.

Ryan and his friends are now enjoying their new found $25000 + 1% of the flavor's net sales.

What are your thoughts on the new name and ad idea?

Persian Chickpea Cookies: Nan-e Nokhochi

Persian Chickpea Cookies

After receiving a bunch of cute little Persian cookie cutters from my in-laws, I wanted to put them to use. I made Persian chickpea cookies called nan-e nokhochi.

Nan-e nokhochi is a delicate cookie that is made from very fine roasted chickpea flour. They crumble and melt as soon as they enter the mouth, and the cookies pair well with tea. I once tried using regular chickpea flour from my local bulk store, but it just didn't taste the same. The delicate flavor is lost, and a lot more butter/oil is needed.

You can find roasted chickpea pastry flour at any Persian grocery store. In Ottawa, I get mine at Arya Food Market.

This recipe makes approximately 60 mini cookies.

Persian Chickpea Cookies (Nan-e Nokhochi)
- 3 1/2 cups of fine roasted chickpea flour
- 3/4 cup of vegetable oil or clarified butter
- 1 cup of confectioners sugar
- 3 tsp of ground cardamom
- 1 Tbsp rose water
- crushed pistachios for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Combine the chickpea flour, confectioners sugar, and ground cardamom. Mix until evenly distributed.

2. Slowly add in the butter/oil and mix well. Add the rosewater, and continue to mix well.

3. Tightly pack the flour mixture into a small rectangular pan that is 3/4 inch high. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour to harden the dough. Remove from the refrigerator. Cut the dough with a small cookie cutter that is 3/4 inch wide and 3/4 inch high. Place cookies on a baking sheet, spacing them one inch apart. Garnish with crushed pistachios. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the base of the cookie is slightly golden. Allow the cookies to cool before transferring them. As mentioned, they crumble very easily.

Persian Chickpea Cookies

4. To create more cookies, repack the dough and repeat step 3.

Be sure not to over bake your cookies. Doing so will create a bitter taste.

7th Annual Lumiere Gala at Brookstreet Hotel, Ottawa

7th Annual Lumiere Gala

The Brookstreet hotel and the Ottawa Senators Foundation held their 7th annual Lumiere charity gala on June 24th. It was a magnificent evening of amazing food & live music, and the weather couldn't have been better.

The live music was performed by Ottawa's Diana White, Roxy Swan and Jennifer Putinski, and the gala menu was prepared by Executive Chef Clifford Lyness and his four-diamond culinary team. Other well known spectacular Ottawa chefs, such as Chef Michael Blackie and Chef Duane Keats, were also there to help.

The famous spit roasted whole hog was featured again last night. Three hogs, approx 55 lbs each, were brined and then roasted over a spit fire for 8 hours before they were ready to eat.

Slow Roasted Hog

The food was organized in separate stations, and here is what was served:

Station One – Sweet corn and haddock chowder with a crab hushpuppy.

Sweet Corn and Haddock Chowder

Station Two – Cold pressed short rib served with fois gras and acidulated beet with black plum paint.

Cold Pressed Short Rib

Station Three – Cedar planked halibut with a saffron & cauliflower pulse, and smoked tomato relish. This was a fairly mild dish with a kick of spiciness from the relish.

Cedar Planked Halibut

Station Four – BBQ AAA Striploin with a spring onion & truffle potato whip, caramelized pearl onion and Mennonite speck toffee. This dish is for truffle lovers...a strong truffle oil was drizzled over top of this dish as a finishing touch.

AAA Striploin

Station Five – Gruyere soufflé with blue mussel, melted leek, Riesling hollandaise, and an arugula toss.

Seafood Souflee

Station Six – Scallop 3 ways: ceviche, Bay with lobster cognac redux, and pan seared with caper butter. The giant pan seared scallop was served by executive sous chef Rob Macdonald, and was my favorite of the 3. I ended up eating 5 of the pan seared scallops that evening.

Scallop 3 ways

Station Seven – Spit roasted whole hog with white cannellini bean cipolinni cassoulet, and wild blueberry and ginger gastrique. This dish was by far my favorite of the night!!! The hog was nice and tender and the creamy white bean cassoulet was perfect.

Slow Roasted Hog

Station Eight – Grilled lamb chop with wilted brassica, Yukon pave, sous vide carrot, charred rosemary & port reduction, and wild blueberry & ginger lick. This station was run by one of my favorite chefs, Duane Keats.

Grilled Lamb Chop

Station Nine – Sushi six different ways served with traditional condiments. I don't think there was any raw fish served. Everything I tasted was smoked. I'm guessing it was for hygienic reasons.
The sushi was prepared by Chef Yasuda, and accompanying him in the photo below is Chef Clifford Lyness and hostess Kana Graves.

Chef Clifford Lyness and Chef Yasuda

Station Ten – Apple tart tatin, peanut butter crème brulee, chocolate truffle and macaron. The macarons were imported from France, and tasted delicious.

Macaron and Peanutbutter Creme Brulee
Look at how beautiful the Himalayan sea salt truffles were.
Himilayan Sea Salt Truffles

Station Eleven – Banana Foster. I couldn't help myself and had dessert before dinner. This was the first thing I ate upon arrival.

Banana Foster Cooking

Banana Foster

For the guests, the evening ended with a live auction and spectacular fireworks.


For the chefs, the evening went on. Below is a picture of the chefs at their post-gala celebration party.

Lumiere Gala Kitchen Party
Bravo! It was a spectacular event!
525 Legget Drive
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Telephone: 613-271-1800

Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde

Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde

Back in February when I lived in San Diego for the month, I watched the Food Network day and night. I was addicted. The shows on the American Food Network were different from the ones on the Canadian one, so it was neat to see the small cultural differences in the food shows. A lot of dishes and recipes on the American shows were latino influenced, and I finally learned who Paula Deen was (and discovered deep fried macaroni and cheese along the way)!

One show I really got into was Tyler's Ultimate. Tyler Florence explores traditional meals and teaches you the ULTIMATE way to make them. I adapted my Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde from his show, and it was a rockin' meal. CK and I couldn't believe how awesome it was.

One thing to note is that Enchiladas are traditionally made of corn tortillas. This recipe uses flour tortillas. Use whatever suits your fancy.

When available, I prefer to use uncooked tortillas. I love watching them bubble as they cook, and they have a nice chewy fresh texture to them.

This recipe makes 6-8 enchiladas.

Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde
(Adapted from Tyler Florence)
- 2 small onions, finely chopped
- 1/2 can (7 oz.) of chicken broth
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 chicken breast, cubed
- 1 jar (16 oz.) salsa verde (I used Pace salsa verde. The jalapenos and smoked Spanish paprika in this salsa added a nice flavor).
- 3 plum tomatoes, diced
- 1 cup of cilantro, chopped
- 6-8 uncooked flour tortillas
- 2 cups of cheddar and jack cheese blend
- Extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Guacamole to serve on the side

1. On medium-high heat, cook the tortillas on an ungreased pan. Cook one side until the tortilla bubbles, flip it, and then cook for another 30-45 seconds. Set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

3. Sautee the onions and garlic with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil until onions are translucent. Add the chicken, chicken stock, salt + pepper, and simmer until the chicken stock dehydrates. Turn off the heat and allow the chicken to cool. Shred the chicken with hands.

4. Fill the bottom of a large baking dish with a thin layer of salsa verde.

5. Construct the enchilada. Lightly coat both sides of the tortilla with salsa verde. Place a spoon of the chicken mixture onto the tortilla. Sprinkle some cheese, fresh tomatoes, and cilantro on top of the chicken mixture. Fold the tortilla over the filling, and roll the enchilada. Place it on the baking dish with the folded side down to prevent it from unrolling. Repeat until all enchiladas are constructed.

6. Pour the rest of the salsa verde evenly over the enchiladas. Sprinkle some tomatoes, cilantro, and the remaining cheese on top. Bake for 30 minutes uncovered. Remove from oven, turn off the heat. Garnish the enchiladas with more fresh tomatoes and cilantro. Serve with guacamole.

Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde

I kept this dish fairly healthy by skipping out on the sour cream (which I luckily don't really like anyway), and by using the tomatoes and cilantro as a main ingredient instead of a garnish.

Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde

Brunch at Sunflower Cafe, Ottawa

Sunflower Cafe, Ottawa

My friend K flew to Ottawa from Vancouver for a few days, so we went out to brunch with him and a few of his 'ol pals. His friends were such down to earth people. I felt like I had known them forever. One couple had a vibrant little 2 year old who loved being the center of attention. He was a very positive kid, and was a joy to be around.

We decided to meet at Sunflower Café for brunch mainly because we were charmed by the idea of having only 3 choices for breakfast. Sunflower Cafe serves Israeli style breakfasts that are prepared in the oven, and served in a hot iron skillet. Their 3 breakfast choices are: Mediterranean, traditional, and home style.

Sunflower Cafe has a small seating area on the main floor, with a much bigger seating area available on the second floor. They also have a few small tables outside during the warm seasons.
All orders need to be placed at the main counter, but the meals are brought straight to your table. For about $12 (including tax), you get the breakfast of your choice along with some fresh rolls, and home made salads.

First came the rolls. They were fresh and fluffy.

Fresh Rolls
Fresh Rolls

Soon after, the salads showed up. Because we had a big enough group, we were able to try all of the salads they had that morning. We had a beet salad, eggplant dip, mushroom and cumin salad, Waldorf salad, olives, cream cheese, and feta cheese. Everything went well with the bread.

Cold Salads
Assortment of cold salads and cheeses

Here are their three breakfast choices. Beware, the skillets are hot!

I chose the Mediterranean breakfast, a tomato based vegetarian option. Their home made tomato sauce was a blend of 4 different tomatoes, and the eggs were poached in the vegetable liquid. In Israel and some parts of Africa, this dish is also known as "shakshouka". I mixed the eggs with the tomato sauce, and ate it with the home made bread.

Mediterranean Breakfast
Mediterranean Breakfast

The home style breakfast is a traditional Israeli breakfast. It is eggs mixed with a soft home made cream cheese. Their cheese normally has herbs in it, but they ran out, and only had regular cream cheese. I asked K's friend what this tasted like, and I was told it tasted just like it looked: eggs with cream cheese.

Home Style Breakfast
Home Style Breakfast

The traditional breakfast mimics the traditional North American breakfast. It was a mix of eggs, bacon, onions, and potatoes.

Traditional Breakfast
Traditional Breakfast

Sunflower Cafe also offers home made cookies. We grabbed a few pistachio cookies on our way out. I liked that they weren't overly sweet.

Pistachio Cookie
Pistachio Cookie

Overall, the food was simple but it provided a different brunch experience, which was neat.
Sunflower Cafe is kid-friendly place, and we liked that a booster seat was available for Little Owen.

Sunflower Café
521 Rideau Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Telephone: 613-288-2439

Capellini Con Tonno

Capellini Con Tonno

Sometimes, a can of flaked tuna can be a savior. All you have to do is open the can, and voila, it is ready. I like to make this pasta dish when I need a dose of meat protein, but don't feel like cooking any meat. Both the tuna and the beans in this dish provide a good source of protein.

If you don't feel like cooking the tomato sauce from scratch, you can always open a jar of prepared tomato sauce, and use that instead.

This recipe yields 4 servings.

Capellini Con Tonno
- 450 g dried capellini pasta
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 cup of peas, frozen
- 5 vine ripened tomatoes, peeled and seeded
- 340g of canned light tuna in water, drained and flaked
- 1 can (156ml, 5.5 fl. oz) of tomato paste
- 1 can (540ml, 19 fl. oz) of Romano beans, drained
- 1 cup of water
- 1/2 cup of cilantro, finely chopped + extra for garnish
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 fresh lemon

1. To peel the tomatoes, cut a small cross across the bottom of each tomato, and immerse them in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Remove them from the water, and allow them to cool. The skin of the tomatoes should peel off very easily. Remove the seeds, and roughly chop.

2. Sautee the garlic and onions in a pan with the oil on high heat until onions are translucent.

3. Add the tomato paste, chopped fresh tomatoes, water, oregano and salt + pepper and stir until it bubbles. Turn the heat down to simmer, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add the beans, frozen peas, tuna, chili flakes, and smoked paprika and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat.

5. In another pot, cook the pasta until al dente.

6. Drain the pasta, and serve with the sauce.

7. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro, and squeeze fresh lemon juice over top of the dish.

Capellini Con Tonno

Persian Pastries from Arya Food Market, Ottawa

Arya Food Market, Ottawa

I recently received a bunch of cute little Persian cookie cutters from my in-laws, and wanted to put them in use. I wanted to make Persian chickpea cookies that requires roasted chickpea flour (the key is the roasted part), and there is only one place in Ottawa I knew to get it from.

Arya Food Market is a Persian food store that sells Persian groceries, spices, and pastries. They also have a butcher in the back that offers halal meat.

Aside from purchasing the roasted chickpea flower, I saw a bunch of lovely pastries that were just calling out my name. Arya gets their pastries mainly from Toronto, but they import pastries from Tehran as well.

Persian Pastries

Here's a detailed description of the goodies I got:

One of my favorite Persian desserts is the napelonee. It is flaky pastry layered with egg white custard. Look at how easy it delicate.

Napalonee Crumbling

One of CK's childhood favorites is the rolette. It is white cake rolled with cream, and topped with pistachios. There is a similar Chinese version of this dessert that I really like.

Persian Pastries

Also pictured above were some plain pastries (nothing inside) brushed with syrup and topped with crushed almonds. They didn't have a lot taste, but are nice for a plain dessert.

Another one of my favorites is the walnut cookie, or nan-gerdui. This cookie does not contain any flour and is made up mainly of ground walnuts and confectioners sugar. They are the brown cookies in the picture below.

I also purchased some nan-berenji, Persian rice cookies. This cookie crumbles easily and is made of rice flour. They are normally topped with black poppy seeds.

Persian Pastries

The last of the cookies were some butter cookies with a date paste in the middle. I'm not sure of the name of them, but the ones topped with whole almonds were very good.

Persian Pastries

Aside from the pastries, I also picked up some Persian fruit leather, or lavashak. Lavashak is normally on the sour side, and very specific fruits are used such as sour cherry, plum, and pomegranate.

A HUGE warning, make sure your lavashak is made of 100% pure fruit. I once picked up a yogurt curd flavored lavashak, and was not prepared for the taste at all. It is an acquired taste, and can be somewhat disgusting for someone who is not expecting it.

The lavashak flavors I picked up were: dogberrry (My favorite because it is so sour), barberry, pomegranate, and sour cherry. They were all very good!

A selection of Lavashak

Arya Food Market
508 Gladstone Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Telephone: 613-594-3636

Brockton Villa Restaurant, San Diego

Brockton Villa Restaurant

While writing my recent San Diego posts, it reminded me of a bunch of other San Diego posts that I have been putting off.

Brockton Villa Restaurant is an old beach cottage, dating back to the late 19th century, that is situated on top of the beautiful La Jolla cove.

CK and I brunched here a few months back while we were strolling around the La Jolla Cove area. Although a little chilly in February, we got a table on the patio that had a spectacular view.

La Jolla Cove
La Jolla Cove

I debated between a cappuccino and an an apple cider to warm myself up, and decided on the latter. I had absolutely no regrets, and it turned out to be one of the best ciders I ever had. It was a nice strong blend of apple and spices.

Apple Cider
Apple Cider

I wasn't in the mood for breakfast food, so I ordered the Kobe beef patty melt. The Kobe beef patty was sandwiched in between two slices of toasted rye, and condiments included gruyere, balsamic onions, and chive aioli. A cold gardiniera pasta salad was served on the side.

I found the sandwich a little too greasy. The aioli was bursting through the pores of the crispy pan fried bread, and my hands were covered in cream and grease by the end of the meal.

Kobe Beef Patty Melt
Kobe Beef Patty Melt

CK was smart and ordered what they are known for, their coast toast: a very rich french toast that tastes more like a soufflé. It is made with baguette style bread, and has a hint of orange flavor. They warn that it takes a bit of time to make, but as they claim, it really is worth the wait. The french toast was served with a side of fresh fruit, and potatoes.

Coast Toast
Coast Toast

Brockton Villa Restaurant
1235 Coast Blvd.
La Jolla, California, USA
Telephone: 858-454-7393

Breakfast Menu

Brockton Villa on Urbanspoon

Viva Pops, San Diego

Viva Pops

After my lunch at Urban Solace with Lisa, we drove a few blocks north to check out her new popsicle shop called Viva Pops. Lisa is putting the final touches on the store, and plans to officially open at the end of June. Be sure to check their website regularly for the official grand opening date.

***[Updated Aug 29 '09] They are officially open, and have been for a little while. Go check it out!***

Viva Pops focuses on gourmet organic popsicles that are inspired by the fruity and colorful Mexican paletas. Most of the ingredients are sourced from local farmers, and for this reason, Viva Pops' flavors change with the seasons.

Lucky for me, I got to have a sneak peek before the grand opening. I had fun checking out the new space, and even got to help pick the exterior design of the store.

When you first walk in, you can't help but be taken aback by the beautiful and colorful mural covering the left side of the wall. The mural was designed by three very talented San Diegan artists Crol, Geral, Werc. If you look closely, you'll notice that the popsicle theme is brilliantly illustrated throughout the mural. The flowers patterns are made of little popsicles, and the entire mural background is a giant yellow melting popsicle (pictured in title photo).
Crol, Gera, Werc (Photo Courtesy of Viva Pops)
Crol, Geral, Werc (Photo Courtesy of Lisa Altmann)

As for the woman behind the pops, Lisa is a very positive and dedicated woman who is currently juggling multiple design projects on top of opening her own store. She had to learn everything about opening a new business from scratch, and with hard work and perseverance, the store will be opening much faster than originally expected.

After checking out her digs, Lisa whipped out a few popsicles for me to try:

The first was her new tangy apricot lemongrass pop. This was absolutely awesome, and is my favorite by far. It was full of flavor, and was tangy like the name implies.

Tangy Apricot Lemongrass Popsicle
Tangy Apricot Lemongrass Popsicle

The next pop we tried was the peach ginger. The ginger really added a nice and unique taste to this pop.

Peach Ginger Popsicle
Peach Ginger Popsicle

Next was the blood orange pop. I didn't love this popsicle at first, but after a few bites, something hit me over the head, and I fell in love.

Blood Orange Popsicle
Blood Orange Popsicle

The last flavor was strawberry basil. This is a pop packed with fruit, and the basil really complemented the strawberry flavor.

Strawberry Basil Popsicle
Strawberry Basil Popsicle

Once we were done, Lisa collected the popsicle sticks, and revealed that she recycles all her used sticks by donating them to The Rare Hare Studio next door. It is a wonderful art studio for kids and families, but what makes this place so special is that all their art materials are recycled. Check out this robot made of old Illy coffee cans:

Illy Robot
Illy Coffee Robot

Viva Pops also caters to large group functions, and have served at parties and weddings.
If you want a chance to win some free gourmet pops, suggest a new pop star flavor at this link. If your recipe is successful, you not only get bragging rights, but a box of pops will be sent to you as a thank you gift.

Viva Pops was also recently chosen as a staff pick by VegNews magazine.

***[Updated July 21 '09] Viva Pops was recently reviewed in the July-Aug 2009 edition of VegNews Magazine and was selected as the panel favorite. Check it out at this link.***

Viva Pops will continue selling their pops at the Little Mercato Italy Market every Saturday between 9:00 - 1:30 pm, and every Sunday at the Cedros Market at Solana Beach between 2:00 - 5:00 pm.

Viva Pops
3330 Adams Avenue
San Diego, California, USA
Telephone: 619-795-1080