Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

[Favorite Condiments for Hot Dogs] Easy & Quick Barbecue Idea

It's always exciting to preheat the grill and have barbecue, isn't it? That's is one of the reasons I get exhilarated even more in Spring since we can start grilling again. :) I know that a lot of people do barbecue in the middle of the winter (if you don't know, Canadians are so crazy about barbecue!). 

And yes, we are crazy about barbecue, but not that crazy. :) 

We barbecue only from Spring to Fall. 

Usually I prepare the things to grill, and grilling is Mr. D's sole responsibility.  (Confession: I don't know how to ignite the barbecue grill.) Since April, we've been grilling at least twice a week. 

Personally, I like grilled steak and fish while Mr. D wants to grill everything and different things every week. 

It's fun to try different things on the grill, but, sometimes we also do a very simple barbecue what I can prepare in less than 5 minutes while it takes about 10 minutes for Mr. D to grill. 

Do you know what one of the most simple food, if not the most, to grill? Yes, it's hot dog, kids' all time favorite. It's delicious to spread some Dijon mustard on a big wiener, but I like a few condiments when I have a hot dog. Ketchup, yellow mustard and sauerkraut are the staple toppings. 

But, my favorite topping is olives, green or black or both. 

Have you tried olives on your hot dog? If you didn't, please do try as soon as possible. 
Olives upgrade your hot dog to a different level. :) I like to have a couple of hot pepper slices, but it doesn't play a critical role for the taste of hot dog. Relish is not my thing, but Remi really likes to have relish on his hot dog, just like millions of hot dog lovers :), while Pablo only wants lots of ketchup! 

I don't know why Mr. D didn't grill all beef wieners diagonally :( He made wieners look silly.
Still it tastes same :)
Don't forget to toast your hot dog buns for a minute. It makes a big difference :)
I am pretty sure it was the simplest barbecue you can imagine.
What is your favorite condiment for a hot dog?

I'll post a fantastic shish kebab recipe soon.

Grilled Hot Dog

Sunday, May 26, 2013

[2013 French Open] The Men's Singles Draw Analysis and Prediction - Roland Garros

Since Andy Murray, world #2 withdrew from this year's French Open, I had been nervous until the main draw was released on Friday, because of the obvious reason. It means #3 Federer and #4 Nadal, who are bumped up to #2 and # 3 seeds, could meet as early as semi-final. When it was announced that No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic and No. 3 seed Rafael Nadal were drawn into the same half of the draw, naturally, I got all excited. Of course, first Federer and either Djoker or Nadal make it to the final.

Let's take a closer look at the Men's Singles draw. 
The big picture of the draw looks like this:

1. Novak Djokovic's quarter
(Photo taken at 2009 Cincinnati Masters)
Djokovic doesn't have a particularly easy quarter. But, he doesn't have a particularly difficult one either.
What I mean is that it could have been worse for the world #1. It's true that Grigor Dimitrov who is a potential third opponent, defeated Djokovic last week in Rome. But it was the best of three sets match. It's a totally different story in Grand Slams. It's extremely hard to win three sets against a top player like Djokovic. I just can't imagine Djokovic losing three sets anybody in his quarter, including Janko Tipsarevic who is the next highest seed or the German veteran Tommy Haas (No. 12 seed), who defeated Djokovic in Miami Masters back in March. However, Haas may give a hard time to Djokovic, if he can reach the last eight in Paris.
Semi-finalist: Novak Djokovic

2. Rafael Nadal's quarter
(Photo taken at 2009 Cincinnati Masters)
Rafa has been an excellent form since his comeback from nearly 9-month-injury-break. He reached 8 finals of 8 tournaments he played and won 6 of them. He won the two latest Masters tournament, Madrid and Rome, recently. There cannot be any doubt about Rafa's current form and dominance on this specific surface. There are other talented players like No. 9 seed Stanislas Wawrinka who lost to Nadal in Madrid final, or No. 21 seed Jerzy Janowicz who has been red hot throughout this clay season. But, unfortunately for those talented players locked in this quarter, their potential quarterfinal opponent is all-mighty Nadal. 
Semi-finalist: Nadal for the semi-final is a no-brainer's prediction.

3. David Ferrer's quarter
(Photo taken at 2009 Cincinnati Masters)
This quarter cannot be trickier for both No. 4 seed David Ferrer and No.5 seed Tomas Berdych, especially for the latter one. Berdych's section is packed with all the you-name-it  clay court specialists, from Gael Monfils, Ernests Gulbis, Tommy Robredo, to Andrea Seppi. Personally, I think Gulbis is the hottest unseeded player in the draw. I will not be too surprised if he beats Berdych and goes all the way to quarter final to face Ferrer. Compared to Berdych's section, Ferrer's looks relatively soft and doable. Ferrer will not see any real threat until the quarter-final. Our own Canadian Milos Raonic who is seeded #14, could be a threat for Ferrer, but Milos will not have many chances on the dirt.
Semi-finalist: David Ferrer

4. Roger Federer's quarter
(Photo taken at 2010 Cincinnati Masters)
This time, unlike Australian Open, the goddess of the draw was on Federer's side. First of all, as I wrote above, he doesn't need to play Nadal in the semi-final. His likely semi-final opponent is No.4 seed David Ferrer against whom Federer had not lost a single match in their 14 meetings. Until semi-final, there are two qualifiers, before he may meet three Frenchmen in a row: No. 30 seed Julien Benneteau,  No. 15 seed Gilles Simon, and No. 6 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who are not particularly in good forms, but playing a French in France is always tricky. However, French crowds have adored Federer so much that they often don't know whom to support when Federer plays a Frenchman in Paris. It would not be much different this year either. Benneteau who almost dispatched Federer in the third round of 2012 Wimbledon, could be the toughest challenge Federer can expect until he makes the final four. Otherwise, I dare to say that Federer is pretty safe.
Semi-finalist: Roger Federer

Just like the most Grand Slam tournaments, it's highly likely that we will see the top four players in the two semi-finals.

Colleen's prediction

Djokovic over Haas in 4
Nadal over Wawrinka in 4
Ferrer over Gulbis in 5
Federer over Tsonga in 4

Nadal over Djokovic in 5
Federer over Ferrer in 4

Nadal over Federer in 4
(As a die-hard Fed fan, I have a strong urge to pick Roger here, but I try to be more realistic :(, even though I really want to see Federer lift la Coupe des Mousquetaires (French Open trophy) once again.)

I love the venue of Roland Garros. I enjoyed the tour very much last year. Hope I'll have a chance to go there to see a match someday. You can see my visit to Roland Garros, Paris here.

2013 French Open 

Friday, May 24, 2013

[Guilt-free Pizza] Healthy Wheat free Pizza

What is more important for you when you have a slice of pizza? Crust? or topping and cheese?

Personally I care more about cheesy pizza topping than about pizza crust. Pizza crust is thinner the better. I make normal pizza from scratch as well. (you can see my pizza crust recipe here). My whole wheat pizza crust is very tasty and kids like it, too. But, still each time I make pizza crust, I feel like I'm eating too much carbohydrate, in order to enjoy delicious cheesy toppings. That is why I proclaimed "Eureka" when I found a wheat free pizza crust recipe. To be honest, I had some doubt about the taste of pizza without flour. But, I still gave it a try and it definitely was worth a shot. It actually tasted really really good. This pizza crust is made of healthy cauliflower instead of flour. If you are a cauliflower fan like me, you can eat cauliflower as much as you want when you make this pizza :D  Even better, two pizza monsters growing in my household like this pizza as well. :) The only challenge would be to hold this pizza by hand. Still you can keep the shape of pizza when you use fork and knife.

Here goes the recipe:
(adapted from the appendix of Wheat Belly)

1 head cauliflower, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1/2 cup olive oil
2 eggs
3 cup mozzarella, shredded
1/2 pound sausage or meat or pepperoni
1 + 1/2 cup pizza sauce (homemade or store bought, homemade pizza sauce recipe follows at the end of the pizza recipe)
bell pepper, sundried tomatoes, chopped onion, olive etc
Fresh or dried basil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (optional)


1. In a large pot boiling water, steam or boil cauliflower until soft (5-10 minutes)

2. Drain, and mash until consistency of mashed potatoes with minimal chunks. 

3. Add 1/4 cup oil, eggs, 1 cup of mozzarella and mix well.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly coat pizza pan or pizza stone with 1 tablespoon olive oil. If you use a pizza stone, you should place the stone in the oven before preheating.

5. Pour mixture onto pan and press the dough(?) no more than 1/2 inch thick, mounding high up to have higher edges.

6. Bake 20 minutes and remove the pizza stone/pan from the oven

7. Spread pizza sauce 

8. Top with all the ingredients you prepared.
I made a half and half pizza, half with olives and the other half with pepperoni.

9. Put back in the oven and bake another 10-15 minutes

9. Use spatula to transfer to plates.

It looks nice, doesn't it?
It tastes heavenly as well :)

Following is the pizza sauce recipe
Pizza sauce (adapted from All Recipes)

1 cup tomato sauce
4 tablespoons canned tomato paste
2 teaspoons ground oregano
1 teaspoon dried minced garlic

In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients until smooth.

Wheat Free Pizza

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

[Sourdough biscuits] Old fashioned Sourdough Biscuits like the past - Great accompaniment for Soup or Steak

How was your Victoria day?

I wanted to bake sourdough biscuits for the fourth weekend in a row, but didn't have a chance.

Instead, I baked a Victoria sponge cake, yes, upon request. Remi who always is curious of all kinds of foods and wants to eat different things everyday is my inspiration for cooking & baking, indeed. Remi asked, since a week ago, if we could have a Victoria Sponge cake for Victoria day breakfast. We sometimes eat cakes for breakfast, as I try hard not to eat sweet treats in the evening. 

So I baked sponge cake last night and spread jam and whipped cream in the morning just before the breakfast. It's so good, especially with black tea, I can understand why queen Victoria often had a piece of this cake with her afternoon tea.

It was a busy day working at backyard and having a barbecue lunch that  I couldn't make any sourdough biscuits or bread this weekend. So, I didn't have a choice but throwing a cup of sourdough starter before replenishing withe a cup of flour and a half cup of water. :( As I wrote already in my sourdough starter recipe post, you need to feed your starter regularly, at least once a week, as it is a living thing, i.e. bacteria. If you don't want to end up with too much starter, you need to get rid of one or two cups of starter, before replenishing with the same amount of flour and water, by using it for baking, or less preferably, throwing out.

I'll make a big loaf of sourdough bread next weekend. I will post a sourdough bread recipe soon. It's really good, too. Today let me show you a very easy sourdough biscuit recipe as I said last week.

Before the sourdough bread recipe, here goes a recipe for the sourdough biscuits. When you have good sourdough starter, it takes little time and effort to make delicious sourdough biscuits. It smells really good, and you will be surprised how little butter you need to make these biscuits with heavenly flavour. If you are not ready with sourdough starter, you can check how to make sourdough starter here.

 Here goes the recipe for the old fashioned sourdough biscuits
(adapted from Along the trail)

 2 cups all purpose flour
 2 cups sourdough starter
 1 tablespoon baking powder
 1 tablespoon sugar
 1 teaspoon salt
 2-3 tablespoons butter, soft at room temperature, for rubbing

1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).

2. Grease well a cast iron skillet, Dutch oven or baking dish.

3. Sift flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together into a large bowl.

4. Stir sourdough starter well, before scooping out your portion.

5. Pour the starter into the flour and mix well. 

Now dough is ready. The dough should be sticky and wet but able to hold a shape when rolled.
6. Now rub soft butter on your hands. 

With hands well buttered, roll 2"-2+ 1/2" size balls of dough between your palms. 

7. Place into the greased dish or skillet. Crowd all the rolled balls in. Don't worry, they won’t stick together from baking. Let the dough rest for 10 to 15 minutes before baking.

8. Place in hot oven to bake for 25 - 30 minutes.

9. Biscuits are done when golden brown on top. (I place the biscuits under a broiler for a few minutes at the end of baking, to get the golden brown top.)

These biscuits are the best when they are just out of the oven. Serve hot with butter and jam. I served biscuits with breakfast gravy the other weekend. It was also delicious.

And as you may have guessed it already, it's a superb accompaniment for a bowl of any soup!

Happy baking!

Sourdough Biscuits