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For the past two years, good mornings in the SiS household have hinged on two drinks. One is coffee. The other is Hanne’s genius invention: The Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie. Yeah, you’ve seen it around, but Hanne came up with it first. It might be SiS’s most unoriginal original recipe, but the other PBBS recipes you’ve seen online are all gross.
SiS’s PBBS is more milkshake than globby smoothie. Don’t worry, it’s all illusion. Frozen bananas only seem to turn into ice cream when blended with milk. It’s a healthy drink. Protein from the peanuts and milk. Calcium… Bananas… they’re good, right? One morning I put leftover whipped cream on top, which was awesome. But I digress…
So first, you’ve got your frozen bananas. Buy lots. Peel them, split them in half and freeze. Second, you’d better use real peanut butter. Don’t make this with the sugary pretend stuff. You need to use the creamy, chunky, pain-in-the-ass natural peanut butter that takes some stirring before use. Sucks, but it’s worth it.
TIP: get as big of a jar of real peanut butter as you can so that you don’t have to do this too often. Spatula the PB out into the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the dough mixing attachment (the curly spike). Once the machine’s done the work for you, spatula the PB back into its jug. Refrigerate it or it’ll separate and you’ll have to mix it again.
So how to? Combine two banana halves, a cup or so of milk, a generous spoonful of peanut butter, a dash of vanilla and blend. Don’t overcomplicate your morning by measuring. If you must, the recipe’s below. Experiment with proportions until you get the taste and consistency you like. The only way to mess this up is to use bad milk (guilty) or accidentally blend a loose blender seal into the drink (again, guilty). Otherwise, this drink is idiot proof.
SiS’s Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
1 frozen ripe banana, halved
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons REAL peanut butter
1-2 teaspoons vanilla
1. Put stuff in blender and blend.
AND, if you have a blender that blends in the same cup you drink out of, then there’s hardly any mess. Unfortunately, the only product I know that does this is the Magic Bullet. It’s cheap and also built cheap. We’re on our second machine in two years. I had to plug my ears while running the last one, which is why it didn’t make the cut when we moved from Montreal. I hope another company that makes good blenders copies Magic Bullet’s single cup style and I hope that happens before the Tasmanian devil busts out of our appliance. Man dies from Magic Bullet shrapnel?
Hanne and I having built up our reputations as cooks sometimes pays off! Or we’ve at least convinced some people that we know enough about food that they humour us by asking us to make stuff for them. And sometimes they pay for the expensive ingredients, which is, in case you were wondering, the payoff.
My brother purchased himself a tin of matcha for 30 bucks. 30 bucks! His request was green tea ice cream. We used David Lebovitz‘s recipe, word for word. It worked perfectly and you can find it HERE. If you are one of the people out there that we’ve convinced to buy an ice cream machine and it’s since been relegated to your never-used single-use appliance cupboard, then buy this book and get your freezer bowl back in the freezer.
This turned out to be the best green tea ice cream I’ve ever had. Or made. Or Hanne made. Or whatever. My brother, when my Mom asked him if it was the best green tea ice cream he’s had said, “yeah, it’s good.” Maybe it was the victim of extortion talking (30 bucks!!?!). Let it be known that when he tried making green tea ice cream himself, he used brewed green tea. Brewed tea! So the lesson here is not to damn cooks with blogs with faint praise or their small world of readers will find out that you suck and that when you worked in a kitchen and dropped a knife you tried catching it by the blade. Anyway, thanks for the photos, little brother!
You know what sucks about being married? Sharing my poutine. That’s about it, but still.
Kris at To Be Mrs. Marv asked SiS for tips on how to make poutine, so Hanne and I have begun our investigation. We ate two halves of two poutines each before we left for Christmas. More accurately, I greedily ate about 2/3rds of both while Hanne tried to snap a good shot. I darted my fork in after each camera click, making off with great gooey gobs before she started eating. She either didn’t notice or didn’t complain, which is why I married her.
What is poutine, you ask? Poutine is, like, the greatest. It’s comfort food that will make your arms feel weak and your heart thump lugubriously. Glump glump. It’s a clusterfuck of fries, gravy and cheese. But no ordinary cheese. We grew up in Alberta where so-called poutine is mangled by a mess of cheap melted mozzarella cheese. You can’t do that. You just can’t.
A real poutine needs fresh cheese curds. Finding them fresh is likely the biggest challenge in making a good homemade poutine. The fresher the better as curds lose their springiness quick. Poutine is all about textures: crispy fries and teeth squeaking curds swallowed in a salty goopy gravy.
My favourite Montreal poutines can be found at the 24hr La Banquise (they have two dozen variations, but I’ve only tried the original pictured above) and at La Belle Province on St-Laurent Boulevard just above Prince Arthur. La Belle Province is a mediocre chain, but by some miracle combo of fries, curds, good gravy and typical Montreal inconsistencies, this particular location nails it. I’ve stolen into many a winter night out of that joint with a piping hot tin plate balanced on my hand (see the spoils in the picture below).
The best poutine in the world can be had at Au Pied de Cochon. I had hoped that their cookbook would hold the secret to their silky gravy, but unfortunately their poutine recipe tells me to pick up a can of PdC gravy from the restaurant. Secretive protectionist bastards! I’ve heard they emulse foie gras into their gravy. They also serve a poutine with a slab of foie gras on top for twenty bucks a plate. That plate alone is enough to convince me what side of the foie gras debate I’m on.
So Hanne and I will continue our investigation. We’ll eat more of this heavenly sludge and then test some recipes. When we come up with the right concoction, we will share it with you here. Kris has a head-start on us–check out her perfect fries here.
Here is Hanne’s Mom’s oft-requested recipe for overnight buns. I just scanned the original recipe to send back to friends out East. We’re home for Christmas now, which is why we’ve been absentee bloggers. We’ll do our best to mine and publish our parent’s secret recipes to a) share with you and b) keep this blog semi-active over the holidays.
These fist sized rolls are great for sandwiches and burgers or for filling out your Christmas feast. Enjoy! We’ll be back soon.
We’re spying on you. Our last clementine box hack, where I used the box to ripen green tomatoes, got attention from those of you who, like me, feel bad throwing away these sturdy little cartons. When the snow comes citrus fruits come into season. Clementines and mandarins become fruit’s front line, stacked up like ammo boxes at the entrances of supermarkets.
When clementines get cheap, Hanne and I consume them at a ridiculously rapid rate. I stash the empty boxes under the kitchen sink until spring when Hanne tells me I have to throw them out. But until then they sit, accumulating, waiting for inspiration that will make them suddenly useful.
Here’s one I came up with last year that helps keep our “everything” drawer in order. Instead of all the small miscellaneous kitchen tools getting sifted down to the bottom or bullied to the back of the drawer, the clementine box keeps them hemmed in and easy to find.
To save you from going google-y eyed, here’s a list of relevant resources that the search term “clementine box use” turned up, including SiS’s last super fantastic invention at number 6:
A good lunch gives a bored desk jobber something to look forward to. And nuking the office with a spice packed chicken curry? It warms my cantankerous heart. This one raised such a stink that it cleared the dead aired office, making the rest of the staff hungry and heading for the basement cafeteria.
Here’s Vij Family’s Chicken Curry from Vij’s Indian Cuisine. This one got so much attention coming out of the work microwave that I messaged Hanne at home and told her to quick take a picture before she finished her leftovers. Like most Indian recipes, it’s ingredient and step intensive. But it’s well worth the effort. Serves 4-6 or 2 dinners + 2 next day lunches.
1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups chopped onions
3-inch stick of cinnamon
3 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp minced ginger
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp garam masala (def. worth making your own from scratch)
1/2 tsp cayenne
3 lbs chicken thighs, bone-in
1 cup sour cream, stirred
2 cups water
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Have all the above set up, ready to go (your mise-en-place). If you’re a quick knife, it may not be necessary, but at least get your spices measured out in a cup (same cup, they all go in at the same time). If you have a large deep-bottomed pan, use it–the surface area will help cook your chicken faster. If not, a small pot will also work.
First you’ll prepare the masala:
- Heat the oil on medium.
- Add the onions and the cinnamon stick and sauté until the onions turn golden (5-8 minutes).
- Add garlic and cook for another 4 minutes.
- Add ginger, tomatoes and your spice mix (salt, black pepper, turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala and cayenne). Cook for 5 minutes or until the oil separates.
Now in with the chicken:
- Skin the chicken thighs and rinse them (you can do this while the masala cooks).
- Add chicken to the masala, turning and coating the pieces well.
- Cook for 10 minutes, until the chicken starts to brown.
- Stir in the sour cream and water and increase the heat to medium-high.
- Wait for a boil, reduce heat and cover. Cook for 15 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked, being sure to stir the pot a few times.
And now the hard part. When your chicken is cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Fish out the cinnamon and let your food cool for 30 minutes or more. Yes, you’re hungry, but be patient. While we waited, Hanne made some jasmine rice to go with the dish.
Next, the annoying part. You need to remove the chicken from the pot and its meat from its bones before adding the meat back into the masala. I nearly skipped this step, but I stuck with the recipe. It’s either going to get messy now or messy while eating. Your call.
Before serving, heat it all up again on medium heat until it starts to simmer. Cut the heat, stir in cilantro, serve, pack leftovers for lunch, tease your coworkers.
Montreal’s best and biggest market, open year round, is Marché Jean-Talon.
Locally grown garlic. This stall ruined cheap supermarket garlic for us.
Great big batches of leek + The Silver Spoon = perfect leek soup.
Artichokes. Tomatoes. Word.
Produce galore: Cabbage, Bell Peppers, Parsnips
Quebec grown apples and cranberries.
The farm eggs we should be buying more often.
Marche Jean-Talon is Montreal’s mothership market. For food tourists, it is a destination not to be missed. Like I said, it’s open year round but with the first bit of snow that just hit, it will go into semi-hibernation. Most of the good local stalls will take the winter off, but there’s still some great food to be had indoors. Not only does Montreal have a few year round markets, but there is also a mini-market open 24-hours during the summer at Metro-Montreal.
There are, count them below, 13 markets in Montreal.
Ah Creton! I snapped the above with the work camera during lunch and saved it as a backup post in case we got ourselves into a jam in our quest to keep up with NaBloPoMo. Well, we’re one day past the halfway mark and I’ve tapped our reserve. Hanne’s post yesterday probably disqualifies us* anyway, although being at the top of Booze Stereo on Google ought to make our blog totally famous.
That this is a reserve post is not to say that creton doesn’t deserve SiS’s attention. Creton is one of many reasons that Quebec doesn’t need to worry about losing its identity to the rest of Canada. The day Quebec smartens up and starts protecting its food with the same fervency they protect their language is the day I find a marker, an old Bloc Quebecois campaign sign, some duct tape and a hockey stick and take to the streets. I had never heard of this delicacy before moving here and I suspect it can’t be found anywhere else.
So what is it? Well I don’t know exactly. Let’s just say it’s a good thing the camera at work is not so hot, because this food is none too pretty. In fact, the less you look at the grey matter mush (not to say it’s brain… although…) the better. This is a case you best not “eat with your eyes.” Man, I hope it’s not made out of eyes.
All I know is that creton is meat. Pig, particularly. And it’s fatty. Which is the part that makes it great, of course. The meat paste is best served on a round of baguette. Although at work I further alienated myself (as if eating this stuff at lunch wasn’t bad enough and, uh… “why is Carlo taking a picture of it his lunch???”) by running my finger around the inside of the container.
And it tastes like….
I just went to consult Hanne and our friends on that one. “Fatty, salty, porky,” is all they had. Thank a lot guys.
Each creton producer puts their own spin on the spread, each using a unique blend of spices. The one above had nutmeg and cloves.
The best creton I’ve had in town was served by the best restaurant in town, Au Pied Du Cochon. Actually, their creton is tied for first with the stuff you can get at La Queue de Cochon. The tie is probably because it’s the same creton. I was just told that QdC supplies PdC some of their prepared meats. QdC can be found on Laurier Ave. just east of where Hanne and I are now, which is our friends’ place, which I know doesn’t help you much. But too bad. You’re on your own. Blogging from your friends place is not only extremely unsociable but is also costing me my fair share of cheese. Damn you NaBloPoMo! 16 days down.
Link to Creton on Wikipedia, included so you don’t ruin my mystery meat in the comments section.
*Hanne’s Edit: Yesterday’s post was TOTALLY valid. Jerk.
Youtube made Justice’s D.A.N.C.E. a smash over the summer. The song is infectious. Virulent even, sticking its noxious hooks in your ears. The schoolyard imperative shouts “Do the dance!” And you do. And you should. It’s a great song.
But I thought for sure that I’d broken it over the summer. That “do the d-a-n-c-e, 1-2-3-4-5″ would quit repeating in my head. Pop hits are usually toast by late summer. But Justice’s sugar pop had been taking its licks well into the fall.
Now finally the clincher–the antidote for those of you still spellbound by D.A.N.C.E.’s ABCs. This is the song performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live:
Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart, Prince and Rick James all on one stage? It’s like when you get your slurpy straw just right and you get ALL syrup concentrate, sucking the slush into a chunk of flavourless ice.
And if that video didn’t make you lose your lunch, then here’s Simian Mobile Disco’s Hustler:
Saturday morning SupperInStereo original! It was good, real good. To serve two, this is all you need:
- 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 1 medium onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (chile powder also works)
- 3 Tbsp chopped, toasted pecans (optional, but awesome)
- 4 eggs
- Salt, Pepper to taste
For the (quick) Hollandaise Sauce:
- 1 egg yolk
- Splash of lemon juice
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of smoked paprika (cayenne also works and is more standard, but we’re on a smoked paprika kick)
- 1/3 cup butter
- Heat oil over medium heat in a large frying pan.
- Grate sweet potato. Roughly chop onion. Mince garlic.
- Give garlic and onion a head start in the pan, cooking them until golden before adding the sweet potato.
- Cook until browned. Don’t stir too much or it won’t get crispy. About 20 minutes.
When sweet potato mix is almost done:
- Poach eggs (not sure about that link’s last recommendation, saran wrapping the eggs)
- Add toasted pecans to the sweet potato hash.
While eggs are cooking:
- Melt butter in small frying pan.
- Whisk egg yolk, salt, smoked paprika and lemon juice together until creamy.
- While whisking, slowly pour the melted butter into the mixture. It will thicken into a rich sauce.
Serve poached eggs on a bed of sweet potato hash. Generously (more than pictured above) drench plate in Hollandaise sauce. Eat.