Sunday, May 31, 2009

sunday dinner with the in-laws

We invited my in-laws over for dinner but I wasn't feeling at all creative. I just wanted to make something that wouldn't involve any new recipes or measuring. Something pedestrian. You know that kind of meal that you can pull together with your eyes closed...

Pita and dip pretty much make a daily appearance in our home. Tonight I wanted it to look pretty, so I arranged the appetizer on a large plate. I made hummus with canned chickpeas, tahini, chili flakes, cumin, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. To jazz it up, I topped the hummus with my best extra virgin olive oil and chopped parsley.
Our main course included grilled chicken breasts, roasted asparagus, mushroom medley quinoa and salad. The chicken breasts marinated for an hour in a mixture of pantry staples: grainy mustard, wildflower honey, olive oil, herbes de Provence, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Unfortunately, the chicken spent a little too much time on the barbecue so it was a bit dry. Our salad was comprised of romaine, arugula, chopped tomato, crumbled goat cheese, toasted pine nuts and a light lemon vinaigrette.
All in all, it was a nice evening that finished with a slice of rhubarb crisp.

my favourite sandwich

Last night our Aunt Teri joined us for a late dinner. In my mind, we required a decadent meal that would come together quickly.

So, what did we have? A seared salmon sandwich with a fennel, arugula, goat cheese salad washed down with a bottle of 2006 Cuvaison Chardonnay Napa Valley Carneros.

Honestly, what's better than seared salmon topped with dill-caper mayo sandwiched between buttery garlic bread? In terms of 'wich craft, this is perfection.

P.S. The photo above was stolen from and originally appeared in Wish Magazine, September 2007. Just so you know, we put WAY, WAY, WAY more dill-caper mayo on top!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

mention on maple syrup and poutine

Last year, I met Danielle from the Maple Syrup and Poutine blog. I found her on the Internet, stalked her and badgered her to let me join her cooking club. In the end, I was a club member just long enough to be mentioned in a Windsor Star article! It was lots of fun but once I started my MBA along with my regular job in PR, I needed the extra time for homework. Not nearly as fun as cooking. :(

Anyway, Danielle just started blogging again. She's a wonderful, creative chef and incredibly smart in the kitchen. And, that's why I'm so happy that she called out Menu Manic on her blog. yay!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Review: Jamie's Food Revolution

I love Jamie Oliver.

So when I was searching online for books about Albert Kahn for my hubbie, I couldn't help but purchase Jamie's Food Revolution. The book's subtitle is "rediscover how to cook simple, delicious, affordable meals." Perfect for a recession, right? Now, there's no excuse for takeout.

Jamie's Food Revolution is simply laid out for the home cook. There is absolutely nothing pretentious about it. In fact, cooks are encouraged to use prepared items like Patak's Curry Paste before trying to make their own.

As you might know, about once a week we eat a version of Jamie's Quick Salmon Tikka with Cucumber Yogurt (we use salmon or chicken). This dish is featured in Jamie's Food Revolution' s chapter on 20-minute meals. 20 minutes...he's not kidding! I always found that Rachel Ray's 30-minute meals took way longer than 30 minutes and were a little strange. But in this case, you really can be eating in about 20 minutes. And, that's exactly what we all need after a long day of work and a trip to the gym.
Chicken Tikka
Two nights ago, I tried the Crunchy Garlic Chicken recipe and the "Philosophy of a Great Salad, Pick-And-Mix Style". First let me say that the salad recipe made me giggle. Basically, it's a page full of pictures of soft lettuce, crunchy lettuce, herbs, veggies, cheese and toppings. You are supposed to choose one item from each section. I guess the good thing is that it inspired me to make something besides Caesar or Greek salad. The Crunchy Garlic Chicken was anything but crunchy. Nonetheless, I'd make it again because it was tasty but I don't think I'd use butter. I think the butter is what prevented it from being crunchy.
Crunchy Garlic Chicken with "Pick-And-Mix" salad
Tonight, we tried the Sweet and Sour Pork recipe. Although it wasn't the most authentic tasting Chinese dish, served on Basmati rice it was full of fresh ingredients and was healthier and more interesting than most weeknight meals.
Sweet and Sour Pork

Other recipes that I'm eager to try include:

  • Shrimp and Avocado with an Old-School Marie Rose Sauce
  • Lamb Rogan Josh
  • Lasagne
  • Salmon Baked in a Foil Parcel with Green Beans and Pesto
  • Fish Pie
  • Banana Tarte Tatin (I know I'll screw this up so I hope that one my friends reading this will make it for me! hint! hint! nudge! nudge!)

So, who would I recommend this book to? Well, it's definitely perfect for beginner cooks. I also think that it's great for beginner or intermediate cooks who are seeking some variety in their weeknight cooking. I know it inspired me to go a little beyond the usual offerings.

Really, there's not much in this book that can't be made on any given Monday.

Monday, May 25, 2009

grilled chicken

Grilling a whole chicken is easy. Ask your butcher to butterfly the bird for the barbecue. Brush the chicken with olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. To prepare the grill, warm up the whole thing. Turn the heat to low in one area of the barbecue. Leave one burner on medium. Place the chicken on the low area, breast side up. Turn every 20 minutes for about 40-60 minutes. During the last 10-20 minutes, brush the chicken with your favourite barbecue sauce.

  • Grilled chicken
  • Roasted local asparagus...just can't get enough of this!
  • Tossed salad with leaf lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and freshly chopped tarragon (for the dressing: sprinkle salad with kosher salt, garlic powder and freshly ground pepper, drizzle with red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, toss using your hands)

Try this recipe and let me know what you think.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

wine snob

One of my favourite restaurants in Canada is Treadwell's Farm To Table Cuisine in St. Catharines, Ontario. In February, the Treadwell's opened Snob Wine Bar & Plates located in the main restaurant's lounge area.

Why the name Snob? Well according to sommelier-owner James Treadwell, it's a “tongue in cheek” thing. People may find wine bars, or even wine in general, somewhat pretentious. James hopes to change that by offering a casual and affordable experience with knowledge, passion, and warmth.

"I’ve always enjoyed the concept of the 'modern' wine bar – a spot where people could enjoy a great glass of wine with some delicious, inexpensive food. I feel that Snob is that type of place," said James in an email earlier this year.

Last night, my mom and I had the pleasure of stopping by Snob for for a bite to eat. Not only was the food perfectly fabulous, we enjoyed listening in on all of the wine commentary between the "wine-tender" and his patrons.

Our menu choices:
  • Fries and Mayo (combined with malt vinegar and fresh chives) to start with a glass (or two!) of "Cuvee 13", 13th Street, VQA Niagara Peninsula
  • Snob pizza topped with smoked ricotta, bacon, oregano and tomatoes with a glass of Pinot Noir, "Red Paw", Coyotes Run, VAQ Four Mile Creek
  • "Treadwell's" Steamed Mussels in a delightful fennel and cream sauce with toast with a glass of Gamay Noir, "Old Vines", 13th Street, VQA Twenty Mile
  • Rosemary Creme Brulee with a sugar salted rosemary cookie and homemade rhubarb ice cream
I should mention that Snob's menu includes a wine recommendation for each of the plates. We didn't take advantage of that offering but rather decided on our own selections based on the restaurant's extensive wine-by-the-glass listing.

Open from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. every night except Saturday and Monday. They have a great menu priced between $6 and $14 featuring pastas and fish and chips (among other things) with an extensive wine-by-the-glass and beer selection.

*** In case you're wondering how affordable this really was, our $85 meal included three 6oz glasses of sparkling wine, one 3 oz glass of sparkling wine and two 3oz glasses of red wine plus the food listed above and tax. And, it was worth every penny!

Friday, May 22, 2009

5 picks for summer

The La Dauphine blog invited me to post my top 5 summer fashion picks. If you're looking for some sweet summer styles, check it out:

More food posts on Menu Maniac on Sunday or to my future sister-in-law's bridal shower! yay! :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

flank steak salad with flair

Sometimes a salad is the perfect dinner; especially if it takes less than 15 minutes to prepare.

Over the weekend, I discovered a recipe for Flank Steak Salad with Chimichurri Dressing from Bon Appetit magazine. Eager to try it out, I bought the ingredients and decided to make the salad on a night when I knew we would eat late due to after-work meetings.

We didn't have any chipotle hot sauce so I substituted with Frank's Hot Sauce. It was fantastic...what's not fantastic with Frank's??? I also added roasted local asparagus (from farmer Hric) and halved grape tomatoes.

You know thinking about this salad, it would probably be equally perfect with grilled chicken or fish.

All in all, it was a meal that didn't require much of a menu.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

peel 'n' eat shrimp

Not knowing what to make for dinner after a heavy 3 p.m. Italian lunch, I decided we should have something summery. Besides, yesterday's weather turned from dreary to sunny in the late afternoon. Grilled shrimp, corn on the cob and a light salad made sense to me.
Marian's peel 'n' shrimp (serves 4)
Generously sprinkle a dozen shrimp with kosher salt & pepper. Place seasoned shrimp on the BBQ and cook until shells turn pink and meat is opaque.In the meantime, melt a stick of butter. Once the shrimp is cooked, pour the butter into small dishes appropriate for dipping and add a few drops of Worcestershire sauce. Peel, dip and eat shrimp.

In case you were wondering what to drink, a bottle of prosecco and a bottle of chardonnay worked well for us!

Friday, May 15, 2009

bbq rub

I admit it. I'm a sucker for brand names and cute packaging. It's a weakness.

Recently, I was at HomeSense and found some Jamie Oliver branded products. For $9.99 I picked up two of his BBQ rubs...Spicy Herb Rub and Indian BBQ Rub. I used the spicy one on boneless, skinless chicken breasts. It was pretty spicy and the cumin was almost overpowering. Honestly, I could have made this concoction at home (paprika and cayenne chili, sea salt, cumin, black peppercorns, oregano, onion, garlic, thyme and paprika oil) but sometimes I'm just too lazy.

I'm eager to try the Indian BBQ rub on rack of lamb. I'm envisioning it served with cumin roasted cauliflower and a yogurt-cucumber-cilantro dip. Sounds like a good Friday night dinner to me!

fish cakes for the family (guest blog by sharon)

For the past few years, the Menu Maniac gave me a subscription to Bon Appetit for my birthday. It is an excellent source of inspiration. One of the tastiest and easiest main courses I discovered from the magazine is the Mahi Mahi Fish Cakes.

This is a simple, healthy dish. The only problem is that I can't always find mahi mahi at the store. A few times I was lucky enough to find the President’s Choice blue menu wild mahi mahi.
This week, I couldn’t find mahi mahi anywhere, so I used President’s Choice blue menu wild halibut instead.
Instead of the breadcrumbs, I substitute panko (Japanese) bread crumbs which I purchase at Hoa Viet (pronounced "Wa Bet") at 485 Wyandotte St. W., (519) 255.7232. Not only does Hoa Viet have a convenient parking lot, but it also carries many obscure Asian ingredients at great prices.

We had Stir Fried Sesame Asparagus as a side dish. I typically buy the no-name sesame seeds at the Superstore. I highly recommend this easy recipe, especially because local asparagus is the best!

Speaking of local, check out the Essex County Federation of Agriculture’s Buy Local map . Refer to it to find out where to buy the freshest ingredients grown close to home. It also shows where to go to pick your own, a great activity.

Speaking of pick your own, we are very excited about our strawberry crop in the backyard. If the strawberry crop survives the squirrels and my children, I promise to document the harvest on this blog soon.

(me on the left and the menu maniac)
MY BIO: Like any self-respecting Strosberg, I enjoy a good meal. Together with my husband David, I endure the daily struggle of figuring out what our young daughters will eat for dinner. I am a lawyer and an avid runner. And of course, I am the Menu Maniac’s sister-in-law and now, an occasional guest blogger.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

happy mother's day x 3

Tonight we celebrated Mother's Day with Jay's mom, his sister's family and my mom. To suit the nieces, we started at 5:30 p.m. and ended at 7:30 p.m. The evening required a kid-friendly meal but it still had some fun twists.

Pomegranate Sparkling Sangria
Blanched asparagus and green beans with homemade green goddess dressing
(courtesy of Bonnie Stern's Friday Night Dinner)

Roasted Potato Salad
(courtesy of Bonnie Stern's Friday Night Dinner)

Happy Mother's Day 2009!

scrambled eggs with stuff (guest blog by Harris)

Hi all you menu maniacs. This is Harris from over at sports, entertainment and smack coming at you from the menu obsessed's kitchen. We've made the pilgrimage over from St. Kitts to Windsor to provide some expertise on breakfast. No matching, just good food.

Sarah and I started out on a crazy trip through windsor to find the Zehrs. We left the house around 5 p.m. and returned near 6:30. What happened? We got lost and ended up driving all the way to the other side of windsor looking for a zehrs. Oh well, Sarah enjoyed the scenery of lovely broken down closed factories, and Italian stores.

Anyways, back to breakfast. Pretty simple meal. My omelettes are different from the real thing. All i really do is make scrambled eggs with stuff inside it. Today was no different. Chopped up some green and orange peppers. Cut up some mushrooms and tossed it all in a pan with some melted butter. Got that stuff all soft and heated up and then I poured the eggs in the pan. You still with me readers? You need me to go over those steps?

So now we got all the ingredients in the pan and we are stirring and flipping and cooking, and bam, we got scrambled eggs with stuff inside. Check the pic below.
Sarah chimed in with some toast soaked in butter and opened the plastic container of fruit.

Put all that stuff on the table with some coffee and you got a wonderful mothers day Breakfast.

That's it, thanks for reading my guest post. Check out the blog for more of what you love from your sports entertainment and smack blog master.

happy mother's day x 2

My brother and his fiance traveled to Windsor with their two dogs Harper and Tilly. And, my mom was already in town with her wonder dog Toro. I had great intentions of making a Mother's Day dinner on the verge of elaborate to impress my mom. Unfortunately, a household emergency made that impossible.

Certainly the start of our meal was impressive but not because of me -- rather the talented cheese makers from around the world saved the day. We compiled a cheese board with Saankaanter (an orange hard, salty, smoky/ashy Dutch Gouda), a Patacabra (a pungent Spanish semi-soft goat's milk cheese) and the practically perfect La Tur (an Italian creamy mixture of sheep, goat and cow's milk). The La Tur was the hit; every last smudge of it was scraped off the board.

Mother's Day menu post-home emergency:
  • Lovely cheese board
  • Honey-garlic glazed chicken - flattened roaster, barbecued
  • Roasted local asparagus
  • Caesar salad
  • Strawberry rhubarb pie and chocolate brownie cheesecake served with Daniel Lenko's Late Harvest Vidal

Monday, May 4, 2009

early mother's day meal

Yesterday should have been a lazy Sunday. But it wasn’t. We generated loads of errands in the morning, I worked on a financial management take-home exam in the afternoon and my mother-in-law came over for an early Mother’s Day dinner. Thank g-d that she’s not difficult to please.

In an attempt to multi-task, I roasted a lone red pepper on the barbecue while working on the exam. Roasting is always a good idea when you have peppers on their last legs. Once it was charred, I let it cool, peeled it and threw it in the food processor with canned organic chickpeas, chopped garlic, cumin, lemon juice, kosher salt and pepper. Yummy roasted red pepper hummus!

Our dinner menu was a simple old-school steak dinner. It took less than an hour in total to prepare and was easy to enjoy.


  • Roasted red pepper hummus with homemade pita chips
  • Caesar salad
  • Grilled rib-eye steaks
  • Roasted baby potatoes
  • Steamed asparagus (from Washington…Farmer Hric will have local asparagus this weekend at the Ottawa St. Market in Windsor)
  • Sautéed onions and baby Portobello mushrooms

Of course, our meal started with a bottle of something bubbly. In this case, it was Henry of Pelham’s Cuvee Catharine Brut. “Catharine,” as it’s affectionately known, is one of our favourite sparkling wines from the Niagara region. If you’re interested in trying it, you can often find it in Vintages at the LCBO or visit the winery.

All in all, it was a simple Sunday night celebration in honour of Cathy.

Friday, May 1, 2009

healthy spring pasta

I like to make this recipe, or a version of it, when I can't figure out what else to do with all the ingredients that are generally in our home.

If you can't find fresh peas, use frozen peas or fresh aspargus. I buy the Rizopia brand brown rice penne at Zehrs and I think there is a President's Choice version as well!


  • half a bag of organic brown rice penne
  • 2 cups of fresh peas (shucked)
  • container of grape tomatoes
  • lean prosciutto (omit if you're a veg or kosher)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • olive oil
  • freshly grated parmesean cheese
  • handful of fresh chopped basil
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
What to do:
  • Follow the instructions below while the pasta is boiling for approximately 10 minutes
  • Heat oil in large pan on medium-high
  • Add the garlic
  • Let sizzle for a few moments
  • Add grape tomatoes
  • Stir around and cook for about 5 minutes
  • Add the peas
  • Stir around
  • Add the prosciutto
  • Stir around
  • When ready remove pasta and rinse in cold water
  • Put pasta and tomato mixture in a large bowl
  • Toss with grated parmesean cheese and top with fresh basil

Serves 2 hungry people or 4 not-so-hungry people.