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A Maritime Kitchen Party

My friend and fellow blogger Leah (we’ve hung out in real life, I can call her a legit friend now!) wrote an excellent post the other day titled “10 Reasons I Stop Following Your Blog.”

Number 3 in the countdown is “You Don’t Drink.” To quote:

Ok, not really. But kinda. It’s the same sort of thing as #4. If you don’t get down, I really can’t relate to you. And if I can’t relate to you, chances are I’m going to lose interest. And I like reading blogs where I know you can cut loose and have a grand time. I also love hearing about hangovers. I can’t help it. It gives me so much satisfaction – it makes me know I’m not alone in the world of lush’s.

So it is with this, and Leah, in mind that I present you the following post…

You can take the Maritimers out of the Maritimes, but you can’t take the Maritimes out of the Maritimers.

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As I explained in my beer-filled dinner party post, Maritimers have an affinity for alcohol. The rest of Canada seems to think we drink a lot. Which is almost insulting. Until you learn it’s true. Kind of like how the world sees Ireland. Fitting, as most of us are Irish anyways.

The real reason we gathered wasn’t just to drink. I’d say about 50% of my university’s journalism class ended up in Toronto. As much fun as we have in the “big city,” there are some things from back home that we miss. Especially from our party-hardy university days.

So we deemed Saturday “Maritime Day” filled with East Coast food, drinks and tunes done the way we would have waybackwhen.

That includes donairs.

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Probably most comparable to a gyro, but invented in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I told a few of my Ontario co-workers I was going to eat these and they had no clue what I was talking about. I thought it was just a myth they only existed on the East Coast!

Eaten on pita with various veggies, there are two things that make a donair a “donair.”

The meat.

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Almost like a breaded meat, spiced with some Italian flavours, cayenne, and a fair bit of onion and garlic. This was my contribution to the party and it was fun to make. I used this recipe. The directions include: “Pick up the meat, and throw it down with force about 20 times, kneading it after each throw.”

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It’s supposed to be thick and sliced real thin, then cooked a second time before eating.

The best part of any Maritime meal comes from the second donair component.

The sauce.

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I LOVE this stuff. I could put in on anything and everything. Back home we just call it “donair sauce.” Made up of evaporated milk, garlic powder, sugar and vinegar (also found in this recipe). It’s not the tangy dressing you’re used to on most Mediterranean inspired pitas. It’s sweet, creamy and garlicky.

It’s pretty popular to dip your pizza in donair sauce. But the best way to have the sauce isn’t even on donairs. In my humble opinion, it’s with garlic fingers.

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There are different variations of these found everywhere. The ones back east are pizza dough + garlic butter + mozzarella.

Some have bacon.

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Some don’t.

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ALL should be dipped in donair sauce.

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More of a Canadian thing than just East Coast thing…

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Ketchup chips. Is it really true these don’t exist in the United States?

There’s also the drinks of the Maritimes…

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Started in New Brunswick with the Moose Green, then moved on to Nova Scotia with Keith’s and Keith’s White.

What’s a university throw-back party without jell-o shots?

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I had one or two.

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Or four.

There’s also no reason for drinking games to end with graduation…

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Did I forget to mention? All of this started at 2pm. And we didn’t leave the kitchen all night. A true “Maritime Kitchen Party.”

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The party ended at 10pm with a piece of DQ cake…

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And a chilly walk to the bar…

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A bar that wouldn’t let me in because I forgot my ID at home. Now that would never happen in the Maritimes. The people at the bars already know me!

And Leah, I’ll have you know that spreading out mass quantities of alcohol over a period from 5pm to 2am is actually pretty good for a hangover. I made it to work this afternoon and only had to take Tylenol once ;)

 

P.S. If you see any of my friends in Toronto, say hi and that you recognize them from my blog!! ;)

Family Feasts

Hello friends! How is everyone’s weekend going? I’ve been gallivanting around Toronto eating with my family. My mom is the city from New Brunswick for a week and my sister made it up from Ottawa for the weekend!

First stop on Friday:

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Fresh! This is one of my favourite spots in Toronto so far. As exhibited here, here, here, and here.

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It’s a popular vegetarian/vegan restaurant with three locations around the city. Cramped seating and long waits. But the food is usually worth it!

I met up with my mom and sister here after a visit to the gym. They’d ordered a falafel + hummus appetizer that I munched on.

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The falafel was parsley packed and delicious, fluffy pita bread, and a wonderfully garlicky hummus. Thumbs up!

The fam split a wrap and burger. I tried a bite of the mushroom onion burger and it was amazing.Sautéed mushrooms & onions, tomato, lettuce, alfalfa sprouts & vegan mayo with aged cheddar, gorgonzola or soy cheese.” Definitely getting that next time!

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Sara ordered one of the E3Live juices. It was, erm, interesting.

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I went with something I’ve had before and loved – the magic tofu wrap: savoury coated tofu steaks with tomato, lettuce, cucumber, red onion, alfalfa sprouts, grated carrot & vegan mayo.

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Hit the spot!

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I dunno, you think we look related? ;)

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I ended up having to work all day Saturday at the running store, but we had even bigger family plans for that evening. I have an aunt in the city and she made reservations at a new-to-me restaurant, Granite Brewery. 

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They’re in Halifax too!!

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Famillyyyy!!! Right here in Toronto :D SO wonderful to have us all together for an evening. It seems like these days the only time our family is all together like this is at mandatory holidays or funerals. I recommend getting together with your extended family every now and then for no reason other than to see each other. Maybe for Connectober!

I started with a half pour of raspberry beer. One must try the beer when eating at a place with “brewery” in the name.

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I also tried a half-pour of the blonde ale. Both were pretty tasty!

One thing you must know about my family is that they’re loud. They always tell me I’m so quiet. But I dare any normal-toned person to get a word in edgewise ;)

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Thankfully, I’m a preferred listener, and they’re pretty darn entertaining.

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My family are all blog readers and insisted I take pictures of all the food! Too cute. Here’s my cousin’s chicken curry:

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Heather with her pizza!

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My cajun salmon salad:

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Allan, the budding food blogger:

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Sister Sara with her steak sandwich:

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Then came the best part: cake!

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Several birthdays have been celebrated over the last couple weeks, so of course a cake was in order.

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It was a chocolate cheesecake cake. 

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After being a good girl with my half-pour beers and salmon salad, I had a fair-sized slice of cake and ate it all. You choose your battles when dining out, and this was a battle well chosen ;)

Today is my last day off before going back to the real world on Monday. But Suday is already off to an amazing start! You’ll have to wait until tomorrow to hear about it. In the meantime – enjoy the rest of your weekend! xo

 

Question of the Day: What is your favourite part of a restaurant meal? The appetizers? Bread basket? Drinks? Decadent main dish? Dessert? Clearly, I am all about dessert ;)

Project Food Blog Challenge #3 – Keeping It Classy: A Beer Filled Dinner Party

Three months ago, I moved from my small Atlantic Canadian hometown to the country’s largest city. My first time ever living away from my home province of New Brunswick. Apart from learning a lot about other cultures here in the self-proclaimed “multicultural capital of the world,” I’ve also learned a lot about my own Maritime culture. Or rather, people’s perception of Maritime culture.

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At first, I was taken aback to hear that the rest of Canada stereotypes Atlantic Canadians as heavy drinkers. I mean, we just love our beer as much as the next Canuck!

However, over the past three months, I have learned the stereotypes are in fact true. Us Maritimers really do love our booze more when compared to the rest of Canada. These Ontario folk have two glasses of wine on a Friday and call it a night. Meanwhile, that’s just a usual weeknight in New Brunswick!

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When reading through the third challenge of Project Food Blog, I immediately became weary…

Challenge Prompt: Celebrate! You’ve made it this far, and the next challenge is to hold a party for your friends and family (at least four guests, you can include yourself in the 4 person count). Whether you’re an experienced host or an entertaining newbie, get creative and host a luxurious dinner party where your guests will discover new tastes and exotic flavors. 

First things first, I still live like a college student. I have never thrown a dinner party. Any parties I have thrown have been far from “luxurious.”

Secondly, the majority of my friends in Toronto are all Maritimers such as myself. The type of people who blow through a case of Keith’s and end up gathered in the kitchen for a traditional “Maritime Kitchen Party” by the end of the night.

With this in mind, I decided to create a “luxurious” menu with a little bit of kick. Something that would take the class up a notch and yet make us still feel right at home.

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That’s right my friends, a menu where every dish features beer as an ingredient. 

Who said beer can’t be luxurious? ;)

Because I worked both Saturday & Sunday this weekend, I opted to do the majority of my food preparations Friday night. Then have everyone over after work on Saturday night. The Friday night in the kitchen was kind of fun!

I began by baking a loaf of Beer Bread with Guinness & Molasses.

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Recipe found here with a few changes.

4 cups flour (I used 1/2 all purpose, 1/2 whole wheat)

1/4 cup sugar molasses 

2 Tablespoons baking powder

12 ounces beer (NOT light beer) (I used Guinness draught)

2 teaspoons salt

2 eggs, slightly beaten

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While that puppy was in the oven, I got to work on baking project number two: Guinness Stout Brownies.

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Recipe found here.

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted room temperature butter, cut into cubes

8 ounces dark bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used 6oz bittersweet, 2 oz semi-sweet)

3/4 cup white chocolate chips

4 large eggs, at room temperature (I used cold eggs and it didn’t explode or anything)

1 cup superfine or granulated sugar

1-1/4 cups (10 ounces) Guinness Extra Stout beer, room temperature

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/8 cup (about) confectioners’ sugar for dusting

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Adding the Guinness to the brownie batter…

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With the baked goods out of the way, I got to my cold salad that would sit in the fridge overnight: Pale Ale Cabbage Slaw.

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I was deeply disturbed when this recipe called to boil the beer right off the bat. Boiling beer feels so wrong!

1 pound red cabbage, finely shredded

1 pound green cabbage, finely shredded

1 package (1 pound) carrots, shredded I cheated and bought bagged slaw

1 sweet onion, thinly sliced

1/3 cup sugar

½ tsp celery seeds

1 bottle (12 oz) Pale Ale Beer I used Bud Light Lime

1/3 cup grape seed oil canola oil

¼ cup cider vinegar rice vinegar

1 TBLS honey mustard

1 ½ tsps salt

½ tsp black pepper

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Buying the bagged slaw made the prep for this so easy! By then my bread was done, rising quite a bit thanks to the yeast in the beer. I couldn’t help myself – I had a slice right away!

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The bread powered me through the last bit of Friday night prep. I put the brownies in the oven then got started on the sauce for the Chicken & Tofu in a Peanut & Beer Sauce.

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Beer and peanut butter. Two of my favourite things!

The original recipe comes from here and is meant for chicken wings. Chicken thighs were on sale and tofu is cheap! What can I say, I’m a frugal hostess.

24 chicken wings, tips removed 5 chicken legs/thighs and 1 block tofu

1 12-oz can Lager Beer  used Brava Lager (local!)

½ cup molasses

¼ cup creamy peanut butter

¼ cup lemon juice

¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

2 Tablespoons mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon chili powder

1 Tablespoon chopped parsley Forgot this step – oops!

 

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I’ll admit, it felt very odd mixing those ingredients together all in one pot as I see them being so different. But it smelled heavenly!

I prepared the raw chicken and sauce so I could pop it in the oven come party time.

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Meanwhile, I MacGyvered a tofu press to work its magic overnight.

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Soon the peanut butter sauce smells were overtaken by chocolate smells indicating the stout brownies were done…

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What?? You’ve got to test this stuff before you serve it to other people ;)

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Dense, fudgy, rich. A definite stamp of approval.

 

On Saturday, I had two more people confirm they’d be coming. I started to worry that I might not have enough food. Plus, not everyone was scheduled to arrive at the same time. Thankfully, my roommie was on the ball and prepared a Cheesy Beer Dip while I was away at work.

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I’m told the dip was Cheez Whiz, cream cheese, and beer. Bam.

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Along with some Vodka Tomatoes.

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Made by poking holes in tomatoes and letting them soak in the goodness. Thank you Megan!! Both munchies were a hit!

Meanwhile, I still had one last dish to make: Cheddar and Beer Soup.

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The veggies, to offset the butter, beer and cheese of course.

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Recipe found here.

2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)

2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)

2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)

2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic

1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups whole milk

1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl oz)

1 (12-oz) bottle ale such as Bass I used Kronenbourg – a French ale.

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 lb extra-sharp Cheddar (preferably English; rind removed if necessary), grated (4 cups)

4 bacon slices (3 1/2 oz total), cooked and crumbled

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When buying the cheese, I didn’t really clue in to the fact that I’d be adding the whole pound to the soup.

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To put it in perspective, the volume of cheese was equal to the volume of liquid in the pot!

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Before I knew it, my guests had trickled in and the dishes were ready to eat!

The Starter

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The cheddar and beer soup was very hearty. Mostly cheesy with a slight hint of beer. We briefly discussed how many servings of cheese there were in one bowl, then decided it was in our best interest not to know. I toasted the beer bread and it made for a perfect dipper! The Guinness and molasses flavours definitely shine through.

 

The Main

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The sauce for this was uh-mazing. You must make it. Sooner rather than later.

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With the coleslaw. This was a hit as well. The flavours were very subdued and it was a nice light side dish to go with the heavier dishes. I think the Bud Light Lime was a great choice for this.

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The Dessert

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The ice cream was actually a last minute thought. After trying the rich brownies, I knew they needed to be paired with cool and creamy vanilla ice cream. You can’t taste the Guinness in the brownies at all, although I dare to say it brings out the intensity in the chocolate flavour. I saw people go back for seconds on this one!

 

The Cast of Characters

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Megan, my roommie, hostess extraordinaire. Living together for three months and already our kitchen has turned into a foodie paradise.

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Amanda, the only non-Maritimer present, but adopted as one of our own.

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Billy and Jer, keeping up the “luxurious” standard.

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Tom, always ready with an inappropriate comeback.

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Colin, who says “no” to mix or ice.

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Me! After pulling off my first ever “luxurious” dinner party for my decidedly un-classy group of friends from back home. We ate, we drank, we ate what we drank. Proof that we Maritimers may like our drink, but damn it, we know how to do our drink well. Thank you to Foodbuzz for inspiring this gathering. My lush friends and I had a blast!

 

Voting for the third challenge opens Monday, October 4. Vote for my booze-infused dinner party here!! And remember to keep it classy blogland!

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