Recipe – Mandy’s Macaroni Salad

With BBQ season upon us, I decided to ring in spring with one of my favourite BBQ add-ons (and the one I tend to bring to potlucks most often), my macaroni salad. Now throughout this post, let’s pretend the words macaroni and potato are entirely interchangable. I make the same recipe, both with macaroni or potatoes. However, this time, due to what I had around the house, I went with macaroni.

This recipe is amazing for anyone, because it’s entirely modifiable to whatever you prefer. Don’t like red peppers? No prob, use green peppers. Maybe you hate all peppers in general, well then, leave them out. Have carrots instead of celery, that’s fine too. No fresh parsley, use dried or none at all. I can go on, but I’m sure you get the picture. You can use whatever you have in the fridge, it doesn’t matter.

This also applies to the dressing. Don’t like hot sauce, don’t use it. Hate mustard, leave that out too. Change up the herbs and spices to ones you really like and omit the ones you don’t. The only thing you pretty much need for the dressing is mayonnaise, but if you don’t like mayo, why not do an oil and vinegar dressing? It all comes back to use whatever you want.

You’ll notice there are no amounts in this recipe… I just throw stuff in, for both the salad and the dressing. I suppose I could tell you what’s in this batch, but the salads and dressings I make are never the same. I reiterate once again, it does not matter what you use. Use your judgement, obviously you won’t add 8 cups of mayo to 1 cup of macaroni… At least I hope you won’t. Taste as you go and adjust seasonings as necessary. Go with your gut, it’s where the macaroni salad is heading anyways. ;)

IMG_6115

Mandy’s Macaroni Salad Ingredients:

Macaroni, cooked in salted water and cooled (or potatoes, cooked, cooled and diced)

IMG_6102

Parsley, chopped
Red Onion, small dice
Celery, small dice
Red Pepper, small dice
Shallot, minced
Hard-boiled eggs, chopped
Dill Pickles, small dice
Olives, sliced

IMG_6104

Dressing Ingredients:

Mayonnaise
Yellow Mustard
Dijon Mustard
Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
Pickle Juice
Olive Juice
Garlic Powder
Basil
Celery Salt
Herbes de Provence
Salt & Pepper

IMG_6108

Procedure:

1 – Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. (My ratio of macaroni to other stuff is about 50/50, but this is how I like it.) Set aside.

IMG_6106

2 – Combine all dressing ingredients in a smaller bowl. I use the pickle/olive juice to thin out the mayo. (Adding a tart flavour as well as saving me on added calories.) If you wanted to make your salad way more colourful, substitute the pickle and olive juices for pickled beet liquid for a bright pink dressing.

IMG_6109

3 – Whisk this ingredients until smooth and adjust seasonings. I used a different dill pickle brand this time, which was far more vinegary than my usual one, so I added about a tablespoon of white sugar to balance the flavours. Too watery? Add more mayo. Not spicy enough? Add more Frank’s. I like mine to be a salad dressing consistency, tangy and sweet, with a tiny bit of heat on the finish.

IMG_6110

 

4 – Combine the dressing with the salad and mix until thoroughly coated. Taste to ensure the seasoning are right and enjoy!

IMG_6114

*The salad can also be refrigerated for a later date, which I tend to do. This allows the flavours to meld together much better, but you’ll notice the macaroni soaks up a lot of the dressing. You can either throw together another small batch of dressing or just use some mayo or a bit of pickle juice to moisten the salad.

ENJOY!

Mandy De Geit
Chef-In-Training
“If food was meditation, we’d chant Om-Nom-Nom.”

RestauRanting: The Port Pub, Port Williams, NS

We had heard about it from one of the boys, a gastropub somewhere near Wolfville. Yesterday, in the middle of a snowstorm, we decided to take the rental car (which does not have snow tires…) and run some errands. I’m not sure what lead us to Port Williams, but I noticed a sign mentioning “gastropub” as we were heading down the  main road. After a quick u-turn, we followed the sign and made our way down the road to the building set on the Cornwallis riverbank. The Port Pub is in a great location that I think would be amazing in the summer.

  Photos of The Port, Port Williams
(This photo of The Port is courtesy of TripAdvisor)

As we pulled into the parking lot, I was happy to see that it was in the same building as a micro brewery. Unfortunately, The Sea Level Brewing company was closed on Sundays, but the pub did have their beer available. We started our lunch with a tasting flight of beer.

IMG_5886

Usually when I have a flight, there’s one or two beers I find to be too hoppy for my likes. The flight consisted of five different types of beer, (from the far left going clockwise), The Rojo Mojo Red Ale, the Planter’s Pale Ale, the Blue Heron Extra Special Bitter, the Port In The Storm Porter and the High Street Wee Heavy Scotch Ale. My favourites were the Scotch Ale and the Bitter.

The menu had a lot of variety, which kept us deciding through most of our flight, but we finally decided on sharing a bunch of the appetizers.

We started with the lobster poutine. There were big chunks of lobster, cheese curds and a delicious lobster cream sauce served on crispy french fries. The sauce and cheese was evenly distributed throughout the poutine, which was very important as one of my biggest pet peeves when eating poutine is to end up with just fries at the bottom. I could’ve eaten the entire bowl to myself, but I was reserved enough to eat slowly and share half with the fiancé.

IMG_5888

For our second “course”, we ordered the chowder. A thick, chunky soup loaded with different seafood and a creamy base was what came to the table. Once again, it was amazing. The seasonings in the creamy broth were bang on and complemented the big chunks of seafood really well. My favourite spoonfuls were the ones with the huge bites of scallop in them.

IMG_5889

Finally, we ended the meal with crab cakes. The accompanying lemon dill sauce was excellent as were the crab cakes. My only complaint was that there was only two of them. (I could’ve done without the salad, which was good, but still just a salad.) It was an appetizer portion, therefore the two crab cakes make sense.

IMG_5890

We are already planning to make a second trip to the pub this week, as there was a lobster club I wanted to try, but I just couldn’t make room.

Overall, I would highly recommend this gastropub to anyone in the Wolfville/Port Williams area.

Mandy

RestauRanting: Play Food & Wine, Ottawa, Ontario

Play Food & Wine is amazing and still remains one of my favourite restaurants in Ottawa (and everywhere else so far). Sure I’m a little biased since my best friend used to work in the kitchen here, but even after her departure, the food and service continue to be top notch.

I love their lunch menu, (which is the same as their dinner menu) but they offer 2 for $22 on their dishes. Play offers small plates and a constantly changing menu, based on what’s in season. What “small plates” means is a normal dinner would be 2 or 3 selections from the menu. I do find that 2 plates with a drink or two is quite substantial however. I appreciate the small format, cause I like variety. :D I’m a fan of trying more than one thing from the menu and with the small plates, it makes it possible without overeating.

IMG_4958

On the last trip to Play, Dan (the fiancé) and I brought my best friend Dickie, who had never been to Play before. We went for lunch, and each ended up with two selections from the menu. The boy chose a great bottle of wine, but again, I don’t remember the name. *(This is why he’s in charge of the wine selections.) I was saddened to see that my go-to usual wasn’t on the menu, the steak tartare. I’m hoping they do bring it back, but I was just as satisfied with my other choices.

I started out with the scallops and I’m happy that I did. These were the highlight of the meal, well that’s what I thought. Dickie chose the scallops as well and he was also greatly impressed by them. I’m pretty sure we all licked our plates clean at the end.

IMG_4954

Dan started with the Beef Laab. It was like a spicy beef lettuce wrapped taco. They were really good, but made quite the mess. It was suggested to eat with our hands, which we did, but it was very drippy and messy. Even still, the mess didn’t detract from the awesome flavour packed into these totally tasty taco-like things.

IMG_4955

The Arctic Char was my next selection. This was awesome. The broth was rich in flavour and the skin of the fish was super crispy. While I’m not a potato girl, I really enjoyed these potatoes, (most likely cause they were in that amazing broth).

IMG_4956

Dan chose the Pork Belly. While I normally love pork belly, this dish didn’t seem to have the same “WOW!” factor the other dishes did. I’d like to say that it was missing something, I thought maybe salt, but I doubt it would be that simple. Dan and I both agreed that it was our least favourite out of the four selections. This didn’t stop us from cleaning this plate though. Even a mediocre dish at Play is still really awesome.

IMG_4957

When we were done lunch, the waitress came by with the dessert menu.

IMG_4959

While I wanted to say no, since my waistline DOES NOT NEED more fat, there always seems to be room for creme brulee. I asked Dan if he’d consider sharing one with me and when he said yes, I put in the order for the Autumn Spiced Brulee, which was absolutely divine.

IMG_4960

All in all, it was another amazing outing with great food and excellent service.  Play continues to impress me on all levels of food and hospitality and it continues to be one of my top rated restaurants.

I would fully recommend this restaurant if you are ever in the Ottawa area. (Let me know if you decide to go, I’ll join you for sure.) ;)

Chef-In-Training Mandy

Review: Bob’s Book Of Baby Madness by Robert Ford

Bob's BookI was flipping through my Kindle for something to read, when I came across Bob’s Book of Baby Madness. I’d totally forgotten about purchasing this until I saw it and figured why not. I was on a flight home for the holidays, so I jumped into the book. Now I’m not a parent, but even still I really enjoyed this book. (I assume people with children would definitely be able to relate more to what is said in the book.) Needless to say, I ripped through it in one sitting. Ford walks you through every step of having a child, from the “I’m pregnant” moment to the beauty and horror of delivery and into the first few months of being a new parent. The book is really well written, funny and informative. I’m sure it would appeal to those who already have kids, people who are thinking of having kids or ones like me, who have no children at all.

If you’re looking for something different, check out Bob’s Book Of Baby Madness.

Pick up your copy here. 

I give this one five out of five.
MDG

Review: On The Lips Of Children by Mark Matthews

OnTheLipsOfChildren-1I do most of my reading during daily exercise on the treadmill. As I got into the story, I realized that the main characters are also runners. There are a few minor differences however, they run outside, where I prefer the indoors, and they run, where I’m more along the lines of jogging/walking. (It’s difficult to read when you’re running.) :D

“Meet Macon. Tattoo artist. Athlete. Family man. He’s planning to run a marathon, but the event becomes something terrible. During a warm-up run, Macon falls prey to a bizarre man and his wife who dwell in an underground drug-smuggling tunnel. They raise their twin children in a way Macon couldn’t imagine. And Macon, and his family, are next.” On The Lips Of Children – Mark Matthews.

The book was interesting and opened up a world of horror in the underground tunnels below San Diego. Unsuspecting tourists and helpless people are taken as hostages, their captors fuelled by the need for drugs and money. The family living in the bowels of the earth are much more than just dysfunctional and newly taken hostage Macon must pull himself together if he wants to save himself, his wife Erin and his daughter Lyric.

The story kept me intrigued, as I wanted to find out what would happen to the family. Matthews goes into great detail with his writing, from the aspects of running to the description and feel of what it’s like to get a tattoo. I felt in some instances there was a little too much description (like with the running), but he does take the time to ensure the reader can see what’s happening in the story, rather than just telling us what’s going on.

I did feel the ending was a little abrupt, as I wanted to know more about certain things, but it did leave me satisfied enough to have enjoyed the book.

I recommend this book for horror lovers as it was a good story with well-thought out characters and plot lines.

Three and a half stars.

MDG

Review: Things Slip Through by Kevin Lucia

Things Slip Through (with titles) 8When I first started reading Kevin Lucia’s book, I was extremely happy to have a new collection in my hands. Little did I know how sneaky Lucia was in putting together his book. As I approached the end of the first “story”, I thought to myself, Holy crap it’s a story within a story… How ingenious is this? As I kept reading, I realized it was a collection of stories, embedded into another story, which in turn makes it a novel. A very well written novel at that.

Story after story are laid out amongst the tales of four friends, Father Ward, Fitzy, Gavin and Chris. Chris, the sheriff of Clifton Heights, is trying  to piece together the strange happenings of their little town. He finds out that his four closest friends know more than they’ve let on.

Since Things Slip Through is a story collection within a novel, I was hard pressed to pick out any single story that was better than the rest as they were all excellent and all played integral parts to the overall storyline.

This book should be picked up by all, as it’s sure to appeal to anyone who loves great stories. I highly recommandy this one.

Five out of five stars.

MDG

Review: Eulogies II – Tales From The Cellar

Eulogies IIAt 371 pages, Eulogies II (edited by Christopher Jones, Nanci Kalanta and Tony Tremblay), is a hefty tome. However, buried within it’s pages are amazing stories that will keep you reading right until the very end. *(I did receive my copy awhile ago, but I lost the book halfway through reading it, to my boyfriend who suffers from intermittent insomnia. He started it one night and was hooked, so I let him finish it before I took it back for myself.)

The stories in the anthology cover a wide variety of themes, from monsters who come out at night to the darkness that resides inside humans.

While all the stories in the anthology were well-written and entertaining, here are some of the stories that I feel deserve extra mention:

Spare the rod by Lucy A. Snyder: Jake and his brother Sam have a discussion over beers about child rearing and how to deal with a child who isn’t growing up the way he should.

A Serving of Nomu Sashimi by Eric J. Guignard: Terry works hard, but no matter what he always seems to fall short of top sales reps. When he’s invited out for dinner with the others, he realizes their success is reliant on far more than just hard work.

Chiyoung and Dongsun’s Song by T.T. Zuma: Written like a Chinese folklore tale, this story teaches us a lesson in acceptance as we follow the love struck Dongsun in his  attempt to court the beautiful Chiyoung.

The Bore by John McIlveen: Munroe Dolan is the world’s most boring person… or so he thinks.

The Second Carriage by Jonathan Templar: When Danny comes across a train set in the attic, he realizes he has found much more than just a toy.

The Cat in the Cage by Nicole Cushing: Pets are supposed to alleviate stress, but as Sheila realizes, sometimes they can also be the cause of it.

Mister Whisper by James A. Moore:  Four escaped convicts steal a car from a household and end up tangling with something they never expected.

The Miracle Material by Abra Staffin-Wiebe: A new material is found from the depths of the ocean. Humanity uses it for their needs, but this material comes with a cost…

Over all, Eulogies II – Tales From The Cellar was a great read which I’d suggest to anyone who loves short stories and horror.
I highly recomMandy it.

You can pick it up here on Amazon.

Five out of Five Stars

MDG