Saturday, January 25, 2014

An Ode to Whyte Ave and Dadeo's

When you think of Edmonton, what comes to mind?

Cold winters.  The beautiful colours of the River Valley in the fall.  A (losing) hockey team.  The Fringe. And last but not least, Whyte Avenue.

I love Whyte Ave. 

It’s my favorite place in this great city I’ve called home for the past nine years.  I love its vibrant community of local shops.  I love seeking refuge from the harsh winter inside the warm pubs and cafes and taking in the sun from the many patios that pop up in the spring and summer.  I love that I can easily spend an entire afternoon wandering up and down 82 Ave, just window shopping and people watching.  I love the sights and smells of the Old Strathcona Farmer's Market  I love going to live theatre at the Varscona, the Arts Barns and C103. I love that there’s always live music somewhere and that I’ll usually run into someone I know.

Dadeo's: A Whyte Ave institution!
And I love going for lunch or dinner at Dadeo's.

Dadeo’s is the New Orlean’s style diner located between 105 and 106 St and Whyte.  The retro atmosphere of vinyl booths, mini-juke boxes and funky tunes is always upbeat and the Cajun-inspired food never disappoints.  The Po’Boy Sandwiches, especially, are to die-for!

We gathered at Dadeo’s a few nights ago, myself and some friends, tired and excited from our successful dress rehearsal for Orchesis Modern Dance’s Motif 2014.  We’d danced hard all week and were looking forward to some celebratory drinks and their famous Sweet Potato Fries from the comforts of the booths in the back.

“I have to apologize in advance – we are sold out of the Sweet Potato Fries,” announced our server almost immediately. Collective gasp among our group.  The breaded yam fries are the clincher to any meal at Dadeo’s and selling out of them is pure prove of their popularity.  Still, we never thought it could happen to us!

“You’ll just have to try something new!” she said brightly and left us to our menus.  No worries, we soon discovered.  The ample side options - the Coleslaw, Potato Hash and BBQ Beans just to name a few – gave us plenty of alternatives.  We ordered drinks: a mixed round of Cherry Cokes, beer and water to refresh our dancer bodies and settled into the task of deciding on Po’Boys.
All Po'Boy's are $9 on Monday and all day Tuesdays!

I found myself, as always, torn between my two favorites: Pulled Pork or Bayou Burger.  I am still quite often a creature of habit, but if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, right?

“You are not allowed to have either of those two sandwiches,” declared our server when I confessed my inability to choose between my two favorite options.  She did have a point.  By always sticking to my favorites, I was denying myself the chance to experience more of Dadeo’s amazing sandwiches.  It was time to branch out.  My friends offered their suggestions (Blackened Catfish! Philly Cheese Steak!).  Finally, I had a new order.

Andouilli Sausage then,” I announced.  She nodded approvingly and brought out the requisite appetizer of bite-sized biscuits and sweet jalapeno jelly. Here goes something delicious!

My new Po’Boy was absolutely worth the risk of trying something new!  The thick slices of Andoulli Sausage brought the heat and spice of classic Cajun food and were perfectly balanced out by the tomato sauce and herb mayo.  The Po’Boy baguettes are always soft inside and slightly crispy outside and taste so fresh.  As for my side option, I dug into the chunky, garlicky Potato Hash, a warmed-up version of potato salad, and found it a worthy alternative to the fries.  My one warning - pop some gum or brush your teeth afterwards since the garlic and spice flavors may linger…

Andouilli Sausage Po'Boy. A new favorite!
As with any good meal, the booths fell silent as we devoured our food: an Au Felix Salad for the friend to my left, the Fritters for the one opposite me, and three other kinds of Po’Boys for the rest.  The Cherry Cokes kept flowing, as did the funky tunes that had us grooving in our seats, and the great conversation between those amazing people; my friends from all different backgrounds, brought together through a love of dance and that night, of great food.

Thank you, Dadeo’s for being out of the Sweet Potato Fries and for making me try something new!  That’s something else I love about Whyte Ave – you never know what exactly you’re going to get!

Special thanks to the Old Strathcona Business Association for retweeting this post and then reposting it on their website!  Check it out!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Colourful Egg Salad

I love colourful food and I am of the opinion that a meal should have a broad colour pallet: rich reds and oranges, bright greens, a dab of yellow or crisp white and even sometimes a pop of blue or purple (purple potatoes are delicious, in case you couldn't think of a purple food).  When I create a sandwich, like any designer, I consider the colours of the ingredients and how they will look together.  I like to build something with a range of colours  because it's aesthetically pleasing and hints at variety in taste and texture.  And let's face it, when something looks good, chances are it tastes good too. 

Such is the case for my latest sandwich creation.  The white and yellow mix of hard boiled eggs provided the basis for a lovely, multicoloured egg salad sandwich.  When mixed with some green celery, red pepper and rusty-tinged spices, the sunny yellow hue reminded me of springtime.  It's a cheerful-looking (and tasting!) sandwich to enjoy this slushy winter week.

This Colourful Egg Salad requires:
Red, green, white and yellow!
5 eggs, hard boiled and peeled
1/2 red pepper, diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
1 tsp diced fresh dill weed (estimated)
1 tbsp-ish of mayo
1/2 tbsp-ish of Fresh's Dijon with Chardonnay mustard
Paprika and Cayenne pepper flakes to taste
Bread or buns, split

Hard Boiled Eggs can be tricky, but luckily there's no shortage of tips online to try!  Some say to add vinegar or salt to the water to prevent the egg whites from oozing if the eggs are cracked and others don't; I recommend reading a few and trying whatever stands out to you.  I've used this method many times with consistent hard boiled results:
Just add water, boil, remove from heat and cover.

  1. Place the eggs in a single layer and fill your pot with cold water that covers the eggs with an extra inch and a half.
  2. Bring the water to a boil for 1 minute and remove the pot from heat.  I know the expression "a watched pot never boils" but it's important that you do watch it so they don't overcook.
  3. Cover and let the eggs sit in the boiled water for about 12 minutes. 
  4. Run the eggs under cold water and peel.  Fini!
Sandwich Creation:
  1. After peeling the eggs, mash them in a bowl with a pastry cutter.
  2. Add the diced celery, red pepper, dill weed and mix.
  3. Mix in the mayo and mustard.  I don't like my egg or potato salads drowning in sauce, which is why my measurements were 'ish' amounts as I constantly taste as I mix.  Add more/less to suit your liking.
  4. Sprinkle on the paprika and cayenne spices to taste.
  5. Scoop egg salad on one bread slice/bun half and pile with spinach.
  6. Enjoy! 
Chopping fresh herbs with this is so easy and they smell amazing!
Delightful!  The eggs were still warm and the spices and Dijon mustard added some zip. Since there was some leftover egg salad the next day and I was feeling inspired, I added some diced radishes, and fresh basil to the mix for even more colour and flavor!  Fresh basil smells and tastes lovely but in the leftover amount, it was a bit intense, so I recommend either using a smaller amount for the leftover batch or adding it the whole batch next time.  

For even more colour, I added some baby carrots on the side because for me, the more colours, the better the sandwich.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Portobello Fun on a Bun

Where’s the meat? 

Not here…not this time!

This is a big deal because there once was a time when sandwich meat was the be-all for me; maybe I’d have some lettuce, but that was the extent of me eating vegetables on sandwiches.  The year I lived in Res at U of A, I ate a lot (a lot!!) of Subway but after my third or fourth Cold-Cut Combo in a row, it was getting old, so I slowly added more vegetables…some tomatoes, some cucumbers, etc.  Nothing really that adventurous but it was the beginning of a scrumptious turning point…

The first time I tried spicy banana peppers, it rocked my world - who knew??

Red peppers – so sweet, fresh and crunchy! 

Avocados - just like tree-butter brilliant!

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper on a thick, juicy tomato slice – where had it been all my life?!

An abundance of vegetables on sandwiches adds beautiful colour, texture and flavor.   They can be chopped and added as-is, or grilled, spiced, or sautéed, depending on the sandwich’s needs and your own desires.  And finally, they are just plain good for you!  The Canada Food Guide recommends that women between the ages of 19 - 50 consume 7-8 servings of fruit and vegetables a day; men are recommended to consume 8-10 servings a day, so packing your sandwiches full of vegetables can help you get in some of those servings.  For more info, check out the Canada Food Guide website.

Gorgeous colours! 
Eating enough vegetables is still something I’m working on because at my core, I am truly a carnivore and my go-to strategy when sandwich pondering is to choose a meat and build the rest around it.  It’s a good tactic that’s worked well for me for a long time, but in keeping with my New Year’s goals to experiment, create and write about new, interesting and appetizing sandwiches (not just the same old meat and standard lettuce/tomato combos) and to eat more vegetables, I’m very excited to share one of my favorite all-vegetable sandwiches, the Portobello Mushroom, Veggie and Feta Bunwich.

You will need:

2-3 Portobello Mushroom caps, sliced
1 tbsp Minced Garlic
1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
Calabrese Dinner Rolls, split
3 Large Carrots, grated
2 Red Peppers, sliced
A handful of sliced Grape Tomatoes
Big handfuls of Baby Spinach per bun
Crumbled Feta Cheese, a large spoonful per bun
Fresh Ground Pepper

Recommended condiments: lime mint jelly, spicy red pepper jelly, dill mayo, mustard, baba ghanoush, tzatziki

Portobello or Portabella?  Spelling doesn't count! 
Creation Tips: 

1- Sautée the mushrooms in the garlic and vinegar over medium heat for 3-5 minutes.
2-Slice and grate the peppers, tomatoes and carrots, respectively.
3-Spread your chosen condiment on the bun and pile on the mushrooms and peppers. 
4-Sprinkle a spoonful of feta and top with the grated carrot to keep the cheese in place.
5-Top with tomatoes, fresh ground pepper and spinach. 
6-For a slightly tidier eating experience, I recommend slicing the entire bunwich in half.  Or if you like it messy, just give’r!

Portobello packed and stacked just like a burger!
This extremely filling bunwich can please all sizes of appetites – hence how I ate one and my husband ate three.  The great thing about Portobello mushrooms is their meaty texture and taste, which is no surprise since they are commonly used as a substitute for meat. Even The Works Gourment Burger Bistro of a few posts ago offers a Portobello cap as one of its many patty options. The trick with sautéing mushrooms is not to go overboard with the vinegar so that they still retain some of their original earthy, mushroom flavor. The feta also gives a tangy, salty flavor to the overall bunwich and the piled-on veggies adds satisfying crunch and vibrant color.  

The possibilities of different condiment combos are also very exciting.  I tried the Lime Mint jelly for something slightly sweet and different and I want to keep changing it up the next few times. I have a sneaking feeling that baba ghanoush and tzatziki will be excellent…

Here’s to many more healthy and exciting sandwich creations in 2014! 

Happy experimenting and leave me a comment on how yours progresses!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

3 Parts Mustard/2 Parts Pickles/1 Part Ham

3 kinds of mustard, 2 kinds of pickles...that's how I remade an otherwise ordinary ham and cheese sandwich.  

The experimental process
With lots of traveling over the Christmas holidays and getting the house back to its pre-holidays mess, cooking a nice, grown-up dinner just wasn't in the cards last night.  Thankfully, there was lots of leftover baked ham (sent home with us in a huge care-package from the farm from my amazing mother-in-law!), half a loaf of homemade bread, some veggies and lots of condiments in the fridge to work with. 

Since ham and cheese is pretty basic, I tried experimenting with combinations of mustard and pickles to dress things up.  What I discovered was a hot and savory mix! 

For my 3 Parts Mustard/2 Parts Pickles/1 Part Ham creation, I used:

French's Original Dijon
Sensations' Whole Grain Dijon (I love its grainy texture)
French's Class Yellow Mustard 
Unico Pickled Hot Pepper Rings
Bick's Sandwich Saver Dill Pickles
Baked Ham, sliced
Baby Spinach
Plum Tomatoes, sliced
Marble Cheese slices
Brown Bread
Fresh Ground Pepper

Cast photo! Missing the Grainy Dijon, which was finished off.
  1. Combine the Original Dijon and Grainy Dijon on the same bread slice to make a Super-Dijon Mustard! 
  2. Spread the mayo and the Classic Yellow on the other bread slice to balance it all out. (For an even bigger kick, I dare you to try Keen's Mustard instead of the Classic Yellow; it's my favorite hot mustard and it would bring this sandwich to a whole new level!)
  3. Pile on the other ingredients and don't skimp on the spinach and hot peppers!
  4. Add some fresh ground pepper before fully assembling.
  5. Enjoy!
Spicy and grainy mustard combined with hot and garlicky pickles really rebooted this sandwich, which proves that having fun with the classics is all about the condiments.  

What's your favorite condiment combo? Leave me a comment and let me know!