Ever since seeing the famous Annie Hall scene I have always wanted to not only cook but also eat lobster and every time I have come close I have been denied my dream by what some may call fate, but I call minor obstructions to the inevitable.
Last night it finally happened without a hitch. The guys and I had a lovely lobster dinner party. It’s not as hard to cook as I thought. Apart from having to send a live sea creature to it’s boiling death, the process is relatively easy and stress free.
When you cook a lobster all you have to do is cook it for seven minutes for the first pound and three minutes for each additional pound to get the perfect results. I decided to dish up my lobster with asparagus, a clarified butter dipping sauce, some mash potatoes and some mixed vegetables.
Looking back it was probably too much food and now I remember why I felt so full for about three hours after, but it was my first lobster! and I had to do it right.
Also on reflection it wasn’t the most amazing thing in the world. It could just be my lobsters, although I don’t doubt my cooking at all, but I wasn’t blown away like I thought I would be. It tasted like really expensive scallops, but it was still tasty, which is all that counts.
I think I probably built it up too much in my head and expected shooting stars and unicorns to dance across the sky with each bite, but to be honest it wasn’t the best meal in the world, which is what I had expected, however I am still glad that I finally have a lobster under my belt, so to speak.
I had the honor of hosting my dear friend Toby’s birthday dinner party and I asked him what he would like me to cook, as it was his birthday. French cuisine perhaps? some crème brûlée for desert? Maybe some classic Canadian cuisine? or even some authentic Chinese food? Well, no, no to all of that instead to put it in Toby’s words: “Burgers and fries, dude”
Well I couldn’t really complain, me cooking everyone dinner counted as my gift to him which was a relief. Toby is the easiest yet hardest person to buy a gift for. The only thing he likes, loves, cares about, is music. He collects vinyl so you’d think buying him a gift would be easy, nope, because not only is he a massive music snob but he also seems to own every record known to man.
Last year I got him an original pressing of a Neil Young record, to which he replied “Thanks, Sean, I already have three of these but four can’t hurt” so I was happy to cook a few burgers if it made him happy.
Whenever I make burgers I always make them from scratch. I hand mold grounded beef into patties with tiny slices of jalapeno peppers, and onions mixed into the meat to give them that extra kick and flavor. Another tip is seasoning the fries so they are not boring and using real mature cheese and melting it on the beef while its frying on the pan.
It was a fun night filled with great food and even better friends and I’m glad to say I can’t remember much of. I do remember that Toby received a signed Beatles record which he greeted with apathy, we have decided that he has no heart.
Canadians have a lot of connections to the British, we share a lot of history and with that, a lot of food. That is why growing up, not only did my family visit London, Liverpool and Brighton regularly, but we also brought back some of their edible delights.
One of my favorites is the traditional fish and chips. To translate that into Canadian it’s fish (deep fried) and fries, and it’s amazing.
It’s simple, easy to cook, and tastes great which is all you want when arranging a dinner party, that way you have more time to hang out with your friends and drink copious amounts of beer while listening to great music, and that’s exactly what happened last night.
I can literally cook this dish in my sleep, so I had a lot of time to hang out with my gang of friends. As always Toby picked apart my record collection with vicious slander, questioning my gender. Personally I think Alanis Morissette is both a talented genius and a national treasure, but we can’t all have my great taste in music.
Eric and Angela reaction to the news of getting served a traditional English dish, was to spend most of the night talking in British accents. Sounds hilarious? Well it wasn’t, but hats off to them for being so dedicated to the bit. It was like Downton Abbey if it was worse than it already is.
Luckily the tasty food seemed to deter them from continuing the whole night. While fish and chips is quite an easy dish to cook, you have to be careful to make sure the skin stays crispy but not burnt, and the flesh is tender but not under-cooked. Other than that I recommend, peas and some British ale to accompany it. It’s a great dish.
Last night I made some Ginger Beef stir fry (Canadian Style) with some noodles for my friends David, Angela and Toby. While I tend to prefer authentic Chinese versions of Chinese dishes, this westernized style of Ginger Beef is quite delicious. Also an added extra is it’s pretty easy to cook, and to cook well. It’s basically just deep fried strips of beef drenched in a sweet sauce that consists mainly of vinegar and sugar.
It also contains flavors of ginger (hence the name), garlic and hot peppers, and the vegetables you serve with it is up to you but I favor the traditional carrots (cut into thin matchstick strips) and onions. Like most great Chinese dishes, it goes well with both rice and noodles but on this occasion I chose noodles.
For this dinner party I had the luck of having a guest chief, Angela. We both had a rare day off so she kindly offered to help me with the cooking, and then proceeded to drink all my wine, cut just one onion and tell me ALL of the gossip in the world!
While I could of used the help it was still great to catch up on the office politics, but I won’t bore you with the details. Basically if she is to be believed everyone is sleeping with everyone.
It was a great meal, there is something about Chinese food that seems quite social and unifying. You set a pot of beef and a bot of noodles and everyone helps themselves to the delights of the food. It tends to connect people which is why it’s one of my favorite cuisines to both cook and eat with dear friends .
I had been wanting to do a steak night for a while, I’m lucky as a cook because all my friends like their steaks the same way, medium-rare. So when David suggested I cook up some T-bone steaks for the next dinner party I jumped at the chance.
The secret to a good T-bone is to marinate it the night before to get that flavor locked in. I went with herbs, spices, cooking wine and a table spoon of Texan BBQ sauce. Using a dry heat grill is the fastest and most effective way to get a tender and succulent T-bone steak.
My dear friend David arrived with a case of beer, which is the quickest way to get the biggest steak when coming to one of my dinner parties! and he was giddy with excitement. We talked about work and the stresses and joys that come with working with competitive internet based company’s then I remembered that David sorted the content on a popular porn website and I told him to never complain to me again!
Angela, her friend Jess Matthews, and Toby all arrived together, Toby was in charge of the music and played some classic Prince while I grilled the T-bones. I passed around some beers and we shared some dating horror stories.
I told everyone about the time I was in college and a girl I was seeing brought her mom to chaperon us. I was so nervous and I drank too much and the night ended with me being sick all over my dates mom, suffice to say there was no second date!
“That explains so much about you” joked Angela.
I served up the steaks with some sweet mash potatoes, asparagus and steamed carrots. The steak was a tender delight and the flavor was so delicious it made you want to lick the plate. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it, which is the best parts of cooking a meal for friends.
“A toast to Sean’s amazing steaks and his hilarious dating history” said David, raising his glass.
It was a funny night, I had invited a few friends over for another one of my dinner parties but I had to work late, so I didn’t have time to buy the ingredients for the dinner I had planned. My fridge was empty apart from breakfast stuff and a few beers, and my guests would be over within the hour.
I came close to canceling when I had one of those epiphany moments. Why don’t we just have breakfast? I had all I needed to make pancakes, plus I had maple syrup, sausages, Canadian bacon and eggs. It was morning somewhere so we might as well let out hair down, relax and have what I like to call “Dinfast”
I was flipping some pancakes when Toby walked in “I had a nap before I came, I think I must of overslept?” he said with a smile. He asked me what was going on and I told him I was a genius that had invented a new craze to which he replied “You forgot to go to the shops didn’t you”
Angela and Dean were equally confused but excited all the same. “It’s gonna be weird eating pancakes and drinking beer, my brain will be all confused” joked Angela.
I made a couple of ham and cheese omelettes, some hash browns and served up the “Dinfast” with a healthy sized jug of Canadian ale.
“All the kids in Brooklyn and Portland will doing this before you know it” I said. “And having roast lamb and pot roasts for breakfast?” asked Dean, “Exactly” I replied “I’ve just started a new craze.
I’ll be the first to admit that it felt a little strange eating breakfast at night, but that didn’t stop it from being fun. There is something about cutting though a syrupy stack of pancakes and then taking a long sip of a pale ale that makes you feel truly free. I highly recommend “Dinfast” to all!
Yesterday I had a dinner party because Ted Johnson challenged me to make the best chili con carne ever. He had heard from a mutual friend that I make a mean chili, and he wanted to put it to the test. I like Ted, we have a funny little rivalry going since I work for SlotPrince.com and he is the technical manager at SlotTavern.com, one of our main competitors. We constantly joke about which company is on top (it’s totally ours) and turn everything into a competition.
Last month he bested me in a beer tasting competition, which I lost on a technicality, so everything was at steak to make this chili the best chili anyone had ever tasted.
I love chili and the secret to great chili is the right beans, the right beef and don’t over do it. Plus my mother taught me a little secret to making it pop, which I shall take to my grave!
The great thing about chili is it’s versatility. You can have a chili dog, chili fries, chili on rice, chili macaroni, chili Poutine, the list is endless. For sophistication purposes I decided to have chili on a bed of basmati rice, and as my doorbell rang I had a little taste and I knew Ted would be speechless.
Angela bounced into my home holding a six-pack of Moosehead Lager, and that was the first sign that it was going to be a great night. She was excited to taste my chili so I gave her sneak peak and she loved it.
Toby and my friend Daniel Reed arrived together soon followed by Ted who brought a six-pack of Labatt 50 a delicious blonde ale along with him. We all talked for a while and then I unleashed my chili masterpiece.
Ted took one spoonful and tried his best not to smile but he couldn’t resist. “Fair enough dude, this is awesome” he said. He still claimed he could make a better chili but I took his joyous face as a victory and accepted my self-proclaimed title of the chili-king!
Poutine is my favorite dish. Maybe because it goes so well with or after a few beers. Maybe is because it was the first thing I learnt to cook in college, or maybe because it’s so bad it’s good, I don’t know, but I’ve always had the Poutine bug for many years and haven’t been able to shake it.
For those of you that don’t know Poutine is a traditional Canadian dish that started in Quebec. Essentially it consists of french fries topped with gravy and cheese curds (mouth watering?) If you grew up in Canada you have had this dish at least once, and if you are me you eat this dish far more than you should.
What I love about it is the dish is so simple, it gives you room to be creative. Why not go with one of my mantra’s: “Add Canadian bacon to everything” or literally spice it up, with some jalapenos, with Poutine, the sky’s the limit!
Yesterday I called Eric and asked him if he was up for some homemade Poutine to which he replied “You had me at homemade, I’m on my way” When Eric arrived we spent most of our time talking about how different cooking smells link to different memories.
Poutine reminded him of his dad and all the Hockey games they went to in his youth, for me the smell reminded me of the amusement park food trucks and how the smell of candy mixed with Poutine would leave you dizzy with joy.
We watched Hockey, had a few beers and had some Poutine, for those that are uninitiated nothing does better with Poutine than some Hockey and beer. This time around I decided to add Canadian bacon a dash of nutmeg (trust me) and some chilli on the side. It was so good Eric and I had two helpings and sported what we call “Poutine baby bumps” for the rest of the evening.
You have to try this. My friend from work, Gabriel Holice, told me about this amazing thing that he had tried in Montreal…the Sushi Pizza! Yes two of the greatest things in the world colliding since pancakes and bacon, sushi and pizza! I could barely contain myself so a few days after Gabriel told me, and a few failed attempts, I called up the gang and set a date for Sushi Pizza night.
It can be quite hard to make, so I strongly suggest the use of Wikipedia and YouTube, but essentially all you need is fried rice patty, salmon and avocado, the rest is up to you. When Angela arrived we laughed at how she had assumed I had meant sushi and pizza, not a sushi pizza, and when she saw it baking away in the oven her excitement almost matched my own.
Toby, Eric and my close friend David Gent all joined us. I’m slightly jealous of David, his job is one that causes a lot of envy in our circle of friends, well mainly the guys are jealous, because he is head of content at AsianPornVideos.xxx. That’s right, he get’s paid to look at porn all day!
Finally the sushi pizza was ready and I served it up, it’s one of those dishes that genuinely look like a work of art if you get it right. It tasted amazing, and we all wondered why we hadn’t ventured down the sushi pizza road sooner.
David went overboard on the wasabi and we joked it was karma for having such a cool and envious job. Angela shook her head in disagreement and probably would of told us off for acting like teenagers if she wasn’t so in awe of the sushi pizza. It truly is a dish you have to try!
Washed down with some Japanese Asahi beer it was the perfect night.
I had a hard day at work and I was really looking forward to cooking, mainly because a pasta bake is one of the easiest dishes to cook and I just wanted to relax with some friends. I had already made the pasta so all I had to do was add the sauces, meatballs and Canadian bacon, yes, Canadian bacon! That sounds awesome I hear you scream, well, you’re not wrong.
There is a little know secret in Canada, which basically is adding Canadian bacon will make anything greater. I put the bake in oven and waited for my guests.
First to arrive, as always, was Angela Bennett. We have been friends for years and she also works at SlotPrince.com. Then Toby Dean, who manages bands, followed by my good friend and perpetual late comer, Eric Andersson. Eric is the senior developer at BrowsingAnonymousOnline.com and seems to not only take his work home, but everywhere he goes.
As always Toby picked a record to set the party mood and spent five minutes mocking my record collection. “Kings of Leon, Sean? Come on you’re better than that!” we decided on some Jazz and I brought out some Canadian ales I managed to get on a trip to Quebec, the Molson Export’s did well to numb the pain of Toby’s teasing.
We spent the evening tucking in to some great pasta bake and everyone was talking about how much they loved their jobs. Which I do, working at SlotPrince is super competitive which can be hard but trying our best to stay one step ahead of the competition is where the fun and creativity comes in. Angela agreed with me and we all seemed to be really happy with our jobs, which is a rare luxury, or maybe it was all the ales we were drinking.