Fat Franks, Edmonton

You know summer is finally here when the Fat Franks hot dog carts start to appear on the street and the vendor is wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

These people make THE best hot dogs in the city. You can’t go wrong when ordering from Fat Franks, whether you like honey ham smokies, jalepeno and cheddar smokies, bratwursts, or any of the other choices. They even have veggie dogs for those on a meatless diet.

While I do change it up every once in a while, my regular order is a jumbo dog on a lightly grilled whole wheat bun, topped with lots of ketchup, a tiny bit of yellow mustard, lots of their fantastic relish, and a scattering of  fresh onion. I love that each stand usually comes with a selection of every condiment under the sun – from Asian hot sauce to dijon mustard, and sauerkraut to hot peppers.

What do you like on your hot dogs?

Fat Franks jumbo hot dog

Fat Franks jumbo hot dog

Fat Franks
Permanent and seasonal locations listed on their website.

Dinner Factory, St. Albert

While on the Easter egg hunt from Kerstin’s Chocolates, I ended up buying a meal from a meal assembly store in St. Albert called Dinner Factory.

I didn’t want to buy a whole bunch of meals without having tried any of their food before, so I was happy when they said it would be no problem if I were to just make one dish. All assembly tools (bowls, measuring cups, food processors, etc.) are laid out next to each station, all the ingredients are pre-chopped and laid out, and assembly instructions are provided. Each station = one recipe. Each entrée generally will make 4-6 servings. Menus change monthly.

All-in-all, it probably took me about 20 minutes for a quick tour of the assembly area, the assembly of my meal, and payment.

And what did I pick for my meal? Well I couldn’t pick just any old thing (although quite a few of the menu items sounded interesting).

Slice of Italian meatloaf with alpaca

Slice of Italian meatloaf with alpaca

Yes, that’s right. I bought alpaca. (Specifically, alpaca from Morinville’s Belle Valley Farms.)

The ground alpaca meat was mixed with panko breadcrumbs, onions and milk, and then rolled around a mix of spinach, mozzarella and sundried tomatoes, making a large Italian-style meatloaf.

Italian meatloaf with alpaca (unsliced)

Italian meatloaf with alpaca (unsliced)

The recipe was very tasty and my kitchen filled with wonderful scents as it cooked in the oven. Served with brown rice that came with the meal and a salad, it made for a lovely dinner.

As for the alpaca itself, I found it to be an interesting new experience. If you find bison to be gamey and are looking for a lower calorie, cholesterol and fat alternative to beef, you should definitely think about using alpaca. The meat tasted very close to ground beef, but with a slightly sweeter tang.

Now I just have to clear some freezer space so that I can go back and make more Dinner Factory meals.

Dinner Factory
#111, 1 Hebert Road (just off of St. Albert Road)
St. Albert, AB

Mexico Lindo, Edmonton

One of my Easter meals was a dinner with friends at Mexico Lindo. I had heard a lot about this place, so I was excited to give it a try.

The restaurant is quite small, and was full when we arrived. After waiting for a short time, we were seated. Surprisingly, the later it got, the more empty the restaurant became. So if you want a table on a Saturday night, come at 7:30 p.m. Service was extremely friendly and even a little entertaining. The food also arrived relatively quickly.

To start, we ordered a jug of agua de Jamaica (Jamaica water). This is cold iced tea made from hibiscus flowers. And it tastes like liquid haw flakes (a.k.a. Chinese candy that is addictive like crack).

agua de Jamaica

agua de Jamaica

To start, I decided to go with the sopa de tortilla (tortilla soup). Soup is served at this restaurant in two parts. First, I was given a bowl of tortilla chips, cheese and avocado.

Sopa de tortilla without broth

Sopa de tortilla without broth

Then, they poured on the soup! Yum. Everyone at the table tasted it and thought it was good. Continue reading

Cod and tomato chowder

Cod and tomato chowder

Cod and tomato chowder

I’m inherently lazy, and soups are just so easy to make that I can’t seem to stop.

This was dinner last night – hearty vegetables and a great flavoured soup made this a healthy and satisfying meal.

This recipe is from Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy Appetite cookbook. All the recipes in there look fantastic; my only criticism of it so far is the way the graphic designer laid out the recipes. Each paragraph starts off with a part of the sentence in bold, large and coloured font, and my eye kept skipping over it as if it was a sub-head. It’s easy to miss important instructions that way, like when to add the tomatoes. Took me three times to read the recipe before I realized my missing tomatoes was written in that fancy coloured text.
Continue reading

Deviled sardines

Sardines are one of those things that tend to get overlooked, in my opinion. Most people screw up their faces when you say the word “sardine,” but I’ve found it to be a great tinned food. And bonus, it’s one of the sustainable fishes.

I usually eat it in a sandwich with vinegar and onions, but when I saw this James Beard derived recipe posted on Serious Eats I decided that I had to try it. It makes a light lunch or dinner, or a heavy snack.

Deviled Sardines
– serves 1-2 –

1 can of sardines
Dijon Mustard (I used seeded Dijon mustard as I like the popping of the seeds in my mouth.)
Worcestershire sauce
Toast or crackers (I used Wasa crackers.)

Place one sardine on a piece of toast or a cracker. Sprinkle with a little cayenne and Worcestershire sauce. Then top with the mustard.

And here is my usual sardine recipe:

Sardine sandwich with vinegar and onions

Soak chopped or slivered onions and the sardines in vinegar, then place both the onions and sardines on buttered bread. It makes a lovely pickled sandwich, but is a bit smelly if you take it into the office.