Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve Dinner 2009

THIS IS an AMAZING meal ALTOGETHER. It all was wonderful together.

Phyllo Pastry nibbles filled with: Spinach and Feta, Mixed Sauteed Mushrooms and Curried Potatoes (store bought :0D)

Wasabi and Parsnip Soup

2 tablespoons of butter
2 cups parsnips, peeled and diced
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup peeled and diced Yukon Gold potatoes
4 cups stock
1 tablespoon wasabi paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 large shrimp, cut into 3 pieces each

Heat butter in soup pot over medium heat. Add parsnips, onions and potatoes and sauté for approximately 4 minutes (until they are shiny).

Add stock, wasabi paste and soy sauce and bring to a boil. We used dried wasabi instead because D thinks it's more authentic but I think ours has gone stale. Don't assume that dessicated herbs and such can last. We added some paste I had in the fridge and it added the kick it was supposed to. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 12 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft.

Pour soup into a blender or use a hand blender and purée until smooth. Return to pot and add cream. Bring to a simmer and add shrimp. Poach shrimp until pink (approximately 2 to 3 minutes) and remove.

When ready to serve, add shrimp to each serving and top, if you wish, with a parsnip chip. Serves 6. We made the whole pot cuz we looooovvvee soup! D accidentally added twice the liquid, the shrimp sunk to the bottom :-P I think it was meant to be thick enough to support the garnish. Still lovely.

Grilled Tuna Loin with Kalamata Tapenade and Roasted Tomatoes

1 pint vine cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup Orange Chili Oil, recipe follows

Black Olive Tapenade:
2 cups pitted Kalamata olives
1 big garlic clove
Small handful fresh tarragon leaves
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Small handful fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Lay out cherry vine tomatoes in a single layer on a roasting tray. Drizzle with orange chili oil and roast in the oven for 8 to10 minutes until tomatoes are slightly burst and have given off their juices. Set aside.

For the olive tapenade:
Add tapenade ingredients to a food processor and process to a coarse puree. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and set aside.

Now prepare the tuna. Heat a large cast iron griddle pan over high heat. Drizzle the tuna with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on the hot grill for about 45 seconds and then turn over and do the same. The tuna should be rare on the inside and have nice grill marks on the outside.

To serve, smear a spoonful of the white bean puree on the bottom of a plate. Top with a the tuna and a spoonful of tapenade over the top. Set a cluster of the roasted tomatoes over the top and drizzle the juices from the pan all around the plate. Garnish with fresh arugula leaves.

Orange Chili Oil:
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons dried red chili flakes
5 strips orange peel
1 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Make the chili oil by adding the thyme, rosemary, chili flakes and orange peel to the oil. Put aside and let it sit for at least 1 hour to let the flavors infuse.

Steamed Red Swiss Chard
Trim the woodier bits of the stem. Chop into 2 inch strips and simply place in a large skillet with some olive oil and shallow water for 10 minutes.


1.5 cups heavy cream
3/4 cups veggie / chicken stock (low sodium)
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh parmesan, grated

Bring the liquids and spices to a low simmer. Add the cornmeal slowly and whisk briskly to avoid lumps. Add more stock or water if it gets too thick. It will continue to thicken if on heat. Unlike oatmeal, it will keep on sucking in the liquid without watering out. Just before serving, while still warm, whisk in the parmesan. This is THE BEST polenta I have ever had. I am thinking about playing with the cream amount with milk or stock but this was New Years Eve so cream it is!

Ginger and Vanilla Creme Brulee

December 31st 2009 - Going on

So, I had a really really crappy fall 2009 at work. I was working for an incompetent version of Ned Flanders. Grrrr. That meant I had to sacrifice some fun stuff. I didn't join the fall ultimate league and the photography course I thought about taking. And of course, I had no energy or time to keep up the blog. Don't worry. I'm back. I still have my photos and I will do my level best to catch up. I would love to tell you about new restaurants in Vancouver like:

ReFuel on 4th (YUM! revamped Fuel to keep up with the bitch of the economy. What other city would see the top new chef winner have to close his restaurant. Come on folks and visitors! Let's eat out beyond Yaletown and Coal Harbour!)

Cobre Neuvo Latino in Gastown (New menu and unfortunately, they've left off the pages at the back that translated the latino menu items. Still wonderful! Jerk scallops are spicy and luscious)

We went to Terrino's in Toronto, Club Chasse de Peche in Montreal. I had a slightly burned pizza at Pi in the Mission in San Francisco and greasy Chinese in Menlo Park.

I've also tried new recipes and perfected my Ackee and Saltfish methodology with some help. I have a great new recipe for Peppercorn Shortbread and others I made by the tin full for Christmas. And bubbling away in the fridge is my lovely, pungent sourdough bread starter. I had to start with 1 small tsp of commercial yeast that brewed on the counter for a week and I've made several lovely loaves with and one flat failure of a focaccia. There are starter recipes that call for no commercial yeast but since we have construction tarp all over our place, there is no airflow for airbourne goodies.... well not alot of it anyway. I've also re learned some tricks on breadmaking. I've been making it since I was an early teen. Something about the living dough that just turns me on! But lately I've been making my dough too stiff. I watched a pizza making show on TV the other day and the dough looked down right soupy before proofing but it turned out great.
Halibut papillote with israeli couscouse and fennel.

All good things yet to come. Please keep reading!

And of course, still loads and loads of good wine!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sunday, December 6th - Eggs w Shitake Shrooms Eggplant on Sourdough and Miso Salmon Soba Bowl

D made breakfast with some sourdough bread I baked, over two days. Chopped and sauteed some shitake mushrooms leftover from a Risotto we had on Friday and half an eggplant I used for a Green Curry on Thursday. Eggs over easy... well D did mine over hard :( yolks cooked through. The sour dough is awesome. Turned out better than I could have expected. The starter took 2 days and it was totally worth it. Watching it, stirring it, wringing out the damp cloth, feeding it. I used 1/8th rye flour to ensure extra flavour but you can definitely pick up on the tangy starter in there. Yay.

Starter is now living in the fridge in a mason jar with a crank top. It used to have fancy Holt Renfrew rosemary cashews in it. I don't throw lovely jars away.

Tonight, I'm making a miso broth with baby bok choy, scallions, enoki mushrooms on Soba noodles. Topped with a crispy seared Wild Sockey Salmon filet... fotos later.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday, September 27th - Miso Glazed Salmon

Back from Kayak camping and D bought a whole salmon on sale at TnT, 3.99/lb. Really the best place for fresh seafood in town. Let's hope that Loblaws doesn't mess it up. I'm worried it'll be a very mother-ship type of acquisition like the borg. They will be assimilated. I read a few recipes and I adapted this one. I saw one from Bobby Flay that, tho it seemed simple had a shocking amount of soy. Blech.

Miso Glaze Salmon

1/2 c Miso paste
1T low sodium soy
1T honey/brown sugar
1/4c soju (Korean rice whisky/wine)
1/4T ground ginger
1-2T sesame oil
1 scallion

(I chopped half a habenero but didn't put it in the glaze cuz D can't handle the heat and get's a bit fussed when I throw stuff like that in.)

D is scalling and filleting the fish right now. We don't have a BBQ due to construction on the balcony so this will be under the grill. Baste your filets with the paste and place under the broiler for 10-12 minutes. If you like, you can baste well ahead. We won't have time. It's getting sorta late.

We also have some green beans that have been sitting in the fridge and getting old for a week. It's been bugging the excrement out of me. I hate to waste food. So half the bag has gone off. We'll flash boil the ones that survived.

Back later!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Wednesday, September 2nd - Bridges Wine Wednesday

We went to Bridges on Granville Island for wine Wednesday. All summer, they're offering a 40% discount on bottles of wine! I had bought a gift certificate a Breast Cancer Fundraiser a few months ago. I'd wanted to use it on a Wednesday so I could go on a wine Wednesday so we could take advantage of the discount but I have Ultimate Frisbee on Wednesdays all summer. This was the first free Wednesday I've had all summer. I booked to be sure we'd be seated. I didn't know that they only take reservatoins upstairs. I wasn't all that interested in sitting upstairs as it's all dark wood and enclosed whereas their downstairs is all windows and white. It was a sunny summer evening and I wanted light. I didn't actually know there was a difference between the upstairs and downstairs. Downstairs doesn't take reservations. It's more bistro food. Pretty swanky for bistro food, I must say. Decent menu but nothing too exciting for a nice dinner out. I've eaten in the bistro before a show and it is very good, a step up from most 'bar food'. The warm seafood ceasar is great!

Upstairs has a better menu but it's a prix fixe with three courses. We don't normally go for that if I don't plan ahead since I can't normally eat everything. Remember the big todo with the couple of times we went to DB bistro. Anyhoo, I took a look and the only course I was doubtful was the starter. It was a cryptic chef's selection of antipasti. As it turned out, there was no meat and it was very nice. It is made to the table to share.

Up top: Watermelon and Edamame salad with Feta dressing. Shrimp Salad on toast. The Watermelon salad was great. I will definitely do a version of this soon. The shrimp salad was good but pretty generic. Too much mayo.

Just above here were the:
Pan fried smelt with Miso vinagrette w black sesame and Madras shrimp skewer. I love smelt. You don't see it often here. I don't know why. I used to eat it all the time in Spain and the UK. I guess gained popularity as a 'necessity fish' culturally and it stuck. The dressing was light and didn't interfere with the delicate smelts. The skewers were good but could have been spicier and used larger shrimp.

White bean and roasted garlic hummous w pita was amazing. Really rich and well perfumed w the roasted garlic. It wasn't too salty as it can often been when not homemade. The only change I might have made is a touch more acid or citrus. We did clean the bowl out so we really didn't have complaints about it.

Cherry Tomato and Cucumber salad with Sherry dressing was next to the shrimp toast. Fairly simple and refreshing (no photo). Green salad with market berries with lemon dressing was nice.

For main D and I had the same thing. He was tempted to get something that had meat on it but he knew that I wasn't going to share my char and he was interested in both. :0D. He asked the server which was better and she suggested we share. At which time, he outed me and said that I don't share my food. Well, duh, of course I don't especially when it's not SHARING. If you order lamb, what is there to share? wooo a green bean side doused in lamb jus. Sharing is sharing not eating my food :-P

The char was baked perfectly and the mussles were yum and plump. The potatoes were well cooked and the Articokes, why I ordered the dish to begin with, were FAB! The tomato coulee was not that nice. It was sort of ketchupy.

Chocolate tart with caramel and candied pecans
New York Cheesecake with Strawberries and Raspberry coulis.

We don't normally have dessert. Another reason we don't normally get a prix fix. I'd rather have a digestif like a scotch or port. But there it was calling me, all included in the meal. D had the cheesecake and I had the chocolate tart. The cheesecake was nice and fluffy. The tart was crazy crazy rich and the caramel sauce and candied pecans served with it, was a great combination.

Bridge Restaurant Granville Island

1696 Duranleau
Vancouver, BC V6H 3S4
(604) 687-7351

Bridges on Urbanspoon

The prix fix was only 40$. Looking at it it now, that's an AMAZING price. We sat on the patio at sunset and had a great big, bold Chardonnay.

Shaw and Smith. Buy it in store though. It's 95$ at Bridges (half price on Wednesday) but only like 40 in store.

Tuesday, August 4th - Spicy Fish Cake, Zuccini Dengjang Guk and Banchan

This is a very typical home meal in a Korean household. The little dishes are 'banchan' or like the whiteys say, side dishes. But really they're not and that isn't accurate at all. You have rice. That's defacto. You eat your rice, which was very valuable and rare with all the other pickles and vegetables mom makes with your valuable rice. On the top left above the soup is the fish cake. It comes in sheets and is cut up. You eat it in many ways but our favourite is stir fried with fresh green chilis and chili paste. Mom's homemade Dengjang Guk is the soup to your left. It's Korean fermented soybean soup, aka miso. Dengjang is soybean paste and guk is soup. Unlike it's weak watery Japanese counterpart, it is spicier and always comes with a veg, potatoes and cabbage, zuccini, spinach, mushrooms. ... all sorts of combos.

The chilis, freshly grown in the backyard are dipped in homemade Gochujang. There is also a fresh Kimchi made from shredded Daikon radish in the photos. Not in the photo is mom's home grown Sanchisang, lettuce. You place some chili paste, Gochujang on a few leaves and a spoon of rice and eat it like a small wrap. YUM

Sunday, August 2nd - Mom's Seafood Sweet & Spicy Bibim Buckwheat Nengmyun

Mom's Seafood Sweet & Spicy Bibim Buckwheat Nengmyun. To your untrained eye, it might seem like typical Korean fare. It's not. As my mom would normally say, it's her creation.

Sweet and Spicy sauce is when you cut you're normal Korean chili paste, Kochujang with sugar and rice wine vinegar and sesame seeds&oil. It gets the consistency of ketchup rather than tomato paste. 'Neng' means cold and 'Myun' is noodle. Bibim is a mixture of a variety of ingredients or banchan. My mom used, big shrimp, squid, cucumber, homegrown lettuce, julienned radish and red onion. Amazing!

Thursday August 6th - Mom's Seafood Duhkbokki

Mom's Duhkbokki at home in Toronto. This not you're typical market, 'tourist' friendly duhkbooki. It is not ketchup. It is Korean chili pepper sauce on there. Wonderful street food gone traditional popular fare.

Friday, September 11th - Rangoli Indian Restaurant

I love indian food. It is one of my preferred cuisines that I could probably eat several days in a row before needing a break. I can't say that for many foods except Korean, obviously. I can't even stand sandwiches more than two days in a row. I never did well for lunches in the UK. Sandwich addicts they are. That said, they have the best curry in the world. I'd even heard that the indian food in London is better than any you'll find in India. I can believe it. I would particularly believe that for Brick Lane on the East End of London and Birmingham for Balti.

Vancouver, on the other hand, is not that accessible for indian food. There are areas, like Main Street south of 45th, in the punjabi area. They have a very particular type with the metal trays w buffets with very soupy curry. It is hit or miss. There is quite a good one 49th that is a Indian Sweet shop, All Indian Sweets, but it too is a buffet so less punchy per curry. Buffet's rarely tastes as well to order. There are one or two indian restaurants on Robson as well. The one on Robson and Seymour, India Gate, is okay. It does the job when you need a quick fix when you're downtown. I find their curry has good flavour but it's rather oily and not spicy enough. As well, they serve it on the plate with the rice insteas of those little metal dishes separate the curry from the rice. I guess that's not a big deal except as an indication of compromises made to the previously, 'occidentally' dominated Vancouver population. At the same time, I do appreciate that they don't charge you for the rice as well. I was particularly annoyed to find that as a trend when I first moved here. Chinese, Korean and Indian places a like. Steamed or Pilau is an extra. WTF? So the first time I had takeaway at India Gate a few years ago and opened the boxes to find each had rice, I was slightly miffed and pleased. I didn't have to order rice. The box was crowding the room for more curry :^0.

There are other one offs, like on Robson near Thurlow. Your typical bland india buffets full of frozen mixed veg curries. I've been to two down there and been disappointed. I'm not a fuss pot. Even your diviest, greasy spoon 'looking' places on Brick Lane used to serve the most authentic, deep flavoured foods on plastic trays. YUM.

So for your good stuff, in Vancouver, you're going to have to pay and likely get in a car. My favourites are Mauyra's, Vij's and Rangoli.

Vij and Rangoli are owned and run by the same man, Vikram Vij and the fare is more fusion and modern than pure Indian but the flavours are authentic and the quality unbelievable.

I won a gift certificate to Rangoli a few months ago to Rangoli. Woohoo. It was for four but since we couldn't coordinate a good time to do much all summer, I was able to get the restaurant to allow us to have two dinners for two. Woohoo.

Vijs Rangoli
1488 11th Avenue West
Vancouver, BC V6H 1L1
(604) 736-5711

(4.5 really)

Rangoli on Urbanspoon

As, a starter D had Lamb, Beef and Lentil Kebabs. I had Paneer layered with Tomatoes and Red sauteed onions (the onions were not red but I think they used sweet because thankfully, the did not have the harsh bite of yellow you sometimes get on top of cheap indian buffet salads). The portions are slighly larger than a typical appetiser. They're actually called 'Snacks' to share. D felt like meat and so we did not share :-). They were both very good and nicely seasoned. They warned us and offered to bring out Raita (Yogurt) if it were too spicy. I didn't need it.

As a main, D had Goat and Jackfruit curry with Coconut Cabbage Salad and Rice w some Naan. I had Spiced and Marinated Tilapia in Yogurt Curry with Vegetable Rice and some naan. Mine was a tad salty but over all the dish was great. The fish was delicately cooked and naan was wonderful. The last time we came to Vij a few months ago, the naan was disappointing. It is back where I had remembered it earlier. Bigger, fluffy and hot! That is one thing I need to call out. The temperature of the food was spectacular. It was piping and was piping all throughout eating it, even though we were out on a patio. They came in their own little dishes as they should. Indian food served this way is deceptively small seeming. Perhaps that's why some decide not to do it. But it fills you up. I had to take some of D's rice to soak up all my yummy yogurt sauce.

For dessert, D had Coconut pudding with fresh fruit. Very light, cool and perfect for an end to a spicy meal. I had the Meeti Roti. It is Chapati (light indian flat bread, delicate and the size of a tea cup saucer) stuffed with cashews, demerera sugar on custard. It was unbelievable. The most interesting dessert I've had in indian. Yet, full of typical ingredients. Wonderful!

We had a carafe of Blue Mountain Gamay Noir.

I highly recommend you go. It is right next door to Vij. It normally looks crowded. More often than not, the crowd is for Vij. No reservations at either but Vij's is very popular. They let you order drinks and sit outside. If you don't like lines, Rangoli has a 'market' or fridges in their open cafe with takehome packages of all the currys at Vij's and Rangoli's.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wednesday, September 9th - Herbed Wild Salmon and Roasted Veg

Recipe to follow: Simple Roasted Eggplant, Zuccini, & Broccoli w Sweet Onion. Wild Salmon Filet with a Herb rub.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Tuesday, September 8th - Angel Hair pasta w Vegan Bolognese

I don't often crave pasta, even less often I don't crave spaghetti type noodles. I couldn't shake my craving for Angel Hair pasta. We were watching this episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on Food Network where Guy went to this place called Bizarro in Seattle. We were in Seattle this past weekend but we didn't get a chance to visit. It make insanely good looking pasta. It's all homemade and autentico! Not your typical red sauces. Anyhoo, all the home made stuff looked so chewy and fresh I was half tempted to make it. I decided with all the reno dust around the house, I didn't want to roll any dough out on the counter.

So I just pulled out my Barilla Capellini pasta. Mmmmm. The finer the better. I love angel hair but only in really clingy sauce. The sauce is actually from the previous Friday but I've not updated the blog on that night. On that night we had the sauce with some squid ink fusilli.

Vegan Bolognese w Squash.

1 small/med butternut squash cubed and parcooked (if you're in a rush)
1 tin of italian tomatoes, chopped
1 half onion chopped
1 zuccini chopped
2 fire chilis
7 crimini mushrooms (brown button or white button if you can't get brown. The brown taste better)
2-3 cloves garlic chopped
1 T fresh oregano chopped
1 T fresh rosemary chopped
1/2 T fresh thyme pulled off stem
salt and pepper
pasta water
1 package italian or plain vegan mince.

In a large pan or large pot, heat some olive oil. Sautee the onions, squash, zuccini a few minutes. Add the mushrooms and let brown slightly. Add the mince and break up. Add the herbs and garlic. I add the garlic later to prevent burning. After a few minutes, add the tomatoes. Add a ladle of the pasta water you're boiling the pasta in. It'll loose it up as it cooks. It will enrichen and thicken the sauce. Season as desired. It keeps well in the fridge in a sealed container for a week. I ate it for lunch as a stew. MMMMM

We had a nice Italian Tommasi Romeo Rosso.. MMMMM

Monday, September 07, 2009

Sunday, September 6th - Bumbershoot in Rainy Seattle - Pike Place Piroshki

We spent LabOUR day weekend in Seattle at the Bumbershoot Music festival. It really is much more than that and I'll be more prepared next year. There are loads of comedy, arts, film and other shows. That said, on the gated off Seattle Centre grounds, is your typical Fair Ground foods. We, therefore, did wander off to get food when we could. For breakfast, we went to Pike Place. My favourite portable food in Seattle is the fresh fresh Piroshky across the road to Pike place. They're fabulous. The dough is rolled right there on the spot and filled with a variety of fillings. I was tempted to try something new with a carrot and saurkraut but went to the puffy, mushroom one that came from the onion while I was standing in line! I highly recommend you go there if you're visiting.

Piroshky Piroshky
1908 Pike Pl
Seattle, WA 98101-1013, United States
(206) 441-6068

Piroshky Piroshky on Urbanspoon

For dinner, it was your typical group maylay. For most of the day D and I wandered around on our own. For dinner we met up with our five other friends. Two of us had already eaten and yet for some flipping reason we were following them around the dark cold streets of Belltown. Hello? I had suggested a place near our hotel in Queen Anne, which incidentally was also closer to the place the other three people were staying. But M, who was staying in Belltown, winced when I suggested that. Hello? After arriving at a DIVE across from M and J's hotel, I put my foot down and said I'm not walking any further. When we walked into the Panther Room, across the fucking corner from M and J's hotel, I was pissed off. It was supposed to be our one nice dinner out and here we are. all us far from where we're staying except for the couple who is not eating. Fucked up!

I was not impressed by the divey black walls lined with ceramic tigers and panthers and the sticky menus covered with burgers. I was ready to walk out. D had to calm me down. He offered to buy me dinner.

So the tough, inked bartender comes over to tell us the waiter is leaving so he'd take our order. Despite his intimidating appearance, he was very nice and very professional. Poor D had a really pathetic looking chicken quesadilla. I had a pretty nice dish, surprising! It was a vegetarian ravioli with roasted corn and tomatillo filling topped with Mexican cheese. It was a little too rich but the flavour was very nice. The bar itself was gross. Once side looked like a biker bar and the other side looked like TGIFriday's. It was bizarre. We guessed it was because of a recent combination of two separate businesses that didn't bother to redecorate. Weird.

I had a Sagelands Merlot. Not bad. I don't recommend the place for dinner, perhaps lunch.

D and I sped walked to our hotel in the rain. No cabs! WTF! I should have pushed more for the place near ours or closer to the Seattle Centre. We moved on from the first place because it looked blah and ended up at the Panther Room, WTF?! Can you tell from my cursing that I wasn't happy? I didn't twitter about it since one of my friends with us follows me. It totally wasn't DJ's fault though. He was playing the happy, go with the flow guy since he was the common element in the gang.

Had some Boom Boom Syrah to relax with in the room.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Monday, August 31st - Butternut Squash, Leek and Barley Risotto w Sage

Recipe and write up pending. Highlights, riesling, fresh sage, thyme and a smidge of nutmeg. POKE ME in comments to get on getting the recipe up! I keep delaying.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Wednesday, August 26th - Jumbo Feta & Spinach Tortellini w

Sauce was a saute of tomatoes, red pepper pimentos and kalamata olives w fresh herbs. Recipe to follow. Tortellini is from the First Ravioli Store on Commercial Drive, where I'm headed now.

For wine we had a half bottle of a beautfil Chianti, Castello di Fonterutoli 2001. Be sure to decant and open about half an hour before. YMMMMMMMM

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Monday, August 24th - Yamato Sushi

D is back from Montreal and you know what that means? Yes, BAGELS! I am a die hard fan of Montreal bagels and a firm believer that they are the only real bagels you'll find in Canada. There are a few exceptions or rather wannabe's. Solly's here in Vancouver are not bad but they are 75% the size of a real bagel. They definitely do have that meaty, dense texture, though not as dense as Montreal. There are a few Solly's throughout Vancouver. One on Main near 27th, one on 7th near Yukon by the Canadiantire and one on 4th toward McDonald, I think. Though I wouldn't go out of my way to get a Solly's bagel, their cinnamon rolls are insanely good but that's another story.

For the rest, particularly super market bagels and most bagels in Toronto, they're basically bread donuts. The closest cousin to a true bagel in Toronto is, surprisingly, the Canadian Bagel, chain. Well, they're best when they're just baked. They're fairly chewy and dense but they are closer to the New York bagel than a Montreal bagel. Both real bagels but very different species. A New York bagel is just as dense, chewy, moist and flavourful but it is fatter. It is so fat that the hole is closed up. The Montreal bagel is slightly thicker than a giant pretzel, or say, 1" in diameter.

I had them for breakfast and lunch. Yum. We normally get a few dozen and freeze them. The freezer is a bit jam packed at the moment since I was just recently in Toronto and mom sent home Kalbi for D.

We went for pre-movie sushi for dinner. Pre-movie food can be a bit tricky as we both work 'later' than your normal 5 o clock whistle so we try to squeeze in a place where the food will still be nice yet quick. Sushi will usually fit the bill in Van. There is a sushi place on almost every corner which, as I've written before, means risk of crap sushi is that much higher.

Yamato Sushi on Davie near Seymour is one of the many places here that have a very well priced sushi maki roll combo box. It's actually kind of funny, that the prices as you go south of say, well Davie, the prices on those boxes drop considerably. Where a 18-22 piece maki combo will go for 8$ for a very basic California, Cucumber and Tuna combo, they'll go for 5-6$ and be of equal or better quality. Take for example most of the sushi joints on Dunsmuir between Granville and Homer are horrible.

Yamato is D's regular lunch joint where Excellent Sushi is mine. But the kitchen chairs and linoleum floors in Excellent aren't really D's cuppa. Plus, I've never tried Yamato. Actually, it's pretty funny. On that block of Davie between Seymour and Granville, there is this strip of 4 or so tiny restaurants sandwiched in the middle of two corner pubs: Chinese, Persian hukka tea lounge and two sushi restaurants. The two sushi restaurants are two doors down from each other. I've been to the one closer to Granville a couple of times. They have more seating and it looks less they're licensed. ....oh and they have a bathroom. That said, all of the restaurants on that block are always full. Regular through traffic as well as take away all the time, though I can't say much about the Persian. The important point of this observation is that turnover on the food is high so pretty fresh.

So like many of the sushi places, they have the 5.95 lure. It's on a sidewalk sandwhich board enticing you with 22 pieces with miso and salad. Yamato has four set boxes unlike others where you can choose 1 roll from the 3 tiers. I chose the BC Roll special combo: 6 pieces BC Roll, 8 salmon maki, 8 yam tempura maki. The BC Roll was a bit greasy and they dressed it with a gelatinous sort of teriyaki sauce that turns to goop once it cools to room temp. It was a good rice to filling ratio though. The salmon and tempura rolls were quite good. Salmon was fresh and not puny. The tempura was likely cooked slightly earlier but definitely not old or sitting around too long. You can tell by the colour of the Yam and the crunchiness of the tempura. The miso was fine but the salad was pathetic. It was a few bits of iceberg lettuce with some pureed carrot. Strange.

D didn't order a special combo. He ordered a Dynamite combo because whenever possible, he prefers Nigiri to maki. Maki are the classic 'cigar rolled' and sliced sushi. Nigiri is a single, larger piece of fish on a small egg shaped ball of rice. Overall the rice was a good texture, not mushy but there was not alot of flavour which is the distinction of good, better and best of sushi. Some of the horrible places on Dunsuir seem to use regular rice that's over cooked.

We also ordered a tempura appetiser with two prawn and three pieces of veg. Very crispy, fresh and nice portion. The prawns were much lighter than the veg pieces though.

Overall, not bad but not great. Definitely filling and quick. Downsides are that is tiny, not licensed and there is no toilet. Just have more soy I guess. Oh speaking of, they don't offer you the option of low sodium soy.

Cost: $
Location: Central/West End
Ambiance: It is tiny and dingy
Service: quick

Yamato Sushi
616 Davie St

Vancouver, BC
(2 on 7)

Yamato Sushi on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sunday, August 23rd - Richmond Night Market

If you have ever travelled in Asia or like easy Asian street food, you will like the market. We don't have enough of these type of venues here. It sorta reminds me of the Camden market but all Asian. Well the food side. The crafts are replaced by rows upon rows of miscellaneous asian junk. You can find t-shirts, cartoon socks, asian DVD's, phone covers, Hello Kitty anything.... it's pretty cleaned up though over the years. You won't find bootlegged DVD's anymore. I go for the food. I try to go twice. It runs from 7 to 11 from May to October.

There are a few dozen stalls selling Korean, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and even Mexican food. The prices are pretty good but have a walk around before you dive in. Prices do vary as do the portions. As well, if there is a line, there is usually a good reason. Regulars tend to come back.

I always get Takoyaki, the Japanese pancake balls with seafood, topped with a hoisin type sauce, mayo and bonito flakes. I meant to take a photo but my camera died just as we arrived. Boooo! Stupid Casio Exilim piece of shit. It's new and it's crap. Barely focuses anymore. I try to take D's Nikon if we can but the shitty Casio is smaller. D always gets duck pancakes. He noted that there was slightly less filling this time. The takoyaki on the 'main' row. There is another one on the row by the wall. Their balls are smaller. I also bought some steamed shrimp dumplings. You'll often find these in dimsum restaurants. They look like clams but are white and slightly translucent and stuffed with chopped shrimp. mmmmm D got a massive Pork bun. The best one is the first chinese place on the 'main' row on the right. They're bigger than the other stalls and the filling ratio is quite good. I also got a 1 dollar thai green onion pancake that I probably should of passed on. It was basically fried dough and not tasty dough. Just fried dough. Oh well, it was a dollar and it was fresh. D got a lobster ball skewer at this one place that always has a big line that sells all things on a stick. The lobster balls were just okay. I highly doubt it was real lobster. It had the texture of the fake crab you get in sushi.

I finished off with a classic Korean street treat. Darn it if I can't remember the name. I'll have to ask Dad. It's a pastry in the shape of a small goldfish. It's very light waffle-like batter filled with redbean traditionally. They also do custard and chocolate now. The batter is poured in a double sided fish mold and a dollop of filling spooned in and topped with batter. The molds flip in place or as a whole.

I only had one for the first time a few years ago. Dad and I were at a huge H-Mart in Toronto and they have a kiosk selling them out front. Dad told me that when he was a little kid during the war they were broke. They were living well in Osaka but had to flee back to Korea. So having left everything behind, treats like street sweets were a pure luxury for his large family. There were 8 kids. So there was a stall that used to sell the fish that he and his closest brother used to sit and watch all day. He told me they hoped that the owner would either feel sorry for them or a patron would buy one. They cost the equivalent of a nickle or less back then. I think he said it worked once but most of the time the kiosk owner would shoo them away. He chuckled as we bought a couple musing that he could buy them by the dozen now if he wanted. It's funny. You can't get my dad telling stories like that by plan. He'll just randomly start reflecting on something, something as random and as simple as a fish waffle.

They're yum.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Saturday, August 22 - Brunch & Gojo's Ethiopian Cafe

Brunch was done twice over. First I made an awesome Arugula and Avocado Salad with Medium Boiled Eggs. Then I met up with friends at Bandidas on Commercial.

My salad was super easy. I made a simple vinagrette

Simple Lime Dill Vinagrette

1 Lime juiced
1 T Dill mustard
and Olive Oil to preference, I usually use less than normal. It's usually a two to one oil to acid. I find that to oily.

Whisk vigorously and toss with the arugula and a 1/4 finely sliced red onion.

Slice half an avocado, wrap the other half tightly with cling wrap to prevent browning. For the eggs, I got this method from my friend Joyce and it works like a charm. When I chicken out, I over cook them. Place your eggs in a sauce pan covered in enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat off immediately. If you have a ceramic halogen cook top, remove from the heat because it stays hot longer than your conventional. Set aside covered for 4 minutes. Douse in cold water. I slightly over cooked this time because of the halogen cook top. Oh well.

I then got a call from friends that they were going to Bandidas on Commercial. It's a Vegetarian cafe on Commercial. They have a fantastic menu and the option to veganise any dish. Since I'd eaten, I had coffee and munched on their food. They had a heaping order of vegan nachos and full 'English' breakfast vegan and ovo lacto. A full English means, beans, eggs (or tofu squash scramble), soy bacon and more. It was wonderfully hearty and fresh. I will definitely go back when I have already eaten.

Bandidas Taqueria
2781 Commercial Drive
Vancouver, BC V5N 4C5
(604) 568-8224

My friend B is visiting from Montreal for a couple of weeks. He was the first person to take me to Ethiopian a couple of years ago in Vancouver before he moved home. We went to the one on the Drive called Harambee. I've been a couple times since. I quite like it.

On Saturday, we went to a new one south of Broadway but still on Commercial Drive called Gojo's. C, our friend is a regular there. It's near 12th.

Since B moved back to Montreal, he's gone Vegan. He'd been vegan in the past but has decided to revert and quite permanently. When B becomes serious about something, he goes full on. He has researched and experimented with recipes. What it means to me is that I am now not the only one of this gang to want to go for a vegetarian option. So three of us got the Veggie Combo which comes with 5 various ethiopian stews on the large flat Ethiopian bread called INJERA. Injera very spongy and has the texture somewhere between a crepe and pancake. It sort of looks like a crumpet as well because of all the bubbles but can be the size of a side table. The veggie combo comes on a huge tin plate. The bread is on the bottom with small mounds of the stew neatly placed around the perimeter. Extra cut and sliced bread is served for eating. You eat with your hands by grabbing the stews with the bread.

Our combo came with (sorry, forgot to take a photo) all five of the vegetarian options: a yellow lentil stew, green bean and carrot, potato, spinach and dark lentil stew with a light green salad in the middle. Ethiopian is not highly flavourful. It's basic flavours that highlight the main ingredient. The aromatics found in other cultures are not often used but sometimes you'll find onions. The other three of us got a few meat stews. They did not have a non veg combo like Harambee where they give you a few meat and veg stews. I did not really pay attention to the meat options but one. There s a dry beef that the waitress had to stop to warn C about because if you don't know they get complaints. It's very very very dry, icecube sized chunks of beef and fat which is very very very tough. It's not poorly done. It is done the way it should be done but you need to know that's the way it's done :-D if you know what I mean. C laughed because he orders it regularly. At that point, the waitress remembered who he was.... C the white guy who'll eat the beef I guess.

Service was a bit slow and so if you're waiting on anyone like we were, go on and order. We waited for about half an hour for our food. The food and bread was fresh and tasty. If you fancy trying ethiopean, I would recommend Harambee more.

2838 Commercial Dr
Vancouver, BC
(604) 708-5394
(4 Maples on 7)

Gojo Little Africa on Urbanspoon

Harambee Ethiopian Restaurant
2149 Commercial Drive

Vancouver, BC V5N 4B3

(604) 216-1060
(5.5 on 7)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wednesday, August 19th - Ultimate BBQ

Ha! sorry for the possibly misleading title. It is the Ultimate BBQ because it was my Ultimate Frisbee team's end of summer season BBQ. We chose Wednesday because as it is usually our game night, we knew that most of us should be able to make it. I find Vancouver friggin typical of any Canadian town where organising a group of people for a non-event related get together is a nightmare.

Our normal venue is E's backyard. She rents a house with a few people and they have an enormous backyard and garden. The backyard is probably nearly an acre. She has a full sized trampoline back there with room to spare. Hence she is often nominated as the hostess for team eats. It's somewhat unfair I guess as some people in the end did not come, though they said they would but E and J did not have that option since they were volunteered to host. K volunteered the venue but he did offer to do it at his house if E was too busy. I was glad that it was at E's since she's a somewhat comfortable biking distance, or so I thought. There was a nasty hill which I'll admit I had to walk my bike up. I don't know how she bikes to and from work everyday. Impressive. K lives about twice the distance and there is more traffic from here to there to here :-(.

I had a big lunch or big in the sense of calories. I went up the road to an Indian take away. It really isn't worth noting. I've been there before and they gave me a piece of charcoal instead of naan bread. This time, the naan was much nicer but I happened to open the container in the restaurant so as to avoid the charcoal naan and noted that they had given me cauliflour instead of lentils. They did not reserve. I could see they they scooped out of the cauliflour and gave me a small container of lentils as it was a bit soupy. I should have stuck with the Gobi Aloo (cauliflour and potato)

Anyhoo, I also munched on crackers after that, so I didn't feel much like a salmon burger as I had planned. So I took the massive container of Babaganoush I have left and some corn chips with me to share. I brought a bottle of Antelope Ridge Chardonnay with me as well. In the end, I had quite a bit of homemade salsa and hummous as well. M brought some fresh guacamole from Wholefoods which was inhaled before I had two bites :-o

J also brought a big pile of fresh corn to BBQ and we all had corn on the cob off the Q as well.

I just munched on the corn and snacks while watching the team play Viking Bowling aka Koop. It is just about the dumbest, made up game I've ever seen, possibly other than cricket.

Viking Bowling aka Koop


4 1 ft sticks
12 1ft x 4"x4" blocks of wood
1 2ft x 4"x4" block of wood
12 1 ft dowling rods (1"-1.5" in diameter", they looked like cut up closet rods)


Pace out a square. I don't know that there were hard and fast rules about this. We used alot of the free space in the yard. Let's say about 10-15 ft long and wide enough to set up the 6 blocks a foot and half apart stood on end.

Stick the 4 sticks at the corners. They mark the field boundaries.

On each end of the, stand the 6 blocks on their ends evenly spaced along the line.

Place the tall block directly in the centre.

Each team stands behind the 6 blocks and either end with their 6 dowling rods. We played with 3 aside though, again, I don't know if that was just because that's what we had.

Choose a method to decide which team goes first. Going first is an advantage so graciousness is not a good election apparently (it was likened to choosing white in chess, Whatever!)


Knock all your blocks on the other side down and then finally the centre block.


Take turns throwing their dowling rods at the blocks on the other side. If you knock down the centre block, you lose instantly. It's like the 8 ball in pool.

Now, the team who wins the chance to go first TEAM A, throws ALL six of their rods before the opposing team.

Then opposing team, TEAM B picks up all the blocks the other team knocked down and then tosses them onto the field. They must go past the centre line and land withing bounds. If they do not do both these things, the TEAM A may place them where they like (still with in the required area, past centre line from TEAM B). Strategically, placing them near the centre block is the best place to set them up by TEAM A to risk TEAM B knocking down the centre block and losing. They have to be placed at least 1 rod distance from the centre block. The rest of the blocks that landed legally have to stood up on end by TEAM A. There is some wiggle room here to be strategically tricky.

TEAM B must knock down the blocks placed within the field before going for their 6 on the end line. If they accidentally knock down one on the opposing line down, they're simply set back up. If they knock centre down, they lose.

If TEAM B only knocks down some of the 'in field' blocks, they cannot go for the far ones. Then TEAM A takes those that TEAM B did manage knock down and toss those on the field past the centre line from them within bounds.

Strategically speaking, it is best to toss them as close as possible to each other so they can knock multiple blocks down at once.

TEAM A must knock down those new 'in field' ones down before going for more on the End line. They only need to knock THEIR target ones down. IE. the ones that TEAM B had knocked down and are on the far side of the field from them. If they knock down a block out of turn, they are just stood back up except for the centre one.

Once a team has knocked down all their blocks, they may go for the centre block.

Additional stupid rules:

You can only throw underhand. How random is that??!! You're throwing sticks at blocks but apparently, the vikings were adamant about how you toss. W.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tuesday, August 18th - Pink Salmon and Arugula Cous Cous

The Pink is accidental, resulting from the red onions and red pepper corns that have bled into the cous cous while sousing. Result is distinctly pink and ymmy. Highlighted by a topping of bright pink seared coho salmon.

Pink Salmon and Arugula Cous Cous

(serves 1 and a lunch... but I ate it all, I'm afraid)

1/4 c cous cous
3/4 c hot water
1/2 organic, low sodium, vegetable broth
1/4 c pine nuts
2 T dried cranberries
1 green onion chopped
1/4 c chopped cilantro
1/4 - 1/2 c chickpeas
1/2 small red onion (or 1/8 c minced)
1 T whatever fresh herbs you have on hand
chili flakes (optional)
fresh cracked pink pepper corns
100 g of leftover salmon. Or sear a small piece of salmon for a few minutes on each side and flake. Don't over cook. You want it slightly ruby in the midddle.
2 handfuls baby arugula (run a knife through it just twice or not at all)


Juice of 1 lime
1 T dill mustard (The one I used is slighly horseradishy)
1/2 T ground ginger
1/2 T olive oil
1/2 t salt
Whisk vigourously.

1. In a large mixing bowl, place the cous cous. Nuke or boil the water and dissolve the boullion cube with a whisk or fork. Pour over cous cous, cover and walk away for at least an hour. I do this part in advance because I always panic when it doesn't absorb and make adjustments which results in way way way too much cous cous. If you don't have time, do it in advance. If you really don't have time, cook it.
2. After a few minutes of sitting, toss in the onion to spread the flavour.

At this point I went for a bike ride.

3. Chop and add and toss as you go now. Add the herbs, I used three rosemary needles, a few leaves of oregano and sage. Add the cranberries and chickpeas and toss.
4. In a small pan, roast the pine nuts. No oil required. Keep them moving. Because of the high protein level in pine nuts, they'll brown quickly. Toss into the mix.
5. Chop the cilantro and green onion fine. I like to have cous cous managable on a spoon. Toss.
6. Add the dressing and mix thoroughly. You could let it sit for a bit if you have time.
7. Here is the bit that contradicts my desire to scoop cous cous. I take two handfuls of baby arugula and run a knife through once or twice. Why? Because I love baby arugula or as they call it in London, where I fell in love with it, Rocket. YUM. The peppery, firm and meaty green is awesome. Add this last.

Top with the salmon and serve.

I love cous cous and I'm going to do this with the arugula again. Usually you need something salty or 'meaty' like crumbled feta to really bring a cous together and the arugula did it. One of the other things I've tried to do here is to fight the urge to over garnish. D likes to keep things simple. Take green curry for example. I've been known to add three-four different veg plus aromatics and protein. D would max out at two. I think it's the Korean in me. We normally have like half a dozen banchan on the table at any given time and you get it all, sometimes in one mouthful ;-P. What can I tell you? It's in my blud,

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday, August 16th - Babaganoush w Mint and Thyme

I've wasted most of the morning doing crossword puzzles and watching America's Best Dance crew. There are only three reality shows I like and this year, I dropped one. Biggest Loser, So You Think You Can Dance and America's Best Dance Crew. I didn't watch SYTYCD this year. I couldn't get into it. It doesn't help that D hates it. I am trying to watch the Canadian one but I really can't bear Leah Miller. She is incredibly aggravating. I mean, the psyche out on the decision is one thing but on every single dance? Get another bit darling you're a twit. I have to change the channel when she's speaking. I really do.

Anyhoo, the best of them all is America's Best Dance crew. The dancing is unbelievable. I always seem to forget it rerun's in the afternoon and waste the weekend mornings watching it.

I hit Granville island and got a load of veg.

I am trying a new Baba Ganoush recipe. We have a bunch of herbs that might not make it through it's new location so I'm using Mint and Thyme for the herbage....

Baba Ganoush w Mint and Thyme

2 med-large eggplants
3- 4 cloves garlic
4 T tahini
3-4 T olive oil
10 fresh mint leaves
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 lemon juiced and zested

optional garnish: green onion and cilantro

Preheat the oven 450 (if you have a BBQ, this will go much faster! Ours is out of commission for a few months.)

1. slice the eggplants in half lengthwise and rub cut side with olive oil
2. place cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes or until soft when you poke it. (It won't bounce back under your finger). Rub the peeled cloves of garlic with oil and wrap them in a foil bundle and place on the baking sheet with the eggos.
3. roughly chop the mint and pull the thyme leaves off the stems. What works best for me is to h0ld the top, pinch and run your fingers down toward the bottom.
4. When the eggplants are done, let them cool so you can handle them. I did not because I was running late. So I held the halves firmly with an oven mit, with a big spoon, scrape out the contents of the eggplant directly into a food processor.
5. Add the lemon juice, zest, herbs and tahini. Pulse until roughly smooth.
6. Drizzle in olive oil until. You can play with the amount of oil.
7. Serve with chopped cilantro or green onion with flatbread or chops. YUUUUMM

D is in Montreal so that means one clear thing, I am going to have Brussel Sprouts. I love brussel sprouts, D hates them. I've even done them my favourite tasty way, oven roasted with tomatoes. He ate them reluctantly.

My friends called me for dinner at Las Margaritas on 4th but I'd already fixed in my head that I was having tofu and brussel sprouts.

Yellow Zuccini & Brussel Sprout Stir-fry in Blackbean Sauce

1/2 medium yellow zuccini roughly chopped in 1cm cubes
125-150 g of tofu, firm (half or 1/3 a block of tofu)
1/4 - 1/2 onion chopped
1 clove garlic
1/2 c brussel sprouts, defrosted or trimmed (depending if using fresh or frozen)
2 T black bean sauce
1 T oyster sauce
1 T Chinese chili and garlic sauce
1/2 c water.

0. Whisk the last 4 ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
1. In a hot wok add some peanut oil or canola oil (don't use olive oil)
2. Sautee onion and cubed tofuuntil slightly soft, 2-3 minutes
3. Add the brussel sprouts, with a wide stir frying spatula. Keep it moving.(photo to come, they're wider than normal spatula. No holes. Fan out slightly and the edge is slightly curved for scoop tossing) I like to brown the brussel sprouts slightly. It gets rid of the bitterness and adds a lovely nutty taste.
4. Add the zuccini and keep tossing for a few minutes.
5. Add the sauce and let it come to a boil briefly.

Serve over rice.

Yum. I love tofu. (Photos pending)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saturday, August 15th - Leftover Lemon Risotto and Unpacking

I went away to visit my folks in Toronto pretty much after we finished moving. So D was left with a pile of boxes. He knew it was coming as it was nearly impossible to get away in July especially since with the month end being at an awkward Friday... that meant we lost a whole week of packing. Frig!

So D is visiting his folks this week and working out of Montreal. That leaves me with my neglected boxes. Thankfully, I made extra risotto yesterday and D bought a whole fillet of coho salmon for our salmon yesterday so there's one piece left. That's what I'll have tonight. I'll sear the last piece in a cast iron skillet.... I should probably take it out of the fridge.

I am struggling with how to reheat the risotto. If I have the patience, I like to reheat on the stove whenever I can. I also like to fridge defrost as well. I just think that nuking just kills too many nutrients. As well, the waste-hater I am tends to dislike wasting something as sticky as risotto in a pot. I thought about baking it since it has become stiffer from cooling. I think that's what I'll do. Yeah. I'll add a bit of water though.

My next decision is which wine, which wine, which wine. There is a Spanish white, slightly fruity, already in the fridge. I have a french style chardonnay. I put it in the fridge but I'm leaning away from it. I stuck an Italian Pinot Grigio in the freezer for a bit. Hmmmm what to do. I'm leaning to the Pinot Gris.

I'm going to get the fish out of the fridge and prep the risotto. Later folks.

Baked Lemon Risotto

Preheat the oven to 425 convect so you don't waste time.

Oil a small baking dish, 4"x6" or so.
Spread a cup or cup and half of leftover risotto mixed with 1/4 c water in the dish
Cover tightly with foil and place in oven
Bake 20 minutes
Uncover and turn on broiler
Place under broiler on top level for 5 minutes
If you like, top with some fresh parmesan.

I seared the last piece of salmon with the herb seasoning left from last night. In a cast iron pan, on high, heat up some oil. D used butter. If the skin is on, you want to do most of the cooking on the skin side. 3-4 minutes. You only want to cook on open side for a minute or two. This ensures a crispy skin as well as preventing over cooking and drying out.


I landed on the Pinot Grigio. Corte Giara....

Photos of food later.

Friday, August 14th - Lemon Risotto and Herb Crusted Coho Salmon

I am so far behind on my photos and posts I am embarrassed. I got so far behind I was worried that I'd be tempted to give up. I will not of course. I have most of my photos even though I wasn't sensible enough to put the titles in like I did before to jar my memory. Darn it.

So I'm starting to catch up today with last night's dinner. I will do what I can do. It's all you can do right? I had meant to catch up last week whilst visiting mom and dad in Toronto. No work, D's not there to make me feel bad that I'm on the computer all the time. They don't have internet at my folks place though. I know that's not a real excuse though. I could have written and processed my photos without the internet. It was a bit of an excuse really. I did turn on my computer in the evenings to work some other photos or to play solitaire because I was bored out in Etobicoke. I did little that was productive. Oh well. There it is my confession.

Don't get me wrong. D is super supportive of my taking my photos of our food at home and at restaurants but he's not a big fan of my spending hours a night twittering or blogging. I had managed around it for a while but I'm trying to compromise. I might have to try to revert a bit to writing right after dinner though to keep up. Work is getting busier and I can't write during lunch anymore.

I've had a craving for LEMON RISOTTO for some time now. Normally, if I mention risotto, D takes charge and I let him. I think I've mentioned that when I started becoming facinated with cooking and food shows, that I had a small obsession with risotto. I collected dozens of recipes and ideas. It's the process that I love. You are involved from the start through to the end. There are few short cuts on it. The few that there are don't really work. The end result is not a true risotto. For a true risotto, you must stir.

Another reason, I've not made this before is that is is meant to be a side, in my opinion. I just can't have just 'plain' rice without some protein or vegetable. Well, my craving got the better of me last night. I first saw this recipe on Nigella or at least a version of it. I've made some changes out of respect for risotto. As well, I was short on a couple of key ingredients so I had to use a substitute.

Shamefully, one of the key ingredients to this risotto, or any risotto really is SHALLOT. Shallots (not eshallot or as the quebecois sometimes think, green onion, not D, another one) is similar to onion but finer. They're about the size of a walnut with very thin layers, the colour of a red onion. They have a slight garlicy quality. Most, if not all, risotto start with a sauteed shallot.

I did not have one. I walked all the way to the grocery and bought milk and yogurt instead. What was I thinking? I also forgot the celery and had to call D to pick it up for me. Another notable change I made was to omit the 4T of cream that she adds at the end. Cream is cheater risotto. You should get the creaminess and unctiousness naturally. I know that from the recipe, she might not have been trying to cheat but going for something else but I still, on principle, could not use it. I used 2T of butter instead. More traditional. Also, she uses a food processor mash up the shallot and celery... blech, no way! There are couple of other changes and touches that resulted in an amazing rich and lucious lemony risotto that you have to try. NOw the amounts I will give you are enough for 4-6 people. I had just enough raw risotto left in the bag that was silly to leave so I used it all. I weigh risotto.

J's VELVETY LEMON RISOTTO (Recommend vervently)
350 g of arborio rice or other risotto rice (not regular rice)
2 l lobster stock (you can use vegetable or chicken stock)
1 t saffron (optional, we have truck loads from our trip to Bali)
1 stalk of celery
1/4 sweet onion and 2 cloves garlic (OR 2 shallots)
2 T butter, unsalted
2 T olive oil
1/2 c dry white wine
Season to taste. (I add no salt. Parmesan is salty and there is some salt in the stock)

1.5 - 2 egg yolks (if you don't want to fuss with the half, go for the 2. DO NOT add the whites!)
zest & juice of 1 to 1.5 lemon(s)
2 thumb sized sprigs of fresh rosemary. If you don't have fresh, use what fresh herb you have. Try to avoid dry here. If you have to use dry, use 1/2 T rosemary dry)
1-2T butter
1/4 - 1/2 c freshly grated parmesan

1. Bring the Lobster stock to a boil with the saffron. Lower the heat to bare simmer and leave covered.
2. FINELY mince the onion, celery and garlic. I do mean fine. Go back over the pile with the knife. You don't want to0 big crunchy chunks of celery.
3. Put a large fry pan on the medium heat add the butter and oil (at least 16" diameter, bigger than 'regular'. If you don't have one that big, use a decent sized pot.)
4. Sautee the onion, celery and garlic until softened but not browned. About 5 min.
5. Add the rice to the pan. You may have to add more oil or butter. You want to coat the rice so that each grain glistens. Stir on the low-medium heat for a few minutes. I like to slightly toast the rice grains.
6. Add the wine in a broad circle around the pan.
7. Add 1 ladle of the stock and stir. You'll want the heat up high enough so that it will sing when you pour in the stock but not so high that it simmers or bubbles at all in the pan. At that temperature, the water will evaporate to fast to absorb into the rice and the rice will stick. Stir frequently. The more you stir, the creamier the end result. It is virtually impossible to mush the risotto. Really. I used the full 2 l and it was still nicely al dente.
8. Continue to add the stock on ladle at a time, stirring until most of the liquid is aborbed. It will take about half an hour to 40 min to get through all the water. If it's going too fast, your heat is up too high. Test the rice by nibbling a few grains about 20 minutes in. Cook to your taste.
9. On the side, mince the rosemary needles (no stems). In a bowl, zest and juice your lemon(s). Add the rosemary and the yolks. Whisk
10. When you're about 2 ladles away, add the parmesan into pan and stir. Add a ladle of stock.
11. Turn the head down slightly and add the yolk and lemon mixture and stir thoroughly. You don't want to scramble the egg.
12. It will immediately get this crazy creamy, porridgey look. YUMMM. Don't worry about it looking to mushy, taste it. It really was fine. keep stirring for about 5 min.
13. Add the last ladle of stock and a pat or 2 of butter, cover and set aside for 5-10 minutes

Serve 1 ladel per plate, shimmy it out so it spreads. Good risottoe flows like lava but not like soup.

While the risotto was sitting, we cooked the salmon that was prepped before.

Herb Crusted Coho Salmon

.... to come. I have to eat breakfast and go for a bike ride.