Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday, February 28th - Ramen and Bok Choy and the AMAZING FOUR FOOT DOSA

Breakfast, I poached 2 eggs in the microwave. I don't know why I keep trying to make this work but it never does. You'd think I'd come to my senses but noooooo. I keep reasoning to myself that sometimes when it's just me, it's too much work to boil water and do the whole vinegar and swirl thing. But microwaving them, I can never get the yolks underdone without leaving that icky goo on the whites. As well, you always have to lubricate whatever vessel you use so it's not as nice and wholesome like when you poach them properly.

I took 1 cup sized glass prep bowl. I added a 1 tsp of oil and rubbed it around. I cracked two eggs in and added a bit of water. I covered it with a plate and put it in the micro for 1 minute. I checked it and the whites were way way under done. So I added 20 seconds on to the timer and it was too much and the yolks were cooked through. I took them out as I was eating. I toasted a whole wheatbun we had in the freezer and used some whole grain mustard. I had a glass of orange juice instead of coffee.

Lunch, I had a muffin and coffee while I was out and about. And a bag of microwave popcorn while I'm typing this.

Dinner will be a spicy Korean Ramen with some of mom's Mandu and some fresh baby bok choy.

Okay so I was going to my friend DJ's party and I forgot that there was going to be a highlight. He and his mates have a regular tradition of the four foot dosa. This place on Fraser makes party sized dosas and deliver them on this long special trays. They were SOOOOO GOOOD and probably better than the regular sized ones. I find that regular sized ones, which are about 12inces actually have very little filling since you're meant to spread it out. But every inch of four foot long one was crammed with filling. The EGGPLANT was just irrestistible. I kept going back.

A dosa is an south indian crepe made from rice and lentil flour. It's crispy if served right away and rolled with a curry filling. You normally crack into it and eat whichever way suits your fancy... inside out or spread and linearly :-D. The dosa 'crepe' is cooked darker than french crepes. Or at least they're about as dark as the crepes you get at those crepe stands where they spread them out with a squeegee. DJ ordered a lamb, chicken and two veg, palak paneer (spinach and cheese) and eggplant. He ordered them from:

4354 Fraser St. (at 28th)
Tel : 604-873-9263
They'll deliver if you order overy 15$ to almost anywhere in the 'downtown' area.

Our other favorite is the 'House of Dosa' on Kingsway and Knight that have a 6$ special on Mondays. They're normally about 15$ a dosa. We'll be going soon enough.

Friday, February 27th - Mushroom and Kale Risotto

Breakfast was a bowl of cereal. Natures Path Heritage flakes with some Cheerios thrown in for oaty goodness.

Lunch, I made a wrap with a whole wheat tortilla, 4 sardines, 1 roma tomato chopped, tarragon mustard and a few marinated eggplants (jarred). It was fabo!

Dinner was Mushroom Risotto with Kale

2-3 leaves of kale chopped
1 cup oyster mushrooms
1-1.5 cups crimini mushrooms
1.5 cups shitake mushrooms (fresh)
clean and trim and chop to the size you like. halves is fine.
1 shallot
1 clove garlic
1 -1.5 litres broth (boiled and then kept warm)
1 c arborio rice.
1 c white wine (isabel reisling cuz it is too horrible to smell but it tastes okay)
sautee the mushrooms in olive oil and set aside.
sautee the shallot and when soft ad the garlic briefly, don't let it brown.
add the rice and make sure there is enough olive oil in the pan so that all the rice is coated and glistening.
add 1 ladle of broth and stir until it is mostly absorbed. continue like this.

When you're about half way through the broth and 20 minutes in, add the kale and stir and continue to add the broth as before.
When you're about 3 ladels away from finishing and the texture of the rice is almost where you like it. (test as you go) add the mushrooms back in and season with pepper (you probably won't need salt depending on the broth you use).
If the rice isn't soft enough but you're nearly out of broth, add more water to the broth but make sure it's hot.

When you've added the last ladle, add 2 pats of butter and grate in about 1/4 c of fresh parmesan and set aside covered for 5 minutes. Serve with fresh grated parmesan and truffle oil if you have it.

It was great. It is important to make sure you add the kale early enough to cook through. It is a very hearty green and needs the time.

We had a Sauvignon Blanc from Church Estates from the Okanagan. It was very light and fruity. Quite nice with the risotto.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Thursday, February 26th - Blackbean Broccoli and Tofu stirfry

Breakfast was organic vanilla yogurt with cereal. D takes 5 scoops with a soup spoon. I think that's too much. I did the same and it looks like 3 of those individual cups. He said he measured with the suggested serving portion on the tub. That's the problem with me and most Koreans, portion control? Don't agree? Well, go have lunch at a Korean and have a noodle bowl. So I need help. I like to limit the size of the bowl I use and whenever possible have premeasured portions.

Lunch was a bowl of cereal because I was a bit rushed and couldn't be bothered to think of anything.

Dinner was a stirfry. We saved the blackbean and liquid from the Crab dish we did on Sunday. Mom would usually keep her Mehwuan (Spicy) crab sauce as well to eat with rice for maybe a day but she normally tosses after because she doesn't like to serve leftovers whenever possible. But we kept it cuz I hate wasting food! Plus after all the wine and crabby goodness, the sauce was crazy tasty. There was quite a bit of it. Probably more than was necessary for this enormous stir fry but D is going away so we needed to use it. I probably should have saved some to eat with rice.

Blackbean Broccoli and Tofu stirfry (with Brown Jasmine Rice)

1/3 red onion chopped (1/2 cup)
1 inch ginger sliced
1-2 garlic cloves (small)
1 medium crown of broccoli. (about the size of a nerf ball, small football)
1 can of baby corn
1 package of extra firm tofu (350 g)

green onions and chopped nuts for garnish.
(the nuts were D's idea but I tend to think of chopped peanuts as a thai thing and cashews as a chinese thing. the texture was nice.)


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wednesday, February 25th - Sundried Tomato and Goat Cheese Sachetti with Pesto and Arugula.

Breakfast was cereal. I realised something today. D has a plan. He eats cereal on specific days of the week and cereal on others. It isn't random. How funny is that!!

Lunch, I had mandu and a banana. Actually, I was only going to have the banana but thought it wasn't a good idea since I'm recovering from a cold.

Dinner will be some fresh pasta I bought at the Granville Island Market at the Zara's pasta stand. There's another one that sells fresh pasta and ante pasta as well, near the cheese shops but this place looks fresher. The pricers are higher than Commercial but it is closer. We're going to have it with the basil and arugula pesto I had in the freezer in the cube tray. It's the last of it. And some fresh arugula tossed in while it's warm.
Now, typically, fresh pasta only needs about 6-8 minutes ie. until it floats but we've had enough of this pasta to know that it needs at least 10. The filling will not be soft enough and some the areas where there is alot of joined pasta at the crimping points will be undercooked.

Now you might be asking yourself, what is with the binging on arugula. Well, there is a clear and justifiable rationale to it. I love arugula and I hate to waste food. I can't buy just a small packet of arugula (rocket). I had to buy this big box of prewashed baby arugula 300g. So I use it whenever I can as well, it's a good green to have like a side salad. Tonight it actually fits the meal. Actually last night with the mushroom dish, it worked really well crisp on top.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesday, February 24th - Stewed Mushrooms in Port Reduction with Gnocchi

Breakfast was a bagel with strawberry jam from les iles d'orleans in Quebec. I woke with a horrible sore throat so I didn't want to have dairy. Dairy promotes mucus production. Singers often do not drink any for a whole day before a peformance. I remember that from being in church choirs as a kid. The bagel was from St. Viateur in Montreal. The best the BEST bagels ever. Though D had been saving it in the freezer for a while so it was a bit freezer burnt.

Lunch was a wrap. Whole wheat soft tortilla with baby arugula, smoked peppered salmon and tomatoes with mayo. The smoked salmon is great. I don't eat meat so a cold cut option is fantastic. It's ready to eat. You'll know it to see it. It's bright, bright red. The pack is often labelled ready to eat, in case you're worried.

Dinner is

Stewed Exotic Mushrooms with Gnocchi Port Wine Sauce


Mushroom Stew:
4 ounces crimini mushrooms, trim, cut into wedges, washed
4 ounces porcini or chanterelle mushrooms, trim, cut into wedges, washed
4 ounces shiitake, trim, cut into wedges, washed
4 ounces button mushrooms, trim, cut into wedges, washed
4 ounces oyster mushrooms trim, cut into wedges, and washed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
4 ounces port wine
2 ounces heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
1/4 teaspoon fresh marjoram
1 pound frozen gnocchi (store bought) cooked
Salt and pepper

Saute mushrooms in 1 tablespoon olive oil in large pan over high heat. Undercook slightly. Remove mushrooms from pan, lower heat and add shallot and garlic. Add port wine and reduce to half. Add strained mushroom stock and bring to boil. Add mushrooms and cream and simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Add rest of ingredients and season to taste

Now we are not making the mushroom stock because it's a 'school night' and that's just plain crazy. But the weird thing about this recipe is that it doesnt' say how much of the mushroom stock to put in. It can't be the whole amount. 2quarts is about 2l. So we're going to eyeball it and I'll let you know.
Mushroom Stock:
1 large onion, sliced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
All mushroom stems, washed
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
Small tied bundle of parsley and thyme
Bring above ingredients and 2 quarts of cold water to a boil. Simmer 30 minutes.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday, February 23rd - Thai food and Mussels

Breakfast was Natures Optimum Power with milk. I mixed in Heritage Grain flakes to counter act the sweetness.
Lunch, D and I met J at Simply Thai on Hamilton St. below Davie for Lunch. It's fine, like 2.5/5. It's not great. It's fine. I don't know if that was a lunch menu we ordered from. Let's just say, it's slightly too pricey for lunch or slightly too cheap for dinner.

The reason I say it's fine is because I had the Pad Kee Mow. It's my favorite over Phad Thai, which my friend J had. I'll admit, I was glad to see it wasn't that terrible ketchupy variety you get at the Thai House chain. But my Pad Kee Mow had the same noodles as the Phad Thai. It shouldn't the noodles should be thicker and wider. That's why I love it. Also there should have been more thai basil. There was hardly any. Also, I ordered spicey, it was not. As well, I ordered shrimp and this was the only dish for which shrimp was 2 bucks more. That's such a pisser. Anyhoo, they gave me a decent amount of them but they were those cheap tiny variety you might seen in a can. If I had to choose, I'd go for the Urban Thai place just up the road, also on Hamilton Street.
Dinner is Mussels in an Anise (pastis) and Tomato broth.

4 pounds medium black mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
2.5 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup minced shallots
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes (or tomato sauce)
1/3 cup dry white wine
4 tablespoons pastis

large pot with coverscrub brush colander
1. Put the mussels in a large pot of cold water. With your hands and a small scrub brush, remove the "beard" and any grime from the outside of the shells. Drain in a colander and set aside. Discard any mussels with open shells. (Try tapping on the open ones; if they close, they're okay.)2. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When it's hot, add the shallots and cook 2-3 minutes, until they just begin to soften. Stir in the garlic, mussels and pastis. Boil 30 seconds.
3. Add the tomato sauce and wine. Stir, then cover the pot and turn the heat up to medium-high. Steam the mussels until they open. (Discard any mussels that haven't opened after 7-8 minutes.) Sprinkle with parsley and stir to coat the mussels with the sauce.

The recipe originally called for 6 T of pastis and that's what we used and it was too much.

We had a loaf of sour dough bread and toasted it for dipping.

The pastis was a bit overpowering and we both love the anise flavour and fennel and all that jazz but this was too much. It could have been the choice of wine we used. I wouldn't recommend this recipe. But I do want you to know that mussels are super easy to make. The classic is just the wine and tomatos and onion and garlic. The classic belgian is with fries on the side with flavoured mayo and beer.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday, February 22nd - Scones and Live Crab in Black Bean sauce

Breakfast, D had bought some lovely scones from this bakery in Blaine yesterday. mmmmm One was pear with a light icing and the other one was mixed berry. They were fantastic. It's surprising how filling a scone can be. We also tried to use up the french toast custard. Well, actually, I thought D would have toast since the scone wouldn't be enough for him. But we both had one piece of sliced pumkernickle round 'french toasted'. It was softer so it absorbed the egg much better than the baguette. mmm

Lunch, hmmm well, we left late so we sort of skipped lunch. I had some fruit and cashews but that's it.

Dinner, we bought live dungeness crab at TNT. They were feisty!!! 5.99/lb for 3-6 lb'ers. mmm . We have this great recipe from a seafood class we took last fall. Photos to come.

Dungeness Crab in Blackbean sauce
per 1.5-2lb crab...

1c white wine
1/2 water
1 inch ginger sliced
2-3 cloves garlic chopped
2 green onions chopped
1 shallot
8 T (4 oz) black bean sauce (use less if you don't want it v salty)
1 T sambal paste or chili paste
1 T oil

Pour liquid into a large stock pot, big enough to accomodate all the pieces of crab. Most shops will chop the crab for your for not charge. TnT certainly does. So normally a body will be cut into 4 pieces.

Bring the liquid to a boil and place in the crab. Simmer covered for 6-10 minutes. Shells should turn a bright red/pink. Remove crab and set aside. Pour out the steaming liquid and keep in a bowl.

Add oil and fry the onions, ginger and garlic until soft, 1-2 minutes. Add the black bean paste and the chili paste. Add back some of the liquid. I would have added it all back and the heat on high but D added only 1/3 back and only after I begged. He was going to toss the liquid so I added some to the brown basmati I made on the side.

Put the crab back in and toss with tongs until all the pieces are well coated. Leave to simmer uncovered for another 6-8 minutes. I would have partially covered it. Some of my crab pieces could have stood to be more cooked and some others less. I'm guessing that happened because of the temperature differential since the room wasn't heated.

Put out newspapers, if you're eating with me. Serve from the pot, to keep warm if you want. We did. We had lobster crackers (the utensil not the snack) and picks. I had some baby arugula on the side and some brown rice. I love the crab sauce on top of the rice. mmmm

It's so much work to eat crab. I mean I know everyone loves it but I get bored after awhile. Perhaps it would have been easier if we used rubber mallets instead of the crackers.
TnT Supermarket, as I've said has a fantastic selection of fresh seafood. You get to pick most of it yourself too. We didn't have this but look at this monster. Isn't it crazy. Alaskan King Crab.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saturday, February 21 - French Toast...

Breakfast, I made french toast with the stale baguette.

Yummy French Toast

3 eggs
1T milk
1T flour
1t nutmeg
1t ginger, fresh grated or dry ground
1t cinnamon

Whisk vigorously in a shallow mixing bowl or even a baking dish.

Cut the baguette or whatever bread you've got. Slightly stale is better so if you have fresh. Leave it out overnight. You'll get a soggy mess with fresh.

Drop the slices in and let soak for a good few minutes. Push it in there. Flip and repeat. Spoon over the mixture. Since the bread is slightly stale, you'll get the right amount to make it soft without too soggy. But really work it in. Put a small about of butter and oil in a nonstick pan on medium heat. Turn the oven on to 325. Fry until golden on one side. Will only be a couple of minutes. Flip until golden on the other side. Now, if you aren't using a non-stick, put the whole pan into the oven (make sure the handle is not plastic or wooden) I use non-stick so I put them on a butter piece of foil onto a baking pan and into the oven for 10 minutes.

I had it with coffee and some sweet bean paste. You can have maple syrup.

Lunch, D had a pork and beef german sausage at Kaisereck in a egg hotdog bun, with onions. He always tries to get one if we are there around lunch. (photo pending). I had just had too much french toast and so I waited until we got back and I had a half cup, heated up, of brandade with crackers/tortilla chips.

Dinner, we had planned on going to this great Ethiopian restaurant on Commercial but D wasn't feeling very well. So we made quesadillas and shared a can of Wolfgang Puck's soup. It was the Tortilla, blackbean and corn soup. We added some more blackbeans.

My quesadilla had: cheese, adobo chili, onions, green onions, sardines (unflavoured in oil. mmmm I ate a couple right out of the tin.mmmm), marinaded italian eggplant, jalapeno.

D's qusadilla had: cheese, black beans, adobo sauce and onion. He wanted to keep his simple.

I opened a bottle of Isabel Riesling 2006. It was HORRIBLE. To make sure that we weren't unfortunate enough to have bought a corked bottle, we opened a second and they both smelled the same. We looked up the wine's reviews and it distinctly said that it should have a very fruity nose with grapefruit on top. It was like leather and flint. We left it to breath for a while and it didn't help. D didn't want to admit that two bottles from the same case could both be bad, he kept at it. But it wasn't like it had a strong nose. It was OFFENSIVE. Isabel Riesling 2006 from New Zealand... aka Butane lighter fuel. Blech.

Friday, February 20th - Swiss Fondue

Breakfast was two Activia Yogurt pots. The individual sized which is far to small just to have one for breakfast. I got the non-non-fat. I had one Peach and one Prune. You can really taste the difference. I am sorry. Low-Fat just doesn't do it all the time. As well, I'm pretty sure that there isn't the same level of pro-biotic cultures in the low-fat variety.

Lunch, I had a small portion of the Jerk Fish from Dinner and few spears of aspargus and a dollop of the Bap I didn't finish.

Dinner, we had the Trader Joe's Emmenthal fondue I bought in San Francisco. I am a big fan of the pre-packaged fondue packs. But I insist that you read the ingredients. There shouldn't be much more than cheese, a few thickners and alchohol. The real goods for alcohol in a fondue is Kirsch ie. a cherry based liqueur. I doesn't taste like cherry. But it definitely goes well with the nutty Emmenthal and adds a lovely bite. SO, there should not be any ingredients on the pack that you would not have in your cupboard, typically.

We bought a large head of broccoli on our way home as well as a slightly stale baguette. Actually, it was accidentaly since it was the last baguette that Apple Hill Market had and it was on clearance. But for Fondue, a slightly stale baguette is better. They won't fall apart and they hold the cheese better.

Cut the baguette into 1inch cubes. ie. cut 1 inch slices and then cut those in half. Put in a basket and set aside.
Wash the broccoli. Now I don't mind raw broccoli in a fondue or cauliflour but for both, it might be better for your digestive system ;-) to steam them briefly. Now I start cutting the broccoli from the stem end in dipable sizes. As I start to hit the spears, I make sure that the spears that fall off are also dippable, mouthful sized. If not, them cut them in half. Bring a small amount of water in a med-large sauce pan to a boil with a steamer basket inside. Load the stem bits first, and pile in the rest. Feel free to jam them in there, it's not meant to be pretty for dipping. Steam them for about 3-5 minutes or until you start to see the fogging on the glass lid clear up because the water has started to condense and you can see that the broccoli have become bright green. That's the al dente level that will be great for the fondue. Now, you can pull the whole basket out and put on a plate to drain. Or you can leave in the pot off the heat if you want them softer.

Take your fondue pot. I'm pretty insistent that for a cheese fondue, your pot be an enamel coated cast iron pot. Yes, that means you can use a Crueset or their ilk. I don't believe in the ceramic or the steel. The steel because it's got a 'cold' feeling for cheese. Now they're okay for the 'Chinese' fondue, broth or the french bourgignon(I know I've spelled that wrong), the oil and beef cubes. The ceramics are bullexcrement. they cannot withstand the heat. Most fondues need to be made on the stove top or heated on the stove if you're using a kit. That ceramic nonsense can't take it. Now, yeah, you can use it on a tea light but the chafing flame heaters are too hot for them as well. I bought one once and it cracked. I returned it. I said, that under normal usage, this shouldn't have happened. They agreed. I've had my cast iron enamel one for over ten years.

You only need about 1T or 2 of blue chafing fuel (liquid) for two people to go through one packet of cheese. If you're using the solid chafing light, then it doesn't matter. You just cover it to extinguish. But for the liquid, you don't want to leave any in the light thingy. If you have to extinguish with the cover before it burns out, then burn it off after.

Take a clove of garlic and cut in half. Rub all over the inside of the pot. Use both halves and some elbow grease. Really work it in there. You won't taste it like garlic toast since it will cook. But you will notice it if you leave it out. Open the pack and put into the pot on low heat. Scrape as much as you can out of the foil pack. Turn the heat up slowly as it starts to melt and stir with a wooden spoon. It must be a wooden spoon. Metal will scratch the enamel and plastic will melt. The heat should not go about medium. When it starts to gently bubble, add 1t of white pepper or black if you prefer and a good 1t of nutmeg fresh. If you're using preground, only use 1/2 tsp. That stuff tends not to be as subtle and since it's so fine ground, the flavour goes further.

Light the chafing thingy and serve the cheese. We also had a red bell pepper sliced into spears. Dip away with your crazy scary fondue forks. Now the rule is, if you drop your food into the pot, ie. you lose full contact with it, you must do the dishes.

I had my chardonnay again since I bought a case and D doesn't want to open anything else because he's on detox but I have to say, it was perfect with the cheese. It didn't go so well with the Noodles the other night. That didn't surprise me. Asian food, spicy in particular, should be served with a sweeter wine like Riesling or Gerwurtztraminer.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thursday, February 19th - Basa and Bap

Breakfast was a bowl of Optimum Power cereal and D had organic yogurt with a kiwi and Smart Bran.

Lunch, I had some Mandu from mom. I just sauteed them in a tiny bit of oil and water. I made a dipping sauce of soy, rice wine vinegar and chilis.

Dinner, I bought some Basa fillets and I'm going to serve it with Jerk spice, asparagus and 'Bap'. It's an african dish of white cornmeal simply boiled in salted water.

Jerk Basa

I took a 1.5 lb filet of basa frozen. I sprinkled some of my favorite Walker's spice all over it and on the back and left it out to thaw on a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil on a broiling pan. It was frozen solid so I knew it was safe to do so since I'd be cooking it off right away after a few hours. I would not recommend you leave fish or chicken out at room temperature over night or all day (by the by, my place is slightly chilly as well, so that helped me not worry. I hate the idea of germs, bacteria or rotting). I thaw on metal. The conduction of the metal speeds thawing. Glass will not do the same.

As it thawed, I drained the water off into a small skillet I had the pan sitting on top of. I simply tipped in whatever liquid I had collecting, spices and all. When I thought most of the liquid was gone and the fish was mostly thawed after 2-3 hours, I took my Jerk Rub that I used a couple of weeks ago, see the photo of the label (Metropolitan Chef spice Rubs). I wouldn't recommend it. It was more allspice than thyme or heat. That distinctive hit you get when you open a Walkers is not there at all. Actually, you know which is not bad at all, the PC brand sauce in a bottle. Spicy and proper aroma. I used 1T of the Jerk Rub augmented by more of my Walkers, 1t and 1T of soy, 1t of white wine vinegar (you can use plain) and 1.5T of vegetable oil. Mix well. I chopped 2cloves of garlic and minced 2 birdseye red thai chilis (you know those tiny dangerous looking ones) and added them to the rub. I poured it all over the top of the fillet. And if any spilled over the side, I pushed it under the fish.

Chop 1/2 medium white onion. Sprinkle all over the fish and shove some under as well. Let it sit for another hour or two (at least half an hour if you're running late)

As a side, I took one bunch of fresh asparagus. I was lazy so I chopped one inch off the ends instead of doing the snapping thing to get the woody bit off the end. I tossed them in olive oil and salt and pepper.

Turn the broiler on high. Put the rack in at second from the top. Drain any last minute liquid off the fish into the skillet. Add the asparagus all along the sides. Place under the broiler. After 5-10 minutes turn the pan around 180 degrees so that the asparagus gets' evenly cooked. Toss the aspargus a bit with thongs. Broil for another 10-15. Crack it open to check it but the broiler works best for the veg if you leave the door closed like a BBQ. D was running late so I turned the oven off and left the door closed for like 10-15 and it was still piping hot when he got over.

BAP - white cornmeal

While the broiler is going, or even before, I did it before, boil hard the drain off water and add more water until you have at least 2 c. skim off any milky fat that comes the surface. Turn down the heat to a simmer. Add salt and pepper (taste it though. Jerk rub has salt) Add more water whenever necessary. Measure out 3/4 c (two people healthy portion no leftover) of white cornmeal, medium coursness. Rain it over the water, and whisk with a fork or whisk. Try and get it smooth but you're gonna have lumps. I had to add quite a bit more water as it cooked through and just as it was done and I turned off the heat, I poured on 1/4c water and mixed it in. It seemed a bit watery but that's okay, I put the lid on and let it sit until I needed it. The african version I had in South Africa was quite dense and clumpy and no spices and it was yum. I did a texture somewhere between that and grits.

Serve out the BAP on your plates. Top with a piece of fish and veg on the side. Actually, I just served out the BAP and then brought the whole fish and asparagus drill set up on a tray for self serve.

I had a Smirnoff Cosmo.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wednesday, February 18th - Sha Lin Noodle

Breakfast was a heaping bowl of Optimum Power cereal. I'm giving blood today at noon so I dread the idea of passing out.

Lunch, well the useless Canadian Blood Service folks need a serious lesson in process managment. End to end, without a crowd, too me 2 hours. I was only giving blood for 15 minutes. Useless twats. So my lunch was a piece of carrot cake, fudgeoooos, strawberries and grapes with bad coffee at their resting station.

Dinner, we had Sha-Lin noodle. My favourite Noodle joint. All hand made. Made four or five ways to order but the main ways are Dragging (This is the famous pulling way you see demonstrated where they stretch, fold, stretch fold until you can get really fine noodles), Cutting (big block of dough is cut rapid fire with a razor into the boiling water), Rolling (dough is rolled out flat and noodes are cut in strips), Pushing (slices cut with a big cleaver from a block), Round which I believe are extruded.

I had my favorite and default when I don't want to think. #2 Stir Fried noodles of choice with Vegetables and Seafood (decent amount of shrimp and baby scallops) in a cumin sauce. It's spicy and very aromatic. It can be greasy but I think that's from the chili oil but it's soooo good. I don't think it's overly greasy like some of the typical chinese stir frys.

D had a different one for a change called #14 Zhajian Pork with Cucumber and he had cutting noodles. It is the noodles of choice with minced Pork cooked in a black bean sauce on top. Then a generous pile of julienne fresh cucumber. It looked fantastic. He automatically set a side a small container for lunch before starting so he could control his portion. The portions are GENEROUS.

Sha-Lin Noodle House
548 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC
Just West of Cambie
Pick up and Eat in only

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday, February 17th - Fried Plantains

Breakfast was organic yogurt with cereal.

Lunch, I took a small leftover portion of the barley. I also indulged in a long-standing craving of a Big Turk chocolate bar. It was not at all the way I remember it from childhood and it was better. I've had real turkish delight since childhood. One of the key ingredients in Turkish sweets is Rose Water. No that isn't the water you put your fresh roses in. It is a distillation of rose petals in water. It is very potent and you only need a few drops in any recipe. Turkish Delight is like a jelly and the Big Turk is the jelly dipped in chocolate. mmmmm

Dinner we had the Gumbo from Sunday and I fried a big ass Plaintain. A plantain is of the banana family but much much larger. The one we had was easily a foot in length and a man's grip around. Often in shops, they'll look black and perhaps, unappetising. Don't worry, they go black but it doesn't mean that they're rotten or over ripe. The only way to verify that is by squeezing gently. But generally, by the time they get there, they are no longer on the shelves. They will never ripen like a banana. You need to cook them to eat them. It is a common side in Jamaican cuisine. The classic of Fried Sliced Plantains is often eaten at breakfast. When I was living in Kingston, our cleaning lady used to make them in the morning with our eggs.

Fried Sliced Plantain

Chop off the top and tail.
Gently run a knife down the length of the peel, piercing the skin but not the flesh.
Open it up and remove the peel.
Slice the plantain 1/2 cm to 3/4 cm. Either directly across in circles or on the bias so you have ovals.
Heat a skillet or non-stick fry pan with a decent amount of vegetable oil on medium high.
Have the fan on high.
Have a plate with paper towels ready.
Have salt and pepper and spice of your choice. Recommended is nutmeg, I had allspice. D wanted me to add his all purpose Dean and deLuca Chipotle rub.
Spread out the slices and have a splatter guard at the ready.
Turn when they go a caramel colour. Only a few seconds too long and they will go BLACK. No worries, they still taste fine. But the high starch content will cause the blackening really suddenly.
Turn and cook until caramel in colour. Remove to paper towel. Add more slices until they're all done.

If you like them chippier, then use a mandolin. But you'll want to probably only do that if you have a young plantain with an almost potato texture.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and spice. Eat while hot.

Monday, February 17th - Barley and Butternut Squash Risotto

Breakfast was cereal, Nature's Path Optimum Slim with some of the Heritage flakes and fresh strawberries.

Lunch, I had that 1/3 piece of my stuffed french toast I took away from brunch on Sunday and a small container of the Gumbo. D took the leftover pasta from Friday night.

Dinner, we got home pretty late so luckily the barley recipe said 10 minutes of stewing after all the sauteeing rather than 'real' risotto which is half an hour. Though in the end, it took that much time and was till on the al dente side. We had brandade and crackers while waiting.

Barley and Butternut Squash Risotto

1-2 cups diced butternut squash
1-2 shallots
Fennel Seeds
2-3 Bay leaves
Salt and Pepper
1 cPearl Barley
1.5 l stock

Saute the shallots and butternut squash in butter until tender and set aside.
Saute the barley until lightly coated in butter and olive oil. Add the herbage and stir. Add most of the stock all at once and cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Check the texture and add more stock as necessary. Add back the squash. Simmer for a few more minutes.

Add freshly grated parmesan and serve.

I had my favorite Dona Paula Chardonnay because my case just arrived. woohoo.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday, February 15th - Spicy Creole Shrimp Gumbo

Breakfast/Brunch was at Elements Urban Tapas Lounge. The service sucks. I cannot emphasise that enough. It sucks. Robbie is a rude manager. We were sat at the bar which was bumped every two minutes. The food is good which is why we go back. I had their famous Stuffed French Toast. It's stuffed with a hunk of brie wrapped in smoked salmon. Well, the menu is black forest ham and they charged me 4 bucks extra for the salmon. Actually, they originally told me 3 and then told me after the fact that they'd charge me 4. Nice. D had the Montreal Smoked Mean Eggs Benny. The eggs were done perfectly and their little potato cake they serve with is great!

Dinner was Spicy Creole Shrimp Gumbo.


1/4 cup vegetable oil (not olive oil)
1/4 cup flour (now that it's done. I might have added more flour to make it thicker. this was slightly thicker than chili)
1/3 white onion, minced
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped or 1T dry
1/3 cup sliced green onion (2-3 green onions. I left one for the top)
1/3 cup chopped celery, two stalks
4 pods of diced garlic
2 cups veggie broth, i used a cube
3 cups fresh okra, sliced (half a pound. I probably used more cuz i luvs okra)
1 large cans (28 ounces each) tomatoes, mushed with your hand. use 2 fresh tomatoes if you like but then add an extra cup of water.
2T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 T Louisiana hot sauce
1 teaspoons dried sage
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme and a few sprigs of fresh if you have it
1 tsp salt
1 jalapeno..(optional)
1 teaspoon ground red pepper or cayenne (this is to my taste and it was mild at best)
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound any white fish cut in 1inch cubes (firmish to firm)
3 cups freshly steamed rice or any grain to serve it on.
Parsley sprigs or green onion

Heat a dutch oven or heavy crockery pot. Cook over medium-high for 20 minutes, stirring constantly, until roux is dark brown. I went to tan because I was afraid of burning. Be very careful to keep the roux from scorching (you can add a little more oil to make sure it doesn’t)
Add chopped onions, chopped parsley, celery, carrots, green onions and garlic to roux
Cook over medium-high heat 5 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Add broth, tomatoes, okra, Worcestershire sauce, Louisiana hot sauce, bay leaves, parsley, thyme, sage, salt and red and black pepper. Cover, simmer two hours (1 hour will do if you don't have the time. The heavy pot will keep heat so 3-4 on the dial that goes to 10 is fine. Stirring occasionally. Add shrimp and fish and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaves.

Serve over hot cooked rice. or barley or couscous or with cornbread.

Saturday, February 14th - St. Valentines in Whistler

Breakfast, we had coffee with Pumpernickel toast with peanut butter and some biscotti. Whenever we travel where there's a kitchen, like ski houses, it's hard to have stuff for proper breakfast or meal because you don't want to buy big staples for a short weekend. So of course we forgot butter and didn't want to bring a whole thing of milk.

Lunch, we ate at the Roundhouse on Whistler. I had a half Salmon Salad sandwich and Saladbowl. It is probably the best value up there. It's only 9.95 for a decent sandwich and a big bowl of salads to choose from like pasta or rootveg. I had the tortellini and three bean. D had a Salmon Asian Miso Noodle Bowl. It's amazing how expensive it can be to have food on the mountain.

Dinner, we grilled at home. I had a Chipotle and Lime encrusted Tilapia and D had a big ass Ribeye steak. On the side we had a yellow yam and a fennel. The Tilapia should have been in a pan and not the grill. The crust made it too dry. The fennel and Yam were great. We had more of the Malbec Naiara Reserva 2005.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday, February 13th - woooooo Whistler

For breakfast I had Nature's Path Optimum Slim and D had Yogurt. I added some of the Heritage Grain Flakes because they've gone slightly stale since we started buying the boxes that were on sale recently. The Nature's Path come in Organic Bulk bags as well in most of the niche grocers around here and they're far better deal, normally, than the boxed sizes. But they're like 3 times the size and can go off if you don't eat them fast enough.

For lunch I had the Butternut Squash and Chestnut risotto from This week. I also had a small portion of the Yak-shik.

For dinner, we made a different Coppola pasta, Marmarella. It basically lookes like an extrusion of an asterix about 1.5 inches long. I had a jar of Classico Spicy Red Pepper Tomato sauce. It was pretty late by the time we arrived at Whistler so it had to be quick. We had a bottle of Chianti and a bottle of Malbec. The Poggio Al Tesoro Chianti was nice until I tried the Malbec. The Malbec was great. It had a fantastic nose and big fat lady body. So when I went back to to the chianti, it was just okay. Naiara Malbec. mmmmm We also tried some wine that M from D's work brought, a lovely Pinot Noir. It is too bad I don't remember the name. It was amazing. He also had a Cortegiara Amarone. It was very robust. Nose was full of Prunes and Sundried Tomatoes. It is not something that would play well with any subtle or light foods. We had it sitting around talking.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thursday, February 12th - Leftovers and Delfina's Spicy Cauliflower

I had cereal for breakfast with Strawberries and the last of the Blueberries.

For lunch, I think I'll have the Yak-Shik I took with me in the tupperware. I still have the risotto from Tuesday but that will keep longer than the Yak-Shik. The sweetrice tends to harden up if it gets old. I could resteam if that happens or add water before nuking but HASSLE!

For dinner, I had intended to make Spicy Creole Shrimp Gumbo but as it turns out we got free accomodation at Whistler for the weekend so we're going up there on Friday until Sunday so I thought we should probably go through our leftovers. We'll have the Bean and Barley stew and we made the fried spicy Cauliflower that we had on the weekend from the Delfina's pizzaria recipie. I had some Brandade and D had some crackers and the rest of the tapenade.

I had a lovely glass of the Dona Paula Chardonnay.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wednesday, February 11th - Yak-shik -Barley-Bean stew and Brandade

For breakfast, D had to take off early so I got up half an hour later and went upstairs to find, coffee brewed, my mug sitting there with warmed with hotwater, berries sitting out with a paring knife and yogurt all waiting for me! How sweet. I had some strawberries and blueberries on Organic Vanilla Yogurt with Smart Bran.

For Lunch, I had lunch with a team mate. We went up to the Korean food joint up the road on Seymour between Georgia and Dunsmuir. I had Raboki. It's like Duhkboki but it had some ramen noodles. Duhkboki is korean rice cake, mentioned in a previous blog on Lunar New Years as rice flour dumplings, with a very spicy sauce. The classic will often only be the ricecake with the sauce. Sometimes you'll get it with onions and fishcake. This place stretched it further, like meatloaf, with cabbage and noodles so you have less Duhk. The fishcake is a typical asian standard thing. You'll find them all over in different shapes and flavours. The Korean ones used here look like finger sized dumplings with a tanned coloured wrinkly skin, not unlike the fried tofu balls or 1/2 cm thin sheets of the same colour and texture. It is a pre-cooked pattie of chopped fish, often neutral tasting pollock with some soy or other savoury flavourings. If you've ever ordered Thai Fish cakes as an appetiser in a Thai restaurant, they're sort of like that but no lime or lemongrass or chili. It was pretty good. 5.50 for a plate and it came with two 'ban-chan' or korean sides, kim-chee and kong-namel. My friend just had egg-ramen. Looked alright. Your basic noodlebowl with some veg and an egg on top. But unlike the other Korean restaurants they come with real thick noodles but these were like those thin pack ramen noodles.

Dinner will be involved cuz I accidentally volunteered to make Yak-shik. D accidentally purposely bought a 10kg bag of sweet rice because he just thought it was short grained asian rice. He asked me to look for recipes. Yak-shik is a classic sweet rice dessert with sugar, chestnuts, pinenuts and red dates. (red dates are red, shrivelled, round and the size of a grape).

YAK-SHIK2 cups sweet rice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp caramel or cornsyrup. my mom uses corn syrup so I will too. or maple. haven't decided.
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp salt
15 pieces chestnuts
15 pieces dried seedless red dates (if I have to soak the dates, I might have to use a substitute)

Soak the sweet rice in water overnight, then drain.
Place a gauze or cheese cloth in the steamer
Put the rice on the cloth and steam over high heat (15 mins)
Put the sweet rice in a large bowl
Add in brown sugar, syrup, sesame oil and salt
Add in the chestnuts, dates and pine nuts
Mix everything together while rice is hot
Put rice cake mixture back on steamer and steam for another 40 mins
Remove and cut into slices
These rice cakes can be served hot or cold
1 tbsp pine nuts (mashed)

D is making a recipe from an Australian GOURMET magazine cuz he also has a large bag of barley he needs to use. (Recipe to come)

Barley, Portobello and Berlotti Bean Stew with Pumpernickel Garlic Toast

Also sitting in the fridge is some saltcod soaking in water waiting to be turned into Brandade. A potatoe, cream and saltcod mash. D also made his Brandade from Panisse. It was a bit salty because he didn't change the water but he wanted to strictly follow the directions and poured out the change water I added :-). It was still tasty when we added back some of the potato to dilute the salt. (Recipe to come)

Classic Brandade from Zuni Cafe

Brandade is a salt code mash. It is so yummo and versatile. You can serve it as a side, dip or on toast. You can also use leftover to make fritters by adding potato mash. Be sure to desalinate your salt cod by soaking in water for 24 hours (12 if you're rushed) by submerging in water and changing the water every few hours.

The first time D made this, he didn't know and the recipe in the book he found did not specify in the recipe. It just said to soak and not change the water. Weird. It did in the pages before describing the use of salt cod. Anyhoo. Desalinate.

2 - 3 garlic cloves mashed with salt and pepper
1 cup milk
1 cup water
500 g salt cod (you can play with this but don't be chintzy)
3 T heavy cream
3 T olive oil

Simmer the milk and water. Add the salt cod. Simmer for 5-8 minutes. Don't boil.

Lift the fish out and drain on a dry clean towel. When cool, flake the meat. The cooked meat should way about a pound. The salt weighs alot so it will be lighter than when you started.

Heat the cream and oil, separately. In a mortar and pestal. Mash the cod until fibrous. Add the cream and oil slowly and continue to grind. You can add slightly more than the 3 T if the cod takes and and doesn't separate. Add the garlic. Grind until you have a nice fluffy emulsion.

YUMMO. Keep leftovers covered in the fridge. Lasts a week.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesday, February 10th - real Muffins and Butternut Squash and Chestnut Risotto

Last night as we were making the Portobello mushroom burgers and sweet Potato fingers, we ran out of gas so we had to finish in the oven on broil. So since we had the oven on, we roasted the chestnuts we needed for the Butternut Squash and Chestnut Risotto tonight. Well, they would keep so it didn't matter but it was efficient to do them since we were doing oven stuff anyway.

All you need to do is with a small paring knife, mark a cross on each one toward the top end. i.e. the end without the round birthmark looking butt end. Put them spread out in a single layer under the broiler on high until you hear them popping. YOU WILL hear them popping. In fact, you'll hear some of them exploding. Fear not! (keep the door closed) That might be because you didn't pierce the skin enough when crossing them so when they're roasting, they expand and burst the shell. No worries. Wait a bit until you think you've got most of them. Turn the oven off and let them sit for a few minutes in case some of them are delayed poppers. With a dish rag, or bare hands quickly shell them while they're still hot. If you wait, the skins will start to stick. While they're hot, it's as easy as shelling peanuts THOUGH far more painfully hot. Be careful. Hence the rag recommendation. That's what my father always does. He's the designated sheller. Let cool and then put them away covered in the fridge until you need them.

Breakfast was a treat. Since D when to get blue cheese last night at Urban Fare, he picked up some muffins for breakfast. Woohoo, the GOOD MUFFINS. Big, hearty, healthy (seeming). He got two, Lemon Poppyseed with Cranberries and Morning Glory (your basic powerbar in a muffin with walnuts, carrots, oats, raisins) soo good and perfect after my muffin blog entry yesterday.

Lunch, I popped out to London Drugs and bought a ready made soup in a tetra pack from Knor. Tuscan Bean Soup with Sweet Basil. It says it serves two but maybe as a skinny starter. I poured into a medium sized tupperware and nuked it for 3 minutes. It's cooling off fast as I type here. I picked up some Carr's Garlic and Herb water crackers to eat with.

Dinner is one of my favorites. I've been collecting risotto recipes since high school watching Martha Stewart and Julia Child. Tonight we're having one we've done a few times.

Butternut Squash and Roasted Chestnut Risotto

2-3 cups diced butternut squash
3/4 -1 cup chopped chestnut
I am purposely ball parking the filler because you should play around with it as much as you like. D is conservative with the veg so the beginning of the range is his measurements.
1/2 c Arborio rice per person (we're making enough for the two of us to have a smaller lunch portion so 2 c)
2 l stock (we have 1l lobster stock, homemade from my birthday lobster, frozen and we'll have to augment with a veggie stock cube)
Now this is legitmately a ballpark. You may need more or less depending on your rice or how hard you like the rice. I like it softer.
3 sprigs of fresh thyme (you can use 1t of dry)
1 large shallot
1c white wine
Fresh parmesan

Roast the chestnuts as described above and chop the size of chocolate chips. Set aside.
In a large fry pan fry the squash in butter until just tender and set aside
In the same pan add some olive oil and butter, about 1 T each. Add the shallot and saute for about a minute until just softened. Add the Rice and the thyme. Stir until all the rice is coated and shimmering and slightly toasted.

Add a ladle of stock and stir until it is almost completely absorbed. Add another and another until it's all done the same way. It'll be about half an hour at least. Taste it to see if it is the texture you like. When you're one ladle away, turn the heat off, add about 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan.add the ladle add the veg back and cover for a few minutes (this last bit is optional). Add 1 last pat of butter to finish. Salt and pepper to taste. YOu may not need any salt depending on your stock.

Serve with freshly grated parmesan. I'm havin Dona Paula Chardonnay, a chilean chardonnay for non-chardonnay lovers. D is still on deTox.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Monday, February 9th - the Case of the Mysterious Shrinking Tim Horton's Muffin

Breakfast was at mine. D had Vanilla and Almond Special K with Silk Soymilk, unsweetened. I had two little pots of Activia Yogurt with a handful of cereal flakes tossed in. I had a brew coffee but D prefers to wait until work where they have a proper capuccino machine.

Lunch, well, I was on calls most of the morning and half way through lunch so I left late and couldn't go where I was tempted, i.e. sushi. I grabbed a McDonalds medium coffee and Fruit and Fibre muffin. It's only 1.39 for the two together and it's just a couple of blocks away. I'd have gotten a decent muffin like from Urban Fare that does amazing muffins, $1.86 but well worth it. But they are too too far. The IGA muffins are not worth the $1.4. Far too oily. Tim Horton's? Where do I start? I used to lurrrve Tim Horton's muffins. When I lived away, the first thing I'd buy when I was back, often on the way home from the airport, was a Tim Horton's carrot muffin. Not anymore! Two reasons, the first I'm largely willing to ignore. They are very very oily and high in calories. Their classic carrot muffin is almost as bad as a burger and since it's all sugar, even worse really. So I switched to any muffin that looked 'healthy' with grains or bran. Still, it's hard to beat the coffee & muffin deals that abound so last fall, they finally caved and started offering Tim Horton's muffin and a coffee for 1.99$. Whoohoo, right? Wrong. I had one on the way to San Francisco at the airport, a month ago, finally. I'm not actually near one anymore, since I don't take the skytrain as much. Anyhoo, I was sorely disappointed. The reason they were finally able to do it or probably, rather, they only way the were willing to do it was by SHRINKING their muffins by 25%. They are puny now. Totally not worth it. The McDonald ones are about the size of the 'original' Tim Horton Muffins. And if you get the Bran or the Fruit and Fibre, they're not bad if not good. The Fruit and Fibre muffin has a banana base to cut the amount of oil but not moisture and had blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. Yum. The coffee is acceptable.

Dinner, we're having BBQ'd portobello mushroom burgers with blue cheese. On the side we're having BBQ'd sweet potato fingers.

Sweet Potato Fingers
Peel two med/lg sweet potatoes
Cut into 1 inch wide strips
Toss with Olive oil and Dean and Deluca Chipotle BBQ rub
(I would have nuked them first for a bit but I'm not a BBQ pro)
Place the fingers in a BBQ veggie basket.
Cook and toss occasionally until fork tender.

Portobello Mushroom Burgers
De-stem and clean four Portobello Mushrooms about the size of a burger pattie or bigger, they will shrink.
Rub some BBQ sauce of your choice on them
BBQ briefly until they char slightly and turn once.
Crumble some blue cheese probably 1T per burger depending on how strong you like it.

Put two mushrooms per burger. Essential or you'll won't feel it's 'meaty' enough. Now here is the trick. If you were able to grill all the way (we had to finish in the oven when the BBQ ran out of gas) Put one mushroom guts side up, dress with onions and cheese and then put the next with guts side down so you you have sandwiched your filling. BUT BUT, if you haven't grilled all the way, your schrooms may still have quite a bit of moisture in them so you'll want to do it the other way so the tops are touching. That way the moisture from the innards of the mushroom will be soaked up by the bun.

On the side we have some white sliced onion and baby spinached, prewashed.

by the by, we had to nuke the sweet potato fingers before serving. the Broiling and BBQ'ing wasn't enough in the timeframe of the mushrooms. :-D

Sunday, February 8th - Cypress and Ravioli

We woke up way too early for a Sunday but hit the snooze so breakfast was quick. I wanted to beat the lift ticket lines at Mount Cypress. In the end, no lines, no crowds. Weird. Parking was full full and there weren`t any events.

Breakfast was brewed coffee with cereal. I had a hearty bowl of Natures Path Slim and Smart Bran with two big spoons of Organic Vanilla Yogurt and Milk, topped with fresh blueberries. I wanted to be loaded for riding. D had Kashi meusli with Nature`s Path Hertiage O`s with Milk, Blueberries and Strawberries. The strawberries from the shop on Commercial half way down run by a chinese family, normally has great one a week deals, this week it was salt cod and portobellos. They also had strawberries but they looked pretty old. D bought some and they`re pretty tasteless though they smell nice. We`re going to have to eatem fast. Oh and I got a double pint of blueberries for 4.50. How good is that!!!

Heritage O`s are good and well, poorly designed. They`re very hearty and `biscotti-hard`. They feel healthy since they`re made with whole wheat and grain. They`re heavy not like cheerios. But they need to sit in your milk for a while cuz they will cut the roof of your mouth up like stale baguette. I only eat them if I have time to let them sit.

Lunch was at Cypress. I brought the left over pasta and spinach that I couldn`t finish because of all the guacamole. D had a ramen bowl, Shin Bol. It`s a red label with large Korean letters. It`s spicy and my favorite. It wouldn`t recommend you eat it too too often. It has MSG. I added some spinach to his noodles. At home I would add an egg. It`s soooo Korean to do that. They sell noodle bowls up there for 3 bucks and you fill them at the tea station. It`s not a bad deal compared to the 10 dollar burger which is crap. But the noodle bowl I bought at TNT, which is better and bigger was 89cents. I also brough some biscotti. Also, I`m embarrassed to admit, a group of kids in a ski school were at the table before me, and a kid left half a bag of corn nuts. We ate them up. :-D

Dinner had to be fast too. We had tickets to an opera recital sponsored by the Vancouver Opera and other orgs. It was a highlights show featuring an all Asian singing cast. So for Dinner we had the `Black Olive and Feta Ravioli`I bought at the First Ravioli Store. They were square with half orange sides. I served with a jarred red sauce, Classico Tomato Alfredo. It went well. If I had had more time, I would have done a red pepper puree sauce to accent the `greek` style of ravioli. No wine. But I had a small glass of the Smirnoff`s pre-made Mojitos. It`s not bad and in a pinch, if you don`t stock mint, perfect.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Saturday, February 7th - Crepes - Guacamole - Saffron Veloute - Chili Fried Cauliflower

Breakfast, we're having crepes since we only have two eggs left. I usually make them. D is making them today.


1 c Flour
1/4 t salt
2T sugar (opt)
1 c Milk (you can substitue some water in a pinch)
1 zested orange (washed)
2 eggs
1 T melted butter for batter and more for the pan.

Mix all the ingredients and let rest for half an hour.

Melt butter in a small bowl and have a silicon brush ready.
gently coat the pan with butter (D is not using the brush, he smears)

Pour 1/4 cup of batter or 1cm under the level of a typical soup ladel into the pan which you are holding up at an angle. Start to spin the pan gently to spread the batter evenly and thinly. Do not worry abou the first one. The first one is always a mess and resembles America's map. Shimmy it around. When it moves, use your fingers and check that it's slightly brown. Flip.
You can eat as you go or you can keep the batch warm in the oven.

I'm going to spread this Korean sweet red bean paste today. Total experiment but it turned out okay. The first one, I added some maple syrup but it was soooo sweet, the next two, I just used the sweet bean paste.

Lunch was sharing a spanakopita on Commercial. I mean, we left like at 11.

Before dinner we're having D's Guacamole:(It is different from mine which I think is awesome. I've followed a number of different mexican sources and classic approaches. I don't add cumin nor tomato.)

- 2 medium avocados
- 1 tomato
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 t cumin
- 1 t cayenn
- diced red onion, about a quarter of a medium
- juice of 1-2 limes

Dinner, we're making a few things. Lemon Papardelle from Trader Joes with the leftover salmon and Lobster Stock veloute. D made me lobster for my birthday and he made a load of stock with the left over shells and guts. Mmmmmm.

Saffron Veloute
1T butter
1 small onion or large shalotte
0.5 g saffron threads
2 T flour
1/2 c dry white wine or vermouth
1/2 c lobster stock (or a seafood stock of choice) if your stock is already salted, taste before adding salt to the veloute
1/4 c cream (or milk)
salt and pepper
1/2 c parmesan

Sweat the shalotte in the butter add the saffron and add the flour by sprinkling. Avoild one large clump. Make sure not to burn the flour. Add more butter if necessary but don't be afraid if it looks gunky. This is normal. This will be the thickner to your sauce just try to avoid lumps. Whisk in the wine or vermouth and break all lumps. Add the stock and rest and bring to a boil. It has to come to a boil for the starch in the flour to be activated to thicken. Turn down to a simmer until it coats the back of a spoon. If it gets a bit thick, add more stock. We added an extra 1/4 cup. It could have done with a bit more actually by the time we added all the pasta and fish.

We tossed the left over BBQ salmon from other day, flaked with the Trader Joe`s 225g Lemon Pepper Papardelle. Top with fresh grated Parmesan. My sister V warned me that it was very lemony which is why we chose to eat it with a strong fish. When we boiled the pasta to directions, it was indeed very lemony. In the end though, with the veloute and the salmon, it wasn`t over lemony at all. Perfect. I spread baby spinach leaves in a single layer on the dinner plates and we served the pasta on top. I was originally thinking of tossing in the pasta to wilt but D thought it be better on the side. It was nice and fresh.

We're also going to do this Chili Fried Cauliflower from Delfina's in San Francisco was the inspiration. It's been adapted. It's not that difficult and would recommend it.

Chili Fried Cauliflower
- Half head of cauliflower cut into large pieces. I like the stalks. D cuts them off and tosses them into the compost when I'm not looking.
- Wash and pat dry with a towel.
- In a large fry pan (the kind with sides) or a wok, I guess. I recommend having a lid or splatter guard. Heat about half a cm of oil. More if you like, the restaurant deep fries this. We used half chili oil since we don't have the calabrese chili's the recipie calls for.
- Add the cauliflower and let fry for 2 min on high until you see some colour. Turn the the pieces over and turn down the heat to med/high. Let fry for 7-10 min more until dark golden all over.
-Add:1-2 cloves garlic sliced, 1T capers well drained and dried (or use dried salted), salt and pepper, 1/2T coppola chili flakes (I would have added the jalapeno we had in the fridge but I think D didn't want that spin on the flavour). Sautee for a couple of minutes
-Drain carefully in a sieve (not a colander), keep the oil if you want. You could just pick up the pieces with a slotted spoon but we don`t like to lose the capers and garlic. Let it sit over the bowl you`re catching the oil in for a few minutes.
-Place in bowl and toss with 1-2T of fresh chopped parsely

We had Lindt 85% to munch on later and finished that terrible Hagen Daaz extras icecream. Never again. It was icy and I`m not sure if it was because of the ingredients or the shop.

Saturday, February 7th - Hummous supplement

This is such an easy recipe that there is no excuse to buy over priced mystery hummous. I use canned chick peas aka garbanzo beans, instead of the scarier recipes out there that give you the directions in dried proportions. The only reason I am familiar with these is that having lived in Spain I know how near and dear to their hearts 'cooking' their legumes is to home cooks. I've often heard my friends say that 'I make my own beans'. Meaning that they stew beans with all the aromatics, from dry. That's cool. That's also why I knew that the only reason bicarbonate is listed in the ingredients in most of these recipes is for the inflation of the beans. If you ever make anything with dry beans and substitute canned, leave out the bicarbonate (soda). Anyhoo, dry beans are too much work and time for an urban foodie. That is why so many of us resort to the premade. I mean I remember when we had our flat in the Portal de Angel in Barcelona, just off the Placa Catalunya, there used to be a Marks and Spencer's on the corner at the top of Las Ramblas where there is a Sephora now. Poor Marks and Sparks employees only found out that day when the doors were locked. Clemence (my parisien flatmate) and I used to buy their red-pepper hummous all the time. ALL THE TIME. You can use this base to do varietals like that, Red Pepper, Lemon Herb or Spicy.

A little note about Tahini. Do no fear tahini. It is not as exotic as you might think. It's simply sesame butter like peanut butter. You can now find it in most supermarkets in the 'nutbutter' aisle or 'international foods' aisle. If not, most 'niche' markets will carry many brands. It may seem expensive for the little you'll use (4 - 6 bucks) a jar. But think of it like Peanut butter. It keeps forever and it goes in so many things like Babaganoush which is also super super easy to make. Keep it in the fridge next to all your other condiments and it'll be fine.

(Now this is a huge batch, when I mean huge I mean enough to fill a salad bowl. Normally, D cuts this in half.)

2 14 oz (soup can sized) cans of chick peas
7 large peeled cloves of garlic
1/2 c olive oil plus a few more T for drizzling after
1/4 t ground cumin
1/4 t paprika (opt)
1/2 c tahini at room temperature.
1/4 c freshly squeezed leon juice
1/2 t salt (salt more to taste)

Garnish: fresh parsley or coriander, paprika, plain yogurt, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of chick peas set aside whole.

Put all the ingredients (not the garnish) in a food processor or mini processor (if you cut down the recipe) NOT NOT NOT a blender, you do not want a chick pea smoothie.

Pulse until roughly smooth like oatmeal, or as smooth as you like. Add more oil if you like it looser.

Serve on a plate or bowl, top with any or all the garnish listed above. I like to keep refreshing the greens and the paprika as people eat through. You can keep in your fridge for at least a week if not more in a covered container.

Now if you wanted to do roasted redpepper, you can either roast redpeppers (either on a gas range, on the BBQ or under the broiler, turning, until the whole thing is charred black black black, place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap or put in a paper bag until cool. rub off the char and deseed) or you can used jarred. Add 1/2 c to the above recipe into the food processor, you can reduce the amount of lemon juice so you don't end up with a too watery mix.

mmmm See photos on Super Bowl entry on February 2.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Friday, February 6th - Quesadillas

Breakfast, I had lactose free milk and Nature's Path Slim again. D had the Kashi Meusli.

Lunch, D made those wraps again except on the Tapenade one, he added marinated roasted red peppers from a jar. I was thinking of making a wrap but I think I'll try to stick to yogurt for lunch. I feel like I'm carrying a 3 or 4 extra pounds at the moment.

Dinner, we made quesadillas. They're super easy and a great way to use veg left in your fridge. In reality, of course, they're a far cry from the simple cheese and tortilla ones. When I first started making them over ten years ago as a fresh out of uni Montrealer, I would use only cheese, mushroom and maybe peppers. A trick I used to do was spice the shredded cheese with the garlic or jalapenos so it was evenly spread and also since in the 'fat', more aromatic.

We used whole wheat tortilla and pre shredded Saputo mozzarella as a base. Normally, I would use white cheddar since it's the closest to Mexican. In TexMex cuisine, they'll use Monterey Jack. I think it's a bit salty and sharp but tasty in this type of cooking as well. Mexican cheese is stretchy but not too flavourful which is why I think mild white cheddar works best.

We made fresh salsa as a side:
- 4 fresh tomatoes diced
- 1/4- 1/2 c chopped cilantro (we added parsley too because we had it)
- 1 clove chopped garlic
- 1/4 c diced red onion
- 1T white vinegar (this is Dom's thing)
- 1-2 juiced limes
- dash chili peppers
- 1t cumin
- (added the leftover corn from the quesadillas)

- 1 spicy, fresh, italian sausage from the First Ravioli Store, sliced and fried
- cheese
- canned kernel corn
- cilantro
- sauce from Adobo peppers

D makes his by spread on one Tortilla and folding in half. He made two of these.

ADOBO means seasoning I think. We used canned, chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce. There are loads of brands. I bought this from the mexican market on Commercial last fall. It keeps open in a container in the fridge. It is very smokey and mild spicy. Smoked red jalapeño peppers in spices, vinegar, tomato sauce and ancho chiles. Great La Costena chipotle peppers! (pronounced "chee-POHT-lay"). Smoked red jalapeño peppers in spices, vinegar, tomato sauce and ancho chiles. Great La Costena chipotle peppers! (pronounced "chee-POHT-lay").

- baby spinach leaves
- fresh thyme and cilantro
- 12 small shrimp lightly sauteed in chili olive oil
- one adobo ancho chili chopped and spread
- red onion sliced, a few T
- cheese
- Coppola crushed chili flakes
- corn

I spread my stuff all over one full tortilla and lid it with another tortilla.

Put a non-stick skillet on medium high heat. Slide the Quesadilla on to the pan. After 4 minutes, check the bottom to see that's browning. Place a small plate on top (you can use a full plate but it's too heavy for me to do the flipping). Flip the skillet and the plate over and then slide the uncooked side of the quesadilla back onto the skillet and cook until the other side is brown too.

Eat with the salsa and avocado's on the side.

D's are easier to flip since he puts his half moon ones in one at a time. (pictures to come)

Slice like a pizza with a big knife.

We had some dark Lindt chocolate as dessert. A couple of squares each.

Thursday, February 5th - Rainy BBQ Salmon

I am seriously considering leaving out mid-week breakfasts in the blog. They're fairly repetitive. Though, I am a big cereal connoisseur and I like to make recommendations about them. I had Lactose free milk, which I really do prefer over soy milk when served cold, with Nature's Path Slim with a handful of Smart Bran. It was really good. Not sweet but not bland. It has pieces that look like: rice puffs, chex, all bran rods and flakes.

For Lunch, I took the left over curry portion. D made wraps. When he first started his new job last fall, he was eating out alot. I mean all of a sudden you're in the thick of Yaletown restaurants after being in exile in Burnaby. But it added up. So every once in a while, he'll remember that, particularly after booking a really expensive holiday and winning some bids on eBay. His wraps used some of our Superbowl leftovers.

Whole Wheat flat tortilla wraps:
In one:
1. Generous dollop of hummous
2. Marinated Italian Eggplant
3. Baby spinach
In the other:
1. Kalamata tapenade
2. Irish Organic cheddar
3. Baby Spinach
For Dinner, I bought some fresh wild Sockeye Salmon steaks from TNT. It's a chain of chinese supermarkets throughout Vancouver. There are some in Toronto as well, I think. It's the best place in town for fresh seafood for prices. We took a cooking course once with the chef from the Gastown restaurant le Magasin who used to own a seafood restaurant on Robson. Funny, now he runs a charcuterie which is basically meat meat meat. Well, anyhoo, he says he buys all this seafood at TNT. It was he that told me that they'll chop up your dungeness for you for free if you buy te live stuff there. What a boon that discovery was. The salmon was on sale for $3.99 a pound.

I picked a medium to smallish looking steak and was poking my head around looking for another one of similar size. The fish monger was helping me but they were all really big. I pointed at one and she told me, in true sharp chinese marketer tones, "that's too big for you". She's selling me fish and she's trying to sell me less. I love it. Well, it was about 1.75 lbs or nearly 1kg. Still, I thought it was just reasonable.

I had a small girl fist sized sweet potato in my fridge from like a month ago. I had bought it as a snack and never ate it. Since it was still in the carrier bag, I sorta forgot it was there. I brought that to D's too. I had bought Asparagus last Saturday on Commercial at the market near Charles street. It's the best place for overall veg prices but if you watch as you walk down, some are better elsewhere. 2.99/lb and it was 4.99 everywhere else. We had 2 large Kale leaves left too.
It started to rain around 6pm and so when we got home, he was like, 'So we're broiling right?' But he was all big on BBQ yesterday so I had it stuck in my head so I insisted, and offered to hold the umbrella. His deck on the side with the BBQ isn't covered at all. He conceded.

I used my Jerk Rub that I bought at the One of a Kind craft fair last fall. It smelled the goods but it wasn't potent enough according to the directions which said you only needed to put it on right before cooking. It needs to sit longer. I augmented with my real Walker jerk spice too. It worked really well on the veg. So you take 1T of rub with 2T of oil. I used 1T olive oil and 1T canola. I washed and patted the salmon steakes. I poured about half a T on each side and rubbed it in. I sprinked some more Walkers on top and then washed a few sprigs of thyme and spread some across too. I used the 1 T or so of leftover rub and added some more oil and rubbed it all over the prepped asparagus and washed kale. I nuked the sweet potato for 3 minutes which was slightly too long for the size of it.

The steaks were over an inch thick so they took quite a while to cook through. Nearly 5-10 minutes a side. The kale cooked too quickly and charred a bit. It tasted super nutty and yummy and we couldn't place taste. I figured it out. It tasted a bit like roasted brussel sprouts. mmmmm.
Well, in the end, D and the fish monger were right. D only finished 2/3rds of this steak, which was bigger (easily 25% bigger but he didn't see it and AND he didn't seem to think that it was different from the pizza dough inequality accusation :0D). I finished 3/4 of mine. There was easily a whole 200-300 g left or a portion. He offered to make me a wrap for lunch but in the end we saved it for a pasta for another day.
I wouldn't recommend the Rub. If you do, I'd might leave it on longer. Or the other way, baste it whilst cooking. It was great on the veg.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Wednesday, February 4th - Sushi and Balti

I had vanilla yogurt again with Smart Bran and Kashi meusli.

For lunch I'm going down the road to Granville and Davie. There's this one sushi place that looks like a dive but is really good ...for the price that is. It's called 'Excellent Sushi', for real. It's 5 bucks for 22 pieces. I normally get California, Tuna and Yam. Today I got the Dynamite, Tuna and Yam and for 1.99 more I got the BC Roll too as part of the combo extra options. It comes with Miso soup as well and tea while you wait. They used to be closer to Yaletown and they're busier at lunch than in the evenings when it looks pretty sad. Actually, when there are only about 8 people, in the place, they still tend to get backed up. It's a bit annoying. There was no one in there today. Poor guy, the place is smack dab in the middle of the Granville Street road work. I'd go there more often but it's pretty far from the Robson office. It takes me 25 minutes to walk there and back.

For dinner, we're going to have balti curry. Balti is a form of curry that is traced back to Birmingham England. The curry that most of us eat now is really due colonisation of India and Pakistan. The English demanded sauce. They do like their gravy. Indian food is generally more dry and concentrated so when you see all the loose sauce, that's distinctly English influence. Now, Balti is a great form of curry you don't often see outside England so I was very pleased to find the paste in the place on Commercial Street in the Mexican market. It's of Punjabi style and pakistani expat origin. It was developed by the indian community in Birmingham where Balti houses are all over the place in England and called a such. There you say 'Let's go for a curry.' instead of indian food. Equally, you'd say 'Let's go for a balti.' But most likely in Birmingham cuz Curry houses abound in London. I'll provide a recipie shortly. Korma as well, with the coconut, is a English mutation.

We'll have the curry in two batches too. Mainly, Kale and Cauliflour but I'll add paneer and D will have the chicken from Sunday.

One recipie for the homemade paste might look like this (and this is why most people buy the paste in jars, like thai green curry and add all their own fresh ingredients. Read the labels though. For example, I don't buy Thai Green curry paste if I don't see Lemon Grass. Lots don't have it and go for a flavour substitute which makes it too fake for my taste.)

Balti Paste Ingredients
Lovage seed
Onion powder or seed
Coriander seed
Fenugreek leaves
Fenugrees seeds
Cumin seed
Cassia bark or cinnamon stick (which is most likely cassia bark if it's in those cute rolled shapes in small spice jars)
Curry leaves
Ground tumeric
Mustard seed
Ground ginger
Fennel seed
Chilli powder

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Tuesday, February 3rd - Calzone - Pizza... hopefully

Breakfast I had yogurt and cereal and D had lactose free milk and Special K Satisfaction.

I bought Special K Satisfacton because of the commercial where it keeps you full. I had it up at Whistler and it did keep me full but hadn't realised then how sweet it was because I mixed it with a Kashi Meusli which I had thought was the culprit. I had a bowl the next day with the Special K alone and it is INCREDBIBLY SWEET.

Lunch, I brought leftover chili with some leftover brown rice from last week. D took chili, grapes and red tortilla chips.

For Dinner we made pizza's. D had one portion of dough left that would have made one of those 15-12 cookie sheets. We cut it in half cuz I did not want italian sausage juice on mine. He was overly grumpy because I added a teaspoon of balti curry paste to the red sauce as I started to prep. So then I stopped before addeding another and then suggested we cut our dough in half and roll our own pizza's. D did his fast. But I made the mistake of thinking that I could toss it like they do it in the shops. It wouldn't and I'd now built up gluten and woken up the dough so rolling it was more work. D rolled straight from the rested ball. I rolled for ages to stretch it out and then added some rough cracked pepper to the surface to help break some of the gluten and add flavour. Mine was much thinner and therefore bigger and D accused me of gipping him on his half of the dough which WAS SO UNTRUE.

D's pizza: (in order of application)
- red sauce (with an accidental dash of curry paste)
- mozzarella
- italian sausage crumbled and pre cooked
- sliced portobello and shitake mushrooms piled high
- rough chopped red onion
- some more cheese

My Pizzariffic Veggie Extravaganza
- red sauce with 2 t of bali curry paste
- finely sliced and chopped red onion
- half a sliced jalapeno (wasn't too spice)
- Cheese
- chopped cauliflour
- marinated spicy italian eggplant
- mushrooms as above
- more Cheese
- black pepper

Mine turned out exactly as I wanted. I thought the dough on Superbowl was a bit chewy and underdone toward the centre. But really it's because it's super hard to stretch that sucker out. It just wants to stay in ball form. I was another reason for wanting two separate pizzas. But mainly it was because of the sausage juice. blech. I wanted mine either bready or crispy. It turned out really crispy and thin. mmmm

Monday, February 2nd - Mushroom Ravioli with Arugula Pesto

Breakfast was coffee with a few spoonfuls of Vanilla Activia Yogurt and two smaller biscotti. D had a full bowl with cereal and strawberries but I still felt full from Superbowl.

Lunch, I took a biscotti and a small tub of Hummous and flat bread with handful of parsley.

Dinner, we had the fresh mushroom ravioli I bought at the 'First Ravioli Store' on Commercial that I've mentioned before. The best deal and variety of fresh pasta and cheese in town. I wanted to have pizza from the leftovers but D couldn't face it. As well, we both went to the gym so it was pretty late. So we get home and we're both hungry and start munching on the red tortilla chips with hummous and tapenade. I had some cashews and wasabi peas as well. I brought the last four cubes of pesto I made a while ago.

I made a batch of Arugula and Basil pesto. It was an enormous batch with 6 cups of greens. It was before this blog and I'll have to dig up the recipie. It was 4-2 cups Arugula to Basil. It was pretty sharp mature arugula and I was worried it was going to be too strong but it was fine. I stored it in ice cube trays. 1 to 1.5 cubes of pesto per person is great for one meal. If I'm having normal pasta, I'll defrost in the bowl or in the microwave. Since I wanted to toss the ravioli so I didn't defrost and cooked it in the drained pot and re-added the pasta. Grated fresh parmesan over with some black pepper. We always have truffle oil on the table with pasta. mmmmm

D has started his new year detox. He started late because of Whistler and Superbowl. No more alcohol until Bali. I'm going to loosely try by default because if he doesn't drink I wouldn't. Though I think it's unfair cuz I tried for Lent last year and he wouldn't do it. I tried to have a glass of the left over Chateau Neuf de Pape he brought from work but it had gone off. The first glass was okay last week but you could smell the leathery stench of oxidation.

I had a digestif of Balweinie 12 yr on 4 cubes of ice after dinner.