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.

Saturday, August 01, 2009