Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March 30th - Channa Dahl with Roasted Cumin Cauliflower on Brown Rice

Channa Dahl or Dahl is such comfort food.  It is a legume based curry that is found in Indian and West Indian cuisine.  You will often find a thicker version, often with potatoes in Trinidadian Roti, MMMM. The Indian classice with lentils or yellow peas varies alot in consistency from a loose soup to a thick paste. I like it somewhere in between.

Start Rice now

Channa Dahl

Serves 2
1/2 c split yellow peas
1-2 inches fresh Ginger minced
2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
2-3 c Water or Veggie Broth
1/4 t Tumeric
1/4 t Ground Cumin
1/2 t Garam Marsala
1 1/2 T Curry Powder (or 1-2 Korean Yellow Curry cubes if you don't have really good curry)
2 Serrano Chilies chopped
1/2 t Sea Salt

Wash the Peas by rinsing several times.  Leave to soak overnight on the counter.  Not absolutely necessary

Drain the washed Peas and place in a medium sauce pan with 1.5 c Water/Broth.  Bring to a boil.  Skim off the foam.  Do not fuss about getting it all.  Turn down to a simmer.

Add the Tumeric, Ginger, Garlic, Chili and Salt.  Strong simmer, bubbly but small bubbles, covered for 15-20 minutes. Test 1 Pea at 15 to check if tender.  If still too firm, continue to cook for 5 more minutes.

Now this part can be approached mechanically or manually.  Manually, with a large fork or potato masher, mash up the contents. If you are going to go manual, I would slice the Ginger rather than mince and you should pull it out now, if you do not like the taste of large pieces.  I do, so I would leave it in.  Mechanically, using a hand blender, pulse a few times until chunky but broken down. You may want to tilt the sauce pan if the blade of the blander is not submerged or WATCH OUT for splatter.

Place back on the low/medium heat.  Add the other spices and remainder of the Water/Broth, 1c. If you used a Korean curry cube, dissolve the cube last cup of water first. Simmer for 10 minutes.

You can enjoy on its own, over rice or with some lovely Naan bread. YUMMO!  

Roasted Cumin Cauliflower

1 small head Cauliflower, 600 g
1-2 T Olive Oil
1/2 t Coarse Salt
1/2 t fresh ground Pepper
1 t Cumin Seeds, toasted or 1 t Ground Cumin

Preheat oven to 425F

Chop the Cauliflower into small bite sized pieces.  Place in a large bowl and toss with Olive Oil. Sprinkle the Pepper and toss until even spread out.  Repeat with the Salt and Cumin.

Spread in an even layer on parchment paper lined shallow pan.  Bake for 20-30 minutes until lightly browned.

Turn oven off and leave closed until the rest of the dinner is ready.

Serve on top of the Brown Rice then spoon the Channa Dahl over the Cauliflower and Rice.

This was SOOOOO YUMMO.  I did chicken out a bit and add the full 3 cups of water to the Dahl because I was worried it was thickening too fast while I was trying to do the rice and cauliflower.  It was fine but it wasn't the thick porridge I normally like.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

March 29th - Purple Kale, Sweet Potato and Tofu Red Thai Curry on Black Quinoa

I skipped lunch today because it was too busy at work. So the meal I am describing below as being for 1 serving plus 1 lunch serving was eaten in one go. I was so hungry after my run I just could not do it. Like I said, when D is away I lose all sense of portion control.  I go all Korean on my dinner. 

Black Quinoa as we have done many times. 1/4 c Quinoa to 3/4c-1c water. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. 

Purple Kale and Sweet Potato Vegetarian Red Thai Curry
(Serves 1 plus 1 lunch)

1/2 bunch Purple Kale
1 small Sweet Potato (100-150 g)
1/2 Orange Bell Pepper, chopped
1/4 Onion
1 inch fresh Ginger
2 cloves Garlic
1/2 T Fish Sauce
1 T Red Thai Curry Paste
1/2 can Coconut Milk
1 can water
1 t dried chili flakes

Wash the Kale leaves. Fold each leaf along the spine and cut the stem away. You can keep them on if you feel like exercising your jaw and need the ruffage. I would not. Then chop them into 1 inch strips.

Peel and slice the ginger. Chop the Garlic roughly.  Slice the onion.  Peel and cube the Sweet Potato.

5 minutes from the end of the Quinoa, add an additional 1/4 c water. Lower in a steamer tray with the Sweet Potato right on top of the the Quinoa. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  Pull off the heat and leave covered.  As you proceed with other stuff.

In a hot wok, eat 1/2 T vegetable oil.  Sautee the onions for 1-2 minutes.  Start adding the kale in small handfuls.  Keep the contents moving as you add.  When you have most of the kale in, add the Curry paste and make sure you spread it around with the back of your spatula. Add the Garlic, Ginger, Chili and Bell Pepper.  Toss briskly and with purpose.  Make sure to scrape the bottom of the wok.

Add the Coconut Milk and Water.  Keep scraping from the bottom a few times.  Add the Sweet Potato and Tofu.  Toss Gently a few times.  Simmer uncovered or partially covered for 10 minutes until the Tofu is hot.

Serve over Quinoa. Garnish with sliced Green Onion or Cilantro.  I was going to also garnish with a Lime Wedge but it is sitting sadly in the fridge because I forgot it.

It was delicious nonetheless.  I am going to use Kale in curries more often.  Though, D is not a big fan of Kale either.  He prefers Swiss Chard when looking for a meaty green but I do not know that it would stand up in a Curry.  D will learn to love Kale, I am confident. :-D

Monday, March 29, 2010

March 28th - Poached Eggs on a Bed of Brandade and Polenta and Birthday Party Wine and Cheese

I am going to my friend S's for his Birthday Wine and Cheese.  He suggested we have some food before coming over so I planned on a late lunch.  That said, I am writing this barely sober at midnight after biking home from S's and I have to say, I needn't eaten. But I get it when you put out cheese and snacks that you might worry that your guests might still be hungry but I really do not think he had to be concerned.  I am quite sated and I held back.

Anyhoo, I had some food after the gym today. I knew what I had in the fridge but for some reason I could not get out of my head that I wanted some sort of baked good or fried food. I decided I wanted some variant on a Eggs Benedict. I arrived home, after passing half a dozen grocers to realise that I had forgotten to pick up some bread. So as I approached home, I had a dilemna. Earth shattering though it was not, that is the point of the blog. I danced around, baking bread to making crepes and landed on Polenta.

Lunch today is Poached Eggs on Brandade on a bed of Creamy Polenta. MMMMMM

No Fail Poached Eggs
Sweet Potato Coconut Salt Cod Brandade from Friday

Quick Low Sodium Polenta

1/2 c Heavy Cream
1 c Water
1/4 Yellow Polenta (medium/fine Cornmeal)
1/4 t Fresh grated Nutmeg
1/4 t Fresh ground Pepper
1/4 t Sea Salt (optional because the Brandade is salty enough, otherwise season to taste)
1/4 c grated Parmesan

In a small saucepan, bring the Cream, Water, Nutmeg and Pepper to a boil then turn down immediately.

With the Polenta measured out, sprinkle into the liquid while whisking constantly. Keep whisking until it begins to thicken. Add more water or milk if it it thickens too quickly.  Season to taste here but if you are doing the Brandade dish, do not over season because of the salt in the cod already.  Cover and set aside for 10-15 minutes.

Before serving, grate the Parmesan cheese into the pot and mix.  Serve with some fresh Parsley.

I was having this for a late lunch before going to S's for his Birthday Wine and Cheese.  I was originally going to make Ho Cakes but could not bring myself to think of all the work for what was supposed to be an easy meal after the gym :P.  In the end Polenta won but that was all I really changed.

Dish the Polenta out on a plate, this could serve two people as a modest side but I was pretty hungry after the gym.  Spoon the Brandade into mounds on the Polenta where you plan to place the eggs.  Flatten down the Brandade into cup shaped bowls.

Place the eggs into the Brandade cups and serve with fresh Parsley.  MMMM when you break into the medium eggs and the yolk runs into the Brandade and the Polenta, you will think this was well worth poaching. Delicious! YUMMO!

S's Birthday Wine and Cheese was fabulous.  There was over a dozen wines and an insane array of Cheeses. E brought some Port from Portugual.  All of that paired with a Sumo tournament on PVR was perfect for S's birthday!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mar 27th - Subeez Cafe for a Birthday on Earth Hour, Vancouver

  Subeez Tuna Burger (taken with Mobile phone)
Everyone was born this weekend! My sister and my friend S's birthdays are today and P' birthday is on the 28th but he was celebrating on the 27th. P chose Subeez Cafe because it is one of the easier place to get a large table for a group. I have eaten or had drinks here a few times and it has consistently been underwhelming. The highlight is Saturday Sangria special and the large tables for groups.

Subeez is dark, dark, dark. This can be done without the eye straining obscurity that is done here with plain ol darkness. I realise they are trying to make it their thing with all the Jesus candles everywhere. You gotta wonder what they are trying to cover up. I could barely see my food which can be annoying when you order something like a Tuna steak.

The candles were doubled up tonight because of Earth Hour. P is a 'Green' guy it is his passion and his job, lucky him. So it probably was not a coincidence that his Birthday dinner was scheduled for Earth Hour. Thankfully Subeez left the lights on in the kitchen but I cannot be sure for the Bar. I started off with a nice, light Poachers Semillon/Sauvignon blend but thought I would try their Feature Hillside Estate Gerwurztraminer. Well, I do not know if the it was the lights or the bartender assuming the regular clientele could not tell the difference between a dry Riesling and a Goo but it was rather insulting. I mean, sometimes I do not mind a substitute on like for like wine. I have had to send back Port at Sanafir when they try to sneak in a cheap LBV for what I ordered. And to me this was the same. You cannot mistake a Gerwurtztraminer. The server was cute though, she tried to pretend that shew knew what she was smelling when I asked her to try but really did not know. She brought me back another Poachers instead without apology or explanation.

The menu here is rather disappointing. When you see the decor and the funky artwork, you expect something more creative. The whole menu is fairly run of the mill, very Earl's or Whitespot. When you accept that is what it is, it could be okay though there is an imbalance with the attitude. Last time I was here a few months ago I had a pretty nice Seafood Green Curry and was planning on ordering that to avoid the fuss of studying the menu like I do but they took it off. The vegetarian and seafood selection is limited.

We ordered a couple of cheese plates for the table and Yam fries. The cheese plate was okay though the amount of cheese vs grapes and cornichon was a let down. The chili cheese was nice and I would look for that at the market. The Yam fries were gross and I was disappointed that I had ordered them with my Tuna burger. They were piping hot but soggy, greasy and mushy.

 Subeez Cheese Plate (take with phone in the dark!)

Most of the table ordered the BBQ Pork Ribs. The portions were huge and it smelled great though and they did pick the bones clean. C ordered a Salmon Linguine which looked nice though the pasta did look store bought. I do not order store bought pasta out in a restaurant. Store bought Linguine, well the really box standard stuff, is easy to spot. It wants to be straight. Sometimes you can buy higher quality Linguine it is homier and comes in nests. Harder to spot.

My Tuna Burger benefited from the low lighting. It came on a sad little Ciabatta which was really closer to a standard burger than any Ciabatta I have ever seen. What I could make out of the Tuna looked like a greyish slab. It was a good size tough. It was not very hot. It was cooked well, nice and rare in the middle. There is nothing worse than a dry over cooked tuna burger. The next sin is cold when it is not supposed to be. It was room temperature at best. It probably sat at the pass waiting for the Pork Ribs because my soggy Yam Fries were cool too. It was a big group though so I did not send it back. I normally would have. The Wasabi mayo was a nice touch but there was an orange slice inside I did not see in the dark I would have pulled out. I would not recommend it.

Ambience: DARK and loud
Staff: Friendly, efficient but not very knowledgeable
Food: Underwhelming to disappointing
Location: Edge of Yaletown

Subeez Cafe and Bar
891 Homer Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 2W2‎
(604) 687-6107‎

Subeez Cafe on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mar 26th - Purple Kale and Sweet Potato Salt Cod Brandade with Black Quinoa

Mad! They'll call me when they read this title. Sweet Potato Brandade!? It was delicious. It was all about this sweet potato I had sitting in the fridge and some Blooming Purple Kale I bought at the market. I was pretty close to making Ackee and Saltfish with Kale because I love Ackee but I thought 1. I need to use that sweet potato and 2. I should do something different. Oh, and some heavy cream in the fridge that was just niggling at me. D knows that when it comes to food in our house I have 2 major pet peeves: 1. Leaving food out uncovered. 2. Wasting food.

I wish I could blame my meagre upbringing in an immigrant household but for once it has nothing to do with that. Though we did grow up struggling and heard stories of our parents' hardships, food was never an issue in our house. That is the irony of the Korean household. The table should always be plentiful. It is funny, I had a portuguese flatmate for a while in England who told me that was the same in their culture. So the fridge was always packed full of fresh vegetables, kimchees, frozen goodies in case. I, however, cannot bare to see a carrot or green onion go to waste. That did not stop me from buying the tomatoes and scallions I would need should I change my mind and decide to do the Ackee on the way home. :)

I love Kale. It is a very 'meaty' green. It is part of the same family as broccoli and brussel sprouts and cooked well has the same nutty, vibrant flavour. I was tempted to put it in a dish but decided to simply sautee it in some olive oil with some green onions.

On the side as a grain, I am doing Quinoa but a new one I found at Whole Foods yesterday. Black Quinoa. In the raw state, it looks like regular Quinoa grains but indeed, black. They also had Red. I went with the Black because it reminded me of the Vietnamese black rice that I like. You cook it as you would regular Quinoa. Same as usual with a 3-1 water to Quinoa ratio. Low simmer for 15-20 minutes. When it is cooked, you will notice, the black is in the husk and you can see th regular semi-translucent grain inside. After cooking the black turns more of an oaky red. It is nice. Did not really taste too different than the regular though it did have less of a grassy taste which regular Quinoa sometimes has. It is why I often use veggie broth instead of plain water.

Sweet Potato Salt Cod Brandade

1 small (180 g) White Sweet Potato
200 g Salt Cod (weighed before desalination)
1 inch Fresh Ginger, peeled and sliced
2-3 gloves garlic
5 small sprigs of fresh Thyme
1/2 c Milk
2/3 c Water
3 T Coconut Milk
1 T butter
3 T Heavy Cream

Wedge of lime and fresh parsley for garnish.

You can actually choose to use 6 T of all Coconut Milk instead of Cream or vice versa. I was torn by the two leftovers and now I have less of two leftover. Silly me. Now I do not have enough coconut milk to do a stirfry. LOL.

You need to soak your Saltcod for a day or overnight. Change the water every few hours. If you forget, and you are around, you can do this upto as little as 6 hours prior but change the water every half hour. It is just easier to start yesterday.

In a small sauce pan, place the washed Saltcod, Ginger, Garlic, Thyme and Sweet Potato. Pour the water and milk over. Add more water to cover the contents. Simmer for 20-25 minutes until the potato is tender. Try to avoid over boiling or scalding the milk. It is not the end of the world though it can add an odd flavour. The worst of it will be that scaled milk boils over and leaves a terrible mess on the stovetop.

When it is tender, take the pot off the stovetop and drain through a sieve. Pick out the thyme stems. I did not because I forgot. Place in the food processor. You can let it cool a bit before the next step.

Pulse a few times to break down the fish. Add the butter and pulse a few times more. Add the Coconut Milk and Cream gradually as you pulse until it looks like it can take no more. By this I mean that the liquid is not separating out. It is staying a paste.

Now you could use a mortar and pestal to do this. It is the traditional way. Well, it is when you are not using 'potato' filler. Yes. Potato is filler. Though almost every recipe you will read has a potato, it is really to stretch the valuable Saltcod. The really true French recipes will not use filler.

If you have leftover, you can add more potato and fry it up as a fritter. MMMMM. I think next time I will use more coconut milk and leave out the cream. It would be pretty similar to a Jamaican Rundown in some ways I guess.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

March 25th - Catch-up - Oct 25th - Bizarro Italian Cafe - Seattle

We went to Seattle to see and opera in October. Peeling myself away from work in October was no easy feat. I definitely did not have the time for this post when it should have gone up. Shame on me. I have my photos and my vivid taste/textural memory.

Its a 'gift' so to speak. It is why I could not eat Lobster for 10 years after having a bad one when I was 9 and why I will never have the Lebanese Tiramisu at Nuba in Gastown again. Their Cauliflour is awesome though.

I take notes sometimes if we have had many courses like at a Dim Sum but for this meal, I have a very clear recollection. I remember the couple to the right of us at the window, on a first date. She left her purse hanging on the chair when they left. Eager to get home, perhaps? I remember the two girls on a night out who tried to ask to take away their half full bottle of wine. They ordered 2 appetisers on top of the complimentary bread and salad. They had to take away their entire entrees. I cannot remember where I put my keys if I move them but if it has to do with food or wine, it is indelible.

We try to go to Seattle a few times a year to stretch our legs. Seattle Opera Company has a great line up and the venue is fabulous. We are, or rather were, members at the Vancouver Opera but the sound can vary depending on where you sit in the Queen Elizabeth. As well, I was disappointed last year when they offered two for one tickets on nights we had paid full price for. Anyhoo, that is neither here nor there. D wanted to be a regular patron otherwise there is NO opera in Vancouver. We are probably going to go show to show this year.

You know how we found this place? On the couch! Watching FoodTV's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The host ploughed through mountains of mouth watering handmade pasta. Dude does not take bites anymore. He shoves and wedges half a burrito or burger for 1 bite. Normally, I do not like going out for Italian since as a Vegetarian, I do not see the value in high priced pasta. That said, this gem is neither expensive nor boil and go.

We struggled to make our choices as it all looked amazing. I was tempted to go with the Forest Floor with the Chanterelles or the Capellini (Angel Hair) but in the end, went with the Puttanesca that I saw on the show. I am a sucker for Capellini but it is the one pasta that is not made in house even though everything else is freshly made, I had a hankering for handmade pasta. D, despite drooling over the Elk, went with the Gnocchi. I think he thought I would get it and he would get some but when I ordered the Linguine, he had no choice.
We are served some fresh bread with Oil and Balsamic and Green Salad when we sit. The bread was light and airy and the salad was simple but fresh. D stopped me from ordering a starter because of the portions of pasta we saw come out and I am glad he did. I had room for dessert as a result.

The Puttanesca was a mixed success for me. The handmade pasta was insanely good. It had great texture and character. The sauce was loaded with an abundance of olives and capers hugged but chunky tomatoes. That said, the sauce was a tad salty as a result of the as result of the capers and olives. I would have offset it with some butter or sugar.

The Gnocchi Cavalfiore (Gnocchi with Cauliflour in Garlic Cream sauce) was UNBELIEVEABLE. The Gnocchi was fluffy like down filled pillows. The best I have ever had. The Cauliflour added a nutty glory without screaming of its presence. The cream sauce though being a real CREAM sauce did not feel heavy at all. It was an ample portion and D had to share. Yeah, that is what I am going with. The recipe is on their website if you are already drooling.

The dessert, it goes without saying was a Tiramisu. I was stuffed silly but I have a policy. If there is real Tiramisu on the menu (not frozen or brought in) I order it. It was wonderful. Luxury, creamy and the cake was moist without being drowned in the coffee. MMMMM

It is out of the way. It is not downtown. Rather it is a 15 minute drive north of town but it was on the way back to Vancouver. There were a few wrong turns and one way roads before finding its suburban locale. Totally worth the trip!

Cost: $-$$
Ambiance: Bizarre :^D
Staff: Friendly and efficient
Location: Suburban Seattle but worth the trip

Bizarro Italian Cafe
1307 North 46th Street
Seattle, WA

Bizzarro Italian Cafe on Urbanspoon

Mar 24th - Thai Green Curry Spinach Vermicelli Noodle bowl

Testing out a New Image Loader

Original Blogger Image Loader
D is away for work so when he reads this he will undoubtedly chuckle. I have a very poor sense of portion control. I blame my mom and her giant noodle bowls. :^P. I thought I was being so good by only using half a tin of Coconut Milk and half a tin of Garbanzo beans. If we were making a dinner for the two of us, we would have used the whole of both. Though, we probably would have had some lunch left. I knew full well that a bunch of Spinach for one person was way way too much but it's Spinach. What is the harm right? Well, I thought the recipe I worked out in my head would be good for one person but really it ended up being a good portion for 2 people, no leftover. That does not mean I did not give it a go on my own. D is laughing now. I did manage the save about a lunch portion but I had to add the other half of the Garbanzo beans.

Thai Green Curry Spinach Vermicelli Noodle Bowl

1 bunch fresh Spinach, washed thoroughly and destemmed
1/4 Onion, sliced
3 cloves Garlic
1 inch fresh Ginger
1/2 Red Bell Pepper
1 small Sweet Potato (<100g)>

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mar 23rd - Spinach and Tofu Black Bean Stir Fry

I washed the Spinach yesterday when D brought his colleague E over. He is moving his family here from Montreal so he did not want to leave him eating alone in the hotel. Well, since I used the Asparagus yesterday, I left the washed Spinach in the salad spinner over night. Yup, it looks like alot even with the stems cut off it filled the whole spinner. After cooking down, it reduces to like a 10th. I love spinach. It just feels good eating it and it tastes great. If you hate it, it is because you have had it over cooked. Try baby Spinach in a salad or gently sauteed in a stirfry or a risotto or soup. MMMMM

Start Quinoa now. Same as usual with a 3-1 water to Quinoa ratio. Low simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Spinach and Tofu Black Bean Stir Fry

(serves 2 or 1 hungry me)
200 g medium-firm Tofu, cubed
1/4 Onion, sliced
1/2 inch fresh Ginger,
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch Spinach, washed and dried, Yup! All of it.
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, (aka Capsicum), sliced
1/2 c Black Bean Crab sauce
1/4 c water, if your Black Bean sauce is too thick.
1/4 c chopped Cilantro (optional garnish)

In a wok, heat 1/2 T peanut oil on high. When I do a stirfry, as opposed to a sautee, I want it to be fast and always moving. To that end, you really do need a wide edged spatula that sort of fans out when you use a wok. Photo of mine below. You want to be able t scoop under the contents of the wok.

In the hot wok, add the Onions and Red Pepper. Toss for 1 minute.

Add the Spinach. You may want to uses tongs here or go in batches because it will be pretty full but it will cook down. This will take a few minutes.

Add the Garlic and Ginger. I add it later because I do not want the garlic to burn. Toss for 1 minute.

Add the Tofu and toss, gently. This is medium firm so it will be soft. You want to eat through and brown if you can. If you are like me and not as deft with the heavy wok, fry the tofu on the side in a teflon pan to brown slightly, at least on 1 side and add to the stir fry after browning/heating.

Add the sauce, toss to coat and serve hot over rice or in my case tonight. Quinoa.

Drank a Palazzo Del Torre Veronese 2005 from Allegrini wine.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mar 22nd - Asparagus and Crimini Mushroom Risotto

I do not know how it happened but I am become a 1950s housewife but wait, I am neither married nor sporting a krinolon lined a-lined skirt protected by a lace trimmed apron :^P Nonetheless, I got a call, half an hour ago that D is bringing a co-worker home for dinner. So I guess, I am sous chef tonight. It is already nearly half seven so I should probably heat the broth, mince the scallion, brush the mushrooms. I think I'll save the spinach for when I am on my own. D wants to serve his work buddy the Asparagus option. We chatted the whole time we were cooking which is so great about an open kitchen and risotto! We munched on my Sourdough Bread and Cilantro and Lime Hummous as an appetiser.

Asparagus is on sale all over town. What is a good price? Well right now, 1.89-1.99 is a good price. 2.99-3.99 is fairly standard and not a terribly good buy. Beware a couple of false deals on Asparagus when shopping: 1) Priced by the bunch. These bunches are usually quite spare. If as a woman you can grip it around, it is not a full 'bunch'. 2) Old. The Asparagus spearheads should be tight. If they are opening and looking like they are flowering, pass. 3) Woody. Pick up the bunch and take a look at the bottom. They are pink or rose quite a bit the ways up the spear or if they are cracked and dry, pass. The rose hint is not that easy to tell. Just try snapping one. If it snaps too far up from the bottom, more than 2- inches. It is too woody and you will not have much eatable Asparagus left after the trimming. Stick to 1) and 2) at the least when shopping.

Asparagus and Crimini Mushroom Risotto

(serves 4)
1 2/3 c Arborio Rice
1.5 l Vegetable or Chicken Broth
1 Shallot minced
2-3 T Olive Oil
1 bunch Asparagus, trimmed
15-20 or 2 c Crimini Mushrooms, brushed and trimmed
1 c dry White Wine
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese, additional for garnish
2 T butter

In a small sauce pan, bring the broth to a boil and then reduce to low low simmer.

In a extra-large fry pan, not non-stick, heat some butter or olive oil, 1 T on high. Fry all the mushrooms. Spread out as much as you can. You don't want to steam them and that will happen if you crowd them. Your pan can be full but try to have a single layer. Sautee for 5-10 minutes until browned. Set aside on a plate nearby to keep sort of warm.

For the asparagus, you can either sautee them for 3 minutes, really quick or as D did, microwave them for a mere 2 minutes. They will cook more in the risotto and just do not want them raw raw. Cut into thirds and set aside.

In the same pan, heat another 1-2 T olive oil on medium high. Sautee the shallot for a minute to soften slightly. Add the rice, stir so that all the grains are glistening with oil. Sautee for a minute or 2 to brown ever so slightly.

Pour the wine all over the pan. Turn the heat down to medium. You do not want simmering or bubbles. You want steam wafting but no much more than that. On a scale of 10, 4.5-5 is good, but play with it for your own stove. When most of the wine is absorbed, add 1 ladel or 1/4 c of the broth.

Stir. The love in a Risotto comes from the stirring, with a wooden spoon. Stir and talk. Stir and talk. Again, when it is nearly all absorbed, meaning that, when you run a wood down the middle of the pan like parting the Nile, the broth does not immediately flood back in and cover the line. Repeat until you are 2-3 ladels from the end, or 35 minutes or so. Taste the rice. If it tastes like it is just about done proceed to next steps.

Add a ladel and the asparagus and mushrooms back. Stir and talk. Stir and talk. Season to taste. This will depend on how much salt is in your broth. When that ladel is nearly all absorbed. Add the parmesan cheese and stir. Add a few pats of butter spread out over the pan. Add the last ladel or 1/2 ladel and cover and set aside for 10 minutes.

Serve with more parmesan cheese and truffle oil (Optional but can really bring your mushrooms to life if you are using simple ones like button. Or just because Truffle oil is awesome.)

We drank a beautiful Delta Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mar 21st - Artichoke and Sundried Tomato Ravioli in Puttanesca Sauce

We bought some fresh Artichoke and Sundried Tomato Ravioli at the First Ravioli store on Commmercial on Saturday. The pasta was bright red and green broad stripes. The filling looked ample. That said, having had it, the filling did seem rather bland so I am glad we chose to use a bold sauce. I definitely preferred the Porcini ravioli.

Did you know that this sauce is named after the 'ladies of the night'? I speak a couple of latin based languages and I never put that together until tonight. It does not have a long culinary history; said to have been invented in the 50s. A chef was told to make any sort of 'worthless garbage' for his hungry friends. The pejorative term for a whore (Puttana) is used interchangeably with worthless. It does not have the sort of trendy 5th ave flavour of the month I thought it had. I like this sort of gritty history better.

Simple Quick Puttanesca Sauce

1 T Olive Oil
4 cloves of Garlic, minced
1/2 t dried Oregano
1/2 t dried Basil

1/2 T dried Parsely
1 large can Italian Tomatoes, I used whole and either run a knife around the can or smush them with my hands in a bowl. I do not like mystery tomatoes of crushed tomatoes when I can avoid it.
1/2 cup Kalamata Olives, oil or brine cured, not salt cured, pitted and chopped
2 T Capers, drained, do not use salt cured or if you do, I would rinse them.
1/2 - 1 t hot chili flakes (optional garnish)

Heat the olive oil in a large sautee pan. Add the garlic and brown slightly... slightly. This goes quick so when you start to smell a nuttiness, lower the heat or add the Tomatoes. Now you can squash them now or as I do, pour them in a bowl and smush them with clean hands. You want to leave them chunky though.

Add the herbs and the Olives and Capers. Season with Salt and Pepper. Simmer for 10-15 minutes minimum. Or covered for an hour if you want the flavours to really marry. Carefull with the seasoning as there is alot of salt in the olives and capers already.

Serve over pasta with freshly grated parmesan. Gorgeous.

We're drinking a Pirra Mimma Petit Verdot 2005. As I tweeted, it is like hip high chocolate brown suede boots. Dark, sexy luxury. Wonderful! Perfect with a Red Sauce.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mar 20th - Sourdough Rye Bread, Cilantro and Lime Hummous, Seared Live Sea Scallops with Salsa and Black Bean Dungeness Crab

Cilantro and Lime Hummous
This being a weekend without skiing/snowboarding, was a pretty big cooking day. We did get some market visits in and some golf but still did a decent bit of grub. We hit TnT for the first time in a while to pick up some fresh seafood.

We did not know what we wanted or what we would make until we saw what was on offer. There was a monster of an Alaskan King Crab and his buddies in a big tank but obviously more than we needed in volume and cost. But he was fascinating to see nonetheless. There was a single Bull Head fish in there with them as if a pet. I wonder how on earth he got in there since their tank was below. One of the Alaskan Kings was sort of hugging him between two legs.... that or stabbing him, it was hard to tell and disturbing either way.

I wrestled two Dungeness into a basket with the help of some other shoppers who told me to put them in upside down so they would stop escaping. D picked out some big Live Sea Scallops.

Sourdough Rye and Wheat Bread

This is an overnight affair. If you do not want to wait, then use 2 1/4 t of yeast as you would for normal bread but use your starter as part of the liquid which will add flavour.

1/3 c Sourdough Starter1/4 c water
1/4 c all purpose Flour
1/4 c Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 t dried active yeast (optional, but my starter was looking 'lazy')
1 T dark Molasses
1 T olive oil (optional)
1/2 T Sea Salt
1 c Dark Rye Flour
1/2 c Whole Wheat Flour

Night before baking, in your mixer's bowl, add first four ingredients and mix with a spoon until combined well. It will be loose like pancake batter. Cover tightly and leave in a warm place overnight.

Next morning, put the bowl on to the mixer and attach the dough hook. Add the molasses, pinch of yeast and salt, oil (optional but makes it tender). Mix on 'Stir' or low speed for 2 minutes.

With the spout cover attached, otherwise, SLOWLY and carefully, add the flour 1/4 cup at a time. You want the dough to come together and pull away from the bowl but you do not want it too stiff. You want it tacky to the touch. The amount above is what I used given the humidity of the air and the flour today in Vancouver. It will not be the same everywhere or everyday. That's bread! Mix on slow to medium for 10 minutes. You are building glutens here and that is what makes bread chewy.

Oil large glass bowl with a bit of oil. Lift the dough ball out of the mixer, swirl while holding with one hand and then turn over so the oil side is up. Normally, I would say let it rise in the mixer bowl but because this was stickier than other time as well, the wheat flour left bran reside on the sides, I am using a separate bowl. Let rise in a warm place covered with plastic wrap for 1-2 hours.

Lift the dough out without the violence of punching or pushing. Place in a 9" Cast Iron pan or whatever form you want. Press out to fill the pan. Cover and let rise for 2 hours. We went to the driving range during this time. I let it rise in the oven with no heat on.

When we got back, I took the cover off. I put a small pyrex bowl with water in the pan. I set the oven to 375F. I did not take the bread out first. I let it preheat with it already in there. Bake for 45 minutes from when it hits temperature or 55minutes -1 hour from the time you set the heat.

It is very tasty but I wanted more Rye. Next time, I am going to use more rye to wheat flour and use more molasses.

Cilantro and Lime Hummous

1 19 oz/540 ml tin of Garbanzo Beans / Chick Peas drained
1/4 c water from the Beans (set aside)
1/2 c fresh chopped Cilantro (do not worry about stems too much)
1 lime zested and juiced
4 small cloves garlic
4 T tahini, stirred first
1/2 t ground Cumin
1/2 t Paprika
1/4 c Olive Oil (maybe more maybe less, depending on consistency)
1 t Red Wine Vinegar (optional)

In a food processor, add the Garbanzos, Lime Zest, Lime Juice, Garlic, Cumin, Paprika, Cilantro. Add the Tahini and pulse 3 - 4 times.
Pulse until it looks like oatmeal, small pieces. Add the water or oil first. Depends on how rich you want it. I added the water. Then drizzled in the oil in a very thin stream as I processed constantly. Add more water or oil to the consistency you like. I go for somewhere between peanut butter and cake batter.

Serve with sprinkled with extra Paprika, a few leaves of Cilantro and drizzle with good Olive Oil.


Seared Live Sea Scallops with Fresh Salsa

2 large live Sea Scallops with shell and roe

8 Cherry Tomatoes or 3 Roma Tomatoes
1 Mango (we did not have a mango because we forgot)
1/8 c chopped red onion
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 lime juiced
1/4 t cumin
Salt and Pepper

Make the salsa by combining all the ingredients in a bowl and set them aside at room temperature as you finish the rest.

Turn the broiler on high and put a rack at the highest level.

When I say live scallops I mean they are in those famously large shells with all their tendons and roe. We bought ours at TnT. Open them up fully. You can toss the 'lid', the side that the Scallop meat is not attached to. With a sharp paring knife or fish knife, slice underneath and remove the entire inside. Now scrape and cut away all but the scallop, which you should recognise as the whitish cylinder and the pink/coral roe which is hugging it. It is kidney bean in shape. The rest of the muscle and jelly like stuff you can toss.

Now the clean the shell by washing it. Put 1 t of oil on the cup side of the shell and place it in a shallow baking dish. Place the scallop with the coral/roe still attached back on the shell. Season with salt and pepper. Repeat for all scallops.

Place under the broiler for 3-5 minutes. Watch carefully. You want to take it out and turn it when it looks like it is starting to tan. Take out of the oven and carefully, carfully flip over in the shell and place back under the broiler for another 3-5 minutes.

The scallop should be 'just' done. The roe will look more solid and have the eating consistency of fois gras.

You may or may not like this. I have had coral/scallop roe pan seared before and it becomes slightly more solid. D, who loves fois gras LOVED this.

Top with 1/4 c of the fresh salsa and serve. MMMM, though D had to finish half of my coral.

Start rice now or rather 5-10 minutes before you start the Crab.

Black Bean and Ginger Dungeness Crab

2 2-3 lb Dungness Crab, live, chopped by your fish monger into halves or quarters
2 inches Ginger, peeled and sliced
6 Green Onions/Scallions, chopped
3-4 large cloves Garlic, peeled and sliced
1 300ml jar Chinese Black Bean sauce, not the 'water-down' major brand name stuff
1 c dry White Wine
1 T oil
1 T Chinese Chili sauce or 3 chopped spicy red Chili

Most places that sell live crab will also dispatch it for you. I ask to keep the shell for flavour. As well as the chopping, you may want to pre-crack most of the legs and claws with the back of a large knife to help the eating. The shells will be hot.

One thing I noticed today at the TnT is that when the guy chopped it, he scraped out all the good stuff, roe and organs. I had wondered why the last two times we got crabs chopped at TnT that there was not roe. I am going to have to remember to ask them not to clean it out.

This will go pretty fast so be sure to have all the ingredients measured and chopped at hand.

Have a very large mixing bowl to the side. In a large stock pot with high sides, (the type you would do alot of pasta, 10-12'' in diameter and 1.5 ft high or an enormous wok), heat 2 t oil on high. Add the crab pieces and wine. Cover and shake often. 8-10 minutes until all the grey shell areas are bright red/orange. Remove them to the mixing bowl and cover with the pot cover.

In the same pot, on medium-high add 2 t oil and sautee the onions for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and sautee for 2-3 minutes. Add the Chinese Black Bean sauce (I mean this. It must be Chinese. You must not be able to read 70% of the label. It cannot be Korean, Japanese, American or Canadian. No President's Choice or other Major Brand). Swish 1/4 of the jar full of water and pour that in too. Add the Chili sauce. If you want to use fresh chilies, add them with the ginger and garlic. Simmer on
Add the Crab back back and toss. Cover and shake. 5 minutes more.

Serve with rice. Provide picks and crackers. We normally have a lot of sauce left, 2 cups. We keep it in a lidded container in the fridge for a stir fry a few days later. It is awesome!!!
We started off eating with some of the bread I made but quickly realised we should have made rice so I quickly made some rice. 10 minute pause in dinner. Where was my head. We saved the bread I cut up though, of course.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mar 19th - Porcini Ravioli in Brandy Cream Sauce with Cherry Tomatoes

We bought the pasta at the Bosa Italian supermarket out by Rupert. I think the same supplier sources most of the Italian markets and Whole Foods but I'm not sure. But they all look similar and have similar varieties. Though a couple of the shops do have 1 or 2 the others do not. I was tempted to go for the Yam and Chestnut triangle stuffed pasta at Bosa but D was tired of the desserty type stuffed pastas that have fillings that are pretty close to pie. When I spotted the large square Porcini ravioli with dark brown stripes, I was quite pleased. Our regular First Ravioli shop on Commercial does not carry that variety. They do have a Wild Mushroom which is good. This was much better. The filling was ample, the stuffing was delicate and very fresh. The Wild Mushroom one which I have seen at just about all the fresh pasta places we hit, are very mushroomy but can have a slightly stale, solid texture to the filling. Not this one. The Porcini Ravioli tasted freshly made.

The Brandy Cream sauce was meant to have a Shallot but I used it the other night with my Asparagus and Cannellini bean dish. D was thrown off his game. He was very close to using a red sauce instead. I suggested he roll with it and use garlic instead. I am glad he did. I get easily bored by red sauce, even a Puttanesca.

Brandy Cream Sauce with Cherry Tomatoes on Porcini Ravioli

400 g Porcini Ravioli from Bosa
12 Cherry Tomotoes
2 cloves Garlic (or 1 shallot)
1.5 t dried Basi
1/4 c Brandy
1/2 c Cream
1/4 c pasta cooking Water
Salt and Pepper
1 t Truffle Oil (optional)

In a large pot, boil water for the pasta with a good half handful of salt. Add the pasta when the water boils. The pasta should take 10-12 minutes and the sauce about the same.

In a large sautee pan, heat some olive oil in medium. Sautee the garlic for 1 minute. Add the Cherry Tomatoes cut in half and the basil. Sautee for a few minutes until the tomatoes soften.

Add the brandy by circling the pan. Simmer for a few minutes. Most of the alcohol will evaporate but contrary to popular belief and food shows, it will never fully cook off, even if you flame it. The only way to do that is to cook it for a long long time, longer than is tasty for such dishes. Add a few tablespoons of the pasta boiling water if it gets too thick or dry.

If the sauce is ahead of the pasta, turn down the heat and set the tomatoes aside for a few minutes.

Okay back on track, pasta is a few minutes away. Add the cream and simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more pasta water if too thick but not too much because some water will be clinging to the pasta.

Turn the heat off the pasta when done. Spoon the ravioli with a slotted spoon into the pan with the sauce. Toss gently and serve.

Top with some freshy grated parmesan and a dribble of truffle oil to bring out the mushroomy goodness. MMMMM!!!! We are getting the Porcini one again to be sure and the cream sauce was perfect with it. Did not drown out the flavour.

Baby Greens with Tarragon Mustard Vinagrette

3 - 4 c washed Gaby Greens mix
1/4 c chopped fresh Cilantro
1 T Tarragon Mustard
2 T Red Wine Vinegar
4 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

In a large salad bowl, whisk the Mustard and Vinegar until smooth. Drizzle the oil in, in a thin stream while whisking continuously. Season with Salt and Pepper to taste.

Toss the greens right in the dressing in the bowl.


Mar 18th - Olympic Sledge Hockey Semi Finals and BAD Chinese at Yi Kou Xiang

Olympic Semi-Final Sledge Hockey - Norway v USA

GREAZZZY bad Chinese from Yi Kou Xiang

We went to see an Olympic Sledge Hockey game last night. It was a Semi-Final game between USA and Norway. Our friend D had bought them off Craigslist but could not use them. I had not planned on seeing a match but definitely wanted to see one. I had hoped to see a Canadian match but some of the key matches were in the middle of the day and at work right now, not a possibility. So even though, I would not have sought out to see this match up, I am so happy I went.
What I am not happy with was what I chose to do for supper. It was hands down, no other way to describe it, DISGUSTING. It was the Food Fair in the little UBC village on University Boulevard near Westbrook Mall. It is in the basement of the small plaza there. There are about 10 stalls or food-court, styled restaurants who serve entrees at about the 8$ mark. Largely Asian, there was a curry place and a Soup and Bakery.

There are proper restaurants and sit down fast food joints upstairs but we were running late for the game as it was. Clearly the food fair is targeted at fiscally strapped students, that said, this is not what I would want my hardworking, growing child to be eating. I do not know why I remember it differently. I think it was because of the situation. I used to go eat there after a 2-3 hour rugby practice or ultimate game in the cold. I came to an epiphany during the second season, lying in slushy gravel during a rucking exercise, that I was too old to be spending my 'free time' being yelled at and tackled in the winter.
Rugby is in the summer in the East. Add to that, having to suffer through GREAZZZZY Chinese food in the UBC Food Fair, I was done with it.
I chose the Chinese over in the far end. The food looked the freshest of all the chafing trays I took a peek at. I couldn't be more wrong. It was either newly out of the fridge or just plain cold. I had Szechuan Eggplant, Shrimp and Celery on large Shanghai style noodles. Really really really bad. The eggplant was COLD. It looked new, like no one had been served any yet but it was cold. As well the sauce had no flavour other than oil. I normally love Szechuan Eggplant but this was GROSS. It was so oil that there was a puddle of it on the bottom of the plate. The Shrimp and Celery was simply that. Shrimp and Celery fried in a bit of peanut oil. It too was oily but not as bad as the eggplant. I picked at most of that. The noodles were under done and cold as well. WTF? How hard is it to properly cook noodles? I left more than half my plate which, knowing me, is saying something. D had the same noodles and some Kung Pow Chicken, that's all. He did not want to go near anything else. The chicken was tough and not spicy at all. He was hungry though so he ate his noodles. The best thing about this night's dinner was the big soft, over-priced Pretzel I got at the hockey arena and even then, the thing was CAKED with too much salt. All this to avoid having to have arena nachos for dinner. In the end, what I had was much much worse. The arena's security was not like the Olympic venues a couple of weeks ago. I could easily have brought a sandwich or food with me.
Cost: $
Ambiance: Food court
Location: UBC/Point Grey
Cleanliness: chaffing trays could NOT have been to code!!!!
Summary: Unless you are starving, eat McDonalds, it will be healthier!!!!

Yi Kou Xiang
5728 University Blvd
Vancouver, BC V6T1K6
(Food Fair in UBC village)

Back to the game. This may sound so much like every self-help book motivation tag line but it is worth saying. I was truly inspired by those men. They embodied the spirit of the idea that we are our own only limitation. There were real heroes on the ice. Men without the use of or without legs at all, were moving faster across that ice on one small blade than some can do on two feet in skates. The power, grace and agility demonstrated was mind blowing. I mean, it was FULL CONTACT. I had not anticipated that. I know it is hockey but do not know why I had not thought there would not be body checks, elbowing, and smashing into boards. I was very surprised to see that the blade is only under the seat. The rest of the sledge is suspended. I cannot fathom the core strength it takes to do that!
On a humorous note, I had the great misfortune to have to sit next to a French journalist give the most inane interview I have ever heard in my life. They were sitting on the stairs next to my seat for the whole of the second and third periods!!!! The French journalist was interviewing who I think was the girlfriend of one of the USA players. Here were some of the best of the worst interview questions of all time (bear in mind, this was an interview regarding a paralympic athlete).

1. What can he not do that you like to do? (WTF!??) Answer: (I cannot believe she answered) Jogging. Rebut: What is jogging?
2. Does he wear shorts in the summer? Does he mind showing his legs?
3. Does he like to score? Has he scored yet? (The three scoreboards read 0-0)
As a I normally do, I was naturally drawn to cheer for the underdog. I really would like to have seen Norway win. Over the tournament, they have scored only 4 goals whereas the USA had 14 and Cash, the Goalie had a tournament shutout. Alas, the USA won and will be proceeding to the Finals against Japan. Japan beat Canada earlier in the day in what was quite a bit upset. Even the Japanese coach said that his team could not have beaten the Canadians on any other day. Lucky for them, they only needed to do it today. Canada has won the gold for the last two Paralympics in Sledge Hockey. They will now play Norway for the Bronze. Go Canada! Go!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mar 17th - Roasted Aspargus with Cannellini Beans and Shrimp on Quinoa

Tonight was a Pesco-Vegetarian Protein fest! You could actually leave out the Shrimp and still have sufficient protein with the Cannellini Beans and the Quinoa. Ideally, if you had the time, I do not mid-week, I would do the beans from scratch. Tinned beans tend to be a on the verge of mush and when you add heat, they all but dissolve. The only beans I have seen stand up to this are Chick Peas and some some, Kidney Beans. The Cannellini beans are softer. So only heat through.

This was yummo and I insist on the fresh herbage. It would be fine with just the Black Pepper but the fresh Thyme really brought it to life.

Roasted Asparagus with Cannellini Beans and Shrimp

served on Quinoa

(serves 2 plus lunch)
1 bunch Asparagus, trimmed, this is alot but it was on sale :^D
1 tin Cannellini beans, drained
1/2 lb Shrimp, peeled per preson
1/4 Onion, sliced
2-3 cloves Garlic, sliced
Cracked Black Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive oil
2 T butter
1/4 c dry white wine
1 t Fresh Thyme or Oregano
(Fresh or nothing, it will not work in a quick sautee like this)

Preheat oven to 425F. In a shallow pan, toss the trimmed Asparagus in olive oil. You can cut into thirds before or after roasting. The easy way to trim Asparagus spears is to hold the very bottom of the spear and grip an inch or two above the bottom and snap. The spear should break naturally just above the woodiest bit.

Roast in the middle of the oven for 25 - 35 minutes. You could also just steam. I just fancy the nutty flavour of the roasting.

In a Wok or large skillet, add 1 t of olive oil and sautee the onion until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add the butter. Add the Garlic and the Shrimp. Cook until just just pink. Add the wine. Add the drained beans and heat through. Season to taste with seasalt.

Toss with the Asparagus, which you have cut into thirds. Add 1 - 2 T of GOOD flavourful Olive Oil. You will not necessarily want to cook with this kind because of the strong flavour and the cost! :) Add the fresh herbs.

Serve over Quinoa.

1/4 c per person
3/4 c water per person

In a pot, heat 1 t olive oil on medium heat. Add the Quinoa and toss for a couple of minutes. Add the water. Let simmer on low for 20 minutes. Barely, foaming and steamy. Turn off heat if the water looks almost all absorbed. Leave on the element for 10 minutes more.

Quinoa is an ancient grain which can be used like Cous Cous or Rice but has the same amount of protein as legumes. It is great for that reason for vegans for protein replacement.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mar 16th - Asian Tofu Stir Fry

I had a work event tonight right after work so D was in charge of dinner. He has been awesome this week! He had to work from home because of some construction going on and on top of that he painted the spare room after finishing work. Then I got home later than I promised and he had all the veg chopped and ready to go.

I had a half block of Tofu from last week which is why we chose to do a stirfry today but apparently, as it was Organic, it had gone off. Tofu does not typically last too long so I would suggest you try to eat the whole open piece in a 3-5 day window. D went and bought new Tofu but I was surprised he did not just go with Shrimp. You need only heat it through. It is cooked. Otherwise, you might want to crisp it up and in that case, you could fry it until it is brown.

I want dispell any concerns about Oyster sauce that people averse to Oysters might have. It does not taste or look like Oysters. It is fish based like Worcestershire sauce or Thai Fish sauce but it is a flavour base for richness and not for fishiness. Unlike these two, Oyster sauce is quite thick, like ketchup. It is a common ingredient in most Chinese stirfry sauces and you would not even know it.

Start rice now.

Tofu Stir Fry in Soy Chili and Oyster Sauce.

1 Celery stalk, chopped
1/2 Onion, sliced
12 chopped Green Beans
1 skinny Carrot chopped
1 small Zucchini, chopped
200 g block Firm Tofu, cubed
2 cloves Garlic
1 inch fresh Ginger, peeled and sliced
2 chilies, Serranos, I think

1 T Hoisin Sauce
1 T Oyster Sauce
1 T Soy Chili Sauce
1/4 c Water
1/2 T Potato flour or Corn Starch
Soy Sauce, low Sodium, to taste, we did not use any.
1 Scallion, chopped
1 c fresh Cilantro, chopped, coarsely
2 t Sesame Seeds

Have everything chopped and ready to go. Stir fry should not stew or cook too long. That is the key. They are meant to be quick and fresh. And in a small bowl mix the Starch with the Water and have to hand.

Heat a large Wok on high high heat with 1 T Peanut oil or other neutral oil with a high smoking point, like Canola. Olive oil and Sesame oil impart too much flavour and have low smoking points.

Start with the Onions and Carrots. Keep them moving with your wide spatula for a couple of minutes. Add the Celery for another couple minutes. Add the Green Beans, Chilies, Ginger, and Garlic.

Add the tofu and stir GENTLY for 1 minutes. Add the Hoisin, Oyster and Soy Chili sauces and toss gently. Add the starch slurry slowly. This will thicken the sauce. Too much starch will turn the sauce into an unpleasant gelly like substance. You do not need much.

Garnish with the scallions, cilantro and sesame seeds. The sesame seeds are pretty optional but I love the cilantro. I call this Asian because it is not strictly Chinese because there would be more oil in the Wok and would typically not use the chilies or cilantro in this way.

The chilies were SOOOOOO hot, even I could not eat them. That never happens. D insisted I take a photo as evidence. He only puts them in for me. So I was thankful to have this nice light wine, Vivacious V.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mar 15th - Catch up - Dec 30th - Dhuk Mandu Guk - Korean Rice Cake Soup (Pesco version)

Raw Mandu (Korean Seafood Dumpling), steam before frying or using in Dhuk Guk

Sliced Dhuk
Dhuck is Korean for Rice cake, as I have written before. It is similar to and does in fact include the Japanese Mochi variety. We call it Mochi Dhuck. Mochi is a very delicate, soft variety of rice cake and normally filled with red beans, green tea paste, sesame seed paste or a plethora of other fillings. For Koreans, it is only one type of the dozens of different types of Rice Cake. The term cake is not only used here to describe the shape or form you buy or make it in, though many of the Dhuks can be bought in 'cake' or block forms. It is also quite descriptive of its regard. It was and is a treat.

During much of the impoverished Korean history, rice was a very expensive commodity. Often, poorer families would have to make due with other cheaper grains like Sorghum. Dad told me of times when they would stretch out what little rice they had for days by adding hot water. It is still a comfort food today. He told me of the really hard times during the war when his family was fleeing Japan and settling back in Korea and what little they had to live on. My Grandmother would often go to the Rice mill to collect the husks for fuel to heat the house. Dad credits his mother for having saved the family.

In those days, Rice cake was a pure luxury. If you were so lucky to have the rice to have made into Dhuk, you were expected to share with the village. Then it was the more simple, plain rice cakes like the one with red bean layers much like a frosted cake or the simple plain 'rods'. These are the most common. They are uniform in colour and texture. They are very chewy. They come in rods about 1 inch in diameter and you can buy them cut into 5 inch pieces or sliced on the oblique in oval 1/4 inch thick pieces. When we were kids, we used to bake these or dip them in sugar. You will often see these slices or smaller rods used in Dhuk Bokki, or Spicy Rice Cake, a popular dish made famous from its origins as Street Vendor food.

Mom's Dhuk Bokkin w Eggplant, Peppers and Seafood

Though, Koreans, like much of Asia have adopted a lot of Western traditions like the flour, egg and sugar cake. Many people still celebrate important occasions with Dhuk. Many of my earlier birthdays had a Dhuk cake. I remember having a 'Western' frosted cake when we were visiting Korea and they had not quite gotten the concept yet and the butter frosting was salty. :-O

One tradition that is still held by many Koreans abroad is New Years. Koreans also follow the Lunar Calendar and our New Year coincides with the Chinese New Year. The dish that is most commonly served for Korean New Year is Dhuk Guk or Rice Cake soup.

Mom made it for me before I flew home to Vancouver to celebrate New Year's at ours. Now the traditional is a beef bone broth base with Mandu (Korean dumplings) stuffed with beef or pork. This adaptation is something mom had to develop for me and my sister V. The broth is a preserved anchovy broth which is also common in many Korean soups but mom has had to extend its use to all soups that normally use a beef or pork rib base like Kimchee Chigae. As well, her Mandu is one we have blogged in the past, was an adaptation for V and I. Now mom does not follow recipes for Korean food, nor does she write them down, so this is based on observation. I cannot find the photo of the soup itself, only the some of the ingredients. I may have packed my camera ready for the airport by then. Too bad. Next visit.

Mom's Seafood Based Dhuk Mandu Guk

(serves 4, Korean portions... you know those bowls!!!) 1.5 l water (You can use instant Bonito or Seaweed dashi if you want. Will not be the same.)
1/2 c Milchee (dried, preserved anchovies, go to the Korean market and ask for them)
5 cloves garlic
1 inch fresh ginger minced
600 g (1.5 lbs) sliced Dhuk
4-5 mandu per person.
2 T sesame oil
1 sheet Kym (Nori, seaweed wrap)
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Salt and white pepper
6 eggs, 3 for the soup, 3 for garnish

In a big stew pot or dutch oven heat 1.5 - 2 l of water with a 1/2 c of Milchee. If you wish, you can wrap the Milchee in cheese cloth so you do not have to fish it out with a skimmer. I just let it settle at the bottom of my bowl. My mom skims it out. Simmer for 30 minutes - 1 hour. Mom calls this preparing the Milchee Mul, or Michee Water, literally. You could also add Myuk, a thick seaweed used in soups. In Japanese markets, it comes in single slabs called Kombu, or at least, that is an pretty good approximation. You will want to fish either out for aesthetics before serving.

Separate the whites and yolks of three eggs. In a large non stick fry pan, heat some peanut oil on medium. Add the white and fry in single thin sheet. Turn when ready. You don't want to brown. I do not like that flavour. Do the same with the yellow. Cool slightly and slice into strips about 1/2 cm or 1/4 inch thick like ribbons. This is garnish. You can leave it out but why would you.

On a low burner, toast the Kym. Most Kym comes pre-toasted but mom buys the bulk kind a Korean household would and it is not toasted. You need to brush with sesame oil and toast on both sides for only a few seconds by holding the sheet with chopsticks and drawing it across the burner like you are stroking it. Cut into ribbons like the egg. This too is a garnish but not optional like the egg.

Defrost the Mandu if you are using frozen.

Slice the sesame oil, garlic and ginger and add to the clarified Milchee Mul. Simmer for a few minutes. This will go quickly now because you do not want to over cook anything from this point. The heat should be on medium low. Just below simmer. I.e. no bubbles visible but steady steam wafting. Add the Dhuck and heat through for 3-5 minutes. Whisk the other three eggs briefly just to break the yolk. Swirl the pot with chopsticks and pour the egg in so you get ghostly strands of egg throughout, basically the opposite of what you want in a poached egg. Add the Mandu. Heat through for 3-5 minutes. Serve HOT!

Ladel into a large Korean noodle/soup bowl. Top with the egg ribbons and top with the Kym. Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds. YUUUUMMMMO! We used to have this much more often than just New Year. It is fantastic when it is cold out and SUPER EASY. If you do not have Mandu, no biggie, you can leave them out. Dhuk Guk is often just the Dhuk.

My belly was full of this on the plan home to Vancouver so obviously slept through any of the movies showing.