Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June 26th - Pappadeux - Filling and Abundant but rather bland

As I mentioned, vacation blog posts will be briefer than usual.  We had a 6 hour layover in Houston Airport.  D refused to eat in the food court.  I don't know why.  The food courts, multiple at this airport are quite a bit more varied than any in Canada where you get a choice of Sbarro's and Tim Hortons... more or less.

In any case, D insisted we find somewhere to sit down.    We chose the Pappadeux in the international terminal. There was bound to be seafood for me considering it is easily spotted from any terminal by the truck-sized Crawfish head protruding from the ceiling.

We waited 15 minutes for seating despite being told it would be 5 minutes.  There were several empty tables that simply needed bussing that sat empty and dirty for a good 10 minutes while the line in the cramped waiting area grew and grew.

It was quite expensive given the fayre of fried food but we were at an airport, I guess.

I had the Maryland Lump Crabcakes on Sauteed Crawfish in a Butter Tarragon Sauce and D had
Crawfish Platter with Crawfish Etouffee and Fried Crawfish.  I enjoyed my dish.  The Crabmeat was real and decent quality.  Though I thought the breading was rather factory-esque.  The Crawfish below were nicely flavoured, not over seasoned and the sauce was tasty.  I was disappointed that none of my food was at all spicy though it was cajun and hot sauce was not already sitting at the table nor offered defacto.

D did no enjoy his dish. The fried Crawfrish were shelled and might as well have been breaded popcorn fish.  The Etouffee was odd but much better than the fried Crawfish.   All in all, not my best experience in airport food.  The servings were decent though the temperature could have been better and spicier.

Cost: $$$
Ambiance: TGIFriday's like
Staff: Friendly but slow

Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen
Houston Airport
3798 N Terminal Rd Spc 23
Houston, TX 77032
(281) 821-7684
Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen (Bush Airport) on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 28, 2010

June 25th - Wild Mushroom Ravioli in a Caper Red Sauce

I am on vacation.  Now while intuitively that might imply I should have more time to blog and twitter, alas, it is quite the contrary.  We are out most days and I am stealing a few minutes between cocktails and dinner while D is watching Indiana Jones on TV.

A true, simple and clean red sauce in Italian cooking should be as uncomplicated as opening a high quality tin of Italian Roma Tomatoes and taste just as elegantly sublime.

400g fresh Ravioli for 2 people

 Simple Caper Red Sauce

1 large tin Italian Tomatoes
1/2 small Onion
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 T Capers, drained
1 handful fresh Basil, chiffonade
1 chili (optional)
1/4 Olive Oil
1/2 t Sugar (optional)
Fresh Parmesan

In a large sautee pan, heat 2 T of good Olive Oil on Medium heat.  Sautee the Onions and Garlic for 1-2 minutes.  Add the Tomatoes and the Sugar.  If you wish to avoid the Sugar,  you can use a bit of carrot to offset the acidity.  Let simmer for a good 10-15 minutes.  Add the Capers in the last five minutes.  Season with Salt and Pepper.

Add the Basil just before serving.   Serve over pasta with freshly, grated Parmesan.

Yummo!  We opened an equally sublime Oliver Hill Shiraz.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Jun 24th - Cauliflower and Serrano Soup

I was winging this recipe to deal with an enormous head of Cauliflower in the fridge.  I did not use milk or cream in this version.  It turned out just as rich without the dairy. 

Cauliflower and Serrano Chili Puree Soup

1 large Cauliflower
2 small Carrots
4 cloves Garlic
1/2 c Red Onion, Chopped
3 Serrano Chilies
1 inch fresh Ginger
4 c Veggie Broth
1 T Olive Oil
1 T fresh Oregano
1 sprig fresh Rosemary
1 t Sea Salt
1/2 t Black Pepper
1 t fresh Chives

Croutons (optional)

In a ver large sauce pan or dutch oven, heat 1 T of Olive Oil.  I did not do mise en place for this.  I took a bit of a nap after work so I threw in the vegetables as I cut them. So I cut them in the order I wanted them cooked.

Since I am pureeing this soup, you needed finely chop anything except the Ginger.  Chop and Add:  Onions, Carrots, Garlic, Ginger, Chilies, Cauliflower (as you go).  Turn the heat up and sautee for about 5 minutes.  Add the herbs toward the end.

Add the Veggie broth.  Add enough to just cover the Cauliflower.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for 10 minutes. 

Using a hand blender, puree until as smooth as you like.  You can pull the Rosemary out if you like.  I did not because I forgot.

Serve with Croutons and Chives. MMMMM  If you need extra richness, top with a drizzle of Olive Oil.

We opened a Catena Chardonnay 2007.  Light on the french oak, decent acidity.

Jun 23rd - Catch up - June 19th Part Deux Breakfast - Poached Eggs on Bed of Greens

 Having accepted that my bread will not be ready for breakfast, D went ahead on making the Eggs to be served on some of the Baby Greens in the fridge.  It's funny.  Normally, D big on not needing carbs on every plate except for breakfast.  Though he suffered for lack of bread, I think he came to realise the versatility of a poached egg.  It is clean and light and if you cook it right, the yolk provides a lovely silky sauce of the yolk.

Poached Eggs on Bed of Baby Greens 2-Ways

3-4 c fresh, washed Baby Greens
4 Eggs
Salt and Pepper

the Veggie Way
1/2 c Broccoli Florets
1 Tomato, sliced
2 t Balsamic Vinagre
2 t Extra Virgin Olive Oil

the Bacony Way
4-6 strips Bacon
1-2 T Malt Vinagre

V = In the pot you plan to poach the eggs, blanche the Broccoli. Meaning, Place in actively simmering water just until it turns bright green.  You'll know what I mean.  It will not take more than a couple minutes.  After that point, it goes army green in appearance and flavour.  Drain and set aside to cool slightly.  If you want to stop the cooking you can shock with cold water.

Place the florets on the greens and spread out the tomatoes.  Sprinkle with the Balsamic and Olive Oil.  Season to taste. 

B = Chop the bacon into 1 inch pieces.  Sautee the Bacon until it is crispy but not burned.  So do not have the heat too too high.  You want to keep the fat for the dressing.  Let it cool slightly so you can add the Malt Vinagre without splattering the fat all over your stove top.  Whisk.  Season to taste.

Lastly and to order, 2 J's Perfect Poached Eggs per person and keep warm in a shallow pan of water.

Serve atop your salads, season the eggs lightly and let the Yolk run over your greens.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Jun 22nd - Garden Fresh Cous Cous with Lemon Pepper Sole

This blog has taken a really weird twist.  I first started to write because I noticed and my family noticed how well D and I ate.  We really enjoy the process and creativity.  Now, it's come around the other way.  Because I share with all of you, on nights where I could eat a boiled potatoe with some salt and pepper, I make this Cous Cous to save face.  How funny is that?  I will do that at one point you know.  I will have a boiled potato for dinner.  Please do not think less of me. 

I made this Cous Cous as a Side/Main to go with a simple Sole Filet with some Pepper and Lemon Zest in the oven. 

Garden Fresh Cous Cous

1/2 c Cous Cous
1 c Veggie Broth
3 medium farm fresh Carrots, tops and tails off
1/2 c Peas, fresh or frozen
1-2 T Pine Nuts (optional)
2 Radishes, julienned
1/4 c Red Onion, finely diced
2 Chilis minced
1 Lemon, juiced
1T Olive Oil
1/2 c Fresh Coriander, chopped (or Parsley)
1 t fresh Thyme
Salt and Pepper

Boil the broth and pour over the Cous Cous in a large mixing bowl.  Cover and set aside.  If you have lots of time, I would not even say, for a salad, you need to boil the water.  It's a trick I learned from Jamie O to keep Cous Cous fluffy in salad use.

Add the chopped fresh herbs, Chilies and Onion.  I add ingredients as I go, toss and cover to keep the flavours mixing.  Add the Peas and julienned Radishes.  Mix.  As for the carrots, instead of using a grater where you may over juice and 'cream' your carrots, I used a zester to get really fine spaghetti sized strands. 

Add the Lemon and Olive Oil.  Top with Pine Nuts (optional) Toss, taste then season.  Let stand until you are ready to eat.  Yummo.  Light fresh. 

With all the Peas and Carrots it was really garden fresh.  Other Cous Cous salads may balance more on the Cous Cous side and that's fine. 

Serve along side some nice clean Fish or Lamb.

Friday, June 25, 2010

June 21 - Capellini - Angel Hair - with Cannellini Beans and Asparagus in Basil Pesto

Angel Hair pasta is one of my favourites.  Most packages of good Italian pasta will call it by it's real name of Capellini, literally meaning 'Little Hair'.  If you are a regular Eater/Reader here, then you know that I have a penchant for either really fine pasta or really fat pasta like Pappardelle.  MMMMM  As well, I prefer sauces to be clingy; clingy to the pasta and not the plate.  Therefore, I like to cook the pasta a bit in the pasta sauce.  I knew I had a craving for Cannellini beans and originally was going to do something with Tuna loin but I did not find any I liked while on Commercial.  If I am going to make a meal-like salad involving 'canned' Tuna, I prefer to use large chunk or loin usually in jars or in foil bags.  I save the other hockey puck tins for sandwiches and croquettes.  This meal just sort of fell together. 

Cannelini Beans and Asparagus Angel Hair Pesto
(serves 1 very hungry me)

90-100 g Capellini or Angel Hair Pasta, what I do is make an 'Okay' sign with my fingers and that hole is 1 me serving.  It's probably a bit much, so I then take a tad away.
1 small tin White Italian Cannellini Beans, drained
2-3 T Basil Pesto (or if you used jarred look for high Basil and Olive Oil content, no fillers!)
6-8 Asparagus, spears trimmed and halved
1-2 cloves Garlic
1-2 T Olive Oil
1 T Pine Nuts
4-5 fresh Basil leaves, cut chiffonade
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fresh Parmesan

Bring a medium pot of Water to a boil with 1 t of Salt. 

Meanwhile, in a large non stick pan, heat 1 T of Olive Oil.  Sautee the Asparagus for a few minutes until bright green and tender.  I like it slightly roasted.  Add the Cannellini beans that have been well drained.  And the Garlic, minced.  Toss by flipping the pan (see the video below) and avoid using a stiff spatula because you can mash the beans.  If you had  re hydrated your own beans, this would not be a concern. 

Add the Pesto the pan and the Pine Nuts.  Continue to gently toss.  You may need to add a bit of Olive Oil or Pasta Water.  Turn the heat to low.

At this point you would be boiling your pasta.  Angel Hair should only take about 5-7 minutes.  Using a pair of tongs or pasta fork, spoon the pasta directly into the pan with the sauce.  Toss to coat the noodles.

Serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan and Basil leaves.  I drank a Trimbach Riesling which was a lovely light pairing that shone without eclipsing the food at all.  Yummo! So Yummo!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jun 20th - BBQ Corn Salsa and Quinoa Salad on Baby Greens

We BBQ'd the corn yesterday.  I do not know why we thought we could eat 2 ears of corn a piece on top of our Burgers.  I am pretty sure, we have done this a couple of times before.  That's totally cool because, the leftover Corn works really well in salad!  You do not need any fancy tools or donut shaped knives to get the Corn off the Cob.  It could not be easier.  Simply hold the corn by the stem end while it stands in a shallow bowl or on a cutting board.  Use a chef knife and run down the Cob as close to the Cob as possible. Turn the cob and continue until all the kernels are gone.  If you're worried about cutting yourself then don't be as concerned to with cutting too too close to the Cob.  With the Corn already cooked, it will come off like butter.

BBQ Corn Salsa and Quinoa Salad

2 ears BBQ roasted Corn, cut from the Cob
200 g Extra Firm Tofu, cubed, briefly fried in a pan to crisp or Raw.
2 Tomatoes, chopped
1/4 c Red Onion, diced
2 Limes, juiced
1/2 c fresh Cilantro, chopped
2 T fresh Dill chopped
4 leaves fresh Purple Basil, chiffonade
1 t Cumin
2 Serrano Chilies, minced
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/4 c + 1 T Extra Virgin Oil
1 t Sea Salt
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
1 c Cooked Salad Quinoa

As stated, you can choose to fry the Tofu for a few minutes on both sides in some Olive Oil to crisp on all sides.  If you do not wish to bother and like plain unfried Tofu then no worries.  It is cooked after all.

Toss all the ingredients together before the Quinoa cooks to let them souse together so all the flavours marry. Season to taste.  Mix all the ingredients before you Salt and Pepper.  Let stand for half an hour if you can or eat straight away. 
Serve over 1 handful Baby Greens, totally optional.

Salad Quinoa

How is this different from regular Quinoa or Cous Cous?  Well, I like to make it drier since it will absorb some dressing and moister from the vegetables.  As well, I like to cool it completely before eating.

1/2 c Quinoa
1/4 t Sea Salt
1 c Vegetable Broth

Bring to a boil covered then immediately turn down to your lowest setting.  After 10 minutes, turn off the heat entirely but leave the pot covered on the burner untill you need it.  Do this at least 1 hour before your're going to eat or several hours or the day before.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Jun 19th - Crusty Chardonnay Loaf - BBQ Burgers and Corn on the Cob

D was not impressed when I woke up this Saturday wanting to bake bread.  No, I should ammend that to say that he wasn't impressed that it would take a minimum of 2-3 hours, therefore too late for his eggs and bacon.  It has been a while since I did a straight up white loaf.  I have been doing Sour, Rye, and Wholewheat.  D bought a new bag of White AP flour so I would do that and so I did.  I got out one of my long time favourite recipies but it was for 2 loaves of French Bread and it called for less than a glass of beer for the two.  I was not about to crack a whole beer for that.  Plus, I only wanted to make 1 loaf.  I was feeling bad enough making white bread as it was.  I made some adjustments and added a Dry Chardonnay instead of the Beer.  It would have added some acidity that beer would not have, and in retrospect, I should have offset that with some Baking Soda but I did not.  The result was an even textured aromatic loaf.  I really enjoyed it.  I think I might have gotten more big uneven bubbles as you might expect, if I let it rise as long is it should but we did not have time.

Crusty Chardonnay Loaf

1/3 c Warm Water
1 t Honey
1 t Dry Active Yeast
1/3 c Chardonnay
1/2 Salt
1 1/2 c - 2 c All Purpose Flour

1 t Olive Oil
1 t Salt
1/2 c Water
2 T Cornmeal

In your mixing bowl, add the Warm water and the Honey.  Stir.  Sprinkle over the Yeast.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Attache the dough hook to the mixer.  Add the Wine and Salt to the mixture.   Then start to add the flour 1/2 cup at a time.  You want the dough soft and slightly sticky to the touch but you do not want it mushy or too dry.  This will depend alot on your location's humidity as well as the moisture of your flour.  So watch as you mix.  when you think you are close, stop adding flour and the let the mixer knead on medium low for a minute to see if it combines.  You can add a Tablespoon of water at a time if you think you have added too much flour.

Let it knead on a 2-4 (on Kitchenaid) for 8 minutes.  When the dough pulls away from the bowl cleanly, and it will. Pull from the bowl.  Lightly oil with 1 t or less of oil.  Swirl the dough around the bowl to oil the bowl then turn over oiled side up.  Cover with a damp cloth and set aside somewhere warm.  Since I wanted to rush things abit, I put it in our oven in a 'Rapid Proof' setting.  It was basically a 80F (30C) oven.  45 minutes.

I do not condone the violence of punching down.  Simply lift it out of the bowl and as you start to form it, large cavernous bubbles will deflate.  As I mentioned I was in a rush and did not want to fuss with dusting a counter top.  I simply formed the loaf between my two as if holding a squirming baby.  When you have a baguette shapped loaf about 16-18" long, place on a baking sheet dusted with Corn Meal. 

Let rise in a warm place again, or on 'Rapid Proof' for another 45 minutes.

Take out of the oven you were proofing and heat the oven to 450F with the rack at the lowest level.

Take a razor your sharpest knife and make 3 or 4 slanted gashes in the loaf.  I had to go at it from both sides since I used a knife instead of a razor.  Brush with Salt Water.

When the oven is preheated.  Place the loaf in and have some unsalted water (1-2 Tablespoons) at hand and splash the bottom of the oven with it.  The steam will help the crust form.

Cool on a rack and eat!

We BBQd for dinner.  D made a few sauces to snack on as we prepared dinner.  He made Guacamole and Fresh Tomato Salsa too. 

We bought some burgers at Whole Foods.  I got a Salmon Feta and Oregano Burger and D got a Angus Beef Burger and a Sausage.  They have an extensive selection of fresh Burgers and Sausages at the Deli counter at the Whole Foods.  As well, we bought some Corn on the Cob on Commercial.  Not quite in season but it was reasonably priced.  It was quite sweet as well!
We used the bread I baked earlier in the day for the buns.  It was a rather large loaf and really I could have used half the bun for the burger.  I toasted them on the upper level of the BBQ.

BBQ Corn on the Cob

I was on the grill.  Watch out neighbours! D likes to leave the Husks on the Corn.  I grew up either roasting them in foil or BBQing in the park with nothing.  So I did not know that with the husks on, you should not put them over the Direct burner.  The husks caught fire as you can see.  No panic.  It saved me from having to peel them away.  But for future reference, if you leave the husks on, BBQ on Indirect heat for about 12 minutes turning occaisionly.  They took about 10 on Direct and they had that Char and nice chewiness I like. 

The Salmon burger did not want to stay together.  I should have bought the plain salmon but I was lured by the feta.  I oiled the burgers and sausage lightly before grilling. 

Salmon Burger (fresh wild, chunk salmon, not processed) took 3 minutes a side.
D's Angus Beef Burger took about 4-5 minutes a side  and the Sausage about 6-7 minutes a side.  Do not poke or pierce the Sausage.

We had a Domaine de Cristia Cotes du Rhones 2008.  It was quite a bit different from the previous vintage.  A lot edgier and acidic.  Not as much vanilla either.  Nice but I`ll have to see how it developes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

June 18th - Local Organic Strawberries IN SEASON! and Jumbo Prawn and Eggplant Green Thai Curry

Woohoo! I did not even notice but it's local Strawberry season.  It's like when sandal weather comes back.  I don't even realise but they're everywhere and I cannot imagine my life before my toes where out there.  Local Strawberries are REAL Strawberries.  I mean that.  The rest that are imported from far away or grown in little houses and imported from far away are almost real, but they are either too tart or flavourless sponges.  Most Strawberries in England were like that because there was no such thing as a good haul of local strawberries.  They had little tiny Wild Strawberries which are great but the kind you see smothered in Cream and Suger at Wimbledon are smothered for a reason.  I remember an episode of Nigella talking about how she 'preps' Strawberries you buy in England.  She souses them in a bit of Sugar and Orange Flower Water because she has to.  Well, you know how Strawberries taste when you add that Sugar taste? or the dried berries in Cereals or Strawberry Candy?  Well good Local Strawberries taste that good without any fuss.  I eat them rinsed and dehulled right there over the sink.... and for breakfast too :)

Jumbo Prawn Broccoli Thai Green Curry

10 Jumbo Prawns, Shells-on for flavour (you can deshell them if you like)
1 large Asian Eggplant, 1 inch slices then halved
1 c Broccoli, florets
5 small New Potatoes (ping pong ball sized), halved
1/4 c Onions, chopped
3 cloves Garlic
1 inch fresh Ginger, matchsticks
3 T Green Thai Curry paste (must read like a grocery list and NOT like a chemistry text! all of it!)
2 hot Chilies, seeded and chopped
1 can Coconut Milk
1 can Water
I par roasted the Eggplant. You're probably used to this routine but worth repeating.  I toss Eggplant and the Potatoes in 1 T of slightly heated Vegetable Oil in the wok I will use later. I spread out in a lined baking sheet in a single layer and turn the oven to Bake at 425.  Rapid Preheat if the option is there.  Turn off when it comes to temperature or 15 minutes, whichever comes first.  Don't clean out the wok.  You'll use it and the oil soon.

Heat the wok on Medium High.  Add 1/2 T Vegetable Oil.  Add the Onion.  Toss for 1-2 minutes.  Add the Broccoli stems if you kept them. Add the Ginger, Garlic, and Chilies.  Toss for 1-2 minutes.  You may want to turn the heat down to Medium to avoid burning the Garlic.  Move constantly.

Add the Curry Paste.  Smoosh around so you spread it through the aromatics.  1 minute.

Add the Broccoli.  Scoop and toss, scoop and toss.  1 minute.  Add the Eggplant and Potatoes. Toss, scoop and toss, scoop and toss.  1 minute.

Add the Coconut Milk.  Fill the Can with water and add that too.  You can play it cautious and add half first.  I always end up adding the whole can.   Add the Prawn.  Stir and then cover to simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve on rice topped with Chopped Scallions or Chopped fresh Cilantro (Coriander).


Monday, June 21, 2010

Jun 17th - Jerk Yam Oven Fries with Krabtastic Omlette

I went back and forth in my head at the gym about whether to do a Frittata or a Sweet Potato Spanish Tortilla.  I decided to do the Sweet Potatoes on the side.  I call them Yam fries because that is what the dish is so commonly called but Yams are huge.  I mean small tree trunk huge.  I learned that while I was living in Kingston, Jamaica.  I stood in the vegetable section staring puzzled at enormous head sized, pre-cut brick.  A nice lady, shopping as well, explained to me what they were and how to cook them.  I have never seen them again in my typical shops.  What we buy as tubers in most grocery stores are actually Sweet Potatoes, either Yellow or White.  If they are Orange they are likely Sweet Potatoes and not Yams.  Anyhoo, enough of the botantical 411.  On to the nutritional, Orange Sweet Potates are considered 1 of few 'Perfect Foods' based on fibre, vitamins, ... nutritional value; Red Bell Peppers (Red Capsicum) are as well.  So I love eating them thinking how good they are for me.

I knew I was going to do them as a side and was tempted to do a Hash and have a real Breakfast for Dinner type of meal.  I was going to get home rather late after the gym so I did not want to fuss with the grater or process.  Sweet Potato Fries are SUPER EAZY! You do not need 'HELP' from McCain to make them.  Frozen Potatoes and instant mash just irritates me to no end.  Really? Boiling a potato is just that hard?  Come on North America!

I did a simple French Omlette but I mis judged the size of Pan I should have used.  Well, actually, I wanted to only use 1 pan to pre fry the stuffing then do the Omlette.  So instead of using my Omlette pan, I used a medium non-stick.  It was a bit too big and my Egg spread out quite thin.  It was alright actually.  I should have done 3 eggs but with all the Krab and Sweet Potatoes, I thought it would be too much food.  All Yum!  I went slightly Asian and used a drizzle of Sesame Oil on the Stuffing as well, seasoned with Low Sodium Soy rather than salt.

Jerk (Sweet Potato) Yam Fries

2 small or 1 large Orange Sweet Potatoes, peeled and sliced
(Since you are oven baking try to cut them into small fries like 1cm (half inch). Make them even)
1 T Jerk Seasoning
1 Egg White
1 T Olive Oil
1 t Coarse Salt
1 Serrano Chili, chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425F

Wash and peel the Sweet Potatoes.  Carefully slice in half to have a stable bottom.  Slice into slices then cut into fingers, 1cm wide.

In a big bowl, whisk the Oil, Egg White, Salt and Jerk Seasoning.  Toss the Fries in the bowl until evenly coated.

Spread evenly in a single layer in a lined baking sheet.  Use parchment paper or a Silpat (reusable Silicon Baking Sheet liner).  Because of the sugar in the potatoes and the Egg White, they will stick to even non stick sheets.

I put them in the oven whenever I am ready and do not, in this case, wait for the preheat.

At 10 minutes, open the oven and toss lightly.

Bake another 15-20 or until cooked through.

Nice and crispy with a nice kick.

Krab-tastic Omlette 

150 - 200 g Krab aka Pollock Crab, use the chunks not the sticks. It is fake crab used in most Sushi California Rolls
2 Scallion, chopped Whites and Greens separated
3-4 fresh Purple Basil Leaves, chiffonade (see Video below)
1 t Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 t Sesame Seed Oil

In a non stick pan, heat 1 t of Vegetable Oil on Medium High heat.  Add the Crab and the Scallion Whites. 

Let sit for 30 s then toss and repeat.  You want to brown the Krab slightly.  I like that flavour.  2 minutes.  Set aside on plate then move to the eggs.
Drizzle the Krab with Sesame Oil and the Basil Leaves.

2 Eggs, large, Organic
1 T water

It is good to bring the eggs out a bit before you are about to use them to bring them up to temperature.  I generally take them out as I take out the vegetables I am preparing.  Eggs are super safe now a days and as long as you handle them correctly and are confident in the source.  D insists we use Organic so they are generally more hygenically safe then the egg 'factories'.

Gently beat the eggs but don't feel you need to whip them up. 

In the pan you fried the Krab, heat 1-2t Vegetable Oil.  Don't do what I did.  For 2 Eggs, use a single serving sized Omlette Pan.  It is about the size of a salad plate, 10" or so.

What is Chiffonade?  It means cutting your fresh leafy herbs into ribbons.

Jun 16th - Black Bean Ginger Eggplant and Tofu Stir Fry

Off to a wine seminar with a friend tonight.  There is a special tasting for Piedmonte wines of Italy.  The advertisement for the event did not specify if there would be food and we knew we would be tasting at least 6 wines so I played it safe and ate.  That said, when we got there, there were great cheeses and cold cuts.  Actually, we're pretty sure that my friend K got sick off of the Salami because that was the only thing I did not eat. Yikes.  Poor thing.  The wines were lovely though.

Black Bean Ginger Eggplant (Aubergine) and Tofu Stirfry

1/4 c Onion, chopped
1 large Japanese Eggplant, 1 inch slices, halved
200 g Extra Firm Tofu
3 cloves Garlic
1 inch fresh Ginger, match sticks
2 Scallions, chopped, Greens and Whites separated
2 T Black Bean Sauce
1/2 T Chinese Chili Garlic Sauce
1/4 - 1/2 c Water

I par roasted the Eggplant and Tofu in the oven so I would not have chewy bitter Eggplant.  You do not have to do this.  I was also in a bit of a rush so there would not be alot of simmering time.

Toss the Eggplant and Tofu in some Peanut Oil.  Spread in 1 layer in a non-stick or lined baking sheet.  Bring the oven to 450F.  I like to Rapid Preheat, if you oven has Convection... i.e. Fan.  It adds the convect effect along as well as quicker heat up.  Convect cooking is faster which is why most pro kitchens use them and why you typically will not wait in a restaurant for 2 hours for dinner. When the oven hits temperature. I turn the oven off.  DO NOT open the door.  Just let them sit in there until you are ready to use it.

While the Eggplant and Tofu is in the oven and the oven is coming up, I do everything else.  It is highly recommended to have all your vegetables chopped before you WOK.  Chop before you Wok!  As well, have your sauces to hand with spoons ready.  If you plan to do your classic Chinese, sauce slurry of potato starch and water to thicken, do that before you start unless you are super adept at multi-tasking and wokking.  I am not using a slurry.  I do not need it super thickened nor do I like when it gets too gummy.  Just control your moisture.  I like it when the sauce oozes into the rice.  Prefer it.

Heat the wok on high.  Heat 1 T of Peanut Oil High.  Add the Onion and toss by scooping and turning, scooping and turning.  1-2 minutes.

Add the Ginger and Garlic.  You may want to turn the heat down to Medium High. 1 minute.  Do not burn the Garlic.  Add the Eggplant and Tofu from the oven. Add the Scallion Whites. Toss, scoop and toss.  If it gets dry or sticky, add a couple T of Water instead of Oil.

Turn the heat to Medium.  Add the Sauces right into the Wok on top.  Toss a couple of times and spread through.  Then add the water.  Add more if you like it looser.  Do not use more Black Bean sauce than I've indicated.  You may even want to use less.  It goes a long way!

Let it simmer for a few minutes.  Serve on Warm rice or Quinoa.  Garnish with Scallion Greens.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Jun 15th - Catch Up - Jun 13th Cottage Cardamon Carrot Wedding Cake

I'm actually joking.  This wasn't really meant to be a wedding cake but H likes to bake with her kids.  I think it was either H or her 4 year old son J who said it was our wedding cake.  We struggled to decide which sort of cake to bake and when she plonked an enormous bag of Carrots on the table to munch on, I suggested Carrot cake.  I found a recipe but as it turned out we were short a few key ingredients.  We did not use the Cream Cheese for the icing as you have read in the Brunch Post, it was needed for the Smoked Salmon.  We had no spices and no nuts.  Purely a Cottage college try for baking.  We really did no know how it would taste until it was done.  We replaced all the spices with the only one around that I thought might even remotely work.  It was too late to turn back. I had already grated 3 cups of Carrots and little J had already whisked the dry ingredients.  Cardamon was going to have to work.  H sort of jokingly suggested cumin.  I am going to hope and assume she was joking. :^P.

In the end.... even with our impromptu Simple Glaze, it was delicious! H was very cautious about the Cardamom but it still added a nice, yet gentle, aromatic punch.

Cottage Cardamom Carrot Cake

2 c all-purpose Flour
2 t Baking Powder
1-2 t ground Cardamom
1 Baking Soda
3/4 t Salt
3/4 c Sugar
3/4 c packed Brown Sugar
3 eggs
3/4 c Vegetable Oil
1 t Vanilla Extract
3 c grated Carrot

Preheat oven to 350F

Butter and flour 13 x 9-inch light metal cake pan. Darkness or lightness can affect cooking time. Set aside.

In large bowl, whisk together Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Cardamom and Salt.

In separate bowl, beat together Sugars, Eggs, Oil and Vanilla until smooth; pour over flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Stir in carrots, pineapple and pecans. Spread in prepared pan.

Bake in centre of oven for 40-45 minutes or until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean.
Let cool in pan on rack.


1/4 c Boiled Water
1 c Icing Sugar

Whisk constantly and vigorously, while adding Water slowly until smooth. Drizzle over cooled Cottage Cardamom Carrot Cake :^D

Saturday, June 19, 2010

June 14th - Veggie Burger at Work - BBQ Veggies and Pork Chop @ home

I caved and had a Veggie Burger and Curly fries at work. It was a rough Monday and I knew that a Tuna Wrap would not get me through.  There would be carnage if I did not have something deep fried.  It was an experiment and it will not repeat.  The 'oven-baked' Curly Fries were super oily and soggy.  The Burger was on a big Whole Wheat Kaiser Roll and dressed with lots of Pickles, Tomates, Salsa, Mayo and Mustard.  That was all the best of the burger really.  The burger was one of the patty variety, of the different categories of Veggie Burgers, it is my least preferred. It was one of the mashed vegetable with a binder type that is like taking a chewed up TV dinner, spitting it out, binding it with an egg and frying it.  You can see the Carrot and Pea pieces and is always spiced with some sort of curry.  This one was terribly dry and pasty.  I'm over it. Tuna Wraps or Salad Bar from now on when I am not near Sushi for lunch.

Having gone over the top for lunch, I was not super hungry for dinner.  D wanted to BBQ. I suggested to D that he have a some meat for dinner and I would just have some BBQ roasted vegetables.  D suggested to me that I have an Avocado too.  He said they were ready and he'd had one for lunch and they were good! I made myself a simple Avocado Salad while D BBQ'd.

We shared some BBQ Roasted Dill New Potatoes and Zucchini sliced length wise. The potatoes are small, ping pong ball sized, but even then, it is better to par steam or nuke them so you don't waste too much time on the BBQ.  D poked them with a fork and nuked them for 4 minutes. Toss or rub the vegetables with Olive Oil.  We used a BBQ vegetable basket for the potatoes and place the slices of Zucchini right on the grill.  The stir the potatoes a few times.  They should take about 5-10 minutes.  The Zucchini will not take that long, about 1-2 minutes a side.  Season right after they come off the grill with fresh cracked Black Pepper and Coarse Salt and squirt with some Lemon.

D's Moist-maker Brined Pork Chop was what D had.  He brines for at least half an hour in Sea Salt water.  It helps the BBQ retains moisture.  It takes about 3-4 minutes a side.  The centre should be a dulled, faint pink in the middle, like strawberry milk.  You can go a bit whiter greyer but D considers that overdone and will probably be quite dry.  If you are concerned, use a meat thermometer and check the internal temperature for safe doness, 155-160F

Avocado Basil and Dill Salad

1 large Avocado
1 Lemon, juiced
5 leaves Fresh Basil
1 T fresh Dill
1 t Olive Oil
Fresh Cracked Pepper
Coarse Sea Salt

I started and finished this post and then tried to edit a photo and then BOOM, whole post gone.  Stupid glichy Blogger editor.  Anyhoo, I was going to rewrite the very easy way to slice an Avocado for this purpose, i.e. salad or sandwhich.  But then I thought, it would be better to visualise.

Place the slices in a bowl or plate spread out.  The Avocado is already quite rich so you don't need much oil, so sprinkle the 1 t of Fruity Olive Oil over the slices.  Then squeeze the Lemon directly over the avocados too.  Sprinkle the chopped Basil Leaves and Dill over and season to taste.  C'est tout!


We drank a Ravenswood Zin which I could have sworn I'd photographed before but nope!

June 13th - William's Landing, Gibsons - Wedding Brunch

Who's wedding?  Ours of course.  Well, actually, we were married a couple of months ago in Porto Morelos with our Family and Friends.  As far as we are concerned and our rings as well, that was the day.  That said, the government of Canada would not recognise that so we had to trot down to London Drugs pharmacy's insurance department and buy a license and call up a celebrant from the registry.  Seriously, you can buy a marriage license from the pharmacy.  They have an expiry date as well.  So they are much a kin to milk which you can also by at a pharmacy.  Anyhoo, D is all Quebec liberalism and could do with or without this pomp and circumstance.  I certainly did not need the pomp but I wanted it legit.

To be clear, I am not entirely sure which came first... the Bowen Island sail race or idea of a beach wedding.  Let's not speculate.  It'll just end in frustration and eating an entire tube of pickle chips.  :^0

Luckily, there were two celebrants registered in the area.  I called the one with the more authoritative sounding name. I could not really envision being married by anyone with the name of a family member or say, Lulu or Joey or Benny.  'Who married you? Oh, Toby Smith.' Nope. Can't do it.  No offense.  GS could not have been more BC that he had to hike from the road to the cottage and came in dress shoes with no socks.  Our friends B and H agreed to be our witnesses and have the ceremony on the beach in front of their cottage.  We brought bubbly and a check and there it was.  Our friends, the glory of the surroundings, sounds of B and H's kids playing and us.

What I had not anticipated for our low key day was that lovely H had planned such a lovely brunch.  Originally we had thought... or rather I thought, we departing immediately on the 1pm ferry.  H suggested that perhaps in future we should not let the sailors do all the communication for weekends like this.

I have to say, for a 4 and 6 year olds, little J and K have quite sophisticated tastes.  I do not think I would have liked Caprese Salad at their age.  Well, lil K loves it anyway.  J admits on his own that he is not ready for salads.  He will try to eat his vegetables but something lettuce really turns him off.  Not me!  The big leaves of fresh Basil and Ripe local Cherry Tomatoes were bite sized and kid friendly (no knives) but no break of flavour.  I could eat Caprese any day of the week. 

That was only one piece of the grand spread she put out.  We took the kids out on the canoe and came back to more food than I thought we'd be capable of eating so soon after our Croissants and endless pile of pancakes.  There were Bagels, Whipped Cream Cheese, Capers, Smoked Salmon, Tomato and Avocado slices, Fruit, and Yogurt... oh the Yogurt.  Liberte Citrus Yogurt.  It was like a Creamsicle but healthier.  I am buying that again!

What a day! They are off to a grand sebbatical in France for nearly a year next week but I cannot wait to make it up to them.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Jun 12th - Fresh Croissant - Vegetarian Pot Pies

I am not sure that you can get any better than waking up on the coast and rolling out of bed whenever to the smell of freshly baking Croissants.  Something changes when you do not have ready access to the internet or television.  I mean I had my Blackberry but I do not like to do alot of long hand writing on that thing.  Anyhoo, like I mentioned we were at B and H's cottage on the Sunshine coast for the weekend.  D and B had left before sunrise to get to the starting line for their sailing race around Bowen Island.  It was just me and H and her three kids and 6 headsized light and buttery Wholewheat Croissants.  I like those odds.  I have had a similar idea from Trader Joes and I was so close to trying to bring some back to Vancouver.  They are frozen, unleven Croissants.  You raise them at room temperature overnight and then bake.  They are NOTHING like the stuff you get out of a tube which are closer to croissant shaped breadrolls.  H tells me that they also make a Pain au Chocolate!  I am all over that.

If you are concerned by bugs, critters or pets, then raise them on a cookie sheet in the cold oven or other covered area overnight.  Just amazing!  These are Organic and come in both Plain and Wholewheat.  They are available at Whole Foods.  Apparently there is a similar product at a bakery called Up Rising.

Twelve hours after D and H left for their race, there was still no sign of their boat. H kept peaking out the window for their easily recognisable bright orange sail. We had a lovely sunny day on the beach but one of the reasons it was so lovely was because it was so calm. While that was good for us, it was not so good for the agile and smaller Laser Vago among those larger boats with their BBQs on deck.

However nice it would be to wait for the boys, little kids need their supper.  H picked up some nice Pot Pies from Whole Foods.  She picked up a selection of Vegetarian, Chicken and Beef.  The Chicken was Gluten Free.  She wasn't looking for the Gluten Free but it was the only Chicken Gluteny ones left.  The Gluten Free pie did not go over with the kids.  Little K ate around the crust.  I had a little piece and I thought it was a bit dry.  I have baked for Gluten intolerant friends and the substitues are just horrible.  It is just better to create true gluten free alternatives rather than making poor substitutes.

The Vegetarian Pie was nice.  It had a bit of a curry spice and it was full of Tofu and Vegetables.  It could have had more sauce but over all I think I would buy these another day.  We also had roasted Asparagus and a lovely side salad with Avocado and Tomatoes with a simple Balsamic and Olive Oil dressing. 

B and H's orange sail appeared off in the distance just as we were finishing.  They had, in theory Beef Pie and a Veggie pie between the two of them.  Strange thing was that the Beef One turned out to be another Vegetarian pie.  At least it wasn't the other way around, I guess.  After 12 hours on a two man boat in the cold, they did not need seem fussed.

Our quaff for the evening was one of my favourites. Pirramimmima Shiraz 2003 MMMMMM

Thursday, June 17, 2010

June 11th - Go Fish! on the Ferry to Gibsons...fried food does not travel well.

Our friend's invited us out for a weekend at their Cottage on the Sunshine Coast.  D and B have the Bowen Island race on Saturday the 12th and we have to go tonight so they can pull the Laser Vago out of storage and set it up.

The ferry's to the island can be quite expensive so B offered to pick us up at the terminal and we would only walk on.  The Horseshoe Bay area around the Ferry Terminal has extended parking you can either pay in advance in the outdoor lots or pay when you leave at the indoor lot.  We both had quite alot of work so we could not catch the 5 o clock ferry.  It would have meant leaving work closer to 3h30 to get our things and drive down to the terminal.  The traffic to the terminal and northbound on the Lion's Gate Bridge can get hairy on the weekends.  Getting a lift from the terminal also meant we did not need to make a reservation.  There is virtually no chance of walk ons being capped.

Since it was going to be late for their kids as well as the need to set the boat up, B suggested we come fed.  We thought about picking up food at Horseshoe but we were worried that we might end up wandering and losing time.  D suggested we call in an order to Go Fish which we could pick up on the way up to the bridges.  I think there was a chance that he was trying to pacify me for his day on the boat :^).  As if a box of fish and chips could do enough.

Go Fish is owned by the same man who runs the well known Bin 941 and Bin 942 tapas restaurants.  Rather than kitschy decor, here Gord, has opted for less than minimal setting though he did maintain his penchant for PRIME real estate.  Go Fish is nothing more than a railcar located on the Fisherman's Wharf by Granville Island. They used to only open during the warmer summer months because it is outdoors and perhaps they assumed the line ups would wane in the rain.  They do not.  They only stay open in the sunlight hours but they are now open year round.

They have a good menu of a variety of fresh seafood dishes like Fish Tacos or Soups and Sandwiches but what people line up for till dusk when they shew people away, is their Fish and Chips.  You can buy three different types of Fish: Salmon, Halibut and Cod (classic).  You can get a 1 or 2 piece fish and chip and then order inidividual extra pieces of fish.  The halibut is the most expensive.  I have to chuckle though because in most other places off the West Coast, Salmon would be more expensive.  It is one of my favourites.  All their fish is fresh and it would be shameful if it weren't considering where they are situated.  D prefers the Halibut.  I think he think I don't know that Halibut is the more premium fish when he pushes the bigge half of salmon my way in exchange for a piece of Halibut.  Whatever.

The beer batter is fabulous. It is a really mellow with nice roundness to it with great crisp. It is a tad on the oily side which does not need to be the case for deep fried food if the oil is hot enough.  Oddly their fries are not at all oily.  They cut their fries fresh as they go.  You can see someone normally going through the potatoes back there.

You get your order with their Slaw (with Cumin and Sunflower seeds I think, it is YUM!) and Tartar sauce in one of those Asian steamer baskets lined with paper.  Not this time though.  We called our order in instead. So we could snatch and drive to the ferry.  They took 3 times the time they told us on the phone and we cut it fairly close to the wire for the Ferry but in the end the Ferry was late so no sweat.  Well, except for the fish.  Fried food does not like to wait.  Generally, unless we are just taking it up the road to watch Bard on the Beach, I prefer not to have to carry fried food.  The piping hot fish steams away in there wrapped in paper and moistens the crispy batter.  The fries get soggy.  But that is not Go Fish's issue.  I was tempted to eat it there in the car on the drive but that would not have been fair to D.  It was doubly more tempting when we hit bumper to bumper traffic on Burrard through town.  Grrrrr!

We had a cheeky water bottle of Dona Paula Chardonnay and ate our Fish and Chips in the Ferry waiting room.  The Chardonnay did weird things in that water bottle.  When we use my Kleen Canteen stainless steel bottle, we do not have that issue.  But the MEC stainless steel bottle definitely reacted with the wine.  Blech.  I'm going to use my Kleen Canteen from now on.

The fish was moist and the Salmon was awesome.  D thinks deep fried Salmon can be dry but I like it.  I think their thicker cuts of Halibut can sometimes be a bit dry.  We hate all the fish, and chips and chip crumbs.  Yummo! we must have been hungry because we normally cannot get through all the chips.  We share 1 order of fries with three pieces of fish and it is loads of food.  I would recommend you do that only because I cannot abide the waste of food and I see LOTS of fries go in the bin at the railcar.  We are lucky that they gave us two slaws.  We thought that since we only ordered the one 'set' we'd only get one slaw.  We have had that before.  Yay!  They have little tiny take away containers for Ketchup and Hotsauce.  I took some Ketchup and Lemons.

I used to save Go Fish for once a year since it is such a caloric decadence but we probably go twice a year now between our regular craving and visiting friends.  It is also our default for Bard on the Beach dinner.  The BEST fish and chips in Vancouver and I have my fair share here and in England when I lived there.  D insists I try Rodneys but it's twice as expensive... but I'll give it ago eventually.  For now, Go Fish leads the pack!

Cost: $$
Staff: Get past the curtness, they are try to serve the throngs of hungry chip starved people
Ambience:  It's a railcar with a deck. What do you expect?
Not licensed

Go Fish Ocean Emporium
1505 W 1st Ave
Vancouver, BC V6J
(604) 730-5040

Go Fish Ocean Emporium on Urbanspoon

Jun 10th - Red Pepper and Kalmata Puree Sauce on Goat Cheese and Olive Ravioli

Red Pepper and Kalmata Puree
(Serves 2-3)

5-6 Roasted Red Bell Peppers (you can use drained, jarred peppers)
4 cloves Garlic
8 Oil Cured Kalmata Olives, pitted
2 T Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 Lemon
1 T Olive Oil, for the pan

In a food processor, place all the ingredients except the Lemon, Salt and Pepper.  I used the little grinder attachment to my hand blender. Puree until quite smooth.

In a sautee pan, heat 1 T Olive Oil on low heat.  Pour the contents of the processor into the pan.  Swirl 1 T of water in the processor to get all the puree goodness.  You can skip this if you want.  If you were doing a puree without the Olives, you could strain it.  But as there are possibly chunkier Olives in here, do not do that.

Simmer for 10 minutes so no one gets a sharp bite of raw garlic.

Spoon over the pasta and then squirt with the lemon before any garnishes.  You could put this right into the sauce but I wanted it quite bright. 

We served this over some Fresh Feta and Olive Ravioli I bought at Zara's Deli at the Granville Island Market.   Boil a large pot of salted water.  Cook for 8 minutes.  Garnish with Fresh Grated Parmesan and Parmesan.

We had a beautiful Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2007.  Wonderful, full body, nice finish.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June 9th - Vegetarian Korean Curry with Eggplant Portobellas and Tofu

When we were growing up, this was one of my favourite dishes.  Mom, for some reason, gave anglicised names to some, not all, of our food.  Kimchee was still kimchee, same for Bulgoghi, Kalbi and others.  Korean Curry though, we used to call 'Yellow Bap' which means yellow rice or yellow food.  'Bap' means both Rice and Food.  I used to drown it with black pepper to have it as spicy as possible.  This was when I was  younger than 10.

Korean Curry is somewhere between Japanese Katsu Curry and Indian yellow Curry.  Japanese Curry is sweeter, darker and for reasons that are odd to me, are just the plain, sauce normally poured over some sort of breaded chicken or pork cutlet on rice. This was everywhere in Tokyo the last time I went last year.  It was the quick meal of choice which was disappointing since as a foreigner I was searching for good sushi or Okonomiyaki or Takoyaki.  I can only assume they'd gone out of fashion to some extent in the city core.  I'm not sure but I digress.  The Korean version, classically, as you will observe on the sauce bullion boxes, contains, Carrots, Onions and Potatos with Beef.  Mom adds peas.  It is spicier and not as sweet as the Japanese variety.  I love it.

Over the years as my sister V and I stopped eating Beef and Chicken, mom had  to adjust many of her recipes and Yellow Bap was one of them.  For a while, when I was not eating any seafood at all, she would scoop out a separate little pot and add, at my request, Chickpeas.  I still do that.  Now, mom will use Prawn and at times add Chick Peas.  The Bullion cubes are a must.  I do not know any Korean that actually does this from scratch unlike some people who may do Thai or Indian Curry from scratch if they have the time and access to all the ingredients.  Korean curry is simply not like that.  Mom who even makes her Soy sauce, Dengjang (miso) and Gochujang from scratch uses the cubes. 

All Korean markets have several brands, or if you are in an Asian Market, look for the Korean section.  They will be there.  They come in large candybar shaped boxes in varying degrees of heat.  I have tried a few and tend to avoid Vermont, Apple and another one dominated by cartoony Japanese writing.  They are too sweet and have too much starch filler.  I generally buy the ones with Hangul/Korean letters or Golden.  Golden, though it is Japanese is closer to the Korean taste and use.  S&B, the makers of Golden have other varieties like the Apple one that are not to my taste for Korean curry.    Choose the HOT regardless of the brand.  None of them are hot, really.  It's not like Indian curry where you really want to heed that warning.  You have room to add heat.  I do.

The bars actually look like candy bars, well, like baking chocolate anyway.  A few years back they started compartmentalising the cubes which is brilliant for me because only larger families need the whole pack in 1 go.  You need to break up the cubes and sit them in 2 c Boiled water, not boiling on a stove, for at least 10 minutes or more.  I just do it first and let it sit there and then whisk it all up before pouring in.

Prepare some Jasmine Rice. 1 c, raw for 2 people.

Vegetarian Korean Curry with Eggplant Portobellas and Tofu
(Serves 3-4)

4 cubes Hot Korean/Japanese Curry, ~100 g
1 medium Eggplant, cubed large
1 Portabella, stemmed and brushed
1 medium (~3/4 c) Carrot, finely chopped (because I do not like big hunks of cooked carrot)
1 medium (~3/4 c) firm fleshed Potato or 6 small new Potatoes, diced large,
1 small Onion or half large
3 cloves Garlic, chopped
1 inch Ginger, julienned (this is my add, Mom does not use Ginger)
2 hot Chilis (the small Thai ones are awesome)
200 g Extra Firm Tofu, cubed (optional)
3 c Water
1 t Black Pepper

I parcook the Eggplant.   I am not as skilled as some in cooking an eggplant through in a short period of time.  If I am stewing this for an hour like in say an Indian Eggplant Curry, no worries, but for a mid week meal, parcooking in the oven helps me.   First thing I did when I got home was turn the oven on 450F.  Toss the Eggplant cubes in 1 T of vegetable oil in the large Pot/Skillet I will be cooking in.  Spread out evenly on a lined baking sheet and bake for about 20-30 minutes.  Basically, until I need them is alright too.  I turn the oven off at around 20 minutes and leave the door closed.

In a large Pot/Skillet, heat 1 T vegetable oil on Medium High.  Add the Carrots.  Hardest veg first.  Sautee for 3 minutes.  Add the Eggplant, Potato and Onion.  Sautee for another 3-5 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium. Add the Ginger, Garlic, Chilis, Tofu and Mushrooms.  'Wok'-Stir actively but gently so as not to break up the Tofu too much for 2-3 minutes.  Add a splash of water if stuff is sticking. 

Add the softened Curry Cubes which have been sitting in 2 c Boiled Water to the pot and stir. 2 c because that is the size of my heatproof measuring cup.   Swirl 1 c about the measuring cup to get the rest of the Curry and add to the pot.  Add the Black Pepper and Salt to taste.

Cover and simmer on low to medium low for 10-15 minutes.  I timed it with the rice.  You can stew it for longer if you wish.  Aaaaah pure childhood comfort. YUMMMMMO!

Jun 8th - the Noodle Box - Affordable Noodle Joint in Westside

I thought I could squeeze in an errand at lunch in Kits if the buses cooperated. I wanted to take my useless almost new Samsung (boo!) Camcorder in for repair. I found a repair shop in Kits that told me they worked on my model and at the last minute, used Microsoft's Bing to write down their address before heading out. Kits!? Why did I think it was closer to home? Well, that is because Bing is one of the most useless search engines out there. Seriously, I would sooner use Altavista if it were still around. The Top Results are so often ridiculously unrelated it is normally laughable, except when you are sent west to Kits instead of east to Mount Pleasant. Grrrrr! Well, I had it in my head that it would give me an excuse to go to the Noodle Box on 4th as well as get my stupid Samsung P.o.S. fixed. Of course, late back from lunch and all I got was a belly full of noodles.

The Noodle Box is one of those places that suit me quite well. While casual and affordable, it is focussed in it's offering with enough authenticity not to be mall food and great variety to keep you returning. This place sort of reminds me of, in concept, of the Soup only place Vancouver could thoroughly benefit from having. I.e. no muffins or sandwiches or tangential accoutrements. Just Soup. And in this case, Noodles in a number of Asian genres: Indonesian, Japanese, Chinese, Thai...

Your order is Wok fried on the spot to order in their open concept kitchen. You can select your preferred heat level from their little heat chart. I normally get 'Hot'. It is pretty hot. I would not recommend most of you get hot, if I think it's pretty hot. That means it's very hot for most others. They use fresh chopped bird's eye Thai chilies for the heat. I made the mistake of ordering Extra Hot once, waded past all the admonishments flagged by the staff and spent that painful meal pretending I was okay with it.

I ordered the Indonesian Spicy Peanut Noodles today. It is light, thin rice noodles like the ones you find in Phad Thai, in a Peanut Sauce with a some veg... not alot. There was the general idea of the intention of vegetables but really there was probably 1/4 cup of Bok Choy stems and two pieces of bell pepper. Which was odd since I ordered the vegetarian option. There was sufficient Tofu though as well as Beansprouts on top. The sauce was pretty horrible. It was as thick as Peanutbutter. I thought about sprinkling water on it to loose it it up but thought people would think it was because I ordered the 'Hot'. Plus, I should not have to add water to my noodles. Anyhoo, it made it difficult to eat from both a palate perspective as well as purely functional. The noodles clung to each other wrapped in the gluey sauce. It tasted alright and if not for the extra kick I ordered, it may have been a bit bland. It would have benefitted from a bit more Garlic.

All in all, not the best visit to the Noodle Box but it was not the worst.  Peanut Sauce is tricky and the cooks need to taste to ensure the right balance.  My re-visits are not turning out well at all but this was better than Reef revisit.

Cost: $$
Location: Easy access East, North and West on 4th
Staff: Friendly

The Noodle Box
1867 W 4th Ave
Vancouver, BC V6J
(604) 734-1310

The Noodle Box on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jun 7th - Deconstructed Veggie Lasagna

I bought some fresh Lasagna sheets at Duso's on Granville Island.  We buy fresh pasta there fairly regularly.  It is more expensive than some of the Italian markets on Commercial or in East Van but for us, living downtown, it is more convenient to hop over to the Island. It is probably about the same price range as the Whole Foods or Urban Fare if that tells you anything.  It has a wonderful range of cheeses and olives as well!  There is another shop near by called Zara's but I tend to hit Duso's first.  The fresh Pasta range is different each week so I go back and forth.  The Lasagna was on sale and I actually just went down for Fish, so it was a bit of a diversion.

Were both tired from work and rallied a bit on who's turn it was to cook.  In the end D agreed to cook if he could do a simple pasta.  I thought we could slice up the fresh Lasagna sheets into wide strips or perhaps even do rolled Lasagna.  After a few of these suggestions flying at him, D told me to go watch television or work on the Blog.  He went for a Deconstructed Lasagna.  Meaning with a combination of a chunky Vegan Bolognese, Mozzarella Cheese, Parmesan and Tomatoes, he build the Lasagna components on the plate rather than baking them in the dish. 

It turned out okay but a more substantial middle layer of either Mushrooms, Tofu or Ricotta might have helped.  Still, it was super easy to do and we were eating a tasty, healthy meal in under half an hour!

Deconstructed (Quick Mid Week) Lasagna

4 Sheets Fresh Lasagna
500 ml Vegan Bolognese
1 c grated Mozzarella
5-6 leaves fresh Basil
1 Tomato, sliced
2 T fresh Parsley
Fresh Parmesan

Boil the pasta for 2-3 minutes.  The instruction actually said boil for 1 minute but these sheets were toward the end of their shelf life, so probably a bit drier.  We did 2 minutes and it was still a bit al dente.

Cut the sheets in half.  Place a teaspoon of Olive Oil on each plate.  Use a plate you feel comfortable placing under the low broiler.  Place a piece of the Lasagna Sheet down.  Dollop 1/4 c of the Vegan Bol on top.  Top with some Mozza and a slice of Tomato.  Repeat and finish the Top with a nice heap of Mozza and Parmesan.

Place under a Low Broiler, second level down from the top top for 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted and just begins to brown on top.  Finish with some fresh Parsely and more Parmesan.

I had a piece of the Wholewheat Sourdough Focaccia I baked yesterday.  It was too much food and D just shook his head at me for pulling a me.

Cost: $$$ (for comparable merchants)
Location: Granville Market
Staff: Fast and Helpful

Duso's Italian Foods
Granville Island
120 - 1689 Johnston Street
Vancouver, BC V6H
(604) 685-5921

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Jun 6th - Kalbi and BBQ Portobellas for a Korean Sunday Dinner

Since our BBQ is back in commission after a year on leave, D immediately wanted to have some Kalbi.  He lured a friend over to help him replace the BBQ in its rightful place by proffering some yummo Kalbi from my mom.  DD was in charge of bringing Kimchee.  He was mortified to find out that I did not keep a steady supply in my fridge.  I told him it is not as easy to do when all residents of a home are not Korean to keep Kimchee in the fridge.  Unless it has been properly made to last, it will start to go off within in a week and bully your fridge.  Most store bought Kimchee is bought to eat right away.  Particularly, the Kimchee sold in the condiment area of a Korean market in the disposable trays, ready made is ready to eat only.  It is not a true 'pickle'.  I found that out the stinky way.  Mom's Kimchees can be in the fridge for months and months.  Of course, that requires a lot of other ingredients mostly left out as well as lots of Salt which is a known health issue amongst Koreans who munch on Kimchee daily.

I was originally going to join in with some Portobella Burgers and even made some Wholewheat Rosemary Foccacia  to go with them but when I saw the Banchan that DD brought over as well as the Kimchee, I could not help but decide to go another way.  I decided to do a quick Kalbi inspired marinade for the Mushrooms, which D pointed out were way too big for me to have two.  I thought they would shrink. 

Korean Kalbi Inspired Portabella Mushrooms

1/2 c Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 T Rice Wine Vinegar
2 T Brown Sugar
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 inch fresh Ginger, minced
1/4 cup Onion, chopped
1 T Sesame Oil
1/2 T Chili Powder/Flakes
1 T Canola or Peanut Oil

Whisk all the ingredients except the last one in a small bowl.
Tear the stem away from the mushroom.  Brush the cap clean with a mushroom brush or dry paper-towel. 

Rup the top of the cap with some Peanut Oil or other neutral high smoking point oil.  Place in a shallow dish and spoon on the mixture generously all over the mushrooms.

Shake them add place them outside up for 2-3 minutes on the BBQ.  Turn and spoon more of the marinade. on.  Since it is not raw meat or fish, you can serve the remaining marinade in a dipping bowl on the table.


D and DD had Mom's Kalbi (Korean Beef Short Ribs).  We are down to our last couple servings.   Mom packs them in servings of four ribs so it is great for portion control and ease of defrosting. 

As Banchan, we had Bechu Kimchee (Korean Pickled Cabbage) and Ooi Kimchee (Korean Picked Baby Cucumbers). DD also brought Steamed Veg with light Sesame Oil (Spinach, Carrots, Zucchini and Bean Sprouts). Mom would often have tossed with Toasted Sesame Seeds as well.  Sweet and Hot Cuttle Fish (similar to dried Squid) and finally some Gochu Jang.

To wash it all down with we had a big and bold Robert Hall Syrah 2007.  Did I mention the best bit?  We got our BBQ back! Wooohooo, worth repeating.