Sunday, September 26, 2010

Saturday, Sep 18th - West Restaurant - Elegant West Coast Table

Amuse Bouche - Carbonated Heirloom Cherry Tomato with Olive Oil Powder
How is it that I have lived in Vancouver for over three years now and I have never eaten at West?  Even stranger is the fact that I assumed it was in Kits.  I don't know why.  I think I had even concocted an image of where I thought it was.  I was quite placed to see that the seafood dishes were unadulterated with Bacon or other meating accoutrements and if they were, the server indicated that adjustments could be made, unlike a certain Gastown establishment who claims to love you....and starts with the letter B. :^)

It is a warm and elegant setting though it is quite a large seating area.  Very neutral, unimposing and forgettable decor.  That is actually meant to be a compliment.  The design was pleasant and not worth noting because it was simply meant to frame the food.  If I leave a place and all I can remember is the heavy wallpaper or light fixtures, there is something amiss.

I was pleased to see that in addition to the Seafood and Beefy Tasting menu, they offered a Vegetarian option.  It was not in the main menu, odd.   You have to request it.  Actually, I do not know that I would have known if I hadn't visited their website beforehand.  It is Ovo Lacto and not Vegan.

Unlike, other tasting menu's I have seen, I would say that the portions per course were not reduced in size.  I had five courses to D's three and noting his portions, and they were certainly on par.  So be prepared.

We ordered a Domaine de Beaurenard Châteauneuf du Pape 2007

Domaine de Beaurenard Chateauneuf du Pape 2007
Dinner starts with a very intriguing amuse bouche.  It was a chilled, peeled heirloom Cherry Tomato dusted with Olive Oil Powder.  What was most unusual about it was the fact that it had somehow been infused with carbonisation.  It sparkled on the tongue.  Amazing.  I could have had a whole salad of them.

My starter was a Goat Cheese and Burnt Onion Crepe, Okanagan Peach, a touch of Coffee and Hazelnut Emulsion and topped with a Porcini Tuile.  The crepe was served as a roulade with the creamy Goat Cheese.  It was a cold starter.  I quite enoyed it but I did find the temperature a tad strange.  When I say cold, I do not mean that it was not warm, it was ice box cold.  Though that was fine for the cheese, it was not the ideal temperature for the crepes.  Still, very pleasant.

D went on a meatastic meal selection.  His starter was the Sweet Breads and Beef Tongue.  Deep breaths.  D offered me a taste.  Hmmm.  He insisted that they were exceptionally mild and very tender.  Since the glands and at times, brains, are pretty much fat free, the gaminess is removed.  It had a texture not too disimilar to Fois Gras, not the best way to draw me in D.  I have said that I am a taste based Vegetarian/Pescotarian with the exception of some dishes which I mentally cannot 'digest'.  Those mostly fall into the category of Offal.  The irony of the homonym cousin of that word always seemed very appropriate to me.  The Beef Tongue was sliced paper thin.  D quite liked the dish.  Oddly enough for a French Canadian, that was his first go at Sweet Breads.

Goat Cheese Crepe with Porcini Tuile
My second was lovely warm Potato and Roasted Garlic and Leek Soup.  Now contrasting the first course, this was a bit of a switch as a warm soup. It was gentle hug of warm, not piping hot.  Very smooth and velty yet not suffocating in richness.

Crispy Poached Egg Summer Corn Succotash
My third course was the odd man out in the flow of the set meal.  The other pieces have the commonality of texture and balanced richness and then there is succotash.  Strange.  I can only assume they needed to fill out the menu and this was the best price fit?  I dunno.  So on the dish alone, I would say it was nice.  It probably had a better fit on a breakfast or brunch plate.  It was a soft Poached Egg breaded in Panko Crumbs served with a Summer Corn Succotash topped with a Coriander Hollandaise.  Strange thing was that the Egg was not poached in the traditional sense.  They cooked it Sous Vide, in Shell, then breaded and quickly fried to crisp it up.  Strictly speaking, I would call that a soft boiled egg.  One very interesting difference was that with this cooking method, the egg was evenly cooked throughout unlike when you softboil an egg.  The Succotash was fresh and bright and the Hollandaise was light.

Smoked Ricotta and Artichoke Agnolotti
My main was a Agnolotti with Artichoke and housemade Smoked Ricotta, topped with Fennel, Orange, and Parmesan. The fresh pasta was very good and really nicely cooked.  The Smoked Ricotta was wonderful.  I need to figure out how to do that or buy that.  The only sad point on this dish was that someone got out of hand with the Fennel Seeds.  They were whole toasted Fennel Seeds so they added an unnecessary course texture and a very strong distraction.  Once I set them aside, the dish was much nicer.

Pork Jowls with Carmelised Apricot Risotto
D had the the Snake River Farm Kurobuta Roasted Pork Jowls aka Cheeks. It was served with Carmelised Apriocot Risotto, Kale and a Fruit Chutney. The glaze on the pork was a tad to sweet for his taste though really well cooked. It is a lament of D's that Pork is always sweet glazed.

As part of my, set menu I had a pre-dessert and they were nice enough to give us both one.  It was a Berry Sorbet.  It was a pure block of sugar.  Neither of us finished it.

My set dessert was a Dark Chocolate Bourbon Pot de Creme.  It was pleasant.

The star postre was the cheeses we ordered.  We had the Manchego, Quebec Brie and Poplar Grove Tiger Blue.  The cheeses are served with fruit, toasted Walnut bread and what I think was quince jelly.  The Quebecois Brie was spectacular.  Brie and soft cheeses here are not as punchy with the pasturised milk but this one did not hold back.  The salty Manchego was a nice balance to the creamy soft brie.  The Tiger Blue has been one of my favourite cheeses for a while.  It is a VERY strong blue cheese and is not for everyone.  If you like strong blue cheese, I insist you try this one.

The overdose of Fennel Seeds aside, I enjoyed my meal.  The only downside of the whole evening was the insanely loud, woman sat next to us.  Seriously.  She was speaking several dozen decibels over everyone else.  I could hear her more clearly than D.  I could sense by the muted tones of her friend that she was rather embarassed.  Brutal.  If I wasn't already on course 2 by the time she was seated, I would have asked to be moved.

We finished dinner with a nice frothy Irish Coffee. MMMMM

Cost: $$$-$$$$
Ambience: subdued and warm
Staff: Attentive, knowledgeable and friendly
Wine list: stellar

West Restaurant
2881 Granville St
Vancouver, BC V6H
(604) 738-8938
West Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Friday, Sep 17th - Goat Cheese and Pea Soufflee

Pea and Creamy Goat Cheese Soufflee
I really wanted cheese today.  I think I may have been slightly influenced by an episode of Throwdown where they were making Quiche.  Flay made one with big dollops of Creamy Goat Cheese.  I did know for certain, though, I did not fancy making a crust nor eating Quiche. 

Soufflees are surprisingly easy to make so long as you have all the ingredients handy, like you would a stir fry and you follow some simple rules.  The thing I probably find the most detracting when mulling the option, is preparing the baking dish(es).  I don't know why but if a dish requires me to butter, flour or line the baking vessel, I shudder.  When I want to do dessert soufflees, you should or rather I like to add a buttered parchment collar for nice lift.  Of course, that means I haven't done a dessert soufflee in a year. :^D

Once you wade past that and have decided buttering a soufflee dish isn't so bad if it ends with a fluffly cheesey soufflee, remember a few things: 1. Butter the dish twice. 2. Place the baking rack near the bottom. 3. Do not open the oven door once you have put the Soufflee in for at least half an hour or at all.  4. Bain Marie (water bath) is optional.

I think my baking dish was too big but we only have the one.  Why do I say that? Well, it did not rise very much and the top browned a bit too quickly.  Oh well,  I did have to put a bit of foil on top of the dish at the 30 minute mark to control the browning.   I could have put it on earlier when I noted how fast it was browning before the lift but I did not want to open the door to drop the temperature which could cause deflation.  The bain marie, does help stabilise the temperature as water does not lose thermal energy as easily as air. 

Goat Cheese and Pea Souffle

4 Eggs, separated
1 Egg White
1/4 t Cream of Tartar (optional)
1/4 c +1 T Butter
1 Shallot, minced
1 c Peas
1/2 c Soft Goat Cheese
1/4 c Flour
1-1 1/2 c Milk
1/8 t Nutmeg
1/2 t Sea Salt
Pepper to taste
1/2 c Parmesan, grated (optional)
1/4 c Butter, melted for the dish

Brush the butter all over the inside of the soufflee dish.  On the sides, sweep upwards.  Place in the fridge for 10-15 minutes and then repeat.

Place the oven rack on the bottom level.  Place a roasting tray on the oven rack and fill with enough water to reach 1 1/2 inch up the side. 

Preheat the oven to 375. 

Separate the Eggs carefully.  I like to 'quarantine' the Egg Whites before adding them to the whisking bowl or Mixer.  Have two bowls, one small and one cereal bowl to hand in addition to the mixer.  Separate the egg white into the small bowl and place the Egg Yolk into the larger cereal bowl.  Check that you have not accidentally mixed any Yolk into the White if you break yolk.  Don't worry if you get a red dot as you sometimes do in an Egg, it is harmless.  Place the 'clean' Egg White into your Mixer.  Collect all the Yolks in the larger bowl.  I keep the extra Yolk in the smaller bowl tighly wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge for future yolk needs.

I wait until later to whisk the Whites.  You could do them now but you'll want to 'fluff' them again right before use.  You're looking for stiff peaks but not dry.  It should look like a Ice Cream swirl that stands up on the whisk when you turn the whisk upside down. 

In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter on Medium heat.  Add the Shallot.  Sautee for 3-5 minutes until soft.  Add the flour a Tablespoon at a time, whisking with a small whisk.  It will look like playdough or biscuit dough.  Stir and cook the flour for a few minutes.  Add the Milk in a slow drizzle.  You want the white sauce to be quite thick, thicker than cake batter.  You may not need the last 1/2 c milk.  You'll know when it won't continue to thicken when you add a splash more milk.  Turn the heat off.  You'll want to move the sauce pan on and off the extinguished burner as you do this because you do not want to scramble the egg but you want to cook them.  Add the Yolks one at a time, whisking fast in between.  Season with Salt and Pepper to taste. 

Remove from the heat and add the Peas and Parmesan.  Set aside to cool slightly.  Make sure the pot is cool enough to touch with your hand.  If not, move to a third LARGE mixing bowl. 

Take the soufflee dish out of the fridge

This is when I whisk the Whites.  You can add the Cream of Tartar to the whites before whisking. The acidic add is supposed to help add structure to the foam.  It is not absolutely necessary but I like the insurance when making a Soufflee.  Whisk on High for about 5 minutes.  Check as you go so as not to get on the dry side.  I like to use the Mixer bowl as the final mixing vessel but usually you go for a third large mixing bowl.  Your choice. I do it this way because, I can avoid washing another bowl and more importantly for lil ol me, the mixing bowl has a handle for pouring later.

Using a BIG rubber spatula, take one big scoop of whites and mix actively into the Yolk and Milk sauce to lighten up the base before you add the rest of the Whites.  Take the Creamy Goat Cheese, which comes in logs or pucks, and cut up into Cherry sized pieces or just pull it part with your fingers.  It will be sticky no matter what.  It's okay.  It's a tasty mess.  Drop into the Sauce base and stir gently.  The reason, I want the pot cold is that I do not want to melt the cheese.  I want to find chunks of cheese later. 

Now fold all the Whites and the Sauce together.  Gently.  You want to be thorough but you do not want make more than a dozen turns really.  Folding means, cut the spatula down the middle then scoop/sweep to the bottom of the bowl and up the side.  Turn the bowl a quarter and repeat. 

Fill the soufflee dish.  Don't smooth or spread out.  You can maybe jiggle it a bit but don't touch it.  Place the dish in the water bath.  Bake for 45-50 minutes.

Sooooo creamy and delicious.  And what is most surprising, Soufflees are not very eggy.  MMMMM Creamy Goat Cheese is surprisingly mild as well.  Serve with a nice Riesling.

Creamy Goat Cheese and Pea Soufflee

Wednesday, Sep 22 - Arugula Pesto - a Peppery and Garlicky experience

Arugula Pesto with Wholewheat Fettucini
We have been growing Arugula in a window box on the balcony.  A friend of ours had recommended it because he was having real success with it in his garden.  They're in San Francisco though and so I still had my doubts.  Our herb garden is fairly healthy but the leaves never really get as large as the store bought. Well, during one hot spell my Basil really took off.

Anyhoo, it took us a while to find the seeds since most of the larger box gardening stores only carried more standard veg.  We found a place on Commercial that had a wider variety but alot of the seeds were written in Italian.  With a little help, we figured out that the Rucola seeds were what we were looking for :^P

When we first planted it, I thought we had weeds because it seemed impossible that it would sprout within two days.  When they first sprouted they looked like clover.  D insisted that they were the Arugula since they were sprouting prescisely where he had laid the seeds.  Within two weeks we had a window box full of baby sized arugula.  It will continue to grow if you need it.  Purely organically grown out in front of us, it was easily twice as peppery than any we'd bought so it goes a long way.  So it was not a surprise that by now that autumn is upon us.  We have more Arugula than we know what to do with.  D asked that I harvest the rest and make a pesto.  I harvested two packed cups or a draining colander full without putting much of a dent in the modest box.

Now I quite liked it but I would recommend you make it slightly looser than you would Basil or Cilantro Pesto because you will need less per serving.  Probably 1-1 1/2 T per serving rather than 2 Tablespoons.  D found it a tad too peppery and so I think for his sake, I'l return to making it half and half Basil and Arugula. 

Arugula Pesto

2 c Baby Arugula, packed
1/2 c fresh Basil
1 clove Garlic (I used 2 and it was too much though it could have been that clove)
1/3 Pine Nuts
1/4 c Olive Oil
1/4 c Parmesan Cheese (the REAL stuff.  Nothing in a green plastic cone)
Pepper to taste

This will make four portions.  This volume of ingredients is small enough to do in your smaller processor like an apartment sized or handblender attachement processor (not the hand blender itself!).

Layer the Garlic, Herbs and then the Pine Nuts.  You will likely need to add the Arugula in batches if you are using the smaller processor.  Our handblender attachement cup is just about 3 cups.  Blitz for a few seconds, pour in some of the Olive Oil and more Arugula.  Continue until you have added all the Arugula and you see the consistency you like.  Add the Parmesan and finish blitzing.  Since my aim into the little cup is lousy with the rasp, I shave the Parmesan with a peeler into the processor.

Place the Pesto on the bottom of your bowl.  Top with the cooked pasta lifted directly from the cooking pot into the bowl and toss.  You can loosen it up with some pasta cooking water or more Olive Oil.  Serve with fresh Parmesan.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday, Sep 24th - Comfort Fusion - Korean-Spanish Curriend Spinach Fideu

Korean Spanish Comfort Fusion
I'll catch up on the days I missed especially the amazing dinner we had at West last Saturday this weekend.  I was feeling sorta blue today and when that happens, I seek the warm, huggy comfort in certain dishes that I used to love to make when I was a student or living elsewhere.  Dishes that conjure wonderful memories and taste awesome, of course. 

When I was in grad school in Barcelona, I used to travel to other parts of Spain whenever I had the chance.  During the summer, my flatmate and I flew down to Sevilla to visit a classmate working there for a term.  It was probably the third hottest place I have been.  It was so hot that there was 'fake' shade erected all over the city.  In all the narrow streets of the old town, tarps and fabric had been hung between the buildings to provide a bit of comfort.  I remember that E, a mexican, refused to wear shorts despite the sweltering heat.  It is a strange thing that many of Spanish and Mexican male friends think shorts are for the beach or for little kids.  It was 37C for crying out loud!  We spent the days running from shade to shade.  We found what is still in my books today as the best Tapas bar I have ever been to.  It is the shade of the Cathedral. 

I don't recall the name but I am sure I could find it again today, 5 years later.  It was a hornet's nest activity.  The kitchen was open concept surrounded by a bar where all the patrons sidled up.  The counter was made of slate.  Whenever you ordered anything off the chalk menu, the server would jot it down on the counter in front of you as the tab.  The best Tapa I had was this Curried Spinach and Chick Pea dish. It was very lightly Curried and came piled on a dish the size of a saucer.  We ordered two.  I replicated at home in Barcelona after that using local spices and artisan Chick Peas.  I still do it that way when I fancy it. 

One weekend, I was feeling a tad homesick.  Korean food was really hard to comeby in Barcelona.  So I concoted what has come to be one of my top ten comfort dishes.  These are distinct from standard Comfort Food.  Instead of using the spice mix to make the Spinach Tapa I used Korean Curry cubes.  As well,  instead of making the obligatory white rice which I would normally have had with Korean Curry, I made the dish to emulate a Paella.  Paella is not only made with rice.  It is also made with Fideu noodles.  They are short stubby spaghetti sized noodles.  If you do it right, the Noodles on the bottom become crispy.  MMMMM.  Of course, I don't have a gas stove here like I did there so I have to cover the cooking dish now to get it hot enough.   So it is a complete, bizzarre amalgam of Korean and Spanish dishes that is unbelievably good.  I have made it for my flatmates, friends and D and they agree.  See, I feel better just writing about it.... well that and my belly is full of it too :^D

Korean Spanish Curried Spinach Fideu

300 g Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed
1/3 sliced Onion
2 cloves Garlic, small, chopped
1/2 inch fresh Ginger, julienned
1/2 tin Chick Peas (Garbanzos)
1 Chili, chopped
1 t Black Pepper
125 g Fideu, noodles (What are they? They look like 2cm pieces of Spaghetti, there are Italian and German equivalents. Most familiar to North American's floating in Lipton's Instant Chicken Noodle Soup)

Add 50 g of Korean Curry Cubes to 2 c Boiled Water and set aside to soften.

In a 10", nonstick fry pan, heat 1-2 T Olive Oil on Medium heat.  Sautee the Onions, Ginger, and Chili until the Onion is soft, 3 minutes.

Add the Spinach, Garlic and Pepper.   Mix thoroughly.  Add the Fideu and mix to distribute throughout the pan.  Stir the Curry Cubes before pouring into the pan.  You may want to add another 1/4 c of water to swirl out any remaining Curry.  Stir.  Add the Chick Peas and mix to distribute. 

Cover and let simmer on LOW heat for 20 minutes.  If you have a gas stove or if you don't like the noodles to be too soft, don't  cover.  The other reason that I cover this dish is because our fume hood sucks or rather it doesn't and I don't want the house smelling of curry for a week.

Thursday, Sep 16th - Mushroom Ragout on Fried Polenta Cakes or on Penne

Fried Polenta Cakes with Mushroom Ragout and Marinara Sauce
D and I made two dishes out of the same base recipe.  I really wanted to use this Polenta 'Cake' I bought.  Well, it's not really a cake per se as it is a sausage.  It's not a sausage as in meaty but sausage shaped.  Don't gasp that I bought Polenta.  I love making Polenta.  It is very easy, comforting and unbelievably satisfying.  The Polenta sausage is the compacted type rather than porridgey.  I have tried to do that to my own by spread it out on a baking sheet to bake and solidfy but it never made it because I would just eat it all.  Really, the idea is that it is made with leftovers and my Polenta, low fat or otherwise, does not make it to leftover status.  It is just easier for me to cut to the chase and buy the cake.  All you need to do is slice them about 1cm thick and fry. 

D did not want Polenta.  He wanted Penne.  He could probably have Penne every night of the week if he had to live on a food for a week.  I would probably choose sushi (refer to Sushi Addict post).

Mushroom Ragout

1 Portabella Mushroom, cleaned and sliced
1 c Oyster Mushrooms, sliced (normally come pretty clean)
5-6 Crimini or Button Mushrooms, brushed and sliced
2 T Olive Oil
1 T Butter
1/2 c Dry White Wine
1 clove Garlic
2 t fresh Oregano
2 t fresh Thyme
1/5 fresh Parsley, chopped
Season to taste with Salt and Pepper
1/2 c Marinara Sauce (optional, homemade or good quality jarred)

Heat Olive Oil and Butter in a skillet on Medium High heat.  Add the mushrooms in handfuls so as not to crowd the pan.  They will shrink as you cook.  Add the Herbs and Garlic.  You could add the Garlic first but I don't like to over brown the Garlic.

Try not to move your mushrooms arond too much.  Let them brown.  After 5-7 minutes, when they start to show some colour, add the wine.  Toss.  Add some pasta water (D's Penne is cooking at this point) if the pan is too dry.  Turn the heat down to medium.

Now I took half the Mushrooms and topped my friend Polenta cakes and added some simple Marinara.  D added his Penne to the pan with the Mushrooms and tossed.  Add some pasta water as needed.  Season to taste.  Top with shaved Parmesan.

Mushroom Ragout on Penne which D needs to toss more

So goood... photos, not so much.  I was messing with the setting on my Camera and left the white balance on the wrong level.  :^(

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wednesday, Sep 15th - Maple Salmon with Wild Rice

So I was on hold on my blog while I let the voting for the Food Buzz Project Food Blog Challenge take it's course.  I'm glad to catch back up.  Feels so strange to have the extra time at the end of the evening. 

Dinner, was easy enough but very delicious nonetheless.  I know Rice and Potatoes seems like carb overkill but I felt like grilled Potatoes and D wanted to finish his Wild Rice mix.  Or was it the other way around.  No matter.  I love carbs.  D still struggles with that.  As a Korean, Rice is always on the plate.  Rice is the same word in Korean as Food, 'Bap'.  Every time he looks at the sinking levels of our Rice jar, he's always surprised.  Why?  You think he'd be used to it by now.

Maple Glazed Salmon

1/2 c Maple Syrup
1/4 c Cider Vinegar
1/2 t Paprika
Salt and Pepper

Whisk the ingredients together and taste. You may want to adjust the vinegar level to your preference.

Brush on the Salmon 15 minutes before BBQing.  And glaze as you cook. 

I made the Wild Rice mix with Vegetable Broth.

Tuesday, Sep 14 - Korean Cold Tofu Salad

I call this Tofu Salad quasi Korean because I cannot say that I have ever seen it in a restaurant or in other Korean homes.  Of course, it was invented by a Korean, my mom and it has typical Korean mise en place, Scallions, Sesame Oil, Sesame Seeds.  Mom started making this a few years ago during a really hot summer.  My folks have central air and in Toronto, it is essential.  Even so, the aged system, does not make the house dead cold like it used to.  To compensate, my folks have a number of space fans scattered around the house.  During the muggiest months in Toronto where it can it high 30'sC (~100F) with humidity, cool foods are a welcome salve. 

I'll admit the first time mom put cold, uncooked tofu in front of me, I had my doubts.  I had to admit to myself that it could not have been easy for her over the past couple of decades since I and my sister V gave up meat.  Korean's lurve meat!!  Well, love it in a historical cultural way that not alot of westerners may not understand.  I've been told by many Western folks who are interested in Korean cuisine and have been to Korea that they think Koreans probably love meat as much as Argentinians.  For Koreans, it's like a sort of cultural victory and celebration.  Meat and at time rice was only the foods for the extremely wealthy.   Foods like Kimchee were cheap and stored well.  Meat was expensive to buy, raise and store.  My parents did not have alot of meat growing up in Korea.  Now, the quality of living is light years from where it used to be and I think that Korean's are not revelling in it.  Having meat in our house as often as we did whilst growing up was mom and dad's way of saying, Ha! We can! 

Interestingly enough, my encyclopedia brained dad told me that alot of the meat eaten in Korea is rarely Korean raised meat.  Korean raised meat is still more expensive than imported meats including American and Canadian.  Wild.

So after fighting us on our vegetarianism by hiding meat in our food for a few years, Mom gave in and started improvising and now makes most of her Chigaes (stews) with fish or seaweed broth rather than pork bones or oxtails.  The Tofu Salad was one of these new things.  She will normally use fresh, organic, silken Tofu.  Mom's friend runs a Soon Dubu restaurant and shop and she makes fresh Tofu everyday.  It is nothing like the stuff I buy in vacuum pack plastic.  Still, it is pretty good.  I prefer the slightly firmer stuff than the Japanese silken variety that is too much like pudding.  The fresh Korean Dubu (tofu) has more structure than the Japanese desserty variety.  We eat this salad as a starter or side with plain rice with grilled, cooled fish in the summer.  When I am eating it as a craving, I will just eat it alone with some steamed rice. MMMMM

Korean Cold Tofu Salad
(serves 1)

150-200 g Cold Tofu (firmness you prefer)
2 T Low Sodium Soy Sauce
2 t Sesame Oil
1 Green Onion, chopped
1 t Sesame seeds
1/2 Chili, minced (optional)
1/2 t Chili flakes (optional)

Whisk all the ingredients below the Tofu.

Drain the tofu and cut the portion you want.  This was 1/2 a block for just me.  You can keep the other half covered in water in the fridge.  If it is organic, once it's open, forget the due date, it will only last 1-2 days more. 

Place on a plate and cut into bite sized cubes but leave it in the form of the original block.  Spoon over the dressing.  Serve chilled.

Soooooo good!


Monday, Sep 13th - Porcini Mushroom Ravioli in Herbed Marinara Sauce

If you follow me regularly, you know we have fresh Pasta quite often, at least once every two months if not monthly.  We do our own thing on the saucing but I love getting fresh stuffed Pasta from the pros.  Normally we go to the First Ravioli Shop on Commercial but if we do not have the time for our big Saturday shop, we will go to Granville Island Market to get some, at a premium, at Duso's or Zara's.  I think the source is common to all three but there is about a 30% mark up on the Island.  That said, D likes to point out to me that given the time, mileage and carbon footprint to drive to Commercial negates the savings unless it's a big shop.  He needs to do that because I do not drive.  I have only sat behind the wheel of a real car to turn the radio on.  I generally know what Gas costs through our household budget but how that translates to trips to Commercial Drive for Ravioli does not click for me automatically.

If you even want to go a step up, you can find the same producer (I think) but a bigger selection at Bosa Foods near the highway. (Vancouver only has one, seriously.)  They too are more expensive but I would say we have never had a disappointment with theirs, whereas, we have had less than stellar experiences at all three of the others.  Of course, that said, we've only picked the more expensive ones at Bosa because they look so pretty in the display.  What does less than stellar mean?  Well, have you ever ever had Chef Boyardee?  If you say no, I think you're either lying or are very lucky.  I'll admit I had it as a child.  Mom did not make alot of 'white' food and so if I wanted to try Ravioli, it was going to come from a can.  Well, the filling in those are uniform in colour and consistency.  It looks like a brownish-greyish mush.  It lack real flavour of the intended filling.  It tasted more like the pasta and the sauce.  The worst case the filling may taste like a stale sponge.  Well, we have experimented with alot of the flavours and occasionally the filling will be that brownish/greyish mush which is flavourless to stale in taste.  It is strange because it does not always depend on the robustness of the ingredients listed or the price.  We have seen this with the Porcini, Feta and Sundried Tomato and others.  Hit and miss but I know the minute I bite into it.

So when D chose Porcini on Saturday at Duso's I was a bit hesitant but since I did not have an alternative proposal, I rolled with it.  We had had the Porcini at Ravioli store and had the grey stuff.  Their cheaper Wild Mushroom Ravioli was nicer and mushroomier.  Well, it was a pleasant surprise to cut into the pasta to see recognisable bits of Porcini Mushroom.  The texture was nice and full of flavour.  The gentleman behind the counter insisted three times we cook it for 8 minutes but we have had dozens of goes at this and knew he was wrong.  We cooked it 10 and it was still slightly too al dente.

My tip to you is.  Ask them to cut 1 in half for you to have a look inside.  Even if they are chintzy enough to charge you, you will save yourself a disappointing meal and 10 dollars.  You should recognise the listed stuffing.  If it is Ricotta or Feta, look for a nice white cheese, for example.  If not, pass on it and choose something else. 

We served the Porcini Ravioli with a simple Marinara sauce with Olive Oil, Garlic and tinned Italian Tomatoes dressed up with a bunch of our fresh Balcony Herbs like Rosemary, Thyme, Parsley, Oregano and Basil.

Duso's Italian Foods

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

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sunday, Sep 12th - Salmon with Mango Avocado Salsa and Beet and Potato Rosti (Korean Fritter)

D bought a fresh, not frozen Wild Sockeye at the Fisherman's Wharf at Granville Island yesterday morning and then when I went out for some bits and pieces, he asked me to pick some more up to cut up and store.  I know we had just bought a few at Steveston a couple of weeks ago but they were flash frozen out on the water so we could not portion those out.  Well, not easily anyway.  The lady on the boat suggested freezing the cleaned portions in a saturated salt solution in freezer bags.  She said it was the best way to avoid freezer burn and that we could keep them that way for up to a year. 

As D cut out portions, he realised that his estimation of the weight was not where it used to be.  So on my plate above you'll see two pieces but they were actually quite small.  Well, at least he was willing to do the cleaning.  Oddly enough, he likes to clean fish.  I do not.  Scales get everywhere. 

We did a very simple BBQ of Salmon with D's Dean & Deluca Chipotle Spice Rub.  They have alot of the Dean and Deluca spices on Amazon but not this one.  We picked it up in the states.  We served a super tasty Mango and Avocado Salsa on top.

Mango and Avocado Salsa 

1 Mango, cubed
1 Avocado, cubed
1/4 c Red Onion, diced
1 Jalapeno Chili, minced
1 1/2 Limes, juiced
1/4 t Cumin
1/4 c Cilantro, chopped
Pinch of Salt
Ground Pepper

Mix all the ingredients together and let souse (soak) for at least 15 minutes but a half hour would be better.  It will mix all the flavours and take the edge off the Onion.  Serve on top of Fish or as a condiment on, Oh, I don't know, Salmon Tacos or something ;^)


I did an addition side because I had some Beets from the Farmers' Market that I really needed to get to.  It was generally a good idea.  I was generally going for something similar to a Cast Iron Hash like I've done before with Potatoes alone and a cross between a Korean Root Veg Fritter that Mom makes. I used 1 Egg, Thyme,  1/4 c Korean Pancake flour mix, Salt and Pepper.   Of course, I wasn't deep frying the giant fritter like mom does though.  And from a Beet Hash/Roesti, I used way way too much Beet.  I used two Baseball sized Beets and a medium Potato.  It was too much to really get the Hash very crispy.  It was rather soft in the middle.   It tasted alright but it didn't have the texture I had hoped for.  Oh well, can't win them all.  Next time I'll just use 1 small Beet and 1 small Potato. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

FOODBUZZ Project Food Blog Challenge #1 - "I Am My Mother's Daughter" - VOTING STARTS SEPTEMBER 20th

"the best place to start" - Buchart Gardens Victoria, British Columbia
I am floating down a long hallway. The walls are lined with large tiles that look like wood and are accented with a thin line of smaller glass tiles. I think to myself that I would like to do that to my backsplash and keep gliding on. Further down, there are several doors with people standing in each. They take my picture as I pass. One even whips out a light diffusing umbrella and I think 'Wow, that's overkill’. All of a sudden I am concerned that I haven’t looked in a mirror and realise that I am wearing my sweats. Not at all appropriate for an interview.

Then I realise that I have acknowledged that I am headed to an interview. I become aware that I am in a dream and try to will myself into a suit. It doesn't work and I start to sweat. I change tact and try to will myself into going to the gym. It's only mildly successful as I am now being interviewed in my gym. It stinks of sweat socks and insecurity so not unlike many interviews. I am standing in front of a glass wall facing my interviewing panel, who are sat on spinning bikes. A woman begins to speak as if in the middle of a conversation.

"Cleary it is a simple task. What defines you as a Food Blogger?”

The panel all start to nod. “Why should you be the next Food Blog star?”

I slap my hand on the glass and scream. “You’re asking the wrong question!”

I take a cricket bat that has appeared in my hand and smash the glass. “Ask me Why!?" I find myself standing in glass shards in a black leotard, wearing a headband and leg warmers. I decide that is enough and wake-up.

It is 6h00am on any day of the week. There are 3 things that are going through my head the minute I rouse. When is the latest I can leave to be on time? What will we make for dinner? Do I need to put a bottle in the fridge?

Carmen Petite Sirah 2004 - (me)
I have resorted to keeping a number of bottles of wine in our already cramped refrigerator because you never know and have justified the dedication of all that space to the fact that it is more energy efficient to have a full fridge.

What can I say? I am my mother’s daughter. I would have railed against that idea not ten years ago but that is the reality of it. One key difference though, besides a full foot in stature; I was eye to eye with her at the age of 13 and in another sense now, is the fact that I have come to accept that I am obsessed with Food. Well, I should qualify and say Eating. I was a few keystrokes away from saying ‘consumed’.

Me @ 2 sitting on table
Looking back, I have been intrigued with the process and ritual since I was a toddler. I often fell asleep sitting on the kitchen table, while watching mom make Kimchee long past my bedtime because that was the only time mom had. Back then the only way to buy bulk quantities of Korean Cabbage in Toronto was to know in which mini-mall parking lot to be during the wee hours of dawn on a weekend with dozens of other Korean moms to buy them from the back of a large truck. My job was to open and hold the jars for her to fill because her hands would be covered in the paste she was smothering on the Cabbage layers. That was decades ago and she uses gloves and dad now.

Recently, I flew Mom down to San Francisco to visit my sisters and went down for a weekend to join them. My sisters, slightly weary of having mom, who is normally thousands of kilometres away, whispered to me that they thought Mom was obsessed with Food. Mom overheard us, and V asked her point blank. She was appalled at the idea. Of course my sisters, who live on Trader Joe’s ready meals and bagged salads, would make that assessment on any of us. To Mom, V was asking the wrong question.

                Balinese Rice Paddy                                                              Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival

Fish Monger, Galapagoes                                                              Ramen House, Tokyo
My shocking conclusion was one that I have had to journey to piece together. Living, eating and traveling abroad and seeing the traditions and culture that food carries was only the mermaid on the ship’s hull. A few years ago, I was sharing a flat with a Canadian-Portuguese girl in England. Our fridge was always full. Well, it was full with her shopping. It reminded me of mom’s fridge. We were chatting about that because while I was in London, I was more of a shop-per-meal sort of singleton. She pointed to a tile over our kitchen door. It was a Portuguese adage about providing a bountiful table to all that enter. In that, she and I found more commonality in our upbringings as a Portuguese-Canadian and Korean-Canadian than we ever could have in Maple Syrup and the use of the letter U in the word colour.

Rainbow Dhuk - Korean Rice Cake
Food and Eating is an experience meant to be shared. In a Korean village, during even the most impoverished eras, if someone had enough rice to have made into Dhuk (Rice Cake), it was understood the whole community was invited to a piece. Similarly, more than half my baking goes to the office. It needn’t be glamorous to be celebrated and I certainly am not. So when we found ourselves snowed in last New Year’s Day in the biggest snowfall in Vancouver in my lifetime, we cooked and cooked. Since it was ‘Recovery day’, we had more than the two of us needed. I felt the need, the irrepressible pang to share it all, recipes, images, smells, flaws and simplicity. Hence, I started a blog to provide the same bounty to all that clicked and entered to join me. That is my why which is my what which is my why. ~

999 Words :^D not including photo captions. They don't count right?

Saturday, Sep 11 - D's Mystery Bouillabaise with Cioppino Stew

D's Mystery Seafood Stew
I took a nap for most of Saturday.  Well, that is mostly an exaggeration.  It was quite true after we got back into the house and early evening creeped in.  I peeled myself off the couch to smell dinner cooking.  I had vaguely recalled D pacing back in front of my view as he had probably been headed to our Balcony Herb Garden.  We had some seafood leftover from the Paella I made yesterday.  I had planned on jamming as much as I could into it but that still left quite a bit leftover.  So with it, D made an hybrid of a Bouillabaise and Cioppino, Californian Fish Stew.

I wandered with sleep still hanging off me like a fog to the kitchen to ask D for the ingredients and proportions he had used so I could blog it.  He gave an evil chuckle and said 'guess'.  I told him, no worries, I'll just add a narrative. I mean really, I do include recipes but they are mostly approximations of what I have actually done.  I tend to improvise.  I make a point of noting proportions of ingredients for future use.  I am, however, uber accurate about Baking.  Baking is chemistry and leaves less room for foregiveness for experimenting.  If the acidity or leavening is imbalanced you will end up with a flat puck or big uneven air blisters.   Stews on the other hand are incredibly understanding.

What do I know D put in his Mystery Seafood Stew?

1 large Tin Italian Tomatoes
2 Bay Leaves
fresh Thyme
fresh Oregano
fresh Rosemary
Red Onion
Jumbo Tiger Prawn
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

He served it over fried Polenta cakes.  This is a bit of a cheat but it is so good.  I love my Polenta, low or big fat, but my ability to stiffen it up to fry in cakes is not as expert.  So I buy pre made Polenta cake that comes in the shape of a large Sausage from the Italian Market or many supermarkets.  You simply need to slice and fry for a few minutes on each side in hot Olive Oil.

As for D and his Mystery Fish Stew,  it was delicious.  He considered not giving me the recipe that I slept through and dained to ask for, a small victory for all Blogger partners out there. :^D

Friday, Sep 10th - Dinner Party - Mushroom Crostini, Paella de Mariscos and Watermelon Gazpacho

Seafood Paella
We had friends over for dinner after much Outlook and Agenda juggling.  It only took 2 months.  Not bad.  K and V are readers of my blog and Twitter followers but not Twitters.  I don't know for certain if their fans or they read out of humourous curiousity. Eitherway they're reading, yay! 

They're quite into food and wine as we are so planning on having them over is that much more fun.  V joked that she'd taken an extra spinning class to prepare :^D.  It was going to be a bit trickier being a Friday so the Time Management Machine had to have her thinking cap on.  If it were a Saturday or Sunday, we'd leisurely cook and prepare bits all day, particularly the dessert.  I had to start that first, of course. 

I chose to make a Paella for the main.  The thing about the Paella is a bit of a double edged sword.  It is quicker and less complicated than some mains so works well for a Friday dinner party but you cannot really prepare it too far in advance or it will get cold or mushy.  So I was cooking for a while when K and V arrived and had some snacks and appetisers.  It was alright since our kitchen is open plan so is conducive to cooking and talking. As well, they were interested and enjoyed the process as well, I think.

D bought a lovely mix of Olives for the coffee table and Roasted some Cashews for the guests (badam-cha).  Blogging after a dinner party is a lot of work and probably too much reading.  We normally have 4-5 courses so I will not post all the recipes but will tell you about each.  D roasted some unsalted Cashews with some Paprika, Brown Sugar and chopped Fresh Rosemary for a cocktail snack.

For a starter or a rather large Amuse Bouche, we made some BBQ Flatbreads/Crostini with the dough we made yesterday for the BBQ Pizza.  So what is the difference?  The name and the toppings of course :^)  The first one was a Mushroom Ragout that is pre cooked and then placed on the crust as per the instructions on my BBQ Pizza post.  The second was a Flatbread/Crostini with 1/4 c of Local Blue Cheese crumbled sparingly all over then just before serving, top with fresh Baby Arugula, which we grow on our balcony.  It grows like weeds!  I love Blue Cheese but the Mushroom was was unbelievable and probably the more popular.

Mushroom Ragout BBQ Flatbreads/Crostini
(Serves 4-6 as appetiser)

1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 T finely chopped Shallots
2 t chopped fresh Thyme, divided
2/3 c Shiitake or Oyster Mushrooms, julienned
1 Portobella Mushroom, sliced
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
1 T Sherry/Red Wine Vinegar
1/4 c Masala/Sherry Wine
1/2 t Cornstarch
1 T Crème fraiche

Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic and shallot and cook until translucent, 1 to 2 minutes. Do not let the garlic brown. Add half the thyme and all of the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Let the Mushrooms cook over medium-high heat, do not over stir so they will brown. ~5 minutes.

Add the Vinegar and reduce until the pan is dry. Combine the Cornstarch in the Masala until dissolved and add to the pan. Cook until reduced and there is almost no liquid left in the pan.

Remove from heat and stir in Crème fraiche. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Use as the topping on the BBQ'd flatbread on the BBQ and garnish with the other half of the Thyme.

We served them and the Cashews with an Artazuri Rose 2009

For our Soup, D made a lovely chilled Watermelon based Gazpacho.  It had all the key ingredients similar to a Tomato Gazpacho, including Tomatoes but the bulk of the base, is 2 lbs of Chopped, Seeded Watermelon.  Instead of blending all the ingredients you only blend the Watermelon and the Cucumbers, Celery, Onion, Pepper, and Tomato go in finely chopped.  D topped the lovely Fuscia bowl off with a meaning full dollop of Creme Fraiche and a sprig of Mint.  Creme Fraiche does not really come fat free.  It is 40% milk fat and tastes like 120%.  I do not care for the creme on the soup but the others did.  I would say it is optional. 

We served the soupe with a Basa Rueda Blanco 2008

Our main was a lovely Paella de Mariscos.  When I realised I was out of Spanish Casparilla rice and only had Basmati or Arborio, I opted to use the Arborio.  The thing about Arborio is that it does not plump without coaxing and time.  That is why it is primarily used in Risotto.  The Casparilla or Medium Grain white need only be added to the pan with the broth after sauteeing the aromatics.  The Arborio needs stirring and time.  It was okay.  I cooked it 3/4 of the way along while I chatted with K and V then I added back the Sauteed Vegetables, and Seafood.  I covered it for 5-10 minutes because your home stove is rarely big enough nor hot enough for a 4-6 person Paella Pan. 

You're looking at 300-400 g of Arborio rice for 4 people with 2 lbs of a variety of Seafood to have a decent Seafood to Rice ratio.  I have reduced the amount of rice over the years.  It is about 1 1/2c.  I used, Squid, Manila Clams, fresh, and Jumbo Tiger Prawn.  Essential to Paella and not open to compromise is the use of Saffron.  You need to use for the characteristic aroma and bright yellow hue it infuses into the broth and rice.  When in season, I make a mean Spot Prawn Paella too!

I like to serve it on the table and serve the first helping and allow guests to serve themselve seconds or to take the bits of seafood they want.  Serve with Lemon Aoli.  You could make your own mayonaisse but why?

Lemo Aoli (Easy)

2/3-1 c low fat May
2 cloves Garlic, finely minced or using a Garlic Press
1/2 Lemon, juiced and zested
Whisk the ingredients thoroughly and set aside, covered in the refridgerator for at least an hour.
We finished the Basa with the Paella then opened a Red, Artazuri Garnacha
For dessert, I baked a Blueberry and Chocolate Crumble.  That was the first thing I made as soon as I walked in the door.  It is quite a simple dessert to assemble.  D had offered to make a pie but we had used all the AP for the pizza dough and weren't convinced Wholewheat flour would work in a pie crust.  I will post the crumble in full on it's own at a later date.  K and V brought some Yummo ice cream to have with it. 

We served dessert with a M. Chapoutier Banyuls sweet wine:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thursday, Sep 9th - BBQ Pizzas before the Rains came

BBQ Red Pepper and Pesto Pizza
So as I mentioned yesterday, I had a Pizza craving yesterday.  We filled that cheesy void with Quesadillas instead.  D had a different craving tonight.  He was determined to eke out every minute of BBQ time we could clock before the dreaded North West rains came.  The forecast showed rain from Friday to Monday.  D had come home early that day from a late afternoon Dental so I returned to find the dough already rising!  Too cool.  We have made the BBQ dough before.  In a couple of places, they recommend Cake flour.  I do not understand why.  It seems counterintuitive to me to have such fine flour in a recipe that normally calls for high gluten.  Anyhoo, it was not an issue because we do not have Cake flour in the house.  Cake flour is a finer grind and less gluten which allows for more delicate and tender baking for things like Cake, Baguette or Gravy (less lumps).    Oh well, next time.  D used up all the flour so we can't make the pie we wanted to make for Friday's dinner party anyway.  I'll buy some of both next time I do a shop.

Along the theme early this week about simplified ingredient lists.  D only used 1 per pizza.  The dough recipe below will make 12" x 6" cracker thin Pizzas.  We saved two portions as an appetiser for dinner Friday.

BBQ Eggplant Pizza
BBQ Pizzas

BBQ Pizza Dough Recipe HERE

Cilantro Pesto and Roasted Red Bell Peppers (you can use jarred or BBQ your own by charring the skin off) with fresh Basil
Red and Marinated Eggplant (we use San Remo Brand but this link is similar) fresh Oregano and Parsley

It's almost fall here folks! Enjoy it while it lasts :^D


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wednesday, Sep 8th - Quesadillas and Super Slaw on a busy 'School Night'

Quesadilla Ingredients
I really felt like pizza's tonight.  It was D go at cooking but I really felt like pizzas.  More accurately, I wanted cheese!  We had an engagement later in the evening so we had to be able to have dinner pretty quick so Pizza was probably not in scope.  I opted for the next best thing, Quesadillas.  Not to sound like a sound bite from Heathly Living or something but if you do alot of Mexican cuisine right, and by right I mean NOT the 99c value meal at Taco Bell, it can be incredibly healthy.  I do not like the idea that because of that Pepsi run behemoth it tends to be categorised in the mass market as junk food.  In some ways that's great right?  For parents I mean.  Kids love things like Tacos and Nachos, there's not alot of work in convincing them to be excited about dinner.  We don't have Taco Bell in Vancouver anyway so it's not really an options.   There is a quiosk in the large Cineplex on Burrard but that's it and you know that those smaller quiosks are even less fresh than a full restaurant, if that's even possible.  Their Guacamole looks like the Wasabi paste in those tubes.

We often have Soft Flour wraps in the house after a camping weekend when we've had the Smoked Salmon.  The Smoked Salmon in the foil packs is normally a full Salmon so we do not eat or take it all.  There is a lot of sandwhich filler left.  I told D I fancied Quesadillas and that I would use some of the Salmon.  D bought a bit of a Skirt Steak home to pan fry for his Quesadillas.    I think traditionally Mexican Quesadillas are much much simpler, like just cheese.  Perhaps it is an evolution or North American adaptation.  I am not sure.  I had a Mexican flat mate in Spain and he liked my Quesadillas :^).  He taught me how to do a proper Salsa as well, but that's another post.

When D arrived home and I had chopped most of the veg, he was carrying a random assortment of vegetables J, from his office sent home with him.  She shares an Organic vegetable home delivery box with her neighbours and since they are away she was faced with more than she could eat through.  Since she reads my blog, she offered us some of her surplus. How lovely.  She gave us a few Cucumbers, Fennel, big Carrot and Cabbage.  D went into a massive slaw making fury.  I made half the dressing from our Super Slaw recipe.  We did not have the Purple Cabbage but it was yummo nonetheless. 

Using the 8" Soft Flour Tortillas, we find that 1 and a half is more than a filling meal. 


6 Soft Flour Tortillas
1 1/2 c grated Cheddar, Mozzarella or Monterey Jack (use proper Mexican cheese if you can find it)
2 Jalapenos, minced
2 T fresh Parsley, chopped
2 T fresh Cilantro, chopped
1 Avocado, sliced
1/4 c thinly sliced Red Onion
2 Red Bell Peppers (Capsicum), sliced
1/3 large Yellow Zucchini, sliced
2-3 oz Protein of your choice, Shrimp, Fish, Tofu, Beef or nothing....
1 Tomato diced
Salt and Pepper

1/2 c Salsa, garnish
1/2 c Sour Cream, garnish

In a small skillet, I pan fried the peppers to soften them up and set them aside.  D cut his Steak into 1 cm inch wide strips and cooked them Medium Rare and set them aside for filling.

Heat a large non stick pan on Medium heat.  Now I build the bottom on a plate and slide it in.  D builds it in the pan.  Up to you.  Do not oil the pan.

Place a thin layer of Cheese on the first flour Tortilla.  Think of it more as glue than a topping so do not use too much.  Add the other vegetables as per your taste.  Do not over load.  Finish with another thin layer of Cheese and place the other Tortilla on top and press down.   Check the bottom.  After 5 minutes the bottom should be starting to brown.  Place a plate on top of your Quesadilla that is smaller than the pan.  Flip the whole pan over while holding on to the Plate. You should now have the plate right side up in your hand with the Quesadilla sitting on it with the bottom cooked side up.  Slide that back into the Pan and cook for another few minutes.

Use a Pizza slicer to cut into wedges.  Garnish with the Hot Sauces or Condiments of your choice.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Tuesday, Sep 7th - Sunny Thai Green Curry with Prawn

I have tried to take a cue from D about simplifying my cooking.  I am sure that if I were on Top Chef, I'd be the cook that they told needs 'more editting'.  In soups, omlettes, pizzas, quesadillas, what have you, I always try to add too much.  I suffered as a child when mom put out too many 'Ban Chan' (Korean condiments) try to put as many as I could in my mouth with each spoonful of rice.  :^P 

D likes to limit veg contributions to 1 or 2.  Less confusion and cleaner flavour, I guess.  I tried to do that with today's Thai Curry except I went thematic.  On busy days and on a regular basis because of the simplicity and yummoness, we make Thai Curries.  You're assured of fresh Veg, great flavour and a good kick if you do it right.  We were still pretty knackered after our camping so dinner after work needed to be as effortless as possible.  Tonights thematic Thai Green Curry was Sunshine.

Start Rice or in our case tonight, Quinoa now.

Sunny Thai Green Curry with Prawn
(Serves two with 1-2 lunches depending on seconds)

1 medium Orange Sweet Potato, cubed
1/3 large Yellow Zucchini (~2/3 - 1 c), cubed
1 Orange Bell Pepper (Capsicum), chopped
1/2 small Onion, sliced
1/2 tin Chick Peas (Garbanzo Beans)
16 Prawns, shelled
3-4 T Green Thai Chili Paste (We use Mae Ploy and keep it in the freezer. Lasts over a year)
1 Chili minced
1 inch Ginger, sliced
2-3 cloves Garlic, chopped
1 tin Coconut Milk
1-2 c Vegetable Broth/Water
1/2 c chopped fresh Cilantro

Microwave the Sweet Potato for 3 minutes on high.  Or steam them for 4-5 minutes.  Depends on the amount of dishes you want to use.  I use one of the dinner plates in the microwave.  If I am on a Microwave aversion day, I will steam them over the rice.

Have the vegetables all chopped and ready.  Open the tin of Coconut milk and have it ready.  Have the additional water or broth in a measuring cup there too.

Heat a large Wok on medium High.  Add 1 T of Peanut Oil or Canola Oil.  Add the Vegetables in this order about 1-2 minutes apart: Onion, Zucchini, Bell Pepper, Ginger, Chili. 

Add the Green Thai Curry Paste and smash down and break up the bigger lumps.  It will smoke so turn your fan and try not to breath directly over the wok.  Add the Garlic for less than a minute.  I do not like burned garlic.  Add the Coconut Milk stir and mix up the Curry Paste well.  I add the water to the tin of Coconut milk to swirl around and add to the wok.  You may not need a full 2 cups but at least 1 c.  More if you're using Rice as the bed because while it is piping hot, it will get dry on the plate. Add the Fish sauce now.  Taste before adding too much.  I add it here because if you add it to the dry wok, it will vapourize and disappear leaving a very fishy smell in your kitchen and not alot more. :^P Add the Sweet Potatoes and Chick Peas. Let simmer. 

Add the Prawn about 5-10 minutes before serving so they don't go too rubbery.  Serve on Quinoa and garnish with Cilantro. MMMMM


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Monday, Sep 6 - SHA LIN Noodle House Take Out Menu On-Line

For breakfast when camping, we normally stick to instant Oatmeal.  It's light to carry and very nutrious if you don't have the over sugared variety.  We like to call it Gruel.  I love it.  It just feels healthy eating it.  I don't eat it at home, oddly enough.  Last year, we camped once in on Garibaldi and our site was in the middle of a wild Blueberry field.  I was excited and worried at the same time to be sleeping in a field of Bear Candy.  Anyhoo, it was great for the Gruel.  This time however, we did have the Bread and Cheese with brought for lunches and butter leftover, so I suggest we have Grill Cheeses.  MMMMM comfort in your palm.  We could not spread the Butter since it was pretty cool the night before so we just melted it in the pan an fried the Wholewheat bread directly in it with a healthy chunk of Cheddar.  My only regret is that we did not have any Ketchup.

The skies opened up during our drive home.  The rains have returned on queue for the fall on the North West coast.  Until next Summer, the clear skies will be a fleeting 'fairweather' friend.  By the time we were en route home it was in that middling time where it was too late for lunch but too early for supper so we decided to get food in town as takeout.  The easiest for us and fool proof is Sha Lin Noodle.  You have seen me write about them several times and I've eaten there several times you haven't seen.  The thing is, it is easiest, for takeout to order ahead and pick up.  They make the noodles and your dish to order so it saves time!   The infuriating thing is that not alot of the smaller restaurants in Vancouver have websites nor an online menu.   So I had to default to ordering my usual but I was really in the mood for something different.  Oh well.

As I have written before, Sha Lin is not there to provide any ambience but it is always packed often with a line despite the empty Noodle restaurants that flank it.  Actually, I think one has recently shut down and a Japanese tapas restaurant just opened up.  Sha Lin creates your order to order from the dough.  Their noodles come in 4 varieties: Cutting, Dragging, Hela and Pushing.  I describe them at greater length here.  Cutting, my favourite, are shaved with sharp knife from a large block of dough directly into boiling water.

Sha Line Noodle House Cumin Cutting Noodle with Tofu
I had #2 Fried Noodle with Cumin and so did D except he had Pork and I had Tofu.  Call about 15-20 minutes ahead and your dish will be ready......Here is the menue.  Bookmark it!  The only other one I found was a photo of their enormous photo menue poster.  Completely illegible from that photo :^(.  I am posting here for all of you who have found you in this same position and for myself in the future because I am 101% positive it will come to pass again.  I try to leave some menues the car but alas, they do not make it long between D's cleansing of the car of my leavings.  Bookmark it!  I will.

Sha Lin Noode House Menu - click to enlarge
Sha Lin Noode House Menu - click to enlarge
Sha Lin Noode House Menu - click to enlarge
Sha Lin Noode House Menu - click to enlarge
Cost: $-$$
Ambience: Kitchen/Dive
Staff: Efficient and friendly
Location: Cambie/City Hall near Skytrain
Licensed: Yes

Sha Lin Noodle House
548 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1E9
(604) 873-1816

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Sunday, Sep 5th - Hiking Sandwiches and Chanterelles in Butter with Pesto on Capellini

Camping Breakfast
We took a leisurely time with breakfast today and had some lovely Eggs on Bread with Beans.  D had never seen that before.  Actually, he thought the whole concept of Beans at breakfast was just odd.  I did not really think about this.  When do North American's eat their Baked Beans.  I am a North American but I do not remember when I used to eat them as a child.  We did not really have them that often.  In England, they are n institution.  Beans on Toast is as a big a staple 'meal' as Peanut Butter and Jam here.  One of the more popular loaf bread brands in the UK has a photograph of Baked Beans screened onto the packaging.  I remember my flatmate would come home quite late, toast and Flora (margarine) his bread, place them flat on a plate and pour some heated Baked Beans over it.  That's pretty much it.  That's how they're eaten.  They are on the side of a Full English (aka Full English Breakfast).  I thought it was Yum and I bought this variety that had Chipotle flavouring.  It was quite stodgy though and I had forgotten how much so.  It was a good thing we were going to work it off.

I like hiking.  A good hike is nice.  You're outdoors.  You're excercising and challenging yourself.  The tough bit is that I am a goal oriented person.  I like to know what the destination is and the point.  We chose a trail based on the most vague of maps.  The ranger there gave us a few recommendations but they were also quite vague.  I mean, I need to know I'm going to reach a summit, a ridge, a lake or an awesome view.  We were told none of that and the maps were like a doctor's signature on a blank piece of paper.  Well, at least the ones available at the Ranger station and welcome centre were.  Some people we met along the way had hiking books with better descriptions.  So suffice it to say that I moaned most of the way.  We hike for over 4 hours and there was no view at the end since we were enveloped by thick clouds by that time.  As well D had told me it was going to be a moderate hike, since I was feeling a bit under the weather.  It was straight up hill on switch backs for the last mile.  Oh, wait let me explain the moaning.  The entire path was a razors edge cut into the side of a mountain the whole way along where we passed another hiker at least every 10 minutes.  There were no large growths or fields where a girl could find some privacy. It did not help that every once in a while I would see evidence that a gentleman did not feel the same reservation. Grrrrr!  And there's D insisting I keep hydrated.  I'd sooner have passed out from dehydration and have D carry me back than add to the existing pressure.

Hiking Sandwich
At the top, we stopped on a rock for some food.  Simple stuff.  We had bought some Smoked Salmon, the cooked variety in a foil vacuum seal pack.  We brought along some Cheddar and nice Wholewheat bread to add to the fresh Lettuce and Tomato we had picked up at the Farmer's Market in Port Townsend.  I can't believe I hadn't hung on to some Mustard packs from the cafeteria or take out.  That would have been awesome.  I don't have sandwiches too often.  I think of it as my last ditch option for lunch.  Dunno, I think I might have had too much 'Pret a Manger' whilst living in London.  They live on ready made Sandwiches there.  The exception being is Grilled Panini with too much cheese. MMMMM I haven't found a good place near work though. :^(  That digression being said, a nice big sandwhich is great after a gruelling hike.  My only reservation from complete enjoyment was that we had the full travel back!  If you are going to hike in Olympic National Park around Hurrican Pass or Khalahanie Ridge, bring your own guidebook.  The park Maps suck!


Chanterelle Mushrooms from Pacific Crest Foragers
Dinner was quite posh for camping, if I do say so myself.  I mean there wasn't anything to complex about it bu there's something to be said for adding Chanterelles into the mix.  Come on!  I even found some Chives and Thyme growing in the planter by the Ranger station.  I used some on the Eggs at breakfast too. 

Cilantro and Cashew Pesto on Capellini with Chanterelle Mushrooms
The Chanterelles we bought from Pacific Crest Foragers in Port Townsend were quite mild and meaty.  I quite liked them.  Last year, they went on sale on Commercial and we bought a few kilos.  There were large and beautiful and had quite a pungent floral quality to them.  I wasn't sure I'd be able to face them again ever. I'm glad I'm over that.  We added them to our Cilantro and Cashew Pesto and Capellini.  Capellini is great for Camping because it is the quickest cooking pasta so you can save on fuel and fading sunlight.  It's easy enough to pack Pesto for a short trip.  It is not overly perisable and volume and weight-wise, it is not as big a 'burden' as a jar of red sauce.  And the added mushrooms made the meal more substantial which we earned with all that hiking. :^D