Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesday, May 10th - Butternut Squash and Blue Cheese Risotto

Butternut Squash and Blue Cheese Risotto
We usually go on a Squash and Root Veg frenzy in the fall when they're in season and absolutly absurdly priced.  What with the global movement of food stuffs nowadays, the seasons seem less and less relevant. This week at the market, there were some lovely Butternut Squash on sale along with some other very Thanks Givingy foods.  D tends to gravitate to the Squash pile if there is one.  We don't have to plan for Butternut Squash dishes during the week.  If D sees them, they will happen. 

We have made several different Butternut Squash Risotto including one that doesn't even have Rice but Barley.  It is very versatile and combines well with things like Leek or Chestnut.  So this is just a subtle variation but one that has a marriage of flavours that is surprising and striking.  We placed slices of Salt Spring Blue Cheese on top but you could easily crumble it in for better distribution.  Let it melt a little before mixing in at the table.  So lovely!

Butternut Squash and Blue Cheese Risotto

2-3 cups diced Butternut Squash, 1 cm cubed
I am purposely ball parking the filler because you should play around with it as much as you like. D is conservative with the veg so the beginning of the range is his measurements.1c (1/2 c Arborio rice per person)
1.5-2 l stock, using dried, all natural, no sodium veggie stock
Now this is legitmately a ballpark. You may need more or less depending on your rice or how hard you like the rice. I like it softer.
3 sprigs of fresh Thyme on the sprig so you can lift it out 
1 large Shallot, minced
1c Dry White Wine (try for no or light on the oak)
3-4 T Butter!
1-2 T Blue Cheese per serving
1/3 c fresh Parmesan, grated
1 t minced fresh Rosemary Parsley, for serving (fresh only, leave off if you don't have fresh or substitute Parsley)

In a large fry pan fry the Squash in half the Butter until just tender and set aside (~8-10 minutes) trick is to use a large pan so the veg is not crowded and is mostly in 1 layer.

In the same pan add some olive oil and butter, about 1 T each. Add the shallot and saute for about a minute until just softened. Add the Rice and the thyme. Stir until all the rice is coated and shimmering and slightly toasted.

Add a ladle of stock and stir, stir, stir with a wooden spoon until it is almost completely absorbed. I.e. you should be able to draw a mote down the pan with your spoon and it will not close back up immediately.  Add another and another until it's all done the same way. It'll be about half an hour at least. Taste it to see if it is the texture you like. When you're one ladle away, turn the heat off, add about 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan.add the ladle add the veg back and cover for a few minutes (this last bit is optional). Add 1 last pat of Butter to finish. Salt and pepper to taste. You may not need any Salt depending on your Broth.

Serve with a few Tablespoon sized servings of Blue Cheese and the minced Rosemary.  I insist you use fresh Rosemary or nothing.  Dried Rosemary will not work here.  Use Parsley otherwise.

Serve warm with a nice Cabernet Sauvignon.


Tuesday, March 29th - House of Empanadas - Hidden Gem!

House of Empanadas
There are restaurants you would never find unless you fall into them on the way to somewhere else or if a friend recommends them.  Or in our case, sometimes we see them of Food TV.  One of my favourite Italian places in the Seattle area came about that way.  Anyhoo, in the case of the House of Empanadas it was a bit of a combination of proximity and Bobby Flay's Throwdown show.

Off Davie in the West End, far enough away from the beach and from downtown that you may never find it is the House of Empanadas.  If it weren't for our needing to stay in a 2 block walking distance from St. Paul's, we may never have found it.  Actually, in addition, if it weren't for having recently seen Bobby Flay have an Empanada Throwdown in NYC, we may not of known what a tasty and cultural pocket of goodness Empanadas can be. 

Their menu has nearly a dozen different fillings PLUS a few dessert mini Empanadas as well.  The savory ones come with a some fresh Chimichurri sauce on the side, a spicy green pistou.  D had the Pork and I had the Mushroom and we split a Vegetarian.  For dessert we split a couple of the dessert Empanadas. 

The dough was tender and light.  The filling was the star of the show.  The Mushroom one was exceptionally plentiful on the shrooms and the whole pocket was not a dough fest like some, say, Panzarotti can be. D loved the Pork.  It was well cooked and seasoned. The other difference from some styles is that they are baked instead of deep fried.  Although, deep frying is always dangerously addictive, baking did not detract from their yummoness.  The dessert ones on the other hand were a bit more doughy to filling because of their size.  They were alright.

They sold Yucca and Plantain chips to go as well, which is a plus for me :^D.  If we lived closer, this would be a regular lunch place for us.  As it is, we have agreed that we'll have to make a point of visiting the area for an empanada.

Side note, according to the Empanada dude on the Throwdown, the fork seamed pockets are not autentico.  They should be crimped like pie crusts.  The fork crimping is for Pastelitos. I wasn't personally fussed and they were tasty non the less

Service: Prompt (to go)
Cost: $$

House of Empanadas
Robson Street/West End
1220 Bute Street
Vancouver, BC V6E
(604) 699-8977
House of Empanadas on Urbanspoon
to go Lunch


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday, May 22nd - post Rapture Laziness - "I'm Still Here" - iPad Bookmark Icon for Yummo

iPad/iPod ICON
I got a new iPad 2.  It's alright once you stop expecting it to be what it's not, meaning a computer.  There are websites I cannot see or use, which is incredibly annoying.  Editting this blog is impossible because uploading photos does not work.  So if I travel, I will still have to bring my Acer Netbook.  Blah.  Still, middle of the night wake up calls, watching movies or doing the New York Times crossword puzzles are fun.  Plus the real reason we got it was to do video calls with Mom and Dad out east so they'd  stay in touch and FINALLY learn how to use a computer.  They're quite into it.  After years of trying to get them to use email and the internet, the simple interface of the iPad has Dad hooked.  He even used the phrase 'OMG' to comment on a photo I posted of T.

That said, I tried to Bookmark to the homepage like an App but iPad only takes a screenshot and without an 'official' Icon. The Icon of your bookmark is the screenshot as you save it. So if you zoom in on a photo, squared, as you save it, you should have a clean Icon.  So I'm posting my icon so I can have a proper photo on my iPad pages and so can you BUT that means everytime you go back to that page, it's zoomed in.

SO if you want to properly add an iPAD, iTouch icon for your booked marked page, it's pretty easy.

To make an iPad Icon for your Blogger Blog.:

1. Choose a photo.  Square it out.  You can crop it to 72x72 pixels but you don't have to because it will happen automatically.  The iPhone dimensions are 57x57 and it does not seem to like icons that are not pre-shrunk.

2. Save it as a PNG file called apple-touch-icon.png .  Upload it to a publically accessible address or do as I did and post it to you blog.  If you're posting it to your blog because you don't have a public drive then you have to publish the post.  Click on the photo to get the address. "http://www.example.com/apple-touch-icon.png"
3. Go to your Dashboard and select the Design Tab.
4. Choose, EDIT HTML.  Back up your Template before editting, if you're worried.
5. Look for the "Head" line.
6. Just below it paste  link href="http://www.example.com/apple-touch-icon.png" rel="apple-touch-icon" (in pointy brackets, I can't type them here because it interferes with the code and Blogger rejects it!), replacing the http://www.example.com with the address of your photo.
7. Save your template and you're set to go.
8. If you don't want the post to be on top, you can select a very old date under "Post Options" in the post with your photo.

Now, on your iPod,iTouch or iPad, you can Bookmark your Blog or Yummo.ca to your "Homescreen" and you'll have a proper icon! 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday, May 21st - pre Rapture Leaven Cornbread - Dare I say, heavenly, mmmmmm!

pre Rapture Leaven Cornbread

I have been meaning to bake bread for a few weeks now but really not found the window. But there is something irreplaceable about homemade fresh bread that cannot be replaced. It nagged and nagged and here I was today trying to make bread with one hand. I did, seriously make this with one hand. Thankfully, I have conceded that using the old Mixer is a heaven send instead of hand mixing and kneading. I knead to form by hand but that's it. This is great bread. It's oddly surprising and pleasant because of the Corn Flour's nuttiness and texture. Corn does not have gluten so the bread does have a tenderness you don't have to try for. Yet the Bread Flour I used to ensure enough chewiness, get it the classic bubbly look and mouth feel. MMMMMM

pre Rature Leaven Cornbread

1 c warm Water
1/2 c Milk
1 1/2 T Honey
2 t Yeast (or 1 envelope)
2 t Salt
2 c Bread Flour (+/- 1/4 c)
1 1/2 c Corn Flour
1 t Spanish Paprika (optional)
1 t ground Cumin (optional)
1/2 T Olive Oil
1/4 Cornmeal

In your mixer, add the Water and Milk. I like to add the cold Milk to Hot Water to have the appropriate tempurature. Dissolve the Honey into the liquid. Sprinkle the Yeast over and let stand for 10 minutes.

Add the Salt and stir briefly.

Add 1 1/2 c of the Bread Flour and all the Corn Flour (NOT CORN MEAL) and the spices. Mix on very low so as not to have a face full of Flour from mixing too fast. Add more of the Bread Flour by Tablespoon until the dough mostly pulls away from the sides of the bowl cleanly. It will be a VERY sticky dough. Mix on 4 on a Kitchenaid for 8-10 minutes.

Lightly Oil a large mixing bowl with the Olive Oil. Slather with one hand and do not wipe that hand. You'll need the lubrication in the next step.

Turn the dough out into the bowl with your Oiled hand. It will be very sticky and on the softer side.

Cover and let stand at room temperature for 2-3 hours.

Deflate gently with your hand by pulling the very foamy soft dough away from the sides of the bowl and forming into a ball.

Sprinkle the cornmeal into a baking sheet. Turn the ball on to the baking sheet. Slice with a sharp knife three times. Let rise cover with a bowl or something the ball will not touch for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 450F.

Just before placing the loaf into the oven, throw a 1/4 c Water into the oven to help build a nice crust. Quickly pace the sheet into the oven and close the door. Reset the oven to 400F.

Bake for 30 - 35 minutes.

Let cool for 15 - 20 minutes.

Serve warm with Butter.... MMMMMM rapturey goodness.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Saturday, May 7th - Bestest Butteriest Berriest Scones

Butteriest Berriest Scones
Last summer, D and I bought 2 pallets of fresh Blueberries at a farm south of Surrey.  We had originally planned to go picking but with the mandatory charge for the boxes and picking fee, it actually cost less to buy the picked ones they had.  Isn’t that mad?  Anyhoo, after nearly half a day of washing, drying, flat freezing (on a sheet) and packing, we had enough Blueberries to get us through a whole year.  And believe you me, we were not holding back.  They were in our baked goods, yogurt, jams, cereal all year.  D wants to buy three pallets this year.  The process I followed does sound daunting but it results in berries that freeze as separate Berries and defrost like separate Berries rather than a Blueberry iceberg.  But if you’re not fussed, then simply wash, dry and freeze them. 
Well, anyhoo, we discovered this weekend we had finally run out.  We bought some frozen berries so my visiting folks could make their regular smoothies with.  Dad has one every morning.  Well, as it turned out, they did not want to have them on ‘vacation’ so we had these store bought Berries leftover from their visit.  So D woke up early and made them for us for Mother’s day weekend.  You gotta milk the guilt holidays while you can, right?

Butteriest Berriest Scones

8 T (1 stick) Butter, frozen solid + 1-2T melted
1 c Frozen Berries, your choice (Blueberries or Raspberries work best)
¾ c Milk (cut in Sourcream if you have it for upto half)
2 c All Purpose Flour
½ c Vanilla Sugar + additional for topping
2 t Baking Powder
¼ t Baking Soda
½ t Salt, fine
½ Lemon, zested (or Orange)
1 t Lemon juice

Preheat oven to 425

Butter must be frozen solid and not just cold.  Grate your butter on wide mouthed grater.  Place back into freezer until needed.

In a small bowl, whisk wets (Milk, Lemon Juice and Salt) together.  Keep cold.  In a large bowl, whisk dries together (not including berries).  Add the grated butter to the dries (Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, and Zest*) and toss until well incorporated and dusted.  Add the wets to the dries. Fold in gently until it just holds together. 

On a clean surface, liberally dust with Flour.  Turn out the dough until the surface. Dust your hands with flour.  Knead until the dough just holds together in a ball buy pushing out with the heal of your hands then gathering back in, turning quarter turn then repeating.  Do not knead more than a minute or so or you’ll develop gluten and have tough Scones.  Add additional flour to the surface as needed.

Wrap in plastic and chill in freezer for 10 minutes. 

On a floured surface again, roll out the chilled dough to 12 inches (30 cm) square.  Spread out the frozen Berries.  Do NOT defrost.  In fact, if you are using fresh, I recommend you clean and freeze them while you’re doing the first steps.  We have done this with fresh, defrosted and frozen and frozen works best!  It also keeps the Butter in the dough stay cold longer.  Press the Berries into the dough slightly with a rolling pin.  If you have larger berries, you may want to chop them up (i.e. Strawberries).  

Roll up the dough like a jelly roll with the Berries on the inside of course.  Form into a tight log about 4” wide and the original 12” long.  Slice the log into 4 even pieces, 3” long.  Then cut each of the pieces in diagonal. 

Place on to a baking sheet.  Brush with the melted Butter and extra Vanilla Sugar.  Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool on a rack slightly or risk molten Berry burn.

* I like to add the Salt to liquid often to avoid large ‘hits’ of Saltiness. Works well for dips like Guacamole too!


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wednesday, April 27th - Firewood Cafe - Hunt for decent Pizza in Vancouver goes on

Cardboard Crusted Salty Vegetarian
Today was one of those days, we had no idea what to make for dinner.  We had originally thought my folks were going to be in tonight but they decided to spend the whole day and evening being proper tourists.  They started by taking the free shuttle to the Capilano Suspension Bridge and then eating dinner in some random ramen house on Robson.  So we were thrown off since we had a dinner planned but we post poned it.  Then as it happened, my friend K was visiting from Calgary for work and she was able to pop by for dinner.  We decided to keep it simple and order pizza.

Let me be clear, though exposing myself to some unpopular rebuttal, Vancouver has NO GOOD TAKE OUT PIZZA and the restaurant pizza is not much better.  In the last couple months, we've heard a new place opened up in Gastown by a gent who went to Italy for Neopolitan certification. We are dying to try it.  Before then, the place everyone told us to try when we moved here was Lombardo's on Commercial.  Yeah, I'd give it a miss.  It was thick, bready, greasy and not much better than the large franchise pizzas. :^( Then when the regular winners of eater polls include the large chains, I have a despair deja vu.

We purposefully searched for a nearby pizza restaurant we hadn't tried that sounded right. I mean they had a wood burning oven so it was a step in the right direction, we thought.  Other reviews claimed it was different than the other bad pizza in Vancouver.  Though, I think many of us are numbed to the mediocrity.  Luckily we travel enough to Seattle and San Francisco and make our own to still have a taste and expectation for GOOD pizza.  Firewood Cafe was NOT.

I chose the Grilled Vegetarian and D ordered the Special of the month with Italian Sausage.  They were both very greasy and salty.  The crust was tough and bready, they type you eat around and leave piled up like firewood in the box.  The Vegetarian was the least vegetarian pizza I have ever seen.  Eggplant would usually thrill me but the combination on this one was VERY heavy and salty.  Next time, if we order in when expecting a friend, I'll play it 'safe' and go for Panago.  :^( Chain franchises makes yummo sigh.

They are about 10 minute drive from us and it took nearly an hour for delivery!!!

Cost: $$-$$$
Service: Delivery SLOOOOOW!
Crust: Thick, dry, bready and cardboardy

The Firewood Cafe
3004 Cambie St
Vancouver, BC V5Z
(604) 873-0001
The Firewood Cafe on Urbanspoon
Cardboard crust & SLOW delivery


Monday, May 09, 2011

Sunday, March 27th - Dan Sung Sa - Korean secret in the West End

Dansungsa - Seafood Soon Dubu Chigae
I used to live near the West End a couple of years ago.  I used to pass this place all the time.  It is a tiny standalong building with a snazzy looking exterior.  That, oddly, turned me off trying it.  I'm used to Korean restaurants being much more homey and ... well, dumpy.  That and I was a little suspect of the one random Korean restaurant in the West End.  You see, there are so many Korean joints all over town it's really hard to find a good one.  I've tried a few very disappointing ones.  I really do mean disappointing. i.e. the Seoul House on Broadway. 

I longed for one 'best kept' secret without my having to go out to Lougheed where all the Koreans cluster.  During my few weeks of being tied to St. Paul's Hospital, I finally find a ready reason to pop in to Dung Sung Sa after having exhausted the sushi and sandwich places. :^D.

It is a cozy little place with heavy wooden tables.  Surprisingly, chic humble.  It smelled right though the prices were higher than I would have expected for Korean AND the West End.  Anyhoo, we were already through the door and I was not yet too too mobile.  I was happy to be siting even though I had only really walked two blocks :^P

We ordered one Hot Stone Bowl rice Dish and a Squid Chigae (stew).  I was doubtful yet hopeful.  When doing Korean food properly, it's important to get the base right.  It's rather simple, perhaps considered time consuming in a restaurant environment so alot of them will use instant broth.  The thing is you can usually pick up the MSG immediately. Blech, like at the Royal Seoul House on Broadway.  Well, pleasant surprise, the broth was not instant or at the very least not clouded with the lingering taste of MSG.  It was loaded with Squid and Soon Dubu (fresh Tofu or Silken).  It is served with a bowl of steamed Rice.

Dansungsa - Squid Stone Bowl
We also ordered a Hot Stone bowl.  A very popular restaurant Korean dish.  Rice, vegetables and protein are served in a searing hot stone bowl.  They're variations of Bibimbap.  This one was a spicy Seafood bowl.  There was quite alot of Seafood and the dish was sufficiently spicy so as not to scare off non Koreans and not to bore the Koreans.   It was served with a bowl of Kong Namel Guk aka clear Mung Bean Soup.  I hadn't had that since I was a kid.  It is the simplest of clear Milchee broths with cooked Mung Beans and Green Onions.  I always thought of it as a 'home' dish. Yum.

They have some oddly included non Korean dishes which are probably good but I would recommend you stick to Korean.  I never understood why most Korean restaurants served Japanese dishes while I was growing up.  I guess Korean food had less mass appeal back then.  Anyhoo, I don't order fries at a Pizza place and I don't order Nasi Goreng in a Korean place. 

The service is a bit airy fairy but nice enough.  The decor reminded me of small hole in the wall restaurants in my home town in Korea.  Nothing spectacular and not why I go to eat somewhere so long as it's clean and, for Korean, 'smells right' when you walk in.:^D  It is slightly more than other popular regular joints on Davie but as far as taste and quality, well worth it. So get out of that stupid line at Stephos fried food emporium and mushy sushi at Samurai and take a peek down Thurlow.

Cost: $$-$$$ (more than you'd pay on Davie but worth it)
Service: Friendly
Ambiance: Typical Korean diner: dark wood with random cheesy Korean alcohol ad posters

Dan Sung Sa
Robson Street/West End
1221 Thurlow St
Vancouver, BC V6E
(604) 609-7095
Dan Sung Sa (Vancouver) on Urbanspoon
Good authetic food &acceptable service


Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Tuesday, April 26th - Seng Che Bibimbap with Myuk Guk - Comfort in Spicy Ruffage

Seng Che Bibimbap (Raw Vegetable Bibimbap)
Mom is in town.  She came packing with several ice packs of freezer goodies for D and I.  D is set with Kalbi (Korean Shortribs) until Christmas and I have enough Seafood Mandu (Korean Dumplings)  to sate my craving that's lingered since I ran out last fall.

Mom is funny.  She sends me home with tubs full of Gochu jang and other Banchan which could only realistically be got through if we ate Korean everyday.  We do not.  D certainly couldn't handle the lack of diversity nor the copious amount of Sesame Oil that is used.  I have tried for years to explain this.  That said, I still have 80% of a tub of base Gochu jang and yet she brought a new large tub of Deng Jang Gochu Jang 'for dipping'.  Deng Jang Gochu Jang is the base Chili Paste with Deng Jang mixed in with a dash of Sesame Oil.  Deng Jang is Korean Soy Bean Paste (aka Miso)

I had to tell her that whilst she is visiting that we won't be eating Korean every night.  We did allow her to cook a few things that she likes to make for D and one traditionally specialty for Mom's.  Tonight was Seng Che Bibimbap and Myuk Guk.

Seng Che Bibimbap is a lighter and fresher version of the traditional Korean Bibimbap.  Seng Che means Raw Vegetables.  I do not know for sure if this is anything you would find on a menu but it is something mom has been making for years to contend with the sweltering, humid summers in Toronto.  We would normally make this with sliced cooked Squid but we were out for the day shopping so I did not want to have to worry about the Squid going off.  D and my mom tried to convince me that it would be fine since it was frozen but it's my little 'thing'.  I need to be home right away if carrying a perishable.  Instead, mom substituted Lox.  It added a little smoke which was a bit odd.  I think next time I would use a Salmon Filet.  Everyone liked it though.

The Bibimbap was served with Myuk Guk.  This is definitely a dish you will not find on a restaurant menu.  I have tried.  I asked and servers will tell you it is a 'home dish'.  Guk is Korean for Soup.  Myuk is a variety of Seaweed.  It's the flat long variety you'll sometimes see chopped up in Japanese Miso.  In Myuk Guk, the pieces are much larger almost like Papardelle.  It is a traditional soup for breastfeeding mom's.  It is meant to help with 'bringing your milk'.  Therefore, it also symbolises what you mom has done for you and is eaten on your birthday and Mother's Day.  Mom is not in town next week though.

Myuk Guk
We have a pretty decent Asian pantry but we don't have some of the essentials for making a Korean Soup base since they are expensive and persishable.  Mom had to improvise.  Normally, you would have a Beef bone broth.  But for nearly my whole life, when my sister V and I went veg, she has been making the 'fish base' or Milchee Mul aka Anchovie Water.  You buy the Milchee dried and salted.  As a subsitute, you could use Fish Stock, Mussel Broth or Shrimp Broth (shrimp shells). You can buy the Myuk dried in most Asian food stores and ALL Korean food shops It is somewhat acquired I guess.  I've always liked it.  The long pieces of Myuk can be quite slimey if you're not used to the texture.  You could chop it up finer.  It is VERY garlicky, or at least mom's is.  Dad does not like Myuk Guk.  When I said that at the table, D felt better about not finishing his.  :^D  I finished it for him.

Seng Che Bibim Bap
Serves 4

1 Heart of Romaine Lettuce, shredded
1 bunch raw Kenyip Leaves (Perilla Leaves), chiffonade (ribbons)
4-5 Radishes, match sticks
1 English Cucumber, seeded and sliced
1 package Pea Shoots or Mung Bean Sprouts
1/2 Red Onion, frenched
400 g (1lb) Salmon (or 1 large Squid boiled, sliced, cooled)
 1-2 T Sesame Oil

Sauce (Be aware you should mix by taste.  You may want it tangier or less.)
1/2 c Gochu Jang
1 T Rice Wine Vinagre (or plain white)
1 T Red Wine Vinagre
1/2 T Sesame Oil
1/2 T Sesame Seeds, toasted
1 T Honey (or Brown Sugar)

3-4 c cooked Rice, cooled to room temperature

Whisk the Sauce well and set aside.

Cook the rice and set aside.

Chop the Vegetables.

In a large bowl, (We have two Asian noodle bowls but we had to improvise with two more mixing bowls for my parents. :^P), place a drizzle of Sesame Oil.  Add 3/4 c of Rice in a small mound in the bowl.

Add the Vegetables in little mounds all the way round the clock.  Add a good dollop of the Sauce in the middle.  Serve the extra on the table for people to adjust their spice level.  Mix well a spoon and chopsticks or a fork and spoon.  Must eat cold.