Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Plushie Sushi Bentos

Aside from loving and making food, I also knit. And am learning my basics with crochet.

Here's some softies / plushies I made for my boss' daughter. I got the idea when the boss' wife was talking about having a hard time finding some sushi / sashimi play toys for her daughter. When she brought that up, in pops that image of the amigurumi and knit sushi toys I'd seen on and (the now defunct) magknits. And so after much procrastinating, a lot of trial and error, and some learning on the go, I give you the following two sushi bentos - they made me crave sushi while I made them!

The two completed sushi bentos above!

Below is my favourite of the two. Some of these were just trial and error, and playing around with little balls of yarn that I had in my stash. Clockwise from the bottom left hand corner, the items (supposedly) are:

- inari (like the confetti-coloured "rice"? ...the boy thought it looked like a dumpling. Meh.)
- tuna sushi
- tamago (egg) sushi w/ a band of nori encircling it
- ebi (shrimp) sushi (in the grey area between "fun to make" and "I can't believe I started this".)
- inside out rolls (definately in the "geez. did I *have* to commit to making rolls?" category)
- pickled ginger "flower"
- small ball of wasabi
- a baby cupcake! This was a lot of fun to make. I wished I had more time to complete it, and to embroider it with some seed bead "sprinkles".
- veggie sunomono, complete with baby "heirloom" carrot and two slices of cucumber

Above is the first bento box I worked on. Although I liked working on this, I almost gave up and wanted to gift the littler girl just one box, because I ran out of ideas on items to make! Clockwise from the bottom left hand corner:

- a baby cupcake! (see above) I really enjoyed the amigurumi items in this project as opposed to the knit items, although I am more familiar with knitting, the circular crochet methods made for near-instant gratification.
- lettuce leaf, topped with a gyoza (both were similar circular "doily" items, the gyoza was just worked a couple round less, with HDCs on the outer hem, as opposed to the TC stitches on the lettuce leaf)
- four mini rolls
- ebi sushi
- tuna sushi
- tamago sushi
- small ball of wasabi
- pickled ginger "flower"

For the entire Flickr photoset, click here.

Next "cooking" projects, will be the big Christmas feast. The bf has been working on stuffing some turkey wings with sticky rice - we had some of the stuffing for dinner last night and it was so good!

Merry Christmas everyone! Hold your loved ones close. I know I will.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Menu!

Photo of Christmas dinner past:

Christmas is at moms house, with multiple contributions by family members, but as usual, I will be cooking up a feast on Christmas day:

-stuffed mushroom caps
-cheese and squash souffles
-dips + fresh veggies
-deviled eggs
-green onion cakes
-spring rolls (possible - recipe to come later)

-prime rib roast
-suckling pig (by the T&F houses!)
-creamy corn (typical)
-parchment steamed veggies (trying to be healthy!)
-buttered mushrooms (another typical)

I think i might request that my mom makes some steamed eggs and rice. (craving some comfort / home food)

There might be a couple late contributions or additions of baked potatoes / sweet mashed potatoes, plus dessert (there's always room for dessert). We'll see!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Review: Soho Bar and Grill


Aside from special event nights (UFC, hockey game PPVs), Soho is pretty much empty. On UFC and PPV nights it is the opposite. The place is packed (standing room only, people standing and dining along the partitions), and I'm surprised the fire department has not ticketed this place.

The older Indian couple who own this place hire young inexperienced waitresses and bartenders to man the front of the house. This penny-pinching is evident in other areas as well - meatless nachos, completely turning off the heat until the place is about 40% full, and limited number of debit / cc machines.

I thought it was an okay local joint until I went to watch UFC with the boys one night. The place was rowdy, and when we went to pay a half hour before the title fight ended, they could not handle the rush. The waitress meant well enough, but she had neglected to bring me a last drink (someone had spilt it, apparently), while it showed up on the bill. She did not / could not remove it from the bill, so we had to stay an extra forty minutes for the problem to be rectified. The cherry on the sundae was that the manager was unhelpful, unapologetic, and rude as well - I don't mind if someone screws up, but acknowledge it and be nice about it, at least!

Food was decent, but there are other places to spend my money and watch the game.

Soho Bar and Grill

7090 Lougheed Highway, @ Bainbridge [map]

Burnaby BC

Phone: 604-421-4877

Soho Bar and Grill (Burnaby) on Urbanspoon

That was a goooood weekend.....

Not exactly as planned, but the end result was great. I love it when that happens. . . portraying what I have always known, "In the end, everything will be okay."

-we were supposed to have an "all cousins" dinner on Friday night, but we were having trouble getting a unanimous decision on location and restaurant, but that was okay, we ended up having dinner with the entire family and the older generation decided on a spot. :)

-we were supposed to go down to the states for an "after Black Friday" roadtrip, but the border waits were too long. That was okay though, we wound up splitting up for the day (I got some crafting / Christmas stuff / shopping done as a bonus!) and meeting up for dinner later in day. Also got that game of Cranium and communal tv watching / alcoholic bubble tea drinking / sushi chowing done. Yay!

-we were supposed to meet for Korean lunch, but, as we had surmised all along, we are our parents offspring, and as such, could not communicate enough / assumed too much. We wound up at the same restaurant, but in different cities. Oh, it sounds funny now, but it was okay in the end: me and TM had a delicious lunch at Sura on Robson, then I picked up my *free* holiday lip balm from Kiehl's (love them!), and even dropped by TMs parents place for hot cocoa and a visit.

-we were also supposed to have dinner out or something, but me and TM stayed at home, and had a delectable dinner of three favourites: tonkatsu on yummy grilled onions and white rice, seared black cod on wild rice, and lamb chop with rosemary roasted garlic potatoes. Oh my, it was excellent.

So yeah. It was okay.

Another one?

I was supposed to have some leftover yummy katsudon for lunch today, but TM made me an even yummier corned beef sandwich with two different mustards, mayo, oka and parmesan cheeses, campari tomatoes, baby greens, stuffed between a split ciabatta bun.

I think I might steal half of his lunch when I get home tonight (he forgot his lunch this morning on his dash out the door).

I am such a lucky girl. :D

Thursday, November 13, 2008

For all those lucky boogers who work downtown...

...this ones' for you.

Froyo is having a special promotion today (13th of November) - from 11am to 5pm, enjoy a FREE Froyo Swirl! Do tell me how it is....I love frozen yogurt but am not downtown often.

Froyo Swirl
820 Homer (at Robson St.)
Vancouver, BC

Monday, November 3, 2008


...And so, the cousins did not go to the states on the day after Black Friday, nor did they collectively drive up the mountain to go ice skating. But they did have dinner together (as all good Chinese kin do), and get take out bubble tea (as all trendy CBC kids do), and retreat to ones home to watch the last of the 'nucks game, some good old UFC, a re run of SNL, and Final Fantasy, all the while playing Cranium (because in some way, we are who we are), and a good time was had by all.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Life is Good my Friends!

Life is just Good.

Yes. Capital G.

As a matter of fact, I believe that September has been great. And that this year, although similarly full of ups and downs, has truely been great.

I have a new job. I have a new home. I have a new life!

Who wouldn't want a new life?!

Not that the last one was bad.

I saw my parents, brother and an aunt for lunch today. Dim sum, in the capital of Chinese restaurants in BC, Richmond. I do have to say that Richmond is really the mecca of Chinese food and Chinese products. I was thinking about getting cheap Horlicks or Ovaltine or even specialty pocky (Almond Crush pocky, Green Tea pocky, Creme pocky anyone?) in my neck of the woods, and I had to come up empty. It is surprising how that area of Burnaby is devoid of a good local Chinese place. :( I mean sure, there's the whole slew of Chinese markets along Hastings (Triple A Market, Donalds Market, Red Apple Market) but they're almost more old style and don't have the fancy new city-folk Amenities like the Lee Kum Kee Hainanese Chicken mixes, or the Horlicks Malted candies, or even the Okinomiyaki-flavoured potato chips.

I kind of miss that stuff.

But for the meanwhile, life is good. Really good.

Have a good Monday, and a great week!

Friday, September 26, 2008

10 Reasons Why I Gain Weight.

Kris at Cheap Healthy Good just posted a list of why she gained / gains weight. I've been following her blog for a while - she has a posting schedule of recipes interspersed with foodie-licious articles and links.

While the recipes usually make me stop by her blog for a gander, her list / posting above is probably one of the first times I've commented on her site.

You see, I am an average sized girl. But I've always been made fun of for my weight. As an Asian, I was always taller and bigger (boned?) than my counterparts. Yes, by North American specs, I'm probably average sized, but I've always felt bigger than most as my relatives would poke at my flesh and make me feel ashamed of my body. It doesn't do good either, when, as a developing adolescent, my mother would tell me that she was "never as big as" me when she was younger.

As an adult, I've come to terms with my body, but at the same time I am still guilty of neglecting my health and weight. It is said that the average weight gain for North Americans is 1-3 pounds a year. I can say that much is true; I've gradually gained weight as an adult.

Why? Here we go:

I gain weight because:

1) I live with a man who *needs* to have meat with every meal, or at least, every day. And none of that "white meat" either. He means business, meaning bbq ribs. Steak. Brisket. Bacon. Sausages. The only substitution for any "meat" is with cheese.

2) Cheese? Did you say Cheese? As a child, I *hated* cheese. It felt heavy, was plastic-y, and turned crispy black when my mother or brother made "grilled" cheese sandwiches. As an adult though, I've grown to love cheese. Real cheese. Give me gouda. Gruyere. Brie. Cheddar with ale. Cranberry camembert. Cream cheese with mixed herbs. Goat cheese with poppy seed or nuts. When I was living in Victoria, my roomate introduced me to pate. We would literally survive for days on nothing but cheese, crackers, and pate. Oh, and the odd grape thrown in for good measure. I kind of miss those days.

3) I feel that I deserve it. I've commuted a lot in my adult life. At the end of the drive, what's fast and easy and portable is an ice cream cone. Or a container of fries. And Bob as my witness, after that hellish traffic jam, I deserve it!

4) I believe that I can lose it later. I took up running three years ago. I loved what it did to my body, but more what it did to my eating habits. I could eat whatever I wanted, and I would just burn it off!! What's bad is when I take a break after the marathons or 10k races and kept on eating the same. I can honestly say that for the past three years, I spent the first half of summer feeling and looking great, then the remainder feeling bloated and sad because my body morphed back into its former self.

5) Eating is a social thing. Birthday party = dinner. Mothers / Fathers day = dim sum and / or dinner. Hockey game? We'd watch it over greasy pub food. UFC Fight Nights = fattening potluck food. Happy hour? Sure. Oh, and when me and my friends decide to celebrate something by going dancing? We end up drinking. A lot. And girly cocktails are empty calories. Might explain the most recent weight gain.

6) I love cooking. I love cooking for other people, I love cooking for myself. That, combined with the fact that I was raised and trained not to waste food, causes me to overeat a lot of the times.

7) I have a fear of going hungry. I think in every stage of my life - high school, college, office life - I had this fear of my stomache growling and that being rude. Subsequently, I'd "over pack" my lunches and snacks. Where it allowed, I'd even keep extra food in my locker / backpack / cublicle / drawer to snack on so that I wouldn't go hungry. That access has probably provided me with extra calories that I could do without.

8) I try to eat like the boys. I was a real tomboy growing up. I hated being ridiculed for being inferior - so I'd try to eat like a boy. I've gotten a little better as I've grown up, but I notice that I do try to match portions with M, who is 6' and ~200lbs. I am 5'5" and about 75% of his weight, and he has more muscle mass than me. I`ve also tried going beer for beer (or drink for drink) with the boys, which had bad results. Again - empty calories.

9) I've worked in the food industry for my entire adult life. This means free food, free samples, trade shows with free food and free samples, and a some of taste panelling. Not good.

10) My mothers' love of deep-frying as a form of food preparation has somewhat been genetically passed on to me. Not only was this bad when I was younger (sometimes we'd eat nothing BUT fried food for dinner...eww.), but now that I'm older, I fall into the same trap as I like the texture and convenience of fried food.

Where does this leave me? At least now I can identify why I gain weight. Now to correct some of my bad habits.

- drink less
- portion control
- be conscious of what I eat
- stop the lose / gain cycle
- keep healthy snacks in the car and at work
- freeze leftovers!
- stop when I'm full.

Let's see where this gets me.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Omnivore's Hundred

(Stolen from Chocolate & Zucchini, who got it from Very Good Taste)
The Omnivore's Hundred is an eclectic and entirely subjective list of 100 items that Andrew Wheeler, co-author of the British food blog Very Good Taste, thinks every omnivore should try at least once in his life.

He offered this list as the starting point for a game, along the following rules:
1. Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2. Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3. Cross out any items that you would never consider eating (I've italicized items that I haven't eaten, but would consider...).
4. Optional extra: post a comment on Very Good Taste, linking to your results.

And of course, if you take part in this, do leave a comment linking to your list. Here goes!

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare (yum.)
5. Crocodile (yum.)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue Oh my goodness. If I could (like if I was training for a triathalon, I would eat this every day. Mmmmm.)
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Phở
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart I have yet to indulge in one of the japa-dogs from that cart on Smithe & Burrard though. I think hot dogs from carts are made better by the personality of the vendor too. One of the best ones was outside the HIVE showcase this year at the media arts center on Great Northern Way.
16. Epoisses I had to look this up. I would definately give any cheese a try.
17. Black truffle Anyone want to spot me? I can't say that I've tried black truffle itself. Perhaps the oil one time, on pasta or an appy or something.
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes I had a local blueberry wine at an event some time ago.
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes The best kind of tomato, if you ask me.
22. Fresh wild berries Nothing beats fresh berries period. This is where I learnt to truely love raspberries and blackberries!
23. Foie gras So good, but so bad.
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese Need to try it.
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters Let me count thy ways...
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda Never heard of it before, but now, with that recipe, I`ll make it and try it. Real anchovies though, and not the paste. I have a tube of anchovy paste in the fridge which tastes gross.
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl Ivar`s in the states. Not quite for me, but their clam chowder is delicious.
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar I've had them separately; something tells me that I need to revisit this.
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo (eaten in New Orleans)
40. Oxtail In soup or stew form. My mom makes the best star anise & tomato oxtail. Oh, comfort foods.
41. Curried goat Once with a flatbread, another time in a jamaican patty. Would try it again.
42. Whole insects There's this candy store downtown (on Robson, down the street from Winners / Future Shop) that sells chocolate covered grashoppers, caramel covered ants and the like. I think that if someone I knew bought some of those, and had one that they didn't want, and I was possibly being dared to do it, I'd try one of those. But in any other instance, I don't think I could / would eat a dead insect. I can't imagine there would be any gastronomic benefit to it!
43. Phaal Mmmm. I was just talking about Indian food with my boss yesterday. I'm getting hungry now.
44. Goat’s milk Not by itself, but I've had goat milk cheeses.
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/€80/$120 or more (Does Crown count? I have bad associations with that...ugggh. I don't think I'd drink any more on account of that.)
46. Fugu ...When in Rome, or Japan.
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin Mmm. When my parents used to go to Las Vegas, we`d go into the Japanese restaurants at the Mirage or Bellagio and pig out on a box of sea urchin. *That* is where I learnt to love sea urchin. It is just so rich!
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer Remember that directed studies project in Food Tech? I think I had my fill of paneer there.
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal The sandwich itself, yes. The meal? No. One day when I haven't eaten all day, or after a marathon or other event, I might possibly have one. One day.
56. Spaetzle We made them in culinary school, both poached and fried. I'll introduce TM to them soon enough.
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV I don't think so...but we did make beer in Food Tech..
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads I'm Chinese. We also prepared it in culinary school. Not my favourite thing in the world, but I'm sure if I was starving and it was there, I'd hoover it up.
63. Kaolin What, clay?
64. Currywurst Sounds interesting. Curry & sausages? Why not.
65. Durian Yes, but I wouldn`t have it again.
66. Frogs’ legs Yum.
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake Yum! We have to go to the fair this weekend for some.
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette One day.
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost Now that I know that it is a caramelized cheese, I want to try it!
75. Roadkill Are you CRAZY??!
76. Baijiu I'm Chinese and I have never had this. But one day. When I want to pass out.
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky Oh, the varieties of pocky. :)
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant One day.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare In a country terrine / pate.
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano I`ve made it once, but I`d like to try it at a restaurant.
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake (Tastes like chicken.)

Friday, August 15, 2008

News, and cooking for a summer weekend.

Work is crazy right now. My Italian boss is extremely passionate about his work and is really upset about the recent resignation of my immediate supervisor. I can understand why he feels betrayed, but at the same time there are some inconsistencies in his behaviour and actions.

You get to know your boss better after someone has quit, to say the least.

TM and I are working through our issues. Basically neither of us are perfect. We both have needs, and different ways of showing love. Perhaps, we aren't the same people we were before we moved in together.

All this goes to show is that my views of moving in before marriage differs from before this whole experience.

I think I'll encourage my kids to live together with their respective significant others before getting married. Not to downplay the importance of marriage, but to emphasize the importance of getting to know the person that they will potentially spend the rest of their life with.

It is HOT out there man! I'm sure that if the sun were out today, it'd be scorching. But the cloud cover is doing its job of keeping the humidity high. I kind of like it outside right now since the office is cold, thanks to the air conditioner.

The nice weather will continue onto the weekend, with highs of 26-34 degrees celsius. NICE! I'll be at the beach and the Latin Festival enjoying some sun and food.

Here's a nice summer recipe that we'll be enjoying at the beach:

Vietnamese Salad Rolls!

They're nice and cool, and pretty easy to make. All you have to do is cook the noodles, prep the vegetables, then assemble the rolls. It takes a little practice to wrap the rolls, but it is a pretty forgiving snack.

For my rolls, I used "U Brand" rice vermicelli, and "Six Fortune" rice paper wrap. I bought them at Save on Foods, a chain supermarket, but I've seen them in smaller mom n' pop grocery markets too.

For these rolls (I made these a couple weeks ago, during our last "heat wave"), I used shrimp, carrot, cucumber, and mango. The sweetness of the mango pairs really nicely with the saltiness of the shrimp. I've also tried using lychee instead of the mango, or kamaboko, crab, or lobster in place of the shrimp. Again, this is a really simple recipe, feel free to change it up!

The other ingredients you'll need are peanut butter, hoisin sauce, and rice vinegar. These are for the sauce that you dip the rolls in. I prepared mine in a small ramekin, by incorporating 2 parts hoisin sauce, 2 parts peanut butter, and 1 part rice vinegar. Mix them together (you will need to microwave it for about 30 seconds) until the mixture is uniform. Microwave for another 30 seconds if it doesn't come together the first time.

When you have all your ingredients cut up and prepared, you can start assembling the rolls. First, boil a big pot of water. When the water comes to a boil, dunk in the rice paper and quickly remove so that it doesn't wrinkle and stick to itself. Rotate the sheet around so that it is all hydrated.

Since these photos are from one of the first times I made these rolls, I flubbed up and put the fillings on *top* of the noodles instead of underneath. The result is that the bright colours and shrimp are obscured in the finished product by more of the rice paper. For a better looking roll, place the shrimp (coloured side down) onto the rice paper, followed by the mango, julienned cucumber and carrot, and some green onion. Top with some of the rice vermicelli.

Next, you fold over the short ends like a buritto, lift the long end over the fillings, and slowly roll the rice paper over the fillings. You need to slightly stretch the rice paper (practice makes perfect!) while you rotate, so that the roll is tight and compact, and will not fall apart while you are eating it.


Serve with the hoisin-peanut sauce, some crushed roasted peanuts, and cilantro, as needed.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Mmmm. Scallion Pancakes. (Part II)

You're missing an awfully delicious photo.

I made Scallion Pancakes (Recipe: Basil & Ginger) this weekend, and although I *love* them, TM tends to be a neaderthal and likes a little some more a humugous slab of meat with his meals.

Me, I could live with eating meat only 2-3 times a week, but since I've moved in with him, I've kind of been forced to cook and eat meat more often than usual. Perhaps this is the reason behind my recent emotional state? Possibly.

Anyways I made some more scallion pancakes yesterday with the dough left over from the weekend. Let me say, the recipe is delicious as it is, and the simplicity of it allows lots of room for adjustments and additions of yummy ingredients. Last time I used a sweet Thai chili sauce & cream cheese in place of the butter, yesterday I added in some diced cooked Chinese sausage (lap cheong) into the mix and dipped the finished product in sambal oolek. Heavenly. Or, perhaps devilish if you consider the fiery sambal.

Chinese Sausage & Scallion Pancakes. Or in Chinese, Lap Cheong Chong Yau Bang. Deliciously simple, with three main ingredients: cooked finely diced Chinese sausage, sliced scallions / green onions, and the dough, comprised of 4 parts all purpose flour, 1 part warm water, salt to taste, and oil / lard for cooking.

First, you roll out the dough into thin discs, after letting them rest sufficiently. Last time I followed the recipe and rolled out the dough *right* at 30 minutes. This time, I waited an hour before I touched them again. It seemed to work, as the dough was more relaxed and allowed me to roll it out nice and thin. I then slathered (I mean that!) the dough with melted butter, and sprinkled liberally with the cooked sausage and green onion.

Starting from one side of the disc, roll the dough tightly around the filling, pressing lightly as you go, into a long cigar shape. This helps create the layers of the finished product.

Think of it as puff pastry, or pie crust. The layers of water and fat sandwiched between layers of thin pastry helps create the fluffy, flakey layers later.

I coiled the cigar shape into a spiral, and tucked the ends under. You want to keep in all the filling, and try to keep a uniform shape.

At this point, I wanted to cool down the coiled spiral as it was a warm day - if I rolled it out right after forming the coils, I would chance loosing the layers as the butter was still really soft. I refrigerated the covered coils for about half an hour.

After letting them cool down, I rolled those suckers flat! I took care not to exert too much pressure (and risk the dough breaking and all those precious goodies falling out!), and tried to keep a uniform circle shape.

After rolling, the pancakes went into a heated pan with a generous amount of oil to crisp up. Don't be stingey with the oil. It helps keep the browning as uniform as possible, and helps cook the pancake!

I think I ate about one and a half of these while cooking. :p

TM liked this batch better than the previous meatless ones, and the sausage did provide more umami notes. I still like the simplicity of the green onion, but I'd like to try making some with dried pork floss, chili oils, or possibly even a sweet hoisin peanut one. Mmm. The possibilities are *endless*!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Loooooog Weekend!

I took today off because there were people coming over to the apartment ot fix something.

So what did I do? I cooked. A LOT.

-short crust pastry (I was telling TM how this was a stresful thing - I nearly gave up was one of those things in culinary school that always puzzled me. Today, it worked out. But it was really thick too.Ah well. Have to start somewhere.)
-Bacon & leek quiche, with said short crust pastry. It was soooo good. Crisp bacon, sauteed leek, zucchini, smoked gouda, jarlsberg, salt and pepper. Mmmm-mmm good.
-monkfish baked in cream, grainy mustard, sauteed leeks (whites only), salt & peppercorns, served atop brown rice
-tomato tart, with deliciously ripe Okanagan tomatoes, onion confit on a cornmeal & parmesan crust

Ok. So it wasn't that many things. But it was full on multi-prep food.

I also went for dim sum with my parents and sister. It was good to see them, and I can tell the feeling was mutual.

Anyways. to my Canadians, have a great long weekend! It's rainy in Vancouver, but it's supposed to warm up.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Scallion Pancakes. Mmmm.

Mmmm. So I've been inventive in the kitchen as of late.

It's nice that my family, as well as myself, work with food and so there is usually a plethoria of seafood (me), bread (sister) or produce (dad) at our respective homes.

Earlier this week, I made fish sandwiches which probably cost a quarter each (for condiments). Yesterday, I made an equally "frugal" dinner consisting of brown rice, scallion pancakes, soy-marinated black cod, corn and black bean salad, and sauteed veggies. Ok, so the only "free" thing was the black cod, but still. For a frugal delicious dinner, that was pretty damned good.

Scallion pancakes? I've *always* had to have them when we ate at ANY Szechuan restaurant when I was younger. Some places fouled it up, with too few green onions sprinkled into the dough, other places had horribly dry or pasty dough, still other places just did not cook it long enough!

Being that the recipe at Basil and Ginger has only five essential ingredients, it's typically one of those recipes that needs an experienced chef.

I, for one, am not one of those experienced chefs!

-1 cup all purpose flour
-1/3 cup warm water
-lard / shortening / butter (I used a mixture of cream cheese & sweet chili sauce)
-green onions / scallions

I mixed together the flour with some salt in a bowl, then made a well in the middle and gradually mixed in the warm water.

When the dough came together, I gathered it together and left it to rest for about half an hour.

Meanwhile, I mixed together some softened cream cheese and sweet chili sauce (this concoction is also DELICIOUS on any cracker or bread!), and sliced up my green onions.

For the amount of dough above, I rolled it into a log and cut it into three sections. Working with each section separately, I rolled it out into a flat circle, and spread the cream cheese mixture onto it. I then sprinkled it liberally with green onions.

Working from one end, I rolled the disc up into a long cylinder, then pinched the edges down and rolled the cylinder into a coil. This coil was then rolled out again.

I pan fried the pancakes (3 of them - cooking for 2 after all!) in a generous amount of veggie oil. They were so beautiful and crispy and golden!!!

The cream cheese mixture was ok. I would probably keep the sweet chili sauce, but use butter or lard next time (there really is no substitute when baking for light crispy layers). I'd probably let the dough rest some more as well, or use cake flour next time as the pancakes were a little chewier than I liked.

In all though, this is one recipe that is staying in rotation. One of my favourite foods, and I usually have all the ingredients for it!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

If you Change your Mind...

So I have a standing date with my mom to watch "Mamma Mia" when it comes out in theatres.

I had dinner with my family yesterday as I had to renew my passport in Richmond. It was a low-key dinner at Hoi Tong on Westminster Highway. Here's a great mom & pop restaurant, with Mrs. Leung on quality control and Mr. Leung overseeing the line. We missed them when they "semi retired" from their No3 road location and moved to Hong Kong for a couple years. But now they're back, in a smallish restaurant space, open only from 5pm - 10 pm.

We had a refreshing house soup (pork & coconut), braised squab, blanched geoduck atop sweet chinese greens, deep fried shrimp balls, braised fish with mushrooms and tofu (soooo good), sauteed fish fillets with straw mushrooms and choy sum, and deliciously moist roast chicken.

As I was telling TM afterwards, it was serious comfort food. TM likes a lot of meat and gravy and sauces with his food. Eating with my parents at places like Hoi Tong is just so satisfying. It can even be deep fried, but it just feels good.

And, of cours,e it had a lot to do with having dinner with my parents, siblings, and grandparents.

Growing up, it was almost taboo (still is) to miss dinner with the family. Suppertime conversation was usually sparse and brief, but as we grow older, the conversation and catching up over dinner and just enjoying each others company is fuel for the soul.

I slept well last night.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

test tweet!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

My life in photos.

Originally, I was going to have a separate post for the past couple days. There were posts with recipes, photos with days and strolls in Stanley park, downtown, and days of food and beverage, car selling, and a haunting walk through TMs old building.

Life has been...interesting. There have been ups: we take possession this weekend, TMs apartment was, for the most part, spared. Jerry Graduated! I am so proud of my friends and family for all they are doing and achieving. But there are the bads too: Ewas mother passed away on Monday, finally succumbing to breast cancer complications. G, one of the most vibrant and brilliant people ever, didn't get into med school. I haven't seen some of my friends in the longest time, due to time and money constraints.

It's been a little overwhelming. The posts will come later, I swear.

For now, here's the past couple of days:

We went back to the apartment on Monday. The damage to the upper levels was pretty scary and horrific. The fixtures were melted, the carpets had been removed in the entire building, there was a lot of smoke, fire, and water damage.

The makings of Banh Mi - that delectable, addictive Vietnamese sandwich. Mmmm.

Strawberry Kuchen - my first try at a strawberry tart. Originally, I had visions of incorporating mango into this, but ran out of time...and mangoes. ;)

Finally, after all that cooking, I enjoyed it at the beach! We relaly needed that day of relaxing and just forgeting about everything house & apartment related.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

There's something to be said about having a meal that was made by your grandmother.

Everyone at lunch looks on in envy, for they all know the kind of loving care that went into making the delicious entree.

That, or the fact that you're eating a bottomless pit of spaghettini, that you never quite finish, and end up packing for tomorrows lunch...

I am so full right now.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Foodie Blogger Meme

It's May!!! Time for a foodie Meme.

What is your favorite meal to prepare?

Depends on the mood, really. I made a really great anchovy-garlic-balsamic dressing at M's house a couple days ago. Last night I attempted to make pisalladerie last night, but all I had were sweet and red onions (and not enough, at that). I'll probably make it sometime this weekend in an attempt to carb up for the Marathon. I guess right now I like fresh, simple things?

Is there a food that you indulge in when you know you shouldn't?

Cheese. I buy cheese when I know I shouldn't - be it too rich, be it that I have some at home already (but not this particular type!), be it that I am training for an event and need to cut down on the fat. I always end up eating it in limited amounts, until it molds. Then I cut off the mold and snack a little. Then it molds again and I process continues until I splurge on another hunk of delicious, exotic cheese.

What food always reminds you home?

I suppose I should answer this in a couple months. But my mother actually doesn't cook as much. She buys a lot of "butchers goodies", which includes roast pork, bbq pork, roast duck, and vegetarian / gluten food. I suppose that steamed eggs with duck or salted yolks in it, or vermicelli with gingered baby choys (bok choy or gai choy) reminds me of something so simple, so real as home.

What's the perfect snack?

Fresh veg or lightly blanched vegetables - where you can *taste* the essence of the food, without the adulteration of sauces, dips, or other masking agents. Mmmm. I have cherry tomatoes in the fridge for my morning break today.

What was your most memorable meal?

There are so many. I had a really romantic meal with M earlier this year, at Chambar. I can still remember what the perfectly seared sablefish tasted like when M fed me over the table, and the playful flavours of the passionfruit sundae, especially when I mixed it with the (REAL!) chocolate from M's apple dessert. *insert Homer Simpson drool here* Another memorable meal, was Christmas dinner from three years ago. Everyone put aside their differences, and the food was plentiful and delicious. All the cousins were together, we all joked around, and people enjoyed themselves. Mains were prime rib and ham. Someone brought a whole suckling pig. And of course, I made lots of appetizers, sides and hor d'oevres. Loved it.

When you are out at a restaurant or bar, what's your drink of choice?

At a restaurant, a nice glass of wine to go with my meal. At a bar, I just have to start off on jager-bombs. When I feel buzzed enough from that, then its on to long island iced teas.

What's your favorite restaurant and what do you order there?

I have to pick one??! The world is so boring when you only have one.

What three things are always in your refrigerator?

Milk, butter, eggs.

Do you have a comfort food?

Pasta. Pasta with ham in soup, pasta with pesto. Pasta with tomato rose sauce, pasta with meatballs in tomato sauce.

What are you having for dinner tonight?

We're going to the Gastown Mavi launch party tonight. Later we'll be going down the street to Guu Otokomae for some ebi mayo, salmon and seven friends, black cod steak, kimchi rice bowl, and other delicious, mouth watering appys. Can`t wait!!!
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