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 twice...it 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.
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