Sunday, September 30, 2007

Blackbean Noodles

Oh man, I am so getting the hang of this cooking for myself thing.

Ground turkey, a zucchini, a carrot, an onion, a clove of garlic, 2 heaping tbsp of blackbean-garlic paste, cornstarch and water for the sauce, and I piled it on top of haa ji miin.

Ok, back to reading about noun incorporation.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Baking Bonanza !

Low fat granola

Very simple. 3 c oats, 1 large apple finely chopped, 2/3 c apple sauce, 1/4 c dried cranberries and 1/2 c sliced almonds. Mix first three ingredients. Spread thinly onto 2 baking sheets. Bake at 275 for 30 -35 mins. Turn oats over to brown other side for another 25 - 30 mins.

Well, that's what you're supposed to do. What I did instead was I used a finely chopped pear, 1 c of strawberry papaya puree I had in my freezer. Plus since I used one c of puree I decided to bake it at 300 for 40 mins prior to turning. Yeah, that caused the edges to blacken rather than brown. I removed those pieces then turned the oats and baked for another 20 mins. Probably should have baked for another 25 mins. Some pieces were a little soft, not crunchy. Still turned out pretty good. This morning I had the granola on cottage cheese and yogurt. Yum !

This morning I also baked taro muffins and a banana apple loaf.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

braised chicken

I panfriend the thighs with sliced ginger and garlic until golden. I pour in a mixture of hoisin, chu hou, sliced mushrooms, julienne green onions and water. Braise for 15 to 20 min. Thicken with a bit of corn starch mixed with cold water. Cook until sauce is transparent. Ground pepper, spicy condiments optional.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Special Mystery Freezer Chicken!

So.... after racking my brain on what I can bring to my friend Florence's house for a potluck... i decided.... to check out my mom's freezer.... within (in addition to multitudes of dumplings, ice cream etc.) was frozen chicken breasts, 1 chorizo sausage and a pack of frozen spinach... and voila Special mystery freezer chicken.

I first defrosted the spinach in the microwave, then squeezed as much water as possible out.. and then I boiled the frozen chorizo sausage and started to defrost the chicken breast in the microwave. To make the filling, I mixed the spinach with cream cheese, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and some of the cooked chorizo that I had diced. I also made some long slices of chorizo to lay on top. After finishing the filling, I pounded out the chicken breast so that they were flat, then filled them with the filling, rolled them up and secured with tooth picks. After laying the seam side down, I criss-crossed the sliced chorizo on top them baked the chicken in the oven for 35 minutes at 375 degrees.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Chinese 3 Course Menu

Dish #1 Fu jook, doong gu, water chestnuts and bok choi

Prep work for this dish begins the day before with soaking the fu jook and doong gu.

Prep work the day of consists of washing and chopping bok choi and slicing water chestnuts.

Cooking commences with blanching the bok choi in a wok. Remove bok choi to a dish and save some of the veggie broth in the wok. Next add the doong gu and fu jook with all the liquid into the wok. Add sliced water chestnuts, hoa yau, pepper, and chicken flavour salt.

Bring to a boil then simmer. Add cornstarch to thicken sauce.

Dish #2 Ju yuk daan faun

Prep work for this begins the day before with mincing ju yuk and marinating it in see yau, pepper, salt, and ginger.

Prep work the day of includes washing the faun and mincing water chestnuts.

Cook faun in faun cooker. When faun is cooked 1/2 way, add the ju yuk and minced water chestnuts.

After faun and ju yuk are cooked, crack egg on rice and mix.

Dish #3 Mao po dau fu, ju yuk, zucchini and baby corn

Prep work the day before can include marining ju yuk in mao po sauce.

Prep work the day of includes cubing dau fu, chopping ju yuk, slicing zucchini and opening a can of baby corn.

Cook dau fu and ju yuk in some water and mao po sauce. Add zucchini and baby corn. Thicken sauce with corn starch.

All three dishes took ~1 hour to make with 1/2 hour prep time the day before.

Chickpea Curry

I made a Chickpea Curry yesterday - with onions, potato, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes. And, of course, a green chili pepper. It's pretty tasty, even if it's not all that photogenic! The tomatoes, I think, and the ginger, made a difference.

The strawberries I had for dessert, however, were a good deal more photogenic, so let's zoom in for their close-up:

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Dad came to Toronto today, and took me out for dinner - we went to Messis, a restaurant that's very close to where I'm staying on Harbord Street.

For appetizers we had:

A goat cheese and walnut phyllo bundle, with cranberries and a raspberry viniagrette. I liked it, although I think I prefer my goat cheese more simply prepared.

Grilled soya-orange marinated calamari. I don't usually eat calamari, but I did try a piece, since Dad said it was very good. I don't know, I just can't properly appreciate calamari.

For an entre I had roasted chicken breast stuffed with pancetta, with mushrooms, zucchini, onions, sweet potatoes and sun-dried tomatoes in a gorgonzola sauce. I thought it was very good - the chicken was moist and the vegetables were tender. I thought I couldn't really taste the gorgonzola in the sauce, but then I dipped some bread into it and ate it that way. Mmmm, gorgonzola.

Dad had a grilled veal chop with market vegetables and a roasted garlic potato gratin. The veal was very good (so said Dad, although I prefer my meat, you know, with either bacon or pancetta in the vicinity) but he said he found the gratin too rich. I'm not that big a fan of potatoes, so I couldn't say.

Dessert, pictured at the very top, was a nectarine tart with vanilla ice cream. The ice cream was really good - sweet, rich and creamy, with flecks of vanilla and caramelized sugar. The tart was also good - not too sweet, and the nectarines still had a fresh fruit taste (because sometimes with fruit tarts, the fruit is cooked so much that it mostly just tastes like sugar - that wasn't the case here. I could clearly taste the nectarine.) If you look at the picture above, you'll notice my weakness with dessert: this was the only dish that I started mauling with my fork before I remembered to snap a picture. Although I hadn't yet taken a bite when I took the picture though. Clearly I am improving in my willpower.

Overall I enjoyed the dinner quite a bit, and thought the service was good too (although it wasn't that busy). Would I go back? Probably, if it weren't for the fact that there are about a million other restaurants in Toronto I'm dying to try first : )

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

louie's bruschetta

Dad brought home a baguette one night out of the blue. I decided to make it into the ChopHouse's version and here it is! I ended up making the other 1/2 as well because Michael loved it so much!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Polkrainianish Paska Bread???

I read somewhere that making bread with your own hands is supposed to be good for your soul. I have no idea whether or not that's true, but I do know that baking bread with faulty cooking equipment bought from Dollar-ama is a rather educational experience.

I'll say this: Just because the dry measures you bought from Dollarama say "1 cup" and "250 mL," don't assume that they actually measure out to "1 cup" and "250 mL." I was a bit dubious, as the measuring cups looked rather large, but I figured that I just didn't remember how large a cup was. But no. My measuring cups are indeed the wrong size. (As confirmed by comparision to non-dollar store equipment.) Which explains the large extra amount of flour that I could not coax the dough into accepting.

The Paska Bread recipe I found here at Besides having halved the recipe, I also didn't have any lemon zest. Now for everything else I've been making so far, I've been substituting green chilies for whatI don't have, but don't worry. I didn't do that here[1].

Instead I used Chinese 5-spice powder. Hopefully that is less horrifying to you.

As I was randomly googling"paska bread" during one of the (four) rising periods[2], I saw references to Paska bread being both Polish and Ukrainian (and Russian). The recipe I found says Polish although Wikipedia says Ukrainian. Whatever they are, it seems like they're often decorated with braids, so I decided to try and do that as well.

[My shaped loaf with decorative braid- prefinal rise]

[the shaped loaf after baking - yeah, I ripped off the braid and ate it practically as soon as I took it out of the oven, as per the picture up top]

The recipe called for 45-50 baking minutes to make 3 large loaves, but as I cut the recipe in half, and made four mini-loaves out of that half, I only baked it for around 22 minutes. I think it could bake a little longer, but not too much, because the braid on top was starting to get too brown for my liking.

As for how I liked the bread, I thought that the taste was a little bland - I thought that the bread would be much sweeter, more like chinese chan bao, however the texture was amazing! Right out of the oven the top was crispy, and the inside was soft, light and steamy. If I make this again (and I might, even though I still have three miniloaves in my freezer right now), I will probably put more flavouring in it - I don't think the couple shakes of 5-spice powder made up for the flavour you'd get with lemon zest.

[freezing the three other loaves - along with my frozen packets of rice!]

NOTE: I've eaten two more of these loaves - after taking the loaves out of the freezer, all you need to do is microwave them on 10% power for 8 minutes, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then microwave it again for 8 minutes at 10% power. It will defrost and expand at the same time, and then you can bake it. It tastes better with savoury things (like cheese) because then the slight sweetness comes out.
[1] Yet another reference to my never-ending attempt to finish off the pack of green chilies I got from Koreatown. But on that note, is there such thing as a spicy sweet bread? And if there was, would it be any good? I mean, I like red chili jam...

[2] I had assumed, like an idiot, without fully reading the recipe, that it would only involve two rising periods. But yeah. This bread actually required four rising periods.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Trying to use up the massive package of green chilies...

So in an attempt to use up the package green chilies I bought from Koreatown, I've just been slicing up a green chili and tossing it into whatever I'm making for dinner. Witness below:
Steamed eggs - usually this comes with pork, but my version comes with green chilies.Steamed Tilapia with Blackbean sauce on a bed of ginger and carrots- usually this comes with green onions, but my version comes with green chilies.

Yeah, there's a big heat difference between using one green chili in a dish that gives me enough leftovers for four days, and using one green chili in the above dishes, where there's only enough for one meal. Didn't quite feel like I was dying, but man, who knew that carrots could soak up so much spiciness? The fish didn't take up as much spiciness as the carrots, thankfully.

Oh, I also got a recipe for Oyakodon from my Japanese suitemate today! Well, a very rough recipe, as she didn't seem to measure anything, but it looked and smelled just as good as what I've had in restaurants. She said the sauce is mostly bonito stock, soy sauce, sweet ricewine (or japanese sake) and sugar. You cook the onions in the sauce, then the chicken, and then add the egg in last. Apparently there are even special pans to make Oyakodon, made specially so that you can just slide the topping onto the rice.

Dad chowing down on lambchops

Made lampchops and bak choy. Kim decided to do a bit of presentation and dad decided to ham it up for the picture and michael decided the last minute "stuck" his hand on dad's face.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Fruit basket

beautiful fruit basket

Ricecooker Bread

So I bought a demibaguette from Whole Foods a while ago, and was cringing at the price. It was a dollar something, nearly two, for half a baguette! I also checked at Dominion, the local grocery store, and they charged something like $1.79 per baguette. Which seemed about normal, but of course I wasn't satisfied and decided to see if I could make my own bread.

Yeeaaahhhh, I'm having mixed feelings about that now.

I have no baking implements. No pans, no trays, no measuring cups. But I decided to try anyways, following this recipe for "Bread in a rice cooker."

I tried to gauge the amounts of water and milk according to the mL graduations on my Nalgene bottle, and used regular soup spoons as teaspoons and tablespoons.
Er, I may have put in too much milk, as the dough seemed more like mush than dough, but that's nothing that more flour won't fix! And I heard that the amount of flour you put in bread is not that important – it will differ according to the humidity of the atmosphere, often by several cups.

So it all seemed to go pretty well until I added in butter. It seemed like a ridiculous amount of butter. This is what the instructions said:

Add butter to the dough ball. It might be easier to cut the butter into small pieces. Also the butter should be soft and at room temperature. The butter will also help to grease the rice cooker bowl, so that the bread will not stick to the sides. Knead the butter into the ball until the butter is completely absorbed into the dough and has no lumps.

But the dough would just not accept the butter! I was left with half of the butter left in my hand, and the dough was SO buttery that it wouldn't even form a ball anymore – the sides were too greased to stick together into a ball. I ended up only using half the butter, saving the rest for my breakfast (two improvised crepes with strawberry jam : D) I think I stared for a good minute at my dough, which resembled brain more than it resembled a lump of dough, but undaunted, I put that sucker into the ricecooker, let it rise twice, and then started ricecookering baking it.

Now the recipe warned me that different rice cookers work differently, and that I'd have to watch it. It also suggested that you jam an eraser into the rice-cooker switch, because the rice-cooker would probably turn off once it reached the temperature at which rice is cooked, and bread requires a higher heat.. I didn't have an eraser, but I did have a heavy bottle of soy sauce that would do the trick though. Unfortunately, I probably shouldn't have listened to that tip. That bread burned. It was way more burnt than my peanut butter brownies.

Luckily, it only burnt on one side, and I learnt my lesson for the other side of the bread. The trick for my rice cooker is to hit the switch, let it turn itself to the 'keep warm' for a while, and then when it's cooled down too much, then you hit the switch again. Rather time-consuming, but as I'm supposed to keep an eye on the ricecooker anyways (for fear of burning down my suite by using a rice-cooker in a non-conventional way) it's not so bad. It tastes ok - it's certainly not the best bread I've ever tasted, or even made, but it was certainly edible, and pretty good with that Bleu D'Auvergne. I don't know if I'll try and perfect this method though– I think I might just get a loaf pan or baking sheet ,and try making bread the old-fashioned way : )

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Bleu D'Auvergne

I discovered something important this summer: I love blue cheese.

Now, everyone in my family loves cheese, but we are split on the issue of blue cheese. One one side of the ring we have me and my dad, advocates of the beautiful, sharp, tang of blue cheese, which bursts in your mouth like a flavour explosion[1]. On the other side you have my mom and Kim, who decry the sharp flavour of the blue-veined dairy product. Somewhat in between are Kristal and Michael. Kristal is tolerant of blue cheese, and will try it. And Michael is so unprejudiced in matters of cheese that he will just eat any type of cheese, no matter what its origin, type or flavour.

I had said something about having OD'd on cheese over the summer, and cutting back on cheese while here in Toronto (being on a budget and all) but a week has passed, and I find that I simply can't not take advantage of the superior selection of cheeses in Toronto. It would be a shame. That's my justification anyways. They practically have the same amount of selection at Whole Foods here that they have at the specialized cheese shop back home, and like Les Amis du Fromage, they let you sample. And this isn't even touching the ridiculous, ridiculous, ridiculous amount of cheese I saw at the St. Lawrence Market. That being said, I'm seriously contemplating trying a new cheese every week.

This week I got Bleu D'Auvergne, which is a soft, french blue cheese made from cow's milk. It's creamier than the blue cheeses I have tried so far (with the exception of Cambozola) and not as sharp (again with the exception of Cambozola). Still good though, with the flavour explosion. However, the mildness of the Bleu D'Auvergne means that I could probably just eat it on its own. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing.

[1] Sorry for the over-used cliche, but really, blue cheese is nothing if not flavourful.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

People who make Siu Long Bau are hardcore...

Speaking of dumplings, I found a site with a recipe for Siu Long Bau.

Did you know that you have to make ASPIC first??? And then the aspic is chopped up and
mixed in with the filling, so when the dumpling is steamed, the aspic melts and there you get your beautiful soup inside a dumpling! But...damn! Aspic! As in, the stuff that horrified the heroine in the book "Julia and Julia: My year of cooking dangerously" - you've got to use pork hock to make that stuff. Yeaaaah, the feeeeet.

I was briefly interested, since I love Siu Long Bau, but if aspic's involved, that's way too hardcore. In case anyone else's interested, this is the site where I found the recipe:

Oh , here's another recipe, and this one doesn't require pork hock. Instead you boil pig skin so that the soup gelatinizes. That seems slightly less terrifying to me.

Ukrainian Zabava: Pyrohy/Varenyky and Nalysnyky

I walked down to Harbourfront Centre today, where they were having a Ukrainian festival. It was centred around the theme of a Ukrainian wedding. I got there much too early to do most of the things, but I hung around long enough to take a pyrohy/varenyky tutorial. We didn't get to make the dough or filling, because there wasn't enough time, but we got to roll out the dough, and form the pyrohy. I snapped a picture of the ones I made - this is right before they went into the pot of boiling salted water. [I don't know if they're supposed to have the ruffled edges, but I was afraid that they'd fall apart in the water]

I don't have a picture of the dumplings once they came out, because everyone's dumplings went into the same pot, and we didn't get the same ones we made back. The ones I got back were chintzy on the filling and oddly-shaped, so I didn't bother to take a picture. Here's the recipe that was given to us:


2 c. flour
1 tsp salt
1 egg, or 2 egg yolks
1/2 c. water
2 tbsp oil

To assure tenderness, add 1/2 c. cold mashed potatoes and 1 tbsp melted fat.
Mix above and knead on a floured board until smooth.

The lady doing the tutorial told us that the common potato and cheddar perogies you see all the time are actually a rather new innovation that developed among the Ukrainian immigrants. There are a lot of different kinds of traditional fillings, but cottage cheese is supposed to be quite popular. Also, since several people doing the tutorial were actually of Ukrainian origin, they all gave their input on what their mothers/grandmothers did while making pyrohy, and it seems like the recipes vary widely. Some people only use sour cream and flour to make the dough. Some insist that eggs should never go in the dough. Some don't use any oil.

Since I'm not Ukrainian, and don't have the spectre of tradition hanging over me, I was wondering what they'd taste like filled with refried beans.

We were also given the recipe for Nalysnyky, which I understood to be something like a Ukrainian crepe. I thought I'd post it here, 'cause it'll be harder to lose that way : )


2 eggs
1/2 c. milk
3 tbsp water
1/2 c. sifted flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp oil

Add liquids to flour and salt, beat until smooth. Use a small frying pan or crepe maker, about 6 inches in diameter. Pour a few tbsps of the batter into the pan, just enough to give it a very thin coating, spreading the batter evenly. Cook the cakes over a moderate heat. When lightly browned on the bottom and firm to the touch on top, turn the cakes over onto the round side of a cereal bowl. This will shape the edge for rolling in the filling.

Spread the cakes with a sweet or savoury filling, rolling with the browned side on the outside. Arrange the rolled cakes in a buttered baking dish. Bake in a moderate oven for several minutes to warm and serve hot.

They also gave us the following links for Nalysnyky recipes

Pyrohy/Varenyky links,ukrainian_zeinas_potato_varenyky_perogies_pyrohy.phtml