Friday, November 27, 2009

Swedish 'Meatballs' and Noodles!

I recently visited the Bo De Duyen outlet store on Spadina, where I picked up a
bag of frozen 'meatballs'. If you never went to the restaurant while it was open,
they specialize in fake meat products like veggie "chicken drumsticks", fish balls
and nuggets. I'm not crazy about fake meats, and
generally avoid them, but I wanted to support the place because I feel that they make some pretty great food. So off I went with 8 frozen 'meatballs' and thoughts of Ikea floating through my head. I browsed a few recipes for Swedish meatballs and noodles, and this is what came out of it. The dish is not difficult, but took a good hour from start to finish. First I browned the meatballs on all sides on the stovetop. Then I transferred them to a baking dish and baked them, covered, at 350 degrees while I did the rest.
The sauce is basically onions, a pinch of sugar, and a few tbsp of balsamic vinegar, simmered gently, until the onions are soft. About 1 3/4 cup of vegetable stock is added, with the last quarter reserved and mixed with a few tbsp of flour. After the sauce begins to boil, the flour mi
x is added and it's simmered until thick.
I boiled some water for the noodles while I whisked the sauce, then cooked 3/4 of a package of egg noodles for about 10 minutes. When the sauce was thick, I removed it from the stove and added 1tbsp of sour cream and a solid squirt of hoisin sauce, then covered it to keep warm.
I tossed the noodles in the sauce, served the 'meatballs' on top and topped it all off with some Ikea Lingonberry sauce. Mmm! A little more subtle than the flavours that I'm used to, but still quite delicious.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Painfully Messy Indonesian Turnip Cake

A.k.a baby throwup, A.k.a. 'the sludge'.

This is what it ended up looking like (partially finished)

It was a delicious dish we ordered on a whim at King's noodle house. It was deep fried, covered in Hoisin sauce, terrifyingly hot and incredibly tasty.

So, I decided to try to make it. I didn't realize that it would take several hours.

It started with some onions, some veggie sausage, and some hot chili flakes, sauteed with some shredded daikon radish. In case you're wondering, there's no turnip anywhere in the cake. I was a little disappointed, having had limited experience with Turnip, and wishing to expand my horizons.

Something for next time, I guess.
So, the process was to create a thick sludge (which you can see in the bowl) made up of water and rice flour, and to introduce it into the hot pan and allow it to thicken with the onions and 'sausage'.

After that, the mixture was poured into a pot and steamed for an hour. To be truthful, it fell into the pot and splattered all over the kitchen--then I salvaged what was left and steamed it for an hour.

After that, it had to set in the fridge for another hour, and after that, it was fried until crisp and coated with hoisin sauce, soy and sugar.

Verdict: the hungry boys and I ate the sludge. It was passably good, but no contest to the dish in the restaurant. For five bucks, I'll just buy it next time. And maybe a bag of turnips for later.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Ah, dumplings. I wonder why I waited so long to make you again.
Did dumplings two ways this week. Asian style dumplings yesterday and Italian 'Ravioli' style dumplings today.
I'm still using the pre-made dumpling wrappers because I don't have the time or patience right now to try making them on my own. Also, I'm moving soon (yaay!) and I'm trying to eat up everything I can to make things easier for everyone.

I filled yesterday's dumplings with minced tofu, onion, garlic, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, cayenne pepper, cumin, and garam masala. Super delicious.
I sauteed all of the above in olive oil until the onions were transl
ucent, then let it cool and spooned a teaspoon into each dumpling wrapper. I think I finally got down the folding technique for the edges, which is like a pleating. I folded the wrapper over and pinched the centre, and then started from one of the edges, pleating towards the middle and gently pressing out air bubbles. None exploded during steaming, and only two let water in when I boiled the next batch.
For the Italian dumpling
s, I used a similar base but added broccoli, oregano, fresh basil, pesto and tomato paste, along with some hot chili powder. I have it for my lunch, with spicy olive tomato sauce. Happy Day!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mushi Pan!

Saw these on Obachan's food blog recently, and wondered how I could do up a vegan version to share. After a little cruising online, I found a recipe that was accidentally vegan, converted and tweaked it, and came up with something I liked. Mushi Pan (literally bug bread, so I read) is a lovely, quick steamed bread/cake thing. I think it's a very versatile base for any flavour, and imagine it would come in handy for when you want a 'baked' treat, but don't have an oven.
I was out of my normal flour, and so I decided to use what was on hand, which was Teff flour (the flour used for Injera in Ethiopian foods--for a future experiment:).
I also wanted a green tea flavour, so I added matcha powder, thinking it would go well with the chocolate chips.
Here's the recipe for a small handful (probably three to four regular muffin sized cakes, or 5-10 minimuffin sized cakes)
1/5 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of flour
1tsp baking powder

1/2-3/4 cup of soy milk or other nondairy milk
1/4 tsp matcha powder
pinch of salt
handful of chocolate chips or chunks

Set a large pot to boil. Sift the dry ingredients, then add them to the wet ingredients and whisk.
Spoon mixture into muffin cups (1/2 full), top with a handful of chocolate or raisins and place in the steamer basket over boiling water. Steam with the lid on for 10-12 minutes, et voila! I really don't know of any faster, easier dessert. This would be great if you have last minute company.
You could take out the matcha powder and add cocoa, or anything else you think might make these great. Imaging: raisin cardamom mushi pan. Chocolate red bean mushi pan. Gluten free strawberry mushi pan. The possibilities are endless.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Trini Doubles!

Nom nom nom...Doubles are some of my favourite snack foods from Kensington market. I usually get one at Patty King--it's under 2 bucks, filling, and delicious. I got the fever to try to make them after watching an episode of Bronx Flavour in which they were featured, along with Roti. I found a good looking recipe on Trini Gourmet, and although I was nervous about frying anything (I generally stay away from it) I dove in. The result: pretty delicious. Very different from what I'm used to, but a worthy treat for the odd fry-day.

The recipe begins with a pizza-like yeast dough, (I made this one half whole wheat), different only in the addition of some curry powder and cumin to the dry ingredients. The dough rises for about 1.5 hours and then is punched down, until it appears deflated. Poor dough! :(

The dough is divided into six pieces and patted out with oiled hands into palm-sized ovals. Meanwhile, a basic chickpea curry simmers on the stove.

The dough is fried for 15 seconds on each side (until it puffs up) and then dried on paper towel. The curry is spooned onto the bread (bara) and then closed like a sandwich.

For next time: I had to eat these in waxed paper because
the chickpeas kept trying to escape. So next time, I will probably make one bigger piece of dough for each double (guess that would make it a single??) and fold it over to contain the filling. Trini Taco, anyone?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Garbage strike = no bitchin' in the kitchen

I'll try to get back in there and make some magic a.s.a.p, but right now sharing the kitchen with roommates and dealing with the garbage strike has made me loathe to cook. Let's just say I'm grossed out and leave it at that--I feel my blood beginning to boil at the thought of our messy kitchen.
I'm going to make Trini Doubles when things clear up :)
That's nice to think about!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Vegan Panna Cotta

FINALLY made this. It's been on my mind forever.
This version is vegan, and the main ingredients are coconut milk and soy yogurt, although I have a version in my fridge right now that is soy free. I made it with milk yogurt instead.
It was my first time using agar agar, which is used to set the ingredients and make them like Jell-o. This recipe was really easy to make, and it has a lovely texture. I think it's a real wow dessert (let's hope the folks at the bbq today agree)
For the Panna Cotta:
1.5 cups coconut milk
1 cup soy yogurt (I used strawberry flavoured)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp agar agar flakes (I actually reduced this a little, because I like a softer texture. This much agar produces a firmer texture)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Combine coconut milk, agar agar, and sugar in a pot and let sit for 5 minutes. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 8 minutes. Strain (to remove any undissolved bits of agar) into a bowl.
Combine with the yogurt (pre-whisk the yogurt to avoid lumps) and vanilla extract and whisk until completely combined.
It will start to set fairly quickly, so transfer it to individual serving bowls (it's about four servings worth) or to a nice round bowl. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
To unmold: sit your bowl in warm water for a few seconds. Alternately, wiggle the bowl until the panna cotta loosens and then turn onto a plate. You can even serve this straight out of the bowl. It's damn delicious.
I topped it with mango pureed with lime juice and sugar, but you can use any sauce you like.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Fiddlehead Pasta!

I'm not much of a pasta-eater for someone of Italian descent, but I couldn't think of a more delicious way to try my first fiddleheads than with butterfly pasta. My friend K.K suggested that I cook them with lemon butter, and the notion of eating these in a light, clear sauce stuck with me. I adapted this recipe from one I found online, adding a couple of things I enjoy.

The first step was to blanch the rinsed fiddleheads in boiling salted water for 2 or 3 minutes. Then I
rinsed them in cold water and added my butterfly pasta to the already boiling pot.
When the pasta is 2 or 3 minutes away from being al dente, saute 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, sliced, in 3 tbsp butter or margerine, until just brown.
At this point, I added some dry chilis because I love a little kick to my pasta, especially if it's a light dish.
Drain the pasta and rinse in cold water. Then add the juice of 1/2 a juicy lemon to the margerine and garlic and allow to thicken (it will likely take only a few seconds)
Add the fiddlehead
s and toss, then add the pasta and toss. Keep on the heat, tossing, until the pasta is coated and most of the liquid is absorbed.
At this point you can season with salt, pepper, or cheese if you like.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Beer and a Light Snack - Papadums and Chutney

I know you want to nosh on something summery and light. I think this is the answer. A perfect, crunchy, complement for a summer evening on the porch with a beer: papadum served with a mint chutney and a mango chutney. All made in under 40 minutes.
The papadum(s?) were cheap in Kensington market. Instead of deep frying them I microwaved them individually, 30 seconds on each side, and they turned out beautifully without all the oil required for frying them.
The chutneys were simple and fresh.

For the mango chutney: cube 1 ripe mango, combine with half a diced onion, a handful of raisins, a tsp grated ginger, a tsp of cumin, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, 2-3 tsp brown sugar (or skip it, maybe use juice, or a reallly ripe mango) 3 tbsp vinegar. Simmer until the liquid evaporates and the onion is tender. Then add a handful of julienned mint leaves, salt and pepper to taste.
For the Mint Chutney: combine in a blender 1/2 cup mint and 1/2 cup cilantro with the juice of half a lime, 1/2 to one whole fresh hot chili (I used green hot sauce 'cause I was out of chilis) and 5 tsp of water. Blend the sh*t out of it for 2-3 min, adding water if it's too dry. Now get outside, drink some beer, and eavesdrop on your neighbours. Ah, summer!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mutter Paneer

This dish feels like it takes forever to make. It's somewhat complicated, but if you have some free time, or are super organized in the kitchen, you might enjoy spending an afternoon with Mutter Paneer.
First, I would recommend doing a kitchen inventory, as this requires quite a few spices and ingredients.

You'll need 1/2-1 tsp each of garam masala, black pepper, cumin, mustard seeds, cayenne pepper, ground fresh ginger and garlic. Also, two bay leaves, a pinch of cardamom, 3 or 4 cloves and an inch or so of cinnamon st
You'll also need 1C cubed paneer, 1 minced onion, and 3-4 tom
atoes, pureed.
First, you fry the cubed paneer until it's golden on all sides, then set it aside to drain on paper towel.
Meanwhile, saute the dry spices in the remaining oil for about 30 s. Then add the mixture of ground ginger, garlic, and minced onion and saute until golden and combined.
Add the tomatoes and about
a cup of water, and prepare to simmer with the lid on for about 10 minutes ( you might need to keep adding water-you want the sauce to come together and change to a darker red/brown colour, and the oil to float to the top).
After it's reached a good gravylike consistency, add the peas. 2-3 minutes later add the cheese.
Simmer another 2-3 minutes, then serve over rice (or rice and quin
oa mixed)


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Buddha's Duck - Fake Duck

cFake Duck. I love it, and after some hesitation, I've tried to make it a couple of times. Although I still prefer eating this in the restaurant, the fake fake duck that I make isn't half bad.

First, soak several beancurd sheets in warm water for 5-10 minutes

Next: pat dry and lay out the beancurd one at a time on a piece of cheesecloth.

Heat a mixture of rice wine or sherry, soy sauce, sugar, stock and vegetable oil. Brush this on each piece of beancurd before adding another on top. Repeat until all of your beancurd is used

Fold the beancurd sheets inward until you have a fairly dense packet about the size of a paperback. Wrap with the cheesecloth, then steam for 10 minutes.

After steaming, saute in oil for 2-3 min, or until lightly brown and puffy on both sides. Serve with hot sauce and wine vinegar :)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cauliflower, Kale and Potato Gratin

Okay, it's not the nicest food porn pic I've ever taken. I was experimenting with a Canon 5D this weekend, and haven't quite mastered the settings. I was driven to make a gratin (my first) after reading chocolate and zucchini last week. I used her bechamel sauce (a flour/oil roux simmered with soy milk and seasoning) and tossed it with Kale, Potato and Cauliflower that I had steam-sauteed for about10-15 minutes (sauteed in order of hardness, with the Kale only going in for 2-3 minutes)
I topped it with nutritional yeast and panko, and baked it at 400 for 10 minutes, then broiled for another five. What a treat!
Next: Vegan Baked Eggplant. Dang, yo.

Monday, April 27, 2009


No, definitely not those sandwiches. Barf.
These sandwich cookies are inspired by the cookie of my dreams, which I had the other night. It was a raspberry jam-filled star-circle shaped sugar cookie sandwich with white icing and a dot of red in the middle. It looked like a french flower, and tasted like heaven. I had it at Orange Alert (you can see the cookie in the review). I veganized them so I could share at work. I don't have the recipe on hand, but it was a basic vegan sugar cookie (flour, margerine, vanilla, salt) and this 'royal' icing recipe
For next time: I couldn't roll the dough and cut it out. It was too crumbly, no matter how much extra liquid I added. So I had so smush them into little patties. Memories of making meatballs with mom :)
Verdict: homey, but delicious. I filled them with seedless strawberry jam and drizzled green and blue frosting on them. Clocking in at over 100 calories per cookie, this is not a treat you eat often. I only ate two of them. But I could have eaten all 11.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Call me White Heaven

This was one of those accidental dishes that was so so right.
Inspired by a cooking demonstration at the PAT mart on Bloor, which seemed to use nothing more than enoki mushrooms and tofu, I made food from the nothing in my fridge.
Sauteed cauliflower and onions with chili flakes, then added a handful of enoki and oyster mushrooms and medium tofu. Towards the end, I added a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, sugar and water. Served it on top of quinoa.
Holy soju. Was it ever good.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Almond Coffee Nutella

I've felt so free since I discovered that I could make my own nutella at home. It's delicious, it's dairy-free, and it seems healthier. I found the recipe here a few months ago, and have made it several times with much success.
Due to an unfortunate, bleary-ey
ed miscalculation at Noah's, I ended up with 14 dollars worth of slivered almonds (about 10 dollars more than I needed for the recipe) and have been wondering what to do with them.
Answer: Experimental Almond Nutella.

I followed the recipe pretty closely, substituting slivered almonds for whole hazelnuts. I think the results were pretty amazing.

Some things to remember: smaller nuts or crushed nuts require less baking time. Keep an eye on them or you'll end up picking out the really dark brown (read:black) ones. It's not the end of the world. Second: Different nuts in different stages of their lives have different fat contents. You may have to adjust the amount of oil while blending the nuts.

Third: It takes a long time to liquefy nuts. Longer than you think. Long enough to make you think you're going to wreck your blender and wake the entire neighborhood. Like, 15 minutes almost. They have to get hot, and you will have to constantly scrape down the sides of the machine.
I added a tsp of espresso powder after the mixture was well blended (just had a feeling it would go with the slightly burnt nuts) and a tiny bit of the scrapings from inside a vanilla bean.
This is a winner.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hibiscus bowl & Vegan Soon Dubu Jiggae

Man. Things sure have been busy. I wanted to take a minute to share a couple of dishes that I've been making lately that I really enjoy.
The First one is a mixture of vegetable salads on quinoa, inspired by a delicious, kick-your-ass bowl I had at hibiscus in Kensington Market.
Some wonderful things about this dish: you can recreate it with all of the little bits of ingredients and dishes you end up with in the fridge. It tastes a bit different every time. And it makes you feel really really good (and full!)
In my bowl, the base is quinoa (cook the quinoa as you would rice, then dress it with orange juice and balsamic vinegar and maybe some mustard. Add in a handful of raisins and a tiny bit of chopped onion or garlic if you like)
At 12:20 is roasted cubed squash (roasted with garlic, olive oil and sea salt)
below that are roasted beets (roasted at the same time as the squash, but for a fair bit longer) dressed in tahini, red wine vinegar and salt.
At 6:00 is the lovely broccoli, steamed and tossed with a smidge of garlic and some balsamic.
At 9:00 is a piece of tofu, previously frozen, baked with soy sauce and cumin.
And rounding the corner at 11 is the lovely cold salad of chick peas, avocado and tomato with a little diced onion, olive oil and vinegar.
All of the dressings/ingredients can be subbed for others. Last week I made a version of this with Kale sauteed with onions and almost made me cry.
The next dish...I'm going to wear out reallly fast. It's called soon dubu chigae, and it's a Korean spicy tofu stew that I first had in Koreatown. I was pretty sure that in the restaurant it was made with meat stock, but I found it delicious anyway and tried to replicate it at home.
First I had to figure out what it was called and then I had to figure out what was in it and how I could vegetarianize it.
Most recipes call for fish, fish stock, beef, and egg, but I find this stew doesn't miss it. It's hearty and super easy/cheap to make.

I adapted the recipe from this one. I think it's pretty solid, with the exception of the spice level and the add-ins.

I like to throw in some kale or broccoli, some tvp crumbles, some firm tofu...everything but the kitchen sink basically. Serve over hot rice.
One problem with this dish. The main ingredient, gochujang, a Korean red pepper paste, has msg in it. I don't know about you, but for me this means possible headaches/muscle aches.
I aim to make my own after I finish the container (which, at this rate shouldn't be long!) otherwise try to find a brand that is msg free.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I miss you dearly

My little food blog. Not a whisper from me in three months as I get used to being in Grad School.


I've been cooking and eating, but much less than usual--well, cooking less, but eating the same amount :)
Also, I learned photo emulsion silkscreening over the x-mas holidays, so I've been busy making shirts.

There are so many things that I'm dying to try! At the top of the list:

Vegan Panna Cotta
- I was gifted several vanilla beans from Turkey and hope to use them for this recipe. Also, I'm curious to try cooking with agar-agar.

Ginger Pear Tart
- Got a sudden craving for pears recently, and was hoping to have the time to make individual tartlets.

Hope to see you soon,