Monthly Archives: September 2009

Playing with your food is encouraged!

This entry originates back to the mid 80’s, when my father saw an apple turn into a bird. He had been watching a cooking show, probably one of the three that was on television at the time (I think he learnt this from Wok with Yan). He taught us how and it was always a fun opportunity to play with your food and a great way to get the family into a fruit-related activity, since there are hardly enough of those nowadays!

Now, fast forward 20 years and I was planning a little picnic at English Bay Beach in Vancouver with a friend and I thought to myself, no offence to the apple, but I should raise the bar a notch by using an asian pear (since they are amazing!)  To my surprise, it was a major hit even to the point of naming the bird Hank and taking some candid photos of him along the beach!

Hank with the Inukshuk

Hank with the Inukshuk

Hank's profile shot (his better side)

Hank's profile shot (his better side)

Hank was not injured, nor even in danger, we were simply going for some "edgier" shots

Hank was not injured, nor even in danger, we were simply going for some "edgier" shots

If you’re interested in learning how the “magic” happens, I have a link here for you…

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/1140596/apple_bird_garnish/

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Filed under Apples, Asian Pear, Inukshuk, Vancouver

Ketchup colored glasses in Los Angeles

Although the majority of my restaurant reviews will be in Vancouver for the time being, I was thinking of a restaurant I checked out in L.A. last month with some friends called Ketchup. It was suggested to us by the hotel concierge and was worth the walk down Sunset Blvd.

As you walk in, you realize Ketchup is not simply the name on the menu, but rather the theme throughout. Everything is red and their calling card is a platter of 5 different types of ketchup (I can’t recall them all, but I do remember a homemade ketchup, a chipotle ketchup and a wasabi ketchup, good but not with the kick I was hoping for).

Ketchup x 5

Ketchup x 5

 So since we were 3, we ordered 3 appetizers and although the wings and Kobe sliders were good, the mini chicken tacos were by far the best and the spicy guacamole was worth licking the spoon clean!

Wings, Kobe Sliders and Mini Tacos

Wings, Kobe Sliders and Mini Tacos

For the main entree, I ordered the BBQ baby back ribs which were done just perfectly and their bbq sauce had a nice little tang to it. However, what I was really interested in was the accompanying dish which was Mac “n” Cheese with white truffle and dungeness crab and it defintely passed the test!

BBQ Baby Back Ribs with Mac "n" Cheese

BBQ Baby Back Ribs with Mac "n" Cheese

If you’re in Hollywood and looking for something fun and tasty, give Ketchup a shake!

http://www.dolcegroup.com/ketchup/

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Filed under BBQ Baby back ribs, Chicken wings, Friends, ketchup, Kobe Burgers, L.A., Los Angeles, Mac "n" cheese, Mini Tacos, Vancouver

Purple slurpin’ in Northern Ontario

Today is nothing you can make, but rather hopefully you’ll let me tell you a little story of my journey accross Canada, so thank you in advance and maybe you’ll be intrigued to have a cold little treat afterwards.

I watched the movie “One Week” the other day.  For those that haven’t heard of it, the premise of the movie is a guy (Joshua Jackson) who for reasons I won’t divulge here (since it’s worth renting) travels across Canada. Watching it made me think back to my cross-country drive from Montreal to Vancouver.

I ended up doing the drive solo, so my mission was to accomplish as many km’s as possible every day. At the urging of my parents, we loaded the van with a cooler full of chocolate milk, sandwiches, fruits and a massive bag of some type of party mix (including wasabi peas mmmm). With snacks galore for my 5000 km journey, my stops consisted of necessities such as sleeping, gas, stretching, the occasional treat to maintain my sanity and random picture taking.

So I have a weakness in life, it is a Slurpee from 7-11, I’ve been drinking them since I was about 10, so it’s been 20+ years and I’ve enjoyed every moment!  As I was on day 2 of my drive and realizing how enormous the province of Ontario is, I saw a sweet sight which happened to be a gas station paired up with a 7-11. I accomplished a re-fill, stretching and a treat all in one stop!

Now, i’m going to share with you all here…for me, I must drink a Slurpee with a purple straw, I don’t know why, I just do. 7-11 offers various colors, my first one was with a purple straw and I haven’t looked back. I also have to mix and match my flavors. It always must start with Coke, the middle layer can be whatever I’m feeling on a particular day, be it orange, grape, Dr. Pepper, Sprite, whatever, but the top must always again be Coke. Again, don’t ask me why, it just has to be that way!

Coke/Sprite/Coke combo with a purple straw

Coke/Sprite/Coke combo with a purple straw

As for the random picture taking, probably my favorite was the random goose by the side of the road in Wawa, ON.

One big goose!

One big goose!

Even from a distance, one big goose!

Even from a distance, one big goose!

For those that need a tutorial on a Slurpee, check out its history here,

http://www.slurpee.com/Slurpee101/Story.aspx

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Filed under 7-11, Canada, Coke, Joshua Jackson, Montreal, Slurpee, Sprite, Vancouver, Wawa

When in Vancouver, eat sushi…

As much fun as it is to cook, sometimes it’s just easier to go out for dinner. Luckily, in Vancouver there is no shortage of restaurants, especially sushi! After doing a little shopping with a friend, sushi seemed like a perfect choice and we stumbled into Britannia Sushi on 1016 Commercial Dr. At first glance, this place is a prime candidate for Restaurant Makeover as the walls are depressing and the lighting is poor. Aestetics aside, we decided to give the 18 piece special with miso soup priced at $5.75 a chance. We shared the special which consisted of a Kappa roll (cucumber), tuna roll and California roll. We also ordered the Veggie Dragon (yam tempura with avocado on top) and an order of Goma-Ae (japanese spinach with a peanut sauce) for starters.

It was my first time eating Goma-Ae, which was good, but not what you’d call a large appetizer. The sushi came very quickly and we were pleasantly surprised with the quality. It was well-rolled, nicely presented and tasty. The Dragon roll with avocado was the hit of the meal and luckily we had a camera with us as it became an interactive meal of sushi eating and sushi picture taking.

The total was just under $15 and we certainly got our money’s worth. I would certainly go back again, but they do need a visit from Igor and the Restaurant Makeover crew!

Veggie Dragon Roll with Avocado

Veggie Dragon Roll with Avocado

Veggie Dragon Roll with Avocado

Veggie Dragon Roll with Avocado

Britannia Sushi

1016 Commercial Drive, Vancouver, BC, V5L 3W9

604-251-1155 – Open 7 days a week

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Filed under Avocado, Britannia Sushi, Commercial Drive, Dragon Roll, Friends, Goma-ae, Sushi, Vancouver

It’s sweet like honey…cake

One of the benefits of hosting a dinner party among friends is the sweet realization of leftovers! Not leftovers in the sense that it wasn’t good (of course), but more in the sense that as host, you went above and beyond the call of duty and there was too much food to eat!
Honey Chiffon Cake

Honey Chiffon Cake

This evening’s treat was a slice of the dish I was most proud from the other night, sweet sweet honey cake!

It was the perfect touch to finish off the dinner amongst the 8 of us and will wonders never cease, it is three days later, it is still perfectly moist and delicious for a bedtime snack!

Honey Chiffon Cake

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of oil
  • 1 lb. liquid honey (1 1/2 cup)
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 3 tsp. of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. of baking soda
  • 1 cup of cold coffee or tea
  • 1/2 cup of nuts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of raisins (optional)

Beat eggs and sugar. Add oil and honey and blend well. Combine dry ingredients and add alternately with liquid. Stir in nuts and/or raisins (if you added them of course). Pour into an ungreased 10″ tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Then invert and cool completely before removing from pan. Taken from Second Helpings, Please!

Note – I did not have a 10″ tube pan, so I used a loaf pan which explains why it it’s not circular. Ideally, it should have been a tube pan because I ended up having to keep it in the oven longer because it wasn’t baking evenly. The ends baked quicker than the middle, so I covered the ends with aluminum foil to prevent burning.

Proudly displaying my latest creation

Proudly displaying my latest creation

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Filed under Friends, Honey Cake

It does taste better with friends!

So tonight will be my shortest entry to date as i’m pretty tired, cooking for about 30 hours in a 4×4 (feet, not metres) kitchen will do that! My attempt at a full-blown Rosh Hashanah meal for 8 people turned out pretty well, although there were a few hiccups along the way, namely some unevenly cooked matzoh balls and a roast that had to be coaxed along, but you learn and move on, right?

The dish I was most proud of was the honey cake…turned out great, I just have to buy a cake pan and not use a loaf pan that didn’t cook it quite as evenly as I would have liked.

Recipes and comments to follow during the week, including hopefully a guest appearance recipe for some delicious garlic mashed potatoes!

2 final thoughts

“How did my grandmothers (and my mother nowadays) make it look so easy?”

Thanks to my new Vancouver friends (and old London friend) for allowing me to cook for them this evening.

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Filed under Friends, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Honey Cake, London, Matzoh balls, Roast, Rosh Hashanah, Vancouver

Playing with Kahlua – Chocolate pudding and whipped cream

When I first moved to Vancouver, I knew a grand total of 6 people and it was easy to feel out of place, so in an attempt to feel somewhate settled, it seemed natural to fall back to something that made me feel at “home” and that happened to be the kitchen. So it made perfect sense to “whip” up something new and have a couple of people over for some dessert and drinks.

I had recently seen some pudding on the Food Network (which I will definitely also be writing about from time to time) and I dug up a recipe and produced something amazing and easy!  No real explanation is needed for execution, the ingredients and directions speak for themselves. For fun, I threw in a little Kahlua, which you could totally taste, it was chocolate with a little kick

For the whipped cream, I just wanted a color to contrast the black pudding, so again, why not try something new?! The whipped cream was easy too (easier of course if you have an electric mixer and not a whisk). It was my first time using whipping cream and it was amazing to watch it transform into a non-liquid, especially with a whisk, I thought it would never happen! Oh and for continuity, I also spilled in a little Kahlua into the whipped cream at the very end. The Kahlua turned it slightly off-white, but you could definitely tell there was something in there.

For presentation, I used my great white square bowls given to me by my sister, but for fun, I also tried it in a small clear glass and was very pleased with how it looked. So the lesson is to not only to try new ingredients and recipes, but try random things in your kitchen for presentation, you never know what will look good.

Oh and for the record, I now know more than 6 people…in case you were feeling bad for me!

Simply easy and delicious chocolate pudding (Recipe adapted from Second Helpings, Please!)

2/3 cup of sugar

1/3 cup of cocoa

3 tbsp. of cornstarch

1/4 tsp. of salt

2 1/4 cup of milk

1 tsp. of vanilla

Kahlua (as much as you’d like – just not too much and make it runny!)

Whipped Cream (see below)

Blend first 4 ingredients in a saucepan. Gradually stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil 1 minute. Blend in vanilla. Chill thoroughly. Serves 6.

Whipped Cream (Recipe from Giada’s Kitchen)

1 cup of whipping cream

1 tbsp. of confectioners’ sugar

1 tbsp. of liqueur (of your choice)

Whip the cream to soft peaks in a medium bowl using a whisk or electric hand mixer. (I of course, keep forgetting to buy a mixer, so if you’re using a whisk, it is doable, but be prepared for a 15 minute workout!) Add the confectioners’ sugar and liqueur and whip to combine.

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Filed under Chocolate pudding, Friends, Giada de Laurentiis, Kahlua, Please!, Second Helpings, Vancouver, Whipped cream