Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sweet and Sour Pork

Sweet and Sour Pork
Originally uploaded by kayaksoup.
Another one of my bookmarked recipes; you really need to check out the posting about it though. The description was enough to temp me into trying this. I almost followed the recipe, except for the addition of broccoli and forgetting to put the green onions in (it was post Arts Club).
Another winner from Aria of passionatenonchalance ( I know, again, but I can't help it, the stuff she posts looks so tasty!)

1 20oz can pineapple chunks, in water no sugar added
1 1/2 lb top pork loin, trimmed and cut into 1/2″ pieces, lightly salt
3 green onions, trimmed and chopped into rings
1 red pepper, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
3, 1″ cubes peeled ginger root
2 cloves garlic
3 tb plum sauce, heaping
1/2 ts honey
1/2 ts chili oil
2 tb tomato paste
2 tb cornstarch
1/3 c cold water
1/4 c white vinegar
1/4 c brown sugar
1 tb vegetable oil
1/2 ts sesame oil
1 tb soy or tamari

Heat the vegetable, sesame, and chili oils in a pan and brown the pork. Remove and drain leaving a small amount of oil. Add red pepper and saute for 10 minutes, remove and add the the pork you have set aside. Strain the pineapple and set aside reserving the liquid. In the same pan, add the vinegar to deglaze the pan and reduce to half. Add plumb sauce, honey, tomato paste, brown sugar, and pineapple juice. Using a garlic press, crush the garlic and ginger into the pan.

After a few minutes, mix the cold water and corn starch together to create a slurry. Stir into the sauce and bring to a boil. Add pork, red peppers, and pineapple. Stir to coat, cover and cook until the pork is tender and the flavors have developed.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Cooking With Bloggers: Halibut II

I think I have mentioned my recipe gathering technique before; as I read blogs, any recipe that catches my eye gets bookmarked. Then, when I am searching for inspiration, I just scroll through the bookmarks. Once I make a recipe, I write it up, then delete it from my bookmarks so that I don't repeat anything.
This latest recipe comes courtesy of superspark, a new blog discovery for me. I adapted it to suit pour ingredients, but apart from that, there was no change to the recipe, which can also be found on epicurious.

Halibut with pearl couscous, slow-roasted tomatoes, and lemon oregano oil (serves 6)
Imade the six servings of tomatoes, as did superspark. Everything else I have scaled down.
Ingredients for tomatoes and lemon oregano oil:
6 plum tomatoes (1 lb), halved lengthwise
1 1/4 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
10 fresh basil leaves
12 whole fresh oregano leaves plus 3 tablespoons finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest, removed in strips with a vegetable peeler and finely minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Ingredients for couscous:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup pearl (Israeli) couscous
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for halibut
2(6-oz) pieces halibut
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tbsp Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and quartered lengthwise

1. Roast tomatoes and prepare oil:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 250°F. Toss tomatoes with sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and arrange, cut sides down, in a small shallow baking pan.

Heat oil in a 9- to 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook garlic, stirring occasionally, until pale golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in basil and whole oregano leaves, then pour oil over tomatoes. Roast tomatoes until very tender but not falling apart, 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 hours.

Transfer tomatoes with a spatula to a large plate, then pour oil through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl or measuring cup, discarding solids. Stir in chopped oregano, zest, juice, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.
2. Cook couscous:
Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then toast couscous, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and pale golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Add water and salt and simmer, covered, until liquid is absorbed and couscous is al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 10 minutes, then stir in 1 tablespoon lemon oregano oil. Season with salt.

3. Roast halibut while couscous stands:
Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 500°F. Line a shallow baking pan with foil. Arrange halibut in baking pan, then drizzle with olive oil, rubbing it over tops of fillets, and sprinkle with salt. Roast halibut until just cooked through, 10-12 minutes.

Divide couscous among plates. Transfer halibut fillet to each bed of couscous. Put 2 tomato halves on each plate, then sprinkle halibut with olives and drizzle with some lemon oregano oil.

Cooks’ note:
Tomatoes can be roasted 3 days ahead and chilled in oil in an airtight container. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Menu Plan

Just to prove that I am back on the cooking wagon, here is my menu plan for the week...
Sunday ~ Sicilian Chicken
Parmesan Potatoes

Monday ~ Salmon with pearl couscous and roasted tomatoes

~ Sweet and Sour Pork
Sauteed spinach

Wednesday~ Rob gets to cook beef

~ Leftovers (sicilian chicken, roasted tomatoes, rice casserole)

~ Rob gets to cook seafood.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

How about them Oscars??

Total geek here I managed to watch the Oscars from Red carpet to closing chords, despite poor Rob being bored out of his mind. I love the Oscars and am a big suck, crying for the winners etc. Still wished Peter O Toole could have won, but I think the best actor category was so stacked that any of those guys deserved the award.
I made dinner too, for the first time in forever. Unfortunately, I was too wrapped up in watching to take pictures, but I stole the menu from What did you eat? so go there for artful illustration.
Potatoes with Parmiggiano ~ didn't work well for me, but has potential. May have been operator error, but I like the concept, so I will play around some more and try to get it down pat.
Sicilian Chicken With Mint and Almonds ~ this was so good!! Please, try it, you will love it.
I also served steamed broccoli, but I don't think anyone needs a recipe for that.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


I have been busy...really. I mean, Rob came home Sunday and I had more important (gasp) things to do than post to my blog. Still not feeling the food post vibe, but I hope to be back to normal once I get through this week.
For the person who asked, Meyer lemons can be found in Vancouver at Urban Fare, Whole Foods and South China Seas.
I have the coolest friends, travelling the world, although I do miss seeing them.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Book Meme

I have a book thing... so when I found this meme at Wandering Coyote, I wanted to play, even though I wasn't tagged.

Feel free to steal the list; I have no idea why these particular books are on this list.

Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you want to read, cross out the ones you won’t touch with a 10 foot pole, put a cross in front of the ones on your book shelf, and asterisk* the ones you’ve never heard of.

1. +The Da Vinci Code(Dan Brown)
2. +Pride and Predjudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. +Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. +The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. +The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. +The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)

10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons(Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17.* Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. +The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)

26. +The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) and the other four volumes in the trilogy.
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The lion, the witch and the Wardrobe

29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. *Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)

34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. +The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)

37. *The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True ( Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40.* The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. *The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. +Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angelas Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. +She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. +The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. +A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)

53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. +Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. +Kane and Abel(Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Michael Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)

98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. +Ulysses (James Joyce)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Simple yet elegant


I actually made myself a nice dinner this week. Well, part of a nice dinner; the smashed potato cake was a donation from work. I bought two lamb chops and marinated them in red wine, garlic and herbes de provence. After a couple hours, I took them out of the marinade and seared them in a smoking hot frying pan 2 or 3 minutes a side. While they rested on the counter, I deglazed the pan with more red wine and let it reduce slightly to make a pan sauce. A few green beans, blanched cut and tossed with slivered almonds rounded the meal out.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Ladies Who Lunch

Today, I had a nice leisurely lunch with a friend I haven't spent time with in a while. We each contributed a part of lunch (and a bottle of wine) and it was so tasty.

My contribution was two savoury tarts pulled out of the crazy recesses of my brain. I rolled out two sheets of puff pastry, scored them to make an edge and docked the dough before eggwashing and blind baking. THe first tart started with Meyer lemon juice and zest, light ricotta, half a beaten egg and salt and pepper. I spread a layer of this mixture on the prepaked crust, then laid down lightly blanched asparagus spears. THe other tart started with 4 kalamata olives, chopped fin and half a teaspoon of garlic paste blended with a tablespoon of beaten egg. I brushed this concoction lightly over the base of the crust. Then I latered sliced tomatoes and crumbled feta cheese. Both tarts went in the oven for another 10-15 minutes before I packed them up.
Katie made a delicious warm lentil salad with olives, pomegranate molasses, orange, arugula, cinnamon and other spices. We sipped a nice riesling with lunch.

After, in light of the bleak Vancouver day, we curled up on the couch and watched Persuasion, following our Riesling with a Gray Monk Gamay Noir.

Of course, the star of the whole afternoon was the lovable and infamous George.

Restaurant: Smoking Dog

I continued my solo culinary exploration of vancouver with a trip to the Smoking Dog. Years ago, Rob took me here for a birthday ~ it was overpriced and over rated. Having heard it recently changed hands, I thought I should give it a try.
My reservation was for 6:15. Apparently I didn't need to make one, as the restaurant was almost totally deserted except for the owners and chef costing out the menu at a corner table. My table was not comfortable and I immediately started to feel the awkwardness of dining solo so I whipped out a book, trying not to eavesdrop on the meun costing (impossible by the way). As I waited for my food, a few more tables trickled in. The owner moved on to the dessert menu.
I ordered Mussels and Frites. The mussels were delicious, the broth so flavourable. I was glad that I had saved my pre-dinner bread to soak up all that flavourful juice. The frites were very generic (go fish has spoiled me for life) but that was okay as I didn't particularly want them anyway. I also enjoyed a glass of Viogner with my meal.
Eavesdropping on the menu planning made me want to give their bread pudding a shot "The bread pudding is good.. It was not so good at first, but I think the kitchen has got it know, so we should keep it on the menu." It was okay except for one burned corner of bread, but I found it a little dry for my tastes.
All in all, a pleasant but not exciting evening. Won't be going there on my own again, but could forsee a casual dinner out with Rob or lunch with friends...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Fuel: Redux

Let me preface this by saying you will never see photos of the food from Fuel. I enjoy my time there so much, all thought of picture taking flies out of my head.
I had a mixed experience last visit ~ a Sunday Lunch, but I really wanted to give it another shot. I made a reservation for 6:15 (the only way to get in, BTW is with a reso ~ I watched them turn away at least a dozen people tonight) and requested a seat at the kitchen bar when I got there.
What a great place to sit, watching everything as I sipped an Elderflower Collins (so good). My server was gracious and helpful without being overbearing or obsequious. A surprise offering of a smoked albacore tuna amuse bouche had me loving them long before my meal even hit the stove. I had gone in planning to give the pork belly another chance, but the special won me over; Heirloom Chicken Leg with Foie Gras Stuffing and poached Heirloom Chicken Breast, Celeriac Puree, Celery. It was wholly over the top ~ decadent, rich, flavourful (no salt issues this time), I wanted to lick the plate clean. A glass of Chardonnay was recommended and the pairing worked well, although the wine was not one I would choose to drink on its own.
I opted to follow the over-the-top theme of the evening and ordered dessert; a pear beignet with jasmine sabayon as well as a cup of coffee.
As I enjoyed my delightful dessert, I overheard a group of diners come in... the voice sounded familiar. I heard a "we will put Margaret right here". Turning, I saw the server usher my BOSS to the seat at the bar beside me. Awkwardness ensued on my part (why did I feel like I was intruding on her evening when I had been there first?). Finishing my coffee as rapidly as I could without looking like I was eager to leave, I gathered my bill, plunked down more cash than I usually lay out for dinner for two and left feeling happily filled.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

All by myself...

Finally, I actually cooked a meal for myself!
I pulled a simple recipe out of Caper's Super Foods Super You and purchased a side of greens. Dinner was ready in no time.

Ginger Smoked Tofu
2 tbsp soy sauce
5 tbsp warm water
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 piece smoked tofu, cut in half
Preheat oven to 375F. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and allow the tofu to marinate for half an hour. Bake with marinade until marinade has dried up and tofu is heated through.

For dessert, I used some leftover ricotta cream, some leftover sour cherries and an Anna's Almond Thin.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, February 05, 2007

Lazy Food

I had the best of intentions last night... I was going to come home and make myself a healthy dinner from a link that was given to me ~ Super Foods Super You.
I worked a catering job yesterday, 12-6pm, a 60th birthday surprise party in a cute house in the Southlands area. It was hard. The most demanding job I have worked yet! Tons of heavy lifting and stairs, people who want to be in the kitchen because that is where the action is, making it hard for me to move, etc. I actually slipped on the wet wooden stairs as I was caring something out to the catering van. Refusing to let go of the bin I was carrying, I fell on my side, wrenching my back and bruising my butt and ego.
I was so tired by the time I got home, all I could do was heat up a can of lentil soup and a cute little screwtop of wine that was sent to me. I crawled into the recliner with my trashy supper and watched "Grease: the One That We Want" for three hours. I promise tonight's dinner will be more exciting.

Editing for the smart@&& in the comment section ;D

The menu at this birthday party consisted of:
Sablefish cakes with preserved lemon and porcini mayo
Parmesan Crisps with Zinfandel Poached Pears
Cucumber cups with Thai Spiced Beef
Lamb Lollipops with mint aioli
Ancho Chili Chicken Wings with Blue Cheese Dip
Moroccan Spiced Chicken Kebabs with Quince and Pomegranate Molasses dip
Salad Rolls with Lime Chili Dip

There were assorted platters on the buffet:
Gourmet Meat and Cheese Platters
Market Veg Basket (VEggies and Dip)
Smoked Salmon and Smoked Trout platter
Guacamole, Salsa and Chips
Fruit Platter

Dessert was a Banana Chiffon Cake with Milk Chocolate Buttercream

Not a drop of tapioca to be seen ;P

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Review: Flying Tiger

Disclaimer: I know the chef and a portion of meal was a treat from her.

I didn't know, when I settled on Flying Tiger, that I knew the chef. I glanced at a menu as I wandered by and a pork belly dish grabbed my eye; I decided to come back from dinner.
I have always found dining solo slightly intimidating, but I was made comfortable as soon as I walked in. A seat at the bar was offered and as I walked up, I spotted a familiar face; Chef Tina Fineza, the Asian Cuisine instructor from my days working at the culinary school. Then another familiar face, a woman who had been a student when I worked at Dubrulle. She was one of the best and I wasn't surprised to see that Chef Tina had snapped her up
The bar looked into the tiny open kitchen, an ideal spot in my opinion! I ordered a cocktail while I contemplated the menu and watched dishes come by me at the pass. Flying Tiger was offering a Dine Out menu, but the pork belly was not on it. I opted for an appetizer from the dine out menu and the pork.

The appetizer turned out to be the size of a main: toro tuna sushi encased in a tempura batter. This dish was so rich, I almost had to throw the towel in early on. I think my favourite part were the mushrooms served with the dish. They had an acidity that helped to cut the richness of the tuna and the next thing I knew, my plate was empty

The pork belly. This is what all pork belly should aspire to be. The meat was perfectly cooked, tender, decadent. The broth was rich and flavourful. It was served with a shredded mango pickle and garlic fried rice, both of which complimented the dish very well. I managed to eat every ounce of pork, but just had no room for all the rice. I asked for an appropriate pairing of wine and the Klein Zinfandel I was poured was delicious (so much so, I ordered a second glass!) Chef Tina offered a sample of the duck crepes (which look amazing,) but (insanely) I turned her down. I had seen coconut soup on the dessert menu and I was really hoping I would be able to find some room for it..
We chatted a bit, I watched the action in the kitchen, mesmerized. I felt warm and comfortable. The chef chatted with other patrons at the bar, making everyone feel at home (if home included a chef and a kitchen like that!).

A plate appeared over the top of the bar, Leanne presenting me with an unordered dessert sampler. The picture is terrible and really doesn't do it justice. The first dessert was a Cassava coconut cake ~ cassava shredded and cooked with sugar and coconut milk, I think. It was delicious, light, not too sweet, loaded with flavour. At the end of the plate, deep fried bananas with chocolate sauce ~ rich, rich, rich. At this point, I was well past the edge and I could only eat one bite. I wanted to save all my energy for the center dessert, coconut soup. I devoured every single drop of that soup...

I walked home from the Flying Tiger, a good half hour walk, half of it uphill in the damp cold. I didn't care. I was warm and delirious with food joy.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Dinner Delivery

My grandparents have been in town for a few days, attending a PAMEA conference and they very graciously agreed to keep me company last night. (It was my first lonely night sans Rob.) They had treated the two of us to dinner the night before, so it was my turn to provide the sustenance. Unfortunately, I was so caught up in serving dinner, I forgot to take pictures until dessert.
The logistics of the whole thing were challenging; they were staying in a hotel about an hour by foot and bus from my house. They had no microwave or any other cooking related device. I wanted to make a nice hot meal.
I settled on roasted chicken breast with Meyer lemon and basil, baked potato and salad. As soon as I got home from work, I cranked the oven, popped the potatoes in and filled a small cooler with boiling water. I then marinated the chicken in Meyer lemon zest and juice, fresh basil, olive oil and white wine vinegar. 20 minutes before departure time, I seared the chicken, then popped it in the oven. As it cooked, I packed a backpack with cutlery, plastic plates, sour cream and butter (in little jars), salt and pepper, salad and dressing, as well as the dessert requirements and a thermos of hot water for tea. As soon as the chicken breast were done, I wrapped them in heavy duty foil, lined with parchment. They went into the cooler with the hot potatoes, everything gut covered with a warm towel and I locked the lid down. Then I rushed out the door.
I made it to Richmond in just under an hour and the food was still piping hot!
For dessert, at home I took the Braun to a pot of ricotta cheese with honey and vanilla added. Once the grainy texture was gone, I packed it up. I also brought a can of tropical fruit (papyas, mangos, guava etc) packed in juice and some of Anna's Almond Thins. Onsite, I layered the ingredients to create the dessert below. I was pleasantly surprised by how well everything turned out!

On the bus home, I got stuck next to a drunk guy, but at least he was an entertaining one who shared his secret to Yorkshire puddings and his favourite red wine to have with roast beef dinner!