Monday, March 20, 2017

Play, Eat and Shop in Myrtle Beach...

You know the saying, 'all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy?' Sometimes you got to escape from it all and just play, eat and shop/sleep your day away... :) Relaxin' and chillin' with family and friends in Myrtle Beach during March break before coming back to a multitude of exciting projects.

New digs from outlet shopping deals!

Winning 1000 tickets jackpot x two at the arcade! Why can't it be $2000?!

First time rollerblading...

When in America, you hit up the American fast food joints... 'specially mom and pop diners!

BBQ pulled pork sammies and chicken tenders at Little Piggy's

Joey Doggs

Double Joey Chili Dog Bowl-- yes in a dog bowl!

Italian Hot Dog with sauteed peppers, onions and potatoes on Italian pizza bread,
and hunky onion rings!

And of course, treat ourselves to some finer dining, like MB seafood favourite Bonefish Grill.

Jumbo Maryland lump crab cakes with red remoulade sauce (left)
and grilled scallops and bacon over Parmesan risotto.

Garlic and crab crumb dusted Alaskan cod, topped with lump crab
and white wine lemon butter sauce.

Ahhhhh.........At home sweet home, after a week of playing, eating and shopping, a bowl of noodles in nourishing homemade pork bone broth hits the spot every time. Now, I am ready to rock and roll with come what may.... YAY!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Mini Kimchi Zucchini Pancakes...

Kimchi pancakes are the bomb-- pan-fried crispy with caramelized bits on the outside, mildly spicy, slightly crunchy and chewy on the inside. Zucchini fritters are also healthy delicious, but instead of a giant pancake sliced into bite-sized pieces, they are individually formed into small ones with a dollop of the shredded zucchini in batter and pan-fried. Either are popularly served as appetizers, or an accompaniment to a Korean meal such as BBQ meats and lettuce wraps. Today I merged the two seeing that I had a lone zucchini in the crisper... zucchini meet kimchi! Low in preparation and high in flavour impact and reception at the table. My boys just love these dipped in a soy vinegar dressing!

Kimchi Pancake and Zucchini Fritters

Mini Kimchi Zucchini Pancakes
Makes about 12 pieces

1 cup kimchi, coarsely chopped (do not drain)
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. sugar
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup of water
1 medium zucchini, grated (squeeze to release some moisture)

Dipping Sauce:
2 Tbsp. light soy sauce
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. sesame oil
sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds

Combine batter ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Mix dipping sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. 

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cooking in two batches, drop 1/4 cup zucchini mixture into skillet; cook until golden and crisp,  flattening slightly about two to three minutes per side. Serve pancakes hot with soy vinegar dipping sauce.

Nom nom delectable!!

Get creative in your classics-- a simple ingredient add-in can give a novel twist to something you've been cooking again and again, and that have been winning your family over. Especially for those picky eaters, it is a great gateway to introducing new flavours and added nutrition with a dish they already enjoy! 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Food Revolution Toronto March Cooking Contest-- Smoothies...

Resharing from Food Revolution Toronto:

Hello March! It's starting to feel like spring is on its way and with that, March Break! For our #CookwithFoodRevTO challenge this month, we've chosen the simplest recipe for you (and your kids, friends or colleagues) to make along with us - Jamie Oliver's Super Smoothies!

“A deliciously cold, quick smoothie is one of my favourite ways to start the day – here are four of my favourite combos. ” Jamie Oliver

Making smoothies at a past Sobeys' Community Cooking Event

Let's (encourage kids to) put down the soda and whip up one of these colourful, healthy treats instead! AND, just by making one of these smoothies, you could win a Jamie Oliver cookbook thanks to Harper Collins Canada!

How to Enter:

Make one (or all!) of Jamie's smoothies, snap a picture and share it on social media. You must use the hashtag #CookwithFoodRevTO AND tag us on FB, or at @FoodRevToronto on Twitter or Instagram. That's it! Then you'll be entered to win a cookbook!

Eligibility and Contest Rules:

– Contest begins on March 1st 2017 at 9am EST on and closes March 31st 2017 at 6pm EST.

– Prize consists of one (1) Jamie Oliver cookbook
– Open to readers of the age of majority with a Canadian mailing address.
– No purchase of any product necessary for entry.
– Winner will be chosen randomly (using from all qualified entries on March 31st 2017 after 6pm EST.
– Winner will be notified via email April 1st 2017 and will have 48 hours to respond to the email.
– Winner will be required to answer a skill testing question.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Southeast Asian Sour Beef and Vegetable Soup...

Seriously, what's more comforting than a pot of soup on the stove? When you've got the frigid air out there, you've got warmth and nourishment in here :). What I got when I customized my own combining ingredients from two Southeast Asian sour soups after tasting their addictive saliva-inducing flavours while dining out family-style on two occasions. First, a Filipino Bulalo Soup (oxtail and vegetable) served at Summer House and then a Malaysian Seafood, Tofu and Salted Vegetable Soup at Gourmet Malaysia. My kids, hubs and I were deeply captivated with their unique sour notes. While the fam was spooning and slurping away, I had a eureka moment, taking mental notes on merging our favourite elements from both into one delicious concocted homemade brew. The results-- deelish!

Southeast Asian Sour Beef and Vegetable Soup

Famous as the cattle-raising region of the Philippines, Batangenos found their own unique way of cooking their specialty – bulalo. Bulalo or beef bone marrow soup (often combined with beef shank), has been a clear Filipino soup favourite especially during the cold weather months. Simmered over a long period of time to release the marrow's collagen and fat, and to tenderize the beef, the tangy tart touch comes from vinegar combined with splashes of fish sauce. 

In the second soup, the pickled salted vegetable also known as 'soon ham choi ' in Cantonese, aside from imparting a rich sour flavour to soups, it is said to have 'heat-reducing' properties. Sometimes tamarind is added for a double hit of sour, but tomatoes were used instead in this seafood-based soup. Nappa cabbage was used in both.This is a nice clean soup among Malaysia's many rich and hearty curry coconut-based ones that make them famous such as laksa.

Photo Credits: (left) and sumptuousblog.wordpress (right)

So what I did was make a beef-based broth with all bone-in beef shanks instead of bone marrow/oxtail (due to using a cheaper cut but still getting great beef flavour) and soured seasoned the soup with pickled salted vegetable and fish sauce. Nappa cabbage, chopped bite-sized tomatoes and tofu made for the chunky ingredients-- a real cinch, oh so tasty and comforting!

Southeast Asian Sour Beef and Vegetable Soup
Makes 8 to 10 servings

2-1/2 lbs. beef shanks
3 slices ginger 
10 cups water
300 g pickled salted vegetable (aka green mustard), drained from package, and chopped
1 or 2 tomatoes, cut into chunks
1/4 medium nappa cabbage, thickly sliced
350 g tofu (two squares in package in photo), cut into medium cubes
3 Tbsp. to 1/4 cup fish sauce (to taste)
salt and ground black pepper (to taste)

Parboil the beef bones in a stockpot of boiling salted water with slices of ginger for five minutes to release the impurities. Drain, discard the ginger and rinse the bones. 

Place cleaned beef bones in 10 cups water, bring to a rolling boil and then reduce the heat to medium low to cook for three to four hours. Skim off any debris or oil that accumulates on the surface. Half way into cooking time, add the pickled salted vegetables. Continue to cook until half hour before finished, then add the cabbage and tomatoes. Let simmer for 15 minutes and add the tofu. Stir and let cook for 15 minutes more. Pour in the fish sauce and adjust the seasoning if needed with more fish sauce, salt and pepper.

Voila...Soup is ready! Fork-tender beef and plump vegetables and tofu await!
The broth is aromatic, pungent sour and salty to easily whet the appetite.

Served with steamed rice, it is a hearty meal in one. Otherwise enjoy it as a side with the rest of your Asian dinner!

For another variation of pickled salted vegetable soup, try my Vietnamese Pork Rib Soup with Pickled Mustard Greens.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Chocolate Pots à la Jamie Oliver...

As far as decadent chocolate and simplicity goes, these individual two-toned chocolate pots can't be beat. With just four items in three easy steps, you are on your way to baked chocolate heaven baby! A perfect indulgent treat for the kids to celebrate family day and also my birthday ode to doing a rendition my way, adapting Jamie Oliver's Chocolate Pot recipe for our Toronto Food Revolution February Cookbook Contest. Cakey on the outside, bake it a few minutes less for a molten lava centre, or as I have done to a gooey chocolatety inside. As Jamie exclaims in his recipe, it is utterly a mind-blowing chocolate experience! Try it! Share it! Spread the chocolate joy!

Chocolate Pots à la Jamie Oliver (adapted from Jamie Oliver)
Makes 4 pots (double the ingredients for double the batch)

170 g (6 oz.) quality dark chocolate (70%)-- I used Baker's Premium Dark Chocolate
100 g or 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 cup golden or light brown sugar
2 large eggs
maple syrup for drizzling (optional)
nectarine, thinly sliced for garnish

Preheat oven to 325F. Break or coarsely chop chocolate and place into microwaveable bowl along with butter, cubed. Microwave on medium-high heat for one minute. Stir well to blend the melted ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs together until thick and fluffy. Whisking constantly, pour the chocolate mixture into the eggs, until combined. 

Divide between four small ovenproof teacups or ramekins, then place them in a deep roasting tray. Place the tray in the oven, then carefully pour enough boiling kettle water into the tray to come halfway up the side of the cups. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, then carefully remove the cups from the tray and leave them to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Note: Baking 20 minutes will give you a molten centre, with five minutes more, a gooey interior. Each oven's temperature results differently. I used my small convection oven to save on energy and baked for 25 minutes.

Crispy on the outside...

For maximum pleasure, enjoy the chocolate pots warm – if they’re hot, they can be too runny, and if they even touch the fridge, they become too firm. Serve with a spoonful of crème fraîche and a drizzle of good maple syrup. Or as I've done, a few slices of nectarine for a simple presentation.

This recipe is perfect for the kids to get hands-on and make! 
Can't wipe the eager smile off these faces...

This is my chocolate monster!! Nom Nom...

Looks like a mini cake...

But oh so ooey, gooey on the inside.... Now that's what I call heaven in a pot!

There's still a week left in our Toronto Food Revolution February Cooking Contest to enter to win a Jamie Oliver cookbook. Won't you give this ridiculously delicious chocolate recipe a try! Click to see contest rules.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Creamy Dill Pasta with Smoked Salmon Rosettes...

This is one of those classic combination pasta dishes that is simple but also simply impressive. Smoked salmon slices are turned into rosettes and added to the delicious pasta like a decorative garnish. With leeks, baby tomatoes, spinach, capers and fresh dill cooked in white wine and cream, this is one pertyy plate on Valentine's Day to dish up for a romantic dinner twosome or a special dinner for family dearest.

My kids spent all night making Valentine cards and came home with a stash each.

Creamy Dill Pasta with Smoked Salmon Rosettes
Makes 6 servings

(454 g) large shell or bowtie pasta, cooked al dente and drained 
300 g smoked salmon slices
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 leek, white part only, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 to 3 Tbsp. capers, drained
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/3 cup white wine, divided
1 cup baby tomatoes, halved
a handful baby spinach
1 cup half & half cream (table cream (10%))-- instead of using whipping cream to reduce fat
fresh dill, chopped
lemon for splashing
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
red onions, chopped for garnish (optional)

Prepare the rosettes. Slice the salmon pieces diagonally in half. Roll up each half salmon slice and curl out the edges to form a rose. Place on a plate and refrigerate when ready to use.

If the centre end is loose, tuck it inside. 

A rose, is a rose, is a rose...

Prepare all the ingredients. Over medium-high heat, add to the skillet the oil and leeks. Cook and stir for one minute then add the capers and mustard. Stir, and pour in 2 Tbsp. white wine. Let simmer for a minute.

Add the tomatoes and dill, give it a stir then pour in the remaining 1/4 cup white wine. Let it cook for one minute, stirring a few times; add the cream. Bring to a simmer and add the spinach. Squeeze lemon juice and season to taste. Toss in the pasta and mix well until heated through.

Divide pasta into individual shallow dishes. Place smoked salmon rosettes in a cluster, and top with more dill, splashes of lemon and chopped red onion before serving!

We also had a side of garlic bread and roasted cauliflower and broccoli.

Bon Appétit! 
I hope you all had a lovely Valentine's Day!