June 2018: Embrace…Familiar not Forgotten..and Let It Be

Father’s Day and My hubby’s Birthday dinner at our home: Quality family time and Togetherness

Embrace ….

Whew!  As we officially entered summer solstice, 2018 has already passed the half-way mark!

On June 27 I will be on Ms. Deborah Moore’s show on Fairchild AM1470 1030am sharp to share some of the highlights this past month.

Some good news to share I have started a new job as of last week; I am pretty excited about this opportunity and hopefully in the new future I will have more time for updates and blog postings (OO).

 Eating Together Day (mine was Eating Together Weekend!)

Did you know June 22 was the 2nd annual Eat Together Day, an event which people are encouraged not to eat by themselves?  ( link: from President’s Choice )

Sharing a meal with family and friends does more than feeding our bodies; it is more satisfying, creates a stronger bond and connection between people; communication will definitely improve.

Time Together is Priceless…

Unknowingly on “Eat Together Day” , a few of us from the IG Community shared home-cooked dishes together at Oh Studio; thanks to our lovely hostess Grace Lee from Eikcam Ceramics for organizing this fabulous potluck, you couldn’t have picked a better day.

 

Thanks Eikcam Ceramics for hosting the Pot Luck with other Instagrammers on Eat Together Day

On the following afternoon, with zumba classmates at an outdoor potluck picnic, thanks to my fellow classmates and teacher Ms. P for organizing.

Eat Together Saturday Picnic with my Zumba Classmates in Richmond – dishes prepared with love shared on a beautiful sunny day

June 02nd Dietitians at Home Book Launch at Chef Tony’s Chinese Restaurant

Congratulations to Dietitians at home on your publication!

on your publication!  The talented team of registered dietitians Amy Yiu, Jo Jo Wang and Mengdi Xia, has put together a cookbook featuring 30 ingredients and recipes, filled with beautiful pictures and easy to understand cooking instructions and information on all featured ingredients. It was my privilege to have helped with the editing, thank you very much for your trust and the recognition in Acknowledgements, it was a truly fruitful learning experience.

Follow them on Instagram for more information on how to purchase the cookbook.

 

Congratulations Dietitians at home

 

Open “Sesame”  – Elmo Baking Co. (Facebook/Instagram bakery)

“Sunny Day….Sweepin’ the clouds away..on my way to where the air is sweet”…

It was a little while back when I first heard about Elmo Baking Co., which operates in Richmond and sells their scrumptious double baked croissants through Facebook and Instagram.  I finally got around to ordering (by Thursday night each week) and picked up at the Smokehouse Sandwich (5188 Westminster Hwy, Richmond BC – a small drive in mall located at the edge of a residential area).   This double baked black sesame charcoal is robust and flavorful; it is not the buttery flaky type of croissants but definitely live up to its reputation.  Next time I will try the Almond Croissant and the famous PBJ (which was sold out at the time when I placed my order): when a chef posted the pbj picture and hashtag it #bravo, it must be good…

The name brought me back to “Sesame Street”… and picking up the order led me back to the street (just down the road from the Sandwich shop) where I used to live when I first moved to Vancouver; sweet memories.

Follow “Elmo” on Instagram or Facebook; DM to place the order (by Thursday night), you will receive confirmation via messaging; pick up on Fridays and Saturdays only.

Open Sesame !

Local Veggies at Tama Organic Life:

Sea Asparagus in season now

I first heard about Tama’s Organic Life (2828 East Hastings, Vancouver, BC) through Workshop Vegetarian Cafe; they have actually been around for a long time! My friend M reminded me as they used to deliver goodies from North Vancouver to my old workplace… They offer fresh and frozen produce grown by local farmers, dried goods (beans, grains) and condiments; their kitchen serves up delicious Japanese vegan bentos (I had the stinging nettle miso soup and it has so much depth in flavor and not salty at all).  They are excellent with recommendations, you can place an advance grocery order for pick up or delivery, eat in at their shop or just shop for a different selection of beautiful in season local grown produce (daikon from Victoria) and hard to find  Japanese varieties (mizuna/komatsuna).  Parking is available at this strip mall; if you happen to be dropping by Fujiya (on Venables and Clark) for Japanese groceries, this shop is only another 10 minutes heading further east towards Burnaby (when there’s no traffic).  Information on website available in Japanese and English.

Thank you Tama Organic life always for your recommendations, truly grateful (OO)

For recipe using sea asparagus, check out my February 2014 Mushroom Soba Salad with Yuzu dressing Recipe

Komatsuna and Mizuna

Familiar Not Forgotten…….Brunching at MaknMing

Sunday Brunch (10am to 2pm only) at MaknMing (is back for the summer only!  I first talked about their brunch in July 2017 ; some familiar dishes (French Toast YAY) are back with weekly special features (my hubby enjoyed a pork cheek Eggs Benny); no reservations just walk in only.  Their cookery is spot on, flavors at once are Japanese yet Canadian; if you like to roll the way I like to roll, this one is for you a whole level better.

After enjoying a scrumptious lunch take a stroll down to Kits Beach which is only a couple blocks away.

YAY French Toast is BACK ! Celebrated my husband’s birthday (thanks MaknMing for the little candle)
Ming’s Soba Bowl (with stripe prawns) and beautifully cooked onsen egg
The specials which we enjoyed two weeks ago: Pork Cheek Benny for Him and Poke Bowl for Me

 

And Let It Be…

I was watching the Late Late Show and happened to catch the James Corden and Paul Mccartney’s Carpool Karaoke; Sir Mccartney’s story about the writing of this song and their rendition of this Beatle’s classic was very touching.

The beginning of this month I ended an old work chapter and embraced a new one just mid-month; I just went with my heart and truly grateful for all that has happened, as is, nothing more, nothing less.

The lyrics, particularly this line, echoes my sentiment:

“There will be an Answer…Let It Be”

 

 

 

 

 

May 2018: Mish Mash Birthday Bash

At Van Dusen Gardens : Enjoying the fine weather

 

Last month I caught a cold right around my birthday so I have only been taking it easy with updates on my Instagram

Missed my segment on Ms. Deborah Moore’s show last month; happy to be back on May 30th!

Somehow I still managed to sneak in a few good eats and attended a mish mash of fun events with my friends…

 

Meeting Kanadell!

After seeing many pictures of her creations on Instagram, I finally met Keiko-san and tried her cute creations: the cutest and softest Mini cream filled bread which you can order through her website, she also sells her products at Farmers Market or Special events.   

 

Birthday bash (first of a few) at Geng Shi Ji (Richmond)

Geng Shi Ji is part of a restaurant group based in Hunan, China.  Located at Union Square (Capstan Way in Richmond), service is available in Mandarin and English, our server was very courteous.  I asked for recommendations when I was making reservations, we ordered in advance the most popular dish is the Clay Pot Chicken with Pig Trotters; we enjoyed the dish with their Shanghai vegetable rice, the fried tofu was very crispy and overall the seasoning were spot on.  I was advised their menu changes according to seasonality and availability.

 

 

While getting over my cold….

 Book Signing event at Gourmet Warehouse: I met Nigella!

Attended the event with my food buddy Doc Rita at Gourmet Warehouse: A photo opportunity and a quick chat (1 minute) with Nigella when she signed her cookbook (still gushing …)

 

During my recovery, I went to  Yi Fang (2-1725 Robson Street, Vancouver)

New Tea house from Taiwan: I’ve tried their Xin Yi Green Plum Green Tea and really like the combination: It is tart and sweet mixed in a flavorful green tea.  Have yet to try their specialty drinks.  I figure green tea is good for you (OO)

 

A little HOMECOOKING: Kaeshi for Shiso Plum Duck Udon

Kaeshi is the salt sweet sauce which is added as flavoring to noodle soup stock, mostly eaten with soba noodles.

I adapted the kaeshi recipe from Japanese soul Cooking (by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat): 2 cups of soy sauce, 1/2 cup mirin and 2 to 2.5 Tablespoons sugar.  (I have reduced the sugar from the original recipe which calls for 3 Tablespoons;  I used Oshawa’s Nama shoyu (unpasteurized soy sauce), Eden’s mirin (no additives) and cane sugar).

My Shiso Plum Duck Breast Udon is a twist on Kamo Nanban soba, combined with my old duck breast recipe  . The kaeshi was prepared the sauce 48 hours before, dashi base was made in the morning on the day;  I also used the kaeshi to marinade the duck breast (kaeshi, plus green onion, shiso plums) for 24 hours, before pan searing them on my cast iron pan.  The basic soup stock was skimmed and strained before I added the kaeshi,  I then added King mushroom and Korean Singo pear for natural sweetness (that’s why I reduced the sugar in the kaeshi), bring it to a boil and adjust to low heat and let it simmer. The udon and garnishes (leek and radish shoots) prepared separately;  The ratio is 6 cups of dashi to 1/4 cup of kaeshi for flavoring; I will post the detail recipe very soon.

 

 

Kaeshi: kept in sealed bottle (i used it up within the week – great for soup base and also as marinade!

Caught the Takashi Murakami’s exhibit at VAG:

 

Another Birthday bash ( at AutoStrada Osteria (4811 Main Street, Vancouver, BC): small plates great for sharing, walk in only.

Duck Sagne e Pezzi : duck and anchovy ragu, with sagne e pezzi (broken lasagne in pieces)…who would have thought duck and anchovy would go so well together?

Beets, apple, gorgonzola, walnuts and balsamic dressing..refreshing

 

Mom-in-law’s birthday bash (yes not mine) at Stem Japanese Eatery (5205 Rumble Street, Burnaby – reservations recommended)

Small plates for sharing, cozy atmosphere; they use in-season atypical ingredients (for example fiddle heads) from Farmer’s market and prepare in traditional Japanese cooking methods; taste and flavors are very clean and subtle, a really wonderful first visit!

Mixed Seasonal Vegetable Tempura – Batter was light and crispy
Dashi Maki – soft and flavorful
Takigomi Gohan – Staub Rice Pot with clams and fiddleheads : Japanese “aji”
Kohralbi Kimpira and mushroom with seaweed

 

 

March 2018: Italian Supper Club

Mangiamo! I also made my own grilled zucchini and eggplant antipasti !

When Italian home-cooked meal pictures start popping up frequently on my Instagram ; this means my dear old friend James is back in town for a visit; we always cook together wonderful rustic Italian dishes, and share with our group of friends, now aptly named Italian Supper Club.

Two evenings of fun and laughter with our friends; wonderful food and great company, Grazie everyone (OO)

Here are some of our highlights:

Antipasti (Mortadella, Parma di prosciutto, Grilled eggplant all from Cioffi’s),

Piave Mezzano Cheese (from Les Amis Du Fromage on East Hastings, a cow’s milk cheese)

Blood Orange, Fennel and Olive Salad (Slice thinly and layered, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt)

Cherry tomatoes salad (Sabina olive oil, sea salt)

Artichokes and Trofie Pasta (recipe here)

This is honestly the best artichoke dish I’ve ever had, and peeling artichokes is not as difficult as we imagine !!

Lemon and dill Brill sole (Fresh brill sole (bone in), lemon, olive oil, fresh dill – fish from Seafood City in Granville Island)

Groceries for Dinner II:

What is that can?  Salted Anchovies (Available at Cioffi’s and Bosa Foods)…ready to be transformed..

Anchovies in Sabina olive oil, garlic and red chili pepper flakes , served with French Butter and crusted bread – heavenly!   Thanks to my hubby and buddy James, they did most of the cleaning – salted anchovies cleaned in white wine vinegar, de-boned (removing the tail and dorsal) and layered in sealed glass container with extra virgin olive oil (we used the Sabina DOP from Italy, you need an excellent quality oil), a little red pepper chili flakes and garlic slices) 

Roast Pork Belly (Coarse salt, sage, rosemary and five peppercorn): despite the initial mix up with the temperature (Celsius and Fahrenheit Difference LOL), the roast pork belly was very succulent and skin was thin and crispy.  

Day before prep – pork belly crusted in salt mixture – salt draws the excess water out
The end result : Heavenly

Pasta Ceci (Chickpeas cooked with sofrito (onion, celery and carrots) and Gnocchi Sardi Pasta) – (dried chickpeas were used – soaked overnight)

WABI SABI Workshop: Imperfections and the Art of Letting Go at Eikcam Ceramics

Form to Feast: time to eat!

Embrace life as is…

I can see flaws and imperfections

I can see them so clearly..

Not expecting perfections

Not trying to be perfect

Be grateful, courageous and compassionate

Give Love and Kindness

To be the best I can be

And more than what I am (OO – the unknown Golden Apron)

I attended a three weekend”Form to Feast” free hand building pottery workshop, learning from the lovely Grace Lee (Eikcam Ceramics), a local artist whom I’ve long admired and collected a few pieces of her work; it was a dream come true.

I have dabbled into pottery on and off for a few years now;  the series of classes I’ve taken were taught by the fascinating Maggie Boyd at local Vancouver Community Centres (through Parks Board, she now teaches at her studio and very well established in the local art community).

Making my own pottery was a natural progression; the concept of serving my food on my own earthenware is a more complete form of self-expression, and to share them with my family and friends, is my full expression of my love for them.

The theme is Wabi Sabi , a Japanese aesthetic centred on beauty of imperfection. Ha Interesting and foreign concept to someone like me, who at times (many times my sister would say) could be so “fixed” in my ways.

The first Saturday was spent “kneading” the clay and shaping our pieces; due to time constraints the clay was well already prepared ahead of time so we actually dived into the creative process swiftly; the second week when we returned Grace already had all our pieces fired up and ready for glazing; and the final class, we just returned to pick up our pieces and enjoyed a Korean Bossam (Pork Belly) feast prepared by our teacher, and shared with our fellow classmates (from two sessions), served on our own creations.

The class took place in Grace’s tranquil studio (love your space) in East Vancouver (Venables area). The class  consisted of a small group of creative and accomplished individuals (many entrepreneurs), these days instead of exchanging business cards, phones came out swiftly and Instagram handles were exchanged and now we are connected!

The class was very informal and free-flowing: Grace gave us the instructions, then leave us to work freely and provided us with guidance when required.  She was very encouraging and readily answer our questions.

The sessions were filled with lots of carefree exchanges and laughter; the atmosphere was so relaxing and certainly sparked lots of creativity, I truly enjoyed every moment.

On the last Saturday when I got to the studio and saw my finished pieces, I was elated;  the sense of fulfillment and excitement were beyond words can express.  They are so different from what I’ve always liked ….yet I like them so much…

Perhaps somehow over the course of time my perspective has changed, and through this experience I was able to see it more clearly.

Precious memories: centerpiece from 2016 Dinner Party YVR and my Wabi Sabi plate

The little verse I wrote  pretty much sums up what I have learnt and how I feel…

Perfection and Imperfections….as in life, a work in progress.

If you are ever interested in trying out pottery, Grace’s short-term workshops are wonderful options, check the future schedules through her website.

Grace, thank you very much again for your guidance and encouragement; I am so grateful to have the opportunity to attend your workshop, see you again very soon…감사합니다.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RECIPE: Giampiero’s Trofie con Cariofi (Trofie Pasta with Artichokes)

 

Italian Supper Club I:  Here’s the very delicious Artichoke and Trofie Pasta Recipe; courtesy of my friend’s James’ Italian friend Giampiero ; Grazie and Mangiamo!

Ingredients: 2 Lemons 4 to 5 Artichokes (firm, tight, green, preferably Romanesco type)2 to 3 cloves of garlic, peeled 1 to 2 tsp Peperoncino (red chili pepper) flakes,  2 to 3 Anchovies (preserved in oil),  1-2 cups Warm Chicken soup stock (homemade or store-bought*),  1 cup dry white wine, 500 gr Trofie dry pasta, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano cheese, 3 to 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, sea salt (for pasta cooking and seasoning).

*Vegetarian stock can replace chicken stock to make this dish vegetarian; chicken or vegetarian stock cubes can be used also.  Anchovies are used to “season” the dish so adjust the salt accordingly (OO).

TIPS: This recipe serves 5 (100g pasta each as an appetizer); the usual size 500 g package of pasta is good for 5 to 6 people, depends on what is being used to go with it.

We used the same recipe, omit the pasta and turn the artichokes into antipasti; we just quartered the artichokes and serve it room temperature.   The lemon water prevents oxidation; it also removed the somewhat “muddy” flavor of artichokes and add brightness to the dish. Trofie pasta is selected as the shape goes with the sliced artichokes.

Artichokes as Antipasti!

Method:

  1. Zest the two lemons and reserve the zest in a small bowl for later use.
  2. Prepare a large bowl with cold water. Cut the two zested lemons in half and carefully squeeze the juice into the water being careful not to include the seeds. Drop in the seedless peels in as well.  The lemon water is to prevent the artichokes to oxidize.

3. Using a paring knife, carefully clean and trim the artichokes, pulling away the dark and hard outer leaves. Cut off the end of the stem, slice away the darker green outer layer of the stem. Carefully pare away any remaining dark green layer between the peeled stem and the edge of the base. Cut off about 1/3 to a half of the pointy leaf ends.  Be careful when paring and not to cut yourself.

4. Slice the trimmed artichoke in half lengthwise and then into quarters and carefully remove the hairy choke, pulling out any pointy interior leaves in the process. Drop the trimmed artichoke (carciofi in Italian)  in the cold lemon water and repeat the process until completed.  When all of the  have been properly trimmed and quartered, take each quarter and slice thinly lengthwise, returning the sliced artichokes into the acidulated water immediately.

5. Put a large pot of salted water (sea salt) on to boil.

6. Warm the chicken / vegetarian stock in the sauce pan; keep it in low simmer (this step will be omitted if you are using chicken /vegetarian stock cube and those can be added directly into the pan for flavoring).

7. Using low heat, add 2 (to 3 TBS) olive oil to a large saute pan or wok (in Italy they have a large rounded pan with a handle called a Salta pasta);  gently saute the garlic and peperoncino (red pepper flakes).

8. Add the drained artichoke slices and raise the heat to medium, Stir constantly (without breaking the artichokes).  After 2 to 3 minutes, add the anchovies to the side of the pan, carefully mashing them so that they completely dissolve in the oil.

9. Add the warm soup stock a little at a time (when cooking always add warm stock to avoid temperature fluctuations)  and stir in the white wine.  The stock will add another level of flavor to the artichokes; let hte mixture simmer in low heat.  The artichokes will absorb the liquid, you don’t want the sauce to be “watery”.

10. While sauce is simmering, throw the trofie pasta in to the boiling water and cook for at least one to two minutes less than indicated on the instructions.  Do not Toss the pasta water!

Trofie pasta purchased at La Grotta Del Frommaggio on Commercial Drive

11. Reduce the heat a bit lower (medium low) for the artichokes,  cover and cook until the artichokes are almost tender. They should be al dente by the time the pasta is ready. Taste the artichokes and see if they need any salt, the anchovies should be enough for flavoring, otherwise add a little salt if needed.

12. Using a strainer or a spider to lift the al dente pasta out of the cooking water and toss into the pan with the artichokes.  Add a ladle or two of the pasta cooking water (acqua di cottura), stir and fold gently to ensure the water mostly evaporates.  The cooking water is what makes the sauce creamy!

13. Add a couple of handfuls of grated parmesan and pecorino cheese to the artichoke /pasta mix. Stir gently to integrate the cheese with pasta, then serve hot in individual bowls. Top each with some of the lemon zest, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and more of the grated cheese if desired.  Mangiamo!

RECIPE: Steamed Vegetables with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

Ever run into a cooking “snag” ?  I just did the other day and my sister was my life-saver.

We always have a variety of vegetables in our every day meals, usually sautéed, blanched or roasted.

We seldom make any sauce for our vegetables, usually lightly seasoned with sea salt and olive oil. Perhaps in a huge part this is related to the types of cuisine we usually have at home, and also due to our continued efforts to restrict having “processed” foods (including prepared sauces) in our household.

The other day when we were trying to decide what to make for dinner; my sis started to tell me about this delicious Vietnamese dipping sauce which she had with steamed vegetables in Vietnam, she sent me a recipe by Ms. Vicky Phan as reference.

I was thinking dipping sauce for vegetables? Ah I get it, something similar to Bagna Cauda which I made a few months ago for our epic Italian dinner, except there’s no butter and anchovies, replaced with shallots and fish sauce.    

It is very easy to make, takes less than 20 minutes including prep time.  My recipe is a modified version of Ms. Vicky Phan’s Savory Vietnamese Vegetable Dipping sauce, check out her website for delightful Vietnamese recipes.

For my recipe I use more shallots than garlic, less fish sauce and substitute with hot water to make it slightly less salty, I have also added a little twist: grated lime zest, squeeze of lime juice plus a drizzle of the King Sauce (just the chili oil) from Betty King Sauce (Available online or through Instagram – check out this awesome King sauce)

 

Ingredients: 3 Tablespoons Fish Sauce (I used “Red Boat”,  3 Tablespoons raw cane sugar, 1 Tablespoon olive oil,  1 large shallot (minced), 2 small cloves of garlic (minced), 2 Tablespoons of dried shrimp (rehydrated in warm water, pat dry and minced),  grated zest of lime and squeeze of lime juice, hot water (a few Tablespoons).  ***Vegetarians – Omit the dried shrimp and use more shallots/garlic, or add chopped lemongrass to create a fragrant sauce. For some heat, add chili (or chili oil).

  • In small bowl mix fish sauce, a Tablespoon of hot water and raw cane sugar well.  Set aside
  • Using medium high heat, in a sauce pan,  add olive oil (or vegetable oil of your choice).
  • Add garlic and shallot, lightly stir fried until fragrant.  Be careful they burn very easily.
  • Turn heat to medium low, add dried shrimp, mix well with garlic and shallot, stir until fragrant.
  • Add fish sauce sugar mixture into the pot, stir gently and cook until sauce thickens.  You can add hot water (by Tablespoons – optional) to adjust thickness and taste according to your liking.
  •  Add chili oil (optional), lime zest and squeeze of lime juice
  • Keep watch closely and dont let the sauce burn – patience!
  • When sauce is cooking, steam the vegetables which should be ready in a few minutes.  Serve hot.

For our meal we served the sauce with steamed Brussel sprouts, zucchini, carrots, purple kale and brocolini.  I lined the steamer with “cooking steam cloth” (available at Chinese cookery stores).

I used a really great steamer which I first saw on Youtube used by home cooks/bloggers;  I searched for a long time and one fine day in December when I walked by Orling and Wu …..there it was…and I bought it home..

 

 

February 2018: OOOH (Oink Oink Oink..Hibernate)

They are cute and tasty: Dessert Buns at Fortune Terrace Chinese Restaurant, special Lunar New Year Feast

February was filled with family visits and gatherings with friends celebrating the Lunar New Year. There were new discoveries and return visits to old favourites and some long forgotten places, all filled with pleasant little surprises.

OINK OINK OINK:

So Hyang Korean Cuisine: Perfectly grilled mackerel for me and Korean Galbi (beef short ribs) for him; tasty authentic cuisine on Fraser Street at reasonable prices.  

 

Lunar New Year Feasts at Fortune Terrace Chinese Cuisine and Red Star Chinese Restaurant:  Great Food and Fun times:  A huge thank you to my zumba classmates (you know who you are) for arranging these special dinners (OO)

Highlights from Fortune Terrace Chinese Cuisine (Richmond, BC)

Special banquet order: crispy and succulent roast pig, served with chinese pancakes
Scallop Fried Rice
Fried crab claws

And from Red Star 

Sauteed prawns in “mayonnaise” sauce
Birthday baos

And when family is in town..the chow down continues…

I think this is the greatest pork meatball dipping sandwich ever…Au Petit Cafe (4851 Main Street, Vancouver)
Tangram Creamery:  Kombucha and Daifuku mochi with Matcha icecream (2729 Arbutus Street)
Finally a return visit to RAISU  –  Crispy Ebi Fry (2340 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver, BC)
Tetsu Sushi Bar: Do you like Chopped Scallop Temaki?  We Love their unagi rice, udon and sushi (775 Denman Street, Vancouver, BC)
Finally I had the Zen Minami Lunch set – I was “set” for the day – Minami (1118 Mainland Street)

HIBERNATE:

It’s NEVER too cold to have icecream and No I did not finish the jar by myself , I only scraped the bottom of jar and enjoyed what was left  – New favourite “Sweet Cream” from Earnest IceCream: 

On the snowed in days at home…

Perhaps the best time to catch on cooking videos and my reading: Masa’s Top Ten Superfoods

I’ve been following Chef Masa’s Youtube Channel and Facebook for quite a while now..I recently bought his latest cookbook and this will keep me busy for a while :

Also Contemplating and thinking….

Words to Live by: a meaningful posting found on a friend’s FB:

 

January 2018: Hello

 

Relaxation is an Art: we can all learn from Snoopy

Hello and How are you?

Finally have a little time to catch up!

I will be on Ms. Deborah Moore’s show on Fairchild AM1470 Tuesday January 23rd at 1030am sharp, hope you can tune in.

For my latest updates, follow me on Instagram

Celebrated Japanese New Year with my extended family at my in-laws: 

Sansho Pepper Roast boneless Prime Rib with organic black mushroom jus

Clams yuzu butter udon

Mom’s “Not Real Sushi” California Roll

Sockeye salmon sashimi with seaweed, wasabi mayo and ponzu

Japanese stewed carrots, konnyaku, lotus root and taro

Charcuterie and Cheese selection from Oyama Sausage

Lettuce wrap from my sister-in law, and Homemade Lemon fromage (lemon, gelatin, sugar, eggs and whipped cream and there’s no cheese) , it is a Danish citron mousse, prepared by her Mom

Aburi Salmon Battera Sushi: Sushi making class through Chef Taka (check his Facebook Page) 

New wish list: kitchen torch and battera sushi mold

Aburi Salmon Sushi!

Participated in an Adult Nutrition tour at Pricemart Supermarket (Richmond, BC) through Libra Nutrition 

Thanks to Amy for an informative session; check out their schedule

A couple Saturday afternoons enjoying a Hoji-cha Latte at Handworks Coffee Studio (7705 6th Street, Burnaby, BC)

Handworks also carries some quaint household and stationary items from Japan

Two visits to  the new DiBeppe Restaurant in Gastown (8 West Cordova, Vancouver, BC)

Cacio e pepe – Cheese and pepper spaghetti at DiBeppe
Second visit: we shared a salad (radicchio, frisee, pickled peppers, mixed greens, shavings of romano, chickpeas in a bright vinaigrette), also enjoyed the pasta pomodoro

Hot pot with friends at Dolar Shop (720-5300 No. 3 Road, Richmond)

I had the mildly spicy pickled cabbage and fish soup base – I love we can choose our own soup
Signature Prawn Paste – great texture
Trio of signature fish, prawn and beef paste to make into balls for hotpot

Better yet… having Japanese and Chinese hot pot with friends, the best kind of gathering during the cold winter season:

Japanese dashi base with daikon (previously we also added sake kasu); selection of vegetables,meats and main focus on seafood (manila clams, Dungeness crab, razor clams)

The highlight was Razor clams (from New Zealand) purchased at local supermarket (T & T Supermarket), succulent and tender, it was really worthwhile.

Best Hot pot condiment: Betty King Sauce

Razor clams from New Zealand: a splurge for this hot pot gathering; succulent and tender, it took less than 30 seconds to cook!

Betty King Sauce – best with hot pot – you can find her selling on Facebook/Instagram

RECIPE: Red and Pearled Barley Singo pear “Tea”

 

Feeling a little sluggish after the holiday meals?  This is my simple and easy home remedy for digestion and water retention. I usually take it late in the morning and never exceed a cup a day for a short duration when I feel it is necessary.

A month ago I had a pretty bad dry cough, I made this drink and it also helped to soothe the sore throat and get rid of the “dryness” we often encounter here in Vancouver during the winter season.

I remember as a child we had a lot of barley drinks particularly in the hot summer months, the taste and the feeling of comfort is deeply ingrained in my memory.

Same as any other herbal remedies, please use sparingly and according to your needs.  Pay attention to your body’s reactions and always check with your physician if you are unsure.

Ingredients:

 1 litre of  filtered water, 1/3 cup of red barley, 1/3 cup of pearled barley, 1 medium singo (korean singo) pear and small handful of goji berries (optional)

Method:

  • Peel and core the pear,  then cut into chunks
  • Rinse and clean the barley, you can mix them together
  • Put all ingredients in large pot and bring to a boil, then simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Strain the liquid, store in glass container  and refrigerate after it cools down

Notes:

  • Can be served hot or cold; I prefer to take it as a hot drink
  • Store barley in tightly sealed glass container in refrigerator

 

 

 

 

October 2017: Learn, Nosh and Nourish

Golden Leaves….

 

Fall has always been my favourite season ; I simply love the colours, the weather and the beautiful and delicious local harvests! I was overly excited and overextended myself a little with Thanksgiving family dinner and cooking classes (which I love!), I ended up catching a cold. Yikes!   Changing seasons is a very tricky time period, we should all be extra mindful in taking care of our bodies in order to prepare for the long winter season ahead.

And finally my blog post is up…..

Learn and Nosh at True Nosh

 

Snow Skin Mooncakes! I finished “third” place in the “mooncake beauty pageant”

A couple of months ago I came across True Nosh through Instagram, what I found intriguing about True Nosh is their focus on “no added sugar” cooking!  Coming from a family with history of diabetes (on my maternal side of family), I thought I could learn something new to even further reduce the usage of sugar in foods prepared for my family.

I browsed through their website and signed up for the Chinese Green scallion cake (one of my favourite Chinese snacks) class;  I think most of you by now know “working with dough” and cooking Chinese food is not my strong suit (Ha ha).

The class focused mainly on demonstration by owner and certified dietitian Ms. Renee Chan; only a small part requires hands on participation.

What is no added sugar cooking?   Ms. Chan finds a creative way to use the natural sweetness from fruits and vegetables to replace refined sugars in traditional cooking.  A lot of restraint is exercised by limiting the quantities so sugar content is lower and the dishes are lightly sweetened.

The menu for the evening also includes braised beef shank (which goes very well with the green scallion cakes) and mango mochi (without added sugar) as dessert. The dough was proof ahead of time by Ms. Chan and her team;  the six class participants helped to roll out the dough and shaped the actual pancakes while Renee would cook and teach us Chinese (simple Chinese words in Cantonese and Mandarin) at the same time, she certainly made it fun and relaxing for everyone.

What did she use to replace the refined sugar?  A small quantity of chopped red dates and apricots were used to create to a paste and added into the braised beef shank (picture not shown) as  sweetener. (The usage of this ingredient was featured at another vegetarian/vegan class which I attended later – see below). After a most enjoyable evening, I decided to sign up for her “moon-cake making” class.

The second class was held at her newest location (West 7th avenue and Ontario Street, very close to Main),  Renee and her team prepared all the ingredients and dough ahead of time, and participants only assemble and created the moon cakes with the beautiful tools provided. For the filling she has selected lotus (paste made from seeds) and red date (paired), mung bean and apricot (paired), red bean and purple yam to create the fillings, green tea powder and saffron were used as natural food colouring to change the “skin” colour.    The textures and flavors are definitely different from store-bought “snow-skin” moon cakes,  it is more rustic and not as sweet.

Renee and her team are helpful and friendly, I had the best time chatting with her about cooking and travel!  Her family was also present that afternoon and I was delighted to have met her mother, the atmosphere was very warm and personal.   All recipes were sent to participants via email with nutritional information.

Her company also offers a range of sauces and condiments with funky names and interesting flavor profile for Chinese cooking.  Check out her website for more information.  Thank you Renee and team for the connecting, see you at one of your classes another time!

I like her overall concept and support for a good cause (ending diabetes);  and I am already thinking how I can introduce this “no refined sugar” method to my family and friends.  I do think this a better option however it is still important to exercise personal judgement and stay well-informed on what suits your own dietary needs….As I always say, always cook with lots of care and love.

Learn and Nourish at Workshop Vegetarian Cafe (296 Pemberton Road, North Vancouver, BC)

My favourite dish : Kabocha and Corn Soup with crispy grains…created by Pokeman Vancouver !

In the past couple years more vegetarian and vegan restaurants have opened up in Greater Vancouver, even regular restaurants now offer more vegetarian and vegan options. Most of their flavor profile tend to be either Mediterranean or Middle eastern inspired, there are only just a handful of authentic Asian-flavored ( Chau Veggie Express) centric vegetarian friendly eateries operating in Vancouver.

The Workshop Vegetarian Cafe opened in 2016 and they well-known for their creative veggie bowls and signature ramen creations.  Owner Tak and his wonderful team have created a Japanese menu featuring fresh seasonal and local ingredients.   This delightful gem is very welcoming and cosy; it  offers a complete vegetarian menu, with gluten-free and vegan options available; inside they operate a “corner shop which sells produce,  frozen noodles (their in-house made udon/ramen), vegan and gluten-free condiments.   I first visited this cafe in September 2016 with my friend “Kanekic” and really enjoyed their avocado toast and ramen.

I came across their workshop information through Instagram, apparently they have started to offer special workshops almost on a monthly basis with different themes.

On a beautiful Sunday morning I attended their sake kasu workshop,  the focus is on the explanation and demonstration of key ingredient “sake lees” used in four recipes (which was given to us also), and a special five course lunch was included afterwards.

The demonstration was hosted by one of the chefs Oku-san, who is from Artisan Sake Maker at Granville Island, Canada’s first local sake maker (opened since 2007).   You may ask what is sake kasu?  It is the lees left over from sake production; it is a versatile ingredient which can be use as a marinade or pickling agent, adds lots of flavor to soups and sauces.  If you taste the kasu on its own, the flavor itself is actually quite strong, so very little is needed in all applications.

In the demo class he taught us how to create of amazake (Japanese New Years drink), Vegan Chocolate Banana Smoothie, Miso Marinade and Vegan Mayonnaise; we all get to sample them afterwards and we were all given a small tub of sake kasu to take home for our cooking experiments.

Sake Kasu Vegan Mayo – tasty!

The biggest surprise came when lunch was served; Oku-san and his friends, three other experienced chefs who work at different establishments in BC, they collaborated and created an exquisite five course lunch which exceeded my expectations.  The meal was perhaps could easily ranked as the best vegetarian I’ve had in Vancouver, it is so wonderful to see we have  high calibre chefs collaborating together and showcased not only their individual talent, but their superb team work; as a home cook, I left with not only a full stomach but also a very inspired mind.

I will be returning in November to attend a dashi-making workshop, I simply look forward to see what they have to offer next time.   Meanwhile if you are unable to make it to Vancouver, check out their postings on Instagram; their feed is very positive and inspirational.  Thank you very much Tak and team for the inspiration!