August 2017: Cheesecake and Salad rolls with Cooking Buddies

Cheers!

In the last July weekend,  I spent the entire Saturday cooking with my friends Jo, Phung and Rita (thank you very much for hosting).

I always learn something new from this trio and under their “supervision”, moi the novice baker completed the measuring and most of the mixing/whisking tasks, we successfully made a really fabulous Japanese cheesecake, based on Ms. Namiko Chen’s recipe from Just One Cookbook.

One important note: you must prepare and weigh all the ingredients, have everything organized and follow each step carefully.  I find the most difficult part is folding the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture.

We actually skipped the glaze and the cake is still very tasty.

I posted the picture on Instagram and got a very nice reply from Ms. Nami.  Thank you to my friends who supervised me through this process, and thank you Ms. Nami for sharing a wonderful recipe.

Try making it and you will love it !

For her recipe, please check Ms. Namiko Chen’s website:

http://www.justonecookbook.com

We did it!! Under “supervision”, moi the novice baker managed to complete most of the complicated tasks ….Beautiful group effort, fabulous result !

Below you can see the fixings we prepared for our Vietnamese salad roll DIY dinner: fresh shiso, basil, mint and lettuce, rice noodle, dry rice paper, shredded chicken (from Costco to save time) and prawns, and Fried Egg, which is not seen commonly when you order the salad rolls in store.  Our dear friend Phung made her own peanut dipping sauce (hoisin, peanut butter, water, vinegar); I haven’t had this much fun at a DIY dinner party for such a long time!    My hubby came by afterwards and it was equally fun to watch him prepare his own salad rolls, I told him now we know we can purchase and use a salad roll wrapper tray (it is made of plastic, place rice paper on top), it makes it so much easier to prepare this at home!   Another great tip from Phung: Dip the rice paper in hot water instead of cold to rehydrate the rice paper.

I found the rice roll wrapper tray at 88 Supermarket (in East Vancouver on Victoria Drive).

Rice Paper!
All the Fixings on the Table….and Sparkling is perfect for this light summer dinner
My first DIY salad roll loaded with vegetables and herbs (Shiso!)

March 2017 : Baci Baci Italia e Giappone (Kiss Kiss Italy and Japan)

Udon in Tomato Nduja Miso Broth with pea shoots, napa cabbage, spinach and pickled Shallots Homemade!
Deconstructed Afternoon Tea at Wild Sweets: “an affair to remember”

I revisited Wild Sweets with my dear foodie friends one Sunday afternoon for their “Cocoa Bean to Chocolate Afternoon Tea”, their 13-course afternoon tea is a very unique and “hands on” affair. All courses came “deconstructed” with detailed explanation presented by Mr. Dominique, each item includes a cocoa bean to chocolate element, all served with a chocolate tea infusion.  Their take on this old tradition is very refreshing and modern filled with wonderful surprises, I felt I was taken “back in time” to secondary school days experimenting in the science lab.     We had the most wonderful 2 hours assembling and styling the delicate treats, it is definitely an “affair” to remember.

Thank you very much to Dominique and Cindy and their staff for this wonderful learning experience!

Booking for this event is available online through their website:

http://dcduby.com/

chocolate cream…chocolate dream..

Epic Italian Cooking Night : Nduja!!!

My dear friend James now resides in Casperia, Italy and  comes back to Canada to visit his family twice a year. Whenever he is in town,  we always get together to cook an Epic Italian Dinner at my home.  We always have the best time preparing all the dishes together for our friends, I hope in the near future someday I will be cooking with James, a truly wonderful teacher, in Italy..

James always introduce a tasty and authentic Italian element to our dinners: I rarely use already processed sauce or paste, however I am willing to make an exception for James!  And here comes “Nduja”: a spicy cured pork salumi spread originally from Calabria, Italy.

This is the bottled version found at Bianca Maria on East Hastings…You can purchase the sausage form from Oyama Sausage at Granville Island
When using nduja, a little goes a long way, the smell and taste reminded me a little of chorizo sausage (without the distinctive smell). We used it as the base for the sauce, cooked together with a little olive oil, white wine and minced garlic; then we steamed the clams in the sauce, finished off with grated lemon zest.  Toss in “al dente” spaghetti (nduja is already salty so be light handed with salt when boiling pasta) and Voila!   The flavors melted together and lifted the pasta dish to a different level, and the sauce tasted even better on the next day.

James was such a sweetie and got rid of all the clam shells!

The bottled version is available at Bianca Maria, a quaint Italian food store on East Hastings; the sausage version is available at Oyama Sausage in Granville Island; give it a try and tell me which version do you like better?

Always cook with love and thoughtfulness, and eat with your love ones (quote Peter Ciuffa “pastaboy”)

Spaghetti with Fresh clams cooked in Nduja, white wine, lemon zest, and garlic !

Baked sea bass with romano beans cooked in San Marzano tomatoes and nduja; with pea sprouts salsa verde (modified recipe from Great British Chefs)
Beautiful sea bass from Brian’s wonderful Seafood City at Granville Island, nduja sausage from Oyama Sauage and Co., romano beans from Granville Island Market.

http://www.seafoodcitygi.com/

http://oyamasausage.ca/

“Little Happiness Starts Here” : Baker and Table (6414 Fraser Street, Vancouver, BC) 

I checked out the sweet and rustic Baker and Table bakery cafe at East 48th Avenue and Fraser, it was wonderful to meet the owner Ms. Hitomi who provided really wonderful and friendly service.

I really enjoyed the organic chicken with cashew pesto sandwich and the cheesecake for dessert; I also purchased the tasty white bread (whipping cream incorporated) which was “pillowy” soft, I used to make thick toast at home for breakfast.   She does accept special cake orders,  I returned the next day and purchased a delicious strawberry shortcake and enjoyed it with my friends on our Epic Italian Dinner Gathering. Follow them on Instagram and Facebook for menu information and updates.

http://www.bakerandtablecafe.com/

Herbal tea and organic chicken cashew pesto sandwich; it was their one month anniversary and they were giving away thank you treats to customers (OO)

Half Loaf from Baker and Table on Fraser: Thick Toast!!

I can have this cheesecake anytime
Baci Baci Kissa Tanto in Chinatown: Memorable Dinner and Superb Service

One rainy Thursday night after a long and hectic day at work, we decided to head to Chinatown and got in to Kissa Tanto (it was around 8 pm) without any reservations!

The experience left us speechless:  the dishes (our favorite was the lasagna of the day (picture shown) were filled with interesting elements of Japanese and Italian flavors, a combination which I personally enjoyed a lot.

The service (I believe our server’s name name is Celina) was very attentive and superb.  Love their retro decor and ambiance: Kissa Tanto, thank you for a memorable dining experience.

Reservations recommended or walk in early.

http://www.kissatanto.com/

Mocktail on a “school” night

Lasagne del Giorno: Sake Kasu Pork Ragu….Packed with interesting layers of flavor, never had a light “sake-flavored” lasagna and it works..I actually created a similar sauce served with penne pasta at home…