Reflections in Deep Frosty December… Words to Live By: Heart, Passion, Patience and Gratitude….
Wish you all a wonderful, healthy and prosperous 2017!
Catch me on December 28th Wednesday morning 1030 am Sharp on Fairchild Radio 1470 Deborah Moore’s program; we will be chatting about food and much more!
It’s all about Heart…..
From Instagram to Kitslano : MaknMing (1629 Yew Street, Vancouver, BC )
This is perhaps one of the highly anticipated restaurant openings in 2016: Chefs Makoto Ono and Amanda Cheng (previously from Gastown’s Pidgin) has opened their new restaurant “MaknMing”, a Japanese French fusion restaurant earlier this month. I must admit I was a fan already (because of a creative kohlrabi dan dan noodle dish at Pidgin), and I had the pleasure to meet them earlier because of Instagram and Seafood City (that is another lovely story)! We dined at their cosy eatery two weeks ago, enjoyed some delicious foods which they have cooked their hearts out and their crew provided us with impeccable service. I simply love their tagline “#smallteambighearts! Congratulations again Chefs for your opening, look forward to my next visit!
Check out their restaurant (open for dinner only, reservations accepted, check their website and follow their Instagram account (same name) for updates..
Last Saturday I literally had chocolate for breakfast when I visited Dominique and Cindy Duby’s Wild Sweets Atelier Store in Richmond (by Steveston Hwy)! The chocolates were so delicious and Mr. Duby was providing us with information on their products, I was blown away by their professional knowledge and certainly can feel their passion…We bought their “tea cake’ (a modern version of a fruit cake) for Christmas Dinner Dessert and everyone enjoyed it so much! I was thrilled to know they also have tastings and afternoon events available for booking online and I am already coordinating with my food pals to pay a visit in the New Year. Great to meet you both Dominique and Cindy, look forward to learning much more about chocolates and cocoa!
And a little Patience goes a long way in anything we do….and always cook with Love
Last month (See my November posting) I made a very traditional Japanese dish “Tai meshi (snapper rice); earlier this month I decided to tackle ramen and a different fish dish..Another challenge working on my focus and dedication to my craft, honing skills and building my patience..
A long time ago an old Japanese friend taught me how to make the Japanese braised chashu (pork) using pork shoulder butt (less fattening), ginger, leek, green onion, soy, mirin and sake. I marinade (soy/ginger/leek/green onion/sake) the pork shoulder over night; next day sauteed more leeks and ginger, add marinade to katsuobushi dashi (bonito flakes/kombu) to create the braising liquid, seared the pork shoulder and slowly “braised” (lading braising liquid over meat and flipping sides)
And for Christmas…I made a sockeye salmon pate (steamed salmon in lemon and a little sake, flaked and mixed with combination of Greek yogurt and Ojai lemonaise (1:1), grated lemon zest, chopped dill (don’t over do it as it can be overpowering), lemon juice, season to taste with black pepper and orange and lime sea salt as seasoning (Vancouver Island Salt Co – non-flavoured sea salt works also, I just happened to have this in my pantry!). I also made fresh cranberry sauce (fresh cranberries (1 bag) with blood orange juice and zest (1 big or 3 small blood orange), Cointreau (orange liquer) and brandy, lemon juice and zest, cinnamon stick, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar (a drizzle) and sea salt (I also used the orange and lime flavoured salt, regular works) – remember to fold in the zest almost towards the end of cooking process, and always adjust the seasoning accordingly.
And Gratitude Always ….Thank you to everyone… from my heart to yours..
That’s a wrap for 2016 – see you in the New Year (OO)
“Getting to know you…Getting to feel free and easy…When I am with you…Haven’t you noticed suddenly I’m bright and breezy…Because of all the beautiful and new things I learn about you…” – Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I”
Two weeks ago I kick started my holiday season in New York City, and spent the most wonderful time with my dearest sister, niece, my cousins and their better halves.
We talked, we laughed, we cried, we shopped, we drank, we ate….Life is wonderful and filled with precious moments, I am truly thankful.
I am happy and content to be back in “Raincouver” with my hubby; until the next time I see my family again, I miss you all (OO)
Here’s a snapshot of some of my favourite moments and places:
Alone time at ramen-ya in NYC: now that’s a first for me..
And the next day we cooked up a storm for Thanksgiving Family Dinner..(childhood memories and flashbacks)….and we had plenty of leftovers the next day
What’s on the menu: Roast organic turkey, lobster mac and cheese, homemade cranberry sauce, cauliflower and zucchini mash, savoy cabbage and radicchio salad (remember this dish?) and delicious desserts brought over by Amy’s lovely parents..
In between we shopped and (window shopped) everywhere (Black Friday Sales!)…
A busy Saturday….Finally I made it to Per Se (Thomas Keller’s second Three Michelin starred property, the first being “French Laundry” in Napa Valley
At night we went enjoyed the musical “The King and I : I have a special reason for wanting to see this (you’ll find out in the end)…(I cannot believe my wonderful cousin Cary accompanied four ladies to a “chick musical”, thank you so much for the special treat!
We spent a lot of time in Chelsea, a neighbourhood on the west side of the borough of Manhattan in New York City..
A seafood feast from the Lobster Place at Chelsea Market, where we spent four hours shopping and eating…
Enjoying the spring weather? I’ve been busy attending classes and redesigning my blog! For the time being, you can find my updates only on Twitter (@GoldenApron) or Instagram (Mygoldenapron). Stay tuned for changes coming soon!
I will be on Ms. Deborah Moore’s radio show on AM 1470 Fairchild Radio on April 22nd, 2015 at 10:30am sharp!
Below is the outline and the content is subject to change according to Ms. Moore and flow of program; I look forward to chatting with her about food and everything else (OO)
Fun on Fraser:
Between East 23rd Avenue and East King Edward Avenue: Vancouver’s beloved Earnest Ice cream is already on this block; check out the Chinese vegetarian restaurant and french bakery!
Bodhi Choi Heung Vegetarian Restaurant: 3932 Fraser Street, Vancouver, BC (Closed on Tuesdays).
We don’t eat Chinese vegetarian food very often; certainly enjoyed their crispy fried taro roll, spring rolls and milk custard (picture not shown; nice hint of coconut); their sautéed pea sprouts were simple yet cooked to perfection; the magic lies within the vegetarian broth which they prepared, the dishes we’ve tried are flavourful and not overly seasoned. Friendly atmosphere and great price range.
Batard Boulangerie Cafe Moderne: 3958 Fraser Street, Vancouver, BC
French country-style bakery which has a little of everything: fabulous seasonal baked goods (their Raisin Walnut bread was to die for), you can stop by to have a light lunch or coffee and dessert: we thoroughly enjoyed their black forest cake in a jar with a nice cup of tea! They also sell their baked goods at the Vancouver Farmers Market, check out their website for menu and information:
Kin Kao – 903 Commercial Drive, Vancouver, BC (closed on Mondays), Eat in and Take out Available
I discovered this fine little gem on Instagram and went for a light brunch; we enjoyed the vegetarian congee (authentic Thai/Chinese flavour) and Pad Thai (remember to ask for spicy). No reservations so get there early; and we will try their dinner menu next time!
Back to the West side: Au Comptoir, 2278 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver, BC
They have been following me on Twitter and I finally made it to the restaurant; an almost-perfect dinner from start to finish; check out their new spring menu, and remember no reservations (this seems to be the norm here in Vancouver for many small establishments).
My sister-in-law Marcia is a pescatarian/vegetarian and a serious dessert/chocolate connoisseur; for almost every Festive family dinner gatherings when a “meat” dish is usually the main event, our mother-in-law would happily make our family’s favourite “Not real sushi – California rolls” (recipe already posted) or baked a salmon fillet for her, changing the sauce (Teriyaki, beurre blanc) each time. Although she enjoyed them always, it became a routine…
I decided to change things up just a bit after revisiting the classic recipe: I know it’s not major or “life defining” culinary moment, the thought process behind the thinner crispy potato crust (instead of usual mashed potatoes) was very simple; the “pie’ idea was inspired by Marcia’s past lovely desserts and believe my entire extended family will find this more enjoyable, it’s less carbs (haha) and less fat (from the sauce to the filling). Over time, I find myself putting even more consideration and thought into the food which I cooked for family and friends, a lot of times it is for health reasons and their preference; this is my way to express my love to those close and dear to me.
This dish, along with the juiciest turkey I’ve ever cooked together with my mother-in-law, and the sides and salads (Thanks Barb and Gina) and desserts (thanks Marcia! The chocolate truffle cake and apple galette were divine) prepared by my sisters-in-law were devoured in no time.
That was another happy busy day in the kitchen, happy meal, happy gathering, happy family moment together…I have so much to be thankful for.
On another happy note: I submitted the “pie” picture to Vancouver Gastropost for last week’s “Pie Oh My” Mission, it was selected and featured in Saturday’s weekend paper! Thank you Vancouver Sun for the acknowledgement (OO).
Ingredients: (For 9 1/2 inch pie plate)
500 g wild sockeye salmon fillet, 2 leeks (white part only, finely sliced), 4 to 6 Yukon gold potatoes (peeled and grated into strips), Japanese panko (handful), fresh juice of 1 lemon, 1 Tablespoon fresh dill (chopped), 1-2 Tablespoon grapeseed oil, sea salt and white pepper (for seasoning), grated cheddar (as you like and it is optional)
For Lemon dill infused bechamel: 4 cups of “tempered” unsweetened almond milk, 3 to 4 sprigs of fresh dill, peel of 1 lemon (strips), 1 bay leaf, 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (or to taste), 1/4 cup (approximately) of all-purpose flour, 3 to 4 Tablespoon grapeseed oil (traditional roux calls for butter, fat and flour is usually 1-1 ratio, I’ve used less than 3 Tablespoon of grapeseed oil). **Using grapeseed oil and unsweetened almond milk is my personal choice.
One Day Ahead: Prepare Lemon dill infused Bechamel Sauce
– In 4 quart Sauce pan, start “tempering” and flavouring of almond milk: (this is an important step as cold milk will result in lumpy and grainy sauce)
– Rinse saucepan with cold water (do not wipe dry – this will prevent the fats and protein from scorching the bottom of the saucepan), add unsweetened almond milk, then the aromatics – sprigs of fresh dill, lemon peel, bay leaf.
– Using medium low heat, bring liquid to a simmer (Do not bring to a boil), turn off the heat, cover with lid and let the flavours steep for at least 15 minutes (I did for 20 minutes).
– The hot milk should now be ready; it can now be strained into a measuring cup. Discard all flavouring ingredients.
– Wipe the saucepan clean, over medium low heat, start making the white roux (combining fat and starch together): add olive oil to saucepan, when oil begins to bubble, begin adding flour, keep stirring to form a smooth thin paste. The flour should be incorporated into the olive oil fully, continue to cook the roux by stirring constantly over medium low heat in order to prevent scorching (burning), the process should be no longer than 2 minutes (white roux does not take on colour), you are looking for a smooth and thin consistency (not thick and lumpy).
– Once the roux is ready, add hot milk to hot roux a bit a time while constantly whisking (easy to use a flat whisk) or stirring (spatula), let the mixture come back to a simmer each time before adding more hot milk. Once all the milk has been added, bring it to a gentle simmer while stirring. Lower The heat and simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes, pot uncovered (important), in order to cook out the starch flavour. Be careful not to bring to a boil as sauce will burn or split. Using a whisk, stir occasionally, make sure you scrape the bottom edges of the pot. The sauce should coat the back of a spoon nicely, once it finishes cooking, turn off heat, season to taste with sea salt and white pepper (optional). Strain the sauce into one more time for a silky smooth texture.
– To store properly, pour sauce into a glass bowl and place a plastic wrap over the hot bechamel, when cooled completely, refrigerate. The sauce will thicken considerably; to reheat the next day, add a little water (or stock) to the cold bechamel, stir and bring to a simmer.
Preparation on The Day Of:
– Pre heat oven to 350 degrees F (to bake the salmon).
– Clean and pat dry salmon fillet with paper towel, using tweezers (I keep one for cooking) remove pin bones.
– Place salmon fillet (skin side down) in baking tray. Mix 1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil and lemon juice in a small bowl, and drizzle over the salmon. Season by evenly with chopped dill, sea salt and fresh ground pepper (optional) to taste. Bake approximately 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until salmon is easily flaked with a fork; the salmon should still be pinkish and moist.
– While salmon is baking, peel and grate (or using a knife to slice) the potatoes into thin strips, place in a sieve, add 1 teaspoon of salt. Squeeze out as much liquid as you can with your hands; leave to drain for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat the process again with another teaspoon of salt, leave for another 10 minutes and again squeeze hard to remove as much moisture as possible. Pat dry with paper towel, cover and set aside.
– Once salmon is cooled considerably (don’t burn yourself!), start “flaking” the salmon by using a fork, the flakes should come off the skin easily. Flake them in “bite-size” (not large chunks), do not include salmon skin, make sure all bones have been removed. Set aside
– In saucepan reheat the bechamel sauce by adding a little water to the cold sauce, stir and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat when ready.
– In separate 6 quart pot, add drizzle of grapeseed oil over medium heat. Add the leek and cook, stirring often, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until soft but not browned, then add salmon flakes. Turn off and remove from heat, using a spatula, slowly and gently “fold in” bechamel sauce (a few spoonfuls at a time) with salmon mixture. the filling should not appear runny (Do not stir)
– Pre heat oven to 375 degrees F.
– Mix the grated potato strips with a handful of Japanese panko. Lightly brush the bottom of the 9 1/2 inch pie plate (mine is my Mom’s “vintage” Pyrex) with grapeseed oil, then sprinkle with chopped dill. Then pour the salmon filling, and top with the grated potatoes in an even layer, lightly brush the potatoes with just a little grapeseed oil, the crust should brown nicely.
– Place on a baking tray in the oven and cook for 40 to 45 minutes, or until heated through and bubbling, the potato crust should be golden brown and crispy. Serve immediately.
– Bechamel sauceand salmon flakes can be made one day ahead; just remember to let all prepared foods cooled down, store in proper containers before refrigerate.
I actually prepared this salmon flakes and the bechamel the day before our family’s Thanksgiving gathering; it’s all about “mise en place” – getting organized and give yourself some breathing room on the day of!
If you choose to make the bechamel sauce at the same time, prepare it while the salmon is baking in the oven. Have to work pretty quickly!
– Bechamel sauce, also known as white sauce, is made from roux (butter/flour) and milk. It is a “mother sauce” in French and Italian cuisines, and used as a base for other sauces (for example French Mornay sauce – add cheese to bechamel), so it’s handy to learn how to make the base properly. The choice of herbs to flavour the milk can be changed according to recipe.
The bechamel sauce cooking method is something I’ve learnt through the online cooking school Rouxbe; I am a life-time registered student/member for amateur programs. Their instructional videos are very informative, the instructions I’ve written are based on the narration. For serious home cooks, it may be worthwhile to register (http://rouxbe.com/); they also have professional programs available.
– Be mindful with the seasoning as salt is used to season all ingredients separately (especially the potatoes, salt was needed to “draw” the water), you don’t want to end up with a very salty pie!
– Always adjust all seasoning according to your taste and dietary needs.
– As I’m only a home cook, I’ve tried my best to record the measurements while I was preparing this dish, please feel free to adjust if necessary.
– Adding cheese (grated cheddar) is optional as it makes the dish “heavier”: I did when I made this pie (see main picture) for Thanksgiving dinner, I skipped when I made our smaller home pot-pies for dinner, which I served with peas for dinner. Enjoy (OO)!