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!

November 2016: Comfort at Home

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Stanley Park – Late October….I Love Vancouver

As the holiday season is quickly approaching, we all tend to shift our already busy schedules into complete overdrive.

I yearn for slower pace to rest, and crave comfort foods and quiet times to reflect.

This November I stay put at home in Vancouver, taking my time to try new recipes, going around my favourite city to see what it has to offer.

Follow me on Instagram (@mygoldenapron) for updates (OO) ;  tune in on November 30th 1030am sharp on Fairchild 1470 Ms. Deborah Moore’s program, we will be chatting about food and much more…

Official store opening: Ai and Om: Thank you very much!

At the end of October I was invited to the official grand opening of “Ai and Om”, the amazing artisan knife store located in Vancouver Chinatown, a big thank you to Chef and owner Douglas Chan and Ms. Katharine Manson for the invite!  After I talked about my “beloved” nakiri knife on the radio show, I have received emails inquiring about their products and sharpening services/classes,  please contact them directly at info@aiandomknives.com or better yet, pay them a visit (129 East Pender Street, Vancouver, BC).

ai-and-om

http://www.aiandomknives.ca

Shop Local:

I’ve always been a big supporter of local businesses in Vancouver BC; here’s the link to what I’ve talked about this morning on the radio show:

http://bcbuylocal.com/

 

Old School Ramen: Larmen!  @ Shibuyatei 

Chef Sato’s humble restaurant has been operating in Richmond for 5 years, hidden at the corner of Sexmith Road and Bridgeport (very close to Costco).  It is a very small operation (limited seating and the two times I went he’s the only one working) so the wait could be long but worthwhile to try this delicate, clean and flavorful broth, which is very different from all other choices available in Vancouver.  I had the spicy clam ramen (he calls it “larmen”) which came in the right hot temperature, perfect for a cold winter day. There is also a limited supply: 20 bowls for lunch and dinner every day.   Save room for the gyoza; my hubby had the katsu curry (fried pork chop with Japanese curry) and it was very tasty also.   Chef Sato is very serious about his craft, he talked about it so passionately and it clearly shows in his food.  Bravo for his dedication, as a home cook, I am inspired to work harder to hone my skills.

Shibuyatei: 2971 Sexsmith Road, Richmond, BC (corner of Sexsmith and Bridgeport Road, parking on the street).

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Spicy Clam Ramen (Larmen – Chef Sato calls it on menu) – Clean tasting shoyu based broth, no msg…perfect “hot” temperature…perfect for a cold winter day

Japanese inspired Vegetarian cafe: Workshop Vegetarian

Pictures of this quaint cafe are popping up on Instagram constantly, I had to drive out to North Vancouver (296 Pemberton Avenue (at Marine Drive) to see what it is all about !  Their motto is serving healthy vegetarian dishes, with vegan options available.  We shared three things from their menu: the smashed avocado toast on their house baked organic natural yeast bread, organic “nama” shoyu ramen and the Kyoto style udon:  My favourite is the toast, the noodle soups are very clean tasting and flavorful,  I didn’t have room to try their baked goods so we will go back for another visit sometime!

http://theworkshopvegetariancafe.com/

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Smashed Avocado on organic natural yeast bread: the texture of the bread reminded me of foccacia, the smash has a hint of tartness which I enjoyed a lot!
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Nama Ramen: Mushroom broth with hint of truffle shallot oil
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Kyoto style udon with tofu, mushroom and egg – light and clean tasting broth

Pizzette Lunch at Famoso Neopolitan Pizzeria on Commercial Drive

Once in a while I do love to have pizza our favourite is Zachary’s at Oak and 16th); we have walked by Famoso (1380 Commercial Drive (at Kitchener))many times and it is always very busy! Finally last Saturday we got in for lunch.  I had absolutely no idea this is actually a chain across Canada (I always root for the independents) and I was pleasantly surprised!  My hubby and I both ordered our own pizzette (7 inch small pizza) lunch which comes with either soup or salad, and I added a tomato bisque, cold rainy day calls for soup!  I love thin crusted pizzas which is not too heavily loaded, theirs is just perfect to my liking; and the tomato soup, served with a spoonful of ricotta cheese was rustic and hearty.  Service was upbeat and friendly, we now know another good place in one of our favourite neighbourhoods.

http://www.famoso.ca

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Mushroom pizzette!
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Tomato bisque – Hearty and Satisfying!

Comfort Foods at Home: Old recipes and new experiment (recipes coming soon: vegetarian friendly)

Cooking and Resting Lots at home…

My sources in Vancouver: Seafood City (Granville Island), Artisan Sake Maker at Granville Island (Osake), Vancouver Farmers Market (now Winter Market at Nat bailey is on), Fujiya Japanese food store (Clark Drive),  Vancouver Island Salt Company (sea salt available at various locations), Bread Affair (bakery at Granville Island, also available at grocery stores).

Japanese Corn Potage: this no dairy recipe is still one of my favourites (recipe published March 2014 – check the archives) to make once in a while.

japanese-corn-potage

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Roasted Butternut squash red miso shimeji napa cabbage udon – a keeper for winter!

 

 

 

New experiment: Roasted Butternut squash miso soup with shimeji mushroom and napa cabbage udon (new recipe coming) – it takes a little time but worthwhile!  I used the turkey carcass to make the base stock (bonito flake/kombu dashi or just kombu dashi (for vegetarians) work just as well), roasted the butternut squash, sauteed the onions, added to stock and pureed to make the soup. Add little olive oil and the red miso paste to soup pot, add and sauteed shimeji mushrooms and cabbage, then add soup to pot.   Udon cooked separately and put in bowls, ladle soup to serve, garnish with green onions.

When Japanese meets Italian: Roasted asparagus soup with homemade anchovy croutons and there is no dairy?  A couple spoonful of Japanese rice (other than potato) will do the trick and give the creaminess which we all love. Inspiration came from recipe by Joy Manning on Food and Wine and Basho Cafe (another of my favourite in Vancouver); I made this vegetarian (kombu based dashi) except the croutons which I used anchovies as flavouring (sourdough bread seasoned with seasalt, olive oil), this pureed soup is creamy in texture yet light, perfect for light supper or lunch.

asparagus-soup

Last but not least…..Snapper Hot Pot Rice: snapper bones used to make stock (roasted bones, daikon, green onion, sake kasu, bonito flake/kombu dashi, small pork shank – at least 1 1/2 hours) then strained set aside, fish filet (by the fishmonger, my favourite Seafood City) and pin bones removed (I did myself at home),  Japanese Haiga rice used for this dish, cleaned and soaked for 30 minutes prior to cooking. Seasoning (shiro shoyu/mirin/sake 3/2/1 ratio) added to rice in nabe and stir evenly, I added enoki mushroom (one thin layer) then the kombu (from stock making), slices of lemon), medium heat to cook rice stove top.  Around the 9 minute mark, check the liquid (make sure it’s not all dried out) and add the fish filet on top, and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes until it’s done, the fish will remain very moist and tender.  Remove from heat, remove kombu, lemon slices, flake the fish and serve with mitsuba (Japanese parsley), grated lemon zest and a touch of sansho (Japanese ground pepper), and a drizzle of homemade ponzu (dashi/soy/sake/mirin and lemon juice).

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Voila! Snapper Nabe Rice
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Fish flaked and served with chopped Japanese parsley, grated lemon zest and sansho ground pepper