Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Baby-ful! And quick Pork Chop recipe

Dudes! I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. So many pictures, it's hard to pick the one I want to show off.  But motherhood is tough - and time...is limited.  So - I finally found time to post one of the recipes I use to cook a dinner for me and my baby daddy when he's able to watch the baby. It takes 30 min start to finish. Pictures may happen next time I make this dinner.  For now, just use your imagination.  Plus, my baby is cuter than pork chops any day.

Tummy time!  
Dijon cream pork chops with hand cut chips
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

2 pork chops
olive oil
salt and pepper

1 tbsp butter
1 cup milk or cream
1/4 cup onion, minced
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp flour or cornstarch
2 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper

1 potato, sliced into thin chip like slices
duck fat
herbs de provence
salt and pepper

In a saucepan on low heat, melt the butter, and add garlic and onion. Add milk/cream and simmer until bubbling while stirring occasionally to prevent the milk from burning. Season with salt and pepper and add the flour to thicken the sauce to desired consistency. Add mustard and stir evenly.  If you want a smooth cream sauce, strain the sauce to take out the onion and garlic.

Coat the pork chops with olive and season with salt and pepper.  On high heat, fry the pork chops until browned.  Wrap (tent) with tin foil and place in a preheated 250 degree (toaster) oven for about 15 minutes (or until done).

While the pork chops in the oven, using the same pan, heat up butter and duck fat on medium to medium-high heat.  Place a layer of potato slices in the pan, avoid overlap. Season with salt and pepper, herbs de provence and fry until golden brown, then flip and fry up the other side.  Repeat with rest of the chips if needed.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Duck Fried Rice

After completely roasting the duck, boiling it, I spent 1 hour (30 minutes per carcass) separating the meat and skin from the bones.  It was certainly time consuming, but well worth it.

My favourite thing to do with duck remnants is duck fried rice. Why? Because I often have veggies that I  need to use that are going bad, and it's a good way to use leftover rice that is too dry for normal consumption. But man, roasted, boiled, then STIR-FRIED?  This duck is going through a lot, and my dad calls it duck cruelty... after helping himself to seconds of the duck fried rice.

Duck Fried Rice
My lunch with dad - he steamed the siew choi with the
siu mai.  I just added it to my rice. 

Prep time: 30 minutes for cutting
Cook time: 15 - 20 minutes

1 tsp oil (or duck fat from skin)

3 dried shitake mushrooms (soaked and then diced finely)
leftovers of 1 duck carcass or about 1 cup of duck pieces (deboned, shredded)
1.5 - 2 cups of rice (semi-dried, best if it was cooked the night before)
1 green onion (chopped)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1/2 medium onion (more or less dependent on the amount of fat you want to soak up) (diced)
1 egg
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp sugar

Random veggies for colour and flavour (pick and choose, I may or may not always have these):
1 small carrot (finely diced) - need to add with onion to cook longer for softness
1 small red/yellow/orange pepper (diced)
kale, spinach, broccoli (diced)
Whatever else you find in your fridge you want to add

Heat oil in pan or wok until hot.  If you have the duck skin separated from the duck meat, add that in first.  The oil from the duck skin should render out.
When oil/fat is heated, add garlic to flavour the oil/fat.
Then add the minced onion and mushrooms (and diced carrots if you want to at this point). Stir-fry until aromatic and/or caramelized.
Add shredded duck. Stir-fry until heated, then add veggies.

Push everything to one side and then add the flavouring ingredients (hoisin, tamari, sugar) and mix well into the veggies and duck.

If there is still too much oil, push everything to one side, and then scramble in the egg to soak up the leftover oil. After the egg is cooked, you can mix it with the rest of the ingredients.

Finally, add rice and mix well - stir fry until desired temperature and consistency (my rice usually comes cold, straight out of the fridge).

Serve. Top with green onions.

Best thing about fried rice? It tastes better the next day. :)  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

$5 Duck Carcasses = stock, fried rice, confit and more!

So, duck, it's a luxury item, right?

Confit potatoes, rendered duck fat and roasted duck carcass
Nah.  For $5 from the nice man at Green Eggs and Ham, I was able to get not 1, not 2, but 3! 3 duck carcasses! *muwahahahahaha*  I can't afford a whole free range duck, so I might as well get the off-cuts!

I defrosted all three, gave one to my brother and kept two, of which I roasted.  My brother's a champ - stating that the flavour in the protein is enhanced when you roast the duck for 35 minutes at 350 degrees after it has been dried.  So, I roasted the duck, with a little water in the collecting tray, and rendered the fat. So now I have duck fat for confit!

But of course, I couldn't get all the fat out of the tray, so I took some baby potatoes and onions, and mixed it in with the fat I couldn't collect. Then I stuck them in the oven (with some S&P) and confited the heck out of them (for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees). Heheheh gourmet hashbrowns for tomorrow morning! Just reheat in a frying pan and serve!

Duck carcass boiling for soup stock
One carcass will be used for stock, so that I can then freeze and thaw when I need stock for sauces or soups, including my agedashi tofu recipe.

After all this I will be tearing the meat off the bones - and using it for duck fried rice as well as duck green onion cakes.

No wonder I liked all the duck shows as a kid - like DarkWing Duck, Duck Tales, and even the Christmas Special with Scrooge McDuck! I knew how delicious they were as peking duck, bbq duck and now, leftover duck.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pineapple Chicken Fried Rice

I took on a new job: subbing for an intro psych course, and after meeting the lovely professor who I was replacing (I took a course from him in 1998/1999) and his lovely new Philipino wife, I was inspired by her honey/mustard/garlic bacon-wrapped shrimp. I wanted to make something simple and flavourful, so I came home to an overripe pineapple, old and dry rice and defrosted chicken breasts. I was super surprised how yummy my first attempt at pineapple chicken came out, and my chicken turned out very tender! So I thought I should share. I think you should use the veggies or fruit you have that go together (e.g. pear + raspberry + onions, pineapple + sweet peppers, mango + sweet peppers, etc...) so mix and match until you find your favourite combinations!

Stick in a bowl, turn it upside down - and voila!
Dim sum worthy presentation. :)  
Pineapple Chicken Fried Rice
Prep time: 30 minutes (add more to fresh cut your pineapple)
Cook time: 15 - 20 minutes

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 large onion (that's all I had), diced or minced
2 chicken breasts (or drumsticks, or whatever chicken you have, deboned) diced or 1" cubes
1 cup diced pineapple, the sweeter the better.
3/4 cup diced sweet red pepper
3/4 cup diced yellow pepper
green onions, finely chopped
2 - 3 cups day old rice (Using leftover rice is good because it is usually pretty dry)
Spinach as garnish/bedding

1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp honey
salt and pepper to taste

Rub salt and pepper into chicken before cubing. Cover and let sit while prepping other veggies.

Heat up 2 tbsp of oil in a large pan on medium high to high.
Add garlic and onions and fry until aromatic.
Add chicken, and fry until outsides are cooked.
Add pineapple, and stir fry.
Add soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and honey, and stir fry (continually stirring to prevent burning).
Add peppers and stir fry until chicken juices flow.
Quickly add the rice, stir until all the moisture is absorbed by the rice, breaking up the rice as it cooks.
Add green onions and stir in.

Remove from heat, serve on bed of spinach (for nutrition).

This is pretty healthy - not much oil, not much sugar. It's not *pow* in your face flavour, but the subtle meshing of the simple flavours of the sweet honey/garlic/pineapple and salty sauces make it delicious. Of course, add more sauce/honey to enhance the flavour, but I am happy with subtle. I am going to use mango next time. :)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Interim post: Chilled Egg-drop Soba Soup

It's summer! It's hot! Soup is totally out of the question...or is it?

Ice cubes, bitches! :) LOL. 
This is quite popular in Japan, although the way I make it is with the local western ingredients that are available.

I love the egg and the avocado in my soup - it adds a nice creamy texture, and the avocado goes so well with the soup base. It also gives me a good dose of fat and protein, perfect for baby!  Although I like my egg a little less cooked than most people prefer.

Chilled Egg Drop Soba Soup

Prep time:  5 - 10 minutes
Cook time: 6 minutes

2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp soy sauce (less if you want to decrease salt intake)
1 cup chicken stock (I make mine  from scratch)
pinch of sugar
1 egg

1 self-portioned organic buckwheat soba ($1.79/pack of 4 portions from Superstore - called Zarusoba).

Toppings: (anything you want really)
1/2 avocado, sliced
handful of spinach, washed and drained
cherry tomatoes
ice cubes

In a medium pot, bring water to boil, drop in soba noodles. Cook until desired softness (about 3 minutes).

In the meantime, boil mirin on high heat in a small pot until alcohol evaporates. Add soy, stock and sugar and bring to a boil.  Drop in an egg, and stir to break it up into "egg drops", cook until just before your favourite consistency.  (I like to leave my egg yolk intact and break up only the egg whites, and cook until the whites are cooked but the egg yolk is still runny).  Remove from heat.

Drain noodles and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking, and to cool down the noodles.

Add noodles in a bowl, top with spinach.  Add soup on top (will slightly cook the spinach - I like that).
Top with toppings and add ice cubes to cool down the soup.


I know this is supah-azn, but some of you might appreciate the subtle flavours. :)
On that note: still no internet at home. It may be a while to the next post.  But since everyone is considering

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

First meal in new home!

I now live in a townhome. Prepping for a baby. It's a nice home - very cozy, not modern or sleek, and definitely not in downtown.  I guess that's what people call "nesting". 

So breaking out all the awesome tools in my new (beautiful kitchen)...I made my first meal for the home:

It's all about the presentation, baby. :)
Omelette with Proscuitto wrapped Asparagus

Prep and cook time: Quick.  Seriously.

To be honest, I would post a recipe, but it's nothing special.  I used the same proscuitto ends I got on discount, and I tried a hard, strong cheese from the italian centre, loved it, bought it and promptly forgot what it was called (either that or it was leftover pecorino). It went well with apples though! The rest? Orange peppers (were on sale at superstore, but really don't have much flavour), green onions, cheddar, and 3 eggs (but the eggs were farm fresh). Add some salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion flakes, paprika to the egg, and some lemon juice for the asparagus, and voila, lunch.

I stuck some of the cheese in with the proscuitto and asparagus - and it went nicely. It was a nice light lunch after a whole weekend of packing/unpacking/moving/cleaning, etc...

On that note - I am sorry for the long break in between posts - I have been relying on my phone for internet/social networking, because Telus has yet to install actual infrastructure in our area. As I value porn over blogging, I used up most of my data plan.  Now I'm posting this from my dad's, who by the way, is the pickiest eater. :) He won't eat ANYTHING western.  Turns out the agedashi tofu I make is now a favourite so he wants it for his weekly wednesday lunch now.  I gotta keep making chicken stock for it! :P

Monday, June 4, 2012

Interim post - Cooking Techniques!

I've been moving this week! Not that I regularly update, but when I do, I want my posts to be informative. I'm sorry for the lateness, but here's one to tide you over before my next one - re: first meal in new home!

Now, I found that I am scared away from baking because I lack the ability/technique that is required for baking, but cooking on the other hand...
There are tons of little tricks, from how to cut an onion, to knife skills and how to use a pizza stone that I have taken for granted. And the pursuit of creative cooking always first lies in the techniques you use, and once you have the basics down, then you can let the flavours fly!
But my abilities don't necessarily reflect everyone's abilities, so here are the things I have learned for quick kitchen skills:
Always transfer a prepared pizza from a wooden base
(pizza paddle, cutting board) to the HOT stone in the oven. 
How to use a pizza stone:
NEVER soak or drastically change the temperature of a pizza stone.
I just leave it in the oven, even when not baking on it.
When making pizzas, always PREHEAT the stone in the oven, and when cooking pizza, slide the pizza right onto the stone in the oven (chance of burning yourself is greater, but worth it for the crispy crust).
Usually preheat oven and stone to 500 degrees on the LOWEST rack.
Cook the pizza dough (fresh) for 5 - 15 minutes (dependant on crust thickness and desired crunchiness of crust)

A double man Henckels! My dream knife.  I already have
on for veggies...
Keep knives sharp:
A knife sharpener is very handy. You will have fewer accidents, and a much more fun time with sharp knives than dull ones. Avoid serrated knives unless used for certain breads, etc... Foods taste better when cut the way it should be cut - and not torn by serrated knifes or poor knife skills.

I tried perfecting this in graduate school - but failed.  But I learned one thing: carrots cook more slowly than onions...and overcooked meat is tough.  Don't add everything at once. Time it! :)

Browning before baking/slowcooking/boiling:
Roasting of veggies and or browning of meat (frying up exterior of meat on high heat) will make things taste better before you stick them in a roast, a soup or a slow-cooker.  Something about "sealing in the flavours". I don't know how it works, I just know it does.

Flavouring fats/oils for cooking:
I always add garlic or onions or shallots or proscuitto to the oil before I cook the rest of the meats and veggies, just to flavour the oil. Adding it first will make it the most prominent aroma. Avoid doing this around certain pregnant people or people who do not like strong aromas. 

Making a vinaigrette:
It's just oil and vinegar of any sort. Marinate basil in olive oil to have the oil soak up the basil flavor, and put garlic in vinegar (to take out the strong aroma) before combining to make a garlic/basil vinaigrette.
Or use lemon juice instead of vinegar for a lemon dressing, or add honey, raspberry, etc etc...
Whisk or blend the oil + vinegar + additions (salt/pepper/honey) until it forms a nice vinaigrette consistency (emulsion).
Use fruit acids for fruit vinaigrettes, or different vinegars to mix and match flavours.
Always use your best olive oil.

Hope these tricks help!  They are only a few of the basics I know of the kitchen, and I'm learning more everyday!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Daigakuimo 大学芋 (Glazed yam) - My way

Yeah...I like my asian comfort food and desserts. My yam was sprouting beautiful purple shoots, and while I let my last yam grow, this time we didn't have time (we were moving, and I would have "killed" the shoots in the move). I got this recipe from cookingwithdog, but substituted EVERYTHING. :)

Daigakuimo - Caramel Glazed Yam

I served it on Pagnotta because I had some...normally I wouldn't carb load
this much. 
Prep time: 15 - 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 - 20 minutes
Serves: 3 or 4 small desserts

1 small/medium yam
1 tbsp salted butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
white sesame seeds
sliced pagnotta (optional)

Peel and cut yam into 1 inch oblique pieces.
Soak yam pieces in water for 10 minutes. Drain lightly (keep moisture in the yam - so it may steam).

In a pan, add butter, sugar and yam pieces.
Turn burner to medium-low and cover.
When it starts to sizzle, mix the yams and sugar mixture to coat evenly.
Turn over pieces to evenly brown each side and cover, continue to steam while frying.
Continue frying, turning over pieces to brown each side evenly.
When the pieces can be easily pierced with a skewer, they are done, and you can continue to fry uncovered until the outside matches your desired crunchiness.

When done, transfer to plate.  Use slice of Pagnotta to wipe up excess caramel in pan and immediately wash pan (sugar is impossible to clean when cooled).

Serve yam on top of soaked pagnotta slice, and garnish with sesame seeds.

Eat up! Yum! :) It's heavy, full of sugars and starches and can make one gassy...so go easy!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Leftovers - what do you do?

So - a lot of times - I will have lots of leftover ingredients.  A rotisserie chicken...some cheese that is starting to grow other types of mould...a wilting tomato...part of an onion.  All these can still be used... and not just in soups or stock.

Given I tend to always have $1 pizza dough balls on hand, and a pizza takes only 5 minutes to make, I just go to my brain and ask: What would go well with chicken and tomatoes?

Answer: The ripe avocados of course.

However, without pizza sauce and limited time, I ended up making a pretty flavourful one myself with a magic bullet.

Experimental Pizza: Shredded Chicken and Avocado

Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 5 - 10 minutes

Dough ball: rolled out on floured wooden cutting board or pizza paddle

1 overripe tomato
1 tsp honey
dash of olive oil
Pinch of sea salt
dried spices: basil, garlic, oregano, onion
cornstarch to thicken

Shredded leftover rotisserie chicken (use any leftover meats you want)
1 sliced tomato
1/4 minced onion
1 sliced avocado
freshly grated cheese (adjust amount to your preference) - post-mould-removal

Preheat oven to 500 degrees, with pizza stone on lowest rack.

In a magic bullet (or food processor/blender) combine all sauce ingredients. Adjust spices to taste. When it tastes just a bit stronger than you prefer (the sauce is spread out thin), add a little cornstarch to thicken and microwave.

Spread sauce on pizza, add tomato, onion and chicken. Top all with cheese.

Bake for 5 - 10 minutes, until crust is golden brown and risen.

Remove from oven, add avocados last.

Let sit for 5 - 10 minutes, and serve.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Agedashi Tofu (Deep Fried Tofu)

One of my favourite protein snacks is agedashi tofu...a comfort food for me. (85g of tofu = 7 g of protein).  It's also really cheap ($1.79/700g at Superstore, probably less at a Chinese Supermarket).

I will admit, I used the instructions from Cooking With Dog's youtube video, but substituted certain convenient ingredients. I don't often carry daikon (although it's also really cheap), and I'm not a fan of ginger - and I have no idea where to get shishito peppers. :)

Agedashi Tofu

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 5 - 10 minutes

Serves 4 as an appetizer
Here are most of the ingredients: Green onions, seaweed,
dashi stock, mirin, soya sauce, and tofu, cornstarch (not shown)

Fried Tofu:
1 block of traditional tofu
Canola or peanut oil

200 mL dashi or chicken stock
(1/3 tsp of powder stock with 200 mL of water)
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp soya sauce

Green onions
Shichimi seasoning (optional, I'm not a fan).

Cut tofu in half and wrap each half in paper towel, and set aside for 30 minutes, to make sure tofu is mostly dry.

Prepare stock: Boil dashi stock in water and set aside.

Heat oil in a pan. While heating oil, you can chop the green onions, and even use scissors to prepare the seaweed.

Boil the mirin in a small pot until all the alcohol evaporates, then add the stock, and then the soya sauce. Bring to boil and immediately lower heat and set aside.

Now that the oil is hot, prepare the tofu. Cut the tofu into 1 - 1 1/2 inch cubes. Dry each piece and coat evenly with a thin layer of cornstarch (dipping them in a plate or a shallow bowl of cornstarch works).  Fry the cubes in the oil, being careful to keep them separate. Turn to fry each side evenly, until a crispy crust forms.

Cool the tofu cubes on a drying rack.

Warm up the sauce once more.

Serve tofu with sauce, garnishing with green onion and strips of seaweed (I cut them with scissors).

Other garnishes can include: grated ginger, grated daikon, bonito flakes, etc...experiment with your favourite flavours.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Experimental Veganism - Accidental Laxative

While I'm not a vegan, I play one on TV.  Well I don't, but Brandon Routh (or Christopher Reeves version 2.0) does.

I mean, I've learned two things about veganism from Scott Pilgrim: 1) being vegan just makes you better than most people (e.g. one of my "ginja ninja" climbing buddies, with amazing climbing skills and wicked upper body) and 2) being vegan gives you psychic powers.
Figure 1. "Being vegan just makes you better than most people."
- Envy/Natalie Adams, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
The subject above demonstrates the psychic powers of veganism,
when following the Vegany Code. 

WARNING: The fibrous power of vegetables and fruits should not be underestimated, and under no circumstances should one try the following, unless they're already on the toilet.

Figure 2. Yeah. That's right.
It's my name.
On my cup.
With dolphins. 
Experimental Avocado Banana Smoothie
Servings: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Blend Time: 20 seconds

Background Information: 
I love bananas. And I love avocados. I eat them straight up.  So obviously, they must be combined into a superfruit!

Materials and Method: 
1 whole banana
1 whole avocado
almond milk (I used vanilla flavoured - next time, unsweetened)
1 magic bullet

Combine banana and avocado in magic bullet, cover with almond milk. Blend.  Add more almond milk to adjust for texture.

Maybe I shouldn't have had two of the four servings to myself.
(see Figure 2.) The texture was the equivalent of drinking heavy cream. And the gastrointestinal result was similar (to me, since I'm lactarded). The sweetness was completely dependent on the ripeness of the banana and the sweetening of the almond milk.  It wasn't very sweet at all, but I think I would use UNSWEETENED almond milk next time. It feels like the sugar excarbated the following effect of: being so excited I couldn't decide whether to blog this, or to go straight to the washroom.  

Veganism is often touted as difficult to follow as normal recipes that use dairy (milk/butter) and eggs are hard to imitate (i.e. baked goods).  This composition of avocado and banana simulates the exact texture of heavy cream, with little added flavour.  But how does baking affect the texture and composition of the resulting baked good? Further research (into vegan recipes) will solve this, and future studies will attempt to repeat the creation of the best vegan chocolate cake I have ever had, a light and moist cake that was served by Fresh in Toronto, with the creamiest icing (2006).  Avocado is suspected to be the base ingredient for the fat composition in said cake.     

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Motherly nature? Mother Nature?

Well, it turns out my black thumb isn't so black after all. Maybe there is a reason why people use the term "Mother Nature" instead of "Father Nature".  Now...I don't aim to be heterosexist or heteronormative...rather I think this is one of those smug pregnant women moments. 

In my youth, my impatience with all things showed especially when I was required to be responsible. I have tried to look after plants and small animals, usually with the result of death.  The smaller they were, the quicker they died (an african violet, guppies, a baby garter snake, a beta fish, a hamster...).  I didn't mean to kill them, in fact, I really wanted them to live! 

This is the latest attempt. :)
Note how the green onion shoots are actually growing?
But now, just starting out with my first mummy tummy (and the associated waddle), I just wanted to see if I could regrow spring/green onions tops for cooking....I'm having a lot more success, and working a lot more carefully (cutting off the dried parts while making sure that the stems all have access to water).

First attempt (pre-pregnancy), spring onions wilted and died in a day.
Second attempt (first trimester), spring onions kept well in fridge for about 1 month. Pretty impressive. I didn't think I could have done it.
Third attempt (second trimester), the spring onions are now outside on the kitchen table, basking in sunlight.  They started growing tall and strong! And smell delicious!
After that, I thought, maybe I could try this with my kale. They're kind of wilty now, but when I went back 2 hours later, one of stalks had stiffened up.   I'll keep you posted. 

Perhaps, growing a life form inside yourself makes you value life around you a little bit more.

Life seems more "equivalent". No one species is more superior, just as no person (child or adult) is more superior than another. Each person, animal, plant, bacteria seem to have a special role that helps the lifeforms around them survive....and hence the term "Mother Nature", in which that motherly role of something (the earth, the climate, etc...) is mothering of all the species around it... and perhaps any person who values another being of another species or class or age (whether a mother, a pet owner, a friend) might find this value in life as well!

I don't think I could have reached this epiphany without the newfound mommy patience acquired with my pregnancy (I am even less stressed around hyper children).  Here's hoping to continued growth in my self and the beings around me! :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Fruity Fruit-Teas

Longer wait = more flavour. I didn't add tea this time, didn't want the caffeine.
But normally, if I make a cup for another, I'll reuse their teabag in mine.
Less caffeine, still lots of flavour!
When I was a child, I loved when we harvested strawberries, and then made strawberry juice...not by pureeing or blending, but by steeping them in hot water for an hour, adding honey or sugar and then letting it cool. Of course, my mom would overdose the pitcher with sugar to add sweetness, but nowadays, a teaspoon of honey in a cup will do.  Experiment with any fruits you think might taste awesome.

Strawberry Lemon Drink (or Strawberry Lemon Pear Green Tea)

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: none
Makes 1 cup

1 strawberry, washed and cut
1/2 slice of lemon
1 teaspoon honey
hot water
Optional: Strauss Pear Green Tea from the Italian Centre - I often buy them on sale.

Boil water.  Wash and cut strawberry and lemon. Squeeze a little of the lemon into the cup if you want more lemon flavour. Add strawberry and tea bag and spoon with honey.  Pour hot water. Mix honey into the drink, let steep for a few minutes.


Experiment with other fresh fruits and teas - like pears, apples, mangoes, the parts of the pineapple you won't eat. There's even a mandarin black tea at the Italian Centre. I even have a french press I use sometimes to make large cups of tea + fruit.

Now be careful: Strawberries and apples are listed on the "Dirty Dozen" list. Try organic, pesticide-free fruits (when they're in season). I wouldn't want you drinking a cup full of steeped pesticides. So at the very least, wash your fruit as much as you can! :)

Lemon Dill Asparagus

Lemon Dill Asparagus

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 10 - 20 min

1 slice lemon (about 1/2 inch sliced into 2 half-moons)
asparagus - washed, hard ends removed, leave wet
glob of butter
dried, frozen or fresh dill

Melt butter in frying pan (with lid) on medium to medium-high, when the butter starts melting, add wet asparagus (the water will steam it). Squeeze the juice of one half of the lemon slice on the asparagus, reserve the other half for garnish. Throw the squeezed lemon in the pan for more lemony flavour. Top with dried dill. Cover and steam for about 10 - 15 minutes, or until the asparagus is the brightest green you get.

Remove from heat, then serve, garnished with the other half of the lemon.


Asparagus is totally in season. And as such, I love steaming my asparagus, but I find it takes too long with my rice cooker or baking it in the oven. I love slow cooking, but I like to do it fast, so I do a quick steam in my frying pan.

A vegetarian friend came over, and my usual quick appetizer was probably a little too meaty (with the prosciutto for her), so I thought, what do I have that is fresh? I always carry butter, I need to use my asparagus, and I always have lots of lemon. Plus I bought some dried dill for cheap at the Bulk Barn! (It's coupon season - and the buy $10 and get $3 off coupon is back!)

I plan on using this with the frozen salmon I have in the fridge. :) Yum! Butter fried salmon with lemon and dill.

Yeah! 1 pan dish, butter seasoned with lemon (I just fried the lemon slice in the butter), and fried up salmon seasoned with S&P with lemon juice). I took the lemon slice and wiped it all over the salmon. Then added the rinsed asparagus and some drained capers after salmon was just about cooked, sprinkled generously with dried dill, and topped each with a lemon slice and steamed. Dishes: minimal!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Happy Birthday to me!

So, for my birthday, I have consumed:

Both are from Jack's grill. The first was an amazing duck breast from Brome Lake. AB, with duck ravioli and butternut squash (there was a hint of anise...very nice).  The second was a lamb with potato mash and lamb sausage. Both very delicious and very expensive...but we had a groupon. Thanks to my baby daddy Burkart for treating me to a lovely birthday dinner!

Following that, I went for inexpensive swiss fondue and chocolate fondue at Cafe Select. 'Twas extraordinary delicious, and at $60 for 5, including drinks, it was a steal of a deal. :)

On top of that...I received a birthday video from two wonderful friends who had Wil Wheaton wish me a happy birthday (from the Calgary Comic Expo).  10 secs from Wil Wheaton leads to a whole afternoon of school girl squealing (mostly out of me).


Happy Birthday to me indeed!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Gourmet Bachelor Pizza

Pizza, the bachelor way. This recipe is quicker than a frozen pizza with a little forethought (i.e. taking out the dough to defrost it). And seriously, it's pretty classy to say: "I hand-tossed this pizza, because you were coming over, and I wanted to make something special." In actuality, pizza is my quick&lazy goto meal, because you can dress it the way you (or others want) and it only takes about 5 minutes to cook.

Duck Prosciutto Goat Cheese Pizza
Prep time: 30 minutes (cutting and tossing)
Bake time: 5 - 10 minutes

Frozen pizza dough, defrosted (from the Italian Centre, $3.98/4 dough balls)
Olive oil
Fig spread (or apple or pear jam)
Duck proscuitto (local supplier - Green Eggs and Ham - only in season for a month)
Proscuitto (from those cheap proscuitto ends)
Dried or fresh figs, sliced thin
Goat cheese (any sort, goat cream cheese, goat feta, locally produced Smokey Valley Goat Cheese)

Preheat oven with pizza stone on lowest rack to 500 degrees.

On a large wooden surface (I use a wooden cutting board), flour surface.
Roll or toss pizza dough (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWL__9yDu8I) into a large flat sheet (as thin as you like). *IMPORTANT*: Make sure that before topping, that the pizza easily slides around on the board, if not add more flour on the bottom.
Coat the edges of the crust with olive oil.
Spread fig spread or jam over the crust (sparingly if you don't like it too sweet).

Add thin slices of duck prosciutto and proscuitto.
Add fig slices.
Add goat cheese (I used feta, and you can be generous if you want).

When oven is preheated, slide pizza onto hot pizza stone.
Bake for 5 - 10 minutes (or until crust rises a little, and becomes golden brown).

I topped mine with lemon-dressed spinach after baking.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Experimental Ravioli

So - over the weekend, I went to my first food conference: the 2nd Annual Eat Alberta Conference. I learned to make macarons, ricotta cheese gnocchi, and pasta!

Pasta is pretty easy, but takes lots of hard work. Usually it takes 1 egg to 100 g of flour. And then ton of kneading. This was such a simple recipe.
However, I choose NOT to roll it out into pasta (tagliatelli) myself, and chose to keep it to make into ravioli. I was inspired by Daniel Costa, at Corso 32, who made a ravioli with an egg yolk inside, which, when you cut into it, would leak out....it was amazing. Best flavour ever - subtle and delicious.

I don't have a pasta machine, and with only a rolling pin, I could really only do so much. Yet I still tried:
See what I did there? :) There's tomato, soppresetta, bocconcini, and an egg yolk.

And man... I made the ugliest ravioli ever.

But I served it with a butter sauce, with garlic, shallots and sundried tomato - thickened with crushed walnuts, on a bed of spinach.

It tasted good though. Inside the ricotta filling was sundried tomato, roasted garlic and herbs de provence, as well as the soppresetta, tomato and bocconcini.

Well worth the attempt. Tomorrow, I'll be using the rest of the filling, perhaps in little tortellini if I feel the urge to procrastinate.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Maternity clothing...or...

It's time to revamp my style. Being pregnant has its drawbacks. Having been athletic and slim, it's kind of unnerving to hear a rip, then feel a breeze, when I pull on my low-cut pants. My pants don't fit, my tops are too skinny, my formerly buff arms are starting to get flabbier as I tone down my workouts.

Maybe it's time to revamp my wardrobe! I've had the same style for over 6 years, and this is a good excuse to make a change! It's a good thing I'm asian. Having pulled off plaid, check, polka dot and pinstripe all at the same time (same colour family), I believe I can pull off a completely revamped style.

But I don't want to spend a whole ton of money on clothing that I'll only ever wear while pregnant. That's why I went and spent $280 on clothing from YESSTYLE. It's an american site that stocks asian-style clothing (with influences from Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea and Japan).

Yup, elastic waist skinny-pants, long flowing dresses and tunics are perfect for the summer, and contour around my belly nicely.
Cheaper than maternity clothing (ranging from $14 - $30 a piece), I will be able to wear these after delivery, and still probably rock it! (Plus, because they are completely different from western fashion trends, the clothing won't become outdated as quickly. It takes about 5 years for western fashion to catch up with asian fashion!)

That's the good thing about asian style, with more emphasis on the skinny extremities, and de-emphasizing curves, I don't feel as self conscious in leggings and a dress. The soft girl look can easily be combined with my partner's hoodies and jackets (which they even sell as "boyfriend" style).

It's not that I want to hide my belly. I just want to look pretty while I show it off! I mean, just because I can't afford to be a gourmand, doesn't mean I can't dress like one!

Photo credit: These pictures are taken off the YESSTYLE site. But seeing as I'm advertising them, and giving credit, I'm sure they won't mind. Plus, the model is WAY cuter than than me.

Some hot korean action!

Siu To - owner of Noodlemaker here in Edmonton, held a Korean culinary workshop on Tuesday in which we learned to make medicinal chinese chicken soup, korean bbq sauce, bulgogi and kimchi.

I ended up taking home a half full ice cream bucket of kim chi, enough to last me until next year!

I figure I should start documenting this before this fades and I forget.

Kimchi - Noodlemaker Style

1 part red pepper flakes
1 part garlic
1 part ginger
1 part Vegeta flakes (from the Italian centre, only 800 mg of MSG in a 2 kg bag)
1 super soggy congee (i.e. cooked rice with a lot of water)

Mix them all, and blend with a hand blender. Add to prepared cabbage (below).

Siu Choy (Chinese Cabbage) or Napa Cabbage, thinly sliced and salted overnight, then washed with warm water. (Or you can use your local cabbage as well, such as the flat dutch cabbage sold at Riverbend Gardens).

Fermentation: Let sit for 48 hours, with a small opening in the lid, until bubbles start to form, then cover and refridgerate. Apparently if you ferment too long, it'll just bubble over. Sounds fun!

Korean BBQ Sauce

1 part chopped ginger (Too much for my taste, so I'll add less next time)
1 part chopped garlic
Cover the above with just enough soy sauce
add 2 parts sugar (I will be using less, as I found the sauce rather sweet, or I will probably substitute with honey)

Blend with hand mixer.

Roast 1 part sesame seeds until browned.
Crush seeds. (I may substitute with Tahini)

Add to mixture and blend.

Lesson of the day: These are just basic recipes. You can add anchovies to your kim chi or whatever you would like to your Korean BBQ sauce. Like all "recipes", you alter the ingredients according your personal tastes. I don't use recipes, I just tend to use guidelines and alter as needed.

Oh, and I'm getting a used hand mixer from a friend for only $5! WOOT WOOT!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Miso Udon Noodle Soup - Noodle soup cravings

Miso Udon Noodle Soup
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes (soft boiled egg)
Makes 1 or 2 servings

My first trimester cravings included tuna (raw or cooked), all noodle soups, and of course, pickles (the sweet Bicks, the pickled daikon, and kim chi). Is that odd?

Anyways, after spending a ton of money at Noodlemaker and Nomiya, I thought it might be cheaper to buy and make my own noodle soup. I already had miso, kelp, some hondashi fish stock, and anchovy paste for the base. I also always have eggs, and various veggies in the fridge (carrots, broccoli and onions). So cheapest thing to do? Buy packages of udon from Superstore for $0.67 or $0.87, and make my own soup.

Soup stock:
1 tsp of hondashi fish stock (or if you don't like the msg, can omit or substitute 1 tsp anchovy paste ).
1/4 of a full sheet of dried kelp.
1 tbsp miso paste.
1 small stem of broccoli, diced
1/4 small or medium carrot, diced
1/4 small or medium onion, diced

Toppings (add, substract, embellish) and noodles (ditto):
1 package of fresh udon noodles (or substitute ramen, shirataki or vermicelli)
1 broccoli floret
chopped green onion
1/4 carrot (sliced or julienned)
1/4 onion (sliced)
2 inch finger of pickled daikon, sliced (more or less to taste)
1 egg (room temperature)

In a small pot of water, dissolve soup stock or anchovy paste, add kelp and diced veggies, and bring to boil. Reserve your miso until the end (otherwise all the flavour will boil away).

When soup is at a rolling boil, gently add egg and cover.
Boil for 3 minutes, then add fresh udon noodles, and continue boiling for another 3 minutes.
Remove egg and rinse under cold water before peeling.
Add miso paste, and dissolve in soup.

Serve soup and noodles in bowl, and decorate with your veggies and egg.
Add sesame oil, sesame seeds, seaweed, shichimi seasoning or any other random asian toppings you may have to taste.

Enjoy! I sure as heck did!

Monday, April 2, 2012

First Trimester and Kale Chip Snacks!

Kale Chips
Prep time: 5 minutes
Bake time: 5 minutes
Cost: $1.29/bunch + olive oil and seasoning
1/4 bunch of kale, cut stems away, wash and dried
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

Suggested seasonings to taste (can add/substract, etc):
1 squirt lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, etc...
sea salt
nutritional yeast
In a bowl, whisk EVOO and acidic liquid (lemon juice or vinegar) until it makes a vinaigrette. Toss kale until coated. Season with your choice of seasonings to taste.

Bake at 450C for 5 minutes, or dehydrate (either in a dehydrator, or in the oven at extremely low heat). I hear that dehydration is much healthier, only I did not have the time.
When I found out I was pregnant (right before my first miscarriage), I went to a friend's party, and she made kale chips in her oven!

Incredibly convenient and incredibly tasty, for some reason I couldn't eat enough. I highly suspect it may have had something to do with the baby draining the folic acid, Vitamins A and C, etc... that's all found in kale.

Kale - it's so bitter when raw. It's cheap ($1.29/bunch at Superstore - thanks for the tip ginja ninja - but buy organic to cut down on pesticides). It looks kind of weird when dry on the shelf, and when it gets wet, it still looks weird. But those curly edges are the BOMB when they crisp up.Now, having to rinse, wash and dry a whole batch before seasoning, and putting it into an oven that needs 10 minutes to preheat, that's totally inconvenient. Ovens waste so much electricity!

This morning, I was nauseated from not having eaten, and I didn't want sugar-y breakfast foods, or a carb loaded/sodium heavy bunches of saltines, and I craved a little crunchy salty goodness. I didn't want to use that much electricity, so solution? TOASTER OVEN!
We have an awesome cute toaster oven (I think it's my roomate's). It's efficient, it takes 1 minute to preheat to 450 degrees, and it takes 5 minutes to dry the kale. So I only made a tiny batch, cutting the leaves straight from the stem by folding them in half, and making a diagonal cut (1 cut instead of 2!).
I rinsed and dried them in no time, seasoned with a little olive oil, sea salt and pepper, and then lay them out in a single layer on the tray. I baked for 5 minutes, and then ate. Took a whole 10 minutes to get this snack into my preggo belly.

I think the baby rolled over a few times, I apologized to it for the initial bitterness (I can't imagine eating kale and then breast feeding...) but then I ate the whole batch in without taking time to sit down.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Proscuitto snack

Proscuitto, Apples and Cheese with Maple Drizzle
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 2 - 3 minutes

Being pregnant, and having an athletic boyfriend, sometimes we require snacks to sustain ourselves between meals.

If you're hungry, craving a little salty and sweet, as well as protein, this fatty dish will satisfy you for a while! A little goes a long way (I go for small portions with big flavour). We shared one old gala apple between two people.

1 apple or pear (old ones work too), cored and sliced
Prosciutto pieces (same number of slices as apples)
Maple syrup
Small amount of cheddar &/or parmesan (or hard cheese of choice)
Small amount of parmesan

Lay out apples on oven safe plate.
Wrap or top apple slices with proscuitto.
Drizzle with maple syrup.
Toast in toaster oven like toast (our toaster oven takes 2.5 minutes)
Top with each slice with small slices of cheese

If you like your cheese melted on, top with cheese before drizzling syrup, and bake it.

Pork usually goes well with apples and pears (and even melon!). Substitute appropriate fruit and cheeses and mix and match until you find your favourite combination! If you use pancetta, you may have to cook it longer. :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Discount Meat Bins - Prosciutto Heaven!

Sounds disgusting? Just hear me out.

As a fan of prosciutto (but not so much cold cuts), I find that spending $35/1 kg ($3.5/100g) of thinly sliced proscuitto a little expensive for my taste. Plus, I don't use it all that often (it's so high in sodium!), so it ends up drying out anyways. I know, some say "Go to Costco! It's cheaper there!". But there's also SOOO much packaging that's wasted!

Well, I'm also a fan of "waste not, want not". I suppose seeing traumatic images of starving children in Ethiopia after not being able to finish my dinner does that to me.

So - a good way to get prosciutto that'll last forever in the fridge is by checking out the discount meat bins at your local grocer/deli. Sometimes they repackage the ends of their charcuterie when they get too small to slice and sell them at a discounted price (hence discounted meat!).

If I go at the right time to the Italian Centre here in Edmonton, I will find a chunk of prosciutto for about $8 - $10. It's a pretty sweet deal. It's uncut, so it doesn't dry out as fast, and instead of being required to eat 9 slices within 3 days, I can just cut the slices myself, and I can cook them into pastas, add them to salads, and even use the slices to wrap random veggies (asparagus) and fruits (pears) for consumption. It lasts up to a couple of weeks in my fridge!

It's pretty classy when I can say "I used prosciutto on this pizza".

My favourite prosciutto dishes (you can figure out the recipes - they are pretty self explanatory):

Prosciutto wrapped pears (add a drizzle of maple syrup and toast in the toaster oven for a quick snack).

Prosciutto infused asparagus (steam asparagus in pan with butter and lemon and the excess prosciutto fat to flavour the butter, add slices/raclettes of fresh parmesan to top).

Prosciutto pasta - simply make your favourite pasta with prosciutto chunks (when fried will taste like bacon bits!)

Duck prosciutto and prosciutto pizza with goat cheese and figs. (Buy frozen dough at the Italian Centre in Edmonton for $4/4 dough balls, defrost, and bake on pizza stone with favourite toppings).


The idea of this blog has been in the back of my mind since my idea to create a "Cooking with Bedhead" youtube channel.

I know, I know, food blogging is all the rage, and what makes this blog better than others?

Nothing. Nothing at all.

As a soon to be mother, and having lived a life of soul-searching (only to find that I will be creating a soul before finding mine), I came up with the idea of this blog in shower, after an extremely disguting bout of morning sickness.

So stay tuned - as I attempt to be frugal and classy at the same time. :)