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 ( 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 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.