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 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!