Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spot Prawns - Gambas al Ajillo



It's Spot Prawn season in Vancouver and we love it!  They are sustainable and they are delicious!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Wonton Jook (Congee).....what in the world are they doing at The House of Gourmet in Toronto?

I love wonton and I love congee.

I can eat either of these anytime of the day.  I know, some of you, especially if you are non-Asian may think this is absurd, but wonton or congee is my favorite breakfast food.

On weekend mornings, I will often have a pot of congee brewing before the coffee gets started and wonton is always in the menu rotation for a quick easy meal.
It has taken a few years, but even BR (a meat and potatoes kind of Irishman!) can be caught enjoying these things for breakie once in a while.  If they aren't cooking in the kitchen, he will even go as far as suggesting we go out for them!


Until quite recently, I thought that Wonton and Congee were meant to be served "mutually exclusively".....well I'm here to tell you I have learned something new!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Spicy Edamame (Soy Beans)

Yup, it's been a while between posts, but thanks to BB's request for this recipe....I'm back.  If I have to think about it....may as well write it down for the rest of the world too!
Actually there is a huge backlog of stuff to post but life has been busy and I refuse to be a slave to my blog.



Monday, April 18, 2011

Japchae, Korean Glass Noodles


It was opening weekend in the Tuscan Garden (our ongoing garden makeover project)……that means that Garden Guru and Max have started to settle into their Summer weekend home.

What it means for BR is that the Tuscan Kitchen

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Crispy Skin Duck....special delivery

Crispy Skin Duck

Knowing that I was hosting a final King Crab feast for 10 the day I would be returning from Toronto, my meal planning mode kicked into full gear on my last day of vacation.  Fortuantely I was visiting with TJD who fully understands my obsession with food.  Having been away for a week, I was out of touch with what availability and sizes of AKC were around, so I wanted to be sure to have some other menu items to fill out the dinner in case I could only find a smallish crab. So, off we went to Toronto's Chinatown to gather a few supplies for my dinner party back home in Vancouver....

Hello fresh Ontario duck.....
I have mentioned previously that groceries seemed much more affordable in Toronto compared to Vancouver.....Fresh Duck was another example.  It was readily available and very reasonable ($1.99/lb)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Adesso Bistro

more on Toronto after this guest post!


When my blogger friend, Joy Luck Club, suggested I do a "guest spot" I figured I was up for the challenge.  However, I have learned a great deal from my experience and will strive to do a better job next time.  Plates would arrive at the table and we'd start digging in...only to realize I had missed the best photo opp.  So, please excuse the poorly executed food photos and the lack of other photos for the venue.  I'll do better if I'm ever invited back.
Dee


Adesso Bistro
1906 Haro Street
Vancouver, BC V6G 1H7
(604) 568-9975

A Bit of Nostalgia and a Bit of Good Food
For those of you who have been experiencing the Vancouver restaurant scene for a number of years you will be familiar with the location that now houses the Adesso Bistro.  A recent Groupon brought Garden Guru and I in for what turned out to be a great meal.  Adesso takes up the ground floor of a small building on Haro Street that was once a hotel.  The small courtyard on the east side serves as a lovely patio in the warmer months.  Here's where the nostalgia comes in (those of you who used to be regular consumers of martinis and great food in the 80s and 90s have already figured this out) ...this is the original location of Delilah's.  Although Delilah's is now closed, many of us remember it as a dining icon in its day (esp back in the time of its Haro Street location).  Walking down those few steps to the front door and entering to see the reception desk still in its original location had us thinking that we would find the "paper check-list menus" still on the tables.  But this is now Adesso, so I will suppress my fond memories and fill you in on our evening...
This is an Italian restaurant.  You feel it in the menu, the staff and most importantly the food.  Our server was knowledgeable about the menu and her descriptions helped us to make our choices.  We ordered a bottle of Liberty School Cab and then were pleased when an 

amuse bouche was served - a wee serving of fried gnocchi.  


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ahn Dao Vietnamese Restaurant, Toronto Ont.

This innocent looking weed almost ruined a really good dining experience.



More on this later.

After a long day of rich food and wine tasting in Niagara, we thought it best to have a bit of a lighter meal for dinner.

We wandered up Spadina towards College as TJD had the perfect place in mind.

Anh Dao is a perfect example of a family run hole in the wall restaurant.  Through the narrow doorway at the back of the restaurant you could see the many generations working in the humble kitchen.

383 Spadina
Toronto, Ont.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Peameal Bacon Sandwich in "Hogtown"

"William Davies Company was a pork processing and packing company in TorontoCanada. At one time, it was the largest pork packer both in Canada and the British Empire, and it operated Canada's first major chain of food stores. One of Toronto's longstanding nicknames, "Hogtown", is attributable to the millions of pigs processed annually by the William Davies Company."
*from Wikepedia


So whilst in Toronto, I had to try the signature snack at the St. Lawrence Market.





Being a Peameal Bacon virgin, I really didn't know what to expect.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

It's Absolutely Balmy in Toronto!

Zero degrees and the locals are basking in the Spring weather.  I'm down to one layer, walking around in the sunshine!


Ethnic food is everywhere in TJD and BS's neighborhood.  Lots of neat local eateries serving authentic food at really decent prices.  I am amazed at the difference in prices compared to Vancouver.  In Chinatown, you can get a bowl of  really good congee for $3.50, gai lan choy for $0.79/lb, and live lobsters for $6.00/lb.......I won't tell you what the price of gas is here....that'll just really piss you off :-)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring Break?!?!


So, I am off for Spring Break and heading away for a well-deserved break.  The weather today at my destination doesn't exactly shout spring.......but what the hell.  
I will be visiting my amazing cousin.  He is a trained chef and a professional opera singer.........we are going to have a blast!  Music and Food......add a bit of wine, served up with great company......perfection!

Any suggestions for eateries in Toronto in case we run out of our own ideas?  

Check back, you may be treated to some interesting "drunk" blogging :-)

Monday, March 21, 2011

West Lake Vietnamese Kitchen in Richmond


4800 No 3 Rd
Richmond, BC V6X 1E4
(604) 276-2921

West Lake has recently relocated from their previous spot in the Empire Centre.  West Lake is now located on No. 3 Road, across the road from The Superstore.  This visit was during their grand opening week and the place was packed during our lunchtime visit.

I like the ambiance of this new location.  This spot was originally the Roosters Quarters....a Montreal style roast chicken restaurant.  In recent years, Celsius and others have occupied this place.

Jimmy, the owner, stopped to chat with us and was saying that his previous location was just too big and the rent and overhead was getting out of hand.  Good luck to Jimmy in this new location.

This location is bright and clean and the decor is simple and fresh.

Monday, March 14, 2011

How to Cook Alaskan King Crab .....Steamed on a Silky Smooth Egg Custard


This is the continuation of my series on Alaskan King Crab (AKC)
The Alaskan King Crab season is at it’s peak in Vancouver….right now! 
If you have not had a chance to try this succulent delicacy, now would be the time.  It is priced at the lowest point around $10 per pound.  Not exactly cheap, but much more affordable and oh so worth it........even if just once in your life!  
Out of season, the price per pound is upwards of $30/pound.  The season in Vancouver is short, running from mid February to around the end of March.  After this week, prices will likely start to increase. So don't wait......just do it!  [after this, we go on diets and wait for the start up of Spot Prawn season:-)]

Friday, March 11, 2011

How to Cook Alaskan King Crab, Part 3......Spicy Deep Fried Alaskan King Crab with Chili and Garlic, Chinese Style...just like your favorite Chinese Restaurant!


This is part three in my Alaskan King Crab series. Part 1, the full menu of our home cooked Alaskan King Crab Feast with photos is here and Part 2 the recipe for Steamed Alaskan King Crab (legs) with Garlic (Chinese Style) is here.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Alaskan King Crab (Part 2)……..Recipe #1, Steamed with Garlic Sauce (Chinese Style)...Just like your Favorite Chinese Restaurant!




This recipe is Part 2 of a ongoing series about Vancouver's Alaska King Crab Season.
Part 1 of the Alaskan King Crab Series can be found here.  All the recipes will eventually be posted as individual posts.  Please check back!

Alaskan King Crabs can look a bit intimidating...they move around, have massive heads and are quite spiny.  If you can get past all of that and try cooking this is your own kitchen, you will be rewarded with something really amazing.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Alaska King Crab (Wong Dai Hai)....A Feast for Royalty and J. Lo


The Catch of the Day!


It’s Alaska King Crab season in Vancouver.  Thanks to Ben, over at Chowtimes, we have been salivating for days in anticipation of this feast!  This is a very exciting time for folks around these parts.  Some of us wait all year…….it’s right up there with Christmas.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tim Horton's.......Rrrroll Up the Rim. I am a WINNER!!!





On my way into work this morning, I decided to stop and pick up a coffee at Tim Hortons. 
Coffee is not normally part of my morning ritual, but this morning I felt like a needed a bit of a kick start!

To my surprise…..It’s Roll Up the Rim to Win…with more prizes and more chances to win! 
Sounds good eh?
I don’t normally pay attention to this kind of stuff, ever!

Well, guess what? 
I am a winner!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Keg at Morgan Creek, Surrey, BC

Yes...if you keep reading there will be a restaurant review amongst the rambling.  Some places are more difficult to write about than others or it could be that my ADHD is really active today :-)
I've had this review churning for quite a while now...couldn't really get it out.  So this is it.  It's the Keg, what can I say? Don't get me wrong..... I don't mean that in a bad way at all.
It's the Keg......




After a couple weeks of heavy duty cooking and entertaining we went with the option of eating out…..nothing fancy, just good old meat and potatoes.

Interesting the feedback you get once you start telling the world about yourself.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pan Fried Chive Dumplings....Inspired By Chen's Shanghai Restaurant

So what do you do on a snowy morning?  Over here we think about what are we going to eat for brunch!
Dee and Max did an overnighter because of the snow last night.  After our morning coffees we discussed our next feeding.

BR was quite excited when Chen's was thrown into the discussion.  If you are expecting a restaurant review you are going to be disappointed. When you don't take photos, you can't really blog properly.  Long story....I was a bit off my game this morning.  Camera issues, well actually camera owner issues.  No photographs were taken but we had our fill of yummy dumplings and noodles.
We all left very happy.  That was less than 2 hours ago.

These could be the dumplings we had at Chen's....but they are not.  These were created just moments ago
at A Wok in the Tuscan Kitchen........looks yummy, right?



Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tap Ko Choy....What the heck is it?

I was out grocery shopping the other day and came across an interesting looking choy (vegetable).
I've never eaten this before........let alone try to cook it.



I am imagining it to be like most choys.....but then again, it might have some sort of strong bitterness or something to it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Need a Quick satisfying lunch.....Deer Garden Signatures, Richmond might fit the bill

Deer Garden Signatures, Richmond BC


 8580 Alexandra Road (2nd floor)



Richmond, BC
(604) 278-9229


We stopped in for a quick lunch at Deer Garden.  This is a very popular spot, so we know to be quick and to avoid a huge line up, we must arrive early.  We were a group of 4 and we arrived around 11:30



Monday, February 21, 2011

Julia Child and Edith Piaf Visit Tuscany!


OK…work with me here,  pour yourself a glass of wine and click on the link for this video before you read any further….come on, just do it……..

let it play, sip your wine, then continue to read.  You’ll be glad you did!  



No Regrets!

"Eating is not merely a material pleasure. Eating well gives a spectacular joy to life and contributes immensely to goodwill and happy companionship."   Elsa Schiaparelli



I think I would have really liked Elsa Schiaparelli!

It has been a busy time around a Wok in the Tuscan Kitchen.  TJD and SJD were in town for a while…hence lots of gathering, fooding and wining took place.  We enjoyed their company. I savored every moment of it!  

During the course of the week we imbibed in a wee bit o' wine ….sometimes there was stuff left in the bottle….can you imagine?



Well not wanting to be wasteful….and also not too interested in drinking the dregs of assorted bottles, we collected them together, put on Edith Piaf and channeled our inner Julia Child for inspiration. 

Viola…….the perfect conditions for something amazingly tasty and comforting!

TJD and I love spending time together in the kitchen.....cooking and chatting. If you want to make your kitchen smell like yummy goodness, you have got to try this.  Your family will thank you.  Mine did.........


Coq au Vin

Here is the chicken, lightly browned and waiting for it's wine bath!


Ingredients

1 large roasting chicken
or 5 thighs and 5 legs
1 pound pearl onions, peeled  (a quick blanch makes peeling easier)
4 shallots
1 clove garlic, minced
4 sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
1 Bottle of your favorite red wine
¼ cup butter, reserve 2 tsp for the mushroom and onion mixture
¼ AP flour
1 lb Crimini or button mushrooms
1-litre chicken stock
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cooking oil (grapeseed is my preference, olive oil is a bit too strong here)

Preheat oven to 350

If using a whole chicken, cut into 8 parts.
Season chicken parts with salt and pepper
In a large Dutch oven or deep skillet with a lid, brown the chicken pieces in cooking oil.  
Add butter and shallots after the chicken is lightly browned
Sprinkle flour over chicken pieces, add the butter 
Cook for 2 – 3 minutes until a thin paste has formed in the pan
Add garlic, thyme, wine, bay leaves and top up with chicken stock to just cover chicken pieces
Bring to simmer on stove, allow the sauce to thicken
Cover with lid and put into oven for 60 – 70 minutes


While chicken is in the oven..........pour yourself a glass of wine :-)


Melt the  2 tps of reserved butter in a  sauté pan
Add the pearl onions and mushrooms with a pinch of salt, sauté for 2 minutes
Add 1/2cup chicken stock simmer for 30 minutes

Pearl Onions and Mushrooms in the sauté  pan

Remove the chicken from the oven after one hour and add mushrooms and onions.
Adjust seasonings, sprinkle with parsley and serve with new potatoes and buttered carrots.

Coq au Vin, served with buttered potatoes and carrots

Play more French music, light a candle, gather your people around the table, dig into your Coq au Vin and enjoy another glass or two of your favorite wine!

"Eating is not merely a material pleasure. Eating well gives a spectacular joy to life 
and contributes immensely to goodwill and happy companionship."        Elsa Schiaparelli




Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fraser Park Restaurant aka Anton's Place

 4663 Byrne Road, Burnaby, BC

There certainly has been a lot of chatter about this place on the food blogs.  In fact Buddha Boy over at Food for Buddha has taken on a new video project with Anton.  After reading again about this place, it was time for BR and I to check it out.  We called up S and D, a plan was formulated to venture out of our usual dim sum meet and try out Fraser Park.

It was a spectacular day, so BR and I took Veronica (topless of course!) and cruised down by the river.  Fraser Park is in quite a hidden location....tucked inside an industrial park. Veronica is my convertible.... she did a fabulous job getting us there!

When we arrived the parking lot was jammed...since it was a Saturday the other businesses were closed.  My first thought was, "all these cars are for Fraser Park?".....YUP, the place was packed. We were there about 11:00 on a Saturday morning.  There was a steady stream of people coming and going while we were there.

Well as all other reviewers concur.....you get a ton of food the the $$.
Anton is German and his wife is Filipino....the daily specials rotate from German fare to Asian fare

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Chowtimes Chowdown at Shanghai House in Richmond

BR and I joined Ben and Suanne and a table full of other Chowtimers for a great meal last night.  It seems my previous post on Shanghai House piqued Ben's interest over at Chowtimes and before you know it....a Chowdown happens!

I was a bit overwhelmed by the amount of food and the commotion....not in a bad way, but kind of a stunned way.  The only photo I took was at the very end of the meal.  Still have a way to go on my blogger skills, eh?


Thursday, February 17, 2011

No Knead Bread adapted from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and AMAZING Roast Pork Sandwiches

So if you have read about our  Roasted Suckling Pig, you are probably wondering if we actually ate the whole thing.  Well, we had 25 pounds of pork  plus a whole Southern Menu of accompanying dishes for 10 people.   Needless to say, there is a bit of pork hanging about….good thing it was delicious.

What to do with left over roasted pork?  Well, at a Wok in the Tuscan Kitchen we make delicious crusty bread rolls and enjoy amazing roast pork sandwiches.
  


This is a very simple version of No Knead Bread, adapted from Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day.
This recipe is quick and easy and most importantly

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Good Eat Seafood Restaurant


A couple of weeks back I was asking for recommendations for a good go-to, unfussy dim sum place in Richmond.  Our previous go-to Gala has been replaced by Jubilee Restaurant.  I think we caught Jubilee with opening day jitters. See previous post here.

Well, thanks to Crispy Lechon, I think we may have found our new go-to place.
8111 Leslie Road
Richmond, BC

Good Eat Seafood Restaurant was pretty spot on for us. We didn’t really plan on “lunching” on this day as we were running around taking care of chores and family things…….but then both of our tummies got growly and needed to be satisfied. We were in the neighborhood of Good Eat so decided to give them a try.

The restaurant is fairly spacious, the service is quite good and most important, we really enjoyed the dim sum that we ordered.  All their regular dim sum is $2.50

You can tell that this is a restaurant that has many regulars.  As we arrived I noticed a lady racing me to the front door. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Roast Suckling Pig

The following post may contain scenes of nudity, violence and coarse sea salt. Viewer discretion is advised.

Since all the talk on Chowtimes about Roast Pork (Siu Yook) it got us thinking At A Wok in the Tuscan Kitchen, so we tried our hand at roasting a suckling pig.....you know how it goes. Go big or go Home.

Once upon a time, a little piglet was trotting along, minding his own business........

This foodie adventure started with sourcing a pig. It was pretty simple, one phone call and it was done.
Most people go and buy already roasted pork from the BBQ shop at Parker Place, not us...."we'd like a fresh whole pig, please." It took only a bit of convincing before they took my $130.00 (that works out to $5.20 per pound). I know, not really a great deal, but we wanted to try cooking this....the stuff you do for blogging.

I was a bit nervous about handling piglet. So I used my charm and just like that, problem solved... the nice butcher man offered to escort little piglet out of the market and into the car for me. He said, he didn't want me to mess up my clothes! Nice butcher man. That is worth the $5.20 per pound, right there!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I love BR and BR Loves Pepperoni Pizza

Happy Birthday BR!


Made with LOVE........



Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Roast Pork (Siu Yook)

Roast Pork (Siu Yook)…..well let’s be honest here. Roast Suckling Pig....yes baby Pig.



OK, I know some of you will get a bit squeamish about this, but hey….if you eat meat you may as well know it’s not always served to you as a perfect, boneless, skinless filet :-)

Stop reading now, if you are going to be offended!  Don't judge me!

On our trip to China we sampled many interesting items.  I had big dreams of blogging about all our culinary adventures…but then when I realized that I was unable to access A Wok in the Tuscan Kitchen, I kind of lost interest in documenting our meals.  In the end I took a few pictures, so will share some of the highlights.

For me, one particular meal stands out.  It was near the end of our time in China.  After an incredible day in my family’s village in Zhongshan, Mr. and Mrs. Wong, the owners of Vancouver Chinatown’s Dollar Meat Store, treated us to dinner.  If you’re Chinese and grew up in the 60’s, 70’’s or 80’s, I am sure you have had your share of BBQ’d meats from the Dollar Meat Store.  They are probably as iconic as The Hong Kong Café for their apple tarts!

The meal the Wong’s hosted was pretty spectacular.  What I want to share with you is the incredible Roast Suckling Pig. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Beer Can Chicken or Up the Butt Chicken



Funny Name……..fabulous chicken. This is easy, delicious and really kind of fun!

Your chicken will be perfectly moist with wonderful crispy skin.

We like this best cooked on the BBQ, but it can be done in the oven.  Be warned though, your oven will probably need a cleaning afterwards. (grease splatters!)

There are many variations on the rub you can apply to the chicken before cooking.  Use your favorite seasonings.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Huang Fei Hong Spicy Peanuts

Just a quickie today.  

Yowzzza.......if you are craving a spicy treat, this might be exactly what you are looking for.  Yummy chili roasted peanuts.  Packs a really spicy punch, especially if you eat the chilis.  Bonus....if you like the tongue numbing sensation of Szechuan  peppercorns, you will not be disappointed.  We had them with our congee......the perfect accouterment!

Anyone else eating these?




Friday, February 4, 2011

Jubilee Restaurant, Richmond


BR and I often like to start off our weekend with Dim Sum or a simple meal out.  We have been looking for a good, not too fussy or fancy  dim sum place.  You know what I mean?  A simple go to place, not too expensive, decent parking, and not too cramped that serves decent food.  That's not asking a lot, is it?

We used to go to Gala quite a bit, then it started to really deteriorate.  We noticed that they had recently closed and underwent a renovation.  We actually stopped and talked to them during the renovation time.  They were hoping to re-open in just a few days.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

新年快樂 Happy Year of the Rabbit! 恭禧發財


恭禧發財 Gung Hay Fat Choy!

新年快樂 Sun Nian Fai Lok!

Chinese New Year Celebrations will be in full swing by the time you are reading this. We will be celebrating with friends and family. There will be an abundance of food and perhaps a bit of frolicking!

Here is a fun link that will provide the quick and dirty about Chinese New Year.
http://www.theholidayspot.com/chinese_new_year/

As with most families, the celebrations revolve around food. Ours is no exception. My mom does a lot of traditional cooking….making sure we feast on a bounty of things that will bring luck and prosperity to our family. One of the traditions my mom has always followed is including our ancestors in the celebration. An offering is made to our dearly departed relatives. I admire my mom for carrying on this tradition. It has taught me the true meaning of respect. I have much gratitude for our family’s ancestors. They have laid the foundation for who we are today.

OK onto the food.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Life is Good! It's even better when you go TOPLESS

A Perfect January SUNday in Vancouver!



If you live in Vancouver, I’m sure you will agree that yesterday was a perfect day.
The sun was shining and it was a balmy 5 degrees by mid-afternoon.

As I woke up and each eyelid relectantly opened up, I realized that the sun was shining and the sky was clear blue.   Awesome!
It was the perfect excuse to waken BR with my charming musical good morning song……….he loves this…just ask him :-)

The sun was shining and we hadn’t seen it for days.  I knew we couldn’t waste a minute of this day.
We got the chores done, went out for brunch and then had the rest of the day to play.  Well, I had the rest of the day to play…BR had to go to work.

Yea sure, there were many more chores that I could have done…the cleaning up for Chinese New Year, laundry, sorting out the cupboards etc…but that’s not how I wanted to spend this day, no way!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Shanghai House in Richmond


6340 No 3 Rd
RichmondBC V6Y
(604) 278-0709


A group of us were planning on going for lunch.....of course the question always is, "where should we go?"

Usually anything goes with me, but a few months ago I enjoyed a dish at Shanghai House and have been thinking about it many times since.  I suggested we go to Shanghai House so I could see if my obsession was really as good as I remembered.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pasta Aglio e Olio, Pasta with garlic infused olive oil and chilis ...aka BR's Pasta

BR's Pasta

My recipe is a slight variation on the traditional versions.  The addition of tomato paste is my signature ..........it's my own twist and we love it this way!  


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fresh Pasta....it's so tasty and easier than you might think!

I have always been a lover of good pasta but frankly a little nervous to try my hand at making the noodles from scratch.  Well let me tell you......I have overcome my fear.
I have been making fresh pasta for about a year now and it's fabulous and it really isn't difficult.

Nothing beats the taste and texture of fresh homemade pasta.  Compared to the dried stuff....I think it's definitely worth the extra bit of effort.  We rarely buy pasta anymore and Fresh Pasta seems to appear quite often on the menu around here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dim Sum at Rainflower in Richmond......in the company of GREATNESS!

This is a very exciting post for me. My hands are trembling as I write.  This post needs to be written just right.........OK here we go.......


BR and I dined in the honour of the company of Ben and Suanne of Chowtimes.  For those of you who have read Chowtimes, you will understand what I mean when I say I  even changed out of my "home clothes" for this occasion. It was THAT SPECIAL!

Even BR knew this was a very special occasion.  He matter of factly asked me, "what do you think I should wear?"  Without any hesitation or questioning, he simply put on what I suggested.....BR is such a smart boy!

Here is the "great one" in action.
Ben of Chowtimes, sorry Suanne, I was remiss and did not get a photo of you.
(BTW, I have Ben's permission to post this photo!)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hot Pot or if you want to be a fancy pants.....Fondue Chinois

The Hot Pot....in action  (Fish Paste and Veggies)

This is one of the meals that evokes some really good memories.  Don't you just love it when food does that?

My earliest recollection of this meal would be hanging out at the association hall in Chinatown and enjoying this meal with my dad and all the "village uncles".  They were busy preparing the big feast to bring in the New Year.
Usually on December 26 or 27, the preparations would begin, starting with the washing of the dishes, which had been stored for a year.

After a long day of washing and cleaning they would make this meal outside over huge propane burners made from converted oil drums.  Enormous woks would hold  the boiling broth and all sorts of things would get thrown in.  To be honest, I don't recall what we ate.....usually there was a lot of choy (greens).  I just remember looking forward to this fun meal....hanging out with dad and the boys.  In fact, I think it took some convincing on my part to be allowed to join in this male ritual.

Today we enjoy this hot pot meal much more often than once a year.
We have recently purchased an induction cook top and love it....we think it's an upgrade from the butane burner. It's instantaneous!.....and it seems the house doesn't get as warm as it does with open flames from the butane burner.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What's Your Guilty Food Pleasure?

Mine is wine and cheese, but probably not the version you are thinking of!



Yup.... those are Cheetos.  There is just something about the crunchy, salty, cheesiness that I succumb to every once in a while.  Add a glass of red wine and this is absolute heaven.....oh and I should mention the added bonus of licking the gummed on orange "cheese" from my fingers.  It's all part of the Cheetos indulgence.  Bad, but oh so satisfying...............
Sometimes Van Morrison gets invited to the party.  That's a really good time!

Wine and Cheese........."it's a good thing," as Martha would say.  Well, Martha would probably cringed at the thought of this.

So I've told you mine, what's your guilty food pleasure?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

BR's Ham and Split Pea Soup


Originally mentioned in this post.  This recipe serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil (15 ml)
  • 1 medium cooking onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 pound ham hock (preferably smoked) (681 g) (we substituted a ham bone we had in the freezer)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • Pinch dried chile flakes (optional)
  • 2 cups green split peas (375 ml) rinsed
  • 10 cups chicken stock (2.5 litres)
  • Small handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Additional stock or water, if needed to thin the soup

Directions

  1. Heat the butter/oil in a Dutch oven or large soup pot on medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, leek, and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the ham hock, bay leaves, thyme, chile flakes and split peas and cook 2 minutes longer. Increase heat to high. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer soup for 2 hours or until split peas are soft, partially covered, stirring occasionally. We simmered the soup on the induction cooker and the peas were soft in an hour.
  2. Remove the ham hock and take meat off bone and reserve. Serve as a garnish with the soup or in the soup whichever you prefer. Discard the bay leaves and thyme stalks.
  3. If the soup is too thick add some more water or stock to loosen. Bring back to a boil and add the chopped parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot.
BR had this playing in the background while he was preparing this yummy pot of goodness.  Not sure if it is an integral part of his recipe, but lovely all the same. 



Sunday, January 16, 2011

Spatchcock Tuscan Chicken

Spatchcock, you say?  
In my case, it was say "spatchcock" over and over again.... Just count how many times I can use spatchcock in this post!


To spatchcock your chicken, cut down the back and remove the backbone.  Lay your split chicken open (bone side down) and press gently on the breast to flatten it out.  The purpose of spatchcocking is to promote even quicker cooking. Our 6 lb roaster cooked in 40 minutes.  The breast meat was perfectly juicy as were the legs and thighs.  One of the greatest advantages to spatchcocking is the perfect, all-over crispy skin!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A New Kitchen Gadget.......and BR Cooks!

I've been under the weather for a few days....OK, that was polite.
Truth is, I have caught something bad....really bad and it's just ugly
or more accurate.......I'm just ugly!

Pea Soup (not really a pretty soup, is it?)


The Good News.  BR can cook!


We bought a new induction cook top, mainly to use for hot pot.  It was fabulous for our inaugural hot pot on Saturday night.

BR decided he wanted to get further acquainted with it.  Every pot in the cupboard was tried on the cooker.......just to see if it would work.
He put a bit of water into the bottom of each pot and patiently placed each one onto the induction cooker and waited to see if it would beep and turn itself off (when the electromagnetic charges can't conduct the cooker beeps 3 times, then turns itself off).
A lot of beeping and clanging happened in the kitchen.
At the end of his experiment, he proudly appeared in the bedroom, looking all proud and smug with a huge armful of pots and pans in his arms.

More good news.  We have quite a few pots that will work on this induction cooker.
BR is so thoughtful to entertain me when I am unwell.  We can tell him about using magnets another time.

Laying semi-conscious in the bed listening to BR conducting his scientific research my thoughts started to fixate on a good bowl of homemade chicken soup.
Hmm....wonder if I could get BR to put on a pot of soup by remote control?

Well, he certainly could!
I gave short, concise instructions from the bed and lo' and behold......Chicken Soup!

Anyways, I think it was chicken soup.  I couldn't taste or smell anything at this point, so really I'm not sure.  I had some and it had the nice warming, comforting effect, but in all honesty I couldn't tell you what it tasted like.
BR had a couple of servings and asked if there would be some left for him afterwork.  I guess this is a good sign.  He liked it and wanted more.

Fast forward to the next day.  I am feeling quite a bit better, can lift my head off the pillow and can smell BR's coffee brewing.  Do you think that the chicken soup cured me?
.....I think it might have.

Following the success of the Chicken Soup adventure (sorry, no pics folks.......did I mention I am not well :-(  )
I thought, "wonder if I could do the same remote control cooking and get some Ham and Pea soup today."

Well hot damn......it worked!
BR made yummy Split Pea and Ham Soup on the induction cooker.

More good news.  The induction cooker cuts the cooking time by almost half....in the case of split pea and ham anyways.  We had a yummy thick pot of soup to enjoy in just over an hour.
I'll report back on other recipes that I am eager to try.......maybe all day ragu will only take a couple of hours.


The best news of all.
I am starting to feel quite a bit better so will post the recipe for BR's Ham and Split Pea Soup in the next couple of days.
The Ham and Split Pea Soup was good, really really good.

Did I mention BR can cook!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Gifts that Re-Inspired Me!

Hello and Happy New Year!

It's been a while.
We didn't get Shanghai'd or thrown into a prison in China for being bad visitors......you can't access blogs from China!  Who knew?

Since being back, I have thought about my little blog quite a bit and have had a few comments about the lack of posts.  Life happens!  Please forgive my absence.

I have been re-inspired.
There were many things I saw in China that I thought...wow, that would be great to share.....
The memoirs of China will be sprinkled throughout my upcoming posts.
It's been difficult to focus in on something to post about.  Today it finally came to me. Hopefully this is the inspiration I need to keep writing.

I chose the name, "A Wok in the Tuscan Kitchen" in hopes of combining the two things that represent who I am as a home cook.  If you have been reading the previous posts, you will certainly know about the great garden makeover project, led by Garden Guru. We enjoyed some very yummy offerings from the garden last summer.  I suppose I should clarify, we are not really living in Tuscany.  Home is a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Tuscan style of cooking, it's simplicity and the freshness of quality ingredients is what I try to incorporate into our daily meals.

The Wok.....well that's a given.
Being Chinese, in actuality, CBC (Canadian Born Chinese), the Wok is one of the most essential pieces of equipment.

I suppose I could have named the blog "A Cleaver in the Tuscan Kitchen", but somehow that just doesn't have the same ring.

The first gift of inspiration.



The second gift of inspiration.
Well, some might classify it as a re-gift.  I on the other hand, gratefully received this as an inheritance!  
Thanks Mom and Dad.....and aunty Cathy too!


A Very powerful propane burner...just look at all those jets.
Can't you just taste the wok hai? (breath of the wok....that intense smokey flavor)



The third gift of inspiration. 
Thank you Garden Guru!



Amazing stories from some of my favorite chefs

Garden Guru is currently working on the plans for the next phase of the garden.  
The Cooking area.......
A Wood Fired Pizza Oven and now a propane burner to include in the plan.



So here it is everyone.....the Wok in the Tuscan Kitchen.
Looking forward to cooking on and posting on!