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!