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I like: White Balsamic

26 Jul

Creamy White Balsamic Dressing

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 T. white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 t. honey
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ½ t. white pepper
Combine all ingredients in a jar. Shake vigorously. Chill several hours before serving.

White Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice (about one generous squeeze from a fresh lemon)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine the vinegar and lemon juice in a glass bowl.Slowly whisk in the oil until fully combined.Whisk in the honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to let the flavors meld. Give the dressing a good whisk immediately before serving. Makes 1 cup of white balsamic vinaigrette.

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Avocado Toast

18 Apr

avocado toastWhat you will  need:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • REALLY good bread – dense, seedy – I like Cob’s Cape Seed Loaf. Believe me, the bread makes the difference.
  • extra virgin olive oil that’s just for eating – I like Bom Dia
  • truffle oil (optional)
  • fresh lemon juice (for sprinkling)
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • cayenne pepper
  1. Toast bread till crispy
  2. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil and truffle oil (optional, to taste) – can go on bread or on avocado. Personal preference.
  3. Put as much avocado on your toast as you want – some recipes call to mash like guacamole but I prefer mash some, leave some chunks. It’s a personal preference.
  4. Sprinkle lemon juice on avocado.
  5. Season with sea salt (crunchy), freshly ground pepper and a healthy sprinkle of cayenne pepper.

Green Smoothies

3 Apr

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Green Smoothies are a simple way to incorporate large amounts of greens into your diet. Did you know that leafy greens have more valuable nutrients than any other food group? They contain high-quality amino acids, important minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and beneficial phytochemicals (plant-based chemicals also known as phytonutrients). Phytochemicals keep your body’s immune system and body functioning properly, improve health and longevity, and may reduce life- threatening diseases.

I’ve made green smoothies and juices a daily part of my diet – it’s taken coffee, tea, coke, iced tea and other sugary drinks from 100% of the liquid part of my diet down to 30% and it feels sooooooo good! Discovering and trying new smoothies is always fun and keeps it less boring (and painful sometimes!).

5 REASONS WE LOVE GREEN SMOOTHIES

1. Natural energy booster
2. Natural weight loss drink
3. Simple way to boost your immune system
4. Full of disease-fighting antioxidants
5. Hands down— The best fast food

Here are a couple of my favourite recipes – the best site out there is http://simplegreensmoothies.com/recipes – offering categories such as banana free, 5 ingredients or less, immune booster, kid friendly recipes.

The “Salad” Smoothie

  • 1.5 cups coconut water
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 4 kale leaves (cut into pieces)
  • 1 celery stalk (cut)
  • 1 cup frozen mango cubes
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1 tablespoon honey (or agave)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger
  • Optional: whey protein

Blend coconut water, kale and celery stalk. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend. Enjoy!

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Homestyle Craving: 小米粥 Millet Congee

20 Dec

20121021_172600When I went back to Taiwan, out of the very many dishes I craved, I really wanted something that I dreaded to eat as a child. It was tasteless but nutty and had a weird texture – that’s probably because my mom wouldn’t let me put brown sugar in it. The secret to 小米粥 is to toast the millet before you make it into congee. Simple, but I couldn’t figure it out till I asked my grandma. If you have a chance to go to Taipei, hit up the restaurant on the corner across from the parking lot at the Shida Night Market (vague, I know) – really good stuff.

Note that if you apply heat to the millet beforehand, it will be more separate in the porridge as the starch will have hardened. Thus it’s recommended to toast QUICKLY 1/3 to 1/2 for flavour, then rinse with the rest and then cooked.

UPDATE: Mine wasn’t turning out in the same consistency as what I ate in Taiwan. Mom said to add half a cup (rice cup) or less of uncooked rice. Wash and cook with the millet.

UPDATE 2: For creaminess – boil water w/bit of salt then add millet. Cook like you would with oatmeal. Add almond milk for creaminess & boil down. Add raw sugar to taste. 

NOTE: if you need to add more water if the consistency is too thick, ADD BOILING WATER, not cold water!!!

小米粥 Millet Porridge (Xiao Mi Zhou)

Ingredients:

Serves: 3-4
Yield: 3 cups
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 2 cups boiling water as reserve
  • 1/2 cup dry millet
  • 1/2 chinese cup of uncooked rice (more like 2-3 tablespoons)

Directions:

  1. Toast 1/3 or 1/2 of the millet in bottom of pan or in skillet over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, until some aroma begins to waft.
  2. In the meantime, bring water to a boil. How much you use depends on how thick you want your porridge.
  3. Add the rest of the millet.
  4. Add millet to boiling water and boil over medium-high to low heat for 25 – 30 minutes, until done. It will not absorb all the water, but some color and starch will be released to let you know as cooking finishes.
  5. If desired, add a few tablespoons of milk for creaminess.
  6. Eat warm, adding  demerara sugar or honey to taste.

If you like chinese soups, check out The Chinese Soup Lady – for all the pregnancy soups, confinement soups etc.

Greek Quinoa Salad

18 Jun

Quinoa is a super food – it’s great if you’re on the South Beach diet, it’s high in fibre, low on the glycemic index and a complex protein. It’s really good depending on how you make it, because by itself it’s tasteless, bland, bitter and kind of beany smelling, even though it’s really a seed. I eat this particular quinoa salad 5-6 days a week for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack or even as a late night snack. Prepare in advance, chill, and consume within 4-5 days, if it can last that long =)

Greek Quinoa Salad

note: some people like more quinoa, some less, o less tomatoes and more onions, so measurements based on personal preference.

  • quinoa ( prepared as per the package) – I like to use Bob’s Red Mill Organic Whole Grain Quinoa
  • grape tomatoes, halved
  • japanese cucumbers, diced
  • red onion, diced
  • minced garlic to taste
  • feta cheese (I like Happy Cow Goat Feta from the Okanagan – not as salty. Found at Whole Foods, Donald’s Market)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced (or more if you want it to be more tangy)
  • 2-3 splashes white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • agave
  1. Prepare quinoa – rule of thumb is rinse, 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa, let water boil, add quinoa, cover, cook for 10 minutes or till all the water has evaporated or been absorbed, fluff with a fork, cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Chill, because if you don’t and add the veggies, you’re going to have steamed vegetables on your hands.
  2. Add tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, minced garlic to cool quinoa. Fluff.
  3. Add lemon juice, white wine vinegar, olive oil and fluff till well blended.
  4. Salt & pepper to taste, and just a squeeze of agave.
  5. Lastly, crumble feta cheese and fluff.

The Ultimate Chocolate Ice Cream for the Most Discerning Chocoholic (w/Brandied Cherries)

20 Jun

I’m not a huge Chocoholic, but when I want to eat chocolate it’d better be damn good. I like my ice cream rich in flavour, all natural and delicious. I love any recipe by the ice cream guru himself, David Leibovitz, and this will surely win over any discerning Chocoholic or will convert non-believers. Not too sugary sweet, very rich… A crowd pleaser.

As for the brandied cherries, first time I had them was at the now closed The Corner Suite Bistro De Luxe. I used the recipe below, and kept them in the fridge to marinate for a year. I was initially going to chop them up, but was afraid that the syrup would change the flavour of the ice cream. However, if you freeze the cherries, chop them up and add them that would probably work, but then again alcohol doesn’t freeze well.

I’m trying a new method here, not just photos, but tips and tricks before the actual recipe.

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I bought a chunk of Callebaut bittersweet chocolate, mostly because most chocolate recipes require bittersweet and not semisweet and so the chocolate can be used for other purposes. 5oz of chocolate doesn’t seem like much (0.142kg) but that’s all you need. I tried to be cool by shaving chocolate which took a lot of effort, so take a shortcut by using chocolate chips or bars. Then again, it probably won’t melt as fast.

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When cooking the egg mixture, be sure to work fast and be vigilant or else you’ll end up with scrambled eggs. There will always be a little, hence the straining, but it only takes a few seconds for the whole thing to turn into a wet egg mess. When pouring the milk into the egg yolk, whisk fast and furious. When cooking the egg mixture, watch it carefully – once it coats the back of the wooden spoon, remove it from heat, and immediately strain into the chocolate, because the eggs will keep cooking.

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I tend to like to adjust the flavour as it freezes – if it’s too bitter, add tablespoons of condensed milk till it’s just right. If it’s not creamy enough, I like to add coffee cream The ice cream is so rich and dense, once it hardens it’s like a fudgesicle. For frozen treats, pour and freeze in a popsicle mold. Add almonds or chunks of skor bars to up it, or keep it pure.

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Chocolate Ice Cream
from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop

2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Coffee cream, condensed milk

Warm 1 cup of the cream with the cocoa powder in a medium saucepan, whisking to thoroughly blend the cocoa. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer at a very low boil for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth. Then stir in the remaining 1 cup cream. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as thoroughly as possible, and set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in the same saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolk. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over the medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula (170°F on an instant-read thermometer). Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the chocolate mixture until smooth, then stir in the vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (If the cold mixture is too thick to pour into your machine, whisk it vigorously to thin it out.)

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A cherry pitter from Ming Wo is your best friend – makes the pitting fast, easy and mess free. Always boil the jar and lid you’re going to use.

Lu’s Brandied Cherries
Homemade brandied cherries are a simple and delicious way to dress up your cocktails.

1 lb. sweet cherries, pitted
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tsp. lemon juice, fresh-squeezed
1 stick cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup brandy
Tools: cherry pitter, saucepan, ladle, jars with lids

Wash and pit the cherries. In a saucepan, combine all ingredients except the cherries and brandy and bring to a rolling boil. When the liquid begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium. Add the cherries and simmer for 5–7 minutes. Remove from heat, add the brandy and let cool. Transfer the cherries into clean jars and refrigerate, uncovered until cherries are cool to touch. Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

I <3 Niçoise

26 May

The Nicoise Salad is a fave of mine – I can eat it for days on end because not only is it delicious, filling without the guilt and colourful, but it adheres to the Mediterranean diet that is low-fat (or of healthy fat), a source of high quality, lean protein, and even supplies Omega-3 fatty acids. A bit of background here, it’s a specialty of the Côte d’Azur and named for the city of Nice.

Best place in Vancouver (I welcome your suggestions) and where I got hooked on it: Les Faux Bourgeois

This is my staple recipe, but feel free to sub tuna in olive oil with seared Ahi, or grilled chicken,  or cherry tomatoes for the larger variety. Haricot verts can be found in the frozen section at the Gourmet Warehouse and maybe Whole Foods.  There’s also a pasta version, if you want to serve it potluck style.

Bon Appétit!

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Creamy Earl Grey Tea Ice Cream

8 Apr

Ever since I got my Cuisinart ice cream maker last year (actual model: Cuisinart Pure Indulgence™ 2 Qt. Frozen Yogurt-Sorbet & Ice Cream Maker) I’ve been making frozen goodness non stop just for the fun of making it and to give it away (sharing is caring, always remember that). I have to say through tests, trials and tribulations, the most popular and requested flavour is the Creamy Earl Grey. I’ll definitely be making it again this year (requests are already coming in), and I hope you like the recipe too.

I took the basic Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from David Lebovitz‘s The Perfect Scoop (a must buy for any ice cream lover) and adapted it. The tricky thing about working with tea is the flavour infusion – of course the longer you infuse the more flavourful it is, but when working with tea, the longer you steep the more bitter it becomes. So this is not one of those “leave it in the ice cream maker until it becomes ice cream” kind of recipes, but you must sit by, watch it churn, taste and keep adding (you can’t subtract when it comes to food) till you get it right. Enjoy!

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Biscotti

19 Dec

Pistachio-Orange Biscotti

Recipes are not all the same — no, not to state the obvious, but some work, and some don’t. For example, I can quote a ton of people who can testify that the majority of Martha Stewart’s recipes don’t turn out right. If you want recipes that turn out most of the time, try Epicurean, Saveur or my go-to (especially for baking) Williams Sonoma.  The last time I made Orange Almond Biscotti – it was so hard it chipped the tooth of the person eating it. But armed with the right recipe, you’ll never have to make sure your loved ones have dental insurance in advance again.

What I love about these biscotti recipes from Williams Sonoma that they’re soft and crumbly enough that you don’t need to dip them in milk/tea/coffee and adapt as you will… enjoy!

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Thanksgiving Recipes: Part 2 – Veggies

10 Oct

Thanksgiving seems to be one of the few occasions where veggies are tolerated or even welcomed as a reprieve from all the meat and starch. Glazed veggie or brussel sprouts are traditional, but it seems like not everyone likes brussel sprouts, probably because they’re boiled or steamed (oh so bland) or overcooked and emit that sulphurous stink.

The key to perfect brussel sprouts is to watch them closely while cooking. To prepare for steaming/boiling, remove outer old and wilted leaves, trim the stem and score an X in the stem.Boil or steam for 4-7 minutes until they turn a vibrant green, then quickly remove from heat and drain. Pick the smaller, tightly packed sprouts, and purchase as close to the use date as possible.

I hope you heart sprouts as much as I do after trying one of my favourite recipes below – Brussel Sprouts, Chestnut and Bacon Sauté. As for something sweet, a take on the traditional honey/brown sugar glazed carrots – Mirin Glazed Carrots

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