Archive | dining

Hiking Like a Rockstar: Eating North Vancouver Edition

How do food-loving friends enjoy the outdoors and get active? I’ll give you a hint: it includes food stops. This shouldn’t be any surprise considering that our nom-noming group plan their travels around food and restaurants. Dining is that big of a deal. I love the outdoors and hiking, and while our two-some hikes are fun, it’s been a while since I’ve gone with friends. So I decided to organize a group hike with a promise of delectable food stops before and after the hike. Calorically, this makes the least sense, but no one is counting.

My email invitation included the following details:

10:30am Brunch at Tour de Feast – 319 Mountain Hwy, North Vancouver, BC

Hike at Quarry Rock (we ended up at Lynn Valley Headwaters)

Post-hike treats at Thomas Haas – 998 Harbourside Drive, North Vancouver, BC, V7P 3T2

Due to busy summer schedules, only five of us made it out that day. We met up for brunch, with most of us eating “light” meals. Read: no meat. The wine-braised beef was enticing (and one of our friends ordered it), but I opted for a more sensible grilled cheese. It hit the spot and I like the token fruit (blueberries). Woohoo! J got his salmon, eggs, salad and potatoes. Another friend had the watermelon salad. J and I have been here before and the food has always been good. The feedback on review sites are stellar. I keep the place in my North Van brunch rotation for its fresh and exciting contemporary food that belies its location and building’s facade.

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In anticipation of the challenging parking situation at Deep Cove given the brilliant sunny skies, we consolidated into one car and drove off. Oh, boy, did we ever (or *I*, the planner,  did) underestimate how busy things would get at noon. I completely forgot to take into account that it’s not only the hiking and picnic crowds we were up against, but the sailing and kayaking folks as well. After a frustrating parking spot hunt from one end of the neighborhood to the other, and in between briefly lamenting about getting some Honey’s Donuts, we moved on to another hiking area with a relatively easy trail, the Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, which hopefully had parking. We got lucky and then went on the Varley Trail and Lynn Loop Trail for a little over two hours. [Download the Lynn Headwaters Park Map here.]

We finished all the sweaty uphill walk during the first half of our hike and we were welcomed with the crystal clear waters of Lynn Creek after the switchback and descent. That was good planning on J’s part.

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On our way back, we ordered some well-deserved treats at Thomas Haas: sour cherry turnover, vanilla rhubarb tart, macarons (do yourself a favor and get the apple pie one), croissants, and a slew of other pastries with zero calories. I’m sure of it. All in all, it was a good day to be out and be with friends, doing what we love to do together: try to be active and eat. I’m ready to plan the next one. :)

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Posted in dining, featured, travel0 Comments

Once Upon a Crabby Feast

The Alaskan King Crab season is over and done with and here I am reminiscing this delicious crustacean. Pardon me while I post this so I’ll remember what to order next time, and be able to compare as well. Due to busy schedules and spring break with the fam, I only attended/organized one king crab feast this year, compared to a whopping three (!!!) in 2013. I saved two crabs this year.

Last month, thirteen friends gathered around the biggest table at Red Star Seafood Restaurant in Vancouver on a Monday, after work. We ordered the heaviest crab available, a modest ten-pounder. [You can call ahead to reserve not only the table, but the crab with specified weight and other dishes, like the  baked tapioca dessert.]

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They even put a pen beside it to give food pornographers some scale. They are used to everyone taking photos.

We met, inspected and took photos of our ocean friend before giving the thumbs up to the server to prepare it four-ways:

  • steamed legs,
  • deep fried knuckles,
  • noodles with juices from the steam legs, and
  • Portuguese curry rice.

It’s common to order the size of the king crab according to how many people would be served, which would be at least a pound per person.  Because we ordered a lot of other dishes, our ten-pounder was more than enough for all of us. Another good reason to bring a troop of eaters, aside from getting a chance to see many friends together for a meal (and meet new ones they bring along to the feast),  it presents a fantastic opportunity to order more dishes than what you would usually order if you’re just a group of four. Everyone just needs uphold their duty to be hungry enough for the meal. I, for one, ate a light lunch. This is serious eating.

Continue Reading

Posted in dining, seafood0 Comments

Back From A Mini-Vacation and Breakfast at Rendezvous

It’s been three days since we returned from Salt Spring Island and the novelty of hanging the housekeeping tag on the door had worn off. And as much as I would like to see  this sign left and right (and do our best to practice it):

Stickers you can find on Salt Spring Island

There’s no denying we’ve resumed our “(more) WORK — you’re not on the island anymore” mode.

We didn’t wake up in the morning with the trivial decision of where to eat and which cheesery or winery to visit after finishing some work (sadly, we are conjoined with it). Instead, we grabbed our respective iPhones, turned off the alarm, and scrolled through the emails, and quickly replied to urgent ones. This is our life on the Mainland.

It’s good to be back. Bake on a whim. Whip up some cranberry and vanilla bean scones for a quick breakfast…

Cranberry-Vanilla Scones

One of the first things I did after coming back: BAKE. It's good for the soul. It helps me return to my routines, too.

But I have to say, it really was nice to roll out of bed and walk down the hill from the hotel to this little French patisserie and get our fix of freshly baked goods. Rendezvous — French patisserie at Harbour’s End has that charming allure that makes you want to stay for a while. Adorable party tables with checkered pastel table cloths, painted wrought iron chairs, whimsical streamers and a generous amount of sunshine through its front glass door and windows will welcome you. There’s a French radio talk show in the background. Right outside the door is a wooden bench with square cushions if you just need a quick bite.

Rendezvous - French patisserie at Harbour's End (Ganges BC)

There was still a good selection left even though we arrived later in the morning. Oops. Vacation time.

Rendezvous - French patisserie at Harbour's End (Ganges BC)

We ordered a sizable loot:

French pastries from Rendezvous Cafe at Salt Spring Island

And make no mistake: we left no calorie unconsumed. Still unburned, yes, but consumed? To our hearts’ content! The raspberry frangipane tart stole the show for both of us. The golden crust and almond filling with a hint of sourness from the sunken fresh raspberries hit these hungry tourists’ sweet spots. Amen.

If you’re ever on the island, this is one stop you shouldn’t miss. It was a treat to have it so close to where we stayed.

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Rendezvous
126-4 Upper Ganges Road
Salt Spring Island, BC V8K 2S2
Phone : 250. 53. 8400

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P.S. While searching for their address online, I chanced upon the owner, Brigitte Gonzalez’s video recipe for Cannelés de Bordeaux. Maybe, just maybe, I will try my hand at that. I just need to find some copper molds!

Posted in dining, travel6 Comments

Underground Dining at NFA Vancouver

What if you received an invite to a dinner at an undisclosed location–to be revealed only the day before the event? There’s promise of a unique experience and a chance to dine with fellow food-loving people. You’re also suggested to bring a bottle of your favorite wine…

Food + people + wine — check, check check. There’s only one way to think and answer a good friend’s enticing proposition. Say Yes! before she changes her mind.

You may or may not have heard of it yet, but there is such a thing called underground dining and its allure is immense especially if one acquaintance after another (and not to mention, print and online media) extol their memorable meals from such fine “secret” non-commercial establishments. I’ve been fortunate to finally get in on the city’s hidden gems. I’m telling you now to remember these three letters: NFA (No Fixed Address). It’s one of Vancouver’s underground “restaurants”, and one that I could personally recommend. JUST GO. [Email Chef Steve at nfa.reservations [at] gmail.com to book a spot.] I still brag to my friends about it, and I’ll tell you about it now.

On to our lovely dinner in June…

On a sunny Wednesday afternoon, arriving only a few minutes early, I ascended the sleek shiny newly renovated stone and metal staircase to the 2nd floor. The sous chef walking past me at the entrance of the building greeted me with hello and welcome even though I’m pretty sure he didn’t know where I was going. I had that ravenous look inn my eyes. Or yeah, it could just be the bottle of wine!

It wasn’t hard to find the place, as the lively chatter floating through the small hallway signals you where to go. The door opened to the kitchen where Chef Steve was, stooped over the prep table, while the medley of conversations at the next doorway summons you to join in. Everybody had a glass of wine on hand, I felt at home already. I proceeded to submerge my bottle of wine in the huge bowl of ice with the rest of everybody’s favorites. My good friend Mel (the lovely GourmetFury) and poured me a glass of rosé and I melted into a sea of Hi’s, Hello’s, Great To Finally Meet You’s, and enjoyed the wonderful company.

We eventually settled into our seats (unassigned, you can sit anywhere), sunshine splashing through the large two-way windows occupying an entire wall of the cozy dining room. There was an easy breeze flowing. It was a great evening. The menu was scrawled on a bistro-like chalkboard. I could barely read it with the reflection of the sun, but I was up for anything. Bring it on, Chef!

The amuse bouche of shrimp ‘ceviche’ was a refreshing way to start our 6-course meal.

NFA Vancouver

You can tell that Chef Steve uses the freshest ingredients. Mmm… He said he goes to Granville Island to get the fresh picks. My kind of guy.

NFA Vancouver

Our first course was a deconstructed beet salad that’s beautifully arranged on a plate. These are meant to be eaten together to appreciate their complex flavors. It was beautiful to look at as it was a delight to devour.

NFA Vancouver

When the next course of soy and cinnamon lacqured duck breast was placed in front of us, we all swooned. Oh, the crispy skin! We were happy to take the “leftovers” from the kitchen after we finished the generous serving. You won’t say No to this.

NFA Vancouver
A crisp prosciutto-topped poached halibut with chorizo croquette, saffron emulsion and chive oil was the third course.  The combination of textures and tastes left me wondering how is it that I’ve never eaten here before. This has to be my favorite of the evening. I could still taste the delicate flesh of the fish melting in my mouth as I take one bite after another.

NFA Vancouver
Here’s the palate cleanser of meyer lemon sorbet and vodka from Bella Gellateria. You could never go wrong with Bella.

NFA Vancouver
The fourth course, with a broth that we treated like liquid gold, was a seared ahi tuna with coconut lemongrass broth topped with tapioca. Divine.

NFA Vancouver
I’m super picky with my creme brûlée, so it brought me much joy to eat a well made one for our last and sixth course to cap a scrumptious evening.

Still deciding whether “secret dining” at NFA is for you?

What kinds of dishes are prepared? There are 6 courses served for the evening. Expect seafood and meat/poultry, but more of the former, we live in Vancouver after all and it would be a shame not to showcase our fresh seafood! Chef Steve likes to prepare meals people won’t otherwise (usually) prepare in their own homes, which I think is just awesome.

Are the courses announced before the day of the meal? No. And that’s the beauty of it! I always say I pay my hairdresser and hair technician to surprise me. This goes for chefs and my food, too. Let me relax and enjoy some amazing food. Amen.

How much is a meal? Meals are by donation. The chef will let you know via email what to expect. Tipping is encouraged, of course. The Chef and his sous work passionately on their craft and you will find out about it when you dine with them.

Can the chef cater to my food needs? Please contact him at nfa.reservations [at] gmail.com to discuss. I inquired about no-meat options for the beau and he said he will be able to accommodate and will let me know when there is a time he would offer a menu that would be most suitable for him. P.S. Chef Steve is a nice guy.

How many people can dine together? Maximum of 12 people.

Will he prepare food in my home if I want to? Absolutely! He does private events and parties and you should definitely get in touch!

Book your next dinner at NFA and enjoy an intimate gourmet meal with a group of people who are in on this food adventure as well. You’ll never know what to expect, except for a great evening!

NFA Vancouver
Email: nfa.reservations [at] gmail.com

Posted in dining5 Comments

Gourmet Loaded Potatoes

I was told a while ago: ‘Every dish tells a story.‘  At the same time, food is meant to be savored with every bite. Since leaving the FoodBuzz event last week, I have had more desire to achieve more than I had since starting this blog.  Joy’s been an incredible inspiration for my cooking and I hope that this is a trend that continues.

Upon my return to the office, there was a flier posted next to the time clock, “Holiday Potluck!’ So I figure, Cool! I’ll make something simple, easy, and enjoyable. My first thought was a simple garlic mashed potato dish. A few days after that posting, the HR manager asked me what I was making for the potluck because she knew about our little journal from previous discussions.

I’m going to keep it simple, garlic mashed, I think.

“What? Don’t be boring! I’ve seen the stuff you guys make! Give us something more gourmet!”

A challenge, huh? I was game. So a few more nights passed, then it hit me. Of all the things of a Thanksgiving meal, there is not much that is not considered ‘comfort food’. Then I started thinking about the various comfort foods of a meal that could not only serve 30 people, but have the flavor and memories that follow with each taste.

I would stick with the potato idea. I browsed various sites for perfect dishes but nothing was out of the ordinary.  Then it hit me. Crème fraîche Loaded Whipped Mashed Potatoes! Yeah, try saying that to your guests at your next dinner party when you make this dish.

So, I decided I would not have a toungue twister and simplify it to “Gourmet Loaded Potatoes“. It is a relatively simple dish, but its attention is needed. If you stick with it, you’ll have an incredibly tasty, rich, and flavorful new spin on the potato.

Gourmet Loaded Potatoes

I took this challenge head-on and I am proud of the results. I got rave reviews at the pot luck and I look forward to serving this dish again soon.

-Daniel

Gourmet Loaded PotatoesDownload PDF recipe for Gourmet Loaded Potatoes

Ingredients [Serves about 30, as a side dish]

  • 10 lbs of Russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 lb of thinly sliced pancetta
  • 1 ½ cup of heavy cream, with extra just in case
  • 1 7.5 oz package of crème fraîche
  • 1 3-ounce package of cream cheese
  • 6 tablespoons of butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup diced fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt (seasoned salt preferred)

Equipment

  • Large bowl or strainer for holding the cooked potatoes
  • Electric mixer

Preparation

1. Prepare the potatoes by submerging them in cold water in a large pot on medium-high heat. Add salt to the water and bring the pot to a boil uncovered. When you get to a rolling boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10 minutes, covered. At the end of the 10 minutes, try piercing a potato with a fork. If it goes straight through, it’s done. If not, cook another 4-5 minutes and check again.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat oil in a pan in medium heat and cook the pancetta. You’re looking for a total crisp, nothing undercooked or limp. This cooking time will change depending on your pan, heat, and if you used any oil to help cook. Remove from the heat and pat dry any excess oil or grease with a paper towel.

3. Drain the potatoes from the pot completely and set them aside. Put the pot back onto the stove.

4. Add ingredients into the pot in this order: butter, crème fraîche, cream cheese, heavy cream. Grab the cooked pancetta and crumble it as much as possible. Then add the potatoes back into the pot. By the time the potatoes get into the pot, the butter should be completely melted and the cream cheese should as well.

5. Add the pepper, chives, cheddar, and the remaining salt.

6. Blend all ingredients together with a hand mixer starting with the lowest speed and progressively working to medium, about 5 minutes. When everything is well mixed, check the consistency. If it’s not whipped and/or enough, add 1/3 cup of heavy cream and continue mixing for another minute. Serve warm and enjoy!

Posted in appetizer, cheese, dailies, dairy, dining, experiments, fun, original Gourmeted recipe, vegetables12 Comments

Bakewell Tart/Pudding with Homemade Blackberry Jam

The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England.

The 3 Stages of Food Love:

The first look…

Bakewell Tart/Pudding with Homemade Blackberry Jam

The first slice…

Bakewell Tart/Pudding with Homemade Blackberry Jam

The first bite…

Bakewell Tart/Pudding with Homemade Blackberry Jam

And I thought I won’t be able to make it to the deadline of this month’s Daring Bakers challenge. I am so glad I did! I’m ecstatic about the results–and that’s a huge understatement. The frangipane top is light, fluffy-spongy, perfectly ‘toasted’ with a subtle sweetness that gives you a hint of almond, which can almost be mistaken for coconut. The moist portion in between is made of homemade blackberry jam** with a consistency that is heaven-sent because it neighter left the upper filling and the crust soaked, nor left it wanting for taste or texture. The bottom is a semi-flaky crust that’s solid and holds well during cutting, yet crumbles at the right time when you bite into it.

Can you tell I’m in love?

Oh, yes! The best thing about it all is that it’s really easy to do. It’s not time consuming, won’t break your back and people will go Oooh, Ahhh, MMmmm over it. I think I can pretty much guarantee that, unless they don’t like almonds or are allergic to it.

Thanks Jasmine (Confessions of a Cardamom Addict) and Annemarie (Ambrosia and Nectar) for this month’s DB challenge! I absolutely, thoroughly, love it.

I will talk about it more and post additional photos in a bit. For now, I want to make the DB challenge deadline! :-) Recipes are available at the websites of our challenge hosts above. I’m sorry I don’t have the recipe for the blackberry jam.

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** I wish I could say I made it, but my friend’s mom did and it’s almost a year old so I decided to use it before it goes to waste! That’s another ‘win’ for Eating Down the Fridge.

Posted in baking, Daring Bakers, dessert, dining, experiments25 Comments

Oven Roasted Potatoes with Beets in Garlic-Lemon-Thyme Dressing

Sorry about that long title, but serves its purpose of telling you exactly what you get. :-)

As I said earlier, I am participating in this summer week’s “Eating Down the Fridge” over at Kim O’Donnel’s A Mighty Appetite. I have to admit that this is indeed a “challenge” for me. When I am cooking for one or two, it’s very easy to slide into that It’s-Easier-To-Eat-Out Zone, especially when the weather is just plain seductive and it feels criminal to stay home.

If you only have a few weeks of semi-uninterrupted sunshine (as I type this, it is raining…welcome to our world), you enjoy every bit of it.

Kitsilano Beach

See what I mean?

Cardero's

We do our best to appreciate the glorious summer days of Vancouver. :-)

And then I find myself with a well-stocked fridge and pantry at the end of the week, except that 50% of the fresh food will probably go bad soon. Does that sound familiar?

I go back and forth this same old story. I’ve already confided on this blog that I still have this Waste-Not attitude with food because of the way I was raised. It’s really just common sense and practicality: simply eat what you buy.

I’m already seeing the benefits of Eating Down the Fridge:

1. I make an effort to eat breakfast these days. Usually, I’ll just skip it, which I know is bad, but I couldn’t help it. Now, I try harder. I want to finish the loaf of whole wheat bread instead of offering it up to the mold gods. And I pay more attention to the gala apples I bought that I meant to eat for breakfast or as snacks.

2. I am starting to remember stuff I froze that I still need to use. For example, the fresh-now-frozen thyme that went into this simple salad. I still have frozen peeled bananas that could easily go into banana bread or muffins.

3. The ‘limit’ of not going out to shop for more food, is stirring up my creative juices. What can I do with what I have? I still have a box of strawberries, a lonely floppy stalk of rhubarb and lots of gala apples. I can smell something in the oven already. :-) Have I told you I haven’t made any dessert out of rhubarb?! Never. So here’s my chance to prove to Amy that I am from this planet (she jokingly asked from which planet I was when she learned of this…haha), just that I’m discovering food that are common to most of you, but so new to me!

4. I resist the compulsion to buy more and more food. It’s like with clothes, you keep buying them because one day you think you have nothing to wear. You just have to look into your closet (in our case, pantry/fridge) to see that you have a lot!

5. I am more thoughtful of food. Sometimes life gets really too busy that the kitchen is acts like a pit stop where you grab something you can instantly eat and leave empty-handed and go to the store if there’s none. I think about food, what to prepare so I wouldn’t go hungry in the middle of the day (I work from home) and commune with food. Food is something to enjoy sitting down on the table, with friends and family.

6. That said, I feel like a child finding ingredients in the kitchen that I didn’t know I had. Two jars of baking powder anyone? I see things in doubles and not because of my eyesight. Time to do some inventory around here.

7. At the end of the week, I will have an almost-empty fridge that’s much easier to clean. A clean fridge to work with! I love it already.

During the day, I eat toasted bread with sunflower butter or butter. The other night I just cooked the flank steak with salt and pepper and a wine-soy gravy (still debating if I should post the bad photos…haha). I also had plain red-leaf lettuce salad with garlic dressing (that my brother calls my “Shawarma sauce” when he tasted it during our family dinner a few weekends ago). I’m proud to announce that I also saved that tub of organic vanilla yogurt before it expires in a week, and started eating it. I always get hungry and I didn’t realize I had all this food enough to satiate my every-3-hours hunger.

Last night, I made this simple salad of roasted Yukon Gold potatoes, boiled beets and a homemade garlic-lemon-thyme dressing made with those ingredients glended with olive and coconut oil and just salt and pepper. I love food that is easy to prepare and yet captivates you with comforting flavors and textures — homey, not complex.

Oven Roasted Potatoes with Beets in Garlic-Lemon-Thyme Dressing

A  little something about Yukon Gold Potatoes:

These are yellow-fleshed potatoes, compared to the whitish ones. Yukon Gold is a crossbreed between the North American white potato and a wild South American yellow-fleshed variety and was registered in Canada in 1980. They are good for boiling, baking, french-frying, but unsuitable for chipping. It has medium starch content and disintegrates when overcooked. Excellent for storage and holds well for long without sprouting (bonus for me).

I love their thin, smooth skin and buttery flavor. I overcooked some of the smaller pieces and the flesh separated from the prime real estate of a skin (read: roasted Yukon Gold potato skin is like flavor bling to my taste buds), into a soft, pillow-y mulch. It didn’t bother me at all because it was a nice kind of mush, and you’ll forget about it once you taste it. I should remember to buy more of these, seeing that it stores well and my sprouting russet family in a bag is testament to why I shouldn’t rely on them all the time.

Once I baked it, I tossed the thyme sprigs and the dressing while they were hot. Mmm. Once it cooled, I put some in a bowl with beet chunks and some greens and enjoyed it with a glass of chardonnay. What a great way to spend the rainy evening.

Oven-Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes and Beets with Garlic-Lemon-Thyme DressingDownload the print-ready PDF recipe

Ingredients (serves 2 to 3)

•    8 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut in quarters (or more if they are big). Try to cut them about the same size.
•    2 whole medium beets, boiled and cut into chunks the same size as the potatoes (you can boil it at the same time you are oven-roasting the potatoes)
•    1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
•    1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
•    1 tbsp olive oil
•    3/4 tsp sea salt, divided
•    1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper, divided
•    1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
•    4 large cloves (or 6 medium) of garlic
•    8-10 sprigs of thyme
•    Optional: fresh greens

Preparation

1.    Pre-heat the oven to 400°F. In an oven safe glass baking dish, mix together potatoes, olive oil, 1/4 tsp ground pepper and 1/4 tsp sea salt making sure all the surfaces of the potatoes are coated with oil. Add more oil if needed. Carefully position potatoes with the flesh down, not the skin. The skin is too precious to have to stick to the pan.

2.    Place in the oven for 15 minutes then turn the potatoes and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the corners and skin of the potatoes. Total baking time depends on the sizes of your cut potatoes.

3.    In your small food processor (or magic bullet), blend together extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp ground pepper, garlic cloves, and 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice. Add more salt and pepper to suit your taste I personally just add more pepper, because I like the flavor of the garlic and lemon to take center stage). Pulse until the dressing is smooth and uniform. Set aside.

4.    As soon as you take the dish out of the oven, toss in the thyme sprigs and dressing with the potatoes in the dish. Let it cool down before serving with the beets and greens.

Posted in dessert, dining, healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy, salads, vegetables11 Comments

Baked Butter Chicken Fillets

I forgot about this recipe that should have been posted over a month ago. Today’s a lazy Sunday for me and what better way to commemorate such a fabulous day, I’m going to post a really easy recipe with a really short intro. Hope you’re enjoying your Sunday!

Baked Butter Chicken Fillets

Download PDF recipe

Baked Butter Chicken Fillets Download print-ready PDF recipe

Ingredients

  • .85 lb (about .4 kg) of chicken fillet (chicken tenders sliced crosswise in half for thinner meat)
  • 1/4 tsp salt, plus additional salt for sprinkling
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • juice of a quarter of a lime
  • 3 tbsps unsalted butter, softened enough to spread with a brush or spoon over meat
  • 1 sprig of rosemary, remove the leaves and chop

Preparation

1.  Mix 1/4 tsp salt, pepper and lime in a medium bowl. Mix chicken in the mixture, cover with plastic wrap and marinate for half an hour in the fridge.

2. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Take out chicken from your marinade and lay the pieces flat (smooth/pretty side up) on an oven-safe glass dish. From about a foot above the dish, lightly sprinkle the fillets with salt. Turn over, and sprinkle again.

3. Brush the top of each chicken fillet with softened butter.

4. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and take out the baking dish. Sprinkle the chicken with rosemary and cover with aluminum foil. Place it back in the oven (still turned off) for 10 minutes. Serve with vegetables and/or rice. The chicken is tasty enough to be eaten without the need for gravy.

Posted in baking, dairy, dessert, dining, experiments, original Gourmeted recipe, poultry, quick & easy9 Comments

Asian Ginger Garlic Steak

Even before the show, “Chopped“, was conceived in the offices of the Food Network, millions of us all over the world were already facing and battling own versions of the show–right in our own kitchens–you, me, and all the other home cooks in the world. Unless you’re a complete meal planner, making each homemade meal is like a Chopped episode. It’s all up to us to make the most of what’s available and rock it, right?

I had  fresh flank steak one evening that I didn’t want to freeze and ginger roots that begged to be saved before they go to waste, so it just makes sense to use them both. I was inspired to make a beef steak with the flavors of the beef and broccoli dish I love to order at Chinese restaurants. We always make steaks with wine and some herb as a combination, but I’ve never tried it with ginger …so why not?

Oh…and how my experiment delivered! The ginger-garlic flavor seeped into the meat in 30 minutes. It was so good! At first I wanted to make sauce from the drippings, but the flavors in the meat were already intense so I didn’t find the need to.

Asian Ginger Beef Steak

The photo above is left over from dinner. I didn’t want to take photos at night and waited the next day to get decent daylight photos. It still looked good the 2nd day, huh? :) It still tasted amazing, too.

I like using flank steaks. They’re easy to find and they’re cheap. And with dishes like the one I made, it’s easy to create something nice without breaking the bank. The other ingredients I used are wallet-friendly as well and what’s more, the whole recipe is just made of 6 ingredients. I like simple. I like tasty. I like dishes that look like they took a lot of effort and worth a lot more than they do. Recessionista extraordinaire dish right there.

Asian Ginger Garlic SteakAsian Ginger Garlic Steak

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp ginger, chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 400 g flank steak

Preparation

  1. Mix the oil and sauces with the chopped ingredients. Soak meat in this mixture and marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge. You can marinate it in a small bowl covered with plastic wrap or in a ziploc bag. If in a bowl, turn meat after 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350°F then take the meat from the fridge.
  3. Roll the steak lengthwise, as if rolling like a log cake, with ends meeting at the bottom. Place on an oven-safe wire rack on a cookie sheet to catch the drippings. Bake for 20-30 minutes depending on your preferred doneness.
  4. Take the meat out of the oven and tent it with aluminum foil for about 10 minutes. Slice and serve warm with rice and steamed broccoli.

Posted in announcements, Asian dish, beef, dailies, dessert, dining, experiments, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy3 Comments

Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna

I like a good challenge and whenever I see those lovely food blogs with results from the Daring Bakers Challenge, I’m in awe and envy. When I finally got around to joining the group, I froze when I saw my first challenge for March 2009: Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi Al Forno). I was expecting to make dessert or bake cakes — something for my insatiable sweet tooth…something easier. But no, it turns out my “initiation” into the Daring Bakers would be a very laborious one. I was as scared as I was decades ago when the swimming instructor asked us to jump into the pool at the 6″ feet mark on our first class. Are you serious? What did I get myself into?!

THIS, dear readers:

YUMMMMMMM. As with life’s big challenges, this challenge has great rewards. This lasagna melts in your mouth. There’s homemade lasagne, and then there’s memorable homemade gourmet lasagne. I could not believe how delicious it was! I can still remember the taste of the ragu, the nice tenderness of homemade pasta, the rich bechamel sauce.

This lasagne marks a few firsts for me:

1) Very first lasagne. You read that right: I’ve never made lasagne in my entire life. It just looked like it was too much work. Yeah, look what I ended up doing! Haha.

2) Bechamel sauce.

3) Handmade pasta and without the aid of a machine, too. Oh, dear, this is a biggie. The whole thing was a workout.

4) Ragu sauce. I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than two hours to make a pasta sauce. No sir.

Woohoo!

Would I make it again? YES! But not without a pasta machine. ;-) The challenge did not require us to buy one, but god, I wish I had. Oh well, that’s done. I can now say that the very first lasagne I made entailed a back-breaking 2-hour manual pasta rolling ordeal. No wonder I put it off for more than a week! I had to muster enough courage and strength to get the ball rolling. Literally. This started out as a dough ball that you flatten with your rolling pin if you do it by hand. It has a gorgeous green color because of the spinach.  I used frozen chopped spinach and this is an egg pasta.

I dried it as cut sheets for 24 hours before cooking. I dared not to take photos of the transformation of our dining room into a pasta drying area with the sheets hanging on freshly cleaned table cloth-covered chairs.

It’s more delicate than store-bought pasta, understandably. I had some tears here and there. It looked very pretty as I assembled the dish. This is how one layer looks like, beginning with the spinach lasagna sheet overlapping each other:

Rich and creamy bechamel sauce:

The MMMMM-inducing ragu sauce:

More bechamel on top of the ragu sauce.

Topped with grated parmigiano reggiano cheese:

And this is the topmost layer of my lasagne, with a generous amount of bechamel and grated parmigiano reggiano cheese:

Our kitchen smelled amazing while it was cooking:

Here, the fruit of my labor:

I started making this 4pm (for the pasta sheets) and we ate this at 11pm the next day. It’s no walk in the park, but I’m glad I did it! WHEW!!!!!!

I will post a PDF recipe tonight. :)

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

Posted in baking, cheese, Daring Bakers, dining, dips and sauces, make-ahead, pasta, vegetables55 Comments