Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Quinoa Paella Recipe




I love Quinoa, (藜) . Not only does it only take minutes to cook, it's easier to cook than Brown Rice and it's very forgiving. Added too much water? Fine, Quinoa doesn't go to mush quickly, so just cook for a little longer. Added too little liquid? Cool, add some more liquid, bring to a boil and then let simmer for 8 minutes and repeat process again if necessary. I also find that a tight fitting lid to your wok/pot/pan makes fluffy Quinoa effortless.


Quinoa Paella Recipe

* 2-3 links of sliced Chorizo
* 2 cups of Quinoa (rinsed if necessary--you can buy already rinsed Quinoa from Costco)
* 4 cups of Chicken Broth
* Pinch of Saffron
* Cayenne Pepper to taste
* Paprika to taste  
* 2-3 handfuls of fresh Clams scrubbed and cleaned
* 2-3 handfuls of fresh Shrimp in shells
* 2-3 handfuls of fresh Scallops
* 2-3 handfuls of frozen Peas and Corn
* 2-3 handfuls of shredded baby Kale
* Parsley roughly chopped
* Lemon wedges
* Salt and Pepper to taste

Put wok on medium heat and spray with PAM. Add Chorizo slices and brown all over. Remove Chorizo with slotted spoon and add Quinoa. Toast Quinoa for a minute or two and mix into Chorizo oil. Add Chicken stock, Saffron, Cayenne and Paprika. Bring to boil, cover and then let simmer for 10 minutes.  When the broth in the pot has been mostly absorbed add Clams. In this recipe I'm using Shrimps in their shells--so it's appropriate to put them in the wok at this time. If you are using de-shelled shrimp hold off putting them in now. Cover and continue simmering for another 5 minutes. Don't stir too much if you want fluffy Quinoa. By now some Clams should have started to open and releasing their brine. You should be seeing pools of broth--at this time add de-shelled Shrimp (if you are using them), Scallops, Peas, Corn, and Kale. Bring wok to boil and then let simmer for 5-8 minutes and then let stand for a couple of minutes. When the wok has cooled down add Salt and Pepper to taste, Parsley and lemon wedges. 

Remember: If there is too little broth add more (maybe 1/4 of a cup at a time), bring to a boil and then let simmer for 8 minutes and repeat process again. If there is too much broth just bring wok to boil  and then let simmer for 8 minutes and repeat process again if necessary.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Spicy Meatballs in a Pernod Tomato Sauce Recipe

Geez, Bernsie, you were right--I haven't blogged in a long time.

I haven't posted anything since 2012, you say? Whoops. I don't know --it's just that back in 2012 I started really getting to know blogging culture and it was a turn off. I don't like how bloggers profess to be an expert on whatever they are blogging about. I, for one, am an expert at jack squat, but I did really like what I made for dinner tonight. The smell of Fennel and Tomato filled my apartment and I knew that this was going to be exceptional. I liked this meal so much that I wanted to blog the recipe so I could come back to it next time I fancied it.

Spicy Meatballs in a Pernod Tomato Sauce

* Half and half of ground beef and pork
* 1 Sweet Onion
* 1 handful of fresh Parsley
* Lawry's Seasoning Salt
* Chili flakes
* Olive Oil
* Pernod
* Tomato Sauce (my go to jarred sauce is Newman's Own)
* Salt and Pepper to taste
* Food processor
* Dutch Oven
* Fresh pasta
* Fresh Parmesan

In a Food Processor chop Onion and Parsley. Add to large bowl and then add Ground Meat. Mix with hands. Add a dash of Lawry's Seasoning Salt, Chili flakes and continue mixing by hand. Roll meatballs to fit in your palm and set aside.

Add Olive oil to Dutch Oven on medium heat. When the Dutch Oven gets hot add Meatballs (in batches if necessary). Brown Meatballs all over and then add a shot of Pernod--turn heat down to simmer and cover for 3 minutes. When your Pernod had reduced to your desired amount add a cup or two of Tomato Sauce. Mix, cover and let simmer for 5-10 more minutes. Taste and add more sauce, salt, pepper, whatever you want, baby. Keep warm.

In a pot, bring to boil and add fresh pasta. When the pasta is almost cooked--strain and leave 1 cup of cooked pasta water. Add a 1/4 of a cup of your Tomato sauce and add cooked pasta back to pot. Let sit for a minute or two and when the pasta should absorbs the sauce you can plate up.  This dish doesn't need to be smothered in Tomato sauce--so layer Pasta, Meatballs, Tomato Sauce and Parmesan.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A couple of days in Scotland


I didn't have any real expectations of eating in Scotland - yeah, I've heard that they deep fry Mars bars and possibly pizzas but who am I to judge? I come from a land where people cook mac 'n cheese-- bake it, freeze it and then deep fry it (I've never had it myself but it sounds deliciously disgusting). We were there for the Scotch tour, so I decided before that food wouldn't be the star of this visit. 


Boy, was I wrong. Scottish food was a pleasant surprise and a culinary experience. Unlike some places where local ingredients mean premium prices--all the restaurants and bistros I patronized featured local ingredients all at affordable prices. Also, the people in Islay are also very accomodating and friendly- I had a great time, ate a lot of interesting meals and I look forward to my next visit.
Whitebait
Falls of Lora Hotel - Connel Ferry, by Oban, Argyll, PA37 1PB, Scotland

The food and service was amazing.  We arrived for dinner just after the kitchen had closed and there was only one other group of people in the whole restaurant. Despite our bad timing--the kitchen was willing to turn the ovens back on for us and offer us the full menu.  I ordered the Whitebait and it was delicous. Crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. Perfectly seasoned and light. I also tried the Fish and Chips - lightly coated and crispy. Delicious and moist on the inside. Sometimes I have a tendency to just eat the fish and leave the fried coating (because it's too stodgy) but in this case-- the thought never crossed my mind. I also tried the Lamb and potatoes with stuffing. I was anticipating something heavy but it was a delicately prepared but not delicate in flavor at all. 

In the morning, the hotel offers a full three course breakfast which was lovely. I wasn't feeling hungry--so I ordered the yogurt, fruit plate, and sliced ham and cheese. I ended up wrapping up the ham and cheese and taking some toast for later when I would inevitably get hungry on the ferry.

The Islay Hotel Charlotte Street, Port Ellen, Isle of Islay, PA42 7DF Scotland




Oh man, what didn't I eat off the Islay Hotel menu? We stayed there for several days and I looked forward to every dinner. 

Loch Gruinart Oysters- so fresh all you need is lemon juice. 

Scallops with Peas- Sweet Scallops over a sweet peas puree with bacon (this was so good that Adam ordered it the next night) 


Mussels with Sea Bass - this was a bit of a disappointment because it was well cooked but there was no real flavor to the dish


Haggis- I hate Haggis and the idea of Haggis but this was delicious. It was spicy and meaty but not gamey

Crab Cake - Flavorful but mostly potato

The Old Kiln Cafe - Ardbeg Distillery - Port Ellen, PA42 7EA, Scotland 


I am a big fan of Ardbeg after visiting the Distillery. Not only does the Cafe serve good and honest food but the staff was lovely (in fact our tour guide turned into our waitress after 12 o'clock). 

The day we visited it was cold and rainy so I was delighted when I found lots of comfort food on the menu. I ordered the Mussels in a white wine sauce and the Smoked Ham, Mozzarella and Red Onion Baguette (for dipping, of course!). This meal was everything I needed it to be and with such simple ingredients it did not disappoint.

Port Askaig Hotel - Port Askaig, Isle of Islay, PA46 7RD, Scotland



On our way back to Wales, we had some time to kill so we decided to break bread at the only Restaurant near the Ferry Terminal. The ambience was stale, the Christmas lights July a little corny but my meal was out of the ball park. I ordered the Sea Bass and it was quite easily the best meal I ate in Scotland. The portion of fish was generous and the price affordable. The skin was pan seared and crispy but the flesh was buttery (not to be confused with greasy). The beans were very fresh and sweet and the potatoes were cooked perfectly. In fact, the whole meal was perfect.

Scotland, I love you.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pub Crawl: Liverpool

I <3 Liverpool


This summer I had a chance to spend the night in Liverpool and I had such a good time that I can’t wait to go back.  Despite all the stereotypes and labels of Liverpudlians-- I found everyone very welcoming, sincere and fun to watch. The most fun to watch, of course, were all the girls walking around with their hair curlers in. At first, I thought I was seeing the start of some sort of fish wife flash mob, but no- there were loads of them all minding their own business thinking they they looked the shit.



We arrived in the afternoon and decided we would go on a pub crawl.  First stop:

Colins Bridewell (no website) - Argyle Street  Liverpool, Merseyside L1 5BL

Police Station turned into restaurant and pub. Low key place to get a pint and more importantly they stock one
of my favorite guilty pleasures-- Desperados Beer.



The Cavern  - Century Buildings, 31 North John Street, Liverpool L2 6RG

Though I didn't go to the real club (just like the fake Cheers Bar in the Haymarket)--I still had a great time. No cover charge, awesome live bands and people just dancing. It could have been 2 o'clock in the afternoon or 2 o'clock in the morning--people were there to have a good time, enjoy the music and dance. 

Dijango Riff - 24 Wood St, Liverpool,  L1 4AQ

Bar in the cellar - beware of the Swedish Cider.

Mei mei restaurant (no website) - 9-13 Berry Street  Liverpool, Merseyside L1 9DF, United Kingdom

A sight for a sore stomach! Located in Chinatown (the oldest Chinatown in the world outside of China, but there they just say towns).  Best Chinese meal-out that I've had this year. We ordered Morning Glory/Water Spinach/On Choy in a Malaysian sauce (shrimp paste with chili). Roasted Duck and Sea Salt, Pepper Ribs and some rice.  Everything was delicious and filled the void in my life that Anglo food alone can never completely fill. 
The Pilgrim (no website) - 34 Pilgrim Street  Liverpool, Merseyside L1 9HB

Student bar but that's not a bad thing ($!). Hear they have a great English Breakfast but didn't have a chance to try it out.

Fly in Loaf - 13 Hardman Street  Liverpool, Merseyside L1 9AS
Bakery turned into a pub. Serves Schneider Weisse at very affordable prices.

The Philharmonic - 36 Hope Street  Liverpool, Merseyside L1 9BX

The coolest bar we visited. It was ornate but not stuffy. It was classy but I didn't feel uncomfortable. Very welcoming and an experience.

The Walkabout - Concert Square, 26 Fleet St, Liverpool, L1 4AN  

Great for a laugh and watching people dancing their hearts out. Everyone was engaged: (the people you would noramlly have to drag to the dance floor, ugly people, pretty people, old people, young people, etc.) and having a great time.


The Boot Room - Anfield Road, Merseyside, Liverpool L4 0TH

The gastropub next to the Liverpool FC Museum. Nice spot for a drink and a bite after a trip to Anfield. Reminds me of Fenway but without all the backward baseball caps.

Monday, August 27, 2012

2 Weeks of meals in Wales, Chester and Liverpool

Walls of Conwy Castle

Wild Strawberries growing between the
sidewalk pavement
This past June, Adam and I were based in Wales for 2 weeks visiting family. We ate out almost every night and it was not cheap, let me get that out of the way, but it was necessary because the village where we were staying had limited access to fresh meat and produce. 

In my stay, I found the Welsh palette to be very simple - predominantly using just basic flavors like salt, pepper, mint, vinegar and sugar in their meals. I wonder why the restaurants, pubs, and people in general do not take full advantage of all the wild herbs and flowers growing everywhere. In Wales there is literally wild strawberries growing between the cracks in the pavement and garlic, rosemary and camomile growing on the sides of houses. I think this is a great opportunity missed in a culinary, sustainable, and economical sense. 

So, where do the locals go when they want a break from beans on toast and egg and chips?


French Onion Soup

Tan Rallt Holiday Home Park
Rhyd Y Foel
Abergele
North Wales
LL22 8EE
tel: 01492 511633

Nice views and a pleasant menu. Older people friendly.

Fish with potatoes and peas

Cheetham
12 Mostyn Street
Llandudno
Conwy 
LL30 2PS

 
Good spot for people watching or just talking a break from shopping. Generous portions and friendly waitstaff.
Bangers & Mash

Tyn y Groes
Conwy
North Wales
LL32 8TN


A bit expensive but at least here they serve Bangers & Mash with 3 Bangers and a side of vegetables. Also, this was my first opportunity to try out an Eton Mess (strawberries, whipped cream and meringue). This Eton mess was disgustingly good but I'm happy I tried it

Eton Mess


Moroccan Spiced Lamb

Victoria Quay
Victoria Avenue
Welsh Bridge
Shrewsbury
SY1 1HH

 
Ordered the Moroccan spiced lamb with apricot and date couscous salad, feta cheese and chick peas. It was disgusting. The Lamb few shaves of lamb served was dried out and salty, the sauce sticky and salad was really just feta and onions.

Paella
Oddfellows

20 Lower Bridge Street
Chester
CH1 1RS

Pretentious, expensive and not impressed. Ordered paella- though the fish was beautifully cooked, the rice was too salty, and clams and rice overcooked. All looks and no quality.

Mussels in a thick cream
 White Lion Inn (no information)

Friendly waitstaff but more importantly bizarre food. I ordered Mussels in a cream sauce and what I got looked like Mussels in whipped cream. The Mussels were nicely cooked and the cream was lightly salted. I don't know if I'd ever intentionally order this again but it was an experience. 

Brown Shrimp

Gwernymynydd
Mold
Flintshire
CH7 5JS
Nice gardens and more very British food. Ordered the Brown Shrimp salad with Rose Marie Sauce (Thousand Island Dressing, anyone?). Smaller and definitely browner than the Shrimp I am used to. Wonder what the shrimp would taste like on their own?

Main course was roasted pork with a sage stuffing and watercress salad. I've never had pork with the rind still attached. It didn't really add to the flavor nor keep the meat any more moist. Stuffing was dry but I'm thinking that's the British style stuffing.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Heaven Sent Fried Chicken v.s. Ma’ono

Last weekend, we drove down to Seattle to visit my cousin. It’s been over a year since I’ve been to the States, so when I’m there I want to seize every opportunity to enjoy the things I can’t find/afford/enjoy in Vancouver. And the very top item on my To Eat List: FRIED CHICKEN




Heaven Sent Chicken – 14330 Lake City Way Northeast  Seattle, WA 98125 (more than one location) (206) 363-1167
There is a back story to this place but it just sounds like drama. Something about the Black guy in the cow boy hat used to work for Ezell's and yadayadayada…drama.  And like I say to my friends: I’m not getting involved—I’m just here for the chicken. 
I ordered the 3 piece Spicy Dark Meat dinner with a side of mashed potatoes and corn and not only was it affordable as hell, it was the tastiest chicken I have ever eaten. The skin was crispy and perfectly seasoned. The meat was moist and tender.  The sides were delicious and the roll was lovely, but this fried chicken is good enough to be a stand-alone meal.
Ma’ono- 4437 California Ave SW Seattle, WA 98116
(206) 935.1075

Again, there’s drama in the back story but the most juicy part of Ma’ono is the $38 eight piece Fried Chicken Dinner. Though it is not so affordable- it’s good, but not great. Ma’ono chicken tastes like it’s been brined, has a nice thick crispy skin, but the flavor of the chicken relies heavily on the underwhelming dipping sauces provided. So, eh.

All things considered, I would say Ma’ono is the kind of place where you would take someone you want to impress: there’s a modern ambience, a bar, fancy sides and the waiters have asymmetric hair styles. Heaven Sent Chicken, on the other hand, is the kind of place where you want to go the other 364 days of the year. Heaven sent Fried Chicken all the way.  

Heaven Sent Chicken on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bistro Review: Sardine Can

While coming home last week, I noticed that 26 Powell Street had once again changed hands.  Maybe it's an unlucky spot but this space has seen many different hands in a short amount of time.  That's not to say that the former bistros were bad -- but you could tell every time that the operators were small time and that it was most likely a venture of love.

Yesterday, while I was out and about I decided to check out the space and look at the menu. Immediately I recognized that whoever took over the space was no Mom and Pop operator.  You could see that this space is run by professionals with enough money to pretend this was still a hole in the wall. Also, I noticed that it was a tapas bar. Most items on the menu were $10 (a bit more expensive and with less variety than La Bodega (1277 Howe Street)) but lot more interesting than Notturno (280 Carrall Street).

Gastown is not short of "tapas bars" a.k.a. "Let's serve average quality food in small portions and call it tapas, so people have to order 7 plates to get full."  With this in mind, I decided to try out Gastown's newest tapas bar the Sardine Can and see if this was the case.

"Prove me wrong, kids. Prove me wrong"

I met my friend last night and ordered: The Asparagus with Aioli, Sardines on Toast, The Clams and the Pepper stuffed with salted Cod.

Usually, I define each dish and explain the different flavors I liked but I don't feel that this needs to be the case here. The food in general was not offensive but not impressive either. None of the dishes carried any distinctive flavors or character (unless Spanish is synonymous with salt alone).  All in, I lack to see the value or unique dining experience of Sardine Can.


 Sardine Can on Urbanspoon