23 December 2009

o, xmas cookie, o xmas cookie...

if there ever was a healthy holiday cookie, this applesauce oatmeal one would be it: chewy, fibrous, made of real fruits, and topped with maple-flavoured love... or what love would taste like if it were made of maple icing and a pound and a half of butter.

(there's actually very little butter in these cookies, which makes it all the better).

triple the batch and give them away to people who need that extra poundage for the holidays. consider it a gift, you cheap bastards.

(recipe courtesy of martha).

happy holidays!

04 December 2009

sweet soups

chinese sweet soups are the weird dessert/snacks that most westerners don't understand – think of it as chocolate pudding, except minus the chocolate and milk; then replace them with ground nuts or sesame seeds and finely ground rice and then cooked to thicken it, and then delicately sweetened.

and then the big surprise in bowl are the tiny delicate glutinous rice dumpling-type balls filled with ground peanuts and sugar, called tong yuen (soup balls).

sometimes eaten therapeutically, these sweet soups are more or less a winter treat... read more and you'll see what i mean.

(this one is roasted walnut sweet soup with tong yuen; background is some sort of watermelon or strawberry ice cream with tong yuen and served cold [the sesame, hong hum, kowloon, HK])

beware of this this guy (frawley)... some call him the dessert monster. he can eat his giant bowl of almond sweet soup and then finish everyone else's when they aren't looking... see that grin on his face? you know he did something with that spoon that he shouldn't have:

(look at the hypoplasia on that guy!! so deviant...)

(background: almond sweet soup; foreground: black sesame sweet soup)

here's fat auntie's recipe for almond sweet soup:

6 oz (around 2/3 cup) almonds, skins left on*
1 oz (between 1/8 and 1/4 cup) rice (uncooked)
6 oz water (around 2/3 cup)
1/2 to 1 stick of block or rock sugar (about 4 to 6 oz). or use a simple syrup (1:1 sugar to water)
  1. make a sugar syrup: heat sugar in water until completely dissolved, stirring occasionally to ensure sugar completely dissolves. avoid boiling the mixture.
  2. don't burn yourself.
  3. remove from heat and soak the rice in the sugar syrup (a few hours to overnight).
  4. lightly toast the almonds at a low heat in a wok until fragrant (between 5 and 10 minutes). do not burn them nor yourself. let them cool down enough to handle.
  5. in a blender or food processor, finely grind the almonds with the sugar/rice mixture. this should take at least 20 minutes. the mixture should look fine like pancake batter, though it is not colloidal (it will separate eventually)
  6. filter the mix in a metal coffee filter to remove bits that didn't get ground.
  7. cook mixture it over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly (avoid boiling). serve warm. hopefully there aren't any leftovers that you need to refrigerate.
*almonds can be substituted for walnuts, white sesame, black sesame, cashews. you can also use chinese almonds (which are actually apricot kernels) and mix them with regular almonds.

tong yuen
recipe to come...

02 December 2009

Schweinshaxe und mich

Schweinshaxe is Deutsch for pig knuckles, ham hocks, pig trotters (or whatever you want to call them to make them sound more revolting) and actually make fantastic, hearty meals in a variety of styles of cuisine. disregard the fact that these used to be what a pig used to walk with. you will be convinced.

here's a traditional bavarian-style pork knuckle, great for warming you up on chilly late fall evenings and clogging your arteries with every little nibble!

in a large pot, boil some water. add the hocks to the water (flavour the water as you like with some celery, carrots, onions, garlic, caraway seeds, bay leaves, peppercorns and salt) for about half an hour or an hour. remove from water, reserving the vegetables and some of the liquid.

at this point you can use a knife to slice into the fat to so that it looks like knife wounds (don't cut all the way to the meat), or you can leave it the way it is.

grease an oven-proof pan (preferably) with rendered animal fat or shortening. bed the reserved vegetables and then place the cooked hocks hocks on top. sprinkle with a bit of beer (belgian style is a preference) and some of the cooking liquid you reserved.

bake at about 400F-425F about 30 to 45 minutes, until you get a crispiness you like. baste as often as you like with the cooking liquid and more beer, to make sure it doesn't dry out.

tip: bake potatoes in the same dish.

eat and enjoy. oink.

01 December 2009

when cakes go wrong...

not a big cake eater myself, but those who enjoy failblog and the ilk should definitely check out cake wrecks... it's a hoot!

(wtf is this?)

wedded bliss-take! (this looks like the couple was mauled by zombies...)

(not just high-larious cakes but also some amazing ones as well).

18 November 2009

the story of lob-setah

lob-setah (or lobster as it is commonly known outside of fob communities) is commonly misconceived as a hoity-toity food. fact is, lobster in north america, was food for the poor (likely because it is a bottom-feeder), and people buried lobster shells to avoid the stigma of being a lobster-eater! shame!

anyways, this is the story of how this guy (actually, i think he was a she), an american lobster (Homarus americanus):

turned into this delectable feast for the eyes:

by this person (whom we will refer to as fat auntie from this moment forth):

by doing this:

the story goes like this (as told by my mom): "lob-setah (lobster) grow up and leave the fish tank. then you take lob-setah and then you chop him up and say you're sorry while you chop him. then you put him into hot wok with hot cooking oil, garlic and ginger, salt and white pepper. they you fry in wok until it is cook and put green onion on top. you take it, and then you eat it. the green part of lob-setah is the best part."

27 October 2009

pumpkin pie

just to set the record straight, i do not have a sweet tooth.

however, here's another piece of pie that's worth a blog entry about: this was likely the second best pumpkin pie i've had since being born... swear by the stray hairs on my chin.

decent crust, a filling not too sweet and just the right consistency (i.e. moist but not soupy, nor too eggy, nor too tough), simple on the spice, and a belle couleur. thanks to tammy's country kitchen in napanee (ontario), i am now a pumpkin pie aficionada.

(oh, and those who eat pie "à la mode" are heathens).

25 October 2009

fresh harvest: apples

apple season means picking loads of delicious apples fresh from the local orchards (which are a-plenty here, like hobos in the streets).

this year, i decided to pick my apples from the bin at the market because it was faster, closer, as cheap, and just as good quality (if not better) than the u-picks. cons: you don't get as much variety and you don't get to stuff your face with apples while buying them from the stand.

using alton brown's recipe for a pâte brisée crust, i set out to make two pies at a time (one for someone's birthday party and the other for my un-birthday).

things i discovered on this pie-making feat:
  1. having hard alcohol handy makes the medicine go down (and the keeps the flour in the crust from glutenizing quickly as opposed to water).
  2. a sharp peeler makes a huge difference.
  3. apple corers make things go way faster.
  4. a helper makes things go twice as fast!

also using alton's super apple pie recipe as a guide, i used the standard fare of cinnamon and nutmeg for spices and also added freshly ground cardamom. AB's recipe called for some stupidly named spice called grains of paradise which i have no idea what that is, but after a little research i found could be substituted with cardamom.

that said, the only remaining thing about the pie pictured above now is that photo...

04 October 2009

fresh harvest: basil

garden season was pretty crappy this year, but still managed to get a few yields of sweet basil. last harvest turned into a batch of pesto (which kind of looks like a bowl full of discombobulated peas, but tastes nothing like it).

pesto alla genovese is usually made with genovese basil, but the sweet basil variety is similar in flavour so an adequate substitute. adequate, i say, because i don't think i've had genovese basil before.

pesto alla genovese

makes about 2 cups

6 cups loosely packed basil
2/3 cup pine nuts (toast them lightly and let them cool, if you like)
8 garlic cloves
1/3 to 1/2 cup grated parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil

process everything except the olive oil until the mixture is well ground together.

note: if you want to freeze this, you might want to omit the cheese until you thaw it out, but it should freeze fine with the cheese.


26 August 2009

09 July 2009

fast food can be fancy (fancy-looking, at least)

not condoning fast food by any means, but chearns fowarded me this site... a white castle sack meals, white plates, studio-style lighting, and a little ingenuity, you can have fancy-looking tapas (sort of).

30 May 2009

what does a ninja eat?

i bet the answer might be marmite.

how do i know? cause i'm a ninja and i ate marmite.

why marmite? i don't know.

02 May 2009

try this! mango butter

straight from the bohol bee farm resort in bohol, philippines, this little jar of mango spread is sure to bring a taste of equatorial paradise to every breakfast table.

i don't really remember what the ingredients are but mango, honey and butter are definitely the main three.

29 March 2009

dan dan mein (also known as dan dan noodles)

slippery little wheat noodles, steaming hot and spicy broth with a peanutty/sesame-y flavour, topped with ground pork and oftentimes green onions, and cheap, to boot.. what more could i say?

(the best one of the bunch)

try it! eat more! get fat! you deserve a bowl of heaven!

25 March 2009

"natural food" means diddley squat

caveat emptor: you should all read the labels before buying groceries, but you should also be wary of misleading ones, like "organic" (vs. "certified organic" -- all grown foods are organic, otherwise they wouldn't grow) and "natural food" vs. "man-made" (i don't think there's food ever labelled "man-made").