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Summer Salad! Now with more bacon!

What you need:

  • 8 strips of delicious delicious bacon
  • 1 avocado
  • corn (2 fresh cobs or 1 can)
  • 1 – 2 tbsp lemon juice

Optional

  • 1/2c edamame
  • 1/2c quinoa
  • 1/2c red peppers

What to do:

If using fresh corn, cook up that first (either boil it for 8 minutes or cook on a BBQ/in the oven), and then cut the kernels off. Fry up that bacon in a pan until crispy. I like my bacon really crispy, so I leave it in until it’s it’s got a pretty solid crunch. When ready, take out the bacon and crumble into small pieces. Remove all but 1-2 tsp of oil out of the pan, and then drop in the corn. Add in the lemon juice, and some salt & pepper to taste if you want. Once it’s all warm, turn off the heat.

Pit the avocado and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Drop that in with the bacon, and then add in the corn and any other ingredients you’d like. Gently toss (try not to break down the avocado), and serve. Mmmm bacon.

Currywurst Sauce

I’ve craved this for over a year after returning home from a month-long Germany trip. I tried simply adding curry powder to ketchup (a terrible idea that I don’t recommend), and I paid some painful prices for currywurst at the annual German Christmas Market so I could have a little taste.

Finally, I decided to google it, and lo and behold, the recipe is actually really simple. And it’s so delicious. Thank you internet!

What you’ll need
1 onion, minced
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp paprika
2 cups canned and peeled tomatoes, crushed
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar

What to do
Heat a tbsp of oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add in the onions and cook until tender (10 minutes). Add in the curry powder and paprika and mix well. add in the tomatoes (with juices), and then the sugar and vinegar. Let simmer for another 20 as it reduces. Serve with some sausages and store up the rest.

Recipe taken from Saveur.

Notes
It helps if you can purée the onions before-hand – it helps make the sauce a lot smoother and spreads the powders through more evenly.
I didn’t have red wine vinegar, so I used rice wine vinegar, which worked just as well.

Cream of mushroom soup

What you need:
1 lb of mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1.5 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk (or soy milk)
4 tbsp of butter
2 tbsp of flour
salt and pepper to taste

What to do:
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in medium-sized pot and sweat garlic and onions. Add in mushrooms and broth until softened, about 10 minutes. Purée vegetables with hand blender until slightly chunky (or more, if you like creamier). Allow the vegetables to simmer to reduce.

In a separate pot, melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter on low heat and whisk in flour to create a roux. Add in milk slowly to create the cream base, ensuring there are no lumps. Add in mushroom purée and reduce until desired thickness is achieved. Add salt and pepper as needed.

adapted from allrecipes.com

Chinese chicken with mushrooms

What you need
1 small handful of wood mushrooms
6 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked
1 chunk of ginger (about the length of a thumb knuckle), sliced thinly
4 chicken thighs, deboned
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp sugar
vegetable oil

What to do:
Marinate chicken with corn starch, soya sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar. Let sit for 20 minutes. Halve the shiitake mushrooms. Boil the wood ear mushrooms for approximately 15 minutes to remove any vinegar taste.

Steamed:
Add shiitake and the wood ear mushrooms into the chicken mix with a little bit of oil. Steam the dish for approximately 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.

Stirfried:
Add sliced ginger to the marinated chicken and then stirfry in a wok. Add mushrooms a bit of chicken broth, and then cover and simmer for another 10 minutes. Thicken if necessary with corn starch and water. Could also add a dash of shaoxing wine if you have it on hand!

Easy carrot ginger soup

What you need:
1 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1-2 large soup carrots (or 4-5 regular-sized ones), diced
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 cups chicken stock

What to do:
Melt the butter in a medium-sized heavy-bottom pot. Add in the onions, garlic and carrots to soften them for about 5 minutes on medium heat (don’t let them brown!). Add chicken stock and ginger, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes until carrots are soft. Blend up the ingredients into a smooth soup. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Cookery!

I always have trouble focusing on things. Not like, a short term “ooh look, something shiny” sorta deal (although that’s been known to happen too), but more like: I’ll look at my vacation for the year and say “I should go somewhere”, and then I begin to look at my finances, and I’ll say “I need to stop spending so much”, and then I’ll look at my credit card receipts and say “I’m going to learn to cook more”. And now that I’m cooking more, I’ve completely forgot about planning a vacation.

Which reminds me, I need to plan a vacation.

But in the meantime, I’ve been trying to utilize my kitchen a lot more. I’m really inspired by Smitten Kitchen (omg, I tried to type in a href tag and almost forgot how). Smitten Kitchen is a blog for a lovely lady who has a tiny tiny kitchen in New York where she feeds her family of 3. I suspect her kitchen might be smaller than mine (I know, crazy right?) because her oven size seems to be smaller than mine. But I don’t use my oven anyways, since it’s mainly used to store pots and pans.

Anyways, I stumbled on her blog and thought that if she could be happy in her tiny kitchen, then I can do the same. I used to complain that I couldn’t cook anything decent because my kitchen was too small. But then I bought a kitchen cart with a butcher block top and I’ve been so happy with it. I think the one thing I complain about now is being unable to host people because we live in a really small bachelors pad. Le sigh.

I started with something small when green beans were in season:

And from there I started to make some easy recipes.
Some worked:

And some didn’t:

But I’m still excited and determined to develop some serious cooking skills. New goal: Cook 20 new things this month. So far I’ve made:

  1. strawberry meringue cake
  2. egg custard
  3. sausage & broccoli in a garlic alfredo cream sauce
  4. broccoli soup
  5. spicy stir-fried green beans
  6. garlic soup
  7. japchae
  8. chinese stir-fried spot prawns
  9. lobster thermidor

To see the dishes, click here!

11 more dishes to go!

I know what you’re thinking, only 20 dishes? Well, I’m making a visit back home this month, so I figured 20 is a realistic number. I had originally put 30 down, but I didn’t want to be disappointed if I didn’t make my goal, especially since this is supposed to be a fun learning experience for me. :)

Beefy Beef Noodle House

After watching the Wheelchair Curling semi-finals, my friends and I wandered down to Main Street to see what lunch options awaited us. Someone had mentioned that there was a No. 1 Noodle House that had opened up at Main and King Edward, and we all eagerly went in search for some Taiwanese beef noodle soup to warm us up. When we arrived, John and I were surprised to see that the restaurant was in fact Beefy Beef Noodle House, a place we had made fun of previously while wandering Main because of it’s strange name and the fact that the sign above the restaurant literally read “Beefy Beef Noodle House: Salty Peppery Chicken”. But the restaurant inside was actually quite nicely decorated – very similar to the No. 1 in Burnaby. I was extremely pleased about this connection, since I love the salty peppery chicken, and thus declared my lunch order without hesitation before we even got our table. We had a great waitress who knew all the items on the menu, so when I said “A10″, she repeated back to me what the item was. We then tested her knowledge with all our orders and only stumped her once.

A10 - $7.25

The Crispy Salty Peppery Chicken and Noodle in Soup is a delicious dish for anyone looking for some deep fried goodness. The noodles comes in a clear broth that is a perfect complement to the chicken, although I required plenty of water to even out the MSG.

A01 - $6.95

The beef brisket noodle in soup is also a regular item at the Noodle House, so J went with his favourite choice. I say the food here is very comparable to its sister restaurant – the beef was delicious and the soup was very thick and flavourful. and actually enjoy it here a little bit better since there’s much more seating room and a lot less noisy. My friend C and I decided to split a five spice beef in Chinese pancake as well.

F02 - $5.50

This was quite good as well – I’m never a fan of raw green onions so I had to pick out the ones in the middle since the roll otherwise is too strong for me, but the whole pancake had just the right amount of sauce and held together quite well. I do wish the pancake itself was a bit more crispy though. Overall, I’m happy I finally got to try this place since the other location is much further away from me and not as easily accessible by transit. And since I always crave crispy salty peppery chicken, I have a feeling I’ll be heading back here a few times in the near future. Now to find a good place that makes deep fried squid tentacles close to the downtown core. Mmmm…

Beefy Beef Noodle House
http://www.jpnoodle.com

4063 Main Street, Vancouver
(604) 568-6821

Sun to Thu 11:00am – 12:00am
Fri to Sat 11:00am – 2:00am

Shizenya

The other day I had a craving for sushi, so I decided to try a Japanese restaurant that recently opened up. They boast a healthier option to Japanese food with organic greens, no additives, all their rolls being made from brown rice and being MSG free. I ordered take out from their little restaurant, but the interior looks like a cozy place to enjoy some lunch with friends.

Seating interior at Shizenya

They also have seasonal speciality menu items (mangoes are currently readily available in most groceries stores as they’re now in season in Mexico).

Daily specials at Shizenya

As I was going to bring the food home to eat, I requested no chopsticks and no soya sauce – my kitchen is stocked with both those items and I always try to avoid getting more of them. I eagerly took my sushi home, and opened up the bag. As I normally order my take-out sushi from Samurai, I’m very pleased they Shizenya doesn’t use styrofoam packaging.

Takeout Packaging at Shizenya

I was pretty hesitant about brown-rice rolls, but they were all extremely delicious. The Sakura Blossom, one of Shizenya’s speciality rolls, features fresh crab (with mayo), spicy albacore tuna, cucumber and avacado wrapped up with wild sockeye salmon. It comes with some salad in the middle and is all drizzled with a creamy maple dressing. This roll was amazing! The fresh crab meat was a delight, and the spicy tuna really added a lot of flavour to the roll – and the salad dressing kept everything in check. I loved it!

Sakura Blossom Roll - Ingredients

Sakura Blossom Roll - $12.95/10pc

The simpler rolls are very reasonably priced at Shizenya. I also ordered a Dynamite Roll and a Wild Samon and Avocado Roll. The tempura was not fresh out of the fryer, but the roll itself still had a bit of crunch to it, and overall it was quite flavourful but it had a bit too much rice. The salmon and avocado roll was a delight – the seaweed was perfect and the salmon was delicious.

Dynamite Roll - $4.45/6pcs

Salmon & Avocado Roll - $2.95/6pcs

Overall, the food here was really quite good for a Japanese restaurant using brown rice. They also have a few other items that I’m hoping to try the next time I go back, including the wild sockeye salmon tataki salad ($9.95) and the Natural Bomber Roll ($11.95/10pcs) – tiger prawn tempura, fresh crab, and organic spring mix topped with avacado.

Shizenya
http://www.shizenya.ca

985 Hornby Street, Vancouver
(604) 568-0013

Mon to Fri 11:30am – 8:00pm
Sat to Sun 11:30am – 6:00pm

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