Monday, April 30, 2012

Clam & Salmon Chowder

The other week I was lamenting on Facebook how difficult it is to live on a $50/week food budget, and one of my friends told me about two blogs she regularly uses that are focused on creating cheaper dishes for those on tight budgets.  I could live on $50/week if I wasn't buying baking ingredients all the time, though, but that's besides the point.  I'm not going without baking ingredients.  I am realizing how lucky I was in Rossland that my dad regularly contributed baking ingredients to my pantry since I baked things for him, too.  Ah well.  I do my best, and usually I succeed.

Anyway!  The two blogs I mentioned are Budget Bytes and Poor Girl Eats Well.  Budget Bytes is particularly interesting because the author does a comprehensive breakdown of her ingredient prices to get an accurate price per serving amount.  This inspired me to do some of my own calculating, just for interest's sake.

The other night I made a salmon and clam chowder for dinner.  The story behind the salmon is that I saw a package of ground salmon in the grocery store that looked perfect for a salmon burger.  But when I got it home to make the burger, I saw that the meat had not been ground properly and that is was in long thin shreds.  So froze it for a later use and decided to stick it into some clam chowder.

So here is what I used, the prices, and then the price per serving.  I got 8 servings out of this recipe and put half of it into containers for freezing.

2 cans clams @ $1.67 each = $3.34
half of one container of 10% cream = $0.86
carrots = $0.37
potatoes = $0.76
6 slices bacon (17 slices/package at $4.97/package = $0.29/slice) = $1.74
1 cup of whipping cream left over from another recipe = $1.39
fresh thyme left over from another recipe = $2 (approx.)
salmon = $2.79 (approx. - I didn't keep the receipt for this as I bought it a few weeks before I started keeping track, but this is what I remember it to be approximately)

total cost of chowder = $13.25
8 servings = $1.65/serving

Not bad, eh?  There is room for improvement, though.  But not bad at all.  And the chowder was good!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

T&T Takeout

The other day I was having one of those days where I was really, really hungry but didn't fancy anything in particular.  My appetite does this to me once in a while.  I was also out and about deep in the bowels of Surrey and knew I didn't have anything at home to cook since I hadn't had the energy to hike around to do my grocery shopping.  So, I decided to go and get some fast food.  But not at a fast food joint!  The only fast food I will partake in is Subway or Quizno's and I didn't know where either was located when I got the skytrain station at Surrey Central.  But I knew that at the big T&T Supermarket there they would have a lot of really tasty Chinese food on offer, since that location had a huge "hot deli" as they call it, plus sushi, plus other stuff.  It's always very busy.

After pondering all the options, which was very overwhelming, I went with the "hot deli", where they offer a very reasonable 3 dishes for $6.29.  When I ordered, the lady asked me if I wanted steamed rice, and I said sure.  Why not?  But when I saw the portions of the dishes I chose, I went with the 2 dish option for $5.49 since the rice was rather a lot.

I chose sweet & sour pork and a mushroom medley with veggies thingy.

The pork was very good.  Unlike a lot of very westernized Chinese place, this wasn't covered in a thick batter, just a very thin coating of something something.  It also was not a goopy sauce of fake neon red.  The pork was very tender and there were lots of peppers and pineapples in it.  The mushroom dish was outstanding.  Mainly consisting of shitake mushrooms - which I love! - it also had in it regular mushrooms, some baby corn, a tiny bit of onion and cabbage, and a nice, woodsy, mushroomy sauce.  This was a fantastic meal that totally hit the spot.  For the price I was very happy with everything.

This take-out thing might become a habit.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Brunch at White Spot

Saturday was the first nice day that fell on a weekend in a long time, so my roommate and I decided to go for a hike.  But we wanted to eat first and opted to go to one of our go-to places for cheap but cheerful food: White Spot.

I have said here before that I love White Spot.  They do great burgers and milkshakes and they do a decent Eggs Benny.  Since it was brunch and I wanted something hearty, I went directly to the brunch menu, pretty sure that I would order the Eggs Benny.  But then something caught my eye: the Santa Fe Breakfast Burrito.  The menu indicated that this was a new item, and here is how it's described on the menu and web site:

Your choice of fresh chicken breast or tender Canadian pulled pork, scrambled Omega 3 eggs, cheese, sautéed tomatoes and green peppers wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla. Served with our trio of sauces – avocado salsa, tomato salsa, cilantro sour cream and red nugget Smashbrowns™.

You know what, I said to myself, let's try something different for once!  So I ordered the burrito and waited with anticipation.

When my plate came, I was underwhelmed by the appearance of the burrito.  Here it is:

 Granted this isn't the greatest shot in the world (the lighting in restaurants in general is suckage and often pics come out crappy-looking), but am I crazy or is this not the most un-exciting dish you've ever seen?  I thought it was very plain and colourless.  I had thought that perhaps there would be cheese and/or sauce ON TOP of the burrito, or something to bring a little life and colour to the dish.  There was not.

The flavour of the dish was also very underwhelming.  Though there were onions & peppers in the filling, the innards of the burrito were poorly seasoned and bland.  It could have used something like a bunch of chili powder, or something flavourful.  Instead, there were the veggies, the chicken strips, the scrambled eggs, a tiny bit of cheese (this whole dish needed way more cheese in general!)  The salsa on the side was a great help; I just wished there was salsa or something inside the burrito.  The corn & avocado salsa was just OK - I'm not a fan of corn off the cob.  But even the salsa didn't have enough kick to it and the sour cream was pretty useless.

I must also say that this is the second or third time I've had these newfandangled red nugget "smashbrowns."  They are not very good!  In fact, they are very boring!  I would much, much rather have had a traditional hashbrown.

So, this was a disappointing meal.  And I'm disappointed that I'm disappointed.  Usually, White Spot is a sure bet - which is why I keep going there - but taking the risk this time and having something new just didn't pay off.  I'll be back to Eggs Benny or a burger the next time I go for brunch.

BTW, my roommate T had the chipotle chicken wrap and she really enjoyed it.  It's one of her faves.  Here it is:

I kept wishing during my meal that I'd ordered the same!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cooking with Betty Crackpot: Chocolate Chip Cookies

It was only a matter of time before I made this recipe as part of this series.  I've been making this very cookie recipe since I was a kid and to this day I still think it's the best.  This was the first recipe I ever experimented with, replacing one of the fats with peanut butter to get a wonderful peanut butter chocolate chip cookie, and the summer I turned 16 I made a huge batch of these to take to a camp I was working at for the summer to share with the staff for break time.  That was when my mom declared "you have these down to a science!"  I had the exact timing down pat - 17 minutes (we were at high altitude) to the perfect cookie.

A couple of notes, though.  First, I never bake anything with chocolate over 350F, and this recipe says to bake at 375F.  Also, the original recipe says this makes about 7 dozen cookies and I have never, ever gotten that many out of it!  When I made these the other night, I got about 3 dozen.  To get 7 dozen out of this you'd have to make very tiny cookies.  And this time I did use shortening, even though I don't believe in baking with it, but I had some on hand and it was already softened so I thought, what the hell.

Chocolate Chip Cookies, from Cooking with Betty Crocker, page 136

2/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup butter or margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup chopped nuts
2 packages (6 oz each) chocolate chips (I used about 1 1/2 cups)

Heat oven.  Mix thoroughly fats, sugars, eggs and vanilla.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  (The original recipe says here "for a softer, rounder cookie, add 1/2 cup flour" - I have never needed to do this.)

Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2" apart onto baking sheet.  Bake 8 - 10 minutes or until light brown.  Cool slightly before removing from baking sheet.

YUM!  So, so good, and again, very nostalgic for me.  These did not last long in this house, I can tell you that!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Pizza Dough/Foccacia/Bread Dough

Instead of ordering pizza while in Seattle, Jodi made a homemade pizza dough and we made individual pizzas for dinner one night.  There was a hunk of leftover dough, so we did something else with it another night.  But first, let me share the dough recipe because it's quite honestly one of the best homemade ones I've had.  The original recipe came from Jodi's copy of The Food of Southern Italy by Carlo Middione.

Basic Bread Dough For Making Homemade Italian-Style Bread, Pizza, and Focaccia (page 47 of The Food of Southern Italy)

2/3 cup warm water, not over 100F
1 1/2 tsp yeast, fresh or dry
3/4 tsp salt
2 cups bread flour
3 tbsp olive oil (added to the warm water)

The book has about three pages of directions, which I'm not going to go through.  Check out my bread baking tutorial instead!  The original recipe does say that this can be easily doubled or tripled.

For extra special flavour and a great aroma, Jodi adds garlic powder to the recipe.  This comes out light and airy and crisp, with big air bubbles reminiscent of ciabatta bread. 

Here are the pizzas we made!

Jodi's pizza

My pizza

As I mentioned, the third portion of dough was saved and refrigerated for another use.  So the next night, Jodi made an amazing garlic cheese bread with it.  OMG!  So good!

I'll be keeping this dough recipe handy for future pizza nights in my own house!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Russian Iced Tea

This is another Jodi recipe, and I drank a lot of this stuff on my recent visit to Seattle.  This is a drink Jodi remembers from her childhood, but could never quite reproduce on her own, until she was at a bake sale at a local Russian Orthodox church, where the mixture was being sold.  She tasted, she thought about it, and now she has successfully recreated it at home.

Here is the recipe.

Russian Iced Tea

2 parts Tang
1 part sweetened lemon instant tea
1 part unsweetened non-lemon instant tea
1 part super fine sugar
ground cloves (Jodi says "not sure what a ratio here would be, I think I used about a teaspoon in a giant batch")
This is really delicious and the cloves really make the flavour unique and outstanding.  I also love burnt orange colour of the drink.  I'm not sure how I'll replicate this at home without access to unsweetened iced tea powder, which is something I've never seen before.  But I wonder if I could brew regular black tea and add the rest of the stuff into it to get a similar result.  Summer is around the corner and I am looking forward to experimenting!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Lunch at Broadway Station Sushi

This week my friend Barb was in town, and she and I and another friend got together for lunch on Tuesday. The consensus was that sushi was in order (all of us being sushi fans) and our friend, who lives and works near Broadway and Commercial in Vancouver, suggested Broadway Station Sushi (1638 E. Broadway), where she'd had a good experience before.

We met at 1pm and the place was quite busy. But we had hit the tail end of the lunch rush so the place emptied out quite quickly. It took us a while to order because we were all chatty as we hadn't seen each other in about a month. Eventually we decided.

I had two rolls, the Jumbo Dynamite and the Salmon & Avocado. Barb ordered the Spider Roll and the Sunshine Roll. Our friend ordered the Spicy Combo. This restaurant makes sushi with brown rice if you request it, and both of my friends did, but I stuck with regular white rice.

My combo.

Spicy combo with brown rice.

Spider roll - excellent. I tried it and loved it.

Sunshine roll. I believe it had smoked salmon in it and I think the topping was a seaweed thingy. It was also very good.

Great meal! I now have another Vancouver sushi place to add to my list to return to!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Cooking with Betty Crackpot: Kitty Cat Cake!

Growing up with my mom's Betty Crocker cookbook from 1969 was a key element in creating my love for baking and cooking, and I've mentioned before on this blog how, as a kid, I just used to love to curl up with the book and look at the cake pictures. To a child, they looked marvelous. To me as a woman pushing 40, they look quite amateurish, but they still have a lot of charm to them. The cat cake (instructions on page 116) always tickled my fancy, and my mom and I did make it together. I don't have any photos of it, but I remember my mom using yellow smarties for the eyes and snipping lengths of black licorice for the whiskers. I did find a picture of the Betty Crocker version of the cake online, so that's what you see to the right.

Last weekend, while at Jodi's, Jodi decided it was high time to indulge in her own cat cake dreams and make the the cake herself, which she didn't have the joy of making as a child. She used the Silver White Cake recipe from page 94, and the recipe for that is HERE. The cake came out great; it's indeed very white and just like the Dinette Cake, it was fluffy and moist and plain awesome.

And now, let me present to you, Jodi's Kitty Cat Cake! She used Dots candy for the eyes and paws and piped on the whiskers with melted chocolate.

Cute, eh? The frosting is Betty's Chocolate Butter Frosting from page 125.

Betty Crocker's Chocolate Butter Frosting (page 125 of the 1969 edition)

⅓ cup soft butter or margarine
2 ounces melted unsweetened chocolate (cool)
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
About 2 tablespoons milk

Mix thoroughly butter and cooled chocolate. Blend in sugar. Stir in vanilla and milk; beat until frosting is smooth and of spreading consistency.

Fills and frosts two 8- or 9-inch layers or frosts a 13x9-inch cake.

There was just enough frosting for the cat cake.

There you go! Another Betty Crackpot success!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Amtrak Snack

So, it's been a while. It wasn't my intention to let the blog go for this long again, but stuff happens. I've been unwell, I went away for a few days, blahx3. But I'm back, and I have new content plans for the days to come. I spent 3 days in Seattle with Jodi, which of course meant a lot of great food, so you'll be hearing all about that.

In the meantime, while I get my act together, here are some visuals of what Amtrak has to offer in terms of food on their Cascades trip between Seattle and Vancouver. Last weekend was the third time I've taken this trip, but the first in which I've taken advantage of the dining car. Surprisingly, the menu was quite varied (chicken teriyaki bowl, enchilada bowl, lasagna with meat sauce, mac & cheese) and not outrageously expensive the way airplane food is. However, I kept it simple. I had chowder, a sandwich, and a drink, which came to $13.75.

The chowder was piping hot and very good! For a commercially made chowder, I was quite impressed! Very creamy, lots of clams, decent potato amount, and not overly salty like other commercially made chowders I could mention. The sandwich was a bust though; soggy as hell and not very fresh. The lettuce was toast as was the tomato. I wound up eating mostly the meat and cheese. Next time, I'll order something else to go along with my chowder.

In the end, I learned that the dining car is a good option if I can't pack my own lunch. I had been avoiding it, assuming the prices were outrageous. And while not super cheap, it wasn't like some of the overpriced slop I've been served on airplanes.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Flourless Chocolate Truffle Cake

I mentioned this dessert in yesterday's post, saying that it was our finale to quite the slap-up Easter dinner. Here is a shot of said Easter dinner! The T-bones were courtesy my roommate, T.

Now, onto dessert. The April issue of Canadian Living was just chock full of recipes I bookmarked. The beef bulgogi was one of them, in fact. This chocolate cake was part of the Passover menu in that issue, and I knew upon seeing it that this was destined to be a product of my kitchen sooner than later.

The recipe is HERE.

The results were stupendous. So stupendous, in fact, there just aren't words. This was rich, fudgey, decadent, and just plain fabulicious. It was so fabulicious it's ridiculously ridiculous.

It was easy to make, too, so there is a huge gratification factor for not a lot effort, too. The only minor issue I had was that the topping used water in it instead of cream. I suspect this has something to do with Jewish kosher rules, but if you're not worried about that, I'd make this with cream instead of water. This is because water does not mix with fat well, and there is butter and chocolate in this topping, and they didn't combine well. The butter kind of separated and left buttery streaks through the top. Flavour-wise, the topping was smashing (I upped the instant espresso powder a bit), but when - WHEN not IF - I make this again, I'll make the topping with cream.

T and I were over the moon with this, and since there were just two of us last night, there are plenty of leftovers. Yay!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Cooking with Betty Crackpot: Scalloped Potatoes

This is my first time making scalloped potatoes, which is kind of pathetic at my age. I love this classic side dish, but for some reason it always seemed like too much for one person. Now that I live with two other people, maybe I'll make them more often. I decided to make them for tonight's Easter dinner, which was not ham. My roommate sprung for gigantic T-bone steaks, which we had with roasted asparagus and a decadent flourless chocolate cake that I'll get to in a future post.

Betty has two scalloped potato recipes, this one and a creamy version, for which you make a white sauce. This one below seemed simpler to make and it's what I recall my mom making. Mom used to, I believe, slice the potatoes in a food processor. I did mine by hand, and I also didn't peel the potatoes first since I like the peels and that's where most of the nutrients are.

Scalloped Potatoes, Betty Crocker's Cookbook, page 435

2 lbs potatoes (about 6 medium)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 1/2 cups milk

Heat oven to 350F. Wash potatoes; pare thinly and remove eyes. Cut potatoes into thin slices to measure about 4 cups.

In greased 2 quart casserole, arrange potatoes in 4 layers, sprinkling each of the first 3 layers with 1 tbsp onion, 1 tbsp flour, 1/4 tsp salt, dash pepper, and dotting each with 1 tbsp of butter. Sprinkle top with remaining onion, salt and pepper, and dot with remaining butter. Heat milk to just scalding; pour over potatoes. Cover; bake 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 60 to 70 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender. let stand 5 - 10 minutes before serving. 4 - 6 servings.

I also didn't finely chop any onion; rather, I did it my mom's way and finely sliced a whole small onion and added it to the layers of potato. I didn't get 4 layers out of mine, but only 3, probably because I used a slightly smaller casserole dish than what was called for. Also, I specially went and bought homo milk (3.25%) for this recipe as I was pretty sure my usual 1% wouldn't work so well.

I baked the dish on a cookie sheet lined with one of my silicone baking mats, and that was a good call because there was some overflow during the baking process. The top layer of potatoes got a little dry & crisp, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

The verdict: delicious and successful! I will definitely make this again because it was really good. I don't know why I put this off as long as I did!

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Bagels Redux

I was nearing the end of my last batch of bagels, so this weekend I decided to make some more. I am determined to become a bagel-making queen! Again I used Rose Levy Beranbaum's recipe from The Bread Bible, but I did a few things differently this time.

  • I made 12 bagels from the recipe instead of 10. This worked very well and I was very happy with the size this batch came out as
  • I reduced the black pepper to 1/2 tsp instead of a full tsp. The last batch was too peppery. I might forgo the pepper altogether next time
  • I used a whole egg for egg wash instead of just the whites. Not a big change, but it worked just as well
  • most notably, I boiled the bagels for a longer time than I did previously. This, I think, was key in making them nice and chewy
  • I baked them at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time
  • I did half with sesame seed topping and half with coarse salt
I still need a lot of practice portioning and shaping the bagels. One of the reasons I decided to go with 12 bagels over 10 is that it was easier for me to eyeball the portions, but even with this change I had different-sized bagels. What I might do next time is weigh the dough out before portioning and divide the weight by 12 so I'll get the most consistent size. Shaping is still an issue, though it was better this time than it was before. Rolling ropes of dough, or making holes in dough like this, is not one of my fortés.

So, things are coming along. These should last me over 2 weeks, so I'll make more then.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Cooking with Kylie: Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce

So, I needed a break from bok choy after the caterpillar incident last week, and I went back to Simple Chinese Cooking to find another veggie dish try. Now that I have easy access to a Chinese grocery store, I made a list of veggies Kylie cooks with in the veggie chapter of the book and went to the grocery store to look for them. I found gai choy, AKA Chinese mustard greens, but because I'm not a fan of mustard I kind of didn't want to risk it. Luckily, there was gai lan, AKA Chinese broccoli, in abundance. There were actually two kinds and it looked very similar to another choy of some kind, so I asked a produce staff member to A) help me pick the right veggie and B) explain to me the difference between the two types of gai lan.

The difference, apart from 30¢ in price, is that one gai lan was younger than the other gai lan, and the younger one would be more tender and less fibrous. That is the one I went with. It was $1.99/lb.

The method for this recipe is exactly the same as the method for the bok choy recipe.

Chinese Broccoli (gai lan) with Oyster Sauce, from Kylie Kwong's Simple Chinese Cooking, page 194

1 bunch Chinese broccoli
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp oyster sauce
dash sesame oil
1 tbsp peanut oil

1. Trim 5cm/2" from ends of broccoli, cut bunch crossways into 3 lengths, and wash thoroughly.

2. Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Stir in vegetable oil, add broccoli and simmer until bright green & tender - about 1 minute. Using tongs, immediately remove broccoli from water and place on platter. Drizzle with oyster sauce and sesame oil.

3. Heat peanut oil in small frying pan until moderately hot and carefully pour over broccoli. Serve immediately.

OK, I skipped step 3 all together because I don't do peanut oil, and I didn't bother adding any vegetable oil to the boiling water.

Chinese broccoli is very similar to broccoli rabe, but is only mildly broccoli-flavoured. I made this for my roommate and I tonight, and we both liked it. This is a completely new vegetable for me, and I think it's a keeper (providing I don't find any caterpillars in it). I told the produce guy I spoke to earlier that I might put it in soup, but the look on his face said that was a no-no. He told me they don't usually put it in soup, but rather stir fry it or boil it. Well, I might just add it to soup - probably some Mama noodles - anyway. But, whatever, this was another good side dish to add to my repertoire. Go Kylie!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Pasta with Roasted Tomato & Garlic

There is a lot to be said for convenience foods. They are, well, convenient. I don't really have a lot of convenience food around because I prefer not to spend the money on them, but there are times when they certainly would be handy.

Last night, I got home late from an appointment that went overtime, and when I got in the door it was 7pm and I was famished. But, lacking frozen perogies, KD, and hot dogs, I went with my original plan for dinner, pasta with roasted tomatoes & garlic.

It took forever to cook and I didn't get to eat until well after Survivor was over!

But it was worth it.

Recipe HERE (scroll down a little).

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

New Series: Cooking with Betty Crackpot

I was having a bad day today, but it wasn't a complete write-off because I came up with a new idea, a series for this blog based on recipes from my mom's 1969 copy of Betty Crocker's Cookbook. I've mentioned several times here that I grew up with this book and that it was partially responsible for my wanting to become a baker. Last fall, I was on holiday in PEI, where my mom lives, and I asked her if she still had the book, and she did! It's a little worse for wear - the spine is missing and the binding is falling apart, and it's stained and dog-eared and definitely "well-loved" - and after not very much convincing at all, Mom let me take the book home with me.

Growing up, my mom always wittily referred to Betty Crocker as Betty Crackpot, and it stuck with me (why wouldn't it?), so that's why I'm going with it for the title of the new series. This book has everything under the sun in it, and the food styling is absolutely horrendous by contemporary standards. My aim is to reacquaint myself with some childhood favourites for nostalgia purposes, as well as try out some new old funky stuff that might be good - or not. I also aim to entertain! I'll try to stay as true as possible to the original recipes, except I will not be using any vegetable shortening and I'll probably cut down on the fat a bit because, man, some of these recipes are decidedly not healthy. Then there will be things I can't find because maybe they don't make them anymore. I should be interesting, and it should be fun.

First up, something not very unusual or unattractive Dinette Cake, found on page 97. I believe this is the batter we made when I first used my Easy Bake Oven when I was very young. It's a very simple recipe, but the method of beating the crap out of the batter seemed counter-intuitive to me. But nonetheless, I beat the batter as the directions stated.

Dinette Cake, Betty Crocker's Cookbook, page 97

1 ½ cups cake flour or 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup milk
⅓ cup shortening
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour square pan, 8x8x2 or 9x9x2 inches. Measure all ingredients into large mixer bowl. Blend ½ minute on low speed, scraping bowl constantly. Beat 3 minutes high speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool.

The original recipe suggests Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting or Coconut Broiled Topping.

I chose no topping because I have homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream on hand!

As you can see there are some darker brown spots on the surface of the cake; this is because there were a lot of air bubbles in it as it baked. I used an 8x8" pan.

And the finished product:

The verdict: OMG, so awesome! I could have eaten the whole thing on my own. The texture was amazing, the flavour was amazing...The beating of the batter didn't seem to harm the texture of the cake, which was good. Such a simple recipe with such a super result. And the scent of it really brought back memories...Yum!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Adventures in Ramen

First of all, I have to share this with you. I bought more baby bok choy for super cheap at T&T last week, and as I was cutting it and cleaning it to put in this soup I'm about to tell you about, I came across a nice little surprise:

Yes, it's a nice juicy caterpillar! It was dead. But it totally grossed me out to the point where I had to chuck out the rest of the head.

Anyway, on this trip to T&T (I went to the bigger store at Surrey Central), in addition to buying bok choy, I wanted some soup. I love ramen. I know I should not, but there you go. There is a TON of ramen and ramen-like instant noodle packages at T&T it's almost ridiculous. I hardly knew what to choose because I wasn't used to any of the brands other that Sapporo Ichiban, and that was 99¢/package and there was stuff there that was way cheaper. I went for some that was 39¢/package, made by this company from Thailand. The noodles are called Mama something, the something being in the Thai language that I obviously don't read. But this is basically the deal:

Inside the package with the noodles were 3 seasoning packs. One was a powder, one was a paste, and one was marked chili powder. The paste had a shrimpy scent to it, which made sense because it was a package of shrimp-flavoured noodles. I tossed the chili powder.

This is the soup I made, with shrimp and caterpillar-free bok choy:

I will never buy Sapporo Ichiban again! This was great. There was a bit of heat in it, and it did not have a salty fake taste to it like other ramen. This tasted like a more "authentic-ish" broth. The noodles were better, too.

And at 39¢ you can't go wrong, really. I have two more packages in the pantry, one is chicken.

And I think I'll be giving bok choy a break for a while...

Monday, April 02, 2012

Cream Egg Brownies

Here is another Pinterest find that I couldn't resist. I do loves me a Cadbury Cream Egg around Easter time, though I prefer the mini eggs because they're less sweet. I thought this brownie idea was pretty fracking brilliant. And I had all the ingredients on hand, so that was cool, too. Thanks to my roommate T for having a huge bag of milk chocolate chips on hand!

The original recipe is HERE.

Here is my product:
I had one issue with the recipe and that was the filling: 1/4 cup of corn syrup wasn't enough moisture to absorb all the icing sugar, so I had to add some whipping cream to it to loosen it up.

I don't have any yellow food colouring at the moment, so I didn't bother tinting part of the filling.

These were a huge hit with my roommate, who claimed they were better than a cream egg. This recipe has been kid-tested and approved, too, by my young roommate, R, and her friend who was over playing when I made these.

Definite keeper of a recipe!

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Lunch at Big Ridge Brewing Co.

Yesterday I got together with my brother and SIL for an afternoon of shopping and a late lunch. My SIL was craving a burger and my brother and I were fine with that, but we couldn't agree on where to go. We were at Guildford Centre so there was lots to choose from. I was all for White Spot, but they both shot that down. My brother wanted to go to Red Robin but my SIL wasn't into that. I was at a loss, so I called my roommate and asked her what she recommended. Then my SIL remembered a pub she'd eaten at located near the head office of the company she works for.

Located in south Surrey, Big Ridge Brewing Co. was the choice. Though it sported many large screen TVs showing various sporting events, I didn't feel I was in a sports bar because the dining room was very nicely decorated and was actually quite a serene space.

The menu was huge, both physically and content-wise. There was a lot of typical pub fare on there, but there was also a lot of different stuff available, most notably a large Asian section of the menu that looked really tasty. It was a tough choice for sure. Both my brother & SIL went with the burger, accompanied by fries. I wanted something lighter so I went with the grilled prawn clubhouse with a side salad. My SIL ordered onion rings as a starter.

I have to say, I'm not an onion ring connoisseur at all - I like them but I'm not ga-ga for them - but these were quite fabulous and you could tell that they were made with a homemade batter (beer, I believe) that was very light.

My brother and SIL liked the burgers a lot and I liked how they were presented with the fries in a separate cup. It reminded me of the Lunchbox Laboratory.

As for my grilled prawn club, it was good. There was an avocado mixture in it I really liked. I just think it could have used a few more prawns for the price ($13.99). But the salad was interesting, actually. It looked fairly simple, red leaf lettuce, finely diced tomatoes, a tangy vinaigrette, but the salad was studded with little green bits that looked suspiciously like capers. I hate capers. But these had been deep fried, I think, and they were great! They were little tiny bits of crispy saltiness. I loved them and I had never seen anything like that before, so I was kind of impressed with that small detail.

Would I go back? Sure, the menu was intriguing and the service was excellent.


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