Monthly Archives: October 2014

Roasted Vegetables

What do I do in the middle of the day when I am hungry?  Go to the kitchen and look for food.  Do not want crackers or cereal or chips, dry food in general, I opt to use up all the leftover vegetables to make a quick fibrous, vitamin c snack.

Ingredients

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3 Medium Potatoes,  cubed

2 Carrots, peeled and sliced 1 1/2 inches thick

2 Zucchinis, sliced 2 inches thick

3 Shallots, sliced

1 Garlic Clove, sliced

Thyme, Rosemary, Salt, Pepper, Canola Oil

How I made it

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

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2) Combine the potatoes, carrots, zucchinis, shallots and garlic on the baking sheet.  Stir in the oil, salt and pepper on the vegetables.  Mix together until evenly coated.  Evenly spread chopped up rosemary and thyme on the vegetables.  Further combine together until coated evenly.  Spread the vegetables evenly on the baking sheet.wpid-20141018_152004.jpg

3) Roast for 20-30 minutes in the preheated oven, stirring every 10 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through and browned.

wpid-20141018_155438.jpgEat fresh from the oven, or if you like to use it like a cold salad, just let it sit in room temperature and drizzle 2 tablespoon of red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar.  The vinegar adds dimension to the overall flavour of the vegetables.  This is a good midday healthy snack, if on weight loss programs or on a diet.

I am not sure why I ate at Ikea~

 

One word: typical cafeteria food that you can find in the food court or at school or at a camp.  In fact, I think the food at food court may taste better.
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It was my first time eating these Swedish meatballs ($5.75) because I was curious what the difference it had between the different cultural cuisines.  It was dry, tasteless, and just weird.  Cranberry sauce did not go well with the meatballs either.  This could just possibly be the fast food version of Swedish meatballs, I hope.  Maybe I should go to Sweden to try the authentic cuisine.  Why are flight tickets so expensive?  Why am I out of vacation days?

wpid-20141011_151346.jpgMango, Coconut Spiced crusted Tilapia ($9.75) was acceptable.  The rice was so dry and hard, similar to one-minute rice.  Vegetables lacked moisture and anyone could tell it was frozen vegetables, the staleness could be tasted.  The mango spice sauce was strong, but lacked the coconut.  Though, I liked the crispiness of the fillet, very crunchy.

I should not have expectations for the food at Ikea.  However, every time I go, there are many people at the cafeteria eating, and I questioned it.  For a fast meal, this is good enough.  But if you are looking for aromatic, mouthwatering meal, this is not the place to be at.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!  I know Thanksgiving was last weekend but I cannot hide the happiness and had to share with everyone~  What is everyone thankful for?  I am thankful for my family and friends, acquaintances, my job, living in Canada, the amazing 4 seasons weather, good health and etc.  Lastly, I like to thank all the readers who have been to my site and gave me good comments for further improvements.


This year I decided to make a turkey because everyone around me were so excited about it and were discussing recipes.

First, we bought a roasting pan that fits my oven because we bought 2 that did not fit and had to return.  It was a good deal from Canadian Tire, $8.95, taxes included.

As a first time turkey, I did not want to spend too much money on it because I am uncertain if it will taste good or not.  Turkey was purchased from Walmart, 78 cents/pound.  This 8-ish pound turkey cost me $10.  Not bad quality, at least from my first time expectation.

Leave me comments on how to improve the turkey next time.

Ingredients

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1 Whole Turkey — neck and giblets removed

4 Springs of Rosemary

4 Springs of thyme

Bunch of Basil

1/4 Cup of Butter, room temperature

4 Celery Stalks

3 Carrots

1 Onion

1 Whole Garlic

Salt and Pepper

How I Made It

Thank you Laura Vitale YouTube Channel, Cooks Illustrated Magazine online recipes and Gordon Ramsay YouTube Clip.

1) Remove neck and giblets from the cavity.  Reserve it for future uses.  I threw the bag of giblets away because it looked disgusting, but reserved the neck for soup.

2) Clean the turkey with water thoroughly. Pat dry the turkey inside out with paper towel.  This was a dirty job. It felt quite disgusting, seeing the blood water and oils leaking onto the plate or drainer.

3) Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

4) Roughly chop the carrot, celery, onion and garlic.   Place vegetables in the roasting plan.  Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and pepper and oil.   Set aside.  Remember to serve 1/4 of the vegetables to stuff inside the turkey.

5) Finely chop the herbs (2 rosemary, 2 thyme, basil).

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6) In a small bowl, combine the fresh chopped herbs, garlic, salt, and butter, mix until it’s all well combined. wpid-20141012_005716.jpg

7) Further pat dry the turkey inside out.  Sprinkle the inside cavity with salt.

8) Rub the butter mixture under the skin of the turkey and on the outside.  An opening can be found at the neck area or on the bottom of the turkey.  You find a slab of skin that you can roughly stick your hand through, or a chopstick to separate the skin from the meat.  After doing that, roll half a ball of butter and place it under the skin, then press-spread it throughout the turkey.  Remember to do it at both the breast and the bottom, for even flavours and roasted effect.  With the remaining butter spread it throughout the wings, thighs and throughout the skin of the turkey.

9) Tuck the wings under the back.  Stuff 1/4 of the chopped vegetables inside the turkey cavity, along with a couple springs of rosemary, thyme and basil.  Use a twine to tie the thighs together.

10) Poke holes on the aluminum foil to allow the turkey juices drip in the roasting tray and to prevent the turkey skin sticking on to the rack.

11) Place turkey on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan.  Remember to pour a cup of water into the pan before placing it in the oven for moisture and steam.  Pop the turkey in the oven for 30 minutes.

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10) After 30 minutes, crank the heat down to 350 degrees and roast the turkey for another 1 hour.

11) After the turkey has roasted for 1 hour, base the turkey with the butter-vegetable-turkey juices in the pan all over the turkey.  Return it to the oven for an additional hour, basing it with the juices every 15 minutes.  This will give a crispy skin and an even tone to the turkey.

12) Let the turkey sit aside for 30 to 45 minutes before carving it.wpid-20141012_182042.jpg

 

Improvements:  I can probably control the heat and time a little bit better because the turkey meat was a little dry.  I probably over-roasted it.  If I have a V-rack, I can probably turn the turkey over, to allow the spine side of the turkey to roast a bit.

As to the gravy, I collected the juices from the roasting pan.  It smelled and tasted so good.  I put it in a saucepan and used starch to thicken it.  I used a lot of starch but it was still quite thin and watery.  I tried, and I was hungry.  My patience just fell apart.  We just dipped the turkey meat in the running juices for enhanced flavours.

We learn from mistakes, right?  Practice makes perfect!


 

Here is the final result of the whole thanksgiving meal, a mixture of Western and Asian styles. We had the turkey, roasted vegetables that I put in the turkey, green salad, curry with meatballs and watercress soup ingredients. wpid-20141012_191723.jpgI originally wanted to make mashed potatoes and a mushroom risotto. The turkey took a long time and energy that I did not feel like cooking anymore.  Hence, my mother took care of the rest of the dinner.  I officially call turkey making, turkey-sitting day.  I really wanted to carve the turkey but by 7pm, everyone were hungry.  In the end, I served the turkey as a whole.  They cancut as much meat as they want to eat.  It was one great experience and a rewarding hearty meal.

4 people, we only ate 1/6 of the turkey and saved the rest for later.  We had turkey meals thereon after, for the next week and a half.  Meals consisted of turkey salad, turkey cheese sandwiches, turkey noodles, turkey fried rice, turkey and corn soup.  My mother even said, this turkey has served us well and a great deal!  So by saying that, I think she was impressed by it~  I think I started a new tradition in the family. ^_____^

Homemade Tomato Sauce

For many years, our family has been purchasing canned tomato sauce from the grocery stores to make our pasta.  And for the same amount of years, my mom complains how the sauce is always so salty, too sour, too much preservatives or MSG and heavy.  Overall, she does not find it natural.

Furthermore, cases of tomatoes have been bought at the supermarket because it is much cheaper to do so.  We have been eating tomatoes the way it is, or cook it with everything.  I love tomatoes but the Asian way of cooking tomato is quite bland and is always stir fry with some other ingredients.  Meanwhile, we also worry that the tomatoes will be spoiled before we can even finish it.  Therefore, I did a lot of sauce research and made a fresh tomato sauce.

Ingredients

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6 pounds ripe tomatoes

5 garlic cloves

1/2 an onion

5 tablespoons vegetable oil (I did not use olive oil because when heated, it can cause cancer)

Coarse salt (to taste)

Instruction

wpid-20140911_222936.jpg1) Peel the tomatoes: Bring a pot of water over medium heat. Fill a bowl with cold water.  Slice a shallow “X” in the bottom of each tomato.  Insert tomatoes into the hot water.  Cook until you see the skin starting to wrinkle and split, 45 to 60 seconds.  Lift the tomatoes out with the slotted spoon and plunge them into the ice water.  As they cool, use a paring knife to strip the skins from the tomatoes.  Discard the water used to boil the tomatoes.

2) Coarsely chop the tomatoes, onions and garlic cloves, for a chunky texture, which I prefer.  If a smoother sauce is desired, run the ingredients in a food processor, until pureed.  I also kept the tomato skins, chopped or cut into smaller pieces, because the skin is one of the most healthiest part of the tomato, and also for more textured appearance.

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3) Heat the oil in a medium large sized pot.  After 30 seconds, put the chopped onions and garlic into the heated oil and pot.  Give it a good stir, but make sure the ingredients do not brown.  Approximately 30-40 seconds. We just want to bring out the aroma and flavours.

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4) Stir in chopped tomatoes.  With a slotted spoon, crush the tomatoes into smaller chunks.  Meanwhile, stir frequently.  Season with salt, to your own taste.

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5) Bring the sauce to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer vigorously, stirring frequently, until sauce has reduced and thickened slightly, 20-40 minutes.

Sauce can be stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator for at least 3 days or in the freezer for 3 months.  I was only able to produce 500mL of tomato sauce.  This really has made a world of a difference in tomato sauce.  It was surprisingly much more fresher and natural than the canned products.  The tomatoes felt true to taste and less acidic.  I am therefore pleased to say, I do not think I will be buying anymore pasta sauce from local grocery stores.  I shall try to make my own from now on, at least I say so.  We shall see if it will happen =)

 

Sansotei Ramen

Sansotei Ramen

Address: 179 Dundas Street West. Toronto, ON M5G 1Z8

Phone: (647) 748-3833

Website: http://www.sansotei.com/

imageI finally made it to Sansotei Ramen after numerous failed attempts.  Well, mainly because every time, I travel to Downtown Toronto on a Sunday, which is their “closed day”.  I can now rightfully say, I HAVE TRIED SANSOTEI RAMEN!
IMG_1572-300x225It was easy for us to find the restaurant because of the long line up in front of the entrance.  The systematic and first come first serve attitude was fair to everyone.  The store was managed in an orderly fashion. 20120919-sansoteiramen-intExtremely tight space inside, where they can only sit 35 customers each full round.  A large entwined rope was hung down the store ceiling to mimic the nature of the noodles.  The reflecting black surface on the west wall made the restaurant appear wider.  A modern minimalist decor, made the space look down to earth and comfortable to sit it.  This is no romantic date night, or long chats location.  Fast service and convenience of food made the turnover rate fast.

imageZan Gi, Deep Fried Chicken ($4.50) is served on a straw basket lined with paper towels to absorb the oil on the chicken bites.  The chicken pieces were juicy and full of natural chicken flavour.  I was expecting a dried crispy surface though, hence I was a bit disappointed to find it oily, with a moist surface.  A slice of lemon was served with the chicken bits, and the squeezed juices add a hint of tartness to the chicken bites.  The sourness dissolved the chicken fat and oils, making it more refreshing.

imageTonkotsu Black ($9.85) was served with pork belly, black fungus, egg, green onion and black garlic oil.  Soup base was very creamy, with a lot of pork flavour.  The  black garlic oil did not do anything particular to enhance the soup.  In fact, the oil tasted bitter by itself and tasteless or nonexistent when mixed with the creamy broth. I did like the crunchiness of the black fungus, as it complimented the texture in the noodle mixture.

imageSpicy Tan Tan ($9.60) was served with pork belly, ground pork, bean sprout, bamboo shoot, and egg. The creamy broth had a hint of spiciness. I expected something more spicy or hot, but it was so subtle or weak that the ramen should not be named SPICY Tan Tan. Maybe they should have variable levels of spiciness for the customers to choose. The lack of spiciness just made the bowl of ramen less interesting because it tasted similar to the Tonkotsu.  The ground pork seems to have added more fat to the overall result of the noodles.  It failed to give extra texture or flavour. Ground pork and bean sprouts made the overall result seem messy and was too soft at the bite.

The more broth I drank and the more I ate, the saltier it tasted. In fact, the broths’ after effect was almost unbearable.  I was so thirsty and continuously hunted for water to clear my throat.  It had an after taste of eating chips.  I find it annoying that the restaurant charges you for tea and hot water while everywhere else automatically serves you one.  I just thought it was unusual.

I must praise the quality of the pork belly. It was so soft and had a melt in the mouth texture. Upon a closer look, the pork belly was lined with a layer of fat in between the meat (fat-meat-fat-meat). Also, the pork belly was very rich in flavour, very well marinated.

You can choose different widths of noodles – thin or thick. I personally like my noodles slightly harder than usual because it has room to become soft after absorbing the heat and moisture from the broth. Though, the noodle was not soggy but was on the softer side of my spectrum.

We both ordered extra Cha shu or pork belly, which is $2.00 per portion and extra noodle, which is $1.00 per portion.  I do not recommend ordering extra pork belly because we only had 3 slices each.  I am not sure what the standard amount is, but for extra $2.00, I cannot justify the small amount of pork belly we each had.  70 cents per piece of pork belly, that is some expensive meat, when I can buy a slab of it at the grocery store for $5.00.  However, the extra noodle was worth it.  Bowl of noodles felt limitless, and never ending; extremely filling.

Ratings

Food 3.25/5

Service 3.5/5

Ambiance 3.5/5

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