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« November 2007 | Main | January 2008 »

December 2007

29 December 2007

A Christmas Morning Feast

Fresh_croissants

This year we decided to forgo cooking a large and time-consuming Christmas lunch. Instead, we headed to Kirin Restaurant for a dizzying ten course Chinese banquet but more on that next time.

To tide us over until the lunchtime feast, we opted for a light Christmas breakfast of freshly baked mini croissants served with either raspberry jam or smoked salmon and crème fraiche and a platter of fresh fruit.

Now let me tell you about the croissants. They were incredible...impossibly light, flaky and organic! We bought twenty of the little dough crescents from Vancouver Croissant. Actually, we had intended to buy them but the kind manager, Maged Sedky, wouldn't hear of it and, even though we'd never met before, he gave them to us free as a Christmas present!

Continue reading "A Christmas Morning Feast" »

18 December 2007

Bite-sized Banoffis

Banoffi

Bite-sized Banoffi pies are little mouthfuls of heaven. The fact that they are so small doesn't make you feel so bad about eating such wicked litlte treats. They are also far easier to serve rather than having to slice up a large and delicately assembled dessert.

Banoffi pies are filled with toffee (dulche de leche), freshly whipped cream and topped with slices of fresh banana. I made the toffee from sweetened condensed milk which I gave a kind of steam bath for 1.5 hours. Another way to cook the condensed milk is to boil it unopened in the can for several hours, however this method can lead to the can exploding. As exciting as that prospect is, I decided that a nice steam bath would be more relaxing for both me and the condensed milk.

The Banoffi Pie was invented by the Hungry Monk Restaurant in East Suzzex, England, in 1972. The original recipe, which can be found on their website, includes coffee and castor sugar, both of which I left out. I think the toffee is sweet enough as is.

The complete story about the Banoffi can be found on Chef Ian Dowding's Blog. Ian was the original head chef at the Hungry Monk who invented the marvellous pie. Bravo Ian.

My recipe differs slightly but I do believe that my bite-sized Banoffis are just as pleasing! I used fresh pastry dough from the A La Mode Pie Shop, which I buy at the Public Market on Granville Island, in Vancouver. Their pastry is always excellent and the slight saltiness of the crust really complimented well the sweet toffee.

I am submitting this post to Blog Party #29 which is being hosted by Stephanie of the Blog the Happy Sorceress. The challenge was to make 'just a bite of dessert' and so you have it...Bite-sized Banoffis.

Bite_sized_banoffi_2

Continue reading "Bite-sized Banoffis" »

14 December 2007

Black Sticky Rice Pudding

Kao_niew1_s

Kao Niew Dum is black Sticky rice which is eaten in Thailand and Southeast Asia as a sweet snack. The nutty wholegrain rice is encased in a deep purple husk which contains a type of antioxidant called an Anthocyanin. White sticky rice is a different strain from black sticky rice. You cannot polish the husk off the latter and expect to find a white grain. The grain is much lighter than the deep purple husk, but it's certainly not white.   

Kao Niew Dum is most often steamed and then mixed with sweetened and salted coconut milk. Because of its rich flavour, black sticky rice is not usually accompanied by fruit (unlike white sweet sticky rice). Instead, its flavour is enhanced by a garnish of toasted sesame seeds or shredded coconut.

I always make the Black Sticky Rice Pudding from Kasma Loha-Unchit's recipe.

I do also love to eat Kao Niew Dum when it is served with a Thai dessert called Lod Chong. This particular dessert, which I have only ever eaten in Thailand, does not look that appealing but it tastes fantastic. It consists of green rice flour noodles that are flavoured with pandan and served with black sticky rice, crushed ice and a delicious sweet syrup. The syrup is made from coconut milk that has been boiled with palm sugar. It is heavenly, especially after eating a particularly spicy Thai meal.

Rochong

I am submitting this post to Sugar High Friday's The Proof is in the Pudding which is being hosted by Kochtopf.

Continue reading "Black Sticky Rice Pudding" »

11 December 2007

Menu For Hope

Menu for Hope 2007The fourth annual Menu For Hope fundraiser has begun!

Menu For Hope, which is hosted by Pim of Chez Pim, is in support of the UN's World Food Programme and this year funds raised will go towards a school lunch program in Lesotho.

The program aims to encourage children to go to school and also strengthens their ability to learn.

Menu For Hope runs from December 10-21 and food bloggers from around the world have offered an incredible selection of prizes for the Menu For Hope Raffle. For every $10 donated, you earn one virtual raffle ticket to bid on a prize of your choice.

The prizes are really special. Here are a few samples...

Australia

  1. Item AP15: Dinner with Stephen Downes, one of Australia's most experienced restaurant critics (Melbourne).
  2. Item AP02: A $300 dining voucher to Perama, Sydney

United States

  1. Item UW19: Dinner for two at Camaje restaurant in New York City.
  2. Item UE21: 'Veganomicon' Cookbook + 6-Pack of Raw, Organic Agave Nectar.
  3. Item UW18: Bento lunch starter kit and tour of San Francisco's Japantown.

Europe

  1. Item EU02: San Lorenzo Hamper, with specialties from San Lorenzo, Italy.
  2. Item EU09: Win a box of delicious "coquettines" the speciality of La Cocotte, the tastiest bookshop in Paris.
  3. Item EU16: Homemade banana-chocolate confiture [jam] and a lovely hot chocolate with Marion at Jean Paul Hévin.

Canada

  1. Item CA04: A one year subscription to Canadian Living Magazine.
  2. Item CA05: Martha Stewart Cookbook Set.
  3. Item CA08: Gourmet Flavoured Olive oil and teak tray

United Kingdom

  1. Item UK05: Private wine tasting in London (worth £80).
  2. Item UK09: Tasting menu for 2 at Les Trois Garcons (£210).
  3. Item UK27: Dinner for Two at Patterson's restaurant in London

For a complete list of fabulous prizes please check out the prize list.

Let the bidding begin! 

06 December 2007

Kale & Smoked Bacon Quiche

Quiche1_s

Kale; not only is this winter green high in Vitamins C, A, B6, K, Magnesium and various antioxidants, it is also delicious. In fact, the health benefits of Kale sound pretty incredible. It is touted as reducing the risk of various cancers, reducing the risk of skin and eye diseases, and generally keeping the immune system healthy. Popeye would certainly approve.

So after reading about all these benefits, I raced out and bought me some and made a Kale and Smoked Bacon Quiche. Its dark green, curly leaves have a lovely texture somewhere in between English Spinach and Seaweed. Kale can be eaten in a variety of ways: steamed, raw, in soups or as in this case, sauteed and then baked.

I cheated with the pastry. I didn't make it. Instead I bought it from the A La Mode pie shop at Granville Island Public Market. Their pastry is of course excellent, being a pie shop, and it saves me the hassle of making my own when I want a quick and no-fuss dinner.

I just spent an hour trying to come up with a clever name for this story. I came up with things like 'Hail, Kale!', which I dismissed for its Nazi connotations. Or 'If Popeye was alive today, he'd choose Kale', which is clearly way too long and unwieldy, and lastly 'Kale: health and vitamins' Holy Grail', which, seeing as we are talking about a leafy vegetable, may be overstating things a little.

So after tortuous deliberation, I settled on 'Kale & Smoked Bacon Quiche'. Pretty clever don't you think?

I have submitted this post to Weekend Herb Blogging being hosted this week by Simone of the blog Briciole.

aaWeekendHerbBlogging

         

Continue reading "Kale & Smoked Bacon Quiche " »

02 December 2007

Cupcakes

The_cupcakes

I like simple things. Pretty things. Like Cupcakes.

I like a shop who knows who it is. I like a shop with a simple message. Cupcakes.

Cupcakes is a store that doesn't bite off more than it can chew; who knows on which side its bread is buttered and who knows every side of its buttery bread.

The original Cupcakes is situated in the West End of Vancouver's down town. It only does one thing. But that one thing is done very well!

My favourite is the 'Koo Koo' - a plain vanilla cupcake with delicious, creamy, cream cheese icing and desiccated coconut sprinkled on top.

While the 'Koo Koo' is a very special cupcake there are others which I hold close to my heart such as the 'Lemon Drop'; a lemon cake with lemon butter cream. Then there's the 'Blue Hawaii'; a coconut cake with a blue vanilla butter cream, sprinkled with fresh coconut.

A beautiful shop, doing its thing to keep kids of all ages smiling. You can have a taste of Cupcakes' expanding empire, now at three locations: West End; West Broadway; and North Vancouver.

The_shop

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