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Main Course/Entree Recipes

14 November 2008

Broccoli & Chickpea Brown Rice Pasta


It's day two of my 12-day detox. What I miss most on this diet is having a little piece of dark chocolate after my lunch. Everything else is manageable. I've actually been fantasizing about secretly placing a  square of chocolate in my mouth and quietly letting it dissolve. Who would ever know?

I would. 

Ok, I'm talking about chocolate again when all I want to do is tell you about detox recipe No. 2 -- broccoli & chickpea brown rice pasta. A dish I'd usually eat with normal spaghetti noodles tossed with pesto and loads of freshly shaved Parmigiano Reggiano. But not this week or next week. To make up for the lack of pesto or cheese, I add a can of tuna in oil.

Stay tuned for more detox recipes...

Continue reading "Broccoli & Chickpea Brown Rice Pasta" »

09 November 2008

Thai Beef Massaman Curry


Rasa Malaysia is one of my favourite blogs. I have been clicking on her award-winning photography and mouth-watering recipes for years. It is no exaggeration that Bee (who is Rasa Malaysia) is one of my inspirations and reasons for starting Taste Buddies in June 2007.

Since then, Bee and I have become blog-buddies. Today, I am very proud to tell you that she has asked me to be a guest writer on Rasa Malaysia.

Since I am half Thai and spent many years growing up there, Bee asked me to make a Thai dish.

Hailing from Southern Thailand, near Bee's homeland of Malaysia, comes the Massaman Curry. Literally "Muslim Curry", the dish was born from the Arab spice merchants who settled in the region a thousand years ago.

To read more about Gaeng Massaman, and to see the recipe, please visit Rasa Malaysia.

06 August 2008

Smoked Salmon Pizza with Caramelized Onions


There some people who have serious aversions to things that I love such as coriander and onions. These are two ingredients that I can't live without and that feature prominently in my day-to-day meals.

These 'people' to whom I refer to is actually a girlfriend of mine who also happens to be a vegetarian or more a pescatarian. She hates onions. especially when they are raw. She will go to great lengths to pick out the offending vegetable from her food and always avoids anything on the menu that may contain them.

For her birthday I treated her to a summer seafood cooking class. We went together and were eagerly anticipating the night's seafood bounty. You can imagine both of our silent horror when several of the recipes prominently featured ONIONS. I cast a sideways glance at her and she at me. We giggled and then both settled into a heavy silence. I said "um, maybe you can push them to the side" to which she replied sweetly, "oh yes, it'll be fine...I'm sure it'll all be delicious."

We watched nervously as the chef prepared the first dish, a smoked salmon pizza with caramelized onions. He dexterously peeled and sliced 15 large brown onions all the while chatting about the process of caramelizing the ominous mountain of onions. She gulped.

Continue reading "Smoked Salmon Pizza with Caramelized Onions" »

21 July 2008

Treat yourself to roasted garlic & prawn pasta


Sometimes it's nice to eat something special for no special reason. Whether it's when you want to impress or just because, this roasted garlic & prawn pasta is delicious in its simplicity.

The tomato sauce is a mixture of fresh, ripe roma tomatoes, sweet basil, onion, roasted garlic and chili flakes. The prawns are lightly sautéed in butter and white wine and then mixed in with the sauce just before serving.

The pasta is fresh angel hair that I buy from my local Italian grocer.

Continue reading "Treat yourself to roasted garlic & prawn pasta" »

06 July 2008

Pillows of Love: Homemade Gnocchi


Gnocchi are surprisingly easy to make...once you've mastered them a few times that is. The texture and taste of homemade gnocchi is far superior to the pre-made stuff, hence the title: 'pillows of love'.

It is important to use floury potatoes like russets when making the gnocchi as the dough needs to be light and airy. I did try using Yukon potatoes once and the gnocchi was more like 'pillows of lead'.

I made the pesto using a very sharp, good quality kitchen knife instead of a mortar and pestle and I much preferred the results. The pesto takes about 15 minutes to chop in which time I'm totally intoxicated by the smell of the young, sweet basil (which has been sprouting enthusiastically from my window box).

What follows are step-by-step photos and instructions to help you make fresh pesto and homemade gnocchi. Bear in mind, that gnocchi is one of those hit and miss affairs rather like souffles. Their success is dependant on a whole range of factors including the type of potatoes used, the consistency of the mashed potato (don't over mash) and the quickness with which you work.

Here are some quick tips:

  • Use russet potatoes
  • Boil them with their skins on
  • Remove the potatoes one by one from the boiled water and peel them straight away
  • Quickly mash them with a fork or put them through a ricer while they are still hot. Don't over mash them.
  • Let them cool for 10 minutes but no longer
  • They should still be fluffy when you mix the egg and flour with them 

Continue reading "Pillows of Love: Homemade Gnocchi" »

18 June 2008

Penance for Profiteroles: Carrot and Kale Soup


After a rather decadent date with chocolate ice-cream filled profiteroles last week, I felt as if I needed to repent with something simple. That something turned out to be a Carrot and Kale Soup.

Kale is one of my favourite vegetables but I don't cook it nearly as often as I should. There's something about its texture which I really love, especially when it's steamed, or as in this case, simmered for several minutes.

I mentioned in my my kale & smoked bacon quiche post, that the texture is somewhere between English spinach and seaweed. However, I'm not sure that's accurate. The leaves are curled and are very much firmer than lettuce, but soften upon wilting. If you can help me with a description of its texture, I'd love to hear it, because right now I'm groping around without success.

When I was in LA doing the raw food thing I tried a pretty hardcore green juice with raw kale in it. I won't be doing that again. While I do love the leafy green, consuming it raw was far too potent and I felt rather 'green' for several hours afterwards! That's not to say you shouldn't try it raw though, perhaps having it for breakfast first thing was the problem. I think I should have first consumed some greasy scrambled eggs and bacon to counteract the purity of all the raw kale nutrients!

In this recipe I used curly leafed baby kale, which when lightly cooked provides more calcium for every 100g serving than milk, yogurt, cooked broccoli or cooked spinach. It also has seven times the amount of vitamin A than cooked broccoli. These are just a few examples of the seemingly endless benefits of kale.

I'm submitting this post to Weekend Herb Blogging being hosted this week by Joanna of the blog Joanna's Food.


Continue reading "Penance for Profiteroles: Carrot and Kale Soup" »

10 June 2008

The Mighty Morel


The Morel season is coming to a close in British Columbia and foragers will have to wait another year to harvest the wild mushrooms.

Morel mushrooms vary in size but are recognizable by their sponge-like caps which fit over their stalk like a thimble over a thumb. There are two types of true morels; yellow and black, both of the Morchella genus and not to be confused with the poisonous and almost identical impostor, the ‘Wrinkled-cap’ or ‘half-free morel’.

Morels are some of the most sought after wild mushrooms in the world. Finding them, however, can be unpredictable. Luckily for me, I managed to forage for them at the South China Trading Seas Company at Granville Island.

In the wild, morels can be found in mixed hardwood forests near aspen trees, white cedars or white pines in areas recovering from fires.

Other areas favoured by the morel include old apple, peach or pear orchards and dead or dying elm trees. There are rare occasions when the morel has popped up in unexpected places including old camp fire pits, basements, old bomb craters or unused mining sites.


So what is it about these little mushrooms that sends people so crazy each year?

Morels have a rather earthy and subtle nutty taste. They are best cooked simply and that is exactly what I did.

I sautéed them with some crimini mushrooms in garlic, olive oil, a couple of dollops of butter, some organic beef stock and chives, and then served them with fresh fettucine. The porous caps quickly absorbed the flavours, yet retained their slightly crunchy texture. Delicious.

Some tips on buying morels: they should have firm, spongy caps and be moist but not soggy. Try to use them as soon as possible as the fresher, the better. Unlike some mushrooms, it is ok to wash morels. In fact, it is very important to clean them thoroughly but gently to rid them of grit and naturally forming toxins.

I soaked them in cold water and then gently washed and strained them. Don Dickson, owner of South China Seas Trading Company, recommends par boiling them in lightly salted water for about a minute and then sautéing them. He does this just as an extra precaution to rid them of any nasties.

So I haven't answered my own question. What is it that drives people to spend endless hours traipsing through dense or sometimes burnt out forest just to pick a handful of these little fungi?

Part of the answer might lie in the experience - this is vegetarian hunting at its best. And the fact that morels soak up so much flavour and yet hold their own flavour and structure makes them unique. Worth a walk in the woods, or in my case, a walk down to the Granville Island markets.

Continue reading "The Mighty Morel" »

03 June 2008

Warm Yourself with a Bowl of Butter Chicken


Butter chicken: possibly the most commonly ordered Indian dish in the western world. And with a name like that, I'm not surprised.

There is a common misconception, which I almost bought into until I went to the library to do some reading, that ghee, also known as 'clarified butter', is used widely in cooking throughout India. It is not. 

Clarified butter is known as usli ghee. It is made by gently heating unsalted butter until it liquifies. The whitish bits also known as 'milk solids' are carefully strained with cheesecloth leaving behind the golden liquid which is the usli ghee. This "real ghee", is considered a luxury and is most commonly used in cooking in the Punjab region where dairy products feature more prominently in diet.

Usli ghee is also used as a digestion aid, used to relieve rashes and burns and also as used a moisturizer. 

The second type of ghee, which is more frequently used, can be likened to vegetable shortening. It is usually purchased in bulk and contains various vegetable oils which makes it more economical than usli ghee.

Types of cooking oils vary from region to region with the use of coconut oil in the south, mustard oil in the north east and peanut or sesame oil in the north.

Back to the butter chicken. Since I didn't have any usli ghee handy, I simply used a tablespoon of unsalted butter.

I have to say that it was one delicious meal. So delicious in fact that I considered making it two nights in a row and have been having daydreaming about it ever since. Next week I'm going to try the same recipe with prawns.

Continue reading "Warm Yourself with a Bowl of Butter Chicken" »

09 March 2008

Wild Salmon Kedgeree


There is something very special about Canadian Wild Sockeye Salmon and I try to use it as much as I can. It also goes particularly well in Kedgeree.

Kedgeree is a rice-based dish that consists of curry power, flaked fish (traditionally smoked Haddock)and boiled eggs. It has its roots in a traditional Indian dish called Khichdi. The dish varies from region to region but is usually made up of rice, lentils and topped with fried onions.

Khichidi was adapted and made popular as a breakfast dish amongst British Colonialist in India, who later brought it back to the British Isles. Kedgeree has since remained a comfort food favourite, although perhaps not for breakfast.

Wild Salmon Kedgeree is certainly one of my favourite dishes as it is simple to make, healthy and delicious. I add coriander and parsley to my recipe and a Thai twist with some Nam Pla Prik (fish sauce with chili). I also serve a side of natural yoghurt mixed with a little grated garlic, parsley and lemon juice.

A tip for the rice: it is best to cook it the day before and refrigerate it so it's cold and hard when you fry it. If the rice is too fresh, it will get soggy and break easily. It is also a good idea to cook the Kedgeree over a flame in a wok. This just speeds up the cooking and, like most fried rice dishes, their success depends on quick cooking.   

Continue reading "Wild Salmon Kedgeree" »

01 March 2008

A Spicy Thai Salad: Yum Woon Sen Gai


Yum Woon Sen, is a Thai bean thread noodle salad that is often served with either prawns or ground chicken. The 'dressing' is made up of the usual Thai ingredients, naam pla (fish sauce), lime juice and lemon grass. I also added lots of coriander (cilantro) and mint to my recipe. The salad can be eaten warm or cold.

The noodles are made of mung bean or potato starch and are also known as 'cellophane' noodles because of their clear appearance. They only need about a minute in boiling water and they're done.

I also used mushrooms which I call 'mouse ears' but are actually known as 'Cloud Ears'.  My mum used to call them 'mouse ears' when, during my childhood, we lived in Bangkok.

The black fungus is commonly used in Chinese cooking. They look exactly like large, crinkly mouse ears and have a lovely, rubbery sort of crunch to them. While they don't have much flavour themselves, 'Cloud Ears' absorb whatever flavours they are exposed to; so in this case it was a mixture of salty, sour and spicy.

Anyway, I didn't realise they weren't called 'mouse ears' until the other day when I sent Nic out to buy them. When he arrived at the Asian grocer, and was greeted with nervous looks from the shopkeeper, he called me, suggesting that perhaps 'Cloud Ears' was what I was looking for. An internet search confirmed that he was right and I had fallen victim to another of my mother's deceptions. It's a deception, however, which I intend to perpetuate.

Continue reading "A Spicy Thai Salad: Yum Woon Sen Gai" »

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