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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Family Hotpot Night

One of our  Hotpots
So last week, my family and I had a big hotpot night and it was so much fun!! Hotpot is basically a "Chinese Fondue" where a pot of simmering stock is located in the center of the dining table and members/guests add in meats or vegetables to cook. It's a great experience that allows family members to converse while they wait for the food to cook. Since we are a big family, we had three hotpots on three gas burners going (except I got my own pot because I am a vegetarian.) My family are huge seafood fans so most of our options were fish and shellfishes. We had many different vegetables such as pea sprouts, Chinese celery,spinach, enoki and king oyster mushrooms; and taro roots. We had beef and lamb slices; eggs, shrimp, squid and mussels; king cod fillets, lobster and shrimp balls. My vegetarian choices included, the vegetables, eggs, mushrooms, tofu, veggie balls, and veggie crab sticks as well as veggie sausages and fish cakes. Oh, and to accompany all the other ingredients are udon noodles, buckwheat noodles, egg noodles, wonton noodles and rice noodles. So here are some pics of that fun night, photographs taken by my cousin.
The Family
Buckwheat noodles and Meat
Vegetables and Seafood

Seafood
Cooked Seafood Udon with Egg

Family
My Veggie Hot pot
My Veggie Stuff

My Cousin and me poaching an egg
My brother (in the yellow) and Cousin
My cousin and my mom in background

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Stuffed Balsamic Quail

Stuffed Balsamic Quail
I am still a vegetarian, don't freak out lol. However, I love cooking and my passion for cooking will not set up limits to what I can and want to cook. I cook meat and according to those who eat what I make, I get the seasoning perfectly even though I do not taste while I cook. The only time I taste something is either marinades, "safe" sauces or meatless stuffing and veggies. Many vegetarians will appeal to my statement but to which his own. Everyone has their own reasons to what they do or want to consume and I respect that. I don't impose my vegetarianism on others-I simply defend vegetarianism against tyrants who believe we eat nothing more but salads or tofu (which I find utterly boring and not at all exciting; tofu is bland when you run out of ways to cook it and salads get tiresome.) I enjoy my soy products, fresh veggies, dairy and grain products.

Anyways, I had so many frozen quails in my freezer and since I hate leaving meat or anything in the freezer for so long, I decided to make a quail dinner for my omnivorous family. This is the dish I concocted up: quails, deboned and marinated in a spicy and tangy balsamic marinade. After that, the quails are stuffed with a mixture of grated carrots, broccoli and cooked quinoa grains. The quails are closed up by tooth picks and a mixture of melted butter and paprika are brushed onto the birds. Quails are cooked by broiling. Cooked quails are removed and let to rest while an assembly of baked potato slices and sauteed pea sprouts are laid on a dish. Bird tops off the vegetables and a ladle of quail gravy (made from juices of the quail as well as broth of the bird bones) goes on top. Freshly cracked black peppers finishes the dish.

Stuffed Balsamic Quail

Marinade
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp paprika
1/2 cup water

Mix all ingredients together in a measuring cup.
Place 4-6 deboned quails into a shallow bowl and pour marinade over the birds. Marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Stuffing
1 cup quinoa
1/2 cup chopped broccoli florets
1/4 cup grated carrots
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp salt
2tsp grounded black pepper
1 clove minced garlic

Combine together until well incorporated. After the quails are done marinating, stuff the quails with the stuffing. Be generous!! Close up all openings with toothpicks and tie legs together with kitchen thread or twine. Place on a baking sheet. Brush with melted butter and 2 tsp paprika powder. Cook in an oven of 250 degrees Celsius for 30-35 minutes, re-brushing the quails every 10 minutes to avoid drying. Quails are done when they are golden brown.

Potatoes
2 big yellow potatoes or 6 baby potatoes, sliced
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt

Toss potatoes with other ingredients and broil on a greased baking dish at 275 degrees Celsius until potatoes are tender.

Sauteed Pea Sprouts
3 cups of pea sprouts or 2 cups baby spinach
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp butter

Place sprouts in a small skillet and saute with salt and pepper. Once sprouts begin to wilt add in tbsp butter and stir until butter is melted. Set aside.

Gravy
Boil the quail bones and juices. Remove bones and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add in 1 tsp thyme and 2 tsp onion powder. Whisk in a mixture of 1/4 water and 2 tbsp cornstarch to thicken gravy. Set aside.

Assemble potatoes on the plate and place sprouts on top, to create a nest effect. Remove strings and toothpicks from bird and place on "nest." Ladle over the hot gravy and top with freshly cracked pepper.
Enjoy!!
 Serving this dish with white wine is fantastico!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Potatoes in Yogurt Curry

Tangy and full of delish!
I have been craving curry lately and I came across this a recipe for potatoes and curry by Aunt Manjula. Check out her page she has some great Indian veggie recipes! I made mine with less spiciness and the yogurt was fat free. I also used new baby potatoes instead of russet potatoes, which gave a different texture. And I doubled the recipe because I also made some for my family.
I served my curry with Roti bread, which I bought frozen from an Asian Supermarket.


New baby potatoes
Plain yogurt and spices
Potatoes in the yogurt gravy
The Roti bread that I used
Spices

Dark Miso Soup

Simple and Light on the Soul; a great alternative to chicken soup

Miso soup, one of my favorite Japanese dishes. It is so simple to make yet not many people attempt or even know what it is."Miso" is a paste made from particularly soy beans but there are versions made with fermented rice or barely. It is used as a seasoning in Japanese or Korean cuisine, either in spreads or soups. I used a dark miso paste or "Akamiso" (red miso). The stock is flavoured with the kelp/seaweed, mirin and sake. The smooth tofu adds a subtle flavor to the saltiness and bold flavor of the miso. Garnished with sliced spring onions. This is a very light and simple dish that can be made in less than an hour and can be served with hot rice or just on its own.

Dark Miso Soup
3 cups water
1/2 cup seaweed, chopped into bite sized pieces
2 tsp sake
1 tbsp mirin
1 1/2 tbsp miso paste
1/2 cup tofu, cut into bite-sized cubes
salt and pepper to taste
sliced spring onions for garnish

In a pot, bring water to a boil and add in seaweed. Boil off the seaweed for 10 minutes and add in sake and mirin. Mix miso paste with 2 tbsp water and add to pot. Stir and simmer on medium heat until all the paste is incorporated.
Add in tofu and simmer on low until heated through. Season to taste. Serve in bowls and garnish with onions.
Enjoy!!!

Balsamic Eggs Benedict

A Healthier Version of Eggs Benedict (if you can believe)


"In marble walls as white as milk,
Lined with a skin as soft as silk,
Within a fountain crystal clear,
A golden apple doth appear.
No doors there are to this stronghold,
Yet thieves break in and steal the gold."

What am I?

You probably guessed the answer: An Egg. 

 Ever since my first Eggs Benedict I have been addicted to poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. This time, I took a little twist on this classical dish and instead of using regular vinegar to poach the eggs, I used balsamic vinegar. The hollandaise I made this time is a bit thicker and healthier because instead of butter, I used extra-virgin olive oil (recipe adapted from Chef Gordon Ramsay). Also, I actually used English muffins instead of cut-out toast and instead of veggie ham, I used sliced hot house tomatoes. So, perfectly poached eggs on English muffins, tomatoes and smothered with hollandaise, a dash of pepper and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. The rich and creamy hollandaise goes well with the slight sweet n' tanginess of the balsamic vinegar.
I think next time I will make a balsamic vinegar reduction for extra flavor.

 Balsamic Eggs Benedict

Hollandaise Sauce
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of cayenne powder (optional)

In a stainless steel bowl, place in egg yolks, and whisk for 3-4 minutes over a pot of simmering water until yolk mixture thickens and is a pale yellow.
Remove from pot and gradually add in olive oil, whisking constantly until fully incorporated.
Whisk in lemon juice and season to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne.  Keep sauce warm by placing bowl over a pot of low simmering water until serving. Best if served immediately.

Poached Eggs
2 fresh eggs
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

Bring a medium pot of water with 1 tsp salt to a high simmer and add in the vinegar.
Crack one egg into a custard cup or bowl. Stir water rapidly to create a vortex and gently slip egg into the water. Repeat with the other egg.
Cook for 3 minutes or until the eggs begin to float and the egg whites are set and firm. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and dab on a towel to dry.

Preparation

1 English muffin, sliced in half or 2 crumpets, buttered and toasted
2 slices of hot house tomatoes
Salt and pepper
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Place tomatoes on the toasted English muffin and dash with salt and pepper. Top with the poached egg. Drizzle with the hollandaise sauce and balsamic vinegar. Top with some black ground pepper.

Remember, the perfect poached egg is when you cut into it, and the yolk comes streaming out!
Enjoy!!



Kabocha and Gingko Soup

A healthy and filling soup!!
I actually made this a, I think, a couple weeks ago and I completely forgot to post it >.< I'm sorry!!
Anyway, this is a soup made from chunks of kabocha squash and ginkgo nuts. I guess you can categorize it as a health soup, since kabocha and ginkgo nuts are believed to improve memory and intelligence. Ginkgo nuts are also believed to have aphrodisiac properties. This is a hearty soup that is great for those cold days in winter but you can make it anytime, since kabocha squash is available all year round basically.

Kabocha Squash
 Kabocha and Ginkgo Soup

4 cups water or vegetable stock
1 small or medium sized kabocha squash
1 1/2 cup ginkgo nuts, removed of shell
salt and pepper for taste

Bring water to a boil in a pot with 1 tsp salt.
Roughly peel kabocha squash. Cut in half, remove seeds and cut into chunks and rinse under cold water.
Rinse ginkgo under cold water.

Once water boils, add in squash and stir. Cook over medium-high heat until squash is tender or when a fork can easily poke through. Add in ginkgo seeds and simmer for 10 minutes (add in more water if needed). If you like your squash to be thick, then simmer longer so that the squash can break down. Season to taste.

Serve nice and hot.

Tip: If you like your soup to be creamy, add 1/2 cup half and half cream with the ginkgo seeds.

Note: Please be cautious when using ginkgo nuts because it may cause allergic reactions. See your physician if you wind up getting headaches since ginkgo nuts is a natural health product.

Ginkgo seeds, unshelled

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Gordon Ramsay - Baked alaska

I will need to make this one of these days. It looks purely magical.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Veggie Yakibuta Ramen

Veggie Yakibuta Ramen (Roasted Pork and Noodles)


Veggie Naruto Maki
I have always wanted to try Ramen but I never got the chance to. And as my vegetarianism progressed, that chance seemed even thinner than ever since the broth of Japanese Ramen is made from fish or pork bones. Lately, I've been watching a Youtube channel called 'Cooking with Dog' where you can learn how to make Japanese dishes in a light, simple and delicious manner. So on this channel I see a recipe for ramen which got me really excited. So I made a 'huge' decision- I was going to make vegetarian ramen. I got even more stoked when I was at my Vegetarian Warehouse and I found the vegetarian version of  'naruto maki' which is a processed fish roll that you slice and add to ramen (except the veggie ones were already sliced). I also came across vegetarian pork fillet at the supermarket. So my experience began.
Ball of Noodle Dough

 Since fresh ramen noodles are hard for me to find, I decided to make my own. I searched up a recipe for ramen noodles that seemed decent and decided to try it.
I would cut the the dough smaller next time though, since the dough expanded a bit when boiled. Recipe found here.





Ramen Soup

1 pot water

1 tbsp salt
1 yellow onion, roasted
1 cabbage cut in half
1 piece of kelp

¼ cup Kikkoman soy sauce
3 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp soybean paste
2 tsp vegetable granules or more to taste
2 tsp grounded black pepper

In a large pot, bring water and salt to a boil. Add in onion, cabbage and kelp and simmer for 30 minutes or until onion and cabbage are tender when pierced with a chopstick.
Add in remaining ingredients and stir, simmering on medium heat until serving.

Toppings
Blanched spinach
Fermented radish: sliced thinly
Sliced pickled ginger
Sliced green onion
Nori square
Naruto Maki
*Pork Slices: Rub some ginger onto half the protein and pan fry half of veggie pork fillet in a sauce pan. Slice into ¼ thin slices.
Vegetarian pork fillet
Soft boiled Eggs: boil eggs for 4 minutes and peel. Marinate in 1 cup cup soy sauce, 2 tbsp mirin, 1 tsp whiskey or sake for 4 hours or overnight.  Slice in half with a string or thread.

Assembley
In a bowl, ladle with soup, add in cooked noodles and top with whatever toppings you want. Dash with some pepper and enjoy!!

*if you don't have or can't find pork slices, you can slice up firm tofu, brush with soy sauce and sugar, then pan fry the slices until golden brown. 


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wall of Vegetarians

The 14th Dalai Lama (1935-present)

 I was just browsing around the internet, researching up Sir Ian McKellen when I stumbled upon the fact that he is a vegetarian. So I decided to make a small tribute to all the self-proclaimed vegetarians from our past and present, no matter who they identified themselves as; gay, smart, evil or just plain talented. I know being a vegetarian may not seem like a big deal to some people but believe it or not, it becomes quite exhausting and life changing- especially when you are surrounded with family or friends who consume meat and/or have a hard time understanding vegetarianism. The following figures have their own personal reasons for being a vegetarian and I believe we must respect their choice and vegetarian lifestyle, no matter what their reputation was or is. (Note: Some of these figures may be very controversial and as much as I respect your opinion/views, I must ask that you do not comment with hate or 'bash' any of these figures. Thank-you)

Voltaire, philospoher (1694-1778)
Leonardo da Vinci  (1452-1519)(1452-04-15)

Albert Einstein, genius(1879-1955) (1879-03-14)
                         
Gandhi,spiritual leader (1869-1948) (1869-10-02)
Lord Byron, poet (1788-1824)(1788-01-22)

Adolf Hitler, dictator (1889-1945)
Shania Twain, singer(1965-present)(1965-08-2
Jim Carrey, actor (1962-present) (1962-01-17)









Sir Ian McKellen, actor (1939-present) (1939-05-25)


Portia de Rossi, actress(1973-present) (1973-01-31-presn-
Ellen DeGeneres (1958-present) (1958-01-26)


     




Tobey Maguire, actor (1975-present)(1975-06-27-present
Anne Hathaway (1982-present) (1982-11-12)











Mr. Fred Rogers, TV host (1928-2003)


k.d lang,singer(1961-present)(1961-11-02)
Paul McCartney, musician (1942-present) (1942-06-18)












Rob Zombie (1965-present)(1965-01-12-
k-os, singer (1972-present) (1972-02-20











Michael Jackson, King of Pop (1958-2009) (1958-08-29)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Vegetarian Dim Sum

From top left, clock wise: Shrimp Dumplings, Sticky Rice and Pork Dumplings
When I was still an omnivore, I LOVED Dim Sum. I was a Dim Sum psycho. For those who don't know what "Dim Sum" is, it is a way of eating originated in China, where small portions of dishes are pushed on trolleys to your table and you choose what you want to eat, while drinking tea and conversing with family or friends. The usual time for Dim Sum starts from early morning till a little pass noon, so basically brunch. In simpler terms, it's basically a Chinese buffet brunch that comes to your table. Dishes include steamed buns and dumplings as well as deep fried goodness. For more information visit Wikipedia for all your inquiries.
Shrimp Dumpling
So a couple days ago I went to my local Vegetarian Warehouse (where they sell pre-made veggie goodness and are frozen for your convenience) and found out that they had vegetarian dim sum. I was soooo stoked! They had veggie shrimp dumplings and pork dumplings as well as BBQ pork buns and sticky rice. Since being a vegetarian, it has been difficult to go and enjoy dim sum with my family because the choices for vegetarians are limited. I usually settle for onions cakes and desserts because most or all of the options include meat or seafood. So, after this discovery, I bought a package each of the dumplings and the sticky rice as a trial since I wasn't sure I'd like it. So, last night, for dinner, I steamed up these delectables and indulged myself.

Sticky Rice
Though the appearance of the food was satisfying, I wasn't completely satisfied with the way it tasted. The sticky rice filling was a tad bland. The shrimp dumpling did not have veggie shrimp and the pork dumplings only had turnips, carrots and mushrooms, lacking the protein. My over all disappointment was the fact that the aroma and taste of roasted sesame oil was no where to be found or hinted since it is the vital flavor enhancement in all dim sum dishes. I would probs rate this a 3/5 because of the good shrimp dumpling shell and the presentation, but other than that, they can improve on taste. I might have to make my own again....



Pork Dumplings