For the love of food

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens*Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens*Brown paper packages tied up with strings*These are a few of my favorite things*Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels*Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles*Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings*These are a few of my favorite things*Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes*Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes*Silver white winters that melt into springs*These are a few of my favorite things

Wild Ginger @ the Bravern in Bellevue Review January 29, 2010

Let me begin by describing my most lasting impression from the restaurant – the service is just HORRIBLE!!! Sub standard, unprofessional and careless are the first words coming to my mind. 

Things were brought out of order, some appetizers appeared after half of the main course was already finished, main courses were brought for half of the table and the other half had to sit and watch for ten minutes and then vice versa. There were four of us and while one person was still eating all the rest of the plates were cleared from the table, we were asked if we want anything else and when we declined the bill was brought in – all that while the person was still eating!!! And no, they were not very busy.

Now to the food…

First of…they have a new weekend dim sum menu which is too expensive by any standard so I would stick with the lunch menu which provides good value. I tasted two dishes – the Wild Ginger Fragrant Duck and the Seven Flavor Beef which were both good but the rice that came with them was just a disaster – the white rice was absolutely anemic and flavorless and the brown one was over cooked and bland. The Mango Lassi was a mango smoothie of sort made with either ice or frozen mangoes rather than with fresh mangoes, yogurt and milk or water as it should be.

The bottom line is,  the food is overall quite good; I would go there for a quick lunch (no appetizers or multiple items – just one plate per person) so service required would be minimized and value for money maximized.

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Farro & seafood in saffron sauce

Filed under: Food,Recipes — lovemyfood @ 2:21 pm

Farro is an ancient grain, a type of hard wheat really, that is high in fiber and protein; it has a nutty flavor and good texture. Farro is versatile, you can grind it into flour and make pasta or cakes, you can use it in soups and either as a main or a side dish. The following recipe is a fun one really and can be adapted to various seasons just replace the zucchini with asparagus and you have a spring dish or serve it at room temperature in the summer; replace the half & half in the sauce with whipping cream and it will be heavier and richer for those cold winter days.

So here it goes…for two portions you will need:

2/3 cup farro 

8-10 medium shrimps

4 calamari tubes cut into rings

4 calamari tentacles

15-20 bay scallops

1 zucchini – cut into long thin ribbons

1/2 cup half & half

large pinch saffron threads (about 1/2 tsp)

1 scant Tbsp butter

1 small shalot, minced

splash white wine (a tea spoon or so)

1 Tbsp chopped parsley

olive oil

fresh basil leaves and ground black pepper for garnish

To make:

1. Mix saffron into the half & half and let sit while you do the rest

2. Cook farro according to package instructions until its al-dente

3. Saute zucchini in a little olive oil and salt until soft; leave it in the saute pan (see step 6).

4. Heat butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat, add shalot and cook until soft and translucent; add wine and wait for it to evaporate; add saffron mixture and stir for a couple of minutes, lower the heat and let reduce for 5 minutes more (there should be about half of it left).

5. Heat some olive oil with a pinch of salt in a pan large enough to hold all your seafood; add shrimps (cook for a minute) then scallops and tentacles (cook until both shrimps and scallops are almost done) and finally the calamari rings (which take only about a minute to cook).

6. Add the farro to the zucchini and sauté for a couple of minutes; mix in the parsley and some more olive oil.

7. Strain the sauce onto two plates; arrange farro in the middle, top with seafood and garnish with fresh basil leafs and some freshly ground black pepper.

Glorious, pretty, tasty and colorful in under an hour! Enjoy!

 

Vietnamese style chicken noodle soup (Pho Ga) January 23, 2010

Filed under: Food,Recipes — lovemyfood @ 9:10 pm

 

Asian cuisine became an integral part of my life only a couple of years ago when I moved to Vancouver, BC where the number of ethnic Asian restaurants is really astonishing; I tried one and then another one and became addicted to the flavors, colors and smells. I crave Ramen soup and my eyes shine when I see a fresh pink piece of tuna; I am fascinated by the fire coming from under hot woks and am willing to stand in a very long line waiting for a table in a favorite place. Asian food crept into my home as well, there isn’t a week of grocery shopping when I don’t stock up on fresh ginger and lemon grass, garlic and cilantro and my pantry has all the staples – you can trust me on that one – from soy sauce to fish sauce, from mirin to rice vinegar, from garam masala to star anise. Recently I have decided to start reading some books on regional Asian cooking and enjoy the stories and recipes, I do find it a bit difficult to find good books on the theoretical aspect of the various cuisines but I’ll keep trying.

The recipe I want to share today is for a traditional Vietnamese chicken noodle soup; it is based on a traditional recipe though I did make it mine at the end of the day.

For the broth:

2 chicken breasts

1 quart (liter) of water

2 quarts (liters) chicken stock – store bought (low sodium) or home made

2 inch (5 cm) piece of ginger

1 shalot

3 start anise

1 cinnamon stick

2 Tbsp sugar

1/4 to 1/2 cup fish sauce (I used 1/4 cup or so and it was salty enough for me but if yours is not add more)

For serving: freshly ground black pepper, green onions, cilantro, Thai basil, Thai chilies, lime wedges, vegetable of your choice thinly sliced (you can see an optional array on the picture above), noodles – traditionally those would be thin rice noodles but I have used both Somen noodles (Japanese thin wheat noodles) as well as Soba noodles (Japanese as well, made partially with buckwheat flour).

To make:

Step 1: place chicken breasts in the water, add a few peppercorns a pinch of salt and a bay leaf, bring to a boil and reduce heat skimming the scum until the chicken is cooked through, remove the chicken and strain the resulting broth – reserve.

Step 2: under a broiler or on the bbq or just on an open flame if you have a gas stove char the ginger and shalot until black; smash each with a back of a knife.

Step 3: In a dry pan, heat up cinnamon and star anise until fragrant, add shalot, ginger, chicken stock and the broth in which you cooked the chicken. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and let cook for about an hour.

Step 4: When the chicken is cool enough to handle shred it with your fingers.

Step 5: When broth is ready add the fish sauce, sugar and a pinch of salt.

Step 6: Arrange chicken, noodles and all other garnishes in a bowl and pour the hot soup over them, serve with lime wedges on the side.

 

Have a wonderful year January 11, 2010

Filed under: Food,Recipes — lovemyfood @ 5:09 pm

Had no time to post anything during the holidays but I sure have been cooking and baking. Here are some photos I took and through those I want to wish you a wonderful new year!

Happy Eating!

Christmas Cookies (Alfajores, Ricciarelli, Cookie-press vanilla-butter cookies)

New Year’s dinner –  avocado mousse with cured Salmon, crème fraîche and salmon roe; crab ravioli with pea purée; Baked shrimp with avocado salad.

Second course – duck legs with Chanterelle ravioli and Porcini mushroom sauce.

 

Dessert – Gianduja souffle

And the last one…those are Pizzelle (Italian cookies, but I assume you already guessed that) and they are made using my new gadget (i.e. a pizzelle maker, like a waffle maker) and could be eaten plain or rolled into tubes, cones or pushed into muffin molds to create small cups. The tube shaped ones have a cannoli filling made from Ricotta and the cups are filled with Gianduja cream.

 

 

Mild Chicken Curry – adapted from Vij’s family recipe

Filed under: Food,Recipes,Vancouver Restaurants — lovemyfood @ 4:43 pm

If you like Indian food and you are not actually from India it is most likely that you rarely cook it at home but would rather go out or have it delivered to you and I am the same way; I love Vij’s in Vancouver, BC (for example) because it is slightly more sophisticated and is always consistent and delicious. But occasionally I do cook Indian food at home because I love the smell of spices and the vivid colors. This recipe is a classic, simple chicken curry appropriate for a mid-week dinner as well as for your guests. If you want to customize and add other vegetables please feel free, my only advice is to stick to 2-3 types so each one is distinct and present.

What you need:

1 onion – finely chopped

1 cinnamon stick

3 Tbsp chopped garlic

2 Tbsp  chopped ginger

2-3 (depending on size) tomatoes – chopped [I used 3 small Roma tomatoes]

2 chicken breasts – cubed into bite size pieces

10-15 crimini mushrooms (button mushrooms are ok, 3-4 portobello mushrooms would be awesome) – quartered

1 red bell pepper – sliced into ribbons or rounds

Spices: 1 Tbsp each salt, cumin, coriander powder, garam masala; 1 tsp turmeric; 1/2 tsp each black pepper & cayenne pepper.

1/2 cup thick (greek) yogurt

1/2 cup (light) sour cream

2 cups water

1/2 cup cilantro with the stems – chopped fine

To make:

Heat a few tablespoons of oil over medium heat, add onion and cinnamon – let cook for about 5 minutes, the onion should be golden; add garlic and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Add ginger, tomatoes and spices cook for 5 minutes longer or until you see that the oil separates from the solids. Add chicken and cook for a few minutes until its cooked from the outside (not the inside); add peppers and mushrooms and cook for a couple more minutes. Add sour cream, yogurt and water – stir well, increase heat and bring to a boil; reduce heat back to medium, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in cilantro and serve with rice (garnish with more cilantro).

I like to add cumin seeds to my rice a few minutes before its done.

The beauty of this dish is that it is a soup and a main course all at once which makes it a very good choices for those rainy (or snowy), cold, winter evenings. Stay warm!