TWELVE: Cupcakes!

14 Jul

nom nom nom

Food pretty much sums up our lives. Sonya has a delicious red velvet cupcake recipe that we all love and decided to make, but with a bit of a twist. Oh and I forgot my camera, but got to use Peter’s T2i.



Basically, the night started with Andrew (on the right) making a bet with the loser having to wear the heart-design apron (on the right) to Safeway. It’s pretty clear who lost the bet. It wasn’t as embarrassing as expected because it was 10 at night, but we got some good laughs out of it. SO, onto the cupcake making.


Nick did most of the baking


Purple Swirls


Kristen Scooping out some Batter


Sony and Andrew...BFF.


Oscar the Grouch done by Peter



Sorry I don’t have a recipe for everyone, but you get the gist of it. Purple Velvet Cupcakes. It’s quick n dirty and doesn’t need a lot of ingredients. We made three colours of cream cheese/butter icing and had a contest for who could make the best Cupcakes. These are delish, but quite obviously really unhealthy for us ie: butter, sugar, and cream cheese). It was a ton of fun baking with everyone and maybe next time we’ll tackle a triple layered cake, ACE of cakes styles.


Peter showing off his stuff

And the winner is…Peter’s Incredible Hulk (bottom middle left). It was a really good rendition of Edward Norton as the Incredible Hulk, with Andrew’s House (top middle) coming in with the award for the most life-like. Nick’s creativity astounded us with his series of four cupcakes.

Check out the rest of the set here on my flickr.


ELEVEN: Guest post from China!

4 Jul

So a good friend of mine Betty Zhang decided to leave us all in Vancouver and jet out to China for four months to teach English overseas. Luckily, she’s been good keeping in touch with us and you can follow her blog here, at Sans Veronique (get it ? Betty without Veronica?).

I remember the first reason she told me for going back to China were for these delicious creepy looking shrimp-lobster hybrid shell-fish that they only have in her home-city. So, I pretty much told her she had to do a guest post for me and share some of the delicious food on her trip, and here it is!

I recently had the chance to go to Sanya, Hainan with one of my favorite cousins and her twenty-something friends. While we are all residing in the northeast section of China, our destination was the southern most point of the country.

If you think Canadians have little in common from coast to coast, it would be an understatement to say that the Chinese is much worse. There is a tangible mutual distrust between Northerners and Southerners. It doesn’t help, of course, that many parts of China have enigmatic dialects. As a result, traveling with my cousin meant constantly seeking out the best prices –  meaning, prices that ripped us off the least. This constant quest resulted in more walking, more sweating, and more uneven tan lines, probably, than if we had just paid whatever we were asked. It did also, however, lead us to streets and alleyways of amazing foods.

What I really loved about eating in Sanya was the atmosphere. All the restaurants placed their tables and chairs outside, with trees and their luscious leaves as ceilings, and the buzz of conversations. It was lively and relaxed all at once… I mean, what could you do but relax in 33 degree weather?

Your browser may not support display of this image. The First Market Place (Di Yi Shi Chang) in Sanya was the place to buy seafood. For tourists who have no idea what to do with feisty little blue crabs and giant, leaf shaped shellfish, there are dozens of “processing shops” which were more than willing to cook the seafood for us, for lovely prices, of course.

(A shellfish I can’t name, stir-fried with potato noodles and green onions)

While waiting for our processed seafood, we also found a place that made fresh juices from an array of tropical fruits, and also Chao Bing, which literally translates to stir-fried ice.

Tropical fruits like papayas, mangoes, coconut are puréed together in various combinations. Then the fruit purée is “stir-fried” with great speed and expertise on a cold surface and made, with a dash of condensed milk, into Chao Bing. These little cups of iced fruit goodness definitely made me forget my 6-week (and counting) depravation of Vancouver summer favorites like Qoola and slushy bubble teas.

Sanya had the best papayas and dragon fruits. It helps, of course, that these fruits are picked probably ripe from trees, instead of left to ripen in some truck crossing bridges and highways.

And of course, a trip to Hainan just isn’t complete without Hainanese Chicken. One day when we gave up looking for a semi-deserted beach, we found a restaurant that specialized in duck. When we especially requested chicken, the young girl (she looked maybe 14) gladly ran down the street to get us some, since it was a holiday and they had run out. The restaurant also had really delicious Cha Siu.

All that Food looks DELICIOUS! The Chao Bing looks like it’d be excellent for the upcoming 30+ degree weather in Vancouver!

TEN: Beef Stew

14 Jun
20100613 TEN- Beef Stew

Our little Chef

So this is the famous beef stew I rave about (or beef short-ribs). As we had some leftover AAA Flat Iron sitting around, I choose to use it instead of my usual bone-in shortribs and they turned out awesome! Flat Iron comes from the chuck (shoulder) of the beef and is naturally a bit chewy, but it is full of marbly fat which is what makes the meat full of flavour and tender after a couple hours in the oven. It also has a nice chunk of cartilage which turns nice and tender. SO, from the professional chef, here’s my adaptation of the recipe.

20100613 TEN- Beef Stew

Flat Iron Stew

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. 1.2kgs or about 2lbs of flat iron cut into large chunks (you don’t want them too small, they’ll be in the oven for quite a while)
  2. 2 cups of mirepoix (a 2:1 ratio of onion with celery and carrots…ie: 1 cup of onions, 1/2 cup of carrots and 1/2 cup of celery) I used a bit more, but I think around that much should be okay
  3. 1 small can of tomato paste
  4. 2 cups of veal/beef stock
  5. 1 cup of dry red wine
  6. salt, pepper, a bit of thyme, 3 bay leafs
  7. oil

20100613 TEN- Beef Stew

20100613 TEN- Beef Stew

I began by pre-heating my oven to 250 degrees, lowering my racks to make enough room for the our pot. I used a Le Crusset, which is amazing for slow-braising/cooking, but any cast-iron or oven safe pot is okay.

I cut up my flat iron, mire-poix and got all my ingredients ready to go then  pre-heated the crusset over medium/medium-high with some oil. After seasoning my meat with salt and pepper, I began browning them, leaving them for a couple minutes on each side until they get to a really golden brown.

20100613 TEN- Beef Stew

Bring the heat down to about a medium and throw in the mirepoix, scrapping the bottoms and all around the pot, making sure all the bits are off (this is where all the flavour is). Then let the onions become transluscent and mirepoix cook a bit until its fragrant (about a minute or two). I then added the tomato paste and mixed it all really well. Let it brown for about another minute or two.
20100613 TEN- Beef Stew

Then add the wine and continue to cook until the liquid is about half. Finally, add the meat back in and pour enough stock to cover the stew 3/4 of the way. Stir in the thyme and bay leaf and let it all come to a gentle simmer. Cover it and throw it all into the oven for about 2 hours, when it should all be tender and delicious.
20100613 TEN- Beef Stew.jpg

This could easily be one of my favourite recipes to make because it’s easy, looks like it took a whole day and is delicious.
20100613 TEN- Beef Stew


29 May

EIGHT: Apple Pie!

So my dad decided to finally make some apple pie this week! He hasn’t made this in well over a year, and it’s about time he did since the kitchen is now finished. This was a simple pie recipe with a crust LOADED with shortening and all that good stuff to make it flakey. The apple’s were sprinkled with some brown sugar, corn starch cinnamon and a douse of butter to make a nice thick, saucy apple filling.

The recipe was a tad problematic because there was just barely enough dough for the crust, so it came out a little wonky. But nevertheless, it was delish.

EIGHT: Apple Pie!

EIGHT: Apple Pie!

EIGHT: Apple Pie!

EIGHT: Apple Pie!

SEVEN: A Quick Snack

20 May
SEVEN: Prepping the veggies


So I’m a big guy. Likewise, I get hungry pretty often, so today I decided to make some noodles for a snack. It’s pretty easy. I just cut up my veggies (zucchini, onions, carrots, garlic and ginger) and tofu then put them aside. After I boiled some ‘Soft Noodles’ (that’s what the package says) for about a minute. Next I heated up my pan on medium/medium high with some oil, dropped in the garlic, ginger and onions then the rest of the veggies. Add about 1/3 of water, covered and let it steam.

SEVEN: Sauce

Sesame oil, oyster sauce, sweet soy sauce

I added some sweet soy sauce, oyster sauce and a touch of sesame oil to the mix and tossed in the noodles. And voila!

SEVEN: Stir-fry noodles

Stir-fry Vegetable Noodles

This was pretty quick and easy to make, but left me with a lot of dishes to do. My snack’s are a little extreme sometimes, especially when I have time on my hand. What are some of your favourites to make?

SEVEN: Dishes

and...the dishes

SIX: Avocado, a confession.

12 May

SIX: Avocado

Here goes my confession: I used to dread these green, mushy, tasteless testicle shaped fruit’s. In fact, according to Wikipedia, the etymology of the word “avocado” derives from the word Nahuatl, testicle. So the story goes that my parents, being from South America (a prominent location for the growth and production of avocados), were born and raised loving them, as well as my sister (since she had grown a strong liking for them as well). I was the online in my family who didn’t like them and would, from time to time, pick them out of my salad and other dishes. For whatever reason, I never liked them.

However, although I did not like avocados, that didn’t mean I sent them off packing, without any hope of ever entering my life becuase I have a philosophy that comes with my food. As as it’s served at the table, I’ll at least have a try at it. So I assume, that after 19 years, I had a moment, an intervention even, of the taste buds in my tongue. And now, I love them. I can’t get enough of them. For breakfast, in salads, with quesadillas, in my sandwich or with crackers. The buttery and creamy avocado spread over whatever it is with a bit of salt is enough to make my mouth water.

For me, avocados are the best for breakfast. They’re full of energy and healthy fats that will keep you full as well as vitamins B, E, and K. This morning I cut up hard boiled eggs and put them in a quesadilla with avocado, cheese and a pinch of salt. It’s the perfect start to the morning and kept me full until lunch.

So that’s my story for the week. The story of how you should never stop trying the food you like, because one day, maybe one day, you might just fall in love with it. The same’s happened for carrots and tomatoes and now the avocado. I’m still hoping that one day it might happen with the dreaded bitter melon. Drop a comment! Tell me what you have a distaste for and maybe, just maybe, give it a try next time!

FIVE: Gnocci

5 May

Okay, So I’m terribly behind with this blog because of exams. But here’s a dinner I made a couple weeks ago:

To make home made gnocchi all you need are two medium russet potatoes, a cup of flour (and some more for your board), salt and some seasoning for after you make them.

FIVE: Gnocci

Start off by flouring your board so the dough doesn't stick

FIVE: Gnocchi

Put two boiled russet potatoes (takes about 45 minutes) through a ricer over the board with a tablespoon over salt and a cup of flour

FIVE: Gnocci

Knead the dough for about 2-3 minutes until it comes together, if its too sticky add some more flour

FIVE: Gnocci

Cut the dough into 5 equal parts and roll it out and cut them into 1 inch pieces

FIVE: Gnocci

Place them onto a non-stick pan with flour while waiting too cook them. Place them in a pot of rolling salted water over medium heat. They're ready when they float

FIVE: Gnocci

I tossed mine in some butter and sage after they cooked

This was a bit of a pain to cook, especially since I was alone, but the end result was delicious. Exams take the life out of you and there’s nothing like a home cooked meal to get you re-energized.