Sunday, June 10, 2007

Naan Chicken Pizza

My best friend bought a convection toaster oven recently, and it came with a pizza stone, so he suggested when I visited him on the weekend, that we try and make pizzas. Having seen the new President's Choice Naan Chicken Pizza and not yet tried it, it is sitting in my freezer currently, I thought that we could do something similar. I suggested that we buy some naan, the delicious Indian bread, and cover it with sauce, he suggested black bean salsa instead, which worked, some pre-cooked chicken, some feta cheese, some cut-up cherry tomatoes, and some asiago cheese. The toaster oven cooked this in about 8 minutes at 450C, on convection bake. They turned out quite tasty, though you have to make sure to drain the salsa a little bit, otherwise they turn out soggy.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Chocolate Ginger Honey Cake

Yet another variation on the theme that is the Devonshire Honey Cake, this one features the wonderful combination of chocolate and ginger. There are three forms of ginger within - ground ginger, grated fresh ginger, and crystallized ginger. Sitting far away from my kitchen, I could still smell that combo, wafting wonderfully throughout my place.

Chocolate Ginger Honey Cake
225 g sweet butter
250 g runny honey
100 g dark muscovado sugar
175 g good dark chocolate
3 large eggs
300 g (2-1/4 cups) self-rising flour
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1-3/4 tsp ground ginger
1-1/2 Tbsp freshly grated peeled ginger
1/4 cup crystallized ginger
2 Tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 300F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Line bottom with parchment paper.

Melt butter, honey, and sugar slowly in a saucepan. Boil for one minute. Leave to cool (caramel will thicken).

Add chocolate to hot caramel and stir till melted and mixed through.

Whisk flour, cocoa and ground ginger together till mixed.

Beat in eggs one at a time in the saucepan. Whisk in flour into egg caramel mixture in two batches. Whisk freshly grated ginger into batter. Whisk crystallized ginger into batter.

Pour into the greased pan and bake for 55-60 minutes or until cake is golden brown and spring back when pressed.

Turn out the cake onto a wire rack. Warm 2 Tbsp honey in a small saucepan and brush over the top of the cake to glaze. Leave to cool.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Green Tea Red Bean Bun

This sweet bun is another offering of the Grape Vine Bakery at the Victoria Park Business Centre. I was a little disappointed at the amount of green tea, it seemed to be mostly a sweet white bun with green tea swirled in, and red beans decorating the outside.

Lindt Grand Hazelnuts Dark

Lindt and Sprüngli AG makes some good chocolate, not wonderful, but good and tasty. Easy on the palate. This offering is no different. Again, it is an unusual chocolate bar, in that most times hazelnuts are paired with milk chocolate. I think it just fits the rather broad category of dark chocolate, however, as it lists sugar as its first ingredient, followed by hazelnuts (comprising 34% of the total), cocoa mass, cocoa butter, milk ingredients, soya lecithin and artificial flavour. Some of the hazelnuts are whole, while others have been transformed into caramelized slivers. Still, despite its not so good ingredient listing, the taste is quite good, but rather expensive, $5 and above, to have very often.

I missed a wonderful Food Holiday!

Apparently, June 1st in the United States is National Hazelnut Cake Day. Who knew? I'll have to mark it down for next year, so as to make a hazelnut cake on that day. Not that I need an excuse to celebrate hazelnuts!

Dark Chocolate M&Ms

I disagree with the packaging, that these M&Ms are new, I remember the 'Go to the Dark Side' tie-in with the third Star Wars Episode, where Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader. Those were hard to find, I remember going to several stores before I found a package. Like most dark chocolate versions of a product, the main more established and well-liked milk chocolate version comes in far greater numbers than its darker cousin, so I can see why they were not easy to find. In fact, these are not 100% dark chocolate, they are 70% dark chocolate, with milk chocolate mixed in. The candy coating is the same. They taste not bad, better than the milk chocolate version.

Two Small Poulain Samplers

These bite-sized chocolates from Poulain will give you a sample of their taste. One is the Noir (76% cacao content); the other is the Noir Café (64% cacao content).

Two More Lux Teas

After the success of the Red Sour Cherry tea from Lux, I thought I'd try two more.

The raspberry tea smelled wonderful in the store, too bad it didn't translate to a wonderful taste when it was steeped. It tasted a lot like a weak sour cherry tea, as it had similar ingredients, and had only a weak raspberry flavour.

The black currant tea was much better, it smelled quite good, and tasted like black currants, similar to other black currant teas that I have tried before.

Foco Coconut Juice

This product, which comes from Thailand, contains 80% juice from young coconuts; the rest is water, sugar, young coconut pulp, citric acid and potassium metabisulphite (as a preservative). It is quite refreshing, only slightly sweet and mildly coconut in flavour.

Restaurant Review - Restoran Malaysia

I had wanted to eat at this restaurant for the longest time, since it was recommended by a co-worker and friend of mine, he and his wife are Chinese-Malaysian, and he loves to eat out, especially at this restaurant. Restoran Malaysia is located at 815 Major Mackenzie Dr. E, in a strip mall at the corner of Bayview and Major Mackenzie. Looking around at the tables as I entered, there were plenty of Asians, usually a good sign of quality Asian food. Another good sign is a line up. Saturday evenings they don't take reservations, its first-come-first-serve and there is a line out the door. We arrived at 1 in the afternoon, fortunately, and were seated right away. It seemed, however, a little dark as I looked around. Perusing the menu, I noticed a fair number of Thai dishes, along with Indonesian, Malaysian and Indian-style dishes. I was with my co-worker's wife, and asked her what she would recommend, she couldn't quite narrow it down, and told me instead that everything was good. One dish caught my eye, on their lunch specials, that was the Indian-style dish Nasi Goreng, of which I remember fondly eating as a teenager, so I chose that dish to try. I am sure it was far superior than the packaged spices that became the Nasi Goreng that I remember, and it was, sort of a smoky flavoured rice, with vegetables and shrimp and chicken, a cooked egg on top, and better tasting shrimp chips as an accompaniment. We chose two other dishes, one an Indonesian Laksa Noodle, with wide egg noodles, fish cakes and a coconut broth. Delicious. The third dish we sampled was a Stir Fry Kway Teow, with really wide flat rice noodles, my favourite, prawns and chicken and bean sprouts. Again, delicious. Best of all, I got to take the remains of two of the dishes home, to enjoy again. The service was great, the wait-staff were very friendly and helpful. I would definitely visit this excellent restaurant again.

Thai Hotpot

I had been told that the brother of my beautiful Thai girlfriend was a good cook, and he had invited us to partake of a specialty of his, Thai hotpot. I wrote of the four different cookies that I made the night before, they were well received, we ate them later, after we had finished, along with some cut up watermelon. There were several dishes on the table around the portable gas stove, one of them contained fish balls and tofu and shrimp.

On another dish was yellow noodles with fried garlic.

Into the boiling water, you can see two compartments, went the meat, which also included chicken legs, some savoy cabbage cut up, glass noodles and some Thai greens, which they did not know the English name for.

After a few moments, it was cooked, and, as it turned out, was quite delicious, with a dollop of spicy Thai hotpot sauce. There was also a very excellent cut-up barbecue duck, the only thing that was not cooked by her brother, which we enjoyed with rice and some of the salty sauce. All in all, a wonderful meal.

Tanzanian Kilimanjaro Tea

My uncle also generously brought for all of us some Tanzania tea, a black tea which has replaced most of the coffee plantations these days. My grandfather was the manager of a coffee plantation when my Dad and his two brothers were growing up in Tanganyika, now Tanzania. Is it better than other black teas? I can't say, though my co-worker thought it didn't.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Kras Finest Hazelnuts

This chocolate bar from Croatia, from the nearly one century old (1911) company Kras is fairly good tasting, though the hazelnuts have been made into crunchy sugar-coated bits. The cocoa content is only 30%, thus a milk chocolate, with 14% dry milk solids. The ingredient listing is not so good, sugar, cocoa mass, powdered milk, cocoa butter, crunchy grains (sugar and hazelnuts), hazelnuts, soya lecithin and artificial vanillin flavour. I don't think that I would buy this chocolate bar again.

Haden Mangoes

In reading about this variety of mango, I found out on the Importer's website, that the Haden Mango could be considered the King of Mangoes. I disagree, and think that the Ataulfo, which they also import, has a superior taste. The Haden is much larger than the Ataulfo, and has a reddish and yellow skin. The flesh is orange, it tastes quite sweet, and it is quite juicy. There is, however, a fair amount of fibre. In the store where I purchased it, it was labelled Apple Mango, though I don't get the reference, it does not resemble or smell or taste in any way like an apple.

Matcha Green Tea Powder

The Japanese green tea called matcha, is traditionally used in tea ceremonies. It is an unfermented tea, unlike its close sister, black tea, which is ground into a fine powder, then mixed with water below the boiling point and stirred with a bamboo whisk. There is evidence that there is more antioxidants in this kind of green tea than more common kinds of green tea consumed by many North Americans. Matcha is what is used in many of the superior green tea baked goods.

Two more Ritter Sport Dark Chocolate Bars

These are two more of the dark chocolate offerings from Ritter Sport, which I considered superior to the other two that I reviewed earlier. All these bars run around $2 to $2.25 for 100 grams. There is no indication of where the cocoa comes from, or what varietals of cacao bean.

This one is similar to the straight dark chocolate bar, with the addition of whole hazelnuts, which makes it a far tastier chocolate bar. It also has no added ingredients or fillings. The ingredient listing looks pretty good, though the cocoa content is only at 50%, the hazelnut content is at 23%; it is sugar, cocoa mass, hazelnuts, cocoa butter, soy lecithin and vanillin (not so good). It tastes good, and I have already purchased another one of these.

This bar has 71% cocoa content. The ingredient listing is very short, just cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter and natural vanilla. It tastes really good, and I have already purchased another one of these.