Sunday, February 24, 2008

Any places to compost Kitchen waste in Mississauga?

Being married now, I don't quite get to Cambridge, where my Dad has a large plastic composter, as often as I used to, and the vegetable peelings and other compostible kitchen waste I normally accumulate lies waiting for me to make the trip. I've tried to do some research to find a place where I could bring this kitchen waste to compost, closer to where I live, I hate to have to throw it out in the regular garbage. Peel Region doesn't have the green bins for collecting compostible waste for condos, another reason why I would like to find some place to drop off this waste. So, if anyone knows of a place in Mississauga, I'd appreciate the information.

Splendid Chocolates Dark Chocolate Coconut and Pineapple

This Canadian chocolatier, from Montreal in the province of Quebec, is one I had never heard of before. The bar looked interesting, the combination of coconut and chocolate is one I like very much, though not normally in bars, where it's mostly coconut and a little milk chocolate. Too, the dried pineapple chunks looked interesting. This is Dark chocolate, but not a high content of cacao, sugar is the first ingredient. Other ingredients include chocolate liquor processed with alkali, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, vanilla, pineapple, sugar, coconut, sulfur dioxide and sulfite. How did it taste? Very good, the sprinkling of coconut and the dark chocolate make a good combination, I think that the ratio of chocolate to coconut works much better than other coconut bars, where it's coconut covered in milk chocolate. The pineapple chunks tasted good, but I don't think added much to the flavour.

Restaurant Review - Kumai Sushi Restaurant

For Valentine's Day I took my beautiful Bride to a Japanese restaurant called Kumai Sushi Restaurant, located at 35 Brunel Road in Mississauga, close to Brittania and Hurontario in Mississauga, in a strip mall with lots of different restaurants. When we arrived at 5:30, it was just opening up, we were a little early for our reservation. There were plenty of the Japanese screens set up, to separate and allow for privacy amongst the tables. We were seated at a table by a window. Looking over the menu, there did not seem to be very much there, only to discover that these were only the specials, we were then given the normal menu. They had a special Valentine's Day bento box, it looked interesting, but was more than $25 per person, and it had raw fish sushi, both of which we don't care for, so we decided to go instead for some items on the menu.

I selected a Fried Seafood and Vegetables combination, my beautiful Bride selected the Salmon Teriyaki combination, and we also ordered the Tempura appetizer.

The combination included a starter of miso soup and salad. The miso soup tasted pretty good, the salad was good, though not great.

Next came our appetizer. These were quite tasty, with a thin, crispy batter, there were two large shrimp and several different vegetables, onion, sweet potato, asparagus and a leafy vegetable that I had never seen before but tasted good.

My meal came, and I was disappointed to find that it was fairly the same as the appetizer, there were more shrimp and vegetables. It also came with Japanese potato salad and a coleslaw. The dish was otherwise tasty.

My beautiful Bride's Salmon Teriyaki was also quite good.

Overall, this is a good restaurant, a little pricey, but worth a revisit.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Irresistibles Kettle Cooked Chips - Lime and Black Pepper

I'm always leery of a Brand Name that makes up your mind for you, I prefer to make the decision whether this chip is irresistible. Well, I would say it isn't. I have liked other chips with the flavour combination of lime and black pepper, this one is not so good, the black pepper is not so peppery, the lime flavour comes from citric acid, and one of the ingredients is monosodium glutamate, something I didn't think to find in a potato chip, but perhaps it is in other ones too. I do like that they are kettle cooked, they are low in saturated fat, and trans fat free, but they are cooked in sunflower oil, normally an excellent health choice, but also an oil I have read that should not be heated. As you may have guessed, I doubt that I would buy this brand again.

Tonight's Dinner

My beautiful Bride made another wonderful meal tonight. Delicious! Sorry, no recipe today, but I'll see if I can make one.

She wanted to make a Thai vegetarian Spring Roll for a while, these were filled with chopped vegetables and black fungus.

This is a variation on a Vietnamese Bun Thang, with vegetarian shrimp on sugar cane and Vietnamese Ham, bean sprouts, pickled carrots and daikon, mint and coriander, and vermicelli noodles.

New Tree Pleasure

The third of the chocolate bars from the Belgian chocolatier New Tree is made solely from Fine Belgian Dark Chocolate, at 73% cacao content, and is labelled Pleasure, and subtitled Indulgence. The ingredient listing looks good, unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa powder and soy lecithin as an emulsifier. I don't know whether chocolate bars are normally like this, but the bar is advertised as being rich in fiber, minerals and vitamins. I didn't know that this is an issue yet with cacao, but it is also GMO-free, for those who are concerned about that.

How does it taste? Does it live up to its name, Pleasure, Indulgence. Certainly it is good chocolate, it snaps well, smells fruity (high cacao content normally does) and melts in the mouth well, with a good taste. I think that I like this bar, simple dark chocolate, but I would say that it is expensive ($7 on sale for $5).

Restaurant Review - Avani Asian Indian Bistro

The restaurant Khaarma was recently bought out and renovated, we thought to go check it out. A big sign proclaimed an Executive Buffet, costing $9.99, for a limited time, they asked us when we entered whether we wanted go for the buffet, we said yes. There were no other customers in the dining area when we arrived, though it filled up quickly about a half hour later. Perusing the menu we were given, we found that it was a different kind of buffet, there were no tables to go and choose your own, instead you choose from Starters, Mains and Sides, and afterwards a dessert. You could choose three each of five Starters (vegetable pakoras, tandoori chicken, potato roll, Manchow soup or fresh salad); three of the six Mains (four vegetarian and two meat); there were no limits on the Sides.

We each chose vegetable pakoras and Manchow soup (a Moroccan totally vegetarian spicy soup); I chose potato rolls and my beautiful Bride chose the fresh salad. The Manchow soup came first, it was quite delicious, though quite spicy. The vegetable pakoras were quite good, though they were cold (I suspect they were made earlier in the day, but at least they could have nuked them), and the potato rolls (mashed potatoes with peas rolled into cylinders and then fried) were quite good, and hot. The fresh salad had an interesting little oil dressing that pleased the palate of my beautiful Bride.

Being mostly vegetarian, my beautiful Bride chose three of the four vegetarian Mains, I chose the other of the chose, plus the two meat-based Mains. They arrived in small sterling silver bowls with two handles. The butter chicken and the lamb curry that I ordered were both delicious. The other one, a Karahi Paneer dish, with green pepper and curry, was also good. My beautiful Bride enjoyed the Karahi Paneer, also her Paneer dish, which was tomato-based, and her Dal Makhani, which is a black lentil dish. She would have liked her Saag Ghobi, which is fenugreek leaves (like spinach) and potatoes, but she found a foreign object in it that put her off. Otherwise, it was quite good.

The sides that we could have included a vegetarian chow mein, basmati rice, which was excellent with the other dishes, a raita or cucumber and yogurt, very sour, and garlic Naan, quite good, not excellent, but a good Naan.

Overall, we thought that the food was very good, and we could come back here. I don't know quite how much it would cost for the buffet when it comes off special, but, if it's not too expensive, it will be worth going than once in a while.

New Tree Vigor

The second of the chocolate bars from the Belgian chocolatier New Tree is made mostly from Fine Belgian Dark Chocolate, at 73% cacao content, and is labelled Vigor, and subtitled Energizing. The ingredient listing looks good, unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa powder, coffee (2%), guarana extract and soy lecithin as an emulsifier. Guarana extract is used in South America as a source of caffeine in soft drinks, I would say to make this bar Energizing.

How does it taste? Does it live up to its name, Vigor, Energizing. The coffee taste was fairly subtle, and I don't think were was a big caffeine kick from. I don't think that I like this bar, it was not quite good chocolate or a good flavour, and I would say that it is expensive ($7 on sale for $5).

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Rachel Ray's Stoup

We made several changes to the recipe that Rachel Ray makes Chicken Cacciatore Stoup; Stoup because it is thicker than a Stew, and thinner than a Soup. We replaced the chicken breasts (about one pound) with mock chicken, we used Yukon Gold (yellow-fleshed) potatoes rather than russet, we didn't add the 4 ribs celery hearts (because we didn't have any), we used Ontario Merlot rather than dry Italian red wine (it was what we had on hand), we used regular crushed tomatoes rather than the fire-roasted ones it calls for (does anyone know where one can find fire-roasted tomatoes?), and we used vegetable stock rather than the chicken stock it calls for. Basically, we made a vegetarian version of her recipe. It still tasted quite good. We had it alone, with rice and with noodles as a spaghetti sauce. All worked well.

Rachel Ray's Stoup
Adapted from a recipe by Rachel Ray
1 package mock chicken, 270 g
Coarse salt and black pepper
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1-inch squares
4 portobello mushroom caps or 16 crimini mushrooms, sliced or chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered lengthwise, then thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and quartered lengthwise, then thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup Ontario Merlot red wine (eyeball it)
1 can diced tomatoes (15 ounces)
1 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
2 cups vegetable stock
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary (3-4 sprigs), finely chopped
1 cup basil or arugula or baby spinach leaves, shredded or torn

Heat a deep skillet or a medium soup pot over medium-high heat. Add two tablespoons olive oil and the chicken. Season it with coarse salt and pepper.

While the chicken cooks, chop up the veggies.

When the chicken is evenly and lightly browned all over, about 3-4 minutes, remove it to a plate and reserve.

Add another tablespoon of olive oil. Add the potatoes to the pan. Cook a couple of minutes, then add in the mushrooms and onion and cook another couple of minutes. Add in the peppers and garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper.

Add chicken back to the pan. Toss it with the vegetables. Add red wine to the pan and deglaze it, picking up drippings. Add tomatoes and stock to the stoup and stir to combine. Stir in rosemary and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook, 8-10 minutes.

Turn off stoup and ladle into shallow bowls. Top with basil (for a sweet finish and to balance the spice in the soup) or arugula (for a peppery finish) or with spinach (for a woodsy finish). At the table, pass grated cheese for sprinkling on top of the stoup and bread for mopping up the bowl.

The Glamorizer

We were at Zeller's last Saturday, and were intrigued, well, I was intrigued, by the offer of a free gift for a new item for sale at Zeller's. Knowing there was likely to be a sales pitch, we went anyway. The sales pitch was for US Jesco's new knives, what they call Master Cut, they are the makers of the Ginsu knives, the ever-sharp knives which we've all seen on infomericials.

The gift for listening to the spiel, the offer at the end of we considered for a minute before deciding we didn't need any more knives, was what they called the Glamorizer.

The tab on the end you can use to score the rind of an orange, making it easier to peel. The other end has a serrated edge with a channel, that will allow you to cut apples or other fruit into decorative shapes easily.

All in all, what they offered, seemed like a good deal, two knives, four steak knives, some more, like any of their informercials, but we decided against it.

Taiwanese Cakes

The Fo Guang Shang Temple of Toronto had a Lunar New Year Fair, with lots of things for sale, sweets, baked goods, foods, crafts, flowers and food, we picked up several things, these Taiwanese cakes were some of them.

These were green tea flavoured. Quite tasty, with a chewy green tea intererior.

These were strawberry flavoured. Also good, but it seemed to taste more like pineapple than strawberry.

Jiaozi Filling Meatballs

We made jiaozi the other day for Lunar New Year, they all turned out quite delicious, there was several vegetarian ones, eggs and chives, carrot and eggs, black fungus, and two meat ones, one with pork and fennel, and one with the following pork recipe. We had some filling left over, so I thought to make meatballs out of them. I pan-fried them for less than 10 minutes, until they were brown all over. Quite good tasting, an interesting meatball that could be added, and I did, to any spaghetti and meatballs recipe.

Jiaozi Filling Meatballs
300 g Chinese cabbage, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
450 g ground pork
100 g Chinese garlic chives, finely chopped
2-1/2 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
2 Tbsp roasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp finely chopped ginger
1 Tbsp cornstarch

Put the cabbage and salt in a bowl and toss lightly to combine. Leave for 30 minutes. Squeeze all the water from the cabbage and put it into a large bowl. Add the pork, garlic chives, soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, ginger and cornstarch. Stir until combined and drain off any excess liquid.

Blood Orange Hazelnut Cake

I would say that I was seduced mostly by the picture in the recipe book, Christmas Family Gatherings, which features recipes and ideas for Christmas. The picture looked so delicious, there were sugared cranberries and candied orange peel, and the cake contained blood orange juice, whose juice and pulp is reddish in colour, that I had the idea that the cake itself would turn out reddish in colour. Well, it didn't. I don't think my substitution of hazelnuts for the walnuts, and yoghurt for the sour cream, had anything to do with this, but I swear the cake looks reddish, and perhaps because of this tastier and more interesting, in the picture.

Regardless of my preconception of how it would taste, it did end up tasting good, the combination of blood orange and hazelnuts is quite different and interesting.

Blood Orange Hazelnut Cake
Adapted from a recipe in Christmas Family Gatherings
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp finely grated blood orange zest
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups self-rising cake flour
1/2 cup yoghurt (or sour cream)
1/2 cup fresh blood orange juice
1 cup finely chopped hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line the bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan with parchment paper.

In a bowl, combine the butter, granulated sugar, blood orange zest and nutmeg. Using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the flour. Stir in the yoghurt, blood orange juice and hazelnuts.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake the cake until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and peel off the parchment. Let cool completely.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

President's Choice Easy Peel Roasted Almonds

Yet another offering by the line of President's Choice from Loblaw's, this product gives you the taste of dry roasted almonds in the shell, and makes the shell easy to crack open. These cost about $5 for one pound.

They taste pretty good, toasting nuts give it a whole new dimension of flavour.

Honey Tangerines

One of the gifts that one can give for the Lunar New Year are honey tangerines, also called Lo Kat in Chinese. They are quite sweet and juicy, with only a few seeds.

Long Jing Tea Gift

A Chinese co-worker spent a week in China recently, and brought back this surprise wonderful gift for me, some Dragon Well or Long Jing green tea, one of my favourite teas.

Fresh Soya Milk

My beautiful Bride wanted to make fresh Soya Milk, and came across a great how-to guide that's easy to follow. I couldn't possibly do it better, so you can check it out at the source, the article is called Making Soy Milk. In Thailand, they sometimes add pandan leaf to flavour the Soy Milk, with a little sugar for sweetness too. The soy milk is very good, especially warmed, though we'll end up drinking lots of it, it made about three litres. Too, being fresh, it goes bad fairly quickly, in about three days from when you prepare it. This recipe uses dried soybeans, and you end up with the remains of the beans, from that you can make, with a little bit of flour and some steaming, something like mock meat, very nutritious.

Villars Praline Noir Eclats de Cacao

This is the second chocolate bar I've eaten from the Swiss chocolatier Villars, the first was a Dark chocolate bar. Unlike the 72% cacao content of that bar, this one has only a minimum of 50%. But it makes up for flavour in other ways, it has a Praliné filling and caramelized cocoa beans. The ingredient listing is fairly good, sugar, cocoa beans, almonds, cocoa butter, butter fat, caramelised cocoa beans (5%), cocoa powder, whole milk powder, skimmed milk powder, sweet whey powder, dried malt extract, soya lecithin as an emulsifier and flavours.

How does it taste? Pretty good, the caramelized cocoa beans are crunchy, providing a contrast to the sweet praliné filling (but it's better to chew the bar squares, melting them in your mouth will leave a small pile of crunchy pieces - or maybe you like that). I think that ultimately, it was too sweet for my tastes, but not bad.

Happy Lunar New Year!

Happy Lunar New Year to all my friends and family, especially to my Chinese brother-in-law (who is in China celebrating right now), and more especially to my beautiful Bride, who has brought me lots of Joy this past year, I wish for her the same.

I wish all my friends and family, new and old, Luck, Happiness, Peace and Prosperity for the Year of the Rat!