Sunday, August 31, 2008

Lindt Excellence Peru

I was surprised the other day, that I had not tried the Peru origin bar in Lindt's Excellence line of Single Origin cacao; I had tried the 55% Cuba, the 65% Madagascar and the 75% Ecuador Single Origin cacao before. This one has 80% cacoa content, the cacao grown in the Amazonian Tropical Forests at the foot of the Peruvian Andes (as per the packaging). The ingredient listing is quite good, cocoa mass, cocoa powder, cocoa butter, sugar, soya lecithin and natural flavour (likely vanilla).

How does it taste. As good or even better than the Ecuador one, which I liked the best of the three. Very chocolatey, smooth, melts well in the mouth. Now I am glad I tried this one, and I will buy it again.

Kao Klook Kapi

This is a Thai dish of assembled pieces, the presentation is just as important as the taste. The Kapi of the recipe name is shrimp paste, which is salted dried very small shrimp; roast in the oven on 350F for 10 minutes or so, until it's fragrant. Golden Mountain season sauce is soy sauce, substitute your favourite if you can't find the Golden Mountain (which you can in most Chinese supermarkets). The Kao is rice; Klook in Thai means to mix well, you mix, for example, in some dishes, the shrimp paste and rice together. However, it tastes pretty good, another recipe to make again.

Kao Klook Kapi
2-1/2 cups steamed rice
1 Tbsp roasted kapi (shrimp paste)
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1-2 Tbsp oil for stir-fry
2 eggs
5 long green beans, sliced into small pieces
1/2 green apple, julienned
4 shallots, sliced
1 small red or green chili, sliced
1/2 small cucumber, sliced
fried dried shrimp
sweet soya protein
1/4 cup mushroom stock
1 tsp palm sugar
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp Golden Mountain seasoning sauce

To prepare sweet soya protein, soak in hot water until soft. Then cook in a heavy pot on medium-high heat, adding mushroom stock. Season with palm sugar, fish sauce and seasoning sauce.

Separate the cooked rice well. Put some oil in a heavy pot on medium heat. When hot, add garlic and stir-fry until fragant. Lower the heat, add the kapi and stir fry. Add sliced long green bean and cook until done. Add steamed rice and stir-fry to mix well. Set aside.

Mix eggs well with a fork, then cook on medium heat in a heavy pot to make a thin omelette. Cut into thin slices.

Put rice with long beans on a plate; arrange well with sweet soya protein, fried dried shrimp, green apple, cucumber, sliced shallots, sliced chili. Garnish with coriander.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Osmanthus Fragrance Dancong Tea

Osmanthus is a flower from a small bush that can be combined with green tea to create a new flavour or fragrance, much like Jasmine flowers. You can have tea made with Osmanthus flowers, or combined with other green or black teas, but this is not that, it is a green tea that has Osmanthus Fragrance, and it smells, more subtly than not, kind of like peach, though I have read it is supposed to be apricot. We were told at the place we bought it, Zen Gardens, that it was a favourite of one of the former Chinese Emperors, and likely would have only been enjoyed by the Royal Court. Dancong teas, or single-bush teas, can imitate the flavours or fragrances of various flowers or fruits, like orange blossom or almond; as I say, this one tastes and smells, to me, more like peach, and I don't know whether it has the fragrance of apricot, and thus smells like osmanthus, or the other way around. Anyways, it makes a pleasant but not strong flavoured green tea.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Garlic Stems with Scallops

When I wrote about garlic stems almost two years ago, I alluded to a recipe for Suan Tai and Scallops. Here is my beautiful Bride's version of that recipe that my brother-in-law made. The garlic stems are the green tops that grow up out of the bulb where the garlic cloves mature. You can find these in almost any Chinese Supermarket, and some regular supermarkets now. We've made these as well with shrimp (6-7 per person), and a combination of the two (below, made with fresh Ontario garlic stems we bought in a Farmer's Market); both delicious.

Garlic Stems and Scallops
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cane sugar
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp Golden Mountain seasoning sauce
1 tsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp chicken stock
1/2 tsp salt
6 large scallops, cut into four to five pieces
garlic stems, cut into small pieces to make 2-3 cups
ground white pepper, to taste

Fry garlic in 2 teaspoons oil until fragrant. Add sugar, fish sauce, Golden Mountain seasoning sauce, oyster sauce, chicken stock, salt and scallops, and stir-fry for 4 minutes, until scallops are nearly cooked. Add garlic stems and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with ground white pepper. Serve hot with rice.

Enoki Mushrooms

Enoki mushrooms, Enokitake in Japanese, also called golden needle mushrooms, are very flavourful and can be used in a number of dishes. They keep fresh for about a week in the fridge, you can also buy them canned; fresh is definitely better. I've had them with hotpot, in stir-fries; they are mostly used in soups, and also in salads. I recently had them, because of an idea I saw in a Chinese Supermarket, in a omelette.

Enoki Mushroom Omelette
2-3 eggs
package Enoki mushrooms, stalks and tops
1 green onion, sliced thinly
1 tsp fish sauce
salt and pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients together, then cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes on one side, until golden brown, flipping over for 1-2 minutes. Serve warm, with rice.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Small Lindor Hazelnut Eggs

I got these from the Lindor Outlet, cute little, and tasty, Lindor hazelnut in the form of eggs.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Nativa Herb and Garlic Potato Chips

The Nativa Organics brand from Shopper's DrugMart has a number of offerings, this one looked intriguing, in that the herbs contains turmeric (along with basil and black pepper); this gives it an intriguing flavour, and a yellow colour, though the chips themselves taste a little too oily. Add to this parmesan cheese and garlic, overall all these chips are fairly, though probably not worth the extra money that you pay for the smaller bag of chips (even on sale as we bought them).

Durian Flavored Candy

Most of the Durian flavoured candies available, usually have artificial Durian flavour to make it taste like the King of Fruit; this one from Thailand I thought to try, because it has Durian juice as its third ingredient, which I like, and it does make it taste like Durian.

Yen Ta Fo

This is one of those assemble-your-own dishes, you can add as much or as little of the ingredients as you like. Prepare all the ingredients and place in separate dishes; guests can then assemble theirs the way they like it, adding more, or less, of each ingredient. The Yen Ta Fo sauce makes this dish (which you unfortunately can't quite see in the picture), the combination of the preserved bean curd and the preserved garlic give an intriguing salty vinegary taste; too, it is quite red, even redder when made in Thailand. If you like, and don't have a chicken carcass on hand, you can substitute either some chicken legs or thighs or breasts, or use chicken stock (just add the other ingredients and bring to a boil; cook for a few minutes for the flavours of the other ingredients to infuse the stock).

Yen Ta Fo
1/4 pkg Rice Flat noodle per person
1/2 lb morning glory
7 Shrimp per person
3-4 Fish ball per person
6 half pieces Puffy Fried Tofu per person
6 Fried wonton wrap per person
1 Tbsp Fried garlic per person
Sliced Coriander and Spring onion, as garnish
ground white pepper, to taste
1/4 lime per person
1/2 tsp sugar per person
1 bird's eye chili per person, sliced then crushed in a mortar and pestle
Yen Ta Fo Sauce (see below for recipe)
Chicken Soup (see below for recipe)

Blanch noodle and morning glory. Place in individual large soup bowls, the morning glory on the noodles.

Blanch shrimp 3-4 minutes, till red and cooked. Blanch fish balls and fried puffy tofu for 2-3 minutes, until warmed through. Arrange all on noodles. Add Yen Ta Fo Sauce on top of noodles, about 2-3 tablespoons.

Add, as desired, soup, fried garlic, sugar, sliced coriander, spring onion, white ground pepper, ground chili, lime juice and fried wonton wrap (to fry, fold wonton wrappers in half and fry in oil until golden brown).

Mix all together before eating.

Yen Ta Fo Sauce
3 pieces preserved bean curd
1/3 cup tomato sauce (not ketchup)
3 Tbsp preserved garlic water and crushed preserved garlic
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Grind preserved bean curd and mix together with the rest of the ingredients. It should taste salty; if not, add more salt.

Chicken Soup
Chicken carcass
big chunk of daikon
4-5 crushed garlic cloves
1/2 Tbsp fish sauce
1/2 Tbsp Golden Mountain seasoning sauce

Add water in the pot; heat on high. Wait until the water is boiling, then put in chicken carcass. Once the water is boiling again, add daikon, crushed garlic cloves and season with fish sauce and Golden Mountain seasoning sauce. Let it boil on medium heat (high heat will make the soup cloudy) for 45 minutes to one hour.

Mrs. Fields Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've enjoyed some of Debbi Field's baked goods over the years, it used to be I could only find them in the States, on my odd trip to Boston (there was one rest stop with a Mrs. Fields that I hit several times), but now there's one in the mall across the road from me. And lately, I've seen them for sale in various supermarkets. Their appeal is in their moistness and excellent taste, and these don't disappoint. They're good, a little too sweet for my tastes and compared to the ones I make, the ingredient listing is too long, but a good indulgence now and again.

Ginger Sauce (Nam Jim King)

This Thai sauce (Nam Jim means dipping sauce, while King is ginger) goes well with a number of dishes, including the Kao Mok Gai. It adds a hot, sweet, salty and sour taste to any dish, and I was pleasantly surprised as to how good it makes even tasty rice taste that much better. You can make it hotter by adding more or less chilies; we added only two. Make more, it keeps well in the fridge for weeks; store in a clean sealable glass jar.

Ginger Sauce (Nam Jim King)
1" piece of ginger
2-5 small bird chillies
2-3 garlic cloves
1-2 Tbsp soya sauce
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 Tbsp fish sauce

Mix all ingredients in a food processor and blend until fine. Alternatively, grind all ingredients in a mortar and pestle. Serve in a small bowl with a spoon to drizzle over dishes.

Corn Chowder

My beautiful Bride likes corn in all forms, this recipe that provides her with some of the Calcium that she needs on a daily basis for her growing baby. Again, we made some substitutions, we used mushroom stock instead of vegetable broth cubes, and yogurt instead of light cream. This one tastes pretty good. Sorry, no picture.

Corn Chowder
adapted from a recipe from The Everyday Calcium Cookbook by Helen Bishop MacDonald
2 cups mushroom stock (using boiling water)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion (about 1/2 medium)
1/2 cup finely chopped celery (about 2 medium ribs)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup yogurt
3 cups frozen corn
2-1/2 cups shredded, peeled potatoes (about 1/2 lb.)
1 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper

Melt butter in a large saucepan, add onion and celery and saute until onion is transparent. Add flour and stir until well mixed. Continue stirring over low heat until mixture starts to turn brown. Add hot mushroom broth slowly, stirring constantly. Increase heat and bring to a boil.

Warm milk and yogurt in small pot, but do not boil, then add to soup mixture, along with shredded potatoes, corn, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring often. Adjust seasoning.

Lindt Raspberry

I had the idea that the raspberry filling in this Lindt chocolate bar was more of a solid filling, I nearly spilled the filling over myself when biting into it; the raspberry is more of a thin liquid that tastes of raspberry. There is alcohol in the ingredients; there is a definite underlying taste of the alcohol to the liquid. This is a milk chocolate bar, almost a candy bar; the ingredient listing is sugar, cocoa butter, milk ingredients, cocoa mass, raspberry concentrate, lactose, skim milk, alcohol, gum arabic, soya lecithin, barley malt extract, artificial and natural flavoring and citric acid.

How does it taste? I quickly discovered that the best way to eat this, is to place individual squares in the side of your mouth and let them melt for a sudden raspberry burst. This is definitely raspberry, though very sweet, and with an alcohol aftertaste that I don't care for. It would be interesting to see this in a dark format.

Cheddary Cauliflower Soup

Being pregnant, it's important for my beautiful Bride to get Calcium in her diet, and she found this interesting recipe book, filled with recipes that provide lots of Calcium. We made some changes from the original, halving the ingredients, and using coriander instead of parsley. This soup goes great with pumpernickel bread.

Cheddary Cauliflower Soup
adapted from a recipe from The Everyday Calcium Cookbook by Helen Bishop MacDonald
1-1/2 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 medium)
2-1/2 cups coarsely chopped cauliflower
1-1/4 cup chicken broth
1/6 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups milk
1-1/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/8 cup chopped fresh coriander
salt and pepper

In a large saucepan, melt butter. Saute onion until tender.

Stir in cauliflower and chicken broth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 12 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender.

In a large bowl, gradually stir milk into flour until smooth. Add to saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens.

Remove from heat, add cheese and coriander and stir until cheese is melted. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Bananas in Sweet Coconut Milk

This dessert is very easy to put together and make, and tastes great. Five minutes and it's done. Delicious!

You can add a little brown sugar, if you like it sweet, as palm sugar tends not to be so sweet. If using canned bananas, cut them in half along the length, then again crosswise.

Bananas in Sweet Coconut Milk
10 small bananas, cut diagonally into 3 pieces (fresh or frozen or canned)
1/4 cup palm sugar
1 Tbsp brown sugar (optional)
1 cup coconut milk

Bring coconut milk in a medium pot to a boil. Add palm sugar and brown sugar, if using, and stir to dissolve. Put bananas into pot and mix well. Lower heat and simmer for five minutes.

Skittles Chocolate Eruption

I normally don't like Skittles, certainly they are candy, sweet if anything, but this one intrigued me, in that there were several different chocolate-based flavour combinations. The ingredient listing certainly doesn't contain much chocolate, a little cocoa powder.

The five flavours are chocolate, caramel (not really chocolate, but associated with chocolate, in candy form), s'mores (graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate), vanilla and brownie. I don't have a favourite, and it's hard to pick out the flavours unless you make a point of separating them. Too sweet for my tastes.

Lindt Egg Collection

The Lindt Egg Collection, for Easter, brings together four of the filled chocolates in the Lindt lineup, Cresta, Marc de Champagne, Nougat and Vanilla.

There are two of each flavour.

The filling for Cresta is nougat and crispy rice. Pretty good.

Marc de Champagne is a filling that tastes fizzy and alcoholy, not my favourite.

The Nougat has a, well, nougat, center. Quite good, my favourite of the four.

The Vanilla one is very sweet, yellow in colour. Not bad.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Vietnamese Dessert

We bought this at a Chinese supermarket, a Vietnamese dessert, with longan, red date, pearl barley, seaweed strips, chestnut and lotus seed, in sweet longan syrup. We don't know what its name is, but it tastes good!

Lindt Gold Bunny

We bought this at the Lindt Outlet; inside are tiny little milk chocolate gold bunnies. Cute!

Thai Roselle

Another gift we got from Thailand, is a very large package of Roselle, similar to the Caribbean Sorrel. It has a different flavour to it, not so strong, not so tart, but still quite tasty. We enjoyed it sweetened with sugar, with a bit of fresh ginger that gave it a little zing.

Kashi Cherry Dark Chocolate Chewy Granola Bars

I've seen the brand Kashi in supermarkets, normally in the Organic or Health section, and Health Food stores, and also even Walmart and Shopper's DrugMart (though the latter is expensive; WalMart is apparently cheap), but have never tried their cereal (it seems to me that was all they made, at least that is what is primarily advertised) as, for one, it is expensive. Well, they also make granola bars, too, and this one in particular intrigued me, one because my sister had pointed out that it was available, though she thought it tasted "dry", and now I found my boss liking them, it's the best bar that he's tasted (we both ate one today - what a coincidence!); second because it contains dark chocolate; and lastly, because it contains cherries and chocolate, a combination I like very much, though I hope that they could add toffee to the mix, then I would really enjoy it. I do like it, it's not so dry-tasting, though I find it not to have so much of a chocolatey taste, the dark chocolate consists of small chips strewn over the top, the cherry taste is much more prevalent. A lot of granola bars in the market are glorified candy bars, with lots of sugar, this one seems to be better, with more natural ingredients, like cane sugar (though cane sugar in some form appears several times in the ingredient listing), the "granola" is made from a mixture of seven whole grains, the tagline of their company, (the seven are hard red winter wheat, oats, rye, barley, triticale, long grain brown rice, buckwheat), and sesame seeds. It also contains inulin, a polysaccharide that promotes the growth of good intestinal bacteria, for one, and also may increase the absorption of calcium and magnesium. The dark chocolate is probably just dark chocolate, in terms of its cacao content, as it has sugar as its main/first ingredient. I would say it's a good snack, a healthy snack, too, with good healthy ingredients, worth buying again.

Green Almonds

Having seen almonds only as a roasted or raw nut, sometimes blanched without the skin, I was surprised to see these green almonds in a Middle Eastern supermarket; I guess I never thought about where almonds came from and what they really looked like, even whether they had an outer shell that was taken off. The outer skin reminded me of breaking open a pea pod or milkweed pod. Inside was this soft, slightly wet raw almond. What to do with raw almonds. You can roast them, then they would be like those you find everywhere, or put them in when you cook rice, really anywhere you can use normal almonds.