Sunday, June 13, 2010

O.N.E. Cashew Fruit

I’ve had cashews before, lots of times, they’re fairly common in Indian dishes, and pair well with dark chocolate, but didn’t realize that the nut has a fruit around it, let alone that you could make juice out of it, or that it would taste so good. This cashew fruit comes from Brazil. O.N.E. makes juice from interesting and different sources. The cashew fruit has many health benefits, calming the stomach, soothing the throat, promoting healthy skin, it’s a rich source of Vitamin C (more than orange), is also a source of such important nutrients as beta-carotene, B1 and B2 and B3 vitamins, calcium and iron. It’s also low in acidity. They added cane sugar and citric acid and Vitamin C along with water and cashew fruit puree, but it still tastes great, like a light mango, very refreshing and something I’d like to drink on a regular basis (though, like most fruit juices, it is high in sugar, almost like drinking a pop, but nutritionally better for you).

Red Curry with Duck and Lychees

I’ve had duck before, prepared the Chinese way and the European way, and found it mostly to be very oily. Now, this dish is a whole different matter, the roasted duck that we used paired excellently with the lychees and tomatoes (which sort of explode in your mouth when you bite down on them, delicious). You can also make this with pineapple or young coconut instead of lychees. Serve this over steamed Jasmine rice and garnished with a few leaves of Thai basil.

Red Curry with Duck and Lychees
Adapted from a recipe from Fresh Thai by Oi Cheepchaiissara
1 lb boneless duck breast, or 1/2 roasted duck
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp light soy sauce
1/2“ fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1-1/2 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp red curry paste
3/4 cup canned coconut milk, shaken well
3/4 cup vegetable stock
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1-1/2 Tbsp palm sugar
8 oz canned lychees, drained
4 oz cherry tomatoes
5 kaffir lime leaves, torn in half

Remove the skin and fat from the duck breasts; thinly slice the raw meat or shred the roasted duck meat. Mix the meat with the sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and allspice and marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat the oil in a wok or heavy-bottomed frying pan and stir-fry the red curry paste over medium heat for 2 minutes, until fragrant.

Add the meat, coconut milk and stock and cook for 5-6 minutes or until the meat is cooked (half the time if using roasted duck meat). Add the fish sauce, sugar, lychees and tomatoes and cook for another 1-2 minutes (don’t let the tomatoes overcook). Add the kaffir lime leaves and let heat for another minute.

St. Francis Herb Farm Mineral Matrix Pure Dehydrated Goat Whey

Having tried their Goat Milk Protein Powder, I also was able to try some of their dehydrated goat whey. Whey is a by-product of the cheese-making process, essentially the liquid portion of the milk. The healthfulness of it, is that it has a high concentration of various minerals (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium), and is alkaline-based (to offset the acid-ness of your body). It is also rich in electrolytes. This is not as good tasting as the goat milk powder, but not bad.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Thames River Melons - Melon Blossom Liquid Honey

A new vendor at the Square One Farmer’s Market, or at least this product is new, Thames River Melons from Innerkip, Ontario, makes honey from melon blossoms. Melons is one fruit that requires bees to pollinate, so it’s perhaps a match made in heaven business-wise (pollinate your crop and sell the honey made from that). I don’t know what I expected this to taste like, melons?, but it is a good tasting honey, with a light flavour that is pleasant.

Gai Krapao (Basil Chicken)

This is another recipe from Wandee Young’s Simply Thai Cooking, a dish that is very Thai. The choice of basil here makes for a different dish; the pepperiness of Thai Basil; the sweetness of Italian Basil; or the fragrance of Holy Basil (what we chose, because of its fragrance and flavour and health benefits - you can get this in better Chinese supermarkets). We would normally substitute chicken thighs for chicken breast, but you could also use trimmed pork tenderloin, to make Moo Krapao (Basil Pork). This is a quick dish, and serve with steamed Jasmine rice, but we made it even quicker to make, by using roasted chicken.

Gai Krapao
Adapted from a recipe from Thai Simply Cooking, 2nd Edition
300 g skinless, boneless chicken thighs, thinly sliced
1/2 medium red pepper
5 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp garlic, chopped
1 hot chili, roughly chopped (more to taste)
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp soya sauce
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp water
20 whole leaves fresh basil
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp water

Slice the chicken thighs thinly. Set aside.

Cut the red pepper into small squares. Set aside.

Heat oil on high heat in a wok or heavy-bottomed frying pan until just about to smoke. Add garlic and chilis and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add chicken and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add fish sauce, sugar and soya sauce and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add oyster sauce and water and cook for 30 seconds.

Add peppers and three-quarters of the basil leaves and stir-fry until the peppers begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Mix cornstarch with water and add to wok, stir-frying until the sauce is thickened somewhat, about 1 minute.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fairy's Tonic Luv-Yur-Liver Ginger

I have tried Zoey’s Fairy’s Tonic Kombucha Teas Digestif and Uplift with Lemon (which I preferred of the two); this one features the flavour of ginger.

I like ginger, as you might know, and was looking forward to trying this. This also comes in a much larger bottle size, 750 mL, so more to enjoy. The kombucha is made from a combination of green and black teas.

Of its many health benefits, ginger stimulates liver and gallbladder function to aid in digestion.

This tastes as good as other kombuchas from Zoey. The taste of ginger is not very strong, but still there. I think I like this second best of her kombuchas.

Pacari Esmeraldas

The Ecuadoran chocolatier Pacari uses organic Arriba Nacional cacao varietal beans, in this case from a single region, the Esmeraldas region on the north coast of Ecuador. The ingredient listing looks good, cacao beans, evaporated cane juice and sunflower lecithin. The cacao content is at 60%. They control all steps from pod to bar.

How does it taste? The bar snaps well, is very dark in colour, and smells fruity. The chocolate melts well in the mouth, and has a good aftertaste, but suffers somewhat because of the taste of cane sugar that underlies the not strong flavour of this bean. The bar cost me $3 (for a 50 g or half-size bar) at a health food store, and I enjoyed eating it (as I do most Ecuadoran chocolate.

St. Francis Herb Farm Go Pro Matrix Goat Milk Protein Powder

My sister gave me this trial sachet of St. Francis Herb Farm's Go Pro Matrix goat milk protein powder. Goat milk has more health benefits that cow's milk, it has short chain fats and proteins, similar to human mother's milk, as opposed to the long chain fats and proteins of cow's milk (which is likely why many people experience issues with digesting cow's milk). The protein content of this protein powder is 15 g per 2 level tablespoons of powder. It has a pleasant vanilla taste, and blends easily in smoothies, or added to hot or cold breakfast cereal (what I did with this). It's likely much more expensive than the more available cow's milk protein powders, but I've seen it available for sale in a number of health stores near me.


I've never really eaten fiddleheads before. My mother liked and ate them occasionally, though mostly from frozen, as they were hard to find fresh. This past weekend, the Square One Farmer's Market opened, and one vendor was selling some, so we decided to finally take the plunge and see whether what I had heard, that they were good tasting, was true. I thought that they come out in early Spring, but perhaps it's mid to late Spring (mid May to early June).

Fiddleheads are the curled edible shoots of the ostrich fern, and are supposed to taste like a combination of asparagus and green beans. You need to cook them before eating; eating them raw will likely cause you to be ill, so be cautious.

Warning aside, it's relatively easy to cook fiddleheads. First, cut off any black parts at the end, and remove any brown husks with your fingers. Then, clean them several times in changes of water (and dispose of this water). Boil them for 12-15, or steam them for 10-12 minutes (disposing of the water). You can then use them in any way you like, in a recipe that you have that has asparagus, for example, in stir-fries (which is what we did and see there), really any vegetable dish.

They tasted quite different than anything I've eaten before, but interesting, and I would like to try them again when Spring rolls around again.

Smarties Blue is Back Contest

To celebrate the return of blue Smarties, Nestle has a contest running, where you can win one of 5 MacBook Pros, or Smarties for a Year. You can enter here. I didn't win the MacBook Pro, but I'm also glad I didn't win the Smarties for a Year, because, in eating them again after a long while, and I applaud their use of natural colours, I find the taste of some of them quite off-putting, that I couldn't finish them even. Not even good chocolate to compensate! Blech!

Linden Honey

One of my favourite trees is the Linden, certainly when it blooms it smells wonderful. It is also called Lime Flower, and, opening this jar of honey for the first time, the waft of scent coming up smells exactly like standing next to a blooming tree on a hot day, where the scent surrounds you, and you breathe in its fragrance. OK, maybe not so intense, but it smells good. In reading about Linden Honey, there is therapeutic value to it, as much so as the Linden blossom tea, to strengthen the immune system, fight colds and lessen anxiety and stomach problems. It might even have a sedative effect (I'm thinking one should not eat it first thing in the morning, when one wants to wake up before going to work). The honey itself, spread on bread, had a delicate flavour, quite good.

Yum Mamuang (Green Mango Salad)

This is another recipe from Wandee Young's Simply Thai Cooking, that really makes better use of mangos than the Mango Chicken. Mango Salad is a Thai dish, as much as Pad Thai is. It's simple to make as well, really - some mango cut into strips, a little bit of sugar and fish sauce, some coriander and red pepper. What you get is a delicious salad that goes with everything, and especially with hot Thai dishes. We had occasion to try some Indonesian Mango Salad on the weekend, it was quite similar, mango and herbs and green pepper, but I really prefer this one. We again used the Mexican mango salad, but, if you can find it, it's best with the Thai green mango.

Yum Mamuang
adapted from a recipe from Simply Thai Cooking, 2nd Edition
2 large green mangos
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1-1/2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp coriander, chopped
2 Tbsp mint, chopped
1/3 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp roasted unsalted cashews

To roast the cashews, place in preheat 350F oven for 10 minutes or until fragrant.

Peel the mangos. Slice the mango into very thin strips. Add fish sauce, sugar and chopped coriander (reserve a little of the coriander) and mint. Mix well. Add red pepper strips and sliced red onions. Mix well.

Garnish with cashews and top with more coriander leaves.

Ülker Golden Bitter

This is the first chocolate I've ever tried that is made in Turkey. The ingredient listing looks good, cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin and ethyl vanillin, while the cacao content is at 70%.

How does it taste? I must say I'm pleasantly surprised, as I wouldn't think Turkey is the source world-class chocolate (but they are a world-class producer of hazelnuts, so it'd be interesting to get one that is dark with hazelnuts!). Nor is this world-class chocolate, but fairly good. It reminds me of very dark mousse chocolate, melts well in the mouth and has a good aftertaste, snaps well, and smells fruity. I found this in a Chinese supermarket for about $2, and would buy this again.

Clean your bathtub with grapefruit and salt

I came across this and though I'd give it a try. I don't really like grapefruit, to eat, so wasn't going to miss this or be concerned about "wasting" a grapefruit (ok, my beautiful Bride does, but she gratefully sacrificed one for me), but I'm always looking for interesting natural ways of cleaning. The original posting is here.

I found this to work out fairly well, certainly the tub had the smell of citrus/grapefruit, at least for a little bit, but there were some spots, especially in the corners, which needed a little elbow grease, ie. working at it with your fingers, to remove the accumulated soap scum. I guess the key here is the combination of salt and citrus. This works not only on the shower/tub, but also on tile, your toilet, sinks, most everything in your bathroom.

You need:
1 grapefruit, cut into half
1/4 - 1/2 cup kosher salt

Sprinkle salt liberally on the grapefruit half. Scrub around your tub, squeezing juice over the fixtures before scrubbing. Renew the salt on the grapefruit every few moments (you can put the salt on the "floor" of the tub. Rinse all the pulpy bits away when everything is clean and shiny.

Herbaria Fennel Seed

This is another tea from Herbaria, which makes what they call wild crafted herbal teas. This one features fennel seed, which has the scent (it fills my cabinet -wonderfully!) and taste of anise or liquorice, a flavour I enjoy. Quite good tasting.

It's also good for you. A natural diuretic and kidney tonic, helping to flush excess water and toxins from your body; can be used as gripe water for colicy babies; reduces stomach issues, such as flatulence, bloating, indigestion and stomach cramps; and is an appetite suppressant.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Arko Confiserie Arriba Edelbitter Schokolade

The German chocolatier and candy maker, I've had some of their Bear Shaped Fruit Gums, Arko uses cacao beans from Ecuador called Arriba. The cacao content is at 70%. The ingredient listing looks good, cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin and bourbon vanilla.

How does it taste? Quite fruity, snaps well, smells fruity as well. It suffers a little from not tasting very smooth, though that didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of this chocolate bar. I would buy this bar again.

Pad Gai Mamuang Sood (Young Mango Chicken)

This is another dish we made at the same time as the Curry Chicken with Fresh Pineapple from Wandee Young's cookbook Simply Thai Cooking, though this is not a dish that you would really find in Thailand as the mangos there don’t hold up well to cooking like this - and are really better for the more delicious mango salad anyways. Again, we substituted chicken thighs for chicken breast. The mango we used you can find in most supermarkets, it comes from Mexico and has green/red skin, with an inside that is yellow; this is different than one from Asia, but what you are looking for, is a mango that will stand up to cooking, one that is not quite so ripe - you also want to cut up the mango into larger strips, thin ones will soften too much. I like mango, and the combination with chicken is great, very tasty. This is not so hot as the above Curry Chicken, but still has a heat to it. We didn't have nor could find any good coriander, otherwise the red and the orange and the green make for an appealing dish. To roast your cashews, place them on a baking sheet in a 350F oven for 10 minutes, or until they become fragrant (and better tasting than raw).

Pad Gai Manuang Sood
adapted from a recipe from Simply Thai Cooking, 2nd Edition
300 g skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 large mango
4 Tbsp chopped garlic
4 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp chili paste
2 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 medium red pepper, cut into thin strips
2 oz roasted unsalted cashews
fresh coriander leaves, chopped, for garnish

Slice the chicken thighs into thin strips.

Peel mango and slice into thick, long strips.

Heat oil in a wok or large heavy-bottomed pan on high heat until the oil just begins to smoke. Add garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add chicken and water and stir-fry for 2 minutes, until the chicken is springy. Add soya sauce and sugar and continue stir-frying for 1 minute. Add chili paste and lime juice and stir-fry for an additional 1 minute. Add mango and red pepper and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add cashews and stir-fry for 1 more minute.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve with steamed Jasmine rice.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Kan Kuua Suparod Gai (Curry Chicken with Fresh Pineapple)

This is another recipe we made from Wandee Young's cookbook Simply Thai Cooking. The heat of the red curry paste coupled with the sweetness of the pineapple and the chicken make this a tasty dish. We used chicken thighs rather than chicken breast, and cut down the amount of red curry paste (if you like heat, feel free to double the amount of red curry paste).

Kan Kuua Suparod Gai
adapted from a recipe from Simply Thai Cooking, 2nd Edition
300 g skinless, boneless chicken thighs
2 cups coconut milk
1-1/2 Tbsp red curry paste
2 lime leaves, torn into thirds
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 pineapple, cut into 1/2" chunks (or 1 can pineapple slices or chunks)
strips of red pepper

Slice the chicken into thin strips (place in freezer for 15-20 minutes to harden).

Heat half of the coconut milk in a wok on high heat till it boils. Add red curry paste and stir-fry to dissolve (1-2 minutes). Add lime leaves and fish sauce and stir briefly. Immediately add chicken and sugar and stir-fry for 2 minutes, until chicken is springy. Add pineapple chunks and stir-fry for an additional 2 minutes. Add the remaining coconut milk and cook for 2-3 minutes while constantly stirring, until oil rises to the surface.

Garnish with red pepper slices and serve with steamed Jasmine rice.

President's Choice Peach and Tangerine

This new 100% fruit and juice blend from President’s Choice (similar to their Pineapple Guava Passion Fruit, which I really like, and their Mango Orange) features Peach puree, and tangerine and orange juice as its only ingredients. I don’t really taste the tangerine and orange juices, the predominant flavour is peach; not that I mind, I like peach. This is a very thick juice; I normally add some carbonated mineral water to it. I think I prefer this second to the Pineapple Guava Passion Fruit.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Impressions of Carrassauga

This year's Carrassauga in Mississauga (held on May 28, 29 and 30), the yearly (in its 25th Year) Multicutural Festival, featured some new countries (like Guyana and Vietnam) and some new pavilions (including quite a few tents outside of Hershey Centre). We usually catch this Festival, mostly for the chance to see some Culture, and buy some products) from various countries, but also for the chance to sample some good food (okay, expensive food). We found the crowds this year to be less; we had little trouble finding a parking place or getting a seat to see the show; perhaps it was the rather hot weather!!

Some highlights for us:

The China pavilion was actually a showcase of Taiwan, there was an interesting demonstration of Wushu Martial Arts; later in the evening was a special showing of well-done and interesting cultural dances.

The Guyana pavilion I checked out, because I wanted to have their chicken roti; unfortunately, while tasty, it didn't match up with the great roti I enjoyed long ago at Tony's Roti on Victoria Park (and I believe he came from Guyana).

The murtabak were back again at the Malaysia/Singapore pavilion, a sort of Asian roti filled with chicken or beef or vegetables.

The Thailand pavilion was serving food from P-Tom's in downtown Toronto; tasty, especially the mango salad!

Baytana Bakery in Mississauga (near Tomken and Britannia), which had a booth in the Lebanon Pavilion, makes their own phyllo dough, and uses a mixture of nuts (cashews, pistachios, walnuts, other nuts) in their baklava. They also make other lebanese sweets, such as sesame cookies and semolina with honey.

Pistachio mammoul from the Egypt Pavilion.

Lotte Xylitol Gum - Original

I've seen chocolate and candy by the Korean company Lotte for sale in various Chinese supermarkets, but never their Xylitol gum (which has been around since 1997, but likely mostly in Asia). I picked this up from a Korean supermarket. Their packaging is all in Korean, but what I can make of it, it has 60% xylitol content. Xylitol has been shown to promote dental health, one of the reasons I've recently switched to this kind of gum (another being to avoid chemical sweeteners, which seem to be in all gums these days). This is a bag of gum, less convenient than the small plastic tub, but probably less packaging. It was about $5.

What does Original flavour Lotte Xylitol Gum taste like? From their Website, they also have Lime and Mint, Mint, and Blueberry Mint flavours, available in Asia; these could be interesting. This one tastes of mint, though not a very strong mint.

HiBee Lemon Cactus Honey Candy

I picked this up from a Korean supermarket we visited recently. It intrigued me, as I like honey as a more natural sweetener. What I thought that it was, is honey made from pollen collected from cactus flowers, but, as it turns out, cactus honey powder, sold in Asian supermarkets, is really a misnomer; it's neither honey, nor is it from a cactus (it is supposed to be an ancient sweetener, know for years by the Aztec Indians, according to the package). Turns out, that it is really agave nectar, which you can buy in health food stores and which has a much lower glycemic index than white sugar. The candies themselves tasted pretty good, like lemon with honey (if you've tried that hot), quite lemony (the lemon comes from lemon extract). As they are candies, they are sweet and a high source of sugar (it also contains fructose, or the sugar found in fruits), so don't eat too many of them too often.