Sunday, August 28, 2011

Kale, Chickpea and Sausage Stew (and a little rain)

Chickpea, kale & sausage stew

So you might have heard about a little storm called Irene....well, fortunately the storm did not live up to expectations here. In fact, I slept through most of it, and when I woke up this morning, I couldn't even hear the rain/wind. Of course, those in other areas aren't as lucky; my parents lost power and there's definitely pretty bad flooding in Jersey and LI, but all in all, it could have been a lot worse!

I had been all worried about not having power and having to keep myself entertained--I laid in a supply of books (I'm currently halfway through the 4th in the Song of Fire and Ice series), charged my mp3 player, dug out some yarn, and then I cooked a giant pot of this insanely delicious stew to last the weekend. (Oh, I might have laid in some, ahem, liquid supplies too.) This is pretty much the only way I want to eat kale, but this stew is so delicious, I would actually buy kale to make it. I first saw this recipe over at Tamarind and Thyme and I am HOOKED! I think it would be delicious even without the chorizo, but hey, pork is aces in my book.

Chickpea, Kale, and Sausage Stew, adapted from Tamarind and Thyme
2 sausages (chorizo, hot Italian, or whatever your fave sausage is)
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, smashed
2-3 dried chilis (or a pinch of chili flakes), optional
olive oil
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 medium tomatoes, diced
1 bunch kale (approximately 10-12 stalks), stemmed and roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste

If you're using fresh sausage, just remove the casings and break it up into chunks. If you're using a cured sausage, chop it into bite size bits. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and saute the onions until translucent. Add the sausage and cook until browned. Add the garlic and chilis and let cook until fragrant. Toss in the tomatoes and stir until they break down slightly. Add the chickpeas and about a cup of water. Cover and let simmer for approximately 15 minutes. Uncover and scatter the kale leaves over the stew; if it's starting to look dry add a bit more water and put the cover back on. Let simmer for an additional 15 minutes, or until the kale is done to your liking (I like mine pretty soft, which takes about 25 minutes). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with bread (although I also think it might be pretty fab over some pasta).

Water, water everywhere

I finally ventured out for a walk this morning, which was a bit weird because lots of people were out but no stores were open! There were lots of people in Riverside Park too, where I found this enormous pond; most of the grassy patches between the walkways were underwater. The dogs were having a great time playing in it, but the wind was still blowing pretty fiercely so I elected to head back.

Let's be mild!

Oh yeah, the one store that was open was M2M, where I picked up this can of coffee--mostly because the name made me laugh. Let's Be Mild! And mild it certainly was. Hope everyone weathered the storm and that your cleanup isn't too bad!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Green Tea Marble Cake

Green tea and ginger marble cake

Oh hai beloved oven! I have missed you so! Man, can you tell I'm super happy that the weather is cooling off a bit? I've been dying to get back to doing some baking (I mean, baking of stuff other than beets...) and now that things are calmer at work, I finally had the time (and energy) to do a little experimenting in the kitchen. (Of course, this meant that I totally forgot to eat an actual dinner, but er, um, cake batter is totally a good form of sustenance?) Anyway, I really wanted to try making marble cake, but I couldn't decide if I wanted to make green tea and ginger marble cake, or green tea and chocolate, so I did what any modern person does these days when they need help making a decision--I polled my Facebook friends list. (I suppose if I were REALLY modern, I would have used Twitter.) Naturally, they were no help at all, and suggested additional combinations! Hmph.

Eeny, meeny, CHOMP

In the end, I just made up a batch of basic marble cake batter and went nuts. And by nuts, I really just mean that I made green tea and ginger cake, and then brought back the old favorite, self-frosting Nutella cake with the leftover batter. Isn't this lineup cute? For scale, the smallest cake is only about 3 inches long by 1 inch wide. The largest pan is a silicone loaf pan I picked up from Muji and it holds about half of an average 8.5x4.5 loaf pan. I haven't really baked with silicone pans before, so I thought it was really amazing when the cake basically just slipped out without me even having to run a knife around the edges!

Ugly nutella and green tea cakes

I am quite pleased with how the marbling came out (in the top photo). I am less pleased by how the Nutella ones look--let's be honest. They are downright ugly! I was a little hampered in my Nutella-swirling efforts by the size of these little baking molds, but gosh!

Self-frosting Nutella Green Tea Cake

They look much better from this angle! Anyway, these are a variation on the much blogged about self-frosting Nutella cupcakes, which are such a genius idea. Basically all you do is dollop some Nutella straight on top of your unbaked cake batter, and swirl it in. As it bakes, some of it gets crusty, some of it gets melty, and all of it gets delicious.

I haven't decided yet which version I like better--the ginger version seems moister, somehow, but the ginger overpowers the green tea a little. I'm pretty sure I need to go have another slice of each, to be sure....

Green Tea and Ginger Marble Cake adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking
12 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
2 cups white whole wheat flour (or all purpose)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons matcha (green tea) powder
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped, crystallized ginger

Preheat the oven to 325. Decide on what shape and number of cakes you want to use, but this recipe is sized for a standard loaf pan. If you want to try both the ginger and the nutella versions, you could also consider making this into cupcakes!

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. Beat the butter until smooth, then add the sugar and beat until thoroughly combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next. Stir in vanilla. On low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk (beginning and ending with the flour). Beat just until the ingredients are combined.

At this point, you are ready to flavor. If you're just making one loaf, then divide your batter roughly in half into two bowls. To one, add the matcha, and stir until the batter is all a glorious, Hulk-green. Stir the ginger chips into the other bowl. If you're going to make some Nutella versions as well, you can go ahead and divide the batters into two bowls, but set aside some of the green tea batter.

For the marble cake, you have two options--either alternately drop spoonfuls of the two different batters into your prepared pans, and then swirl with a knife, or, and this is what I do (because I am lazy), just pour your green tea batter into the bowl with the ginger batter, and give the whole thing a couple of quick folds, as if you were folding egg whites. Don't mix the batters, you're just aiming for streaks here. Pour into your prepared pan.

If you are making the Nutella version, take your leftover green tea batter, and spoon or pour into smaller tins or muffin cups. How much Nutella you add is up to you; the more you add, the harder it is to swirl in an aesthetically pleasing manner, but on the other hand, the more Nutella, the more delicious! Drop dollops of Nutella directly onto the surface of the batter with a spoon, then take a knife or a skewer, and give it a couple of swirls. Bake until the cakes are set and pulling away from the edges of the pan slightly; a skewer will come out clean (a few crumbs of Nutella are fine). In the pans I used, the mini cakes took about 15 minutes, the largest pan took about 45.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Woohoo, it's Wednesday

Hello Mr. Melon

The week is half over! Only a few more days to my next batch of jam making (this could be becoming a bit of an obsession...) In the meantime, Mr. Melon here would like to wish you a happy Wednesday that is free of earthquakes (seriously!) or any other strange events.

(As you might have guessed, this came from my CSA and good god is it huge!)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Here, fishy fishy...


I can't remember if I mentioned, but I'm taking a handbuilding ceramics class at Togei Kyoshitsu, which I am totally loving! It's really fun and kind of soothing to sit there and mess around with clay; strangely, my favorite part is actually trimming the piece (probably because my initial efforts are all uh, kind of ugly). And check out the fish plate above--my first finished piece! I l-o-v-e my fish plate!

Mooncake Fish Mold

It just so happened that earlier in the week I had dinner with the girls and got this awesome mooncake mold (one of the girls had just gotten back from a trip to HK and China--jealous!), in the shape of a goldfish. COINCIDENCE???? Okay, yes. Yes it was. But who am I to look opportunity in the eye and ignore it? And how much more perfect can you get than a fish cookie on a fish plate?


So I whipped up a tiny batch of lime shortbread. I wanted to try to give it a more goldfish appropriate color and kneaded in a little bit of orange and yellow gel paste, but obviously didn't use enough. (Although my counter is still stained, grr.) To use the mold, you just pack the dough in until it's full, and make sure you press down to get all the details in. Then flip the mold over and give it a good, hard knock against your counter or table. It should release pretty easily (I didn't even flour the mold). I had some dough left over so broke out my other mooncake mold...waste not, want not!

Fish cookie

I must say, I much prefer shortbread fish to mooncake fish--although when it's mooncake season again, I may do some experimenting and see if I can make my own. In the meantime, I'm going back to gazing at my fish plate and congratulating myself! (Did you notice the tiny fish stamped along the bottom?) Can't wait to see how my other pieces turn out!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The 7 Link Challenge

So this is fun! I was tagged by my buddy Megg from Pop Artichoke for this link challenge, and look, I'm actually sort of doing it in a timely fashion! Here are the rules of the game:

1) publish links for the categories below (1 link per category)
2) nominate up to 5 bloggers to take part

So without further ado:

1. The most beautiful post
tapioca pearls

Er, this one is kind of tough! I'm not sure any of my posts are really least, looking back through my archives, my photos have improved? Anyway I'm going with my post about coconut tapioca, just because I really like this photo! Also, the coconut tapioca is nice and refreshing, perfect for the summer!

2. The most popular post

Well, I guess I'm not surprised by this one! According to the stats on Blogger, my post on making bunny cookies for Chinese New Year is the most popular post, by far. I'm glad, because that's one of my personal favorites :)

3. The most controversial post

Er, I don't think any of my posts have been controversial, but I suppose I will use this post I did on the Chinese New Year parade from a few years ago, simply because of the slightly odd comments I got about this photo! (True, this isn't a food post, but I don't post about food all the time!)

4. The most helpful post

Alright, this one was easy--definitely my post on making my favorite dumplings. Actually I'm only saying that because I know Pyota has actually used this post to help him make dumplings ;)

5. The post that was surprisingly successful
Quinoa Salad

This post on quinoa salad definitely surprised me with how popular it was, because I just had no idea quinoa was that popular! It does make me giggle how many times people get to this post though because they're searching for David Lynch's quinoa recipe; trust me, don't bother with that one!

6. The post that did not get the attention it deserved
Happy birthday Robert Smith

Uh, definitely this post with my cupcake in honor of Robert Smith! Come on!! It's Robert Smith in cupcake form!! Well, anyway, *I* thought it was cool, heh.

7. The post I'm most proud of
stuffed chocolate cookies

Haha, definitely the post about winning 2nd place at the LES Girls Club Cookie Swap! I mean, first of all the post is full of cookies. Secondly, it was all for a good cause! And then, of course, on a purely selfish level, getting a giant basket of awesome stuff, meeting Julie Christopher from King Arthur Flour, and getting to chat to Miriam Eberhard. A good note to end this post on :)

Oh wait, and here are the people I'm tagging (and hopefully they haven't been tagged already!)-

Babykins from soul soup soap

Carly from Carly's Comfort Zone

Kaimono over at Gastronomy Hut

Laura from Le Petite Baker

Sunday, August 14, 2011

all the things in my tummy


A catch-up post of sorts; I haven't been in much of a baking mood but I am starting to get back into a cooking mood, a bit. And of course, I am still getting quite the haul of vegetables every week from the CSA. I've taken to roasting beets and then keeping them in the fridge to toss into salads or to eat plain. Above is one of the many salads I've eaten this summer--watermelon and cucumber (based on a salad we ate at Otto), beets in honey-lime dressing, and mixed greens.

Tomato and mozzarella salad

Another salad with the first of this season's tomatoes--so simple, and so delicious. It's really a genius combination!

Zha jiang mien

Of course, man (or woman) does not live on salad alone, so I made a batch of zha jiang mien. It's basically a ground pork sauce with a load of vegetables in it (in my case, zucchini, onion, and carrots) that you eat over noodles. I topped mine with grated cucumber, but that's totally optional.

CSA Week 9-Fruit Share

Last week I got this epic haul of peaches and pears; I've eaten a bunch just plain as snacks, but I'm thinking I will probably make another batch of jam (and one of plums, too!) and then I'm debating poaching the pears and making an almond pear tart. I mean, assuming things get less crazy of course!

Breakfast Saturday

I do love having homemade jam around though; it made this very simple breakfast of toast and peaches a little more special. And hey, peach jam, AND fresh peaches--I am definitely getting my fill of this fruit this summer!

Niku Jaga

And today, it's finally a bit cooler; cool enough to make me want some good old niku jaga. This is such a comfort food; potatoes and bits of meat (I used pork) simmered in a dashi and soy sauce broth together with carrot chunks, onions, and shirataki noodles.

Margaret's still alive!

And to end the weekend on a positive note--check it out! Margaret's still alive, and has started blooming again. Hooray!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

More Vancouver: More Food, the Bard, Canada Day, and A Whole Lot of Flowers

Happy Canada Day

Sigh, as usual, life is getting in the way of blogging--I really don't know how daily bloggers do it! They must not need sleep. Anyway, things have been busy and hectic; you'd think summer would mean things would slow down at work, but someone somewhere has not gotten the memo. So I'm a bit behind in my posting, as you can tell from the fact that I am just now getting around to finishing up writing about my vacation back in the end of June! This one is a long one...but there is food involved!

On Canada Day, we headed over to Canada Place (along with lots of other people!) to see what there was to see. There were tons of food vendors (I was intrigued by the Poutinerie, but passed. Next time...), live music, and displays from the Canadian military branches. I tried to talk Py into getting a photo of himself holding a bazooka, but he declined. Hmph.


The Olympic torch was all lit up for the occasion, and man, what a view you get from Canada Place. We walked a bit further around Coal Harbor, eventually ducking into a waterfront pub for a snack and some beer. But I know--I'm babbling. You want to see the food...

Feastro Truck

Check it out! We wanted to try out the Feastro truck and wandered over on a gorgeous, sunny day for a late lunch. I like the fact that this truck is purple--it's hard to miss, and I imagine that it's even more hard to miss now that they've been featured on the Food Networks' Eat Street.

Salmon Fish & Chips

I got the salmon fish and chips, which was pretty good, although probably not the ideal way to enjoy good salmon. Still tasty, though!

Albacore Tuna Carpaccio

Py had the far more virtuous albacore tuna carpaccio. I like that they sauteed the capers. Of course, any virtue in this dish was undone by the yam fries.

Yam Fries w aioli

But holy crap were these yam fries ever good! Served with a little cup of aioli, these were awesome. I really wish I had a plate right now.

False Creek

My trip happened to coincide with Bard on the Beach, so it was a no-brainer to go see a show. The location (in Vanier Park with rather nice views of the water) really adds something, and I hear people will bring picnics with them, which sounds like a nice idea. We opted for beer from the concession stand and a bag of popcorn (caramel and cheese). Anyway, this is the view of False Creek from the Burrard Street Bridge (we decided to walk to the festival)--nice, right? And one of my favorite tiny ferry boats...We saw the Merchant of Venice, which I really enjoyed, particularly the (non-period) gorgeous costumes. (Actually, if I'm lucky, I may make it to another show at the end of the season!)

La Casa Gelato

Okay the only reason I'm putting up this not very good photo is so that you can see the sign. Yes, it does say that they have 218 FLAVORS ON LOCATION. That is a LOT of freaking flavors!! They had some really wild ones like Vegemite, garlic, and gin and tonic, but in the end, I opted for cherry pie.

cherry pie ice cream

It was good, too.


On one of the (many) gray days, I headed out to the UBC Botanical Garden and went a little snap happy. Actually I guess I was also thrilled that it didn't rain! (And that I can use Zipcar in Canada--that's pretty convenient.) They had a really nice collection of plants, and my one complaint is that not everything is labelled (or if it was, the sign was hidden.) I've only included a couple of my favorite photos here (this post is already getting too long), but if you click through any of them you can see more.


One of my favorites, they remind me of icicles.

Clematis "Ville de Lyon"

I really loved this one! So vibrant!


You could buy a combo ticket for the botanical garden as well as the Nitobe Memorial Garden (which was a short drive away), so of course I did (we'd also been foiled on a previous attempt to visit). It was a little bit underwhelming, but certainly was tranquil and green, so I wasn't too disappointed. I suppose the biggest let down to me was that the informational pamphlet was basically just speculation, and no one actually knows what the layout of the garden or some of the elements of it mean.

A Bridge that Spans the Ocean

Someone on Flickr was kind enough to translate this; it reads "I want to become a bridge that spans the Pacific Ocean." A nice thought.

Oooh, Canada

Py is perfecting his Caesar, and I personally think these little flag picks add a little something extra. (Except when they fall into your drink...)

Sunset at YVR

And then it was time to go. At least I got a nice sunset before I had to get on the plane! Another nice trip.