Ramen

16 Dec

Ramen is a noodle soup dish that has been popular in Japan for centuries. It is commonly considered a fast food and in recent times, ramen has become increasingly promient in North America, much like the way sushi was introduced some years ago.

Ramen consists of three parts: the soup base, noodles and toppings.  There are many variety of broths but the commonality is that the broths are simmered for hours to allow for a more delicate but rich flavour. Interestly, a tiny portion of each day’s broth is saved and used as a starter to make a new batch the next day. This is known as the master stock and the oldest known dates back 1500 years.  Traditionally, the ramen noodles at a location in Japan are handmade but in Canada this is rare.  The toppings vary but usually consist of a few slices of meat (often pork), seaweed, and oriental vegetables such as bamboo shoots and bean sprouts.

Pictured below are two ramen dishes sampled at Santouka. Santouka locations are found all over Japan and some places around the world. There are two locations in Canada; one in Vancouver and the other in Toronto, both locations which I have been to and were quite crowded each time I visited.

Shio ramen at Santouka.

Shio ramen at Santouka.

Shoyu Ramen at Santouka.

Shoyu Ramen at Santouka.

Garlic Pasta

17 Nov
Bowtie pasta mixed with garlic and olive oil, garnished with freshly grated kefalotyri cheese.

Bowtie pasta mixed with garlic and olive oil, garnished with freshly grated kefalotyri cheese.

My apologies for the long absence in new postings. School has been very busy. But here’s a very simple and delicious recipe for garlic lovers!

  • 10 to 15 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 450 g pasta, cooked according to the package’s directions (before draining the pasta, save 1/4 cup of the pasta water)
  • (optional) 2 cups of kefalotyri cheese, coarsely grated

1. In a large pan, cook the garlic with olive oil for approximately 10 minutes on medium heat.

2. Once the garlic is cooked, add in the drained pasta and pasta water. Combine well.

3. Serve, and if desired, sprinkle each serving with a generous amount of kefalotyri cheese.

Minced garlic gently cooking in olive oil.

Minced garlic gently cooking in olive oil.

Bowtie pasta with garlic and olive oil.

Bowtie pasta with garlic and olive oil.

Mushroom and Rice Soup

7 Jul
Mushroom and rice soup garnished with parmesan cheese.

Mushroom and rice soup garnished with parmesan cheese.

This recipe provides approximately four servings.

  • 1lb cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
  • about 5 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked with 2 cups of water for several hours until soft. Once ready, squeeze out any liquids (but save all the liquids) and then finely chop the mushrooms.
  • 1/3 cup rice (I used brown rice, but red or wild rice would also be ideal).
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsps unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsps honey or maple syrup
  • 2 cups broth (I used chicken broth but vegetable or beef is fine, too; or even water)
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 sprigs green onion, chopped
  • a few tsps freshly grated parmesan cheese

1. Heat a large deep pot on high. Once hot, add butter, oil, onions and garlic. Turn down to a medium heat. Cook until onions are soft (approximately 5 minutes).

Mushrooms, onion and garlic sauting.

Mushrooms, onion and garlic sauteing.

2. Add the cremini and shitake mushrooms. Sprinkle a little salt as this will help the mushrooms soften faster.

Soup (with no milk, yet) coming to a boil.

Soup (with no milk, yet) coming to a boil.

3. Once the mushrooms are soft add in bay leaves, honey/maple syrup, broth, liquid from the shitake mushrooms, rice and approximately 1 cup of water.

4. Allow soup to come to a boil, then turn down to a simmering heat.

Soup (no milk added yet) after one hour. It has become a warm taupe colour.

Soup (no milk added yet) after one hour. It has become a warm taupe colour.

5. Cover and simmer until rice is super soft (approximately 1 hour). After 1 hour, the soup will have turned a warm taupe colour.

6. Add in milk and green onions. Once the soup begins to boil, it’s ready.

After the milk is added and the soup has come to a boil, it's ready to be eaten. Enjoy.

After the milk is added and the soup has come to a boil, it’s ready to be eaten. Enjoy.

7. Dish into separate bowls. Garnish with grated parmesan cheese and serve.

Quebec City

29 Jun

Bonjour! There is so much history, culture and beauty to discover in Quebec City. The highlight of the city is old Quebec, which is a maze of whimiscal shops, cafes, restaurants and murals tucked amongst cobblestone steps and century old buildings.  Its most famous building is Chateau Frontenac, a grand hotel overlooking the st. Lawrence river. Cruises along the river are also available.

View of the St. Lawrence taken from old Quebec.

View of the St. Lawrence taken from the Promenade of Governers’ in old Quebec.

Le Chateau Frontenac.

Le Chateau Frontenac. Parts of the hotel are currently under renovation.

A mural located in old Quebec.

A mural located in old Quebec.

Surrounding old Quebec is the parliament buildings, the orignal fortress of the city (known as the citadel, I believe) and the Plains of Abraham, where many historical battles occurred.  There is also a reolving restaurant, L’Astral, located at the Concorde hotel which provides a panoramic view of the city. It takes approximately 1.5 hours for a full revolution. It’s an expensive place but here’s a tip: order drinks/desserts instead and let it be known that this is your intention before sitting down. The Observatorie de la Capitale also provides an aerial view of the city. Admission is approximately $10 and once there you can learn about the history of the city.

Parliament buildings.

Parliament buildings.

Drinks at the revolving restaurant.

Drinks at the revolving restaurant.

A view from the revolving restaurant. The shadow of the restaurant can be seen.

A view from the revolving restaurant. The shadow of the restaurant can be seen.

The revolving restaurant is located within Concorde hotel.

The revolving restaurant is located within Concorde hotel.

La observatorie de capitale.

La observatorie de capitale.

For the foodies, there’s so many delicious places to explore. Near the VIA train station is a farmer’s market and along Rue Saint Jean is Moisan, a specialty grocery store founded in 1871. My favourite food place was an incuspicous takeout joint that specialized in Lebanese galettes called La Galette Libanaise. Galettes are a circular bread type food item. At La Galette Libanaise, the dough is flattened in front of you and then baked, which only takes a few minutes. The galettes are accompanied with your choice of chicken, lamb, minced beef, cheese, veggies (lettuce, pickled onions, cucumbers, hot peppers and olives) and two sauces: a spicy one and a garlic one. Bon appetit!

A local beer.

A local beer.

Since 1871, Moisan is a specialty grocery store.

Since 1871, Moisan is a specialty grocery store.

A inside view of Moisan.

Inside Moisan.

La Galette Libanaise.

La Galette Libanaise.

Galette

La Galette Libanaise with meat and cheese, $6.95.

Colourful Quinoa Salad

23 Jun
Salad with quinoa, cucumber, tomato, carrots and green onion.

Salad with quinoa, cucumber, tomato, carrots and green onion.

  • 1 cup quinoa, cook as instructed
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup english cucumber, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 small tomato, finely chopped
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Uncooked quinoa.

Uncooked quinoa.

Finely chopped english cucumber, tomatoes and green onions; and a carrot.

Finely chopped english cucumber, tomatoes and green onions; and a carrot.

1. For a warm salad, combine all the ingredients immediately after the quinoa is finished cooking. Enjoy!

2. For a cold salad, allow the quinoa to cool before combining all the ingredients and chill for at least an 1 hour in the fridge.

Kartoffel-Knodel

15 Jun
Knodel.

Knodel.

Kartoffel-knödel are German style potato dumplings. They are an ideal side dish and can easily replace rice or pasta in a meal. Their texture is chewy and sticky and their taste is rather similar to mash potatoes.

A box of knodel, ~$5 (CAD).

A box of knodel, ~$5 (CAD).

The ones pictured above are an instant version and simple to prepare. Being from Canada, they are not readily available here but I found some at a local specialty store called Vincenzos. Each box is approximately $5 (CAD) and contain six knödel.

This is how the knodel appear before cooking.

This is how the knodel appear before cooking.

Knodel at the begining of the boiling process.

Knodel at the beginning of the boiling process.

A Big Pizza

10 Jun

BigPizza

A friend shared this unique picture with me. This is a pizza from a restaurant in Belgrade, Serbia.

Thank you to Lillian for providing the cool picture.

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