Archive | May, 2011

Rice Noodles with Coconut Peanut Sauce

29 May

Thick rice noodles with chicken and fresh vegetables in a coconut peanut sauce.

  • 1 package of thick rice noodles, soaked in hot tap water for half an hour
  • 1lb of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into small bite size pieces
  • 2 tbsps of corn starch
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • a large handful of green beans, trimmed and cut into 1.5 inch lengths
  • 1 small onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large egg
  • about 100 g of medium firm tofu, cut into large chunks
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsps of soy sauce
  • 3 tbsps of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chicken broth, optional (can substitute with water)

Thick rice noodles soaking in hot tap water.

Green beans, red pepper, onions, garlic and ginger.

Medium firm tofu.

Coconut Peanut Sauce

  • one can of coconut milk
  • juice of one lime (TIP: roll the lime on a hard surface several times before juicing.  This makes the lime a little bit juicer.)
  • 2 tbsps of sugar
  • 4 tbsps of soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup of smooth peanut butter

In a bowl, combine all of the sauce ingredients.  Feel free to adjust the quantities to your own preferences.

Coconut peanut butter sauce.

In another bowl, mix the chicken, corn starch, 1/4 cup of cold tap water, salt and pepper.  The cornstarch and water will keep the chicken moist during the cooking process.  Omit the chicken for a vegetarian friendly version and if desired add more vegetables such as carrots, green onions, bean sprouts and/or broccoli.

Skinless boneless chicken thighs mixed with cornstarch, water and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Heat a large pan (or wok) on high.  Once the pan is hot, add the oil, garlic and ginger.  When the garlic begins to brown, add in the chicken and cook until the chicken is almost finished, then add in the onions, green beans and red pepper. Also add in the soy sauce and a splash of chicken broth (or water). Once the chicken is cooked and the vegetables are soft, make a hole in the center of your pan and add in the egg.  Scramble it and also add a light sprinkle of salt over the egg and vegetables. Mix well and then add in the sauce.

Chicken and vegetable "well" with an egg inside the well.

Chicken, egg and vegetables cooking in coconut peanut butter sauce.

When the sauce begins to bubble, add in the tofu. Cook until the tofu is heated through, then drain the noodles and add them into the pan. If the noodles appear dry, add a splash of chicken broth or water.  Once the noodles are soft and completely heated through, remove from stove burner and serve immediately. Top with crushed peanuts and freshly squeezed lime juice if desired.  (Alternatively, rather than adding the noodles, you can serve the chicken and vegetable coconut peanut butter sauce with rice.)

Rice noodles with chicken in a coconut peanut sauce.

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Oakville Conference Centre

24 May

Oakville Conference Centre, 2515 Wyecroft Road, Oakville, Ontario

Over the Victoria Day long weekend, I attended a wedding reception at the Oakville Conference Centre located near Toronto, Canada. One of the many highlights of the evening was the exceptional food that was offered.  The evening began with cocktails and a buffet style antipasto table. Followed by a three course meal and then in the wee hours of the night, there was a self-serve dessert and snack bar.

At the bar, I tried a Cesear which wasn’t too thick and quite tasty.

Caesar cocktail from the bar.

At the antipasto table, there were a wide variety of savoury cured meats, delicious pickled artichokes, pungent cheeses, unique crackers, lightly seasoned pasta salads and grilled fresh vegetables.

The antipasto table.

Before the three course dinner began, a server arrived at our table and asked for any special dietary needs or allergies.  The starter was a noodle and vegetable soup which tasted homemade to me.  The main course were tender slices of beef topped with a dark rich peppercorn sauce and  asparagus, potatoes and zucchini. The option of a garden salad and poached salmon was also available. The vegetables in the salad were fresh and crisp with a perfect amount of dressing. For dessert, there was frozen ice cream wrapped in a crêpe served with berries. Coffee and tea were offered at the end our meal.

A vegetable and noodle soup.

Garden salad with vinaigrette.

Tender strips of beef with potatoes, asparagus and zucchini.

Ice cream wrapped in a thin crepe served with berries.

Later in the evening, an assortment of colourful desserts came out. The miniature squares and swirls were homemade by the groom’s mother while the cakes and cream puffs were ordered in by the conference centre.

Sugary square treats.

Sweet creations.

Creamy delights.

Delicious cakes.

It was an amazing night filled with pretty dresses, smiling faces, a live band, whimsical decorations and  beautiful food.

Village Creperie

19 May

Village Creperie, 703 Belmont Avenue West, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

Village Creperie is a modern and fresh cafe-style restaurant located at the trendy Belmont Village in Kitchener, Ontario. The restaurant specializes in organic ingredients and as the name suggestions, crêpes.

The interior of Village Creperie. I especially liked the hanging antique bicycle.

My first visit to Village Creperie was on a rainy Saturday afternoon. The breakfast menu was being severed until 2PM and the daily specials were written colourfully and prominently on a blackboard near the entrance of the restaurant.

The daily special on a rainy Saturday.

The menu offers many classic breakfast items such as eggs florentine and omelettes but with a twist: the dishes are severed on a thin crêpe.  I had the eggs florentine which has organic baby spinach, cheddar and hollandaise sauce served on a crêpe.  The crêpe was crispy around the edges and soft in the middle.  The hollandaise sauce was flavourful but light and the crunch of the fresh spinach added a pleasant texture.  All breakfast items are $10 or less.

Eggs florentine with one egg, baby spinach, white cheddar and hollandaise sauce served on a crepe, $10.

The good morning breakfast includes two eggs on mini crepes, two maple sausages, potatoes and a fruit salad, $10.

A fruit salad from the good morning breakfast.

The omelette crepe includes goat cheese, cheddar, broccoli and mushrooms, $10. (They ran out of broccoli and the server offered roasted red peppers as a substitute.)

A variety of dessert crêpes are also available for $9.

A sweet crepe served with toasted pecans and seasonal fruit topped with a thick carmel sauce (dulce de leche), $9.

A dessert crepe topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate, $9.

The organic ingredients at Village Creperie are reflected in the quality of their dishes but while you would expect breakfast meals to include toast and potatoes, most of the items at Village Creperie do not. This restaurant is a great place to go for a light and healthy meal but if you’re famished, I’d save a visit to Village Creperie for another time.

Meatloaf

13 May

Beef meatloaf served with brown rice and sauteed baby spinach.

  • 1.5 lbs of extra lean ground beef
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 slices of crustless bread soaked in milk and mashed up, drain any excess milk but leave the bread saturated with milk (the soggy bread will keep the meatloaf moist while in the oven)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp of worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsps of dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsps of extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Add olive oil to a hot pan and saute the onions and carrots.  Cook until both the carrots and onions are soft and add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside and let cool.  Once cooled, add the carrots and onions as well as the beef, egg, soggy bread, dijon mustard and approximately half a teaspoon of salt and pepper into a large mixing bowl.  Combine well and transfer to a lightly greased baking dish.

Meatloaf ready for the oven.

Place into a preheated oven at 350ºC for 30 minutes uncovered. Note: the dimensions of my baking dish is 8 by 6 inches and 3 inches deep, so cooking time may vary depending on the size of your baking dish.  Let finished meatloaf cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Corbin Tomaszeski

6 May

Corbin Tomaszeski

Corbin Tomaszeski is a popular Canadian chef and regular fixture on Food Network Canada.  He is currently the executive chef for Holt Renfrew and as part of the Food Network Canada community has been involved in such shows as Restaurant Makeover and Dinner Party Wars.

On April 29, Corbin was demonstrating the art of cooking risotto at a grand re-opening at Canadian Tires.  He was enthusiastic about the salmon and spring vegetable risotto he was preparing and personable with the audience. Throughout the demo, he dispensed simple and useful cooking tips such as “never put lemons in the fridge” because this dries out the lemon or “the worse cheese smells, the better the cheese”. After his cooking presentation, he signed autographs, took pictures and chatted with the audience.

A cooking demonstration with Corbin Tomaszeski.

Corbin's risotto with salmon, asparagus and peas.

Autographs and pictures with Corbin.

It was a great treat to have been part of the audience at his cooking demonstration.  (My autographed picture of Corbin is tucked away in a safe place.) Corbin’s passion for cooking was quite infectious and his wealth of food and cooking knowledge inspiring.