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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.

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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.

Popcorn Maker

20 May
Popcorn maker, ~$20 (CAD).

Popcorn maker, ~$20 (CAD).

After purchasing my popcorn maker a few years ago, I’ve never gone back to the microwave version as there is a distinct tasty difference.  I purchased the machine at Canadian Tire for about $20 and a 1kg bag of kernels at the grocery store costs approximately $3, which lasts quite a while.  The popcorn maker is very simple to use with the popcorn being made in only a few minutes. The popcorn tastes delicious plain but I usually jazz it up with melted butter and then some (actually, a lot) of white cheddar powder. For the cleanup, I simply wipe dry with a clean kitchen towel. If you can afford the space, save the original packaging and keep the machine in there when not using.

Just popped popcorn.

Just-popped popcorn.

HAPPY VICTORIA DAY!!

Fresh Herbs

6 May
A pot of oregano, $3.29. (The pot itself was $5.99.)

A pot of oregano, $3.29 CAD. (The pot itself was $5.99 CAD.)

A recent trip to Sheridan Nurseries has inspired me to grow my own herbs. Some of the most common herb pots are oregano, rosemary, basil and thyme.  Having fresh herbs literally at an arms length is so convenient. They are also easy to maintain and after a while, more economical than purchasing prepackaged fresh herbs at the grocery store. They also brighten up any room with their soothing green and beautiful aroma.

A pot of basil, $2.99.

A pot of organic basil, $2.99 (CAD).

Dim Sum

15 Apr
Steamed rice rolls with bbq pork and soy sauce.

Steamed rice rolls with bbq pork and soy sauce.

Dim sum is synonymous with a unique and popular style of eating in Chinese culture. It is traditionally served at lunch time (and sometimes only on weekends as it can be a long meal).  Servers arrive at tables with trolleys filled with steaming dishes. Patrons choose which dishes they would like to sample.

Deep fried taro dumplings.

Deep fried taro dumplings.

For example, dishes include steamed meat and vegetable dumplings, sticky rice in lotus leaves, spring rolls, deep fried wontons, stuffed eggplants, rice rolls, bbq pork buns, marinated chicken feet, black bean spareribs, etc. As lunch service nears to an end, mini desserts begin to appear on trolleys as well.

Fried vegetable rolls.

Fried vegetable rolls.

Each trolley dish contains only a few bite-size pieces.  The concept of dim sum allows patrons to indulge in a variety of small dishes over a long lunch. Dim sum is usually served with hot tea and it’s often a good idea to bring a large group so more items can be sampled. Prices of each dish range between $3 to $6 depending on the quantity and ingredients.

Congee.

Congee.

Food Safety Tips

19 Feb

FoodTips

I recently read an informative article on suggestions for food safety. The article begins from the time you purchase your items to the clean up after the meal is over. Many of the suggested ideas are simple and easy-to-implement. The full article can be found in the February 2013 edition of Canadian Health and Lifestyle. Below are some highlights from the story. Find the complete article here.

1. Make grocery shopping your last stop and head immediately home afterwards.

2. Begin your shopping in the household and dry foods department. Leave the frozen and refridgerated foods last.

3. Keep cold foods as far away as possible from hot foods in the cart (and in the car).

4. When checking out, put raw meats, poultry and fish in separate bags.

5. In the summer, keep a cooler in your trunk and place cold and frozen items in there.

6. Unpack your groceries immediately upon arriving home.

7. Store raw meats and poultry in the coldest part of your fridge (the back) and use within two or three days, otherwise freeze for up to three months.

8. Do not store perishables, such as eggs or dairy, in the door portion of your fridge. This is the warmst part of your fridge.

9. Always thaw frozen items in the refrigerator or on defrost in the mircowave.

10. Thoroughly wash hands with soap before and during food preparation and cooking.

11. Use separate cutting boards and knifes for raw items and fresh items.

12. Transfer leftovers into small shallow food safe containers. Label items with the date and a brief description. Allow leftovers to cool before placing in the fridge.

13. Lastly, “if in doubt, throw it out.”

Pumpkins

31 Oct

Jack-O-Latern.

Happy pumpkin carving! Here’s a quick pumpkin carving food thought: instead of discarding all the pumpkin insides, keep the seeds and make a tasty pumpkin seed snack. Here’s how.

1. Clean the seeds thoroughly and remove any membrane.

2. Pat the seeds dry as much as possible.

3. Place in a single layer on a lined flat baking sheet.

4. Put into a preheated 375º degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes. The length of time will depend on how well the seeds were dried.

5. When done, sprinkle a bit of sea salt over the pumpkin seeds and enjoy.

Happy Halloween!