Category Archives: Food

Nature/Math

You know how you’re not supposed to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach, because then you’re more likely to succumb to buying junk food? The same should be said for going to the farmer’s market, but at least you come out with healthy food instead of chips!

Last Saturday I woke up fairly early, so I decided to hit up the St. Lawrence Farmer’s Market before eating breakfast, and tried to avoid the crowd. Well, I came out with a lot of stuff before rushing home for breakfast.

My goods:

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In terms of the more normal fruit & veg, I got some crispy tart/sweet Golden Delicious apples and some firm, sweet Bosc pears.  I picked up a cute acorn squash, because this fall, I planned on conquering my fear on cooking squash. I also bought a couple of huge bunches of kale.

And in terms of some more interesting finds, I got some apple cider, which was preservative-free and unsweetened. In the past, I often avoided apple cider since it was always sweet (though delicious), but I was very excited to find some that had no added sugar.

And what was that giant acid green mass in the front? It was Romanesco cauliflower. I had never even seen this before! I asked the vendor how to cook it and he told me to cook it like regular cauliflower. So I mustered some courage (yep, I am somewhat an apprehensive cook), and bought this huge bunch. I read up more on Romanesco cauliflowers when I got back. One cool fact I learned was that Romanesco cauliflowers was a natural approximation of a fractal. Nature can be so cool! I roasted the cauliflower with a splash of olive oil and red pepper flakes. Yum. It tasted like a mix of broccoli and cauliflower.

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Summer Fruit: Rhubarb

The moment I saw rhubarb at the St. Lawrence Market, I knew I had to buy some. It was the sign of the beginning of summer, after all. But I picked up a stalk apprehensively and asked the vendor, “The leaves are poisonous, right?”. He responded, “You haven’t made rhubarb before?”. He then went on to explain how to prepare the rhubarb and a couple other older men listened in and gave their opinions.

Source: Wikipedia

We finally reached a consensus on making rhubarb compote: Bring 3/4 to 1 lb chopped rhubarb, 1/2 cup of water and 4 tbsp of sugar to a boil then down to a simmer before the rhubarb breaks apart too much, and stir in some orange peel near the end.

Enjoy it on crepes!

Rhubarb on Crepes

With granola and yogurt in a Mason jar (jar optional)!

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Since then I’ve made a few different kinds of dishes with rhubarb.

Rhubarb Crumb Cake

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Rhubarb Spice Cake

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and la pièce de résistance: Rhubarb Strawberry Crumb Pie by Joy the Baker

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Pie crust used to stress me out, but I decided that I would no longer let it intimidate me. So what if it tears a bit or shrinks or if it’s not perfectly flaky? It’ll still taste good. Honestly, the thought of making apple pie for the first time is the only thing that is making autumn appealing to me right now. I’ll take summer forever, please, thanks.

Rhubarb is no longer in season, but I still have a few stalks in the freezer. Hmm, I wonder what I should make with it now.

Bonus: Out of focus strawberry rhubarb ice cream from Ed’s Real Scoop. Mmm.

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spring-summer bake

I know most don’t associate summer with a hot oven, but I quite enjoy baking so I’ve taken advantage of some more free time to bake. I did try to make summery baked goods though.

First, browned butter blueberry muffins from Joy the Baker’s cookbook. This was my first time making browned  butter and I can see how intoxicating it is! I need some more practice browning butter, but I don’t mind that opportunity. That said, these muffins are definitely not the healthy kind.

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June12-001I made a lime ginger cake with a lime frosting. I liked the idea of using ginger with a bright flavour like lime, since most of the time I think of ginger with molasses and wintertime.

June12-003Peanut butter bacon pancakes… yep. 

June12-002Lastly, a non-food shot: I’ve been going back home more frequently and I snapped this shot at Union waiting for the train. There’s a lotof work going on and it’s quite exciting.

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in like a/out like a

Whoosh, March went by quickly.

There were a few green smoothies.

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And maple olive oil banana bread made with Greek yogurt.

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And school.

My parents came over last night for Easter dinner since the kitchen is undergoing renovations. My sister roasted us a leg of lamb, which was delish! I unfortunately did not contribute to this dinner since I’ve been busy with year-end stuff, like usual. I did help with clean up though. Secret: I’ve discovered the magic of the dishwasher. Apparently it can be just as water-efficient as dish washing by hand depending on how full you load the dishwasher. I still love getting through a sink of dishes though.

I had a sunny Easter morning with a hot cross bun my parents gave us. I used to dislike hot cross buns when I was younger, but this was lovely. It didn’t have those weird red or green “cherries”, though there were still some raisins and some dried peel as well as a good nutmeg kick. Still, I think hot crossed buns are an acquired taste.

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I hope April isn’t too rainy.

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New Year Soy Sauce Chicken

Happy new year! Oh dear, I am entering the “weird zone” of when it’s OK to wish someone a happy new year, whoops. I had a lovely new year’s eve with a good friend, friends of friends, as well my brother and sister — I think this the first time the three of us have been “out on the town”. We saw Sheezer, an all-lady Weezer cover band, as well as a bunch of other bands and musicians. It was a good night, indeed.

This week my mom taught me how to make Chinese soy sauce chicken, which has been a family recipe for three to four generations. It turns out it is really easy to make. Now I hope to share it with you too!

Soy Sauce Chicken

Ingredients

1 whole chicken

Marinade

1 tbsp cooking wine

2 tbsp soy sauce

Sauce/Braising Liquid

2 tbsp medium soy sauce

4 tbsp dark soy sauce

60 g of brown sugar (~ 1/3 cup, packed)

3 spring onions, chopped into thirds

3 slices of ginger (~ 15 g)

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My mom and I actually used Chinese “layered sugar” which is essentially a pressed slab of brown sugar; regular brown sugar will be fine.

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Instructions

Butterfly the chicken by cutting out the back rib.

Marinate the chicken in the wine and soy sauce for about half an hour. The idea is just to get some colour on it.

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In a large non-stick sauce pan, add the soy sauce, sugar, spring onions, ginger, and the chicken. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and reduce to a simmer. Cook covered.

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After about ten minutes, flip the chicken over and cover again. Spoon sauce over chicken occasionally.

After about another ten minutes, turn the chicken over again, and cook for about ten more minutes until the chicken is done (total cooking time is approximately 30 minutes). You can test whether the chicken is cooked by cutting where the thigh meets the body and seeing if the juices run clear.

Serve the chicken with all the sauce on a large plate.

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Makes delicious, moist, sweet and savoury chicken.

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Christmas time is (almost) here

Finished exams, two more papers, let’s go.

Mini cupcakes from Prairie Girl Bakery: eggnog on vanilla and Irish cream on chocolate. Treat yo’ self, right?

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Victorian carollers in St. James Park.

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I finally went inside the Allan Gardens Conservatory at Jarvis. What a lovely surprise in the middle of the city. It was warm and humid, and just smelled wonderful. The hours of operation are 10-5, but it is open on weekends.

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It’s beginning to look a lot like…

Fortunately it is not looking a lot like Christmas just yet — I will take my rainy fall days as they come. But it is beginning to smell a lot like Christmas, because for some reason over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend last week, I decided to bake a Christmas cake. Talk about a lesson in delayed gratification: I can’t believe I have to wait two and a half months before trying this cake, but I am hoping all the booze will settle nicely into the cake by then.

After browsing a few recipes online, I chose Nigella Lawson’s Christmas cake recipe from her book How to Be a Domestic Goddess. While I could not say what makes a good Christmas cake, this recipe did not require nuts or processing them, so it seemed like a good start. It also provided a list of ingredients to scale your cake to the size of your liking.

Ingredients for a 25 cm round tin (makes a large cake!) from How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson

– 1kg sultanas
–  350g raisins
– 175g currants
–  175g glace cherries
–  175g mixed peel
–  180 ml sherry or brandy + 2 tbsp for brushing onto the finished cake

– 350g butter
– 300g brown sugar
– 1.5 tsp lemon zest
– 1.5 tsp orange zest
– 6 large eggs
– 3 tbsp marmalade
– 1 tsp almond essence
– 525g plain flour
– 1.5 tsp mixed spice (allspice)
– 1.25 tsp cinnamon
– 1.25 tsp ground nutmeg
– 0.25 tsp salt

The night before, in a large bowl, soak all your dried fruit in your choice of alcohol. I went with sherry. Yes, this was a lot of fruit and I was worried I read the recipe incorrectly, but the cake batter came together in the end. Give the fruit a good stir and cover overnight. Pour yourself a nightcap, if you wish.

Boozy dried fruit in the morning

When you are ready to bake the next day, preheat your oven to 150 C.

Line your cake pan with two layers of brown paper and a layer of parchment paper to 10cm above the top of your tin. This is, as I have read, important to prevent your cake from burning on the outside because the cake is in the oven for a long time. I used a spring-form pan, which helped in removing the cake later on.

Cream the butter and sugar. Mix in the zest. Add the eggs one at a time to prevent curdling. However, if it does curdle, and I suspect mine did, it doesn’t seem to matter since it is all mixed into the batter anyway.

Stir in the marmalade and the almond essence until well distributed.

Sift the dry ingredients (flour, spices and salt) in a separate bowl. Alternate mixing in the dry ingredients and the fruit into the wet mixture. The batter is heavy and sticky, so just work through it!

Glorious…

Pour the batter into the tin.

Bake for 4 to 4.5 hours.After the first hour, turn down the heat to 140 C for the remaining time. I covered the cake after the three hour mark with tin foil to prevent it from browning too much. Keep an eye on your cake. You can test with a skewer to see if the cake is done.

Take the cake out of the oven and brush another two tablespoons of sherry or brandy on top of the cake. Wrap the cake and cake pan in foil so that the steam keeps the top of the cake moist.

When the cake is cool, unwrap the tinfoil and remove the cake from the tin. I actually waited until the next day before the cake was completely cool. Re-wrap the cake and put it in in an airtight container.

For many homemade Christmas cakes, you “feed” your cake every other week or so with sherry or brandy. Nigella didn’t put this in her recipe, so I am not sure if there is already enough booze in this cake. Then again, it seems so appealing to visit my Christmas cake every so often. I plan on feeding it at least once or twice, and perhaps I’ll give an update. Of course, I’ll provide an update in a couple months on how it tastes!

Until December, to see the whole cake unwrapped again.

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