May 2012


Food: Home Cookin'29 May 2012 03:32 am

I think one of the most fun parts of being home again has been outfitting our new, super nice kitchen. This is, without a doubt, the nicest kitchen I’ve ever cooked in, let alone had full access to 24/7. Ample drawers, fancy features I did not even know I cared about, a gas stove… While we are still figuring out where to fit all of Mike’s pottery, we have dedicated an entire drawer to spices, which is pretty much a dream come true.

Being in Canmore now has benefits, like being less than an hour from Calgary. Calgary has a really great spice store in Inglewood called Silk Road (they also sell at the Farmer’s Market there). And if you are not near Calgary, never fear – they do ship to many countries.

Nice Mexican selection, with many chiles that can be hard to find north of the border with the United States.

Such a nice look to the store. Sort of old timey spice trader. It reminded me of World Spice Merchant’s in Seattle. I do not think this is an accident.

The store also has a wide selection of bitters, which seem to be the newest darling in the bar scene, atleast in Alberta. They had just about every kind you can imagine, but we just got orange bitters to start.

Lots of pre packaged gift sets, too.

We filled up this basket to the brim with what we needed.

Back at home, I chose the coolest darkest corner of our kitchen to store most of the spices. Some of the more volatile ones went in the fridge so they will keep longer.

Do you know how long I’ve dream of such a thing?

 

Thank you Silk Road!

Food: Asia and Food: Edmonton07 May 2012 12:51 pm

I think I heard about this event via Twitter, and I was immediately intrigued. I haven’t had ramen (outside of prepackaged broth bought in Fukuoka) since leaving Japan in January…and I’ve been craving it.

The idea was for a one night only affair with two kinds of ramen. (That’s the “pop up” part.) The noodles would be handmade and the space would be in the where the old Duchess once stood. Chael MacDonald and Clayton Kozak did a great job conceiving and running the event.

We arrived just before 6pm, and there was quite a line of people waiting for one of the 32 seats. After about an hour, we finally made it in. Time passed surprisingly quickly. After that point, there was no real line to speak of. The plan for the pop up was to go until they sold out or it became 8pm, whatever came first.

It was simply, but nicely, decorated with paper streamers. We received steaming cups of genmaicha, and ordered a few bowls of the chicken and pork ramen and one bowl of the miso dashi with tuna. Beer was available, too.

The menu is pretty tiny in this picture, but the two offerings were:

Choice 1: dashi miso broth with albacore tuna, egg, mushroom, wakame and nori seaweed $10

Choice 2: chicken broth, pork belly and shoulder, egg, pickled shiitake, napa cabbage, nori $10

The pork belly chicken ramen. The noodles were perfection. Absolute perfection. The broth was deep in flavour but not overly salty, and the additions of pickled mushrooms and negi (green onions) were great. While I enjoyed the chicken, the pork belly itself was a little dry and tough. But that was the only misstep – I was, quite honestly, blown away. Even the egg rivaled those I’ve had in Japan. Boiled in broth, it had a gentle brown exterior and a creamy, just underdone center. Well underdone to some.

I considered it perfect.

The miso dashi broth with tuna was savoury and delicious as well. I was never really a fan of miso ramen, but this might convince me otherwise. (I loved shio, or salt, and tonkotsu, or pork, ramen best) The wakame and nori seaweed were also nice touches. The tuna was all right as well. But I think the group favourite was the chicken pork ramen.

All in all, a fun event and worth the wait and a great way to satisfy a craving. I’m hoping this means there might be a great ramen restaurant in the future for Edmonton… but that might also mean Duchess loses its full time croissant p√Ętissier and Elm Cafe would lose Mr MacDonald. Sacrifices!

Food: Home Cookin' and japan04 May 2012 01:59 pm

I always feel like a bum when I duplicate content from my other blog, Eating Okinawa, but it seems like a lot of people who read this one do not read that one…so here you go.

I thought this was an interesting post to share because it gave some insight into the cooking challenges I had in Japan when I really wanted to eat something from “home”. It was by no means the most challenging thing to do in my life there, but sometimes after a day of complicated communication errors, long work days and crappy weather, I did not really feel like menu planning or hunting for the ingredients for whatever I was craving. This was a favorite recipe that I found super easy to make and modify for the Japanese supermarket. Because I did not have access to the American bases and their magical supermarkets, I sometimes felt like the ingredients I had access to were a bit limited, so I was happy to make spaetzle, a sort of poor woman’s dumplings when I craved perogies from back home. Really they are just a type of soft, fresh egg noodle.

It’s a pretty versatile recipe; I often would eat it with braised red cabbage when cabbage was in season or with a mushroom cream gravy or pasta sauce. They are great just fried up in brown butter, too. I totally recommend it if you are tired to death of pasta, rice and bread – who can say no to dumplings?

Spaetzle

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup ricotta (or yogurt, or buttermilk, or sour cream or even whole milk!)
  • 2 tablespoons of water, if needed
  • Sometimes I would add a few spices. Cumin, paprika, and cayenne all add a spicy kick. I even added some Ethiopian berbere we were lucky enough to have on hand one night. Add to taste.

Set a pot of water to boil on the stove, 4-6 cups should do. In a medium sized bowl, whisk eggs together with the ricotta (or yogurt or whatever you have on hand) until smooth. Add the flour and salt and any spices or seasonings, if desired. The mixture should become a thin and gluey batter. If it’s too thick, add a bit of water. It should not be sticking to a spoon too much and should come off the spoon on its own (see photo below).

When the water is boiling, take out a regular teaspoon. Dip the spoon into the batter, filling it about halfway. Push the dipped spoon off into the boiling water in one smooth motion. It will make a sort of flat dumpling shape. When the spaetzle float, they are done.

Scoop them off as they cook, then add sauce or vegetables or whatever you desire. Grated cheese and fried onions, beef stew…even sweet style with grated apples, honey, cinnamon and a bit of butter…yum!

I only had soft cream cheese on this day, but the recipe still came out great. This is the brand I used, Megmilk Snow. It’s a lot lighter than the “American style” cream cheese you will find in Japanese supermarkets, and is more like ricotta.

There is also a sweetened version, so I had to be careful when I bought it. I learned to look for the crackers, not the tiramisu, on the label!

Mixing my eggs and flour

This is too thick!

I added a tablespoon of water, and it thinned out. It should “flow” off the spoon.

The floating ones are done!

Pushing the batter off the spoon.

Pushing the batter off the spoon.

A close up! There is no “right” way to do it, just get reasonable sized clumps of batter together when you push. The hot water will do the rest.

After I boiled them, I fried them with some butter until they were a bit crispy. This is not necessary, but it does make them more delicious in my opinion.

I also made a simple enoki mushroom cream sauce. I sauteed the enoki in butter…

Added some whipped cream and seasonings and poured it over the pan fried spaetzle. SO GOOD! SO EASY! SO CHEAP! A taste of home!