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Thursday, 30 September 2010

Dinner in Chicago

Chinese dinner in Chicago - private room, great company, good food. My favourites were the chicken lettuce wraps, sesame chicken and Mongolian beef. Well spiced, though some dishes were overdone with hot peppers. Worth checking out when in Chicago.

Ben Pao Chinese Restaurant
52 West Illinois St

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Chicago Trip - Inbound

Very early flight, rushing to the airport, hungry, fast food breakfast of eggs on English muffins and mini hash browns. Not only this was a 100% cholesterol boost, but those mini hash browns turned themselves into an indestructible castle in my stomach.

After lunch cookies to keep us going in our meeting. These were tiny cookies, all sorts of varieties, and very addictive. Was it a dozen I ended up eating? They added a nice pathway to the hash browns castle in my stomach.

Working night at the hotel meant room service - Chicago Chop Chop salad. How can anyone get a chop salad wrong? Well, this hotel managed to do so. Tasteless lettuce soaked with vinegar, salami chunks, four pieces of small cheese cubes and the leathery flavourless chicken - all for a bargain price of US$22.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Win This Basket

Yes, you could be the winner of this basket of home made chocolate chips cookies delivered to your home wherever you are in this world.

Just send a recommended recipe for buffalo stew meat to . The sender of the recipe that I end up making will be sent this basket as a thank you. 

Monday, 27 September 2010

Monday Made-Up Meal

It all started with what to do with those "made in China" hot looking and tasting red peppers. With few ripening avocados around, a guacamole was whipped up.

Carrying over the Mexican and red peppers theme, I rolled some chicken breasts in breadcrumbs, red peppers and lime juice and baked them with two jardin courgettes. 
Not entirely Mexican, but the chicken sure had a nice hot kick to it.  Happy Monday!



Sunday, 26 September 2010

Jerusalem Artichokes

I was completely uninspired as to what to make for dinner all day today, until a dear friend dropped by with some Jerusalem Artichokes from her garden.

An internet search for recipes did not yield anything interesting so I decided to take matters into my own hands and make up a recipe.

I took out some lamb from the freezer, rolled it in a mix of flour, paprika, salt and pepper, and browned it with some onions.

I added the Jerusalem Artichokes and baked the stew for 30 minutes. I also baked few biscuits, opened a package of Sauerkraut and dinner was served.

These packages of Sauerkraut come directly from Germany and taste very fresh. Add some water and butter and heat up for 20 minutes and they are ready to eat. Best place to buy them:

European Specialty Importers
220 Prior Street (east of Main by the Georgia Viaduct)

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Lebanese Feast

Eight special dinner guests necessitated a special dinner - an authentic Lebanese feast with no menu item you can find in a restaurant. Menu planning, shopping, six hours of cooking and the feast was ready - it was not as difficult of a challenge as I thought.

 A typical Lebanese feast will start with "Mezza" - a series of appetizers to munch on until the main meal is ready. This dinner's "Mezza" included:
- Labneh; thickened yogurt served with olive oil
- Pickles; home made cucumber and turnip pickles
- Loubieh; green beans cooked with tomatoes, onions and garlic
- Naker; the insides of zucchini cooked with olive oil and garlic
- Tabouleh; parsley (all from jardin) salad with tomatoes and bulger
- Rocca; Lebanese greens with lemon, never seen this weed other than in private gardens
- Humus; made with a twist - edamame beans mixed in
- Maoujadra: cooked lentils, rice and onion made into a dip
The "Mezza" was enjoyed with Pita bread and a bottle of Lebanese wine - Chateau Kefraya.

This bottle came directly from Lebanon and is not available in stores in Canada. However, selected BC Liquor Stores that carry VQA wines will have some Lebanese wines. The ones we get here are the award winners and typically cost $35 and up.

And the main meal was served...

Zucchinis stuffed with rice and meat, cooked in tomato and garlic sauce. 

These zucchinis are different than what you you find in stores. They look more like squashes, are very light in colour and cook fast. I grew some this year but those came from a friend's garden.

There was also the rice and chicken cake - layers of rice, ground beef, and chicken topped with fried almonds and pine nuts.

This was served with a lettuce and beats salad with red vinegar and oil dressing.

And, a feast is not a feast without an Anita cake - tonight's was a pumpkin cheese cake with leftovers for breakfast.


Friday, 24 September 2010

Friday Food Delivery

A perfect end of a busy week; a home delivered meal.

The source is Green Lemongrass Vietnamese Cuisine restaurant on 1086 Kingsway in Vancouver. Described as great atmosphere, very helpful staff and smells good. The food itself is also good.

The hit was the beef satay - tender and nicely marinated. Served with vermicelli, bean sprouts, cucumber, pickled carrots, fried spring rolls, roasted crushed peanuts and fresh Vietnamese herbs. I mixed them all together and poured the "nouc mam" dressing - a lovely aromatic meal.

Thank you James!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Fun Day in San Francisco

While it was pouring rain in Vancouver, I was enjoying a work "fun day" in sunny San Francisco. And as usual, fun with the work gang has to revolve around food.

We started with a Mexican food picnic in the beautiful Dolores Park with (at least for me) a nice long nap in the sun. A stroll in "The Mission" lead to my favourite ice cream place in North America. (552 Valencia St., San Francisco,

This is an ice cream parlor serving both Indian and North American ice cream as well as Indian savory snacks. 

Mine was a three-scoops combo: Almond dates, Cardamon rose, and Almond saffron pista (pistachio).

To cleanse our filled-with-exotic-sweetness palates, an Indian-origin colleague introduced us to a savory snack called Chaat. Chaat are a variety of snacks revolving around dough puffs. The one we tried was Dahi Puri - fried Chaats covered with yogurt, boiled potatoes, "sev" (small thin fried noodles), tamarind sauce, mint chutney and some of the nicest Indian spices I have ever tasted.

A fun day indeed. Thank you San Francisco team.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Be Remarkable

Even my work clients love food...As a thank you for being involved in a new credit unions initiative,, we received those lovely cupcakes at work. What a creative way to say thank you and promote the site. The delicious cupcakes are second only to Anita's. 

Check out and learn more about the credit unions in BC  (I highly recommend ditching your bank and joining one - they are everywhere). If you are on Facebook, tag yourself and your BC friends. For each tag received, BC credit unions will donate $1 to either Surrey Choral Arts Project Society or the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Foundation. (

Cupcakes by coco cake -

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Welcoming Fall

I love spaghetti squash. They keep well in the cellar for months on end. They are easy to cook and a great light alternative to pasta.

There are endless recipes on how to cook spaghetti squash on the internet. I have tried different versions but the most effective is poking the squash throughout with a skewer, baking it whole for 1 hour in a 375 oven. While still hot, cut it in half and clean up the seeds. Using a fork, the inside comes out looking just like pasta.

Have it with any kind of pasta sauce. Tonight's sauce was canned pasta sauce enhanced with canned tomatoes and jardin herbs. Served with home made garlic bread (from home baked baguettes - see Sept 19 entry).

Monday, 20 September 2010

This 'n That

The name of this meal in any Arabic dialect translates into "this and that". 

It is simply a melange of deep fried vegetables - cauliflower, zucchini (this one from le jardin), eggplant and potatoes. 

Served with "tarator" (tahini sauce watered down with lemon and water). Warning, high in fat and cholesterol.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Sunday Dinner

I bought this clay pot in 1983 and have been using it regularly since then. Recently, a friend of mine was looking for one and it turned out that only two shops in Vancouver carry it - so it is definitely a piece of kitchenware to treasure.

The way it works is to soak the clay pot in water for 15 minutes, add whatever you want to cook in it and put it in the oven before you turn it on. Everything cooks slowly as the clay pot absorbs the heat and food keeps its natural flavours.

Tonight the clay pot was used to roast a chicken. No oil or water was used - just onions at the bottom and salt and pepper on the chicken.  The result was a delicate, juicy and tasty chicken. This was served with roasted potatoes and salad from the jardin's chard (you see them soaking in vegetable soap above - the way my mother cleans vegetables). The baguettes are home made and freshly baked.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Korean BBQ

How do you prepare a Korean BBQ party at home when none of the guests are Korean?

You start by inviting friends who know where to buy Korean marinated BBQ meats. You then go to your most resourceful friend to find out where to buy Korean condiments. And you are set - a full scale Korean BBQ at home. 

Condiments included:

Kelp noodles and watermelon radishes salad
Soybean sprouts and cilantro salad
Sweet pickled and seasoned radishes
Radish and cucumber Kimchi
Seasoned seaweed
Sweet potatoes crackers
Seasoned fried bean curds
Leek and oriental noodles dumplings
Seafood pancakes

And you probably guessed what is coming next - no BBQ party is complete without an Anita cake. Today's was a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. 

Meal was served with Korean corn iced tea and the cake was served with Korean tartary buckwheat tea.

Meats from  Han Kook Meat, 3514 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC, 604-436-2113
Condiments from H-Mart, 590 Robson St., Vancouver, BC, 604-609-4567
Korean teas courtesy of Shaktea, 3702 Main St., Vancouver, BC, 604-873-5151

Friday, 17 September 2010

Mom's Vegan Lentil Soup

A delicious vegan lentil soup from mom's recipes. Mom typically makes it on a Friday. Given it is always a hit at somerville kitchen, it is time to share the recipe.

  • Bring to boil 2 cups of lentils in 8 cups of salted water. Simmer on medium heat.
  • As the lentils start to cook, add one large potato chopped into half inch pieces and one chopped onion.
  • Keep adding water if needed until the lentils are almost cooked.
  • Meanwhile crush one or two cloves of garlic and a quarter bunch of cilantro. Fry the garlic and cilantro in olive oil. Add to the soup.
  • Now add chopped chard (including the stems), salt and pepper to taste and some olive oil and continue to simmer until the chard is cooked.
  • Let rest before serving - it is good warm or cold.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Taste of Georgia Act II

I promise I won't spend a week cooking from and featuring this cook book, but I just could not resist the Casserole Spaghetti (page 310).

It is basically baked spaghetti with meat and vegetable sauce. But what hooked me was the sauce that included both tomato sauce and a can of cream of mushroom soup. Despite skepticism, the result was a very tasty meal. 


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Taste of Georgia

I have had this cook book for over 20 years. It is best for casseroles (and fried turtles - see page 272).

Tonight's dinner was chicken, rice and broccoli casserole (page 398), with some adjustments to the 1977 recipe. The canned chicken and can of cream of cheddar soup were replaced by freshly cooked chicken and shredded aged cheddar (do they still make cream of cheddar soup I wonder?).

Tasty for sure, served alongside a lettuce, watermelon radishes (see August 9 entry) and blueberries salad with blueberry vinegar (available at Market Meats - see Sept. 13 entry).

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

10 Years Anniversary Cruise

For Ipsos' 10 years anniversary, the company took all our Vancouver employees on a 3-hour cruise through the Burrard Inlet. In addition to the great group of people, the beautiful scenery and all the fun we had, there were three special aspects of the outing:

1. Great spread of food - fresh salmon, chicken stuffed with goat cheese and olives, and great salads;

2. The fact that it was during business hours - we were actually paid to cruise;

3. And the best surprise was an Anita cake on board - a chocolate cake stuffed with a layer of raspberries, whipped cream and chocolate - delicious!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Just Dinner

Fresh kale picked from le jardin, briefly cooked with butter and garlic. Potatoes from the cellar, mashed with a dash of butter. 

Pork chops, with pecan and currant bread stuffing - slowly baked. Both chops and ready made stuffing bought from the best meat store in town - Market Meats.

Market Meats
2326 West Fourth Avenue
Vancouver, BC

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Sunday Morning Snack

A Sunday morning snack of "Eish El Sarayah" (see Sept 10 entry, correction to translation - means bread of the royalties).It was served with the lovely Shaktea ginger lemon tea (

For the adventurous readers, here is the recipe of "Eish El Sarayah" - try it, it is quick and easy.

First, make the syrup: Bring to boil 1.5 cups sugar and 1 cup brown sugar mixed with 1 cup water. Once mixture boils, simmer for 20 minutes. At that time, add 1/2 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp of each of rose and orange blossom waters. Simmer for another couple of minutes.

Cover a platter with fresh white bread crumbs (one or one and a half loaf should do it). Soak with the hot syrup, layer the cream over the bread (see product shot above - this cream product is available at most middle eastern or Iranian stores - Iranians refer to it as "Puck"), sprinkle with crushed pistachios and refrigerate for at least four hours. Enjoy!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Eggplant Baskets

Heating leftovers at somerville kitchen is considered boring. But reinventing the leftovers into something new is always an exciting venture.

Today I took out all the leftovers and ingredients from the fridge, laid them out, and started designing a meal. 

The eggplants reminded me of a favourite fast food meal I typically have at San Francisco airport - eggplant cut in half, packed with veggies, and covered with feta cheese. 

So I cut the eggplants, stuffed them with leftover tomatoes, lamb, vegetable stew and sprinkled them with feta cheese. 

The rice was heated up, covered with the leftovers pita chips, and the green garnished turned into a salad - and voila, leftovers of a feast (see Sept 10 entry) turned into a mini feast.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Eid Moubarak

A festive evening with the contest winners JaG (see Sept 5 entry).

Quoting JaG "the scent of orange blossom melded with aromatic cumin, mint, coriander, slow-cooked lamb and butter-kissed pine nuts; these are just a few of the savory memories of our first Eid-el-Fitr feast".

The evening started with the way the Prophet broke his fasting - dates and yogurt drink. This was followed by a lentil cumin soup with vermicelli, sprinkled with deep fried pita chips.

Mid-meal was chickpeas "fatteh" - fried pita chips covered with buttered chickpeas, yogurt, mint and pine nuts served along baked minted-cheese puffs.

We then progressed to a feast of slow-cooked lamb in tomato and spices broth, buttered rice with nuts and raisins, stewed potatoes, peppers, yams and carrots, along with a "dry" salad - a garnish of lettuce, cucumber, radishes, parsley and cilantro.

Guests lounged with cold-brewed honey bush tea and lemon. Some attempted, with success, eating the rice with the right hand as is typical in the Arab gulf. And all relaxed with cafe blanc and "Eish El Sarayah" (bread of the loyalties) for dessert.