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Monday, 28 February 2011

Königsberger Turkey Balls

A blog follower adores those German style poached turkey balls in lemon-and-caper sauce. 

While I will continue to make them for you my dear, I thought it is time to leak the secret recipe for all to try.

The Turkey Balls
- Cook 1/2 chopped onion in 1 Tbs butter until transparent.
- In a bowl, mix the cooked onions, crumbs of two slices of white bread, 2 Tbs cream, 1 lb ground turkey, 2 Tbs chopped parsley, 2 eggs, 1/2 tsp lemon peel, salt and pepper to taste.
- Knead vigorously until all ingredients are well combined.
- Moisten your hands lightly with cold water and shape into 2 inch balls.

The Poaching
- Boil 5 cups of water with a whole onion, a bay leaf and 1 tsp salt for 15 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low and drop the balls in the liquid.
- Simmer, uncovered for 25 minutes.
- Transfer to a warm plate, cover with foil paper and keep aside.

The Sauce
- Melt 4 Tbs butter in a skillet and stir in 4 Tbs flour.
- Add 3 cups of the poaching liquid, bring to boil, whisking constantly.
- Reduce heat to low and add 3 Tbs lemon juice, 1 Tbs capers and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
- Stir 2 egg yolks mixed with a 1/4 cup poaching liquid into the sauce. Add 2 Tbs sour cream.

Le Grand Finale
Add the turkey balls to the sauce and simmer, basting from time to time, until they are thoroughly heated. Serve immediately and enjoy. Make lots, they can become addictive!


Sunday, 27 February 2011

Happy (Very Belated) Birthday Malai

A ritual is developing at somerville kitchen where birthday girls are designing their own birthday dinners from the blog (see Happy Birthday Tanya). Tonight's birthday girl was very clear on what she wanted - "World Diabetes Day" menu with Spinach Stuffed Meatloaf, Roasted Vegetables with Herbs and Baked Spinach Cauliflower.

With a menu cooked entirely in an oven, this was not the time for my not-functioning-so-well oven to break down completely, again (see Appliance Crisis at Somerville Kitchen).

My brand new fancy convection toaster oven gave me a hurt look saying "What about me? I can do it, trust me."

And it did!

I lucked out having four of those mini baking pans where two of them fit together in the toaster oven. The meat loaf was cut into two and baked together. 

When done, it was kept warm on top of the toaster oven as the two very packed vegetables' pans were roasting in it.

The dinner was ready with less than 30 minute delay and was described by the guests as "one of the most delicious meals ever".

Thank you Toaster Oven!


But, with Anita on vacation, we had to resort to a bakery bought cake - three layers of white, milk and chocolate mouse cake. Decadent, but definitely not an Anita Cake. 

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Yalla Chicken and Lashou Beef

This is a story of 3 different nationalities in somerville kitchen, meat and chicken on hand, but no one has a meal plan.

Yalla is "come on" or "get moving" in Lebanese.  As my not-functioning-so-well oven was causing issues, the hungry Canadian amongst us applied the term appropriately calling Yalla Chicken to cook it fast.

Then the Lebanese wanted to make a side dish with nothing on hand - what's better than Iranian rice.

The recipe is a bit too complex to include here; and I am no expert at making it. But I was proud of adding the towel between the pot and the cover as I have seen Iranians do so often when cooking their rice.
The Iranian spiced up the meat with a mix of Italian spices. But the Canadian kept on wondering why are we having meat and chicken for dinner.

As Lashou means "what for" in Lebanese, the Canadian correctly poised the term Lashou Beef to keep wondering about why the meat.

At the end of it all, dinner was delicious, everyone had fun and language classes dominated the night. The rice cooked by the Lebanese looked very Iranian, according to the Iranian. And the Canadian got the Lebanese pronunciation almost perfect repeating Yalla Chicken and Lashou Beef throughout the evening.


Friday, 25 February 2011

What NOT to Buy

Even though this post is entered as part of the Product Endorsements label, it is definitely a Product Non-Endorsement - the misleading Dr. Oetker Trio Treat layered Gelatin.

With my recent fascination with Jell-O (see Bring Back the Jell-O Days), I thought it will be neat to experiment with a layered gelatin production. This product made it look easy and beautiful, so I decided to try it. Well, the outcome was one layer with a gelatinized milk shake texture. It tasted fine enough, but failed on the look. Next time, I will produce a layered version from scratch, stay tuned my Jell-O loving followers.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Hungry in San Diego

One more time, as most of the continent (including Vancouver) is suffering from snow and below freezing temperatures, I was having dinner on a patio in San Diego (see previous similar occasion Sun in San Fran).

My day started at 5:30 am and by 5:30 pm, with a flight, work and one disgusting Air Canada sandwich in my tummy, I saw this restaurant from the hotel room and did a straight line to its patio for a San Diego style sushi feast.

But first, a discovery of the delicious soda - Lorina Pink Lemonade. Little did I know that this is a product that traces back to 1895 France.

Feasting began with a 3/4 of their Beauty Roll (I was reading a book by Alan Hollinghurst, author of Line of Beauty which made this roll quite appropriate). 

This was a roll of spicy tuna, crab, cucumber, avocado, kaiware (Japanese sprouts) and topped with tuna and white fish. Served with fried slivers of gabo (burdock root).

I then progressed to some sushi - Tuna, Salmon, Halibut and Yellowtail. 

The platter came with one extra piece of sushi, on the house - some fish that I am not familiar with. I think they realized I was starving based on my order and threw in some more food out of feeling sorry for the hungry.

The main meal was a plate of Chicken Katsu Curry. I had their curry before - tasty, albeit envelope made, vegetable curry that comes in a huge plate. I thought this will be a half order of curry with a bit of chicken on the side. Little did I know that this was a two-in-one platter, US portion! Half was taken in a doggy bag and left on the hotel patio for midnight snack.

Nozomi 2
4150 Regents Park Row, Suite 190
La Jolla, CA

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Join me for Argileh

We call it Argileh in Lebanon; you may know it as Hookah, water pipe, or any of its other dozen names across the world (see wikipedia - Hookah).

I brought back this specific Argileh from home in Lebanon over three years ago, but used it for the first time this week. The barrier to usage has been finding the right tobacco.

While herbal-based products used as proxy for tobacco are abundant, my view is if you are to smoke this, you may as well use tobacco to get the full effect. Finding its tobacco in Vancouver was not easy, but I did locate the following box of apple-flavoured tobacco.

I am not going to say where I found it in case (which I suspect) it is not sold legally there. But I bluntly asked if they had it, and the package appeared from the back. This is as authentic as you can get, and includes tobacco.

Just take a quarter cup from the package, turn it into a firm ball and put on top of the Argileh. Light a little round piece of coal (sold at most Persian, Greek or Lebanese stores) to go on the tobacco, fill the water jar with water, and smoke away.

I think this is going to be a standard feature in le jardin this summer - join me for a puff if you are in the neighbourhood. 

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The World In Your Kitchen - February

The  Food Trip Down The Silk Road continued to China for Baozi (steamed buns). However, the recipe for those came from The World in Your Kitchen  - a calendar I found earlier in the year that features a vegetarian meal from a different country each month. I featured the first recipe in The World In Your Kitchen - January

The recipe (photographed below) was a bit intimidating given it involved a yeast-enhanced dough made from scratch with lots of kneading.

I was quiet impressed with myself when I got the dough looking well risen and ready to roll. The stuffing was a breeze, the rolling could have been thinner and the shapes could have looked more delicately Chinese.

But, they tasted good and despite what may seem an intimidating recipe below, it is worth a try.


Monday, 21 February 2011

Food Trip Down The Silk Road

I received this cookbook as a gift with a note that says "...for you are the happiest cook we know!". It is a great book of recipes, stories about food, hints from the author, and more - how can I not be a happy cook making a dinner from this book.

The evening theme was Food Trip Down The Silk Road given the different countries that were featured. Read on and enjoy, and if you are interested in buying this book, click on the link to the left and help me generate funds for my upcoming somerville kitchen renovations.

The trip started in Greece with Kolokithi Me Feta Salad (Zucchini and Feta Salad - Page 640). 

A refreshing salad where the zucchinis are barely cooked and the mix of dill, lemon, oil and scallions with feta cheese made it a delicious treat to go with the rest of the meal.

A quick hop to Cyprus for Revithia Yakhni (Chickpea Stew with Spinach - Page 31). 

According to the author, the spice mix enhancing this stew - red chiles, garlic, onions and tomatoes - is called tiganissi. She describes it as "something between an Indian tarka and a Spanish sofrito".

Whatever it is, it created a nice hit to the pallets. 

We then traveled far to look for the rice which we found in South India.

Elamcha Saatham (Lemon Rice - Page 380) is a simple, yet balmy, basmati rice. The rice is mixed with basil leaves fried with mustard seeds, lemon grind and lemon juice.


The trip is not over yet. look for the final stop, China, in tomorrow's post.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Purrfect Burger

Google search yields 3,320,000 hamburger recipes. But why waste time and effort; here is the perfect recipe.

The secret to a perfect hamburger is the level of fat in the meat. Buy lean, not extra lean ground beef, and you have all you need to make those perfect burgers.

Sprinkle the meat with a bit of salt (not too much, I typically use a quarter tsp for a pound of meat) and a bit of pepper. Forget about anything else you read that tells you to add breadcrumbs, onions, ketchup, eggs, etc. All you need is salt and pepper.

Make the patties large enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

Sprinkle the grill with a drop of vegetable oil and turn on the heat to high. Grill 5 minutes on one side and 3 on the other side for medium, or up to 5 minutes for well done.

The smell and taste of these burgers is what you imagine sailors of the 18th century ate what they referred to then as "steak cooked in the Hamburg style".

The cat had to be restrained throughout the meal after his immediate attack on the patties! 

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Another Dim Sum Option

I heard about Dai Tung dim sum at a dinner party last month and thought it might be worth a try on a sunny weekend.

A busy place, so aim to be there before 11:00 am. One of the few dim sum places that have not dispensed with the cart pushing servers, but be patient -  some items were circulating at ten times the frequency of the others.

Sho-Mai and Shrimp Dumplings were not the best I have had in the city. The hot sauce that came with them tasted more like Mexican Tabasco sauce than Chinese hot sauce.

But the bean curds with mushrooms were worth the wait.

The BBQ pork buns were nicely done and presented, but the Gai Lan were too oily and soaked with garlic.

The Black Beans sesame buns for desserts were surprisingly good, and somewhat addictive.

Worth the try, particularly when the bill arrived - 6 items, including taxes and tea, came to $19.49.

 Dai Tung Chinese Restaurant
1050 Kingsway (just east of Fraser)
Vancouver, BC

Friday, 18 February 2011

Ikea - Best Dining Deal in Town

Yes, you are reading right - 99 cents dinner at Ikea until Monday; that is less than 10 cents a meatball. However, you have to work at it. First, you stand in line for over 20 minutes to get your hands on the meatballs, that is 2 minutes for each ball.

Then, you have to deal with the meatball robots - they count the balls, pour, add the sauce and potatoes and move on to the next plate. If you are not swift enough to pick up your plate, your chance is gone. 

And, if you are there at the end of the meatball robots' shift, you will be stuck with french fries instead of mashed potatoes, not fair!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Laura's Lasagna

When vegetarian Laura (and her not so vegetarian cat) invited me for lasagna, I expected a vegetarian one.

Well, this delicious lasagna was a veggie beef one looking and tasting like a regular meat lasagna - also included green peppers, onions and mushrooms; cilantro in the sauce, and cottage/mozzarella cheese.

The lasagna was accompanied by a tasty fresh salad of green lettuce, cucumber, crab and feta cheese served with five herbs dressing.

Of course garlic bread was on the table but my camera did not succeed in capturing their appetizing look well.

Dessert was home-made chocolate cupcakes to die for. While they looked heavy, they were actually very light and fluffy, covered with a nice chocolate frosting. To wrap up the evening, addictive sugar coated fennel seeds were delved into for a long time.

Thank you Laura!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Meal Experiment

A dear non-meat eating friend drops by spontaneously for dinner, what to do. Took out bits of this and that from the fridge and started improvising The Meal Formula

Frozen shrimps + capellini package + (carrots + zucchini + mushrooms + celery) + dill + butter + lemon = Capellini aux Crevettes

The Experiment

  • Fry all the vegetables in a butter/vegetable oil mixture
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Add more butter and juice of one lemon
  • Sprinkle chopped fresh dill
  • Add frozen shrimps to defrost in the sauce (2 minutes)
  • Serve over buttered boiled capellini

The Results

Nice looking delicious meal!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

"How Did You Cook That?", You Asked...

I had few questions today about my dinner yesterday (see last part of yesterday's entry), specifically the yummy looking stew I poured over the mashed potatoes that were inside the popovers. So I thought I will share the recipe below.

This is a very easy recipe that I learned from a special wonderful one. It is quick to make and goes well over mashed potatoes. Perfect for a weekday dinner after a busy day.
  • Use a large frying pan or wok.
  • Fry some leak or onions in vegetable oil.
  • Add chunks of chicken breast and fry until lightly brown, season with salt/pepper.
  • Add the different vegetables you have on hand - carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, broccoli, celery - you got the picture. Fry until somewhat tender.
  • Add a can of cream of chicken soup and half of the same can worth of water, milk or a mix of both.
  • Bring to a boil until sauce thickens.
  • Sprinkle with fresh dill and serve.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Who Needs Chocolate When You Can Have Mashed Potatoes

A valentine weekend of mashed potatoes at somerville kitchen. Calorie counts are not allowed until tomorrow. Happy Valentine everyone.

Saturday - Braised Chicken with Mashed Potatoes

A tasty braised chicken recipe from the January issue of Bon Appetit. Chicken simmering in a mixture of tomatoes, wine, port, dijon mustard, red peppers, onions, garlic, and bay leaves produced a delicious thick tomato gravy to go over the potatoes.

Served with steamed-then-butter-glazed carrots and fried chard with garlic and lemon.

Sunday - Meat Loaf with Mashed Potatoes

Somerville meat loaf (click for recipe) with mashed potatoes, Knorr Swiss roast gravy enhanced with mushrooms and wilted spinach with onions and lemon.

And a Sunday dinner is not complete without Janice Wong's Chow popovers (more on those at Sunday Dinner Accompaniments entry).

Monday - Popovers with Mashed Potatoes

Those popovers yesterday were so good that I made them again (and more of them) today. 

They were then split in half, stuffed with mashed potatoes and covered with what would typically be the filling of chicken pot pie (chicken, vegetables and dill in a creamy sauce).

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Ginger Crunch for Valentine

I bet you did not know that ginger is a natural aphrodisiac. In fact French legend Madam du Barry used to serve ginger to her lovers which drove them, including Louis XV, to a state of complete and utter submission. So what is a better recipe for Valentine than this ginger crunch.

I received this recipe from someone in New Zealand as part of an email recipe exchange (I love those, add me to the list anytime). It is very easy to make, so try it tomorrow as a special treat for your loved one.

The Base

Cream 125g of butter with 1/2 cup sugar until fluffly. Separately, mix 1.5 cups flour with 1 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp ground ginger. Add to the butter mix, knead well and press dough into a greased baking dish. Bake in 375 oven for 20 - 25 minutes, until light brown.
The Icing

In a small saucepan, combine 50 grams butter, 1/2 cup icing sugar, 1 Tbsp golden syrup and 2 tsp ground ginger. Heat until butter is melted, stirring constantly. Spread over hot biscuit base. Once cool, cut into squares and serve.
Happy Valentine 

Thank you Meredith!