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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Fadalat Min Fadalat

I have been on a leftovers kick since last week's article on the Culture of Leftovers. Tonight's was double leftovers - recycling food that was already recycled once before.

This Bolivian soup I made Saturday was really good (read Best of South American Cooking). It was recycled again on Sunday (read South American Cooking, Again). I just could not face it as a soup again tonight. I heated it, added a cup of couscous and there you have it, spinach-chickpeas couscous.

Sauce from Sunday's lamb shank was turned, with a bit of flour, into a real tasty gravy to go with the leftover lamb shank.

A cucumber that has been appearing on the dining room table all week became boring. So chopped was its fate, added to yoghurt and dried mint to end up as a great accompaniment to the couscous.

Those vegetable roots' sticks have been sprinkling on the Bolivian soup both Saturday and Sunday. Time to get rid of them, but for fun, grilled pita was added to the mix.

The Result was an amazing Fadalat Min Fadalat (Arabic for Leftovers from Leftovers) dinner.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Vegan Stew

A recipe from Bon Appetit that was waiting to be made for a long time was tried tonight.

Look at this picture - How could this stew not turn out delicious and good for you. Feeling generous tonight, so here's the recipe.

2 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, 2 carrots, 1 celeriac, 1 turnip - all chopped (I added potatoes too)
1 lb brown lentils
8 cups vegetable broth
1 large bunch kale, chopped

Heat oil and add all the vegetables, sprinkle with salt and pepper (I used lovage and pepper).

Saute for 10 minutes. Stir in lentils, 1 Tbs dried herbs, broth and kale.

Bring to boil stirring to incorporate the kale. Reduce heat, cover with lid slightly ajar, and simmer for about 30 minutes.

An excellent source of fibre, iron and protein; and easy to make.

Served at somerville kitchen with a new bread discovery from Urban Fair - an Urban Ficelle Loaf.

Difficult to describe, unique for sure, and was an excellent accompaniment to the stew.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

South American Cooking, Again

My South American dinner last night was so good (read Best of South American Cooking) that I had to continue my experimentation with that continent's cuisine. After covering Colombia, Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru, tonight's landing was at Ecuador with Pierna De Carnero Con Habas.

This is a lamb shank dish where the lamb is rubbed with mustard and vegetable oil and braised at low heat for a couple of hours. Green beans cooked with onions are added to it the last 20 minutes.

And how appropriate, I received another gift from Colombia - Colombian mustard - which came in very handy for this recipe.

Some leftovers  Potaje De Garbanzo Con Acelga from last night's menu carried over to tonight; sprinkled with vegetable roots' sticks.

This soup is definitely amazing; even better the next day.

For dessert, no leftover cake was to be found (in fact, last night's full cake was consumed by 3 people in less than 24 hours). However, a bit of my frosting creation was still around. So I made banana chocolate chips muffins and covered them with the frosting, carrying over last night's dessert theme.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Best of South American Cooking

It all started with this beautiful gift I received from Colombia - a box of individually packaged portions of a cumin-based rub.

Searching the internet and my personal library did not yield any authentic-sounding Colombian recipes. So I expanded my horizons and went searching for food ideas from other South American countries.

It was fun and resulted in one of the more interesting and great tasting dinners I experimented with.

Here is the adventure. Anyone interested in the recipes for this whole dinner, just email a request.

From Paraguay - Potaje De Garbanzo Con Acelga

A really tasty soup. Chickpeas are simmered with chunks of onion, garlic and whole tomatoes. After two hours, those latter ingredients are taken out, pureed are returned to the soup base along with spinach.

Simple flavours, but rich in texture, taste and definitely photogenic.

From Bolivia - Picante De Gallina

I marinated the chicken with the Colombian spices and hot cayenne pepper and cooked them with onions over low heat for 1.5 hours.

The sauce was a mixture of red peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic with oregano and caraway. Sauce went over the chicken.

The mix of spices gave it a taginey feel with a definite South American kick.

From Peru - Papas a La Huancaina

A simple boiled potatoes salad covered in a warm cream cheese and green peppers mix and sprinkled with hot red chilli strips. Looked like a salad from Mars but tasted like a salad from heaven.

Attempting South American dessert would have put me over the edge tonight so I stuck to my dinner guest's favourite dessert - Duncan Hines White Cake. 

For frosting, I had a bit of Pamela's Vanilla Frosting mix which was not enough for the cake. I started adding vanilla, icing sugar, light cream and butter at random and mixing until I got the right texture (albeit with butter chunks).

Amazingly, the frosting worked and went very well with the cake.

All was eaten, including 1/2 of the cake, before the clock stuck midnight.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Trafalgars Bistro Once Again

I ended an article on Trafalgars Bistro last month by saying "I should remember this place more often for lunch, brunch or dinner" (read more here). 

I am glad I remembered it today for a client event. As usual, Trafalgars Bistro did not disappoint. 

And the best aspect of this place is they let you lounge in peace. We spent 3 hours there while a couple of other tables were there before us and were still there when we left. This is what a real Bistro should be.

Trafalgars Bistro on Urbanspoon
A great selection of wine, we opted to cheer the day with Avalon, a really nice Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

A second bottle meant two  corks that created much entertainment until lunch arrived.

Fresh looking, fresh tasting, their Grapefruit Salad, with house ricotta and grapefruit champagne vinaigrette, was an incredible choice.

The Warm Prawn & Orzo Salad was equally fresh and delicious.

The right food temperature, shaved fennel and lovely dressing - I really enjoyed it.

But this felt way too healthy to start the weekend. So a couple  orders of Bistro fries showed up.

Truffle oil, parmesan and herbs created flavour without losing a diner's fries taste.

Trafalgars Bistro is connected to Sweet Obsessions next door, giving the bistro the benefit of presenting a two-page dessert menu.

Hours of eating and drinking made selecting a dessert from those choices too overwhelming so I settled on one of their special creation - Neopolitan cake. Yes, it was all it promised to be.

Trafalgars Bistro
2603 W. 16th Avenue
Vancouver, BC

Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Culture of Leftovers by Replacement Chef

The Culture of Leftovers article two days ago generated lots of interest in sharing leftovers experiment. As I wait for a couple of followers' features coming my way, here is Replacement Chef's approach to recycling food.

First, you find leftovers (fridge still had Peas & Spaghetti from Sunday's 1972 Dinner).

You heat up the leftovers and put them in a plate.


Okay, the fridge has lots of those delicious lumberjack eggs.

You fry those eggs (somerville kitchen style). You serve an egg on top of the leftover pasta and, voila!

But the culture of leftovers by Replacement Chef includes a strong aspect of design. As such, the meal was not complete until three next steps:

1. Set a nice looking table

2. Enhance the sophistication of the platter look by sprinkling peas on the egg

3. Give it a fancy name like nouilles aux pois et oeufs gourmet (that is when cats decided not to have anything to do with this).

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

A New Era

Few months ago, this piece of art by a local architect, Bill Pechet, showed up in le jardin. 

The piece of art had a personal significance of leading me into a new era, which officially materialized today.

And to celebrate the occasion, work colleagues gathered over hot chocolates and dessert at Mink Chocolates (see two other articles on Mink: Hot Chocolate Break & Wonderful Chocolates).

But it wasn't just hot chocolate. It seems that we are in the midst of the second year of the Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival sponsored by City Food Magazine.

Mink Chocolates' hot chocolate features are:

1. Sheba - a hot chocolate based on their pistachio chocolate bars and comes in dark or milk chocolate.

2. Mermaid's Choice - hot chocolate (in dark or milk) that has rosemary infused caramel with fleur de sel. If only I liked caramel, this may have been the better choice.

And for lunch, I had their delicious pavlova with fresh mandarins and bananas, fresh whipped cream and chocolate drizzle.

Documents were shredded, hot chocolate mugs were toasted, sugar levels were drastically enhanced and all had fun.

863 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Culture of Leftovers

A friend asked me "How did you grow up culturally with leftovers?". From an Asian decent, she grew up heating up leftovers, not trying to make something out of them. Similarly, my mom will take out a series of leftovers, heat them up and eat them (see article on Leftovers Mixed Buffet). But now I typically recycle them (see article on Recycled Foods).

So is turning leftovers into something else a North American/European phenomena? Let's start a discussion in the comments section.

Meanwhile, let me entertain you with my latest food recycling project (source is Gourmet Dinner 1972).

Leftovers of Ensalada de Pinay Aguacate and Green Salad looked too sad to eat as is.

Mixing them together generated a fancy Ensalada de Pinay Aguacate Verde.

The next item were the artichoke bottoms that were not used in the failure Artichoke Bottoms with Eggs dish. They were nestled over chopped parsley.

I put them in a baking dish, sprinkled them with lemon juice and parsley, added a couple of leftovers Football Kebbeh and baked for 20 minutes.

The fridge tidier with the leftovers recycling project, it was time to indulge on some leftovers dessert.

A big piece of the deliciously-baked completely-from-scratch Banana Spice Cake with Penuche Frosting.

And still more leftovers, stay tuned.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Gung hay fat choy

Year of the Dragon was welcomed at somerville kitchen with a feast inspired by Janice Wong's lovely cookbook Chow (more @

The dinner featured:
- A new version of Chow's 3 Green Beans recipes
- Asparagus, Mushrooms + Pork
- Gai Fun (Chicken Rice)

I wanted to do something different with the green beans so an experiment with Rick's Rub was in order.

Given the occasion, I thought Rick's Rub Asian will be the best choice. But with a guest allergic to onions and garlic, I opted for Rick's Rub Heat.  

An amazingly tasty and easy recipe that I will be making again and again. 

Simply heat up some oil, add the green beans, sprinkle with a generous amount of Rick's Rub Heat, a bit of soy sauce and you have a deliciously eye tearing hot beans. Try it (A list of outlets where you can buy Rick's Rub can be found at

Gai Fun - my favourite recipe in Chow. I got this fancy clay pot as a gift and wanted to use it, so, for the second time in one night, I adjusted the recipe (Forgive me JW?).

I got the chicken and rice going on stove top (half the process) then poured all into the pot and put it in the oven to wrap up. Delicious taste, fancy look. Repeat!

For the Asparagus, Mushrooms + Pork recipe, I stuck to the book's instructions (and yes, the Scotch whisky is part of the recipe).

This was the first time I try making this dish and it was easy, tasty, smelled great and disappeared off the table in no time.

None of us spoke any Asian language, but we sure had fun, ate well and enjoyed our small scale somerville kitchen Chinese New Year celebration.