30 November 2009

Him Sushi

Take-out sushi from Shima on Denman. Or Him, for those who know it by its unfortunate logo. (Him photo by Magalie L'Abbé)

28 November 2009

Fire Roasted Sweet Pepper & Tomato Soup

I'm not even sure if cilantro goes with red pepper-tomato soup. What I am sure of though, is that this freeze-dried cilantro tastes like fish flakes. Do fish flakes go with red pepper-tomato soup? Kind of, I guess.

Soup was not enough to sustain me for an evening, so the help of a piece of Pizzo pizza was enlisted.

Also I ate a toasted cricket at Hops & Hospitality.


The last of the cabbage casserole.

26 November 2009

Salad & Leftovers

Leftovers and a salad under the watchful eye of Mr Peanut Mayne.

Waste-Not Bison-Cabbage Casserole

Tonight I used up all the leftover ingredients from Monday's Stuffed Tomato Bake. I realized I had almost all the ingredients to make my first boyfriend's mom's cabbage casserole, but with a couple twists.

I wanted to use everything up so I didn't measure anything, but the ingredients were as follows:

cabbage, roughly chopped
onion, chopped
red pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 package lean ground bison
orzo, cooked
tomato innards
1 can condensed tomato soup
Parmesan cheese, grated


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Boil cabbage until tender. Sweat onion, red pepper and garlic. Add bison and sauté until meat is browned. Mix in orzo.

In the meantime, cook tomato innards and reduce. If it's too watery, drain some of the liquid off and reserve. Stir in condensed tomato soup. Mix in boiled cabbage and bison mixture.

Pour into a large casserole dish. If it seems too dry, pour some reserved tomato liquid overtop. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and bake for about half an hour.

25 November 2009

Prawn-Stuffed Tomato Bake (& Pizza)

I had the whole day off on Monday so I figured it would be kind of embarrassing if I just ate a frozen pizza again.

I did, though, eat a frozen pizza. But it was while also making some delicious prawn, orzo and pine nut stuffed tomatoes. The recipe comes from a little recipe card I found in the produce section at Safeway.

Prawn-Stuffed Tomato Bake

8 medium tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh chopped broccoli
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
12–16 large prawns, shelled and cut into pieces
1 cup cooked orzo pasta
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 tsp dried basil


1. Slice tops off tomatoes; core and seed them. (Save tomato innards to make something with later in the week.)

Sprinkle a bit of salt in tomatoes and place upside down on paper towels; let stand about 30 minutes to drain.

2. Toast pine nuts. Do not get distracted and overtoast them as in photo above.

3. Set oven to 375°F. Sauté onion, broccoli and garlic in 1 Tbsp oil until onion is tender. Add prawns, orzo, pine nuts, 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese and basil; blend well.

4. Spoon mixture into prepared tomatoes on a baking sheet. Pour remaining 1 Tbsp oil over tomatoes and sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp Parmesan. Bake 20 minutes until tops are golden.

24 November 2009

Mangia with Quattro

No I haven't written yet about yesterday's dinner; I'll post about it tomorrow just to mix things up a bit.

Tonight's dinner consisted of a smattering of delicious crostinis at a book launch at Quattro on Fourth for the latest book I designed, Mangia with Quattro.

23 November 2009

The Nick Frenette Commemorative Sandwich

In June I visited my friends Nick Frenette and Catherine Lofts who have been living in London since 2008. In the mornings Nick and I would wander about his neighbourhood in pursuit of coffee or go for swims with his friend Kent Hugo. On one of those mornings Nick introduced me to the Ploughman's sandwich which I instantly fell in love with. Fast forward to last week when Richard found a jar of Branston Pickle while out shopping at Whole Foods and on a rainy Saturday afternoon we set about making sandwiches. Pickle is the main condiment of the sandwich and what really sets it apart from an ordinary cheese sandwich.

Branston Pickle

I bought a loaf of sourdough from Terra Breads and cut it into thick slices. I couldn't remember what cheese they used in England and forgot to check the Internet, so I got cheddar and goat cheese.

We made cheddar sandwiches first and then took some of the smaller pieces of bread and spread the pickle and goat cheese on them to see what the mix was like. I preferred the goat cheese to the cheddar, but the cheddar was definitely good.

To fill out the Englishness of the meal, Rich made tea and we ate candied ginger. Yay! Michelle's back and I'm glad to hear that she had fun in China and is eating pizza again. It's been fun posting for Michelle Meals and I now have to pay attention to my blog again: neoplasticutopia.com

Photos by Janos & Richard

22 November 2009

O Canada, Land of Pizza

Farewell, Beijing Food Odyssey. I'll post more about it later on this week . . . I probably could have lived off of all the food I ate this past week for a whole month. I've never eaten so many different animals, and parts of animals. (Duck tongues! Jellyfish! Braised rabbit! Cow kidneys! Pig intenstines! . . . uggghh, pig intestines.)

When I got back I bought a bunch of vegetables to get back on the salad wagon, but in the end I just ate this whole frozen pizza while wading through a week's worth of Facebook updates.

Thanks to my guest bloggers for the incredible posts while I was away! They really raised the bar for Michelle-Meals. Maybe I should just make it a collective.

19 November 2009

Comfort food

by Claudia

Chicken and dumplings: my favourite rainy day dish, from my favourite food blogger. This meal is the perfect prelude to a nap. Truthfully I have never made this dish from start to finish. It's adapted from a Cook's Illustrated recipe, which I've always found to be extremely labour intensive. It is, however, my stand-by when I have leftover chicken. Leftover chicken, and a ton of homemade chicken broth.

The recipe doesn't call for carrots or celery, but I always add them anyway. I like them, and they're good for me... or something like that.

Oh bowl of carbs, how I love you. Fun fact: the dumplings are essentially made from biscuit dough. One time we baked up some leftover dumpling batter, and they became delicious, fluffy biscuits! So, each dumpling is a giant biscuit. Maybe I shouldn't have put it that way.

I think Michelle is back on Saturday, and the likelihood of me cooking anything on a Friday night is unlikely. So thanks to Michelle for letting me invade her blog this week!

To close things off, here is a beagle, courtesy of Have a Beagle.

18 November 2009

Days of gluttony

by Claudia

I've wanted to make Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk ever since I saw it featured on The Kitchn. It looks so strange that it must be good, right?

I scaled down the recipe a bit by using 4 chicken legs. Since I'm eating by myself, a whole bird is overkill. Plus, I hate white meat, so the less of it, the better. This recipe is ridiculously easy. Brown the chicken, throw it in a pot with a few things, and go do the laundry for an hour (or... nothing, like I did). As per The Kitchn's recommendation, I left the lid on for most of the cooking time, and removed it for the last 15-20 minutes.

The lemon zest curdles the milk (this is supposed to happen), making it look pretty unappealing. This is offset by the fact that it is incredibly flavourful and easy to make. Did I mention it was easy? My only regret is that I didn't put more garlic cloves in. They were perfectly soft, and great spread on toasted bread. Mmm.

The chicken was served on a bed of Trader Joe's Harvest Grains blend (Israeli couscous, orzo, red quinoa, garbanzo beans) and baby spinach, with a little bit of goat cheese.

For dessert, my roommate Liz and I forced ("forced") ourselves to make a bread pudding to use up all the leftover ciabatta buns from Aaron's birthday party. I remembered this recipe from this season of Top Chef for a chocolate and peanut butter bread pudding.

Yeah, it's really good. Really, really good.

Other recent foods of note:

Richard made me a delicious meal yesterday to celebrate our 2nd anniversary together. Roast beef tenderloin with a wasabi garlic sauce, served on top of garlic mashed potatoes. Garlic everything! After Eight ice cream for dessert (not homemade, but still good).

Liz and I recently indulged in our love of eating weird things late at night by busting out her frozen red bean filled glutinous rice balls (AKA tong yuan) from T&T. These are normally served in a black sesame soup, which is something my parents love, but I think looks like sewer sludge. Also, it is nearly impossible to take an attractive picture of glutinous rice balls. Fact.

God help me, I am so full.

17 November 2009

Green beans, tofu and soba noodles

This recipe is based on my attempts to make szechuan green beans after having really liked the dish in places like Sha Lin Noodle House and Ginger and Chili when first getting to know Vancouver. It slowly evolved into a noodle dish under Liz' influence and we alternate the shitake mushrooms with oyster or enoki if it's available. They can also be removed if you don't like mushrooms, as can the tofu and the garlic.


3 handfuls of green beans, ends trimmed & cut in half
3/4 block of extra firm tofu, cut into thick rectangles
2 thick slices of a medium sized yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic, cut into big chunks
2 handfuls of shitake mushrooms, diced
1-2 teaspoon of ginger, minced
one bundle of buckwheat soba noodles
1-2 teaspoons of black sesame seeds
1-2 teaspoons of toasted sesame seeds
2-3 squeezes of Bragg liquid soy seasoning
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
1-2 pinches of chili flakes
3-4 pinches of cumin
3-4 pinches of pepper
2-3 glugs of canola oil

Fill a medium sized pot 3/4 full with water and place it on the stove in preparation for cooking the noodles. Put a couple glugs of canola oil in a wok and turn the heat up to medium high. Once the oil is hot add the green beans and toss them regularly so they cook on all sides. Once the green beans have started to brown add the chili flakes, pepper, cumin, tofu, mushrooms and onion. Toss the wok regularly to make sure everything comes in contact with the bottom. If the mushrooms and tofu soak up the rest of the oil in the wok, add another glug to avoid sticking. At this point turn on the heat to boil the water for the noodles. Once the tofu has started to brown add the garlic and ginger. Once the water has started to boil add the noodles to the water and cook until tender, approximately 6 minutes. When the onions have started to go translucent add a squeeze of Bragg's or about a little more than a tablespoon. When the Bragg's has started to cook off add a smaller squeeze and turn down the heat. I tend to taste a green bean at this point and see if it needs anything else like more cumin or pepper. When the noodles have cooked, strain them and add to the stir fry adding another squeeze of Bragg's. Using a pair of tongs, mix the noodles with the stir fry and turn the heat up again for a minute or two to cook off any excess water from the noodles and Bragg's. When the liquids have mostly evaporated, turn the heat off and sprinkle with sesame oil and the seeds while tossing the mixture with tongs.

Szechuan green beans are traditionally made with sichuan pepper, which I don't always have and haven't fully mastered. The flavour is really distinct and strong, so I tend to be a little heavy handed with the pepper to match the prickliness of the Chinese pepper. But if you're interested in Szechuan cuisine, then they're worth tracking down either in Chinatown or one of the T&T Supermarkets where they might be labeled prickly ash. I can't wait to hear what Michelle has gotten to eat in Beijing and hope that she had a chance to visit the Szechuan state restaurant that I came to love in my brief time there.

Photos by Liz & Janos

16 November 2009

Vegan Tacos!

by Janos

On Sunday night I was tired and still all head buzzy from Aaron's birthday the night before (Mac & F-ing Cheese!) and decided to stick close to my favourite comfort food in the world: beans and tortillas. Plus it gave me an opportunity to make a dent in the huge stack of tortillas my Mom gave me last week. Now I should note that I hadn't intended to make vegan tacos, in fact, I didn't even realize the dish I made was vegan until I stopped to take account of the ingredients when writing this post. And I didn't have cheese or the energy to go out and get some on a dark and rainy Vancouver night. I should also note that this is my own recipe and that I don't tend to measure things because I modify this recipe based on what I have in the kitchen and what I'm in the mood for. Also absent is onion, which is a staple of the dish, but I didn't have any.

corn tortillas (home made or store bought)
1 can Black beans (drained)
1/4 can (796ml) of Diced tomatoes
1 medium sized zucchini
1 carrot
1/2 head of broccoli
2 cloves of garlic
1 chipotle (or less or more)
Olive oil

Drain and rinse the canned beans and put into a medium sized pot, add water until the water level is about 1-2 cm above the beans. Place on stove and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the beans start to split and go really soft. You may need to add more water depending on the firmness of the beans. Once soft, mash the beans and add salt and pepper to taste. You want the mashed beans to be about the consistency of sour cream, if they're too soupy then keep them simmering until they thicken up (stir regularly). I tend to prepare the beans first, then leave them on the stove while I prepare the filling since they can be reheated quickly.

Chop the carrot into rounds (about the thickness of 4-5 coins) and dice the zucchini. I tend to leave the zucchini pieces somewhat thick because I don't want them to fall apart when cooking. For the broccoli, I tend to pull pieces off from the stem and then cut split those lengthwise since the stem adds a nice bit of density to the tender tops. Chop the garlic cloves into 3 big pieces or however you prefer (I like having big chunks), finely dice the chipotle, and open the can of tomatoes. In a large pan or wok add a couple of glugs of olive oil and crank up the heat to medium-high. When the oil has heated add the carrots and stir them around to evenly cook. When the carrots start to brown add the zucchini, broccoli and onion and stir occasionally so everything gets to brown against the bottom of the pan/wok. When the zucchini starts to brown add the tomatoes, their juice and the chipotle and cook until the tomato liquid had evaporated or the tomatoes have gone soft. It should only take between 3-5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let the vegetables rest while heating up the tortillas in a pan using medium heat, turning over once the tortilla has started to brown. If serving multiple people, then place the heated tortillas in between a couple of clean kitchen towels so they don't get soggy from the steam.

This dish is one of my lone dude staples since it can be made quickly (should be less than 20 minutes) and eaten while standing in front of the stove as another tortilla heats up. Or while drinking beer and dancing around the kitchen listening to The Jam. This recipe serves 2 and can be increased and modified easily. For example, the chipotle can be left out entirely if someone can't handle heat well or they suffer from the same problem as in The Dead Celebrities episode of South Park.

- add mushrooms
- add onions
- replace broccoli with green beans (these require a longer cooking time like carrots)
- replace chipotle with jalapeño or hot sauce like Tapatio
- add cheese like cheddar, soft goat cheese or sour cream
- garnish with cilantro & squeeze of lime

15 November 2009

Aaron's birthday

by Claudia

Last night we celebrated Aaron's 33rd birthday by stuffing our faces with ridiculously decadent foods. This is also how I celebrate most days ending in -y.

Liz became a national hero by making an incredible pulled pork with homemade BBQ sauce, and a slaw. This picture would've been better if I wasn't preoccupied with inhaling the plate.

My contribution was a Gouda, Cheddar & roasted garlic Havarti mac and cheese.

A Liz-made flourless chocolate cake ended the meal, accompanied by a hazelnut oil ice cream, recipe courtesy of Alton Brown. Putting half a cup of hazelnut oil in ice cream seems like an odd choice, but I think it made the texture even better than a traditional custard ice cream. Oh yeah, and it TASTES AMAZING.

This party also featured: Liz and Rich's pale ale homebrew, Parm's baba ghanoush, and Janos's roasted red pepper and garlic hummus.

Also, I ate this homemade blueberry fro-yo while writing this post.

Spaghetti dogs

by Claudia

I can't believe Michelle is actually letting me update her blog while she's in China. For all she knows I will fill it with pictures of beagles.


Our friend Megan was farm-sitting in Langley, so we joined her there to hang out with horses and make dinner. But instead of making something actually good, we made spaghetti dogs.

To make a spaghetti dog, you can either poke uncooked spaghetti through a whole hot dog, like this:

Or cut the hot dog up and thread spaghetti through each chunk:

Either way, you get something that looks revolting and tastes only marginally better.

I recommend eating it in a bun slathered in garlic butter. (This recommendation goes for most foods.)

Salad by Rich, fries by Megan

13 November 2009

Peanut vs Pizza Pops

Comfort food for dinner was anything but comfortable, as I had to keep fighting someone off in order to enjoy my Pizza Pops.

Pizza Pops! My last meal in Canada -- I'm leaving for China tomorrow morning. While I am away, I have handed over the blogging reins to a couple friends, so I can see all the fun stuff I was missing while eating century eggs and skewered insects in Beijing.

Primo's Mexican Grill

Last night we ate at the very beige and high-ceilinged Primo's Mexican Grill, at 12th and Granville. I ate ceviche and pozole soup.

Pozole has hominy in it. This was my first time eating hominy, at least eating it and knowing I was eating it. It was enjoyable.
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