RSSArchive for March, 2008

Sweet Potato Pancake

Julie demonstrated two pancake recipes in the South Arm Community Kitchen. It’s been a while since she last demonstrated in the South Arm Community Kitchen and we missed her cookings. We are glad she is back.

The first recipe, Sweet Potato Pancake is simply my cup of tea. I love sweet dessert and this is a sure winner.


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • sweet potatoes
  • water

Click on the link below for the instructions.
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Turkey Chili

The second dish which Minoo demonstrated from the book Deceptively Delicious was called Turkey Chili with red pepper and carrot. Minoo substituted the lean ground turkey with lean ground beef as she was not able to find ground turkey when she did the groceries shopping for the ingredients. Minoo also used the real pepper and carrot instead of puree as in the original recipe as there is no children in the community kitchen.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 lb ground lean turkey or beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (15 oz) can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 (26 oz) carton reduced fat low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup red pepper puree (we used 1 cup chopped red pepper)
  • 1/2 cup carrot puree (we used 1 cup chopped carrot)
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed
  • 1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Click on the link below for the instructions.

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Yellow Cake with Pumpkin

Minoo shared with us two recipes from the book Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld, wife of the comedian Jerry Seinfeld. This book is available in Costco for about $15.

Minoo had been introducing this book to the community kitchens as it’s recipes incorporate vegetables and fruits in the puree form. In this way, kids will not know they are eating vegetables and fruits which has been masked. Having kids to eat nutritious meals is one of the biggest challenge during meal time.

This book has a chapter which covers on how to puree and freeze vegetables and fruits in small portions for convenience usage later. This is good for small families which often have to toss away rotten vegetables and fruits simply because they cant finish eating them. Puree food is also good for seniors, easy on digestion and gentle to their palate.

The Yellow Cake with Pumpkin turned out moist and had a very ‘pumpkinish’ colour. We also added some flax seeds for extra nutrients. We had extra to bring home and Arkensen finished them all.


  • 1 (18 oz) box yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg white
  • 6 oz nonfat lemon, banana, or vanilla yogurt

Click on the link below for the instructions.

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Cornmeal Pancake

In the South Arm Community Kitchen, Ming shared a very simple Cornmeal Pancake recipe with us. She also make use of okara, the insoluble material left over from making soya milk from soya beans.

The Cornmeal Pancake is crusty and filing. It is good for teething toddlers. Ming also made some cornmeal porridge with the leftover cornmeal she brought. The porridge can be easily prepared by bringing a pot of water to a boil and add in the cornmeal (amount depend on how thick you want the porridge) and cook for a few minutes until the porridge thicken.


  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup okara (can be substituted with more cornmeal, a little milk or melted butter to moisten the batter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder dissolved in a little water
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)

Click on the link below for the instructions.

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Arby’s in Bellingham, WA

Oh, did you guys know how long was the border wait last weekend? It was unbelievably long … 3-5 hours south bound. We had been going south for our shopping at least once a month since the Canadian Dollar reached par with the mighty USD. However, we had been somewhat lucky not to be caught up in lineups over 1 hr.

A couple of months ago, we stopped by Arby’s in Bellingham. Arby’s is struggling in Canada with just a handful of outlets in BC. We like Arby’s and used to go often for their Roast Beef sandwiches when there was an outlet in Richmond. It’s closed a few years ago but we still remember having the sandwiches almost once a week.

We got the French Dip and Swiss Toasted Sub Combo for $6.85. The combo included some fries and a soft drink.

We prefer toasted subs. Some people told us that the reason subs were toasted was because it’s a way to hide the fact that the subs were not freshly baked. Regardless, we prefer it toasted.

This one you should try. It has thinly sliced roast beef and swiss cheese in between a warm toasted ciabatta roll. Dipping it into the hot savory au jus takes the flavour to a new level.

The fries was OK. We get a choice of either curly or homestyle fries. What we love most is the dips. There are four different types available from the condiment counter.

Suanne will do anything for cheesecakes. Arby’s has Cheesecake Poppers which costs $2.61 for six small pieces.

More dips … for the Cheesecake Poppers, it was the Raspberry Sauce. The poppers were quite good … it was very crunchy on the outside and soft, creamy and warm inside.

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Zen Chinese Cuisine in Richmond

Updated 21 May 2010: this restaurant has reopened on No. 1 Road and Moncton.

Today, I am blogging about the “Best Chinese Food Outside of China” … well, that was according to Jennifer 8 Lee. Jennifer is a reporter for New York Times who had just published a booked called “The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food”.

In writing the book, she visited restaurants in 42 states in the US and other 23 countries in search for Chinese food. When she landed in Vancouver, she went to three restaurants … Kirin, Sun Sui Wah and Zen. Out of the many restaurants, she chose to describe Zen as the greatest.

From the outside Zen does not really look like much of a restaurant. The location too is left too much to be desired as it is on the second floor of a smallish strip mall at the end of Alexandra Rd in Richmond.

According to the news, Zen had been struggling to bring in customers for a few years and is in the verge of closing down. When the news broke of the great review from Jennifer 8, all hell broke lose, so to speak.

From the days where there are only a few customers a week, the table seating were fully booked the week after the news broke. The only time available for us that week was 5:30 PM on a Friday.

Unlike other Chinese restaurants, Zen only have fixed tasting menus. You do not go there and pick your food from a menu. Instead, when you book a table, you will be given a menu of four choices to pick from. They even insist that the entire table have the same items (i.e. you do not order Menu A for some and Menu B for the others). It looks like Zen only takes reservation only and does not entertain walkins. All this is because Zen takes hours to prepare most of the food.

Suanne and I picked the cheapest tasting menu which costs about $36 per person.

Zen is just that … a restaurant at the verge of closing down and is now struggling to keep up. Decor wise, it is quite spartan and simple. If I may even describe it, the cutlery were mismatched. We did not mind at all but it does jump at us when we got seated. After all we were there for the food and understand the circumstances that Zen went through.

I would describe the service as “eager”. The waitresses were quite overwhelmed by the crowd and at times had difficulty communicating in English. A number of them were quite raw and inconfident, even to the extend of not really knowing what the food is called … but they made up for it by having two great person who were coming to each table to speak with the customers. We enjoyed that personal attention — this is certainly not like any Chinese restaurant, formal or informal, that we had ever been to before.

The gentleman (I did not get his name) who came by our table told us that Sam (da man behind Zen) had been working in an overdrive mode the past few days. So, their number one priority was to keep Sam healthy so much so that they do not bother to fill on empty tables when there are cancellations.

I ordered a beer, a simple Corona which is $5.50 per glass. The drinks menu really needed a fresher print. It was really old, worn and torn. I am sure that by now it would have already been replaced.

Suanne ordered their Aloe Vera with Honey. This costs $3.50. She ordered this simply because she had never heard of such a drink before. It came served boiling hot and tastes a bit sourish. It was quite good and unique for sure.

Before we got settled down with the meal, they gave us an appetizer, complimentary from Sam. They came in two saucers containing Jelly Fish and Sharks Fin. It was a good mix of texture (crunchy) and taste (sour and mildly spicy). LOL … I wish they gave us more.

Suanne insisted that I finish off the entire saucer — especially the three strands of sharks fin I had left on the saucer. According to her, the most expensive part of this is the sharks fin. Anyone know how expensive sharks fin are?

Next came the Apple Cider. It was served in small chilled glass, about 2-3 inches tall only. There are froth on it but otherwise tastes absolutely like any other apple cider to me. He he he … they told us that it is specially prepared for us being the first customer of the day.

This is simply called “Seafood Curry” according to the Chinese name. We can’t really make out what exactly the seafood is because they are all finely chopped and stuffed into a mollusk shell. It was interesting and quite tasty with a nice touch of spiciness.

Next came the Double Boiled Soup. It really looked like any double boiled soup to me except that it is much more “cheng” (clear). It contained pork, dried vegetables, pig stomach and dry scallop. It was served scalding hot.

Double boiling allows heat sensitive ingredients to heat slowly and evenly. It also eliminates the possibility of scorching or overcooking in direct heat cooking.

The star dish of the evening had got to be the Garlic Crab. Like all other other dishes,it is served really hot. The crab was meaty but what we love was the finely minced garlic. I can’t quite make out what it is but that garlic is not garlicky but quite mild and bland.

Next came the simple “Mustard Green Hearts”. It was tender, crisp and lightly salted. Such simplicity. I think Sam, just dunked in the selected part of the mustard green into hot water and then served.

BTW, Sam came out and visited the table next to us. That table looked like they are some rich hot shots from Hongkong. I like Sam and his mannerism. He is polite and humble. I can see how hard he must have been working the past few days.

I created a new dish … I put the minced garlic on the mustard green hearts. Tastes a lot better that way. What do you think … I do make a good chef, no?

The next one is what is called the Roasted Pork Cheek. It is like a Rolls Royce of Char Siew … more tender, much smoother and less fibrousy. It looked like lean meat but the texture is like pork fat. Absolutely marvelous.

Now, the next one I could not quite understand. It’s a simple fried rice with dried scallop. OK, blame me for not having such fine taste buds (in Chinese, it’s saying that my mouth is not “chim” enough!). I can’t taste any dried scalloped at all … not that I really can recognize dried scallops. The fried rice was great but it’s … well … just fried rice to me.

OK, the last dish was what they call the “Special Salty Chicken”. It’s cold … it’s like Hainanese Chicken … and we can’t see what is special about this. We have simple taste buds, I guess.

To close, we were served the Green Tea Pudding. It was such a small serving but were absolutely smooth with the right touch of sweetness.

All in all, it was a good quality meal. As to whether this is the best outside of China, I am not that sure. To me it sure was one of the better Chinese meals I had. I am rooting for Sam and really wishes that he carefully capitalize on his new found fame. I recommend that you check out Sam’s creation yourself … I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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Chocolate Bun

This is Arkensen and Nanzaro’s favourite bun. It is chocolatey and soft. Sometimes, I fill the buns with some semi-sweet chocolate chips to give it the extra omph.

This time, I filled the Chocolate Bun with a few white chocolate wafers.


  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3 cups bread flour (I used all purpose flour)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • chocolate chips/wafer (optional)

I used the bread machine to prepare the dough. Set the bread machine to dough setting. Place the ingredients into the machine in the order as per your machine’s requirement.
Click on the link below for the instructions.

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Taco Pie

Karen made us this Taco Pie for lunch. She will make this for the community meal too. The Taco Pie is a very affordable dish. The most expensive ingredient in this recipe is the cheese.

The Taco Pie is a fusion of Mexican and American dish.

This one pot dish is good for potluck too. It’s a filing dish complete with beans, vegetables, chips and cheese.


  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 bell peppers (red & yellow)
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 bag of corn chips
  • 1 can mix beans (540ml)
  • 1 bottle mild or medium salsa (250-350ml)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil, olive, canola or corn
  • a few sprigs of cilantro and parsley
  • 200g grated cheese for topping

Click on the link below for the instructions.

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