RSSArchive for September, 2009

Ham and Cheese Muffins

Minoo prepared two recipes for the first meeting of Gilmore Park Church Community Kitchen for this fall season.  The first recipe is a hand held breakfast or lunch item which is perfect for families on the go.  These Ham and Cheese Muffins are savory instead of the regular sweet muffins.

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These Ham and Cheese Muffins taste like quiche but they are easier to make.  You can even make them ahead and they can be reheated quickly.  It is also a good recipe to use your leftover bread.

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon honey mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon each, salt and pepper
  • 5 cups cubed whole grain bread (about 5 slices, trim off crust)
  • 1 cup shredded Canadian Cheddar, Swiss or Colby cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced deli ham
  • 12 cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise or quarters if they are large.

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Shanghai Mooncake

It’s near mooncake festival.  Arkensen loves mooncake just like I do.  However, I do not have a mooncake mould to make mooncake.  So, I look for a recipe which do not need a mooncake mould and I found one in a cook book which my sister gave me when I left Malaysia.  The cookbook is titled “At Home with Amy Beh”.

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The Shanghai Monncake recipe is more like a pastry recipe.  I made this with 3 types of fillings, lotus paste, red bean paste and just a couple of lotus paste with salted egg yolk.

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Ingredients

  • store bought lotus paste or red bean paste
  • salted egg yolk, optional

Sift and combine:

  • 300g all-purpose flour
  • 20g custard powder
  • 25g cornflour
  • 1 tablespoon milk powder
  • 65g golden syrup
  • 90g icing sugar
  • 1 small egg
  • 60g shortening
  • 75g margarine
  • 1/4 teaspoon alkaline water (lye water)
  • 1 egg, beaten, for glaze
  • some melon seeds or almond flakes

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Canning Tomatoes

This is the last of the 6 canning workshops organised by Richmond Food Secure and Richmond Fruit Tree Project.  The workshops were a great success with full attendance.   Here are the earlier workshops I attended:

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There is nothing quite like the taste of sweet, ripe tomatoes.  Canning is a way to capture a taste of summer to brighten up a grey winter day.  Canning tomatoes seemed to be very popular and 3 tomatoes canning workshops were conducted.  It looks like a lot of people love to plant tomatoes.

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The above are some of the tomatoes that Karen harvested from her community garden in downtown Vancouver and her balcony.  They include Green Zebra, Tigerella (orange with green), Italian Plum (small red) and Purple Ball (the big red one as it did not turn out to be purple).  Karen and Colleen started with 50 tomato plants from seed in early spring.  In May they planted the seedlings in the community garden in downtown.  Not all of the tomatoes have yield a lot of fruit but the Tomatillos, Sungolds (tiny orange tomatoes), Italian Plum, Black Plum and Green Zebra have been the most prolific.

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You may infused the tomatoes with herbs and spices but do not add too much as the addition may changed the acidity of the content and caused spoilage.

Ingredients

For each 500ml jar, you will need:

  • about 1 pound (400 to 500 gram) tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon of powdered citric acid or 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice.  Bottled lemon juice is recommended as it has a defined acidity, whereas fresh lemon juice will vary significantly in acidity, depending upon the individual lemon.
  • salt, if desired, up to 1/2 teaspoon
  • herbs and spices if desired

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Raisin Tea Muffins

For dessert, Minoo prepared a Raisin Tea Muffin recipe.  Muffin is great for breakfast, lunch box, after school snack or tea time.  It is easy to make, easy to transport and quick to bake.  All you have to remember is to combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet ingredients in another bowl and combine them without over mixing.  Over mixing will yield tough muffin.

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This Raisin Tea Muffin has just the right sweetness and has a mild tea flavour with hint of spices.  Perfect with a cup of chai tea.

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Ingredients

  • 1 teabag
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • a pinch of cinnamon, nutneg, cardamon and cloves.

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This recipe yields 6 muffins.

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Corn and Crab Salad

It is great to make use of fresh corns from the farm market in summer for this Corn and Crab Salad.   Fresh corn is much sweeter than the frozen ones.   We used artificial crab meat instead of real crab meat for this recipe.  You can always substitute with real crab meat when crab is in season and much more affordable.

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh corn kernels, about 2 corn
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 avocados, pitted and diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • half white onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups jicama, diced
  • 2 cups crabmeat
  • 1/3 cup minced jalapeno peppers
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander
  • lettuce and corn chips for presentation

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This recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.

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Quick Curried Couscous

The South Arm Community Kitchen meets again with the leadership of Minoo.  We enjoyed meeting one another after a long summer break.  We shared our summer stories while preparing and enjoying the food.

Minoo prepared three recipes for the first meeting.  The first recipe is a Quick Curried Couscous.  Couscous is a staple food of North Africa like Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Western Libya.

Quick Curried Couscous with raisins and almonds

This Quick Curried Couscous is easy and quick to prepare.  The couscous we found in Western supermarkets is the instant type, i.e. the couscous have been pre-steamed and dried and only needs a small amount of boiling water or stock to rehydrate the couscous, covered tightly for 10 minutes.  The couscous will swells  and ready to be fluffed and served.  It’s preparation time is shorter than dried pasta or dried grain like rice.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups couscous
  • 3 cups chicken stock or water
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 bunch parsley or cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of almond slices or slivered almonds

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This recipe serves 6.

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Seville: La Alqueria Restaurant in elBulli Hotel, Hacienda Benazuza (Part 2 of 2)

This is the continuation of the Tasting Menu in La Alqueria. Yesterday, I blogged about the first 4 of 12 courses. Following the first 4 snacks and tapas courses, the next five courses are called simply dishes. This is considered the mains.

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The 1st Dish is called the Avocado Cannelloni with Crab and Pumpkin Seed Oil Cream.

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They brought the bread as they start the Dish courses. We had a choice of three bread, all warm. Suanne is so modest. When they brought it, she just took one. For me, I told them I wanted one of each. Guess what. Just as our server was about to leave she quickly said she wants the others too. We love the bread.

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I had always thought that elBulli’s dishes are small. Some of them are as small as just a spoonful. So, it was a surprise that the Dishes are full mains.

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It looked too pretty to eat. It does remind us of … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Seville: La Alqueria Restaurant in elBulli Hotel, Hacienda Benazuza

Suanne took a really long bath that afternoon before the dinner at La Alqueria. She was hogging the bathroom wanting to be the prettiest she could be for THE dinner in Spain. She is very inconsiderate. What about me? I want to look handsome too. I need to wash my hair and if I don’t dry it properly, my hair would stand out and look horrible.

Dinner was at 8:30PM. That is when they open for dinner. Dinner at 8:30PM is considered early for people in Spain. The hotel is about 18 km from Seville. 18 km only … remember that.

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So we called for a taxi from the hotel as the restaurant is located virtually in the middle of surburb. The ride took longer than we expected. It was because it was a Friday afternoon and people were heading to the beach. The highway was jammed packed with cars.

We thought we get there early so that we can check out the grounds of the five star hotel that La Alqueria is located in. Turned that out we got there right on the dot because of traffic delays.

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La Alqueria is located in a hotel called the Hacienda Benazuza elBulli Hotel. Check out their website at http://elbullihotel.com. The hotel is definite exclusive with room rates starting at €400 for low season! I almost wanted to stay at this hotel (OK, for just ONE night) to make sure we get a table at La Alqueria but as usual Suanne knock senses into me.

La Alqueria is a 2-star Michelin restaurant. To put things in perspective, there are only four 3-star and ten 2-star Michelin restaurants in Spain. The real elBulli in Roses near Barcelona is 3-star. This one is 2-star.

When we got there, the taxi driver said the total ride was €53. But the meter was saying about €40. He said that he gotta to charge extra because the elBulli hotel was out of the way. I wasn’t in the mood to challenge him but I should have. You will know why we were overcharged later on this post. After all it was just a 18km ride.

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The La Alqueria is not a very big restaurant. We counted about 12 tables only. It is undoubtedly exclusive because despite the low number of tables, they only have 1 seating a night. They don’t turn the tables at all.

Alright, I know I mentioned this to death but I will mention it again for our reader who stumble onto this post. The elBulli near Barcelona had been the #1 restaurant in the world for many years. It is run by Ferran Adria who is the man who had the biggest influence on modern gastronomy of any chef in the world. The Times had said:

To describe elBulli as “a restaurant” is like describing Shakespeare as “a writer”.

The La Alqueria is opened in 1998 about five years after the original elBulli was built. elBulli achieved it’s 3-star Michelin rating a year before La Alqueria was opened.

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We have a server assigned to out table. Oh boy, she is one serious no-nonsense dude. Very prim, very proper. Whatever you ask for she will say “very good”, “of course” and “immediately”. The thing is that her English is not too good. I had a problem understanding what she was saying and she had difficulty with my questions.

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As soon as we got seated our server gave us cold towels. We … errr … did not know what to do with that. Wipe the hand? Wipe the face? What? So with our nose held up high, we used the towel to wipe our hands … but it would have been nice to wipe the face too.

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The sommelier came next talking with us for … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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