Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sweet Bulgur Wheat Salad

Bulgur, a traditional ingredient found in Middle Eastern or Greek cuisine, is a quick-cooking form of whole wheat that has been cleaned, parboiled, dried and/or ground into particles. It's commonly used in tabbouleh, a traditional Lebanese salad, made of bulgur, chopped parsley, mint, tomato and spring onion then seasoned with lemon juice and olive oil.

In this version, there's a splash of sweetness
from the sun-dried tomatoes and roasted red bell peppers. Try this recipe as a healthy lunch or hardy side dish for dinner.
Did you know: Often confused for cracked wheat, bulgur is ready to eat with minimal cooking and after soaking in water or broth, can be mixed with other ingredients without further cooking.
- 1 cup bulgur
- 1/2 cup roasted red bell peppers, chopped
- 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes soaked in olive oil, chopped (reserve 2 tbsp oil from sun-dried tomatoes)
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
- 2 cups baby spinach

  1. In a small saucepan heat 1/2 cup oil over medium-high. Working in batches fry chickpeas until golden brown and lightly crispy, 2 to 3 minutes per batch. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain and season immediately with salt.
  2. Meanwhile, soak bulgur in 2 cups boiling water until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain in a fine mesh sieve to remove as much of the liquid as possible. Transfer to a bowl; stir in roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, chickpeas, spinach, oil from sun-dried tomatoes and lemon. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy, darlings!!
Did you know: Due to its high nutritional value, bulgur makes a good substitute for rice!
  • 1 cup of bulgur contains 25.6 g dietary fiber, 17.21 g protein and 574 mg potassium.
  • 1 cup of rice contains 0.6 g dietary fiber, 4.2 g protein and 55 mg potassium.
Recipe adapted by Martha Stewart's Everyday Food

Monday, November 8, 2010

PanDa Fresh Bakery

Candice's Cusina visited PanDa Fresh Bakery, a cute yellow school bus converted into a mobile bakery, serving stuffed, freshly-baked croissants. Owned and operated by the Ip brothers, this little slice of golden baked heaven sits on the heart of Yaletown, the east corner of David Lam Park.

When we asked how they came up with their innovative food vending concept, Michael Ip said they were influenced when his brother, Derek, visited Japan and was inspired by the Japanese' creative approach to food.
Derek found a shop in Japan that served soft serve ice-cream in waffle cones with a freshly baked croissant tucked inside the cone. This sparked their much loved green tea ice-cream croissant.

There are many stuffed croissants to satisfy your food cravings from recognizable comfort foods like turkey dinner, ham and cheese, PB&J, and mac and cheese.

Michael suggested that I try his favorite, the cheesecake croissant, stuffed with a crispy lady finger and a slice of vanilla cheesecake. It was delicious! The croissant was warm and buttery while the cheesecake was delicate and creamy. An easy favorite and would highly recommend that you visit PanDa to try it for yourself!

Panda Fresh Bakery
South East corner of Drake Street and Pacific Blvd.

Open 11am-6pm, everyday
Follow PanDa at

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cucina Manila!

I visited Surrey's Cucina Manila last week and enjoyed a huge almusal (breakfast in Filipino) consisting of two meat dishes with rice, at 10:30am! Traditional almusal features:
  • Sinangag (fried rice with salt and garlic)
  • Egg (fried or scrambled)
  • Desired meat: pork tocino (sweet cured pork), longganisa (sausage), sauteed corned beef, fried spam (yikes!), well the list goes on.
A light almusal traditionally consists of homemade hot chocolate with toasted ensaymada (cheese-topped pastry) or pan de sal (small Filipino bread roll) with butter.

It was a rainy morning so I opted for my favorite childhood comfort foods, kare kare (ox tail stew in peanut-based sauce) and caldereta (spicy beef stew) on white rice. These dishes are usually for a heavier lunch or dinner but I was treating myself and there are no time restrictions when eating Filipino food! The moment I sat down and started drizzling the sauces on the rice, the fragrant aromas reminded me of my mom's home cooking and immediately started digging in.
Did you know: Caldereta is derived from the Spanish word caldero (cooking pot).
I enjoyed the caldereta, which in my opinion, the boeuf bourguignon of Philippine cuisine. It’s made from simple ingredients, but the way they come together elevates simple beef and vegetables to tasty new heights!

One of my favorite Filipino blogs is Burnt Lumpia by Marvin where he features a recipe for spicy beef caldereta (scroll down half way down the page). In this version he adds chicken livers but if you're not a fan of livers, like I'm not, feel free to use a more subtle liver pâté that will give the added richness in the stew.

Stay tuned for my mom's recipe for kare kare in an upcoming blog post. So, what's your favorite comfort food?