Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hawai'ian Milk Treat

My boyfriend Jaeger and I spent 12 glorious days in Hawai'i. We visited my Auntie Goring and Uncle Tom in sunny Maui as well as his relatives in Oahu.

We toured the sites, went surfing and feasted on as much local food as possible. Some of our favorites food finds were Kalua pork (juicy pulled pork cooked in an underground oven and served at luaus), spam musubi (grilled spam on top of sticky rice wrapped in nori) and
shaved ice drizzled with syrups made from local ingredients like guava, pickled mango and lychee.

On our last day in Maui, my Auntie Goring so generously gave me two of her coveted cooking "encyclopedias", each boasting 2,000 recipes! These cookbooks helped to develop her with exquisite culinary skills and I look forward to carrying the torch by testing and featuring these recipes on upcoming Candice's Cusina Foodieos (food videos) on YouTube.

Here's a quick & simple recipe of a Hawaiian Milk Treat to provide you with some tropical love on those wintry days.

1 cup pineapple chunks, fresh or canned (reserve some bits for serving)
2 cups cold milk
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place all ingredients into blender and blitz for 45 seconds or mixed thoroughly. Serve immediately with reserved pineapple chunks. Hawai'i in a cup!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Laura Calder's Party Slaw!

I had the great pleasure of having a six-course French dinner with Laura Calder last week......with 80 other guests. It was a sold out event, hosted by Barbara-Jo of Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks, for Laura's Vancouver launch of her latest cookbook, Dinner Chez Moi: The Fine Art of Feeding Friends.
Did you know: Laura loves to draw so her latest cookbook Dinner Chez Moi is filled with her cute and whimsical sketches.
Held at Le Crocodile, in one of the city's most revered restaurants, my good friend, Debbie, and I feasted on six courses of scrumptious French fare. The recipes from all six courses were borrowed from Laura's cookbook including buttery onion, blue cheese and walnut tartlette, duck confit citrus reduction, carrot and cheddar cheese souffle, just to name a few. The menu was good sampling of luxurious meals nestled inside Dinner Chez Moi.
A Food Network host of "French Food at Home", I've always admired how Laura approached French cooking - with simple delicious elegance. She introduced me to fennel and how it tastes wonderful uncooked with fresh oranges and that eggs are just as lovely for dinner baked with tuna in a phyllo pastry. So needless to say, I was thrilled to finally have dinner with her, even if it was with 80 other people.

We also had the honour of being the first guests to meet her. It was a shared carpe diem moment for Debbie and I w
hen we miscalculated the start time for the dinner and realized we were an an hour early. No guests were around, not even a waiter in sight, but we felt inclined to interrupt Laura as she sat solo enjoying a glass of white wine before the flurry of guests arrived.

She warmly greeted us and humoured me as I took photos of her with my iphone while asking her about her favorite dishes. We chatted for 15 minutes and learned
Dinner Chez Moi includes many dishes that go beyond the France border. Laura did recommend the "party slaw" for Candice's Cusina which I made over the weekend for my boyfriend and I. We both can attest that this salad is a beautiful bounty of colours and textures with bold fresh Asian flavours that can be enjoyed as an appetizer or hardy main course. So try it and I'm sure you'll fall in love with my new favorite salad discovery.

1 1/2 cups grated carrots
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage, large ribs removed
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced fennel
A handful of broccoli sprouts, pulled apart
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp soy sauce
2 generous handfuls of shredded fresh mint
Salt & pepper
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cups roasted, salted cashews, chopped

1. Place the carrots, cabbage and fennel in a large bowl. Scatter over the sprouts and toss.
2. Whisk the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, sesame oil, soy sauce, salt & pepper.
3. When ready to serve, drizzle dressing then add mint, green onions and cashews. Toss, serve and party!
Try this: Add crumbled feta cheese, pan fried hard-tofu and sliced avocado for added delight to this party slaw.
Recipe adapted from Dinner Chez Moi

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Maduros Plantanos (sautéed sweet plantains)

I was introduced to maduros plantanos and tostones (twice-fried unripened plantains) when visiting a Cuban restaurant in Florida. I instantly fell in love with these little golden wedges and knew it was my mission to search high and low to find these back home in Vancouver, BC.

So what exactly is a plantain?
Plantains are used in many Caribbean dishes and treated as a vegetable and not a fruit like it's cousin, the banana. Plantains are rich in starch but low in sugar content, making it a good source of carbohydrates. They're considered the "potatoes" of the Caribbean, yummy!!
Did you know: Plantains, unlike bananas, are always cooked and rarely eaten raw, even when they're ripe. The reasons are because of their low moisture, high starch content and firm texture making them unpalpable to eat raw.
Just this week, my colleague, Veronica, who's originally from Guatemala brought some plantains to the office. Sensing my excitement, she gave me a mini cooking lesson and pan fried them for the office to immediately enjoy.

I was so delighted to learn how easy to was to cook maduros and that plantains can be found in mo
st grocery stores in my neighborhood. So after work that day, I bought some plantains and tested Veronica's recipe at home that night. Success!! Now I'm sharing with you that they're quick and simple to cook and most importantly, eat. Delicioso!!


- 2 very ripe plantains (the plantain skin will look brownish black)
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil

- 1-2 tbsp white sugar (sprinkling)
- 3 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Drizzle olive oil when the skillet is hot.
2. Peel the plantains then cut at an angle, about 1/2" thick.
3. Add plantain to skillet and brown each side, about 1-2 minutes per side.
4. Once plantains are caramelized, remove from skillet. Then shower with sugar and toasted sesame seeds.

Try this: You can jazz-up maduros as a dessert by drizzling over them with scrumptious dark chocolate sauce. Or switch it up with some savory goodness by serving them along side a plate of rice with some spicy chorizo sausages and fried eggs. Yummers!!

Monday, September 5, 2011


Well, if you haven't fallen in love with these little babies just by their adorable name (snickerdoodle!) then you definitely will once you've tasted them. These soft cookies are of German origin and known for its cracked cinnamon-sugar surface.
Did you know: What's in a name? The term "snickerdoodles" apparently was the mispronunciation of the German name "schneckennudeln" (or snail dumpling) for this pastry.
My first snickedoodle encounter was during a visit to New York City's iconic bakery, Magnolia, a few years ago. After just one bite, I made it my mission to find and master the recipe so my family and friends in Vancouver could enjoy these cookies as well.

Guess, what I did! I found the snickerdoodle recipe in the More from Magnolia cookbook by Allysa Torey, the original owner of Magnolia. I highly recommend that you add this to your cookbook repertoire (if you haven't done so already) as it's one of my favorite cookbooks because it features 74 classic baking recipes that made Allysa's Greenwich Village bakery world famous.

- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (room temperature)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs (room temperature)
- 2 tbsp milk (room temperature)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 6 tbsp sugar mixed with 2 tsp cinnamon (for sprinkling)


1. In a small bowl. combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until smooth (about 2 minutes). Add eggs, milk and vanilla and beat well. 3. Add the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Wrap the dough tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
5. Drop the rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between for expansion. Sprinkle generously with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake for 12-14 minutes.
6. Cool the cookies on the sheets for 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from More from Magnolia

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Spicy Corn & Black Bean as Salad, Salsa or Dip!!

I was so excited to share this recipe because it's incredibly tasty and versatile but so easy and quick to whip up! Also, it's guaranteed crowd pleaser that won't break the bank.

So make
this simple seasonal side dish at for your next beach picnic or lazy Sunday afternoon al fresco fare with beloved friends and family.

Did you know: Out of 10,000 items in a typical grocery store, at least 2,500 items use corn in some form during the production or processing! Corn can be found in cake mixes, instant coffee, chips, Aspirin, toothpaste and yogurt (just to name a few).
- 3 corn ears
- 1 can of black beans (rinsed & drained)
- 4 tsp Italian parsley chopped
- 1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced medium
- 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil 

- 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper (optional)
- salt & pepper 

1. In a large pot with boiling water, slowly add the 3 corn ears and cook until tender (about 10 minutes). Remove corn ears from boiling water and cut kernels off cobs.

2. In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the corn kernels and cook, stirring occasionally until browned in spots, for about 3 minutes.

3. Transfer corn to a large bowl and stir in black beans, freshly chopped parsley, lime juice and avocado. Season with salt & pepper.

Try this: This side dish would be delicious with corn chips, toasted pitta chips, pork tacos, baked chicken or quesadillas.
Recipe adapted from Everyday Food.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Arturo's Mexico to Go!!

Candice's Cusina visited Arturo's Mexico to Go, an impressive food truck parked on West Cordova & Howe Street serving authentic Mexican cuisine made from scratch. Got to love salsa and guacamole made fresh daily, two of my favorite condiments.

I was warmly greeted by Kurt, one of the managers at Arturo's who generously treated me to his favorite dish on the menu, Tacotino, but with a twist. He let me try his "pimped out" version with chorizo, pico de gallo and sour cream on top of what's comes in a Tacotino, rotisserie pork, lime and chipotle sauce wrapped in a flour tortilla. Well, now I'm hooked on these tasty bundles!

The lime and chipotle sauce bring out the robust flavours of the pork and chorizo which are both so tender and delicious while the flour tortilla is a warm luscious blanket that brings the whole meal together.

When I asked Kurt how they came up with this food truck concept, he proudly replied that Arturo befriended a retiring Mexican cook who willingly gave him her recipes so that they could continue on her culinary legacy in Vancouver. With some minor recipe tweaks to incorporate local ingredients, Arturo's Mexico to Go was born.

So visit Arturo's to get your Mexican fix, andale!

Arturo's Mexico to Go
Corner of West Cordova and Howe Street

Monday, August 1, 2011

Soba Noodles with Sesame Seeds

I love eating soba, thin noodles made out of Buckwheat, when dining at Japanese restaurants and frequently order my one of favorite dishes Zaru soba, boiled noodles topped with shredded nori seaweed. Recently I watched a Nigella Lawson episode on her cold Soba Noodles with sesame seeds. It looked like it would be simple to make and delicious! Since it is served cold, it would be perfect for summer picnics or for lazy Sunday quick-fix dinners.
Did you know: Soba means buckwheat in Japanese. The noodles are roughly as thick as spaghetti and prepared in various hot and cold dishes.

  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds
  • salt
  • 8 ounces soba noodles
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar (the sweetened kind is just fine)
  • 5 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons honey (I use buckwheat honey for a little added depth of flavor, but any variety works)
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 5 scallions
1. Toasted the sesame seeds in a dry pan over a high heat until they look golden brown, and tip them into a bowl.

2. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add some salt. Put in the soba noodles and cook them for about 6 minutes (or according to package instructions) until they are tender but not mushy.
Dump the noodles into a colander and just run cold a water over them for a moment or two.

3. In the bowl you are going to serve them in, mix the vinegar, soy sauce, honey and oil. Then finely slice the scallions and put them into the bowl with the cooled drained noodles and mix together thoroughly before adding the sesame seeds and tossing again.

4. Leave the sesame seed noodles for about half an hour to let the flavors develop, although this is not absolutely necessary or sometimes even possible. Serves 4 as part of a meal; or 2 when eaten, gratifyingly, as they are.
Try this: Add some pan fried salmon, tofu and edamame beans for some extra texture and protein!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Antipasti Loaf

Antipasti (singular, antipasto) is a traditional Italian dish served as a first course or appetizer. Typical antipasto dishes include few delicious bites of cured meats, cheeses and marinated grilled vegetables.

I adore antipasto even as a simple meal all by itself. There is a sense of epicurean bliss when I top those intensively flavoured morsels onto a thick crusty Ciabatta slice then drizzle this mini open-faced sandwich with sweet extra virgin olive oil. Yummers!!! So here's a recipe that gives the best of both worlds, antipasti gently layered and tucked into a round loaf of rustic bread.

My idea of the best picnic sandwich because it's neatly packaged and can be enjoyed cold. Plus you'll win points when cutting through the loaf and unveiling the multi-coloured antipasti, it's a show stopper!
Did you know: Antipasto means "before the meal".


  • 2 (250 ml) jars of assorted marinated grilled vegetables (roasted bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini, etc.)
  • 1 loaf round sourdough bread, about 8 inches diameter
  • Softened butter
  • 4 thin slices each of assorted cold cuts such as black forest ham, salami, proscuitto, capicollo, beer sausage, etc.
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Remove marinated vegetables from the jars & drain.
  2. Cut the top off the loaf and scoop out enough bread to leave a cavity with walls about 1 inch thick. Save the removed bread for another tasty dish (breadcrumbs, panzanella salad, etc.).
  3. Spread the butter on the inside of the loaf and underside of the cap.
  4. Layer the ingredients in the cavity until filled to the brim: Black Forest ham, Red Pepper, Prosciutto, Zucchini, Salami, Capicollo, Eggplant, Mozzarella slices (salt & pepper on cheese to taste), Arugula, Salami, and Beer Sausage, for example. Place the cap on the loaf. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Try this: Get fancy by replacing the cured meats with seafood like smoked salmon, seared tuna, sardines, anchovies, cream cheese, capers and marinated onions. Oh Mama Mia!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Shanghai Shredded Dried Tofu

I was introduced to this unique dish by a colleague, Heather, at work. She's our resident chef who cooks up a storm every lunch hour and at times, filling-up our tummies with delicious new Chinese dishes. Today's lunch was no exception.

Heather, quite savvy in the kitchen, was able to quickly whip up some of her shredded dried bean curd, also know as tofu, so I could have a taste. (Thank you Heather!) Now most of us have seen and had tofu but...not quite like this. Looking at the dish, it could have easily be mistaken for chow mein because this type of tofu appear like thin egg noodles mixed with stir-fried veggies.
Did you know: Dry tofu in Chinese is called dòu gān and it literally means "dry tofu". However, despite its name, the tofu has not been dried but is an extra firm variety with a majority of its liquid removed out of it. It is then pressed flat and sliced into long strings, resembling noodles.
This shredded dried tofu dish is popular in the Shanghai region, a city located in eastern China. It's typically served cold and as an appetizer mixed with julienne carrots & celery, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce and sugar. I was told you can easily find dried shredded tofu from your closest Asian market, like T&T Supermarket. So try this recipe as a healthy alternative for lunch!

1 package of fresh bean curd, string
1 carrot, julienne
2 celery sticks, julienne
1/2 cup sesame oil
1 tsp ginger, grated

2 tsp salt
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
Did you know: Dry tofu contains the least amount of moisture of all fresh tofu and has the firmness of fully cooked meat and a somewhat rubbery feel similar to that of the Indian cheese, paneer.
1. Submerge the fresh tofu in boiling water for a quick rehydration for 2 minutes then
drain completely.
2. Mix the uncooked julienne carrots and celery together with the tofu.
3. Stir together the sesame oil, ginger, salt, soy sauce and sugar until the the salt & sugar are dissolved.
4. Combine the tofu mixture with the sesame oil sauce together until the the sauce coats the tofu & veggies. Then top your dish with the fresh cilantro.
Try this: Customize your dish by adding more texture and flavours like bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and bean sprouts, yummy!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Paneer Pakora in Vaisakhi!

We visited Surrey and enjoyed a sunny day celebrating the ancient harvest festival Vaisakhi! It's a high octane day commemorating the establishment of Sikh's Khalsa in 1699 and is also observed as the beginning of the Hindu solar new year. We were greeted with with an abundance of FREE tasty food, primarily donated by local businesses and loads of contagious high energy from the Surrey community.
Did you know: In Vancouver, Vaisakhi is celebrated during April and attracts close to 200,000 people, making it one of the
This was my first time at Vaisakhi and I was blown away by all the local community who came in droves to enjoy the parades, floats, live music, crowds and free food so graciously prepared by local residents and businesses.
Try this: Bring your own portable resusable containers and utensils to prevent unnecessarily using countless disposable containers that just end up piling up in our landfill. We did and even managed to neatly package some leftovers for lunch the next day!
In this Candice's Cusina's segment, we're featuring the Paneer Pakora. Paneer is a soft, unripened white cheese made from cow's milk while pakora is a deep-fried fritter that encases the paneer. Paneer Pakora, originated in South Asia, is typically served as a snack or appetizer.


1 cup gram flour (chickpea flour)
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp tumeric powder
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup water
250 gms paneer (cut into thick squares)
Vegetable oil for frying
Mango chutney


1. Sift the gram flour into a medium bowl. Mix in the coriander, garam masala, tumeric, chili powder and salt.
2. Make a well in the center of the flower. Gradually pour the water into the well and mix to form a thick, smooth batter.
3. Over medium high heat in a large, heavy saucepan, heat the oil to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

4. Dip and coat paneer in the gram flour batter then fry them in small batches until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels before serving piping hot with delicious mango chutney!

Did you know: Seva, meaning religious work, is the act of selfless service. So local residents and entrepreneurs who give out free food during Vaisakhi are practicing seva as it's considered an essential devotional service for many Dharmic religions.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bicol Laing with Taro Leaves & Coconut Milk

We visited my Auntie Nas' place in Portland, Oregon where she shared her secrets of making one of her many signature Filipino dishes, Laing. This dish is originally from the Bicol region, where my Aunt grew up, and is also where coconut milk is prominently in the local cuisine. Laing is an appetizing spicy vegetable dish with taro leaves that are slowly cooked in coconut milk seasoned with onions, garlic, ginger, fermented shrimp paste and chili.
Did you know: In Filipino, taro is called gabi and fermented shrimp paste is, bagoong.
I learned that the taro plant is native to Southeast Asia and is primarily grown as a root or a leaf vegetable. In laing, the leaf of the taro plant is the main ingredient. My Aunt told me that the taro plant is actually inedible when raw and even considered toxic. But she quickly reassured me that taro leaves that have been dried under the sun and have been cooked are completely safe to eat. Phew!

Auntie Nas shared with us an important tip: rarely stir the taro leaves while cooking! This allows the leaves to gently absorb the coconut milk like thirsty little sponges to create that creaminess in the dish, all the while not
causing that infamous itchy sensation in the throat. My goodness, but not to worry, this delectable dish is worth it!
Did you know: For those who don't have access to fresh taro leaves, you can easily find shredded dried taro leaves in stores that specialize in Asian foods. Plus, they are extremely affordable.

1 can (400 ml) coconut milk
1 can (400 ml) coconut cream
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
2 tbsp fresh ginger, sliced
2 tbsp shrimp fry
1 package of dried taro leaves
300 grams fresh whole shrimp
2 whole jalapeno peppers
1/4 cup green onions, chopped

1. In a deep pot, add the coconut milk, garlic, onions, ginger and shrimp fry. Let the coconut milk along with the other ingredient cook gently in a slow simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Add the whole shrimp to the coconut milk mixture, stir to cook.
3. Slowly add all the dried shredded taro leaves. Do not stir the leaves and cover your pot with lid to let the leaves absorb the coconut milk.
4. Once the leaves have absorbed the coconut milk, add the coconut cream to the top of the mixture and cover the pot with lid. Again, do not stir the leaves and let simmer for 15 minutes.
5. Add the jalapeno peppers and green onions and simmer for another 30 minutes. Now it's ready and laing is best served hot with plain white rice. Masarup!!!

Try this: Substitute whole shrimp with chopped pork belly.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Seafood City: Marketplace servicing Filipino & Asian community

We visited Seafood City in Tukwila, WA about 20km south from Seattle. This location recently opened last September and offers a wonderful selection of Filipino and Asian-influenced seafood, meats, fresh produce, baked goodies, desserts, packaged food, restaurants and much more!

Seafood City was established twenty years ago with its first store in San Diego. They now have twenty locations sprinkled throughout the United States' west coast and hope they'll open one soon in my neck of the woods, Vancouver, Canada.
We toured around the store and found my favorites like a preassembled Halo Halo fruit mix. Halo Halo is a popular Filipino dessert typically served with a mixture of shaved ice, evaporated milk and sweet beans and fruits like red mung beans, palm fruit, jackfruit and macapuno (coconut). It's delicious and good for you!

Seafood City also has a good section featuring the infamous, Balut, fertilized duck egg with a nearly-developed embryo that is boiled and then eaten with a seasoning consisting of salt, chilli and vinegar. This is a common Filipino street food and considered to be an aphrodisiac with loads of protein. Perhaps not for the faint of heart;)

Hope you enjoy your quick tour around Seafood City and encourage you to visit one closest to you to explore and enjoy Seafood City's fabulous selection of food. Masarap!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Portland's Delicious Gem: Thien Huong Chinese Restaurant

During my recent visit to see my relatives in Portland, Oregon, they introduced me to a locally renowned Chinese restaurant, Thien Huong. This culinary institution prides itself for proudly serving authentic Asian food since 1987.

My Uncle Fernando quickly informed me Thein Huong is known for their salt & pepper squid and for someone like me who adores calamari, I couldn't wait to try their world famous dish!

I must say, they make the BEST salt & pepper squid! In my humble opinion, it's all in the batter and they've hit the jackpot. Their calamari is lightly crunchy on the outside, coated with just the right amount of salt and pepper and beautifully tender in the middle.

After admiring and savouring the delicious calamari, we didn't wait long to dive right into the rest of the scrumptious fare including beef and vegetable noodles,

deep fried rock fish,

and another favourites of mine, green beans in black bean sauce.

Here's my Auntie Filipina's recipe for Green Bean in Black Bean Sauce.

- 1 lb fresh green beans
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp ginger, grated
- 2 tbsp black bean sauce
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
1. Trim the ends of the green beans and rinse them. Blanche them in boiling water until the beans are slightly tender. Place green beans in cold water to cool off.
2. Heat oil in frying pan then add garlic and ginger till lightly browned. Add green beans and cook on high, stirring constantly until they start to brown.
3. Add black bean sauce and mix well. Serve pipping hot over warm white rice, lovely!!
Try this: My recommended brand for Black Bean Sauce is Lee Kum Kee Black Bean Garlic Sauce.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Chicken Chow Mein

Chow mein or (炒面 chǎo-miàn) is a Chinese term meaning stir-fried noodles and it is typically combined with strips of meat (chicken, pork, beef or shrimp), onions, celery, carrots, bean sprouts or whatever vegetable mix your heart desires. I learned that chow mein was most likely introduced to America by Chinese immigrants who served this dish to Chinese labourers working on the western railroads in the 1850s.
Did you know: "Mein" refers to long, thin noodles. They can be stir-fried, put into soups, or boiled. "Chow" refers to a specific cooking style: stir-frying in a wok.
I love making chow mein because it can be cooked quickly for the masses to enjoy. It calls for parboiled noodles (previously drained dry and cooled) which are then stir-fried and placed one side while the remainder of the ingredients (your mix of favorite meat and veggies) hit the wok for their turn. When these ingredients are just about done, the noodles rejoin them and chow mein is created.

My recommendation, if I may, is to use a wok to cook your chow mein. Not only do you feel like an Iron Chef but you can employ the stir-frying technique of tossing your ingredients with less spillage. Another benefit is cooking all your food items thoroughly with a small amount of cooking oil and heat!
Did you know: Woks allow food to be cooked quickly because of its curve offers maximum cooking surface with minimal fuel contact. So you end up using less oil and heat to cook your food. The wok is also the ultimate kitchen tool of convenience, as it can be used to boil, sautee, stir-fry, deep-fry and steam. As one pot cooks all, clean-up is likewise minimal.
My boyfriend, Jaeger, taught me how to make his version of chow mein so here it is, so deliciously simple for you to enjoy!

- 1 pkg (400 g) fresh chow mein noodles
- 1/4cup cup oyster sauce
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 cups boneless and skinless chicken breast, cubed
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp grated ginger
- 4 cups chopped broccoli
- 2 cups bok choy
- 2 cups red bell peppers, sliced in matchstick strips
- 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2cup chicken stock
- 1 cup bean sprouts

Did you know: Chow mein noodles are made of wheat flour, and have a darker color and distinct flavor. When shopping for chow mein noodles, look for a package of dry long noodles that resembles spaghetti.

1. In large saucepan of boiling water, cook noodles until tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water; drain well and set aside in colander. Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil and lightly stir-fry the noodles till they are crisp and golden. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in bowl, whisk together oyster sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil. Thinly slice chicken crosswise; add to bowl, tossing to coat.

3. In large wok or skillet, heat 1 tbsp of the vegetable oil over high heat; stir-fry chicken mixture for 2 minutes. Transfer to plate.

4. Add remaining oil to pan; reduce heat to medium. Add onion, garlic and ginger; stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add broccoli, red pepper, mushrooms and 2 tbsp water; cover and steam for 3 minutes. Add noodles and stock; stir-fry until hot. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to pan; add bean sprouts and toss to combine. Serve immediately to hungry guests!
Try this: Leftover chow mein for dinner keeps well and can be saved for a yummy lunch the next day!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tourtière: Quebecois Meat Pie

Tourtière, originating from Quebec, is a meat pie made with minced pork, veal or beef and flaky pastry. A traditional part of Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve meal in Quebec, tourtière is now enjoyed throughout Canada and all year long!
Did you know: The term "tourtière" came from a cooking utensil that was used to make a pie or tourte. Tourte also means passenger pigeon in French and was traditionally used as the pie's meat filling. It was in the early 1600's that the word tourtière became known for the Quebecois meat pastry.

I was introduced to tourtière by my boyfriend's grandma, Mame, who grew up with this classic Quebecois meat pie as a food staple in her youth. She continues to make it till this day! I soon learned that the secret to a good tourtière is the texture of the filling and the flakiness of the pastry. According to Mame, to get really flaky pastry, you need to use lard.

I did some research and found out that the fat's purpose in the pastry is to melt during baking, leaving air spaces. When in the oven, flour starches tend to set around the fat, leaving layers and spaces as the fat slowly melts and is reabsorbed into the dough. The longer the fat takes to melt, in this case lard has a higher melting point than butter, the more defined the little air pockets become which form more flaky air pockets. So lard it is!

Another wonderful thing about
tourtières, they can be made in advance and frozen, then served hot or cold. I prefer hot, of course! Mame gave us a lesson to make her deliciously flaky and fragrant meat pie and hope you'll try it for your friends and family to enjoy.

Makes six, 9-inch pies

For filling:
- 3.5 lb ground pork
- 3 lrg onions, minced
- 10 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups peeled potatoes
- 2 tbsp celery salt
- 1 tsp allspice
- salt & pepper to taste
Did you know: Allspice is known as "quatre-epices" in French. The name literally means "four spices" and includes the following spices, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger.
For pastry:
  1. For the filling, combine pork, minced onion, & minced garlic. Cook slowly over med-low heat, for about 1 hour. Try not to brown the pork.
  2. Cut and peel the potatoes then boil over med heat, for about 30 minutes. Take off from heat and mash the potatoes to make smooth mashed potatoes.
  3. Combine mashed potatoes and cooked pork mixture then set aside to cool.
Did you know: The goal behind chilling the meat filling is to give the pastry time to cook and puff up before the filling warms and becomes more liquid.
Pastry prep:
  1. For the pastry, mix together flour and salt. Cut in lard with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse oatmeal. Gradually stir water into flour mixture, stirring constantly with a fork. Add only enough cold water to make dough cling together. Let dough rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  2. Roll out half of the pastry and fit into six, 9-inch pie plates, and trim edge of pastry with a knife so that's even with pie plate. Then spoon cooled pork filling mixture into prepared pie shell.
  3. Roll out remaining pastry to 10-inch rounds, cut steam vents and place over filling. Trim the edge of pastry so that's even with the pie plate and crimp edges. Brush pastry with egg wash and bake at 375 degrees for30 minutes, or until pastry is golden and filling is bubbly. Bon appétit!