The first time I had a Nicoise Salad was five years ago in Oman. I remember the experience so clearly because not only was the scenery so beautiful – I was sitting on a patio, looking out to the blue water filled with yachts with large rocky cliffs in the distance – but the combination of flavours in the salad was something I have never experienced before. Why oh why had it taken me so long to try this salad?! This salad was not your typical salad, it was bold, it was it was hearty, it was meaty, and it had so many textures. This salad was quick to become my go-to salad.
When I think back on my childhood, one of my fondest memories was making gyoza with my mom. It was definitely a tedious task with my little uncoordinated fingers, but also a fun experience because I was able to learn how to prepare gyoza from a master gyoza maker! It also provided me with the opportunity to learn tips and even some Japanese as my mom would always describe certain techniques with Japanese expressions. One of her most common expressions that she would use when she adds an ingredient that you normally wouldn’t think to add, is kakushi aji which translates to “hidden flavour”. The small addition of the “hidden flavour” (such as sugar, sake, mirin, or konbu just to name a few) enhances the flavours of the entire dish. This recipe uses sugar as the hidden flavour.
To this day I have been making the same recipe my mom uses and I can honestly say this is THE BEST RECIPE , mainly because it’s my grandma’s recipe, but also because it is just so ah-maze-balls! Now… I can say this because I think I’ve done enough gyoza taste testing in Canada and in Japan, that I can confidently say I have yet to find a recipe that superior to this one. Most gyoza you find in restaurants are loaded with vegetables but are lacking in the meat department, which I am not fond of. This recipe is loaded with porky goodness and only has three leaves of hakusai! Now that’s the meat to veggie ratio I’m talking about!
I was honestly not sure if I should call this recipe a soup or a stew because it’s not as thick as a stew… it’s not as thin as a soup… it’s kind of in between. I know some people would call it a stoup, but I wasn’t sure if that was just a made-up cooking term, so I settled on “soup” because my intentions were to make a beef and barley soup… but terms aside, this recipe is filled with lots of beefy yummyness! It also makes quite a bit, so make sure you have a large pot peeps! We meal prepped this on the weekend and this lasted the two of us all week and we never got sick of it!
This recipe came after we had beef and barley soup at Kev’s parent’s house, ever since then that’s all we have been thinking about. So we had to make our own! I bought a bunch of small packages of simmering short ribs while at the store thinking that it wouldn’t be enough… It wasn’t until I started to brown the meat did I realize that perhaps I did buy too much meat to fit into the pot, but you know what, in the end it worked out p-e-r-f-e-c-t-l-y. Oh this beef barley soup is soooooo meaty and soooooo good.
I remember the first time I had a Monte Cristo sandwich waaaay back in junior high. Our French teacher took us on a field trip to a french restaurant so we could expand our food horizon through a culinary exploration of the french cuisine. Funnily enough I picked the most North American option available. Crepe Florentine? No thank you, I’ll have a fried ham and cheese sandwich. Unfortunately, I only ended up eating a couple of bites. I just didn’t understand why a sweet jam would be on a savoury sandwich. And what was with the powdered sugar? My 12 year old mind just did not get it. Now that I’ve grown up, I get it and I love it!
Meatballs are one of the most flavourful and versatile protein balls that you can eat with and on pretty much A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G. They can be made with a variety of types and cuts of meat (or no meat at all), herbs, spices, and can be prepared in countless ways – baked, fried, steamed, simmered, etc. Pretty much every culture will have their own variation of meatballs which makes it unique to them. To me, meatballs are a quick and easy meal that I can prepare in large amounts and freeze for later use.
One of my favourite parts of travelling is wandering aimlessly in foreign streets, falling into unexpected adventures, and uncovering hidden gems you would not find in a travel guide. While in Osaka, Kevin and I stumbled upon a quaint shisha bar called Cafe Absinthe. With the non-stop walking we were doing, we decided to relax a bit and order some nibbles, drinks… and shisha of course. What amazed me about this little cafe was how AMAZINGLY YUMMY the hummus was. Something so simple, so easy, and so basic, was turned into something so unique! Trust me I could eat an entire tub of this stuff! The hummus was so creamy, the pita so pillowy, and the addition of what seemed to be something similar to a thickened version of cream of mushroom soup was just so perfect. Kevin made sure that I took notes on the flavour profile so I could make him the same hummus when we got back home.
After witnessing my stoooopid external hard drive die on me while transferring all my
f*kn goddamn files (because I had a inkling that it may be prone to failing soon) and going through four of the five stages of grief… I am no longer an angry person filled with fiery rage, rather an extremely depressed person with a lingering hope that maybe, just maybe my hard drive will wake up from its deep slumber so I can retrieve the remaining files (mainly my food pictures *single teardrop*). Luckily enough I was able to transfer over some of my recent food picture, so as I was going through each folder with panic I found picture of a breakfast bagel. I thought, yum! why didn’t I ever post this? I quickly flipped through my recipe book and found a recipe for a breakfast Reuben written in no other than my lovely chicken scratch kitchen writing.
A couple of months ago Kevin started eating yogurt and fruit for lunches topped with guess what – granola. I know he’s pretty basic – just kiddingggg. His only one complaint was that the store bought granola, although delicious, was just way too sweet. I scanned the ingredients to make sure I had the essentials and mixed up my first batch to replicate Kev’s favourite granola.
Some may say the best things in life are free, I say the best things in life are sugar coated… buttery… and flaky. I’m talking about scones dammit! The best things in life are scones, fresh out of the oven and still steaming. If these scones are so great, then what can possibly make them better? Well my friends, salted caramel makes everything better. If you’ve read my previous post, you may know by now I have a thing for salted caramel. I’m an avid believer that caramel, salted or not, belongs on e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Well, okay maybe not everything, but it most definitely belongs drizzled over these scones. Why? Because apple and caramel are natural lovers, and white chocolate well that’s just a no-brainer.
YAAASSSSSS! Linguine and clams. What more can I say? If you love seafood and you love pasta, then this perfect combination is a marriage made in pasta heaven. The seafood flavour is so subtle that even those who aren’t fans of seafood would love this – like Kevin. He really likes raw seafood (sushi, sashimi, and the like) but for some reason he doesn’t like cooked seafood. Weird right? I’ve also added an abundance of clams and shrimp to this dish. I’ve had this a couple of time at restaurants where the clams (the main star!) were definitely lacking, so I decided to jam pack it with seafood yumminess. The more, the better. Amiright?