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!
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.
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.
I’ve been sick for more than a week now since coming back from my trip, so I’ve living off soups, teas, and whatever Kevin has so kindly prepared for me. The lack of variety in my diet has made me long for something other than hot flavoured water, something with texture and crunch! As Kevin and I were both decaying on the couch Saturday (he’s sick too, but seemed to have recovered quicker than me), he mentioned wanting to dip some crusty bread into truffle oil and balsamic vinegar. Mmm – yum! Since I’ve been wanting to make Ken Forkish’s Overnight Whole Wheat Bread recipe for a while now his comment was all that I needed to get me out of my couch slump.