here and there

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Garlicky Shrimp Onigirazu

Some times, I become very excited with all the possibilities of a recipe I come across and explore on other sites.  Onigirazu is just that recipe, easy to make, great for leftovers delicious and beautiful to look at!  

This week, I have been experimenting with a street food that has become popular In Japan in the last couple of years.  Just One Cookbook writes about it's interesting evolving history.  It is like a rice ball or onigiri but more like a sandwich which was first introduced in a cartoon twenty five years ago by the main character who loved to cook for his family.  

The recipe is very versatile as the fillings are endless.  With a little practice the small packages are easy to assemble and can be a complete meal.  Perfect for lunch!

The frist Onigrazu I made was not wrapped tight enough and I did have difficulty cutting the plastic wraping, a sharp knife is best

The ingredients I used were similar to the square Smoked Salmon Sushi that I make as an appetizer for a group.  

Garlicky Shrimp Onigirazu
for one

3 medium shrimp
1/2 carrot, grated
1-2 leaves of Romaine lettuce
3" piece Cucumber 
1 sheet of Nori
sliced avocado
2/3 - 1 c of cooked rice
Hot sauce

  • Prepare the vegetables; I did add chopped green onions and cilantro.
  • The shrimp was sautéed in Olive oil and butter.  When the shrimp is pink, grate fresh garlic over the shrimp, cook for a minute more.
  • Place the sheet of Nori on a piece of saran wrap, a bit bigger than the sheet of Nori.
  • Layer in the centre of the Nori half of the rice
  • Add hot sauce, layer of shrimp, layer each of the vegetables, a squeeze of mayo on the lettuce, ended with the rest of the rice.

  • You should have a small package of the filling in the centre of the seaweed wrapper. 
  • Bring each end of the Nori to the centre, I did add a dab of lime juice to stick the ends of the Nori.
  • Then using the Saran wrap, bring the plastic tightly to form a small package 

  • Let rest in the refrig before slicing in half.  Leaving the plastic on as it makes for easier eating. 
  • Enjoy!   

I have just come across Kikkomaan Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce and it is dynamite.  Great flavor and heat!  

Solo eating is so much better at home!

Looks like I needed to pack the filling a little better, but still awesome tasting!

Take Two

The same ingredients were used this time but in place of shrimp, I used a fillet of smoked fish

The results were also delicious and I think the appearance of this Onigirazu is much better!

This sandwich tasted awesome with a cup of Green Tea with Roasted Rice.  

In making this recipe, I was thinking of my Cousin's wife in Southern Manitoba who has just developed a taste for Sushi. I will be checking to see what she thinks of this recipe!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Forest Fondue with Mushrooms

The best recipes are those that are handed down through generations.  This past Saturday, I was privileged to watch a family recipe being prepared for us.  The recipe was our friend's Mom who lives in the Jura area, the French part of Switzerland that my husband and I have visited in our travels to Switzerland. 

Fondues were so popular in the seventies.  My first fondue and one I have never forgotten  was prepared by a coworker's husband who was Austrian. This recipe was also his mom's recipe.  This Classic Cheese Fondue has become the gauge to meet when making this dish.  The table was beautifully set as we sat around a pot filled with bubbling cheese and enjoyed the leisurely pace on a cold Manitoba winter night.  Kirsch, a cherry brandy had been used to thin the cheese mixture when it became too thick.   At the end, as the cheese start to stick to the pot, a raw egg was dropped into the to and stirred quickly to remove the crust. 

The Fondue that was prepared this weekend was called a Forest Fondue.  The Fondue had shallots, mushrooms and parsley mixed into the cheese. The mushroom added an earthly layer to the creamy cheese.  

Although fondues seem to be in and out of fashion, fondues in Switzerland are timeless.

The steps in making this Forest Fondue are very similar to the Classic Cheese Fondue

Three shallots were chopped and sautéed in butter until soften. 

The cheese had been grated before starting the Fondue.  150 grams of cheese were calculated per person.   An interesting point was that 250 gms of cheese per person are calculated in Switzerland.  Gruyere Cheese and Emmental Cheese were used for the fondue.  There was some discussion that the flavors were more intense in Jura as the cheese used by his Mom is more aged than what he can find in Canada. 

Mushrooms had also been cleaned and sliced before beginning.   Once the shallots were soften, mushroom were added to the pot and sautéed until soften.  A tsp of Dijon Mustard was added to the mixture.

I imagine that this recipe first originated with the use of wild mushroom picked in the Jura area.

Wine was added and brought to a warm simmer on Medium heat.  Cheese was gradually added to the mushroom mixture and stirred until incorporated. 

More cheese was added and again mixed.  Great care was taken in watching the temperature of the fondue and consistency of the mixture while stirring constantly as he went along.  

A dusting of cornstarch was added to the top of the cheese and mixed into the cheese mixture.  A step that his Mom always did!

This skill and method of preparation of the Classic Fondue has been passed from generation to generation resulting in a silky bubbling cheese dish. 

Kirsch with cornstarch mixed into the brandy was slowly added and mixed into the warm mixture. 

Chopped parsley was added at the end into the mixture. 

Another beautiful setting prepared for this Forest fondue.

Yes, all the mushrooms were near the bottom and were easier to scoop up as cheese mixture was used up!  

As with the very first Fondue, this evening was filled with leisurely eating and good conservation.   Maybe it is because this recipe has also been tested many times before being passed down, this Forest Fondue did not disappoint.  To me watching my friend prepare his Mom's recipe so carefully and lovingly was the best part, his Mom would be so proud! 

Although our friend stated that the amounts varied per recipe, there was a lot attention to detail in making his Mom's dish..   I did find a recipe very similar to his Mom's recipe but without Parsley and Dijon Mustard.  This recipe uses Comte Cheese which is also a Swiss cheese
Comté Cheese and Mushroom Fondue Recipe and Wine Pairing at Wine4.Me/blog

By Mary Cressler

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 8 ounces mixed mushrooms (I like a combination of crimini and shitake, but use your favorites), roughly chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 ½ cups dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons Kirsch
  • ½ pound Comté cheese, shredded
  • ½ pound Emmental cheese, shredded
  1. Bring a medium size heavy pot to medium heat. Add butter then mushrooms. Sauté for 6 - 10 minutes to soften. Remove mushrooms from pot and set aside.
  2. Rub the inside of the pot well with garlic and then discard the garlic. Add wine and bring to a simmer (but not a boil!).
  3. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and Kirsch then add into the wine.
  4. Gradually add the cheeses and stir together until the cheese is melted and creamy (around 5 minutes). You’ll know it’s done when you can dip a wooden spoon into the mixture and it coats the spoon.
  5. Add the mushrooms back to the pot and stir to combine.
    1. Transfer the warm mixture to a fondue pot set over a small flame. You will want to continue stirring periodically while over the flame. Serve with bread cubes, vegetable slices, apple slices, or roasted potatoes.
    The cornstarch is not used as a thickener here but instead is used to prevent the cheese from separating. If the cheese mixture begins to get too thick or hard, add about a tablespoon of additional wine at a time and stir. Add more if necessary. If it’s too thin, add more shredded cheese a little at a time.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Moroccan Couscous with Cranberry and Turmeric

Yesterday, I picked up a free magazine "Sage, Natural living for You and Family" at our Supermarket. In the May edition in the section called Your Food, it featured Moroccan Food.  

In the article, spices are credited for many health benifits from antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and in improving digestion, not to mention the flavor and scent of spices give the dish pizzazz!

The recipe I chose is quick and easy to make.  Since I had Couscous and am trying to purge my cupboards, an on going battle, I used couscous.  Couscous is traditional made from wheat.  

The recipe calls for Millet an ancient grain with similar protein structure to wheat but is a non gluten grain.  I was eager to try this grain until I read the warning about eating too much of the grain.  Although Millet does not contain gluten, it contains goitrogens which in fact suppress thyroid activities and can lead to goitre or Hypothyroidism.   This article talks about protecting one's thyroid at all cost and avoid regular consumption of food that may harm us given the overall current environment stress on body.  In this case Millet. 

So couscous it is! Not sure I want to start using Millet just yet.

Moroccan Couscous with Cranberry and Turmeric

I c couscous
2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp sea salt
handful of dried Cranberry
handful of chopped Cilantro

In a sauce pan, add 2 c water to the couscous, salt and turmeric.  Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook until the couscous absorbs all the water. Add cranberries, fluff with fork. Add chopped cilantro. 

The recipe called for currents but cranberries added color and taste.  Chopped nuts and green onions would also be nice

I served this with roasted chicken breast and a Greek Salad!.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Hawaiian Spicy Mango Glazed Pork Ribs and Chicken Drumsticks

With the weather being dreary and wet, thoughts of our recent trip to Hawaii come to mind and especially the fruit glazed pork ribs that we sampled at Duke's on Kauai'i and the Kiki Grill and Bar in Honolulu.

Duke's Kauai
3610 Rice St, Lihue, HI 96766, United States

From the Restaurant's web site

In his lifetime, Duke Kahanamoku traveled all over the world and introduced people to the Hawaiian lifestyle and the sport of surfing. Duke visisted Kauai' and enjoyed the beach and bay right out in front of what is now Duke’s Kauai. He was a friend and mentor to Kalapaki Beach’s own legendary Beach Boy, Percy Kinimaka. You are invited to enjoy this stunning beach setting with views out to the crystal blue waters of Nawiliwili Bay and the Hoary Head Mountains beyond.

Slow cooked, mango barbeque sauce glazed, grilled Big Island style, with steamed white rice and coleslaw

 2570 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
at the ResortQuest Waikiki Beach Hotel, Second Level ... Fabulous views of Waikiki Beach
From the restaurant's website

A hip, open-air restaurant with a retro South Pacific design and experience, Tiki's Grill & Bar features a menu highlighting the flavors of the islands prepared in an open exhibition kitchen. The restaurant appeals to residents and visitors alike and draws the late-night crowd with live contemporary Hawaiian entertainment every evening. Tiki's Grill & Bar provides a casual American and Pacific-Rim menu with flavors of the islands, using fresh local produce. Tiki’s offers lanai seating with beautiful sunsets on Kuhio Beach. Established in October of 2002 as a family restaurant and bar, Tiki's is located on the second floor in the newly renovated ResortQuest Waikiki Beach Hotel. Lined with 13-foot tiki torches and topped with a 30-foot, red-glowing volcano, capping the outside bar area. A full service dining establishment, Tiki's is only a brief drive from Honolulu International Airport and offers the finest in Hawaii regional cuisine, wine and spirits.  

Guava Glazed Baby Back Ribs 

A rack of St. Louis-style baby back ribs glazed with our 
signature guava barbecue sauce

Roll your own Korean Taco's 

Thinly sliced & marinated beef ribeye, served sizzling
on a cast iron skillet. Island made Sinaloa white corn
mini pups, lomilomi tomatoes, Mrs. Chengs tofu, Nalo

Farms honey & ko chu jang dipping sauce, housemade
kimchee & Kula butter lettuce for you to roll & eat. 

Yesterday, I saw Caribbean Pot do Spicy Mango Chicken Wings and I did follow his recipe for the Mango sauce but used chicken drumsticks and pork recipes in place of chicken wings. 

I marinaded the meat in the juice of two orange in place of lime juice, chopped fresh spring onions from the garden, salt and pepper.

Spicy Mango Sauce

 2 cans of Mango puree
Chopped Jalapeno pepper
Fresh chopped thyme from my garden
1 T corn syrup/honey
2 T butter
salt and pepper
 1 T fresh ginger

The mango puree was placed in a sauce pan and simmer to reduce the volume. I was not pleased with the reduction as it was not thick or sweet, very bland.  I usually use honey, but had used it up at Christmas so used the corn syrup which Caribbean Pot does suggest.  He also uses thyme for this sauce, but I did find the Thyme too earthy for this sauce.  Maybe it was the freshness of thyme from my garden. 

Since I also did not have a lime, I used oranges instead which did not give it the zip that a lime would, so I added freshly chopped ginger to the sauce. The butter finished off the sauce nicely.

The meat baked in the oven for 30 minutes at 325 until cooked, uncovered.

After the meat was cooked, the meat was covered in the sauce and returned to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to be browned. 

Interesting enough, Murder She Wrote the murder mystery show last night was filmed in Hawaii! 

The glaze used did brown nicely but lacked flavor.. A mango or peach jam or the spicy Mango chutney I have in the refrig would have worked much nicer.  Definitely the lime would have given better flavor and acidity to the sauce.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Garlicky Oyster sauce Gai Lan, Chinese Broccoli

The best recipes are those that you get from others.  Yesterday I picked up some Chinese Broccoli, Gai Lan and asked the Chinese lady who was stocking the fresh vegetables on the shelves how she prepared the vegetable at home.   She happily told me the steps she used to prepare this leafy green vegetable. The recipe is very much how our friend prepares it for his family in Regina.  Garlicky Oyster Sauce Chinese Broccoli is my favourite dish to order at dim sum.  So easily done at home!

After washing the Gai Lan, trim off the leaves so you have manageable pieces to eat with chop sticks. I left the pieces whole but one could cut them even smaller.  

 The vegetable is par-boiled in hot boiling water for 2-3 minutes, until the leaves wilt.  The Gai Lan is then dropped into icy cold water to keep the vibrant color. 

Oyster Sauce

3 Tablespoon water
3 Tablespoon Oyster Sauce
1 Teaspoon soya sauce
1Tsp Sesame seed oil
1 tsp sugar
Black pepper and red pepper chilies
garlic cloves, minced

Mix together and beep in Microwave 1 -2 minutes until sauce is hot

Pour sauce over the parboiled broccoli. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the veggies. 

My friend did stir fry the parboiled vegetable in hot oil, after he had browned the minced garlic and chile flakes in the hot oil.  Since I was braising beef chunks in the oven, I placed the serving dish with the Chinese broccoli and sauce to warm up before serving!

The recipe was a winner, and I will be making it again.  Although my 4 1/2 year old grandchild was most disappointed that when I said I was serving dim sum, it was not steamed BBQ pork buns! 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

French Onion soup au Gratin with Meatballs

This recipe came through one of the food sites on FaceBook on National Meatball and then I couldn't find it. Basically it is baked meatballs in French Onion Soup.. The meatballs were suppose to be stuffed with cheese cube and caramelized onions.. But the slices of onions were too large so I just used a cube of cheese, which if I was to do this again would use cooked chopped mushrooms and onions. I remember doing stuffed cheese burgers when they were the rage, but only once, this time, I can't say I could see the cheese! 

My hubby is always assigned to do the meatballs and patties as he always very precise and the meatballs are uniform as are the patties.

I use one package of beef and pork which made about 50 meatballs, 40 of which I froze for later use. 
To the meat mixture, add one egg, dried mustard and Worcestershire sauce, mix and form into small meatballs. 

Caramelize 1-2 onions using water or wine. I use a Canadian Chef ( Michael Smith) method of steaming the onions until soft and golden.  The use of a lid and liquid helps the onion cook slowly and caramelize to a golden color.  Add the onions to a broth, I never use prepared broth, use homemade broth if you have or just add more water.  Check out MIchael Smith's video for the soup.

To assemble,  layer the onions in the broth into a cast iron skillet, then the uncooked mushroom, I added whole mushrooms which my hubby took out and sliced! Then the uncooked meatballs. 

Bake at 325 to 350 for about 20-25 minutes, then add the grated mozzarella cheese and bake until meatballs are cooked and the mozzarella bubbly!  Add parsley, which I didn't have but fresh grated parmesan was added!

I used mini skillet cast iron pans for individual serving, but will be making this dish in a larger skillet as an appetizer for a group.  Enjoy with French Bread. 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

This is a recipe that I have been doing since we lived in another city and used to eat these delicious Vietnamese Spring rolls in a restaurant. The wrappers were filled with fresh vegetables, pork and shrimp and then deep fried!

My whole family loved these spring rolls which we all dissected to see what was in the wrappers. The stuffing was not minced so easily identified and easily made at home.

I have been making these for my daughter in university as a quick supper. They are her favourite and I still continue to have a supply in my freezer.

There is no real recipe other than using a package of ground meat, chicken or pork, thinly sliced Chinese cabbage or regular cabbage, grated 2 -3 carrots, diced small onion, grated ginger, handful of chopped cilantro.  Mix well. The filling is a very mixture and you can add more to create a very colourful filling. 

Sauté the meat and finely chopped onion.. Thinly sliced pea pods, green onions are nice.. However, bean sprouts are a pain as they poke through your wrapper!!
Chopped shrimp can also be added to the filling. I don't put garlic into the filling as I can't stand the smell in the deep freeze as they are first frozen on a cookie sheet before packing them in a covered container.

The spring roll wrappers that I find are the easiest to use and do not tear are made in Singapore by Spring Home, TYJ Spring Roll Pastry. These can be found in the Asian section of your super market. 

About 2 tablespoons of the filling were added to the centre of the wrapping.

The wrapper was folded up and then each side was folded inward to make an envelope.   A trick I learned was to dab a bit of a flour and water mixture at the top end to help the wrapper stick together. 

The package of 50 wrappers, even though I made a big bowl of filling, 5 wrappers were left over. Not a problem, wrap half a banana and enjoy it with maple syrup or ice cream!


Since I had Tourtiere filling leftover. I used this along with caramelized onion, hot mango sauce,  slivers of pineapple , cabbage and cilantro.

This filling was very tasty and as always tasters are a favourite of my hubby and I! 

The spring rolls can be deep fried but I have been baking them in my toaster oven for years.  Lightly spray the uncooked spring rolls with cooking oil and bake until golden and crispy, about 20 minutes! Serve with a sweet and sour sauce, my husband loves Hoisin sauce.