Monday, May 28, 2007

EAT! Vancouver 2007

Well, yesterday was the last day of EAT! Vancouver. A wonderful cooking and everything food exhibition held at BC Place Stadium. It ran from May 25th to the 27th... and it was AWESOME! Yes, this is the first year I've been to EAT! Vancouver but it definitely won't be the last. The exhibits were amazing and the variety of foods that were available for sample was incredible. I went with my parents on the Friday and we had a great time. I first suggested that we go to the exhibit only the night before and my mom was very hyped to go... we suggested it to my dad and he agreed that it would be a fun time. The tickets were $14, but only $12 if you brought a canned good for the Union Gospel Mission (being people who love to save money, we brought some spam, chilli and salmon).

We decided to drive downtown and managed to find a decent parking spot, not to far from the building and free! (We actually took the car because we were planning on going out for siew yeh after... but didn't because we were full from sampling :P I think next year, we'll take the skytrain... it'll save on gas and searching for a good parking spot.) We then bought our tickets and entered the stadium. I've actually never been inside BC Place before, it's pretty daunting the first time you go in. It was 4pm and we were ready to rock-n-roll. But, we had to think of a systematic way to visit each booth and still see some of the great shows that were going on (I really wanted to see Rob Feenie and the Master Chefs Competition).

We started on the right, and moved down the aisles of exhibits... sampling all the food and grabbing all the free loot! What loot, you ask? Well, we got sample bags of potatoes, rice and a ton of doggy treats/food (for Jacques). We sampled a ton of stuff: the many smoothies, kozy shack pudding, smoked fish, chocolate, bbq chicken, hemp cereal, fondue, ice cream, coffee, mussles, pasta, schneider's vegetarian nuggets & meatballs (my dad and I went crazy over these... they didn't taste like soy at all!), flax, cereal, sushi and much, much more.

After filling up on samples it was already 6pm and we wanted to watch Rob Feenie (Iron Chef America) cook at the foodnetwork stage.I was really excited... not sure why, I guess maybe because I wanted to get more familiar with cooking and not just baking. Feenie's a really cool guy, seems down to earth and really into family and food :) the perfect combination! I took some videos of his show, take a look...

Notice that he mentioned something about some lucky individual winning the short-rib dish that he prepared? Well, the lucky winner was my mother!!! Feenie then said, "Whoever wins must share." because the dish was too big for 1 person... so my mom, dad and I go to try Feenie's Short-Rib. Now I can say that the Iron Chef Rob Feenie cooked for me :P He also made some Mini short-rib burgers which another lucky couple won. It was the best short-rib I have ever tasted! Feenie is a very talented guy.

The winners of these dishes, my family and that other couple were truly lucky... and there are really cool stories behind the wins. When I first picked a seat for the show, I wanted to sit in the middle (even though it was kinda far back) but my mom persuaded me to sit on the right side as the seats were closer to the stage and still at a good angle. If we hadn't moved to sit in those seats, my mom would't have had the winning ticket on her chair. The couple who won the burgers actually didn't have seats at the beginning of the show. But half-way through another couple left (foolish, foolish people) and so they took those seats. Lucky for them, the seats that they got had the winning ticket! Crazy I tell ya!

Well, we will definitely be going back next year... and I think my sisters are wanting to come with us. They didn't know how much fun could be had, so they decided they'd stay home :( The day ended great (except that the last competitor for the Master Chef's Competition decided not to show... but who cares!) with tons of loot, a free short-rib dinner to go along with a belly full of free samples, and a picture with Rob Feenie!
And now to leave you with some parting words of wisdom from Rob Feenie himself!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

LOST Finale :(

I was gonna blog about this a while back, but just hadn't gotten around to doing so. Well, I am one of those people who is obsessed with the ABC drama LOST (although, as of recently my dedication to the show has been dwindling :( sad to say). The show has just gotten more and more confusing, and with its lack of tying up loose ends and leaving its viewers hanging ALL THE TIME! I've gotten to loose some interest. But I decided that I would pack up my judgements and try to enjoy the 2 hr season finale. Me and a couple of friends have created a small LOST gathering, we enjoy spending time with each other and watching LOST every Wednesday night... well, it beats watching the confusion alone :P So, for the finale I decided to bake some cookies, but not just any cookies... LOST Fish Cookies! I was inspired by kung foodie's lost fish biscuit and decided to try my hand at baking them. Although my cookies turned out more pink than red they still tasted good, and "the gathering" had a good laugh over the novelty treats.

Note to self: Invest in some good quality gel food coloring (I only have the liquid stuff O_O) Ohhh... and go to Henlong to buy some essence of strawberry paste (add to my collection of pandan & durian)

My B-day & POTC 3

Yeah! My 19th Birthday... me and my friend Alice both celebrated our 19th B-day on May 24th. Even though, mine is on the 8th and hers is on the 22nd... why, you ask? Well, partly because I wasn't free from summer school until that week and partly because we wanted to have a joint b-day bash. But I think what secured that date for us was the fact that Pirates of the Caribbean 3 was premiering that night.

So, we started the party at Pizza Hut... I know, not the most elegant place to have a 19th b-day dinner but I simply love my pizza! And pizza hut makes the best ever (Domino's tries, but sadly they lack in everyway possible... even their crust sucks). After dinner we headed over to the theater to get some prime seats for the 8pm showing. Seriously, the only thing that could have made the night more special is if we were watching the premiere in Disneyland and meeting the stars. Alas, we live a far cry from California :(

The night was eventful; full of crazy laughter, awesome action... and best of all spending time with some friends that I hadn't seen in a long tim. Happy Birthday to me!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Dinner @ Milestone's

For Kirsten's 19th a bunch of us went to Milestone's. I haven't been there in quite some time... you know, being a student on a budget and all :P But on that night, I decided to splurge a litte and order whatever my heart desired. I decided to try their Caramel Apple Martini, even though it was Bellini Tuesday I was craving something apple-y and more tart than peach schnapps. When the drinks came I couldn't help but take a picture of it... I give Milestone's a 8/10 on presentation. The Martini was so simple and yet, so elegant.

For dinner I wanted to try one of their asian fusion recipes. Milestone's actually has a lot of variety when it comes to asian inspired foods! I was surprised. So I went for the Thai Chicken Tacos... the mango salsa was excellent, I practically drank it on its own :P and the peanut sauce that came with the tacos was sooo creamy and delicious. I asked for an extra side of the thai chicken marinade, because the waitress was kind enough to inform me that they had not marinated as long as they usually should... how thoughtful. The marinade was spicy and yet also mildly sweet. The dinner came with three tacos, but they were so filling that I could only finish one... guess what I had for lunch the next day :] hehehe.

We were all pretty much stuffed and didn't feel like room for dessert. Kirsten, being the birthday girl got a Chocolate Pecan Pie, on the house.
We all dove for it and being tempted by that pie we decided to share a Tex(something) chocolate cake... oh, how could we ever pass up dessert? The pie and cake disappeared in less than 60 seconds! That's what you get for placing 1 teenie (but yummy) chocolate cake in front of 7 girls.

Yeah! Kirsten's 19th

Happy Birthday Kirsten... it seems like we're all growing up so quickly. Almost all of us are 19!!! It's so exciting; and to commemorate her becoming "of age" (interpret as you will) I decided to make her a Strawberry Daiquiri Dessert. The recipe's pretty simple... would've spent more time on it, except I was searching around for her perfect birthday present.

Strawberry Daiquiri Dessert

- 2 mini (strawberry cream filled) cupcakes
- 1 recipe of rum, buttercream frosting (below)
- gummy fruit slice (lime)
- candy strawberry
- cocktail glass
- honey and pink tinted sugar for the rim of the glass

1. Prep the cocktail glass by dipping the rim in hunny. Allow excess to drizzle off, and then dip the rim into the pink tinted sugar. Rest and let the hunny become firm, about 5 minutes.

2. Place 1 mini cupcake into the bottom of the glass. Pipe buttercream on top and then layer on the 2nd cupcake.

3. Pipe the remaining buttercream on top of the layered cakes and fill the glass.

4. Top with a "strawberry" and then place the "lime slice" on the rim of the glass.

Rum Buttercream
- 1 cup unsalted pale butter, softened
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- 2 drops red food coloring
- 2 tablespoons good-quality rum (I used captain morgan's)

1. Beat the butter until fluffy and add confectioners sugar. Combine well.
2. Add vanilla and then food coloring; continue to mix.
3. Begin adding the rum a drop at a time, beat for 5 more minutes.

Kirsten was amazed by the presentation. I just love novelty cakes! Wish I could be more creative, but all I can do is try. I think I'll try and perfect this recipe, maybe learn how to make other types of "drink flavors". The party was fun, and we had a great time!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bento Lunches Again!

Okay, I'll make this short and sweet. I've made 4 bento boxes that have yet to be given their deserved internet glory :P so here they are...

Day 1: Pita, Humus & Fishsticks Bento

This one was for my little sister... and that means this bento has only trace amounts of vegetables! The top tier of this bento consisted of fish sticks, haw flakes, durian candy, chocolate easter eggs (I bought 1 lb. of them, before the end of easter cuz my sister loves them sooo much :P) and Bak Tong Go. The bottom tier had cute pita bread cut outs and hummus dip, with decorative carrot stars ontop.

Day 1: Onigiri with Wasabi Cream Cheese and Chicken

Here's my bento, I love my veggies as you can see. It consisted of one onigiri (filling was wasabi cream cheese and chicken), raw broccoli, raw mushrooms, durian candy and one strawberry cream filled cupcake. With all those veggies, I can splurge a little on a cupcake... can't I?! hehehe

Day 2: Onigiri with Salmon Cream Cheese and Chicken

This bento was for my little sis (once again, notice the lack of veggies). The top tier contained 1/2 a kiwi, 3 vanilla cream cookies, blueraspberry flavored livewires, and some gummy bears. The bottom tear had one onigiri (filling was salmon cream cheese and chicken) and a homemade ichigo daifuku.

Day 3: Hello Kitty Shaped OnigiriThis one was also for my little sister. I used the new Monokuro Boo bento box I had purchased from Yaohan, it's awesome. Top tier consists of a strawberry biscuit, hawflakes, durian candy and an orange flavoured jelly (notice the jelly's resemblance to Hello Kitty... that is no coincidence). The bottom tier held a Hello Kitty onigiri (using the Yaohan mold), a curry potato croquette and grilled chicken slices.

Woah! I've been a busy "bento" bee lately. My sister thinks I'm crazy, but she appreciates the goodies I make her. She's such a sweetie-pie that I'm just filled with so much joy whenever I make her these lunches... dunno if i'll keep posting about them, but I'll definitely keep making them!

Preparing to make more bentos :)

Hooray... as mentioned in a previous post (click here to see my past bento post) I was determined to purchase some good quality bento accessories. Where better to go than down to the hub of the Asian Culture? RICHMOND!! My family usually goes to Richmond for Yum Cha (either Dynasty or Neptune... but I'll blog about that later, right now is for my bento obsession), so we ended up also going to Yaohan and Aberdeen Mall.

Yaohan had some great finds, on the upper level there's a gift store which sold awesome bento items. I bought: Hello Kitty rice molds, a 2-tier Monokuro Boo bento box, and a Hello Kitty Jelly/Ice mold. Me and my sister, were so excited to go to Aberdeen... cuz you know what that means? DAISO!! We just adore that store, and everything at a great $2... for quality goods. What more could you ask for? Seeing that my bento frenzy has been peaking, I remembered that the last time I went to Daiso I noticed a ton of great items for making great bentos. Well, here's a pic of my great Daiso/Yaohan finds:

At Daiso I picked up some fish-shaped soy sauce containers, a yello 2-tier bento, traditionsl onigiri molds, side dish containers and a madeleine baking pan (not really bento, but I had been wishing I bought it ever since I saw it in the store last month!)

I've been busy using my items and have made 3 new bentos. So much fun!!! I'll be posting them shortly!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Chinese Buns

I know... I haven't been keeping up to date on my blogging lately. But I have a good excuse. I have a final coming up! Which meant that the little time I would love to spend cooking is being devoted to my studies. (I'm such a good student :P)

Anywho, I decided to busy my hands by baking bread. Apparently everyone's doing it. Why? It's fun! I really love the smell of the yeasty dough and the aroma of freshly baked bread diffuse throughout the entire house whenever I make bread. I used a melange of the recipes from: happyhomebaking and Evan's blog to make my buns. I couldn't decide if I wanted savoury or sweet buns... so in the end I just divided the dough and make both :)

The buns with the plain tops are filled with custard, the one with sesame seeds on it has peanut-sugar mixture, the one with coconut is filled with coconut + brown sugar. As you can see, there is also a savory bun with hotdogs jabbed into it, and a ham & spring onion bun (they smelled so good that I ended up eating 1/5th of that bun before I took this picture :P)

Not the most beautiful bun (certainly not as pretty as Evan's) but I was still proud of my attempt, and it tasted superb. Just like the ones you buy from the store! If you can't tell, I actually used vegetarian ham to make this bun... tasted pretty much like regular ham. Don't see why some people thing vegetarian stuff is wierd?

Ah! Just for my little sister. She loves the combination of coconut and brown sugar. She enjoyed snacking on this bun while my parents nibbled on the peanuty ones.

Overall, my experience with this recipe was good. The dough was a little more dense than I would have liked, but the taste more than made up for it. I suppose that the next time I try this recipe I'll proof it more and handle it less... that should make the bread more fluffy. (I probably played around with the dough to much... you know, deciding which shapes to make the buns and all :P) I just love bread kneading, it's just like playing with play-dough except that you get to eat your final product... what could be better?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The True Mother's Day Deal

Hooray! It's really Mother's Day. Well, today we ended up (as usual) going to our annual Mother's Day brunch. Sadly, my litte sister got food poisoning just yesterday and couldn't go :( I missed her, so I took some pictures at the brunch-buffet place so that she could kinda get the feeling of being there too. We went to the Fort Langley Golf Course, it wasn't as fancy or well organized as the Wolf Creek Golf and Country Club by any means. We had reservations for 12pm and they didn't get us a seat until 20 minutes later! That is always frustrating. And the service was very poor. You may be asking, "What service? Isn't it a buffet?". This is true, but the drinks are served by waiters who took a very long time and seemed inexperienced. Also, the people who were suppose to take away our plates after we had finished using them were slow. I think they were very under-staffed. Overall, the food was okay; but for the same price I would have rather gone to Wolf Creek... sadly, they weren't running a buffet this year :( *sniff* Oh, well... what can you do?

The food on my plate looked pretty unappetizing. Because we had to wait so long, I piled a ton of food on my plate and it looked horrendous :P I did manage to take a couple nice pictures of the breakfast/dessert things...

Belgian Waffles with Fruits... and a Churros hiding
in the background (left)!
Cute miniature foods ... donuts and mini muffins!

Yummy! Chocolate Mousse....
<--and so purdy :)

The Chocolate Mousse Aftermath


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Early Mother's Day

My family has the always had the long held tradition of going out for brunch on Mother's Day. I love going to those fancy golf course lunch buffets and seeing all the different and unique combinations of food. The only draw back is that I can't make my Mom breakfast on Mother's Day... otherwise a Mother's Day brunch is pretty stupid, as you'll be stuffed from breakfast. So, the tradition has always been that I prepare a Mother's Day breakfast on the Saturday. This year, I had a lot of fun searching for cool recipes that my mom would enjoy.

Breakfast Casserole:
I made a similar recipe to this one in February (click here to view) and when my mom had some, she just loved it. So for her big day, I decided to make one BIG casserole... but varied it slightly and ended up with a breakfast strata. I will add the recipe later (I promise). But for now, you can take a look at the pictures.
Chai Tea Sponge Cakes:
I really liked how Ivonne utilized my mom's favorite tea to make cute miniature bundt cakes. And her presentation of the cakes was delightful. So, it was a no-brainer that I would use this recipe for Mother's day.
Sugar Cookie Flower Pot:
I made a batch of sugar cookies and added red food coloring to make them a cute pink color. While they were still warm I stuck a toothpick through them. I then took a small flower pot I had purchased at the dollar store and stuck a chocolate cupcake inside to resemble "dirt". The toothpicked-cookies were placed into the "dirt" and placed on the breakfast table. It was so simple, yet so cute.
Apple Pancakes:
The Williams-Sonoma website has some very fancy breakfast ideas that are elegant for Mother's Day. The link above connects to the apple pancake recipe I used. Though my pancakes do not look as beautiful they sure tasted great, almost like christmas... my sister had 3 helpings of them. (Note: The recipe says that it makes 12 pancakes... but I ended up with way more, so unless you eat gigantic pancakes you'll probably end up with 20-25)
Mother's Day was a success! It all went without a hitch an my mom really enjoyed the relaxing day of not having to do dishes, washing etc. Dad, my sisters and I loved watching mom open her presents. We had gotten her a travelling coffee mug with a double-wall (in which we placed some of the better family pictures), a book on 101 things to do to relax, bath necessities and a tea candle. WE LOVE YOU MOM! <3

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Happy Birthday To Me!

Yeah! That's right, May 8th (almost May 9th... gotta finish this entry!) and I'm another year older, 19 to be exact. Oh, that special age where the world opens up a whole range of possibilities. What to do? Well, today I decided to make myself an Irish Coffee... I didn't take a photo of it (because it basically just looked like coffee... whoopdie-doo!).

Today was awesome, I got home from a dance practice at church and walked in to hear my mom yell "Happy Birthday!" As a family, we like to keep our birthday celebrations within the nuclear family. I really like our little parties, they're just a fun time to really bond with your parents and siblings. My parent know me all too well. The present they bought me seemed super expensive, and I loved it. Yup, they bought me a KitchenAid Stand Mixer... I'm so excited to use it; finally, my hands can get some well deserved rest :P

My parents and sisters also know that my love for cooking & baking is only paralleled by my love for eating, and that I love coffee-flavoured anything. So when my parents brought out my cake I knew that they had put a lot of thought and love into choosing it. TIRAMISU! Dare I say that I think this cake was even better than T&T's fruit cake :0 *gasp*... I know, when would I ever say such a crazy thing? But seriously, the Tiramisu cake for my B-day was exceptionally delicious, I'm thinking it's even better than I could have made! And that's saying something :)
Man, spending time with the family is great... here'a pic of me and my sisters being super crazy with the cake. I love just acting spontaneously with my sister's, they'r the coolest... besides, of course, my parents ;)

Dad's Party @ Old Spaghetti Factory

This is the same place that we celebrated my little sis' b-day. Ah, the Old Spaghetti Factory... the novelty of "Italian" cuisine without having to deal with authentic Italian crazy people :P (jkjk I kid, I kid)

My family loves this restaurant. I dunno if it's because my mom enjoys the set meal of a pasta dish, bread, soup/salad, tea/coffee and ice cream for an average of about $12.00; or if it's because of it's very family friendly atmosphere? Could be both... but whatever the case, my family really enjoys dining there. I didn't take any pictures of my food :( I know, I'm sorry. I was super hungry by the time I got my pasta (Spicy Chorizo Penne). The reason our food took so long to get to us was because the restaurant was hosting some grade 7 girl's birthday party (there were like 30 kids... no joke! and also 20 others who were in her family).

The kids were kinda noisey and I said to myself, "Hey! This is my Dad's B-day too. We should just ignore the big party of people and focus on my pop's greatness!" And we did. I did take some pictures while we were waiting for our food to arrive, I guess it was just out of boredom...

Here's the yummy sourdough loaf with either plain or garlic butter

<-- Here's my hot water and Honey Lemon Tea

Here's the cool glass of hot water I got with my tea-->

Yeah! Dad's Birthday Celebration was great fun What can I say: Awesome fun with an Awesome Dad!

Monday, May 07, 2007


Inspired by Florence's beautifully crafted gyoza, I decided to try my hand at making these cute dumplings. I always remembered the way my mom and her friends would sit at the kitchen table and prepare wontons and other dumplings for soups and for frying. Those precious memories of the past are sadly faded away, nowadays we usually purchase the gyoza/wontons from T&T or from Hon's. We don't even by the wonton skins from the grocer anymore! So in rememberance of thos moments I decided we must continue on the tradition of home cooking (okay, enough ranting).

My sister isn't a big fan of green onions and is allergic to prawn/shrimp. So I made her a batch of gyoza with only beef... she appreciated it. As for the rest of the gyoza I decided against using mushrooms (since I didn't have any on-hand) and added in garlic, ginger and carrots.

Fried Ginger + Pork Gyoza

- 1 cup raw pork, minced
- 1 knob of ginger, minced
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup carrot, grated
- 1/4 cup green onion, chopped
- Salt and Soya sauce, to taste

1. Fry pork, ginger and garlic together until pork has turned brown and no longer pink.
2. Once fragrant, add in the green onion and carrots.
3. Continue to mix and drain away the fat. Add in the salt and soya sauce to taste.

Gyoza Skin
- 1 cup plain flour
- 2/3 cup tapioca starch
- 100ml boiling water
- 40ml cold water
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup shrimp, deveined and cooked

1. Combine the 2 flours and salt together in a mixing bowl.
2. Add in the boiling water and stir with a wooden spoon (or chopstick) until they resemble small flakes.
3. Incorporate the cold water and knead into a pliable dough.
4. Roll onto a floured surface and divide the dough into small (ping-pong sized) portions.
5. Use a rolling pin to flatten out dough. Use a small bowl to create circular gyoza skins (10cm in diameter).
6. Place a shrimp in the middle of the wrapper and then continue by adding the filling.
7. Fold wrapper in half and close edges (to prevent the filling from spilling out)
8. Heat some oil in a frying pan and cook gyoza until nicely browned.
9. Eat with japanese vinegar, dumpling dipping sauce, chilli... basically whatever you wish.

I rather enjoyed eating these gyoza. They turned out very crisp and flavourful, unlike the frozen ones from the market. It seems that when you thaw the frozen dumplings and then fry them, they retain some liquid within the dumpling and turn out mushy, soggy and just plain gross. Homemade dumplings are seriously the way to go... try it and you'll be impressed.

Green Tea Ice Cream

What do you do with all that left over whipping cream from your dad's b-day cake icing? Make ice cream of course! I had bought a tin of match powder a while back and decided to finally use it's awesome Green Tea power! And the best form of green tea (besides the brewed tea itself) is as ice cream. I dare someone to challenge that notion... jkjk
Green Tea Ice Cream (Serves 4)
- 1 cup heavy cream (whipping cream)
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 tbsp green tea powder (matcha)
- 1/4 cup sugar (or more... depending on taste)

1. Mix cream and milk
2. Add in green tea powder and sugar gradually (to prevent lumps forming).
Note: if lumps do form don't sweat it. Just use a strainer and get rid of them!
3. Place in a metal bowl and stick it in the freezer.
4. Freeze for 1 hr and then mix it. Freeze for another hour and mix again (at this point you can actually start eating it, if you're freezer is cold enought to have frozen the mixture thoroughly)

As you can see from my photo, I used a fork and scraped some of the ice cream into submission :P I loved the matcha taste. And my sister, who generally doesn't like matcha flavored anything actually found it easy to polish off an entire bowl.