Tuesday, July 22, 2008

bye bye food-zen

... as all three of you who used to read my blog (hi mum!) might have noticed there ain't much happening here any more. I've moved on to supposedly more verdant pastures at Sour Grapes ... I'm now going to attempt to import all my old food-zen posts into my new blog so if you hear someone crying that'll be me.... eventually I'll probably cancel food-zen, or maybe I'll wait to see how long it takes Google to delete the account (my guess is never)...

Monday, December 25, 2006

Xmas in Shanghai (#1)

What better way to start posting again than by recounting Christmas... warms everyones heart doesn't it? Of course I'm only going to talk about the food as what's more important?

We began on the 23rd of December. Mei, longterm manager and financial controller of one of the organisation I work for had organised a staff dinner. The ayi (the cleaning lady who works at the gallery) had been cooking all day. In fact I think that most of the staff had been cooking all day. Ingrid had made some tasty indonesian curry, clove scented and spicy, as well as some fried rice, complete with peas and pieces of chinese sausage.
I made some meatballs in tomato sauce the night before and brought those. The ayi made fish with a sweet and sour sauce, stir fried frog with dried chilies, delicious shrimp pate put onto slices of lotus root and shallow fried, and a very grandma style beef bone soup with celery, onions and carrots. Mona, my sichuanese co-manager, made some stir fried cucumber (what, of course??) with scrambled egg.
After much giggling and squealing (9 girls and 4 boys = much giggling and squealing) we ended the meal with some fresh fruit and Sean and myself beat a hasty retreat to Pudong and L and M's western Xmas bonanza.
L's grandma had managed to air freight over from Canada a turkey, lasagne, meat balls in sauce, tourtiere, and dessert. The woman is a miracle and the turkey was one of the tastiest I've had, moist and tasty. By the time dessert rolled around I think that I was ready to die. We followed dinner up with a gift exchange: to that effect I'd bought a shiny tea thermos, a bag of handmade peanut candy, and a decorated chamber pot. I think my gifts were the best.

Next... Tiphane, Jean, and the french obsession with dairy based fat.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

german style potato salad

In Shanghai, good potatoes and bacon are hard to come by so you'll probably have a better time with this if you can get some nice waxy or boiling potatoes and some good smoky bacon with just enough fat. 1 large potato is good for 2 people with other dishes and the whole thing is a)easily prepared in advance and b)nice as a part of an uncouth antipasti selection.

for 2 potatoes, boiled in skin and then set aside:
2-3 good slices bacon, cut into small 1/2 inch strips and then fried gently to render all their fat and become nice and crispy. Remove them from the pan and leave the fat. Add 3-4 torn up sage leaves and let them fry a bit then add about 1/4 cup cidre vinegar and enough sugar to make a nice sweet and sour balance. This will depend on your own taste and on how acidic your vinegar is, 1 Tbsp is a good start. Salt the dressing to taste and then pour it over the thickly sliced potatoes which should still be hot pr at least warm. Garnish with more sage leaves.
As a note, you may want to make the dressing in a bowl after frying the bacon as depending on your pan, adding vinegre and heating may a)thoroughly clean your frying pan and b)give your dressing a fine metallic flavour.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Restaurant Anatolien - Montreal

A quick post from a limited dinner last night. Restaurant Anatolien is located on the ground floor of an apartment building on ave du Parc just south of Jean Talon. Half of the rest is a smoking Turkish men's hang out and the other half is a resto that at 7:00 on a Thrusday night was completely deserted.
Sean opted for a chicken shish kebab with rice and fries .. the doubling of the starch always has a certain smell of fomulaic Greek food about it, for me at least, but, to each their own. I ordered the filet mignon kebab with "Ali Nazik" sauce, described on the menu as a yogurt, eggplant and garlic sauce.. yum yum.
We had a Heiniken each as an appetizer. Sean's arrives and it's well... it's ok. It's grilled chicken thighs marinated in a sort of non-descript red substance. The side salad is that international or salads, iceberg, a bit of tomato, maybe a few other things. I stopped paying attention.
The filet mignon is good. Possibly tenderised, it has that kind of somewhat spongy texture, a bit like a minute steak, but maybe that's just my imagination. The "Ali Nazik" sauce is good without being spectacular, a tatziki and babaganoush bastard child.
The best thing going here is the bread which is really fresh and nice, iranian style flat bread... yummy.
For 60 bucks with tax tip and 4 beers in total, not worth a revisit.

Restaurant Anatolien
Fine Cuisine Turque
7101 Ave du Parc

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Lamb Byriani

originally uploaded by mook elliott.

Inspired by the New York Times article I chose to honour my entirely non-existant connection with Central Asia by making Byriani. What's more I went looking for Hyberdadi recipies and ended up making my own version. The Central Asian versions just seemed a bit bland. The picture shows the Byriani with yogurt, fried onions, and coriander.

3 Tbsp ghee or oil
1 cinnamon stick, about 4-5 inches
4 green cardamom
4 cloves
1 tsp cumin
2 medium onions sliced
2 blades of mace
3 kg’s lamb leg bone in, cut into chunks about the size of dice, get the butcher to do this
1 “ piece of ginger, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk yogurt
2 cups water
3 cups cubed butternut squash or pumpkin

Heat the ghee in a frying pan over medium heat and fry the spiced until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the onions and fry until dark brown. Add the lamb and salt and cook until the meat has turned colour. Add the yogurt and water and bring to a boil then cover and simmer until the lamb is tender but not falling apart, adding liquid as necessary, about 45 minutes to 1hr 15 minutes, depending on the meat and the size of it’s cut.
Uncover, add the squash and cook vigorously until the sauce is thick and clings to the meat. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3 Tbsp ghee or oil
1 cinnamon stick, same as above
4 green cardamom
4 cloves
1/2 tsp fennel
2 blades mace
2 medium onions sliced
2 cups basmati
1 cup of raisins (or more)
1 cup almonds roughly chopped (or more)
1 tsp saffron + 1 cup hot water
2-3 cups water

In a large pot with a snug fitting lid (a dutch oven would be perfect) heat the ghee on medium and fry the spices for a few seconds until fragrant. Add the onions and cook until dark golden and soft. In the meantime, grind the saffron and soak in hot water for 10 minutes.
Add the rice to the pot and fry, stirring gently until it is well coated with oil. You could even let it brown a bit. Add the raisins, almonds, saffron, and water, along with the lamb. The liquids should cover the rice but not drown it. Season with some salt and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and either put in a 350 F oven for 45 min or cook on very low heat for about 30 minutes. In either case, let the byriani rest for a good 15 minutes, covered, off the heat before serving. It’s also a good idea to check the rice about 3/4 of the way through cooking to make that the rice is cooked.

Serve with yogurt and fresh coriander and fried onions made by frying one large sliced onion in 1 cup oil on low heat, stirring occasionally for about 30-45 minutes, then drain.

I added 1 dried rose bud to the rice before cooking, don’t ask me why but I did. You could add some rose water or maybe orange flour water if you like that kind of thing

Schwartz's 2

Schwartz's 2
Schwartz's 2,
originally uploaded by mook elliott.
I had never been to Schwartz's, Montreal's legendary Kosher Deli, and since we're leaving in 2 weeks this was a situation I had to remedy before I left. So, passing up Korean black goat soup, here we are, 2 sandwiches with medium-fat smoked meat, 2 fries, 2 sour pickles, 2 black cherry sodas, and 1 cabbage salad later.
As I said to the Mystery Eater afterwards, it's kind of like what hot dog meat would be if it actually grew on a cow: processed and yet still recognizably of animal origin, one machine away from being the crab stick of the beef world.
All snideness aside it WAS really good, and the fries were really really good, and well, nothing beats black cherry soda.
The Lebanese guys next to us ordered a whole plate of meat (a "small" size on the menu) which was just a bit much, probably about half a pound too much.

Chicken Pita

For 3-4 ppl

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium sized chicken breasts
1 tsp cumin
5 cloves garlic peeled and roughly chopped
1 cup water
1 cup yogurt

1 cup labneh (strained yogurt)
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
salt to taste

Israeli pitas (thick ones)
sliced tomatoes
thinly sliced red onions

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium-hi heat. Add the chicken breasts and brown on both sides, seasoning well with salt as you cook them. You just want to brown it, not cook it through. When it is browned on both sides add the cumin and garlic and cook for 20 seconds. Add the water and yogurt and reduce the heat to medium. Cover and cook of 5 more minutes or until the chicken is just cooked through. Remove it from the heat and reduce the cooking liquid to about a 1/4 cup, or until much of the visible liquid has evaporated. The yogurt will split early in the cooking, don’t worry.
Cut the chicken up into dice sized cubes and mix it with the reduced sauce. Check the seasonings and adjust.
Mix the labneh and the the garlic, then dilute with water until it is the consistency of thin watery yogurt.
Slit the pitas around half of their circumferance and open them. Stuff the pitas with the lettuce, tomatoes and onions and souse with some sauce. Add chicken and more sauce.

It’s nice to toast the pitas a bit before stuffing them, especially if they’re less than super fresh.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Feta and tomato sandwich

A super quick sandwich that is worlds away from ham and cheese (blech)
In between two good slices of whole wheat bread or a nice pita put:

-Sliced feta
-sliced tomatoes
-torn mint
-red onion thinly sliced
-a little bit of salt

Killer for summer. Light and fresh.

Monday, January 23, 2006

tasty buttermilk cake

6 oz unsweetend chocolate
8 oz softened unsalted butter
1 3/4 c packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk

melt the chocolate.
cream the butter and sugar together then add the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition.
add the vanilla and chocolate and mix well.
sift together all the dry ingredients and add them in 1/3rds, alternating with the buttermilk.
grease and flour a 10" springform pan, you can line it with parchment if wanted but this is not essential. You can also add some good quality chocolate chips if you like.
bake the cake at 350 for around 45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Ice this with a good ganache: boil 250 ml of cream and pour over 150 gms of quality dark chocolate that has been chopped. After 5 minutes, mix well and let cool. When cold, beat well with an electric mixer until the ganache is the consistency of whipped cream. Ice the cake only when completely cold.