Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Fathers Day!


It's been awhile ol blog, it's been awhile. A year and 4 months to be precise and WOW a lot has happened since then! I'll have to talk about that another time because this post is about a man who reminded me about this little blog of mine.
 I was home for a visit last week and my dad was showing me the picture folders he keeps on his computer. Every single picture I have ever sent him from living on the West Coast was saved in a Laura folder. He then showed me his favorite website list and said "I still keep your blog on it and check every week hoping you will post something!". "REALLY!?" I said, secretly pleased, " I'm pretty sure you are the only one!". 
So this post right here, is dedicated to the most incredible father in the whole entire universe.

My Pops is the most intelligent, caring, selfless hard working man I know. Ask him ANY question and he will know the answer to it. If for some reason he doesn't, he will research it and within 3 hours you will have ten articles pertaining to your question, including examples, demos and videos. I'm still waiting to be questioned on how the pistons work in my car. I know I have that diagram he drew me somewhere..

For the 13 years I danced, he sewed all of my costumes. I can still remember him saying to my mom "do you know how hard it is to sew fringe and marabou fur onto a stretchy lycra one piece?!".

In culinary school he endured my trial runs to perfect my French/Asian inspired "Duck 2 Ways with Crispy Rice and Chinese Black Vinegar Gastrique" for a competition I was entering. For seven days straight he waited (hungry) but patiently for dinner which was usually ready around 9:00pm and was pretty much the SAME dish, just slightly tweaked.
Me: "What do you think of it today Pops?!"
Pops: "Ohhh it's goood! Tastes just like yesterday's.."
Me: " What, I tweaked the gastrique so it would be slightly less acidic, can't you tell?"  

When I worked at a bakery I had to be up at 3:30am, he would get up in -30 winter and take the train with me downtown to make sure I got to work safely, then walk the rest of the way to his office. There's not enough cupcakes in the world to pay him back. 

When I moved to Vancouver, after graduating from Nutrition school, I started my own catering company and my parents just so happened to be visiting at a very convenient time! I had taken on a catering event for 300 influential health practitioners. They helped transfer food, set up, prepped food and washed dishes.
 That event would not have happened without the help of my unbelievably incredible parents.  

Best salmon rosette maker I've ever had.
As I grow older there are so many things that become apparent to me. Realizing the qualities and traits I have gained from my father, how much I aspire to be like him, the unwavering support he has always given me and just how proud, appreciative and grateful I am that I get to call this man, MY DAD. Love you so very much.
 Happy Father's Day Pops.   

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Girlfriends & White Chocolate Lavender Cream Scones

 I am so very lucky to be surrounded by incredible girlfriends, these gals right here, I've known for over 12 years. They are all strong, independent, smart, talented, beautiful, thoughtful, hilarious human beings. That bowl on the left? Crack. Mel made crack. White chocolate peppermint popcorn that we completely demolished. The lil cutie on the right is Coby's little girl Tyler. We've been known to have tea time and hour long conversations about our favorite foods on the swing set out back. She's 3.

All together we only see each other once a year at Christmas since we live in different cities. Wine and cheese or a dinner party is a must!

You can see how the guys retire to the TV room. Catch ups require wine. Lots and lots of wine. and when that runs out...tea. and when that runs out, chocolate.

Along with incredible girlfriends come some pretty incredible husbands who make us brunch. When I lived in Calgary, Lance would make a late night run to the store when we craved homemade poutine or well anything really! He loves good bread, so I usually try and bring him back an artisan loaf from Vancouver.

My brunch contribution, white chocolate lavender scones with pear Balinese vanilla butter.

The two lovelies at the table are Catherine and Laura who were also my roommates the first year I moved out to Van. We had some pretty memorable times and some pretty killer potluck parties.

There's never enough catch up time and we're always missing somebody, this year Lois and her husband weren't able to make it back to Canada for Christmas (Hi Lo!). 

Eleven years ago. Hahaha

5 years ago

3 years ago

This is so us. Catch ups are pretty much laughing and eating! I love and adore each and every one of them.

White Chocolate Lavender Cream Scones
 Makes approx 12
2 1/4 cups flour
2 tbsp white sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp lavender, finely chopped
1/2 cup white chocolate chunks
1/2 cup butter, cold, cut into chunks
1 cup whipping cream
1 egg, lightly beaten mixed with a splash of whipping cream
2 tbsp coarse raw sugar (for topping)

1. Preheat oven to 400degrees F.
2.In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lavender.
3. Add butter to dry mix, using a pastry cutter, cut butter down until it resembles pieces the size of peas.
4. Add in cream, stirring just till incorporated with a fork.
5. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, knead just till it comes together, roll out into 3/4 inch square.
6. Cut into triangles, place on a lined baking sheet, brush with egg mixture and raw sugar.
7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until slightly golden.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bacon, Eggs and Waffles

When I'm getting to know somebody there's a good chance I'm going to ask what their favorite meal of the day is. (Wouldn't really be a strange question if you already knew me). I was introduced to a new friend who was visiting from out of town so I asked my usual.

Me: So what would you say your fave meal of the day is?
Him: Hmmm...(actually contemplating this) I'm going to say breakfast, oh or better yet, BRUNCH.
Me: You know that was a test right?
Him: Test? Did I pass?
Me: YEAH! We can be friends. :)

Brunch really is my favorite and also what this appetizer was inspired by.
Crispy Prosciutto, Free Range Egg and Sweet Potato Waffle bite with Lemon Dill Cream Cheese
or  "Essence of Breakfast" as my new friend called it.

Base of the bite, sweet and salty is where it's at. You can see the bits of sweet potato in the waffle which gave a nice sweet contrast to the salty prosciutto

I actually made this twice, first for a Christmas get together with Crossfit friends and the second time for my good friends surprise party.

For my Crossfit friends I asked a couple of them if I should do Paleo style food, they said, forget it! Make what you want, it's Christmas! For myself, finding Crossfit has been pretty life altering. When I walk into the gym my heart beats a little faster. Sometimes scared, but scared in the best way possible. I am physically and mentally challenged to a degree I never thought I could be and inspired and supported by some pretty incredible people! And to feel this every week? Hooked. So if that's what the kool aid is, yea I drink it. I don't talk much about Crossfit seeing as this is my food blog but I do have another not so updated blog that nobody ever sees because then you'd really think I'm crazy, as it logs my crazy thoughts during the crazy workouts for the crazy sport.

 Besides the breakfast waffle bite I also did parmesan tuiles with basil marinated flank steak, asparagus and roasted red pepper aioli and Paleo friendly pancetta wrapped prawns with avocado dip.

My good friend Jari was born the day nobody wants to, forgets to or is to hungover to celebrate. New Years Day. Which is exactly why a surprise party was needed! We planned everything out even before Christmas and I made sure to prep stuff the day before, knowing pretty well I would be slow movin the next day. And just in case you ever need to know, Organic Lives coconut water (elixir of life), beach run sweat and dim sum pork grease, just might be a cure all.

Jar's gf Kolika and Michelle explaining how it was planned. We made sure the guys kept him busy all day, with a supposed trip to the strippers. I think the only one who was actually disappointed in that not happening was our bud Brandon who was visiting from Calgary.

 He was so genuinely shocked, surprised and touched and kept saying he hadn't had a birthday party thrown for him since he was 10. I knew he liked carrot cake so I made toasted coconut carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese icing and fleur de sel toffee shards. Just as he was thinking of a wish, Biggie's Juicy came on and he blew out his candles. Classic!

Sweet Potato Waffles 
(Adapted from Martha Stewart's Potato Waffles)
Makes 10-12 waffles (depending on waffle maker)

1 large yam, roasted until soft (need 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 large eggs, separated
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, melted

1. Mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.
2. In a separate bowl whisk together egg yolks, buttermilk and melted butter. Add dry mix to this, just until incorporated. Fold yams into this batter.
3. Preheat waffle iron.
4. In another bowl beat the egg whites until stiff peaks. Fold into batter.
5. Pour batter into waffle maker, cook as waffle maker instructs.
6. Cool on a rack, to reheat place in 350 degree oven for 7-12 minutes
*These can also be frozen and popped in the toaster or reheated in the oven*

Essence of Breakfast toppings
 -Prosciutto (10-15 paper thin slices), bake at 350 until crisp, approx 7-10 minutes
-Medium boiled eggs, sliced (if you don't have an egg slicer, for a clean cut use NON-mint flavored dental floss. (not kidding!)
-Lemon dill cream cheese ( 1 cup softened cream cheese, 1/2 clove minced garlic, fresh chopped dill, lemon zest, s+p, pinch of cayenne pepper, splash of whipping cream until it reaches a piping consistency)
-Fresh dill for garnish

Pancetta wrapped Prawns w/ Avocado Dip
Makes 24

24 prawns, deveined, shelled w/ the tail left on
24 slices pancetta, sliced paper thin, kept cold
olive oil

1. Wrap a slice of pancetta around each prawn, making sure to work quickly, as fat from pancetta can start to melt and be hard to work with.
2. Pan fry on med-high heat in oil until prawn curls up and turn pink, approx 2 minutes on each side.

Avocado Dip
3 ripe avocados
1/2 garlic clove, minced
1 lime, juice
1 cup fresh tomato salsa (see below)
1/2 tsp chili flakes

1. Combine all ingredients, taste and season as needed. Let chill in fridge.

Fresh Tomato Salsa
4 roma tomatoes, deseeded and diced
1/2 garlic clove, minced
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped, *reserve some for garnish
squeeze of lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp raw honey

1. Combine all ingredients, taste and season as needed.
2. Set aside some to garnish on top of prawns

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Home for the Holidays-Mom's Cookin

My House
A week before flying back to Calgary for the holidays I was asking my friends Tom and Soph, who moved out here from Calgs as well, what they were most looking forward to their Ma cookin for them. We all come from different backgrounds and after talking, we came up with a brilliant idea that we'd visit each other's houses and get our Mom's to cook for us.  Haha thanks Moms.

 First, my house for a snack. I'm 3rd generation Chinese and my Mom decided to whip up a batch of her fried wontons.Who else just happens to have these ingredients hangin around the house?

She can make about a hundred of these in minutes.

She's pretty particular about what goes in her filling. She grinds down the pork tenderloin herself and uses prawns, sweet Chinese pork sausage and fresh water chestnuts.

Crispy, golden brown. Instead of frying, she also cooks these in broth for her wonton soup.

Fried pork and prawn wontons with sweet chili dipping sauce. 

Tom's House
My friend Tom is Burmese and his family came over here from Burma when he was 12 years old.  
 I noticed this huge box of kleenex sitting on the dining room table and understood why they leave it out when I bit into one of those chili peppers. Damn HOT but sooo good. Spicy stir fried chicken and vegetables.

 Spicy Beef Masala. I was hangin around the kitchen next to Tom's mom as he explained to her "Laura loves to cook Mom...that's why she's asking you all these questions". She seemed pretty pleased because no one ever asks her about her cooking and she started to pull things out of her pantry to show me. I want to know everrrything!

 Crab egg drop soup.

 Red onion, lime, cilantro salad which was a perfect side dish to the spicy curry.

 Tom also seems to have a dozen cousins and friends who stop by like it's an open house to grab a bite to eat. Cousin Vic, Vic 1, Steve, Henry, John, I can't keep them straight.

Soph's House
 My friend Soph is Cambodian, but was born in Thailand and her family moved to Calgary when she was 3.

Tom was asking Soph's Ma how she makes her curry and got the same reply the rest of our Mom's gave " I don't know, I don't use a recipe, I just throw things together! "

Chicken curry with eggplant and potatoes. Served with vermicelli noodles and French baguette slices to dunk in the broth.
Tom was talking away to Soph's mom about how he'd move back to Calgary for an Engineering job and how he still loves Calgary, at the same time Soph's kicking him under the table and shaking her head at him. All our Mom's would love for us to move back.

Steamed crab legs with salty vinegar dipping sauce and salad rolls stuffed with pork and prawns served with a sweet, tangy fish sauce.

Sweet coconut milk rice ball soup

Soph and her dog Moleson! Sweetest pup I've ever met. He's also the size of a donkey.

I've eaten at some of the top restaurants but have to be honest in saying these meals right here, authentic, home cooked, made by Ma with all that love and care, are the meals that taste the best and are the most memorable to me.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bowen Island Getaway

Before the Christmas rush began some friends rented a house out on Bowen Island and how can you say no to that?
I'm not actually fishing, I just like casting and I'm pretty sure you can't catch anything in 5 cm deep water, but let's just pretend I am.

Perfect weather.

Just out watering the herbs! No, not really. There was supposed to be a herb garden but we couldn't find it, though being December might have had something to do with it.

Honestly, look at that view. Fully equipped kitchen, Bon Iver tuneage, crackling fireplace, glass of red, leave me there.

Small little grocery store, very few choices, 7 hungry people..

Easy easy, pasta and grilled meat.

Island contentment.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Meatballs, 2 Ways

Spicy Meatball Subs
Gift exchange eats! My favorite way to make them is with ground veal, beef, pork and Italian sausage and simmered in a San Marzano tomato sauce.

Perfect for a party, you can make it ahead of time and just warm it on site. I pre-ordered Vietnamese baguettes from my fave banh mi shop on Kingsway, for this I prefer them over French baguettes because they're lighter, crispy and not as bready.

A little mizuna ( a green similar to arugula but slightly less peppery) fresh shaved parm and a warning from our hostess that she would kill anyone who drops a meatball on her large cream suede ottoman.

Spaghetti and Meatballs
The week before the party was actually where I got the idea for the subs. I was craving total comfort food and this is exactly what I wanted. A couple friends came over and thought we could catch a movie later on but I told them we had a surprise guest coming over. They said, tell em to come! I said we have to stay home, just wait!

Meet Rufio, I was puppy sitting! They were pretty enamored with the guest :)

You'd think he was the one that ate the pasta. The little guy pretty much slept the whole night.

Makes approx 45

1/2 white onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground chuck beef
1 lb ground veal
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb Italian sausage (ask butcher for this or buy sausage and remove casings)
2 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup fresh grated parmigiano reggiano (optional)
1/2 whole wheat panko bread crumbs, give or take
10 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp chili flakes
*if paleo, omit water, cheese and bread crumb)

1. In a small pan saute onion and garlic until soft, let cool.
2. Mix together all 4 meats, add in onion and garlic, basil, chili flakes, s+p eggs and water, just till combined.
3. Preheat small pan with a little oil
4. Add in whole wheat panko, just enough until mixture comes together.
5. Take a bit of the ground meat mixture and form into a little patty, pan fry till done, taste and check for seasoning.
6. Form into golf ball size rounds. In a large pan with oil, fry until golden brown on all sides. Place in tomato sauce.

San Marzano Tomato Sauce
2-12 oz can San Marzano Whole Tomatoes
25 oz bottle of tomato puree
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp sugar (if needed)
6 fresh basil leaves, rough chopped

1. In a large pot, saute garlic until soft, add San Marzano tomatoes and puree. Slightly crush the whole tomatoes.
2. Season with chili flakes, sugar, s+p and basil. Let simmer.