Quick Snack: Blueberry Peach Steel Cut Oats & Amande Creamy Cultured Almond.

My life has been taken over by final exams lately. When I’m awake I’m reading about bonds and cash flow statements, when I’m asleep I dream about journalizing dividends for stocks, it’s starting to drive me insane. I thought I would take a quick time out today to post one of my favourite study snacks! Contrary to all the desserts I’m post I actually put a lot of thought into eating healthy. Mostly because I eat so many desserts and I need to balance it out, but who’s keeping score here?

yummy and good for you :)

yummy and good for you

This hardly counts as a recipe post, more of an idea. Steel cut oats, hemp seeds, all bran buds, frozen fruit and a little drizzle of maple syrup if I feel a little indulgent. So tasty, and if I throw it in a tupperware and bring it to school the frozen fruit keep it nice and cold. Delicious, vegan, and dairy free (and can be gluten free if you replace the all bran buds with a brand that’s GF, or just leave it out all together, but I like the little crunch they add.)

Today I also had a cultured almond “fauxgurt” from Amande. I got it at Galloways, but it can also be found at Whole Foods are various other markets in the area. It’s gluten free and sweetened with fruit juices (peach and pineapple in mine!)

amande is french for almonds. That one semester of french totally sort of kind of stuck with me. Not.

It was actually pretty tasty, and texturally it was pretty close to yogurt, if a tiny bit grainy. Definitely better than Nancy’s soygurt, which I found had a super weird aftertaste. The coconut had actually dried coconut bits in it which was interesting and the coconut flavour wasn’t artificial like I was afraid it would be. It’s made with 6 different bacterial cultures: L. acidophilus, L. bulgaricus, S. thermophilius, B. difidum, L. Casel, and L. rhamnosus. I had no idea what this means but a cursory google led me to Amande’s website that had a lot of long words I can’t be bothered to read (I’m only giving myself a 15 minute break!)

The nutritional info is a bit hard to read in the picture, I realized after that there was a harsh glare, but I had already started eating it so that ship sailed.

Per 170g cup serving: 150 cal, 6g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 10mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate, 2g fibre, 15g sugars and 3g protein.
It also contains 30% of your daily recommended calcium intake.

Overall it’s okay, I would recommend it to someone who’s avoiding dairy, but given the choice I will take my regular greek yogurt over this.

The infamous New York Times chocolate chip cookies

I have no self control. I ate all three of these in one go, with a big glass of milk.

Do you guys remember that episode of Friends where Monica goes crazy trying to replicate Phoebe’s grandmother’s chocolate chip cookie recipe so she could be the mom who baked the best cookies in the world? And in the end it turns out that the recipe was on the back of the Nestle Tollhouse bag the entire time, so Monica had to resign herself to being the mom who makes the best duck confit with brocoli rabe? Turns out Monica didn’t have to worry, because in 2008 the best chocolate chip cookie recipe in the world was published in the New York Times by Jacque Torres. This recipe is literally, all over the internet. I’ve been making it for years, and I have never ever strayed from it. Mr. Torres is a genius, and you don’t mess with perfection. So why am I writing about this recipe if it’s all over the blogsophere already? Well 1) I always have friends who ask me for the recipe and I thought I could trick them into reading this blog if I posted a link to it here, and 2) I wanted an excuse to make these and experiment with the chill time.

Monica tried to escape from fat camp!

Monica tried to escape from fat camp!

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Chocolate Orange Pavlova

I’ve been feeling so guilty lately about this poor neglected blog, with its three sad little posts. It’s that time of year though, and Victoria and I have been swamped with exams and final projects/papers. Kaoverii has been busy with an exciting new venture of her own as well, so this little side project of ours has taken a backseat. I had a little down time today, and decided to knock out two birds with one stone, make dinner for my family and make a quick dessert to blog about as well.

Victoria and I make no secret of our love for Whole Foods, we talk about it all the time, and oftentimes we will go out of our way just to peruse it. That’s right, we take dedicated Whole Foods trips for fun. Some might say that’s crazy, but those people have probably never been to Whole Foods. It’s magical inside, with heirloom tomatos and other gorgeous produce piled high, beautifully packaged snacks, sustainable seafood, humanely raised meat and poultry, and don’t even get me started on that bulk section. Forbidden black rice, red quinoa, and organic aborio rice? I could write poems about how much I love that place. This is getting  totally off track though, the point is when I went last month to buy ingredients to make Valentine’s dinner for my boyfriend (it was a cheese and charcuterie platter followed by dungness crab and tomato fennel risotto, in case you were curious), I came across a heap of Sumo mandarins.

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Are they called Sumo Mandarins because they look like sumo wrestlers with their little buns?

I had never heard of Sumo mandarins before, but I wasn’t much in the mood to lug around extra groceries by public transit and I still had to go to Granville Island so after picking two up and pretending they were boobs (What? You can’t deny that’s totally what they look like with that little top knot) I put them down and went on my way. However, when I came across them again earlier this week, I indulged my curiosity and bought a couple. So today when I decided to make dessert I figured it was the perfect time to test these out. I needed something easy though, because I still have an absurd amount of homework to do and decided a pavlova fit the bill. I had been craving meringue anyway ever since I made them for a friend’s surprise party last week. I’ve noticed that people have this perception that meringues are finnicky, but they’re really dead simple. I’ve found that the key to a good crispy-on-the-outside-marshmallowy-soft-on-the-inside meringue is low, slow heat. A convection oven produces better results for me, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t have access to one.

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Pavlova’s were invented in New Zealand and named for famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova.

Chocolate Orange Pavlova
serves 4-6

Chocolate Meringue
3 large egg whites, room temperature
110g caster sugar
30g confectioner’s sugar
30g dutch cocoa powder

Grand Marnier and Vanilla Fresh Cream
250ml heavy cream
Zest of half an orange
Splash of Grand Marnier, or other orange liqueur
Vanilla sugar*, to taste

One orange, membranes and seeds removed
Orange zest for garnish

Preheat the oven to 170°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper

In a clean, dry bowl (this is important if you’ve never made meringue, moisture cannot come in contact with your egg whites, a damp bowl will cause it to fail) whip your egg whites on med-high speed until soft peaks start to form, then start adding the sugar one tablespoon at at time until your peaks becomes stiff and glossy. Then sift your cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar into the bowl and gently fold it into the meringue. Scoop it out onto your cookie sheet and form it into a neat little rounded pile. Bake for 2 hours and then let it cool in a cracked oven (I keep mine open with a wooden spoon) for another hour minimum to allow the meringue to fully dry out.

Right before you’re ready to serve it, whip up your heavy cream with the orange zest, Grand Marnier and vanilla sugar. Pile it onto your chocolate meringue and top it off with the orange segments and orange zest (which isn’t pictured, because I forgot, whoooops!) Serve immediately.

*Whenever I use vanilla beans in a recipe, I like to store the leftover pods in a jar of sugar. Things like fresh cream really showcase the lovely vanilla scent and little flecks of vanilla bean in it, but if you don’t have any regular sugar will be just fine.

This pavlova was amazing, crispy on the outside and the inside was dark and fudgy. The lightness of the whipped cream complemented it’s richness perfectly, I tend to go easy on the sugar in my cream and I would suggest the same for this particular recipe, but it’s all personal preference. The sumo mandarins ended up being a little bit too sweet for this recipe in my opinion, next time I’d probably use them in a salad with a champagne vinaigrette or something and just stick to regular navel oranges for this pavlova.

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I instagram pictures of Whole Foods inventory, this I’ll admit is borderline insane.

Dine Out Vancouver 2013: Minami

For this year’s Dine Out Vancouver festival, the girls and I (Victoria, hello!) headed to Minami in Yaletown for their $38 three-course menu. Dine Out Vancouver is held every year, for three weeks, near the middle of January until the beginning of February. It is an opportunity for guests to enjoy a three (or more) course prix-fix meal at $18, $28, or $38 per person.  Minami is a fairly new restaurant having only taken over the lease of Goldfish Seafood & Chops in Feburary of 2012. Its sister restaurant Miku though, has already established itself as an innovative and modern Japanese restaurant and a staple in Vancouver’s food scene. Naturally, we were eager to visit Mianami and to see what they had to offer.

Minami’s Dine Out menu consisted of three different courses, with no options, and showcased their most popular and current offerings on their regular menu.

We with began the Minami Zen, it consisted of 4 seasonal items and was beautifully displayed in a simple wooden box. Beginning from the left is the Soy Braised Short Rib AAA sterling, sitting on a bed of yukon potato puree topped with wasabi pickles. Following that is the Saikyo Miso Baked Sablefish with kale goma-ae. Next was the Ebi fritter black tiger prawn with spiced couscous, drizzled with a soy balsamic and sweet chili aioli. Lastly, is the Slow Roasted Beet baby frisse with a fuji apple-raisan chutney and creamy yuzu.

The Soy Braised Short Rib was perfectly cooked and while it was soft enough to eat with only chopsticks, it held together beautifully and was well seasoned. The Saikyo Miso Baked Sablefish was probably my favourite out of all the appetizers and just melted in your mouth. The miso flavour was not too overwhelming or powerful but instead left a nice, savoury aftertaste. I also really enjoyed the kale goma-ae and thought that it brought a new dimension this traditional Japanese side-dish. The Ebi fritter was also perfectly done, with not too much batter, and steaming hot (I love it when food is actually hot when served to you!) like any fried dish should be. I don’t remember the soy balsamic and sweet chili aioli much but it did seem to give some moisture and a bit of flavour to the ebi. The Slow Roasted Beet baby frisse was not exactly memorable, but was a nice, simple vegetarian dish that brought a bit of freshness and brightness to go with the other more substantial appetizers.

Minami Zen

Like little gems in a jewellery box.

For the main course, we got the chance to try a variety of items from Minami’s sushi and aburi menu. From right to left, we have the: Aburi Salmon Oshi, Aburi Ebi Oshi, Minami Roll, Sunset Roll, Saba Aburi, Zuke Maguro, and Hamachi Aburi.

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Loving the colors!

The term “aburi” refers to the sear-flaming or torching of sushi which brings out a wonderful smokey aroma that not only enhances the taste of the fish, but also gives it depth.

Out of all the sushi items, hands down, and I believe I speak on behalf of the other girls on this, the Aburi Salmon Oshi was probably our favorite. The jalapeno went extremely well with the smokiness from the torching of the piece and the salmon was evenly distributed (in layers) amongst the chewy and sweet, sushi rice. I, personally, also enjoyed the Saba Aburi, which I usually tend to find a tad “fishy”, but this piece of sushi was extremely fresh and did not have a fishy aftertaste whatsoever. All the other pieces of sushi were very enjoyable for me and were all well-seasoned. Minami prides itself on serving its sushi without the need for soy-sauce and sometimes, even wasabi. Although I will note, the nigiri sushi did come with a bit of wasabi, so if you are averse to having wasabi with your sushi, I suggest you mention that to your server.

Now for the best part, dessert! We were all each served a Piemonte Panna Cotta and Bitter Orange Sorbet with a layer of Cassis Coulis.

divine!

Get in my belly.

First off, presentation alone blew me away. From the perfect sugar spiral, to cubed bitter orange sorbet, one thing I will leave Minami with, is their attention to detail. We got a chance to chat with our server, Miki, about Minami’s desserts and this panna cotta was created especially for the Dine Out Festival and in addition to that, the desserts are lovingly and entirely made in-house. If the presentation was not enough, the panna cotta was divine. It was creamy and smooth and melted in your mouth, the bitter orange sorbet balanced out the sweetness and tartness of the cassis coulis and the chocolate wafer bits brought texture and bite.

…and because we are CRAZY for desserts, and just when you thought that was the end, we all ordered another round of desserts.

Our second serving of desserts, because we can.

Our second serving of desserts, just because.

For our second round of desserts, we chose the (from left to right): Pistachio, Saffron and Rose Ice Cream, Earl Grey Berry Cake, and Lemon Cheesecake. Again with the presentation! The two cakes were arranged with a creative and artistic mindset and each component of the dessert matched together extremely well. The Pistachio, Saffron and Rose ice cream was fragrant and aromatic. The saffron and pistachio brought an earthiness to the ice cream which balanced out the floral-ness of the rose. The Earl Grey Berry Cake was light and simple, but also had an element of intenseness from the Earl Grey tea.

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Earl Grey Berry Cake:
earl grey cream, walnut sponge, earl grey cookie crust, blueberry & blackberry compote, japanese puffed rice, hazelnuts, chantilly cream, cassis-vanilla ice cream

The Lemon Cheesecake was creamy and rich but at the same time, was not heavy or overwhelming (especially since at this point we had had a lot of food!). We noticed that sour cream was probably incorporated for its tanginess but also to give the cheesecake a soft, smooth texture. The tulle was also a nice addition that gave the cheesecake some textural contrast and of course the tart orange-lemon compote gave the dessert a bright and zesty element.

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Lemon cheesecake: light unbaked cheesecake, graham cookie crust, orange-lemon compote, rhubarb sauce, rhubarb-raspberry sorbet

Overall, I can confidently say that although this was our first visit to Minami, it will not be our last. We all enjoyed the casual and laid back but yet, refined dining room and atmosphere, the service was attentive and informative and of course, the food (especially the desserts!) went above and beyond our expectations. I am also confident that Minami, Miku and the Aburi Brand will continue to thrive in Vancouver’s restaurant and food industry and bring new and exciting concepts! I can’t wait!

Summer In a Pan

The weather in Vancouver  a couple days ago was lovely, crisp and sunny. It feels like the days are slowly getting longer (though maybe that’s just my imagination), which is only making me crave summer. I LOVE summer. It’s my favourite season, and every year as soon as it’s over I miss it. I miss the sundresses and the shorts. I miss the feeling of the hot sun on your skin and the smell of sunscreen. I miss hanging out at kits beach, taking long leisurely bike rides along the seawall, and hitting the grouse grind. I miss drinking sangria on shady patios, and barbeques that go late into the night with friends. The lemon bars recipe we’re sharing with you today are part of a favourite summer memory of mine. The recipe actually belongs to Jean, a super sweet and adorable lady who lives by Stephanie’s cabin on Whidby Island. Every time I have these I’m transported back to Whidby, to me they taste like apricot hefeweizens by the lake, yoga on the beach, fresh veggies from Jean’s garden for dinner, s’mores before bed, and long car rides with friends listening to Taylor Swift (you know, before she decided to never ever ever make good music again.)

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it’s like frigging sunshine in your mouth, you guys.

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Kawaii Eats! :3

This semester I had the pleasure of interning with Jenna of Make It Productions, the mastermind behind Make It! Vancouver and Edmonton, a super fun craft fair filled with lovely homemade fares, live music, a bar (!), and what I was most excited for: lots of exciting food vendors! I had initially been looking forward to sampling a bit of everything and writing a really in depth post highlighting the most exciting booths, but it was SO BUSY this weekend! We saw 9,200+ guests through the doors from Thursday to Sunday! Needless to say, not only was I busy there, but the vendors were run off their feet, so I didn’t get a chance to talk to them, or even get good pictures of their booths and products!

I was super determined to check out Kawaii Eats though, I had heard so much about her adorable macarons and I knew my sister and a couple of my girlfriends would just DIE for them. Macarons on their own are super cute, but when they’re shaped like Hello Kitty, Pandas, and a little green dog (?) they are completely irresistible!

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