Category Archives: Comfort Food

The Vegan “Big Mac”

You know those nights when you just feel like a Big Mac? Well don’t go get one because you’ll hate yourself afterwards. Instead, make this vegan “Big Mac” at home in a flash and hate yourself a little less from the comfort of your own couch! I hope you know I’m joking — I haven’t hated myself after eating once since going vegan two years ago.

I made this burger using Gardein’s ultimate beefless burger patties and Fieldroast’s chao cheese, and I made a quick “Big Mac” sauce using vegan mayonnaise (recipe follows). I also have to admit: my vegan “Big Mac” looks a lot more alive than the one you get at the drive through!

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Ingredients (1 burger):
2 vegan burger patties
2 tsp barbecue sauce
2 slices of vegan cheddar cheese
1 1/2 large kaiser rolls

Use these ingredients to your liking:
Boston leaf lettuce
White or red onion, finely minced
Relish (or pickles)

Vegan “Big Mac” sauce ingredients:
1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
1 Tbsp lime juice (or lemon juice)
1/2 Tbsp hot sauce (or ketchup)
1/2 tsp onion powder

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Directions:
1. Combine all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to assemble the vegan “Big Mac”.
2. Cook vegan burger patties in a pan on the stove or on a barbecue, and baste them in barbecue sauce as you go. Melt cheese slices on top during last minute of cooking.
3. Cut one kaiser roll in half and take another kaiser roll and cut a slice off the bottom for the middle piece.
4. Put vegan “Big Mac” sauce and relish (if using) on both sides of the middle pieces of the bun and the inside of the top and bottom bun. Add your burger patties with cheese between each piece of bun, and then add onions, lettuce and pickles to your liking.
5. Dive in and don’t forget lots of napkins!

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Easy Hot and Sour Soup with Shanghai Noodles

Crunchy wood ear, soft tofu cubes, silky egg ribbons, tangy vinegar, and an umami-laden chili broth makes the classic hot and sour soup a delicious bowl of bold flavours and textures that are surprisingly easy to throw together. If you’re celebrating Chinese New Year, you’re going to want to start the feast with this appetizer, or do what I did and throw in fresh Shanghai noodles to soak up the delicious soup and make it into a main.

While hot and sour soup was never much of a fixture at our family’s Chinese New Year’s dinners (a good chunk of my family can’t even handle the spice of black pepper), my mom and resident Chinese-cooking expert Uncle Simon gave me some tips when I was developing this recipe. For them, the key is using “toban jan”, a fermented paste made of chilies and beans used throughout in Sichuan cooking. This is what’s going to give you that deep reddish-brown colour and that signature spicy umami kick. You can find this in the Asian aisle at the supermarket and it goes wonderfully with tofu, chicken, stir-frys, and on top of rice and noodle dishes. Think of it as Chinese sriracha.

For the sour component, I was advised by both of them to use ketchup. I love them both (especially if they’re reading this post) but I substituted the ketchup with a sharper, less sugary rice vinegar that turned out quite well. If any readers decide to listen to my mom and use ketchup, please tweet me @karonliu and let me know how it goes. A tip I did use was cooking the noodles separately in water rather than in the soup. This is because the noodles have a light coating of flour, which would leave a chalky taste in the broth.

One final note: wood ear mushrooms are sold dried at the Chinese grocer and need to be soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes before they’re ready to be eaten. Shimeji mushrooms can be found fresh at the Asian grocer (along with the Shanghai noodles), but if you can’t find them use another slightly chewy mushroom like enoki or shiitake.

Hot and Sour soup recipe Food Network Canada

Ingredients:

For the soup base
1 litre no salt-added chicken broth
3 tablespoons Chinese chili-bean paste (the anglicized name is “toban djan”)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

For the pork
1/2 pound pork loin, sliced into long and thin strips (about a cup)
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

For the toppings
4 wood ear mushrooms
2 ounces shimeji mushrooms (about a cup)
1 cup firm tofu, cut into cubes
1 large egg
4 ounces fresh Shanghai noodles (about 1/4 package)
Chopped green onions for garnish

Directions:

    1. If your wood ear mushrooms are dehydrated, reconstitute them by soaking them for 30 minutes in boiling water. Do this ahead of time, or even the day before. Store the hydrated mushrooms on a plate with a damp paper towel draped on top.
    2. In a medium-sized soup pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil.
    3. In the meantime, mix all the ingredients for the pork together (meat, soy sauces, sugar, cornstarch, and ginger) in a bowl. Set aside and let marinate for five minutes.
    4. In a slightly oiled pan, sear the marinated pork until it starts to brown, about one or two minutes. Set aside.
    5. When the broth is boiling, add the chili paste and vinegar. Stir until the paste has completely dissolved. Chop the wood ear mushrooms into smaller slices and add them to the pot along with the simeji mushrooms. Stir and add in the cornstarch to thicken the soup. Bring to a boil and add the tofu and pork. Whisk the eggs together and add them to the boiling soup very slowly in a thin stream. Keep the soup to a simmer.
    6. Bring a fresh pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles until they are al dente, about two to three minutes. Drain and set aside.
    7. To plate, pour 3/4 of the soup into a large bowl. Pile the cooked Shanghai noodles high on top in the centre, and then ladle the rest of the soup around the noodles. Garnish with green onions and serve immediately. Serves two as an appetizer, or one as a main dish.

734863_10151322355189438_2070375187_n Karon Liu is a freelance food writer based in Toronto who is slightly lactose intolerant but will otherwise eat and cook anything.

BS’ in the Kitchen’s Banh Mi Sandwich

I was little frightened when my room-mate Nathan told me I was going to be in charge of cooking something for “Ethnic Potluck 2014?, a potluck with all the kitchen staff from Ayden Kitchen & Bar. Naturally it’s a little intimidating cooking with chefs of that level, and knowing I had to make a dish from another country didn’t help! Fortunately I got Vietnam, which I felt was one of the less intimidating submissions amongst places such as Peru, Croatia, Morocco, & more. After doing some research, given my love of sandwiches, I knew the Banh Mi was the way to go!

Banh Mi Sandwich

Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 mins
Serves: 10-15

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Ingredients:

BBQ Pork
1.5 kilograms pork shoulder (thinly sliced)
1/2 cup lemon grass (finely minced)
4 Kaffir lime leaves (finely chopped)
5 cloves garlic (minced)
2 large shallots (minced)
3 Tablespoons sesame seeds
4 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons salt
1 Tablespoon pepper
2 Tablespoons honey
3 Tablespoons fish sauce
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

Do Chua (Pickled Vegetables)
1 large carrot
1 large daikon radish
4 cups warm water
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons salt
6 Tablespoons rice vinegar

Banh Mi Sandwich
2 large baguettes (about 2 feet long)
Butter
Japanese mayonnaise
150 grams of head cheese
200 grams pork liver pate
Fresh ground pepper
1 Cucumber (sliced lengthwise ¼ inch thick)
1 jalapeno
1 bunch of cilantro
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Grated ginger

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Directions:

  1. To make your pork shoulder easier to slice, put it in the freezer for about 30-45 minutes, then remove it and cut it into thin strips.
  2. In a large sealable bowl or bag, combine pork and other ingredients, mix, and marinate for 24 hours in the refrigerator.
  3. Cut your carrot and daikon into skinny strips about 3-4 inches long.
  4. Add salt, sugar and rice vinegar to warm water and stir until dissolved, then add vegetables and let pickle for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
  5. Once everything has been marinated and pickled, dump the Do Chua in a strainer to allow all the pickling liquid to drain. While Do Chua is draining, cook the pork on the barbecue on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes until cooked through. If pork is too thin for the barbecue grill, you can either skewer the pieces, or cook on a grate fine enough so the pork doesn’t fall through.
  6. If you don’t have a barbecue, spread pork out on a pan and broil on high until cooked through.
  7. Once pork is done, squeeze juice of half a lime, and grate fresh ginger on top, then let it rest.
  8. While the pork rests, slice the baguettes in half, spread with butter and broil in oven until lightly toasted.
  9. Once baguette is toasted, spread a generous amount of Japanese mayonnaise on both halves of the baguettes.
  10. Spread 100 grams of pork liver pate on the bottom slice of each baguette, grind fresh pepper on the pate if it’s not very peppery.
  11. Place a generous amount of cilantro on the baguette (lots of cilantro is important)!
  12. Place enough cucumber to cover the sandwich (I used two long slices per baguette).
  13. Follow up with a generous amount of Do Chua.
  14. Place the BBQ pork on next, then the head cheese, and finish with jalapenos to taste (I ended up doing one with no jalapenos) and your top slice of baguette.
  15. Slice in to individual portions and enjoy!

100x100_BS Carlene and Bob Deutscher are the dynamic sibling duo behind BS’ in the Kitchen. While Carlene leans towards the sweeter side of things, baking up delicious desserts, you can count on Bob to cook up something savoury! Aside from blogging on BS’ in the Kitchen, Carlene works in marketing & communications, and sidelines as a lifestyle & wedding photographer, while Bob operates his own media company, with a focus on food photography, and videography!

Carlene and Bob Deutscher are part of the Lifestyle Blog Network family.

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BS’ in the Kitchen’s Chicken and Dumplings

So I’ve been thinking, rather than trying to cook things off the top of my head, throwing this and that together, I should pick a few recipes to try cooking each week from magazines, blogs, and cookbooks. I’m hoping it not only gets me cooking with different ingredients, but just gets me cooking more in general! I have been eating too many sandwiches for supper lately…

To start it off, gracing the cover of the February issue of Bon Appetit is a delicious looking meal of Chicken & Dumplings, something I have never cooked before. Since I had all the ingredients on hand, I thought it would be the perfect start! But I quickly realized that the last step calls for 2.5 hours of simmering and seeing as I’m cooking for myself, I can’t possibly dedicate that much time to my supper. So naturally, I made a few modifications and put the whole process on fast forward. Of course, it was still delicious, but if you really want to develop those flavours, follow the full Bon Appetit recipe, simmering and all!

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Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Serves: 2-4

Ingredients:

3 slices of bacon
1/4 cup flour
4 small chicken thighs
Salt & pepper
2 handfuls mushroom
1/2 a medium yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken broth

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Dumplings:
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Pinch of ground pepper
1 large egg
1/8 cup whole milk

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Directions:

1. In a deep pan on medium heat, cook bacon until crisped. Remove to paper towel lined plate.
2. Season chicken thighs with salt & pepper, toss in a bowl with flour, dredging the chicken. On medium heat, cook the chicken skin side down until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. Flip and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Remove chicken from pan.
3. Add chopped mushrooms to pan, cooking until beginning to soften, about 5-7 minutes. Add chopped onion, cooking until onion is soft and translucent.
4. Add crushed garlic to pan with mushrooms and onions, cooking for about 2-3 minutes until beginning to brown, but not burning.
5. Add wine, broth, thyme, bay leaf, and place chicken thighs, skin up, back in the pan. Simmer on just above medium heat.
6. While liquid is working towards a simmer, prepare dumplings. In a bowl, combine dumpling ingredients, mixing together to form a slightly lumpy batter.
7. Once broth is simmering, add in teaspoon-sized bits of dumpling batter, cooking until they have doubled in size, about five minutes. If you don’t have enough room for all the dumplings, remove the cooked ones with a slotted spoon, and prepare the rest.
8. Once your dumplings have been made, and the liquid is thickening up, place the whole pan in the oven and broil for about 5-7 minutes, until the chicken skin gets crispy again.
9. Remove from oven and serve!

100x100_BS Carlene and Bob Deutscher are the dynamic sibling duo behind BS’ in the Kitchen. While Carlene leans towards the sweeter side of things, baking up delicious desserts, you can count on Bob to cook up something savoury! Aside from blogging on BS’ in the Kitchen, Carlene works in marketing & communications, and sidelines as a lifestyle & wedding photographer, while Bob operates his own media company, with a focus on food photography, and videography! Carlene and Bob Deutscher are part of the Lifestyle Blog Network family.

 

Made Easy: Awesome Chicken Soup for the Lazy Soul

We’ve gone over pho and roasted red pepper soup, but when it comes to cold and flu season there’s nothing like a big bowl of homemade chicken soup. It’s surprisingly easy to make and once you taste the made-from-scratch stuff you’ll never buy a can of it ever again.

This basic chicken soup recipe is meant to be customized to your tastes, so once you get the hang of making it feel free to add other spices like curry and cumin, vegetables like potatoes and torn kale leaves, or even make it creamy with coconut milk. You can also turn it into a fuller meal by adding rice, pasta, or dumplings once the soup has simmered down. It reheats quick and as weird as it sounds, makes for a great breakfast since it’s loaded with protein that will get you through to lunch.

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Chicken Soup
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
2 stalks celery, diced
2 medium-sized carrots, diced
1 small white onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 whole chicken, cut into smaller pieces
8 cups water
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a medium-sized soup pot, heat the oil or butter over medium heat and sauté the celery, carrots, garlic, and onion until they begin to soften, the onions begin to turn translucent, and the carrots start to caramelize.
  2. Add the chicken and stir for one or two minutes. Pour in the water, cover, and bring to a boil. Add the Italian seasoning. Don’t taste it yet—it’ll taste like water and you’ll end up adding way too much salt. Instead, reduce heat and let simmer for at least an hour to let some of the water evaporate and the chicken flavour from the bones, cartilage, and meat permeate the broth. The longer the soup simmers, the more intense the flavour will be.
  3. Give the soup a taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary. Take the chicken out of the pot and with a fork, remove the skin and shred the meat off the bones (the meat should be fall-off-the-bone by now). Discard the chicken skin, bones, and cartilage. Put the shredded meat back into the pot and continue to simmer for 30 minutes. If you’re adding pasta, rice, or dumplings, now is the time to add them.

Celery, Carrot, and Onion: The Holy Trio of Flavour

One of the basic flavour elements of French cooking is the mirepoix: the combination of chopped celery, carrot, and onion. It’s used commonly in soup and sauce recipes, and not to mention adds a delicious base to stir-frys (this one is less French).

Other nations have their own version of the mirepoix. In Italy you’ve got the soffritto (basically a mirepoix with garlic, which is the base for this soup); Spain and Latin American and Caribbean nations have the sofrito consisting of bell peppers, onion, garlic, paprika, and tomatoes (even then each country in these regions have their own variations on this); Poland has the wloszczyzna that contains carrots, parsnips, celery root, leeks, and cabbage; and Germany has Suppengrün, which is carrots, leeks, and celeriac.

Save Your Bones

The next time you pick up a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket, keep the bones to make a future batch of chicken broth (assuming you or your loved ones haven’t sucked on the bones because… gross). Store the bones in a bag in the freezer, and take them out whenever you’re in the mood for soup.

734863_10151322355189438_2070375187_n Karon Liu is a freelance food writer based in Toronto who is slightly lactose intolerant but will otherwise eat and cook anything.

Topics: Made Easy, Soup, Chicken

Guilty Kitchen: Banana Bread Ice Cream

Recently, a friend and neighbour gave me four pounds of overripe bananas. Living in a small community, the grocery store had become over run with the things and needed to get rid of them. So I cooked banana bread, duh. But I still had a surplus of bananas sitting around. So I started digging through the fridge and pantry, and I found everything I needed to make a seriously delicious ice cream that would taste just like the banana bread I just made!

This ice cream is a step up from your average one-ingredient banana ice cream, of which I am not a big fan (too icy!) and takes you to a whole new level of flavour, and it’s so easy to make. The peanut butter and stracciatella are optional, but they do pair nicely with the flavours of the banana bread. Cause, you know, I eat my banana bread smothered in peanut butter and sometimes, Nutella. Doesn’t everybody?

Get my delicious banana bread recipe here, and then get started on this delicious ice cream below:

Banana Bread Ice Cream
Makes 1 litre

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

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Ingredients:

The Bread
2 pounds ripe bananas
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup half & half (or for a creamier ice cream use all heavy cream)
2 teaspoon vanilla

The Peanut Butter Chunks
1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky, natural or not so natural)
1 Tablespoon icing sugar

The Stracciatella
3 ounces dark chocolate
1 Tablespoon + 1 tsp butter

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Directions:

  1. In small saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Continue to cook until it begins to foam and bubble, but do not stir. Cook until foam dissipates and you are left with a browned butter.
  2. In 2 small baking dishes (such as 9? rounds), slice bananas into coins. Pour browned butter over bananas and coat. Bake in 400°F oven for 20-25 minutes. The bananas should begin to caramelize and be slightly golden in colour when you take them out. Allow to cool before next step.
  3. In a blender or food processor, purée the banana/butter mixture with the sour cream.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat cream with brown sugar, salt and vanilla. Do not allow to boil, but just bring to a high enough temperature that the cream begins to steam and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.
  5. Cool to room temperature and add to blender or food processor with puréed bananas. Blend until smooth.
  6. Pour into bowl or container, cover and refrigerate over night. This is your ice cream base.
  7. In a small bowl, mix peanut butter and icing sugar until well blended.
  8. On a cookie sheet spoon out small teaspoon sized portions of peanut butter. Place in freezer overnight.
  9. Over a double boiler or a metal bowl, set over a pot of gently-boiling water, melt chocolate and butter together until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
  10. Remove ice cream base from refrigerator, place in ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your machine.
  11. When the ice cream is basically done, begin to drip the chocolate in a fine stream into the ice cream. This will create the stracciatella (little bits of chocolate that melt in your mouth).
  12. Remove ice cream from machine, stir in peanut butter chunks and freeze for at least four hours.

Elizabeth-Nyland-0012-2 Elizabeth Nyland, author behind “Cooking with Coconut Oil: Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Recipes for Good Living” and “Cooking with Avocados: Delicious Gluten-Free Recipes for Every Meal” is also a mother of two and is the blogger behind guiltykitchen.com, a food, fitness and health blog that’s been going strong since 2009. You can find Elizabeth in her home gym lifting heavy things, in her kitchen cooking up new recipes or at the bakery down the street attempting to uncover the world’s best doughnut.

Elizabeth Nyland is part of the Lifestyle Blog Network  family.

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Topics: Banana Bread, Ice Cream, Dessert