Archive for August, 2010

Cabbage pasta

Pasta just seems right for Sunday dinner (or so says Yusuke). We had acquired a giant monster savoy cabbage from the Atwater market that Yusuke decided to employ in this angel hair pasta dish.

He started by chopping the cabbage into bite-sized pieces. He also halved cherry tomatoes and removed the seeds.

Meanwhile, he boiled water for the pasta, adding powdered beef bouillon and black pepper.

Next, he sautéed a healthy amount of garlic and olive oil in a frying pan until it became fragrant. At that point, he dumped in the cabbage. Once it started getting soft, he added the tomatoes and cooked them briefly.

The pasta was not fully cooked in the boiling water—it was left a tiny bit harder than al dente.

He added the pasta to the frying pan along with 1-2 ladles full of the broth from the pot. He mixed everything together and let the pasta cook a bit more.

The original recipe called for anchovies, but lacking these, Yusuke used 1 tsp of Nam Pla (Thai fish sauce) instead.

The mix of the cabbage and tomatoes was excellent, with the latter particularly super-sweet.

We also had a simple egg-drop soup. The base was water with 1-2 tsp of dashi, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/3 tsp sugar, and 1 tsp each of soy sauce and sake. The veggies were green onions and white mushrooms, both fresh from the Atwater market.

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Satsumaimo gohan (sweet potato rice)

Ah, comfort food. I think this dish rates in the top five best things I’ve ever eaten. Or at least the top ten. Anyway, it’s good, good, good.

Satsumaimo is a Japanese sweet potato. The flesh is golden, like we are familiar with in North America, but the outside is bright purple. The recipe would work with other varieties of sweet potato, but it’s just not the same. So we were happy to find some decent-ish satsumaimo at P.A. in Montreal.

Yaki-imo photo courtesy of Flickr user Ganjin. Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

To prepare the dish, Yusuke started by washing the potato and cutting out the eyes. He left the skin on this time, but he often peels it. Next, he cut it into 1 inch cubes, which were soaked in salty water for 10-15 minutes. The water was changed 2 or 3 times during the process. The first time, the water should taste salty, with less or none in the subsequent baths. Yusuke wasn’t sure why the soaking is necessary, but perhaps it reduces the bitterness and enhances sweetness.

The uncooked rice was washed, drained, and set aside for at least 30 minutes before cooking. This technique is used for any maze gohan (mixed rice).

After the waiting time, water was added to the rice as usual in the rice cooker. In addition, he stirred in 1 tbsp each of soy sauce, sake, and mirin. On top of the mixture in the rice cooker, he added the sweet potato cubes and final one strip of dried kombu.

From there, it was just a matter of turning on the rice cooker and waiting for the magic. The rice was particularly fragrant while cooking, and I was drooling by the time it was ready.

For the final touch, we sprinkled crushed black sesame seeds on the top of the rice.

We also had miso soup with the meal (of course), and it was extra salty with wakame and bean sprouts. A perfect foil to the sweet rice.

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Grilled eggplant

We usually select baby eggplants at the grocery store, but in their absence, we picked up some Chinese eggplants instead. They are longer, thinner, and lighter in colour than the baby variety, but the taste turned out to be pretty similar.

So, for this dish, Yusuke sliced up the eggplant and scored the skin in a fancy criss-cross pattern. Then he fried the slices in canola oil in a frying pan.

To dress the aubergines, he made a ponzu-ish sauce by combining lime juice, sake, mirin, and soy sauce.

He poured the sauce over the eggplants and topped them with grated raw daikon (which becomes nearly a liquid, in fact), alfalfa sprouts, minced ginger, and a sprinkle of shichimi seasoning.

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Thai broccoli stir fry

Having acquired some nam pla (fish sauce), Yusuke put together this lovely Thai-ish stir fry.

He began by chopping and boiling fresh broccoli. He noted that it could also be steamed to retain crunchiness, but since his poor mouth was sore from a trip to the dentist, he opted for softer veggies.

Next, he moved to a frying pan and heated minced garlic and tons of ginger. Adding a bit of oil, he sautéed pieces of chicken. After these were cooked, he added the drained broccoli to the pan. After this simmered for a while, he dumped in halved cherry tomatoes.

Finally came the sauce: 1.5 or 2 tbsp of nam pla and a splash of lime juice.

Nam pla is essentially anchovy extract, salt, and sugar. It smelled a bit stinky in the bottle, but it tasted quite nice in the stir fry.

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Back to Montreal: Juliette et Chocolat

The day after returning to Montreal from Colorado, we met some friends for lunch at Juliette et Chocolat. Here are some gratuitous pictures.

We had a mix-up about the location for our meet-up (there are three branches of the resto), but Yusuke ordered a café au lait while we were waiting.

cafe au lait

Salade Juliette et chocolat

I ordered the Juliette et Chocolat salad, with mixed greens, strawberries, pears, and a fabulous raspberry-chocolate vinaigrette. I didn’t expect the lattice made from crepe batter that topped the salad, and although I initially dug under it to get to the veggies, I ended up eating almost all of it. I also had a lovely Mayan chocolate herbal tea.

crepe suzette

Yusuke selected La Crêpe Suzette, which turned out to be rather extreme (in a very good way). The crêpes were drizzled with melted chocolate and marmalade and topped with fresh orange slices, flambée au Cointreau for good measure. Alas, you can’t see it sizzling in the picture.

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