The Year's Favorites

Schweppe's Bitter Lemon - Sweet fancy moses, I've finally found the soda for me! Not sugary, but fresh and lemony with a slightly quinine taste. Individual cans are sold at Famous Foods on Kingsway, though I've yet to see them available by the case or in bottles.

Pastes in tubes - Tomato, anchovy, wasabi, harissa. Tubes are the way to go.

Porcelain grater - Made for grating ginger, this is also fantastic for garlic. I've never liked using a garlic press and this grater makes short work of a couple of cloves. It's also much easier to clean and can be had for $2 in Chinatown. It made the list of 15 Useful Kitchen Items over at The Kitchn

Non-stick cheese grater - I hate washing those big metal box graters, when the cheese bits and residue stick around the sharp edges. Years ago I found one at HomeSense, with a black non-stick coating, and it takes all of three seconds to clean.

Best new bread bakery - Mediterranean Bakery. Select Safeways carried them for a time and they have a location at Park Royal in West Vancouver, but I trek to Meinhardt's to pick them up. I prefer their Italian loaves over others' because they're consistent and reliably good, as well as being 95% certified organic.

Favorite Breads - Swiss Bakery's Country Rye and Onion Walnut. The latter is fantastic for a roast beef sandwich, or with turkey and cranberry chutney. Mediterranean Bakery's Parmesan Bread toasted with heapings of extra cheese and eaten with tomato soup. Terra Bread's Fig and Anise, my favorite bread to snack on.

Still thinking about... - The warm madelines from DB Bistro. Like eating baked, little, fluffy clouds. The gyu tataki and buttery rich Monkfish liver at Nanchu. The Opera a la Noisette from Ganache, the best treat I had this Halloween.

All I want for Christmas - Was for Congee Noodle House (on Main off Broadway) to reopen. It's been under renovations since early November, and I just can't get my congee fix anywhere else.

In Memoriam - Farewell, Think! cafe (W. 10th at Sasamat). Goodbye, Pho Bich Nga (this legendarily-named Vietnamese restaurant was at Victoria & Kingsway). See ya, Caffe de Medici.


Green Beans & Leeks

One more belated post! Last week I happened to see some great looking off-season green beans at my local market, so I didn't hesitate to make 101 Cookbook's green bean recipe, which I've been dying to try. I decided to toss in some cooked quinoa to the mix, making it an easy lunch to bring to work the next day.

Fish and Chips

Another belated post, among many. I came home one night craving fish and chips, so I picked up a snapper fillet and breaded it with a mix of breadcrumbs, panko, salt, pepper and paprika and baked it along with those easy but excellent frozen fries. I scarfed the meal down with a generous side of garlic and lemon aioli.


Eggs & Kale on Bread

I love eggs on bread. So when work dismissed us early due to the snowstorm today, I raced home to make one of my favorite lunches--eggs and boiled kale on bread. Taken from the always wonderful posts at Orangette, I indulgently made this as a late lunch for myself today. No shortcuts for this one--don't skip out any steps when making this relatively simple meal, because it's oh so worth it. My preferred bread for this is Country Rye. It's toothsome, chewy texture makes it also a great munching bread for dipping in oil and vinegar. In Vancouver, you can pick this up at Swiss Bakery on E. 3rd Ave and Main St.


Wakame Salad

I grew up enjoying the ocean-y taste and slippery yet crunchy texture of seaweed, and a nice little bowl of wakame salad makes a refreshing snack. I adapted this from Mark Bittman's recipe for seaweed salad with cucumber. I took out the minced shallots and cayenne in the original recipe, instead adding a dash of shichimi spice. Toss all the ingredients in a bowl and let marinate overnight. This also makes for a delicious side during the summer.

- 1 oz assorted seaweed
- 2-3 Japanese cucumbers, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- splash of mirin
- splash of sesame oil
- pinch of sea salt
- generous sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds

Proscuitto-wrapped Snapper with Greens

Belated post--I made an impromptu recipe to clean out my fridge. I had a quarter of an onion left in my fridge, which I chopped and sauteed with a clove of garlic. While that was cooking, I used two last pieces of proscuitto to wrap a small fillet of snapper. Sprinkle some pepper and top with the leftover dill in my fridge that would start to wilt soon. I threw this in the pan with some juice from half a lemon and covered it. After the fish was ready, I threw in a bunch of pre-washed baby spinach, pinch of salt, and stirred it with the onions for two minutes. 20 minutes for a meal and a cleaned-out fridge.


Asparagus Egg Redux

I made asparagus and egg again, this time I sped up the process by frying the asparagus in a pan filled with grapeseed oil. Tossed it with breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and transferred them to a plate. Then I cracked an egg into the remains in the pan, cranked up the burner for a few quick minutes and slid the egg on top of my asparagus heap letting the yolk run. Add some more fresh cracked pepper on top. Eat by dipping the toasty asparagus segments into the yolky mixture. Mmmm.