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Archive for September, 2013|Monthly archive page

Dim Sum

In Eating Out, Food on September 30, 2013 at 16:08

Doof Out

When it comes to dim sum, Jade Garden in the Seattle International District is the place to go.

It is still a step behind Vancouver BC dim sum level; I believe it is the best in our town.

As many Chinese restaurant establishments, the place is not pretty, but the food is certainly good.

There is always long lines during lunch dim sum hours, but it is worth the wait.

Long lines can be avoided in the early mornings.  Jade Garden opens at 9am every day.

At home in Hong Kong, dim sum restaurants open at 6am.

It is a flexible breakfast to lunch affair.

Long lines also means food turn over quickly at Jade Garden and the food are hot.

Jade Garden serves their dim sum the old style, with steamed carts and cold carts.

Newer style dim sum restaurants in Vancouver or Hong Kong serves their dim sum by order.

The steam carts contain the dim sum staples of shrimp dumpling, shu-mai (pork dumpling), beef balls, steamed bbq pork buns, steamed spare ribs, sticky rice to the more adventurous tripes, chicken feet and cow’s stomach.

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The cold carts contain vegetable, turnip cakes, stuffed eggplant or peppers, rice crepes with shrimp, bbq pork or mushroom, noodles etc.

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Some of my favorites are the salt and pepper fried calamari, honey garlic beef ribs, honey walnut prawns, and my friends like desserts such as steamed fermented sweet rice cakes, fruit tart, mochi with lotus paste etc.

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When we have vegetarian friends with us, we also order salt and pepper tofu, which is not on the dim sum menu.

On the opposite vegetarianism, we also ordered excellent salt and pepper chicken wings as well on occasion.

My dragon boat team goes to Jade Garden after every weekend practice.

On very cold days, we ordered soup such as fish maw crab soup or “west lake” beef soup to accompany the dim sum.

Jade Garden also makes fantastic noodles.

I love the mixed meat pan-fried crispy noodles, and enjoy that with red vinegar.

We had this crispy noodle with pickled vegetables, beef and bean sprouts which was delicious as well.

Having dim sum is such a wonderful eating experience with a large group – the ability to sample everything with a bite.

I have gone dim sum with 4 people, the experience was just very different.

I was full already before getting to every dish that I like.

Jade Garden offers terrific food for a very good price.

Having dim sum on the eastside easily costs 50% more on the bill with comparable or sometimes inferior food.

it is completely worth-while to wait in line for my dim sum craving!

Jade Garden on Urbanspoon

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Lemon Currant Coffee Cake – Gluten free and Vegan

In Food, Home Creation on September 26, 2013 at 10:34

Doof Home

Last day of detox!

First thing tomorrow morning: going to my favorite bakery to get a piping hot soy mocha!

Thanks my lovely friends for the supply of yummy food.  The chocolate and salami are patiently waiting for us to eat them!

Meanwhile, the last couple days we were munching on this gluten-free and vegan lemon currant coffee cake.

This coffee cake has light lemon flavor and lots of plump currants.

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Ingredients

3 cup almond flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 tsp grated lemon zest, be sure to take as little white part of the skin as possible

1/4 cup agave

1/4 cup olive oil

6 tbsp milled flax seed

1 cup + 1 tbsp water

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 cup currants
 

Directions

Preheat oven at 350F.

Grease an 8-inch square pan with olive oil.

In a large bowl, mix almond flour, salt, baking soda, lemon zest, flax seed meal and currants together well.

Whisk agave, oil, lemon juice and water in another bowl.

Add wet ingredients into dry.  Mix very well.

Pour batter into baking pan.

Bake for 40 mins.

Remove from oven and let cool completely before serving.

Almond Ice Cream and Hamburger

In Books, Food, Food Media, Food Product for Home on September 23, 2013 at 15:44

Doof Home

We found “Almond Dream” almond ice cream at local PCC.

It was delicious!

Technically it was a cheat during detox because the second ingredient on the list was organic cane sugar.

We decided to turn a blind eye.

I liked the fact that it was made with real almond.

I had a bunch of gums in the ingredient list, but it would be unavoidable given that there was no egg and no dairy.

We chose vanilla bean, as the other flavor offered was chocolate, which we could not have.

Color of the ice cream stood out different from conventional vanilla ice cream as it was beige with brown specks.

Vanilla bean flavor was natural, fragrant and pleasant.

It had a hint of almond nut flavor throughout that was roasty and tasty.

In fact, the roastiness of the almond conjured the illusion of consuming chocolate!

Aftertaste was predominantly almond, very nice.

Texture was decent.  It was dense, solid and creamy.

The ice crystals were a little bigger than good conventional ice cream.

Certainly not too distracting from the enjoyment of this fantastic vegan dessert!

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Doof Media

Hamburger: A Global History by Andrew F. Smith

In 1920s, a hamburger cost 5 cents.

It was refreshing to learn that White Castle was the very first burger chain in the US!

Aside from stating the then and now of the many burger chains such as McDonald’s Burger King, Jack in the Box, Wendy’s, Carl’s Jr. etc., this book also talked about the history of hamburger itself.

The evolution of the chopped meat into potable sandwiches.

Apparently Salisbury steak was the early version of grilled beef patties, and the name became popular during World War II to replace the less than patriotic name “Hamburg steak”.

Hamburg steak was brought to the US by German immigrants as early as mid 1800s.

It took almost 20 years before Hamburg steak became a sandwich to fulfill the need of easily consumable food for the industrialized America.

I love the cut-throat story in the book about the original McDonald’s brothers who started McDonald’s in CA in 1930s only to be pushed out by Kroc, who eventually owned the McDonald’s franchise as we know of today.

The last part of the book talked about the different flavors of burgers around the world.

The adaptation of burgers to different cultures such as chicken and vegetarian burgers in India, minced lamb and lentil burger in Pakistan.

Competitions from high-end restaurants to serve burgers that cost anywhere between $30 to $5000, with truffle, kobe beef, foie gras and champagne.

These were just some of the tidbits from this well-researched book.  Check it out!

Mid-way Detox Check in

In Food, Health on September 19, 2013 at 16:30

Doof Home

We are more than half way into detox.

Eight more days to go and counting down.

DH was almost at the end of his tolerance couple nights ago.

He wanted a kielbasa.  He wanted a hot dog.

I kept selling him the vegetables dishes we had at home.

The eggplant hummus that I made.

I also stir-fried some romano beans with Chinese sweet black bean sauce, and made a stew with squash and heirloom beans.

He did not want any of it.  He wanted something substantial.

He wanted cashews.

That was ended up what he had for snacks after dinner.

Me?  I want chocolate.

Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.

Creamy, smooth, dark chocolate.

I have been thinking about chocolate, chocolate cookies, chocolate molten cake since the first day of detox.

We were watching TV last night and Olive Garden’s ad came on.

The shrimps and the tomatoes looked exceptionally delicious.

Soy, is the other food I really want.

I would love to just have a nice cup of soy chai right now.

I tried making chai with rice milk.

Rice milk just cannot make the cut.  The mouthfeel was very thin, and flavor was not right.

I would also love to have tofu and soy sauce, so I can cook Chinese properly.

I also really miss tomatoes.

I made a beet-carrot sauce for pasta the other night, but it did not taste quite right as everything was naturally sweet.

With the detox program, we are consuming anywhere between 1 to 3 cups of what we called “yucky stuff” every day, depending on the stage of detox.

It is basically supplements (vitamins and minerals) with bean protein and some detox compounds such as green tea extract.

The powder are meant to supplement the meals.

We, however, find the powder really unappetizing and spoil our appetite.

With my appetite spoil, I also feel loss of interest in cooking since I am no longer hungry.

Or sometimes hungry but there is nothing I want to eat.

Couple with all the restrictions, it is hard to feel jazz about cooking.

I was teasing DH as he wanted his kielbasa.

I reminded him that we talked about going vegan (honestly, I think vegetarian is more reasonable).

We will have to revisit that now!

As of now, I have promised to cook him lamb in a couple of days so he can have his substantial meat.

The benefit of detox: my body feels great.

My digestive system feels clean and I feel light, even though I have not shed a pound.

My skin feels smooth and I am mentally a lot more alert (even though physically I am tired.  My naturopath had said that is normal reaction because the body is working hard to rid any toxin out of the body).

We will have our bodies cleansed, and jump-start organ health.

I have suggested that perhaps I will cook vegetarian at home, and leave eating animal products when we eat out.

We shall see.

Garlicky Eggplant Garbanzo Hummus

In Food, Home Creation on September 18, 2013 at 14:15

Doof Home

The best snack I find during detox are bean dips.

They are tasty and satisfy hunger easily being extremely protein-rich.

Only problem was finding the vehicle for the dip.

Pita is wheat; as most crackers from the store are wheat-based.

I came across some that were rice-based, but inevitably,  they had soy sauce or corn oil on them.

We could dip with carrot or celery sticks; but we opted for rice.

I ended up mixing the hummus with steamed brown rice and it was delicious!

DH and I both LOVE garlic.

WARNING: This version of the hummus is very garlicky!

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Ingredients

1 large eggplant

1 can of garbanzo beans (I used the organic garbanzo beans from Trader Joe’s), strain the beans and save the juice

3 cloves of garlic

1 jalapeno

2 tbsp. of tahini sauce

1 tbsp. of olive oil and extra for brushing eggplant

2 tbsp. of garbanzo can juice

1/2 tbsp. of lemon juice

1/4 tsp. of salt, extra for eggplant

black pepper

 
Directions

Preheat 350F.

Cut eggplant in half. Brush olive oil on top and sprinkle salt and pepper.

Roast eggplant for 20-30 mins.

Check to see the eggplant is cooked through and brown on top.

Peel skin of eggplant and put the rest in a blender.

Add beans, garlic, jalapeno, tahini, olive oil, garbanzo bean juice, salt and lemon juice in the blender.

Blend until smooth.

Udupi Cafe

In Eating Out, Food on September 17, 2013 at 15:09

Doof Out

The only place we can eat out at while detoxing is one of my favorite restaurant, Udupi Café.

Udupi Café serves vegetarian Indian, and most notably, south Indian food.

It is a no-frill restaurant serving up extremely delicious and healthy vegetarian food.

They have a great buffet lunch 7 days a week, and a la carte menu items and thali for dinner.

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There are always vegan dishes at the buffet bar, with basmati rice, briyani, naan; sometimes iddly (a steam rice patty) and medhu vada (fried lentil donut).

Sambar (lentil soup) and rasam (a sour and very spicy soup) are always present.

Dishes are different all the time.  We had curry made with eggplant, green beans, beets, chayote and cauliflower.

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There is almost always paneer butter masala.  I love the sauce!

They also have delicious all-you-can-drink chai!  The best part: the chai is not pre-sweetened, and can be adjusted for individual taste.

Buffet also comes with my favorite dish – masala dosas.  A mini version of it.

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Dosa is a thin rice crepe with potato fillings inside.  During dinner, they also serve many other kinds of dosas, some wheat base, some have chutneys or cheese or vegetables in them.

I had dosa the very first time in Hyderabad, India.

I was impressed with the size of it.

The rolled-up rice crepes were gigantic – long (almost 2 ft.) and crispy.

Dosa and I were definitely love at first sight!

A food that looks so simple yet so delicious!

Udupi Café definitely keeps the tradition and serves the long dosas during dinner.

The potato fillings in masala dosa are creamy, smooth and flavorful.

Tomato and Coconut chutney are served on the side for dipping.

Hyderabad was where I had my first Iddly as well.

Paired up with sambar, they were great breakfast foods.

Between the two soups, rasam is my choice.  It is usually very hot (most of the times, I can feel my ear cannel burning), and I endure it because it is worth the burn!

On the weekend, buffet also includes all-you-can-drink mango lassi in addition to the chai.

There are usually a few desserts as well.

However much I love Indian food, I just cannot get used to Indian desserts as they are super sweet to me.

Udupi Cafe on Urbanspoon

Almond Carrot Cake – Gluten free and Vegan

In Food, Home Creation on September 16, 2013 at 11:43

Doof Home

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DH had his birthday during detox.

It was surely a challenge to find a cake for celebration.

Decided to make a gluten-free vegan cake for him.

Boy, was it difficult to find anything on that!

Finally I landed with this gluten-free recipe on-line and made it vegan, and reduced the sweetness as well.

We both really liked the cake.

It was moist and delicious.

I will be making more of this type of almond cake because it is such a great way to consume protein rather than carbs.

Furthermore, consuming almonds impart great health benefits: from regulating cholesterol and blood pressure, to strengthening immune systems and improve brain health.

The addition of flax seed in this recipe also provides potential benefits in reducing risk of cancer, stroke and diabetes

It is hard to find such a healthy protein-rich dessert!

 
Ingredients

3 cup almond flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1/2 tbsp. cinnamon

1/4 agave

1/4 olive oil

3 cups of carrots, shredded (grated will be better but I was short of time and just shredded them instead)

5 tbsp. milled flax seed

3/4 cup + 3 tbsp. water

1 cup currants

 
Directions

Preheat oven at 325F.

Grease 4 4-inch ramekins with olive oil.

In a large bowl, stir almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, flax seed meal and currants together well.

Whisk agave, oil and water in another bowl.  Add carrots to mix well.

Add wet ingredients into dry.  Mix very well.

Scoop batter into ramekins.

Bake for 35 mins.

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It is best to refrigerate the cake if they are not consumed right away.
We found that the cake gets softer over time.

Mandarin Buffet and Tea

In Books, Eating Out, Food, Food Media on September 13, 2013 at 12:33

Doof Out

My last hurrah before starting detox last week was going to Mandarin Buffet and Grill.

It was the Chinese me realizing that I could not have soy sauce for many weeks.

I did not give much thoughts to All-you-can-eat Chinese Food Buffet before.

Since Mandarin Buffet has opened its door, I have been back quite a few times.

The visits usually coincided with my Americanized Chinese Food cravings.

Lunch for about $10, the food is decent.

The restaurant charges a higher price for dinner, but they incorporate seafood dishes at night.

What I love is that they have a large variety of food.

An appetizer bar usually with some salads: lettuce greens, cold tofu, seaweed salad etc.

Sushi bar with lots of rolls (too many of them have cream cheese).

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Mongolian grill type bar with self-serve meats, vegetables, noodles and sauces where the cook will make the dish for you behind the grill.

Hot entrée with meat and vegetables, soups (usually 4 kinds), rice, noodles, a few steamed dim sum and usually a few American food such as fries, pizza, garlic toasts.

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For desserts: self-serve soft serve machine, strawberries or marshmallow for chocolate dip, cakes and fruits.

It is safe to say that most everyone can find something to eat there (as long as they are not on my detox diet).

They are doing brisk business, so most food at the Buffet bar stays hot and dishes turn over quickly.

My specific mission there:  satisfy craving for hot and sour soup (vegetarian).

Then, I went for salt and pepper chicken wings (they did not have that for my last hurrah.  A little disappointed.  However, they made salt and pepper tofu which I also love).

Then, I picked out broccoli from either the orange chicken or General Tso’s chicken and from the broccoli beef.

Filled up the rest of my plates with dishes like eggplants, fried rice noodles, stir fried Bok Choy and little bit of other hot dishes if they looked good!

Mandarin Buffet & Grill on Urbanspoon

Doof Media

Tea: A global history by Helen Saberi

So much to learn from this book!

The book is broken down by regions in the world.

Chapters devoted to China, where tea was originated.

Followed by other Asian countries that had tea steeped deeply in their culture such as Japan, Taiwan, Korea.

It talked about how tea traveled through Silk Road and Tea Road to the Mediterranean, Russia, Middle East.

Importation of tea into Europe, America and India.  The history of tea crop in Sri Lanka.

Teas were prepared differently in different parts of the world.

For example, most striking to me was that tea was prepared with milk, butter and salt in Tibet with a churn.

I did not know that the words “tea” and “pekoe” were phonetically Chinese!

In both Cantonese and Mandarin, the word for tea is “Cha”, which is closer to “Chai”.  I have always thought that “tea” was an English invention.

Turned out the word was based on Fujian dialect “teh”, and it was a word that I grew up with!

The book also contained information on tea tree types; the processing technique for tea leaves yielding the different types of teas such as oolong, white tea or scented tea such as Jasmine.

At the end, the book contained several tea recipes.  From the preparation of Moroccan tea (tea with mint) to tea jelly, green tea ice cream and Chinese tea eggs.

I am going to make the tea loaf (tea, orange, cinnamon and raisin) after detox!

Chicken Eggplant Cauliflower Curry

In Food, Home Creation on September 12, 2013 at 09:54

Doof Home

We have been having lots of curry for meals.
Realized that curry is an easy flavorful option that meets the criteria for detox.

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Ingredient
4 boneless skinless chicken thigh, cut in chunks
2 small eggplants, skin peeled, diced
2 small cauliflower, separate into small stems
1 jalapeno, diced (remove seeds for less spicy version)
1 medium onion, diced
3/4 tbsp of ginger, grated
3 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp of paprika
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 bay leaf
1/4 tbsp agave
1/8 tbsp salt
3/4 cup coconut milk

Marinate for chicken
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 chinese five spice powder
white pepper

Directions
Marinate the chicken for at least 15 mins.
Mix curry powder, paprika, cinnamon powder and bay Leaf in a bowl.  Set aside.
Add oil to pan at high heat.
Once the oil is smoky, stir fry chicken quickly until the outside of the chicken pieces are cooked.
Remove chicken from pan.
Rinse/wash pan to rid any chicken bits that are stuck on the pan.
Dry the pan and wipe off any excess oil or water.
Heat up the pan at high heat until hot.
Add spices from the bowl.  Work quickly to toast the spices as evenly as possible.
Once the pan starts to smoke, remove spices from pan.
Heat oil in pan at high heat. Once it is smoky, reduce to medium heat.
Add onions, garlic, ginger and jalapeño to pan. Cook until soft.
Bring heat back up to high.  Add spice mixture. Mix well.
Add eggplant and cauliflower and salt. Mix well.
Add half the coconut milk, stir well, and let the vegetables cook until the they are half-cooked.  Stir occasionally to make sure that food is not sticking to the pan.
Reduce heat to medium-high.
Add chicken, agave and remainder coconut milk into pan.  Mix well and cover.
Cook for another 5 to 8 minutes.
Check to make sure chicken is cooked.
Ready to serve!

Coconut Ice Cream and Spazzo

In Eating Out, Food, Food Product for Home on September 11, 2013 at 11:04

Doof Home

Tried different coconut ice cream products to satisfy our dessert craving during detox.
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We had the Coconut Bliss Cherry Amaretto which was exceptional.

There was a big cherry flavor hit with the first bite of the ice cream, followed by nice coconut flavor that lingered.

The mouthfeel was very smooth and creamy.

Their Strawberry Love bars had great mouthfeel as well, but the flavor combination did not work as well.

The strawberry flavor was overpowered by the coconut.

What was there was not the same bright tart berry flavor that one would expect from regular ice cream.

I had their dark chocolate ice cream before and it had excellent strong dark chocolate flavor to satisfy chocolate cravings.

We also tried the SO Delicious vanilla bean ice cream to accompany the cherry pistachio cookie.
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The vanilla flavor was nice but the mouthfeel was oily and slick.  Not very pleasant.

We are staying with Coconut Bliss brand for the time being.

Doof Out
Before detox, we went to Spazzo for dinner with friends.

The last time we were there was probably 2 or 3 years ago.

My Minestrone soup and Linguine Pescatore did not taste bad but could tell that they were not of high quality.

The Minestrone had ample chickpeas, zucchini and pasta in it.

It was very hearty. However, it tasted like the soup was just made with reconstituted tomato paste.

My linguine was a little overcooked. Noodle was soggy.

The seafood was fresh enough, and the tomato sauce had nice simple flavor.

If I would guess, I believe the seafood was not cooked with the sauce; but separately boiled and later tossed with noodle and sauce.

The sauce flavor was not through and through in the seafood.

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DH ordered the Mediterranean pizza with olive, salami and artichoke. Because of me, he opted for no cheese.

After the awesome Veraci pizza and good Pomegranate firebread, this was the worst.

The crust was bready and not-in-a-good-way chewy.

Maybe because of the lighting, the pizza did not look very appetizing. The salami color was this unnatural Chinese sausage color.

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There was barely any tomato sauce on the pizza. It made our no cheese option pizza tasted pretty grim.

I had gotten plenty of no cheese pizza but none this bad.

Mostly I was distracted by the chewy breadiness since there was not enough topping to distract me otherwise.
Spazzo Italian Grill & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

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